"The Save Point" - meta-interactive fiction


I thought this short story was an interesting take on the save-and-restore narrative.

Yeah I heard that story on Escape Pod!

It would make an interesting game, especially if you didn’t tell the player what was happening. The key would be having the protagonist ‘remember’ what had happened in previous games. This would be a great ‘freak-out’ moment when the player realised the lead character knew they were a character in a game, and aware of the game-save system!

I suppose you’d have to run some trick with the save-point or ‘restart’ game commands so the game actually kept running but looked like it had been restarted.

You could also have the game read data from a text file.

Inform 7 can do this - See “22.10. Files” in the WI part of Inform’s Documentation. There are several sections and examples listing the benefits of this and describing how to implement such things.

This has already been done in IF:


The implementation is faked though, but the “wtf?!” effect is there.

Endless, Nameless and Möbius also fit the bill, to an extent.

As a story, it reminds me a bit of Ursula K. LeGuin’s “The Lathe of Heaven.”

Some very obvious nods to Run, Lola, Run. I found the general idea and progression interesting, but the execution fairly lackluster.

Skin Horse (a web comic, Shaenon Garrity, SFW despite the title) is in the middle of a storyline with this theme.

(It also throws in some offhand Spider and Web references, which I am unduly gleeful about.)

Also the whole thing is basically a love-letter to Jason Shiga.

I think I forgot about that one.

TADS (3, at least) allows you to save data across save points; it’s usually used to re-randomize data. The example in the documentation was someone trying to cheat at a random-chance game; they would always lose if they saved/restored inside the gambling hall. Implementing knowledge-across-restores would be trivial… however, implementing a cohesive story-line would definitely be difficult. The second I read about the ability to save across restores, my interest was piqued, though I didn’t know how to implement it. This story does a very good job of doing just that - as well as bringing up some moral quandaries in the process. Shooting someone and likewise being shot a billion times makes you into a psycho.

In the story above, the “goal” was actually pretty easy. Get past two guards and a sniper - that’s it. However, like the Bablefish puzzle in HHGttG, it was rather difficult to finally get right. What I’m picturing is something rather like this story - use technology to provide an actual “save point”, and every time you die (or restore), it pushes you back there. “Restore” as a command won’t load a game, per se; it’ll just give you another chance to try again. If you try something multiple times in a row - in the story, shooting the sniper from a distance - you’ll get better at it, and after two or three times, you’ll get a narrative, telling you how you did it a thousand times (or whatever), and managed to perfect it; from that point on, you’re perfect at it, and can do it every time. The hardest part would be to keep it from being redundant…

A very interesting concept, though - if a little difficult to get into a PG-rated game…

Have you tried Rematch? I got to a certain point with it but still haven’t figured it out… but it has an interesting way of blurring the line between restoring and restarting.