Save me! Save my games!

Memory!  It’s all about the memory and always really has been, anything to do with gaming has been limited by the constraints of memory.  It didn’t used to be much of a problem though, as back in the days of the Spectrum and Commodore 64 we didn’t care about game saves or how quickly polygons could be chucked around the screen.  Move forward slightly in time to the days of the Mega Drive and Super Nintendo, and more onboard memory meant for greater graphical effects and better looking games as a whole.  Cunningly, in the days of cartridge gaming you could save your progress to the cartridge to resume wherever you left off, and as each game was saved to the specific cart you were using, nothing else was needed.  Move forward again to the age of the Playstation and Dreamcast, then leading on up to the current consoles, some smart bastard thought it would be a good idea to save games to memory cards or internal to the machine – what a genius!

The bastard card that started it all.
The bastard card that started it all.

In essence, memory cards are a great idea – store all your game saves in the one place, somewhere that should be safe and easily transportable to other consoles.  Even if you get rid of your console, or god forbid it should break, all of your progress will be safe and easy to get back to where you were in the game should you ever need to.  There are, however, a few problems that have never been sorted out even to this day – the two most glaringly obvious being size of memory and cost.  In the days of the Playstation 1, memory cards could cost up to the princely sum of £20 and weighed in at a weak 1 MB, they had 15 save slots in them and some games used more than one slot.  At the time it didn’t really bother me because I couldn’t afford to have many games, but over time the main problem became apparent.  As my gaming progressed I traded in games or even just bought new ones, and this posed me a small dilemma. Do I delete my save files or splash out on more memory?  At the time more memory was a costly option and only the people with spare cash had two memory cards sticking out of the front of their Playstation.  Eventually, if I remember rightly, memory cards were given away on the covers of magazines but it was too late in the life of the Playstation to be worth while, I was moving on to my next consoles.

Even Nintendo got in on the act.
Even Nintendo got in on the act.

Over the following years I developed a love/hate relationship with memory cards, they were all costly and too small to be 100% useful, and many saves were deleted to be replaced with the new game of the moment.  My Dreamcast, Gamecube and Playstation 2 all required those damn cards to get the full potential out of game saves, but on the horizon my dream was coming true, the Xbox had a built in internal memory that would not only save my games but music too.  It was a joy to use, as no longer did I have to use wee plastic squares to save what I was doing, I merely selected where I wanted to save my games – the hard drive – and Bob was my uncle.  The same process is used today in my glorious Xbox 360 albeit in a bigger capacity, I can now save more than ever before; I’m not just limited to game saves, I can also save music, video, pictures and game demos.  It’s not all good though, and this is the biggest problem, as my memory fills up I still have to go back and delete stuff to fit in all the new stuff, and I hate it!

On board memory was good.
On board memory was good.

On my 20 GB Xbox 360, as many of you are aware, 7 GB was taken up by system memory leaving 13 GB for everything else.  Games saves filled up the hard drive along with the must have demos, a new game was purchased and there wasn’t enough room for the necessary save so a clear out of the hard drive was in order.  The sword was swung without mercy and game saves that I deemed never needed again were removed forever with the press of a button, free space was created and I could game away again until I needed to clear out again.  Cut forward a bit and I had a craving for some Test Drive Unlimited, a game that I had nearly completed many moons ago, but wait!  I had no save to fall back on, everything was gone and with a game that size it was a nightmare to have to try and play through again, I just can’t do it.  Surely with modern technology our game saves could be saved online somewhere and we could retrieve them in the future should we need them again.  We can see all of our download history, so our progress in a game should be easily retrievable or at least I think it should be.  I have solved the problem though, and purchased a 120 GB hard drive a few months ago. I no longer need to delete anything ever again, but it still doesn’t take away from the fact that our saves should be saved.

Bigger is better.
Bigger is better.







7 responses to “Save me! Save my games!”

  1. Jake avatar

    Trust me – you will need to delete things at some point 🙂

  2. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    The thought of some online cybersafe for your saves is a good idea. And if you profile could be saved online too.

    Whenever I go to Lorna and Mark’s place I have to copy certain saves to a memory card and move my profile across. You can’t copy your profile, it has to be moved. This means if anything happens to my memory card, I have to retrieve gamertag.

    It would be so much easier if there was somewhere online to store this stuff so you can access it elsewhere. Even if you just happened to go to a friends house and then suddenly needed your save, having a place online to access it would be great.

    There’ll still be hard drives/memory cards for storing things for speed or for those without broadband but online storage space for gamers could be the next evolution.

    I think you are onto something here Martin. Design it, patent it and sell it to Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.

  3. Tony avatar

    I like the idea of having an online save system, that would definitely be an improvement for Xbox Live.

    Although I can’t see it happening due to the huge profit Microsoft must make on 360 memory units. (£30 for a 512mb Xbox memory unit works out at 6p per mb. £6 for a 4gb SanDisk flash drive, 0.15p per mb)

  4. Simes avatar

    Online saves are great until your internet connection goes down.

  5. MrCuddleswick avatar

    Entirely relying on online saves, would be, as Simes mentions, open to other problems. You’d still need a personal, local storage device I think.

    Well, I would want that safety blanket, that’s for sure.

  6. Danny avatar

    How come the PS3 has virtual memory cards for the PSone and PS2 and yet the Wii still requires physical memory cards to save GCN games? Madness, I tell you.


    Also, digressing here, has anyone had a VMU in the past 8 years that doesn’t “beeeeep” when you start up your Dreamcast?

  7. Ramsden avatar

    That you think you will never have to worry about space now that you have a 120GB drive for your 360 is almost endearingly cute in its naivety. I thought much the same when I bought mine to replace the exhausted 20GB stock drive, but that was 6 months ago, and today I preordered the new Modern Warfare 2 console just to get the 250GB harddrive because all the Fallout 3 add-ons and the rapidly increasing size of XBLA titles coupled with my never EVER deleting game saves because I know someday I will want to play those old games again without restarting from scratch has filled my 120GB completely. I have to buy a whole new overpriced limited edition console to get the extra space I need… and when that’s full, which I don’t doubt it will be, I’m pretty much screwed.

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