Challenge Series 2009: Challenge 09

11th November 2009

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

Welcome to Challenge Number 09.

If you don’t know what the Challenge Series 2009 is all about, please read the Introduction.

Onto the ninth and penultimate challenge.

The Challenge

I challenge you to completely change your save routine. Specifically I am challenging you to halve the number of save you make when playing.


I have a confession to make: I quicksave every minute or so, in addition I do a proper save when I reach points that look like there may be trouble ahead.

I do this partly because I *HATE* (see that: bold, italics, capitals and asterisks, how much more serious can I make it?) replaying sections. So much so, that once when I didn’t save for a while and died and realized how far back I had to start I stopped playing the mod. Sure, I couldn’t have noclipped, or started from the next level but I didn’t want to – silly, I know but that’s my character.

I also do this because I tend to rush when I play. I hope that’s because I want to get it onto the site as quickly as possible, rather than some other reason.

The last reason is because I am not a very good player and die a lot – even on EASY. 🙁

The reason I want you to try the challenge is that I suspect we all save a little too often and changing that may make us take the game a little more seriously.


Whilst the Borg want you to believe “Resistance is futile” I disagree. Just resist those save urges and only save every other time you would normally. If you were to take the concept a little further do you think that if players knew that if they died they would never get another chance to play that game or mod again they would play really cautiously? In fact would it be possible for players to finish mods without dying? Actually, that will be next week’s poll question.


Perhaps you could stop using quicksave when playing or only save at the beginning of a level. This depends on your level of bravery/stupidity, your skill level and the mod you are playing.


  1. Soldier of Fortune 2 had limited saves – the harder the difficulty, the fewer saves that were available. I seem to remember 3 per level on moderate difficulty – you could use them wherever you liked, but when you’d used them that was it. It made me play very cautiously, especially the first time when you don’t know how much of the level is still ahead of you. It was a really sweaty, anxious, cautious experience and I loved it! I’m a pretty slow player anyway, and it made the game last forever.

    Other games like that are IGI 1 and 2, like SoF favourites of mine. They have no saves – you finish the level or start again. In a lot of ways it’s more realistic and it certainly discourages run’n’gun in favour of careful tactics and maximum use of stealth and cover. In IGI 2 the first time, I belly-crawled from shadow to shadow through an entire level because there were so many enemies…it took a very long time!

  2. Ade

    Hm it would be very hard to finish Strider Mountain with less saves, and impossible with NO saves! 😀 I find this mod very difficult, maybe it’s cus I haven’t played mods in such a long time.. But I think it would be very hard with a lot of mods. Cus if combine walk in pairs or more, if you try to take one out, another 3 come out from behind him.. I mean, how careful must we be? The hl games in general are created with infinite saves in mind, so I guess I’m answering your next question with a definite No No 😛 I don’t think there IS a PC game with absolutely no saves, from start to finish, surely there are chapters, at least.
    And I think using fewer saves will definitely become boring, as u said, some don’t like to repeat entire chapters if they die, plus the whole timeline and storyline is messed up, the flow of the mod will be lost, imo. And from what I remember, I quit one or two other games just because of saving issues and am bound to do it again.

  3. Wozzle

    I’m surprise there hasn’t been a poll about save styles yet. Maybe next week… 🙂

    Anyway, I would be one of the odd ones that doesn’t save after every corner. Most of the time I am cautious enough that I don’t really need to save too often. I mainly rely on the auto save points or I save when I get interrupted (sometimes that happens quite a lot).

    I feel that this challenge is one of the easier ones for me. The only time this might apply is after becoming frustrated at having died in many attempts to pass an area. When this happens I will quicksave after every wave of enemies or after every jump until I have passed the area or give up and quit.

    As a side note, when I did the challenge 7, the health limiting, I became quite paranoid when keeping my health below 30. My usual style of saving went out the window and I was quicksaving nearly after every step. I probably should have binded quicksave to my w key.

    1. Ade

      :)) bind save to w key, funny 😀

  4. I hate to sound mean about this, but I don’t ever use saves other than the built in ones at loading times. I’m able to keep myself alive long enough to get to those points and move on. I only ever have to replay a section when I either get gangbanged or do something stupid like drive off a cliff.

  5. A challenge very worthy of the name indeed
    Normally I save in front of every door and gate or other entrances and if I have dispatched a large group of enemy.
    Did this with Sickening Sanity in Hard with no personal saves at all. I thought I was taking the easy line with a map where enemy are thin on the ground (and completely absent in the air).
    Screaming abdabs, it was terrifying! Especially in the blacked out underground car park with the ever spawning zombies.
    I had no idea that quick saves gave that much of a comfort zone – but they do.
    I’ll be doing this again with maps and mods AFTER first play. It adds a whole new skill level – Titanium anyone?
    That said, absolutely no chance of doing this with the harder mods. Imagine, Minerva Metastasis, with no quick saves? Oh no!

  6. Hoyy

    Dude this has become so much more difficult you know? First of all I died so more often, insecure about some parts that I just would not be able to get past thru, mods specially (essentially Strider mountain … :X) . That has to be the 2nd most difficult challenge, just after the mouse sensitivity one.

  7. I read that and realise I don’t save regularly. I can save every 30 sec when it’s hard but sometime I don’t during 10 or 15 minutes. And in that case I may reload, not because I’m dead, but because I’m not satisfied of my last fighting for exemple (to replay it better).
    I let you imagine…
    And that why I love autosaves.

  8. It’s funny, I tend to either save rapidly over a short period of time, or I don’t save at all, and I haven’t entirely figured out what my reasoning is. Sometimes I’ll go without saving even when I’ve been brought down under 10 health and I’m low on ammo. Other times I’ll barely even accept taking any damage at all without reloading to try again.

    When it really comes down to it, my take on this challenge is to play through a full mod or game with only using the autosaves and only reloading when you’ve died. It’s still up to you to choose which mod or game you use this with.

  9. WizardExt

    Interesting. I remember a few years back I had this bad habit to save every minute. For each new encounter or enemy I had killed I would save. If I missed two shots with the crossbow or had a grenade that didn’t made any serious impact I would load last quick save. I soon realized how much this hurt my overall experience and I slowly stopped to quick save and relied more on auto saves. Of course I quick save still, but not nearly as much. I think that it has to do with me actually caring more about my own experience. When playing a map/mod/game I put my time to it. I don’t play for 15 minutes. I play for at least an hour. Otherwise I can’t get myself immersed. Same with quick saving, it takes away some of the immersion and also disturbs the difficulty.

    What’s the point in playing a game if your journey is forced to perfection? Avoiding quick saving will really higher the experience. You will remember things. A stupid mistake that almost had you killed or that intense encounter where you ran out of ammo and was forced to kill the remaining two combines with the crowbar. It will be your journey, something to share and talk about with fellow gamers.

    So I have changed my save habits a lot and I am not going back to quick saving for each new room I enter. And all mods/games that feature poor auto saves/checkpoints make a less good impression on me. I think it’s a serious flaw to have bad checkpoints and too long distances for each auto save.

  10. Pingback: Episode #57 » Podcast17

  11. MNM

    0 divided by 2…lets see here…

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