Game Saves, Steam and ModCloud

19th July 2011

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

I have just launched Osmosis and found it has reset itself back to the beginning, meaning I have lost all my finished zones, in effect my game saves.

The game was a gift and in all honesty, unless it suddenly and miraculously gets its saves back, I won’t play it from the beginning again.

My first thought was to restart, as there must have been a problem. I did this but nothing changed. My next thought was to blame Steam and this is the first part of this article.

Since I only use Steam as my games interface, my first thought if something goes wrong with a game is it must be Steam’s fault. Now of course, that’s blatantly wrong because it’s just an interface, but it shows me how dependent I have become on Steam.

Putting aside the obvious point about what would happen to all my games if Steam were hacked or at least had a serious crash, I have come to trust Steam.

The introduction of Steam Cloud means that Steam account holders can automatically have their game saves stored online and have that data available to be synchronised every time you log into you account. It’s a simple idea and nice to have.

That is until you find that most games on Steam don’t have that option. Sure, that’s not Valve’s or Steam’s fault, and I am not blaming them, but they have set the bar and I subconsciously expect other developers to follow suit. I have no idea how much space and bandwidth these things would take but the least they should do is offer a one-click local solution.

Which brings me to the second point of this article Mod saves. I wonder how careful we are with them. I really doubt if many players back up their mod saves, I know I don’t. That’s mostly because I don’t play many long mods, but if I lost saves of a long mod when I was nearly finished, I would probably cry.

Wouldn’t it be cool if Valve offered “Mod Save Cloud”. A place where users could automatically set mods to save a set number of saves. Perhaps Valve could charge a modest fee for this service. That should cover the costs and make life a little easier for players. A file could be edited or downloaded that would tell Steam to save the saves.

Another option would be for me to set up another project called “ModCLoud” where users could uploaded saves of SP mods, that they, and get this, OTHER players could use if they needed or wanted to. Perhaps even MapTap (An application I will be launching VERY soon, to manage Source maps) could include this functionality in the future.

Of course, players could simply set up some kind of automatic backup of save folders, but let’s be honest, most of us are too lazy!

Steam is a fantastic piece of software and I love it, as I have said, have we become too dependant on it?


  1. Frohman11

    This same thing happend to me , I was about to finish the last area of Super Meatboy in Chapter 7 , and when I came back to it a few weeks later , I found out that im stranded at the level 1 of the forest.

    And then in all the awesome failure guess what ?
    For some OBVIOUS reason it gave me a game 100% done status … completely ruined the fun.

  2. Shadowmancer471

    I recently had a similar issue with Penumbra: Overture about a year ago. I’ve only just managed to force myself to restart it.
    If Maptap had a modcloud feature as well as a nice shiny GUI for map launching…well that would be awesome

  3. Wesp5

    Honestly, with harddisc sizes these day, who is needing a cloud for his saved games? This is ridiculous! I rather have control over my data instead on relying on some service whose only intend is to make money and who doesn’t care if something happens like it did to you…

    1. Shadowmancer471

      What if your hard drive failed?
      What if the program was free?

      Just means that it can backup your data without needing to shell out on an external hard drive

      1. Wesp5

        Today its obviously much more common for cloud servers to fail than a hard-disk ;)…

        1. Shadowmancer471

          But if it was free..wouldn’t you prefer to have both?

  4. I’m in two minds about the idea around cloud computing. On one hand it makes saving data much easier because you don’t need to worry about backing up your data manually or even setting up an automated system. On the other, If you lose access to the cloud you have lost access to your data as well as other issues like privacy but that isn’t terribly relevant to game saves.

    In terms of Steam, we trust that Valve takes care of our data and we trust that they are less likely lose it compared to us. However, it also means that we need to be more reliant on the internet and on Steam. What happens if we can’t connect to Steam, for one reason or another, after we have lost our data locally? We are back to the same place we started.

    For me, personally, I prefer to back up locally rather than to the cloud because I feel that I can access my data more easily that way if something drastic happens. It may take a little more effort but I feel better knowing that I still have some control over access to my data.

  5. Herr_Alien

    😀 I am glad to see that Planet Phillip is becoming more of a service, not just a simple web site 🙂
    On the personal taste, I also like to keep the save files locally.

    1. I think having both options is best. I occasionally play mods from two different PC, in different towns, so having a cloud system can be really helpful. I would love to see Valve implement a feature that easily allows you to back up just your game and mod saves to a designated local directory – and of course, load from there , if necessary.

      1. Herr_Alien

        Well, it all boils down to costs. While one save file is small, a lot of save files from a lot of users might amount to quite a bit of disk space. And for that, of course, the admin would have to make backups, just like it is done for all other server data.

        As long as these costs are small, sure, it would be a nice to have feature that can be offered for free, in order to attract customers.

        Now, as an alternative, Valve (or PP) could try to use other file hosting services rather than using their own precious server space, but that puts a dent on reliability.

        Choices, choices, so many choices 🙂 …

        There’s of course the possibility of creating a cloud to host these save files using the computers of the people who subscribe to the service. While it would demand extra disk space from each user than simply each user having their own save files, it would increase reliability …

        Choices, choices, so many choices 🙂 …

  6. Kyo

    I think saving on the cloud is pretty neat, because one of my biggest pet peeves in PC gaming is that there’s no standardization or “best practices” for where saved games should go. Most games put them within the game’s folder. Others create space in Documents. Still others stash them away in AppData and other obscure places. The user is rarely able to decide where a saved game should go. As such, when it comes time to backup your saves, you often have to search around for where each game chose to put them.

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