Cloud save
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 February 2014, 3:48 am
I grew up with computers that had a command line interface, where typing "dir" with the right parameters would tell you everything you wanted to know about the file system. And when we switched to graphical user interfaces, I was still very much aware of what a file is, and what for example the difference between an executable and a data file is. For example copying or deleting a game save file is something I always considered something rather obvious. But that was when those game save files still were on the computer I was playing on. They aren't necessarily any more.

One advantage of games that are very cheap or free is that one might get them for multiple devices. For example I bought Skulls of the Shogun on Steam, but then bought it again for a pittance when it came out on the iPad, as I considered the game to work better with a touch screen. And if you consider Free2Play games with game elements where you need to gather resources or build something every 4 hours, it is obviously an advantage if you can do so during your lunch break on your smart phone. So if you can play the same game on several platforms, you might want to use the same save game for all of them. And ideally that save game is "in the cloud", so you don't need to manually transfer any files. My experience with such cloud saves is a mixed bag.

With some games the cloud save works rather well even cross-platform. Skulls of the Shogun has a "Skulls anywhere" option, so I can play with the same save game on the PC and the iPad. But it's optional, so if I wanted I could also run two completely separate games on the two platforms. That isn't always the case. My wife plays some games on her iPad, which uses the same Apple ID as mine, and as those games have automatic mandatory cloud saves, I can't play the same game without messing her game up. Other games have no cloud save, so I lost save games when I bought a new iPad. Manual transfer of save games from one device to the other sometimes works, but is a hassle, as iOS keeps its file system hidden and you need special applications to dig in. As the files aren't meant to be visible, programmers frequently don't label them very clearly, so finding the right files to copy isn't obvious. And some games have cloud saves that are platform-specific, so you can't use the same save game on iOS and Android for example.

Another problem I had with cloud saves is that sometimes you are unable to delete save games. For example I like the city building game Pixel People on the iPad, which uses an optional Facebook cloud save. But when I wanted to start over, I could only do that locally by uninstalling, reinstalling, and not connecting to Facebook again. In spite of me deleting the game from my Facebook account, it appears that the cloud save is stored somewhere, so when I tried to connect the new game to Facebook again, it just overwrote my new game with the old cloud save.

What I would like all games to have is a cloud save system which is platform-independent, optional, and which allows some basic save game management like deleting unwanted save games. Very few games offer all that right now. First world problem, for sure, but one can always dream of things getting better.
Tobold's Blog



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