Save Points

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Specific points in game worlds, or between levels, where players can save the game state.

Many computer games allow players to save the game state to be able to continue gameplay from that point at a late point in time. Save Points are location in game worlds or possibilities between levels where players are allowed to perform such saving of game states (in contrast to being able to do it at any time or any place).

TV Tropes has an entry for Save Points[1]. GiantBomb has an entry for "Save Point"[2](but calls automatic Save Points for "Checkpoints"[3].


Examples of games using Save Points include the Assassin's Creed and Tomb Raider series. In the first installment of the Dead Rising series, Save Points exist only in restrooms.

Using the pattern

A large part of designing Save Points is to choose when they exist. This may be as physical locations – in which case they either modulate or create Check Points – in Levels, or they can exist between Levels. When they do exist as physical locations they tend to exist in Safe Havens since this prevents players from creating Unwinnable Game States of the form where they will automatically die directly after loading the game state saved by a Save Point. Regardless of where they exist, players must move to get to them (by getting to a point in a Game World or by finishing a Level. By doing so, they do modulate Traverse goals and can create new Traverse goals since the Save Points function as Closure Points.

Another aspect of creating Save Points is deciding if players can choose to save when encountering them or if this is done automatically.

Save Points need to make use of Save Files in some sense. A general question for Save Points used in a game is it they simply save that a player has reached that point, only a part of the overall game state, or the complete game state. In the first case, the Save Files may simply only be Password Save Files but in both latter cases they need to be more fully-fledged Save Files, storing part or whole of the game state. Like in any game with Save Files, Save-Load Cycles are possible in games with Save Points but when using Save Points, designers have control over where the starting points are of these and can discourage Save-Load Cycles by making the distance between Save Points long and thereby raising the cost threshold for retrying something.

While being able to go back to previous game states work against the idea of Permadeath, Save Points can be combined with Permadeath to require players to restart from the last Save Points whenever their Characters or Avatars die.

Save Points changes or makes Scores represent something different since players can go back to earlier game states and try to maximize Scores in a way not possible in games without Save Points (or Save Files). They are also difficult to combine with Multiplayer Games that do not have Cooperation since what constitutes a good Save Point can be difficult to judge.

Narration Aspects

From a narrational point of view, Save Points sets up a problem of maintaining Temporal Consistency regarding what happens in the unfolding story of a game compared to what a players knows and does if using Save Points to go back and redo parts of the game.


Reaching Save Points can count as reaching (Traverse) closures, so the use of them can be seen as already creating Closure Points. Since the purpose of Save Points is to provide players with points from which they can restart later if need be, they also allow players to have Extra Chances.

When Save Points are linked to Check Points, the Save Points typically modify how Goal Hierarchies function, simply by guaranteeing saving the progress in specific parts of the hierarchies.


Can Instantiate

Check Points, Closure Points, Extra Chances, Password Save Files, Save Files, Traverse, Unwinnable Game States

Can Modulate

Check Points, Goal Hierarchies, Levels, Permadeath, Safe Havens, Save-Load Cycles, Traverse

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Scores, Temporal Consistency

Multiplayer Games that do not have Cooperation between all players


An updated version of the pattern Save Points that was part of the original collection in the book Patterns in Game Design[4].


  1. Entry for Save Points at the TV Tropes wiki.
  2. Entry for "Save Point" at the GiantBomb site.
  3. Entry for "Checkpoints" at the GiantBomb site.
  4. Björk, S. & Holopainen, J. (2004) Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media. ISBN1-58450-354-8.