Half a terabyte of downloads later, my gaming PC is finally back to normal. I’ve just suffered a complete hard-drive failure on my main PC, necessitating a complete reinstall of Windows and a total re-download of my Steam folder.
A hard-drive failure is a rare and unique trauma - I could cope with having to do a Windows re-install. But the thought that I’d lost all my saves threw me into a complete rage. It turns out that cloud saving is one of the great unheralded joys of modern gaming.
When it works.
I’m in the middle of a gripping campaign in on the Westeros map from Civ V Steam Workshop. I thought I’d lost my progress. But no: it’s all there. All my clumsy diplomacy and wonky elephant invasions. How amazing is that: to just have every action you take saved, and not have to worry about backing it all up?
I’ve got half-way through a long, long game of Shogun II - I’m just about to go through realm divide. And it’s all there - the history of my clan preserved in the cloud.
My Torchlight characters, Maurice and Teem, and their items and talent trees. My Skyrim characters and progress, and mods, and everything in-between - held in a secure deposit box in the sky. My progress through Alan Wake, and Arkham City, Spec Ops and Modern Warfare 3, all safe. It’s a wonderful, brilliant feeling.
High-five, too, to Diablo 3 for holding my progress online. My Wizard is held in a locker until I need her. Even Origin has saved my progress through Battlefield’s (admittedly weak) single player campaign. Almost the whole industry seems to understand: we should never have to lose our progress again.
Stand up, Max Payne 3. And then fall over in distressing slow motion, because you’re an idiot. A twat of a man masquerading as an noir action hero.
Max Payne 3 isn’t quite a great game but not quite a bad game - passable entertainment in which men fall over in unique and interesting ways. I was getting pretty close to the end before the crash.
No worries: maybe it has cloud saves.
Nope. Despite it using a Steamworks game, using Steam for matchmaking, Max doesn’t bother uploading your savegames into the cloud. Meaning that if anything does happen to your save-games, they’re lost forever. Grr. Reading around the Steam forums, it seems there’s a whole group of players who’ve been through the exact same problem.
I wouldn’t mind so much if it was clear where the games were being saved to so it became easy to back the data up. But... here’s a fun fact. Max Payne 3 on Steam saves its games to this path: \Steam\userdata\Your-SteamID\203630\local\default
Max! Why? Why didn’t you click the option to save the game in the sky? You ridiculous idiot, you bald, bearded moron. Whyyyyyyy? WHYYYYYYYYYYY!
The data we create ourselves as we play games feels even more valuable than the game itself. That save-game data is experience, memory and a sense of belonging, bundled into tiny packets and kept safe for us until we need it again. Lose it, and the game itself is diminished. I’m so happy to know that I’ll never again lose my progress; that every step I take in a game can be a fresh experience, rather than retracing my steps, again and again and again.
That, I think, is a reason to be thankful.