What Is Save Scumming in Video Games and Should You Do It?

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What Is Save Scumming in Video Games and Should You Do It?

Most gamers don’t pay much care to video game save mechanisms. But what happens when saving and loading involve more than merely capturing your work and starting up later?

You’ve probably questioned this if you’ve heard the phrase “save scumming.” Let’s look at what save scumming is, the benefits and drawbacks, and if you should do it.

What Is Save Scumming?

Save scumming is the act of frequently saving your game and reloading that save if you don’t like the current condition in video games. The precise causes and frequency of save scumming vary depending on the scenario, as we will see below.

Save scumming is especially useful in games that allow you to save anywhere, such as RPGs. It’s less typical in games with set save places or autosaves. This is also true for titles that do not immediately return you to the same location after loading a saved game, such as most Legend of Zelda games.

The word was coined by roguelike gaming players. Because roguelikes are based on permadeath, reloading a save to avoid a mistake or reroll a random occurrence is seen as “scummy.”

Reasons for Save Scumming

Now that you know what save scumming is, how is it employed in different games? Let’s look at few instances.

It’s worth noting that we’re concentrating on save scumming utilizing game settings. One disadvantage of using an emulator is the ability to save scum everywhere owing to save states integrated into the emulator itself. While the same rules apply, save states allow you to save the game in an unwinnable condition, so proceed with care.

Save Scumming for Favorable Results

A popular motive for saving and loading is to improve a game’s unpredictability, sometimes known as RNG.

In Fallout 3, for example, your Speech skill level influences your chances of successfully employing optional speech lines to obtain some reward, such as persuading someone to pay you extra for a task. Even if you have a low Speech skill, you can keep reloading a save file and attempting again until you pass the speech check through save scumming.

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Another example is in strategy games, where your characters have a set % probability of hitting their goal. If the game enables you to save at any moment, you may keep reloading a save until the hit hits, eliminating the fear of missing.

Ingenious developers devise methods to prevent players from doing so. In XCOM 2, the random dice rolls for each level are preset from the start and continue even if you reload a save. This implies you can’t keep reloading until you get the desired outcome.

Save Scumming to Escape Consequences

On the other hand, save scumming is a tactic for promptly reversing everything terrible that occurs in a game.

Assume you’re playing a stealth game and want to finish the game without alerting any foes. Scum will save before each encounter and reload if they are discovered.

A comparable version of this may occur in any game with several options, such as immersive simulations or sandbox games. If you’re unsure if a certain option or action is the best one, you can save and undo it if you don’t like the outcome.

This form of save scumming may help you improve your playtime, but it can drain the pleasure out of a game if done excessively. Exciting and unforgettable moments emerge when you play through your errors rather than instantly fixing them in order to try a flawless run.

With its Divine Pulse concept, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is another example of creators incorporating anti-save scumming into their games. You can reverse a set amount of moves every level. This discourages repeated reloading while being tolerant enough to allow you to repair a few mistakes.

Save Scumming to Save Time

Another rationale for save scumming is to prevent players from replaying sections of a game they’ve previously completed. Unlike the previous two examples, this does not necessarily disrupt the intended gameplay.

In the Ace Attorney series of visual novels, for example, you play as a lawyer who must present evidence in court to refute logical inconsistencies. If you make too many errors, the game will be ended. However, since the penalty for doing so is having to repeat the chapter and redo everything you’ve previously solved, it’s more convenient to save before each choice and reload after your mistakes.

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This approach may be used to avoid going through repetitious sections of gameplay in almost any genre, however it does not necessarily qualify as save scumming.

For example, if you have to go through a 10-minute encounter with regular adversaries to reach a boss, it’s appropriate to save after the mob since you’ve previously shown your ability to defeat it. However, scumming occurs when you save during a boss encounter every time you land a few strikes without taking damage. You’re cheapening the boss battle by dividing it into little chunks rather than finishing it in one go as intended.

Should You Save Scum?

As we’ve seen, there are various advantages and disadvantages to saving scumming.

On the plus side, save scumming prevents you from wasting time on repetitious gameplay or areas that need trial and error. You may also use it to experiment with different solutions in a game without fear of being penalized for doing anything “wrong.”

Save scumming, on the other hand, may swiftly transform a game from a pleasurable experience into one in which you maximize all pleasure. It’s tedious to go back and try again every time anything little goes wrong, and when there’s no penalty for failure, your choices have no weight. If you never allow yourself to make mistakes, you’ll never experience the satisfaction of defying the odds or devising novel solutions to difficulties.

Saving “the appropriate amount” is a difficult balance to achieve. If you don’t save often, you’ll have to retry sections of the game every time you die. However, having the chance to remedy all of your errors with two button clicks eliminates any suspense in a game.

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Can’t decide if you want to save scum? Here’s our advice:

  • Don’t save and reload to acquire a flawless result from random occurrences, and don’t rewind all your errors, particularly on your first playtime. Allow the game to run its course and enjoy playing along with what unfolds.
  • Strike a balance in terms of how often you save. Don’t save every two minutes, but also don’t go for hours without saving.
  • There’s no damage in saving before you do anything crazy in games like immersive simulations that promote experimenting with multiple techniques, particularly if you don’t intend to retry the game with a different style.
  • You’re alright if you’re saving to avoid repeating sections of a game you’ve previously completed. You’re slime if you’re saving to make your run as near to flawless as possible.

While the method you play a game is entirely up to you, we believe that following these rules results in the greatest enjoyment. However, since save scumming only applies to single-player games, it has no effect on anybody else. You may also use a different method depending on the game.

Don’t Let Save Scumming Suck the Fun Out of Games

You now understand what save scumming is, how it’s usually done, and if you should do it. While saving and reloading often might help you escape tiresome sections of games, we suggest avoiding it whenever feasible.

Scumming may be essential while finishing a game’s challenge run, but it rapidly converts the initial thrill of discovery of a game into forced perfectionism, which isn’t entertaining.

Meanwhile, save scumming isn’t the only way to cheat or trivialize video games.

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