So you're playing a tense game that has you totally immersed. Danger lurks at every corner and each action may be your last. You quickly tap the quick save button before turning the corner. Nothing of importance actually happened. But it still might. Better save again before you hit the end turn button no? I mean, what harm can a little button do? The next turn goes just a teeny bit worse than expected. No problem, you can just tap the quick load button and make it go exactly as expected, especially since the game gods have now gifted you with foresight. Unfortunately, I have bad news for you. You're a save scummer.
By abusing the saving system you effectively negate the state of tension and the illusion that your every choice matters that the game has tried so hard to achieve up to that point. Reloading is not an option in life, so by doing it you disconnect from the immersion you had in the game. Knowing that you can turn back at any point and remake the decisions since your save, makes them effectively worthless.
And thus the harmless and useful autosave/checkpoint is born. But players see various poor implementations of autosaves during the years and demand that developers give them a manual save. But with great power comes great responsibility. Players start using save games in abusive ways such as the example above and developers have effectively given the players a way to play a different, inferior experience to the one that they have crafted.
Other problems arise when developers build their game around save abuse, maybe without even realizing it. The Homeworld 2 campaign is notorious for its brutal encounters that you can't predict the first playthrough, so the winning strategy is based around dying, reloading and playing knowing the future. This trial and error method often feels frustrating and unfair because the punishment is so great and the trial has little leeway for error.
So after around two decades of games built around manual saving, it's refreshing to see a resurgence of game design that embraces the death of the player, acknowledging it as a learning tool rather than a punishment.
But surely you can't fit everything into these categories. What if a game needs a game over screen as punishment but doesn't want to be so brutal as Dark Souls? How can it manage without manual saves? I'll talk about this and why it is actually beneficial to avoid game over screens in the second part of this series.