TPG Asks About PC Game Save Horror Stories

You can pretend like it has never happened and we understand, it is quite embarrassing.  You just dedicated hours upon hours grinding mercilessly to obtain a fabled item – blood, sweat and tears pouring over your keyboard due to your overactive glandular system, only to return and find your hard work vanished.  A thorough check of your system files turns up empty, retracing your digital steps before the disappearance leaves you empty.  Soon, you are pounding the pavement, stapling “Lost: Save File” flyers to telephone poles with rewards of endless love and adulation to someone who can recover your tireless work.  While you may feel alone in your pain, fear not, for there are others that have endured similar situations.  Some of the TPG crew share their stories, and you too can let loose the pain below in the comment section.

Let’s all say “Hi” to out first recovering patient:

Lonesome Road PC Review

Armaan Khan:

I’ve had a few things here and there, mainly with Bethesda’s sprawling RPGs where I get caught up in playing for hours without saving, only to have it crash on me, thus wiping out the progress.  That’s why I’ve never finished a Bethesda RPG, by the way.  But the one that took the cake was Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.  It’s a game that ostensibly has checkpoints, but the checkpoints don’t actually save to disk.  When it crashed—and it crashed a lot—I would have to play the level from the beginning.  That meant re-watching the level’s opening cutscene over and over again because you can’t skip them until the level finishes loading, which drove me to the point of madness (game devs: this is why a generic loading screen is the best way to go).  Eventually, I learned you could force the checkpoint to write to disk by quitting just after you reached it, which turned the game into: play for five minutes, quit to main menu in order to force a save, then reload.  It was a process just as much as it sounded.


David Queener: 

Borderlands. I had been playing it at home on a system that barely met min spec, playing at the lowest resolution, nothing turned on.  Somehow I had survived through this to get Mordecai to level 44.   At work I was informed it was okay for me to play games on my lunch break, and having a very nice system at my fingertips there, I quickly installed Steam and downloaded Borderlands.  I played for many a time on that machine, getting a Brick character to almost level 30 in a delightfully tanky build, and wielding a wonderful shotgun.  It had bonus melee damage, a seven round magazine, tight accuracy for range but still loose enough for that carefree shotgun attitude.

And the kicker: +15 ammo regen. “I could do this for days”. the flavor text read.  I could and it was wonderful.  Having such a powerful character made me reminisce on the subject of Mordecai, and being crafty, I transported him to the office on a thumb drive (this was before the game had cloud saves).  I dropped him in the saves folder, launched the game and there he was. But where was Brick? My low level Lilith and Roland were there, but Brick “Built Like a Brick Brickhouse” Brick was missing.  Mordecai had silently overwritten him. It appeared then that Borderlands used a save slot system, where neither character could coexist, as they were both The First Character in the list. It occurs to me now I could’ve probably dug through the save with a hex editor to adjust the position… But that opportunity is long lost now. Everytime I play the original Borderlands now, I hunt viciously for that glorious shotgun.


Steven Smith:

I have in my possession a fully functioning Super Nintendo console along with several dozen games.  About 2 years ago my wife took the kids to visit grandma and I had the whole house to myself. Naturally the first thing I did was hook up the SNES and fired up a new game of Final Fantasy 3,  It was a glorious marathon session lasting most of the day.  Finally I decided to turn the game off long enough to get a drive thru burger.  When I tried to continue playing I saw that the load game option was unavailable.  Since I had been saving and reloading games all day I knew something had gone very wrong. It turns out that in the almost two decades since it’s manufacture the EEPROM within the game cartridge had gone bad. As long as the game is in a powered on console the saves read and write as they should.  But whenever the console is powered down or the cartridge is removed all saved data becomes erased.  If you think losing all your saves is bad, try knowing that you will never be able to save your game again.

TPG Asks Lost Game Saves Corrupted Files

Mike Bezek: 

It was the summer of ’99, and my pale, nubile complexion was hidden away in the back corner of my bedroom.  I have friends, I had activities to keep me otherwise occupied, but there was an obsession.   A deep obsession.  A copy of Azure Dreams finally landed in my household, and I was caught up in the endless rogue-lite plodding up The Tower with my strange familiar Kewne.  I dumped countless hours into guiding my fiery-haired hero through the perils and traps that lay about the myriad of floors, but there was one pitfall I was never properly prepared for.

Upon attempting to load my 100+ hour save, a file that I tirelessly worked on by cross-referencing rudimentary GameFAQs articles with my own knowledge to obtain every known secret, it had become corrupted.  My summer of Azure Love came crashing down around me, devoting so much time to a video game in the midst of summer had bitten me in a bad way.  I’m sure that if my mother could have witnessed the moment where my soul was being sucked out, she would have crossed her arms with a smirk on her face, and proclaimed, “I told you these things were a waste of time”.  In a futile attempt to pretend that the devastating news did not affect my willingness to ascend the tower once again, I started a new game.  An hour later, I saved the game, and never picked it up again.

TPG Asks Lost Save Files Corrupted Data

Phil Cordaro:

As far as my PS3 breaking, that was just a crappy case of a console dying because I used it too much, which sure did happen to me a lot this generation.  I was in the UK at the time and sent it off to some company to fix because there was nobody who would repair it locally, and it was a US system anyway so I couldn’t get it fixed by Sony directly.  I took the hard drive out of it but the PS3 does this weird thing where it will automatically reformat any time you swap drives, even if that drive has been in there before.

So, they put in another drive to test it and then reformatted mine when they put it back in.  Also, they wound up accidentally sending me the wrong drive when they shipped the system back.  I had to send them the drive they sent me back before they would send the correct one, so there was a really long delay.  On top of that, they sent me the wrong drive AGAIN the second time around.  At this point I actually just gave up and bought a new 500GB drive for the system, which I’ve had ever since.  I did eventually receive the proper drive in the mail weeks later, but it didn’t really matter any more because all the data was lost anyway.

Earl Weaver Baseball

Adam Ames:

It was early in 1997.  A few months prior, I had finally completed my playthrough of Final Fantasy III/VI.  Over 70 hours of work which saw me defeat the once mighty Kefka.  I wanted to continue on with similar JRPGs when I found out Final Fantasy VII released on PS1.  My cousin and I chipped in to buy the console and game.  20 hours.  30 hours.  40 hours.  Our hard work was paying off.  We spent more time in the sunken Gelnika grinding levels and watching our Gil skyrocket than I care to admit.  Just as we were about to surface, the power went out.  We looked at each other and decide it was time for a break anyway.  We had saved recently enough.  No big deal.  A few hours later, the power was restored and we darted into the bedroom to continue our adventure.  We were greeted with the famous PS1 splash screen and asked to load our game.  Problem was, no save files were available.  There we were – heads in our hands.  Stunned and defeated.  It would be almost a year before we attempted to make our way through Final Fantasy VII again.

On the PC side, I had spent the summer of 1989 inputting statistical information into Earl Weaver Baseball.  My 12 year old self was bound and determined to recreate  the 1988 season.  This time, however, attempting to digitally re-write history as an Oakland Athletics fan who saw the Los Angeles Dodgers score a shocking victory in the World Series.  Every popular stat back then from OPS to K/IP was available.  Using a Baseball Encyclopedia (no Internet of consequence in those days), I banged away at my keyboard for weeks.  One night, I found myself only two teams away from completion.  I went to bed with the thoughts of baseball statistics dancing in my head.  I awoke the next morning to my Dad banging around in the living room.  I walked in and saw one of the most horrific site I had seen in my short life – a new PC.  The old system was traded in for a new model, along with all of my Earl Weaver save data.


Now that you have heard some of our stories, tell us yours.  We can both cry together, just no touching.

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  • David Queener

    I appreciate that you managed to get a picture of Brick using a pump-action shotgun for this. It is so similar to my old trusty favorite =(

    • Adam Ames

      I was hoping you would notice. 🙂

  • Nate

    Back in the era of the Playstation, my brother owned one. He was kind of a jerk, so he’d never let me play. One day I was home sick or he was off with friends, I don’t quite remember the reason, but he was going to be away for a long time so I decided to bring out his Playstation and play some Final Fantasy VII. I played and played all day. Trials and tribulations. I ended up playing for about seven hours; all the way to the end boss of the first city. I remember some motorcycle fight, but needless to say, I died. This was the point where I realized that I didn’t have his save card. I never went back to the game.

    • Adam Ames

      Wow. I really do not know how to respond. That is pretty sad. I have the same mindset where, after a terrible saved game problem, it takes me a very long time to have the urge to play again.

  • Stuart Blessman

    I currently have a Metro 2033 save that loads right in the middle of a stealth mission, and I have no way of fighting the 6 or so guys surrounding me.

    I want to go back and punch myself a year and a half ago.

    • Adam Ames

      Ah yes. I did something similar in Fallout 3 where just as I saved, I was attacked from behind by a Deathclaw.

  • dropstring

    Well, mine is not so much a lost saved game story, but a never-saved, or saved-over-the-saved-game moment. I still remember playing Leisure Suit Larry 2 (which until today is a good contender for worst puzzle design for exactly the following mishaps). After lots of hours of hit-and-miss, or guess-and-fail, I made my way almost to the endgame. Only to find out that I missed an item from the very first game phase. And of course: I overwrote any good save file long before… Suffice to say: I never finished this game.

    • Adam Ames

      Oh man. That had to be extremely demoralizing.

    • Steven S

      The same thing happened to me the first time I played Space Quest 1. I never grabbed the Astral Body Cartridge at the beginning of the game. Back then there was no internet to go look at a walkthrough or FAQ. I spent hours trying to figure out how to get out of that alien base.

  • King Eternity

    In Half Life on the final Xen level I saved on a rotating platform over an abyss. Next time I loaded the game the platform’s position had been reset to it’s default and I spawned on top of empty air.

    My next most recent save was hours of playtime previous and I rage quit, didn’t end up finishing the game until playing through it again years later, where I realised I was only about 30 minutes away from the final boss battle when I previously quit.

    • Acehalo2

      I think I had a very similar experience. Damn Xen platforms!

  • Acehalo2

    Star Wars KOTOR, in the bowels of Manaan, trapped down a hallway with 3 health and all my party dead. That was the day I regretted being one of those people who use one save file for the whole game. Thankfully I learned my lesson but I never bothered to go back. :I

    One day, maybe…?

    • Adam Ames

      How far were you along?

  • CrimsonSkies

    Condemned 2. It uses a single save that gets saved to constantly after clearing checkpoints, and my 360 hung when the message saving file appeared. I was near the end of the game and I would have completely had to start over. I never played te game again, disgusted. Developers, please dont use a single file for save, its annoying and things like this can and will happen. I much prefer games like Skyrim where I can save my own game anytime and load a previous game anytime I want.

    • Adam Ames

      I have no idea why, as a developer, you would only allow for one save slot. If I am not mistaken, Bioshock Infinite did this too.