“He didn’t even realize what he had done till we started screaming.”
September 7, 2019 3:00 PM   Subscribe

The Worst Ways People Have Lost Their Saved Games [Vice Gaming] “I am hardly the only person with a saved game horror story. I started thinking about the topic after stumbling upon a reddit thread where a father had accidentally deleted his son’s save for The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and hoped someone could help out. One person even offered to play the game, if the father didn’t have the time. [...] That got me thinking about what other people have encountered, and so I put out a call on Twitter. Hooo boy! The stories that came back were monstrous, infuriating, heartbreaking...hilarious? Some of you should be ashamed of yourselves! You’re terrible! Your parents are terrible! Your brother and/or sister is terrible! Those poor saved games...”

• The Unbearable Lightness of Lost Video Game Saves [Kotaku]
“What a tenuous attachment we have to our digital selves! Year after year we leave behind an increasingly intricate digital imprint. The more data we accumulate, the more of it quietly goes missing. We shed megabytes like we shed hair follicles and dead skin cells; our oldest digital records fade like the long-term memory globes in Inside Out. That video file… those photos from some wedding… an audio note whispered at 3AM… an ancient exchange of text messages. Most of the time we don’t even realize they’re gone. [...] Video game saves are a little different from lost text messages, missing musical recordings or incompatible word processing documents. They record where we’ve been in a digital world but they also provide a waypoint. They’re the station farthest out, where we go to hop back on the train. Losing a save can make it harder to go back, but it can also offer the opportunity for a fresh start. You can make different choices this time; you can begin anew.”
• What's the Most Painful Game Save You've Ever Lost? Players Share Their Stories [US Gamer]
“As a life-long fan of RPGs dating back to the '80s, I was something of a test subject for battery saves, a new-fangled way of saving your progress in lengthy NES and SNES games. Battery saves were often used in place of password systems, but the trade-off was double-edged. Sure, you didn't have to deal with the nightmare of copying lengthy passwords full of confusing characters (Is that a capital "I," and "L," or a "1?" Look carefully; hours of Castlevania 2 progress depend on it), but battery life is finite. When the cartridge's battery loses its charge, poof goes your game saves. If you're really unlucky, the battery might even corrode and ruin the game's circuit board. It's impossible to predict when a storage battery will give up the ghost. I don't doubt there are some old cartridge games out there still faithfully clinging to the data they were entrusted with. Sadly, my SNES RPG library is filled with more heartbreak than stories of dogged loyalty.”
posted by Fizz (46 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
pour one out for every pokemon save overwritten by someone who borrowed the game for a week
posted by Gymnopedist at 3:01 PM on September 7 [4 favorites]


My Vita. My 6 yr old nephew. 65 hours of Persona 4 Golden. Just hours away from the final boss. Gone.

*angrily shakes fist at sky*
posted by Fizz at 3:01 PM on September 7 [5 favorites]


The main link in the post seems to be to a different article. This seems to be the one intended: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wjw5nq/the-worst-ways-people-have-lost-their-saved-games (edited to make the link an actual link)
posted by sigmagalator at 3:08 PM on September 7


This isn't about games, but I once erased a 1.5TB drive full of data that I had spent years assembling and carefully organizing. I had cut all of Animaniacs, ripped off of DVD, into individual segments to put into a folder to play in VLC on random to have perpetual Animaniacs. I had a lot of rare television series from my youth that I found ripped into torrents off of VHS. These were things that had taken me probably a thousand hours over 4-5 years to assemble.

And I made one wrong mouse click and two follow-ups, and bang. All gone.

I don't even know what all I lost because it was so much.

I feel for you lost game save people. I truly do.
posted by hippybear at 3:11 PM on September 7 [29 favorites]


Thanks for catching that sigmagalator. I flagged a mod so they can fix it.
posted by Fizz at 3:12 PM on September 7


[Fixed link]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 3:12 PM on September 7 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid, I put a ton of time into FF7. I'd almost finished it, when the neighbor girl wanted to replay the very early section where Cloud has to wear a dress to get into a club. Obviously, she saved over my main file, because of course she did.

I never finished FF7.

Another time I lost the whole damn Playstation when someone yanked a controller too enthusiastically in a snowboarding game, and pulled it off the shelf.
posted by pemberkins at 3:13 PM on September 7 [2 favorites]


Sadly, my SNES RPG library is filled with more heartbreak than stories of dogged loyalty.

...You mean my old cartridge of Chrono Trigger with everyone leveled up and almost all the secret endings uncovered is probably useless now??? Nooooooooooooooo
posted by Mizu at 3:17 PM on September 7 [1 favorite]


I recently lost a bunch of saves for various games by spilling a bottle of Deschutes Black Butte Porter directly into my computer. Not, like, on the case but directly inside it. Don't ask.
posted by Justinian at 3:25 PM on September 7 [6 favorites]


Not, like, on the case but directly inside it. Don't ask.

We're not asking but we're curious.
posted by Fizz at 3:29 PM on September 7 [16 favorites]


I feel bad for HARDNIPPLE the Charmander; they might have had perfect IVs but no one ever played with them to find out
posted by taquito sunrise at 3:41 PM on September 7


The SATA cables from modular power supplies are not compatible with other modular power supplies. Sometimes not even within the same vendor.

Please learn from my mistake: do not mix and match modular PSU cables.

Technically speaking my 400 hours of Fallout 4, 600 hours of Skyrim, 300 hours of Fallout 3, 700 hours of Rimworld and saves from at least two dozen other games (along with early gameplay prototypes for a half dozen indie games, some since published, some not) aren't "gone"...but the hard drive forensics people quoted me a flat $2k on restoring a RAID 1 with both drive controllers slagged and both platters scratched. Waiting for the smoke to clear on Christmas sales figures before deciding whether to bite that bullet.
posted by Ryvar at 3:53 PM on September 7 [3 favorites]


I did it to myself once with a FFVI save. I was absent-mindedly tapping on the L and R buttons in time to the battle music, amusing myself by watching the characters briefly flip to running away animations when my timing was off. I was in endgame, force leveling Relm and Strago so they could contribute in the final dungeon. Turns out that running away while Relm is using her special painting ability corrupts the game and glitches out the graphics. (Luckily, I am a really pathetic nerd who replays 40-hour games for fun, so this was not my first or only endgame save. I kept it around for years after as a curiosity. You couldn't play very well, but the glitches were sometimes interesting.)
posted by Scattercat at 3:56 PM on September 7 [3 favorites]


Come to think of it, one particular contract I worked on an indie project that never landed a publishing deal no longer has a archival source control depot up.

Which means frying that RAID 1 likely deleted all saves for that game that will ever exist.
posted by Ryvar at 4:05 PM on September 7 [11 favorites]


Back when I was in college with unhealthy time management practices I once crashed out in bed after a gaming marathon and must've restlessly kicked my stereo off my nightstand in my sleep. I woke up to a loud crash and the stereo lying broken on the floor and my befuddled brain kept trying to say RESTORE GAME until I woke all the way up.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:21 PM on September 7 [1 favorite]


I recently lost an almost-complete save on Snake Pass (which is not a super long or involved game, but it's not like I'm going to play everything through again...) because they make it stupid easy to delete save games. Basically if you are on the save selection screen and hit cancel and then confirm it will erase your save. I erased it before I realized what happened. And then I quit the game, which syncs your saves on Steam and overwrites the old copy. Blah.
posted by ropeladder at 4:23 PM on September 7 [1 favorite]


My brother and I spent one formative teenage summer playing through Final Fantasy III (née Final Fantasy 6) on Super Nintendo.

We'd beaten the game, but we liked it a lot (it was our first exposure to JRPGs), so we (read: I) spent hours grinding to make our party as powerful as it could be. Everyone level 99, all spells learned, and everybody gets an Economizer (which is the hardest to find item in the game), so you could tromp straight to the end boss and cast Ultima at him for 1 MP until he dies.

Then one time my brother yanked the cart out of the SNES while it was still powered on. All saves nuked.

(The SNES had a locking mechanism to prevent exactly this from happening, but for some reason only a few first-party SNES cartridges had the groove for the retaining latch. I'm still not sure why that was the case.)

† yes I am throwing shade on how JRPGs are all the same
posted by neckro23 at 4:25 PM on September 7


My younger brothers always played my games, because I had better taste, and they got bored of the random bargain bin action games they bought very quickly. After countless hours lost to them saving over my files, I learned to save either at the very end of the slots, or in games where tapping up would cycle you to the bottom, smack in the middle. They always saved at the top and I never had the problem again.

It did not stop them from taking discs out and leaving them around to get scratched to unplayability, though.
posted by brook horse at 5:04 PM on September 7


Some early RPGs on the Apple ][ like Eamon and Wizardry had perma-death, so they'd delete your character(s) from the save disk before you ventured into the dungeon. (Wizardry allowed you to retrieve corpses from the dungeon for a very expensive resurrection ceremony.)

Wizardry II required that you import your characters from Wizardry I, and to survive they had to be the highest level, so if you died in Wizardry II you had to pretty much beat the first game all over again. Pretty hardcore.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:07 PM on September 7 [2 favorites]


It wasn’t accidental, but when I deliberately deleted all my save files from Mass Effects 1, 2, and 3, it felt like scattering a dead friend’s ashes.
posted by ejs at 5:25 PM on September 7 [4 favorites]


At one time, I was very close to the end of Ultima IV. I let a friend play it, with strict instructions not to save. Of course, he did.

A few years ago, I was really into LEGO Lord of the Rings. I was sharing the console with my kids, so I made sure to use the last save slot. I was just about done the main story (which then makes it easier to go back and find all the hidden items) when one of them saved over it. I just couldn’t go through it all again.
posted by nubs at 5:37 PM on September 7 [2 favorites]


I was over at a friend's house once playing Parasite Eve and saved the game. As part of my anxiety it wasn't uncommon for me to save twice just to be sure. My friend, however, had a cheap knockoff memory card and and saving the second time somehow erased both my save and all the saves he had been using up to that point. I heard about that for a while.
posted by downtohisturtles at 6:02 PM on September 7 [1 favorite]


Civ IV has an excellent mod, "Rye's of History" or something like that. It brings nations in at their historical start date, on a proper geographical earth, it is incredibly well scripted to be the same sandbox experience but with changed victory conditions and tweaks to make it really feel like you are playing those nations in a very historical context.

I once played as Persia. They start pretty darn early but IIRC after Egypt and Babylon. They are set up to be able to completely steamroll their weak early neighbours, but also get terrible barbarian incursions from the north ongoing soon afterwards.

Samarkand! Oh, Samarkand! There where Zoroaster the first prophet walked this Earth, where God's chosen people struggled, and where the world was redeemed with God's son reborn! Light of the world!

It was the most lucky and well executed game I have ever played, managing to get the jump on all the early religions, and by the skin of my teeth held onto Central Asia against impossible odds, with beautiful Samarkand as the jewel in the Persian crown. It really was glorious. There was just no question, Europe was going to be a backwater and Persia was going to be the religious and cultural center of the world for the whole show...

Yeah, I lost that fucking savegame...

On the good karma side, Smin Valley was found and is a cherished place of shared memory for my sons and I.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:16 PM on September 7 [2 favorites]


I had a (cheap off-brand) memory card fail in my (bought used) PlayStation after most of a day of playing Parasite Eve. I had just fought or was about to fight Eve at the end of the Natural History Museum. So, pretty late in the game. Day 4 of 5, maybe?

Anyway, save failed. I took the card out to try it in the other card slot, and it had melted in there and stuck, so the plastic housing stretched like gum before coming all the way out of the slot.

I never determined if it was the card or the console which was the problem. I just avoided using slot 1 for the rest of the time I had it.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:38 PM on September 7


(spoiler of sorts, this does not end in soul crushing lost save, but only because of advanced warning)

A couple friends and I played Lufia 2 for SNES back in the mid 90s. It's a chill little JRPG but it had this one dungeon called the Ancient Cave that was 99 procedurally generated floors with progressively harder enemies, and a super boss waiting at the bottom. The kicker is that your party has to leave (nearly) all their gear and magic at the door and only use what you find in the cave. This cave we never beat in the 90s.

My younger brother had the old family SNES and all the games around 2010. I told him my friends and I wanted to play Lufia 2 and beat the Ancient Cave (same two guys from the 90s, though this time we're all married and employed and not middle schoolers). My brother delivers the SNES to me, and then pulls out a second cardboard box. He opens it carefully and begins pulling out issue paper and bubblewrap. Eventually he uncovers the cart and takes it out carefully saying "do NOT shake this, drop this, or hit it with anything. Even if you do nothing more than leave it in the system it might randomly delete your saves. I currently have the same save in all 4 slots, feel free to overwrite all of them. I strongly suggest that every time you save you save in all 4 slots."

This put the fear of god in us and we had that thing protected to the point my wife complained that we made it really hard to use the living room. The one time my dog came running through the room and managed to bang into our setup we all lost our minds. But we only ever had 1 single slot randomly eat our save and by golly we beat that Ancient Slime at the bottom of the cave. Good times.
posted by jermsplan at 7:09 PM on September 7 [10 favorites]


I had a fat PS3 that could play PS2 games. 70+ hours in FF12, had just finished the lighthouse, almost at the end of the game.

It was stolen, along with the disc. I got a replacement fat PS3, but that died in less than a year and I never replaced the game.

I finally finished it ten years later when they released the game for the PC. Accidentally wrote over a save in that game and just used cheat engine to get myself back to where I'd been.

I have finished it, the saves are now in the cloud, it is all good.
posted by Hactar at 7:11 PM on September 7


I had a save of Final Fantasy VII at the last save point before the final battle. It's the last chance you have to go back out to the regular world. I had unlocked every character, completed every side quest. I defeated the giant red monster that lurks in the desert (which REALLY takes some work to even get to).

A while later I hadn't plated the game for a while and a co-worker at the gas station that was my first job asked to borrow it. For some reason he didn't have a memory card and I had two so I lent him that along with the game and asked him to be careful not to delete that specific save. Supposedly his younger brother accidentally deleted it and he was very sorry.

My brother and I went through the game's story reading all the dialogue aloud with different voices for different characters and it was a blast so I had some sentimental attachment to that saved game. Fortunately since it's just data I was able to make a copy the old fashioned way. I played through the whole game again, this time just doggedly getting through it but once again completed every quest, defeated every boss, gathered every whatever and all the rest. I enjoyed the challenge of it but was still mad at my co-worker through the whole thing. I'm still proud that I did it all twice. I've still got that memory card and the other one where it's backed up several times in a box somewhere though I'm not sure they're still readable.
posted by VTX at 7:51 PM on September 7 [1 favorite]


The closest that I've ever come to losing saves aside from simply putting the game down one day and not picking it up again is when I lost all of my Javazon's gear in Diablo II after coming home drunk, booting up the game, getting myself killed a bunch of times, and just quitting the game in a drunken rage and leaving her corpse out in a field with all her gear laying around her. All gone.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:55 PM on September 7


Not a game save, but like hippybear, I found out the hard way that some Toshiba laptops have issues with USB ports and power consumption. Of course, that was only after my 2TB external hard drive ate a power surge and I had to say goodbye to several complete series of rarer tv shows that just don’t seem to be out there anymore (homicide, for example) and several hundred gigs of comics that I’ve never been able to replace. That still stings.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:16 PM on September 7


There's a situation that's even worse than losing your save: having a game-breaking bug rear its head near the end of the game. This has happened to me twice. The first time was playing Dark Sun: Shattered Lands, when the game would always, always crash every single time the second wave of attackers show up in the final battle. I'd poured what felt like most of my life into the game by that point; I was too grief-stricken to start over or revert to an earlier save. The second time was a few years later, going into the battle with Sarevok in Baldur's Gate. Just when I was allowing myself to feel again!

These losses hurt more than the times I've lost a save because it feels like the rot was always there, waiting to wreck the game after you were a hundred hours in. I don't know at what point the corruption manifested but it was surely before the precise moment that the game crashed. From the moment the cancer appeared it was inevitable you would not be able to finish the story. If only it wasn't invisible, buried deep in a data structure somewhere on disk.
posted by um at 9:03 PM on September 7 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: I don't know at what point the corruption manifested
posted by hippybear at 9:27 PM on September 7 [8 favorites]


...having a game-breaking bug rear its head near the end of the game.

So, not fatal for me, but on my second playthrough of Fallout: New Vegas (and my first with the DLC), the game would crash while saving maybe one in four times. This turned saving into a nerve-wracking act. Saving lots crashed the game more but tended to keep my place more secure while waiting a while became much riskier.

I still managed to finish, though. (IIRC, that was the time I shot Lanius point-blank with a Fat Man right after he'd threatened to crucify me against Hoover Dam. Very satisfying.)
posted by suetanvil at 10:06 PM on September 7


game-breaking bug rear its head near the end of the game.

The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall was notorious for this.

The branchpoint to choose a different end-game scenario is pretty far back, but I've tried two more approaches to try to avoid the bug only ended up with finding a different end-game bug.

I've not been able to finish Daggerfall, ever, but like a first love I'm fondest of it among TES games with Morrowind immediately behind.

--

In my early teens I replayed Heroes Quest ('Quest for Glory 1') when I realized that QfG2's "new character" thief could not have either chain armour or the broadsword - ever - but allowed grandfathering from imported saved games from Heroes Quest, but I had deleted those after finishing the game when hard drives were 30 megabytes and the copies on 5 1/4" floppies had rotted... of course I restarted a thief and did the quests to get the chain and broadsword.

I saved my QfG2 end saves redundantly. I eventually played 3 and I think it imported the sword but it didn't matter since the game is spear-based or something. Never played 4, but after wikipediaing it, I remember having an 'anniversary collection' copy of it somewhere.

*edit: it won't run in Win10, will need to look into a VM/ emulator
posted by porpoise at 10:50 PM on September 7 [1 favorite]


having a game-breaking bug rear its head near the end of the game

I still don't know if I actually finished the final boss battle in the Blood and Wine expansion of the Witcher 3 game.

I beat the boss, and ... black screen. Just black screen forever. The first such bug I encountered the entire time I was playing it. I probably had a relatively recent save, but somehow it just sucked all the momentum out and I haven't opened it since.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:46 PM on September 7


Porpoise, my copy of QfG4 broke about 80% of the way through a recent attempt. I didn't finish. Although it was better than finding it that disk 9 of 9 was corrupted and you couldn't install this on your new computer. (How we got by with the capriciousness of floppy disks I don't understand anymore.)
posted by Hactar at 1:41 AM on September 8 [1 favorite]


When I was 13, my parents paid Maureen the cleaner to come in once a week and dust, vacuum, scrub ceramics, etc. She would sometimes bring her grandson, who is four years younger than me and developmentally disabled. I would set up my SNES so he could play games while I was at school and his grandmother was working. One rushed morning, I left my copy of Super Mario World with all 96 worlds completed on all three save slots, in the console. Just as I was about to leave to catch the bus, I realized I’d left something—homework? EGM?—in that room. I returned to see that this child did not understand how to start the game and was repeatedly deleting all my save slots. Outrage was immediately followed by resignation and a successful attempt to not appear angry or upset. I caught the bus and after a few days pretty much forgot about it (after all, distractions abound when you turn 13). It might have been the first truly responsible adult thing I ever did.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:13 AM on September 8 [13 favorites]


Not a saved game exactly but the one time my friend actually managed to get to Minus World in Super Mario Brothers we both sat there ecstatic while I mused out loud, "Wouldn't it be funny if someone just reset the game right now..." and my five year old brother promptly walked over to the console and reset the game, turned to us and laughed, expecting us to laugh with him. "You said it'd be funny!" he later protested, after we finished losing our minds.
posted by grog at 7:27 AM on September 8 [6 favorites]


Tapes. Saved games on tape. So slow. So ineluctable when you know you didn't fast-forward quite enough and overwrote your last save — then hoping the game doesn't crash before you can get back to where you were. It did, of course. Or that horrible crunching noise that your save tape made as the oxide decided to slip and your save is a knot of wadded mylar. It's not coming back. Later, actual murderous thoughts towards virus writers who'd overwritten the custom boot sector of the game disk with my months of Cosmic Pirate progress on it.

These days I only play casual/twitch games. If it has a save, I can't take part: I don't want the memories of lost hours haunting me.
posted by scruss at 8:15 AM on September 8


Tapes. Saved games on tape.

Escape from the Mindmaster?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:20 AM on September 8


So, not fatal for me, but on my second playthrough of Fallout: New Vegas (and my first with the DLC), the game would crash while saving maybe one in four times. This turned saving into a nerve-wracking act. Saving lots crashed the game more but tended to keep my place more secure while waiting a while became much riskier.

I lost a New Vegas survival save just after a “perfect” Sierra Madre run: all companions alive, Elijah trapped in the vault and, most importantly, all the gold. The hardest part was letting go.
posted by nathan_teske at 9:40 AM on September 8 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to think if there's ever been anything like this for me. I was an only child, my father died before "save games" were really a thing, and, well...

Atari VCS games: what's a save?

Commodore 64: I had a sector editor and wasn't afraid to use it, when I got tired grinding in Ultima 3 or whatever I would just make a new save and start poking at it until I could bump all my stats up to the maximum. All my middle school friends knew how to copy discs so we never had to worry about swapping cartridges with the Precious Save when we wanted to share games.

I lost most of my physical possessions when I moved back to New Orleans three days before Katrina. I'd sold off my console collection before the move anyway, and said goodbye to all those PS1/Genesis/N64/Dreamcast saves.

I felt a small twinge of regret when I sold my 360 at the beginning of this year before my second attempt to move to New Orleans. My 100% save on Kingdoms of Amalur was... comfort food. A nice warm bowl of macaroni and cheese of a save game, to pick up and fiddle around with.

Sic transit gloria mundi.
posted by egypturnash at 10:51 AM on September 8


I had my gamecube memory card from elementary school up until college with all my game saves on it. One day I went to play my games on my Wii only to find out that the memory card became corrupted. I was soooooo defeated. And angry. RIP my first Animal Crossing town. And all my unlocked Smash Bros characters...
posted by starlybri at 4:47 PM on September 8


Many moons ago I was on a gamefaqs message board for Grand Theft Auto Vice City(that dates this right?). There was a super fun community of people and we chatted together (and even ended up making our own message board back when that was a thing).

One of the guys lived in New Orleans and had to vacate when Katrina hit. We knew he would be away for about a day while he got to Arkansas with his relatives.

He arrived, let us know he was save and mentioned that he didn't get to get a lot of stuff because they were in a hurry to get out. He was big gamer and we were like "well, as long as you got the memory cards, the games can be replaced".

To which he responded "CRAP I FORGOT THE MEMORY CARDS"

RIP.
posted by Twain Device at 6:09 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]


Not quite the same as being deleted but my son has taken over my savegame on Breath of the Wild. He asked me to fight an enemy for him over the weekend and all of the weapon slots were filled with tree branches and leaves.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:22 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


The one where the kid's parent deleted the FF save and replaced it with a new one with characters named NO, GAMES, AFTER, and NINE is ice fucking cold.
posted by Ragged Richard at 12:30 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


To which he responded "CRAP I FORGOT THE MEMORY CARDS"

Making "shit to do in an emergency" lists, things like this are probably good to put on there. In extremely limited time, I have a rather small external hard drive I would grab and pack and would only come back for the computer if space and time were available. The hard drive contains the soul of my computer, it's a Time Machine drive so it's incremental and happening all the time. It backs up other external drives I have, too. So everything would be there.

Knowing exactly which objects to go for, and making a list of them, and knowing how to execute that list (if any of the bits are complicated) can be the difference between losing everything and yeah that sucked but we got back after a while.
posted by hippybear at 8:45 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


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