A Love Letter to Scum-Saving

There it was, freshly having touched down, the proper bases being established, a steady growth in population within the first few months; the ground work was in place for this new colony to flourish. It was in fact the eighth planet to be colonized, the first entirely by synthetic droids, it was truly the beginning of a new age, and yet, tragedy always finds a way to strike.

The new colony of the Infinite Concerted Collective, aptly named Sunshine, was the freshest colony pioneered entirely by intelligent machines. The first year was not without event, to the southeast infighting between a now divided empire brought on by the assassination of their Great Khan. This war that had been steadily rolling for two decades and counting. Sunshine’s borders being within a few Hyper Lanes brought refugees to our newly-founded home and with open arms the ICC let them in. Those that came to Sunshine immediately set about improving quality of life for this new society in every way possible. The first few years of the new colony were proving fruitful.

Don’t do it.

It was sometime within the third year of the colony that its fate would be sealed; they had unearthed ancient terraforming technology forgotten to the past. It was a gamble, but the top scientist throughout the ICC said it would be possible to turn it on, just to see what happens, or the safer option of pulling as many parts out as possible to be picked through and studied. Either or could prove valuable. Oh, the follies of the mind. Greedily the ICC (me) went forth to seal this new prosperous colonies fate, but before any of that let’s just pause Stellaris real-quick and…. Saved. Phew, that’s a weight off, now to see what happens!

OK, all saved, unpause. Oh no. Oh no, oh no, no. The entire colony is dead. Why? Turning on the old alien terraforming equipment wasn’t such a good idea. Within the blink of an eye, seriously wasn’t paying attention, it just happened so fast; the planets atmosphere had been turned entirely into ammonia. It was both horrifying and a kick in the butt all together. Me, this colony’s omnipotent being, had led them to their doom. Sitting dumbfounded, as one does when something astounding happens in a game, I quickly picked myself back up and loaded up that save, because scum saving is life and I don’t care.

A planet on the brink of destruction, they may never see another sunrise.

Seriously, who doesn’t love scum-saving? It’s a well-known facet of the video game community and an important one too. Depending on how one looks at how exactly scum-saving can be interpreted, everyone is bound to fall into similar, yet different answers. But if I scum-save at home and then a speed runner creates a save point, aren’t they just the same thing? Obviously at home one is not under the pressure of time, but their own leisure. Yet, both are doing the same thing, making sure that a certain outcome happens to progress. While some scum-saves can be geared towards certain outcomes via RPGs or Narrative driven games, even these are the same. All in all, anytime one saves to steer the direction of play, which is one of the many wonderful things about games, it’s just a save with a certain name given the context.

This is all to say, don’t hate on scum-saving. It’s helpful, it saves lives (I’m winking) and lets people play games how they want to play. It’s like backseat driving; don’t tell the other person how to drive, they most likely know what they’re doing. Scum-saving has saved my hide more times than I can count and I’m thankful for every one of them. Of course, not all games get the scum save treatment, sometimes it is just best to see the entire story out with the path determined by ones’ gameplay. It can make for exciting narrative and lead to roads less traveled that might shine light on certain thought. A good example of this is Stalker with its ability to cater an ending based on how the game was played. Hint: most of them aren’t pleasant.

Thanks, scum saving!

Scum-saving in this latest game of Stellaris was necessary and I’ll do it again. I did before. Stellaris is boasting a new expansion and it’s always exciting starting up a new game to see in what ways this 4X grand strategy game will interact. Hopefully no more planets get incinerated by their own atmosphere, not that it would matter. Still, seeing it happen in real time always has a way of hitting that makes for an excellent water cooler moment, which is just one more plus for video games, the stories that come out of them. Which is what the story of Sunshine is about: the beauty of scum saving, knowing a new dawn is just around that last save file.