This seems like a common question but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Please excuse me, if this is a duplicate.
In a game with checkpoints, after exiting and loading back a game one of two things can happen: either the player is warped back to the last checkpoint or the player is placed back more or less where they left with the same amount of health/mana/ammo/whatever as when they quit the game. Yet for some reason every game I played that implements checkpoints always implements the first and not the second option.
From the development standpoint, I can understand that the first option is easier to implement. But from game design standpoint this doesn’t make sense to me for several reasons.
First, it’s a hostile design. If I need to stop playing right this moment and cannot continue, all my progress is lost for a reason not related to the game itself. In theory, checkpoints are meant to create a pace for the game, the difficulty spikes between one checkpoint and another are carefully designed to create the best experience for the player. For that reason, in a well designed game, players would rarely stop playing mid-checkpoint even if their progress was saved, because they would lack the sense of completeness that comes from reaching the safe spot. Implementing auto-save will not ruin the pace but add player agency for those situations when they absolutely cannot continue or remove the need to continue under stress, because they are needed somewhere else ASAP. Personally, I find it less frustrating and unfulfilled to just turn off the game without completing an objective than rushing to the next checkpoint and dying in the process, getting even further behind.
Second, this grants a hidden ability in the game, that allows the player to warp to the last checkpoint at any moment in the game. While not obvious to most players and somewhat cheesy, once the player realize they can escape any situation, they will eventually start to abuse it. This can happen if the threat of dying is so much worse than inconvenience of restarting the game, for example in Hollow Knight, at first I considered bench warp to be an exploit but when I played Steel Soul and not exploiting this mechanic meant loosing 4 hours of progress, I too started abusing it.
There is a good reason, why the ability to warp to the last checkpoint without dying is important. It allows the player to quickly disengage from challenges they are not yet prepared for. It prevents soft locking if there are bugs in the game (either mechanical or in level design) and the player can get stuck because of them. But if this mechanic is so ubiquitous and important to this kind of games, it would be a much better design to make this an in-game ability of the character, not force the player to access that ability from the game menu. If the recall ability doesn’t fit the game in-universe, I would still consider explicit menu option to go to the last checkpoint better than quitting the game and loading again.
Imagine if in League of Legend in order to teleport to the fountain the player would need to close the game and load it again instead of using the Recall ability that every player has. That would be absolutely ridiculous. Yet in single-player games for some reason this is a norm and I don’t understand why.
Some games do have the “Restart from the last checkpoint” option in game menu but for those games the first reason still applies.
Considering the reasons above, why is it that warping on restart is so much more common than auto-saving on exit? Is there something I’m missing here that makes the more common approach better than what I believe makes more sense? Considering I have the technical abilities to easily implement the save system I prefer, is there any reason why should I follow the industry standards?