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Platform: PlayStation 4.

Saving a game in the Witcher 3 is super fast. However, when I load a saved game, it's taking over a full minute due to a cutscene which is played before it actually starts loading, then the loading itself isn't so fast either.

From quick search, it looks like skipping the cutscene is not possible, but I still wonder:

  • Is it possible to change some setting to totally disable that loading cutscene?
  • Is it possible to tweak something to make the actual loading (after the cutscene) be faster?
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    As a developer I can tell you that loading almost always takes longer than saving. Saving a game is just making a list of everything that needs to be saved (hp, ammo, position, quest states, etc...) and saving it to disk. Loading does the same but reversed, but then needs to initialize a lot of stuff to allow the game to actually start running the game with the list of saved variables (like starting a new game but with different starting values). – Kevin Oct 22 '15 at 15:06
  • If it makes you feel any better it is not a lot faster on the PC, only way to make it much faster is with an SSD for PC. – Dupree3 Oct 22 '15 at 15:17
  • I agree with Dupree, an SSD is the only way to improve speeds on a PS4. That's also assuming it's loading from the SSD and not from CD. SSD will be much faster, because the read/write speeds are greater than a traditional HDD. This means loading times may improve, but there may not be a huge boost. Everything else will run just as fast, but saving and loading is the only thing affected by read/write speeds to the Hard Drive or CD. – dakre18 Oct 22 '15 at 15:32
  • Thanks everyone, guess that I'll just accept it the way it is and wait patiently. :) – Shadow The Burning Wizard Oct 22 '15 at 17:49
  • @ShadowWizard I wouldn't necessarily bother with getting an SSD. On the PS4 it doesn't make a ton of difference. ps4daily - ign – MiniRagnarok Oct 22 '15 at 19:57
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The cutscene is masking loading. It is not waiting to start, they are just giving you something pretty to look at. When the cutscene ends, there is nothing more to show you so you see a traditional loading screen.

To explain the difference in save vs load times (a few seconds to 1 min+), think of what is being loaded vs what is saved:
Load: Lighting, character models, inventory, other assets of the world (terrain/scenery), etc.
Save: Inventory, dialogue choices you've made, etc.
There is no need for the game to save all of this scenery and other assets, which explains the much shorter load time. Of course, some of these are similar (inventory will be saved/loaded for example).
Loading elements of the world does not happen only one time, from the main menu. As I mentioned in my comment, that would take a huge amount of time, and it's much more efficient to load/unload assets dynamically. I may be lacking the technical knowledge for this next statement, but I don't think it would be possible to load everything the game requires into memory at the same time (especially on a PS4).

That aside, there is nothing you can really do to actually speed up the loading from a system point of view. I suppose you could invest in a SSD, but I am completely unfamiliar with how those work with a PS4, as I do not use one.

  • So save takes ~2 seconds, and load takes ~100 seconds, 50 times slower? Hard to believe, but guess this indeed might be the case. Any references? – Shadow The Burning Wizard Oct 22 '15 at 14:16
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    Actually, come to think of it, I can explain the difference (I'm an idiot...). When loading, the games need to load all of the assets of the game (scenery, characters, your inventory, etc...), but when saving, it is only saving things related to your game (mission status, dialogue choices, inventory, etc.). The games doesn't save the character and scenery models when it does this, which explains the difference in save vs load times. – Broots Waymb Oct 22 '15 at 14:21
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    No, the games does not load EVERYTHING in one go, that would take a huge amount of time. It must reload whatever it need to place you back in the location it is placing you at. (e.g. Say you travel 1000+ meters and die without checkpointing, there is a good chance the game has "unloaded" many assets from where you started in order to free up memory where you currently are. Therefore, the game must reload what it "unloaded" earlier) – Broots Waymb Oct 22 '15 at 14:27
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    Another reason the game may have to reload "everything" is because the game world will probably have changed compared to your saved game. Many bugs arise from trying to re-use the already-loaded game world and just resetting a small portion to match the save game, so the game developers wisely probably decided to just start from scratch with every load. – Logan Pickup Oct 22 '15 at 20:54
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    @LoganPickup, good point. Consider Red Faction: Guerrilla. It would be stupid if you destroyed everything, got killed, and when the game loaded everything was still destroyed. – Broots Waymb Oct 22 '15 at 21:14
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In regard to the scene playing before the load bar shows unfortunately you can't disable it on anything other than pc via a mod, Through testing with and without that scene no it doesn't mask loading at all it's just there as a recap from what i can gather.

Load times are affected by the size of the save file itself. (e.g. Your near the start of the game save file is less than 1mb load time is roughly 1 second, but later on when the save file becomes 1mb+ it tases longer and longer).

I have a save from early on with mod to disable the recap scene and load time is 1 second, my current save file is 1.3mb load time is about 5-10secs.

Tested with both pc and ps4 graphics change a lot from ps4 to pc but the load time is the same. Tested with ps4 but timing after the annoying scene.

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When you SAVE your game, you save your PROGRESSION: The Witcher 3 saves your character progression (inventory, unlocked talents and perks, what perks you use, the recipes you have unlocked), story progression (the quests you've completed and what choices you've made) and your map progression (what locations you've visited, what nests you've destroyed and what fast travel points you've unlocked). Note that these are things that the game already keeps track of for purpose of checkpoints and autosaves, so it's likely that the game just has a record of what happened so far and stores that in the RAM memory. When you then save, that record is formed into your savedgame.

When you LOAD your game, the game loads a WORLD STATE. The Witcher 3 starts with a world like the one you get when first starting the game: Geralt has literally done nothing. Then, that game record that forms your savedgame is applied to the game: every quest you've completed, every dead named NPC, everything you have or haven't looted, it's all applied to the world and Geralt. this is a large part of the loading time. While Dangerzone says the game needs to load shaders and stuff like that as well, those are actually loaded BEFORE you even get to the main menu, because that main menu has an ingame Geralt visible with all visual bells and whistles already applied.

To give an example of how detailed this loading process is: Geralt's beard grows dynamically based on how long since his last shave. So when you load the game, Geralt's beard length is calculated and applied to his model.

The reason the game starts from a basic world is because it's a massive world and everyone plays differently, so everyone has a different savedgame file, but you can't save the entire world because it's FAR too big. Imagine you're a tailor known for custom-fit pink shirts. You can't possibly have a closet somewhere in your workshop with a copy of every single shirt someone might buy. Not only would that take a monstruous amount of time, but it's likely that there are certain extreme combinations of customizations that barely anyone will ever have need for and thus would only take room in your closet. Instead, you have a few pink shirts in every size from XXXS to XXXL and take a list of measurements from your customer, like their gut size, their chest size, their arm length, their neck size,... You then use that to choose the proper base size and make some customizations like taking in the girth, or shortening the sleeves,... to make it fit your client better. Similarly, The Witcher 3 takes the base map (or maybe chooses between a few base maps depending on your progression in the map storyline), fastforwards all the quests so people are in the right place with the right dialogue set up, then places you in the location you left the game. Obviously, fastforwarding through alll that content takes a while.

The Witcher cannot keep the entire game in memory at all times, because that's just not possible. On my PC, the Witcher is 32.5 GB of hard drive space. A PS4 has 8 GB of memory, and about half of that is for Playstation OS. You'd need a beast of a Windows machine with about 40 GB of memory to hold it all at once.

An SSD won't help much, because as mentioned above, most of what happens is done outside of the long-term storage. Loading and processing the world state, creating the world itself, spawning the enemies, drawing the textures and models,... all of that is done by the processing hardware, like the CPU and GPU. Once it's in the RAM, the SSD doesn't change anything.

If you compare that to a game like Super Meat Boy (to give an extreme example): SMB saves are just a bunch of boolean flags and times, since you can't save in a level: your level times and what you've unlocked. You also load on a simple static display that likely is prerendered. The level generation itself doesn't even happen until after you select a level. But if you add all the loading times of a level together, you probably have well over a minute of waiting. But because the loading is staggered, you don't notice it.

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    Even 40GB of RAM won't necessarily be able to hold the entire game state in memory at once - the game files are really just instructions for how to create the game state, not the game state itself, which can potentially be larger depending on compression or simply how the game is represented in memory. – Logan Pickup Oct 22 '15 at 23:28
  • That's just a very long version of the previous answer and the comments, with lots of extra details, but +1 for the efforts! :-) – Shadow The Burning Wizard Oct 23 '15 at 5:35

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