My husband and I have been playing Diablo III--and LOVING the game btw--for a few weeks now. We are educated, working, professional people who play on our down-time. We spent a lot of our Christmas vacation playing. We, like SO many others, are now having corrupted data issues.
Info for Bllizzard, since the existing Patch has clearly not entirely solved the problem:
We are playing on the PS3 with the 1.0.2 patch and saving to the PS3 drive. We've never had a corrupted save on any other game in the 5+ years we've owned the system. Given the facts, it would be wildly irrational to presume that this is a problem with our console, or a problem that Sony would be able to resolve.
We have been playing in Multi-Player mode (2 characters with an occasional third), and my husband lost his Level 23 character (Barbarian), who was the Primary Player, to a corrupted save. My character (wizard) was/is perfectly fine, but I'm starting over again because my husband has to and how fun could it be for him playing with someone 20+ levels ahead??
We've experienced only one freeze/crash, but that is where the problem occurred. There was a brief "glitch" just prior to the 2nd Act (beginning) video, with an Error message (didn't record the #). The game froze and we had to shut down and restart the system. Upon restarting, everything seemed fine. We continued play and my husband advanced 2 levels. We waited for the auto-save "D" to appear and finish in the corner of the screen before exiting the game via the menu and shutting the system down in the proper manner.
The next evening, after work, we excitedly started the game to resume playing...only to find that my husband was back to Level 21 and had lost all of his gold and equipment--including several new Legendary items. We were NOT pleased. It set us back to where we had started the night before, but despite frustration we carried on. We finished the night in the same manner, and even checked the save (in-game, not in the Saved Data utility) and it seemed to have worked. Next evening, we discovered that he was AGAIN back to Level 21. After looking at the Saved Data utility we discovered the data was corrupted; it could not be copied to a USB.
At this point, I had discovered this forum, and we decided to start over with brand new characters. We deleted the corrupted save before creating new characters, which I think is critical. Despite loving the game-play, we are very unsatisfied customers at this time. Our message to the folks at Blizzard is as follows.
To Whom It May Concern:
Intermittent data corruption is very obviously a problem with the auto-save feature/process of the Diablo III software, and at most an issue of software-hardware interaction. It is clearly not a problem that can be solely blamed on the PS3 hardware or hardware-user negligence, or fixed via those means.
The vast majority of PS3 users are acutely aware of the sort of user errors that can cause data corruption etc. on the hardware side (i.e. by not exiting a game properly, or by interrupting a save). Obviously, Blizzard cannot be held liable for that class of problems.
But given the epidemic nature of this issue among Diablo III players, user and/or system error is plainly not the problem here (at least in the vast majority of cases). There is a reason you don't see threads like this one in forums for other games (i.e. where there is not something glitchy/defective in the save process of the game). This is not user error, and this is not a hardware problem.
Seriously. It's not.
Corrupted data is a serious risk for gamers. It can happen, and can cause major losses and frustration for someone who has invested a lot of time and energy into progressing a video game character. They have chosen to put their precious free time into this activity, and are highly invested in retaining any progress/gains they make.
Losing saves is a very. big. deal. for gamers. Serious gamers, casual gamers (like my husband and I), anyone who puts a substantial quantity of their free time into a video game must be able to trust that their progress will be saved. Otherwise, anxiety and frustration can, and will, completely ruin their experience of the game.
Gaming companies should, and most do, understand that very basic principle. That is why most games are specifically designed to allow their users/players to create multiple, alternating saves in multiple, alternating locations on the drive. Once in a blue moon, for no apparent reason at all, a save gets corrupted because of some strange constellation of factors that are hard to pin down. And once in a blue moon, for unknown reasons beyond the player's control, a certain game is prone to creating corrupted saves. In these rare instances, being able to create multiple, alternating saves in multiple, alternating locations, is crucial.
We had one game about a decade ago that we had this same problem with (on our PS2) on a chronic basis. Loving the game otherwise, what we were able to do in that case was alternate our saves between four different save slots. When, once in every dozen or so saves, a save came up corrupted, we were able to just revert to the prior save and it wasn't the end of the world. We maybe lost one out of every 20 hours of play. It was a hassle, sure, but not a total game-killing catastrophe.
In my experience, PS3 gamers rarely rely on one, single save slot for all of their character saves. It is fairly standard practice to alternate between two or more save slots. This is how players protect themselves against the potential nightmare of losing whole games/characters. Because data corruption does sometimes happen, however rarely. One bad experience in the past teaches most of us to err on the side of caution when it comes to backing up our investments in video game character development.
My husband and I haven't experienced a corrupted save for ten years or so, but we still have multiple save slots for all of the other games we play. It's a good habit, and it would have served us extremely well in this instance!...if we had been given the option.
So please understand: the frustration people are having with this auto-save feature is that Diablo III users have been stripped of their power to create multiple, alternating saves. And, of course, in the one game where we are unable to do that, we are getting corrupted save issues! It's like the Perfect Storm. Under these circumstances, forcing the Auto-Save feature onto players is like handcuffing the occupants of a sinking ship.
Because of the Auto-Save, and the fact that it constantly overwrites in a single location, forcing the player to put all their eggs in one basket (as it were), an issue that would be an especially obnoxious glitch in any other game with normal, manual saving, has morphed into an oppressive, game-ruining flaw in Diablo III. The combination of intermittent saved data corruption and the forcible concentration of all progress onto a single, overwritten save location, is really a total disaster for players. This needs to be acknowledged by Blizzard (internally at least), and dealt with accordingly.
Video gamers are used to irritating software glitches. We are used to working with, and around, them. But in this case, we have been completely disempowered. Hence the extreme and overwhelming frustration and anger being vented in this forum.
I feel like there is such an easy fix here, at least for the purpose of damage control until a truly effective patch can be devised. Others have recommended this, and I am going to recommend it again. Fervently. Vehemently. And with specific qualifications.
Diablo III needs to enable a manual save with the option to create multiple saves in multiple, alternating locations. To maximally insure our game progress against the software defect that makes saved data corruption a significant possibility (if not an inevitability), players should at least be empowered to choose not just when to save our game, but more importantly where on the drive (i.e. which slot) and how many (different) save slots to use to save/back-up our progress at various points. This will not solve the problem of intermittent data corruption, but it will at least maximize players' ability to manage the risk caused by the defect in whatever way works best for them.
Honestly, Blizzard, this would be worth a hundred patches in terms of giving your players/customers some much-needed insurance and peace-of-mind. And although I'm no tech wizard, I can't believe it would be that hard to design such a change.
As it stands now, that little spinning "D" is like a pulled trigger in a game of Russian Roulette; you find yourself saying "don't be corrupted. don't be corrupted." It's insanity. At least if you have another save from 30 minutes ago, the stakes go from EVERYTHING to a meager 30 minutes of play time.
I know Diablo III is one of many games Blizzard is trying to support and debug, and this is one of many issues you are dealing with. But I assure you: if you empower your customers/users a little to manage this problem themselves by enabling a manual save with multiple save locations/slots, it will be the fastest, easiest turnaround of customer attitudes you could possibly achieve at this point. It's a great game! People want to play it! But your customers are walking away angry because they have no power to protect themselves against this flaw.
On the other hand, if you continue to leave your customers'/users' hands tied behind their backs while this defect continues to ruin the experience for more and more players, you should definitely worry about a permanent loss of company reputation among gamers at the least, and legal action against you at the worst. Until people have some way to insure their saves, the corrupt save defect is fatal in terms of viable playability. Refraining from an open admission of accountability will only get you so far.
As for us, we are at least backing up our saves every night to a USB. This protects us because PS3 won't copy a corrupted save to the USB. But that's only an option for PS3 users, and only provides one save for every four hours or so of play and is very inconvenient. So I will be awaiting any sort of improvement of your save feature. Eagerly.