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For my game, I'm currently considering where I should save the player's information (configuration files, state saves, player generated content). 'Where' refers to the physical location on disk. I have seen these approaches (there are probably more):

  • (A subfolder in) the game's install dir (\Program Files\somegame\save\config.sav)
  • A subfolder in My Documents (\Users\someuser\My Documents\gamename\config.sav)
  • A subfolder in My Games (\Users\someuser\My Documents\My Games\gamename\config.sav)

Are there any important advantages to / reasons for using one over the other?

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As player, I prefer to have my saved games along with other game files. The reason for this is that when I need to reinstall my system, the save is still there and I don't have to remember to backup some, more or less, arbitrary location. I've lost saves for several games just because they were stored in some locations you mentioned. Sometimes they were even worse.

Despite that, the main reason for sending it to, e.g. "Users\someuser\My Documents\My Games\gamename\", is that every user has control over his own files, not all the users in the system.

If the game is relatively small, I suggest storing save files within game folder. If not, decouple them and store in user-specific folders for safety reasons. The "My Games" folder is becoming more popular, so I place my bet on it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, the purpose of separating user files (I mean saved games) IS to make it easier to back up. Usually you only need to backup your Users folder when reinstalling your system and you should get everything back in place. Plus, Program Files is not writable without administrative rights, making the game location a poor choice for saved game in my opinion. That's why no game is doing this anymore :) \$\endgroup\$ – Benlitz Dec 7 '14 at 15:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Benlitz - plus, if more than one person uses the PC, each person's saves won't interfere with/overwrite the others. \$\endgroup\$ – Maximus Minimus Dec 7 '14 at 15:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good point; I didn't really think of that! I suppose I'll use My Games, then, considering that the game is also largely based around user content (custom maps and whatnot). \$\endgroup\$ – BinarySpark Dec 7 '14 at 15:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Benlitz, you're right. I'm not an ordinary user, who just installs everything in Program Files. I have separate partition for specific programs and games, so the privileges don't matter for me. But, to keep it generic, one should use My Games folder then :) \$\endgroup\$ – Mars Dec 7 '14 at 17:16
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The place to save application specific data like savegames is %APPDATA%, or possibly %LOCALAPPDATA%. The documents folder is a folder that's managed by the user.

Program Files is very wrong, because first you need admin rights to access this folder, second you will access the wrong folder on 64 bit machines, and third you will access the wrong folder on non english machines.

\Users\someuser\My Documents is wrong because this folder should be managed by the user, the name of the folder changes in different Windows versions, and the name of the folder changes on non english machines.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This question was about user-generated content (customized content and saved games), and therefore the folder in question needs to be in some easily accessible place. \$\endgroup\$ – BinarySpark Sep 14 '15 at 10:05

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