So what are your thoughts on manual save points?
If you mean saving and loading from any point at any time, fuck it. Most people think It’s a point of convenience, and I think at best that type of thing should be like a suspend state (a temporary save deleted when you load it, so you can put the game down whenever you want and not lose anything), not something you can do at will.
When playing games that allow me to do that, I only use autosave points, or I try to make saves intermittently. Otherwise you end up in savescum territory, which is unpleasant to play, it removes a lot of the risk of numerous interactions by letting you just try things out and not lose anything for dumb decisions. If you have a checkpoint backing up every action you take, then you don’t need to be consistent (ie. good) at anything you do, you just need to be able to do it once by fluke or otherwise.
The thing that has to be recognized is that save systems are not just a user experience thing. They’re a game mechanic as much as checkpoints are, even if from a presentation standpoint they’re kind of presented as a thing outside the game. It may be nice to let people save and load to any point, but it also undermines the challenge and continuity of the game.
The only real exception I make to my save state rule is in games that have tedious things to do that aren’t really skill challenges, like collecting items in Thief, where I’d reload, pick up up the dozen items since my last save, and then get to the fun part with a guard. I don’t think there’s really a way to make that work without save states regrettably, not that I’ve thought about it very hard (maybe a dark souls approach where items you pick up stay picked up and you respawn from a single checkpoint per level? but then that would encourage running around grabbing items and getting bopped on purpose, so you could ignore how the item placements force you to go all around the nonlinear level doing stealth challenges from different approaches). Future Thief style games might just want to tone down the collectathon element so that they have less items to collect and the ones that are there work more in tandem with the stealth challenges. Like, only count the loot collection total from the bigger prizes and allow smaller steals like, pick pocketing, as a bonus.