Tips & Tricks for Testing and Deep Play

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Order Time and Distance

The most important tools by far are already described in Measuring Time and Distance in DS:

  • Order Elapsed Time and Distance shows this to the second and meter, making it super useful for measurement precision. Having them both tracked simultaneously is a real bonus for speed testing. Order Time ignores all the "frozen" time from pausing in all menus, the map, and cutscenes. As a result, that is how to accurately measure time in the game world.
    • Serious players should set aside an Order that they never deliver. One that has a very low Order Number so it's almost always at the top of the Order list. Then you can use it forevermore as a "game time clock".
    • It doesn't matter where the Order is physically, or even if it's in another region. It will still show up on your Orders and time and distance keep updating as you play. So stick it somewhere out of your hair and never touch it again. Do it as close as you can to the beginning of the game and you're set for the duration!
    • Compare that Total Play Time (TPT) includes pause time, cutscenes, and "external" missions like Amelie's beach and Cliff's wars. So it's great for how much real-world time you spent in your current game. But it can wildly over-estimate how much time has elapsed in the standard DS world (the three map regions).
  • The Compass has a load of tricks including its elevation graph (the only way to get elevation), and lots of ways to use the Marker and measure distance.

Consider the Time And Distance page required reading before the rest of this.

Inventory Tips

These are for the PC version but are probably similar on the PS4 & 5.

The following Inventory tips seem to work the same everywhere you can see inventories – your personal Inventory, vehicle cargo lists, the Private Locker, the Share Locker, Postboxes, etc.

Problems with DS Inventories

DS has a lot of great things, but also a lot of annoying inconveniences:

  • Inventory lists will show you, e.g., dozens of "Ceramics (800)" or whatever. Why didn't they just say "19 Ceramics (800)"? Or even just a single Ceramics entry for all Ceramics containers, which you can expand to show subgroupings?
In this way, they might've only had about 12 major groups every time you open anything's inventory, instead of the current scheme where you have to sift through their generalized separators (like "Private Locker: Equipment 1", 2, 3, etc.) and often see tons of repeated items, late in the game.
If they summarized it, you could click an item type and then choose if you want the gun with low ammo or container with less damage, etc. Or at least group everything that's exactly the same so that differences stand out. It would really cut down on the game's current clutter.
  • Having to scroll through hundreds of things to find a particular one is a lot more work than just drilling down from a high-level menu.
    • A drill-down could also be smart enough to open at the same drill-down level the next time you go into that particular inventory (e.g., Private Locker) if you happen to be, e.g., playing with weapons.
  • Also, it's a hassle to select large numbers of things with precision. You have to carefully count. Sometimes there are even separator groups right in the "middle" of everything you want to count or get.

Okay then,

Here are some workarounds to make things easier.

Moving through Inventory

In case you didn't know, the top and bottom of inventories wrap. For example, if you're on the very top-most Inventory line and hit Up, it will go to the very bottom-most Inventory row. And start moving up there.

It's nice because you often start at the top (on Orders) but want to see what's at the bottom (on the ground or on Sam).

Moving to/from Private Locker

The Private Locker at knots has its own little rules. I guess they really mean Private sometimes:

  • The knot owner can't see any Orders you've stuck in the Locker. So you can't turn them in.
  • If you Fabricate items or use Share Locker, you also don't see your Locker. Kind of annoying.
    • If you Fabricate and Offload items to the ground, then you can pick them up and put in your Locker. (This is at the point you decide what to do with whatever you fabricated.)
    • You can't do this with the Share Locker though, whether Donating or taking. Maybe it's so that folks don't simply dump all the Share stuff into their Locker all the time, but it seems to me like it punishes the majority of nice players. Anyway, there it is.

However, if you get a Premium reward and don't put it somewhere specific, it will be left in your Private Locker. (Except of course for D‑Cryptobiotes from the Novelist's Son. They go into Sam's inventory.)

Selecting Inventory

If you didn't know: You can quickly select a lot of things by holding down the middle mouse button (PC) or the square (PS) as you scroll through them.

Counting Inventory

In the PC version, the maximum number of rows of inventory that you can see at one time is 15. This is good to know in itself.

You can quickly get counts for a large number that's a little less than 15, by seeing how many more lines of other items are on the screen. Say you almost have a full screen of Blood Bags except for 3 other things. Easy, that's 12 (15 – 3).

Separator lines and blank lines each count as a line, too. It can only ever show 15 lines, of any type.

Inventory screen with selector at the 15th item


If you want to count or get something when you have a lot more than 15, you can use the selector as a place marker:

  • Scroll the Inventory so that the first item of that type is at the very top of the screen.
  • Now checkmark the last (15th) item.
  • Scroll down another screen of inventory so that the checkmarked item just barely scrolls off.
  • Now you're looking at the next 15 items in Inventory.
  • If you're counting even more than that, checkmark the last one yet again. It's the 30th one.

Just a quick way to count things.


The maximum number of items that can be in any one separator group (like "Private Locker: Materials 1") is 32. Usually this number is not real useful, but sometimes it can help.

When I was testing drops from Mule Camps, I put everything I collected in a B Truck. I could easily see that, e.g., "Cargo Bed: Equipment 1" had 17 items and "Cargo Bed: Materials 1" had 31 items. I could then use these counts to double-check that the total number of items and materials containers I put into my Mule-camp drops data was correct.   Double-checks like this really help you get good data. It's easy to miss something when you're tracking so many similar, individual things.

A Note on Postboxes

One place that the Inventory group counts always help is if you're putting a lot in a Postbox. Postboxes only care about item counts, not size or mass. Here are Postbox levels, item counts, and upgrades:

Level Items Metal to
Upgrade
Metal per
Item in
Upgrade
Metal
per Item
In Total
1 16 - 0.00 0.00
2 32 200 12.50 6.25
3 64 600 18.75 12.50
Some calculations for what it's worth:
  • Metal per Item in Upgrade is, e.g., for Level 3, 600/32 (the 32 that level 3 adds).
  • Metal per Item In Total is, e.g., for Level 3, 800/64 (the total cost for level 3 divided by the total that can be put in it).
  • For more info on every structure you can build with a Portable Chiral Constructor, see my worksheet called PCCs.

A corollary is that, if you have more than you can carry and will come back to a Postbox (especially with a vehicle), consider putting heavy and/or large things in it. Postboxes don't care about mass or SCEs, but Sam does.

Resource Levels at a Knot

A few tips in case you hadn't noticed:

  • You can see the current levels of materials at any knot in the current region by hovering over that knot on the Map.
  • If you then click on the knot, you can see everything in the Private and Share Lockers, too. (Share Lockers appear to empty out if you haven't visited a knot in a long time.)
  • To see the max material levels allowed at a knot:
    • If you're at a knot, the easiest way to see them is to go into Recycle. They show in the bottom right.
    • If a bot delivers resources for you, you get the materials-delivered popup. It's the only way to see the maxima from afar.
    • Of course, you could also use my spreadsheet to see the maxima for that knot. It's at the top of the DS Data homepage. Look at KnotMatsL5 to see it for knots at 5 stars, or AllKnotMatLs to see it for all knots at all star levels.

Okay. Just a few pointers there.

The Log

Under your Map / Data tab is a Log. This can be very useful for seeing messages you might have missed, or to see a bunch of messages together.

Log of CXC harvesting after a Catcher fight

I used it constantly for Catcher Chiral Crystal Drops. I would:

  • Snatch up all the CXls
  • Wait until the last one scrolled up my screen   If you grab crystals quickly, harvest messages take a few seconds to catch up. Any lines that haven't shown on the screen yet won't show in the log yet.
  • Go into the Log
  • Take a screencap

Then I used all my harvesting screencaps later (much later) to make stats on cluster amounts.

Unlike the Inventory screen, the Log shows 17 lines at a time. Here too, you can use this to get a quick handle on how many rows of interest you've got.

Big Catchers sometimes drop 18 clusters. Be careful that you don't miss a harvest row when taking screencaps. You might even put the missed cluster cgs in the screencap's filename, shrug.

FWIW: The Log starts out blank when you load a game.

Savegame Backups and Restores

How DS Saves Games

On the PC, savegames are stored at:

C:\Users\[Windows user name]\AppData\LocalLow\KojimaProductions\DeathStranding\[32-byte hexadecimal "name"]

The contents of this folder are:

  • 1 profile folder with 3 files
  • 23 autosave folders (autosave0 to 22)
  • 23 manualsave folders
  • 23 quicksave folders   – these are the Checkpoint saves

Each savegame folder only has one file in it, all called checkpoint.dat (cp.dat), even though only a third are actual in-game Checkpoints per se. In the Load Game menu, the real-world date and time on each game is the same as timestamp for each of these files, just like you see in Windows File Explorer.

So it's always 70 folders and 72 files in all. (71 folders if you include the parent hex-name one.)

FWIW early in my game, the entire savegame set (folders and files) was ~50 MB for an average of ~0.7 MB per cp.dat. By the end (deep into the Chapter 15 after-game), it was ~90 MB, average ~1.3 MB per cp.dat. This seems pretty good to me considering how much detail the game has.


The files in the profile folder save your Options, apparently. If you watch the screen when you change an Option, you'll see "Now Saving..." (not "Saving Game...") flash briefly in the lower right every time you change an option. It's only updating the little Profile files, not an entire savegame.

Having the Profile files separate also means that if you Load some other savegame, recent Option changes stay in effect. They're not stored in the savegame per se, but in the "meta" Profile files. Makes sense to me. If you change key bindings (or whatever), you usually mean it for good, not until the next time you load a savegame. You can always change it again if you decide you don't want it, shrug.


BTW: I tested whether you can trick DS into having more savegames by making additional folders past the default ones. For example, a manualsave23, when they otherwise stop at manualsave22.

Made the folder, copied in a checkpoint.dat, and restarted DS.

Didn't work. I couldn't see it.

Oh well. It was worth a try.

How to Make Backups of your Game

Screencap of my savegame backup folders

Here's what I do:

  • Make a folder called Backups off of your DeathStranding savegame folder.
  • Make a new folder under that for each backup copy, like I've done.
    • You can't simply drag'n drop a copy of the savegame folder because then they'd all have the same name (that 32-byte hex name) and over-write.
    • I put a date and some descriptive text in the folder name so I'll remember where I was then.
    • Make it start with the date in a yyyy-mm-dd format so it'll sort by date, even in the "alphabetic" folder lists that Windows makes. (See my example.)
  • Now just drag and drop the actual current savegame folder (with the hex name) and all its subfolders into your new folder. Hold Control so it'll make a copy and not simply move the folder. (But if you accidentally move it, no worries... just hold Control and drag'n drop a copy of it back under \DeathStranding.)

Simple as that.

To make it easy to get to the Savegame folder in the future, just right-click the \DeathStranding folder when you have it up in File Explorer. Then Send To > Desktop (create shortcut). Now you have a shortcut on your desktop.

Loading a backup is sort of the reverse of the above:

  • First, make a backup of your current savegame set (if you want to keep it) using the steps above.
  • Then Delete the current savegame folder (the one with the hex name, under \DeathStranding).
  • Find the backup you want to copy in.
  • Drag'n drop it under \DeathStranding while holding Control. (IOW, copy it back out of the Backup location to where the working savegame goes.)

Note: You have to restart DS (the whole thing) for it to "see" the swapped-in savegame set. Apparently it loads a lookup table with their info when the software loads. Otherwise, it won't look like the backup is there, and you can't tell which savegame is which. (IOW just going to the Title Screen isn't good enough – I checked.)


And don't worry. I have swapped backups in and out for months now. It works like a charm.

The only thing is, if you want backups from throughout a given game, you have to remember to make them regularly during gameplay, laugh. It can be critical for testing certain scenarios, like increases due to certain Porter Grades. Nobody wants to have to reload an old backup and then play it many hours just to get to a certain spot in your progression that you know you already passed in previous play. If you make regular backups as you progress, you'll be in the ballpark of most any point.

You might base your backups off of something like every 20 hours of Total Play Time (TPT). Or every 15 hours of Order Time a.k.a. Game Time, if you set aside a special "tracking" Order. (A little less for Game Time because it doesn't include time spent in menus, cutscenes, external missions, and AFK.) If you're doing a lot of AFK testing, TPT will not be a good measure of how much time you've spent actually progressing Sam. But if you reload back to before testing, Game Time will be just fine.

Individual Savegames from Backups

If you want, you can copy one or more checkpoint.dat savegames from your different backups into your current game. So you can make a "memorable moments" repertoire or pop one in to take a look at something, or whatever you might want. DS doesn't care if you mix them up like this.

It's pretty simple. Just delete one or more of your existing checkpoint.dat files and copy the desired one(s) there from your backups.

The challenge is identifying them in File Explorer and on your Load screen, when all the folder names look so similar.

The trick here is to keep in mind that DS shows you the actual file real-world timestamp on the Load screen. So make a note of real-world timestamps both for the one(s) you want to delete and the one(s) you want to copy in, as well as the target folder(s) (quicksave6 or whatever). And of course, restart DS after it's copied in.

Sort the savegames on the Load screen by date. That's the default sort; on the PC, you can hit your mouse wheel-button to switch between Date (default) or Name sort. The F key sorts on ascending or descending date-time. By default it's Descending, a good choice since it shows the most recent games up top. But if you're looking for one to kill, you might choose Ascending to see your oldest ones.

To make a long story short, I usually find a Checkpoint I don't care about any more:

  • View them via the Load screen,
  • Note the real-world timestamp of a likely victim,
  • Switch out to File Explorer and find the checkpoint.dat with that timestamp (search the parent folder for *.dat and then sort them by timestamp),
  • Note the victim's folder name,
  • Kill it,
  • And copy the desired backup checkpoint.dat into that current-game folder.

The Checkpoints are otherwise pretty fixed and can't be saved through the game per se except by progressing. But the Auto and Manual saves might be pretty heavily used when testing or goofing around. Ergo: some old Checkpoint's biting the dust.

If you've already backed up your entire current set, there's no way you can lose anything important. But that's pretty hard to do anyway if you're paying attention.

Triggering Autosaves and Juggling Savegames

If you're testing something, you're liable to want or make lots of savegames as you hit knot Terminals or make a "nested" set of saves with, e.g., various boot configurations, vehicles ready for speed testing with a loadout of weights, etc. How can you keep them straight and not run out of savegame slots?

My approach is to consider Autosaves as throwaways, and Manual saves as particularly important points in whatever I'm doing.

There are a lot of ways to trigger an Autosave. Here are some relevant ideas:

  • Most importantly, you know you just got an Autosave when you see "Saving Game..." pop up briefly in the lower right. Watch for this so you know you locked one in.
  • If you're at a knot terminal, it will always do an Autosave the first time you hit the terminal. Past that, it's a little finicky. If you keep hitting the terminal over and over, it will eventually Autosave again after a handful of tries, maybe 6 at the outside.
  • But a quicker guaranteed way is just Rest (hold C). Watch for the Autosave message.
Occasionally even this doesn't work either; I guess not enough time has passed. So try it (or accessing the knot terminal) over and over until it does, shrug.

You can't Rest and get a savegame everywhere. If it's impossible to get an Autosave somewhere, you also can't do a Manual save there. If unsure, try Resting. Or just check whether you can do a Manual Save.

Here's when you can't save your game:

  • Not if there's any danger.
    • Not in proximity to BTs. Timefall doesn't necessarily mean BTs; you can rest in timefall if not close to BTs. When you get the BT alert warning, you can't. Step back 1m from that boundary and you can, timefall or not.
      Here's a little wrinkle in the game: Find an exact BT-alert boundary and be right outside it, facing away from the BT's likely location. Let Sam rest.
      If you do it right, sitting makes you slightly closer to the BTs, within their danger zone, and you get the alert when you sit down.
      Now you can rest and even sleep in a BT danger zone – but not Save or Autosave, laugh.
    • For Mule Camps, the danger zone is very precisely described by the orange(?) boundary shown on the Map. You can be 1 cm outside it and save. Can't be 1 cm inside it. This is true even if all the inhabitants are knocked out or long dead and gone.
  • Can't Rest or save when in water. It's always impacting your stamina.
  • You can't Autosave by Resting if if you're standing right on top of cargo, because you can't Rest then. But you can still do a Manual save. Or just move a little ways.

I'm sure there are other exceptions, including event-driven ones. That's all I can think of ATM.


This is as good a place as any to talk about when will Sam auto Rest (and autosave)?

  • If he can Rest at a place, he will do it after 60s of standing there without any input (even looking around will prevent it). He'll Autosave when he sits down.
    • Another minute and he'll fall asleep.
    • When you wake up and/or stand up, it always tell you how long you've been resting and sleeping. You can see this message in the Log, too.
  • Sam won't auto Rest if both his feet are not on something flat. Just one of them being flat is enough for him to Rest. (But you can still force a Rest by holding C.)
    • The little metal staircases found around or on top of a big knot's buildings will prevent auto Rest.
  • Being on/in a vehicle prevents Resting.

Usually when I'm testing, I don't want Sam auto Resting because each Rest pushes another autosave off the bottom of my 23 Autosaves. If he auto Rested a lot, soon there wouldn't be anything but a bunch of little autosaves from my latest little test. So I usually prevent it one way or another.

All your save slots can be helpful. Used wisely, older autosaves can be great for important milestones in testing.

Another Little Trick if you have lots of similar Savegames

If I've been doing something complex (like when I got conflicting results testing Instant Voidouts), I would have lots of savegames with a basic starting point long before (here, when I killed off a Mule camp), then lots of branching points over time as I tried various things. After a while it got hard to tell what was what, based on the real-world date-time. A.k.a., which branches of testing was I doing 2 real-world days ago? How close were they to the in-game 12-hour voidout time? It gets hard to keep things straight.

Fortunately, all the savegames in this series of tests had the same Order in the title of their Load game (I didn't make any deliveries while testing voidout boundaries):

Order In Progress: No. 586 "Delivery: Authentic Coffee-making Kit" - 345:38:33

Because they all had the same standing Order, the only part that was different was the Total Play Time (TPT) stuck at the end of the title. Ultimately I used a specific Order's Elapsed Time (i.e., in-game time) to tell when it was 12 hours after I killed the Mules, but TPT still gave a rough estimate of how close I was to this time.

In this case, I could Sort the games alphabetically and this would line up all the ones (from my testing) with Order 586. Basically, it sorted them all these test branches based on Total Play Time.

So this is another arrow in your quiver to use when doing a lot of testing: Sort savegames by name and then use the TPT for your latest sets of tests.

It will also show you real-world time so if you have several branches of testing around the same TPT (like when it's almost time for the voidout), you could still see how old they were in real-time. Plus the location and picture might differ. All these together can help sort out complex series of savegames made while testing.

Can you trade DS savegames with other players?

I don't know; I've never tried it.

In theory, it's easy to send somebody a checkpoint.dat. But will it work if they're a different person logging into the DS servers? (That is, does the savegame itself track who made it?) And could savegames have any personal info stored in them? It seems unlikely, but who knows.

I asked on reddit, but nobody replied.

DS Process Priority on PC

I have a pretty beefy Win10 PC, but DS is a real CPU hog. Often, other processes are slowed way down.

I got the Epic version of DS on sale (before I knew better), which means that the Camera (F8) picture button doesn't work (sigh). So instead you have to take screen caps with something like the Windows Win-G game bar and Win-Alt-PrtScr or nVidia GeForce Experience In-Game Overlay. (If I'd gotten DS on Steam, I could've just hit F12.) With DS completely hogging the CPU, screen caps often don't work; it simply never takes it. Even when the game is paused in a menu. Grr.

To help with this and other CPU priority problems, you can change software priority up or down in Windows:

  • Go into Task Manager (Control-Shift-Escape)
  • Hit the Details tab. (You could do this by drilling down into DS on the Processes tab, but Details is a little quicker.)
  • Right-click DeathStranding.exe
  • Use Set Priority

I set it to Very Low most any time I play. Gameplay is almost never affected except that sometimes it takes a long time to load something (a file? communicate to DS server?) when travelling. You'll see "Loading..." in the lower right and it might take 10 seconds or 60 to actually Load whatever the hell it is.

You can change a process's priority permanently but it looks like you'd have to mess with the Registry. Here it is for Overwatch. I haven't tried it yet.


If all the other software on your PC is running fine (and not laggy), don't worry about changing the CPU priority of DS.

Precision of Weight Measurements

By weight I mean mass; the kilogram load that Sam is shown to have at the bottom of the Inventory and Map screens.

Be aware that if grenades and climbing anchors are not full, they are liable to have fractional weights that can mess with your testing if you are looking for precise measurement edges. For more on this:

Miscellaneous

  • Private Room savegames load very quickly. So if you're doing anything that involves, e.g., Fragile Jumps to other Regions to check things, make a savegame in a Private Room.
  • Pop in and out of the Compass briefly to turn Sam to another orientation. Then you don't have to do a little jig every time you want to turn. Going into the Map or aiming a weapon does the same thing, but the Compass is fastest for me.
  • If you want Sam to move something that's on a the ground just a little bit, have him pick it up in a hand, pop into the Compass, turn him around, then put it down.

Cargo Symbols

If you look at the filters on the Map, there are lots of permutations, just like when you see cargo on the landscape with HUD labels. I found it a little confusing (not that it matters, shrug). Here's a summary, if it helps:

# Description Marked Tagged For
Delivery
Destroyed
/Used
Symbol
Filter Category Online (a.k.a. Other Players), Color Green
1 Marked and Tagged Cargo X X Circled Filled Bust in a Hex
2 Marked and Tagged Cargo for Delivery X X X Circled Wire Bust in a Hex
3 Tagged Cargo for Delivery X X Filled Bust in a Hex
4 Cargo for Delivery X Wire Bust in a Hex
5 Tagged Cargo X Filled Cube
6 Cargo Wire Cube
7 Destroyed/Used Tagged Cargo X X Solid Trashcan
8 Destroyed/Used Cargo X Outline Trashcan
Filter Category Orders (a.k.a. My Orders), Color Blue
9 Marked and Tagged Cargo for Delivery X X X Circled Filled Bust in a Hex
10 Marked Cargo X Circled Wire Bust in a Hex
Filter Category Cargo (a.k.a. Cargo I have or can get), Color Blue
11 Tagged Cargo for Delivery X X Filled Bust in a Hex
12 Cargo for Delivery X Wire Bust in a Hex
13 Tagged Cargo X Filled Cube
14 Cargo Wire Cube
15 Destroyed/Used Tagged Cargo X X Solid Trashcan
16 Destroyed/Used Cargo X Outline Trashcan
Examples of Cargo in Map view. Top row: Knot Lost Cargo before (left) and after (right) I pick it up and put it back down; it becomes Tagged. Bottom row: Sam's Cargo count goes from 0 to 1 when I pick it up.

So it's really just a small set of flags and booleans; here's the summary cribsheet:

Colors:

  • Everything for other players is Green, including their Lost Cargo.
  • Items at Mules and Terrorist items are all Orange until you touch them. (If you dump things out of a camp postbox directly to the ground, they're all orange until you pick them up, even Orders and Lost Cargo.)
  • All others are Blue – your cargo and Lost Cargo for knots.

Symbols:

  • Marked means it's an official delivery Order. It will have a blue circle and be visible far across the map.
    • It becomes a pulsing red circle if you go more than 20m from it and it's vulnerable, i.e., on the ground (not in a locker or postbox).
  • Tagged means you've touched it (picked it up). When you do, it goes from an empty wire outline to a filled/solid color (see inset). It will then stay Tagged if you drop it or stick it somewhere.
  • For Delivery has a little bust of a person. This means it has a knot owner (not player) to go to.
    • If it's just cargo that could be returned to a player , it won't be For Delivery or have a bust, but it will be green.
    • A couple of filter icons seem to be an exception to this (see above) ... they have a destination and a bust icon, but don't say "For Delivery". Bug or oversight?
  • Destroyed/Used is self-explanatory.

If you leave a lot of Orders at knots (for later delivery), your Map will always have lots of circled Orders Marked and Tagged for Delivery, often at its edges. Pulsing-red vulnerable ones will catch your attention. Unless you turn this filter off.

Things I Might Get To

So many things I thought about but didn't have time for.

And you thought I wrote a lot already?