One thing I've never felt comfortable with was the power to save whenever the hell you wanted. While playing Half-Life 2 I was tapping the F6 quick save key after every little advancement, like getting health packs or single kills.
How did it feel? It felt dirty, that's how it felt. It felt like I was abusing the privilege that the game lent to me. But did I stop? No. It was so handy to just tap F6. About once or twice I saved in a bad position, but by retrying a few times I could get myself out of sticky situations.
I'm not sure this would be a problem if the game forced me to only save by pausing, clicking save, choosing a window, then saving, then exiting. If this was the case I definitely would not have abused the power of the omnipresent save ability.
But Valve is not like that. Valve trusts you not to be a dick.
What I'm talking about here is how much should we punish the player for dying? I'm sure you wished that the ending boss line in cave story had save points in-between each fight, but I bet you would have felt a lot less awesome after beating the core had there been a save point right before it.
Where are the effing save points now, Lara!?
I believe that punishment is important to add tension to your game, but the amount of what you take away from the player should be relative to the immediate challenges ahead. Frequent save points can make a player careless, but infrequent ones can make them impatient with your game.
I was hoping to come to a more absolute conclusion with this... But I guess it really just depends on the demographic you are aiming for.
Man. What a shitty conclusion. What do you (3) chaps think?