I also really like your 'resume' idea Tamren. It probably wouldn't save you in the case of the game crashing, though, because the game would probably not have the opportunity to record your current state unless it does it constantly in the background (which would be a poor use of resources). But nonetheless a great idea. I've been in the middle of huge battles in games like HoMM when something comes up and I really need to quit immediately. The options presented in HoMM games were pretty terrible - you could autoresolve, save and quit; or you could retreat and quit, losing your progress since the last save. I would be a very happy camper if I could quit the game in the middle of combat and return to it later, right where I left off in the battle (paused, preferably ).
They did it in Fire Emblem 7 for the GBA pretty well by having the save action be so fast it would be near impossible for anything to interupt it. Alternatively you could do it the pokemon way, where there are 2 save files at any given time. If the most recent save file gets corrupted it goes back to the one before it, so if it regularly auto-saves to prevent losing any place in your game, and it crashes during said auto-save then it would just load the save before it. With the price of storage space these days being what it is, that isn't unreasonable.
@Gananim - It usually isn't being too lazy to design a flexible save system. Its easy enough just to write all related-ram to a save file and literally bring the game up exactly where left off. In fact, THAT is the lazy way out, so if you see a game that has a huge save file but doesn't really have any real user data like custom models or levels or something, they probebly did exactly that.
Yes, developers want you to play the way they want. Because if they ever let you play the way you want (unless it happens to be the way they want) then you probebly broke something. They will design what they can to give you as many options as possible hoping that you will find something that IS the way you want to play (look at stardock, they want us to play with our own armies and stuff for this game), but ultimately it is still the way they want. Its like saying Hollywood is insulting you for making a movie that plays the way they want. Or a book author is to blame for writing a book the way he or she wants it to be read. It is going to work the way the creator created it, and that is a fact and impossible to avoid (except creating your own, but both defeats the purpose of getting somebody else's creation since you arn't using it and then you have just become the thing you hate right? Well, unless you don't let other people play it ' )
The checkpoint system isn't a 1980's system. I'd challange you to find an action game from the 1980s that uses a checkpoint system anything like mirror's edge. The closest I can think of is Sonic 1, oh wait... that is the 1990's and still not quite the same as the invisable checkpoint system of Mirror's Edge where the checkpoints literally exist every few moments so you don't have to repeat any set of obsticles. That is a very 'modern' system design with casual players in mind who complain about things like 'wasted time' because they don't want a challange that lasts more than 1 or 2 minutes because they probebly are only playing the game for like 20 min during a quick respite after work anyway.
Even so, the age of the system really doesn't matter. I'll be the first to just on a soup-box and shout that old stupid systems should be done away with, but save systems are constantly being evolved and adapted to meet the design needs of a game and the abilities of its hardware. It is not like say, our stupid qwerty keyboards, where a super-majority blindly follow a design that was not really designed so much as was randomly created and made obsolete very shortly after it hit the mass market. Designers just go back to stuff similar to older systems (like save points) because its as you said. "simply don't save anywhere".
Ok, the failure for a PC game to let you name your save files is pretty un-excusable if it uses anything close to a normal save system. But before I can really jump on your ban wagon there I'd have to know the game and see what kind of data they use to label the save files since they may have figured nobody would care and you'd have enough info from the save file itself.
---- (yes, I type on the Dvorak Keybord. If you don't know what that is, you should go look it up and switch yourself. Your hands will love you for it. It is NOT like relearning the keyboard, just because they key arrangements are very intuitive, just print out a copy of it and put it on your wall for a month. I gauruntee you'll have it down pat in a month. ) ----