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Game saves and how to manage them

Discussion in 'Useful Tools & Tutorials' started by lemanuel, Jan 24, 2015.

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    lemanuel

    lemanuel All-Knowing Lurker [Mod] Loyal Member

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    Game saves and how to manage them

    Threads keep appearing with questions related to saves, different encryptions, compatibilities with Gateway and so on.
    So I made this thread to at leasts try to answer some of those questions more clearly. I'll try to be as accurate and complete as possible but if I miss something, please let me know and I'll add it afterwards.


    First let's talk about the different save types (the relevant ones for common users).

    There are the saves inside the retail cartridges. Those you basically can't edit/manage unless you extract them first. Some retail games saves can be extracted using the option in GW Menu while others cannot but the explanation as to why will come further ahead.

    Common roms (.3ds/.3dz) store the saves inside the SD card (the one inside the 3DS) and have extension .SAV.
    The name of each save is the titleID of the game (you can check titleID of games here: http://3ds.essh.co) and the size is always 512KB.

    24d240c38d.png

    These saves are also linked to the header of the rom/cartridge in which they were created.
    A rom that you backup from a cartridge always comes with a header included. The header is an unique ID from the cartridge and the cartridge chip used. It's also what allows to play the rom online.
    "Scene" dumped roms usually came in .3ds format and are stripped of the header.
    Saves created from .3ds roms can be shared and used in other .3ds roms (of the same game obviously) since they're linked to a non-existing header.
    Saves created from .3dz roms are linked to the header of that rom and can only be used with another rom that has the same header (and of the same game obviously).

    It should be noted that the method of how the saves are stored can change depending on the game.

    Card 1 type
    games (99% of all games) save to the FLASH chip (in the case of retail cartridges) or to the SD card (in the case as roms, as seen before). To manage them/backup them, you can simply copy the .SAV files to your PC (when using roms).

    But for Card 2 type games (a minority that include games such as Pokemon), they store the save directly inside the game itself. I won't enter into specific technical details here since I'm not the best person for that and it's not the purpose of the guide. But what you should know is that for these games, the saves come included when dumping retail cartridges and do not appear in the SD card when playing with roms. So if you delete a Card 2 game from the mSD card inside the red card, you're also deleting the save. To manage them you need to use a program called savedatafiler (or the official Nintendo app counterpart) or backup the whole rom.

    As for CIA/eShop games, the saves are stored inside the system folders in the SD card (those folders inside the "Nintendo 3DS" folder) and they are encrypted so you can't manage them as easily as .SAV saves. To manage them you need to use a program called savedatafiler (or the official Nintendo app counterpart). They don't use/have headers so you don't have to worry about that.


    Now... Before starting to explain how to manage saves, I'll just explain very basically about save encryptions and their compatibility with Gateway (GW Mode and Classic Mode).

    For a more technical explanation, check here: http://3dbrew.org/wiki/Savegames
    I read it all and honestly I didn't find anything that would be really useful for common users since most people won't understand it. And as I said before, I'm not the best person to translate the technical stuff into a language more proper for common users.

    So I'll simply state the simple facts that I know at this moment (and please correct me in case I'm wrong since this is the part where I'm most unsure since I can't test it).

    So, unlike the DS saves, in the 3DS the saves are complemented with an encryption layer.
    That includes all types of saves that we talked about before in the guide.

    With GW Mode, we have two saves types being used (.SAV and the CIA's saves).
    They are affected the same way so the explanation will be for both.


    • Saves created in a firmware version below 6.x will always work with GW Mode, no matter the firmware version that you're currently using and whether they were created in sysnand or emunand.


    • Saves created in firmware 6.x or above will only work in GW Mode if they were created in emunand and if your emunand firmware is 6.x or above. They won't work in GW Mode if they were created in sysnand.

    With Classic Mode, there's only one type of saves being used (the ones inside the cartridge).


    • Saves created in a firmware version below 6.x will always work with Classic Mode, no matter the firmware version that you're currently using and whether they were created in sysnand or emunand.


    • Saves created in firmware 6.x or above will only work in Classic Mode if they were created in sysnand/emunand and you're still using the same sysnand firmware version (if you didn't downgrade) and if your emunand is 6.x or above. They won't work in Classic Mode if you downgraded your sysnand.
    Thanks to liomajor for this information:


    Now finally, let's talk about managing/backing up saves.

    As stated before, for .SAV type saves you can simply copy them to your PC in order to keep them safe. Keep in mind that they're encrypted so if you want to edit them, you have to decrypt them first (and I won't explain how to do that here in this case).

    For card 2 type saves or CIA saves, you can use the program savedatafiler.
    (You can't extract/decrypt card 1 type saves using savedatafiler)

    But what is savedatafiler?

    Well.. savedatafiler is a Nintendo SDK tool used to extract/inject saves and while doing that, it can also decrypt them. This tool was made available in not very licit ways and so, it's not a tool that gets updated. That means that some recent save encryptions won't be decrypted by this tool.

    In any case, the program is available in CIA format so you'll have to use DevMenu/BigBlueMenu in order to install it.
    If you don't know what CIA files are or how to install them, check here: http://www.maxconsole.com/maxcon_forums/threads/285969-BigBlueMenu-and-CIA-files
    This link will also tell you all you need to know in order to be able to install savedatafiler in your console and where you can find it.

    Basically you just put the savedatafiler.cia in your SD card and follow the steps described there. You can find the cia file packed together with "3DS to CIA Converter" (check the link).

    98870259d2.png 4098d30370.png

    All that's left in knowing how to use the program.

    After the program is installed, it will appear in your emunand home menu.

    7f3e313667.JPG

    Use savedatafiler to manage saves from CIA games:

    Open the program. The first screen you'll get is something like this.

    5b1d231df5.jpg

    As it can be seen, there's 3 tabs: "User", "Ext" and "SD".

    The "User" tab is where most of your game saves are located. There's a list and you can identify which save belongs to which game by searching the 5 digits number here: http://3ds.essh.co (it's titleID of the game but shortened)
    Some might appear as "Broken" as it can be seen in the image above but just ignore those.

    The "Ext" tab is where additional content saves are stored (this include 3DSWare if I'm not mistaken). The list appears the same way as for the "User" tab.

    The "SD" tab is obviously the contents that you have exported to your SD card.
    The list that appears in this tab is not divided by games. It's the number of saves you have exported. It appears first with a long number that is the date and time of when it was exported and then the shortened titleID of the game appears next. You can have for example more than one save exported from the same game and you can identify which is more recent/older my looking at the first number (date+time).

    46b8ca6a31.jpg

    So basically, just find the save that you want to backup up and choose the options described in the screen to export it to the SD card (Y button).

    Afterwards, you can exit the program and turn off the console.
    After you put your SD card in the PC, you'll notice that in the root of the card there is a new folder named "filer".

    6ba6bd03d7.png

    Inside this folder, you might find 3 different folders "ExtData", ExtDataBoss" and "UserSaveData".

    0ea636f2d6.png

    "ExtData" is where the saves that you exported from the "Ext" tab are located.
    "ExtDataBoss" is for additional data of those saves (I think, not sure)
    "UserSaveData" is where the saves that you exported from the "User" tab are located. Most of your cia saves will come here when you export them.

    850c9a953e.png

    The folders where the save's files are stored are named with the date+time from when they were exported as it was seen before.
    It might also be relevant to mention that the files of the saves are decrypted and so they can be edited (for example, Pokemon save can be edited with PkHex this way). There are always exception though, Tales of the Abyss is one of them for example since it includes a different encryption/checksums that prevent from using an altered save.

    To import the save back to the cia game, all you have to do is put them back in the folder as seen above. Then put the SD card inside the console, power it on, enter GW and open savedatafiler.
    Inside savedatafiler go back to the "SD" tab and the save should be listed there.

    46b8ca6a31.jpg

    Select the save you want to import and follow the instructions in the screen to import the save (button A). The save will be imported and then you can exit the program and enter the game to play.

    Use savedatafiler to manage saves from Card 2 type games:

    The process of managing card 2 type saves is pretty identical to the steps described before with only a few changes.

    Before entering savedatafiler, load the game whose save you want to backup. No need to start the game, simply load it for the icon to appear in the home menu.

    50df9c664a.jpg 69ca1f924a.jpg

    Afterwards open savedatafiler.

    The screen should appear as normal, in the "User" tab but a new item should appear in the list ("CTR Card")

    e30c4c6d2d.jpg

    Press Y as normal in order to export the save and the save will be backed up as usual.

    To import the save to the rom again, simply enter savedatafiler with game loaded as well so that the "CTR Card" appears and go to the "SD" tab. Select the right save and press "L+A" to import the save to the rom.

    46b8ca6a31.jpg

    After that just exit the program, enter the game and play.


    Now to end this long guide, just a bit of useful information for anyone that wants to edit the saves of Pokemon games since that's also a question often asked.
    You'll have to use a program called PkHex. Just google it and you'll find it easily. I won't explain how to use it, only which file you have to load with the program.

    Regardless of being a Pokemon game in rom or cia format, all you have to do is follow the steps above to extract the save.
    The file you have to use with PkHex is called "main" and it doesn't have an extension.
    You can find it here:

    850c9a953e.png 9462bc2646.png f93223f1c0.png

    Well... that's all. I'm sure there might be several mistakes with some stuff I said but I had too much to cover and it was hard to explain everything properly. So if you find something that it's wrong or something that should be added/removed, please comment and I'll edit it afterwards ;)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2015
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    hto60

    hto60 Loyal Member

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    When we copy a .sav file, can we use it after on a different console ?
     
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    lemanuel

    lemanuel All-Knowing Lurker [Mod] Loyal Member

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    Good question and unfortunately I don't have an answer for that since I only own one console.

    But I believe you can since there's several places online where people share their saves.

    All you have to keep in mind is the situation with the encryption of the saves and also keep in mind that the saves are linked to the header of the rom in which they were created.

    .3ds roms don't have headers so you can easily share it with other people just as long as they use .3ds roms too.

    .3dz roms have headers and so the save will only work in a rom with the same header as the one where the save was created.

    And thanks for asking since because of that I was reminded about this situation of the headers and I don't mention it yet in the guide. ;)
     
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    liomajor

    liomajor Loyal Member

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    I advise for everyone who wants to downgrade or unlink your sys from emuNAND, to export
    your eShop Savegames with ' SaveDataFiler ' into RAW Format to prevent problems.

    RAW contains no Savegame encryption or is bound to your ID and is the easiest way to share!

    .sav files can be bound to the games header that created it.

    Sharing to another 3DS can work, but might fail if the game has a
    different header or changed encryption like explained in the main post.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2015
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    codychaosx

    codychaosx Loyal Member

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    I was curious how savedatafiler works. I plan on transferring my cia game saves from my old 3ds to my n3ds (as long as there is cia support) and this guide/tutorial definitely helped me not feel like im going in blind haha XD ( I didnt realize it created a folder named filer on the root of the sd card) essentially I can just copy that folder over to my n3ds emunand sd and then use the import save feature on savedatafiler n ill be good to go right?
     
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    lemanuel

    lemanuel All-Knowing Lurker [Mod] Loyal Member

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    Assuming everything works the same in the N3DS, I can't see why not. lol
     
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    codychaosx

    codychaosx Loyal Member

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    Yeah you can just copy the .sav over and it works just fine. I downloaded a .sav file for LOZ:OOT so i could jump right into master quest and it worked just fine. all i had to do was copy the .sav to the root of the sd and BOOM! it worked no issues.

    (btw im all the way to ganons castle and my 3ds doesnt even have a funticoning L button lmfao.)
    I think thats why i want n3ds support so bad the lack of the L button is driving me insane in the membrane. haha
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2015
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    merlin555

    merlin555 Loyal Member

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    I have backuped the gamesaves from the SDcard from my old 3DS XL with Sysnand 9.x.
    The saves, are from games downloaded from the eShop.
    Now, i have a new 3DS XL with Sysnand 4.5 and the newest EMUnand.
    I want restore the "old" savegames from the SDcard but by savedatafiler
    it comes the status
    "broken".

    Have anybody a idea ?
    Hex hack.. ?
     
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    lemanuel

    lemanuel All-Knowing Lurker [Mod] Loyal Member

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    are those saves .SAV type?
     
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    merlin555

    merlin555 Loyal Member

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    @lemanuel

    Yes.. all backuped in the dir:
    Nintendo 3DS\60282e2c6cc9d595bde51f805b1af3b7\1a4500d2473022905344333200824a54\title\00040000\000eae00\data\00000001.sav

    Thats for Harvest Moon - the new Beginning EURO

    I have the PACK "3DSWare easy Dump.zip" and tries to decrypt the SD card with this pack.

    The save has then the name:
    title.00040000.000eae00.data.00000001.sav.xorpad and have the size 1048576
     
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    lemanuel

    lemanuel All-Knowing Lurker [Mod] Loyal Member

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    you used it in cia format or rom (.3ds/.3dz) format?
     
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    merlin555

    merlin555 Loyal Member

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    cia and 3ds format.
     
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    veekay

    veekay Loyal Member

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    Do all carts played on newer firmwares have the save issue like Pokemon or only card 2 games? I was wanting to take the save from Mario Kart 7 and move it to the cia if that was possible yet
     
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    lemanuel

    lemanuel All-Knowing Lurker [Mod] Loyal Member

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    well.. you have two problems there.

    First, it happens with all carts since it affects the save the same way regardless of where it is stored.

    Second, you can only use savedatafiler to backup the the saves from CIA or Card 2 games, not Card 1 games. Not sure if the official Nintendo Save Transfer tool can do it or not but at least savedatafiler can't with GW. (not true anymore. check liomajor's post)
     
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    veekay

    veekay Loyal Member

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    Save tool won't work because the cia won't work in classic mode so it can't move it and in GW mode the save isn't found. Game still works fine in classic mode so at least I can still play that cart unlike Pokemon.
     
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    liomajor

    liomajor Loyal Member

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    klick107

    klick107 Loyal Member

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    This is the problem I ran into. Has anyone found a work around for this? Can we do anything with the save file exported from the GW menu?
     
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    lemanuel

    lemanuel All-Knowing Lurker [Mod] Loyal Member

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    if the save encryption is compatible:
    if it's a card 2 game:​
    you can try to dump the game, rename the extension to .3dz and try to play​
    if it's a card 1 game:​
    you can try to dump the save and the game, rename the extension to .3dz, put the save in the SD card and try to play. If the save size isn't 512KB then it's useless already because it won't work​
     
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    liomajor

    liomajor Loyal Member

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    Dumping Retail Savegame is possible in CFW with SaveDataFiler and inserted Cardridge.

    Be patient with CFW, sometimes it takes 10 tries to get it working once.
     
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    klick107

    klick107 Loyal Member

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    I think this is the problem that 99% of new gateway users will encounter when trying to get their saves off of retail cards. Like me, I got a 3DS not to long ago, and started playing my carts in sysnand 9.2.
     

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