So, do you start using the wait-and-restore technique as soon as you see signs that you're probably being timed, or only after you've been forced to restore once and know it's a timed sequence?
Yep. I want to know if I'm really constrained, I want to know if my game session is in real jeopardy. *Timers* don't make me excited, don't make me type faster even though real time's not an issue; *timers* don't make my run blood faster. Good-written fast-paced well-designed sequences do that.
Most people stick with the timers, they're easier. So I stick to "z" until the game proves me to be better,
For me this is where it moves into tricky area. I sort of feel that if PC is in a situation that logically would be time-sensitive and the game strongly hints that you should play as though there were a time limit, then the player has no business messing around trying to figure out if it's a real limit before even attempting the sequence. There may be situations I'm not imagining where that makes more sense, but presumably they'd all be rated "cruel".
You'd like Infocom games. Their time-limit (when there is one) actually allows you time to explore, think and then solve. Whereas Magnetic Scrolls, whose "Fish!" I recently played, allowed me no time to finish even when I was optimizing my every move (since it was my first playthrough, I allowed some examining time, some exploration time, minimal as it was. No dice. That timer is *tight*).
So in Infocom games I can take it easy. In MS I can't. In other games... I assume there will be a timer, and will try to see how long the timer is. It will also give me an idea of how convoluted the solution will be - smaller timers will probably equal solutions where I have to move around less, do less things.
Of course, if the game is well-designed, I'll probably just save at the beginnning of the timing and then try to work it out without "z"ing. But the game had better have me hooked.
And it seems that this behaviour horrifies some of you game writers. It shouldn't, it's just my personal strategy born of playing lots of old-school (I recently played Avon. Wouldn't have gotten anywhere without this and other strategies. With them, and a couple of hints, I actually won the game). It doesn't bother my immersion or atmosphere anymore than, say, a QuickSave/QuickLoad will diminish my enjoyment of Unreal, or the VitaChambers will diminish the excitement of BioShock.
What WILL hurt my immersion is a fast-paced scene that, because of shoddy design, I can't get past. I'm stuck forever in a fast paced scene, and that hurts. And putting a timer there is adding insult to injury.