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Scint

Time Travel & Dynamic Timeline

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I''ve been kicking this idea around for a while. There have been past games or idea posts here that talk about time travel, but not in the sense that I am thinking about. Here''s my pitch: What got me thinking about this: Do you remember the Simpson''s Halloween episode where Homer invents a time travel toaster? He''d travel back to dinosaur times, and with one action -- like sneezing -- he ends up greatly changing the timeline. In this game, you essentially do just that, although on a smaller scale. Every time you travel to the future, the game would generate a new timeline from the point you left. The goal of the game, possibly, would be to create the best future you can. A possible scenario could be that your present is faced with a doomsday situation, which could have been prevented, so you invent a time machine to try to fix it. However, in trying to fix the past, you end up changing many things. This game would probably be never ending, since the player might find something he doesn''t quite like, so he goes into the past to try to change it. Doing so might have harsh consequences though. Scaling it down: You read the last two paragraphs probably think, "Whoa -- that''s way too ambitious, there are too many factors." You''re right, of course, so in order for this game to work there needs to be some constraints: 1) Most important -- you can only deal with a isolated community. For example: Your community starts out as a small colony of people making a first settlement on a new planet. 2) You can only travel in a certain (again isolated) area. Take the Back to the Future movies: they played out entirely in the same town. 3) Limit the span of time you can travel. Say, you can only travel back as far as when the colonists first landed. Possibly, you cannot travel into the future from where you first start in the game. How the timeline generation works: NPCs in town have basically a "The Sims"-like AI. As the time simulation goes, males and females "find" each other and have babies. Depending on who mates with who will affect the eventual population. Perhaps the easiest way to change the past is to assassinate somebody before he or she has children. Or, play match-maker and hook up a couple that were not originally intended for each other. The NPCs have certain statistics, such as intelligence, charisma, strength, and so on. If an NPC is smart enough, he could invent something. If charisma is high enough, he could become mayor. If he is crazy enough, he could be a murderer. These inventions, leaderships, and crimes in the simulation could greatly affect the future. To put it more simply: To travel in the future, take the current population of self-supporting NPCs, allow them to age and reproduce, and put the game speed on ultra-fast. Keep a log of what happened so that you can time travel to the past. The fun element would be to basically mess around and see what happens. A major part, as I see it, is selective breeding and assassinations. Example: A murderer kills somebody who is smart enough to invent something good. You decide to murder the murderer before he does anything. However, it ends up that the murderer''s great great great grandson was a great inventor himself. Your character could also fall in love and have children. It could also be possible to take people and objects from one time and transplant them in another. Thus, you could put all the great inventors in time all together. One of my concerns is keeping the NPCs as interesting characters. I want to be able to travel to any time and be able to find interesting people to have fun conversations with. I''d hate to have NPCs only say a bunch of canned responses. Comments? Worries about paradoxes?

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i guess if you had like an ai simulation with a village and people,

then after seeing something significant happen you could rewind and kill a person and see what happens instead

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The open ended simlike gameplay would be cool and would require a lot of AI. You could also streamline the focus of the game by having a single time in the past that can be accessed, say the time machine is only stable at a specific time, or a single event will change the world (aka terminator) this will allow for a detailed plot if desired.

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You would need a really good colony sim in order to have this work well.

Also instead of being able to travel to any time fixed time periods would probably work better say, seven year intervals. For added interest you could make it so that the passage of time remains constant. So if you spend a day in the past then a day passes in the present and future.

-----------------------------------------------------
"Fate and Destiny only give you the opportunity the rest you have to do on your own."
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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A very interesting idea.
The problem is not the AI and probability maths in an RPG-style game. It''s the huge amount of events that could happen and lead to something. Inventions, votes, wars, ect. All of them have to be scripted, I guess. If you try anything else, the result would be an AI simulation rather than a game.
Another problem is the presentation of a history/future log to the player. If he changed anything in the world, he would have to check the whole log again to see where it went wrong this time. I think this could severly limit the ''size'' of the game.

Anyway, very intriguing concept.

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I''ve had this idea for a while. In my idea, you''d build a time-travel ship (which I always envision looking like the Epoch from Chrono Trigger) at a time when a very powerful invading race has your planet on the ropes. And so you expend nearly all your fuel moving back in time. Presumably, you''d first go about setting up fuel factories by giving appropriate people the technology to do so. Your fuel would allow you to travel through time or space. Initially, you''d not have enough fuel to travel directly to the alien race''s planets, so you''d need to give them sufficient technology to achieve space travel quickly, and then encourage them to colonize other planets as quickly as possible, so that those planets could develop fuel manufacturing facilities as quickly as possible. Travelling back and forth in time means you can take technologies which haven''t been developed yet back in time and sell them, which is your main resource.

Once you could reach the alien worlds, you can start doing things which make them less inclined to cause you harm, like giving them things, or that harm them, like causing a plague. Eventually the goal is to get them to swear allegiance to you or exterminate them.

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There is a fairly easy way to do a limited time travel game (not your idea but time travel anyway).

You play the game in whatever fashion you like, time rate is fixed and the game saves at regular intervals, say once every minute or so (the saves could be scripted when they occur and teherefore also the timespoints to which you can travel). Your time machine allow you to go backwards in time only and this is simply done by opening the appropriate saved game. Game AI has to be good enough to take over the main character at any time because when you travel back your former self will have to be ai run from now on.

This kind of game would focus on small effects and paradoxes instead of large, society changing events.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
How would you handle the fact that the player could go back in time one day and have a chat with himself in the past?

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
How would you handle the fact that the player could go back in time one day and have a chat with himself in the past?


This point is definitely troublesome... there is a way to define the timeline to get around this. In time travel fiction, there are a couple views: 1) There is one continuous timeline, even if you time travel. This is the Back to the Future method. An example of this is that if Marty kills his parents, he ''disappears'' becauase he will never be born. 2) Every timeline is a different "thread" -- whenever you time travel you basically wipe out the future and create an off-shoot timeline. Killing your parents wouldn''t matter; as long as you have a physical presence you can exist. In this case, meeting yourself wouldn''t matter, since you split the timeline you basically wiped out future events.

There''s more I could say on this but I have to get to work now...

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Scint I also have a game concept about time traveller, and I think it is kinda strange I would read you post only a day or so after I first signed up. Maybe it was fate. I and my company actually have a lot of the resources to work on a game, but I lack a good programmer.

I tried sending you an email, but your email does not work.
Is there a way you can get in contact with me. You can contact me by my company website.

http://www.skyunlimited.net/

I am very serious about designing my game, and although it is not exactly like yours I thought we could talk and discuss. Who knows you might be the programmer I am looking for.



[edited by - BSS_Cerberus on June 10, 2004 1:58:57 AM]

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