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TechnoGoth

Racing the Clock

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You've just logged into the the computer system of a dangerous criminal you might be able to figure out where he is and what he is up to with the data it contains. But no sooner then you've logged on does a timer appear and its its 180 seconds start vanishing rapidly. How do you react to timers? Do they add suspense and fear when racing to complete a mission or are they frustrating?

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When there is a context, i find them ok, otherwise they are just annoying.

For instance, you're a spy, you researched how to get into a facility and know that on average a security guard takes x seconds to make a complete round, or something else, and you get that time(on average) to perform a given task. This is ok.

You have to steal something, someone, whatever, and you just get a time frame to do it, like it's a race or something, with no context. It's wrong. If the time had something to do with the amount of time a cop takes to leave the police station to reach the place of the crime, adding in some variables such as potencial trafic, car trouble, whatever, then that would be ok.

But the best, is when there is NO timer, and a player has the chance to actually figure out how much time it will get to perform a task, before having to do it.
One word. Planning! [smile]

[Edited by - xor on June 16, 2005 5:57:12 PM]

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Guest Anonymous Poster
It depends on the situation, but more often than not I dislike them.

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It depends massively on context. If I'm warned in advance or it arises naturally out of the flow of the game, then fine I have no problem with timers in Simpsons: Road Rage, for example. The worst example would be a timer that appeared unexpectedly, with a tight limit, and lost you the game if you failed - I'm sure there's been at least one game where a visible time-limit appeared some time after being triggered and was tight enough that, if you weren't heading in the right direction already, you stood no chance.

I guess my point is that a well executed time-limit that doesn't feel arbitrary, and is possible to achieve without exceptional skill levels (or which doesn't have a major game effect or is replayable) is fine. A poorly designed time limit is not.

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Here's my experience of a bad timer:

The demo of the original Driv3r in the Official UK Playstation Magazine a few years ago. Your mission, IIRC, was to follow this car to the airport or somewhere, and you only had a limited time in which to do it. Trouble is, it varied wildly from attempt to attempt. No joke, on the first attempt you might have had 3:30, on the next one you might have had 0:25.

That demo was so bad Reflections actually pulled it and a new one appeared a few issues later.

So that kind of put me off timers.

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IMO, it's fun & exciting to feel like time is tight, and it amplifies the feeling of victory & relief afterwards (for example, Halo's final section) especially if you complete the section on the first time around. But having to replay several times just because of the limit might be substantially less fun :)

Perhaps the player wouldn't notice if the timer would adjust its speed subtly when the player is falling behind?

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i would take the beginning parts of Final Fantasy VII. 2 missions exactly the same (blowing up the reactor), one with timer and one without.

You decide.

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Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
You've just logged into the the computer system of a dangerous criminal you might be able to figure out where he is and what he is up to with the data it contains. But no sooner then you've logged on does a timer appear and its its 180 seconds start vanishing rapidly.

As someone said, only if it has a reason to be there.

What I'd like is something I saw (admittedly in screenshots only) in a game based in the TV series Alias, where you would be, say, cracking a safe and this picture-in-picture window would show other things. In our case, for example, the criminal returning to his terminal and the timer.
So you understand that he's coming back and he'll be back in 180 seconds.

Suddenly its all thrilling and stuff. And it's only a picture-in-picture cutscene.

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It's hard to tell for me to write when timers are good.

For example, if I spend all my time in a game where I fight monsters flawlessly, but just in the last level I have a timer where I have to run from monsters, I will probably bitch.

The thing is that in that game, I learned to fight not to run, I'm pretty sure that around 80% of players will die in the first time they try, even if the game isn't hard. And of that 80%, the 90% will complain about dieing because of the time.

However, I have played games where the timer is a good thing always, since it just makes sure that the player doesn't stays doing the same thing over an over in some part of the level.

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