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NewBreed

Struggling over game time and real time scaling.

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Hi, I'm creating an RTS and something that is very critical to the game is that all the units move at a realistic speed, also I've got day and night cycles in, which is important from the gameplay terms of things. I've done a bit of working out with time etc, and to keep things balanced, for a vehicle to cover 20 miles it should take around 5 minutes real time, which in turn should take 4 hours game time. All that is fine, but where my problem comes is when building structures. How long in real time would you expect say an airbase to take to build? 30 minutes? If so that means that only one game day/night cycle has passed, which sort of ruins the illusion of day and night if they can construct that quick. Likewise, if it takes a few hours real time then it may be a bit too long to wait in real life. As you can see I'm struggling to find a balance between game time and real time scaling. I'd really appreciate your suggestions and input. Thank you, NB.

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IMO, focus on making it fun first. Realism is just a pathway to making it fun, and immersing the player in the world. Don't sacrifice gameplay for realism since realism should just be there to enhance gameplay and immersion. The exception to this is if you're making a simulator (eg. Microsoft Flight Simulator), in which case the main purpose is to simulate something from real life (so gameplay might be a little further down the priority list).

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Think of everything as gametime, and then add a day / night cycle later. so a factory should take 1min to buld, while a turret should take 20s, etc. then decide how many minutes each iteration of the day/night cycle lasts for. Gamers have an attention span of about 10 mins, so I would say that is a good length of time for one cycle.

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Agreed - make it fun first and treat day/night as a bit of graphical sugar. However, if your game's AI/logic is critially dependent on the day-night cycle (i.e. if certain entities can/can't see in the dark) then the rate of cycling will feed back into your game balancing. I can see how that might make it a tricky choice.

But as the other guys say, realism should be a slave to fun, not the opposite. Thinking about Sim City 4 (as just one of many examples) I remember always thinking that if the builing rate was to be realistic then the day-night cycle would be like a strobe light!

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Quote:
Original post by NewBreed
I'm creating an RTS and something that is very critical to the game is that all the units move at a realistic speed
(...)
for a vehicle to cover 20 miles it should take around 5 minutes real time, which in turn should take 4 hours game time.


So all your vehicles travel at 5 miles per hour then? [wink]

Alright, seriously: What if your airbase is constructed in a couple of minutes of real time (a couple of hours game time) but doesn't reach full effectiveness for a longer amount of time? Perhaps aircraft refuel slower, take longer to repair, and the base can take less damage before collapsing all proportional to how "incomplete" it is.

It might require some tweaking, but that's the best idea I can think of without changing your core ideas. [smile]

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The idea of building structures on the battlefield during a fight is patently absurd anyway. If time is such a crucial element in your design, why not do away with the construction entirely? Have units be "summoned" from distant bases, in the style of Ground Control or AvP, and then the wait for their arrival is a far more manageable amount of time.

If static defenses and the like are called for, have them be field outposts, like trucks that anchor and put up a comms array, or a team of earth-moving trucks that can level a field and create an airstrip in a day or two. Smaller craft can land and refuel there, but for large bombers and the like, you have to call in a mission, wait for them to arrive, then let them head back to base, off the map, until you need them again.

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The idea of building structures on the battlefield during a fight is patently absurd anyway. If time is such a crucial element in your design, why not do away with the construction entirely? Have units be "summoned" from distant bases, in the style of Ground Control or AvP, and then the wait for their arrival is a far more manageable amount of time.

If static defenses and the like are called for, have them be field outposts, like trucks that anchor and put up a comms array, or a team of earth-moving trucks that can level a field and create an airstrip in a day or two. Smaller craft can land and refuel there, but for large bombers and the like, you have to call in a mission, wait for them to arrive, then let them head back to base, off the map, until you need them again.

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