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treekanicko

"In Time" style gameplay

7 posts in this topic

Hello all!

I watched the movie [u]In Time[/u] last night and I was greatly impressed by the world and the main conflict, though I thought the movie as a movie was kind of cheesy. But then I thought: "What a cool idea for a game!" Hopefully you've seen it, but just in case you haven't, here's a quick summary of the main conflict.

**Small spoiler alert**

The idea is that everyone is born with a green timer on their wrist that currently has one year on it. They age until they are 25 and then the timer starts counting down, idicating how much time they have to live. Because they only have a year, they can earn time like we earn money, and in fact, time is their currency. Their jobs pay them in time, and they can transfer it between each other by interlocking their wrists. They have no limit to the amount of time they can accumulate, so they can actually live forever if they have enough time. The main conflict is that the rich can live forever and the poor die young.

I just think this idea is really cool, and could be implemented well in a game! I personally was thinking something of a third person rpg, but can see it being part of a Mirror's Edge style world, or maybe even Deus Ex. The timer would always be on the screen and the player would have to keep accumulating time by various means which he or she would then spend on items, finishing mission, etc. I could see this idea implemented in a lot of different ways, and I'm wondering if anyone else thinks the same!
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Interesting concept. I could imagine a sandboxy game based on it... for example you have a family or loved one whose time is low. You borrowed from a loan shark and it all went wrong. You now owe them a ridiculous amount of time, so how can you make/beg/borrow/steal enough to keep you and your loved ones alive? You could get assistance by accumulating companions/a gang, but you'd need to pay them time as well. You could go all bank heist by kidnapping a very rich person from their gated community, or get dirt on them and blackmail them.
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I think that's an ingenius concept, because the player would (if executed the right way) be constantly brain-storming things to keep himself alive. Not only does that provide an adrenaline kick, but it also forces the player to use smarts. One wouldn't want to limit the gameplay to the smartest kids on the block only, though. So one way could be to tie the time resource with cleverness and let rewards be bountiful for the player while also enabling him/her to spend time to use special abilities or whatever.

To even the odds between different player types, the time resources could be rewarded according to archetypical behaviour:[list]
[*]Intelligence - Being smart about what to do in the game.
[*]Reaction - Reacting to sudden challenges (ambush, environment changes, etc).
[*]Tenacity - Being constantly on the target and taking bigger risks.
[*]Social - Excelling at non-combat interaction (dialogue, making allies, saving lives that come back to reward you later, etc).
[/list]

In other words, a "less able" player would be able to beat the game but only use extra abilities sparingly (and thus have a more protracted story progression). The "more able" player would beat the game in more flashy ways (not necessarily quicker, though, although that could still be part of the benefits array). Edited by DrMadolite
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A bit off topic. As a rule of thumb, you probably should not try to design a game immediately after you got a new idea. Wait a few weeks and only if you still find it attractive after some time has passed try to design it (since you have watched it just yesterday you are highly influenced by it and you like it a lot, you can not be objective about it yet, that's how our brains work...) Most likely you will see a lot of holes in the grand plan if you look at it month from now.
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Thanks for the responses guys! I've been thinking and I do like the idea, but I think it would have to implemented correctly. My main issue is thinking about how collecting time could become a mundane task. Has anyone ever played Dark Cloud? In Dark Cloud, when you go into a dungeon, you get thirsty so you have bring water with you. Whenever I see someone play this game, they always seem to get thirsty extremely fast, and they start losing what little health they have. Thus, they have to return to the surface and get more water from a shop. It gets very repetitive and boring. So, in a game where the player is always limited by time and they need to collect time to continue, it is imperative that the collection of time is an interesting task, but it can't be required so often that the player is limited by it. Just a thought.

Obviously, the player would collect time in various ways, and they could collect it from people. But could they collect it from defeated enemies? My gut instinct says no because it's time and not a tangible object, but then again, most games reward players for completing tasks and defeating enemies. Even on a more extrapolated level, I don't think the player would recieve time for completing missions unless they directly have to do with the acquisition of time! This would make the player work to create ways to obtain time, and if it is a sandbox style game, there would be hundreds of ways to do this.

@DrMadolite:
You said that time would drive the player to create ways to obtain time, which could in turn be rewarded for archetypical behavior. I think this idea is good, but I also think that the idea may have a serious limitation. In order to create and maintain the adrenaline rush and the fear factor of death, the amount of time the player is rewarded for completing tasks would have to be very small, I think somewhere on the scale of 20 minutes or some value that would keep the player's time relatively low. Of course, the player will have spurts where he accumulates large amounts of time, maybe even years at once, but gameplay elements would force him to use it up. I can imagine what kind of fear a player would get when he doesn't quite calculate right, and buys an item at a shop and is left with only five minutes!

@Acharis
I totally get that, I'm mainly just throwing ideas out there right now to see others have the similar thoughts. I won't even think very hard about designing a game based on the idea of time as currency until summer (if ever).
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[quote name='treekanicko' timestamp='1335800071' post='4936102']@DrMadolite:
You said that time would drive the player to create ways to obtain time, which could in turn be rewarded for archetypical behavior. I think this idea is good, but I also think that the idea may have a serious limitation.[/quote]

Have in mind that it's not actually just one idea, but a large group of functions that each need to come together to work properly. So you're absolutely correct, if you look at it as a static absolute. But I'm my case, you probably shouldn't because I don't know *bleep* about programming yet [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png[/img] (thus my replies are somewhat generalized).

[quote name='treekanicko' timestamp='1335800071' post='4936102']
In order to create and maintain the adrenaline rush and the fear factor of death, the amount of time the player is rewarded for completing tasks would have to be very small, I think somewhere on the scale of 20 minutes or some value that would keep the player's time relatively low. Of course, the player will have spurts where he accumulates large amounts of time, maybe even years at once, but gameplay elements would force him to use it up. I can imagine what kind of fear a player would get when he doesn't quite calculate right, and buys an item at a shop and is left with only five minutes![/quote]

But that assumes that there are no time-resource controlling elements in the game. All of the problems referred to here, are controllable as a designer. You do it by adding additional gameplay mechanics and/or moderating old ones. This is why playtesting is so essential - not as much because it reveals things you didn't know, but because it eviscerates the things that you thought you knew.

I guess that's why I like computers so much - they blatantly tell the truth without being afraid of your reaction. [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png[/img] Edited by DrMadolite
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The way time is obtained and spent in a game like this might be heavily defined by the setting of the game. For example, if you wanted to make it similar to a Deux Ex style and similar to the setting of the movie, then it may be appropriate to gather time off of defeated enemies (assuming enemies are defeated in the typical sense of the word) because you could pick up their 'watches' from their bodies. You would then spend this time on in game resources. Gear? Buffs?

However, if you go the route of a traditional shooter, or any other genre where you are defeating enemies in the traditional sense, you may find the content to be a bit sadistic. It is a pretty horrible message you are sending if the point of the game is to kill others for the sole purpose of living longer. I'm not exactly sure how you should approach this idea, just adding my thoughts to the pot. Edited by jfulmer
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It would require more ingenuity if you needed to get it from people willingly, e.g. killing someone actually reduces the total pool of Time. Business deals and blackmail would still be on the table of course.
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