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suliman

Naming time? (how to measure time ingame)

12 posts in this topic

Hi

Im doing a management/strategy game. Setting is modern times, west african civil war and you run a miltia/drug cartel.

Problem is what to name "time". I started out realisticly (with "days"), such as

 

building a radar, 5 days

travelling to naiboring village, 5 days

grow cannabis, 5 days

 

This doesnt work as the timescale for these things are not the same, but the gameplay calls for it. So any other solution? Simply call it "t" like, its takes 7t to complete this task? Travel time is 3t. I dont need seasons, months or day/night cycle.

 

How is this usually handled? Any good examples?

Thanks

Erik

Edited by suliman
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Is this time information for the player or you? If it's for the player as expect, is the purpose of the time measurement greater immersion or is it directly translated to real time?

There are many different ways all the known uses for time have been handled.

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Its for the player to see. 

Its directly translated to game realtime, but the user can set timecompression like x0 (pause), x1, x2, x4 to make time go faster

 

Immersion would be nice, but since realistic units (days) accentuates the problem in time-scale between different gameplay elements im not too fond of it...

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If you want numbers.

 

Alright then, you may want to give them a very clear "5 minutes" translation as real time, followed by an indication of progress or a count down. By using time compression x4 they'll understand it's done in 1 minute and the progress indicator will update faster than at x1.

You won't need to scale the original 5 minutes at all, it would count down faster than reality, and it would still make enough sense because that's only 1 calculation the player is doing, the fact they like to play the game at 4x speed.

 

 

 

If you would prefer a less descriptive indication of global time. The game will be more complicated for the player in some way.

 

The easiest example is not to tell the player at all and only notify them about events as they come along, original SimCity uses this, so as you can imagine it's not perfect. When your player changes the time compression they expect things to happen faster, that's about it.

 

A not so easy example is have an object on the screen that constantly cycles over an interval of time. This is the way to force a player to believe there is no clock while they're running on a well defined time constraint such as the day/night cycle. The time does not need to be defined perfectly, it simply is there.

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(just an idea)

 

You could have a clock, or what looks like a clock with a min hand but no hour hand. One revolution could be a day, or week, or month, or year that you set it for. Any time something is selected a number appears digitally near the middle of the clock counting down full revolutions of that min hand until that task is completed.

 

So if you set the clock to count as a single day for one complete circle of the min hand, and you target a structure that takes four and a half more days to complete, the digital readout would show 4.5

 

Looking at budget window and there are 25 more days until taxes are paid/due then it would show 25

 

The min hand would continue to go around the clock at the same pace, counting off one full day every rotation.

 

Changing the speed of the game 1x 2x 3x 4x would make it spin faster, or alternatively make everything require less "days" or revolutions to complete.

 

That way in one corner of the screen you are showing time passing, and also a way to quickly show progress on any action you are taking with just a few digits in the middle of the clock.

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Yeah i need to be able to draw the number for the player, so he/she can see time needed in advance like

 

build garage 5 time

build lab 12 time

 

Just call it minutes doesnt work with the feeling of grandness i want to have, you develop an empire of sorts...

 

Maybe the best solution is simply to not call it anything and just draw an hourglass/clock and the number next to it, like you would do in a RTS for resource cost:

an spearman costs 15 wood to build, you would just see a wood icon and the number 15 next to it. You dont even have to call it "wood", just use the icon.

Edited by suliman
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It sounds like just not calling it anything unless you need multiple time-scales (such as minutes and hours for example) should work best for you.  Just provide the numbers and the player can interpret them for themselves. smile.png

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Yeah i need to be able to draw the number for the player, so he/she can see time needed in advance like

 

build garage 5 time

build lab 12 time

 

Just call it minutes doesnt work with the feeling of grandness i want to have, you develop an empire of sorts...

 

Maybe the best solution is simply to not call it anything and just draw an hourglass/clock and the number next to it, like you would do in a RTS for resource cost:

an spearman costs 15 wood to build, you would just see a wood icon and the number 15 next to it. You dont even have to call it "wood", just use the icon.

In my opinion, it would look better to commit to some standard measurement of time: be it days, hours, weeks, etc.  If that's not precise enough for something like "Travel to a neighboring village" you could always drop down to half days or quarter of a day, while still maintaining the day measurement for processes that require 10 or 30 days.  It may lead you to a point where something like "burn the enemy's fields" gets an unrealistic designation of 10 days, but if it's just 10t or 10 time cycles, I think it breaks immersion and doesn't relate the time mechanic to the player as effectively.

 

You could take the clock display approach you mentioned, though honestly I would imagine a player interpreting one clock rotation as 1 day anyway rather than 1 time cycle.  That's not to say it's a bad idea, especially if time management is a key aspect to the game.  I just think it's effectively the same.

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If you are using a month as a time cycle you could show a moon picture waxing and waning from full moon to sliver.

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yeah i think all have to go with days anyway and just accept that some things will take unreasonable long/short time (in gameworld days) for the sake of gameplay balance...

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if you want your own time measurement you can call them "clicks" or "cycles"

If it fits in your game you can even have 8 clicks in one cycle

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As a player, I'd feel comfortable with standard time units, completely divorced from the real-time variable game speed and appropriately rounded: "grow cannabis - 9 weeks"; "cannabis ready in 44 days", "cannabis ready tomorrow", etc. Dates would also be good: "cannabis ETA: 30 December". The player learns (roughly) how fast days pass at different speed settings and sees data change on the screen.

In a turn-based game, on the other hand, all durations should be given in turns to allow the player to plan exactly: "grow cannabis - 180 turns", "cannabis ready in 23 turns", etc.

Edited by LorenzoGatti
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Dates and such can be in whatever internally consistent time you want, but "time till done" type numbers need to be in units the player can easily recognize and process. 

 

If a day in the game world is 20 minutes for example (which is 2.38% real time) you can display 10 minutes as 12 noon... but you should never label "time till complete" things such as you want to say build a tank and it takes 20 minutes of real time to do..say 20 minutes, not 1 day. Otherwise there is too much to keep in mind and takes the focus off the player doing other things...

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