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How to handle years in games?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Samuel411, Oct 13, 2014.

  1. Samuel411

    Samuel411

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    Hello people. I am finding it difficult to think of a way to handle years passing in an open world game. The game is going to follow the player through 40 years of his/hers life. I am looking at having about 10-15 hours of main gameplay, which means if I were to make the day/night cycle 10 minutes then I would only get about 80 full cycles which still isn't 40 years. Does anyone have a suggestion on how I would be able to move the player through 40 years (14610 days) without having a 2000 hour game? Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2014
  2. wccrawford

    wccrawford

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    Cheat. Make them age faster, but keep the day/night cycle shorter. Or make them age according to where they are in the plot/completion, rather than actual time.
     
  3. DallonF

    DallonF

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    Is the time limit an actual part of the game, like Majora's Mask or Pikmin (the first one)? Like you have to finish the game before the end of the 40th year? I ask because you mention that it's an open world game, and I can't think of many ways where you can actually have a open world game take place over a specific period of time.

    Or, you could do it kind of like Assassin's Creed II and just age the character after specific story missions. (Example: Towards the end of the game, Ezio just gets a beard for some reason)
     
  4. Samuel411

    Samuel411

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    Its not specifically THE 40th year but its around that point of time.
     
  5. me2also

    me2also

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    It really depends on the game-play and objective mechanics. Based on 10 hours of game-play, 1 real world hour would represent 4 in game years. Good idea for a game.
     
  6. randomperson42

    randomperson42

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    Time capsules
     
    calmcarrots and zDemonhunter99 like this.
  7. Arowx

    Arowx

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    So you want to reduce 21,021,000 minutes into 60-90 minutes, or a time scale of 1:350,400.

    Or 1 day would take about 0.24 seconds. I think the players are going to have trouble controlling a character at those speeds.

    Maybe key events or decisions only in real time then jump to next minor/major decision point.

    NB it would be challenging as they would have to get their character to water every 3 days or 0.72 seconds and feeding them would be a problem as without food they would starve within 3 weeks or 5 seconds.
     
  8. funke

    funke

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    Arowx has a good suggestion with those key events.
    You can split the game to chapters/acts if it is possible.
     
  9. melkior

    melkior

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    Make 1 game day which the player sees as sunrise on day one, to sunrise on day 2 to represent one month of 'actual time'.

    Scale the actual real world length of time that it takes for the sun to be up and or the night cycle to how long you want your game play to be.

    So if you use this idea then your your game will last "480" days

    If you had each day cycle last ten minutes (5 mins day, 5 mins nigiht) then this game would have about 80 hours of gameplay.

    You can scale / adjust any of those factors to reduce or increase your game play.

    Lets say you only want about 4 hours of game play? Well change one day cycle to represent 6 months.

    Have some on screen gui element show the date.. and how the date is going up at a rapid pace during each day. So it is clear that time is moving much faster than the sun.

    Remember much of what games do is about impressionism. Give your player the impression time is passing, and some reference for the scale and it should be fine.
     
  10. ShilohGames

    ShilohGames

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    Depending on the style of gameplay, you could have a short cut scene after specific missions are completed and you could advance the age during the cut scenes. This could let you have time during gameplay advance normally.
     
  11. Tomnnn

    Tomnnn

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    You can make time pass for certain events. Playing spore for like an hour and evolving a lot shows your timeline as millions of years lol.
     
  12. Samuel411

    Samuel411

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    Thanks for the replies, it really helps.
     
  13. RockoDyne

    RockoDyne

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    Knowing only that this will span the course of 40 years and should fit in at least ten hours, if you are going to do any kind of cycle then do seasons. Might still have to do a year as a season so that they aren't gone in a second though. The point more than anything is just to break up time.
     
  14. Deon-Cadme

    Deon-Cadme

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    Look at The Sims, SimCity, Fable, MineCraft etc.. and other games that got characters/content that develop over time.

    You got basically two options... speed up time and jump through time... these can be mixed and dynamic. Slow down stuff to normal speed when important things happen and then speed it up when the boring stuff happens... or simply jump passed stuff that are uninteresting....

    Basic law of games and entertainment... if it doesn't add something to your game, cut it. You don't want to see Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man) feed his old granny so this removed 99% except when they need to portray how weak and vulnerable she is to prepare for another scene.
     
  15. Whippets

    Whippets

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    Things get even harder for MMORPGs. Players want the usual celebrations (halloween, valentine's day, christmas/winter festival, etc). So your day of year needs, in some way, to match the real world. Time of day makes life harder, as you don't want some players always playing at in-game night time, no matter when they play (and from which timezone).

    So whilst your in-game years need to trundle along at the same speed as the real world, your day/night cycle needs to be much faster than the real world. All that takes some explaining away.
     
  16. cmonroy

    cmonroy

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    It all depends on your game, of course, but I've found interesting a few keynotes...

    For instance, how long does the average player spends playing your game in one session? If it is an hour, then a complete cycle at least should have elapsed in that amount of time. A complete cycle could be a day, a month or a year of game time, but it shouldn't run too slow or too fast.

    Time could be passing even when the player is not playing, as long nothing vital could be missed because the player wnet to sleep, eat or work. Yet, small changes should be easy to notice: if your character becomes starving while you were away is okay, but having your character die from hunger is not.
     
  17. JoeStrout

    JoeStrout

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    I think there's a key point which a couple of people have brought up, but maybe it bears making more explicitly...

    You don't have to just linearly scale real time into game time. Instead, you can fiddle with how different chunks of time are combined. For example, you can make each 4 game days be one season, which (assuming you have four seasons per year) makes a year 16 game-days long. Days can be however long you like; if a day is 2.5 minutes long, then each season is ten minutes, and 40 minutes of gameplay equals a year. That's a pretty extreme example, but it serves the gameplay purpose, which is to to provide the cycles that are important to your game for some reason.

    As another example, I occasionally ponder making an RTS game with lots of undead evil beasties, some of which are stronger (or can only come out) at night or depending on the phase of the moon. So for that game, both the day/night cycle and lunar cycle are important. Choosing how those are chunked up, and how fast they change, will make a completely different game. I might go with something like a 5-minute day/night cycle (including 2 minutes day, 2 minutes night, and 30 seconds each of dusk and dawn), and a 8-day lunar cycle (which would be 40 minutes of play time). If a typical mission takes less than 40 minutes, that means you're going to get less than one lunar cycle — so where exactly you begin in the lunar cycle would be a crucial choice is the design of each level, as it determines when in the course of the mission you can bring out your werewolves!

    So, for your game, I'd say start with: which of these cycles (day/night, monthly, seasons, annual) really matter to the gameplay? And which are mere eye candy? There's absolutely nothing wrong with eye candy, but pin down the ones that affect gameplay first, and then fill in the other cycles however makes sense.
     
  18. Samuel411

    Samuel411

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    Thanks for the feedback. This is not an MMO so I think I am saved from a huge headache. The day/night cycles are necessary because somethings can only happen at night and some in the day. It looks like ill be going with the approach of passing lots of time as missions get passed. Thanks again.
     
  19. AndrewGrayGames

    AndrewGrayGames

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    Another tool with the mission-based approach is to use a little bit of neuroscience to lampshade the missions. These were critical events that demanded the player's full attention, so they feel like they took a while, and will be remembered vividly. From there, you can justify the timescale: "Yes, these feats did take a long time to accomplish!"
     
    Samuel411 likes this.