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[BEST PRACTICE?] Time is slower then real time



Hey all,

I’m not at that part of my game coding yet, but I thought I’d look into it nonetheless.

This subject asks for a little clarification I think, so here goes as best as I can:
Inspired by one of the books from Tom Clancy’s Netforce explorers Series I’d like the “maintime” to go slow so that people can enjoy the game without feeling rushed. This means one day in the game would be 3 days in real life. This means, for instance, that in the game you’d have two Real Life days of light and one Real Life day of dark (lanterns and such are provided in the game :smiley:) These 3 Real Life days would make one cycle of a Game Day.

Normally you’d look at server time (keeping in mind the Time concept on a Cloud system) to display what time it is in your game. When you slow down time, you can’t really look at the server time.

Originally I had thought one game day would, in the end, represent 24 hours with 16 game day hours of light and 8 game day hours of dark. Now I’m wondering if perhaps I would have to have a Game Day of 72 hours instead.

One of the reasons I’m asking this is because NPC’s will have a certain schedule based on time, for example the NPC Slave Ship crew members will have a 3 crews-6 hours shift, which would mean they’ll be 6 hours on the ship, 6 hours sleep, and 6 hours for shopping/chores/etc (in which players will find them somewhere else in the game). Originally I had thought the hours would be:
00:00h (Real Life time): Crew 1 starts on the ship
06:00h (Real Life time): Crew 2 starts on the ship and crew 1 goes shopping/doing chores/etc/sleep
12:00h (Real Life time) Crew 3 starts on the ship and Crew 2 goes Shopping/etc
18:00h (Real Life time): Crew 1 starts on the ship again and crew 3 goes shopping/etc.

How would you handle this kind of thing?

Or am I making things needlessly complicated?

Thanks for the help!



When I think about time continuum distortion (I like words) in games, I try to keep in mind what different form our “world”.

Does your NPCs sleeps? if yes how long? Do they eat? When do they do things that are interesting for the player?
You seem to have already answered most questions.

Now, is it the same for the player character? Most game skip the sleeping part because it’s boring. It there other boring part you want to skip?

Last thing, if you ask a person to do absolutely nothing(not even move) for 5 minutes, they will probably think that this 5 minutes is longest of their lives! Time is not just a measurement it’s a perception.

My 0.02$


I like your


For the player I was thinking the sleeping part would be the time they’re logged off. Perhaps that could be used to replenish energy or something or they’re offline time could be used as working hours in the shop. (certain quality of work is needed for a certain amount of time for a certain item. During offline hours, players could be used to do general orders --> the quality they’re registered for, while during online time they can work on custom orders, which require you to actually work during online hours because what you do can influence the item)
The online craft work/travel/etc wouldn’t be “Slowed down”. You would just craft the item in real life time without a delay.

For the NPC I’ve planned for them to “have some kind of life” instead of remaining stationary like you see in most games. For instance in Lotro, whenever I would go to the gates of Bree, I would also find the same NPC’s, saying the same things while doing the same things, no matter if I was there in the middle of the night or during lunch break. I want to break with that, especially since SpatialOS give us the possibility to do exactly that :smile:

I was thinking for quests or storylines or something demands could be for “in a few hours”, which could mean today in Real Life time, or Game time today, which would mean in Real Life time: 72 hours. That would also give the possibility to more casual players to fulfill demands and play the game. It would be more relaxed, I think.
Then again… with more hardcore gamers there might be a risk it could become boring…

I’m trying to find a balance of time where both casual gamers feel they can do anything they like and still enjoy the game just as well as hardcore gamers would.

I’d like both groups to enjoy the passage of a day, experience both night and day in the game, instead of having night only be half an hour or at best a few hours. I think night time can bring its own challenges and fun and I’d like both groups to experience that :smile:


In my MMO prototype I’m working on, I had the same “problem”. You know what I did I said screw time I don’t need you! It works because it’s a text-based game but you could steal some ideas.

For example, what if the day/night cycle is client-side only could it work? If yes NPC’s “have some kind of life” could follow it. In the end, it boils down to what’s important in your game.

In my prototype, the decisions the player makes are, everything else meaningless (time included).

Hope it helps!


Thanks for your input! I’ll have to think about it :slight_smile: I think in my game it’s a combination: both the decisions players make and the game itself. It’s also not the decision of one player, but ultimately the decisions of the playerbase what makes the world go round in my game, sorta speak. But not only that. It’s the environment that changes, migrating animals, flora that can leave seeds everywhere and grow small plants and trees alike… water that’s available or not… All these kinds of things matter, so it’s not only the decision of the player.

But you’ve got a point: Does time really matter in the way I thought?

Thanks for giving me something to think about! :smile: