The Passage of Time

Time is your most valuable resource. 

Time is just one way Archmage Rises models real-life and therefore creates realistic choice/consequences.

For the last 2 years of development, Time has been measured in Days.  For a game that spans a whole lifetime it made sense to make a Day the smallest unit since the player starts with about 22,000 of them.

But there are some problems.


A minor example is if the player talks with someone and I want to pass time, it has to take a whole day. 

But the major one is when the player goes adventuring into a dungeon (a common practice).  The player only has so much time they can stay awake before collapsing from exhaustion.  So every action the player takes in the dungeon costs some time.  These can’t be measured in days, it has to be measured in hours.

Furthermore, the player can cast spells to enhance their abilities and skills: Air Pocket to breathe while under water, or Arcane Insight to detect traps before they go off.  These spells have to wear off over a period of time… so what exactly is that measurement of time?  Hours.

So now I have a game with two distinct time tracking systems: one for in dungeons and one for the rest of life.  Well that was creating more problems then it was worth.

So I bit the bullet and rewrote the whole time engine to be hour based.  And as a bonus to my European friends, the clock can be run in 12-hour or 24-hour format.  We are looking at how we can add colorization to show the day/night cycle.

But this brings up a new question.  If not just the first of the month, it’s the first of the month 10:00 what does that mean mechanically?  How does that benefit or hinder the player?

Here are a few of our thoughts:

  • The various buildings in town can have set “open” times, say 10am-6pm.  Sort of like Skyrim, Fallout.
  • NPCs are either awake or asleep.  You can only talk to them when they are awake.  Sort of like The Sims.
  • Maybe there are certain tasks that can only be done at sunrise, or midnight.
  • A dungeon or lair can only be entered at a certain time, like maybe a cave is only accessible during low tide.

In thinking about this one the team members brought up how realistic day/night cycles in Stardew Valley and Skyrim just gets in the way of what I want to do as a player.  So while it is more realistic is it just adding some unnecessary blockers to the players progress?

What do you think?