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The element of "time" in a game

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The Magician
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I have many times contemplated how to create an element of time in a game. How do you create "game-time"? What are the different ways that games keep a system of time or game-years?

MatthewF
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My current favorite is the

My current favorite is the way it's handled in Thebes. There's a time track and different actions require different amounts of time. The guy at the back of the track -- that is, effectively, the furthest back in time -- is always the current player. As such, you can take as much time as you want (within reason) on a turn, but you'll be sitting it out for a while as other players catch up.

What makes it "time" instead of "action points" is the way that certain events happen on certain days/spots on the track, and if you're in that day and in the right place in the world, they happen to you. It's quite keen.

The Magician
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That sounds pretty cool! I'le

That sounds pretty cool! I'le have to check that game out.

Gogolski
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Comparing Thebes' time track with action point allowance.

Time in games is mostly represented as a turn or a round being a certain unit of time. In a lot of games, time measurement isn't that important and time isn't even mentioned.

The cooperative game "Red November" uses the same time-track as "Thebes". Both games have different actions that take different times to complete and in both games, you can take more time (for some actions) to have a bigger chance of succes. The player which is last on the track is the next active player, so it happens that that player can take several actions before another player is last on the time-track.
I haven't played Red November (yet), but it's high on my list, and one of the reasons is because I like the time/turn mechanism in Thebes so much.

The time-track is actually a different a way of handling action points. In most games, a turn is a time unit and the action points represent how much you can do in that unit of time. Each player in turn completes his time unit by spending action points to fill that unit with actions.
The time track gives the players the option to execute an action not bound by a time limit or an action point limit. The action points needed to complete this action ARE the time units on that time track. By spending much time units (action points) and moving much further on the time track, a player can execute a more powerful action (or have a bigger chance for succes), but that player may loose a turn by having moved too far on the track for completing that action.

* Using Action Points:
---> invites mathematical measuring of the value of your actions and fertilizes analysis paralysis.
---> is more fun when a player can perform different actions in one turn and a player can puzzle the actions to fit the available action points.

* Using Time Track:
---> presents a somewhat more intuitive approach to actions, because a player looks at the available actions first and then at the time/action point-cost.
---> is more fun when a player has the option to spend every amount of action points (-from very few to very much-). This works really good with scalable actions. In Thebes players excavate longer to draw more tiles from the excavation bag in hope of succeeding in discovering artefacts; in Red November players spend more time on actions to have a bigger chance of succeeding in their action (damage control). Failing is the same as moving on the time track without doing an action.

Cheese!

Gogolski
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More time in games...

* In the game "Jamaica", every round/turn is a day and a night. Each player in turn completes two actions by playing one card with a day action and a night action on it. The day action is executed before the night action. However, in this game, it feels like just two actions, not like a certain amount of time has passed. This is probably because the possible actions during day and night are the same actions. It would feel different if the choice of actions for the day were "legitimate actions" and the choice of night time actions were "actions-that-are-not-allowed-to-see-the-daylight"...

* The game "Khronos" is about time travel and the effects of changing something in the past escalating into the future. I own it, but I haven't played it yet.
Time travel itself is represented by moving to different boards which represent the same area in a different era.
The game works with an action point allowance per turn. The active player can spend a maximum of four construction cards (=action points) in one turn to complete actions. Construction cards are tied to different eras and can only be used to complete actions on the board that represents the same era as the cards.

* In the game "Twilight Imperium third edition", a round consists of different turns. Some of these turns are a sub-round with the option for a sub-turn for everybody. There is no fixed number of turns in a round, it depends on what players can do and what they want to do. It is not stated (or important) how much time a round or a turn represents. I'm including this example to show the relation between "time passing during a round" and "player turns (and sub-turns)".
Round overview:
---> Strategy Phase:
Each player selects their Strategy Card(s) from the common area. (The player with the Speaker Token chooses first. The player who has chosen the Initiative Strategy receives the Speaker Token.)
---> Action Phase:
Each player (-in order of the number on the chosen strategy card-) executes a strategic action or a tactical action or a transfer action or passes. Players may choose to take these different actions in the order they like, but must have played their strategic action before they may pass.
In a strategic action, the active player first uses the Primary Ability on their Strategy Card. Then the non-active players each get a turn to use the Secondary Ability on the active Strategy Card. (Then the active Strategy Card is Flipped over.)
In a tactical action or a transfer action the active player may be engaged in combat with one or more other player.
---> Status Phase
...blahblah... a bunch of stuff to do/check at the end of a round...

Cheese.

larienna
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Quote:My current favorite is

Quote:
My current favorite is the way it's handled in Thebes. There's a time track and different actions require different amounts of time. The guy at the back of the track -- that is, effectively, the furthest back in time -- is always the current player.

I was thinking about using a mechanic close to this one, but I am not sure yet. Moving around the city and making action require time. You can move anywhere you want. Calculate the cost it time, move to the destination and move your time marker to the time when you arrive. Then the last player on the time track does the same until it's your turn to play.

So for example: if it's 12h and you need 6h to go somewhere, move there, place your token on 18h. Other players play until it's 18h. Then when it's 18h you do your actions then decide to move again. You could also place sleep marker indicating when you absolutely need to go to sleep. Sleeping give you an 8h delay, but you must still get back home so it cost you time, unless you wan to go to the hotel.

I was not sure of using a mechanic like that because I thought that it would be annoying to play. So right now, it's each turn is 3 hours, move 1 space and resolve an action there. Which force the players to do things they don't like on the way if they need to cross the city. With the mechanic above, players can go exactly where they want but at a price. So I might reconsider using this mechanic.

Also in my game, some location open and close at certain time so it could be a good idea.

MatthewF
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Gogolski wrote:The time-track

Gogolski wrote:
The time-track is actually a different a way of handling action points. In most games, a turn is a time unit and the action points represent how much you can do in that unit of time. Each player in turn completes his time unit by spending action points to fill that unit with actions.

In Thebes, anyway, the way events happen on certain spots on the time track give it much more of a time-like feel, to me, than just an action point tracker, the way it works in, say, Neuland.

brisingre
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Time

I'm a devout time-travel junkie. I'll be completely open with the fact that about two-thirds of my pondering is devoted to thinking about time. I've been wanting to do a time travel game for a long time. To my mind, a proper time-travel game has to simulate either causality (changes made in the past affect the future) or future-self interaction (players can have actions already completed in gametime negated after-the-fact by time travel.) Ideally, they have both. I have played a couple of games that do some of these things.

Chrononauts has a very simple implementation of causality-type time travel. It's also a great game. There's just something about it that works just right.

Timeline Chess carries the 'future self' idea about as far as it can be carried without either computer assistance or serious oversimplification (It has a few violations, but nothing that is too horrific to my obsessive mind.)

monica99
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hour glass

I would think an whatever time needed an hour-ish glass is best. The movie Pan's Labrinth is a prime example as well as Harvest Moon is. There is only so much you can do.

MatthewF
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monica99 wrote:I would think

monica99 wrote:
I would think an whatever time needed an hour-ish glass is best. The movie Pan's Labrinth is a prime example as well as Harvest Moon is. There is only so much you can do.

The game Tamsk uses hourglasses as pieces in a very clever way.

The Magician
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year cycles

How about in a long game? I am not a fan of the sort of family game that people play on thanksgiving and there is an hourglass and everyone's frantic to complete a game action. That's cute! Those time-travel games sounded quite interesting. I think that is more the sort of time I am thinking about, rather than using an hourglass as a way of "time"-limits. Let's say you wanted the game to be structured in a timeline, where events can be changed in the past. Then, there would have to be a system in the game for a sequence of time.

I had this one idea for maybe using in my labyrinth game ,since playing cards are used, to have game years that go through the suits like this (year of heart, year of diamonds, year of spades, year of clubs). There would be this four year cycle that players could gather materials that protect them from game disasters. Because, after the four year cycle of suits is over, there is a fifth year call "year of chaos", where disasters happen in the game. The the four year cycle continues. I thought having card suits apear several simes throughout the game and theme would sort of unify it. In other words cards aren't just used for movement, it's a common thread throughout the game.

hoywolf
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Red November

Have you looked at Red November, they use an interesting time format to play the game. Its hard to explain, it does not use real time, but an in game minutes per action. you then progress your marker to that number, so lets say you decide to take 5 mins for this action, your marker was on 4, so you move it up to 9 now. the players turn vary because of this system too.

Taavet
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Time Cards

Another game where time is implemented is called Fun City. Its an old kids game, but basically there is a city map with spaces and dice to move around. There is also a clock which is pressed and jumps between 10-20 maybe even 30 minutes at a time. On the board are delivery locations which must be reached during their time frame. If a delivery location expires you remove it and replace it on the board (all delivery locations are pre-arranged in chronological starting order during setup). Delivery locations are also assigned values and whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins. There are other small elements to the game but that is how time interacts with it.

So for instance you could have a deck of cards or chits or a die which would indicate how much time had passed. Players would try to complete their tasks/objectives within that time frame or miss out on the opportunity. Could be minutes, days, month, years, ect. The cards/chits/die would make the passing of time random which would add risk to players actions because they could never be sure they had enough time to complete something. If the time was always static it wouldn't be mentioned and would just be considered a turn/round ect.

PFreer
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The simplest

The simplest would be when a game revolves around 1 deck of cards or tiles that on exhausting triggers the game end. The draw deck is a physical representation of game time. Lost Cities does this probably the best esp. as players near the end of the game can try and slow down the "game time" by not picking up from the draw deck, but from the discard piles.
Loads of games obviously do this.

The Magician
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Thebes or Khronos?

Thebes and Khronos both look like really interesting games to me. The theme of time-travel is really cool. I read that Khronos can be difficult to play in dealing with time-parodoxes. Anyone played these games and which do you recemend or both? The way Khronos has three different boards for different periods happening simultaniously looks almost too good to not try out.

brisingre
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Real Time

As an interesting aside, I found a minimalist real-time RPG a few years ago. I'll see if I can find it again...

MatthewF
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I haven't played Khronos,

I haven't played Khronos, though my friends here who have felt it was just ok. On the other hand, Thebes has seen a ton of play here.

Not saying you shouldn't check out Khronos, as it may be even more of what you're looking for. Thebes, though, its a good game. :)

larienna
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Khronos

I really don't like khronos either, going back in forth in time is annoying. I said I would prefer playing 3 turns in the past, 3 turns in the present and 3 turns in future. The strategy would be to plan ahead how to develop your position throught the game. But most people said that this would destroy the whole point of the game.

The Magician
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larienna wrote:I really don't

larienna wrote:
I really don't like khronos either, going back in forth in time is annoying. I said I would prefer playing 3 turns in the past, 3 turns in the present and 3 turns in future. The strategy would be to plan ahead how to develop your position throught the game. But most people said that this would destroy the whole point of the game.

What about this:

(Depending on how you interpret this discussion, it could easily turn into an actual discussion about the nature of "time")
In a game that uses dimensions of "time". Players progress on a "linear arrow of time". As time progresses, the player is always in the "present". There is no physically traveling back and forward in time, however there could be dicisions made in the present that altered the past and future. Certain decissions could alter the time-line of the player. There could be event cards that are placed on an arrow of time, and as time progresses, the event cards are played out. However, the cards change when there are alterations in time-line-shifts. There could be a mechanic that would allow the players to alter their own time-line that is challenging. Maybe they must earn points or something to grant them the oportunity to make a time-line alteration about something. Say the player wanted to be a powerful wealthy person in the game: they could earn the oportunity to change from meek to wealth. The past changes, the players history changes to where their great great grandfather invented the first internal combustion engine. The great grandfather was Nicola Tesla, who won-over the public with his inventions, over his rival Thomas Edison (I think that is who his rival was), and suceeded much more in his career and achieved much more brilliant recognition. Your father ends carrying on the brilliant inventors legacy by inventing many clean environmentally friendly cars (Hydrogen, water, electric, da da da), and those are the modes of transportation that are mass produced early on in the 20th century. Yous got a rich and famous family going on. In your fathers old age and on his death bead, he tells you that he has a valuable hair-loom he must pass down to you. It is the secret plans for a working UFO designed by your great grandfather. He sais "I want you to take this and make the family proud. The world is ready for this." You build a UFO and manufacture them for the world. However, in doing this in the present, you realize that the world just isn't quite ready. It will be some years down the road (cards get shifted around) The future looks promising. See, when you manufacture your first run of UFO crafts, a few rich people buy them. Only the rich can now afford them. These things can take them all the way across the galexy in moments. However, they always come back because earth is the only place they can impress their friends with this advanced piece of technology. No other civilization is impressed. Even worse, the average consumer wouldn't want the UFO anyway because they are not even interested in interstellar travel, not to mention interstellar time-travel. They can't get over their foot-ball and the next episode of Family Guy. In a short time not too many years, if most people havn't died of brain cancer braught on by cell phones, a major catastraphy wipes out most of humanity and leaves you and part of the population unscathed. That was your time-line of destiny because your the special one right!. Now society is ready for UFO's. You become exremely wealthy. As if you weren't by now. Hopefully your not too old by now to enjoy it.

I don't know, I could see players actually traveling back in time and messing with things. Am I just reiterating what Khrones is about.
I haven't played Khrones of course. Maybe it's worth playing just to see how the time factor works. That way I could evolve my own.

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