Real Life Time <--> MUD Time
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Grem



Joined: 15 May 2005
Posts: 36
Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2005 10:19 pm    Post subject: Real Life Time <--> MUD Time Reply with quote

Does anyone have an opinion on a good real life time to MUD time algorithm? I need to a logical and workable time format that players would be most comfortable with.

How long is a 'MUD day' in your MUD? 5 minutes? 20 minutes? an hour?


Things to consider:

Realism - How long is it taking characters to finish their activities related to the MUD time? (2 hours in-game time to kill a monster?) And how often do characters need to sleep?

Flexability - I feel that players should be able to experience day and night while they are logged in, so this rules out second-for-second algorithm where daytime in reallife = daytime in MUD world.

Lifespan - How old are players? If days are passing incredibly fast, players will be 100 years old in weeks of real life!


So with these things in mind ... what works?
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Alister



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 62
Location: Alberta, Canada

PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Grem wrote:

Things to consider:

Realism - How long is it taking characters to finish their activities related to the MUD time? (2 hours in-game time to kill a monster?) And how often do characters need to sleep?

Flexability - I feel that players should be able to experience day and night while they are logged in, so this rules out second-for-second algorithm where daytime in reallife = daytime in MUD world.

Lifespan - How old are players? If days are passing incredibly fast, players will be 100 years old in weeks of real life!

So with these things in mind ... what works?


If you don't mind straying from 24 hours in a day and and 365 days in a year, you can give yourself quite a bit of flexibility on this topic. Maybe your planet spins fast, and will complete a day/night cycle in 10 hours. Maybe your planet has a wide orbit, and it takes 1000 earth days to circle your sun.

If you want players to be able to experience day and night, it sounds like a shorter day would be best. Probably one one that divides 24, so that your planet's day/night cycle coordinates with earth's, making it easy for a player to guess what time it is in game, based on what the 'real' time is.

I don't have much to say about realism or lifespan, but maybe this'll give you some ideas.
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eiz



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 152
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 1:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd go with a 16 hour day, so 3 in game days = 2 real days, and users should be able to experience both day and night, although not necessarily in the same session. By keeping a reasonably long day, you avoid the problem of in-game actions taking an unrealistic amount of game time, and yet since it isn't a factor of 24, logging in at the same time each day will get you a different game time. Of course, this does weird things to the PCs' sleep schedules, but it's no less realistic than having mudders who login at odd hours.
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Burr



Joined: 27 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like all other design decisions, this will depend on the type of product you are envisioning. A social mud will probably tend towards real time, because of the importance of conversation and minute actions. On the other hand, a questing mud might quicken time to make short travel times more believable. Finally, a pk mud might actionally slow time so that players have time to actually analyze a combat situation somewhat before making a life-or-death decision that would normally be based on instinct or habitualized responses.

Whatever way it goes, it won't necessarily preclude a player from experiencing a broad range of in-world times. In a worst case scenario, a player will only be able to play, say, one hour a week, at the exact same time each week. But that means you only have to differ from real world time by around 12 hours per week (slower or faster) in order to allow that player both day and night playing times. More normally, a player could customize their in-world time by exercising at least some choice in what real time to play. Just be sure it's easily predictable (i.e., without requiring deliberate arithmetic.)

Another option I've been thinking about is to allow instance versions of areas to be created upon demand given certain circumstances. This could allow groups to pick up RP sessions at the exact point they left off last time they were all in the game. Possibly you could even switch it up completely by having the overarching plot take place only in the instances, letting small groups find their way through a story rather than forcing everyone in the mud to the same timeline. The non-instance world would be for less formal play for characters while their serious RP buddies aren't around.
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cron0s



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 34
Location: UK

PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 2:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My own preference is for 1 hour per game day with a 28 day month and 12 months in a year. This calendar is realistic enough to be intuitive for players to work out times and dates, and it conveniently means 1 game year lasts for 2 weeks. This allows for the passage of time at a sufficient rate for long term story lines and other development, but it also keeps character aging sensible.
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Molly O'Hara



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 99
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We use a similar system as the one cronOs describes.
1 pulse = 0.1 second
1 Tic = 1 MUD hour = 72 seconds,
24 hours/day (One mud day = 29 rl minutes)
35 days/month = 840 T
17 months/year = 14280 T

I'm not sure why they chose those particular numbers, but it works pretty well.

The reason why we have such short days is that we are focused on Quests, and many things in the MUD run on Time schedules. For instance a Quest Mob might ask you to meet him in a certain place at midnight. There is also a train that takes off twice a day, at 6 AM and 6 PM. Several zones have different mobs coming out at day and night too, they are much more dangerous at night, and a key mob might only be available for questors during either day- or nighttime.

It just wouldn't be feasible for players to have to wait too long for these things to happen, nobody would have the patience for doing the Quests then. But I guess it just depends on what the main focus of the MUD is set at.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Originally I wanted mud time to be the same as real time, but as Grem points out, that would have meant that some players would never experience both day and night (particularly bad for muds with vampires). It would also make the seasons last extremely long, and natural healing would be pretty much out of the question - however you could assume the character sleeps when the player is offline, and eating/drinking would become infrequent enough that you could handle them realistically without them being annoying. Combat would also work quite well in real time, although movement would be pretty slow.

In the end, I settled on having the mud time move at four times real time. Thus a six hour playing session will take you through a full mud day, and each season lasts slightly over three weeks RL time. There's no way to display days, months or years, however, so the issue of age doesn't really come up.

Burr raises an interesting idea with instanced areas that can be frozen in time, ready to pick up when you return. Perhaps such control could be combined with Molly's quest issue, allowing players to fast-forward while waiting for an NPC to turn up (like you can in many single-player games)?

Has anyone played with the idea of making the position of the sun relative to your location in the world? The same logic could be extended to moons and/or multiple suns (a world like that in Pitch Black could provide an interesting setting for a survival-oriented mud).
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Drey



Joined: 15 May 2005
Posts: 24
Location: Livonia, MI

PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 7:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Real Life Time <--> MUD Time Reply with quote

I'm currently wrestling with that same argument myself. The Envy-derived MUD I run is currently set at 30 real seconds = 1 MUD hour. Therefore, every 12 real minutes is 1 MUD day, allowing you to experience 120 MUD days in a single real day.

I'm currently considering moving to a 1 for 1 time scale. I've had arguments advanced against that:

1) it will always be night for some players;
2) players can run to max level in a few real days.

#1 is largely irrelevant because there are plenty of lights and there are no vendors who aren't open 24 hours.

#2 is largely irrelevant because if players can really run to max level in a few real days, making that time period be a full MUD year is just a facade which doesn't change the basic problem: my MUD is too easy.

The largest advantages to me personally of going for 1 to 1 time are:

1) If the server crashes, the time will be correct when it comes back up;
2) The players won't need to eat and drink nearly as often;
3) I get rid to tidy up the code;
4) Time-remaining on spell effects instantly becomes obvious to players.
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Grem



Joined: 15 May 2005
Posts: 36
Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2005 10:06 pm    Post subject: RE: Drey Reply with quote

Drey, those 'advantages' arent very tangible.

1. Just store the MUD time to file every tick, if the MUD crashes you'll still have a log of what time it was when the MUD crashed. (Why make time tick by if nobody is able to play?)

2. You can sometimes afford to exchange 'realism' for 'fun-factor'. Eating often can be changed to make the game less annoying.

3. I dont see how the code change would really allow 'tidier code'. =)

4. You can calculate the 'time-remaining' to show both in-game hours, and real-life time it would take for the effects to expire. Just do the math!
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Just store the MUD time to file every tick, if the MUD crashes you'll still have a log of what time it was when the MUD crashed. (Why make time tick by if nobody is able to play?)


There's no need to keep saving it - you can base game time on the system clock regardless of what speed the mud moving at, and indeed I would recommend this approach. For example I calculate the time as if there were only 15 seconds in a minute, then when displaying the time I just show hours and minutes. But because the time itself is based on the system clock, it means that if it's midnight in the mud and I shut it down for 3 hours, when it comes back up it'll be midday. Equally I can tell someone "it'll be winter in 2 weeks RL time", and know that that'll be true, even if the server were to go down for a week.

Thus you can accurately predict when something is going to happen, how long spells are going to last, and so on, without having to factor in downtime - because spell durations, healing, weather, and so on, will continue even if the characters are logged off or the mud is shut down. The typical incremental counter can also get out of sync pretty fast (in my old mud there used to be a long-running joke about "kavir time", as mud time would slow down slightly when the server load picked up).

However by using the system clock you end up with an accurate correlation between real time and mud time, allowing players to plan events - a werewolf raid during the next full moon, a druid ritual during the Summer Solstis, a vampire meeting at midnight next week...all of these times can be predicted with perfect accuracy, and player commands provided to let the players know exactly what RL day/time the events will take place.
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Ashon



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 86
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a tough subject to tackle. Where is the tradeoff, and what is it really worth? The timing of a mud comes down to the bitter point of realism vs. fun. I think it's one of the more fundamental of the issues but one largely ignored. It's ignored, because I think a lot of mud's don't consider the time as being an important part of gameplay, and time isn't designed into the system. I'll make the sweeping generalization, that if you don't have a progressive story, or time based plot events. Time really is not that important.

Quote:
Realism - How long is it taking characters to finish their activities related to the MUD time? (2 hours in-game time to kill a monster?) And how often do characters need to sleep?

Flexability - I feel that players should be able to experience day and night while they are logged in, so this rules out second-for-second algorithm where daytime in reallife = daytime in MUD world.


As I said above, if you don't have a progressive story, but you mandate that shops things are only open 'during the day', or that NPC's sleep. A swift moving timeline is important. Because you don't want the players to be bored for the 3 hours of game time (or whatever) is night time.

In fact if you have stores closing or even nocturnal events, a more rapidly moving timeline is important. So that players who play at any time during RL have a chance to experience it. (as you pointed out)

So assuming these types of 'realistic' touches, it's important to move time along at a more rapid pace.

Sleep again is a system that needs to be thought of during the design phase. Assuming the standard Roleplaying model, sleep is a a time of regeneration. But if we could off-load that on to a more plausible system, then we can make a better case for slowing down time and actually having night periods. Kick realism into this, and is it really realistic for someone to sleep after every battle, as can be the case for low level players?

Quote:
Lifespan - How old are players? If days are passing incredibly fast, players will be 100 years old in weeks of real life!


This moves away from the game mechanics into the realm of game world design. A proper backstory can solve this, say 600 days in a year. Or whatever, it just takes a simple world building note to mention this.


.... In my mind there is no best way to handle time. In fact time is perhaps one of the most difficult design issues that a world builder is going to face in the development of an online game. We can't take the classic CRPG route and say a night passes as you sleep. And yet in our drive for a more realisitic world, we want time to make sense. So I guess my overall response is, I don't know. It's up to you to design your game, players will adapt to it, or most likely will completely ignore it. With the Caveat, that unless there is a progressive story (The orcs will raid in X days, or whatver) time is a non issue.
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Grem



Joined: 15 May 2005
Posts: 36
Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 9:53 pm    Post subject: RE: Kavir Reply with quote

Regarding Kavir's post on system clock time, it really depends on the MUD design you're going for.

In my game, in-game time is 'of the essence', so having game events pass by because time is still ticking even while the game is down can have negative effects on the players. (Player home upkeep that's ticking by even though the players are unable to play, and so forth). This is where storing game time may be neccessary.

Rather than store 'ticks' to file, maybe you could just store the last system time to file.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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Location: Munich

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 10:13 pm    Post subject: Re: RE: Kavir Reply with quote

Grem wrote:
In my game, in-game time is 'of the essence', so having game events pass by because time is still ticking even while the game is down can have negative effects on the players.


What negative affects? Can you elaborate?

In the Persistant player-character existance thread, you said that characters would remain in the gameworld even after the player had logged out.

Surely that would require a design which allowed players to plan for their downtime? For example, if they want to set up a journey from X to Y, which they know will take Z hours, they're going to expect to be there if they log back on in Z hours. I would find it counter-intuitive if I were to log on and find that I hadn't yet arrived, because there had been a server reboot while I was away - from the player's perspective, downtime is downtime.
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Grem



Joined: 15 May 2005
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Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 5:14 pm    Post subject: RE: Kavir Reply with quote

Like I said, it depends on the MUD's design. In a gameworld where time passage effects world balance, I feel that the world should 'stop' while the MUD is down, so that players arent missing potentially time-effected events. (Buildings decaying, mobs casting global spells, quest times expiring, spell effects expiring, world growing, etc).

I can see your point though. Players could 'expect' these things to occur, however, they would be defenseless to effect the gameworld because time would be passing and they would be unable to log in.

Traditional MUDs would be perfect to utilize the system time clock, but I think some game universes (Empire MUD, RTS style muds, etc) should stop while the MUD is offline.
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shasarak



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
Posts: 134
Location: Emily's Shop

PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like time to pass fairly quickly: I think the standard "1 real life minute = 1 MUD hour" works quite well. This means that changes between day and night happen fast enough to influence things on a tactical (rather than strategic) level. The full day/night cycle is 24 minutes long, so, if you're being chased by a vampire, if you can evade for only 10 minutes or so, the balance will shift in your favour.

Changes from season to season take a day or two, so there's plenty of variety from day to day.

Characters typically last about 1 year before dying of old age, which seems to me to be about right.

As with any decision like this, you need to start by thinking what effects there are on gameplay as the result of the passage of time, and how you want to balance those effects. I think the most important thing to avoid is a situation where a player who is always on for an hour or two at roughly the same time of (real life) day always sees exactly the same conditions. So, if you wanted to have a near-real-time game, you might perhaps make the day 23 or 22 hours long, so that, over the course of a couple of weeks, a player like this will be on at all possible times of day.
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