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13-06-2011, 05:04 AM #1
- Join Date
- Jun 2011
Interesting use of time in games?
I'm looking for games that use time in interesting ways. I mean that in a narrative sense, so not mechanics like the time-travel in Prince of Persia or Braid.
I'm thinking about this because games are long. A contemporary action game takes me 8-12 hours to complete, and other genres can run 20+. Films take about 2 hours to watch and novels about 4-6 hours to read (an album of music only takes about 45 minutes to listen to!). Television shows are the only mainstream entertainment that matches games in the length of the experience. And yet most games don't use their abundance of time in interesting ways. Many films have stories that last over a year, and many books as well: only a handful of game stories last longer than a few days (again, from a narrative perspective).
Game stories tend to run as the worst 12 hours of [character's] life. I just completed Dead Space 2, which, like its predecessor, runs in "real time," with no skips or jumps. Half life 1 and 2 are like this, Bioshock 1 and 2 are like this, most action games are paced like this. Open world games have "day/night" cycles, but the passage of time has no effect on the narrative. You could wait a hundred days and nothing would change. Same for RPGs. When the story picks up again, it's as if it's been a few hours.
Here are some interesting uses of time:
Dead Rising 2 actually runs in real-time: events are always happening throughout the mall, and you need to get medicine for your daughter at regular intervals. You can just sit in the safe house for the length of the game: you will get an ending and "beat" the game. (Obviously in most games if you do nothing the game will last forever.)
Mafia 2 has the jump through the prison years, which is interesting, but even more interesting is the fact that it contains the conclusion to Mafia 1.
Dragon Age 2 tried to use leaps forward in time, but the jumps didn't have enough of an impact for things to be interesting.
Majora's Mask (an N64 Zelda game), one of my favorite games, is entirely about the passage of time. It plays over three days that the player repeats, each day proceeding in real time. The player must discover what happens over those days across the world.
So: what are some interesting uses of time in game stories?