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Timed events

posted by Farlander on - last edited - Viewed by 250 users

One of the distinct characteristics of Back to the Future movies is that in the end of each movie (which would be 'episode' in the game case, I presume), all the things just go wrong in the end and the main characters don't have time to go Back to Somewhere (usually future), and the time is ticking and they have to do all this improvised stuff, and all this sense of urgency...

The problem is, most games in the adventure genre (and TellTale games in particular) aren't known well for their sense of urgency. I mean, let's take the last act of Episode 4 of third season of Sam & Max - I knew I could think as long as I wanted to, no one would be summoned to destroy the universe because I will stop him before he does that, no matter how long I linger to solve the puzzle - half an hour or a full hour.

What I'm saying, is that in Back to the Future it's like "Oh my! He has only four minutes left! Oh my! Two! Oh my!" or "Oh my! If something will not be done soon, they're about to fall into the ravine!" and etc. and etc. But how TellTale will transfer this into an adventure game, without making it frustrating for the player or something?

Personally me, while writing this post a not so perfect idea of difficulty levels came to my mind. Like, on easy it's a normal adventure game, on hard the clock's always ticking like in the Last Express. I don't think that's the best solution possible, but a BttF game HAS to have this sense of "shit, everything's going wrong and we don't have any time left!", IMO.

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  • I remember playing a game called Titanic: Adventure Out of Time, and after it strikes the iceberg suddently there's a 2 hour countdown before it sinks and you have to complete the game and get off the ship before you die along with the other 1000 passengers.

    Very urgent! I loved it.

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    Vainamoinen Moderator

    Oh, it can be done, really. In any game, "the ticking clock" is always just an illusion (if you're not fast enough, you just play it again!). As in any (non-interactive) movie, this illusion can be created in games with lots of narrative techniques. This thread really does a good job listing techniques to create fear without the possibility of actually dying, I think it's equally possible to create the feeling of immediacy ("We're out of time!") without actual time limits.

    Also, this thread has well established that BTTF III has also quite spectacularly created this feeling by just plain cheating it:

    @hamza721 said: i never understood the end of the third movie. Marty and Doc have to get back before Mad Dog kills one of them but after Mad Dog is taken to jail Marty and Doc have all the time in the world to go back to 1985 but instead go immediately

    They have all the time in the world... but you think they have to catch their train! :D

  • Thanks, I'll read those threads, when I'll have more time.

    Well, actually, TBH, the biggest illusion/cheating is in Back to the Future II. I mean, if they would've decided to get in 1955 a day AFTER the day the lightning struck, they could just come over Biff's house, kick his ass and wouldn't have to worry about meeting their own selves :p That would still change the timeline back to it's place (I mean, after BttFII the BttFI altered timeline still took two alterations, one because of Biff, the other because of Marty and Doc fixing it), so it wouldn't make a difference. But that wouldn't be that much interesting, I guess...

  • In BTTF 3 the real sense of urgency was after they passed the point of no return. They could have easily stopped the train before that and started again, but everything was going as planned until Clara tagged along. By that time it was too late to stop and they had to improvise.

    But I do love having a sense of urgency and time limit in games.
    In King's Quest III, you could not leave the evil wizard's house without Manannan killing you. At one point, Manannan will go away on an errand and you have around 30 minutes of game time to go into town and surrounding area and gather all the things you need to defeat Manannan when he gets back. If you miss this window of opportunity...well you're out of luck.

    This feeling of jeopardy and the knowledge that it is possible to fail miserably somehow miss the train by taking too long is a really fun and challenging way to deal with these sort of puzzles.

  • I'm all for time limits, but some people will still not like being timed. If time limits are implemented, I think the game should ease up on you if you repeatedly run out of time.

  • That gameplay mechanic was used in the Bone games. With some running sequences. If you failed you had to restart, or after a while you could skip the sequence.

  • @caeska said: In BTTF 3 the real sense of urgency was after they passed the point of no return. They could have easily stopped the train before that and started again, but everything was going as planned until Clara tagged along. By that time it was too late to stop and they had to improvise.

    But I do love having a sense of urgency and time limit in games.
    In King's Quest III, you could not leave the evil wizard's house without Manannan killing you. At one point, Manannan will go away on an errand and you have around 30 minutes of game time to go into town and surrounding area and gather all the things you need to defeat Manannan when he gets back. If you miss this window of opportunity...well you're out of luck.

    This feeling of jeopardy and the knowledge that it is possible to fail miserably somehow miss the train by taking too long is a really fun and challenging way to deal with these sort of puzzles.

    In KQ3 you can do the 25-30 minutes again (indefinitely?). You just have to be back in the house with your stuff hidden before the wizard comes back. Then when he leaves again you can go out for a second time.

  • Timed events can work in BTTF - the Broken Sword series managed it quite well at times (and if Telltale implement auto-saves before an action sequence), all the better. It breaks up the pace of a game and with BTTF so much of the action was making sure X happened in the nick of time. Timed events and even faked tension can add to it (perhaps mutliple routes to complete the game? One 'within the limit' and a second slower cerebal pace if you don't complete the timed events? Even if you had a relatively simple branching story per chapter of one branched story on complete/failure of one timed event. Adds replay value to - but understand it does lengthen development times.

  • In KQ3 you can do the 25-30 minutes again (indefinitely?). You just have to be back in the house with your stuff hidden before the wizard comes back.

    Actually, you can't do that indefinately (at least IIRC). One of the chores Mannaan (I... can't spell his name right anyway :p ) gives to you is to feed him (or he'll kill you... that's a good motivational route, I guess), and there's only four pieces of food in the house.

    But yeah, KQIII is a good example,I guess. On the other hand, it's one of the Sierra games, which means it has dead ends and a lot of deaths. But yeah, the time limit in it was pretty intense.

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