Variable length of the day/night cycle


Recommended Posts

Considering the current length of the day/night cycle a “normal” day suppose its length would change as a function of your combined calorie burn rate and fatigue computed over time. This model would have, for all intents and purposes, infinite effective granularity. Essentially a floating point calculation. “Longer” days would be anything between 24 and an upper limit, which at this point is purely speculative, say 30 equivalent “normal” hours. All the advantages and disadvantages that come with this will be scaled accordingly. Same for “short” days, anything between 24 and a lower limit, say 18 equivalent “normal” hours.

From the player perspective, the clock would obviously still have a 24 hour format. The time would just tick faster or slower. Animations, walking speed, activity and object use times would not change, meaning you could do more in a long day and less in a short one.

This model would have an inertia associated with it so it would be something you either plan or something you can’t avoid and have to manage rather than something you can influence immediately. The idea being that whatever you do or happens to you “now” will not also have an immediate effect but also a long term one, “later”. Also, that you can essentially “borrow now”, especially time, and “pay with interest later”.

Keeping fatigue and calorie burn rate as low as possible over time, either on purpose, because of a lack of supplies, long periods of bad weather or whatever other reasons, would cause the day/night cycle to slow down, become longer. The player would be warmer, need less food and water and gain additional hours of daylight for travel, exploration and activities. Movement speed could partly ignore encumbrance and adverse weather penalties. All these would be a function of the time step, the variable that keeps track of the variance in the length of the day/night cycle would act as a modifier for the rate at which hunger thirst and cold increases an so on.

Resting however would become less effective at reducing fatigue, initiating rest would not be guaranteed, akin to staring a fire, and resting would become unreliable with a chance to rest for less time than intended. Or in other words the model would have a natural tendency to increase fatigue over time and thus reverting the day/night cycle to its “default”, “normal day” state.

If indoor temperature was a function of weather it could mean the player is unable to get the warmth bonus associated with resting because of its unreliability typical of “long” days. If light was more of a concern, especially if you couldn’t do activities and interact with objects in the dark, longer days and hence longer nights would put pressure on the player’s light resources as he spends more time on average being awake in hours of darkness.

The player could offset the lack of fatigue reduction and unreliability of resting with resources. Coffee, books, sleeping pills or a natural substitute and so on. The absence of which coupled with the fact that you also get additional hours of darkness could lead to your sleeping pattern shifting and ending up needing to rest during the day. The next most effective course of action to overcome this beside fatigue reduction resources would be to increase your calorie burn rate.

But because “long” days are synonymous with higher than average levels of fatigue, which is one of the requirements, or causes, of “short” days, taking full advantage of a “long day”, essentially spending a lot of calories at high fatigue, would guarantee a faster day/night cycle in the near future.

“Short days” would be an effect of a sustained high calorie burn rate and high fatigue over time. The day/night cycle would be faster and the player would be colder and need more food and water.

Resting however would be easy to initiate, reliable and more effective than otherwise at reducing fatigue, with a chance to rest more than intended. A natural tendency to reduce fatigue over time and revert back to the “default state” of a “normal” day. The risk of over-resting would exacerbate the loss of light already in place by having a shorter day/night cycle.

If travel was more of a concern, especially long distance and/or as fast as possible, you would have the option to induce a longer day/night cycle, “resting in advance” as it were, and take full advantage of your time window of increased daylight, more warmth, less food and water requirements, and partly ignored movement speed penalties to travel at speed and weighted down, even in adverse conditions. You would however pay for this effort not only during but also after you arrive, very soon with already increasing fatigue, hard/expensive to reduce proactively, unreliable and inefficient rest and longer nights, and later with a shorter day/night cycle, needing more warmth, food and water but with reliable and more efficient rest.

Ideally, with other additions to the game, unrelated and separate to this model, both a faster and slower day/night cycle would be more favorable for various scenarios and activities, giving the player more options while at the same time making the “right” course of action more ambiguous.

There are however a number of problems with this model, in addition to the fact that a variable length of the day/night cycle is… if nothing else a little dubious. The only plausible justification would be that obviously days are not getting shorter or longer but that it’s an approximation for other gameplay mechanics that, while presumably fitting, would not be possible or desirable to implement individually and separate.

To give a few examples in the hope of making myself better understood, time moving faster in a "short" day would be an approximation of the player moving slower than usually possible because of prolonged increased fatigue. It's just that it's translated from effective movement speed into less hours in a day. It could also be an approximation of everything from lack of concentration and inability to focus to low dexterity due to cold up to brief lapses in consciousness. It would approximate these and everything you could think of which has a net effect of not being able to do as much as you would otherwise during a day.

However, to be clear, taking actions "within reason" would mean that days are consistently of "normal" length or that the day/night cycle variance is small, ranging from let's say +1 to -1 hours over the course of a couple of days, depending on what the player does. A bigger, unmistakable variance would be either completely on purpose either triggered by a major change of routine or a major event, which could in no way shape or form be "free". For example carrying the most part of a wolf and deer a long distance to your shelter. The extra calorie burn rate and fatigue would speed up the day/night cycle, to what extent, that could only be speculated, again, the point being that whatever you do "now" will affect the coming days in some way shape or form to some extent.

Another thing to consider is that if the maximum possible range of change for the length of the day/night cycle would be small, say an equivalent of +/- 3 hours, coupled with the fact that it has an inertia associated with it, the effect would probably not be observable directly. At the most some days will “feel” or “seem” longer or shorter. In essence approximating an ever so slight variation in the perception of time. However, it would arguably also be less useful as the advantages and disadvantages would be to scale and probably not observable directly either.

But if the maximum possible range of change of the day/night cycle is higher, +/- 8 hours or more, it could be extremely confusing for players that don’t know about it, and probably would be hard if at all possible to spontaneously figure out what’s going on, especially because the causal link is stretched over the course a few days. Chopping wood for 8 hours “now” would mean days become shorter, “later”, taking full effect the next day or the day after that (because of the inertia of the model). And I doubt it would be at all obvious what’s going on.

Also, players that like to hibernate for long periods of time would most likely find it extremely frustrating because while it takes even less resources in terms of fuel, water and food, without fatigue reduction resources they would most likely have to cope with varying sleeping patterns and moving back and forth between normal and long days. In fact, gathering enough resources to allow for long time passivity would be harder, if at all possible, as they could reach a point of diminishing returns where because of the increased effort to gather resources they would consume more resources because of "short" days, with a net effect that they are using up resources at the rate of gather, or even higher.

If nothing else, maybe this idea would give somebody a totally unrelated but awesome idea.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The idea is interesting but I just don't care for it. Having subjective time which simulates various effects just adds a layer of confusion to the game. Let me explain.

I go out for a run to get my cardio in and expect a certain burn. I know that when I run 3 miles it takes about X amount of time and burns Y amount of calories. Your method, that would not be the case. Something as simple as a 3 mile run would have a variable result from day to day. Lets take that simple exercise and turn it into checking traps. I have to move a circuit checking a certain number of traps at various locations. I know how long it is going to take and what my caloric/water consumption is going to be (weather and predators not withstanding). I can plan on it and make a routine out of it. Or I know getting from Coastal Village in PV to the Mine Entrance in PV takes X amount of time for Y caloric/water consumption. Your method would make this variable and honestly, unrealistic.

In survival situations routines help. When you are under stress, routines help. The entire reason why the military has priorities of work (and everyone is drilled them) is because it breeds routine in hostile/stressful situations. You know X task is going to take about Y amount of time with Z manpower. People know their jobs and execute. You can plan on it. You know what you can do and can't do in the time allotted. If their was not priority of work, if we did not know how long things would take and what resources would be consumed in the process it would incur chaos in the camp. It takes away from good order and discipline within the ranks, increased insecurity and makes the camp less able to defend itself.

This is what I see your "variable" day doing. It simply breeds increased insecurity. I can't plan effectively. The risk vs reward becomes more of an unknown. So I am going to be less likely to take longer treks, resigning myself to missions about my base camp. Recon would become a measure of desperation not one of exploration. The weather is unpredictable enough, storms dropping in on us with no warning. Couple this with unseen variables could make a simple trek a death sentence. The unseen storms are bad enough, I don't need unseen time too.

Now if the player could control it, it would simply become a boon. I could simply set the day to be the most effective for me and remain at base camp on least effective days. While it would make for exertion/recovery periods, that risk vs reward is already in place.

BTW, if you want to know the priorities of work I have included a linkie. ... ty-2.shtml

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I go out for a run to get my cardio in and expect a certain burn. I know that when I run 3 miles it takes about X amount of time and burns Y amount of calories. Your method, that would not be the case. Something as simple as a 3 mile run would have a variable result from day to day (...) Your method would make this variable and honestly, unrealistic.

If you did your run the day after carrying 45kg 20 miles, would you still take X amount of time and burn Y calories? Or the day after chopping wood for 8 hours? Are you doing things like this every day? If not, it would not have a variable result from day to day.

I could simply set the day to be the most effective for me and remain at base camp on least effective days.

Simplifying it to the extreme and picking numbers out of a hat, day 1 and 2 you spend making day 3 most effective (say sleeping 30-40 hours out of 48), on day 3 you have to eat 1.5 times less calories, drink 1.5 times less water, you'd be 1.5 times warmer and the day would be 1.5 times longer. Day 4 would be a normal day. On day 5 and 6 you'd have to eat 3 times more calories, drink 3 time more water, you'd be 3 times colder, and the day would be 3 times shorter. Also you'd wake up late in the daytime, which is already short.

None of this would be in steps. So on midnight of day 4-5 you don't suddenly need to eat 3 times more, it would all be gradual.

I fail to see how this is a boon.

I am going to be less likely to take longer treks, resigning myself to missions about my base camp.

It has no effect on long treks. It has on super long treks otherwise impossible. Wouldn't it be worth it to have the bonus for the super long trek and pay after you arrive? Forced march. That's what it does. So why do you say it introduces insecurity? Can you accidentally force march?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually have have taken 20 mile road marches with full combats loads for 2 weeks straight. Did it as part of Force XXI training in the 90s. You first few days suck, then you get use to wearing your feet off. That is why it is called a forced march. Light fighters do it all the time. Also done rail head proceeding for a week or two at a time pushing heavy loads and bust your butt day in and out. Both are physically exhausting. We got up the next day and did it again. You got the same amount of food and were expected to pull your weight. Soldier's in combat like specialties act like ditch diggers. You kill it every day doing the demanding labor to makes war happen and then are expected to perform according. There are no high days or low days, they are all just days... busting your tail and getting the job done. Filling sand bags, digging fox holes, upgrading fortifications just to move and do it all again. It is just physical labor.

I don't see how any of these activities change just because you did it to much. Right now, if we chop wood for 8 hours we expend X amount of calories, wear the ax and get Y amount of wood. You then have to replenish those calories. That is the risk vs reward. You don't need to toss a spanner in the works to change to formula. All of the sudden we need more water or more food or more warmth just because some cycle says it is just about "that time." Maybe I just don't get it. As it stands now, I know I don't want it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think I'm with AmericanSteel on this one.

I think I see what you are trying to do - allow the player to "build" internal resources, and then expend them, and maybe have to pay a bit of extra if you push it. However, it seems like the system already does this, simply with condition. I can hit freezing, and keep walking, it simply degrades my condition. Taking care of myself + rest, and I can restore that condition.

Instead, I think it might be better to somehow reward the player for maintaining 100% condition, and penalize the player the lower the condition drops. Personally, this fits with my own survival ethos, which is, first and foremost "don't do anything stupid, don't hurt yourself". If we walked faster, fatigued less, were more resistant to cold, and needed less calories, as long as we maintained 100% condition, people might think about taking shorter walks and then making a fire to warm up again, or eating regular meals. Especially if lighting a fire or harvesting wood got progressively harder the lower your condition, this would help create incentives for the player to stockpile resources and maintain his condition, so he doesn't get into a critical situation and not be able to recover.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I see now that I failed to take into account how large the variation in playstyle is. I personally find critical situations I'm not able to recover from most enjoyable. We each have our own bumps and bruises, some have or had chipped teeth and broken bones, sometimes. If you're not getting hurt, most probably you're not being super active. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Just, different people.

Rewarding for 100% condition would be detrimental to risk taking. At the end of the day, it's a game. If you do well and nothing bad happens, is that a good thing? For some, yes. For others, no. There needs to be a balance that works for everyone. Not what/how I'm saying, but a balance still.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm, I didn't think about the idea that rewarding 100% condition would reward low risk taking behavior. I guess I was hoping that this would would reward the behavior of living healthy, and would give players a confidence boost to take risks, knowing they are more likely to succeed.

I am also OK with the idea that conditions can snowball and lead to a quick death. Everything I've read points to the idea that is how survival actually works. However, I think that whatever mechanisms are put in place should be readily accessible to the player, so they can continue to make risk assessments as they play, and not feel like they got ambushed by a hidden game mechanic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The odds are always stacked against us when its Man Vs. Nature. It is the entire reason that majority of us live like we do. We like being on the top of the food chain. We like to have our environment structured. We stack the deck in favor for the success of ourselves and more importantly our offspring. Drop us in the naked wild and a vast majority of the people die. I think the game has a pretty good handle on that right now. While conditions might not snowball, its more linear, everything impacts condition. Once something starts to take a turn, you are in trouble. If more than one thing takes a turn for the worst, you are probably doomed. Exhausted + anything is a tough nut to crack.

While I would like to see some things tweaked, I do think the devs have nailed most of it regarding our condition and slogging through the snow, day in and day out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.