Real-time games

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Gunness
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Real-time games

#1 Post by Gunness » Thu Aug 12, 2010 1:02 pm

Recently I added a "real-time" tag to the database - "real-time" not as in "game where the clock ticks every time you hit Enter", but as in "game where NPCs dart mindlessly around like pre-schoolers and nasty things happen if you take five seconds to look away from your computer monitor".

I've always been of two minds when it comes to NPCs. Atmosphere-wise, they tend to add to the feel of being in a living environment, but puzzle-wise, I think they're plain annoying most of the time. Surely anyone who's played Lancelot or Scapeghost and tried to round up the usual eight suspects for some carefully timed puzzle, only to have one of them wander off in search of fish and chips at the crucial moment, must agree?

But then we have the particularly nasty, "real real-time" games, like The Hobbit, populated with NPCs with the intelligence of bricks - who start running around even when you're doing nothing. As long as Thorin just sits down and sings of gold, I'm fine, but anything more than that just wastes my time and bugs me endlessly.

Here's a very preliminary game list, feel free to add more. How do the rest of you feel about real-time games? Do they add anything to your gaming experience?

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Re: Real-time games

#2 Post by Mr Creosote » Thu Aug 12, 2010 1:46 pm

Hmm.... what you describe, I wouldn't call 'real time', but a subset of 'randomised elements'. Or maybe I'm misreading you, because there seems to be a difference between your abstract description and the list of games you've compiled. What could happen if I look away from my computer monitor in any of the games? Unless I'm totally mistaken, nothing, because they're all still essentially turn-based. I.e. unless I do something, no random triggers will occur.

Granted, it's been many years since I played these games. So am I mistaken?

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Re: Real-time games

#3 Post by Gunness » Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:09 pm

I was mistaken about The Hobbit, but if you look do nothing in Sherlock or Border Zone, time still passes and things will happen around you. Which I think is quite frustrating.

But I realise that the field is still quite narrow, so let's just expand the topic to cover "ordinary real-time games" with NPC's roaming around (Knight Orc, Suspect etc.) Do such elements improve the game?

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Re: Real-time games

#4 Post by Samwise » Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:12 pm

That sounds like The Hobbit to me - what else is the keyword PAUSE for?

Also, The Lord of the Rings: Game One, which isn't on your list ...

Sam.

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Re: Real-time games

#5 Post by Mr Creosote » Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:45 pm

How do the rest of you feel about real-time games?
"Actual real-time": I hate that. I want to have enough time to read and contemplate. "Ordinary real-time": Really depends. In the mystery genre (Suspect etc.), I think it's an essential part of the whole concept and it makes things believable. If it's just charactres randomly walking around without a point to it, I don't like it, but I can generally live with it.

What I usually prefer is some sort of pseudo-random wandering (with characters, for example). Meaning they move, but it's actually event-based. So if you do something specific, a character can be triggered to go somewhere else and so on. Doesn't necessarily have to be directly and openly related to the player's action. If done cleverly, it can still seem 'random enough' to appear 'real', but if a player is really up to it, she can understand the pattern. Much less frustrating.

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Re: Real-time games

#6 Post by darius » Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:30 pm

A "real-time" tag is very interesting to those playing games in an emulator. If time goes on by itself like in The Hobbit it is not advisable to run the emulator at a higher speed (e.g. to increase the speed of graphics-drawing). That's one reason to prefer "true" turn-based games; you can increase the speed of the emulator -- until you notice text input is timed and trying to type "get lamp" gives you "gggggggggggggggggeeeeeeeeeeetttttttttttt llllllllllllaaaaaaammmmmmmmmpppppp" :(

Maybe a "high-speed-emulator friendly" tag is in order as well?

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Re: Real-time games

#7 Post by Alastair » Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:28 pm

Real time is not limited to NPCs, there are adventures where other aspects of the game's world will continue without player interaction. For example in Madness and the Minotaur the lamp burns oil in real time and as this rather interesting page shows http://computerarcheology.com/madness/madness.html (where the site's owner has disassembled the code for the CoCo version) there are numerous other timers in this game.

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Re: Real-time games

#8 Post by Gunness » Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:37 am

@Sam, I've updated LotR with your info.
@Darius, interesting about a "high-speed-emulator friendly" tag, but I think it would be difficult to determine when a game would belong to this group. At least for the Speccy, there's a POKE to slow down keyboard repeat, hence making it more emu friendly. Anyway, of course real adventurers play their games at the original, groan-inducingly slow speed, don't they ;)

@Alastair, another case would be Eureka! where lots of locations have timed puzzles. 10 seconds to kill somebody, pick something up, pacify a guard dog or what have you.
But how does this all work? Is the timer faction purely an annoyance, or can it help in making the gaming experience more intense and hectic? And what about those NPCs? I'd agree that a game like Suspect would feel awfully.... flat... without the NPCs. Then again, these appear to be fairly closely scripted, and they never run off in the same inconsiderate manner as Level 9's characters, who I always thought were more tiresome than fun.

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