The 20-Hour Day

The little things matter. One of the solved problems in multiplayer online gaming is that 1/day timers should use an 18- to 22-hour day rather than a 24-hour day. I call this “solved,” but I still see many games using 24-hour timers. (Feel free to debate the merits of individual timers versus “everyone and everything resets at midnight.”)

If you play everyday, you probably start around the same time, usually before/after work/school. A 24-hour timer gradually shifts your activities unless you are clockwork-perfect and can consistently complete X exactly 1,440 minutes later, and may the server gods help you if some blip renders the timer slightly off. More likely, you cannot begin whatever quest or instance has the timer until the old timer resets, so if it takes you an hour to complete it, you effectively have a 25-hour timer. There might be some merit to keeping people from building up a daily routine (use a 28- to 32-hour timer in that case), but these games tend to encourage that daily habit. The best mechanics are invisible, not pulling the players out of the game world to check whether the group is waiting on Bob’s reset timer because he hit traffic on the way home last night.

Some examples:

  • City of Heroes alignment missions reset every 20 hours.
  • League of Legends gives you the “first win of the day” bonus every 22 hours.
  • Spiral Knights (from the makers of Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates and Bang! Howdy) refills your “energy” every 22 hours.

: Zubon

13 thoughts on “The 20-Hour Day”

  1. Planetary Interaction in Eve Online comes with what I feel is the best solution – a slider which you can set to what you want.

    I set mine to 23 hours but it’s nice to have control.

  2. I find it much more fun and player friendly to not have daily timers/resets at all, but instead limit tasks/lockouts/cooldowns/etc. that the designers want to limit on a weekly basis. This lets players manage their own time.
    Especially if you rather play large junks on a few days, instead of having to log in every single damn day if you don’t want to miss a daily reset or timer etc.
    Daily sucks, weekly ftw! :D

  3. Anarchy Online has a number of daily missions which gives you about 1 level of XP for each mission and the exact mission is random. They have an 18 hour timer which starts _after_ you completed the mission. A mission can take anything from 5 minutes to several hours, depending on the mission.

    Star Trek Online has a timer for their daily missions which I think was 20 hours; that one starts when you accept the mission. So if you pick up the mission, but does not play the mission until the next day you can do two of them back-to-back.
    I did this when I bothered with doing some of the daily missions; I did not play the same so often anyway.

  4. I think the way WoW does it is quite good too – no timers but a set time when does the activity reset, i. e. some crafting cooldowns reset at midnight no matter when you actually craft so you can do them exactly once per day.

    The disadvantage is, when the activity takes a lot of time and is done around the reset time, it might take two days.

      1. I was very disappointed when I found out that the reputation patterns you craft for your crafting guild have a 24-hour or 72-hour timer. This felt really annoying to me, for exactly the reasons pointed out: it effectively meant I would miss days regularly.

  5. I tend to prefer it when things reset at a set time. That way you don’t have to worry about if you’ve logged on much earlier the next day, you can still do whatever you want. It’s much more tolerant if you don’t log on around the same time every day.

    But, the worst is having 24-hour days. That’s something that annoyed me to no end about LotRO’s crafting. Which is funny, since quests tend to reset at a set time.

  6. I totally agree. When games have a true 24 hour period, it just means that the next night will be pushed back, and the next night pushed back until you have to skip a night entirely.

    Another game that has 20 hour days, as an example, STO.

  7. Another vote for the weekly task limit. Many of my game friends, and myself included, find it increasingly hard to manage consistent daily logins which are made even worse by the dreaded creeping 24-hour cycle.

    If you’re a “burst” player, then its pretty tough to stay on track with friends who have a more forgiving daily schedule.

    File under other design decisions that perhaps inadvertently prevent people from playing with their friends.

  8. Now if only we could get day / night cycles that actually mean something.

    Although I’m asking for too much of a leap because first a bunch of other things need to mean something for there to be a foundation for such a thing.

    1. I think most games now have mobs/events that only occur at night. It can kinda be a pain though to counteract the neatness of it.

  9. Is there a reason that the mechanic could incorporate both an activity cooldown, and a reset point?

    Some folks will like to play same time each day, others might play burst. Allow a maximum of two concurrent activities per rolling 40 hour period.

    Do a quest on Monday 6pm, Tuesday 6pm, Wednesday 6pm = all good. Or Monday 6pm, Monday 7pm, and then have to wait till after Wednesday midday to do the next.

    It would not affect regulars, but facilitate casuals?

    I guess it would be far harder to mentally track though.

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