What Time is it?

27 09 2009

Short post for today: how does the time system work in Aion?

I actually spent a non-trivial amount of time looking around for some other pages explaining the time phenomenon in Aion. I didn’t find anything helpful. Maybe everyone gets it right-off, and I’m just slow. Or maybe it’s not important at all, so everyone ignores it. I think it’s a cool mechanic, though, and one that’s strongly reminiscent of my days in FFXI.

In case you didn’t notice, Aion has its own internal time system. For every five seconds that pass in the real world, one minute passes in game time. That is, time moves twelve times faster in the game: a game day is only two hours long, rather than twenty-four (as in WoW). In game days look a lot like ours, too. That is, they’re broken up into four periods:

Dawn: starts at 4:01 AM; ends at 9:00 AM
Day: starts at 9:01 AM; ends at 3:00 PM
Dusk: starts at 3:01 PM; ends at 8:00 PM
Night: starts at 8:01 PM; ends at 4:00 AM

So the cycle persists, moving smoothly from one period to the next every thirty minutes or so. Aside from being a pretty change in scenery while in the same place, what does this mean?

Fight for your faction, day ornight

Fight for your faction, day or night

For starters, there are several types of NPCs that only appear during certain time periods. The Asmodeans, for instace, take on a quest to help an Elyos-disguised-as-a-Sprigg-disguised-as-a-Shugo, and can only accept the final quest component during Dusk or Night; the NPC simply isn’t there during the other half of the day. Likewise, there are several named mobs and some mob types that spawn only during certain times of day.

While not a huge PvP element, the time also contributes to natural cover in the PvP scene. Just as size-of-character doesn’t really matter for game mechanics, neither does time-of-day. At the same time, both qualities can still be exploited to convey some minor advantage against clickers (though they likely won’t be a challenge anyways) or unsuspecting victims.

I like the mechanic: it’s a limiting element (in that there is some dynamics to the game world – NPCs aren’t all static) that isn’t restricting to any particular player (with just two hours during a gaming session, you have access to every part of the day cycle). Have you had fun with the internal time mechanic, or has it just been a hassle that you have to work around?



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