Event-Driven Clock

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

In most Video Games time seems to be based around the main character's progress, rather than any sort of actual time. This leads to the Fridge Logic of you apparently going through an entire night in the course of a few hours. This also goes the other way in that if you stay still for several hours nothing will change at all. Very much among Acceptable Breaks From Reality, as the time of day has an large effect on the mood and atmosphere of specific scenes, along with the massive technical difficulties to which the alternative leads.

In-Universe Game Clock is another form of this, and Take Your Time is a version of this.

As this trope is omnipresent among video games, please list only aversions.


Action-Adventure Games

Adventure Games

  • The Last Express is (in)famous for being one of the few Adventure Games that take place entirely in real time. From the moment you get onto that express and until you either get off or die, the time keeps ticking. If you aren't on the right spot at the right time, it's over, your train is gone.
  • Darkseed. There's a game clock that runs independently of the player. You need to sleep at nights and be on certain appointments on time. If you miss one, you're screwed. If you miss an action in a day, you're screwed. Thanks to this, the game was almost impossible to complete without a guide.


  • Pick an MMORPG, any MMORPG, natch.
    • City of Heroes has the entire day/night cycle occurring in under an hour. Also some groups of villains only appear on the street (or countryside) during the night in some areas.
    • EVE Online has a term alarm clock op. Since everything in EVE is real time, sometimes that tower comes out of reinforced at 3am local time, Tuesday. Also Eve time is GMT. So Daylight saving time changes can really screw things up.

Role-Playing Games

  • In Final Fantasy VII, an early mission saw you setting up the bomb with a timer set up to go off in five minutes. You have to get out within those minutes, and the timer keeps ticking even in combat, even during the cutscenes!
    • It is played straight often enough, though—when you supposedly have maybe seven days before a meteor screws up any plans you had for being alive, you can stay at the inn millions of times and it won't get any closer.
    • Final Fantasy V pulled it twice, once in an exploding castle and once in an underwater dive. In the former, the challenge was less getting out in time and more fighting some minibosses for bonus items while getting out. In the latter, one had to stall out a Puzzle Boss.
  • During the first full moon in Persona 3, you get about nine minutes to get to the front of a train and destroy the Shadow controlling it. The clock only stops when you're in the menus. Oh, and the boss is a Mook Maker. Good luck.
  • Pokémon Gold and Silver, then again in Pokémon Black and White. Like in Animal Crossing, real time is game time; the time of day has a factor on what Mons you can capture as well as some other game-related events, as does the day of the week.
  • Devil Survivor makes this about as explicit as you can get- in the main navigation menu, options that take up time have a clock symbol next to them. You can run around Tokyo to your heart's content, and it still won't take any time, but stop to chat with someone along the way, and you lose another half-hour.
  • The World Ends With You's days only end when the player has completed whatever quest they had to complete that day, despite the real time of day being displayed in the corner of the screen.
    • Even in-universe, the quest clock stops mattering after the first week.
  • Ōkami is a partial aversion; it isn't completely real-time, but day and night come and go every few minutes, and the world (i.e. characters, quests, and conversations) changes accordingly. Once you learn the brushstrokes, though, you can force day or night to occur or continue and keep the world in perpetual day/night as well.
    • The only time you can't Take Your Time is when you must make it to Oni Island before sunset, or else the island will disappear. And it will disappear if you take too long, making you start the whole sequence over.
  • Dragon Age factors in this. Some Random Encounters will be set at night, but almost all the game will be set during the day... except for camp, which is set at night. This actually raises some eyebrows regarding Redcliffe: when first entering the city, you are informed that the town will undoubtedly be attacked at nightfall, and the townspeople need your help (though it is optional whether you give it). However, you can go to camp and back again multiple times, simulating multiple days, and the attack will not occur until you inform in-game characters you are 'ready', and 'wait' until sundown - or until you actually travel to another location, triggering the attack without you.
    • It's a staple of practically all Bioware games that time essentially stands still until you reach plot-critical events which bring you further in the timeline.
    • In Mass Effect the main questline is called "Race Against Time." You can take as long as you damn well please.
      • Which they then avert brutally in Mass Effect 2 after the Collectors abduct the crew of your ship. You can still ignore the main plotline, but all your crew members apart from Dr Chakwas will die.
  • Nothing happens in Ultima Underworld II unless you make it happen, even though Castle British is meant to be gradually running low on supplies.

Simulation Games

  • A central gimmick of the Harvest Moon series is that a day's passage happens in a set amount of real time, regardless of the player's actions, significantly limiting what you can do in one day, even with healing items.
  • In the world of Animal Crossing, real time *is* game time. If it's 10pm on the clock on your wall, it's 10pm in the game. It's a central gimmick of the game, in fact.

Wide Open Sandbox

  • Dead Rising. The game is going to end in 3 days. Your actions affect what ending you get but not when it comes. Other game events also happen on time regardless of player action, though on a sliding window of opportunity rather than an exact time. As long as you arrive within that timeframe the event happens and it's Always Close.
  • Grand Theft Auto averts this trope, time and weather changes and marches on regardless of progress. You can have the same mission twice, once at night in heavy fog, and another at noon in full sunlight. This can even make missions harder: try flying a plane (San Andreas) in a sand storm. At night.
  • Subnautica has a day-night cycle that runs independent of your actions, and which governs when certain game-relevant events happen -- although the "timers" on some of these are only started when you have a chance to listen to certain radio messages.