As I wait for a raccoon to upgrade my home I have come to the realization that I play a lot of games that use time gates. Animal Crossing, Warframe, and Trove all feature this little “mechanic” and they all use real-world time as the gate. And these gates aren’t small.
The mere concept of time gates sounds like the most unfun thing you can imagine. So you’re playing this game and then it tells you you can’t do this thing anymore for a few hours, days, or the rest of the week even. I find it strange that these don’t end up bothering me.
Since Animal Crossing is the hot new thing I’ll start with that. The game is built around time gates. Literally, making buildings takes a day. Or the equivalent of a day I’m not sure exactly when it kicks over to the next day. But for all intents and purposes, there is a point in a play session where you can’t progress any further until something gets built. Or you can only buy so much from the shop in a single day. Even Nook Miles has a daily reset.
But that makes sense for Animal Crossing since it’s more or less a life sim. It’s a feature that the in-game time reflects the real-world time and there are cool things you can do with that. Like have insects and fish that appear in certain months, the map can change according to the seasons, and it makes the whole thing that much more immersive.
Warframe, on the other hand, has these arbitrary time gates because it’s free to play the game. It’s a fair free to play a game where you can see where the trade-off for time versus money is. Want to make a weapon? Cool, gather the materials and wait 12 hours OR you can pay some money and boom it’s done. Same with building Warframes (12 hours for each piece and 3 days to put the pieces together) and rooms for your clan dojo. Again, I don’t mind this because I’m getting a lot from this game while spending very little.
The one time gate gripe I did have was the Mastery tests. Mastery is basically an account level and the higher mastery the more weapons and features you have access to. You can take these once a day and if you fail you have to wait for 24 hours before you can attempt it again. I recently discovered that you can practice these as many times as you want before taking the official test so it’s not that bad.
Finally, we come to Trove. I’m not currently playing but this game is full of time gates. First up: daily bonuses. It’s only worth doing shadow towers on Mondays because you get the best rewards, it’s only worth farming gems on Wednesdays because you get 2 for every one box collected. It’s only worth gathering resources on Tuesday because you get a big bonus to materials collected. Then we cubits the “free” cash shop currency that’s obtained by filling up a bar doing dungeons that caps out once a day. And there are tomes that cap out rewards weekly. I think this is a perfect model for games like Trove though. It’s nice to be able to finish up a few things every week and log off and still make progress towards your goals.
I think for me they help reduce burn out. They artificially slow down progress. Otherwise, I’d end up eating through content pretty quick which isn’t always the best way to experience things.