Time management (video game genre)
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Time management games are a subgenre of strategy video game and of casual games focused around fast real time allocation of resources in a consequent order to fulfill the level objectives. The player must react to the incoming requests that occur as they play and serve them in the most effective manner to get the greatest possible reward. They are usually limited in time, and their resources limit the speed at which they can serve the requests. Tapper and Diner Dash are popular games in the genre.
Time management is a subgenre of casual games and strategy video games. with a distinct set of features that may lack typical strategy game offerings. Time management games appeal to a different audience than general strategy games; strategy games' primary audience is considered to be teen and older males, while time management audience is considered to be adult women.
Most time-management games don't employ war themes, instead using work themes; the goals of most strategy games are often to conquer a foe, while time management goals are usually to make enough money by doing work in the most effective manner. Unlike strategy games that are often focused on the multiplayer gameplay, time management games are single-player by nature. The art theme is usually friendly, cheerful and simple as it is a common practice in casual games.
The 1983 arcade game Tapper is the prototypical time management game, where the player is a bartender who must serve patrons before their patience expires. Later games often feature more tasks, similar to the successful Diner Dash from 2004 that tasked players with restaurant activities from seating customers to washing dishes. Other examples of time management games include Airport Mania, Delicious, and Flight Control.
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A typical time management game is a progression of levels, each of which sets a goal and a time limit for the player. The goal of a level is typically to complete enough sub-goals within a given time limit. In a level, the player sets priorities (or immediate actions) for actors in order to satisfy appearing sub-goals that can be represented (e.g., as clients who want service or planes that need to land). In some games, consecutive actions may be queued for the actors. The actors will then do the actions in the order set by player with their speed. Usually, if the action is performed too late, a sub-goal is failed.
The frequency of responses by the player increases as the game progresses in difficulty. The player may have the possibility to upgrade their available resources by spending the earned rewards; between the levels, the players would upgrade their actors using game currency earned in the level (e.g., make them move faster, make clients wait longer before failing a sub-goal, serve more clients simultaneously).
Settings and themes
A typical setting for a time management game puts a player in a position of some kind of service worker (e.g., waiter or cook in a restaurant, airport dispatcher, office manager), though exceptions exist.
- Bateman, Chris (2010). Beyond Game Design: Nine Steps Toward Creating Better Videogames. Course Technology PTR. p. 90. ISBN 9781584506713.
- Bateman, Chris (2009). Beyond Game Design: Nine Steps Toward Creating Better Videogames. Cengage Learning. p. 245. ISBN 0495926892.
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