Motivational Design

Lenses and Patterns for Motivational Game Design

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Time Limit

A time limit in a game is a feature such as a clock that counts down in real time games, or a turn counter in turn based games, that constrain gameplay to a certain time frame.

Use to ...

The most obvious purpose of using time limits is to keep the game from taking to long to end. However, another use of time limits is to create drama within the game. Giving the player a limited window to succeed or fail leads to increased arousal, adding a sense of tension to the game.

Can be instantiated by


Wario Ware: Smooth Moves

WarioWare: Smooth Moves gives the player a collection of very short challenges that they have to complete. In the span of 5 seconds, the player needs to read the instructions and figure out how to complete the task presented. By using this time limit, tasks that would often be seen as boring or easy become challenging and exciting.

FTL: Faster Than Light

FTL: Faster Than Light gives the player a map filled with “beacons” that they can move to and explore. Instead of allowing the player to explore all of them, a red zone slowly begins to creep across the map, which represents territory the rebel fleet they are trying to outrun now controls. The advancement of this zone acts as a turn counter, making sure the player keeps moving forward. For if the player is caught in the red zone, it is very likely that their ship will be destroyed and they will have to start the game over. So as the rebels advance the player has to choose between exploring more of the current map to gain more resources, or jumping ahead to the next area to get to safety.



The lens is industry standard.



List of scholarly and professional sources and references that serve as background or support to this pattern. Please reference using the APA citation style.


patterns/time_limit.txt · Last modified: 2014/05/19 18:39 by bsnyder