Created By: captainsandwich on September 18, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on November 23, 2015

Externally influenced game mechanics

Game mechanics are influenced by real-world factors.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Patrick: G7?! King me, king me! [smashes into pole] I lose!
Sponge Bob: But it's not Tuesday, Patrick!
Patrick: Tartar sauce!
SpongeBob, "Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost"

Of course all games at some level deal with the real world. Someone has to make the game, chance is often simulated by dice. GMs (if present) modify the game on the fly to fit circumstantial situations. Even fictional sports are at least partly developed by at least one real author. This trope is when game's connection to the real world is beyond "normal". The scope of game mechanics are not limited to: die rolls, expansion packs, erratas, and the like. This trope is about mundane Real World things like: Player's gender, day of the week, player's age, amount of syllables in a players first name, and such having (a) real, direct, quantifiable effect(s) on the game.

Overlaps with Holiday Mode when the change has a quantifiable effect.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Live Action TV 
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "A Piece of the Action" Kirk makes up a card game called "Fizzbin" (part of which is made up mid game). Each player gets six cards, except the player on the dealer's right gets seven. The second card is dealt face up except on Tuesdays. If you have a half-fizzbin (2 jacks), then you need a king and a duece - except at night when you need a queen and a 4.

    Literature 
  • In the Myth Adventures series Dragon Poker has insanely complicated rules, some of which called "conditional modifiers" depend on which day of the week you're playing, where you sit at the table, which hand it is, number of players, chair position, etc. When they try to teach it to Skeeve he can't wrap his head around all the rules, so he just goes all in on the first hand - essentially turning the game he plays into high card draw.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Munchkin has mechanical effects based on a character's gender (for example a male character gets attacked by an amazon while a female character gets treasure). Unless the player is wearing a munchkin shirt with a character that has the opposite gender, his/her character starts out as his or her gender. Also while not quantifiable (except perhaps on a case to case basis), the owner of the game gets the last word in arguments (which by the way are encouraged) on what is legal.

    Video Games 
  • In Boktai the main character's gun needs sunlight to recharge itself. This can be done with a in-game sunlight source or by playing the outside or near a UV light source since the game's cartridge came with a UV light detector.
  • Nethack has the player character's luck affected by the phase of the moon and by playing on Friday 13, and in-game graveyards are more dangerous at real-world night.

    Western Animation 

Community Feedback Replies: 46
  • September 18, 2012
    captainsandwich
    I know that munchkin does this with a players gender. Also in munchkin the owner of the game gets the last word in arguments (which by the way are encouraged) on what is legal.
  • September 18, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • In the Myth Adventures series Dragon Poker has insanely complicated rules, some of which called "conditional modifiers" depend on which day of the week you're playing, where you sit at the table, which hand it is, number of players, chair position, etc. When they try to teach it to Skeeve he can't wrap his head around all the rules, so he just goes all in on the first hand - essentially turning the game he plays into high card draw.
    • In the Star Trek The Original Series episode "A Piece of the Action" Kirk makes up a card game called "Fizzbin," inventing rules as he goes. Each player gets six cards, except the player on the dealer's right gets seven. The second card is dealt face up except on Tuesdays. If you have a half-fizzbin (2 jacks), then you need a king and a duce - except at night when you need a queen and a 4.
  • September 19, 2012
    robinjohnson
    • Nethack has the player character's luck affected by the phase of the moon and by playing on Friday 13, and in-game graveyards are more dangerous at real-world night.

    Your laconic has a "than" where it shouldn't be and a "then" where the "than" should be. I suggest "Game mechanics are influenced by real-world factors."
  • September 19, 2012
    KTera
    Also in Nethack, you can get rid of vault guards by telling them your name is "Croesus". Lawful characters get a small penalty for lying, unless they are actually named Croesus.

    Superbrothers Sword And Sworcery EP has some kind of mechanic where the real-world moon phase affects the game, but since I haven't played it I'm not sure how that works.

    See Holiday Mode for when video games change during specific times or dates.
  • September 19, 2012
    captainsandwich
    As a game trope the only time an example from a work that is not a game is an In Verse example right (like the quote)?
  • September 19, 2012
    captainpat
    • In Boktai the main character's gun needs sunlight to recharge itself. This can be done with a in-game sunlight source or by playing the outside or near a UV light source since the game's cartridge came with a UV light detector.
  • September 19, 2012
    captainsandwich
    I think Nethack doesn't work (for the guard thing, the graveyard and luck thing is great). I think would have to be the player's name.
  • September 20, 2012
    Kellor
    I think Calvinball from Calvin And Hobbes had a few rules like this.
  • September 20, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    In the Chocolatier series of computer games, the prices you get for your chocolates vary according many factors, including local tastes, season of the year, and the rarity of the ingredients. You also get higher prices in shops that you own than in shops belonging to others. The costs of ingredients also vary with the seasons, and occasionally spike after events like storms at sea and warehouse fires.
  • September 23, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Should I loosen the "quantifiable" part or scrap the dungeons and dragons example? or just leave it as is, cause i am not sure my dungeons and dragons is quantifiable.
  • September 23, 2012
    billybobfred
    ^^^^ On *nix systems, the character's name is the user account's name, which is highly likely to be the player's name. Might be too much of a stretch, though.
  • September 23, 2012
    JakeTheYak
    • Kingdom Of Loathing has its own in-game calendar with a variety of seasonal holidays, however in-game holidays will also occur on the date of the real-world holidays that inspired them. For example, St. Sneaky Pete's Day will occur on the (in-game) date of Starch 3rd, but will also occur whenever it's March 17th (St. Patrick's Day) in the real world, regardless of the in-game date. This can also create fun combinations when a real world holiday coincides with an in-game holiday, such as when the in-game Feast of Boris (Thanksgiving) fell on the real world St Patrick's day, giving us Drunksgiving.
  • September 23, 2012
    TBeholder
    ^^ On some other *nix games default character name is username, too. But in Nethack it can have in-game effects (as above with "Croesus").
  • September 23, 2012
    billybobfred
    Yes, that was my point.
  • September 23, 2012
    captainsandwich
    billybobfred By any chance will the name in question have any mechanical effects on the game?
  • September 23, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    This seems to be two tropes. One is the actual version, and one where people are just making up random rules including factors that have no real reason to affect the game.
  • September 23, 2012
    captainsandwich
    are you saying the definition is unclear? because I could put the tag up.
  • September 24, 2012
    Omeganian
    In the first Diablo, certain shrines worked differently depending on the time of day. In Baldurs Gate II, romance conversations started depending on a real time counter, rather than in-game.
  • September 24, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^ I'm stating the definition and examples suggest two tropes.
  • September 24, 2012
    SalFishFin
    In Pokemon Gold And Silver, as well as the remakes, there are seven siblings, each named to reflect a day of the week, who give the player items, but will only show up when it's his or her respective day of the week to do so.
  • September 24, 2012
    captainsandwich
    @ Dragon Quest Z when you say examples do you mean the examples in what will be the page, or the examples in the discussion?
  • September 25, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ On the OP. Some are games where the factors actually change things, and have reason to (such as it's 3am in the game if the game clock reads 3am), and some are people just making up silly rules (such as 2 beating 3 unless it's on a Tuesday).
  • September 25, 2012
    JakeTheYak
    Yeah, I think the issue is with the page quote. I think it was chosen because they literally state that the rules of the game they are playing are different because it's Tuesday, when what it really implies is that they are making up the rules as they go along (ala Calvinball). I actually think that would be a pretty good trope in itself, but on this trope I think the quote is just causing confusion.
  • September 25, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ It's also the Star Trek example.
  • September 25, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Jake The Yak: I thought in the quote they were not making up rules as they went along, the rules where just never explained to the audience, but it is stated that (at least in some circumstances) it makes a difference if it is tuesday or not. Calvin Ball is "any game which the protagonists play, but which we don't learn the full rules for" (the rules being made up mid game is optional). I failed to pick up on any implication (in that) that case the rules are modified on the fly.

    Dragon Quest Z: Also are you saying that rules that would fit this trope that are made up mid game should not be examples (like the Star Trek one)? Because I can understand how that might get confusing.
  • September 26, 2012
    MorganWick
    Calvin Ball may need trope repair, because it seems to self-consciously conflate "rules never explained to the audience" and "making it up as you go along".
  • September 26, 2012
    SalFishFin
    It doesn't need much change, really. All that Calvin Ball needs is to make it more focused on this:

    what rules we do learn are insanely convoluted, can change at a moment's notice, and/or have bizarre exceptions and by-laws.
  • September 26, 2012
    mythbuster
    Kingdom Hearts Coded has the challenges "Play at night," "Play during the day," and "Play on weekends," all of which refer to the real world time.
  • September 26, 2012
    captainsandwich
    I'm not so sure if that counts. Are those just mini-games that you can only play at certain times? Wether or not such a circumstance would count never occurred to me. Are there quantifiable rewards for these games?
  • September 26, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^^^ The Star Trek one is Kirk just outright making it up.
  • September 26, 2012
    WolfgangAmadeusPenis
    • Animal Crossing and its derivatives are all influenced by the entire calendar, go so far as to show the changing of seasons, with derivative effects.
  • September 26, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Dragon Quest Z. No one is saying Kirk didn't make up the rules. But some of the rules he made up did fit within this trope. As such I think we should keep it, if enough people dislike it, I shall remove it.
  • September 26, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Any examples mentioned that have not been put up I probably intentionally avoided adding because I wasn't quite sure if it fit within the trope. As such feel free to expand on a proposed example that has not been put up, it is possible rewording or more information will win me over.
  • September 26, 2012
    JakeTheYak
    I think the chaotic nature of the Spongebob game makes it at least seem as though they are making it up as they go along. But, as you say, it doesn't necessarily matter if the game is a Calvinball variant or not, as long as the rules are affected by the real world. Just as long as people are clear what the trope is about. I think the Chocolatier example might be erroneous, as I think it's referring to the seasons changing in-game and not to the game being affected by the real-world seasons.

    • The Nintendo DS Pokemon games utilise the console's internal clock to sync in-game time with real-world time, making it night in the game when it is night in the real world (or at least wherever the DS's clock has been set to). Besides the game world getting brighter or darker, the time of day (and day of the week) have a variety of gameplay effects, such as which Pokemon are out in the wild and how certain Pokemon evolve.
  • September 26, 2012
    captainsandwich
    How hard would it be to adjust the clock with intent on that effecting the game? (I'll still probably use it as it is a clear attempt at the trope)
  • September 26, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    "No one is saying Kirk didn't make up the rules."

    I was responding to the comment "rules that would fit this trope that are made up mid game should not be examples (like the Star Trek one)". I was correcting that he was making up the rules from the beginning, not mid game.

    "How hard would it be to adjust the clock with intent on that effecting the game? (I'll still probably use it as it is a clear attempt at the trope)"

    Usually if a game system lets you adjust the clock, you can just do that.

    And on that note, Holiday Mode is related to this, although it doesn't usually change gameplay.
  • September 28, 2012
    captainsandwich
    I already noted the Holiday Mode. Are you requesting I reword it?
  • October 2, 2012
    captainsandwich
    So was kirk making new rules during the game or not? (not that i think it matters)
  • October 2, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ He made it up before the game even started, and in the middle. So it was just made up mid game.

    ^^ Didn't see that.
  • October 2, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Does the Star Trek thing look better? (if not go ahead and fix it yourself I'm not that familiar with Star Trek)
  • October 2, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    I think you could just note that it's a Parodied Trope in that example (I don't like to edit other user's ykttw entries).
  • October 3, 2012
    captainsandwich
    I haven't seen it myself, I want you to do it. If it bothers you to much you can fix it after it launches.
  • November 21, 2015
    henke37
    • Magic The Gathering has some cards like this. They tend to be in the un sets. Examples include a card that is immune to all colors that matches the worn clothes of the player and cards that have stats based on your age.
  • November 21, 2015
    Chabal2
    Also from Magic The Gathering, there was a card that needed to be flipped, any cards it landed on were removed. One enterprising player chopped his copy of the card into confetti to maximize the spread.
  • November 22, 2015
    Koveras
    The Extrinsic Go First Rule would be a subtrope, I think.
  • November 23, 2015
    Arivne
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=043rt39wasx8airhs7hjyb53