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Continue Your Mission, Dammit!

Video games often suffer from a lack of a real sense of urgency, which can be jarring when the enemy's supposed to be rolling up in their supertank or the evil sorcerer taking over all the lands of the world by midnight. You don't want to use an actual timer to make the player advance since that can be frustrating, you'd have to be a total jerkass to just suddenly tell the player "oh, looks like the big bad finished taking over the universe while you were dawdling about, Game Over" and actually creating a branch into the plot where the villain succeeds without ending the game is just too much work...so what can be done?

Well, one modern solution is to have the player be radioed or otherwise contacted constantly by a support character to provoke a false sense of urgency. Even when there's no hurry for you to get the C4 and blow up that door, you'll still be reminded of it every ten seconds or so, apparently on the basis that you might have forgotten. In particularly severe cases, there will also only be a handful of possible "hurry up" messages repeated endlessly. In some cases, the reminders are needed if the player gets off track too much or gets heavily distracted and forgets about the main objectives. Still, no matter how little or how long they take, they always make it with hardly any time to spare.

The trope is generally a combination of a slightly overbearing help system and an attempt to avert Take Your Time; typically, the result only emphasizes that there's no hurry, since the player is likely to rapidly realise that nothing will happen if they don't hurry up other than that they'll become progressively more irritated with the support character reminding them. In less severe cases, the character might simply remind them of an optional gameplay mechanic during any downtime; this is most common in sandbox games.

Frequently used in modern "realistic" linear shooters. Usually used to keep the player on-task so they don't scour the map looking for secrets that don't exist and encounter an invisible wall or the Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence. Can easily result in the player failing an actual timed mission since the game has been Crying Wolf so much they're used to not taking it seriously. See also Stop Helping Me!, for when this occurs when something is happening or when the game nags the player too much into completing their objectives.

A nightmare when combined with Now, Where Was I Going Again?, where you're told to hurry up but not told where to go. For cases where the nagging voice results in something more than just a mere annoyance coming after you, see Stalked by the Bell.

Examples:

Action Adventure Games
  • Shadow of the Colossus features a minor example; if Wander is taking his time killing a Colossus, Dormin will chime in with a cryptic clue regarding the boss' weakness. If he takes longer, Dormin will chime in with a much, much less cryptic clue.
  • Navi from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time constantly chimes in, urging Link to travel to the next place. On the other hand, her interruptions do overlap with "helpful" hints as to where to go next. Majora's Mask does, in fact, give players a timer in the form of a clock, counting down exactly how long one has until the Moon falls onto the world. This lands right into terrifying territory, when it gets to the end of the last day and the clock enters full-on countdown mode, complete with earthquakes, chimes, and a cutscene of the world ending, if you take too long.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess did this well in the City in the Sky dungeon. You're urged to hurry up because the place is under attack by Argorok, and as you explore you get to watch said monster fly around and trash the place. You're not actually timed, but it's probably the first dungeon in Zelda history to actually create a sense of urgency without some kind of timer.
    • However, often, there are Sidequests of decent length between main dungeons - especially in Majora's Mask, which literally has more sidequesting than quest-questing. Being constantly interrupted with the same instruction over and over while you're trying to do these things can get insanely annoying.
  • This happens in Beyond Good & Evil (no, not that one) towards the end in the frankly awesome Space Battle on the surface of the moon. It's a radically different game mechanic and one of the climaxes of the game, and can go on indefinitely, but will your team-mates just shut up and let you enjoy the Moment Of Awesome? No. They'll even wrest the controls from your grasp and drop you near the landing strip every so often.
  • In the first level of Psychonauts, the coach's taunts throughout the obstacle course regarding how slow you are. It doesn't matter how fast or slow you complete the level, as either way you'll keep hearing him telling you you're slow and be the first to finish.
Adventure Games
  • In The Space Bar, if you're ever taking too many turns to make progress in the game, you'll start either getting messages from your police chief boss or your partner being held hostage, or creepy taunts from the Big Bad doing the hostage-holding.
  • The Narrator in the The Stanley Parable will sometimes urge Stanley on if he loiters around in one place for long enough. The biggest example is in the HD Remix version, where if Stanley stands around in a particular broom closet for long enough the Narrator starts telling the player that, really, there's nothing in the broom closet and there's no reason to be in there. Then he starts getting angry and hurling insults at Stanley. Then he assumes that the reason Stanley hasn't left the closet is because the player controlling him has died, and tries to get the attention of anyone else nearby to continue the game.
    • Another HD Remix example is in one of the endings, where the Narrator suffers a breakdown when the player is separated from Stanley, leaving him standing immobile in front of the first fork in the game while the player is stuck in the ceiling watching the whole thing.

Action Games
  • This is the worst part of the game Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2. Throughout the last half the player's commander constantly appears on a video screen to remind you to "Stop that nuke, dammit!" As if you had forgotten. The worst part is that the constant berating and atrocious voice acting mar a game that is otherwise darn near perfect.
  • This trope gets played with in an early part of God of War, where Kratos is tasked with saving the Oracle of Athens. When you finally catch up to the harpies that have carried her off, they drop her and leave her hanging from a rope high above the hard ground of the temple courtyard. She yells at you constantly to get her down while you are getting the items lying around that "Athens crumbles as you waste time", but there are no ill consequences if you Take Your Time. That is, until you reach a certain point of the platform hopping sequence. She suddenly starts to lose her grip and it becomes a Timed Mission where her pleas take on a new urgency.
  • Used, but not in a bad way, in MadWorld. The announcers and Agent XIII will chime in if you take too long getting to a goal (the boss, Bloodbath Challenges, etc.). However, they'll wait several real-time minutes before they say anything (and XIII will give you a hint as to where it is, since odds are the player's gotten lost).

Card Games
  • Starting in the 2008 version of Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship Tournament, if you don't do anything during a duel for a few seconds, your opponent will tell you to hurry up. They apparently have less patience than duelists in real life.

Fighting Games
  • If you lose a fight in Project Justice, the continue screen has your partners trying to urge on your last defeated character. Their lines during the sequence have this tone to them:
    Ran: Wake up! I didn't get the scoop yet!
    Nagare: You're still breathing, so you can do it!
    Edge: What the hell are you doing? If you aren't better the next time, I'M going to beat you up!
    Roy: Wake up! Aren't you mad that you lost?
    Wild Daigo: The mission isn't over, so you don't have the right to lie down!

First-Person Shooter
  • An interesting variation on this occurs in the Marathon games, which rely entirely on text to tell their stories. Sometimes when Durandal tells you what your objective is, if you access the same terminal right after that without completing the mission, he'll send you an angry message about how you should quit fooling around.
  • The 2010 Alien vs. Predator game has this for all three campaigns (the Marine's is the only one that berates you in a language you can understand though), which is especially grating since you are also encouraged to explore the levels and find hidden items.
  • Call of Duty: "Martin! Over here! Get in the car!"
    • "Ser-geant Evans! Light up those bloody Stukas that aren't in bloody range yet with the bloody flak gun!"
    • Commissar Letlev in Call of Duty 2's tutorial. "If you wish to survive, you will do EXACTLY as I say." He means it.
    • Also happens in both Modern Warfare games, particularly the second where Ramirez is issued a new order every couple of seconds.
    • It's taken to the point in this series that your CO won't even react when you die. The sole exception is the end of "The Gulag" in Modern Warfare 2, where for storyline purposes Soap is supposed to scream Roach's name when the actual gameplay in the level ends, but he'll also do so if you die at any point shortly before you find and rescue Price.
  • Haze extends this to every NPC doing it all the time.
  • Half-Life 2 makes it easy to forget to stop and try to figure out what the heck happened to the world in the time you were gone as NPCs are always nagging you to do things if you stop for even a moment. Even Barney starts nagging at the Overwatch Nexus. In Black Mesa, the security guards will nag relentlessly for you to get a move on as well.
    • Deliberately averted in Half-Life 2: Episode One. The developer's commentary says that they originally had AI sidekick Alyx take the lead and pester the player to keep up to provide a sense of urgency. Playtesters hated being nagged when they wanted to explore, so Alyx's behavior was changed to let the player take the lead, provide a limited amount of hints and prompts but shut up and wait when the player isn't ready to move on yet. The result is perhaps a little unrealistic that Alyx doesn't get impatient watching you play with the gravity gun rather than getting on and saving the world, but it makes players much less likely to shoot her in the face. It also has the somewhat heartwarming implication that Alyx implicitly trusts Gordon's judgement and is content with whatever pace he decides to set. Not that there was a whole lot of screwing around to do in the Citadel corridors anyway.
    • In Episode 2, though, Dr. Magnusson supplies an exaggerated version of the trope, nagging the player in scripted events that occurred whether the player showed any signs of dawdling or not. It's all a deliberate part of his characterization; players aren't meant to like him very much.
  • BioShock both deconstructs this trope and plays it straight to a minor extent. If the player stands still for a short time, the hint dialog will pop up in the HUD, assuming the player is stuck. In addition, when Ryan attempts to ambush the player, three splicers come out and machine-gun the safety glass between you and them - while you're waiting for the hatch leading to the next area to open. If you wait around once the hatch opens, though, the splicers will continue machine-gunning the glass until your console's warranty expires, never breaking through. The deconstruction comes into play when it's revealed that the player character has been mentally conditioned to automatically perform any action prefixed with "would you kindly?" in reference to players typically never questioning their objectives. A bit of an Indecisive Deconstruction, however, since it's not like there's any other way to finish the game.
    • Actually it is used once by Atlas. If Jack takes too long before making the Lazarus Vector, which will bring back the plants that give Rapture its oxygen that Ryan just killed off, he will say, "Would you kindly get this thing crafted already. Air's only getting thinner down here."
    • Peach Wilkins in Neptune's Bounty will also moan at the player to gather the Spider Splicer photos for him if they take too long in getting them.
  • BioShock 2 has a section where your train car has been hit with a torpedo, throwing you out of the cab and leaving Sinclair stuck in his passenger compartment in the flooded Dionysus Park station. You have to locate and activate a pump that will drain Dionysus Park. There is no limit to how long you can take doing this, but he will tell you at scripted moments that he's running out of air.
  • Averted in Metroid Prime 3. You have about 7 minutes to restart the 3 power generators for the anti-aircraft guns before the comet slams into the military base you are trying to defend. The other bounty hunters and computer constantly remind you of this but there's no onscreen timer. Heck, you can see the comet in the upper atmosphere, seeming somewhat stationary. The thing is, it isn’t – the comet really is moving and if you start wasting time it will arrive and collide, killing everyone and everything on the base.
    • Later in the game, just before Samus fights Ghor, reports are transmitted from her ship at a regular basis showing increasingly bad damage. The ship, however, is never completely destroyed and it is always ready to fly again at the same point in time.
  • In System Shock 2 Mission Control tells you to speed up at various points with lines such as "You must move faster. Your mind cannot conceive of the stakes we are dealing with" regardless of your actual speed (being triggered by preforming mission critical actions or passing fixed points). Given that said Mission Control is SHODAN, it's in character for her to be rude like that.
  • In Halo 3: ODST, in the mission where you have to blow up the bridge in the beginning instead of fighting the wraiths shooting at you, if you do not set the charges, you are reminded to do so, but if you still don't (and choose to fight the wraiths), your partner will set the charges...when first placed, you are under the impression that you must set the charges quickly or the bridge will be overrun and any attempt to fight the wraiths will be fatal.
  • Happens the whole damn time in Resistance 2.
  • Played by the book in Borderlands. After you kill Baron Flynt, all hell breaks loose as the Lance attempts to seize control of Pandora. The ECHO network goes down, Crimson Lance troops are everywhere, and pretty much from now until the end of the storyline, the guardian angel gets on your case to get your butt to The Vault by last Tuesday.
  • In Deus Ex when you are sinking the freighter, you can stay for days in that sinking ship and nothing will happen. Of course the game will make you hurry, by having fake explosions that will only knock you around at best (which can be fatal if you are near an edge), and by throwing around random pieces of scrap that will not harm you at all.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution features a rather sneaky subversion before the start of the first mission. Players who get excited over finally being allowed to explore Sarif's manufacturing plant before starting the main plot and spend too much time messing around like they did in previous games may find themselves surprised to discover that the Hostage Situation your boss has been nagging you about has actually deteriorated. Hope you enjoyed reading everyone's emails back at HQ, because a dozen employees are now dead because of it.
  • Played to an annoying extent in Homefront. Connor will bitch you out if you take a few seconds longer to do a task, despite the fact you are pinned down by enemy fire, or some other danger.
  • In Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, your brother constantly tells you to hurry up and do whatever your objective is, no matter the pace you're taking.
  • They Hunger: Jerry Hoobs constantly naggs the player during the final battle with the Sherrif with the words "Come on! Shoot that bastard!" Even if the player dies he won´t stop! As long as the player doesn´t load a earlier save and remain in the P.O.V. Cam, the Sheriff flies around the player indefinitely with Jerrys voice in the background.
  • Crysis: Strickland will shout at you quite often if you don't go fast enough, or if you don't take the canonical route, in "Assault" and "Onslaught".

Platform Games
  • The 1980 arcade game Crazy Climber did this by telling the user to "Go for it!" whenever the climber didn't move for several seconds.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog series likes to do this with Sonic's idle animations, where he gives the player a stern look for not moving onward, even making a "go forward" pointing motion in Sonic 3 And Knuckles. Heck, leave him alone long enough in Sonic the Hedgehog CD, and he'll jump off the screen in disgust, giving you an instant game over.
    • Sonic Adventure 2 has this in two levels: in Security Hall, where Eggman berates Rouge about once every minute; and in Crazy Gadget, where Eggman straight-up threatens Sonic.
    Eggman: "You're too slow! Sonic, if you don't come here, she will die!"

Puzzle Games
  • Portal 2 intersperses scenes of genuine urgency (for example, during the first escape sequence, you will get crushed by a wall if you stand around gawking) with scenes of humorously exaggerated false urgency. In many cases the dialogue of the characters — especially Wheatley — gets more and more outrageous the longer you stand around and wait, to the point where you'll miss some of the game's best humor if you do what they say right away. This is also inverted in the Final Boss battle, where if you take the time to listen to all the Boss Banter and related dialogue, you'll fail the Timed Mission and die.

Real-Time Strategy
  • Supreme Commander's single player campaign will repeatedly nag the player to hurry up in a tone that could quickly end a marriage after a certain amount of time for each mission. The Forged Alliance expansion nags the player particularly early and often throughout each mission.
    • Initially, they're comments like "Commander, you haven't built a transport yet. Is there a problem?" but later on it moves to outright aggravating territory with stuff like "Maybe you should check your objectives, commander."
    • Not only is it often ridiculous (basically to the tune of "Hey, Commander, we dropped you off on the planet alone 5 minutes ago and you haven't destroyed the enemy's huge base yet, is there a problem?") but sometimes gets infuriating given that it's combined with Trial and Error gameplay. Good thing you listened to HQ and hurried to destroy that weak enemy. Oh, guess what? That triggered an event where there's now a huge army led by experimentals headed for your base. Don't have enough defenses? Too bad, you should have taken the time to build some up!...
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars: Some mission objectives are repeated over and over again even if there is no particular time pressure, and the objectives are presented well enough as is.

Role-Playing Games
  • In Avalon Code, if you pause the game and leave it sit, the active spirit will start pestering you. Some are polite about it ("Are you thinking about something?"), others not so much ("Hurry up!").
  • Player characters in Sacred 2 will start complaining if you leave them standing around too long, usually breaking the fourth wall in the process. The game also tends to give you lengthy books of lore, and doesn't pause while you read them, leading to your Seraphim thinking aloud that it's a good thing she's immortal and has time to waste.
  • In Rogue Galaxy, when you're taking too much time exploring or just trying to get stronger so the effin' Next Boss won't kill you instantly, while in the middle of a mission, you'll have your allies constantly shouting stuff like "we gotta hurry!" "Let's get this done already!!" to the point it makes you want to slack off MORE just to piss them. Sadly, they don't get mad, they just bug you even more about it. And each character has pretty much just two diferent phrases!!
    • On the plus side, the phrases DO change a little, depending on the mission you're currently in, and at some point in the game you can swith between allies so when you get tired of one guy's complaining you can simply summon another one to hear different complaints.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, during the Hydra boss battle, Phil helpfully reminds you to GET UP ON THE HYDRAS BACK. He will repeat it with no breaks in between.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Grunt will constantly remind you to "hit the keystone" in order to continue his Rite of Passage.
    • Under similar circumstances to the BioShock example above, the tutorial level contains scenes of people getting machine-gunned by YMIR mechs on the other side of windows from Shepard, but as soon as all targets are down they just stand there and stare.
  • In the multiplayer mode of Mass Effect 3, the announcer will tell you to hurry to the objectives of the special missions if you take too long, even if you are not particularly short on time.
    • Particularly egregious in a solo game, where kiting the enemy army becomes essential - chances are, if you retreated from the objective, going back as soon as you're told would be a very bad idea.
  • In Mother 3, Fassad encourages Salsa to complete his task within a time limit, promising a reward. Thing is, Fassad is a complete Jerkass and, regardless of whether you complete the task within his time limit or not, he'll just lie about what the time limit was and zap poor Salsa.
  • In Fallout 1, there is a very real time-limit. In Fallout 2, there is no real time-limit, but you constantly get psychic messages from your village shaman telling you that you need to find the G.E.C.K. quickly and hurry back to the village, because there is not much time left. Supposedly they got rid of the time-limit in the sequel because fans had complained about it in the original, even though it wasn't particularly onerous and did add real drama.There is actually a time limit in the sequel, but it is ridiculously long (about thirteen in-game years).
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, it's possible to recruit Oghren and then abandon his quest, go back to camp, do sidequests or entirely different main quests, etc. If you try to talk to him before you complete Orzammar, he'll just angrily tell you that you are wasting time.
  • Frequently crops up in Alpha Protocol, with Mission Control often shouting in Mike's ear that he needs to hurry before his target gets away/the bad guys storm the gates/the bombs go off. The number of genuine Timed Missions in the game can be counted on one hand, though...and one of them is completely optional.
  • In-universe in Golden Sun, when Ivan's foster-mother doesn't even ask what he's doing with Isaac & Co., but assumes it must be more important than her husband being held hostage so the Wretched Hive can extort from them, and tells Ivan so to his face. If you sidetrack to rescue Hammet anyway, Layana yells at Ivan for doing so!
    • Happens to Ivan again in The Lost Age when he tracks down the last living member of his birth family... and she also scolds him to continue his mission with Isaac & Co. instead of wondering about his family and original hometown. Justified due to the world crumbling into itself due to Alchemy being sealed away, so Ivan and company are urged to take care of the world first before dealing with their personal issues.
  • In Bravely Default, opening the menu at any time shows Airy reminding you of what to do next - but after about the game's midway point, she gets impatient and every message is along the lines of "Awaken the crystals already!"
  • In Final Fantasy X-2, after the Gullwings snag the "Awesome Sphere" and return to the Celsius, if you have Yuna go for the elevator, Buddy will tell her that the sphere analysis is complete and they should find out what's on it. If you try it again, he reminds her that it's Gullwing tradition that they all watch spheres together. Any further times that you try it, he tells her that she's "just being silly" and demands that she get back in the cockpit to watch the sphere with them.

Simulation Games
  • Starlancer: Not warping out when told or delaying request to dock will cause your copilot to complain - and you get a note in the debriefing that when you are given an order, you are expected to carry it through promptly without delay.
  • Freelancer does this. "We need to fly faster!"
    • Juni will tell you this even if you're actually ahead of her and thus waiting for her and the others to catch up, if you somehow manage to reach the waypoint in advance. Quite possible if you're using a mod that increases the Cruise Speed and you know the missions well.
  • Star Trek: Bridge Commander has something like this. Your first officer will tell you what needs to be done next, even if you're already in the process of doing it or you haven't had the 2 seconds necessary to tell your helmsman to go to warp.
  • Harvest Moon Animal Parade has Finn reminding you that you've got to go visit the Harvest Goddess whenever it's the next step in the plot.
  • In The Sims Medieval other Sims during quests will often tell the active Sim to do something right away, but there are no penalties if the active Sim doesn't. There are only penalties if they ignore their Quest goal for several in-game days.
  • TIE Fighter has a unique variant to get you to end one particular mission - if you take too long returning to your command ship after the mission objectives are complete, it will dispatch a flight of TIE Advanced to shoot you down.

Stealth-Based Games
  • Assassin's Creed II: "HEY! EZIO! Over here!" Leonardo says this constantly.
  • Metal Gear Solid's final Escape Sequence has a 10-minute time limit purely to add tension; nothing happens if you let it run out. Story-wise this makes sense, because once you actually escape, your commander tells you that they called off the bombing run that the time limit was supposed to represent.

Third-Person Shooter
  • Your AI buddy in the Army Of Two games will frequently do this if you've cleared out a room and don't instantly make for the door.
  • The first game based on the Transformers movie had your Voice with an Internet Connection remind you of your next mission every few minutes you weren't actively doing one.
  • Max Payne 3 had a lot of this from NPCs and even Max himself, through narration. Despite the fact that there are modes and weapons unlocked by finding collectibles, the game constantly urges the player to move faster. Of course, once in awhile there is an actual time limit, so ignoring the prod in favor of looking for ammo might result in game over...
  • The various Rogue Squadron games have the people the player is told to protect/guide/blow things up for constantly radio in if you start dicking around. This has a perfectly sensible in-game reason - you're part of the military and these people will die if you don't follow your oaths and orders - but to players, it can be aggravating.
    • Especially since it plays when you are busy dogfighting TIE fighters.
    "ROGUE SQUADRON, WHERE'S OUR COVER?!"
  • Crackdown has the voice of Mission Control constantly urging you to go kill bad guys and repeating the same gameplay hints endlessly.
  • This happens a lot during the driving missions in James Bond: Everything or Nothing, although it actually improves the Pontchartrain Bridge motorcycle chase sequence. John Cleese's increasingly frantic voice acting ("Only four miles left! HURRY, 007!") considerably ups the tension. (Also consider that he's counting distance, not time.)

Wide Open Sandbox
  • In Red Dead Redemption, each quest-giving NPC has a few lines of dialog telling you to quit hanging around and go do the mission. This is triggered whenever you get near them, and thus is always triggered as soon as you exit the cutscene that introduces the mission. This means that you're being constantly derided for not doing a mission before you've even had a chance to take one step away.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Certain events -trigger- allies into harassing you into continuing the mission. Such as if you ...accidentally kill your Las Venturas casino employee girlfriend. Yeah, accidentally. That's the ticket.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV actually encourages you to stop playing the main game and engage in side missions by having friend characters constantly calling you up and asking you to hang out with them. If you refuse, they get annoyed and your friendship rating drops, eventually causing you to lose their special benefits. This mechanic was lessened in Episodes from Liberty City - in The Lost And Damned, you don't get constant friend calls, and in The Ballad of Gay Tony, there's plenty of time between calls.
  • In all the Taxi missions in the X-Universe games, the passenger will begin to nag you as your deadline approaches. The Boron will complain about their tentacles drying out, but due to the voice filters they have, it comes out sounding more like "My testicles are drying out!"
    • Plot missions do this, too. The second mission of the Terran plot in X3: Terran Conflict will have your commanding officer repeatedly calling you and telling you to head to X system to tail a ship to its destination. And of course in Albion Prelude you'll get constant calls from the military your gamestart is affiliated with to help them invade (or repel invasion of) a sector. Thankfully shutting them up is as easy as disabling mission guidance in the first case, and turning off war reports in preferences in the second.
  • The first Destroy All Humans! game would have Pox telling you to pay attention to your mission objectives. You had to be seriously wasting time to get him to do that though.
  • In The Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man will constantly complain that his phone is not working when a jammier is set up to get you to get the mission objections back on the screen.

Conspicuously Selective PerceptionAcceptable Breaks from RealityConvection Schmonvection
Character ShillingShow, Don't TellDesignated Hero
Take Your TimeGameplay and Story SegregationTook a Shortcut

alternative title(s): Fake Time Limit
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