Time Travel CS Game - Mechanics?


I was just thinking the other day that of all the themes I’d love to see for a Choicescript Game, being a character with a Time Machine would be one of them. In fact I seem to recall the Choice Script developers suggesting it as a possible game a while back. The thing is, time travel would be a difficult thing to programm into a game, depending on how much choice your let a player have in where they go and what they do. There’s the questions of things like influencing the past to change the future, paradoxes, alternate realities being created, encounters with famous historical figures, what a time machine would look like (Watch? Delorean? 1950’s Police Telephone Box?) and the personality of the time traveller (are they more inclined to keep history on track or meddle without restraint?).

Anyway, I figured I’d create a thread on the sorts of things people would want to be able to do or see if there was a time travel Choicescript game. Right now I’m not able to design such a complex game myself but I’d certainly like it if someone was to try. One logical idea is that the Stats page is effectively a button to activate or go inside the player’s time machine…


A CoG involving time travel would certainly be interesting to play, if difficult to successfully write for. However, the workload could be mitigated significantly with creative use of *goto commands to allow revisiting the same scene multible times but end up with different results depending on the players choices, either current or past.



Yeah, the *goto command is what you would try using.The stats screen thing idea is interesting, but I don’t have enough experience to know whether that would work or not.


Had a very similar idea some wees ago… so, if noone else creates a game like that before, I will do.


is a good idea but you have to limit player somehow if he wants too away in future or in egyptian roma era incas … you couldn’t code so much options except you are a cop chasing someone a tresure hunter or you land by accident in other time maybe one option in past another in future but that’s only my ideas


Well there’s a range of ways you could handle time travel, depending on how a coder might interpret it. I wouldn’t expect tons of periods but perhaps a nice mixture of some 6-8 time periods would be nice.


@derekmetaltron I would avoid highlighting paradoxes too much, since ultimately that line leads to revealing the inherent impossibility of this issue. A little mystery regarding the consequences is required to maintain the illusion of this being possible at all.


if you allow many different periods you couldnt deep in them except you plain to do more than 1000000 words game so I prefer less time places with deep story in it


Perhaps about 4 periods then would be about right then - three interesting historical periods alongside with a futuristic one.


I think you guys have got the angle all wrong here, there’s nothing hard or complex about coding time travel. There’s nothing special you’d have to do - it’s simple *goto and *if - the hardest thing here is the sheer amount of text/content you’d need. You’d also need a decent plot, it’s too easy to make a *bad* time travel story/game, but incredibly hard to make a good one.

The last decent time travel film I saw was Men in Black 3 - and that still confused me on occasion and probably had its own plot hole or two.


But, from that perspective:
Is there anything in choicescript you can’t handle by some kind of combination of *if, *goto and some variables?




I know there is but in a writing perspective when more distant temporal scenes same time more options possibilities and in a 100000 words game imply less deepth scenes for instance a story about you visiting 100 time places could be like a ten word each?


I would love a time-travel game. There’s lots of ways you can do it of course, from the serious to the highly-camp and there’s plenty inspiration out there for a time travel game.

From Terminator to Quantum Leap. From Dr Who to the Time Machine. From Back to the Future to 12 Monkeys. Looper to The Time Traveller’s Wife to The Butterfly Effect. And lots more of course. Hey even Star Trek goes back in time.

First decide on what sort of feel you’re going for, if you want mad hijinks, lots of crazy fun adventure, or if you want a game that makes people think. Are you going to have a modern character travelling to the past. Or someone from the future travelling to modern day. Will they be travelling in their own lifetime, to change personal things or will they be travelling to huge historical events to make sweeping changes in the past.

I would think that sort of game would be best just written as a story, as any other game, not messing about with fancy commands to do it for you.

Although I suppose you could do fancy commands.

If I were doing it code-wise I’d probably do it Groundhog Day style. I recently read a book, the name of which escapes me, which was a teen version of Groundhog Day. Where a girl keeps repeating the same events over and over again and she has to work out why, uncover the mystery and which events she has to stop and which she has to let happen to break the cycle. I think that book would translate into a very interesting Choice game.

In it the girl has a number of choices. Whether she steals a student’s parking space thus causing them to be kicked off the swim-team, or she parks further away and gets detention herself. Who she sends Valentine’s Roses to. Whether she chooses her jock boyfriend, a nice boy, or gives in to a teacher’s advances. Whether she attends a party or not. Whether or not she engages in some bullying. And how can she stop the suicide of the girl that she and her friends have been bullying.

It’s very much a book with some very set scenes which repeat over and over again. As she learns more things about the different scenes more options open up.

Reading that book I couldn’t help but think it was very much a scenario that would work well for a Choose Your Own Adventure style game. Although I found the protagonist so utterly abhorrent as a person. I think she was meant to grow and change as the book progressed but she didn’t seem to really.

I think if doing that sort of very limited time-travel it could be possible to keep track of previous choices, of what your character knows, and let them loop over the game until they get the ending where they make the right choices.


One option I thought of as possible is to do a time travel game in a similar way to Zombie Exodus, which is pretty expansive over time. Have the player as a time traveller from a number of possible initial backgrounds (soldier, medic, scientist etc) and then have each chapter present say two possible time periods to visit. The player impacts future chapters from their activities in the preceding one, maybe gaining ‘companions’ ala Doctor Who for allies or love interests at certain points. Maybe also take some inspiration from Allen’s Apex Patrol by letting the player decide on their rival/enemy in the game.


@derekmetaltron thats a good idea always that it will some bad path why don’t you do a game about it ? I think @Nocturnal_Stillness has thinking in a proyect leap like his next project but another sci fi always welcome!


@MaraJade Well maybe eventually if no one else did something like that. I’m inclined to try doing my WW2 Resistance or 60’s Size Changing Super Hero game first though, so I could test using Choice Script properly. But one of the first ideas I had for a game heavily involved Time Travel so…


well there are good themes too I’m not many for WW 2 games because you only can be good no one ever me wants to be a Nazi no way!! [-X and superhero you have too be good so meh but I could give you feedback so luck in your game!



Correct my project in between Seasons one and two of Unnatural is Project Leap. Which will feature time travel, but uncontrolled so should be easier to code.


Here is an article I had bookmarked which gives advice on time travel RPGs. It has a number of interest items to consider: