TwoFacedJoker383 TwoFacedJoker383 LV.6 Gym Leader
Mar 25, 2020, 12:30 AM 543 read

Animal Crossing's Time-Based System is Outdated

Everyone’s clammering to play the new Animal Crossing, the game that folks have been waiting for, especially now that most players have the free time to invest into the game. It’s hard not to go on social media without tripping over a post about someone’s village or invite offers to be friends online. Yet, it seems that in the excitement, many users have overlooked what I see as a serious issue that still plagues the game and makes it a generally frustrating experience; the time-based system.  

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  I remember the first time I booted up the original Animal Crossing on the GameCube during a holiday. What a special time it was in my village around Halloween, with characters dressing up, presents to be obtained, and unique interactions to be had. It was a great afternoon spent with my electronic pals, giving me a taste of the magic Animal Crossing can have.   For other holidays, however, booting up the game became more of a hassle. One did not simply run off to play a video game in the middle of Easter or Christmas, no sir. There were relatives to see, real presents to be opened, and sometimes travel as we made our way to whoever was hosting. So by the time we got home, it was bedtime, and there was no way to obtain those cool items or to see what my town might look like that one time a year.  

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  Now that I’m an adult, this is, surprisingly, still a problem. In a day and age where we’re always moving and there’s constantly stuff that needs to get done, I don’t have the time to log in every day. Maybe a couple of weeks will go by when I can’t get to my town, after which the game guilts me for having been away for so long. Weeds sprout, villagers are sad, and the efforts needed to restore my world to its former glory seems so daunting I don’t bother. Animal Crossing treats its players in the same way something like Hearthstone does, trying to ingrain the idea that this game is a lifestyle. But unlike Hearthstone, I already paid $60 for this game; I don’t want to feel like the game is controlling when I should play.   And now that you can’t change the time on the Switch, this becomes all the more pressing. Now you *have* to play on each and every holiday or risking losing free stuff. Now you *have* to log in every few days or feel the wrath of the townsfolk scorned. Much like real life, Animal Crossing looks to give you responsibilities that you have to return to again and again, becoming chores more than fun.   Just the other day, my friend Kat was complaining to me that, after an hour or so of playing, she had exhausted all the things she could do in Animal Crossing: New Horizons that day because the items she bought, such as the shovel, needed to do many activities wouldn’t “arrive” in the digital, in-game store until the next day. The game was telling her she had to wait to have fun for no reason other than to immerse her into the illusion that in-game time was passing.   In this way, the time-based system, while providing some neat ideas back in the day, hampers an otherwise enjoyable gaming experience. And what’s the best solution? To be honest, I’m not sure. But other games have found great ways of handling this.  

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  Look at Stardew Valley. Players play in a time-based world, but each day only lasts 15 minutes or so, and when players feel like they have nothing more to do, they can go to bed to start the next day. Features like this could help still have that in-game time illusion while not making me wait 24 actual hours to get an item to progress in the activities I want to do.   One thing’s for sure, the way Animal Crossing handles things now is not consumer-friendly, pressuring people with limited time on their hands to play daily or face the consequences. And I for one don’t like to be held hostage by my digital overlords, even if they’re a bunch of cute raccoons.   What do you think? Is the time-based system still just as good as it was back in the day, or is it something you can’t stand to deal with anymore? Let me know in the comments, I’d be curious to hear your experiences with it.

Comment 14

  • Elfi verified LV.28 Fearless Mar 26, 2020, 07:55 AM

    I personally love the time based system, gives you different things to find and do at different times of day and I think it adds a little bit of realism to the game. As much as it would be great to speed up progression by not having a real time system, I don't really think that that's what Animal Crossing is about as personally I see the gradual progression as more relaxing and almost essential to the game, even down to the different music's at different times of day too. The only issue I really have with it is that the shop closes at 10pm and the drop off box only gives 80% of the usual rates

  • Kief Gringo LV.2 Let’s play Apex! Mar 28, 2020, 03:59 PM

    I like it. It's just how the game is designed to be played. If you look into the history of it, a large part of what the game was intended for was for families to be able to play together on the same world at different times and still have an impact on the game for others to see. For example, the kids play after school and mom or dad hops on before bed to do some of the more laborious stuff in the game to help advance it for the kids, leave gifts, etc. Supposed to be its own little evolving world that changes and grows as you go. Drop in for a little bit each day and catch up, then back to real life. While it is a retreat for some folks and they don't mind the "grind," it wasn't ever really made to be played that way. Or FOR people who play that way, at least I don't believe so, especially time skipping, as it completely circumvents some of what makes the game unique, to be honest. I think the fact their saving the dlc events for when they're happening, proves that to a degree.

    Some criticism I do have, this new game in particular, has a slow start. I definitely understand the desire for time traveling early on, to that degree at least. I'm a collector, so not having access to the museum at the start, was annoying. I had a stockpile of critters waiting, by the time I was able to donate anything.

  • njsa21 LV.2 Lurker Apr 1, 2020, 06:38 AM

    I will admit I didn’t read the entire thing but a read the first paragraph. And the only argument i have here (and idk you may have addressed this) but i think the time based system unlike other games gives me a reason to start the game back up the next day and continuously keep playing knowing that something new is going to be available with new missions and achievements to be made. This is unlike other games I’ve played where i have nothing really to look forward to besides advancing through a new dungeon that doesn’t differentiate the gameplay much.

  • Winterlemon LV.2 Lurker Apr 1, 2020, 06:37 PM

    Time based system is the point of the game. For example, stalk market is really well implemented and simulates what it would be like to trade at opening and closing. Other events and quests take about 2-3 hours to farm out and even if you wanted to get ahead, let your imagination flow and create things. The game does not limit you to nighttime and daytime tasks, there are certain tasks that are better done during day/night, but most of what you lose can be supplemented by playing with a friend and progressing together. Again, like you mentioned it simulates a lesser version of real life and creating “chores”. Whether a person treats it as a chore or not, there is quite a bit of reward just from doing so.

  • Ken Dama LV.2 Lurker Mar 26, 2020, 03:19 AM

    Actually you can change the time but I still get what your saying

  • Digital Gamer822 LV.4 Lurker Mar 26, 2020, 04:41 AM

    I like that they put out this amazing game while we are all in quarantine

  • TarttArtt LV.1 Mootie Mar 26, 2020, 07:08 AM

    But events are downloadable updates now so you can do them at the most convenient time.

  • TwoFacedJoker383 LV.6 Gym Leader Mar 26, 2020, 07:24 AM

    They are, but they still only take place on certain days according to your system clock

  • TarttArtt LV.1 Mootie Mar 26, 2020, 07:25 AM

    Oh damn

  • Andrea Pancakes LV.2 Lurker Mar 27, 2020, 07:18 PM


  • Rinku LV.3 Lurker Mar 30, 2020, 10:59 PM

    you can literally time travel

  • TwoFacedJoker383 LV.6 Gym Leader Mar 31, 2020, 01:02 AM

    but now it's way more tedious to do so, and holidays are exempt from that due to being tied to time-sensitive DLC IRL rather than attached to the in-game calender system.

  • Rinku LV.3 Lurker Mar 31, 2020, 01:04 AM

    the game itself is tedious

  • saikuro LV.4 Lurker Apr 1, 2020, 08:02 AM