Preview: Defining Time in the Plex

Yes, yes, I know, I’m a week late in getting this section out. The truth is that I had to conduct some research before I could complete this section. Did you know that not even NASA has figured out a good way to resolve time differences on different planets? I figured they would have and planned to use it for the Plex, but it turns out that the missions on the surface of Mars had to follow Earth’s time because no one could figure out how to bridge the differences. It’s a fascinating subject, but unfortunately left me with nothing.

This meant I had to resolve the time issues myself. I decided to stick to the Occam’s Razor principle and kept it as simple as I could. I think the solution I came up with works pretty well. I hope you agree.


Defining Time

Time is a man-made concept used to measure the sequence of events. The basic unit used to define time is a day, the interval of one complete rotation of the earth. Clocks measure time in units less than a day, calendars measure time in units larger than a day. At least that’s how it works for linnies.

Now consider, for a moment, what would happen if a day was no longer a reliable measure of time. What if the period between one sunrise to the next varied wildly from one town to another. What if the motion of all of the heavenly bodies came to an abrupt halt? What would happen? How could you coordinate events between communities? How could you even keep a single community accurately synchronized? This is what the earliest residents of the plex faced and the need for some sort of standard was the driving force behind the formation of the Syncs.

The delegates that came to The Great Sync faced a daunting challenge. While the Syncs could all agree to use the vibrations of a caesium atom as a universal constant on which to base time measurement, all other assumptions about the measurement of time were still in question. Were seconds, minutes and hours the best way to divide time or should a metric approach be implemented? What about days, weeks, months and years? Would a base-10 calendar system be a better approach? The amount of time from one “sunrise” to the next differed by as much as 20 hours in either direction from one GTL to the other, so how could each GTL measure their days and still be in sync with each other?

The delegates of the Great Sync recommended that since the Plex relied on trade in linear time, the 24 hour day should be maintained to stay in step. Fortunately, most tempors were already use to coordinating their time with the Sync in their aggregate for business purposes, so there would be little effect on daily life. London, England: 1955 (or LE55 as it came to be known) was selected as the time to which all clocks in the Plex would sync. This assured that no one Sync’s time would dominate another’s. In addition, the delegates proposed the formation of a new federal office for maintaining monthly synchronization throughout the Plex.

The delegates of the Great Sync commissioned a group of the plex’s most highly skilled watchmakers for advice on resolving differing daylight cycles between GTLs. After much deliberation, the committee had to admit that they could not conceive of a way to resolve the issue. The best course of action, they concluded, was to create a timepiece that could keep track of daylight cycles in addition to the newly adopted LE55 official time. Daylight cycles were fixed and predictable for each GTL as were the lengths of light and dark. The trick was to create a timepiece that could reflect all of this and could be easily adjusted when traveling.

The committee responded to the challenge with a simple, elegantly enhanced timepiece. The finished product looked more or less like a normal clock, but added three new hands: One to mark the beginning of a light cycle (when the horocirculation brightened the sky), one to mark the end of the light cycle (when the next cycle would begin) and one to mark the point of change from light to dark in between. Three additional knobs were added for setting the beginning of the current daylight cycle, the length of the cycle, and the length of illumination.

All of the pieces were finally in place. The trick now was to convince the citizens of each aggregate to adopt the new structure.


Check back in two weeks for our next preview: Nations of the Plex.

Posted in Game Design

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