If you think about it, this isn't an entirely new idea in video games. Time has been treated as a type of currency, to varying degrees, in a variety of games. You could make an argument that any game where you are rewarded points for remaining time on the clock is treating time as a currency. The player is attempting to balance the speed at which he completes the level, for points related to time, against other means of gaining points.
There are also games where time itself is a reward for doing well in a game. Arcade racing games like Daytona USA give the player a certain amount of time to complete the race, but also rewards the player with time extensions for reaching check points or completing laps.
However, in the world of 'In Time', time is treated more literally as a currency, in that it is used to purchase goods and services and can be earned through working or other means of income. Time is literally money. The amount of time a person has left to live is determined by how well they manage their time. The rich, or those who manage their time well, can live indefinitely, while the poor, or those who manage their time poorly, live very short lives. My self imposed design challenge was to take this concept of time as a currency and apply to a game. This is what I came up with.
To start out I thought of a game similar to Geometry Wars. The player is a lone spaceship fighting off wave after wave of enemies in effort to achieve a high score.
However, not only does the player have to worry about avoiding enemies, they also have to keep an eye on their clock. If the clock times out, the game is over. To make things a little more interesting, powerups in this game will consume the player's time.
- Bombs (Cost: 30s) - A screen clearing bomb attack that can be either used as a panic button when the player is overwhelmed by enemies, or as a way to earn a large amount of points.
- Multi Shot (Cost: Double Time) - The player can fire a wave of bullets instead of the usual single stream of bullets, enabling them to defeat a greater amount of enemies, but at the cost of time accelerating.
- Shield (Cost: 30s) - Makes the player temporarily invincible to enemies.
I think this system of using time as a currency for powerups results in interesting choices for the player. If I use this powerup, will I be able to earn more time before time runs out? Will the points I gain using this powerup now be greater than the points I could gain with the time I'm consuming?
Obviously, this whole system would need to be tweaked and balance before it could be considered a final product as I'm just pulling numbers out of the air, but I think the concept would have merit if pursued. Maybe one day I'll make some time for it.