Sunday, August 5, 2007

Starship Time vs. Planetary Time

Originally Posted by CaptSerek:
As I had mentioned in the previous thread, the reason for the slight dimming was to keep the humanoid life forms on some sort of body clock so they know when to sleep after their respective shifts.
This assumes that other races have a circadian rhythm close enough to that of humans (25 hours) to entrain their clocks with a 16-hour daytime and 8-hour nighttime lighting schedule. Is that really a good assumption? Wouldn't sticking to an eight-hour dimming cycle be rather anthropocentric?

It's probably not unrealistic, though. (Assuming you can accept starships and aliens as "realistic" in the first place.) Both "real" starships and ships in a MMORPG (assuming it has a nighttime lighting period at all), if crewed mostly by humans, would probably impose a 16/8 day/night cycle regardless of other species or planetary clocks.

But having a "night" brings up the question of synchronizing ship's time to planetary time. How do you do that when you're traveling to a planet with its own rotation period? And what's the best time to make contact with the locals, if by varying your ship's speed you can arrive at any point in the local day you like?

First let's consider how a "real" starship would operate. Under normal circumstances (i.e., without instructions or requests from someone on the target planet to arrive at a specific local time), the standing orders for a starship would probably be to adjust the ship's speed so as to arrive at its destination when both ship's time and local time (of wherever the landing party will arrive) are synchronized as being "morning." This will provide the maximum amount of local time for the ship's primary bridge officers to conduct business. (In an emergency, you'd use maximum warp and get there whenever you get there.)

This operating procedure could be implemented in a MMORPG with relative ease. Even if planets in the game rotate at different speeds, the time required for anyone's ship to arrive in orbit over a particular location on a planet could be adjusted so that it's always morning there. That way planets can all have their own day/night schedules, and so can starships, but they both wind up synched to "morning" when you arrive.

Naturally, this assumes that warping to a planet will last some reasonable amount of time and not just be yet another irritating form of universal instant travel....

Originally Posted by Or'ab Ibo:
Wow, this got far more complicated than what I initially anticipated :P
Yes, that's what happens when a Simulationist geek like me shows up. :)