Innerscape gains 1,051,920 seconds per year

I’m normally pretty fluid about time. I’m aware of it passing, and I’m even capable of getting to appointments on time, but I don’t normally think too much about the concept itself. Time just is. The only exception to this is when I’m playing MMO’s [multiplayer online games in digital worlds].

As a gamer, I’ve played in worlds where a full day can pass in the space of a couple of hours. And no, I don’t mean that I become so immersed in the game that I spend a whole day playing without being aware of it!  What I’m talking about is the deliberate manipulation of in-game time so the game world goes from ‘day time’ to ‘night time’ and back again many times during the course of a real day.

Some MMO’s, [FFXI springs to mind] make the cycle very quick, and a full game day can pass in the space of two hours. Other games allow time to be more relaxed, cycling through a game day in say 6 hours instead of 2.  But whatever the game designers do, you, the gamer, are always subliminally aware of the passage of ‘real’ time because the cues are all around you – you get hungry, or thirsty, or have to go to the loo, etc.

But what if you lived in a digital world where all external cues were controlled? Would you experience time differently then? Or would a part of you always know how much real time was passing by ‘outside’?

When I started writing Innerscape, I knew I wanted time in the digital world to be faster than real time so Residents would feel as if they were living far longer than they actually were. The idea was that by being isolated from the real world, Residents would quickly become ‘brainwashed’ into believing the artificial cues given to them – i.e. the clocks, the day/night cycle, schedules, time-tables blah blah.

In theory, the idea was, and is sound. But there are problems with it. Physical people have internal body clocks, and they get sleepy and hungry according to a complicated system of biofeedback cues. For Innerscape Residents to truly believe in Innerscape time, those internal cues would have to be manipulated very carefully. You wouldn’t, for example, set the system so every Resident became sleepy at exactly 10pm. That would be a dead giveaway.

I did some pen biting until I realised that each Resident was already in their own, tailor-made chemical bubble, so a sophisticated AI should be able to monitor activity levels and tweak them in subtle ways.

In today’s terms, such sophisticated manipulation would be unthinkable, but I’m banking on the progress of technology over the next 90 years.

Unfortunately, another one of my time related problems was not so easy to solve. It involves the ‘staff’ who come to Innerscape with Miira [the main character] in order to help her settle in. These staff members are effectively living in both worlds because only their avatars exist inside Innerscape. How then would these staffers sleep, or eat, when their body clocks were still set to real world time, not Innerscape time?

And that, dear friends, is what brings me to this post, and its odd title. You see, I’ve wasted spent most of the day trying to come up with the best Innerscape to real world time ratio.

Innerscape vs Real Time

Innerscape vs Real Time

That Excel spreadsheet is my mathematically challenged attempt to work out what would happen with different time manipulations. I think I’ve worked out how much time Residents would ‘gain’ by having anything from 58 to 30 seconds in every minute. Over the course of 15 years [which is how long Innerscape has been live], Residents might gain only half a year in subjective time, or they could gain up to 7.5 years of subjective time.

Obviously, the closer Innerscape time is to real time, the less jarring it would be for outsiders. Unfortunately, it would also be rather futile for the Residents. However if Residents experienced only 30 [real] seconds in every minute, the staffers would only get to sleep once every two, Innerscape days, and they would sleep for far longer than the Residents.

I suspect I’m not seeing something obvious here so I’d appreciate some outside perspectives. Oh, and I’d be really grateful if some mathematical Whiz checked the numbers/logic.

And now, before I go for a well-earned cup of coffee, I have an announcement to make – this is my 365th post! One whole year of posts [not counting Leap Year]. It’s taken me over a year and a half to get here, but I let’s not split hairs. 😉



About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

14 responses to “Innerscape gains 1,051,920 seconds per year

  • metan

    Me not know. Math brain not work.

    Of course the first thing I thought of when you mentioned external cues and the passing of time was was those zombies in gaming rooms having no idea of passing time, or Korean gamers (or their children) starving to death in their own homes.
    I think it would be very easy to manipulate time for those living in the digital world, I bet it would be quite simple to do whatever you wanted to their internal clocks. Hmmmmm….. You know those days when time flies, or drags… Aargh! We’re already there! 😉


    • acflory

      lol – I’ve done the odd all-nighter in my time, and the adrenaline does keep pumping, for a while, but the crash is unpleasant. I honestly don’t know how gamers can keep going to those lengths. Perhaps that’s the true definition of addiction. :/


  • geooorge

    What if instead of just manipulating the day/night cycle the system also “overclocked” the brains so that they actually worked inputs a lot faster?
    I mean sort of like speeding up the entire simulation.


    • acflory

      That’s a good idea in principle. BUT. This is all happening just 90 odd years in the future. I don’t think the tech would be that advanced. I mean just being able to have full immersion in the first place would be massive achievement. Plus the other difficulty would be having the Residents interacting with staffers or people on the ‘outside’. Depending on how much their brains were speeded up, it would be like us trying to talk to someone who was in ultra slow motion.


  • alexlaybourne

    Congrats on the milestone. That is an impressive post and way of thinking you are working on there with time manipulation. Well done!


  • EllaDee

    Meeks, I can’t even cope with clocks forward, clocks back for daylight savings… and it’s been happening for 42 years…


  • Candy Korman

    As a complete non-gamer, I’m fascinated by your dedication to virtual worlds. I’m enthralled with the power these created placed hold.


    • acflory

      Actually the true fascination came from Tad Williams! If you ever get the chance, read his Otherland series. My take on the concept is a little different but he is the one who first started me thinking about virtual worlds and virtual reality. The gaming just gives me some real life experience to draw on. 🙂


  • davidprosser

    If I catch you splitting hairs I’ll report you to the RSPCA. ( or the OZ equivalent). As for your theory,I can’t fault the figures but I doubt the staffers could adjust to a 30 second minute whereas they could probably easily adjust to a 50 second minute. Our body clocks tend to adjust to changes quite well and provided they slept in the real world they could probably sleep less than usual.If perhaps you thought the adjustment to a shorter sleep pattern might affect some people it’s always possible that in the future, people who do specific jobs like this could be given drug enhanced sleep which left them feeling refreshed when awake.
    For my own sake I need to be clear on this……are the staffers avatars in Innerscape when they’re asleep in the real world or when they’re awake? If it’s when they’re awake then they’ll be resting anyway for the period they’re on duty and won’t need as much actual sleep.
    Dumbass of Croydon.


    • acflory

      We have the RSPCA here too, and I promise, no small animals were hurt in the production of this post!

      As for your questions about time…DUH! You are so right! If the tech allows the Residents to be manipulated in such a sophisticated way then of course they would have drugs to ease the tank-lag for the staffers as well! Thank you, thank you!

      Not only have you solved this particular conundrum, you’ve also given me the clue I needed for something that will happen much later in the story!

      I can’t tell you what it is just yet, but your comment about 40 seconds/minute triggered a real ah hah moment. 😀



  • Jennifer

    So what’s the time lapse/difference of 365 posts over 547…?
    While I understand what you are trying to do, umbers just confuse the hell out of me so I am no help at all. Sorry. Can’t wait til this story is finalised, I’ve loved all the snippets you’ve done so far.


    • acflory

      lmao – trust me, math is NOT my forte either! This whole time thing was me trying to get my head around how the original idea would work. I get these ideas and run with them at the time, but sooner or later I have to stop and actually work them out.

      In this instance, there will be a plot twist that kind of depends on my getting the idea right. And thank you for enjoying the snippets. The feedback I get from you guys makes things like working on Excel worthwhile!


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