Duration is a fundamental concept in all games. It pertains to how long a game element, attribute, or modifier will exist or otherwise have a direct affect on a game. Examples of duration include the length of a game’s instance, the continuity of a magic spell, or how long an in-game object lasts before disappearing.
While the exact length of duration could theoretically contain any number or amount, there are four general types of duration used in games. These include:
- Instantaneous: The game element exists for a single moment (or purpose) then immediately ceases to exist. This commonly exists as a “flash in a pan” effect.
- Lifespan: The game element exists, but only for a finite amount of time (e.g. “gain +5 defense for five turns”). After the lifespan elapses, the game element ceases to exist.
- Perpetuity: The game element, once set, exists permanently. Alternatively, if allowed, the game element may actually come to an end by being eliminated or destroyed.
- Conditional: The element will exist permanently until a specific condition is met, a trigger is activated, or a unique event occurs.
Naturally these four duration types can be mixed and matched together to form hybrid forms. Note that the consequences (or effects) of a game element’s existence may prevail, even after the element itself disappears. For example, if a magic fireball immolated a structure before vanishing, the charred remains of the building would persist in its burnt form.