Time and Black Holes in Bethesda’s Immense Science Fiction RPG Starfield #SciFiSunday

Bethesda recently came out with the science fiction RPG Starfield. In Starfield players can traverse the “impossibly large” playing environment that includes planets, star systems, and the dangerous void of space. So how does the game handle time? Time dilation isn’t always a feature on large-scale space games. And how is local time worked into the player experience? Here’s more from Rock Paper Shotgun:

All of which conjures up a host of possibilities, little and large – or rather, large and larger. First off, there’s the question of whether planetary days and nights have different lengths. Does 24 hours on one world equal 24 hours on another? If I’m carrying out a nocturnal raid on an outpost or somesuch on a smaller, rapidly spinning planet, do I have to worry about the sun rising abruptly and breaking my cover? And what about planets that are tidally locked, whereby the world’s rotation and its orbit synch so that one hemisphere is always roasting in the glare of the star, while the other freezes in darkness?

It’s unclear how closely Starfield adheres to current astrophysical models in its representation of celestial bodies. The game isn’t some nitty-gritty work of realistic physics, a la Kerbal Space Program – sound travels in a vacuum in Starfield, and well, the game has space magic. Nor does its portrayal of celestial mechanics appear to be as whimsically elaborate as, say, that of Outer Wilds, where comets melt as they near the sun and binary planets suck matter from each other. But Starfield does take some inspiration from “hard” science – Bethesda sought input from SpaceX on certain questions, as detailed in this interview with IGN, where Howard ducks and dives around the topic of realism. Speaking to Kinda Funny, he also noted that the game’s warp drive equivalent, the “space-folding” Graviton Loop Field Array, has precedents in real-world papers on quantum physics.

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