Downtime

A situation during the game when a player is not engaged in play.

This term is useful when making a game — one of many aims in game development is to minimize downtime.

Typical downtime comes in different forms:

  1. setup - there's most often something to do before the game, but never make it longer than necessary. This is usually the least painful type of downtime, as it is not disruptive.
  2. administration - don't break the engagement of players by making them do too many boring things during the game, examples may include moving pawns, counting or even rolling the dice, but obviously each of that is situational (you can also achieve to make everything exciting).
  3. opponent's turn - that's when some downtime happens most often, but you can minimize it by letting the player plan out his or her next turn in advance. Make sure that the situation in the next turn is at least to some extent predictable. Common trick in card games for that is to make players draw at the end of their turn not at the beginning. This way they have it easier to think about future actions (which is less of a downtime). Also when drawing at the start of your turn, you get a new card to analyze which prolongs the turn and causes more downtime for the opponents.

For music games the situation is yet more tricky as you can talk about gaming downtime and also musical downtime when players don't engage meaningfully with music-making for some time. These might interact in quite complex ways.

Other game design terms:

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