How do game developers make games run at a certain speed when they have to run on different hardware?


I’m guessing modern frameworks have this built-in so developers don’t really have to worry so much, but how is it achieved? For example, if I want a character to move at a certain pace no matter what hardware is running, or how much is happening on the screen at the time, how does the code control that?

In: 2

You base the speed on some kind of timer instead of tying to CPU clock speed or framerate (looking at you Skyrim!).

The functions are pretty much built-in these days.

Some older games definitely depended on CPU clock speed though.

EDIT: Here’s an example if you’re interested:

EDIT 2: Absolute accuracy is also not needed like you would need on a solar probe where every clock cycle counts: If there are some small infinitesimal errors (as far as human perception is concerned) is fine.

Back in the day game speed used to be tied to CPU speeds which would be a major problem when playing with newer hardware. That’s why the turbo button exists on older computers. It allowed the user to switch to a slower speed so old games would be playable. Modern software uses a real time clock to keep time instead of the CPU.

We use a variable named delta. Which is the calculation of how long it took the frame to render. Most of the time it’s 1/60 of a second. We use that in everything movement based. So if your character is moving at 100 pixels a frame but your frame rate is only 1/24 so you multiply your movement by that. The formula normally looks like

Velocity = speed * input _vector * delta

In this speed is what you set your movement speed at. Input vector is what the player is pressing. This is between (-1,-1) and (1,1) and delta again is how long the frame took normally a value of 0.016 but does vary like if you were running at 24 fps your delta would be 0.0416

Unity enthusiast here.

This particular engine has something called deltaTime. This is a time that elapsed from last frame. Since video game is just a loop with one iteration every frame, multiplying some values by deltaTime makes them framerate-indepemdent.

If I write a code like: if W button is pressed, move 1cm forward, then this gives me speed of 30cm/second if game is running at 30FPS or 60cm/sec if it is 60FPS. Number of FPS = Number of cm per sec.

But I can also do: if W button is pressed, move (50 * deltaTime) cm forward. This will result in a constant movement at 50 cm/second, regardless of framerate.

Not every dev thinks about it, unfortunetely. E.g. Fallout 76 was purposely locked by devs at 30FPS. Movement was framerate-dependent, so when players modded the game and unlocked higher FPS values, they were zooming around the map few times faster.