Certainly. A feature like this is already in mind for the game, as everyone has periods where they cannot be very active. I have never particularly liked the way hunger forced certain character personalities to be the caretaker for their sleeping friends either. Although, it could be argued this brings an interesting conflict into the lives of those types of characters. A character torn in a conflict between taking care of their loved ones and letting go to have a life that is their own is an interesting one - however, I don’t think it should be a story that is caused as a result of a player-based game mechanic like hibernation.
A feature like this though would have to have heavy limitations so that it isn’t abused. If hunger is frozen, that is fine, but health is a different matter. Characters in hibernation won’t be impervious to damage. If fighting breaks out, they are just as vulnerable as everyone else. The reason for this is because I wouldn’t want the hibernation mechanic to be abused. Even if I had hibernation mode require a strictly enforced minimum time of a week (once you go into hibernation, your character will not be able to get out of that mode whenever you like, it would have to be at least a week to avoid other types of abuse), it wouldn’t matter in the case of someone knowing out of character that someone has paid an assassin to kill their character. It would be worth a week of no gameplay on that character to keep it alive, so then the mechanic becomes a cheap way to get around in game events.
It’s an edge case that I wouldn’t want to become common.
So, hunger will be frozen, but health and aging will not.
On this note, there is another issue that is related that I am curious to hear your opinion about. This hibernation mechanic would solve the problem of hunger being a chore for caretaker characters during periods of time that the player knows they will be gone.
However, it still leaves the same issue when players decide not to set their account in this mode. It may be common for players to not bother activating hibernation because they don’t know how long they will be gone, or they don’t want to be locked out for a week, but they could still be extremely inactive. This would still cause issues of having to prepare meals ahead of time for sleepy characters, since not everyone will use this mechanic, and they may even be relying on other characters because it’s easier or more convenient than setting hibernation mode. This means that hibernation mode is really only useful for active players who know ahead of time how long they will be gone. There is still a problem present for those players who are generally inactive and unwilling to hibernate.
What do you think about this problem in relation to how it could affect other people’s characters?
There isn’t a lot I can do about it on my end, but it would be possible for hibernation mode to kick in automatically after a certain period of inactivity. I could also make characters in hibernation mode obvious in their character profile so that other characters who are more wakeful are able to tell which characters they need to feed, and which they don’t.
However that presents another set of problems. By showing which characters are in hibernation they become easier targets for less savory characters who might want to pillage the town or kidnap someone for ransom, etc, adding another weakness to the hibernation mechanic. The more weaknesses it has, the less it will be used, so it’s food for thought.