What sort of budgets do they put on computation time?

For example, lets say a football game needs to run at 50 frames per second. That means that each frame can only be 20 milliseconds long. How is that 20 milliseconds divvied up? For example, it could be:

  • Pathfinding - 3ms limit
  • Ball Physics - 8ms limit
  • Particle Effects - 2ms limit
  • Animations - 7ms - limit
  • Total - 20ms

However, I just made those numbers up without any idea what I was doing.

Is there a rule of thumb or a standard practice used? I know every game is different depending on art-style, game genre, etc. I am looking for as generic as an answer that can be had; however, if specifics are needed, then Madden Football 2017 can be used as the example game.

What percentage of milliseconds should be allowed for each aspect of game development?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I haven't seen much on this but this is an interesting discussion similar to your Q - forum.beyond3d.com/threads/cpu-budgeting-for-games.58220 \$\endgroup\$
    – n_plum
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 20:58
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Rule of thumb: 1.) do everything as efficient as you can, 2.) start the program, 3.) Pray \$\endgroup\$
    – Bálint
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 21:08

1 Answer 1


Allocate the most frame time for the most important things. Allocate less frame time for less important things.

What is more or less important will vary significantly based on the game. Not just on the genre of the game, but the very specific desired style, feel and features of that game.

  • A football game focusing on extreme realism of the simulation, both of player dynamics, flight physics of the ball, play tactics, et cetera will likely want a significantly more robust AI and simulation engine, and thus will be willing to sacrifice more frame time there.
  • A more arcade-y, less serious football game might not care so much about any of that simulation and might want more time spent on rendering fancy particle effects and graphics to get across more action, or whatever.

Most games will probably fit into those kinds of buckets: either they'll have complex game simulations, and want to dedicate the lion's share of frame time to those, or they won't and will instead prefer to dedicate that time to graphics.

As a rule of thumb it seems unlikely to want to permit any one chore from consuming more than 50% of the frame, but in some cases that might be acceptable and when you start allowing for concurrent operation of certain tasks that becomes much more flexible (as does the definition of what constitutes percentage of frame time).


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