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When I play games, it would be useful to know how long I've been playing (without having to remember when I started).

Several solutions exist that provide session timers, but they are obtrusive, displaying a HUD or other and/or are not permanently visible. The solutions that are permanently visible show just a simple clock and not a session timer.

Things I've tried, and mostly rejected:

Steam and EvolveHQ include overlays on top of games which also display a timer or counter showing the time spent playing the current game. While displayed, these overlays darken the image and fill the screen with buttons and hud elements.

Xfire has a nice and simple clock overlay for games, but it only displays a real time clock, and not a session timer.

Screenshots:

Evolve Overlay Evolve Overlay

Evolve Clock Evolve Clock

Steam Overlay Steam Overlay

Xfire Clock Xfire Clock

Summary:

Is there a way to modify any of these solutions, or are there any other solutions that will provide a permanently visible session timer?

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raptr does auto time tracking –  Sathya May 12 '13 at 12:31
    
Does it have in-game timer? –  Gabriel May 12 '13 at 12:59
    
how do you mean ingame timer? It does tell you how long you've played, but after exiting the game –  Sathya May 12 '13 at 13:51
    
In-Game means that is displayed while the game is running, like an overlay. –  Gabriel May 12 '13 at 15:01
    
Then no, it doesn't. –  Sathya May 12 '13 at 17:23

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Is there a way use current software

Doesn't look like it.

However, it wouldn't take too much work to write a few lines of an AutoHotkey ( http://www.autohotkey.com/ ) script to do this - I've used the AlwaysOnTop option of the GUI controls ( http://www.autohotkey.com/docs/commands/Gui.htm#OtherOptions ) to show things on top of fullscreen games before. However, most games will need to be run in windowed mode for the control to actually show up. You can get it to show up in all games using DirectX injection, but some games detect that as cheating.

If I were in your place, and I needed a game usage tracker in-game badly, I'd play in windowed mode (maximised, with the taskbar hidden, and window borders set to 1 pixel) and write a small AutoHotkey script to run in the background and appear whenever certain applications are launched, displaying a counter since the application was launched in a small text control set to be always on top.

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I have two monitors, perhaps when running a directx application autohotkey can run a timer application on the second monitor? My experience with autohotkey is very limited. –  Gabriel May 20 '13 at 23:13
    
This thread mentions overlaying graphics on top of games with autohotkey. autohotkey.com/board/topic/… –  Gabriel May 20 '13 at 23:36
    
I am pretty sure if you can have a window of your choice (browser etc) on the second monitor while playing fullscreen on the first monitor, you can easily write a simple script which will display a timer in a window on the second monitor. I think trying to go down the DirectX injection route is more hassle than it is worth for your needs; I'd either try and use AHK to display it on the second monitor, or play in windowed mode. At the end of the day, do the window borders really ruin your immersion in the game that much? –  andrewthecoder May 21 '13 at 21:19
    
One last thing you might want to take a look at; Evolve. If you turn off the chat/social features, it serves the purpose you're looking for when the win key is pressed - it tracks gameplay and this is the overlay which appears when you press the win key: i.imgur.com/zpz6m.jpg Obviously it's not quite what you want as you can't play the game while the overlay is displayed, but for a fairly unobtrusive way of checking how long you've been playing the game without alt-tabbing it's worth a mension. evolvehq.com –  andrewthecoder May 21 '13 at 22:16

Use a physical stopwatch.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=stopwatch

While I get the in-game HUD thing, and that would be pretty cool, I think that creating an overlay that isn't detected as cheating would be more effort than it's worth when a stopwatch would do what you need pretty much perfectly and also be useful for other purposes.

You will have to press a button after starting the game in order to begin timing your session. After your session is over, you will have to press two buttons in succession to clear the timer and prepare for your next session.

Benefits:

  • Does not obscure any of the game.
  • Does not impact computer performance in any way.
  • Requires no installation, upgrading, or debugging.
  • Is easy to read.
  • Can be paused when AFK.
  • Can be used for purposes other than computer game timing.

Drawbacks:

  • Requires purchase.
  • Requires three button presses per game session.
  • Requires focusing eyes on object other than computer display.
  • Can be misplaced apart from computer.
share|improve this answer
    
Whether or not an overlay is detected as a cheat is irrelevant to the question. While a physical stopwatch might work it's also irrelevant to the question. –  Gabriel May 20 '13 at 23:10
    
Not really. It's not uncommon for people to go to extraordinary lengths to fix problems badly with technology that weren't technological problems in the first place. I'd say it's perfectly valid to point out the problem has a very simple non-technical solution. If your initial issue was that you wanted to manipulate the data, that'd be different. –  Sirex May 21 '13 at 1:14
    
Your point is valid, but a stopwatch won't automatically start counting once a game starts. Or I'm missing something? –  Gabriel May 21 '13 at 4:23
    
As he pointed out, yes, you need to push some buttons. Or you can take it up on yourself to get some Arduino components and build yourself a USB-powered 7 segment display ways, which will amount to several button pushes in effort and time. It's a nice project, but hardly worth the time. –  Janoszen May 21 '13 at 14:15
    
Very nice, but for that reason I might as well use a stopwatch app on my second monitor that doesn't require batteries. It's a simple solution but not what the question is about. –  Gabriel May 21 '13 at 16:20

If you have a game recognized by Steam, you can register it and Steam will track the time for you.

Outside of Steam, there are many programs that will keep track of how you spend your time on your computer. Lifehacker has compiled a list of the top 5 applications.

With a "time tracker" query on Google, you should be able to find one that fits your needs.

share|improve this answer
    
Hi, I've done plenty of research, including that lifehacker link. I haven't found anything related to what I have described. Except the Steam Overlay, which is cumbersome because It's filled with menus and statistics, I just need an in game timer that is readily visible during playtime. –  Gabriel May 12 '13 at 12:57

Second monitor solution: use Task Scheduler to cause a stopwatch application to launch upon an application event that indicates that you've launched your game. Since I don't know exactly what event that might be, I'll suggest you use AutoHotKey's scripting to launch the stopwatch application to launch onto your second monitor. Presumably you can also script something to kill the application when you close your game.

Single monitor solution: use Xfire's HUD to display the system time. Also, create an AutoHotKey script to set your system time to midnight ("00:00:00") when you launch your game. The time of day displayed on the system clock will thus match your time since you launched the game. Then you just need to reset the system time to a time server when you exit the game.

Simple! :-)

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Is it possible to make an AHK application event for any directx game? Or does it need to have an script for every game? –  Gabriel May 22 '13 at 3:55

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