The Daily Grind: Do you crave night-and-day cycles in MMOs?

    
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Earlier this week, Daybreak‘s John Smedley told H1Z1 fans about a metric that startled me: An awful lot of post-apoc gamers are annoyed with night cycles.

We had a very interesting report run just now. It shows a much higher percentage of people log out when it gets to night. We play the game too, and we’ve tuned it as best we could to be fun and not too dark, but the data is quite stark. We are considering experimenting for a few days with no nighttime on the core PVP servers (hardcore would still have it). Personally I love the night, but data is data and it’s you, our players doing the logging out when it gets dark. You are literally voting with your feet on this issue.

The more hardcore types who populate Reddit were quick to rally to the defense of pitch-blackness, so don’t worry; Smed isn’t taking away your nighttime, though Daybreak plans to tweak it and add daytime-only servers.

I think I’ve grown up around roleplayers and immersion-centric modders and forgot that while most people do like being wrapped up in an immersive world, first they like to be able to freakin’ see it. Yeah, I want nighttime and lanterns and weather and all that good stuff to roleplay by, but if nighttime is so dark that I can’t actually see what I’m doing, well, I can close my eyes and get the same effect for free and with no ganking too. It just startled me to realize that enough people agree that it’s measurable, even for the usually-very-hardcore survival MMO crowd.

It shouldn’t have, though, considering that H1Z1 is one of those games whose screenshots I always have to brighten up for use on Massively OP so they’re not too dark to see. For demonstration purposes, I didn’t retouch the image in this post. See what I mean? You can barely see the zombies coming for your brains. Sometimes it’s more scary that way, but sometimes it’s just not.

How about you? Do you crave diurnal cycles in MMOs? Do you log out of games when the nighttime darkness setting is just too punitive? What’s the right approach to this problem?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Jacra
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Jacra

I usually like day-night cycles but they can be really off-putting in a survival game if you struggle already. I’ve truly feared night at some Don’t Starve Together servers, but having none at all instead of short ones … not good either. So even if people log out much more often doesn’t mean they want them to be gone.

Robert80
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Robert80

Werewolf Finds Dragon  Yeah, the lack of good NPC schedules/activities beyond the most basic is something sadly missing from so many games.  I blame it on the issues that came up with producers dealing with Gothic 3… it turned into a mess because of that, and that released all the competitive pressure from Bethesda.  Not that games since have been terrible, but rather lacking those features that make a world and the people in it alive around you.

Werewolf Finds Dragon
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Werewolf Finds Dragon

I crave not only day and night cycles, but also NPC schedules as well. Sandbox players and I are not as different as they might think — it’s just I’m more inclined toward having something in the way of story present, I’m not a math.random sort of fellah. Not my cup of tea. Ultima VII and Gothic continue to be touchstones in this regard.
I was genuinely saddened to see that ESO didn’t have NPC schedules. I don’t hold it against them, mind you, but it’s one of the things I would add. Along with some NPC houses for those NPCs to go to. It’s one of the things that’s jarringly lacking whenever I head to a town or village. So many NPCs standing around, day or night, and no houses to go to.
It’s actually more jarring to have day/night cycles if you don’t have schedules. In honesty, I’d prefer MMOs not have them if they can’t also have the cycles. Having everyone standing around at all hours of the night isn’t very convincing, and it does games like ESO — which go so far to have a vibrant, interesting, and living world — a disservice.
So I hope future MMOs take things just a small step more toward Ultima VII in the future.

greywolfe_joystiq
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greywolfe_joystiq

[having said that, i’d like to also add that i’d want it to be a slider in the options panel – it only happens on “your client” in other words.  if people don’t want those ‘real night” because it’s not for them, they shouldn’t have to deal with it.]

greywolfe_joystiq
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greywolfe_joystiq

yes, i really do.
and furthermore, i’d like them to be “full days,” the way wow has them.  it’s always incredibly jarring when you log in during the day, but it’s night in the game for fifteen minutes.
i’d also like “actual darkness” in my mmo’s, the kind that makes you find lanterns and the like.

DPandaren
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DPandaren

Eh, most people will just up their Gamma settings. Something DBG already made a note for in Planetside 2 when the nights in that game actually required the use of the NV/IR scope or flashlight.

ComradeStanimir
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ComradeStanimir

Don’t care at all. 
Also having to kill 8 sheep -at night- because they’re spooky, spectral sheep isn’t creative quest design.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

‘Crave’, no. Can endure? Yes.

I have nyctophobia (Fear of the Dark) and a crazy wild imagination…and had enough terror when my own father locked me outside in the middle of winter at night and shut off the light, leaving me out there pounding on the door. (His version of ‘toughening a boy up into becoming a man’)

I now basically ‘live’ in the dark most of my life. I tend to sleep during the day. So bright ‘day’ cycles in games tend to actually hurt me physically (Same with sunlight) by causing lancing/sharp pains in my eyes/brain…which often leads to horrible migraines.

My current game does the whole day/night cycle, but at a sped up pace because Wurm days/weeks are way shorter than us human’s life-cycle, so in a matter of playing for a good long play session I actually end up seeing day/night about 3-4 times…also throw in the seasons and you get weather effects and seasonal changes that alter the ‘look’ of the game.
When I take screens at night, many people tell me they can’t even see anything when I can see just fine, so I think the human eye can perceive shades of dark differently…

Would I ever go out of my way to play a horror genre game that exclusively uses dark to scare the jeebies out of you like H1Z1? Not likely. I played the Silent Hill console game many many years ago, and that was quite enough…with the little stabby child zombies popping out of nowhere and the radio sound getting worse as they came nearer.

I enjoy well done day/night cycles that leave you feeling like you had a sense of having participated, but it needs to have an actual star map/moving moon(s) if you’re going to do one, and those need to reflect some light onto the planet you’re inhabiting in a way that you’re able to at least see somewhat…

That new ‘No Man’s Sky’ game looks like it’s so uber bright I won’t even be able to play it…and it’s supposed to be set on multiple different planets in a universe…

So, I guess to answer your question, ‘Yes, if done right, no, if not.’…

Loyheta
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Loyheta

I love a day/night system but only if they are extremely short… like … an hour or two for each. I’d also like it to affect the enemies and how strong they are, e.g., dire wolves at night, undead, etc for night; plants, humanoids, and maybe other fauna being more powerful at day.. or at least more plentiful.
I really dislike games with long or real time day-night cycles. Nothing quite as annoying is getting off work at night and logging into your game to have the drab and depressing night. I want to see some bright colors and daylight so I can get in a good mood while I play.

mbbrazen
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mbbrazen

I don’t crave a day/night cycle. I don’t mind the cycling too much (darkness makes it hard to see and if there isn’t some point to it…why do we need it?),but I could live happily without it. I do however agree with the person below who said seasons should be ingame. Of course that would be difficult since the world isn’t all in the same season, nor do we all have the same seasons…but nonetheless, I would like that.