The Daily Grind: Do you care whether MMORPGs have seasons and diurnal cycles?

    
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In a recent One Shots, MOP’s Justin asked readers to offer up their screenshots of MMOs with diurnal cycles – that is, games with day and night cycles. I remember back when it was a really big deal for MMOs to promise atmospheric content like this, but now I suppose it’s become old hat, to the point that some MMOs still don’t even bother, or they put everything on such a long cycle that you may never even notice it. Seasons and lunar cycles and weather have kinda become something that survival games focus on, rather than MMOs.

And yet I have such fond memories of roleplaying in MMOs that dumped snow everywhere come winter. I loved hanging out in Star Wars Galaxies and watching all the roleplayers scatter when a sudden downpour dumped rain on us and everyone had to react accordingly. I love the glowy windows you can finally see when the sun goes down and night has come to an MMO. It’s the casual environmental ambiance that makes MMOs feel like, well, immersive virtual worlds instead of backdrops for more murderhoboing.

Do you care whether MMORPGs have seasons and diurnal cycles? And which MMORPG does them best? (By the way, you can send Justin your pics for One Shots right here!)

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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Fenrir Wolf

I feel this isn’t really complete without NPC schedules, and I think the only MMO that had those was Everquest II. Or at least, a very convincing simulacrum of NPC schedules. If everyone is standing around at day, night, eternally trapped within the same clothes come rain or shine, it brings with it a visit to the Uncanny Valley.

Considering that, I think it’s more important that the developer just gets the aesthetic feel of each area correct, along with the atmosphere. That zone could be perpetual day or night, spring or winter, with its denizens themed appropriately. This avoids that unnecessary trip to the Uncanny Valley. So that’s what I’d prefer. Though if an MMO did decide to do NPC schedules? Then yes, diurnal and seasonal cycles wold matter.

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Hikari Kenzaki

1) I don’t like when it’s insanely dark with no contrast and I can’t see anything.
2) Anything that involves good lighting for screenshots works for me.

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Alatar

I like it, especially the day/night cycles. I like games to have other changes between day and night also, such as more dangerous creatures that wander the world after dark. The weather thing, at least in the games I’ve played, is always cosmetic. I’ve never dropped a sword because the handle grew slippery in the rain, or lost life points because I’m shivering from the cold inside my chain mail.

So, as a cosmetic thing, sure, bring on the weather. Let it rain, let it snow, let the wind blow. It’s atmospheric and I love me some immersion.

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Dean Greenhoe

I can think of nothing better than mother nature screwing up the best plans. That is realism.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

I prefer games that have realistic night/day or weather patterns.

As long as they don’t get ridiculous like a certain MMO I played for awhile where we had to fill larders with snowballs, and they refused to make the snowballs come out at 99 QL (Quality) since you’d need a full set of 99 to last through until next winter with a decay mechanic in that game, so you’d spend approximately half an hour of play time just collecting snowballs trying to get 100 99 QL to fully stock the larder…only to have the game’s decay mechanic bug out and destroy half of them or more before you were even partially through one season.

Even more fun when they effect you/can harm you, and you need to do stuff to counter them. I watched a survival game where you could freeze to death if you were caught out in certain wintry conditions…or die of radiation if you crept into a rad zone/a rad storm rolled through. I would love to see this kind of stuff applied to a non-PvP game, where for example you’d have to grow certain strains of plants that could withstand stuff, just to survive. That previous game even had the ability to harvest dependent on seasons…like certain periods of time would have certain trees/bushes harvest-able, and that made it even more unique because you kinda had to stock up on specific things at certain times…

Problem with those types of games is that once you get past a certain point skill-wise, you never really have problems with them anymore, and you aren’t ‘surviving’, you’re just maintaining your ability to stay ahead of them. Once you manage to get a little hut up for protection, and live close enough to water to fish for food, you’re generally ‘safe’. Then you can start building up the area, making it defensible, then planting, and you’re ‘safe’ except when you take treks places…and even then, once you get armored up/fought enough, you can usually handle most things except a big bad group type boss/top end ‘elites’ of a game.

Personally, that’s where things like ‘night’ mechanics make it even more fun…when you can’t see as well, and stuff comes popping out of nowhere at you, and you’re fleeing in the dark/unable to see where you’re going. (I also just prefer the night time in games because I get light sensitive migraines.)

So yes, I am a fan. No, I won’t mention the name of the MMO I’m talking about, because they have s*()-lords in control over there who temp banned me for speaking up about their behavior (with proof), so their game is basically dead to me. (Even if I enjoyed the hell out of it.)

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Akagi

Seasons in MU Online are like expansions in WoW. It’s a means to reset people’s gear and nullify their efforts, yet another artificial way to make them waste more time for no good reason. I don’t like this at all.

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squid

I wish they did, instead of just making snow and such biome-based. Change of scenery would be nice.

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Robert Mann

Yes… but only minimally in MMOs as they tend to exist currently.

Such things, even if altered from what we consider normal here on Earth, are important in a virtual world. Even more if they account that not all areas experience such events similarly.

Sadly, we don’t tend to get really interesting attempts at making something new and involving (like, say, rains being able to cause floods in game, resulting in opportunities to rescue people *maybe some sort of rep bonus when it happens if you do type of thing?*) We get “Yep, it rained here for 42 out of the last 43 days, heavily. The ground is dry.”

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Paragon Lost

Yes.

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NeoWolf

I like my immersion, so yes. Absolutely.