The Daily Grind: Are day and night cycles a good or bad thing in MMOs?

    
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The Daily Grind: Are day and night cycles a good or bad thing in MMOs?

As I type this, I’m waiting on a video game to give me some daylight so I can snap a picture for another article you’ve probably already read. And while I wait, this Daily Grind topic occurred to me!

See, I’m usually a cheerleader for diurnal – day and night – cycles in video games. I think that as long as the night isn’t punitively dark, it’s usually a net positive for immersion in the games, especially sandboxes, whether they’re singleplayer or multiplayer. Plus, y’all know my penchant for in-game lighting, which just shows up better with a dark environment.

But I found myself really hating the night cycle this time because of the pointless waiting around I had to do. Granted, a screenshot isn’t gameplay, but some games do tie gameplay to the time of day – Lord of the Rings Online being the big one that comes immediately to mind. During my last visit into that MMO, I encountered quite a few quests that required me to stand around waiting on the clock before certain mobs would spawn.

What do you think – are day and night cycles a good or bad thing overall in MMOs?

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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Vaeris
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Vaeris

If it’s just a Fidget Widget MMO then it doesn’t matter. If it’s an MMO that’s actually trying for immersion and a “makes sense” aesthetic and lore then it’s a feature that helps set it above the rest. It should be borderline if not in the realm of punitive, as well, in a game that touts itself to be sandbox as part of the point is to make players think ahead and plan accordingly. Especially when counters (light spells, torches, various other glowy things) are available.

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NeoWolf

Is there an MMO where night and day has some impact beyond the brightness on screen?????

I don’t object to day/night cycles but for them to have some point or relevance would be nice, like varying or increasing encounters etc.. or something… but largely it just seems to be a purely cosmetic thing.

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Tom De Laet

Yes, in GW2 you have various rune’s that have different effects depending on if it’s day or night. And in BDO monster’s get tougher and give more exp. But that’s about all the examples I can give.

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Schmidt.Capela

For games where you can instantly skip time — which includes most single-player games that do have day-and-night cycles — the cycle helps. It’s added immersion where the downside is avoided.

For games where you can’t skip time — such as just about every MMO, and even a few offline games like Animal Crossing — then I find any day-and-night cycle that isn’t purely and completely cosmetic to be a huge degradation of quality of life for little gain. Even the immersion aspect this is supposed to reinforce is often killed because going AFK and doing real-world stuff while waiting is inherently immersion-breaking.

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Brazen Bondar

I generally like day and night cycles. Night cycles could make stealth mechanics more fun if implemented properly, particularly in those games where use of stealth is baked into a mission. I am thinking here of the stealth missions in TSW where combat was absolutely forbidden. By the same token, there were also achievements that could only be obtained in the wee hours of the night on the game clock when certain mobs spawned. For some of those in Transylvania is was difficult to find them within the time requirement. If I remember correctly, one of those spawns needed a full team to take down, so coordinating for that was nightmarish, if not near impossible. I think that was an implementation issue though, rather than a knock on the night time cycle.

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Utakata

For purely aesthetic reasons, I prefer night and day cycles. When it starts to effect gameplay though, that starts to become tiring quickly, IMO.

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Oleg Chebeneev

I dont see how it can be bad. If anything, MMOs should have way darker nights that make lurking around more dangerous. I like how its done in Dragon Dogma

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Not only do I want day and night cycles, I want real dark with ambient lighting effects. Starless night it’ll be pitch, both moons out, it’ll be hella bright with deep shadows.

On top of that, I want night and day to mean something. Thieves and muggers roam the alleys at night. And fewer merchants aren’t about because of that. More NPCS huddle in the inns and taverns instead of all day everyday standing about in front of the apple crate.

Moss-covered three-handled credenza’s come down to the watering hole to hunt in the dark only. The freaks come out at night. The grey lady of Mornoth Keep only walks the highest parapet at night and she has a secret for any who is brave enough to visit her.

So yeah I want very robust day and night cycles to help alleviate the ennui of being tasked to go kill ten flumpfs.

Reader

Back in the day when I was new to MMOs and I was just excited about everything, I could not give a damn whether it was day or night in the game, I just played way past midnight and fall asleep in the early hours in the morning.

Now I prefer it if it were day as it’s easier to see enemies and paths or quest items.

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Stormwaltz

At least in the starting zones, LotRO took out its time-of-day dependent quests. Which I regret, but I understand the reasons. Back in the day, I got bottlenecked by one as well.

Personally, I strongly prefer day cycles – because I’m an immersive player, and prefer immersive games like LotRO and ESO (or a heavily-modded Skyrim). On the dev side, I know there are strong arguments in favor of fixed, predictable lighting. It’s especially tricky in games with actual conversations, like a BioWare style RPG – imagine conversing with someone who’s just a dark blob because it’s night in the wilderness.

I’ve been playing through LotRO Evendim the last couple weeks, and I’ve logged out at the same vista every time. When I log in I take a screencap to show how the view looks at different times of day and weather. All different, all beautiful.

As well, a big part of a game for me is sound, and I love how when LotRO changes to its night cycle, the music becomes quieter and the background ambience changes from wind and birds to crickets and a kind of… deep hum? I don’t know to describe it, but it fits the mood.

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Hikari Kenzaki

Granted, a screenshot isn’t gameplay

Ma’am.

Ma’am.

Ma’am!

YOU TAKE THAT BACK RIGHT NOW!

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Stormwaltz

Somewhere, Justin sheds a small tear for One Shots.

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Tanek

While MJ glares a silent challenge to get the boss screenshots she does and not have it involve gameplay.