I love how such a simple mechanic can add so much depth to a game. Â When used properly, time of day in a MMO can do more than just make the world dark or light.
Night time can:
- Bring out different types of monsters
- Raise the difficulty of an entire zone or area
- Reduce visibility to make it impossible to travel
- Give a reason for certain races to have different types of vision bonuses
- Make light sources important
- Influence the story and lore
I remember in the original EverQuest that my Dark Elf had no trouble seeing at night. Â I could run around and it really wouldn’t phase me one bit. Â I met a human in the North Desert of Ro and we decided to team up and fight Dervishes — a type of bandit set up in camps throughout the zone. Â We were on our way there when I realized he was running right at a mummy… “Stop, wait, what are you doing?!” Â I asked him why he ran right at the mummy and he responded that he couldn’t see him. Â It was then that I realized how different the races could see at night, and how blind humans were compared to my elven eyes.
I think Ive told the story a million times of Kithicor. Â That zone was moderately scary during the day, but when it turned night you simply didn’t go in. Â People waited at the zone line and chatted because entering at night was like asking for a corpse run.
Day time can:
- Be just as scary as day for some races. Â Think about a vampire race, or a race that sees better at night than day.
- Swap out the monsters in a zone.
- Provide a window of opportunity to travel
- Open shops for business
- Alter the ‘feeling’ of a zone to be happier and come alive
I see daytime as an underutilized part of the day/night cycle in every MMO. Â Most MMOs with any emphasis at all on time focus only on the night, with day being neutral. Â I say make them both equally as impactful on the gameplay experience.
How long should one day/night cycle be?
I typically play later in the day because of my schedule, and usually for only a few hours at a time. Â I need the day/night cycle to be fairly quick, but long enough to impact gameplay. Â EverQuest I and II timed it perfectly. Â I think a 72 minute full rotation works perfectly. Â Anything longer and I may only see night or day, and anything shorter will probably night give enough time for a zone to change or players to feel a difference.
How about you? Â What neat ideas do you have for the time of day, and how long should a full rotation take in a MMO’s day/night cycle?