Syl of Raging Monkeys has a piece on the ambience of LoTRO. I agree to a great degree that LoTRO has a certain ‘magic’ to the world. It has high quality world design in spades despite the very restrictive IP. One thing I’ve been thinking about over the last few days is the role of day/night cycles in MMOs, does having a varied day/night cycle matter?
Like many things LoTRO has a very effective day/night cycle to give the world a sense of reality and of time passing.
This was my third ever screenshot in LoTRO, the nighttime sky really made an impression on my first few hours in game! The use of light and shadow in Moria is also very impressive in some areas, really giving a sense of dark impenetrable depths.
World of Warcraft
WoW used to have a great day/night cycle. It was based on an Earth day, so the sun would set every evening at a time determined by the server’s clock. I remember most evenings the sun slowly setting as I rode around questing.
The proper darkening of the game world was removed although there still is a day/night cycle reflected in the sky even if ambient light levels do not change much. There is a petition to get it back on the forums – with some nice pictures of how the game used to look at nighttime linked therein.
Rift has or at least had a day/night cycle, though it’s not always as noticeable as the weather effects for certain zones or events seem to override this.
During events though the full power of the game engine is leveraged for great effect, like in this instanced mini-zone I quested in some weeks ago.
It’s always nice to have different perspectives on familiar zones, and having a day/night cycle is one way to bring that variety. But should such a cycle affect your character’s perception of the world around him or her? Even better if the cycles actually affect the world, the random creatures you meet or the behaviour of its inhabitants!