MMO ambience and does night time matter?

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.

Sunset over Silithus

Sunset over Silithus

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.

A Telaran night sky

A Telaran night sky


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.

Not your average night sky!

Not your average night sky!

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!

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6 Responses to MMO ambience and does night time matter?

  1. Meznir says:

    Wow does have a slight change – some fish can only be caught during certain hours and battle pets come out in the day or night (no, it’s not Pokemon, honest! 😉 ). Only small, non RP differences though.

  2. Shintar says:

    I can’t quite decide whether I miss having a day/night cycle in SWTOR. It would feel weird if every planet was on the exact same clock as my PC whenever I got there, and if the time of day was randomised instead it would still be a bit strange. It’s just a different setting. Still, sometimes I think it would be nice if it wasn’t always sunset on Coruscant or night on Ilum.

  3. Shintar says:

    Also, when did they take the night in WoW away? Is that a MoP thing? All my old screenshots still look properly night-like (and a lot of them were taken “by night” due to me frequently playing late).

  4. pkudude99 says:

    The only time I notice a day/night cycle is when I’m annoyed that it’s hard to see in the dark. I have noticed in Rift lately that the shadows on the ground do face different directions based on thetime of day, but other than to go “Nice attention to detail” again…. didn’t care.

    I didn’t care that SWTOR didn’t have a day/night cycle at all. I was actually glad of it — I could always see what I was looking at becuz it didn’t get dark.

  5. “the proper darkening of the game world was removed….”

    EEEk!!! there’s actually no proper night sky anymore anywhere in WoW? No Westfall at night?? 😦

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