[MUD-Dev] DESIGN: Why do people like weather in MMORPGs?

Sporky McBeard sporky at squidi.net
Mon Dec 20 21:46:26 CET 2004

Mike Rozak wrote:

> I understand the desire for pets, and can guess at the attraction
> of player housing, but why do people want weather or night-time in
> their MMORPG?

One thing I've noticed is that night time is a major pain in the
ass. My old monitor had the gamma set a little too low (didn't
realize until I got a new one to compare it to), so when night time
showed up, I literally couldn't see anything. In SWG, I would plot
the time I played around night time - even the cities failed to have
enough lights to make it possible to navigate (they have space
ships, but not street lights).

I used to hate nights until WoW, which always has a full moon, and
the night time is just as easy to play in as the day time. The
places like the undead forest, which feels dark, isn't really
dark. And strangely, it is the first time I've felt serene running
across the barren fields at night - as opposed to blind. Even with a
24 hour clock, I don't mind so much (WoW has a 24 hour clock, and I
play mostly at night - though being on a West Coast server, I do get
3 extra hours of daylight, just to see what it's like).

> Weather just involves some fog and a different sky map. (One of
> the not-yet-released MMORPGs talks about seasons and snow...)

The Saga of Ryzom apparently has seasons. I say apparently because I
played a character in a year round desert. But apparently, the
weather does affect the game play a bit. The resources are in
different places in different seasons, the mobs/animals move around
to different locations, and stuff like that. I think the animals
fall asleep at night too, so you have a better chance to sneak by

> Real night-time would involve stuff like requiring torches to move
> around at night (which would allow monsters to see the players a
> mile away), different monsters out at night, NPCs going to sleep,
> and maybe even requiring players to sleep. I've only ever seen a
> quasi-night systems that require torches or spells to move about.

In the WoW forums, someone brought up the fact that Night Elves were
supposed to be weaker during the day and have an advantage at
night. The Blizzard rep responded saying that because WoW had a 24
hour clock, it wouldn't be fair to the Night Elves who could only
play during the day.  He's right too. You can't make night too
different from day (on a 12 or 24 hour clock, at least) or people
will end up having vastly different playing experiences.

The game Animal Crossing had something like that, and I remember
having to set the clock on the GameCube every time I played because
I'm a night owl, and the characters were all asleep and the stores
were closed and I couldn't get much done. I'm not entirely sure that
gameplay differences would be entirely welcome, unless night time
was extremely short (less than half of a typical 2 hour playing
period), and then it would flip flop between night and day so
frequently, nobody would know what the hell was going on.

> Do players just want weather for eye candy?

I wouldn't call it JUST eye candy. For some people, I guess it
is. For me, most of the time, it is a visual frustration. However, I
really suggest you go ask to people who play Ryzom - it's the only
MMORPG where people actively seem to tout the weather system as a
selling point and actually believe it. Ryzom is a very pretty game,
but more than that, it has a uniquely interesting world design. The
world feels just a little bit more alive than the other ones I've
been on. As far as gameplay is concerned, the game is essentially a
grind, but the players have taken this rich world setting and
created their own stories to enrich the grind. They don't just kill
monsters - they take caravans from one side of the world to the
other (very, very dangerous thing to do). Some of them role play the
weather effects as well. For them, the weather gives the world
depth, and thus the game depth as well. Every time the seasons
change, there are dozens of posts about it in their forums.

But for the most part, I agree with you. I wouldn't complain if a
few more MMORPGs dumped the pitch black night time.

- Sean Howard
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