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First post, by antrad

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Problem is that the whole cycle is usually too short and constant change is distracting and immersion breaking.

Let's say you are going on a quest and your goal is a kilometer away. If you go there on foot and stop on few places on the way it might take 20-30 minutes and by that time a whole day or maybe even two have passed. Who takes a whole day to walk a kilometer, how is that realistic or immersive ? If the cycle lasted longer then maybe you could finish the whole thing during a day. Then maybe on the next play-through you could play it at night time and have a different experience. When day and night constantly change too fast you don't have time to immerse yourself in a night environment when it is over in just a few minutes.

Also what I find distracting is when suddenly the rain starts falling and it last 1 or 2 minutes. What does that accomplish ? It is just a short annoyance. But if I had to go through the whole quest in the rain then that could again be a slightly different experience compared to day and night or make the quest more distinct compared to others.

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Reply 1 of 23, by RandomStranger

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antrad wrote on 2021-08-18, 18:59:

Also what I find distracting is when suddenly the rain starts falling and it last 1 or 2 minutes. What does that accomplish ? It is just a short annoyance.

Rains like that exist in real life.

As for day-night cycles, it depends on the game. They have a place in an open world game where you can roam freely as long as you want. It's just it has to be long enough so it won't distract. I think 2-3 hours are long enough. That's about as long as the average longer gaming session according to internet people.

Games often have an odd relationship with distance too. Mostly because game worlds are generally still too small compared to real world countries.

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Reply 3 of 23, by cyclone3d

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Some games have an adjustable day-night cycle.

I agree that the ones that have super short cycles by default are annoying... Oh yeah, a day on Earth only take 5-10 minutes... what is up with that?

Now if you are supposed to be on an alien world, then the day-night cycle could be whatever. Maybe there is no night cycle at all. Maybe there are multiple suns and/or moons. Maybe there is a light and dark side of the planet or moon just like the Earth's moon.

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Reply 5 of 23, by BitWrangler

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Oh you'll love Frontier: Elite 2 and Frontier First Encounters then, you can leave the time acceleration alone and take 3 days to a week after every jump to make planetfall.

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 6 of 23, by MrFlibble

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BitWrangler wrote on 2021-08-18, 22:52:

Oh you'll love Frontier: Elite 2 and Frontier First Encounters then, you can leave the time acceleration alone and take 3 days to a week after every jump to make planetfall.

I don't believe this is what the OP had in mind, the kilometre walk example appears to suggest that the player character is walking at a realistic speed, but the day/night cycle is unrealistically fast.

I never liked the day-night cycle in Warcraft III, which I guess is the first game I ran into. Admittedly, back in the 90s as a school kid I fantasized about "my" fantasy RTS that would be much inspired by Warcraft II, and imagined there would be separate torch- and lamp-bearer units for in-game night-time. But the way this is implemented in Warcraft III felt somewhat forced, in part because it does not affect anything besides unit sight ranges and some Night Elf abilities. I mean, no characters ever go to sleep or something, it's just a cosmetic & part balance feature. UPD: I remembered that most creeps sleep at night, but again this feels like a slightly odd mechanic than anything.

Sometimes attempts at greater realism in game just break the suspension of disbelief instead. Morrowind has some nicely done day/night cycle and weather change effects, but it all falls apart not even because it's pretty fast, but because no character ever sleeps. In Arena and Daggerfall, day/night time is meaningful because you have shop opening hours, and hours when villagers walk the streets or can be visited in their homes (in DF). Morrowind throws this all out of the window, and no aesthetic value of the looks -- and I'm not a fan of this kind of graphics, but I will admit that sunsets and thunderstorms and whatever are done very well, and must have looked real gorgeous back in the early 2000 -- can save the immersion part which is instantly ruined. Similarly, there is no effect of either day/night time on the player, unless you are a vampire though, and no effects produced by weather. Want to camp while caught in the open under heavy rain? Sure, why not. You'll rest just as well as in a tavern. What about blasted ash-lands in the midst of a blight storm, and right next to a lava pool? Must be more comfy than it looks to the player from the other side of the screen.

Last edited by MrFlibble on 2021-08-21, 20:01. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 7 of 23, by Joseph_Joestar

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I liked how the passage of time and weather were handled in Gothic II.

A day felt long enough that you could get some decent exploration done before it got dark. And rainstorms lasted longer than 5 minutes for sure. Also, the game gave you the option to rest until evening, midnight, morning or noon, so time-specific quests were never a problem.

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Reply 8 of 23, by antrad

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RandomStranger wrote on 2021-08-18, 19:15:

Rains like that exist in real life.

Yes and it is a short annoyance, but I am talking about setting up a certain mood and atmosphere, and 1 minute rain does not accomplish that.

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Reply 9 of 23, by 386SX

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This make me remember the game Test Drive III. At that time it was great to see the rain and the fog unexpected so much the first time I played it on the 80386SX-20 in low detail anyway. Probably the only game that was better in low details cause the medium and high details had those awful trees too much close to the road and making the game difficult more than realistic.

Reply 10 of 23, by MrFlibble

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-08-19, 15:57:

Gothic II

I only played the demo of the first Gothic game, and that was before I got seriously interested in RPGs, but I can say that this game, and probably the entire series, clearly does a way better job at making an appearance of a living world than Morrowind does.

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Reply 11 of 23, by Joseph_Joestar

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MrFlibble wrote on 2021-08-21, 20:03:

I only played the demo of the first Gothic game, and that was before I got seriously interested in RPGs, but I can say that this game, and probably the entire series, clearly does a way better job at making an appearance of a living world than Morrowind does.

That has been my experience as well.

The Gothic (and later Risen) series does an exceptional job at making the game world feel alive.

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Reply 12 of 23, by shamino

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I agree. In Ultima 7, I was annoyed at how everything scales with CPU speed. Due to technical problems I was never able to play it on my 486 and didn't get back to the game until my Cyrix 6x86. I used Mo'slo but the fast day/night cycles were still bothersome.
On my old 386, where I had started playing the game, the day/night speed and the overall feel of the game was a lot more relaxing and immersive, but the whole game also crawled.

In Morrowind, once I found out how to change the "timescale" value, I turned it way down from default.
The problem this causes is that now you can walk very long distances before lunchtime, let alone needing to stop and camp. It might be better if the game had a variable timescale - faster in the wilderness, slower in town.
The lack of NPC schedules in Morrowind is indeed very distracting and takes away from the day/night cycle. That was the biggest flaw in the game for me.

I used a mod that tried to address this, but since there's no good way to make NPCs sleep, the result was kind of clunky. It just locks all the shops and has the owner still standing inside.
I tried to script something that would fatigue/knock out the NPCs but I ran into problems with it. I don't remember all the specifics but one issue I think was that the NPC wouldn't fall on the ground until after you entered the room. That made it pretty weird.
Never played Gothic 2 but I've watched a partial playthrough and the NPC behavior looks very good.

Weather in Morrowind just does random dice rolls I believe every 6 hours, or when you change regions. Other games feel the same way - like the weather events are just independently random coin flips, and that's probably exactly what they are.
In real life the weather goes through noticeable trends. Weather is cyclical - short cycles, medium cycles, long cycles, even longer cycles. One way to simulate it better would be to internally track some overlapping cycles and weight them against the dice rolls. I think developers underestimate the need for some sophistication in this area to make weather trends feel more real and less random.

I would love to see the weather have lasting effects on the environment in RPGs, like snow accumulation, dirt vs mud vs really sloppy mud, lake levels, health of the vegetation, maybe even animal behavior, etc.
but that's a complicated thing to accomplish and I'm not sure any game developer will ever invest the budget to try to make it happen.
It's kind of sad that game worlds still don't feel any more sophisticated than they were 30 years ago in Ultima 6, and even the Ultima series regressed at the end.

Reply 13 of 23, by MrFlibble

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I think there's another problem here, namely the goal of creating a minutely realistic world in an RPG could be at odds with actual gameplay. There's an extremely fine balance to be kept here because as much a player might want to be in as realistic a game world as possible, maintaining such an illusion has to be distributed between actual game features and the player's imagination, and without disrupting gameplay. After all, a typical RPG is not a nature/wilderness simulator, nor would such a simulation add to the main purpose of let's say telling the story in the main quest if there is one.

A more realistic simulation would probably fit a game that leans towards sandbox-style gameplay, possibly wilderness survival. Then the realism could be actually incorporated into playing mechanics.

RPGs that I know of do all of this in different ways, and the balance between elements in different. I'm willing to forgive Morrowind for the immersion-breaking NPCs (it's not just sleep alone; my very first hours in the game while playing for the first time were marked by a beautifully done thunderstorm that genuinely made me want to run for shelter -- and yet the inhabitants of Seyda Neen kept marching around pointlessly under heavy shower, with no sign of being bothered in the slightest by adverse weather; it just ruined all suspension of disbelief in a matter of seconds for me), because the game is so focussed on telling the story; or stories. I've come to think of it as a kind of a book with interactive illustrations, actually.

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Reply 14 of 23, by chinny22

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How much time does your character spend time eating, sleeping, toilet, bathing, etc.
Just think of it as the game as auto fast forwarded these periods of time and deducted the hours accordingly.

Reply 15 of 23, by RandomStranger

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If we talk about immersion breaking, what come to my mind just seeing this topic is wildlife.
Every animal that are at least omnivore always attack you and fight to the death. Never choose to run away, not even when they are injured. A lone wolf attacks a party of 4(+). That's just ridiculous and after a couple of times annoying.

Same with bandits and muggers. Even close to the endgame when you should be fairly famous/infamous and aside of that you are armed to the teeth wearing legendary armor and a piece of shit dressed in rags comes up to you with the lowest tier dagger in hand. Better if he is also a lone wolf and you are with a party. And they never surrender or try to run away.

This is much more immersion breaking for me than short day-night cycles.

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Reply 16 of 23, by BitWrangler

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Heh, though I was mentioning Frontier and FFE above as kind of a joke to illustrate the usefulness of time compression in games, there is instances of the above in them too. You're the most badass pilot in the sector, got lasers that vaporise a 100t ship with one fraction of a second hit, shields that only drop a percent if you try to fly through (and destroy) anything smaller than you are, and you get a bounty hunter show up yelling "You're going to pay for dealing with Angela Mitterand." or some crap and they're in one of the airfighters that doesn't even have room for weapons, and can't do anything but buzz you threateningly. I dunno why Braben let NPCs attack you in anything unarmed, but they can take you with them if they collide with you in a ship with no shields. It's like they're flying Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohkas... It's daft enough when they're just random pirates, but when they're coming after you in them, because they didn't like who you did a mission for, they are yelling insults and willing to fly into you for a couple hundred credits, for what, their widow? When the ship coulda sold for 25000? Anyway. Even the slightly bigger fighter types that actually have a pulse laser or something it's like swatting flies when you've "got on" in the game a bit... it's like "Dude.. look me up and piss off."..... now earlier in the game, these would be thrilling battles, but now they're a grind, especially if you get like 16 separate weenie pirates interrupt your stardream time when you're trying to get to a planet.

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 17 of 23, by shamino

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MrFlibble wrote on 2021-08-22, 17:11:

I think there's another problem here, namely the goal of creating a minutely realistic world in an RPG could be at odds with actual gameplay. There's an extremely fine balance to be kept here because as much a player might want to be in as realistic a game world as possible, maintaining such an illusion has to be distributed between actual game features and the player's imagination, and without disrupting gameplay. After all, a typical RPG is not a nature/wilderness simulator, nor would such a simulation add to the main purpose of let's say telling the story in the main quest if there is one.

A more realistic simulation would probably fit a game that leans towards sandbox-style gameplay, possibly wilderness survival. Then the realism could be actually incorporated into playing mechanics.

To me, the everyday concerns of surviving and living in an RPG's world is a huge part of the experience. The detail of the world, and the feeling that you are living a 2nd life there, is what makes a quality PC RPG more interesting to me than a basic console style RPG like Final Fantasy. Whatever story the game might have is secondary. Many people who play games like Morrowind neglect the main quest, preferring to embed themselves into some other subculture or faction within the game and writing their own story as they go along.
In some games the story and main quest are the whole game, but in more complex games I don't think it's the main draw for many people.
There's room for both types of games, and I can enjoy both, but I think of them as different subgenres.

I don't just want to save up gold pieces for some huge weapon, I want to also be thinking about where I'm going to get my next meal, and strategize how I'm going to "move up" in the world so that I can survive more easily. As that is accomplished, I'll then have more time and resources to expend on secondary goals.
I don't necessarily want survival to be difficult (I know that would be polarizing), but I also don't want it to be trivial or omitted from the game. 😀

But I agree that the more of a survival element there is to the game, the more valuable it becomes to make the world behave more realistically/believably. A day/night cycle wouldn't add anything to Dragon Warrior for example because there's too much missing from the game world for that feature to make any difference in how it feels. It might only be annoying in that case.

RPGs that I know of do all of this in different ways, and the balance between elements in different.

I'd just like to see someone push the balance a little further out and make a fantasy RPG world more detailed than we've yet seen.
I don't think it's going to be Bethesda, unfortunately. They've moved in the opposite direction of how I wanted them to go.

Reply 18 of 23, by digger

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-08-19, 15:57:

I liked how the passage of time and weather were handled in Gothic II.

A day felt long enough that you could get some decent exploration done before it got dark. And rainstorms lasted longer than 5 minutes for sure. Also, the game gave you the option to rest until evening, midnight, morning or noon, so time-specific quests were never a problem.

Sounds quite similar to Quest for Glory in this sense.

Reply 19 of 23, by MrFlibble

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shamino wrote on 2021-08-23, 19:10:

I don't just want to save up gold pieces for some huge weapon, I want to also be thinking about where I'm going to get my next meal, and strategize how I'm going to "move up" in the world so that I can survive more easily. As that is accomplished, I'll then have more time and resources to expend on secondary goals.
I don't necessarily want survival to be difficult (I know that would be polarizing), but I also don't want it to be trivial or omitted from the game. 😀

I haven't tried this yet but the Climates and Calories mod for Daggerfall Unity tries to do more or less that.

This literary playthrough of the game makes use of the mod alongside many others, producing what seems to me like a very in-depth roleplaying experience, of course in this case complemented by the author's excellent imagination 😀

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