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Day/Night Cycle Explained

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Seasons Past
Mar Gold Premier Club Member 2016

Seasons Past

Posts: 53Iron Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Introduction

This thread is intended to explain how a potential day/night cycle would work if implemented in RuneScape. Below is a summary of the main points explored in this thread followed by an outline of possible concerns and solutions to the issues raised. Constructive criticism is welcome.

Summary:

- Day/night cycle applied across surface of Gielenor
- Multiple cycles within 24-hour period
- Cycle overridden by current skyboxes in certain areas (i.e. Morytania, Wilderness, Uncharted Isles)
- More realistic and immersive gameplay

19-Mar-2018 08:02:07

Seasons Past
Mar Gold Premier Club Member 2016

Seasons Past

Posts: 53Iron Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Cycle Length

Concern: Players would almost always experience the same time of day
Solution: Multiple cycles per day
Reasoning: Multiple cycles per day would allow players to experience full cycle

One criticism of a potential day/night cycle is that players would only experience the same small portion of the cycle over each game session. However, this problem lies in the length of the cycle rather than in the cycle itself. A cycle occurring multiple times per day would resolve the issue by allowing players to experience a wider range of points in the cycle per game session than a 24-hour cycle would allow.

19-Mar-2018 08:04:00 - Last edited on 19-Mar-2018 08:13:00 by Seasons Past

Seasons Past
Mar Gold Premier Club Member 2016

Seasons Past

Posts: 53Iron Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Skyboxes

Concern: A day/night cycle would ruin certain areas
Solution: Current skyboxes would override cycle in certain areas
Reasoning: Certain areas would retain current skyboxes while day/night cycle would be implemented in other areas

Another point of opposition to a potential day/night cycle is that the ambiance of certain areas would be compromised. The solution to this problem would be for existing skyboxes to override the cycle in these areas. The persistence of current skyboxes in limited circumstances would allow a day/night cycle to exist across the majority of the game world without sacrificing the aesthetics of regions such as Morytania and the Wilderness.

19-Mar-2018 08:05:02 - Last edited on 19-Mar-2018 08:13:41 by Seasons Past

Seasons Past
Mar Gold Premier Club Member 2016

Seasons Past

Posts: 53Iron Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
NPCs

Concern: A day/night cycle would break NPCs
Solution: No action necessary
Reasoning: NPC behavior is already unrealistic and would not be significantly less so with a day/night cycle

It can be argued that the latter half of a day/night cycle would cause the behavior of NPCs to become less realistic. While it is true that many behaviors of NPCs are or would be out of place in a nighttime setting, it would be a mistake to attribute this inconsistency to the setting alone.

For example, the majority of NPCs appear never to sleep or to stray more than a few paces from a point of reference. This lack of realism currently exists even without a day/night cycle (as of the date of this post). The implausible nature of NPC activity is not ultimately caused by the apparent time of day but by the behavior itself.

19-Mar-2018 08:05:51 - Last edited on 21-Mar-2018 05:27:01 by Seasons Past

Seasons Past
Mar Gold Premier Club Member 2016

Seasons Past

Posts: 53Iron Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Purpose

Concern: There’s no point in having a day/night cycle
Solution: A day/night cycle would enhance immersion and quality of gameplay
Reasoning: Aesthetics are as important as other content

The importance of details such as lighting and scenery is often overlooked because such features are literally in the background. However, this subtlety is exactly what makes the surrounding environment so powerful. The impact of an update as pervasive as a day/night cycle would be felt at nearly every location on the surface of Gielenor without competing with other content. Such an update would benefit all players regardless of skill levels, quest completion, or other factors.

19-Mar-2018 08:06:45 - Last edited on 19-Mar-2018 08:15:24 by Seasons Past

Seasons Past
Mar Gold Premier Club Member 2016

Seasons Past

Posts: 53Iron Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Conclusion

A day/night cycle would enrich gameplay by adding more realism and character to the environment. Multiple cycles per day would ensure that players would be able to experience the full range of the cycle instead of only a small part. Finally, certain areas would not be affected by the cycle and would instead retain their current skyboxes so as not to lose their distinction.

19-Mar-2018 08:11:33 - Last edited on 19-Mar-2018 08:16:00 by Seasons Past

Uncle Pob

Uncle Pob

Posts: 2,962Adamant Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
I'm going to invoke an example of this which many players will be familiar: Skyrim.

That game has day/night cycles like you are suggesting. It also has significantly reduced cycle length, which is also what you are suggesting. What are the results?

For reference, Skyrim's cycles 1 hour and 12 minutes for the cycle to complete day > night > day. This is really short, and means there would be somewhere around 22 cycles within a real-world period of 24 hours.

Players' opinions of this are wide and varied, and differ drastically.

Some players think the cycles are far too fast: that there isn't sufficient time to do what they need to do before the cycle changes. Others still find that the cycle is too drawn-out and slow.

Thankfully, Skyrim has two means of fixing these problems and tuning cycles to taste: a player can either use the "wait" feature (or "sleep" to allow time to pass rapidly, or they can modify the game to extend or reduce the length of the cycles manually to suit their taste. "Wait" and "Sleep" can't be used in RuneScape, as RS3 is an MMO, and we can't mod the game.

Unless there would also be gameplay connected to the cycles, your idea would seem to amount to a dynamic skybox. That means there shouldn't be too many problems if players cycles don't correspond with each other. We can already change our skyboxes manually and that causes no real issues between players.

One solution would involve a scale slider, which could manually adjust cycle length to taste, along with two checkboxes - "Use Standard Cycles" and "Disable Cycles". The first checkbox would disable the scale slider and synchronize the scales with the server, the second would disable cycles entirely.

20-Mar-2018 20:51:05 - Last edited on 20-Mar-2018 20:54:11 by Uncle Pob

Uncle Pob

Uncle Pob

Posts: 2,962Adamant Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Seasons Past said:
Skyboxes

Concern: A day/night cycle would ruin certain areas
Solution: Current skyboxes would override cycle in certain areas
Reasoning: Certain areas would retain current skyboxes while day/night cycle would be implemented in other areas


A cycle wouldn't need to impact the aesthetics at all. We also need to consider that as players wander between regions, it wouldn't make sense for the time of day to change completely as well.

What we consider the aesthetic impact of the current skyboxes in places like Morytania are actually the product of a combination of two factors: the hue of the color palette is pushed closer to green, and the visual appearance of the sky changes to a texture that fits the mood. These don't need to change, so the atmospheric feeling would not be lost - only enhanced.

If we take all existing surface skyboxes, and configure day/night cycles around them, we would need to use the pre-existing settings to represent midday: that would include Morytania, because as spooky as it is, it's still fairly light, and the atmosphere has never come from actual darkness, but rather the suggestion of darkness.

All skyboxes would then have their brightness gradually reduced until midnight, and then gradually increased until midday. As the brightness is reduced, there could also be a subtle desaturation filter so the colors are most vivid during midday. That would be the default behavior.

Individual skyboxes could then be further tweaked: some could include a rising, setting sun, and feature corresponding color tweaks at appropriate times.

20-Mar-2018 21:23:38 - Last edited on 20-Mar-2018 21:25:06 by Uncle Pob

Uncle Pob

Uncle Pob

Posts: 2,962Adamant Posts by user Forum Profile RuneMetrics Profile
Seasons Past said:
NPCs

Concern: A day/night cycle would break NPCs
Solution: NPC behavior and dialogue can be updated if necessary
Reasoning: NPC behavior is already unrealistic and would not be significantly less so with a day/night cycle


Again I'll invoke Skyrim.

That game does a lot with it's cycles, to be fair, but it also causes problems during gameplay. The short cycles tend to mean that shopkeepers (for example) spend more time going to work, going home and sleeping than running their shop - and unless you arrive at a town during a specific short window, you'll have to do some waiting around.

But Skyrim is aiming for realism and immersiveness. With RuneScape, it's a secondary concern that is only considered when it does not negatively impact gameplay.

NPC's need to be dependable, because players getting frustrated at NPCs behaving differently than expected, or being somewhere other than where they're expected to be, is not a good thing for RuneScape.

But this isn't really a concern, because many gameplay-related decisions have already been made that aren't "realistic" or don't make sense under scrutiny: this would be but one more.

And if we're going to have short cycles, we cannot have NPC's wandering back and forth between their bed and regular spot all day long. Isolated cases in particular situations, maybe, but this shouldn't be the expected behavior we should expect as default from every RuneScape NPC. Nor would it be wise to have facilities like banks/shops/the GE have opening and closing times, because those kind of things are just an unnecessary arbitrary frustration for players.

20-Mar-2018 21:37:21

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