Wednesday, March 26, 2014

LOTRO: Day, night and lousy weather

 Okay, maybe this wasn't the best day to go out and take a ride...

In Day/Night cycles for a chance of sunset MMO Gypsy praises MMOs in which the developers took the effort to program day and night cycles into their games. I'm right with her on this one.

I miss this extra sense of realism in Star Wars. When I ride through LotRO and the rain suddenly falls onto my face, I remember what's so awesome about this game again. That's another thing that LotRO sets apart from other games: it has weather changes.

I sought my library of screenshots for some examples to illustrate how much influence the weather can have on the atmosphere of an area. You might recognize some of the pictures from earlier blog posts. My library is pretty extensive, though, so you've been warned.

Screenshots incoming!


A rainy day in Eastern Rohan.


The same region of Eastern Rohan during a bright day.


Even in the snowy region of Wildermore there's diversity. The region is forever cold due to a wizard's spell, but that doesn't mean it always looks the same.


Here's Wildermore again, this time without snow falling down. All of a sudden, the bleak winter sun makes the edges of Fangorn look as if they're ripped from a book of fairy tales.


And even in Wildermore, the area looks different during a foggy dawn.


Late afternoon in the Wold, Eastern Rohan. The light comes from a low angle: you can see the day is nearing its end.


This is how Fingolwë and Ravanel saw Edoras from afar at dawn.


And this is the sky when they arrived at its entrance a few (in-game) hours later.


I like how the Shire sky has this slightly deeper blue teint. Just sets it apart a little.


Deep in the night in Enedwaith the world might look a bit scarier. And heroes might look a bit more like heroes when they light up in the dark.


I really liked the contrast between the waving yellow grass of Enedwaith and the early night's king's blue sky. Shame I was on my crappy computer, so the quality of the screenshot isn't amazing.

I could add another dozen images or so, but I think you get the idea.

It seems like new MMOs tend to save money when it comes to 'fluff' like this, with Wildstar as a positive exception to the rule (as it at least seems to have day and night cycles). (Out of curiosity: does anyone know another MMO besides LotRO that has both day/night cycles and alternating weather?) I think this development in games is a shame, because it really adds a deeper level of immersion and quality to a game.

10 comments:

  1. hiya :) gorgeous screenshots! I love the weather in lotro! It's funny because pretty much the main MMOs I've played have had day/night cycles and at least some form of a basic weather system (eq2 & vanguard and of course, lotro). My strongest memory is in Qeynos / Antonica (eq2) as it alternates between sunny/cloud/rainy days (used to rain in your house too at one point - think they fixed that :P), Everfrost used to have snowstorms too. Vanguard, has sort of rolling weather fronts across the continents. Star Wars Galaxies also had variable weather (at least rain, didn't play but friends did) and I wouldn't be surprised if the original Everquest had some forerunner of a weather system.

    Elder Scrolls Online also has day/night cycles and varying weather cycles, which i'm really looking forward to.

    I wish they would occasionally have very dramatic weather effects - proper pea soupers (fog) in mob filled landscapes would make travelling pretty scary, as would blizzards. Or weather effects that slow your horse (mud from the rain) or affect you in other ways - that would be cool :)

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    1. I love your idea about interaction with weather effects. How cool would wading through the mud be? Now I come to think of it, there's awfully little mud in the games I play. I do suspect it will cause a lot of complaining players (but when do they not?). If you end up in a snow storm in Wildermore or Forochel in LotRO, it does make moving about a bit more tricky (especially if you put the UI off), but that's the only occasion I can think of. However, I happened to walk slowly through deep snow yesterday in Assassin's Creed - but that's a single-player game with instanced weather, feels different somehow. Yay for more realism and immersion in online games!

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  2. Hm. From the top of my head Everquest 2 is the only MMO I can remember having a weather system. And their rain wasn't all that good either since it often made my characters hair get a weird color shade. I might also not like it much because it had the tendency of raining in-game when it was raining in real life too. Conspiracy, I say!

    The games that marked my memory the most however in terms of night/day cycle and weather were single player games though. Morrowind was the first where that marked me with the way the day/night cycle made it the world feel very immersive. Then there were the sandstorms and the nice touch of characters (including ours!) raising their hands to protect their eyes from the sand.

    Skyrim was another, although it might have been my heavily modded one. Nowdays I have trouble distinguishing it my memories of it unmodded from modded. Anyway, the snow storms are always amusing in there, making the cold regions feel all that more immersive. Rains were also pretty amusing except for those thunders added by a mod. Some of them came really close to striking to my character more than a few times! I think it might have killed some wild animals too in a couple occasions. I just wonder what would happen if it hit a dragon... Hmm...

    And yes, I just realized this comment could become a blog post in itself. /sigh I will just make a note about it and seek some screenshots whenever possible.

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  3. GW2 has day/night cycles as does Rift, but neither has weather cycles. I have to say that is one thing I miss. In fact.. I don't think it rains in GW2 at all now that I think of it!

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    1. Hm.. just started raining in an area I'm in in Rift.. so maybe there's a bit of weather there. Yay for rain.. for once.. :P

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  4. WoW has weather too... in fact, I thought most fantasy MMOs had a day/night cycle and weather, but I haven't actually played that many so I don't know for sure.

    I, too, miss having these things in SWTOR sometimes. It always makes me smile when I go to Dromund Kaas and it rains - of course it's always rainy there, but it does feel a bit different from the weather everywhere else.

    Then again, it's a game where you travel to different planets - it would be weird if they all followed the same day/night cycle, and I can imagine that adding different ones for each planet would be quite a lot of work - and all that for areas that players don't necessarily spend that much time in.

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  5. Wow, so many responses! Thanks for updating me with all this info. Seems I was in dire need for one!

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  6. Great shots! (I'm a sucker for good screenshots). Believe it or not, even STO has a day/night cycle... but sadly, I can only think of one location where it's active, and that's on the social area on Bajor, and they don't have weather. However, it's space, so day and night are more variable, though I wish it was in more social areas, too.

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  7. The original EverQuest does indeed have weather, although it's obviously not as advanced graphically as all the latest whizbangs. It snows in some of the more northerly zones (Everfrost Peaks, as Eldaeriel mentions). I was always amused by the precipitation there because, in the EQ way, things were usually accompanied by a terse little chat message: "It begins to rain." Could be very ominous at times, especially when you consider...

    They also made a very big deal about the day/night cycle, at least in the earlier years of the game. Some races were totally night-blind (humans and similar) while others (dark elves) had perfect vision in the dark, so that sometimes played a factor in where you could go at what times, and you needed to think about carrying a light source. I have a vague memory of accidentally finding myself in Nektulos Forest (which is a starting area for the pure evil dark elves) as a Paladin, and not being able to see anything. I heard/saw some dark elves talking in chat and decided the best thing to do was log out for a while until day time arrived and I could find my way out, hahahah.

    Also, night time is when all the scaries come out - the ruins in the East Commonlands (RIP; they merged that zone and now it's just "Commonlands") were quiet during the day, but ghouls and skeletons and zombies spawned there after sundown, and even high levels were afraid of Kithicor Forest at night (back when 50 was high level, at least). Lotro has this feature, too, in at least one place that I can think of.

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  8. Ah beautiful - no game does it as well as LOTRO :) awesome screenshots.

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