Day/Night Cycle Design

definite_lee

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Hello! I'd like to open up a discussion into designing day/night systems in your game. This is not to talk about how to do it, (i.e. with plugins, or events) but rather a topic on what sort of considerations and design choices you would make when designing a day/night time system in your game.

For example, in my game Naima's Melody, we are looking to implement a day/night system which will dictate the appearance and availability of certain events, enemies, quests, shops, etc. One thing I'm weighing is that I want the NPCs in the world to retreat into their homes at a certain time. I'm not sure if I would try to show them moving into their homes, or simplify the process by having a screen appear that says something like "Night Time" and have all the NPCs/events disappear in the mean time before the screen fades back to the game.

So what sort of things have you done or would you do when designing a day/night cycle in your game?
 

TheoAllen

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Is the game about roleplay? or is it about the gameplay?
Why NPC need to have a routine?
why not rely on suspension of disbelieving that the day never changes because it is easier to find the NPC?

In the game like Harvest Moon, it makes sense because the day-night cycle actually does something to the gameplay. A season, a public event according to date, the crop grows, etc.

If the game entirely revolves around the gameplay but the dev decides to put day cycle for sake of immersion, then probably the cycle does not do anything else, and it's best to leave them out. Like many standard JRPG designs that you just walk straight to the predefined path, I don't see the reason why you need day-night cycle. Especially when the time is also directly controlled by the story progression.
 

definite_lee

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In our game for example, like I said the day-night cycle will change things in the world and thus the gameplay. Enemies are much more dangerous at night, making the game go from a casual experience exploring during the day, to an almost survival like experience at night. Certain NPCs only appear at night, or during the day, and there are other reasons as well. It's not just for the sake of immersion. But really I didn't create this topic to talk about my game, I want to know what other people have thought about or done when working on their projects with day-night cycle in mind.
 

CoryH

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I think mechanically it works for having harder enemies at night. I would like to do the same when I get to that point in my game.
Final Fantasy 15 seems like a good example of how to make it an immersive part of your game.

IF I add it to my game, I think having the windows, torches, fireplaces etc. etc. swap between day and night makes a game LOOK much better.

But more importantly I want it to affect battle some, such as dark element skills doing more damage or having a bonus debuff for allies and enemies at night. Maybe a Paladin character is tankier during the day and an undead character has higher Agililty or Magic at night.
It makes a time mage more interesting as well. Just a few thoughts I've been tossing around.
 

TheoAllen

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As I said, the purpose of the day-night cycle is for immersion and/or roleplay. It creates a routine, fight, until the night, the stay in the inn to rest. If it is not for immersion and roleplay aspect, what else is it for? That said, you probably also need other aspects to support the roleplaying. Probably owning a house or base or just guild. Create your own party combination. Effectively making the game becomes "create your own story". Or it tells about the lore of the world. What happens in the world during the night? Why is it dangerous? Vampire out from the lair? You discover the lore by exploring the world during the day or night. Something you encounter not only battle like probably some type of flowers bloom during the night.

If the game is focused on the combat (and stage based), then I'd prefer not getting hindered by the cycle. Blast through every dungeon without the extra chore to rest once in a while.

So, in my opinion, day-night Cycle is better to put in the game that is
- Open/open world.
- Craft your own story type of game.
- Free-roaming with a minimal scripted story.
- Simulation games (with more survival aspect, not just day cycle)

Day-night cycle is (probably) not suitable for:
- Linear story
- Stage based gameplay
- Combat focused game
 

xoferew

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My game takes place largely in a massive pine forest. There are no towns or snowy regions or volcanoes or deserts or what have you. So one purpose the day/night cycle serves is variety. Some different enemies, some stronger enemies, some things that can only be collected at night, some things that glow at night so they are easier to find in the nighttime. Sleeping is basically not addressed. ^_^
 

definite_lee

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My game takes place largely in a massive pine forest. There are no towns or snowy regions or volcanoes or deserts or what have you. So one purpose the day/night cycle serves is variety. Some different enemies, some stronger enemies, some things that can only be collected at night, some things that glow at night so they are easier to find in the nighttime. Sleeping is basically not addressed. ^_^
That sounds pretty cool!


I think mechanically it works for having harder enemies at night. I would like to do the same when I get to that point in my game.
Final Fantasy 15 seems like a good example of how to make it an immersive part of your game.

IF I add it to my game, I think having the windows, torches, fireplaces etc. etc. swap between day and night makes a game LOOK much better.

But more importantly I want it to affect battle some, such as dark element skills doing more damage or having a bonus debuff for allies and enemies at night. Maybe a Paladin character is tankier during the day and an undead character has higher Agililty or Magic at night.
It makes a time mage more interesting as well. Just a few thoughts I've been tossing around.
I really like the idea of having the time of day affect your skills. That's something I'm thinking about as well!
 

gstv87

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what sort of considerations and design choices you would make when designing a day/night time system in your game.
-time can only go forward.
-day cycles should be consistent (no stoppage of time, and interior lighting should be reversed when coming back outdoors)

that's the foundation.
from there, up.
 

Kuro DCupu

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For a game that revolving around the importance of time, I would like my day / night cycle to be NOT real time, but static event based. Time progress only when player actually do something.

The only reason I don't like Harvest Moon series is that I feel like being hunted by the time itself (I know you can relate). In my opinion, if I could fix that, I would separate the time into 4 phase (morning, noon, evening, night) and in each phase you can only spend, say, 6 certain action for example before time progress. The rest should adapt.
 

OcRam

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I have planned to have time system which is mostly dynamic. Static parts are necessary for story telling (scene to adjust correct time "After several hours they have arrived in town middle of nowhere").

Dynamic parts are required for other events appear only certain phase of the day (and skills effected by day phase). I have also dynamic weather system which will ALSO affect NPC dialogues, skills and events. I'm working currently on my 'NPC scheduler' -plugin which will allow NPC to be in day phase / weather bound places (and doing what ever they do).

EDIT: Here is sneak peak of NPC Scheduler
 
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definite_lee

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I have planned to have time system which is mostly dynamic. Static parts are necessary for story telling (scene to adjust correct time "After several hours they have arrived in town middle of nowhere").

Dynamic parts are required for other events appear only certain phase of the day (and skills effected by day phase). I have also dynamic weather system which will ALSO affect NPC dialogues, skills and events. I'm working currently on my 'NPC scheduler' -plugin which will allow NPC to be in day phase / weather bound places (and doing what ever they do).

EDIT: Here is sneak peak of NPC Scheduler
That plugin looks awesome. It sure looks like it will make having dynamic NPCs easier to manage! Looking forward to trying it.
 

Cythera

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I originally implemented a day/night cycle solely for immersion - an 'oh, look, fancy!' sort of mindset, which isn't a great reason to put time and resources into a feature. Now, I use a day/night cycle for more tangible things, such as skills. One character has a set of skills with bonus effects if used in the proper time period - boosted damage, instant use, increased critical rate, etc. The skills mesh well with her character and class, and put a little bit of strategy outside of battles - challenge the boss now or wait until night for boosted damage?
Another purpose is for plot and pacing. No, you can't break into this high-security building until night. Take the time to do some shopping, or side quests in town. I find a day/night cycle a useful tool for slowing down pacing a bit and preventing non-stop action that could wear a player out.
On that, I think it's important to not 'time-lock' a player. Regardless if the game uses real time or in-game time, don't force the player the idle around and wait. If they are done everything in that area, or don't want to do anything that area, they shouldn't have to stand there waiting. Offering an option to sleep or pass the time quickly is important. A day/night cycle is a feature, and features should add to gameplay, not hinder it.
Also, NPC speech should reflect the time - "It's a lovely day!" said at night is a touch odd!
 

CraneSoft

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I used a basic deadline system for story progression (Complete "X" before the aforementioned Date!) so time management is being a core aspect of the game mechanics - with the Day/Night cycle being the pillar to support that feature. Needless to say, an option to pass the time quickly is compulsory so the player doesn't have to sit around and wait after doing what they needed to do.

As for what the Day/Night cycle brings to the table? Everything you could come up with your creative imaginations.
 

Aesica

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My game uses a day/night system, and here's what it affects so far:
  • Certain events visible/invisible. As in, townsfolk, pets, etc out and about during the day, but everyone is mostly gone (or different people are out) at night.
  • Access to some areas is restricted based on time of day. You can't go into most shops or homes at night. You can't go into a seedy nightclub during the day.
  • Certain story events are intended to happen at certain times. For example, when raiding a compound, one party member will suggest waiting for nightfall before proceeding. Likewise, staying at an inn always adjusts the time to mid morning.
As for showing NPCs retreating to their homes at night, I actually just stop time on any map that isn't the overworld. I do this not only to make things easier on me as a developer, but also for the player experience. I can see it being annoying if a player is about to enter the weapon shop, but when they're a few tiles away from the door, their gameplay is interrupted with, "WHAT A HORRIBLE NIGHT TO HAVE A CURSE!" At which point yeah, the door locks and they're stuck waiting until daytime.

As for things I still want to add to the system, it's really just encounters. I want different enemies out (in outside maps, anyway) during the day vs during the night, but that's easy enough to add.
 

Akiyama

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Originally, in Heart of the Bone Witch, I had it switch day->night using an in game timer. I moved away from that, since it was finicky getting it to seem right and not move too fast or too slow (like DQ3's was too fast, DQ5's too slow, etc). So now I have it change night->day day->night based on events in game and using a tent or spending the night at an inn.

For example, you use a tent at night or go to the inn at night, when you wake up it's morning. If you go in the day (or use a tent during the day), you wake up and it's night

Then I have it so things change at night- doors locked, some people go to sleep. Shops and inns are open late, but they have different people working and say different things, etc. Certain doors only appear at night, certain items only work at night or in a dark cave (a lantern that shows hidden paths, for example).
 

hannahestar

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Hello! I'd like to open up a discussion into designing day/night systems in your game. This is not to talk about how to do it, (i.e. with plugins, or events) but rather a topic on what sort of considerations and design choices you would make when designing a day/night time system in your game.

For example, in my game Naima's Melody, we are looking to implement a day/night system which will dictate the appearance and availability of certain events, enemies, quests, shops, etc. One thing I'm weighing is that I want the NPCs in the world to retreat into their homes at a certain time. I'm not sure if I would try to show them moving into their homes, or simplify the process by having a screen appear that says something like "Night Time" and have all the NPCs/events disappear in the mean time before the screen fades back to the game.

So what sort of things have you done or would you do when designing a day/night cycle in your game?
I've been having to make sleeping images for all of my townspeople because when you walk in a house at night, they're not just still walking around... it's made everything take twice as long, but is SO MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE.

It really feels immersive to have the atmosphere change at night.

But also like Aesica I stop time on maps that are not the overworld.... thus keeping people from disappearing and appearing in bed.... there is a lot of thought that goes into this... and a lot of variables, but I'm having a ton of fun.
 

Failivrin

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I think it would be important to give the player limited control of the time system. Tents and inns to skip nighttime are good ideas, but I would also want an item or ability to skip daytime. It would also be fun to see NPCs who change completely at night; for example, a town where the population become werewolves or mind-slaves to the local sorcerer who infiltrates their dreams. This way, you can work the day/night cycle into the story.
 

daheji

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A for the control of time by the player, one thing I like from the Witcher 3 is the possibility to meditate and skip time. You can skip to night or morning, which is very convenient for quests that are only available after a certain time.

Same for Zelda BOTW where Link can skip time by sitting next to a campfire. Very convenient when you need to farm those dragon scales.

Also, in BOTW, people and monsters are sleeping at night! Which lets Link sneak upon monsters in their camp and stealthily kill them. I really like this aspect of the game.

Animal Crossing New Horizons has a day/night cycle with many different events like insects or fish that only appear at a certain time or some NPC that can only appear a certain time at night.

What I would like to see more often in a game is the possibility to go out in the evening and have parties or having a date or having a drink with your friends. Night time in the cities nowadays are as lively as day time, if not more since most people are not working but trying to have fun or enjoying their free time.
 

Aesica

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Since my game basically full-heals after each battle with the exception of the lone MP user (she has lots of ways to self-sustain MP anyway) I've basically given inns this role. If it's daytime, you can pay to stay until evening or morning of the next day. If it's night, you can pay to stay until morning of the next day.
 

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