What are your thoughts on Day & Night systems in RPGs?

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sticky-runes
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What are your thoughts on Day & Night systems in RPGs?

Postby sticky-runes » Sun Sep 09, 2018 6:19 pm

I'm sure there's a more geeky word used to describe it, but I'm just wondering what do you guys think of role-playing games that have a system where day changes to night during gameplay, and is it something you would like to have seen implemented into the Suikoden series, or are you just glad we never had to put up with any of that stuff?

I think on the one hand, it does present some beautiful visuals when you can see different parts of a game's world rendered at different times of day. You get to see some dramatic sunsets or sunrises in a village or atop a mountain, and towns look different draped in darkness with lights shining in the windows, and you may see some "nightlife" with fireflies and moths flying around where usually you'd see butterflies and bees during the day, or you might hear an owl hooting and crickets chirping in the darkness instead of hearing birds singing and villagers chatting in the marketplace.

But then, it is a pain in the ass when you show up in town and all the shops have closed for the night, so you either have to find a place to sleep or stand around waiting like a lemon until the townsfolk wake up. It's not exactly convenient for those times in a video game when you just want to do a bit of crafting or make a bit of money. There are some games where certain enemies, such as undead, will rise to attack during the night, and vanish during daylight hours.

In all Suikoden games, we only get to see certain locations at sunset or after dusk during specific storyline events. If you're looking to use trading posts or temper weapons and buy armour and runes for your many characters, you don't ever have to worry about shops being shut unless you're at a point in the storyline where it dictates that you have to progress with the story to enable a shop to become accessible again. It has worked out all right for the Suikoden series to not have a day-night system.

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Re: What are your thoughts on Day & Night systems in RPGs?

Postby Pyriel » Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:05 pm

It depends.

I can't imagine an Elder Scrolls game without a day/night cycle, even though the primary change is locked doors and different insects. The NPCs having schedules beyond walking the same area perpetually, bumping into things, adds character to the world that I often don't think about, but I'd miss it if it went away. Then there are games along the lines of Majora's Mask (not exactly an RPG) where the passage of time and the NPC schedules are core elements of the gameplay. Even if it's solely or largely for atmosphere, it's fine in games like that as long as you can fast-forward the cycle, and there's always something to do.

On the other hand, you have games like Shenmue (which I never finished), where you literally have to wait while the in-game clock advances. The consensus there seems to be that time was a good component to introduce, but forcing players to watch paint dry while it elapsed was a daft idea. I guess they added in a "wait" option for the sequel, which would help. I don't know that it would completely fix it, though. I've played a number of indie games the last few years that try to have scheduling and time as core mechanics, and you inevitably end up at a point where everything is happening at around the same time on the same weekday. You either have to waste time across several weeks to do everything, or use a "wait" feature to skip ahead. I think that's the worst possible example of using time as a mechanic. It's just there exclusively because it seems realistic to the maker. And why wouldn't an NPC only pop up at the lake one particular Saturday in spring?

In JRPGs I've mainly seen it used for the Zelda-like feature where different enemies show up at night, or certain places are only dangerous or more dangerous at night. That can be fine, but it's something I usually find a little tedious. It's also the sort of feature that developers sometimes seem to lose enthusiasm for as the game goes on. I've played a few games where the first area had nearly all the enemies replaced when you went out at night, and then towards the end, it was one or two replacements, and one might only be a palette swap or a buffed version of an enemy that shows up during the day. They tend to couple this with rearranging the more-or-less static NPCs in town, or having "shady characters" appear, and that always makes me sigh a bit. JRPGs have always had this thing where you need to talk with hundreds of unnamed, uninteresting people on the off chance one of them has something useful to say, or somehow gives you the rusty iron stick that will unlock the ultimate sword 50 hours down the line. Multiplying that by changing how people behave during the day, or adding new characters at different times, makes it a little much for me.

I just got Dragon Quest XI this weekend, and it has that sort of JRPG day/night cycle. The first place I tried it, the only thing I noticed was that the bats (drakees) showed up more frequently at night. Everything else was the same. So it seems like a bit of a bolt-on that doesn't serve much purpose thus far. I'm not sure if the towns change yet. I'm also not sure if there's anything to other times of day. It seems like there are natural transitions, based on play-time—at least that's what I gathered from the camera suddenly pointing up into the floor of the bridge I was under, and the sky suddenly going dark—but when you rest to pass time there are options for dawn, noon, dusk, and night. As soon as I saw that, I thought, "I hope this isn't going to be total bullshit", because I was envisioning having to search around the map at all four times, trying to find the one enemy that drops blue pearls or whatever, so I can make keys to open chests or something. That was before I saw that time progressed naturally, if rather abruptly, so hopefully it won't live up to my worst fears.

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Re: What are your thoughts on Day & Night systems in RPGs?

Postby Wolkendrache » Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:45 pm

I could imagine a simple form of it: There are only 2 modes, day and night, and you can switch them in inns or via camp option on the world map. Other than the visual differences, there would be a different bestiary at night, characters which can only be recruited in a certain mode, quests that can only be done in a certain mode, and some characters that get boni/penalties. Like in Balsdurs Gate 2 but more simplified. Anything more, like displaying a whole clock (like in Vandal Hearts 2 for example) or counting the days or a state of exhaustion would be unnecessary for Suikoden imo.

In general, I've only played very few games with a day/night cycle, so it felt "fresh", I liked it. It allowed for some illogical stuff, but I don't care too much as long as gameplay doesn't suffer from it.
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Re: What are your thoughts on Day & Night systems in RPGs?

Postby borjitasstoi » Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:45 am

simply i like it makes the game more dynamic and feels how time passes

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Re: What are your thoughts on Day & Night systems in RPGs?

Postby sticky-runes » Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:58 am

Pyriel wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:05 pm

I can't imagine an Elder Scrolls game without a day/night cycle, even though the primary change is locked doors and different insects. The NPCs having schedules beyond walking the same area perpetually, bumping into things, adds character to the world that I often don't think about, but I'd miss it if it went away.
The day/night cycle in Elder Scrolls is particularly effective if you are playing a thief type role and you want to sneak into a person's house during daylight hours while he's at work so you can steal whatever objects you are after, or if you're playing an assassin and you want to sneak into your target's house and kill him while he's sleeping and avoid doing it in broad daylight when there are witnesses and guards around. So if you're playing a criminal you get the opportunity to be a bit creative and plan out your strategy for completing a quest.

Whereas if you're playing a do-gooder who wants to stay on the right side of the law, then that means having to find something else to do to fill the hours before the shops open or the NPC you want to talk to wakes up. Head to the inn and listen to the bard playing the same three songs on a loop or go outside and do a bit of night hunting. Otherwise, "Waiting" and "Sleeping" become frequent actions, which doesn't exactly make the game fun.

One thing that irks me is that a lot of farmers and townsfolk in skyrim keep their houses locked up for most of the day so its practically impossible to get into their homes without trespassing, unless they've gone on a lunch break or something. Yet you can freely wander around the jarl's quarters during the night and the guards won't bat an eyelid. castles and great halls are open 24/7 even though they're meant to be the most secure locations in each town.

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Re: What are your thoughts on Day & Night systems in RPGs?

Postby AlOnZo » Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:50 pm

My first memory of it was in Pokemon Gold/Silver. At the time it was great for those games having that option of recruiting certain pokemon during different parts of the day. Though I can't remember if there were any plot points it affected.


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