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TOPIC: The importance of light and darkness in Embers Adrift

Elloa

Administrator
Stormhaven Studios
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Hey friends!

This week we will be discussing the importance of light and darkness in Embers Adrift. We are not speaking metaphorically here, nor an artistic point of view. Though those two aspects will enter into the discussion. The main focus however, is GAMEPLAY!

Those of you who have taken part in our Alpha tests, or those of you that have seen our old videos, are already aware that night and day will have impactful importance in our game. Night is much more than an atmospheric cosmetic feature. Adventuring at night will be vastly different from adventuring during the day time. We want you to be scared of the sun setting if you are lost in the wild far away from the safety of the road. We want you to be scared, because it's dark and you may lose your way, you may lose track of your friends’ locations, or your torch may run out. And in the night, new dangers are roaming.

With our new enhanced graphics the atmosphere of the day is even more colourful and peaceful than before. Our lands have a softness that inspires a relaxing feeling, and the sun's rays are reassuring.

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We want to break that feeling of safety as the night is falling, and we want the adventurers to make a conscious choice whether they continue to venture forth, or if they stay within the safety of the outposts. Note that about a full 24 hours in game is 113 real-world minutes and the dark of night lasts roughly 40 minutes.

At night, the lands are truly dark, unless bathed in the moonlight. Players will need torches or lanterns to find their way as the lack of mini map or a compass will not allow them to artificially find their way. They will have to observe the land, and when the night is falling, the land looks much different.

Navigating is the first challenge to face during the night and is not something to underestimate. As this may bring unexpected adventures and mishaps. The unprepared group may find themselves in trouble, separated and struggling against creatures they did not expect to meet. A fallen player will need to recover their bag and inventory, and without the daylight this will bring its own difficulty, though we have added features to help you locate your friends or your bag if you are nearby.

All those challenges are brought by the simple addition of darkness. With obscure darkness everything becomes more challenging and dangerous. This is meant to affect the way players play the game, make their decisions, and prepare themselves for their adventures.

What is your take on this? Is it something you are excited about, or suspicious of? Share with us your feelings concerning the importance of light and darkness in our game.
 

Kittik

Member
I know personnally I afk during night. It's too dark and without any type of navigational aid it has usually just turned into me getting myself lost and frustrated.
 

Rev

Member
I look at it as a challenge to find ways to get around without relying on light. Looking for landmarks in the skyline, following mountain walls, etc. Worst case you stay on the path and, for the most part, your usually safe (not always though..lol) Sure, I get on wrong paths, do circles in the woods and get eaten by things that go bump in the night. It can make it exciting and fun. Travelling in groups at night is always better, but sometimes it's fun to just go it alone, even if just to go mining. I 100% like the darkness. The only catch is who carries the torch or how do you deal with that aspect of things.
 

Dalton

Active Member
I know personnally I afk during night. It's too dark and without any type of navigational aid it has usually just turned into me getting myself lost and frustrated.
If I am not in a group, I’d do the same honestly. I just don’t have the desire to try and navigate myself around the dark unless I 100% know where I am and where I need to go. If I am out gathering stuff I’ll just head back before it gets to dark and wait it out. Darkness for me in a game is cool and all, but loses its cool factor after getting lost a couple times. Then it becomes an annoyance that interrupts my gameplay. But I can see the place for it in a game like this where going off on your own is not very beneficial. If roads are well lit and random campfires throughout the areas. Then it is manageable.
 

Lexasius

New Member
I play Euro Truck Simulator 2 sometimes where darkness plays a huge part. For me it's 30% of the experience of the game alone. And it isn't just cosmetic. You actually have to be more aware during that time just like driving irl.
I love the idea of the darkness in an MMORPG. In games like WoW it doesn't affect gameplay and it's not really dark.
 

Dalton

Active Member
I play Euro Truck Simulator 2 sometimes where darkness plays a huge part. For me it's 30% of the experience of the game alone. And it isn't just cosmetic. You actually have to be more aware during that time just like driving irl.
I love the idea of the darkness in an MMORPG. In games like WoW it doesn't affect gameplay and it's not really dark.
I enjoy how in WoW the darkness is not truly dark. As someone who has to play most games with my brightness turned down low or with "Night mode" on for my eyes. I appreciate the look of night in wow without it making it hard for my to actually play the game. But in WoW where you do not have a torch or such to pull out, you can not make a truly dark area for the players.
 

Aetrion

Member
I personally love darkness as a game mechanic when a game really puts an emphasis on it. Having many different ways to produce light, having enemies react to light, having to put lights on your person out when you want to hide, creating traps by putting a static light source somewhere that can illuminate enemies that investigate it while you stay hidden etc. Those are all extremely cool mechanics.

When exploring ancient tombs or cave systems that shouldn't have any illumination I would definitely like to see them in the game. Having monsters that react to light differently would also be awesome. Maybe some monsters that dwell in the darkness are blind, and don't see light, maybe some are drawn by it and can be avoided by turning it off, and maybe some fear it and can be held at bay with a lamp.

However, there is one giant elephant in the room when it comes to light based mechanics: Day/Night cycles make this kind of mechanic obnoxious to deal with in MMORPGs. Simply put: having no control over whether or not it's night or day during your play session makes people who love fully realized night mechanics unable to primarily play at ingame-night, and makes people who don't like dealing with darkness unable to primarily play at ingame-day. Having the game switch from one to the other rapidly in the middle of a play session is also obnoxious, because you can never meaningfully plan for which light conditions you will encounter.

That's why I have always maintained that day/night cycles in MMORPGs are one of the worst inventions and should be done away with. Instead the game should have two instances of its world. One during daytime, and one during night time that people can switch between by sleeping in a bed or a camp. Once you can actually choose if you want to play during the day or during the night the game can start doing all kinds of crazy things with the concept of night without forcing people to engage with those mechanics.

During night time all the shops in town could be closed, but offer opportunities for thieves and burglars to engage in their craft, with guards roaming around trying to stop them. There could be a greater emphasis on lawlessness and PvP in general during the night when darkness hides your crimes. There could be monsters that only roam around at night, that aren't found during the day and vice versa. Light mechanics could also be a full blown aspect of the game during night time and heavily influence how you play.

The crucial element that needs to be in place before you can actually make night into a real experience that deviates drastically from daytime gameplay is giving people the ability to choose if their character is active during the day or at night. Simply putting two drastically different game modes on a timer and having them switch off willy nilly is too disruptive to be fun, and because of that all games with day/night cycles have a tendency to make night just a slightly more blue day with a different skybox. The ony MMO that experimented with this was Age of Conan, where you could switch the tutorial instance between day and night mode depending on whether you wanted to sneak around to do objectives at night (solo play) or cut a bloody swath through the enemy soldiers with a group in broad daylight. I think that was a brilliant idea, and it's a shame that no other game has really run with that concept and expanded on it.
 
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Lexasius

New Member
I enjoy how in WoW the darkness is not truly dark. As someone who has to play most games with my brightness turned down low or with "Night mode" on for my eyes. I appreciate the look of night in wow without it making it hard for my to actually play the game. But in WoW where you do not have a torch or such to pull out, you can not make a truly dark area for the players.
I really enjoy WoW as well. I just like the idea of getting another experience which requires another mindset :)
 

Leyaa

New Member
Light and darkness in MMORPGs for me is a double edged sword.
I like having a day and night cycle. It makes the game more immersive, more realistic. It is also great for taking memorable screenshots. It's great for roleplay as well. I like it when stores are closed at night, if towns get less busy during the night, if the atmosphere gets a more mysterious touch. It opens up the possibility for thieving and smuggling activities.
I know many RPGs that have a day and night cycle, where those things really enhance the atmosphere.

I think its generally a cool thing if a light and darkness impacts your adventure out in the wild. For example, having different animals and creatures when it is dark (owl, vampires, etc.), maybe more dangerous ones, using a torch to light the way, the danger of being robbed/attacked by brigands during the night, etc.

Light and darkness can also really benefit the atmosphere of say a cavern you're exploring, a small room or even how the sun light reflects on the water surface. You can play around with ounces of darkness and light to let the players feel much more immersed.
I remember the night and day cycle the most in Lord of the Rings Online. The atmosphere at night was great, the star looked very beautiful. But sometimes I wish I had a torch to light my way. The night was too dark in my opinion. There were very few quests where you had to wait for the night to come. I remember something about a Hobbit who wanted to imitate a dark rider (Nazgul), which could only be completed at night. But overall, the day and night cycles weren't used very much. It's best uses are for the immersion (and taking a lovely screenshot here and there).

I am not sure if all aspects of light and darkness - especially for day and night cycles - work so well for MMORPGs.
In RPGs you can simply adjust the time to your needs. If I have to wait in an MMORPG for a certain creature to appear or a shop to open for 40 minutes or something like that, that is quite frustrating. I think it is important to take care of those things, as it can easily be a disruptive experience.
I am also one of those players with very few oriental skills. Not having a mini map is frightening enough (though I understand why you chose to do this), but being lost in the dark and not finding my way for many occasions will possibly result in a very frustrating experience for me.
 

Alice_Bluu

New Member
This is one of my favorite things about the game. In the future I intend to use the night to do the group gathering and coordinating, crafting, preparing stuff for adventuring groups.
I recall one of the sessions a few years ago where we all ventured out into a new area and ran into i believe it was a giant troll? in the dark. Premium gaming experience right there. Trying to figgure out where everyone is and whats around us while defending an attack in the middle of the night in uncharted territory.
With a steady day/night cycle we can track and adjust to I believe we will see players adventuring at night only after through preparations. It is also my hope that we will see plenty of things to do at central locations like taverns and towns during the night.
Though i have really crappy vision so brightness and contrast adjusters are a must have for me so that i am not straining my eyes the entire time causing me to only be able to play for short periods of time.
 

Ranarius

New Member
Very excited about this idea! Day and night SHOULD be different in a dangerous world. Looking forward to seeing it for myself when the opportunity arrises!
 

Elloa

Administrator
Stormhaven Studios
This discussion is very interesting and I thank you all for participating to it and adding your point of view.
As darkness IS going to be an important aspect of our game, we need to set it up right, so it creates atmosphere and gameplay/communities opportunities that are enjoyable and not a boring constraint.

So keep it comin' guys! ;D
 

Ariatras

Member
A little bit late to the party. But I enjoy darkness. It can change the whole dynamic of a game. Especially if the outside world is dangerous, It can add a little bit of horror and excitement. Plus one has to sacrifice a possible gearslot to carry a lantern. It can be so immersive. Caves will be so much more exciting to explore. Especially when a world is dynamic, without set spawnpoints.
I'm a huge fan of darkness being part of the gameplay and forcing a different approach.
 

fattywompus

New Member
Hello all, new here and haven't played the alpha or anything but would like to echo those in favor of the dark night and any immersive things that can come of it. I'd like to add while it can be an inconvenience if you're playing in such a way that you have some agenda you need to get done in game, I find whem I'm playing in that mindset I'm deviating from why I play games like this in the first place. I don't start playing a game to make work for myself or check things off a to-do list. I want to be immersed in a world and go on adventures. I didn't play EQ back in the old days but I've played P99. Rolled a human 1st and barbarian 2nd just for that no night sight experience and immediately fell in love with the heightened awareness it brought about. Once you're established in game and have your light source and some spares in the bank it's not a huge deal and just adds immersion to the night or dark places. And the times in early game you're stuck with no light somewhere it forces you to stop and soak in the surroundings and sounds. Maybe chat with some fellow adventurers waiting out the night or make a new friend with a lantern. Or brave your way by the moonlit horizon. Either way things just went from routine to interesting. And there's generally light in towns. Maybe shops being closed and danger outside the gates draws the unprepared into a tavern or a craft hall. And I love the ideas others have suggested about the potential for mobs to be more dangerous at night, or some being drawn to or repelled by the light. The night is dark and full of terrors. Can't wait :)
 

Elloa

Administrator
Stormhaven Studios
Hello all, new here and haven't played the alpha or anything but would like to echo those in favor of the dark night and any immersive things that can come of it. I'd like to add while it can be an inconvenience if you're playing in such a way that you have some agenda you need to get done in game, I find whem I'm playing in that mindset I'm deviating from why I play games like this in the first place. I don't start playing a game to make work for myself or check things off a to-do list. I want to be immersed in a world and go on adventures. I didn't play EQ back in the old days but I've played P99. Rolled a human 1st and barbarian 2nd just for that no night sight experience and immediately fell in love with the heightened awareness it brought about. Once you're established in game and have your light source and some spares in the bank it's not a huge deal and just adds immersion to the night or dark places. And the times in early game you're stuck with no light somewhere it forces you to stop and soak in the surroundings and sounds. Maybe chat with some fellow adventurers waiting out the night or make a new friend with a lantern. Or brave your way by the moonlit horizon. Either way things just went from routine to interesting. And there's generally light in towns. Maybe shops being closed and danger outside the gates draws the unprepared into a tavern or a craft hall. And I love the ideas others have suggested about the potential for mobs to be more dangerous at night, or some being drawn to or repelled by the light. The night is dark and full of terrors. Can't wait :)
What you are describe fit really well top our intentions with light & darkness design!!
 

Kittik

Member
Offer a heritage quest that is extensive and the reward is an equippable item that grans a degree of night vision. No other good stats, do it's only advantage is night sight.
 

Kaerwin

Member
I have always maintained that day/night cycles in MMORPGs are one of the worst inventions and should be done away with.
Yes. I've played games in which certain activities can be done only at night or only during the day, and my experience with them is that sitting around waiting for the sun to rise or set is only slightly more interesting than watching paint dry. Therefore I'd certainly favour being able to choose whether it's day or night, rather than having to wait for day or night to roll around.
 

Cedrych Skye

New Member
I prefer a day/night cycle and for there to be actual differences in monster spawns, etc. I also prefer realistic darkness levels that create a reliance on light sources. I have no problem with some activities only being available day or night and not both. As long as there are plenty of activities to choose from and they're not gatekeeping me from achieving a main story goal or something.