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Make Day and Night actually MATTER and be FUNCTIONAL


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Most RPGs seem to have a significant problem with this whole day/night concept. Oh, sure, there will be changing light levels, and at night it's dark, but there are still numerous manifest absurdities like:

 

1. When you travel between areas, you walk all day and all night, sometimes for days, until you arrive at your destination, usually at 3 am, and always EXHAUSTED if the game (Baldur's Gate, imma lookin' at you) has a fatigue mechanic.

2. Stores close in towns but in non-town areas everybody apparently stays awake and alert at all hours, just in case someone wanders by in need of a quest or some dialog.

3. Day and night last EXACTLY THE SAME LENGTH OF TIME.

4. The rest system is set for you to either rest a set amount of time (wasteful), or to rest a certain number of hours, making you do math in order to not waste valuable daylight hours.

 

So, here's some suggested fixes:

 

1. Travel times should assume that you will stop when it gets dark and not resume until it gets light. If you really want to go nuts, there could be a "forced march" option (assuming that there are any times when it actually matters whether it takes you 14 hours or 24 to get from point A. to point B., if there aren't, who cares). This will also mean that you will arrive at your destination DURING THE DAY. Granted, it might be like, 2 minutes from nightfall, in which case, yeah, it makes sense that your party would be fatigued on arrival. But this should be pretty dang rare.

2. Areas other than towns should be different during the day and during the night. Anyone here play the Quest for Glory games? Wasn't it cool how, if you went wandering around outside town at night, you'd get jumped by much nastier creatures, and other odd night-related things would happen? Yeah. More that, please. There's no reason why the day/night change just has to involve it being darker or lighter or oranger outside. You could have weird mystical glows show up around ancient ruins. Nocturnal animals could come out. People could make camp and get some sleep.

3. This is not true anywhere on Earth except for 2 days a year. It can't possibly be that hard to code a variable day length based on the time of year. Also, changing seasons would be really, really, incredibly, awesome. Indescribably awesome, and this is something you could actually do reasonably well with this kind of game setup. I'd suggest having some transition animations (like the day/night cinematic in Baldur's Gate), but that don't just do day/night transitions but also seasonal transitions. Generally when there's a big seasonal transition, there's a change in the weather that results in thunderstorms/rain/snowstorms/a hurricane. I'd be perfectly happy and I think maybe a lot of other people would be, too, if when it comes time for the seasons to change, you get a little popup about it being the "first snow of the year" and then it switches to the snow-covered area version. The more subtle seasonal changes (spring-summer, summer-autumn) could be handled pretty easily with just some palette color swaps on trees and (maybe) grass.

4. Let us rest until "time of day" (dawn, noon, nightfall, midnight) instead of a set number of hours or a chosen number of hours. And for chrissakes have the stores open at dawn and close at dusk instead of, like, 9am as in Oblivion or Skyrim. That was bloody annoying. Or just let us sell our stuff (maybe for crappy prices, hah) at the taverns, they're open all night anyway.

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Grand Rhetorist of the Obsidian Order

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Awesome, great post PsychoBlonde and great points :D

 

I posted my thoughts in the other Day/Night thread, more information/ideas there too.

 

1. Travel times could be dependent on your Stamina? Could you get a "Camp interface" if your Stamina goes low where you get to interact with Companions/Rest/Get Ambushed/Craft etc. etc.. Is Stamina a time based resource? (I saw some people talk about "sense of urgency" when I made the collection thread*see signature, which a constant stamina loss could represent (only replenished by resting or healing stamina)).

 

2. Agreed.

 

3-4. Agreed :D

Edited by Osvir
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1. Travel times should assume that you will stop when it gets dark and not resume until it gets light. If you really want to go nuts, there could be a "forced march" option (assuming that there are any times when it actually matters whether it takes you 14 hours or 24 to get from point A. to point B., if there aren't, who cares). This will also mean that you will arrive at your destination DURING THE DAY. Granted, it might be like, 2 minutes from nightfall, in which case, yeah, it makes sense that your party would be fatigued on arrival. But this should be pretty dang rare.

 

HELLO Daggerfall.

 

2. Areas other than towns should be different during the day and during the night. Anyone here play the Quest for Glory games? Wasn't it cool how, if you went wandering around outside town at night, you'd get jumped by much nastier creatures, and other odd night-related things would happen? Yeah.

 

I'm mostly against that. If you cannot control the time at which you'd arrive in a wilderness area, you'd be rewarded for dumb luck if you get there during the day. If you can control it, it would mostly just make grinding easier, probably. You could be forced to sometimes be outside during the night, but I don't think that it should make a huge difference (as the daytime would have to be significantly safer).

 

When I was a kid I loved Ultima VII's day/ night system, with NPC schedules etc. Nowadays I think that's mostly a nuisance. Looking for an NPC? Tough luck, they could be anywhere at night. Arriving during the daytime when you needed someone to be healed would again reward dumb luck. And if you're playing agaist the clock, waiting around for the shops to open is just another inconvenience.

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Changing seasons would be awesome, I agree, but also completely superfluous and time/resource consuming.

How many people would even experience the full benefits of changing seasons considering how long it takes for seasons to change?

 

I like many of the day/night ideas you have.

Night should also be more dangerous than day, ala Witcher, which makes travel a strategic decision.

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My main complaint about day/night cycles in games is that they are always too short. I know, you don't want a game-day to actually be real-time 24 hours. But days/nights that last 10 minutes are just ... silly. I don't care if they're scaled relative to the size of the game forest you're marching around in - I still find it irritating to see the sun rise then I march around the forest for 10-15 minutes, and suddenly it's dark.

 

I can (and do) live with it, but ... yeah, it's always annoyed me. Not that this is helpful to your nice topic post. I'm just griping. :lol:

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tNQXwjAlI0

 

In all seriousness, the glaring problem with day/night cycles is that either it's just aesthetic to add to realism or it mechanically restricts content to one period or the other. If you're restricting content to day or night you're then either going to have to add a "wait/rest" function so players can actually get to the content they're aiming for or you make them wait in real time, which is just a waste of everyone's time.

 

Changing seasons would be awesome, I agree, but also completely superfluous and time/resource consuming.

How many people would even experience the full benefits of changing seasons considering how long it takes for seasons to change?

 

I like many of the day/night ideas you have.

Night should also be more dangerous than day, ala Witcher, which makes travel a strategic decision.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (good god those games need to be remade,) for Gameboy Color's basic novel mechanic was the ability to change the seasons at will, with the entire game world depicted in all four seasons. The gameplay obviously centered on changing the seasons to access different areas and solve puzzles.

 

And yes, in general, night should be more dangerous than day, unless you're a nocturnal predatory animal such as a bat or a panther.

Edited by AGX-17
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3. This is not true anywhere on Earth except for 2 days a year. It can't possibly be that hard to code a variable day length based on the time of year. Also, changing seasons would be really, really, incredibly, awesome. Indescribably awesome, and this is something you could actually do reasonably well with this kind of game setup. I'd suggest having some transition animations (like the day/night cinematic in Baldur's Gate), but that don't just do day/night transitions but also seasonal transitions. Generally when there's a big seasonal transition, there's a change in the weather that results in thunderstorms/rain/snowstorms/a hurricane. I'd be perfectly happy and I think maybe a lot of other people would be, too, if when it comes time for the seasons to change, you get a little popup about it being the "first snow of the year" and then it switches to the snow-covered area version. The more subtle seasonal changes (spring-summer, summer-autumn) could be handled pretty easily with just some palette color swaps on trees and (maybe) grass.

 

Many Fantasy RPGs have their own world and on that planet the day/night cycle might be equally long all the year.

Regarding Seasons, I'd say most games have a too short in-game time span to cover several seasons with normal game play. And if so adding seasons will be a lot of money that wont even be seen on most playthroughs and could therefor have been spent on other things.

 

Thumbs Up for your other points though.

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Agree with all except number 3; that one seems an unnecessary level of detail. Unless the latitude is of specific importance to the story, an average day length should do fine in most circumstances.

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I'm mostly against that. If you cannot control the time at which you'd arrive in a wilderness area, you'd be rewarded for dumb luck if you get there during the day. If you can control it, it would mostly just make grinding easier, probably. You could be forced to sometimes be outside during the night, but I don't think that it should make a huge difference (as the daytime would have to be significantly safer).

 

When I was a kid I loved Ultima VII's day/ night system, with NPC schedules etc. Nowadays I think that's mostly a nuisance. Looking for an NPC? Tough luck, they could be anywhere at night. Arriving during the daytime when you needed someone to be healed would again reward dumb luck. And if you're playing agaist the clock, waiting around for the shops to open is just another inconvenience.

 

Having areas be different during the day and night dovetails very nicely with you always arriving in the day and being able to "sleep until dark"--so you can explore the area on purpose during both the day and the night.

 

Gothic had great NPC schedules--they'd be doing their stuff but they were always around the same location so they were still easy to find, and the little houses didn't have doors (there was ONE, count it ONE area transition in the ENTIRE GAME) so if they were inside sleeping you could actually stand in the door way and shout at them to wake them up. Now, if they have schedules like in Oblivion where people will randomly walk halfway across the map every couple of days, yeah, that sucks. You NEEDED the quest helper to find people in that game. In Gothic, you didn't. (Gothic also was much more exploration-based so there were a lot fewer quests that involved repeatedly talking to the same person.)

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Regarding Seasons, I'd say most games have a too short in-game time span to cover several seasons with normal game play. And if so adding seasons will be a lot of money that wont even be seen on most playthroughs and could therefor have been spent on other things.

 

Most of my playthroughs of Baldur's Gate take at least 150 in-game days, which should be at least one if not two seasonal transitions. PE is going to be a bigger game, AND if they use a resting mechanic that's not centered around 8 hours, plus having the augmented travel times, it'll probably take significantly longer. It's not a hugely expensive thing if you design for it from the beginning--all you have to do is have a palette swap for trees and grass and a snowy version with a couple of snow piles, and they're already talking about having background animations and so forth. You just make it so that in the "spring", the grass is a lighter green and some of the trees have white/pink/purple flowers on them, with speckles of color on the grass. In the summer, everything is a deeper green. In fall, you get orange and gold colors. It doesn't have to be this huge complex thing in order to look really cool--in fact, it'll probably look better if it's more subtle. Put in a few party comments like "ooh, it's cold this morning" or "gonna be a hot day" and you have a functioning season system for very little effort. You can even drastically reduce the effort by having only a few areas with significant deciduous foliage, and tons of evergreens of all sorts.

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3. This is not true anywhere on Earth except for 2 days a year. It can't possibly be that hard to code a variable day length based on the time of year. Also, changing seasons would be really, really, incredibly, awesome. Indescribably awesome, and this is something you could actually do reasonably well with this kind of game setup. I'd suggest having some transition animations (like the day/night cinematic in Baldur's Gate), but that don't just do day/night transitions but also seasonal transitions. Generally when there's a big seasonal transition, there's a change in the weather that results in thunderstorms/rain/snowstorms/a hurricane. I'd be perfectly happy and I think maybe a lot of other people would be, too, if when it comes time for the seasons to change, you get a little popup about it being the "first snow of the year" and then it switches to the snow-covered area version. The more subtle seasonal changes (spring-summer, summer-autumn) could be handled pretty easily with just some palette color swaps on trees and (maybe) grass.

 

Seasons would be great, so long as it's balanced against gameplay time and whatever. To be honest, I would place geographical differences (climate, geology, etc.) higher than that, so I wonder if seasonal differences across geographical ranges would be easy enough to implement...

 

Weather--definitely. A night thunderstorm with a roving band of baddies would be pretty interesting.

 

And this probably won't happen, but I'd be interested in an in-game calendar as well as day cycle. Seeing effects of specific holidays--cultural, institutional, etc.--like festivals, additional quests, specific shops closed, learning more lore... (Wishful thinking, I suppose.)

 

4. Let us rest until "time of day" (dawn, noon, nightfall, midnight) instead of a set number of hours or a chosen number of hours. And for chrissakes have the stores open at dawn and close at dusk instead of, like, 9am as in Oblivion or Skyrim. That was bloody annoying. Or just let us sell our stuff (maybe for crappy prices, hah) at the taverns, they're open all night anyway.

 

Dear gods yes. Having to repeatedly mash the rest button in BG for something to happen--I forget what now--was annoying.

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Having areas be different during the day and night dovetails very nicely with you always arriving in the day and being able to "sleep until dark"--so you can explore the area on purpose during both the day and the night.

 

It would be cool if the areas would be a little different during the night, not significantly safer/ more dangerous. I'm all for strongly limiting your sight during the night though, and if that makes fighting more dangerous, so be it. Did your characters infravision or lack thereof ever make a difference in BG? I never noticed, it was definitely not more difficult to navigate or fight at night.

Edited by Sacred_Path
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Seasons would be great, so long as it's balanced against gameplay time and whatever. To be honest, I would place geographical differences (climate, geology, etc.) higher than that, so I wonder if seasonal differences across geographical ranges would be easy enough to implement...

 

Yeah, if I were going to do it, I'd concentrate it in the areas of the game people could be expected to visit over and over (towns, outlying farms, roads) and fill the other areas with evergreens, hostile rocky environments--all kinds of dramatic landscape where you wouldn't have a lot of seasonal change, and what you would have could be covered easily by changing the weather animation from "rainy" to "snowy" and MAYBE putting down a couple dabs of snow here and there for effect. If you were even smarter, you'd put in some prepared splashes of gravel or mud, and then all you'd have to do would be to palette-swap those to a white version. Probably a good 85% of it could be automated, and it'd only take some attention in those few town and road areas.

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If it adds something to the story then i'm all for it but if it's just a gimmick then it should be left out and the resources should used somewhere else.

 

I'd just like to note that not everything needs to add directly to the story in order to add significantly to the game, and having systems like these in place does allow for storytelling options that might not otherwise exist.

 

I thought Dragon Age: Origins would have been a superior game if the battle of Ostagar took place toward the end of autumn and the darkspawn advance was slowed to a crawl by the advancing winter. It would have explained why you had time to run around and do all that stuff yet it was still urgent to get it done before spring. Plus the misery of being constantly on the road during the winter would have been an interesting touch, and I think it would have been interesting to have the final battle at Denerim taking place against the background of spring greening.

 

Plus the color palette used in a lot of the game had a very autumnal or wintery feel.

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Grand Rhetorist of the Obsidian Order

If you appeal to "realism" about a video game feature, you are wrong. Go back and try again.

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I like night being more dangerous than day. I like the mechanic of playing at night to either cover more ground or doing **** more quickly having some sort of trade off like decreased stamina, increased damaged, decreased resistance to poison, scarier enemies, etc.

 

I don't think making players wait via a wait/rest option to get to content that only occurs during certain time periods is that onerous. The only time this gets really annoying is when the clock is synced up to real time, like in the Pokemon Gold/Silver games, for instance... or Animal Crossing or something like that.

 

I also like seasons. It would be cool to revisit an area in winter, fall, spring or summer. Especially if enemy types changed. Pretty good way to offer new content too, I think.

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I like night being more dangerous than day.

 

I think this should depend on where you are and what you're doing. Would it make sense for it to be more dangerous in a haunted graveyard at night? Yes. (Well, assuming undead don't like the daylight very much). Would it perhaps be SAFER to attack a stronghold of bandits at night when most of them were asleep? Probably also yes.

Grand Rhetorist of the Obsidian Order

If you appeal to "realism" about a video game feature, you are wrong. Go back and try again.

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1. No. Arriving always at day sucks. The unpredictability (day or night?) adds a lot of mood rather than always ariving 9AM prompt like your some kind of office worker.

2. This isn't TES. I doubt quest-givers just stand in wind and rain waiting for one hero to pass...

3. Why "valuable daylight hours"... night can be good too. I see an anti-night bias. I think manually setting an hour rather than having 4 options would be better... much more freedom that way, and manuvarability.

Of course seeing point 1, that's not really much wished for here... though I certainly would like to see that.

^

 

 

I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

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1. Travel times should assume that you will stop when it gets dark and not resume until it gets light. If you really want to go nuts, there could be a "forced march" option (assuming that there are any times when it actually matters whether it takes you 14 hours or 24 to get from point A. to point B., if there aren't, who cares). This will also mean that you will arrive at your destination DURING THE DAY. Granted, it might be like, 2 minutes from nightfall, in which case, yeah, it makes sense that your party would be fatigued on arrival. But this should be pretty dang rare.

Honestly don't care too much about this one, personally.

2. Areas other than towns should be different during the day and during the night. Anyone here play the Quest for Glory games? Wasn't it cool how, if you went wandering around outside town at night, you'd get jumped by much nastier creatures, and other odd night-related things would happen? Yeah. More that, please. There's no reason why the day/night change just has to involve it being darker or lighter or oranger outside. You could have weird mystical glows show up around ancient ruins. Nocturnal animals could come out. People could make camp and get some sleep.

Check. Should be a no-brainer for this game.

3. This is not true anywhere on Earth except for 2 days a year. It can't possibly be that hard to code a variable day length based on the time of year. Also, changing seasons would be really, really, incredibly, awesome. Indescribably awesome, and this is something you could actually do reasonably well with this kind of game setup. I'd suggest having some transition animations (like the day/night cinematic in Baldur's Gate), but that don't just do day/night transitions but also seasonal transitions. Generally when there's a big seasonal transition, there's a change in the weather that results in thunderstorms/rain/snowstorms/a hurricane. I'd be perfectly happy and I think maybe a lot of other people would be, too, if when it comes time for the seasons to change, you get a little popup about it being the "first snow of the year" and then it switches to the snow-covered area version. The more subtle seasonal changes (spring-summer, summer-autumn) could be handled pretty easily with just some palette color swaps on trees and (maybe) grass.

Yes, seasons PLEASE.

4. Let us rest until "time of day" (dawn, noon, nightfall, midnight) instead of a set number of hours or a chosen number of hours. And for chrissakes have the stores open at dawn and close at dusk instead of, like, 9am as in Oblivion or Skyrim. That was bloody annoying. Or just let us sell our stuff (maybe for crappy prices, hah) at the taverns, they're open all night anyway.

Yep, that's much more intuitive.

Edited by mcmanusaur
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Day/Night/Time mechanics.

 

The first thing that comes to mind is "what value does this add to the gaming experience?" Are these complex travel and day/night systems annoying and detract from the game or do they make the story richer?

 

Day vs Night

 

If handled properly this could add depth to the game. At night your team's archer sucks unless he is a nocturnal type race (drow?). Certain villains might be more powerful (vampires).

 

Travel Time

 

Again, if handled properly this could add a real sense of urgency to the game. A merchant's son is kidnapped by outlaws led by a vampire. You can assault their base immediately, and at night, in the hopes of saving him before the vampire eats him. Or you can wait until daylight when the vampire is weaker but you risk losing the kid and only being able to bring retributive justice to the villains.

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Anyone here play the Quest for Glory games? Wasn't it cool how, if you went wandering around outside town at night, you'd get jumped by much nastier creatures, and other odd night-related things would happen? Yeah. More that, please.

 

*brofist*

 

I still remember the guard closing his window as it got dark, but not going to sleep. Clear transition between night and day, I still remember the sun setting in QfG 4. Or how you could use magic in the town and break into buildings without worry. Or how the dangerous monsters came out. Etc. It was REALLY well done.

 

Speaking of which, I hate to advertise - mods can delete this if they feel it's inappropriate, but I think it's on-topic enough here, and I clearly have nothing to do with the project personally:

http://www.kickstart...e-to-redemption

 

The creators of QfG are trying to make a game with kickstarter too.

Edited by Solonik
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Changing seasons could make it take longer to complete 100% of all quests, which is something I'm in favor of. It could also provide some extra strategy (such as fire elementals being stronger in summer, but weaker in winter, so be careful what you summon) to the game.

 

But I doubt it will make it in, and if it does, then it will probably cost us climate changes based on latitude. Money and time are limited, after all.

 

I like the wait/rest systems of TES and Arcanum more then IE's "8 hours rest," but I think that was more due to the source material (D&D) then the design team.

 

Aside from that, I think if the IE games had it, it'll probably make it in, if not, I can only hope it'll make it in. Time-based mechanics are always cool.

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Changing seasons could make it take longer to complete 100% of all quests, which is something I'm in favor of. It could also provide some extra strategy (such as fire elementals being stronger in summer, but weaker in winter, so be careful what you summon) to the game.

 

True, my suggestion was largely to just have a few visual differences, but this is a neat idea. Someday, I will make a game with all this cool stuff in it.

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I think for the day/night mechanic to be worthwhile, you just need night to be significantly different from day. As some people have mentioned, perhaps certain characters (both PC and NPC) will actually BENEFIT from night. I mean, it certainly would give a stealth class a benefit. Or what if your character is just really pale? They could avoid sunburn by traveling at night. 8)

 

Joking aside, it's a point of fact that, with a game, if it serves no purpose for the game experience, then it's pretty much pointless. So, night needs to provide something not found in day. It needs to be pertinent to quests and NPC behavior in a way that directly affects the player and the gameplay, not just for realism's sake.

 

So, as far as the "option to always arrive places in the daylight" goes, I'm in favor. Perhaps the option should simply be resting behavior, though. You could choose to travel as quickly as possible (camp whenever everyone happens to physically need to stop traveling and rest), OR you could automatically make camp every night at a certain time. Maybe have a very simple ration system, just as an example of potential factors to consider when picking resting behavior. If you camp EVERY night and only travel during the day, then a 70-mile journey might take you a week. This would also affect any time-sensitive quests/situations. So, you might want to squeeze in those extra 8-10 hours of travel in between camps. But, pushing on through the night would have to be more dangerous, as you're more open to ambush from anything that is sentient and wants to ambush you, or really just anything on the prowl that's nocturnal. Low-visibility, your torches like beacons in the night. If you camp at night, you could still have random encounters (VERY in favor of this), but at least you're set up in a defensible position in your low-visibility environment.

 

Then, of course, certain people (perhaps nocturnal races, stealh-based classes, etc.) would have the ADVANTAGE during the night. The night is still the night, and more things are still prowling about, but you could deal with them so much more easily, as you have a lot larger of a cloak of shadow at your disposal. For this reason, you could totally set the camping behavior to ALWAYS travel at night, and sleep during the afternoon or something.

 

What I'm saying is, I'm very much in favor of meaningful day/night cycles, as well as a camp-at-certain-times-on-a-schedule-like-normal-fictional-people system.

 

I just want to emphasize that A) There need to be as many good reasons for a player to want to do things at night as there are for a player to want to do things during the day. And when you rest should have some effect, as well. I think that, maybe, you shouldn't even be able to simply "Rest until dawn!" whilst just standing outside a shop, waiting for a sword to be made or something. If you're out in the woods... sure. But, you really shouldn't be able to make camp in the middle of a town. That would kinda be in people's ways. And you shouldn't be able to just sleep on the ground in the middle of a town, either. People would worry you were dead, or guards would throw you in prison 'til the morning to keep you out of drunken trouble.

 

(I apologize for my semi-sporadic thought-flow. My brain sometimes refuses to let me organize everything it's thinking about before I type it.)

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