The Chronicles of Elyria forums have just had their first makeover showing that the developers are at least listening to their community when it comes to making the important changes, the forums are a serious business after all. The developers are still using the forums to engage and are responding to questions about all sorts. Some of the most interesting news pops up in unexpected places, which means it is easy to miss like this week’s forum find.
In a thread about the price of the game started by community member kingfighsher, things took some interesting turns. From the price, to price per life, to how long a life was, to how quickly time passes for your character, ending up at the time cycles of the world. Yep, the community moves quickly! It was that point that the ever watching Jeromy ‘Caspian’ Walsh stepped in with this post which starts a little something like this:
There is a day/night cycle, and changing season. However, Elyria’s day/night cycle is longer than Earths, and there are fewer days per season. The end result is the game will shift between night and day at a comfortable rate (a few times per RL day), with seasonal effects changing ever so slightly over a 24 hour period of time. After four RL days you’ll be back where you started.
This builds a picture of the world we are all going to be living in, and I mean living. It is features like this that make worlds feel alive. Aesthetic changes during play time keep the world interesting. They encourage you to stay longer and can help build long term attachments.
Visuals are all well and good, but we have seen them before. What stands out is the fact that the passing of time will apparently have an impact on how we play. The day-night cycle will be something you need to consider if you are out adventuring in the wilds. How you need to consider it, and exactly what effects it has we do not know for sure. We do have hints though such as this post from another Soulbound Studio’s employee Camigwen (who has never introduced themselves properly on the forum so I have no idea what they do, tut tut!):
Outside of towns, however, things get interesting. We’ve already mentioned that we’re tied to realism, and sleep is an important part of that. We plan to require a rest period when out adventuring to handle the need for sleep. This means that you’ll need supplies for a journey, and potentially a set of guards who can take the night shift.
This does mention the night shift which came across as just a turn of phrase initially but now appears as if there might be particular risks at night or benefits for using this as your rest time. The day-night cycle should lead to visible change, but it really is a balance. They are heading for realism and that means dark nights, but time is precious and if someone logs on and it is ‘night’ they still want to be able to get their kicks. People need to still be able to explore, though perhaps at a more risk and requiring additional resources. Torches anyone? There is also the problem with in-game days fitting perfectly into game days: the constant night log in. I would love to see day cycles offset slightly so if you play from 8 until 9 every day you are not stuck in perpetual darkness.
The other part of the time cycles are seasons, which is not something I have seen done in an MMO so I am not sure how that will play out. If you have experienced it why not drop a message with a comment with how you felt it worked, or didn’t, in games you have played. How wide an effect seasons will have we just have to wait and see, but certain activities such as farming will be heavily affected by them. With seasons affecting the crops you plant and when you harvest it is going to take a player with a regular schedule to make the most of that skill. There was some initial concern that perhaps it was requiring a bit too much time keeping and longer seasons would be preferable, rather than the current day. Others thinking that if you are embracing that part of the gameplay you want something to log into each day. How it feels to play though we will have to see.
All in all time cycles sound like they are going to make the world feel alive. Anything that does that is great. Features that add life and also depth to our interactions with the world get double bonus points from me. It seems that each feature we hear about has been thought out. I am just impatient to see if all these intricate features actually fit together to make a cohesive game.