Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hail and Well Met

Some thunderstorms and the occasional stray tornado blew through our area last night. Luckily the damage found nearby was minimal --only a few downed wires and flash floods-- but the lightning and wind woke me up at around 1:30 AM. I rolled over and eventually went back to sleep, but in that half-awake state I mumbled to myself that "at least I didn't have to worry about this crap on Taris."

Hail this size you won't find in a steaming jungle with toxic swamps.

Which actually was a pretty good point.

Well, outside of the fact that I'm not so sure I'd want to fight Rakghouls and thunderstorms at the same time: "Rak-nado! Coming to the SyFy Channel in 2018!"

Weather has always been a tricky thing in MMOs. The classic single world MMO, such as WoW or LOTRO, could have weather easily integrated into it, but the multiple world MMO (such as SWTOR and to a minor extent Wildstar*) weather takes a back seat to an individual world's atmosphere. Think of it this way: while you can spend a lot of time --gamewise-- in a WoW zone or an entire continent (think Northrend, for example), your average time spent on a small slice of a planet in SWTOR is comparatively small.

But even on games such as WoW, region shaking weather such as a monsoon or a hurricane or even thunderstorms is a very rare event.

The only pure weather event that I can think of that I see with (somewhat) regularity is the numbing and visibility killing fog that emanates out of Forochel in Middle-earth. I've seen that fog creep all the way down to Evendim** from time to time, which causes massive visibility issues for a game that tends to rely upon old-style line of sight for figuring out where the maguffin you're supposed to find is located. But rain and snow in LOTRO aren't that big of a deal, just like how they are in WoW.

From and
When it is nighttime, that fog is really creepy.

In fact, I'd argue that the only big "weather" event for WoW was back in Cataclysm, when Deathwing would randomly blast an area with his dragonfire in a "hellfire and damnation" souped-up version of a global/raid/world boss.

My "Stood in the Fire" achievement came in the
Blasted Lands after a 5-man run, but I unfortunately never
took a screenshot. This was from

The big problem with a huge weather event is that it would require more than just "oh look, rain" on screen. You need to implement a form of phasing, where you have trees losing branches and rain (or snow or hail) bouncing off of houses and other "background" items. And for all of that effort, you'd expect the devs to put in a few quests as well. I mean, why go to all that extra work just for a background effect when people are clamoring for raids, instances, and questlines? I can see where at the height of WoW the devs there could tinker with that sort of thing, but the age of the 10 million subscriber MMO seems to have passed, taking with it the budget necessary for such side projects.

In the end, I guess that MMOs will continue to do what they have, and have a region with "rain" or "snow flurries" which turns on and off from time to time. It's a shame, really, because no matter how MMOs add and modify regions, without the impact of weather --and severe weather-- the world will feel static after a while.

Without having to worry about dodging downed tree branches.

*For those not aware, in Wildstar some of the zones are actually on moons of Nexus.

**Unless that's a bug, but hey, I don't mind bugs like that.

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