Wednesday afternoon brought us a Bashiok post with what I think can fairly be described as entirely new info. A fan wondered how Day/Night cycles would work in Diablo 3, and Bashiok said:
Hrm, I don’t believe we’ve talked about Day/Night cycles before. It was something that was discussed early on and if I’m not mistaken they were actually implemented in some form at one time. Well, we don’t use true day/night cycles. What we do is progress the time of day as you advance through the story. So you’ll be in a mid-day sunny, wind swept desert, and then you’ll move into an area where it’s maybe dusk, and then the next area will be night time. So you get that sense of passage of time, but it also allows us much greater control over the look and quality of each area and scene. The visual quality of a “playable painting” isn’t something we couldn’t achieve with a day/night cycle, so it was pretty easy to decide to hand craft each area to support a specific lighting scheme. It also allows us to do all sorts of fun stuff we probably just couldn’t justify if there was no guarantee it would be seen because a player may rarely or only briefly see it as the virtual sun made its rounds.
This makes sense from an artistic standpoint. The desert areas will always be seen in scorching daylight, enhancing their harsh, unblinking nature. It will always be sunny daytime in the Leoric Highlands as well, making the grass look greener and the rainbows more ROYGBIVier. In Tristram, on the other hand, it should always look like a gloomy early morning or late evening, with leaden skies and swirling ground mist.
Do parallels from Diablo 2 leap to mind? Are there outdoor levels in the game you think would have been enhanced by only being seen at night, or in bright sunlight? Or do you dislike this change away from day/night cycles in all areas, for reasons of realism, aesthetics, or something else?