Today’s is going to be a bit of a short one, mostly because it’s not something that needs much elaboration, just a little better implementation. All I’m asking for a little better weather, and that’s all! Think about it, when was the last time you saw weather being used realistically to heighten a sense of immersion, and not as a cheap pull to set up weak atmosphere. So, we’ll do this in two ways: One is how weather is used poorly, and the other in how it could be used better.

Poor Use:
First and foremost, MMO’s and other genres that use a realistic 24-hour day/night cycle, I’m calling you out. The worst offenders of this have a grand total of three weather effects: Day time, Day time with rain, and Night. This is only made worse by the fact that rain falls for, at most, about 30 minutes.  In an entire day. Guys, I know people make fun of gamers for not going outside often, but can we not prove that by having ‘realistic’ rain that lasts a half hour? It was raining here at my house almost three days straight last week, then nothing until this morning. I know you want some kind of ‘consistency,’ but I’d rather have a more believable world. If that means having rain at night and a five-hour storm in a zone  or whatever, I am perfectly fine with that. It helps breath a bit of life into the zone.

Maybe if it rained more, some places wouldn't be dead.

Speaking of rain, can we stop using it as this cheap knock-off horror-hill style effect? The worst thing in the world is running towards your new quest area, and then it starts raining. Back up and it stops. Why not just scrap the whole thing and save your programmers some time, just insert a sign that says “Warning: Evil Ahead.” You’d accomplish the same thing without wrecking immersion or making me sit around all day enjoying the one place in the world that got all the rain. Why not through the player for a loop and actually have a bright sunny area where crap is getting real? Or, better yet, nothing out of the ordinary until you get underground/inside/whatever. Pacing people, pacing.

The other thing that bothers me, where is the rest of it? The world is not a binary Rain : No-Rain world. There is snow, gusts of wind, overcast days, sandstorms in deserts, extreme rainfall in tropical areas. Why does near everything have the same amount? The only time you ever see snow is if the one zone takes place on either the top of the mountain or the top of the world, and it’s never an actual snowstorm like you’d expect from that. Sandstorms never happen unless it was some gameplay mechanic involved.  The sky is usually cloudy, credit where do, but very very rarely in games do those clouds have an effect on the ambient lighting.

... What if it was snowing?

Good Use :
Now, the good news is, a lot of these effects actually are in games. Quite a few show up as either special mechanics for a single area, or as ambiance in a single zone. The entire world would be immersive and beautiful though, if it was a living breathing entity. Let sandstorms rage in the deserts, and the monsoons storm across the plains from time to time. Let the stop of the world be a cold, hateful place where the snow and wind beat out the living. Let the world come alive, and let the player become lost within. Games these days like trying to splice in varying environments, make them feel alive.

As a final note, anyone have a game to add where they feel weather was used exceptionally well?