I don’t know if it’s a technology thing, or a design thing, or a problem with my own percetion and sense of what seems “right,” but there is something that is just not right with the weather in modern open-world RPG’s.  I’ve played Dragon Age Inquisition, Fallour 4, and am in the midst of The Witcher 3, and they all have the same odd weather issue.

In the midst of heavy rainstorms, the sun is routinely, almost universally still poking through the clouds.  There are deep, clearly visible shadows beneath stormy gray skies, and it’s just not right.

DAI’s Storm Coast was, by far, the worst offender here.  The zone is permanently raining.  That’s fine – day and night and weather are static in the game, and I can live with that.  What I can’t live with is the lighting.  It’s basically full daytime, judging by the sun and shadows, yet at the same time it’s stormy and cloudy.  It was just strange.

The Witcher 3 has dynamic weather and a full day and night cycle.  It’s pretty cool, actually, and a lot of the weather states I really like.  But The Witcher 3 also has some sort of light perception mechanic going on, where it adjust visibility according to a sense of relative visibility based of where Geralt is looking and standing.  Dark places look darker if you’re in a light place, I believe.  That’s cool in a lot of places, but when half the sky is sunny and half the sky is stormy, it leads to odd effects.  I was in Novigrad, walking along the docks in a rainstorm.  It was sunset, and of course the sun was in a clear part of the sky, and the dynamic light perception was trying to adjust for perceived glare, or something.  I don’t know – but the end effect was that I simply could not see anything, and kept running into posts and barrels and people

Now, where I’ve lived – Los Angeles, and Michigan, and Japan – it’s pretty damn rare to have a bright sun AND heavy rain at the same time.  Clouds cover up the whole sky, leading to a diffuse, even light across the land.  It can get pretty dark when real rainstorms hit – like those nasty summer thunderstorms in Michigan that threaten tornadoes – but it can also be reasonably bright.  It’s a pretty rare storm where visibility gets really bad at noon, and those sorts of storms are not very long lasting.

But maybe I’m the freak here, and this seems normal to others.  Any thoughts on the matter?

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