Let´s make a level were enemies spawn whose strength or level depends on daytime. Welcome to the level design of "Devils Path".
The basic idea is simple: at night shall stronger enemies spawn than during the sunny day. But how can we communicate this to the player? (Besides obvious, yet less smart solutions like text or spoken word). Firstly, the level have to prompt positive feeling while the sun shines brightly and negative emotions during night. This is pretty obvious, I know, since the night is dark and therefor likely to cause feelings of horror. But let´s step further into this. Which environment might possibly increase this effect further? Scenario: When are you more scared during darkness? When you crouch in your small wardrobe or in a huge room where dangers could be in every corner? Right, the darkness is much more scary in wide, open rooms. We suffer a feeling of loosing control. (Think about the feeling, when the fellowship of the ring approached the mines of Moria and steps in these huge abandoned caves, which nothing than a small light.) This means that our level have to offer a wide space to make the darkness more fearsome which also has a nice sideeffect: wide view distance during day - control, savety, positive feelings.
That´s how I came up with the idea of a path on one side of a mountain. We do have our huge viewing distance and a wide, open space. During day, it´s all fine. We know that it could be dangerous of we take the wrong step but the huge viewing distance gives us control. to our left side I decided to create a rift. The player could possibly fall and die - more fear.
Even if the player have only approached this level during day, he wil intuitively understand that this is not a good place to go during night. The level warned him, that during night there is all worse. Therefor stronger enemies will not be a huge surprise. Watch the night-day comparision in my video!
What do you think? Will this approach be understood by players, no matter if conscious or unconscious? Feel free to comment!