How To Create a Day and Night Cycle In Unity

How To Create a Day and Night Cycle In Unity



Creating a day and night cycle in Unity adds a dynamic and immersive element to your game or simulation, allowing you to simulate the passage of time and create a realistic lighting environment.

Whether you’re developing an open-world adventure, a city-building game, or a virtual reality experience, implementing a day and night cycle can greatly enhance the visual appeal and overall atmosphere of your project.

In this guide, we will explore the step-by-step process of creating a day and night cycle in Unity.

From setting up the scene lighting and skybox to scripting the time progression and adjusting the visual effects, we’ll cover all the essential techniques to help you create a dynamic and visually stunning day and night cycle.

So, let’s dive in and discover how to bring the beauty of changing light and time to your Unity projects!

What Is Unity?

Unity is a popular and powerful game engine used for developing a wide range of games and interactive experiences.

It provides developers with a comprehensive set of tools and features to create games for various platforms, including mobile devices, computers, consoles, and even augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices.

Unity offers a visual development environment that allows developers to create games without extensive programming knowledge, although programming skills can be utilized to create more complex and customized gameplay.

The engine supports a variety of programming languages, with C# being the most commonly used language for scripting game behaviour.

Some key features of Unity include:

1. Cross-platform development.

Unity supports multiple platforms, enabling developers to build games for different operating systems and devices, such as Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Xbox, PlayStation, and more.

2. Asset pipeline.

Unity provides an efficient asset pipeline that allows developers to import and manage various types of assets, including 3D models, textures, animations, audio files, and more.

3. Physics and animation.

The engine has built-in physics and animation systems that help developers create realistic movements and interactions within their games.

This includes collision detection, rigid body dynamics, and support for complex animations.

4. Visual editor.

Unity offers a user-friendly visual editor that allows developers to design game levels, arrange assets, set up lighting, and tweak parameters without writing code.

5. Scripting and customization.

While Unity provides a visual development environment, it also supports scripting with C#. This allows developers to create custom gameplay mechanics, implement artificial intelligence, handle user input, and more.

6. Asset Store.

Unity has an extensive online marketplace called the Asset Store, where developers can find pre-built assets, scripts, plugins, and other resources to enhance their game development process.

Unity has gained popularity due to its versatility, accessibility, and strong community support.

It has been used to create a wide range of games, from small indie projects to high-profile AAA titles.

Why Should I Develop Games with Unity Game Engine?

In the world of game development, choosing the right game engine is a crucial decision. Unity has emerged as one of the leading game engines, revolutionizing the way developers create games.

This article explores the compelling reasons why you should consider developing games with the Unity Game Engine.

1. Cross-platform compatibility.

One of Unity’s biggest strengths is its ability to deploy games across multiple platforms seamlessly. Whether you intend to create games for mobile devices, computers, consoles, or even emerging technologies like VR and AR, Unity has got you covered.

With a single codebase, you can reach a broader audience, maximizing your game’s potential and profitability.

2. Robust and intuitive development environment.

Unity offers a user-friendly and powerful development environment, enabling both beginners and experienced developers to create games efficiently.

Its visual editor allows for drag-and-drop functionality, making it easy to build game levels, manage assets, and fine-tune game parameters.

Additionally, the asset pipeline streamlines the integration of various assets, saving valuable development time.

3. Extensive community and resources.

Unity boasts a massive and active community of developers and enthusiasts. This thriving community provides a wealth of support, tutorials, documentation, and forums where you can find answers to your questions and learn from experienced developers.

Additionally, Unity’s Asset Store offers a vast library of ready-made assets, scripts, and plugins, allowing you to accelerate development by leveraging existing resources.

4. Powerful graphics and physics capabilities.

Unity’s graphics rendering capabilities enable developers to create stunning visuals in their games. The engine supports advanced rendering techniques, including dynamic lighting, real-time shadows, and post-processing effects.

With Unity’s physics engine, you can simulate realistic object interactions, collision detection, and complex animations, enhancing the immersion and realism of your game.

5. Flexible scripting options.

Unity provides a range of scripting options to suit developers’ preferences and skill levels. The engine primarily supports C#, a powerful and widely-used programming language in the game development industry.

C# allows you to create complex gameplay mechanics, implement AI systems, handle user input, and more. Additionally, Unity’s scripting API is well-documented, making it easier to learn and utilize.

6. Rapid prototyping and iteration.

Unity empowers developers to rapidly prototype and iterate their game ideas. Its quick iteration times allow for immediate testing and tweaking of gameplay mechanics, visuals, and overall game feel.

This iterative development approach enhances creativity, facilitates experimentation, and enables developers to refine their games based on user feedback and playtesting.

7. Monetization opportunities.

Unity provides various monetization options for game developers. Through Unity Ads, developers can easily integrate advertisements into their games, generating revenue from in-game advertising.

Additionally, Unity supports in-app purchases, subscription models, and partnerships with major app stores, expanding your options for generating income from your games.

How Do I Create a Day and Night Cycle In Unity?

The dynamic changes in lighting and atmosphere as time progresses can greatly enhance the visual appeal and overall experience for players.

In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of creating a day and night cycle in Unity, from setting up the scene lighting and skybox to scripting the time progression and adjusting visual effects.

By the end of this tutorial, you’ll have the knowledge and tools to bring the beauty of a changing day and night cycle to your Unity projects.

Step 1: Setting Up Scene Lighting.

To create a convincing day and night cycle, start by setting up the scene lighting in Unity. Use directional lights to simulate sunlight during the day and moonlight or ambient lights during the night.

Adjust the colour, intensity, and rotation of the lights to match the desired time of day.

Consider using real-time global illumination (GI) techniques like Unity’s Progressive Lightmapper or baked lighting to enhance the realism of the lighting.

Step 2: Skybox and Atmosphere.

Choose or create a suitable skybox and atmosphere for your day and night cycle. Unity provides various skybox options, including skybox materials and procedural sky systems.

Set the skybox to reflect the desired time of day and adjust its parameters such as colour, clouds, and sun/moon positioning.

You can also add additional effects like fog, haze, or particle systems to further enhance the atmospheric changes throughout the day and night.

Step 3: Time Progression Scripting.

Script the time progression in Unity to simulate the day and night cycle. Create a script that updates the scene lighting, skybox, and other relevant elements over time.

Use Unity’s Time class to keep track of the in-game time and adjust the lighting and skybox properties accordingly.

Implement a time-of-day system that smoothly transitions between different lighting and skybox settings as time progresses.

Step 4: Visual Effects and Transitions.

To make the day and night cycle more visually appealing, consider adding visual effects and smooth transitions. Implement gradual changes in lighting colour and intensity during sunrise and sunset.

Apply post-processing effects like colour grading, bloom, or vignette to enhance the mood and realism of the scene.

Use animation or shader effects to create smooth transitions between different lighting and skybox settings.

Step 5: Player Interaction and Time Control.

Provide player interaction and control over the day and night cycle if it fits your game’s mechanics. Allow players to adjust the time of day manually or through in-game actions.

Implement user interface elements or gameplay mechanics that reflect the current time and allow players to fast forward or rewind time.

This can provide a unique gameplay element and engage players in the dynamic day and night cycle.

Step 6: Testing and Iteration.

Thoroughly test your day and night cycle system in different scenarios and lighting conditions. Check for smooth transitions, visual coherence, and performance impact. Gather feedback from testers and iterate on the system to improve its realism and visual quality.

Fine-tune the timing, lighting settings, and visual effects based on user experiences and suggestions.


Creating a day and night cycle in Unity adds a layer of realism and immersion to your game or simulation.

By following the steps outlined in this article, you can set up the scene lighting, skybox, and time progression scripting to achieve a convincing day and night cycle.

Consider adding visual effects, smooth transitions, and player interaction to enhance the overall experience.

Thorough testing and iteration will ensure the realism, visual quality, and performance of your day and night cycle system.

So, embrace the dynamic nature of time and lighting, and bring your Unity projects to life with a captivating and immersive day and night cycle!

What do you think?

Written by Udemezue John

Hello, I'm Udemezue John, a web developer and digital marketer with a passion for financial literacy.

I have always been drawn to the intersection of technology and business, and I believe that the internet offers endless opportunities for entrepreneurs and individuals alike to improve their financial well-being.

You can connect with me on Twitter


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings



    How To Create a VR Game On Unity


    How To Link Visual Studio To Unity