The case against dynamic skies:
To be blunt, the dynamic skies are a performance hog. As in, on any machine more than a few years old they make it unplayably laggy. And on newer machines they still account for 90% of the graphcial load.
They are also.... well, they are a bit same-y. Since they are based on real skies, they can only look so many different ways. It's been a while since I used static skies, but switching to those really reminds me of how cool those look. If I had just one set of skies to maintain rather than two, I think I could push that even farther.
There's also a number of glitches with dynamic skies. Most of them I can fix, but there's one -- the little black lines that appear and curl around in the skies sometimes -- which is never going to be fixable by me. And the guy who does Unisky, on which the dynamic skies are based, seems to have abandoned it.
What dynamic skies chiefly offers that static skies do not:
When they are working properly, they do look pretty cool. However, like I said, they do get pretty same-y throughout all the various areas, so once you get used to dynamic skies that cool factor really fades a lot.
Static skies do support sunsets, sunrises, and nights. However, they do not yet support the sun or moon rising and setting in the sky (though that would be easy to add, and I really should add it).
They also don't have any moving clouds. That's the big thing in dynamic skies that makes them interesting, is tons of motion in the background from those clouds. That would be impossible to achieve in the same fashion with static skies, but I could eventually work on some background cloud movements for static skies if folks were interested in that. But probably prior to 1.0, that would simply mean the end of the moving clouds for now.
What do folks think?
Remembering that first impressions are really important, of course. And that goes for videos and screenshots as well as actual gameplay. If someone is underwhelmed why the graphics, that's bad. But if their first experience is that the game is playing at 20fps instead of 60fps, then that's also bad.
I'm a bit torn, but you can probably tell that I'm thinking I should just dump the dynamic skies -- which are more trouble than they are worth, I'm starting to feel -- and push onward with making static skies look as good as I can make them within the time budget that we have before 1.0 ("shipping is also a feature," etc).
EDIT: Updated to add a poll.