Weeks 53-1: Figuring out what to do for Foundry colors!

Man, this palette recoloring task is a bit beyond my knowledge and ability. The issue itself is that the Foundry palette is too saturated. I’ve gotten that from feedback, and noticed it during playtests as well, when the game is running on a TV screen. Because I’m out of my depth, I started researching in order to help me figure out how to fix the issue. I’m writing this part of the process down because I’m a bit stumped, and I believe that putting it down into words will help me progress.

Our perception of colors on-screen are highly influenced by the video hardware, which makes it a bit tricky. Would it only be an issue on certain monitors and TV screens?

THE MISSION is meant to recall the 8-bit aesthetic with the low-resolution graphics. But I made some significant departures from the NES limitations. I added some necessary colors in the palette. I also disregarded the layer restrictions, such that there are way more colors on-screen at the same time than the NES can have. This means that, when it comes to representing different areas and in this case a foundry/fire/hot area, I don’t have the same problems that existing games of the era have. Back then, many games put a flat color as the background, such as Super Mario Bros 3.

So I have a different problem, where the background has a color, so screen as a whole is dominated by a color or 2:

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 8.44.40 AM

Comparing to Mega Man’s Fireman Stage, I could introduce some black and scale back the saturation of most of the colors…

Besides that, while looking into this subject, I came across some blog and forum posts (http://kayin.moe/?p=2598 and http://nfgworld.com/mb/thread/661). These are the main points that I found relevant to me:

  • Generally speaking, the pixel art movement in games today is rather poorly emulating the graphics of the 8-bit and 16-bit era.
  • This is because the artists at the time created the in-game art with the video hardware artifacts in mind, knowing that what they were creating would undergo significant transformations while being displayed.
  • Those of us who grew up during the 8-bit and 16-bit eras remember the graphics incorrectly. We think they were crisp and blocky and consequently make pixel art that way, but the video hardware made them soft and somewhat more impressionistic.

Reading this article has led me to wondering if I should add some effects to THE MISSION, in order to soften the graphics and make them more pleasing to look at as a whole. I looked into how to implement it technically (namely with scanlines and some distortion based on color layers), and it sounds like fun to implement. These effects are also usually a setting that players can enable/disable at will, so I should keep that in mind.

Besides that, I’ve kept looking at the Foundry areas, and I think if I adjust 2 colors, it should be easier to look at. Maybe reducing the saturation for those 2 colors would be enough. Unfortunately the tool I use doesn’t properly switch between RGB and HSB values (when switching from one to the other, the colors are not correct). I worried about the redness being lost, but I think it should be fine – the Terrarium palette is greens as well as browns, which works well.

So that’s where I am now. Writing this has definitely helped me identify what to work on; I actually wrote this over the course of 2 weeks or so. Look forward to an update with the new Foundry colors!

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