The Value of Value

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It’s April Fools’ day, and as is customary, Guild Wars 2 used the occasion to play a few pranks on their players.

It was … enlightening, if you forgive me the pun.

Not because all player characters had the arms outstretched, donned pilot caps and made “Vroooom, vrooom” noises when walking around.1

It was the completely desaturated, sepia-tinted environment. It gave me literal headaches.

Once all colour is gone, you realise it is quite well used within the world of Guild Wars 2. As soon as it is removed, and you have to rely solely on the value, e. g. the brightness of the environment in order to “read” it, you run into trouble.

Take this example: in the following screen, an object can be found that needs to be picked up.

In case you couldn’t find it, it was here:

The whole screen was basically brown mush, with very little contrast, making me squint most of the time, trying to discern the actual objects I’d have to target. Hence the headache.

As a game designer, I find this interesting: what might work as in full colour might not work in black and white (at all), if your values are quite close to each other. While the salvageable objects in Guild Wars 2 usually stand out quite clearly, since they use a much yellowisher green than their surroundings, they completely vanished here.

If you wan’t to have parts of your game in black and white, but designed your game in colour, take care: the scene and design might need some additional work in order to look good and be “readable”. Maybe it’s even enough to add a colour filter to increase contrast, though it might not be enough.

Just removing colour and and additionally tinting everything in brown sepia, thus further reducing contrast, is a recipe for disaster, however. Even on April Fools’ Day. Luckily that’s just once a year … :)

  1. Which was extremely silly, but you got used to it pretty quickly, despite the protests of some players. ↩︎