Color Me Bad

Color Me Bad

Color Me Bad

by Steve Napierski to Comics

Sorry for the sketchiness of the lines, just had to throw something together a little quicker than normal due to time constraints.

Thanks to everyone who passed a lot of love and support for the previous comic. And anyone who wants to elaborate on the almost earth tone color palettes of a lot of first person shooters for added realism in the comment section below, please do. I’ve never really researched it that deeply and have been curious to why their palettes need constraints when games like Gran Turismo 5 don’t.

Discussion (25)¬

  1. yonderTheGreat
    yonderTheGreat says:
    January 24, 2011 at 12:16 am #

    Actually, I thought the “sketchiness of the lines” was an intentional play on the concept of “making it look more/less realistic”!!!

    And yeah… I don’t know why devs seem to have a grey-on-brown-on-grey/brown addiction so much these past 5 years or so. Ugh…

    • Eagle0600
      Eagle0600 says:
      January 24, 2011 at 12:22 am #

      Eversion has a pretty good colour pallet.

      • Sabbo
        Sabbo says:
        January 24, 2011 at 6:21 am #

        Eversion, however, wasn’t designed to look realistic in any way at all.

    • RedMattis
      RedMattis says:
      January 24, 2011 at 1:01 am #

      Ugh….

    • Mirenheart
      Mirenheart says:
      January 26, 2011 at 1:06 am #

      Fallout 3 was all about the greens and greys.

  2. David Herbert
    David Herbert says:
    January 24, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    Maybe some day they’ll have a much broader pallet.

  3. Skorpeyon
    Skorpeyon says:
    January 24, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    It almost feels like, in the last several years, developers think that cartoon violence can be portrayed in a game with bright colors, but anything they want to be “realistic” and bloody needs to carry a darker color pallet.

    Though I’m thinking that perhaps this joke is a little late. We’re seeing less and less real-war-based FPS (WWII thru the near-future) games now that the fad is (oh god I hope) dying off and those had seemed to be the worst offenders to me. Almost like they were trying to make things look like old photographs. Might as well have rendered the whole thing with a sepia effect to it.

    I’ve got Dead Rising 2, Little Big Planet 2, Super Meat Boy, Minecraft, Borderlands, Back to the Future, Star Craft 2, etc. and they’re all newer games and are from different genres and all have pretty bright color pallets. Most of the games I have with darker pallets are FPS’s that are meant to be spooky.

    • Maktaka
      Maktaka says:
      January 24, 2011 at 1:50 am #

      Sci-fi FPSs are immune to the bland color trend though. Look at GoW and Killzone.

      • Maktaka
        Maktaka says:
        January 24, 2011 at 1:57 am #

        Bah, that should be AREN’T immune.

        • sheppy
          sheppy says:
          January 25, 2011 at 7:36 am #

          But Killzone is going for a specific type of scifi, it’s forgivable because the environs are supposed to be dark, foreboding wastelands. It’s a bit central to the universes plot. Helgan was a death sentence, not a reward.

  4. Nuckel
    Nuckel says:
    January 24, 2011 at 4:28 am #

    When they make use of restricted color shemes and stuff like that, it looks to me like they are just desperately trying to be artistic where they lack the ideas for innovation. Or they just want to hook up on the trends that other (“better”) games have set. I guess this cannot really be avoided when throwing out new releases every year with the content being worse each time. Innovation is quite rare these times…

  5. Zikco
    Zikco says:
    January 24, 2011 at 4:47 am #

    I think the earthy-browny dark palette is supposed to “Enhace the Grittyness of the Experience” or something like that.
    Might hail back from the gray/sepia toned wartime footage from WWII and ‘Nam.
    They’re just forgetting that most of the kids playing those games have seen most of their war footage in full Technicolor© from ’91 and onwards…

  6. Lokahi
    Lokahi says:
    January 24, 2011 at 6:33 am #

    Here it is from a different angel. Games like GT are made to look pretty and FEEL real. As in the driving experience is what they are shooting for. Games like CoD and MoaH are made to LOOK real and feel pretty. If you look at games like Mercs it had a very vibrant setting because it was coastal. Games set in WW2 are often fought in a snow setting. I haven’t worked my way through some of the newest Cods due to money issues, but from what I’ve seen, it’s to also add the element of suspense. Watch ANY horror movie and you’ll see the same dark tones. Thanks to the damn Matrix watch almost any recent sci-fi movie and you’ll see alot of greens and blues.

    I will however do more research on these color effects on the brain and get back with you… those were just opinions.

  7. Triaxx
    Triaxx says:
    January 24, 2011 at 6:43 am #

    I’ve begun to suspect it’s camoflague. Not so much for bad enviroment design, but for the enemies. Playing the original Call of Duty, it’s hard to shoot the Nazi’s, because they’re the same color as the background.

  8. Jay
    Jay says:
    January 24, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    I always figured it was to make it “feel” like there was a layer of dust on everything.

  9. baha
    baha says:
    January 24, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    I figured it was a misguided concept for “realism” and “grittyness”. I guess some marketers read a report from some focus group and took the idea to an extreme. I mean, there is SOME merit to it: realistic military equipment tends to be subdued in color for camoflauge purposes, and battles don’t usually take place at the circus or mall, but in drab outdoor environments (like grey urban settings or blasted fields) where the only splashes of color will probably get destroyed in the course of the battle. There is also an artistic effect: drab and dark colors give the player a darker emotional sense, underscoring the drama of the environment. And of course, it’s also a way to focus the player’s attention on the few things that are in color, like mission objectives or something like that. But in all, I think they’ve gone way past the pros of the idea and overdone it, highlighting the cons, and now it’s “trendy”.

  10. Kintrex
    Kintrex says:
    January 24, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    You’re an artist; you should know the answer to this! Artists charge by the colour! They use more dull, earthy tones because you can put those everywhere. It would look even worse if everything was different shades of purple. Hopefully someday game companies will pony up the money for a full palette, but until then…

    …Wait, you mean it ISN’T more expensive to use more colours?

  11. Undrave
    Undrave says:
    January 24, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    Its because its easier to account for color splashing effect where everything is in the same tone. Put a red item next to a while wall, you’ll see a sort of pinkish reflection, that sort of effect is just insanely hard to render in real time on a realistic machine. If that item doesn’t move (like trees or barriers on the edge of a race track) fine, you can get it pre-rendered but if it moves around and gets blasted to bits (like a tank or enemy combatant) it gets tricky.

    Its basically a shortcut to save on rendering time.

    At least that’s what I read. There’s other factors in play too.

  12. Skiggs
    Skiggs says:
    January 24, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    I’ve actually noticed, using the color pallet doesn’t really have an effect based on it’s “realism” but more to portray a specific mood. For example, when going to war and shooting enemies, you generally don’t want to feel like it would be a happy occasion, which portraying in a bright color pallet generally tends to emphasize.

    For example, let’s compare Halo 3 and Reach. Qaulity of graphics aside, Halo 3 has a much brighter color pallete than Reach. Sure, Halo 3 is of how you’re losing, at least initially, but it’s about all sorts of little victories that ultimately lead to a final victory. The environments are filled with bright greens, white of snow, bright desert sands, and well lit skyboxes, generally speaking. There are more somber parts of the game, or desparing ones, most notably where the flood exists, where the colors darken a lot more, but then they’re supposed to be darker like that to portray the mood.

    Reach, actually starts out with a much brighter skybox and terrain, Winter Contingency is full of lush fields, the bright sky, and the likes initially as well. It’s as the game progresses and the mood gets darker and darker that the color pallete gets colder, more “brown” and earthy, because that color pallete, at least in the way it’s used, create a more somber mood.

    I use Halo as an example simply because it’s a series I know best. But, to work it towards other more “realistic” shooters, because they are supposed to be realistic, they want to portray a slightly more grim, dark appearance for war. But, they still want the game to be fun, so they add that percieved “realism” emotional effect through the use of the more brown, “earthy” colors.

    I’m no expert, so it’s entirely possible that I’m wrong, but that’s just the way I see it.

  13. Freak
    Freak says:
    January 25, 2011 at 1:11 am #

    I will never understand this trend to make video games more “realistic.” Reality isn’t fun… Why would I pay $60 to experience something I could experience in real life? To me, the less the developer focuses on realism and instead focuses on making the gameplay unique and fun, and the graphics pretty and/or meaningful the better the game.

    The only reason slapping a coat of brown on a shooter and calling it gritty and realistic has been popular is because it’s easy mode for the marketing team. I think the less informed players (those guys who just buy a game because they saw the commercial and don’t follow the industry trends in any meaningful way) are just finally catching on to their game.

  14. nickolus
    nickolus says:
    January 25, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    omg that old picture looks like one in my grandmas living room!

  15. gameguy245
    gameguy245 says:
    January 26, 2011 at 12:18 am #

    I once read on an article (I forgot where it was) that the reason the colors are so dull in modern games is because of technical reasons. It’s not that newer technologies can’t “handle” bright colors, it’s that they still have realistic enough lighting, particularly a lighting effect called Global Illumination. Global Illumination takes into account how light bounces off surfaces and reflects colors onto other surfaces. Without that effect, scenes tend to look blocky and unrealistic. Developers cover that up by creating very detailed texture maps and, you guessed it, dull colors.

  16. Scott Hall
    Scott Hall says:
    January 26, 2011 at 8:54 pm #
    • Steve Napierski
      Steve Napierski says:
      January 26, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

      Yeah, I remember that one. I look at it like “Your Princess Is In Another Castle”, similar premise, different joke.

      I expect you to return tomorrow then and post a link to certain Super Effective strip after you see tomorrow’s comic. But once again, similar premise different jokes.

  17. anon
    anon says:
    January 29, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    It’s because the lighting works better when the colors are desaturated. It’s not that there aren’t a lot of colors, it’s just that they’ve been desaturated to the point of nearly being gray so that the lighting is more apparant. Games render lighting in a fast, non physicaly correct approximation. As far as I know, which isn’t very far btw, physicaly accurate rendering is so prohibitavly time consuming that only a few offline renderers even go that route. Maybe a graphics programmer could explain exactly why this is…?