Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Choosing colors for your Roguelike

If you're making a roguelike you need to decide what colors to use. You could stick with the original 16 colors or you can use hundreds or thousands of colors. I don't know much about colors and color schemes but I have some advice on choosing colors for a roguelike. For my 2012 7DRL, I rule, you rule, we all rule old-school Hyrule, I followed three simple rules about color:

  1. The hue should match the real world color. That is; red things should be red and green things should be green.
  2. The saturation and brightness should match how important something is. If it's trying to kill you or it can save you then it should stand out as a bright color. If it's just background - floors, trees, walls - then it should be mostly gray or black so it doesn't get your attention. You can only notice so much at once and you should notice the important things first.
  3. Subtle variation in color is a good thing. Some variation makes large blocks of trees or water look better but too much variation and shading makes it hard to tell if the color is relevant or not. In iryrwarosh, each tree has three different colors. Water, lava, and sand also had some variation. The variation was subtle enough to break up the monotony and allow things like animated water and lava. Possibly too subtle, but that's just fine with me. Just don't overdo it; even if two trees are a slightly different shade of red or green, you should still know they're the same thing.

Overall I'm very happy with how iryrwarosh looked and I think it's due to following these three guidelines. It did take some time to tweak the colors, but it was really worth it. I plan on following the same guidelines this year.

As a bonus, here's the ActionScript that I use to make a color with a specific hue, saturation, and value.

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