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Steady Waters

Let's Talk Color Schemes

We like to axe questions because we're not afraid to challenge the Iron Tides. Today we ask:

What are Color Schemes?

Color schemes are an arrangement of colors, primarily associated with interior design, but nuts to interior design; The Iron Tides is a tactics game and so, in this example, the definition will be used in the design of a game.

When developing a game, we think about what the player sees and thinks when interacting with a user interface. In a previous blog post, we discuss how we hammer out an idea pertaining to User Interface. Our process is the same when it comes to colors, so we're axing our current color scheme and finding a way to fit our Vikings into a palette of unique colors. 

But how do we do this?

To answer this question, let's take a look at a long-standing tactics game from the past, circa 1990. 


Fire Emblem

Fire Emblem is a tactics brand that continues to challenge the minds of young tacticians today. In the example above, Fire Emblem uses two identifiable color schemes (the color blue and red) to differentiate the player's characters from the NPC character.

In 1990, when gaming began a debut into the modern world, artists had a limited number of colors to play with, and as such, each artistic decision added weight to feeling of the overall game. They were limited in their actions, and so they made it work with two simple colors.

However... today's Fire Emblem looks a bit different...

... but notice how the original colors (blue and red) stay the same. Isn't that interesting?

This tells us that developers have the ability to include more than two colors, but we stick with the basics first.

Do I Need Color Variation?

Variation is what makes a game interesting to look at, but try to remember, simplifying a player's understanding of the game is where color and communication counts.

In a tactics game, there are a number of rules that need to be fully grasped before the player can enter a state of complete engagement. Any obstacles, like incoherent color schemes, can cloud the player's experience. So try to avoid that. Like... try to avoid that all the time. 

To end this blog, here's an example from Toy Monster. What do you think is happening here? 

The map is crowded and the user interface is sparse. There are no identifiable color schemes, and therefore makes the game harder to read. What might be a brilliant game now reads as busy and confusing. 

Let's Reiterate...

  • Color schemes make a difference.
  • Try to be as simple as possible.
  • Variation adds uniqueness to the game.

It's a black and white way of thinking, especially in tactical turn based games. I mean... even chess knows what's up. So go fourth, and remember the rule set of colors.

For Glory!