In the past week, BioWare have been dropping some impressive Anthem news – from teaser trailers, to box art, to monster details, but one seemingly small element that stands out for me is Anthem’s new aesthetic and colour gamut.
Color is one of the most powerful tools at a developer’s disposal. They can engage and guide players, provide clues, provoke thought and set the tone of a game. They can invoke imagination, happiness, evil, sadness, calmness, mystery. All by how an environment is lit, coloured and shaded. And this week we have seen something very new come out of the Edmonoton Offices at Bioware.
And it all started with a logo…
Earlier in the week, a quick but subtle change emerged. Firstly, the well known Industro-medical-sharp-angles of BioWare’s original logo made way for a softer, curved and much less pronounced design:
The new design is infinitely modern, if not slightly too clean in it’s presentation. Whatever your position, it is indeed far less aggressive and angled than the Bioware logos of old, and yet this was just the beginning of the aesthetic change to come for Anthem.
Secondly, after being visually (and awesomely) assaulted by no less than 2 x 5 second teaser clips via YouTube and Twitter, gamers noticed something very different:
A lot of pink. And a lot of orange.
Gone were the deep blue and dark black nothingness of space backed up by the classic sci-fi moon-flare…
Gone was the silver lettering, reminiscent of games like Mass Effect or Destiny. And IN was colour.
Gorgeous greens, baby blues, orgasmic oranges, passionate purples and…yellows. (Sorry…ran out of adjectives.)
I should emphasise here: I really like this design-shift.
But the question beckons: Why? And at what stage did Anthem start to evolve it’s development after last year’s E3? The shift could be either indicative of a transition in design philosophy OR indicative that a shift beyond the standard Sci-Fi look was always planned post-announcement – with place-holder assets being used for E3 2017’s announcement.
Regardless, this is a much brighter looking Anthem than a year ago. And the design decision will pay off. It is no secret that bright, colourful games can attract a wider range of audience. There is a biology and psychology to mobile puzzle games and even with games like Overwatch and Fortnite that (whilst more “cartoony” in appeal) have shown how colour and aesthetic can support driving the mass appeal – a far reach from the dank, industrial, warehouses, streets and towns of less popular realistic shooters elsewhere.
And undoubtedly, colour design – is a form of positive manipulation. The capacity for a developer to influence your on-screen experiences like few game elements can – it’s also an excellent marketing tool to differentiate your game!
The images from Anthem then that we have seen so far display both cool and warm tones. And whilst it is common place for the future/space genre to be typically blue, it’s also clear that when paired with bright touches of warmer shades, the aesthetic can be very unique. Resulting in a beautiful juxtaposition of colours and exceptionally striking.
In gaming, the color gamut is a first impression. It can set the mood of an entire game or indeed generate emotions within you before you even start playing it (see 2018 God of War’s Red Woods as a solid example). So if you reacted as I did to Anthem’s new colours, then you’re not alone!
Colour schemes are a critical element not only to good game design, but to a clear User-Interface, Head-Up-Display and indeed on-screen character identification. So from both a world-building point of view and a functional point of view, one can see how this approach might just be the golden javelin..err..ticket to a greater audience reach for Anthem and ultimately, a more striking visual design for the gamers!
No doubt we’ll see much more of this Ranger and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcsape aesthetic on June 9th!
Until then, Freelancers…
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