View Single Post
Old July 26, 2016, 20:07   #13
AnonymousHero's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,367
AnonymousHero is on a distinguished road
Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Also - I'm pretty sure clown vomit is Darren Grey's description of Brogue's color pallette.
Yup! I find it quite evocative of the feeling I get when I see "too much color".

Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
I've seen many games where damage you do is green, and damage the enemies do is red. I've never found it distracting and it was always an easy way to distinguish positive from negative.
I'm moderately certain it can be done subtly enough, but I have a hard time coming up with many examples where it hasn't been incredibly distracting. I think color use basically also needs some sort of supporting spatial component or to be very subtle in terms of contrast. (The go to example would be tables where rows/columns have alternating colors.)

One game which does this reasonably well is Baldur's Gate, IMO. (However, it is multi-line which helps a lot.) You don't get coloration of the actual damage amounts, but what you do get is coloration of the actor -- in certain cases. Here's an example:
    Indra~ Attacks Thug
    Indra did 7 damage to Thug
    Thug~Attacks Indra
    Indra did 3 damage to Thug
    Indra did 7 damage to Thug
    The Party Has Gained Experience: 445
A thing to note here is that the damage amount isn't actually highlighted -- since it rarely matters exactly how much damage you did. You can always Mouse-over (+Tab) to see the general health status of the enemy. Neither is the "direction" of the damage subject to color -- other than through the "Who did it" (first) portion of any given message. However, BG has an advantage here since you can both get sound cues and graphical cues (little blood spatter) -- I think T4 does something similar to blood spatter in the graphical UIs at least? That seems eminently sensible to me and avoids clown vomit in the message text.

Another thing to note is that the colors are extremely subtle and always confined to the left hand side of the message. Interestingly "Thug" is not highlighted when it appears one the RHS. Nor is "Indra" highlighted on the left in the damage message.

I think the general principle here is: Don't intermingle color with sentence text. Anything else is clown vomit (to me). Actually, just speculating, but perhaps using boldface for e.g. damage amounts would be a lot more readable.

Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
I do agree that sparing use should be important. It's really important to know that you're confused, but perhaps there are better graphical ways to distinguish this, and we shouldn't worry about the messages. Coloring the @ sign to display damage is far superior to the low hitpoint message even though it is colored. So maybe it's better to turn @ green or blue if there's a status effect.
Agreed on the general principle, but I'm not sure coloring '@' is necessarily the answer. Unfortunately
text is *REALLY* limiting here. I wonder if some sort of "cycle though accents on the @" would work, so you'd see the "@" with a cycle through the characters `, , ' above it. (Real-time, that is the cycling would happen regardless of whether game time passes. This is just to make it glaringly obvious.) Hope that description makes sense. Anyway...

I can't recall if this already happens in current Angband, but one obvious optimization I've though about in T2 would be to coalesce messages such that you actually just get a summary of what happened rather than a blow-by-blow account. For example, it often happens that if you apply a status effect, stun say, you'll often get messages like

   X is stunned!
   You miss X.
   You hit X.
   X recovers from stun.
   You miss X.
   (player turn ends)
   X hits you!
Did you really need to know that you temporarily stunned X? I don't think so. What matters is whether X changed status from turn-to-turn.

This is of course a lot harder than it looks because all the "output a message" code is utterly intermingled with the combat code, etc.

Originally Posted by fizzix View Post
Basically the design challenge is figuring out what pieces of information the player needs to know and making that info prominent.
Yes, indeed.

Last edited by AnonymousHero; July 26, 2016 at 20:19.
AnonymousHero is offline   Reply With Quote