I’ve always loved to see colour in games.
Back in the hazy days of the video game arcades it was always the colourful cabinets that drew me and for the most part the colourful games that took my last coin.
I think this is the key to much of the success in casual gaming.
When we make games we really need to consider the potential audience. What do they want to see to give our games a chance ?
With an increasing number of portal sites for HTML5 games and more games emerging from the community we need to ensure that our games stand out in the crowd.
I remember as a 14 year old reading Jeff Minter‘s view on the subject in the popular British magazine Computer and Video Games. In it he basically argued that gamers love colour. They respond to colour far more enthusiastically than they do any other form of presentation. You just have to look at some of Jeff’s games to see that he means what he says.
Introducing colour in to your games doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be a wizz with graphics. If your graphic skills are limited then just rethink how you wish to apply the style and objects to your game. By default it seems a programmer thinks in terms of black and white. if your graphic skills extend to using primitive shapes then draw them in yellow against a complimentary background – purple or dark blue, for example. Instead of dropping white shapes on to the screen spawn multiple coloured shapes. If your game involves explosions don’t just assume a yellow circle will suffice, figure out how to throw a few multi-coloured circles around.
Colourful games are fun to watch. If in food we argue that we eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths then I would suggest that in games we play with our eyes before we so much as commit to playing.
A game that involves a small white object against a sea of black might have worked when arcade capabilities were severely limited but they won’t kick the player in to taking on your game quite so much in 2011.
Finally, I’ve always believed that the best games are “screenshotable”. That is you can be at any point in the game and capturing the screen to the clipboard would give you something to share amongst your mates and be proud of. Better still it would give you something to hand over to a web site that says “this is an accurate representation of my game.”
( You can play the game Cirplosion here: www.html5games.com/2011/12/cirplosion-3/ )
Good use of screen composition and rich colours helps to paint a picture to the player. It helps him to conjur up a view of the game before he’s dropped his coin in to the slot. That’s the target in my opinion. We have to assume that our audience has just one coin in their pocket and you are basically answering the question “why should I spend my last coin on your game ?”
As designers we must think not just of the game and its challenges but of the player and his difficult decision on which game to commit to with his last coin.