Progress on lighting and colour in the ECHOPLEX

How we are creating more subtle, defined environments for the game (and keeping the CMYK goodness)

A comment we heard often during our Greenlight campaign was that the colours in the Echoplex are “hard to look at”.  For the most part, people seem to like that the game has a different look, but we wanted to see how we could refine the colour and light while sticking to our original colour palette.

We also had to solve a lighting problem that would cause the corridors to become completely washed out when two light colours were combined, e.g. A yellow switch in a white corridor.  When the colours were too strong, edges would also disappear into their background, making the dimensions of the space hard to see.

The screenshots you see here are the result or a few days of tweaking (and debating).

Main things we adjusted

  1. The area lights are now on the floor, facing upwards.  This gives the space an eerie underlit feel, and helps direct light away from the floor – which keeps the colour on the floor the strongest.  Another bonus is that where there is a shaft or a drop, light falls off as you go higher, creating moody, shadowy areas.
  2. We added more texture to the walls, and grain to the image – this helped the light spread more evenly and smoothed out the banding we were getting with darker colours.
  3. We tweaked (and tweaked) the specific shades of the CMYK colours we are using in the environments.  This means the floor should always be closest to the pure colour, while the walls are a lighter gradient, getting darker towards the ceiling.
  4. We made the emission and intensity of the switches dynamic, depending on what colour corridor they are in.  This prevents yellow switches from washing out white corridors, and ensures magenta switches throw enough colour to be visible.

Things we are still working on

  1. “Stitching” on filler panels – we changed the structure of the Echoplex walls, which meant we needed fillers for gaps.  Right now these sometimes cause lines that look like stitching – we need to resolve this
  2. Area lights on filler panels – Currently filler panels on the floor do not have their own area lights – if you look at the edge of a shaft, you’ll see that there is no light coming from the floor just before the edge.
  3. Dynamic Echo emission – Currently the Echo has a standard emission for all corridor colours.  When we get to polishing stage, we’ll hopefully make this dynamic so that there will be a greater range of light and shadow on him as he moves from a dark to light corridor.

As always, we’d love to know what you think…

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