Console altar colours


Although the central place for design discussion is ##crawl-dev on freenode, some may find it helpful to discuss requests and suggestions here first.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 02:17

Console altar colours

Console offers 16 colours:
black
blue
green
cyan
red
magenta
brown
lightgrey
darkgrey
lightblue
lightgreen
lightcyan
lightred
lightmagenta
yellow
white
(The actual colours that these map to are terminal-dependent, so don't take my hex codes as exact.)
Of these, black should never be used (since it's the background colour; a black character means "unexplored"), and darkgrey means out-of-LOS. Furthermore, the game semi-recently changed to disable darkgrey by default and use blue in place of darkgrey. This leaves us with only 15 usable colours, and only 13 good usable colours for dungeon features, since two of them should really be reserved to indicate the feature is out-of-LOS. (This is violated by quite a few bad vaults, and in the case of blue by many monsters and deep water, but...)
All altars are represented by the same character, _. There are 26 altars in the game. You cannot unambiguously represent 26 different features with only 15 colours to choose from, let alone only 13.
The game currently tries to sidestep this by using "elemental colours", which are colours that change on every redraw. For example, the "fire" colour is randomly red, yellow, or lightred. But this doesn't really help because the screen doesn't continuously redraw (nor should it); when you find a red altar it could be Trog's or it could just be Uskayaw's or even Xom's.

Obviously the long-term goal should be to reduce the number of gods below 13, but until then, I think another arrangement should be found, for the benefit of console players.
The only real solution is to use two different characters for altars. The obvious candidate is '-'; it's visually distinct from '_' without being a different shape, and it's not used for anything else except tentacle segments, which are unlikely to be confused with altars (and, in any case, already share glyphs with wands and staves). However, I admit this is a bit confusing and aesthetically displeasing.

The only alternative I can think of is to show in-LOS altars and their corresponding gods in the monster list...

Failing any of that, there are some weaknesses in the existing altar colours:
- Uskayaw's altar uses red and magenta, which are barely distinguishable at a glance. It's really easy to mistake for a Trog altar. The magenta should be changed to lightmagenta (lightred is overused already).
- Wu Jian and Qazlal altars have too many colours. They are very hard to distinguish from Xom altars. Qazlal's altar in particular is subject to some fairly complex animation behaviour that is completely unnoticeable to players.
- Vehumet's altar has a similar problem to Uskayaw's altar but reversed (it uses both lightred and lightmagenta). While these two colours are much more distinguishable than the dark versions (on reasonable terminals) there's not really any reason for Vehumet to use them in the first place, because:
- Plain lightgreen, lightblue, and lightgrey are not used on any altar, and their use in altar elemental colours is very minimal - they are mostly for Jiyva, Vehumet, and faded altars. Why aren't these altars just plain lightgreen, lightblue, and lightgrey, respectively, instead of hogging those colours AND polluting other colours too? (UPDATE: I'm wrong, Hep and Zin)
Last edited by duvessa on Friday, 5th May 2017, 04:07, edited 1 time in total.

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Dungeon Master

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 02:25

Re: Console altar colours

I don't like the more radical ideas, but I think your recoloring suggestions make a lot of sense, and I'll work on getting that taken care of soon.

Abyss Ambulator

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 04:11

Re: Console altar colours

A cool old discussion on support for 256 colors in console:
https://crawl.develz.org/wiki/doku.php? ... :256colors

Shoals Surfer

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 06:29

Re: Console altar colours

duvessa wrote:Obviously the long-term goal should be to reduce the number of gods below 13 (so that the odd console player can tell altars apart by sight instead of xv, which is not only trivial to perform but also the exact situation they face for things like monster equipment)

Over here in my country, we have a saying to the tune of "burning a dog to remove his fleas".

Besides, if altar colors are really a game-changing problem, altars can easily be made into two-tile features to allow unambiguous representation with 169 color combinations. This is doubly auspicious because 169 (give or take 50) is the devteam-approved ideal number of gods.

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Tartarus Sorceror

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 07:30

Re: Console altar colours

Obviously the long-term goal should be to reduce the number of gods below 13

This was the only bad part.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 07:56

Re: Console altar colours

If you hadn't insisted on having faded altars, you would only have to reduce the number of gods below 14!

Swamp Slogger

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 13:40

Re: Console altar colours

Duvessa, please stop trolling. Altar colors are a far less pressing problem than monster glyphs. It's not like you just run over to an altar and press > , Y, Y without reading. Unless you're playing drunk, which I do encourage but also recognize the risks.

Spider Stomper

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 15:50

Re: Console altar colours

I've been honestly surprised to read that these consoles, with these given limitations, are still relevant. What kinds of situations do people find themselves in where they have access to the console game but not the tiles?

Dungeon Master

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 16:04

Re: Console altar colours

The problem mentioned in the OP is miniscule, and I have a hunch the OP knows it.

Just for the sake of the discussion: because someone insisted that different gods have different initials, a completely different way to draw altars would be to use that initial with a unique branding.

Chicken: this is borderline trolling. Some of us play console because we want to. It's easier for us, perhaps also faster. On top of that, console is a godsend for blind players (which Crawl has).

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 17:05

Re: Console altar colours

I don't think this is a miniscule problem, and I'm certainly not trolling. The point of altars having different colours is to let the player tell them apart. If the player can't tell them apart because there aren't enough colours, that's a problem.
dpeg wrote:Just for the sake of the discussion: because someone insisted that different gods have different initials, a completely different way to draw altars would be to use that initial with a unique branding.
I thought about mentioning that - the initials are used in ?/G after all - but I don't think it's worth approximately halving the number of available monster glyphs.

Shoals Surfer

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 17:47

Re: Console altar colours

dpeg wrote:Chicken: this is borderline trolling.

No, that definitely sounds like a question asked in good faith. Tiles are more convenient for a whole bunch of reasons, to the extent that you would be right in calling the console version obsolete.

That said, you give good reasons for preferring console, and I indeed use it because it is appreciably faster, especially during the boring otab portions of the game.
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Tartarus Sorceror

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 17:51

Re: Console altar colours

duvessa wrote:
dpeg wrote:Just for the sake of the discussion: because someone insisted that different gods have different initials, a completely different way to draw altars would be to use that initial with a unique branding.
I thought about mentioning that - the initials are used in ?/G after all - but I don't think it's worth approximately halving the number of available monster glyphs.

How was that thing with accents support and such, you could have all altars be barred or stricken or have a Vietnamese "accent" on them.
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 18:01

Re: Console altar colours

Accents are incompatible with the ascii char set. You could reserve a highlight colour for altars, or keep altars on _ and highlight half of them, but those options are basically like reserving glyphs and using two different glyphs, respectively. I think the difference between '_' and '-' is less aesthetically jarring than highlighting half the altars.

Cocytus Succeeder

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 19:16

Re: Console altar colours

dpeg wrote:On top of that, console is a godsend for blind players (which Crawl has).

Nobody dares to ask "What?", but I'm not chicken, so:
What?

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 19:19

Re: Console altar colours

Magipi wrote:
dpeg wrote:On top of that, console is a godsend for blind players (which Crawl has).

Nobody dares to ask "What?", but I'm not chicken, so:
What?

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Abyss Ambulator

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 19:45

Re: Console altar colours

A tweak to colors would be nice. I generally do ctrl-F as soon as I get into temple just to see the full list of altars and go to the one i want because color is mostly useless at a glance.

I haaaaaaaaaaaate the change from darkgrey to blue but :shrug:
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Dungeon Master

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Post Friday, 5th May 2017, 20:14

Re: Console altar colours

TeshiAlair: You can swap blue and darkgrey! I understand the colour swap (the old defaults made the game unplayable for some, the new ones look ugly for everyone but always work) but we should really tell players how to go back. Set

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Halls Hopper

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Post Monday, 8th May 2017, 11:36

Re: Console altar colours

Chicken wrote:I've been honestly surprised to read that these consoles, with these given limitations, are still relevant. What kinds of situations do people find themselves in where they have access to the console game but not the tiles?

Personally, i play Crawl (offline Android build) on my smartphone, which has a quite small screen. I know there's a tiles version for Android, but it runs poorly due to insufficient resolution - and even if it worked well, it would be less legible/readable and more heavy on the eyes. Sure, i do have a PC i could play Crawl on... But when i'm on PC, i've got lots of other stuff to engage myself with; Crawl is specifically my game for "riding in Moscow Subway, no PC, no connection" parts of my life.

There's also a risk i'll go blind eventually (my vision is not doing that well), so blind access is of some interest to me as well.

Swamp Slogger

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Post Monday, 8th May 2017, 16:07

Re: Console altar colours

How about using background colors? My guess would be that picking three different background colors (i.e. black and two others) for use with altars and throwing out the worst combinations would still leave 27 options.

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Slime Squisher

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Post Monday, 8th May 2017, 21:52

Re: Console altar colours

dpeg wrote:TeshiAlair: You can swap blue and darkgrey! I understand the colour swap (the old defaults made the game unplayable for some, the new ones look ugly for everyone but always work) but we should really tell players how to go back. Set

bold_brightens_foreground = true


Could the tutorial mention this? It's unfortunate that one can't change options on the fly (or maybe you can and I don't know how), otherwise the player could be encouraged to try it immediately.
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Dungeon Master

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Post Monday, 8th May 2017, 22:41

Re: Console altar colours

damerell wrote:
dpeg wrote:TeshiAlair: You can swap blue and darkgrey! I understand the colour swap (the old defaults made the game unplayable for some, the new ones look ugly for everyone but always work) but we should really tell players how to go back. Set

bold_brightens_foreground = true


Could the tutorial mention this? It's unfortunate that one can't change options on the fly (or maybe you can and I don't know how), otherwise the player could be encouraged to try it immediately.
I'm seriously at a loss at where to put this. I think it should go into the changelog, at least. Perhaps a comment at the top of the init file?

It's a tough one, because most players don't fiddle with option, I believe. On the other hand, most people who use a console which can display darkgrey properly prefer the old style, as far as I can tell.

Dungeon Master

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Post Monday, 8th May 2017, 23:24

Re: Console altar colours

dpeg wrote:
damerell wrote:
dpeg wrote:TeshiAlair: You can swap blue and darkgrey! I understand the colour swap (the old defaults made the game unplayable for some, the new ones look ugly for everyone but always work) but we should really tell players how to go back. Set

bold_brightens_foreground = true


Could the tutorial mention this? It's unfortunate that one can't change options on the fly (or maybe you can and I don't know how), otherwise the player could be encouraged to try it immediately.
I'm seriously at a loss at where to put this. I think it should go into the changelog, at least. Perhaps a comment at the top of the init file?

It's a tough one, because most players don't fiddle with option, I believe. On the other hand, most people who use a console which can display darkgrey properly prefer the old style, as far as I can tell.


Maybe we need a calibration menu, like games that have you adjust the gamma. (I agree that the current situation is not ideal.)

Dungeon Master

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Post Monday, 8th May 2017, 23:29

Re: Console altar colours

advil: There has always been talk about an internal options editor ("like Nethack has"). That never happened, but the autopickup menu appeared at some point (the \ command), and that was perhaps the most relevant of the bunch.

I think the lesson to learn from this: instead of trying to go for the whole nine yards, we're probably better off singling out those options that players may really want to adapt during gameplay.

There is the other problem of communication: if a console player starts a fresh 0.20 and is annoyed about the colour swap -- what's the best way to communicate the way out?

Slime Squisher

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Post Monday, 8th May 2017, 23:33

Re: Console altar colours

dpeg wrote:There is the other problem of communication: if a console player starts a fresh 0.20 and is annoyed about the colour swap -- what's the best way to communicate the way out?


Until you set the option saying "don't ask me this", starting a game displays (ideally without meaning an extra dialogue) some text in blue and in bold-black to tell you about it.
Last edited by damerell on Thursday, 11th May 2017, 21:35, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 23:18

Re: Console altar colours

damerell: I've forwarded your suggestion on the c-r-d mailing list. There was a very good reply: it might be better to revert the change (going back to darkgrey) *and* having the two-colour text you suggested, with a hint about what to do if darkgrey is invisible.

Slime Squisher

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Post Tuesday, 23rd May 2017, 02:55

Re: Console altar colours

dpeg wrote:damerell: I've forwarded your suggestion on the c-r-d mailing list. There was a very good reply: it might be better to revert the change (going back to darkgrey) *and* having the two-colour text you suggested, with a hint about what to do if darkgrey is invisible.


I notice this has implications for watching games, since often you are getting the default. I hope it is safe to assume that players who watch games are savvy enough to adjust their terminal clients if need be.
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