Rant: The Bewildering Technicolor Dreamcoat Of The Character Creation Process

See that guy up there at right? That's "Bogeyman", my DC Universe Online homage to the Hobgoblin as created by Roger Stern and John Romita, Sr back in 1983. I'm damn proud of him, but I can't tell if his colours match, or can even be called "orange" and "blue".

You'd think getting colours right would be an important thing for an MMO based on comic books. But in DC Universe Online, like every game with these colour customisation options, it seems, I am given colour choices that have no descriptions. Not even so much as a palette of primary shades.

It bothers the hell out of me. I was in a Metropolis nightclub when a villain named something like Salad_Goalie came up and asked me why my costume was green and navy. And I spent the next hour tinkering with my costume colours, coming back no more assured of what I was wearing.

Part of my problem is specific to DCUO because the lighting changes in that game's environments really skew the colours. Transit from Metropolis to Gotham and you'll see what I mean. Oh, yeah, yep, I tried making a nekkid lady character and I know you have too. Her skin has a lustrous olive hue in The City of Tomorrow. In Gotham she looks like a sunburn casualty at midnight.

Do you know what saturation is? Do you know what hue is? Do you know how brightness affects either? Do you know how to create hot pink or sunset orange? If so, congratulations. I don't. At my dad's old newspaper, I wasn't in the press room matching Pantone strips and taking densitometer readings. I was, er, well I was sometimes on the inserting line, but that's beside the point.

How many times have you been running around in an MMO and someone pops in wearing an eyeball-exploding red getup. You see it all the time in DC Universe, and not just with the freakshows who selected "glowing" skin and wear the chrome beetle helmets either. These are people who just wanted to jump in and play the goddamn superhero fantasy, and gave up in the customisation menu because they couldn't hit the proper shade of Captain Marvel matte red and just said fuck it, and drove all of the sliders to the extreme left.

My plea here, and I think colour-sighted and colour-blind alike can agree, is the wheels and sliders are fine for advanced users, but for the rest of us, just give us some easy, trusted and above all, named colour choices in character creation. A grid of, like, eight or 10. Here's red. Here's orange. Here's royal blue. Here's navy blue. Here's gold. Here's green. Just name them.

Or, conversely, give us sliders that show numerical values. That I can manage, because working with actual colour samples from the internet, I can get their hue/saturation/brightness or red/green/blue or CMYK or whatever the hell and know I'm not running around looking like Ronald McDonald when I think I'm Iron Fist. NCAA Football's old Create-a-Team feature was a godsend for this because it actually used RGB values and with that and a sample from the college's brand management page, I could be sure that I had the University of Denver's official shade of crimson on my helmet.

I realise how petty this sounds. I know part of this is, as I have complained before, because I am colour-blind, and the more I play video games, the more I realise I see the world through one truly f**ked up pair of eyeballs. Purples, greens, yellows, reds, there is no shade that I see with perfect fidelity, it seems.

But avatar customisation is also angst-ridden, often ending in disappointment for those with no artistic eye and that's not a genetic defect. Colour is only one part of this. It's why conveniences like Photo GameFace exist in EA Sports titles and why, when they don't work properly (people have complained of creating zombies in Tiger Woods 13) there is such disappointment. It's why the Mass Effect 3 face importation glitch was such a teeth-gnashing disaster.

There are some talented gamers out there — Fight Night's top created fighters, pitting Ron Burgundy versus Borat, are a real showcase. But there are many more people who, even if given Da Vinci's canvas and paints, would just make a refrigerator drawing of themselves.


Comments

    You just sound incredibly lazy and dense :/

      I agree with Fruitlewp. Or you could try Champions online, the superior superhero mmo.

        You guys did read the part where he's colour blind, right?

          If he's colorblind, then why sweat it?

          I read the part where he was being incredibly vague about it, sure. By the end of the article you realise that this is yet another stupid and pointless rant, yours truly, Owen Good.

          I mean, what he's asking for in a now defunct free-to-play game is hardly something I'd call an issue, especially when he only gives two shits because someone came up to him and crushed his dreams of being the millionth hobgoblin lookalike in the DC Universe. If anything he should stick the dummy back in and be content with the fact that as far as he's concerned, he's the hobgoblin, and as far as everyone else is concerned, he's a hobgoblin trying some new threads just to be different. None of it is gamebreaking... But alas, deserving to be placed amongst the rest of these childish, futile rants that he calls journalism.

            You are aware this is just a games blog,? It's not TIME magazine.
            I didn't find this write up " yet another stupid and pointless rant" I thought he made a valid point being colour blind it does make it really difficult to pick out the right colours.

            You don't have to read things you don't like, you are old enough to make that decision yeah? Just because you don't agree doesn't mean you need to complain about like that.

              You're right, I'm sorry. Settle down, bloke.

              You thought he made a valid point? Maybe slightly, re. the whole 'inclusion of labelled colours for the colourblind' deal, but complaining about the hue, saturation, colour specifics? Most of his argument stems from a dire lack of creativity anyhow.

              What you see as 'complaining' is me asserting my opinion on a 'gaming blog' with a comments section. Just like what I see here is a pointless rant. To each his own. You're entitled to your opinion, as am I. That's a pretty condescending attitude you have there.

                Whether his personal point "stems from a lack of creativity" or not, the point is incredibly valid. It seems like a basic thing to just have a selection of basic colours to pick from for those who are unwilling/unable to play with sliders to get that perfect colour, and still keep the sliders for those who want to completely customise, or hell, even just slightly tweak one of those base colours.

                As for the person above having a condescending attitude, I don't think your arguments hold much weight when you have to resort to personal attacks on the author to make your point. You accuse Owen of being childish, yet have to resort to that yourself instead presenting an argument that can stand based on it's own merits?

                  How about we all stick away from personal attacks, okay?

                  Owen made a good point about named colours for ease of use. But things like "but I can’t tell if his colours match, or can even be called “orange” and “blue”" can't be blamed on DCUO because, well, Owen's colourblind.

                  His comment on Mass Effect 3 was hyperbolic, and he also seems to blame game creators for many gamers not having creativity (final paragraph).

                  He also comments "Oh, yeah, yep, I tried making a nekkid lady character and I know you have too. Her skin has a lustrous olive hue in The City of Tomorrow. In Gotham she looks like a sunburn casualty at midnight.". Not only did I not make a naked female character, and not only are those incredibly sparse in the game, but I've not heard of anyone else have the same issue with a change in colour. I can't see what he's talking about, which implies, quite probably, that this is related to his 'fucked up pair of eyeballs'. And that's not DC's fault.

                  Owen made a good point, but he made it with a lot of stupid along the way.

    "It’s why the Mass Effect 3 face importation glitch was such a teeth-gnashing disaster."
    Bit of an exaggeration, don't you think?

    "There are some talented gamers out there — Fight Night‘s top created fighters, pitting Ron Burgundy versus Borat, are a real showcase. But there are many more people who, even if given Da Vinci’s canvas and paints, would just make a refrigerator drawing of themselves."
    What could they possibly do to help you? Games can't give you creativity.

    The one good point you make is that named sliders would help colour blind people. But surely your complaints about the colours in DCUO don't really hold ground when you're, at least partially, colourblind. A deaf person shouldn't critique music, and a person who can't taste food shouldn't be a food reviewer. This is compounded by the fact that I've met no-one who has complained about the colours in DCUO.

    If I was colourblind, I'd be making a superhero called Monochrome-Man.

      Monochromacy is actually incredibly rare. More often it's red/green colour blindness, probably due to protanopia.

      *content with ruining Banger's good joke, Josh flies into the sky*

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