Take the 2-minute tour ×
Game Development Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional and independent game developers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am looking for 4-6 color schemes for three factions, good, evil and neutral (in a space strategy if that matters). I'd like the player to choose which side they want to play and each side will have an optional ally. Each team can have one or two colors (major/minor), if that makes the problem easier.

EDIT: I know that color perception can be subjective, context sensitive and influenced by culture. I am looking for a scheme that majority of players would see as a traditional fight between Good and Evil (Blue and Red comes to mind when having only two colours, two factions).


Based on this article about movie faction colour I'd pick:

  • Good: Blue (player) + Gold (ally)
  • Neutral: White (player) + Grey (ally)
  • Evil: Red (player) + Black (ally)

But something doesn't feel right about the scheme. Maybe it's the absence of color and using three shades of gray. Also it will be impossible to create gray and black "lights", "aura" and similar effects.

share|improve this question
1  
red blue green resp. is a traditional choice –  ratchet freak Jun 3 '13 at 9:09
    
Red Green Blue Black White Yellow I'd say –  Mikolaj Marcisz Jun 3 '13 at 9:31
3  
Aside from the color themes you're looking for, just remember to give everything a unique silhouette. You can use these to great thematic feel, too. Softer/rounder lines have a very different feel to them than angular lines compared which feel different than geometric shapes. Google 'character silhouettes' for examples of how powerful silhouettes can be. –  Sean Middleditch Jun 5 '13 at 3:31
    
There is number of questions regarding culture and colors on UX.stackexchange. Such as this ux.stackexchange.com/questions/31526/… which you might find interesting. –  nirth Jun 6 '13 at 10:08
add comment

6 Answers

You can do just like the Firefly Studios have done in their Stronghold series. In the bottom right corner of the picture you can see six colors, that can be easily distinquished. As a player, I do not mind remembering who is my enemy and you can always give the player(s) a chance to assign colors to the teams.

One thing I have to note, is that in the first edition of the Stronghold, The player would always play using the blue colors this his enemies were brown, yellow, red and black. The sequel to the game, Stronghold Crusader had the colors flipped, the player would always use the red color for his/hers units which felt awkward having to switch from one color to other. It took me a few hours to get used to the changes...

You could create trimms for the other players that are allied to the player. Like, if the player is blue his allies will be blue with a gold trimm around his armor/whatever.

You can add a skull next to the evil players, shield next to allies or anything else you might feel that would correspond to the game.

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
add comment

Shades of grey are generally not a good idea to tell players apart, because due to shading, white, grey and black can easily blend into each other.

When two factions form a team, it would be a good idea to give them colors which are close to each other in color spectrum but still distinct colors. I would do it like this:

  • Good: Blue and Teal
  • Neutral: Green and Yellow
  • Evil: Red and Purple

Another option would be to represent the primary faction with a saturated shade and the secondary faction with a more pale shade:

  • Good: Dark Blue and Light Blue
  • Neutral: Dark Green and Mint Green
  • Evil: Red and Pink

But note that the distinction of "good" colors and "evil" colors is not a very strong concept. Color psychology in general is heavily dependent on context and doesn't span cultural borders very well. To give an example: White in western culture stands for purity and cleanness. White in eastern cultures is the color of death and mourning.

share|improve this answer
1  
I'd just pick the color based on how each faction plays or which color looks best when applied to their units. –  Lewis Wakeford Jun 3 '13 at 8:11
1  
There are far too many positive attributions to green to be a viable "neutral". Yellow usually serves well, as do desaturated colors. Green is actually used quite commonly as "us" or "good" in games, so any departure in the domain of games would be unusual. –  Attackfarm Jun 3 '13 at 20:22
add comment

I was originally passing on this question, as I feel there are far more important qualities to color choice beyond traditional moral delineations in mainstream American media, such as cultural meanings, historical meanings, theme and "look and feel" of the fiction, color blindness, usability, and more. However, if what is truly desired is a "common" perception of good, evil, and neutrality, then:

Hue

Every hue has positive associations, but blue and green are almost universally positive, being the colors of a clear sky and plant life. Any habitable land on a temperate day will flourish with blues and greens.

Red has significant negative correlations that transcend culture, largely due to the color of human blood. While doctors and healthcare are often associated with red, so are wounds and recent deaths which can be more universal and pervasive.

Yellow and Orange are unusual colors with multiple positive and negative assocations, especially the association with fire, which can be vital to survival and deadly when uncontrolled. This is why there is often a "neutral" valuation with such colors.

Saturation

Lighter and brighter colors are often associated with "good". Bright light is the reason for this, as all colors are lighter and brighter on a clear day. Note that "white" is not necessarily associated with daytime, merely with the absence of night, which is one reason why "white" can have very different associations depending on culture.

Conversely, darker and more desaturated colors are associated with "bad". Darkness is the clear association here, as darkness conveys the unknown and unknowable. For the same reason one is much more likely to be scared of the dark than to be scared of the clear daytime, so are darker or greyer colors more likely to evoke negative associations. Black of course is the color of complete darkness, the elimination of the primary sense our species uses, resulting in a color easily associated with negativity, fear, death, and more.

Conclusion regarding the question of "What is the most common representation in games?"

The most common associations would be one of a few alternatives.

  • The classic "blue vs red", with some yellow, grey, or other color for "neutral". A common example of this is Star Wars.
  • Green, Yellow, and Red, commonly associated with "Go" "Caution" and "Stop", or stoplights. This extends beyond pure gamer or sci-fi/fantasy culture to many drivers across the world (I'm unaware of any nation/culture that doesn't use this scheme for stoplights)
  • Any colors of differing brightness and saturation. You could even use the same hue, as long as the bright and light color represented "Good", a darker and dimmer color was "Neutral", and even darker and greyer was "Bad"/"Evil".
  • Combine the associations with hue and saturation with a bright blue and green as "Good", a neutral valued yellow and orange as "Neutral", and either a dark or desaturated red as "Evil"/"Bad", probably combined with "Black" to give you your desired 6 colors, though if you really wanted to stick to colors with actual hues, a dark or desaturated color of any hue would fit in well enough with the rest of the scheme. Yellow could also work, but would leave you short a common "neutral" color.
share|improve this answer
add comment

After a lot of thought and inspired by the other answers, I came up with a schema of 6 two color combinations. I realized that using just one color won't be enough, because I will have to repeat at least one of them, making either good a shade of evil or vice versa (which sounds pretty zen). I've also asked a web designer to help me pick and name the colors. I searched for these color among video games or movie heroes and villains. I've also went through comic book superhereos, anime characters and AD&D famous characters.

The six combinations are from top left:

  • Bloodlust, Poison
  • Neutrality and the other color I don't know (labour, soil, or something like that)
  • Sky, Life

I've added the aura effect. Also the image has transparent background, if you are interested to see it on different color backgrounds.

Good vs. Evil

Also @Sean Middleditch has a good point with shapes.

Just FYI, the colors were simulated for people with deuteranopia, protanopia and tritanopia (three color blidness variants) and they still look recognizable from each other, thanks to the color combinations. But I'd be very much interested how colorblind people classify those colors.

share|improve this answer
    
If you consider color blindness, why not use the black? –  Mikolaj Marcisz Jun 6 '13 at 2:50
    
If I consider color blindess in the end, I'd probably make an option for it and change the color scheme completely. –  sm4 Jun 6 '13 at 3:46
    
Yeah, that is the best option. Always to give the player a color pallete to choose from. –  Mikolaj Marcisz Jun 6 '13 at 8:32
add comment

If I recall my Starcraft to a decent degree...

The player was Red, neutral units were usually either yellow, or some gray, un-themed color, and the enemy's color might vary at times. (Blue confederates, Purple zerg). For the player, you may want to pick whatever color seems to most closely fit the theme of your game's units, then think about other colors for enemies as needed.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I like the suggestions from users Philipp and Mikolaj. Another variant came to my mind when I read that you have a neutral team, and that is using "forrest colors". So here is my suggestion:

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
    
Please don't provide link-only answers. They eventually become useless when the link eventually goes dead. Supply at least a useful overview of the answer inline here on the site. Thank you. –  Sean Middleditch Jun 5 '13 at 3:27
    
This is an important remark. Can this case qualify as an exception because the link contains the HEX values of the proposed colors? –  John Jun 5 '13 at 18:28
    
Keeping the link is fine. Link-only answers are frowned upon. As is, if this link goes dead, your answer becomes almost entirely useless. –  Sean Middleditch Jun 5 '13 at 18:59
    
I mean, the link's URL contains this part 0123FE,FEDC01,FFFFFF,96541A,457B0E,FFFFFF,F70702,B7015C,FFFFFF,FFFFFF. Even if the page would go offline the information is still available... –  John Jun 5 '13 at 20:22
1  
That information is almost meaningless, plus it's hidden in the link. Are those colors? Half of them are just white; which of the rest of them are the bits you're talking about? What is important about those colors? Why do you recommend them? You could amend your answer to be much better with no more energy than you're expending trying to defend just using the link. :) –  Sean Middleditch Jun 5 '13 at 20:59
show 2 more comments

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.