Search Unity

Color grading for horror

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by RobAnthem, May 15, 2019.

  1. RobAnthem

    RobAnthem

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2016
    Posts:
    49
    I'm developing a horror game and everything is going great, but I realized there are things about a game like this where subtle or major changes can completely change how the game feels. Post processing and lighting is one of these areas. Where almost every aspect of post processing can either break or enhance the visuals, I have setup my color grading to be what I though was very horror feeling, until I realized it gave the game an almost black and white feel. Which is where I'm struggling. I feel like this might look visually appealing. But it also might not. So can I get some opinions?

    ColoGrade.jpg
     
  2. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2017
    Posts:
    600
    I like off better.

    Actually, personally, I’d handle it programmatically. You can adjust your settings slowly over time to correspond to what you want your player to feel.

    Horror is tough to do right in any medium. In writing, the emphasis is tension, not horror. Good horror maintains anxiety and in order to do that, there have to be moments where things seem to be getting better.

    You could use your post processing for that to great effect. Maybe start the game with all effects off or maybe even make it extra saturated. Then desaturate when you want the player to feel anxious, tint it red when you want the player to feel scared or angry. Blues and greens are calming. Done right, your camera could be very effective in manipulating your players emotions.
     
  3. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2013
    Posts:
    5,485
    The color grading you are using does look very black and white, but some points in your game that may be advantageous. The human eye in relative darkness sees almost entirely in black and white.
     
  4. BlankDeed

    BlankDeed

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2018
    Posts:
    292
    You're completely right, I think that with your filter on it looks like footage captured by an older camera of such that doesn't tak light in as well as our eyes or a DSLR. I assume that your screenshot is supposed to be through the eyes of the player, in that thinking I'd say that there's clearly light coming out from that light fixture, but I personally believe that much of the dark areas should be illuminated where they are not. pretty simple fix. Also, color grading should play off of something in the game to add to a color or feel. Your color's all absent on the filter while without they are visible yet pale and washed out, which could for sure be used to be scary. Just whack it with a hammer until you're happy, these things are fun and easy to tinker with. IMHO, a mix between the two might not look so bad. Probably gonna have to pick a color palette eventually either way though. Keep it up.
     
  5. RobAnthem

    RobAnthem

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2016
    Posts:
    49
    Thank you so much for your input guys, and I didn't think about using color grading as a mutable effect to change the mood of the game. I think my solution will be to create an Animator Controller and script for the post processor and change various settings at runtime, to give the player different degrees of calm or terror. This way, I can switch the mood on the fly, if a terrifying scene occurs, and I can make it feel more terrifying by darkening, or reddening the feel, over saturating as needed and vice versa. I think I can do a lot with this.
     
    Joe-Censored likes this.
  6. BIGTIMEMASTER

    BIGTIMEMASTER

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2017
    Posts:
    2,112
    I think you might be focusing on the wrong thing though. Like the first response mentioned, horror is about anticipation and anxiety. You get a hint that something is there, you don't understand what it is, and it keeps teasing it's existence.

    So the colors can be pink and yellow and it can be bright daylight and you could be black and white or high contrast -- doesn't matter. The horror comes from the level layout, how oyu are introducing enemies, how you are communicating threats to player, reinforcing all that with audio, and of course keeping the larger narrative in mind. For instance, if we learn the easy way to kill baddie in mission one stage one, wheres teh tension gonna come from after that?

    I wouldn't touch post process until, well post your production process. Reason is because its a massive time sink, and 90% of your mood setting comes from level layout and lighting. Post should only be used to tweak things as a final touch.

    I think only a deveeloper or artist is going to notice any discernible difference between your two screenshots above. Gamer just sees a room that is blocked off from view, adn if there is some shadow moving around in there and a noise, then it's scary. They'll pie off the window from as far back as they can, rgight? Color grading has nothing to do with that interaction.
     
  7. Serinx

    Serinx

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2014
    Posts:
    506
    In this case It seems more advantageous to consider the dynamic post-processing effects now rather than later. That way you can design a system that controls the entire atmosphere to set a mood really easily.
    You don't have to limit it to colour grading, you could adjust the music, ambient sounds, lighting, player animations, player sounds (e.g. heavy breathing, whimpering, laughing), blur etc with simple adjustable parameters for each section of the level.
    You could switch between atmosphere presets like "calm", "tense", "terrifying", "delightful", "psychadellic" and it could all be controlled by a simple trigger collider at certain points in the level.

    Getting the system in place early is important, however I agree that you would want to leave the tweaking of the parameters to the polishing stages.
     
    BIGTIMEMASTER likes this.
  8. Zo_ey

    Zo_ey

    Joined:
    May 27, 2019
    Posts:
    10