It used to be a running joke when I was a kid that old people would mutter “pop music all sounds the same to me” when they stopped giving a toss or whatever it is that causes you to pretend you’re not listening to a boyband when you listen to The Beatles because they’re serious maaaan or start trying to convince people that yeah, Bob Dylan made a decent record after Desire. Or that rap music is just talking. Yet here I am, sitting there, looking at the television and thinking “I can’t tell one film from another here, it’s all just blue” like the very people I used to promise myself I’d never become, just over television instead of music. It’s all been downhill since Dark City hasn’t it?
But honestly, I can’t. I can no longer tell what’s on the TV just by a quick glance and the same sort of goes for a certain budget level of videogames too. And there’s kids on my lawn. GET OFF MY LAWN. It’s all just a dense blur of the same shade of blue. Grass never used to be blue when I were a lad, what’s going on here?
Obviously, where film and TV goes, videogames surely follow these days too because something something someone’s DVD collection something. I say that as if it’s a modern thing and Ghostbusters:The Videogame, Knight Rider, Street Hawk, Airwolf, Rambo:The Game, Give My Regards To Broad Street and Bruce Lee are things that never ever existed. Shhh. I’m sure I’ve got a point here somewhere. Stay with me.
(if I hadn’t taken this picture myself, I couldn’t tell you what game it’s from at all)
I’ve recently sat through the Wolfenstein reboot and it’s all blue and orange except where it’s grey. There’s some amazingly detailed art and texture work in there but I dunno, has anyone looked around themselves lately and noticed the myriad of colours just a cursory glance around the room provides? Has anyone noticed how beautiful flowers are with all the colours, all the shapes, all the smells and all that but especially the colours? Has anyone been outside at all and noticed it’s not all dense blue? Or indoors and noticed that it’s not thick orange? Asking for a friend.
I managed around half an hour to an hour of the new Thi4f:Thiaf and yeah, the game’s a bit of a snorefest and all that but it’s the art, right? It’s not even that it’s bad or uninspired, it’s fine but I bet it’d look spectacular in colour, y’know?
At least it wasn’t weewee yellow this time. That was quite upsetting, Deus Ex:Human Harder.
(don’t ask about the bodies)
I’m moaning, of course, and it’s unfair too because videogames are really, really good at being colourful a lot of the time. The orange and tealification has hit us for sure but it’s fairly often confined to the land of the big box or want to play in the big box toy box sand box box videogames box. Mainly. Sometimes. Kind of? I realise they make an exception for jungles, they’re allowed to be in colour. The rest of the stuff? I dunno. Probably teal.
Maybe I wouldn’t mind so much if it didn’t turn everything into this indistinguishable sludge, right? Who am I kidding, videogames are brilliant at doing that, it’s one of our superpowers. Remember when everyone was going “ooh, got to have some BROWN in our videogames” and “let’s put some serious BROWN in our videogames” and “can you tighten up the BROWN on level 3 please?” And that was just a big old fat sigh (and probably a hangover from letting too many c64 artists stay in the industry), the same as when we went through that weird “we don’t need any saturation anyway” phase too and oh god, look, just make games with colour will you and films and anything else. Make music in colour too, please.
(That’s what happens when you make music in colour, in case you’re wondering)
It just seems a shame to me to have all this manpower, all this technology at our disposal, all the ways we can manipulate what’s on that screen and to then turn it all blue. To employ so many talented artists who could bring distinct art styles to each and every videogame, to have so many rich seams we could mine with limited colours and to default to the one wot films and TV do.
But then, I live in a world where someone thinks it sounds reasonable to argue their game has a low FPS to make it more film-like as if they didn’t have granular control over every single thing that appears on screen and the speed it moves and how it looks in ways people making films can’t possibly replicate. Whilst pointing out the real reason it runs at a lower FPS is because they filled it with pretties as if no-one understands how games work at all. Blue pretties but still, pretties. There’s a whole subset of games that are made by people who really, really want to be making films or games like films who genuinely seem to have no idea about films other than they’re on discs they can watch over and over again.
I guess that’s OK because we’ve got room for plenty of things and we’re making a massive variety of things and that’s fantastic and off you trot, folks. Lowering the FPS on a videogame doesn’t make it more film like though, come on now.
Where am I even going with this? I guess I just wanted the world to know that when you make everything orange and teal, I can barely tell one thing from the other. You could post a picture of Prometheus and a picture of Snowpiercer back to back and if it didn’t have an alien or a train in it or something, I wouldn’t have a clue what film it is. Or whether it’s actually a screenshot from a videogame. And maybe that means I’m now officially old or maybe it means that you really can’t tell one from the other. Either way, you should totally play Space Colors. It’s really quite good.
It’s in space and colour and I really like it a lot. Even if they can’t speil colours.
What? It’s any excuse really.