Coder Diary #8 -- Variable Unit Highlight Colors
A while back, one player posted:
Please let us change the "highlight" colors because I have severe red-green color blindness and cannot easily see the change in colors when you highlight organization or any other display. I can see it while looking directly at it, but cannot zoom out and see the differences, especially in 2D.
It's no small thing. It is estimated that up to 8% of the general male population may suffer from red-green color blindness. From Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_blindness:
Color blindness affects a large number of individuals, with protanopia and deuteranopia being the most common types. In individuals with Northern European ancestry, as many as 8 percent of men and 0.5 percent of women experience the common form of red-green color blindness.
8% of our player base -- that's not insignificant.
To see what color-blind players are up against, consider this screenshot from Vietnam War, with all HQs highlighted in red:
Red-green color-blind players might effectively see this:
See the problem? (Or not? )
Beyond the color blindness problem, some normal sighted players (me!) just hate the default magenta highlight color, as we see here (in a screenshot from West Front):
What we want is to give the players the option to select their own highlight colors, by way of the Options menu. That way they can deselect colors they may be color blind to, or for aesthetic reasons just dislike. Players can also select a highlight color that works best with the current scenario's nations (with their distinctive colors) and terrain (tropics, desert, snow, etc.).
Here you go (screenshot from Middle East):
To my eyes, those yellow unit highlights are much more appealing than the traditional magenta. You don't think so? You have 15 different alternative colors to choose from, including that old standby, magenta.
(BTW, if you're wondering about the color selection: Those colors are the colors in the standard Colors.bmp file, in the order they are displayed in that file. Rather rich in the purples, but that's the way JT designed it.)
Here's an especially appealing color (light blue) for the Vietnam War highlights:
What about that red hot spot color? If you're red-green color blind, might not that present problems too?
The preceding screenshot was taken several days ago. Since then, I have implemented variable hot spot outlines, as in: whatever color you select to highlight units, that color becomes the hot spot hex outline color also (screenshot taken from the game West Front):
What about 2D? Take a look at this screenshot from Vietnam War:
The 2D maps are so "busy", and the hexes and units so small, that it's still not quite easy to pick out the highlighted units, even with 16 different highlight colors available. But it's still much better than being stuck with the traditional lone highlight color, magenta. Experiment with different colors until you find one that suits you best.
(As with the 3D hot spot hex outline, the 2D blinking hot spot is no longer a forced red, rather, whatever highlight color you select in the Options>Highlight Colors menu.)
Variable highlight colors fix a serious ergonomics issue for color-blind players, and enhance playability and aesthetics for all players, I hope you agree.
Until the next time ...
Off topic, but where do I get the Middle East scenarios and other scenarios to add to my JTCS game?
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Currently chasing three kids around the Midwest.