Today PECTIN is back again with another devlog about the art of //TODO: today! It's about some subtle elements of the background which can be seen in the second half of the game.
If you haven't already played the second half beware of SPOILERS. If you aren't scared of spoilers or already played that part you can safely read on.
Colour and Mood
Here's a simple breakdown of how I think of colours and values:
(Despite what Johannes Itten said, and many others for that matter..., I think that green is a warm colour! ヽ( ．∀・)ﾉ┌┛ )
So when I say friendly colours I'm talking about colours that are rather in the warm spectrum, with high values (appearing "bright"). Colours you see on a sunny day. :3
The perception of colour is a subjective experience and others might feel different about them. Colours also appear different in context to each other. Look up Colour Assimilation if you're interested. But we're here for something else. I want to show you how colour is used in a certain part of //TODO: today now that the terms I use are a bit clearer.
The Joyce Rescue Mission
Thinking of the art of //TODO: today you probably think of the colourful palettes and lively pastels. That's true for most of the scenes in the game but not all of them. In the second half of Todo, Teal, Zen and Phoenix can break into the Bell Tech headquarters to confront Joyce.
Back when we were deciding on the rough parts of the story we thought of Bell Tech as a sinister organisation. Somehow like the Aether Foundation in Pokémon Sun & Moon. They've got that neat and clean white look going but there's something off about them. White is also a shade that can be found in the context of purity, innocence and good will. For example the whiteness of clean snow, the wings of an angel or a doctor's coat.
Bell Tech's brand tones are blue and white. Fitting for a medical technology company.
In the final game however Bell Tech didn't get to be the ultimate villain Teal has to fight, but they kept some questionable features and a certain two-facedness.
Take a look at this though. Isn't this just a friendly reception hall?
Bright colours and an open space. Some light yellow and orange-red here and there makes it friendly. Yet there is a majority of cool, blueish colours in it. Makes it less comfy than a cozy café, huh.
Well let's move deeper into the company's HQ.
These are public hallways. The colours are almost the same as the previous background illustration. But what's this? Only one tiny little red-orange sign above the elevator. Even that is muted though. The rest is in cool tones. We still get a lot of sunlight so it's not too unfriendly. Although about a third of the picture is in dark blue or shadows...
...Next we have a more private affair. A meeting room with some head figures of the company. Compared to the reception hall this feels almost oppressive. We have big windows but the colours are in sickly (/muted!) green and blue tones. The white areas are smaller than the rest. The lady in the front may have red hair but it's purple-ish in this setting. Although closer to red than blue, it's a cool tone.
So you might already know where this is going. The Last background illustration is the server room. The last stage for the squad to arrive and meet Joyce for an emotional exchange.
Here there're almost no whites anymore. Only the exit sign glows brightly. The room is dark and the purple I introduced before makes an appearance again to allow a bit of variety in the overall colour scheme.
And here is every background, including the deep talk scene, next to each other:
Can you see the gradual progression into the darker tones? The desktop backdrop upon which Joyce appears is even darker than the server room. But I also did that to give Joyce a glowing effect.
So why did I do this?
1. As mentioned before, the player mostly navigates through happy colourful places in the game. I wanted to introduce them into the setting gradually without the darkest place feeling off-brand compared to the others.
2. I wanted to subtly tell the player that Bell Tech isn't as friendly as they might appear. Although they promote with friendliness and welcome guests in a bright reception hall, their inner sanctum is a dark place. What does that say about them? (Server rooms are usually well lit so you know where to look for cables and intruders.)
3. Along with point 2., I wanted to create a feeling of tension. When you play a narrative game you follow the main narrative and it's story/quest line. The text box in Todo does most of that. But the mood and atmosphere can be underlined and emphasised with visuals and audio. The increasing darkness may foreshadow something bad or exciting. I hope the background illustrations could accomplish this. :D
Because you've come so far on this journey with me. I'll let you in on a random fact: For the server room illustration I placed every single little glowing dot/line on the server cases by hand. No Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V used. :))))
Have a nice weekend! <3
2D Artist/Story Developer at Boys Laughs +