Oh, and by the way, you can't use blue
The Matrix Online may not have captured everyone equally, but one thing they did do very right was the coloring in the game. The city streets are filled with blowing trash as non-interactive NPCs wander the streets, looking for their destinations. When night falls, the street lights give off uneasy blasts of light down onto the asphalt while alleys look more dangerous than usual.
What brings all of this world into the gloom of the Matrix was a very deliberate choice of color. Not only is the entire game given an odd over-tint of pea green that defines the Matrix so well, but the developers made very careful decisions regarding the use of red and blue. Bright red is only used in areas of instability, hence the odd red tints in the decrepit Barrens district versus the strong green and white of Downtown and the fire engine red color of the emergency escape hardlines.
"It's another amazing task when the development team is actually able to freak people out with sunny, happy, beautiful days of blue sky in the Matrix."
It's an incredible task when the art department successfully creates an entire virtual world without using the color blue. It's another amazing task when the development team is actually able to freak people out with sunny, happy, beautiful days of blue sky in the Matrix. To quote my friend Fenshire, "Even if they didn't announce the event next week, you could tell it was coming up. Sky's been beautiful every day of the week. Something is very broken in the system."
The final synopsis
As I said in the opening of this column, our virtual worlds can be more than stats, exp, levels, and killing if the developer takes the time to sneak it in and the player takes the time to look. There's a hidden world of lore, emotion, and depth behind most games that some players just never take the time to explore or learn about.
It's things like these that make our worlds pop out and become something more than just a playground to kill monsters. It's what makes them functioning worlds rather than a device for performing repetitive behavior. When it's done right, or implemented properly, it turns the game into something extremely enjoyable and persuasive. When you're out doing that repetitive behavior over and over again, you get to look around and notice these neat little things that begin to wash away that repetitiveness and let you come back for more.
"Epic purplez" may be what everybody wants, but sometimes there's more epic things in the game than just the loot.
Colin Brennan is the weekly writer of Anti-Aliased who loves the little things of games. When he's not writing here for Massively, he's rambling on his personal blog, The Experience Curve. If you want to message him, send him an e-mail at colin.brennan AT weblogsinc DOT com. You can also follow him on Twitter through Massively, or through his personal feed.