After getting feedback and comparing the old neon look and the new lighted look with a variety of ships, I chose to go back to the neon look and enhance it to support team/faction colors. With the neon look, I found that:
- Parts are more distinguishable.
- Part power levels are more visible.
- Less repetition when tiling due to color variation (aesthetic).
- Unique, recognizable aesthetic for Triverse.
The main concern was how to clearly distinguish opponents from the player’s own units, which is why I’d started looking at tile alternatives in the first place. With the original neon look, each tile could have a separate color, and an obvious way to show opponents would be to apply an overall tint or hue shift to the colors. However, every variation I tried looked terrible, and it also confused the notion of part colors corresponding to power levels.
Revised Neon Graphics
Fortunately the changes I made for lighting also provide support for defining separate colors for regions within tiles defined by RGB channels, which allows for more granular control over tile coloring.
Here’s a test of a color theme for opponents, with cores glowing red:
So the plan now is to define an overall theme color and a core glow color for each separate team. Using cores as a primary identifier fits well with the game logic because ships require at least one core, otherwise it’s a floating piece of scrap without any owner. Cores also never had any strong color variations from power level as other parts do, so it isn’t much change to use a specific color for them. The difficulty is mainly in getting them to look decent in using the separate region color channels.