Developer Blog: Color Palette Update

BioWare posted a new developer blog on the subject of the recent changes made to the game’s color palette. Game update 2.3 Features more vibrant colors, as well as a palette that suits the various settings, the game is looking more amazing than ever if you ask me. The blog post outlines the culmination of hundreds of manhours from extremely talented industry professionals. Artists, graphic designers, software engineers and production staff. He outlines how this team developed a custom set of tools and then used those tools to modify the game. This is an extremely challenging project, that was well managed and performed by some of the best in the industry.

You can read the full developer blog, over at the official site and check out the .GIF animations that show the differences from before the update and after, or check out snippet below:

Several months ago, our engineers added a new feature to our game engine that gives the artists complete control over the final color output of our renderer. The technology is very similar to digital color grading – which is a technique that directors in the motion picture industry use to add style and emotional impact to each shot in their films. You’ve all seen this effect in action in all of the most recent summer block-buster films. In our game, this new feature allows us to apply unique color effects to each area for each Planet, Flashpoint, Warzone, Operation, etc.
Here’s how the process works:
We take screen shots of the area that we want to adjust and bring them into a photo editing program.
We apply color adjustments to the screen shots including things like brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, etc, to make the images look exactly the way that we want them to appear in the game.
The adjustments that we make to the screen shots get encoded in a small texture.
In the game engine, we assign this texture to the area where we originally took the screen shots so that the engine knows what color adjustments to apply to that area.
When the engine renders the area, it applies our color adjustments in real-time to the area.
The result is that we’re able make all kinds of adjustments to the final color output of the game – basically anything that can be done to color in a photo editing program, can then be applied to our real-time graphics.
Some examples of the range of effects that are possible to achieve with our new color grading technology.
In the months since the new feature went in, we’ve been hard at work doing a color polish pass through all of the areas of all of the Planets, Flashpoints, Warzones, Operations, Fleets, Player Ships, etc (over 600 unique areas!). We’ve used our new tech to enhance and upgrade the look of each area to bring out and accent the colors already in the levels. The effects of the change are sometimes very subtle, but sometimes quite stunning.