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Magnetic Billiards

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Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint


Colour blindness fix?

Blog posted by Ste Pickford on Mon, 10 Oct 2011
Subject: Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint

Ste Pickford

When I designed the colour / shading combinations for the balls in Magnetic Billiards: Blueprint, I did consider people with colour blindness (C-B from now on). I attempted to mix up both shading patterns and colours, in a way which I hoped would make the game still playable to C-B people.

I wasn't very scientific about it. What I really did was just fiddle with both the colours and patterns until I had what I thought was a set of balls that all looked distinct from each other, then just sort of squinted a bit and imagined that I they were all the same colour, and decided they still looked different enough for the game to be playable.

We had a couple of comments straight after release, via the App Store reviews, with at least one person complimenting us on making sure the game worked for C-B people, and at least one other person complaining because we hadn't considered C-B people. My reading of that is that we've made the game possible to play for C-B people, but it's not perfect.

Since then we've had a few more complaints, so I suspect that we could tweak the ball colours and shading a little to make the game a bit more playable for C-B people.

With that in mind, I've had a bit of a fiddle with the patterns today, and would be interested in some feedback.

I don't want to change the colour order, as I spent a lot of time messing with that to get a nice looking progression of colours, and making the colour balance (particularly on the earlier tables) just right. I don't want to used the more dense patterns from the later balls on the earlier balls, for the same reason. But, I'm still hopeful it's possible to re-arrange the patterns within those constraints to improve the game for C-B people.

The illustration shows four variations. The first is the ball graphics as they currently appear in the game.

A) Andrew_72 on the www.yakyak.org forums (who is currently, by far, the best Magnetic Billliards: Blueprint player in the world - with a 50m Grand Score!) suggested that we swap the shading between the green / red pair of balls and the yellow / blue pair, so that's what I've done in version A (top right) (assuming he meant orange rather than red).

B) I tried a different approach with version B (bottom left) of alternating between the straight and diagonal patterns, as I think that a straight and a diagonal pattern make the first two balls less similar, as opposed to two different straights, or two different diagonals. I thought the orange then looked to similar to the red in this example, so I also swapped the patterns of the red and cyan balls as well.

C) This is the same as A, suggested by Andrew_72, but with the addition of my red and cyan swap.

I'm thinking that C is the best, but I'm not C-B myself, so I'm just guessing really.

If you are C-B, do you have a preference? Or is there another swap I've not thought of which would improve things?

PS - The black shaded ball is currently not used in the game. In prototyping we used the black balls in a two player battle mode we had working on PC, so they may appear in-game in a future game mode expansion.


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I'm not colour blind myself, but I think that C is the best of the options. However, I'd say that the pink and lilac (middle and bottom-left) are too similar, both in colour and pattern. Perhaps one of them could be swapped with the pattern of the black one.


Ste Pickford

B & C seem to be the favourites so far. I'm thinking a tweak to the actual colour of the bottom right pink ball might help as well.



Bottom left?


Ste Pickford

Yeah, that's what I meant.



B looks best to me (colour blind)


Yep, I'm yer typical R/G colour blind. A & C are definitely the better options, with a slight preference to 'C'. For me it's the shading on the first two which really make the big difference.


Pretty severe Red-Green CB here. B works best for me, I find the colours of the first two balls hardest to distinguish and B makes it clearest.

Nice to see a developer taking this so seriously, good work!


D'you have to put in a just single set? Why not bung 'em all in and stick it on an option? I can't imagine it'll add more than 6K to the filesize. ;)


Ste Pickford

You'd be surprised Graham, the balls are a significant chunk of the size of the game. We store unique graphics for each different size of ball, rather than scaling the sprites, as I wanted the pencil-line thickness to remain consistent across the whole game as part of the blueprint theme. Plus the game is currently just over the 20meg 3G download limit, and we really want to get it under for the next update.


A colour blind game designer here, who has made it something of a personal crusade to raise awareness in the industry. What you need to avoid is similar colours also having similar patterns. So, in the game currently balls 1 and 2 (sorry, I couldn't tell you what colour they were) both have diagonal lines. I always felt they should have used different patterns. I also confuse balls 6 and 7 (in colour) and this is hampered by them having similar patterns.

I would groups the balls into confusable colours and then distribute the patterns in such a way that each group get a mix of patterns.

1 2 (very close to each other)

3 (quite close to 1 2)

4 (fairly distinct from all others)

5 (possibly close to 2, less so 1)

6 7 (close to each other)

8 (very distinct (I have never seen this one!))

At the moment patterns 1 and 2 are hard to distinguish and so are patterns 6 and 7 (strangely patterns 4 and 5 are fairly distinct but this may be because the colours are so different).

B is the best scheme for me but it would be improved by swapping the patterns on balls 3 and 6.

Hope that helps!


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