You might have noticed our glowing review of Colors! 3D that applauds the painting tool on Nintendo 3DS for its unrivaled accessibility and excellent teaching methods, amongst others. The mastermind of this unique title is Jens Andersson, which helped on such games as The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay and The Darkness. Interested as we were to know more about the amazing Colors! 3D, we asked Jens a few questions. With our most humble thanks, he had some choice words for answers.
1) Daav: Where did you come up with the inspiration to bring Colors! 3D to 3DS?
It all started when I was working for Starbreeze Studios back in Sweden back in 2007. Mattias Snygg, one of Starbreeze’s great concept-artists, gave me a crash-course in digital painting. He showed me the techniques he used with a drawing-tablet and I was surprised how simple the ideas behind them were.
Back then, the original DS was still fairly new and I was really excited about what handheld device like that offered and just wanted to see what I could do with them. Trying to translate those paintings techniques to the DS seemed like a nice challenge, and after I got the first prototype up and running I was surprised in how well they translated to the tiny DS screen.
Fast forward 5 years later, and the 3DS was about to be released. I had just left my job at LucasArts and decided to found my own company here in San Francisco. Taking Colors! from a hobby project into a full-fledge release for the 3DS seemed like the perfect first project. And I had a hunch that I could make it really cool to paint in 3D as well, which was the new thing I wanted to try out.
Daav made this with Colors! 3D - Partial process can be viewed here.
2) Daav: What was the decision behind recording all progress in Colors! 3D?
Again, that came after watching how concept artists worked. I always found it magical to see a painting organically grow from just smudges of colors, and I always thought it was a shame that the process of how a painting created seldom was recorded. So even when I did the first prototype of Colors!, I made sure to build it in a way where I easily could store all the steps that were taken.
I don’t think I realized how important this really was to Colors! until we had an online gallery. Suddenly people started commenting on how they learnt a ton from watching each other’s playbacks. That was one of the most rewarding experiences for me as a designer - seeing the users of your software really learn and get better at something, thanks to a tool you made.
3) Daav: How did the control scheme come to pass?
This might be one of the more odd things about the whole Colors! project. We actually made the original prototype of Colors! freely available, and this gave us the luxury of being able to tap into the community to get all the feedback that we wanted. This was actually harder for Colors! 3D as there wasn’t really any way to get it into the hands of very many people before it was available on the eShop. Luckily, I think we had learnt enough to make good decisions on the control scheme and to not mess things up.
Made with Colors! 3D - Process can be viewed here.
4) Daav: Do you plan on keeping up support and/or adding a few new features in the future?
Yes! Nintendo just opened things up for making updates in the eShop and we plan to take advantage of that. Updates in the eShop has to go through the same in-depth certification by Nintendo as a full release. Because of this we are planning to do a big update, rather than many small ones. This will of course take a little bit of time, and we don’t have a date available yet.
While we will refine things all over the place, the main focus on the update will be to improve of the community features. With the huge amount of content in the Colors! Gallery we want to make it easier to find and discover paintings. We hope to get a proper search function in there as well as some sort of way to follow a specific artist.
5) Daav: How has the reception been for Colors! 3D so far?
To be honest, I couldn’t be happier. As any game-developer will tell you, it’s almost impossible to predict how your title is going to be received until it’s out there. Especially since I hadn’t been able to test Colors! 3D with too many people. You need special development hardware to run during development and that was tough when you need people to really sit down with your title for hours to know if it was any good or not. I was casually optimistic, but on launch day here in US I was completely blown away by both the amazing reviews as well as that it took the top spot in the sales charts.
6) Daav: Are there or will there be steps taken to tackle the recording issue in Colors! 3D?
Yes. There is a limit on how long the playback can be recorded in Colors! 3D. This limit is normally after around 6 hours, but if you paint on a single painting for more than that, the recording will stop. This doesn’t stop you from finishing your painting, but it will prevent Undo/Redo from working which can be a pain for artists who rely on that tool.
This limitation is due to the limited resources of the Nintendo 3DS, and while we won’t be able to remove the playback limit completely, we could have done a better job on what happens when you hit this limit. With some extra work, we could have managed to get in at least a one-step undo in, as well as properly inform the user what is going on.
Improving this behavior is obviously something will make sure to do in the update. We also hope to extend the limit slightly as well, so even fewer people will run into this issue.
3 Step progress made with Colors! 3D - Process can be viewed here.
7) Daav: What are your future plans?
We will definitely focus on Colors! for a while longer. There is a ton of things we want to do with the Colors! Gallery, and there are also many new platforms that we hope to bring Colors! to. And for Colors! 3D specifically, we hope to keep extending it, both the app itself as well as fixes we can do directly on the server.