Epic Games has changed the design of the female characters for the new Unreal Tournament to make them more combat ready, art director Chris Perna and cognitive psychologist Celia Hodent discussed in a recent stream, where it was also revealed that the game may move away from its classic red versus blue roots.
"I thought about this for awhile now with our female characters, and I think that Celia is great at that, we have [unclear] no who is great at mining data about female characters stuff," Perna said in the discussion based on the art style for Unreal Tournament and community-submitted concept art. "And traditionally we have these sexy, armored up female characters, and is that really the way to go to attract players?"
The developers went on to discuss that they have ventured away from the overly sexualized style in the "Gears days" and slimmed these figures down to make them look more "combat ready." The latest concepts, the developer believes, makes the female character look just as combat ready as the male characters.
"It was just to give a chance for everybody to recognize themselves in the character," Hodent added.
Epic invited players of mixed skills to a user experience test with Unreal Tournament 3 to collect data on how well they read the game. The test looked at how their brains analyzed the environment as well as the overall user experience, and the data was compared to the team's original design goals.
"One of the common things in games is the red overload. Red is a very good color to draw attention to what is dangerous," Hodent explained. "But if we have too much red all over the place then it stops being able to draw attention and that is what we observed especially when you are on the red team."
The findings brought up a larger question for the developer: Multiplayer games have traditionally been red team versus blue team, so should it stray from that? The data collected during testing created a big discussion internally on whether Unreal Tournament should stick with red and blue teams or look at changing to blue and orange or orange, for instance.
"Red versus blue is easy to discriminate but usually you want to keep the red for the enemies or the threats. So if your enemy team is always red, actually it is better to have an orange as a new team. Then when you get critical health, it draws your attention."
Epic Games is inviting fans to post on the forums to provide their feedback. The final color decision will have an impact on the game such environment and weapon designs. More concept art is located on the discussion's post.
Unreal Engine 4 subscribers can currently download and test prototypes of the in-development Unreal Tournament. Users can also create and post their own prototypes and offer feedback on movement and gameplay on the Unreal forums. Unreal Tournament will be a free, fully moddable multiplayer shooter and will launch for Linux, Mac and Windows PC.