Dead by Daylight dev announces colorblind mode amid controversy

Image: Behaviour Interactive

Dead by Daylight developer Behaviour Interactive has announced a new feature, following outcry from the gaming community. Colorblind mode will come to Dead by Daylight, with settings for the various kinds of colorblindness: deuteranope (inability to perceive green light,) protanope (inability to perceive red light,) and tritanope (inability to perceive blue light. There is no release date, but it will arrive “shortly,” the developer said in a tweet.

The controversy began when a new test realm was rolled out for Dead by Daylight, which included a new HUD update. Patch 4.5.0, which has not arrived on live servers, comes with patch notes that explain the change.

The player status widget (player names, health states etc.) has been redesigned. Along with a number of graphical improvements to animations, the player status widget is now positioned on the left side of the screen. While this change was not made lightly, it was necessary in order to make the player names readable across all platforms and resolutions as well as make room for new HUD elements like the Hook Count.

Fans immediately noticed that the new UI was very difficult to make out for colorblind players. Dead by Daylight is a competitive game where four survivors try to escape from one powerful killer. Survivors leave red “scratch marks” on the environment that show their activity, and the killer’s cone of vision is represented by a red light.

This isn’t a new complaint; fans have been petitioning Behaviour for these changes for some time now, with one player going so far as to post a “weekly shitpost about the lack of colorblind settings for Dead by Daylight — and kept it up for 70 weeks.

Things became more heated when a developer on stream said “It’s getting really boring just blabbing about colorblind mode all the time, we’ve heard it a million times. We know. Continuing to badger us about it isn’t going to change anything.”

The controversy was highlighted by Steven Spohn, the COO of Able Gamers and a long-time advocate for gamers with disabilities.

Two hours after Spohn’s retweet, Behaviour Interactive responded with a series of tweets, which read, in part: “This is not indicative of the views of the team, and we deeply apologize for any frustration or harm this may have caused. [...] We have been working on a colorblind mode for some time now and we are planning on a release shortly.”

It looks like colorblind mode will not arrive in 4.5.0, which includes the new UI and a rework for one of the game’s killers, The Clown.

“We want to make sure this is done the right way so while we are hoping to get this into the next major release, we are unable to commit on the release date just yet,” Behaviour wrote on Twitter.

Comments

Basic accessibility should be a part of any UX from the beginning. It’s a pretty simple thing to handle as long as you do it from the start. Glad they’re putting in the work now, but there are far too many game devs who don’t even consider colorblindness when designing their interfaces.

Seriously. There are absolutely things that are harder to compensate for than others, but basically any accessibility feature is easier to add if you started out with them in mind. (High contrast modes for low-vision and Blind players, subtitles and visual cues for Deaf/HoH, basic control mapping cough NINTENDO cough, hold vs button mash options, the list goes on.)

I had a genetics professor who took points of for presentations, figures in papers, etc., not being color blind compatible. No idea if he was, but it’s a trait linked to the X chromosome and also is shown to have a link to race, so for the folks with just the one X (predominantly people with XY chromosomes) and who are Caucasian, it’s about a 1-in-12 chance, or 8%, that they’re colorblind, so in a lecture with about 40 people, it was pretty likely that someone would have a suboptimal viewing experience.

That is all to say, Behavior Interactive and its over 600 employees should have someone working there who is themselves colorblind who could have at some point seen the UI. Did that person not say anything, or did the people who could make the changes not listen? With someone "shitposting" about an accessibility issue for 70 weeks, gonna guess they just didn’t listen.

Most colourblind people are accustomed to a different interpretation of the colours they see over the course of their life. A colourblind dev probably would’ve known what the game was supposed to look like, so they’d probably know they need to interpret the white scratch marks and the light haze as red.

Steam and other game stores for PC/Console should start listing accessibility in the features list of games. Maybe some of them do, now that I think about it, but it should be even more thorough. Perhaps even as far as to have a "no color blindness support"-warning.

So first things first, the game should have a colorblind mode and people are right to be upset at the developer’s dismissive attitude. But my understanding is that a "fan" of the game crashed a developer’s personal stream to ask unrelated questions about features they want in the game. DbD has a fairly vocal community of fans who have a tendency to make the same requests over and over again, repeatedly, in response to every social media post, during every stream, etc. These range in quality from, "Hey I’m disabled and would like to be able to play your game" to "Add Clementine from The Walking Dead as a survivor." To me, crashing a developer’s personal stream to badger them about features you want in the game they work on is toxic, entitled fan behavior, even when it comes from a good place or is well-intentioned. Given all the articles Polygon writes about crunch, devs’ work/life balances, etc., I’m disappointed this aspect of the story was overlooked.

Respecting the devs time and space is definitely good. Though it seems like the dev could have set a blanket "no talking about my work" policy or asked their mods to handle this kind of thing rather than implying it wasn’t important and that they didn’t care about it.

The full quite, just so we’re all on the same page.

Alright JC, it’s getting really boring just blabbing about colorblind mode all the time, we’ve heard it a million times, we know. Continuing to, to badger us about it isn’t going to change anything.
If it gets done it’ll get done when we’ll, when we have time to do it, or if somebody decides that it’s something should- that should be done. Ya know. We, we know that a lot of players want it, we know it’s not a small number. We get it."

It’s possible they knew it was being worked on but didn’t think they were cleared to announce it, but the handling of the comment was a bad look even if that was the case.

Oh for sure, the way he handled it was terrible and I don’t condone that at all.

Yeah, people coming onto a personal stream to talk work is definitely a thing I could see being draining, but the developer’s response is just so dismissive. Yeah, I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about accessibility, pal. Equally sure the people bringing it up are tired of having to push for accessibility in games they’d like to enjoy. I sure as hell am.

Doesn’t make the first comment good, but the dev definitely could have better ways to handle and (try to) prevent it. Chat bans, for one.

"It’s getting really boring just blabbing about colorblind mode all the time, we’ve heard it a million times. We know. Continuing to badger us about it isn’t going to change anything."

That’s a terrible attitude to have towards people who WANT to play your game. Audiences can easily find other games to go to, so it is worth accommodating requests and feedback, even if it repeated annoyingly.

If I were a game dev, I would create an avenue for people to provide feedback and clearly inform them about whether I will start working towards addressing the most frequent feedback. Even if they are annoying about it.

They have regular player surveys, forms on their websites, official dev streams with fans and are all around pretty great about soliciting feedback. Obviously they are less great at addressing that feedback, particularly regarding colorblind options, but there are lots of channels to provide feedback. For whatever reason flooding the zone by replying to every tweet, commenting on every stream, etc., seems to be the preferred tactic of some of their players.

I don’t agree with your characterization of the commenter’s actions as "crashing" the stream and "badgering."

To be fair, every moderately successful streamer has to put up with being asked the same questions over and over. And if they are a developer (who identifies themselves as such for all of the followers and subs that might profit them) those questions will naturally be related to their work. We can’t assume that every commenter is aware of the full continuity of discussion on a particular subject. That’s what mods are for.

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