Color Coded Treasure Chests? Exciting or Boring?

Tai_MT

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Hello.

I recently decided in my game to use a color-coding system for my Treasures. I did this because I had to have 3 chests with unique graphics to indicate, at a glance, how they are meant to be interacted with. I decided, "well, why not do this with all the chests? Maybe this will make getting to loot exciting?".

I really have no way of testing if this actually is exciting or not. I don't even have a way to know if this is an interesting concept beyond what I think of it (in other words, I like the idea, but I know I'm biased towards liking my own ideas). I'm not even sure if I've ever seen another RPG implement something like this.

I've currently got 4 Treasure Chests that show the kind of loot you'll be getting. Red Chests have Weapons in them. Blue Chests have Armor in them. Green Chests have Consumables in them. Yellow Chests have Currency in them (not just the standard currency, but also 3 other, more rare currencies).

So, what I'm asking is, does this seem at all interesting from a player perspective? Is it helpful in any way? Is it exciting to know that those three chests in the treasure vault have two weapons and a currency in them? Is it fun to see that Blue chest just out of reach up on a ledge? What do you think? Should Treasure Chests be color coded?
 

Nebuerys

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Does the color coding influence the player's decisions in any way? I don't find it entirely uninteresting or otherwise, it's just that in my eyes, a chest is simply a chest containing something, and as a player, I would definitely want to see what's in it regardless of it being green or bright pink.

Of course, there's the game's overall aesthetics to consider.
 

EternalShadow

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Asdivine Dios did this - it made it more useful for me as a gamer to determine if I should go out of my way to get a chest on a far-off ledge.
 

Ms Littlefish

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I more or less agree with @EternalShadow. It would let me size up if the potential reward is worth whatever obstacle it takes to get there. So, in a sense, it would remove some mystery but also could incentivise certain exploration. I certainly don't think it would be boring at a design element. Personally, I'm the type that completely turns over every inch of an area anyway, though.
 

Rhino

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I quite like it when chests are coloured to fit in their surroundings. Like, finding a blue chest in water temple, it just makes me think oh yeah, this belongs here, rather than it being a random thing added because someone realised there needs to be more loot XD

But I think colour coding for items could be quite nice too. I can't imagine that it would dramatically change anyone's mind, if they tend to grab all the loot they can find, they probably won't skip one just because 'oh, it's a blue chest, but I have a lot armor,' I think they'd still go for it. But if it's something you'd like to see and something that excites you, then why not include it? It's your game after all :kaojoy:
 

Pine Towers

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Never thought about it and I think it is good, like as @EternalShadow said. I hate to open up chest in The Legend of Zelda only to find a silver Rupee when I'm already close to the limit of my wallet. And you could add two other color chests, one for anything (a rainbow one? since it can have anything from all chests?) and other for really unique items.
 

Talonos

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Color codes aren't the only way to do it. Dark Cloud (PS2) had large and small chests for weapons and consumables. The Zelda franchise has large and small chests too. (The "big improvements" that gated progression, such as the hookshot or boomerang, tended to be in large chests. Optional chests were smaller and less obtrusive)

I used this in a project. In my game, I used red chests for optional chests and blue chests for important chests that you were basically required to open.

Four might be a little much unless you have some tutorial text helping players make the connections between the color and the contents. It also might help to color-code the contents. (If you're using the stock MV iconset, then yellow for weapons, green for armor, blue for consumables, etc) Player signaling is key!
 

Shaz

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We did this in the Aveyond games. Regular brown chests could be opened at any time. Blue chests needed a key and contained more useful items. Red chests needed a "magic key" and always contained rare items. I know players used to make notes of where the blue or red chests were 'cause they wanted to come back when they got the key and grab what was in them. I think they enjoyed it.
 

Talonos

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We did this in the Aveyond games.
Oh hey, you're one of the guys that did Aveyond? How did I not know this? My wife loved those games.

Anyway, yeah, it worked well there, too. Other games have similar features, such as Tales of Zestiria's silver/gold chests. But I think the purpose there was to make players feel better about having to revisit old areas for plot reasons, not to signal what was in them.
 

Tai_MT

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So, what I'm gathering from this is that I'm not the first one to think of the idea (at least here on the forums and maybe a bit in the industry) and that the people who interacted with it generally enjoyed it. Or, at the very least, found it useful.

That makes me smile and lets me know that I might be onto at least an interesting idea for my players to enjoy.

As for having extra types of chests... already got that. I have 7 kinds of chests in use. The four that are mentioned and the three I didn't really elaborate on, but they serve the purposes of "having any kind of item" in them. A Wooden Chest is always locked, it requires my Thief Class to open it (he never fails to open the chests, and the contents are rolled from a loot table). A Metal Chest is locked by Silver Keys, which you typically obtain in the Yellow Chests I mentioned earlier... usually unique loot of some kind in them... or difficult to obtain loot. The final is a simple wooden crate. It has a loot table roll as well, but it can be opened without the roll, if you don't have my Pirate Class along with you (he uses Pillage on it to make the loot roll).

To address the tutorial thing about the link between the colors of the chests and the kinds of loot... No in game tutorial is used. What I have, instead, is a simple color coded background to those specific item icons. Weapons have red backgrounds, armor has blue ones, consumables green, and yellow is used on the currencies.

Anyway, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks the idea has some merit in it and thinks it's useful to a player or an interesting game mechanic/concept.
 

kirbwarrior

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Thinking as a player, I like the idea. If I see a green or yellow chest, I'll like it, but if I see that red chest, I'll probably drop everything because I get obsessed with weaponry.

As for 'gated' chests, Dragon Quest has been doing that with doors since... 2? 1? At least the NES. And it feels fantastic going back and opening those doors for side quests and loot.
 

Wavelength

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I think it can be useful when making the decision to go after a chest that's not easily and immediately accessible (if you tend to have those), but otherwise, for me it slightly dampers the "grab bag" type of excitement at opening a chest and knowing that I might get anything under the sun.

However, there's an additional reason why this kind of color-coding can be really nice - it makes it easier to find the item/equip in your inventory because you know what type of thing it is. Players who are not extremely versed in fiction are unlikely to know that Masamune is a sword, Cuirass is body armor, and Soma is a usable item. Depending on how well-designed or clunky your Equip UI is, players can spend a lot of time figuring out where to find that "Cuirass" they just opened in a chest.
 

Tai_MT

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@Wavelength

So then, does it make it a moot point for you when the items have an image attached to them as well as color coding to denote what type of item they are? I do have some items that are "counter intuitive", like bows are an "armor" (more specifically, they act primarily as a shield, while their arrows are a weapon). So, you'd find a bow in a Blue Chest, but arrows in a Red one, and their images are that of a bow and of an arrow... with backgrounds that match the colors of the chests.
 

Wavelength

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@Wavelength

So then, does it make it a moot point for you when the items have an image attached to them as well as color coding to denote what type of item they are? I do have some items that are "counter intuitive", like bows are an "armor" (more specifically, they act primarily as a shield, while their arrows are a weapon). So, you'd find a bow in a Blue Chest, but arrows in a Red one, and their images are that of a bow and of an arrow... with backgrounds that match the colors of the chests.
Any hint as to the item/equip type is always appreciated. I think that with this kind of stuff, though, you want to be as obvious as possible (so, for example, writing the name of the item in blue would be better than just having a blue background for the image - both is always good, of course).
 

Manofdusk

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This is just me arguing an opposite point here... but it would probably behoove you to have a reason "why" chests are color-coded like that. It doesn't necessarily have to be explained in game, but you, as the developer, should have a good reason why the people of this world always put weapons in red chests, for example.

One option (which, admittedly, would take a bit of work) is to have a "Scroll of Divination" or somesuch. All chests would be a regular color until you used it and then the graphics would change.


But, overall... I think color-coding chests is a fun little thing, but I find that it can be overdone if you have too many treasure chest types without a good reason for them to be there.
 

Tai_MT

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The actual explanation is a little convoluted, and sort of meta in a way. The world these chests exist in, is one created from the mind of the main character... his subconscious. It's just one of the least weird things the characters/players run across. The main character, in his subconscious mind, already knows what's in the chests. Because... it's a world created from his own mind. Without all the proper context, it's a little difficult to explain. He's not dreaming or anything of that nature. It's also not an exploration of his own psyche or anything like that.

The chests being colored is simply a reflection of the world he's found himself planted into.

Basically, I like Lore/World Building... so pretty much everything in my game has a reason to exist within the storyline. It may not be communicated to the player... ever. But, it all exists for a story reason, with everything having an explanation, even if the player might think there simply isn't one.

I mean, it's not like I couldn't just drop the colored chest idea if I liked. It doesn't create a hole in the lore or the plot to have them be colored or not be colored. I just liked the idea of communicating to players what the possible contents of a chest might be before they open it, in hopes it would raise a bit of excitement in them. When I thought the idea up, I simply looked through my existing lore for the probable explanation.

The same reason the chests are colored is the same reason there's a Dragon to fight in the game. It's stuff pulled from his head... Sort of. Kind of. It's difficult to explain without massive spoilers.

In any case, it's got a story/lore reason why it exists.

I'm not sure the 7 total chests types is "too many" since they all kind of serve their own little purpose. Really, the only ones the players need to really remember are the three "conditional" type chests that require specific characters or keys to open. The rest, the player can kind of ignore the colors if they like.
 

Wavelength

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This is just me arguing an opposite point here... but it would probably behoove you to have a reason "why" chests are color-coded like that. It doesn't necessarily have to be explained in game, but you, as the developer, should have a good reason why the people of this world always put weapons in red chests, for example.
It's an acceptable break from reality in my opinion. The fact that weapons are always in red chests is no more of a logical leap than the fact that there are treasure chests sitting in the middle of a swamp in the first place. I think players register it as more of an interface convenience rather than as a part of the actual setting.

I'm not sure the 7 total chests types is "too many" since they all kind of serve their own little purpose. Really, the only ones the players need to really remember are the three "conditional" type chests that require specific characters or keys to open. The rest, the player can kind of ignore the colors if they like.
7 types isn't too many - but 7 colors probably is if there are no other visual cues. For the three "conditional" types, I recommend using some kind of other visual cue, such as a big, obvious lock on a chest that requires a key to open - and perhaps a lot of sparkly effects if the player already has the key they need to open it.
 

Tai_MT

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The "conditional" chests have their own graphics. Wooden Crates for the Pirate to Pillage, Wooden Chest for the Thief to Steal from, and "Metal Chest" for using the Silver Keys on to get the loot.

With the conditional chests, I've been banking on a player reading the text upon finding one, and determining that they might have to come back a bit later.

The Wooden Crates immediately ask you, upon trying to open them, "Are you sure you want to open this?". They can be opened without the Pirate, but you lose the chance to roll for loot if you open them without him. They drop standard loot without him. It's the only chest in the game that asks if you're sure you want to open it.

The Wooden Chests simply say, "I don't think anyone knows how to pick this lock" if you try to open it without a Thief (how would my main character know he doesn't need a key? Who knows. It's for player convenience).

The Metal Chests simply say, "I don't have a key". Though, as part of the tutorial upon getting a Silver Key, the player is taught that they can open specific doors and specific chests... So as long as they've run the tutorial on it (which is its own quest), it shouldn't be an issue.

I'm hoping the simple dialogue will be enough to clue players in that they might have to come back later for those three chest types.
 

Wavelength

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Sounds good, Tai! Hopefully you can make the the Silver Key quest automatic/mandatory in the progression of the game, so that players at least understand the mechanic (if not, your complaint message upon trying to open it should be more specific).
 

Tai_MT

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Well, with a more "open world" type design on my game, I thought it'd be tricky to get the player to find a Silver Key first and do the tutorial. However, I ended up just moving the placement of the first Silver Key you obtain as well as the Quest surrounding it, into the first town you visit. I also moved several of my other Silver Keys further off the beaten path and deeper into dungeons so that players were much less likely to run into a Key/Chest without having seen the tutorial on them.

It's been a pretty fun challenge in trying to get my chests and such to even work or be unique enough to let the players know exactly what they need without giving things away too much. I'm trying to avoid a lot of "hand holding" if possible.
 

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