A downloadable project for Windows
The Salient Forest game was created as part of a research project, to facilitate the testing of colour modulation (which is spoken of in depth in the Salient Forest dissertation). Unlike a traditional video game it was not designed to be fun, but instead all focus was on testing the dissertation hypotheses.
The level of potential complexity in video game environments has grown, and will continue to grow, considerably, following perpetual advancements in graphical technology. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult for level designers to communicate to players how to traverse more detailed game environments. Many navigational guidance methods rely on specific narrative or aesthetic contexts, making them difficult to apply in all required scenarios. Other navigational guidance methods lack subtlety; they can be artificial and obtrusive, disrupting the player’s state of immersion, and removing any sense of challenge from environment navigation. Is it possible to guide players through complex environments, while also avoiding these problems, using a form of natural colour modulation?
This study presents the results of an experiment where the effects of natural colour modulation are compared with artificial (obtrusive) modulation and no modulation at all. To test the effects of modulation on environment navigation we created the Salient Forest game, where players are tasked with navigating a 3D environment, and are rewarded for finding hidden paths. We show that players can, to a degree, be directed through an environment without the designer needing to resort to visually obtrusive overlays. Natural modulation can be used to draw the attention of players to hidden locations, without the player being consciously aware that their vision was guided.
In the video above you can see a playthrough of the Salient Forest game with Natural Modulation applied. A red overlay shows the player's eye movements, with the red dots representing points of focus (with size indicating focus time).