Almost every gamer in recent years has likely come across the yellow paint phenomenon. In many recent AAA titles, if something in an environment is yellow, it's usually a visual cue to let the player know they can interact with it.
This type of in-game directional marker is particularly prevalent in Naughty Dog titles and apparently has made its way to the upcoming Resident Evil 4 remake, where it encountered a viral critic on Twitter last weekend.
Twitter user @FPSthetics took issue with what look like rather glaring examples of Resident Evil 4 having signposts in the form of yellow paint on interactable items in the game. In follow-up tweets, the user noted that the yellow paint seems out of place within the game's environment.
The post kicked off a round of discourse headed largely by people who have worked on games, and while several conceded that such glaring visual cues can look out of place within a game, they're a necessity because, in their experience, gamers don't know what to do without them.
According to developers, the decision to add things like yellow paint and other very obvious signposts is often the result of frustrating playtests. Chet Faliszek, who worked on Left 4 Dead, joked, "Someone has never sat in on an observed playtest…"
Ubisoft designer @AgentDeli wrote, "It’s either this or ‘the glow’ and I promise you when us game developers see the play tests, people skip over environmentally realistic props. Unless you guys want a button prompt to 'look at lootables' every time you enter a room, learn to live with the yellow marks!"
Another Twitter user remembered a recent viral mini-controversy in Elden Ring in which players complained that they'd missed the tutorial because they didn't talk to the NPC in the opening level who told them where to find it.
The debate over "signposting" had been rumbling for some time before the viral RE4 example. In 2022, Giant Bomb posted a video that went into the signposting in the Horizon series, arguing that as graphical fidelity has improved in video games, visual cues meant to inform players of where to go have necessarily gotten more cartoonishly obvious in order to guide the player.
At the moment, game developers have largely appeared to take the stance that obvious signposting is a necessity in modern gaming, while others have wondered if there could be a more subtle way to tell players what they can interact with in a given level.
But for now, at least, giant "BREAK ME" and "GO HERE" symbols in video games look like they're here to stay.
Mar 20, 2023 at 04:24PM EDT
Mar 20, 2023 at 04:07PM EDT
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