Post short movie clips instead? Or in addition?
Screenshots. Fairly tricksy, no? Given that they're a major factor as to whether or not potential customers will take a second glance at your game, I think it's fair to say that making them look pretty is damned important.
But how? Gibbage is a fast-paced action game. But when I take screenshots of it, it can come out looking sparse and completely devoid of action. Static shots just don't do the glorious motion of body parts arcing across the sky justice. Not one little bit.
I'd never Photoshop screenshots. That's just plain wrong. But I have hacked them about George Lucas stylee. Just a slight re-arrangement of the sprites here and there to make the action more exciting.
Now, I work in TV, so I know how to shoot stuff on camera that looks tasty. Tight shots work best, with as many elements on-screen as possible without it looking confused. But still Gibbage screenshots come out looking 'meh' more often than not.
Does anyone have any advice on tactics I might not be aware of when taking screenshots? There are a couple I'm relatively pleased with here (another at the very bottom), but any feedback/ advice would be much appreciated.
All the best,
Post short movie clips instead? Or in addition?
A great way to get nice shots is to use something like Fraps. Set it to take a shot every 10 seconds and just play the game. When the game is over you can mine the directory for the couple of good shots that are in there.
free tool to capture anything happening at screen, with region of it, or whole, or window...etc...Great for non 3d accelerated applications. I used it a lot, and while you need a bit of looking at th esettings and a bit of testing, it's great.
for 3d accelerated , I never ended testing, but looks like this is one alternative to fraps, but totally free :
When I review for Bytten I always try to take my own screenshots. I use IrfanView for this - set it to capture mode and then leave it running in the background. Press Ctrl-F11 and it saves an image of the screen without losing focus.
Getting the timing right is still tricky but, as Savant says, take loads of pictures and trawl for the best. Digital stuff doesn't waste any film!
I'm considering a video (once I've finished the game/ website/ updated demo), but it doesn't work in the same way as a tasty screenshot, does it?
But the timed thing is good... at least it'll stop me from having to stretch ofer the keyboard in the midst of a heavy firefight to press F11...
Cheers, guys. Any more ideas?!
You can take 3 quick frames in succession and merge them for a motion blur shot or two for promotional purposes. There is also nothing wrong with having video clips in flash: if flash is detected it plays the clip. If flash isn't, it shows a screenshot.
No harm done?
A small animated gif wouldn't go a miss neither.
Similar to what I find works best - I just wrote in a quick hack to save a screenshot from the game every few seconds. Played a couple of games and then sifted through the screnshots for the good ones.Originally Posted by Savant
I would say take LOTS, LOTS and LOTS of screenshots. I was at a IGDA meeting which had Chris Taylor from Gas Powered Games speaking. And he couldn't stress that enough. He said take lots of screen shots and just when you think you have too many, take more! He went on to say that every site wants screen shots of your game, but they don't want the same ones that everyone else has. When ever I'm in testing things I tend to take about 10+ screen shots. After a week it really adds up. Out of those I many only end up using 3 or 6 of them, which ever look the kewlest :)
Some tips we use that help us alot:
- Setup each area in the level as if it's a scene
- If animating characters, make ever pose / keyframe an action shot unto itself
- Subtle moves in animation is lost, both in game and in game screenshots, exaggerate your movements.
- Subtle changes in the game environment and colouring can make for a real dynamic set of screen shots.
We use FRAPS for video clips and converted with VirtualDub for use on the web. Again like screen shots I may end up taking an hour of game footage but only end up using 30 seconds.
I feel krabbity!
From my perspective, I'd say that your screenshot problem has more to do with ingame colour than the screenshots themselves.
I can speak about this because colour is one of my best fortes.
I've had many years of experience with colour, from art school, to years of picture matting and framing
to my running my own graphic design business.
I'd suggest you start with googling for courses on colour theory. Dig into it.
Spend some quality time with learning about how colours work together.
In your bottom screenshot the purple and orange compete angrily with other.
In your upper screenshot the browns kind of muddy themselves together.
If you understand colour combinations, opposites, discords, tints, hues,
and how colour effects emotions you can achieve alot more with your efforts.
I'm confident that if you explore colour theory as it is taught in art school/foundation courses
you will significantly improve your ingame colour and your screenshots. :)
While color theory is as much a science as any, it still boils down to a subjective opinion. For example, your choices of color on your website may harmonize, but I don't find the site (or screenshots) very attractive. On the other hand, I very much like the choice of rich orange and purple in his bottom screenshot. It appears to be a hostile alien world, and if that's correct, I believe his choice was appropriate. The same with the brown shot: I think it suits the scene and looks very attractive.
For all I know, you may not be practicing what you preach. But I see the screenshots for krabbit and all I see are teal, purple, and black. (And not very attractive shades of those colors, to boot.) But I'm sure you're fond of the look and I bet many others are as well. It boils down to subjective opinion.
Sure, study color theory -- it's vital -- but you do need more than a subtle change of hue to make a game feel diverse and dynamic.
Sonicron is spot on. The lower shot is an alien planet, and I wanted it to look kooky and unsettling. Hence the orange and purple. It's actually one of my prettiest levels.It appears to be a hostile alien world, and if that's correct, I believe his choice was appropriate. The same with the brown shot: I think it suits the scene and looks very attractive.
Likewise, the brown shot is set in Hell (and is quite close-up). It's supposed to be hot, murky, dark, foreboding. Again, I think it works quite well.
While I'm not discounting your colour theory, I don't think you can rely on it as the be-all-and-end-all. I've run everything I've done past my girlfriend (Artist, Illustrator, Art Director) and she's never raised it as an issue.
If I could add to varmint's notion of taking absolutely tons of screenshots, this would be extra handy if you actually manage to form a fanbase. It's not incredibly pertinent but if you've got a popular product line on the go, with expansion packs and sequels etc. and you try to foster a community on your website (with features like forums for example) the fans will be absolutely rabid for new screens.
Yeah, I'm going to contain the feverish excitement over Gibbage until it's gone gold. Then I'll go all out on the website/ updated Demo. This is why I'm asking about screenshots now, nice and early.
I'm hoping it'll be inished by the end of march 2006, and on sale shortly after...!
On a related note... having a screenshot function in your framework is surely a handy thing. With TGA you only need a handfull of lines. The bytes 0, 0, 2... and nine 0s as a fixed header. Then the shorts width, height and bpp (24). Then pixeldata (BGR order). And thats it. Its a very simple format.
Together with automatic screenshot sub dir creation and incremental screenshot numbering its only around 80 lines of (100% recycleable) code.
>But the timed thing is good... at least it'll stop me from having to stretch ofer
>the keyboard in the midst of a heavy firefight to press F11...
Well, you could bind it to some joypad button... bind jbutton8 "screenshot" (I really like my quake style console ;)).
Ha ha ha. This is actually brilliant fun.
I've set up Paint Shop Pro to take a screengrab every second, and then I play my game.
Somehow, brilliantly, it almost always manages to completely miss the action. So there's an explosion and my opponent's gibs are splashing over the pavement, his head arching across the skyline spewing droplets of blood as he goes. I'm firing a rocket at the same time, which is hurtling towards his remains.
What does Paintshop grab? The action immediately before and immediately after the event! Typical! Oh well, I'm sure if I play enough, I'll get some soon!
This is another good reason to build screenshot functionality into your game.Originally Posted by DanMarshall
It seems you know what conditions you are looking for for your screen shots.
Depending on how the rest of your game is set up, you can have the game trigger the screen shots itself given the right circumstances. Have it take a shot every couple frames, and you can pick out the best one(s). You also don't have piles of shots from when nothing is happening.
Getting good screenshots is so important that many AAA studios work hard at building the ability in their games. Add the ability to slow-mo your game, pause and ideally step forwards and backwards in time (and if appropriate: move the camera and change the lighting) to get the perfect moment. Getting the computer to play itself will help too (and help debug!)
A simple pause is very easy, get the game to freeze when you hold down a key then you can see what the shot would look like, and use a second key to take the shot.
I've built screenshot taking into my game (WIP). F12 takes the shot. I also have slo-motion (just slowing the virtual timer down) which helps. I agree it is very helpful to not have to use a 3rd party app, or rely on prntscrn. Having said this not many indie games these days typically need all that, especially if they are in 2D and presented on a single screen. If you can though, include screenshot taking in your game - good for everyone inc reviewers etc.
I agree with the Fraps idea. it has worked well for a couple of my games.
btw. nice screenies so far!
"Hello World!" good times, good times...
Yeah, I'd suggest using Hypersnap or any of the other apps suggested that will take screenshots every few seconds.
I'll also have to second the notion of taking TONS of screenshots. To show your game off in the best light, you have to be willing to take 100 screenshots and pick the 2 that look the best. Any little graphical problems, improper framing, etc. could potentially be nitpicked by the public... so why not eliminate that?
That's what I've done, and I'm relatively happy with the results (some of the nicest can be seen over at my blog, link below)
I've still got the same problem, though. Stills of Gibbage simply don't convey the madcap, hi-octane bouncy-bouncy jump-a-rama physics-flinging action of my title.
Maybe I should just write "You can't tell from this shot, but Gibbage is one of those 'madcap, hi-octane bouncy-bouncy jump-a-rama physics-flinging action' titles" on every screenshot... or perhaps not...
Doctor them. Add motion blurs to the characters, tweak the colors, add a bloom to the explosions, etc. Just don't sell those shots as screenshots. Use them as promotional shots. (Like the big shot I did for Jeweltopia. Of course, there's much more I could have done than skew it and blur it, but I think that illustrates my point.)Originally Posted by DanMarshall
*laughs* Again, just don't declare them as actual screenshots. Nobody playing Jeweltopia expects the screen to be blurry and tilted away from them... ;)Originally Posted by DanMarshall
You do have a trial, right? :)Originally Posted by DanMarshall