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   More of Alex's screenshots at

Monday, November 28, 2005

Gaming Screenshots

Some wandering thoughts on taking prettier gaming screenshots. No seriously.

Over at the PC Gamer UK forum a while back we had a discussion about game screenshots as more “arty” pictures and a rather lengthy thread of examples continued. It sounds absolutely cringe worthy, I know, but for the most part we weren’t seriously contemplating the shots we could take in your average game to be comparable to the works of respected professional photographers. It was more geared towards appreciating that pretty pictures can be taken in games that move past being pretty just because they’re showing off the latest graphics engine.

My own thoughts were essentially that. Anyone can take a screenshot, much like anyone can (and will) take a photograph. To state the obvious some more, many people can take competent photographs that we’d all agree look nice. I’m assuming (I’ve never really looked into photography much) that far fewer people can take photos that are worth paying money for. With games I don’t think that third band is there yet, really. We have plenty of quite attractive games around but they either need to get even prettier (which is a whole other argument) or there need to be more that offer their own distinctive visual style. In addition they require the freedom to allow every participant to potentially find a shot that’s not going to be stumbled into by a random screenshot key press.

So to continue what I’ve said, that leaves us with the second rung of screenshotting that’s not just your average random snapping. That requires some basic skills to be applied and consequently is a step above your basic screenshot. You need an eye for composition, which is probably quite an obvious requirement. It’s not a highly skilled occupation (that I can see – I don’t think there are any people employed solely to take screenshots…) but it is a bit more than button pressing whenever you feel like it.

That’s my view, which has been reinforced by experiences in the past – particularly in selecting and/or taking screen shots for the Gundam Universe Quake 3 mod in my time there. I’m not much of an artist anymore but I like to think I still have my artist’s eye (which sounds pretentious as hell I know), particularly when it comes to composition. I don’t always exercise it but it’s there, I think. I try and bring that to the screenshots I take every once in a while. I currently maintain a flickr account here where I post up the shots. I don’t think I’m producing images of great skill or anything but I like to think I’m striving for a prettier kind of gaming picture. Shots like the one below are ones I’m quite satisfied with.

Dawn Of War: Blooded

There are others doing this as well and you can find them amongst the member list of the group created for that original forum thread. Whether screenshots of games will ever surpass the status of “pretty picture” in the hands of a talented future “virtual photographer” I don’t know, but at least there are some folks trying to make a better image to glance over.

Posted by Alex Hopkinson @ 4:48 PM 0 comments

Monday, November 07, 2005

Leonard Nimoy Haunts My Dreams

The downside about finally being busy again at work after two months is that you no longer have the time to write gibberish for the internets. It also doesn’t help that some kind of gaming rainbow has levelled the landscape with a delicious pot of gold tailored towards people like me. In a “dangerously close to succeeding” attempt to halt my Final Fantasy 7 play through I’ve been slapped senseless by two sequels and an expansion pack. Winter Assault brings us Dawn Of War fans some harsh snowy landscapes to crush beneath the swarming juggernaut of the Imperial Guard war machine. It’s not until you’ve halted the entire Ork onslaught with a Baneblade tank and three Earthshakers that you’ve really tasted it. There’s the majority of the single player for me to still to taste, and the Ork and Chaos campaign should be deliciously hellish, but it promises to engage me every bit as much as the main game did.

Sequels of late have been brought to you with the number 4 and the word “addictive”. Quake 4 is beautiful when you’re in it, beautiful in ways static screenshots seem to fail to portray. It’s also incredibly good fun, in a way I really wasn’t expecting. Possibly my expectations were just set low but it’s addictive, which Doom 3 wasn’t quite. Speaking of addictive, Civilisation 4 clicks in ways that Civilisation 3 somehow failed to. This is The Great Game moving forward, changing for the better and returning the sense of “Just one more turn” that I’ve missed since Civilisation 2. My first game saw the English empire running a wonderful combination of communism, free speech and organised religion as the founder of its state religion Hinduism. As I used my large voting block to thwart or pass any motions the UN leader tried to pass towards the end of the game I was completely enthralled.

Posted by Alex Hopkinson @ 2:55 PM 0 comments

All original content is copyright Alex Hopkinson 2005. Other content is copyright the respective owners. To contact the author email: alex [at]

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