Screenshot support: the good, the bad and the unreliable

As a blogger I take an awful lot of screenshots in the games that I play. Unfortunately not all games have good screenshot capabilities in-game. Here are just three examples of different levels of features and approaches to this.

Good – World of Warcraft

I suspect many wouldn’t think of WoW first if asked “what game has good support for screenshots?” but actually the game has very good options beyond simply rebinding the key. You can use config file options to finely tune the quality of screenshots and select different formats.

shadowmoon1

My characters haven’t unlocked the S.E.L.F.I.E camera in-game, to be honest I’m not fussed on having one either, but it’s great the developers give players the option of it as a bit of fun!

Bad – Neverwinter

According to the configuration options Neverwinter should have pretty good screenshot support. You can bind different formats to different keys (JPG or Tiff), in both cases either showing the UI or hiding it.

Default screenshots auto-hide the UI

Default screenshots auto-hide the UI

However the big issue in the game is that some situations will not allow you to take a screenshot – a very basic and annoying issue is that if you have the inventory open you can’t screenshot it! That’s pretty bad as I often want to take screenshots of new items that I find!

I also find action combat games, those that lock the cursor to the mouse, make taking a screenshot of your own character harder than it should be since you can’t easily rotate to see the front of your character.

I always found the game’s screenshots to be a bit unflattering as well, either the compression is set to high on the JPG format or the screenshots are saving to a low quality. In any case the game looks better on-screen than the saved images would suggest.

Unreliable – SWTOR

Sadly over four years after launch SWTOR continues to have very unreliable screenshot functionality. Zoning between areas, planets or instances can randomly break them entirely and yet zoning again might, seemingly at random fix it again.

SWTOR has Jawa photobomb issues

SWTOR has Jawa photobomb issues

I get around this without using external software (such as Fraps) by using the CTRL+PrtScn key combination. That seems to work reliably regardless of whether the default PrtScn is working or not. The issue with this alternative option is that it only copies the image to the clipboard, so you have to paste it into MS Paint or similar and save it somewhere.

One positive point I will make is that SWTOR, unlike both other games I’ve used as examples follows the good IT/systems practice of saving the screenshots into a subfolder of documents in your user profile not in the game’s installation directory. It’s rather bad practice for a game to be saving user specific files to the install folder and so many MMORPGs do this. It’s fine if your computer is yours and yours alone but what if siblings or other family share a computer, they’re screenshots would be quite a jumble!

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7 Responses to Screenshot support: the good, the bad and the unreliable

  1. Steve says:

    I play on console (PS4) almost exclusively these days and have a similar range of experiences. The Share button means you can always get a screenshot in the most basic sense but games like The Last Of Us – Left Behind (the DLC add-on) that provide a camera mode are the best. Batman Arkham is almost as good but badges everything with a logo. Then there are games that have no additional screenshot features despite having put so much work into making their visuals look amazing. Is it only bloggers that think of this??

    • Telwyn says:

      I do have non-blogger friends who love their screenshots but I expect it’s more a concern for us! A big reason I never played any online games on PS/3 is the lack of screenshot support. Glad to hear the PS/4 has something at least!

  2. seth says:

    I’m on PS4 too and yeah, games with photo mode are amazing. Not just for still shots, but GIFs too. Some of the coolest ones I’ve seen are just people moving through freeze frames of the action in Infamous, since you can go into photo mode in the middle of really cool sequences.

  3. Shintar says:

    Well, what do you know, I didn’t even know that Neverwinter had an option so you could show the UI… been using Fraps whenever I wanted that displayed.

    • Telwyn says:

      It’s fiddly as you have to create key bindings using console commands and save that to a config file so it becomes permanent; oh and it’s character specific too! As I said though that doesn’t help if you want a picture with any UI windows open like the campaign window, the inventory etc. Then you need a 3rd party tool instead.

  4. I make it a habit to take a lot of screenshots for my work. Well, that’s how it started, anyway. Now I’m just hopelessly addicted.

    I find most MMOs are pretty good about making screenshots easy, but for those that don’t (I’m looking at you, SW:TOR), I use Steam. Even if the game isn’t on Steam, you can usually finagle it to run through Steam.

    • Telwyn says:

      I’d read about loading non-Steam games via Steam but hadn’t thought of trying it with SWTOR. I do like Steam’s screenshot facility, I use it for Shadowrun Chronicles. It’s very similar to Blade & Soul’s in-built screenshot system, which I’ll admit is excellent in design but that’s another action-locked-mouse game so it looses a lot of points just for making it hard to grab a front view of your own character 😉

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