HowTo:Take Screenshots

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So you want to take some really awesome screenshots? Great. This article is intended to help you on your way to becoming a true screenshot artist.

What's so great about screenshots?

Screenshots may not seem very important, but having a pool of good shots is important to the project for several reasons. First of all, the more good screenshots we have on our website, the more people will be inclined to download the game. Secondly, we want to be well-represented on news sites and so forth. If they re-post a few really good screens, people will be more inclined to visit our website. Lastly, splash screen artists will benefit from having a good collection of shots to work from when trying to incorporate game art.

All right, I'm pumped. Let's do this!

Okay! Vega Strike makes it easy to take simple shots just by pressing I_EN.png, for "image". Screen shots are then dumped as PNG's to /.vegastrike/textures/ (Windows users of 0.4.3 will find that a handy shortcut to this directory was created in the start menu during the installation).

Camera Control

Vega strike offers many different camera views. Here, the ones most useful for taking screen shots are discussed.

F1_GENERAL.png = Forward (cockpit) view. Also toggles between 3d cockpit and bare HUD.
F5_GENERAL.png = Your basic chase camera.
F6_GENERAL.png = Panning or "ghost" camera. This is a screenshot taker's most valuable tool. Q_EN.png Z_EN.png S_EN.png and F_EN.png rotate the camera around your ship freely, allowing you to pick the perfect angle for your screenshot. If you are running the latest CVS, these camera controls will function while Vega Strike is paused.
F7_GENERAL.png = Relational target camera. This view will always show your target in the background and your ship in the foreground. This camera works well for trying to take screenshots while dogfighting. Use in combination with T_EN.png and SHIFT_LEFT_EN.png + T_EN.png to cycle targets. This camera can always be adjusted while paused.
F8_GENERAL.png = Target camera. You may use the ghost camera controls to rotate around the target.
F11_GENERAL.png = Zooms all cameras in.
F12_GENERAL.png = Zooms all cameras out.

See Manual:Views for complete documentation on camera views.

Advanced Techniques

Since the screenshot taker has to worry about both setting up screen shots and playing the game all at once, it can be helpful to pause in the middle of play in order to set up a shot (see above for which cameras can be controlled while in a paused state). Pausing allows you to concentrate on a furious dogfight, for example, and to freeze the action on the exact frame that something cool is happening, such as a huge explosion or a missile launch. You can pause the game with

  • SHIFT_LEFT_EN.png + BACKSLASH_EN.png
  • or PAUSE_EN.png .

You may find it helpful to modify the key bindings found in vegastrike.config. Since the pause button is essentially your shutter, you need to be able to press it quickly, and one keystroke is faster than two. If PAUSE_EN.png doesn't work, you may find it convenient to bind the pause function to TILDE_EN.png (normally bound to shelton slide). FIXME Add more detailed binding instructions, possibly move to different section

Note that some sprite-based effects can behave strangely while the game is paused. The initial, expanding flash of an explosion sprite will fill up your screen with white light. To properly capture the flash of an explosion, it's best to have the shot already set up, and try to capture it with a quick finger. The burning effects that follow the initial flash do not expand to fill up the entire screen, although they may twist and rotate at strange angles when you adjust the camera.

See also US Keyboard layout -> Game commands

Composition

Obviously, you don't have to be a graphic designer or a photographer to take good screenshots (but it helps). What matters most is that you have patience, a good eye, and a quick finger with the pause button. Still, you may find yourself better prepared when armed with the basic tenets of composition.

  • Emphasis -
  • Balance -
  • Merger -
  • Proportion -

Assorted Tips

  • High resolution (greater than or equal to 1024x768). 1600x1200 is best. This means we can pick small sections of the screenshot to use in splash screens or whatever, with a smaller hit in quality.
  • Graphic options to maximum! Use max. antialiasing, max possible VS graphic options. Who cares if you only go at 10 fps? You aren't making a movie.
  • Use the HOME_EN.png key to match speed, get close, and then look out the back or side of your ship for a clear view of your screenshot subject. Just don't bump into them.
  • Use Time Decel (Time compression = F9_GENERAL.png) to make the action shots easier to get.
    • Note that the default binding for F9 is time acceleration, not time deceleration. See this forum thread for more information.
  • Capture action! Ships firing at each other with explosions and shields flickering is way cooler than your Llama.blank cruising in the Cephid_17 system.
  • For the most part, stick to the new 0.4.x (and above of course ;)) artwork. If you've seen it in a 0.3.x or previous, then it isn't going to wow people as much as the Howard Day stuff.
  • Edit your starting mission (missions/explore_universe) to give you a cool ship to photograph, with wingmen, enemies, or whatever. Change your system to one with a cool background (not the default green).
  • Bonus points if you can get a good example of Vegastrike's graphical capabilities. The specular lighting maps that make parts of a ship's texture glint at varying levels in the sunlight, fading atmospheres of planets, shield flickers, anything that says "Oh COOL!"

See also


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