New Adventures In Hi-Fi: Some Screenshots

By Duncan Harris on October 8th, 2013 at 9:00 pm.


This is the latest in the series of articles about the art technology of games, in collaboration with the particularly handsome Dead End Thrills.

Games move pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss them. The pretties this week come courtesy not of a particular game, nor indeed me, but of the Dead End Thrills Flickr group, a caravan of some 500+ ‘players’ who spend more time stopping games and looking around than they do actually playing. The times we live in.

With some 11,000 images in there, I wasn’t sure how best to approach this. (Drunk, obviously, but how badly?) I’ve gone for the easy option: a round-up of games and/or users that stood out over the last few weeks. What you’ll often find is that wrangling games into ‘screenshot mode’ has knock-on benefits for any PC gamer, so let’s see if that holds true.

Because this is in part a thank-you to all the people taking part in the group, I’m going to link to profiles and Flickr pages wherever possible. Oh, and the title image is from 2003′s Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, via group member Mr Roderick.

PixieGirl4′s Mirror’s Edge Bulge-Shots

I’m a bit ambivalent to these post-assembled panoramas and the like because the gimmick tends to obscure the subject, and you can only enjoy looking through a fun house mirror so often. What makes Joanne Harper’s worthwhile is that she finds compositions that work specifically in this format.

Battlefield 3:4

The man known as jim2point0, who pops up seemingly everywhere in his pursuit of ultimate image quality, has the Battlefield 4 beta in his sights. If the Mirror’s Edge 2 teaser at E3 showed a DICE that’s still partial to a bit of the ol’ lukewarm colour-grading, maybe Jim’s black-and-white take (achieved using art sledgehammer SweetFX) is a glimpse of the future. I’d actually sooner have that than some of the ‘realistic’ colour mods inflicted upon Battlefield 3. Sheesh.

But what’s this? It appears I can have a mono-fied Battlefield 3, and not just soon but right now via Josh Taylor. Josh is a man in permanent danger of being expelled from the Dead End Thrills group for using his goddamn cameraphone to take the shots. This fakey-shakycam look, though, makes we wonder if a game – doesn’t have to be a war game – would ever dare adopt it for more than the occasional cutscene. If you like these then definitely check out his full set, as he doesn’t do these things by halves.

Some bonus BF3 beautays from nbnt:

Dishonored: Framed!

So lovely they were spotted and RT’d by game designer Harvey Smith – what isn’t, eh? – here are some of Stuartw_’s (that was awkward) portraits, and indeed portraits within portraits, of Dishonored and its DLC. This game has the best tobacco smoke. For those intrigued by the idea of capturing this and many other games at a stupendous 8K resolution, check out Stein3x’s adventures with the apps SoftTH and D3D Looking Glass.

Park And Ride

Star Citizen’s hangar module is a bittersweet taster that makes you think about all that could have been had CryEngine been more prolific. (Oh yeah, and Lichdom.) On the surface it’s just a showroom for your astonishingly expensive new spaceship/s, but what it shows off even better is POV. The in-body experience as you lie in your cot and swivel in your chair – and this is very much a cot and swivel-chair simulator right now, with optional flight-stick fondling – is Riddick-good already.

Luckily for those who can’t afford gaming’s answer to a Virgin Galactic flight, you can unlock the entire thing through basic XML tweaking. That’s all the ships and hangars for all the pledge tiers – the assets are all there in whatever pack you download – plus a little diddy cart you can’t drive. The devs seem quite happy with this tinkering, too, as it’s purely client-side and doesn’t ‘boost’ your purchased account.

The shots here by Midhras, taken in the region of 4K resolution, show off some of the lighting setups at work in the hangars, in perhaps the first DX11-only, 64bit triple-A PC game. The aliasing, though, which dammit he’s managed to avoid, is not so futuristic.

World In Crysis

When he’s not fine-tuning a cinematic ENB series mod or producing the best Fallout shots ever under his other alias, Trillville, Anthemios likes to make CryEngine sing. What a sombre piece it can be, though. What I love about his stuff is that it doesn’t panic over impact, but prefers bleak and soulful scenes that demand a closer look.

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32 Comments »

  1. benjamin says:

    Unless I am very much mistaken that cover picture is from Uru: Ages Beyond Myst.

    Had a really nice soundtrack too.

    Edit: Great, ninja’d by the very article I’m commenting on. Guess I should have read every word first.

    • Urthman says:

      Google image search agrees. (I recognized it, too.)

    • Doomsayer says:

      Oh, I don’t know what’s worse: That Uru failed, or that Cyan embarked on such a doomed quest to start with. I still love some of those crazy places in Uru, even if they give me the sad.

      Apparently Cyan’s rising from its grave with an incoming kickstarter, so it’s not all bad. Big hopes for more adventure.

      • elderman says:

        I loved Myst and Riven. Never felt the later games fulfilled the promise of those first, weird worlds. They were trying to do something a bit arty in the beginning, and I loved that.

        It’s great news that Cyan’s going to do something other than re-release their early games. Hope they can figure out how to recapture the magic with today’s state-of-the-art.

      • The First Door says:

        For me, Uru was the most affecting game they ever made. I think it was in part because it failed. It meant you ended up wandering around these abandoned places which were designed to host dozens of people by yourself, reading diaries which really blurred the lines between fact and fiction of how the Uru project failed.

        I loved it.

      • draigdrwg says:

        I was thinking about Uru while playing the Portal 2 co-op. Social puzzling could have been great fun.

        Uru was an idea before it’s time. I never got to play the MMO portion, it died too quickly and I had no access to broadband at the time. Which may have been part of the problem. At the time of release, a large part of it’s potential target audience (In the UK at least) didn’t have access to broadband.

        Today? With a much higher rate of broadband uptake and things like F2P mechanics, I think Uru could have thrived. Game tech has come on leaps and bounds too.. simple to use Age creation tools could easily have been a part of it, and official and community content could have been rolled out much more quickly.

        It’s a shame.

        • The First Door says:

          I got to try some of the co op puzzling during one of the (many) releases of it. It was quite fun, but it had the habit of rather destroying the atmosphere when you were trying to coordinate 8 people to solve a puzzle.

          What I did love, though, was having people visit your Relto and showing off all the cool things you’d found for it!

      • Urthman says:

        That one island in Uru that isn’t what it appears to be? Discovering what was up there is one of my favorite moments of any game: Aha! I’ve discovered a glitch…what the?!

        • Doomsayer says:

          That’s one of my favorite secrets in any video game. So many expectations subverted. And in the game!

    • DRoseDARs says:

      Thank gawd I’m not the only one who immediately recognized that special, wonderful place in the title picture of the article. I too get a sad when I think about the missed potential of that game.

    • PampleMoose says:

      Yep. The cleft, where you start the game. Love that game to bits.

      Uru is still running. They open sourced the game, and people are fiddling about making their own stuff for it atm, with Cyan hosting servers so people can just play all the content they already made online. Excellent that it’s still alive.

      The problem with Uru/Myst Online was the problem faced by most MMOs – not enough content, and didn’t leverage the multiplayer aspect enough. However, a social-focused atmospheric puzzler online is a concept I actually found myself enjoying, especially with all the backstory and detail in Uru.

      TBH, I’d almost like them to try an FMV title again. There’s something about those photorealistic shots that real time renders can’t quite capture.

    • smokiespliff says:

      agree with you about the soundtrack. always gives me shivers when i hear that opening scene music http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDLWttoFptM

      played all the myst and uru series, even relogged back into myst online the other day but it’s deserted. as to a multiplayer adventure/mystery – Secret World is kinda scratching that itch, some of the puzzles are damn good.

  2. steves says:

    So this is what the PC master race get up to in their spare time;)

    I remember finding Dead End Thrills when I was looking for some graphics-card-melting mods for Skyrim to test out shiny new 2560×1600 monitor. Wasn’t disappointed:

    https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Dead+End+Thrills+skyrim&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=FmtUUoSEPceg0wW1soHgDA&ved=0CEYQsAQ&biw=1648&bih=1358&dpr=1

    Now I have to fire up Dishonored again, ’cause that is looking amazing.

  3. LTK says:

    Those Mirror’s Edge shots look amazing. Definitely something I’d expect to see in an exhibition on videogame art.

    • particlese says:

      YES! And I think that last one is absolutely brilliant. Definitely going to have to poke around with Mirror’s Edge now, as panoramas are right up my alley. Some games are a royal pain in the arse to work with in that respect (namely, unmoddable 3rd-person games), but others, like Skyrim, are just about perfectly set up for panorama-making.

      On a related note, if you don’t quickly tire of these things, here’s a completely awesome and amazing web-7.0 website with which I have no affiliation that currently consists almost entirely of game panoramas:
      http://www.particlese.org/?page_id=105
      >_>
      <_<
      The newest upload is from the Wii game Xenoblade*, and there are two from Guild Wars, but the rest are all Skyrim.

      *Unmoddable, low-res, 3rd-person-only, and, in this case, screenshot with a camera. I just figured out how to emulate it, though, which fixes all those problems.

  4. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Do you need to have taken one of the higher tiers to get the Star Citizen Hangar module? I am looking at the $30.00 “Digital Scout” package, but it says that you don’t get access to alpha or beta. Does this mean you need to wop out uber bucks to get the Hangar?

    • midhras says:

      The Digital Scout package (I have it) only gave access to alpha and beta when you got in early. If you’re late to the party, uber bucks it is.

    • borkbork says:

      Yep, all packages come with hangar access. Cheapest alpha and beta access (which isn’t required for the hangar) package is $40. Not quite uber bucks, but it’ll still be cheaper than the completed game when it goes live.

  5. midhras says:

    For those that want to try out Anthemios’ custom-built map “Tears in the Rain” for Crysis 2 (yes, I’m looking at you), you can get it at Crydev and it is so very much worth the download that I’m not going to think of silly hyperboles. Just look at the guy’s shots, will you?

  6. SominiTheCommenter says:

    I got a new desktop background. Thanks, PixieGirl4
    https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3682/10101266156_8646ce5a45_h.jpg

  7. jim2point0 says:

    Was surprised to he went with my Battlefield 4 portraits and not Shadow Warrior. That game needs all the advertising it can get. Anyways, everyone should go play it. It’s fun AND pretty.

  8. particlese says:

    Thanks for this article (and the series in general). When Dead End Thrills started, I think I must have conflated it with Skyrim+ENB screenshot threads, as I could have sworn it was 50% amazing (or at least cool) and 50% knocker/bum shots. Clearly there’s some of the latter, but it all looks fantastic now! I have some clicking to do. On bums.

    I’m also going to have to check out this flicker group…that first Battlefield picture with the mangled i-beams is amazing. Definitely my favorite of this batch.

  9. Stochastic says:

    I love the work you do on DeadEndThrills Mr. Harris. I envy your combination of technical know-how, aesthetic vision and taste, and deft writing. RPS is fortunate to have you on board.

  10. wu wei says:

    This fakey-shakycam look, though, makes we wonder if a game – doesn’t have to be a war game – would ever dare adopt it for more than the occasional cutscene.

    Does Kane & Lynch 2 count?

    • Oozo says:

      Yeah, I checked the comments in order to find out if somebody had already asked that particular question.

      Which makes me think: Are there any good in-game photographs/screenshot artists/whatever they call themselves who worked with that game? Might produce interesting results. (Or not. I’m not sure how well the visuals do translate to still imagery.)

    • Ragnar says:

      Oh God, thanks for bringing back painful memories. I think Borderlands 2 is bad for inducing headaches after an hour or two, but I couldn’t even make it through the K&L2 demo. If no other game tries that, that’s just fine with me.

  11. Stardreamer says:

    I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.

  12. CelticPixel says:

    I’d love to see more of this on RPS please.