Thursday, October 18, 2007

Good idea - Video and photo editors

Video and photo editors in games are a brilliant idea, and thankfully this sort of thing seems to be getting more popular. All three of the big name 360 games I'm playing at the moment (Skate, Halo 3, and PGR4) have some sort of video or photo capturing mode.

There are two excellent reasons to include this sort of thing in a game.

First, it helps build community. Players will mess around in your game in the hope of getting an interesting video, and will want to share it with their friends. If their friends like what they see then you might even get an extra sale out of it!

Secondly, it's something that your marketing department will probably love you for forever. Screenshot taking and movie making is part of their job, so the better the tools are for this, the easier their job is. If you put it in as a game feature then everybody wins - they get something that has a good level of instruction, user friendliness, and functionality (instead of something hastily cobbled together in an afternoon because the developer was told they had to), and you get to use the time it takes to implement such a feature on something that's not going to be stripped from the release version. It's a USP for almost free, essentially.

Although it's a brilliant feature in these games, each gets some areas right, while being poor in others - I haven't come across something that I'd consider a 'perfect' implementation yet.

Skate's has the option to jog forwards and backwards as slowly or quickly as you like, and to set markers for camera and effects changes (adding slow motion, full screen effects, and the like). It uploads video footage as pre-rendered movies, so they can be viewed outside of the game (which makes them great for sharing online). That does, however, mean the videos downloaded to view on your console are displayed at a fixed resolution, and have larger file sizes.

Halo 3's theatre has background uploading and downloading of files, so once you have recorded your masterpiece you can keep playing the game while it uploads. It also stores the videos as raw data - so movies can only be viewed in-game, but do result in smaller files, and allows viewers to switch cameras on downloaded clips, and watch the movie in whatever resolution they use. Halo 3 also records entire matches, and allows you to share the whole thing (though you'd have to play a blinder for anyone to want to watch a full 15 minutes of you playing).

PGR4's editor I've only had a brief mess around with, but mainly seems to feature much more in-depth camera control - allowing you to set zoom, rotation, and focal points for your pictures.

No comments: