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Sample screenie

View of Gran Soren (un-edited)

Dragon's Dogma has the ability to capture screenshots during gameplay. A number of techniques are known to obtain unusual or useful images.

There is an official screenshot sharing community run by Capcom, known as the Pawn Community

Overview

Dragon's Dogma has a built in screenshot mechanism. Screeenshots can be taken at anytime outside a cutscene during gameplay by entering the Pause Menu and selecting "Screenshot" - during most cutscenes pressing pause will skip the scene, meaning it cannot be captured. Menus cannot be captured using the facility.

In the original Dragon's Dogma the screenshot captured the current third person view of the Arisen and their surroundings - all HUD elements † were removed. In Dark Arisen the screenshot facility was improved, adding the ability to remove the Arisen from the screenshot (the lighting from a lantern if carried is retained), as well as rotate the view, and a small degree of zoom.

Environment

The world of Dragon's Dogma has a conventional day-night cycle - the sun rises somewhere in the east and sets in the west. The brightest light source casts shadows - during the day this is Gransys' sun, during night it is the Arisen's lantern (or torch). If the lantern is equipped during the day double shadows may be seen.

Variations in the weather cause differences in appearance - days can be very bright and clear, or overcast with mild fog - the difference between the two extremes causes noticeable differences in photos. During the Post-Game the sky is much darkened, and the smoke fills the air.

Lights

A wide variety of objects cast light (see also Light Sources) these include not only the sun, torches, and lanterns, but fires, braziers, candles and so on. A large fraction of light sources can be extinguished by destruction, including some three legged holders for fire baskets as well as camp fires. Healing Springs are also sources of natural light.

The Elite Lantern has a better radius of light than the standard, and both are further improved by the augment Radiance.

Holy furor flash

Capturing the final flash of Holy Furor needs good timing

There are a small number of easily controllable light sources - Portcrystals cast a bright purplish light, and have an extremely long throw, being visible from great distances, and as such act as beacons. The magic archer skills based on Magickal Flare give a bright positionable whitish light useful for pictures, though it has some flicker. Several other skills give fairly good illumination - Ruinous Sigil (as well as Great Cannon) based skills are useful, and will carry the color of an elemental enchant if the weapons is temporarily enchanted first. Holy Furor based spells give good light, plus a 'coils of light' lightshow.

Almost all spells produce some form of local lighting, often fleeting, as do explosive arrows and barrels. Capturing these effects are a key element of striking screenshots.

Viewpoints

The view point of the photo is generally centered on and close to that of the Arisen, though there are exceptions. The view distance is not directly controllable, outside a very small amount of zoom allowed in Dark Arisen screenshots - however there are several techniques that allow the viewpoint to be controlled.

The view distance varies depending on the stance and environment of the Arisen - it moves out when the weapon is drawn. In the presence of large enemies the view distance pans out even further - this effect continues after a creature has been slain - for example around the corpse of a Dragon - this is useful for group "trophy photographs" and other purposes. This effect ceases after the creature has been dead a while.

Bow users have an extra viewpoint added when the bow is drawn. Furthermore the bow skills based on Meteor Shot or Keen Sight give an excellent zoomed view very useful for close-ups, though with a depth of field effect outside the central view.

Aerial views can be obtained by jumping, using levitate, or by hitching a ride on a harpy; however the best aerial shots are obtained using the Great Gamble skill - when the arrow is in flight the viewpoint follows the arrow and allows the image to be taken from the perspective of the arrow -at the end of the arrow's flight its trail tapers out allowing screenshots to be taken without that artefact. However there may still be some artefacts of the arrows flight looking back along the path of the arrow - for best results take images tangentially from the flight path.

Other effects

Several skills, especially magic spells have temporal visual effects, flashes of light and so on.

  • Washed out, sepia and silhouetted effects can be obtained by capturing an image with the right timing during the flash of an explosion.

Technical considerations

The end

Xbox 360 screenshot, at Aernst Castle, during the Post-Game, with additional illumination from a Holy Furor flash. The entire image has been post processed in an image editor to add red 'neon' edges

The screen captures from both PS3 and Xbox 360 are quite heavily compressed - exported as a jpeg file type - the Xbox 360 screenshots are exported via an app on facebook.com from where they can be downloaded via a web browser to a computer.

Compression levels are much higher than commonly encountered in modern web use, with visible artefacts, color distortion and graininess or blurring. The compression is worse on the Xbox 360. In particular dark or low light screenshots are very badly affected, with sometimes almost complete loss of detail.

Some detail can be recovered using a photo editing program, either using a standard 'auto fix' or generally by increasing the "fill light" or "brightness" - the image will remain grainy or blurred though.

Alternatives to the screenshot facility included a dedicated video or still capture device attached to the HDMI/VGA video output, or a direct camera shot of the TV/monitor screen. For best results with these methods the HUD † elements can be turned off temporarily in the Settings menu.

In general photographs of TV/monitor screens are not recommended for use on this wiki - as they tend to be poor quality, often with distortion, or color balance issues - they can be used in the case where no alternatives exist.

A video capture card should give the best results of all, allowing uncompressed images to be captured, as well as video, allowing animated gifs ‡

Illustrative tips

For images for the Dragon's Dogma wiki the clearest possible image obtainable is preferable (unless an opposite environmental effect is being illustrated) - to this end photos before Post-Game are preferred. For good results, as in real life, take the photo with the sun behind the Arisen so that it illuminates the target directly. Waiting for the right time of day to avoid shadows can also be necessary. Poor weather condition can adversely affect the view - so if the day is cloudy simply wait till a better time.

Notes

HUD - "Heads Up Display" - meaning the gameplay indicators on the screen such as mini-map, subtitles, button prompts, health bar and so on.
gif - graphics information format - a type of image file allowing animation. The computer file ends in ".gif" eg "my_arisen.gif"
  • Julien Schu has posted a series of Screenshot tips at julien-schu.tumblr.com - see Screenshot tricks julien-schu.tumblr.com
  • The game engine in Dragon's Dogma (MT Framework) allows shadows and multiple dynamic (moving) light-sources to be modelled. Fog, bloom, depth of field, pseudo-crepuscular rays ("sunbeams") and lens flare are also simulated. High-dynamic range lighting is implemented - allow very bright lights to create black silhouets on areas in shadow.
  • Portcrystals can only be placed in the outside world of Granys, not dungeons or towns, nor on Bitterblack Isle. A maximum of ten can be placed at one time.
  • Some images taken at extreme distances using Great Gamble may show game engine limitation artefacts such as unnaturally hard boundaries between the ground coverage.