Five Favorite Features: ArcheAge #1 – Screenshot Mode

This post is my day 3 contribution to the 2015 Blaugust Initiative.


Here’s a feature in ArcheAge I wish every game would shamelessly steal: screenshot mode. It detaches the camera from your character and allows you to control most of its parameters manually, just like you might with a real-world camera. This lets you compose and refine the perfect shot.

The first thing to know about screenshot mode is that it doesn’t prevent your character from being attacked or even killed. However, if something causes your character to move,  you’ll exit screenshot mode. Remember to pose your character before you begin.

Press Ctrl + F12 to enter screenshot mode and see a list of camera controls.

Press Ctrl + F12 to enter screenshot mode and see a list of camera controls.

To start out, press Ctrl + F12 to enable screenshot mode. A list of keyboard shortcuts for the advanced camera controls will appear. You’ll notice that your normal movement keys now move the camera instead of your character. You can press the space bar or X to raise or lower the camera. Holding down either mouse button allows the camera to pivot in any direction. Scrolling the mouse wheel will zoom in or out. You can position the camera just about anywhere, but you can’t move it through walls or solid objects.

The distance the camera can zoom out is also limited by your selected camera mode option. Switching to Classic Mode (Options → Screen Settings → Screen → Camera Mode) will allow the camera to zoom out slightly further.

One of my favorite techniques when taking a picture of the landscape is to move the camera in front of my character, then zoom in or out to frame the view I want. Or I can compose a shot of my character from the exact angle I want, which means I don’t have to spend a lot of time later cropping and resizing it.

Fredelas and his steed Husker look out across the bay. By changing the camera's position, I've composed this shot roughly using the rule of thirds.

Fredelas and his steed Husker look out across the bay. By changing the camera’s position, I’ve composed this shot roughly using the rule of thirds.

Pressing Ctrl + Insert will toggle the depth of field controls. The easiest way to use this feature is to turn it on, point your mouse cursor at the object you want to focus on, and then press Ctrl + Delete to auto-focus. If you have a good understanding of focal length and range, you can also adjust those manually with their shortcut keys.

The blur FX option will simulate different aperture shapes and apply the refraction blur accordingly. It’s most dramatic with a depth of field very near the camera. With depth of field already enabled, press Alt + Insert to toggle blur FX on and off. For example, if you’d like blurred light to refract through a heart-shaped aperture, press Alt + F7 to switch to that shape. You can also control the size of the shapes and the strength of the blur applied to them.

If you’d like to hide or show the UI, press F12. When you have everything exactly as you want, press F9 to take the screenshot.

Is this a feature you’ve seen in other games? Is it a feature you’d actually use, or is it too complicated? Let me know below.

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7 thoughts on “Five Favorite Features: ArcheAge #1 – Screenshot Mode

  1. Nice! I could definitely use a mode like that in all my games, being a total screenshot-aholic.

    Just curious on the limits though, how far can that camera move? It seems that some people might start using it as a “scouting” tool, especially in PvP zones, knowing how eager to eke out the slightest advantage certain folks are. Something like that in GW2 would probably immediately spawn some outcry in WvW, despite certain players already having a viewing/reach/camera angle advantage due to their screen resolutions. In a way, it might almost be an equalizer if everyone had access to it.

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    • The camera can only move very slightly further away from your character than it could otherwise zoom out in third-person view. It also can’t clip through walls, terrain, or other solid objects. It also doesn’t affect draw distance, which is still based on your character’s position.

      A few players have tried to use this as a scouting tool in ArcheAge, but you can’t move or take any action once you’re in screenshot mode, which makes you extremely vulnerable to sneak attacks. In the half second it takes to press Ctrl + F12 and leave screenshot mode, the scout is likely to be half dead, so the very slight potential advantage is balanced out by that increased risk.

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  2. I haven’t played much of this game, but that was one of the features I noticed right of the bat and LOVED, as the screenshot fanatic I am 😛

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  3. Oh wow! Being able to alter things like blur and depth of field are just things you don’t see every day in screenshot/camera modes in games. That’s awesome!

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