How the PS5 season is bringing photos from the game back to the future

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How can a camera change the way you see the world? This is a fundamental photo issue, but the number of photo-centric games is growing, including the long-awaited adventure seasons on PS5 and PC.

The season is part of a wave of recent games based on photography, not the tuck-on bonus mode. Some like Generation UmurangiPresents the past as a tool to regain space through urban art forms and documentation; Other, like the classic Japanese horror game Deadly frameYou can use the camera as a weapon to dispel the presence of the devil.

But as a member of the season The dev team told us in an exclusive interview, their game is different. It’s a calmer, more meditative title that rewards careful observation. And anchored in the meditative charm of film photography, its virtual camera is designed to promote intimacy between the player and the environment.

Analog approach

During the season Release trailerYou can see the young protagonist roaming the beautiful Studio Ghibli style world. “Our grandparents lived a thousand years and our parents had a century of their own,” she says wistfully. “But we have a season.”

As she knows, the world is on the verge of collapse, and to make the most of her final days, she boards a bicycle in an effort to record her beauty. A sketchbook with photos of ruined monuments, a tape recorder that captures the delicate sounds of dragonfly wings and, most importantly, a glimpse of a camera aimed at primates with bright eyes.

“Everything in the game depends on what the photo is,” says Kevin Sullivan, Creative Director and Season’s Writer. “The meaning of taking a photo, the words about the photographer, the fact that time can freeze in the image, a glimpse of these imperfect pasts. It’s very consistent with the theme we’re trying to show players. “I will,” he adds.

The season, developed by Montreal-based salvage studios, has kind of been tackled since 2016, an idea by Sullivan inspired by a trip to Southeast Asia. Before anything was scheduled, he created a video essay for the team and even made a working board game to show how it actually works.

Now that game production is in full swing, its form is a bit clearer. There is a world of exploration full of people to talk to. Of course, you can also get around by bicycle. At different times, you can remove the camera to record your surroundings. The animals, admittedly panoramic views, but the architecture and the graffiti all give the place something special before “mysterious cataclysms take it all”.

(Image credit: Scavengers Studio)

Everything in the game is about what a photo is. A glimpse of these imperfect pasts, the meaning of the shot, on the photographer, the fact that time can freeze in images.

Kevin Sullivan, Scavengers Studio

Indeed, photography during the season That has changed a lot since the first trailer of 2020. Camera enthusiasts may find a machine similar to a retro Bolex-style camcorder (above), but it has morphed into a simpler film camera. , explains Stephen Tucker, lead artist in VFX.

He explains that what hasn’t changed is the emphasis on “old-fashioned” documentation. An avid photographer, he mentions his own Polaroid camera, the pleasant artifacts that come from using vintage film in analog cameras, and the relative “lack of control” when offered. “There is no zoom range from 10mm to 300mm,” he continues. “You’ll have to stand pretty much where you need to stand to get the image you want,” he says, with the ultimate goal of creating a device that has “texture.”

Depth of field

Tucker isn’t the only photo enthusiast on the season’s development team. Sullivan’s father was an aerial photographer. In short, his family’s basement was essentially one huge dark room. Later in college, I started to get interested in analog film processing while working on my friend’s Super 16mm and 35mm film projects.

There’s also Irwin Chiu Hau, a seasonal 3D programmer who once worked as a professional photographer at a wedding. He has his own collection of digital SLRs and currently practices landscape photography and macro photography. The latter, essentially extreme close-ups, directly feed the season. “There are so many little things in the world to spin,” Chiu Hau says intriguingly.

Camera focused on the raccoon

(Image credit: Scavengers Studio)

But aside from real devices, early video games helped shape the season.‘NS In-game camera.

Tucker refers to the 1980s disposable camera used in the 2016 first-person drama Fire watch.. In this game you can photograph beautiful forests and mountains of Wyoming covered in different places under the brilliant orange sun. The other is the first person adventure of 2017 What is the wreck of Edith Finch?Provides players with an old-fashioned camera on a rainy hunting trip. “I like the feel of the camera in these two games,” Tucker says.

What is the wreckage of Firewatch and Edith Finch? As game mechanics became very popular, they came before video game photography. Recently, Sludge life The award-winning Umurangi generation presents the player as a bright future cyberpunk photographer. And just a few months ago, the Cult Classic Pokemon Snap made a long-awaited return for players who are thrilled to hit their favorite craft creatures.

Two-handed martha holding a camera in the game is dead

In the upcoming game, Martha Is Dead, you can also load the film into your dual lens reflex camera and develop it in a virtual darkroom. (Image credit: Wired Productions)

There are also two titles on the horizon that promise to add their own twist to the fast-growing micro-genre. Tomb A cute adventure with anthropomorphic characters. Marthe is dead (Above) A 1940s Italian horror story that takes the camera into completely strange territory.

While photography as a mechanic appears to be in poor health at first glance, none of these games offer the exciting and melancholy beauty of the season.

Change of focus

Yet no matter the tone or mood, each of these games offers a way to interact with the world without blowing up the world and its inhabitants.

Cameras are a convenient way to structure your field of view. You can give a player who still wants to do something just looking at the mechanical dimensions.

Perhaps most important is the intuitive action for most people, thanks to the popularity of smartphone entertainment. In other words, everyone knows what to do. “As soon as I take out the camera, I start composing,” Chiu Hau explains. “I’ll start making frames for the subject.”

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Boy walking in town square during games season

In-game screenshots for the game season (PS5 and PC) (Image credit: Scavengers Studio)
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Boy walking on the field during games season

(Image credit: Scavengers Studio)
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Boy walking towards ancient sculptures during games season

(Image credit: Scavengers Studio)

Photos are increasingly incorporated into the gameplay of indie titles, but for many blockbusters, photos exist as individual pieces.Photo mode‘, Apart from the game itself. All the player has to do is pause the action and start taking photos at a particularly engaging time.

Popular eye-catching action titles like Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War, and The Last of Us Part II include almost the entire post-production suite folded into photo mode, including lighting, focus, and scope. of vision. I have. You often have the ability to change the surroundings, such as the time of day, the weather, and even the actual shooting accessories.

These tools are new and flexible, but they are part of a tradition almost as old as the game itself. The so-called “screenshots”, the pioneers of modern video game photography.

Virtual tourism

Throughout the pandemic, Tucker takes a photo of their history and his way around the world as if he was on an adventure vacation, and plays a blockbuster video game as an alternate means of travel. Say you’re having fun.

Green vegetation and an impressive catastrophic environment Last of Us Part II He started printing in-game photos using Instax MiniLink, as it provided a valuable theme.

A microphone is placed next to the dragonfly

(Image credit: Scavengers Studio)

For Sullivan, the season As such, he has emerged in the real world during tough times over the past 18 months. “I cycled around Montreal, took pictures and tried to learn more about Montreal,” he says. “It feels like there is a strange relationship between what we influence the game and how we feel is influenced by the game itself, with some research and attention. The season feels more integrated into real life than I imagined when I started. “

Sullivan’s own background is exactly what makes the season and his in-game photographs so appealing. Gamers looking for all the features of “photo mode” may be disappointed, and those who want all the control of a modern DSLR will be disappointed.

However, anyone who wants to experience the emotional nature of photography, especially the simplicity and immediacy of the analog camera format, should be well served. By providing players with the tools of the past, the season can bring a whole new perspective to the world.


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