Every time you earn a trophy on your PS4, the system takes a screenshot to commemorate the moment, kind of like taking a picture while you’re on vacation. When you dig through your trophy list, you can view the attached screenshots to recall not only the accomplishment but exactly how it happened. For trophy hunters, this feature can offer a fun trip down memory lane. But so many games are plagued by trophy screenshots that are black loading screens, blurry images, or altogether uninteresting and not representative of the moment the trophy was earned. Disappointing screenshots are most prevalent in story-related trophies, which usually pop as the screen fades to black to load the next chapter, scene, or moment in the game. However, the PS4 actually has functionality built in that developers can use to take better trophy screenshots.
In an interview with The Broken Road blog, Days Gone Lead Open World Designer Eric Jensen revealed a hidden tool that developers can use to make sure scripted story-based trophy screenshots (or basically any trophy that pops at a specific moment in a game) don’t fall into the trap of being black loading screens or irrelevant images that fail to capture the moment. The PS4 screenshot cache function lets a developer capture a keyframe from a cinematic before the trophy actually pops and then attach it to the trophy once it does unlock for the player. Both Days Gone and Marvel’s Spider-Man used this technique to ensure story-based trophy screenshots captured memorable moments from the game.
Apparently it’s a little known feature, but the PS4 has a screenshot cache function where you can trigger a Trophy screenshot in advance of the Trophy unlocking. Insomniac’s Spider-Man used the same technique with their story act and boss Trophies.
Since Days Gone was a story heavy game I chose key moments within the story to tie Trophies to and then found the coolest frames within the cinematics tied to the moments. I would add a key frame to each cinematic then when it was hit it would capture that screenshot. When the mission was complete and the Trophy popped, it would then attach that previously captured shot to the Trophy. My hope is to continue this technique and advance it in the future so players have something cool to look back on after they have completed their favorite games.
Jensen wants the PS4 trophy screenshot cache feature to continue to be advanced, and with Sony’s focus on “Create” for next-gen, even replacing the “Share” button with “Create” on the PS5 DualSense controller, it’s very possible that the PlayStation 5 could have better user functionality for capturing that perfect trophy moment. Perhaps something like recording a brief 10-second window when the trophy unlocks and allowing users to select their own perfect frame? Or maybe even capturing short trophy GIFs instead of screenshots to add motion to these memorable moments from games, particularly ones that developers can’t plan keyframes around.
You can check out these hand-picked trophy images for yourself in Days Gone (only $19.99 on Amazon) and Marvel’s Spider-Man (only $19.99 with all three story expansions). How would you like to see trophy screenshot captures change on the PS5? Also be sure to read the full interview with Eric Jensen, as it offers some great insight into the world-building and development of Days Gone.
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