If you’ve been keeping even half an eye on gaming-related forums, blogs and social feeds over the last week or two you will surely have seen the stunning fruits of inFAMOUS Second Son’s brilliant Photo Mode, which developer Sucker Punch added to the game via an update earlier this month. It’s fair to say the new feature has surpassed everyone’s expectations and taken off in a big, big way – there are some absolutely incredible images out there, all created by you, the gamers.
So, to find out a little more about how it came to be and what the studio is making of its reception, we caught up with the man behind Photo Mode, Sucker Punch Senior Software Engineer Matt Durasoff.
How exactly did Photo Mode come to be? Was it something you planned early on, or was it more spur-of-the-moment?
Matt Durasoff: There’s nothing novel about setting up shiny screen shots (say that ten times fast), but it was always something we did internally. For Second Son, the motivation for adding this feature came completely from the fans. Right out of the gate, people were sharing awesome shots, without any special tools. Giving people a way to hide the UI was an obvious patch, but then we thought, what if we could provide some more power, open up the game engine a little bit and let everybody tweak the visuals the way we already do in-house?
How difficult was it to implement?
Matt Durasoff: Photo Mode itself is a simple tool. This was not a big R&D project – that’s what the last two and a half years were for! Camera, depth of field, color grading – the support for manipulating these already existed in our game engine, it was only a matter of creating an interface for them. The real labor behind this feature went into the construction of the game world and characters, and the engine that supports them. So, a feature for taking photos? A few days. Game full of stuff worth taking photos of? Hundreds of person-years!
When you launched the update what were your expectations for how the mode would be received?
Matt Durasoff: We hoped that it would be embraced by the small core of enthusiasts who motivated us to add it in the first place. Beyond that, maybe we’d be lucky enough for shots to pop up here and there on GAF/Twitter/Reddit. Seriously.
How surprised have you been at the response?
Matt Durasoff: As you might guess from our expectations, quite (pleasantly) surprised! We know that people love to share photos; we know pausing the clock and looking at the FX in-flight is mesmerising; we know the game has an insane level of detail. But the magnitude of the response and what people are doing with it has blown us away. I heard a story today that some Sony execs now have fan-made shots from Second Son as their phone backgrounds. Amazing.
Has everyone at the studio been trying their hand all week too?
Matt Durasoff: Most of the studio is already hard at work on what’s next! But many photos have been taken nonetheless.
Do you think it’s a feature that could become a staple of all Sucker Punch titles in future?
Matt Durasoff: We’re proud of our artwork, and I think whatever helps show that off is important. So yeah, Photo Mode is a good starting point…
What’s the secret to taking a great image? Any expert tips you can pass on?
Matt Durasoff: The secret to taking a great image in Photo Mode is exactly the same as the secret to taking a great photograph in any medium. I’m only an amateur photographer myself, so I can’t claim any expert advice, but I can start you off with this: Every picture tells a story. What’s yours?
Also, lots of particles. Everybody loves particles :)
Can you show off a few of the studio’s favorite images that you’ve spotted out in the wild?
Matt Durasoff: There are a couple of really amazing close-ups of Delsin’s chain, and some excellent rainy-day shots. People have made some stunning faux movie posters. Also the shot of Delsin hovering posed in mid-air next to the Sly Cooper character line-up is brilliant and hilarious. Personally, I really love the shot of Delsin and Fetch fighting together; it takes some effort to set up that shot, and it’s awesome! Check them out here and here for starters. Massive thanks everyone! This is fun!