Square Calls Prompto’s Photography One Of Its Most Powerful Storytelling Tools – News

If Final Fantasy XV proved anything, it’s that Prompto has a lot
of heart. It also showed he has a lot of love for photography. During Final
Fantasy XV, one of the highlights was seeing what types of pictures Prompto
would snap of your journey. It helped sell the road trip, showcasing bonding
moments and tense times between all the party members. This feature in the game
was so popular that at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, a whole
panel was dedicated to Prompto’s photo-snapping skills.

The system was put in to help sell the road trip, just like the camping, eating, and fishing elements. Square Enix felt not everyone would want to take
their own photos. After all, that takes effort and time, so having a character
take on the action seemed like a good idea. The themes of the game dealt with
brotherhood and bonds, and what better way to showcase that than through
pictures? Square laid down some ground rules for the feature, however. First off, it
must serve as an achievement of your experiences, capturing memorable and not so memorable ones. We all often just snap pictures of our friends on a whim, and Square wanted to capture that feeling. Even more so, Square wanted for you to see a picture and feel like “this is my adventure.” The team also liked having characters voice
dialogue to go with them to add color to them.

If you noticed your photos didn’t always reflect scenes you
saw, but it was there to create the illusion of life – that the characters have
their own private lives going on while you’re away. That’s why you’ll catch
photos of them chitchatting or taking on activities with other characters. Square
developed the system to have certain triggers for when it would take a photo,
categorizing them as “joyful,” “wonderful” or “exciting.” Joyful shots focused
on characters; these were often when the selfies came into play. Wonderful
shots were when you were out in the world, doing things like running and riding
chocobos. These were often taken with a wide angle. Exciting photos featured
combat and battlefield shots. Other triggers
are when you reach a new destination or unleashed a cool fighting animation. The mechanic can only snap so many photos in
a given day, and how the system decided which photos to prioritize was to use
keywords for what they featured, such as “chocobo,” “morning,” “battle,” and “sunsets.”
The system automatically eliminated shots that were redundant, giving them all
a uniqueness score.

Square Enix also joked about how the pictures that ended up
being funny made just as much of an impact, such as NPCs walking in front of the
group and blocking their shot or photobombing by other characters. These got
shared just as much. The team also inserted
special luck conditions that would appear in photos to increased their sharing,
such as capturing Ignis with his glasses off. People were more likely to share things when they felt they captured a rare moment.

The talk ended with lead game designer Prasert
Prasertvithyakarn discussing how he thinks more features like this will be
necessary in the future as games evolve, calling it a powerful storytelling tool. As games get more
open, you can’t put everything in a cinematic. “Photos create an emotional pulse,” Prasertvithyakarn
said. While he admitted the mechanic wasn’t perfect, he does see it as a great
step in storytelling for open-world games.

For more on Prompto’s photography skills, you can read
Andrew Reiner’s feature
where he collected some of his favorite (and most
hilarious) shots:

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