Third Party Screenshot Tools

Third Party Screenshot Tools

Last night was the night we go out and do things in Final Fantasy XIV, but for a period of time before and after the events I got in some Mass Effect Andromeda.  There are still aspects of the game that I really do love, and aspects that I am really struggling to cope with.  I am trying really hard to come up with a headcanon that the 600 year cryo sleep has given pretty much everyone partial facial paralysis… because wow… just wow.  It is fine more or less when dealing with the normal ins and outs of missions… but when you take a romantic option you tread on some seriously painful uncanny valley territory.  I am hoping we get later patches that adjust this, because it is mostly a distraction from what is otherwise a pretty solid game.  I am having some weirdness with Ryder as well because I keep forgetting he isn’t Shepard.  I mean I am playing a Mass Effect game and dealing with weird elder god robotic space magic stuff…  and I am trying to approach the game as though I were my version of Shepard and it isn’t quite working out that way.  Maybe over time I will stop doing this, but for now Ryder is very much “Not-Shepard” for me and doesn’t have much of an identity of his own.  I get what they are trying to do with this game, but so far it feels like a pair of jeans that doesn’t quite fit right anymore but you are still trying to wear them.  There is so much love and nostalgia for those “jeans”, but its a struggle to keep them pulled up and keep from mooning everyone.

Now the weirdest thing about this game so far is that no one seems to be able to find the screenshot key?  I did some research last night and folks seemed to indicate it was F11…  however that did not actually work for me.  A second search this morning indicates that no… the game does not actually have a built in screenshot functionality and is relying on you to use some sort of a third party solution.  I have personally used FRAPS for the better part of a decade, and especially when I started doing the daily blogging thing I needed the ability to have a predictable place where all of my screenshots would be.  I’ve talked about this before but all of my screenshots get dumped into a single directory on each machine that I play games on… and then I pull those screenshots off onto network attached storage to sort into a Genre>Game directory structure for long term storage.  Basically when I write my morning posts… I am still waking up and I really need to make things as easy on myself as humanly possible.  Trying to remember what the hell the screenshot directory for this or that game is at 5:30 in the morning is not something I excel at.  Knowing that any recent shots are going to be in G:\Gameshots is much much easier, and with Windows 10 showing off recently used directories… it is also almost always easily available.  FRAPS unfortunately costs money, and is outdated… and at this point is not the most amazing thing in the world…  but it is extremely reliable and seems to be willing to take screenshots of anything.  It does have the nice side effect of having a one time fee of $37… and then lifetime free updates.  It feels sort of dirty that I had to point that out as a positive… because that used to be the way all software worked.  I thought however I would cover a few other options that are “Not-FRAPS”.

GeForce Experience

This is probably the secondary go to for me, and with the introduction of Ansel technology I am contemplating making the switch myself.  If you have a somewhat modern video card, it is almost certain to support ShadowPlay (gtx 650 or higher).  GeForce Experience is the weird software that exposes this functionality, and also gives you some performance tweaking options.  If you just want the ability to play games without having to fiddle with settings, you can launch the game once and then have Experience optimize the settings.  In all cases the game will be playable…  but I have found the software pretty conservative on quality settings especially if you are running in a generationally mismatched environment of an older CPU and newer Video Card.  However for the sake of screenshots you can toggle on share options, which gives you access to set screenshot functionality.  The reason why I am not already using this however is that there is no functionality for remapping your screenshot hotkey.

GeForce Experience Website

AMD Gaming Evolved

If you are on the Red team side of the house they have the AMD Gaming Evolved app… which you need to understand is just Raptr.  At some point they either bought them or struck a deal with them… but installing the AMD tool is functionally installing a beefed up version of the Raptr gaming social media thing.  It however offers screen shot functionality, but having not used this in years I cannot comment on how functional it is.

Raptr AMD Gaming Evolved Website

MSI Afterburner

Afterburner is a piece of software that has been around since the early days of PC Video Cards.  In fact it was originally called RIVATuner if I am remembering correctly, that specifically relates to the Riva series of Nvidia cards from the late 90s.  This is the go to software for overclocking, but it also has a bunch of packed in functionality…  one of which is the ability to snap screenshots and record video clips.  It is fairly light weight and just runs quietly in the background allowing you to take screenshots at will.  My only suggestion here is to make sure you don’t fiddle with any of the settings that you are not comfortable with.  You can absolutely crash your machine if you start playing with the sliders.  The fact that it is “MSI” branded really should not throw you off, because they simply maintain the software these days and it still works for every brand of video card.

MSI Afterburner Website

Windows 10 Game DVR

Included as part of the Windows 10 installation is the Xbox app, which among other things exposes something called the Game DVR.  This does some things that are good and some things that are not so good.  The not so good is that it will start recording gameplay footage, in a rolling loop of the last X minutes which is configurable.  The idea being that it gives you easy access to snag clips of gameplay footage AFTER it happens.  This also means that your system will be effectively recording video all of the time, and a certain bit of diskspace will simply just be lost to this process.  The positive is that it allows you to also set up a screenshot keybind without installing any additional software.  I’ve noticed a decent performance hit while this option is turned on, so this is largely why I do not personally choose to use it.  It is however there so I thought I would cover it as an option.

Windows 10 Game DVR Adjustment Settings

In a similar “gaming DVR” camp is Forge which should be mentioned.  This is software that essentially allows you to broadcast your gameplay and after a session trim clips from it to save to the Forge website.  One of the options is to take still frames from this DVR footage, which also seemed a bit more contorted than I really wanted it to be for just taking screenshots.  However there are a ton of people that love the software, and the ability to stream without needing to do much of anything special.  I am throwing it out there because it technically can take decent screenshots, but it functions so vastly differently than what I want a screenshot software to function like. Website

These are just a few options that I can think off off the top of my head at 6 in the morning.  There are countless other pieces of software that do some version of this functionality.  I continue to use FRAPs largely because it works like  want it to work, and doesn’t seem to consume much in the way of system resources.  It is also extremely reliably…  several other options I have tried in the past like DxTory or Greenshot have both created situations where I thought I was taking a screenshot… and ended up with either nothing, black screens, or pictures of my desktop icons.  While I absolutely can talk at length about the virtues of using some form of third party screenshot software… and having a filing system for said screenshots…  I can’t really push one piece of software over another.  You are ultimately going to need to try a bunch of them and find the one that seems to work with your gaming style.  Any of the ones I mentioned save for maybe Forge is going to probably function exactly how you want.






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