The Photography of Grand Theft Auto 5

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by john_h.|1, Dec 4, 2013.

  1. One 'portfolio'... http://internivoro.com/gtavphotographer/
     
  2. Fascinating. I see several familiar styles of street and scenic photography in there. It's difficult to tell whether the game itself or the "photographer" is merely working within some familiar genres, or whether it's a bit of sarcastic commentary.
     
  3. Now we know there are photojournalists in hell.
     
  4. Interesting concept. Purely an exercise in composition as in a video game you have no control over lighting or exposure. You are just taking a screenshot of what the programmers and artists have decided to let you see of the game.
     
  5. You are just taking a screenshot of what the programmers and artists have decided to let you see of the game.​
    It's not really like that. They don't anticipate all the scenes or even know how they will actually look from all the angles. There is as much discovery here as there is in street photography where you find an interesting scene. One could always also say that photography is only a screenshot of what nature decided to let us see of the game, uhm, I mean world. ;)

    Some weeks ago, I have seen a different set that I liked even more - they were shots of the buildings in the small towns of the game and they used a filter to make them look like old street photography. I'll try to see if I can find the link...
     
  6. Are the images potentially of broader interest, a novelty or just some fun for gamers?
     
  7. Laurentiu, yes it really is like that. In real life you have many more variables to consider and many more attributes to control than in a video game. In a video game the entire world is a meticulously crafted illusion. Every aspect of it is controlled by someone. It is either controlled by the programmers through code if it is a dynamic element or it is controlled by the artists if it is an element that they had to model and texture. Time in a video game moves faster than in real life, this gives you many more chances to capture the "sunsets" There is also a finite amount of variety in these sunsets.
    I think this is a great exercise in composition and it is a really great way to observe and capture interesting scenes. It is also a nice way to admire the hard work and countless hours that the game developers put into the game but it is not really comparable to photography in real life.
    You could turn it into something later on if you go in and illustrate over it or work it in photoshop in some way.

    The bottom line is that you are terribly underestimating how much work goes into a video game and how meticulous the world construction is when you say something like:
    "They don't anticipate all the scenes or even know how they will actually look from all the angles."

    Yes, yes they do. Between the game designer, level designer, engineer and QC testers that game has been explored from top to bottom and from every angle.
     
  8. In real life you have many more variables to consider and many more attributes to control than in a video game.​
    I get it that photography in GTA is not the same as photography in real life. GTA is a limited simulation so the photography experience will be a limited simulation too.
    In a video game the entire world is a meticulously crafted illusion. Every aspect of it is controlled by someone.​
    It is controlled by something, not by someone. That something is the code. It does not imply that the programmer necessarily can predict what will happen at any moment in the execution of the code. You may have heard about debugging - that would not be necessary and is not necessary when the programmer has that level of understanding of the code that you assume they always do.
    People have this impression that a creation is entirely controlled by a creator and cannot offer anything new and surprising to them, but that is not true. You can create things that do stuff that surprises you. The simplest example, an old one too, is the kaleidoscope - a very simple contraption but it produces patterns that surprise its creator. Sure, you could spend a lot of time trying to anticipate all the possible outcomes that a creation can lead to, but that requires time and patience and becomes very hard as the creation becomes more complex.
    GTA is that way - it is a simulation, not a simple computation. There are lots of rules that set the limits of what can happen in the world, just as the laws of physics limit what can happen in the real world. And there are lots of pseudo-random events happening, the combination of which can lead to surprising events. Sure, a lot of things tend to repeat - those are the limitations of a world simulation in what is an entertainment product. But just because things are simpler in a simulation doesn't mean that they don't exist at all.
    Yes, yes they do. Between the game designer, level designer, engineer and QC testers that game has been explored from top to bottom and from every angle.​
    They do their best to cover what matters, but they check the rules, not necessarily try to enumerate all outcomes. And the understanding of that system is spread across many people - no one person knows the sum of it all. To get back to the kaleidoscope comparison, what they do is testing that the bits don't fall out of a kaleidoscope and the mirrors are aligned - it doesn't mean they try to predict all the patterns a user would see and the guy testing that the bits don't fall may not know the details of how the mirrors are aligned or the tolerances of alignment.

    And they still miss many things, which is why you hit bugs. Games are notoriously hard to test. And they are getting more complex every day.
    I work in software industry, btw. I am not commenting on this topic as an observer.
    PS: My comments are general, they are not referring in particular to the merits of the images in this collection.
     
  9. It is interesting because I work in game development and have for quite some time so my views on it are from a developers standpoint.

    I am not really sure what point you are trying to make to me with this last post though as my original point was that this is not really comparable to photography in real life which you agreed with at the beginning of this post.
    I am familiar with the pseudo random dynamically generated events in these games. But those typically do not refer to how an environment is built. It might chance the lighting slightly, it might change how the sunset looks on a particular game day but each tree and each building each resource placed into the level is meticulously organized.

    Yes bugs do pop up but those usually involve gaps in colliders allowing players to fall through geometry or memory leaks. Not all bugs are glamorous or create anything interesting for the player to see or unexpected.
    Generally in a game engine (depending on the game engine) but lets take Unreal, or Unity as examples the systems in the engine are compartmentalized. I wouldn't say that the entire engine is a simulation but rather it is a collection of small simulations that the developer can choose to have interact if they want. It has a physics simulator and a lighting simulator and maybe a weather simulator.
    Not only that but these simulations do not function in the same way as they do in the real world because you can control how they interact with individual parts of the game differently.
    Like I said to me this is a great way to admire the artwork that someone else created. It is a great way to practice your skills in observation and composition. But I would not compare it to photography.
     
  10. It is interesting because I work in game development and have for quite some time so my views on it are from a developers standpoint.​
    Yes, but what kind of games have you worked on? Tetris, Doom, and GTA are totally different beasts in terms of complexity intentionally used to generate emergent behavior. Have you never heard about emergent gameplay? Not many games achieve it, but some do. Good sports games can achieve it too.
    It might chance the lighting slightly, it might change how the sunset looks on a particular game day but each tree and each building each resource placed into the level is meticulously organized.​
    I think you are stuck onto the original example I gave of photographing a sunset. But you can take shots in GTA of events that are far more rare than that.
    Generally in a game engine (depending on the game engine) but lets take Unreal, or Unity as examples the systems in the engine are compartmentalized.​
    A game engine is just a framework. You can use it for a simulation kind of game or you can use it for a heavily scripted experience where you might indeed control more closely all outcomes. The fact that it includes a physics simulator in itself does not mean you will always get a simulation kind of game from it - it depends on how much the game uses that simulator. And it doesn't mean either that you cannot be surprised by some event in the game that the physics simulator allows but that you have not anticipated like the rocket-jumping in Quake.

    Even a simple simulation like a game of Life can contain surprising patterns for its author and they could just appear through pseudo-random generation.
    Like I said to me this is a great way to admire the artwork that someone else created. It is a great way to practice your skills in observation and composition. But I would not compare it to photography.​
    Why not? Pure photography just captures the artwork of nature - this is why photographers had to struggle to be perceived as artists (and they still have to do it - take each instance when one says that it's not the equipment, it's him (somehow I never heard a woman say that yet)). Take HCB's classic shot of a man jumping over a puddle. I am not sure why, if you could capture a similar image in a game, it would somehow be a fundamentally different thing. I, of course, understand that a lot of people would feel that way because games are not seen as anything serious or worthy, but I cannot see an argument that frames what the actual fundamental metaphysical difference would be between HCBs image and a similar game screenshot. If it works with Lego, why not in GTA?

    PS: I realize that this would now better fit in the philosophy section of PN, but that section seems to have turned into casual discussions anyway, so... :)
     

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