The camera loves you! One more! Say, 'fuzzy pickles'!
Photos is a menu option in the Archives in Final Fantasy XV that lets the player view the saved images Prompto Argentum has taken. Whenever Prompto is in the party he can take pictures with his camera. Photography is Prompto's leisure skill that levels up when he takes more photos and rests at camp sites and lodgings.
When the party rests the player gets a slideshow of the photos Prompto took that day, which can be saved to the player's menu and/or shared via social media. If the player shares the photos Prompto takes with the share option from the slideshow, the pictures will have a watermark. The other party members can comment on the photos as the player looks at them. Character poses don't happen during gameplay, but the AI system tweaks that for the photos.
A maximum of ten photos can be taken between rests, but this can be increased to fifteen if Prompto is equipped with the Camera Strap accessory. The player can hold 200 saved photos at once, viewable from the Archives menu. The limit was originally 150, but it was increased after version 1.05.
Prompto can learn new filters and the player can set in the menu what filters he can use and which camera he should have. After Noctis obtains Ramuh, Gentiana can appear on the background of photos, which the party marvels at as they don't recall meeting her there. Carbuncle can also appear on the background of photos. Getting Gentiana on a photo earns the Immortal Photobomb achievement/trophy.
Prompto's Snapshot can be used to take pictures in battle, although he will always take photos in battle randomly. Unlocking the Snapshot skill in Exploration grid of the Ascension has Prompto take up to 5 photos, generating 5 AP each. The Aperture Exploration ability yields 1 AP for every photo Prompto takes with Noctis in it.
When driving around in the Regalia Prompto sometimes asks to take a photo, and appeasing his request is a small quest. Sometimes during car rides Prompto will ask Noctis of whom he wants him to take pictures of, and Noctis can answer himself, Gladiolus, Ignis, or "nothing". For the rest of the day Prompto will photograph the person Noctis said he wanted more pictures of.
Vyv in Lestallum asks the player for photos, which Prompto will take. Some places, such as Galdin Quay, have a spot where the player can ask Prompto for a photo there.
Prompto's skill level improves the more photos he takes. Leveling up his photography yields new filters. Improving photography level the first time earns the Photo Rookie achievement/trophy. Maxing it out yields Photo Expert.
- Roadtrip (unlocked at Photography level 2)
- Memory (unlocked at Photography level 3)
- Dawn (unlocked at Photography level 5)
- Bloom (unlocked at Photography level 7)
- Journey (unlocked at Photography level 9)
- Time (unlocked during the A Place to Call Home quest)
List of photo questsEdit
Vyv is a journalist who is looking for photographs to publish in his magazine, and sends the party out to various locations for photos. Completing his quests yields EXP an gil, and the photos he requests can only be taken during daylight hours.
Certificate of CompletionEdit
One of the player's saved photos will become their "Certificate of Completion". The player gets to choose the photo before the final battle. After the ending credits and the post-credits scene, the framed photo will show the player's level and playtime and they can share it on social media. The player also gets a certificate of completion for "Episode Gladiolus".
When Noctis is about to enter his final battle, he asks to see the photos Prompto has taken of their journeys. The player views their album and the party will comment on them. Noctis takes the picture of the player's choosing with him.
In the final scene of the game Noctis and Luna appear on the Lucian throne in wedding attire. Noctis has the photo and shows it to Luna. If the player picked a photo from the party's first visit to Altissia, such as a picture of her wedding dress, Luna will shed a tear.
Creation and developmentEdit
The photos feature was born out of the idea that more people are using smartphones and thus being connected to social media, and the developers wanted Final Fantasy XV to have an impact in that sphere.
If people are playing on their smartphones, then a lot of them are also using social media, right? So one of my goals in creating 15 was to craft a game that could have a big impact on social media. That's what you've seen with the photographs and all the videos the players are sharing, and that's a way of sort of reaching this audience. I think we did a pretty good job of it.
At the end, the pictures Prompto took and the player saved during the game are shown. The concept originated in the early stage of development, with Hajime Tabata wanting to show a record of the player's journey. The idea for photos specifically came up after the release of Episode Duscae.
Prasert "Sun" Prasertvithyakarn, the lead for AI and buddy system, talked at GDC 2017 about the automatic snapshot system in place in Final Fantasy XV. The goal was to make all game systems contribute to the roadtrip feel, and this includes the snapshots. Encouraging people take screenshots while they play was seen as cumbersome, and thus the idea was born that a party member would take the screenshots in the player's stead. People who record game footage and share it was seen as a very small group of players, because it takes effort and also skill to get a good screenshot. The system was tied to Prompto after user surveys showed he was the least popular party member to bring him closer to players and make them appreciate him being a party member.
The goals of the snapshot systemEdit
The photos are designed to feel like achievements, and include memorable moments that happened in the story, as well as unflattering moments, such as Noctis being pecked by a chocobo at the Wiz Chocobo Post or being petrified during battle—any moments the player will remember having happened, so they feel the snapshots really express their personal gameplay. Because the game has an open world structure and every player can explore it in their own way, the developers wanted a way to chronicle each player's unique experience. The goal was also for the photos to "tell more than what has actually been told", showing snapshots that inspire the player to imagine the scene and character interactions where it was taken even if it didn't literally happen in the game.
The photos were made to be unique and fun, and although it takes some luck to get interesting photos, the "luck" was tweaked to the player's advantage by including systems such as Ignis sometimes not having his glasses on in a photo—when a player sees such a unique photo, they feel lucky and perhaps are inclined to share it. Prompto's Snapshot Technique was added so the player can interact with the system. The skill makes Prompto take a selfie with a monster, with sometimes interesting results, leading the player feeling lucky they got such a unique shot. Bad pictures were also seen as something players would be amused by and thus want to share, and thus systems like NPCs photo-bombing the party by walking into the frame when they pose for a photo were added.
Prasert "Sun" Prasertvithyakarn was inspired to make something that can make players feel emotions—like how he felt with the famous end of Disc 1 scene in Final Fantasy VII. He views the automatic snapshot system as one of the most powerful storytelling systems in the game, as cinematics and linear level script were not seen as enough to express the story of brotherhood the game wanted to convey when the player is spending most of their time in the world map. Sun also wanted to tell the story of loss with the photo system, as at the end of the game the player will see the photos they had saved and hopefully stir memories of the moments they were taken, with the knowledge that the moment is gone and will never happen again.
Sun lamented his team wants this snapshot system to be a new benchmark for gameplay-sharing for the next generation. The team was treading new ground with the system, and thus there were many unknowns on how far they could push the system
The auto-snapshot mechanics work thusly: Triggering → Theme selection → Details enhancement → Framing calculation → Knowledge representation → Auto postfiltering → Auto albuming → Conversation influence → The actual photo Prompto will share at the end of the day.
The triggers for the photos are numerous. Characters and enemies performing cool stunts in battle is one trigger, where the system tries to capture interesting animations as they will turn up as good poses. Events trigger photos, such as cutscenes and interactive events, such as Noctis eating street food at Lestallum, or reaching new locations. Snapshots are also triggered "on a whim" when there are no event pictures, and thus even if no special events happened during the party's session, special moments can be created by the snapshot system if the player gets interesting photos. There are also manual triggers in set locations where the party decides to pose for a group photo, or with Prompto's Snapshot Technique.
The photos are divided in different themes. "Joyful" photos prioritize showing characters, "wonderful" photos use wide angle to show landscape, and "exciting" photos capture one-on-one confrontations in battle, or focus on the battlefield itself, usually with a strong tilt. There are also preset themes to ensure "perfect" photos, such as to ensure a whole landmark fits into the frame. Rendering in the "photo world" and in the "game world" is separate, and thus the photos can be made interesting even if taken when nothing is happening, e.g. by giving the subject facial expressions, adding character interactions or Gentiana or Carbuncle to the background.
Auto framing is done by using the subject's bone information and environment collision to calculate the camera position and point of gaze. Depth of field is also calculated by this step. Algorithms vary among them and the system aims to use Prompto's actual position as much as possible.
"Knowledge representation" means that the photos aim to show as much as possible in one frame: what, who, when, why, how. There are various filters available, and the game uses embedded information to avoid bad filters, but the player can also set their own filter preferences from the menu. In the "auto albuming" the game decides which photos to show in the end-of-the-day slideshow. The aim was to show variety and photos from different times of the day to enhance the feeling of passage of time between the takes. When the player views the photos the characters will comment on them.
- During the times the player is prompted to take a group photo, the party poses in scripted ways. One of the poses has the party hold up one finger in one hand, and five fingers in the other, as an allusion to the number fifteen.
- Depending on which photo the player chooses as their "Certificate of Completion", the party will make different comments.
- Taking a photo with just Prompto or Prompto and Noctis has Prompto say it's sweet, but "a little bit creepy."
- A photo of a Chapter 14 Noctis has the party comment that he looks like his dad and that he looks regal.
- ↑ The future of Final Fantasy 15 (Accessed: April 26, 2017) at Polygon
- ↑ Game Informer #87: Final Fantasy XV
- ↑ Hajime Tabata Explains why Prompto was Made a Photographer in Final Fantasy XV (Accessed: April 26, 2017) at US Gamer
- ↑ Hajime Tabata Reflects on the Transformation of Versus XIII to Final Fantasy XV (Accessed: April 26, 2017) at US Gamer