Postcards from Stratis: how to take fancy screenshots in Arma 3

Craig Pearson

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What we've learned from Arma 3 's development so far is that Greek islands with a heavy military presence and snap-happy tourists are not a happy combination. Luckily for budding travel photographers, Bohemia Interactive's developers have suffered so you don't have to, and you can still turn the Aegean into picture postcard memories thanks to their sterling efforts to recreate the landscape of Stratis in Arma 3.

The 20km slice of Mediterranean that Bohemia created to show off their mil-sim is a gorgeous place. The rolling sun-scorched hills, lapping waves, and hidden delights might easily be lost amid the cordite smog and tracer fire if you simply treat this as the backdrop to a war game. Don't. Take the time to enjoy the world. Grab the editor, place a character, take a stroll and capture the sights for posterity. Here are a few tricks to make the most of your snaps and coordinate locations of cool places to visit.

There are two ways to take screenshots of Stratis. An easy way and a slightly harder way - the latter, detailed on the next page, enables a floating camera. The easy way involves spawning a civilian in the game's editor. Load the editor, but before you do anything, click the layout button on the taskbar and change the editor to 'Traditional' and restart. It gives you easier access to the time of day and weather settings. Arma 3's sunrise and sunset hours start at about 3.45am and 19.45 respectively. And it's better to add some clouds to give the sky some texture, but don't make it overcast.

Now double click where you want to take your screenshot and select a civilian from the 'Side' menu. Why a civilian? He has no HUD or gun model, so you have the full frame to work with. You're still stuck with the obnoxious 'Arma Alpha' watermark, alas, but not thankfully with the default FOV: the plus and minus keys on the numpad will give you some interesting effects.

Now hit 'preview' to set the game rolling. These were all taken at the same spot on the map, altered with the numpad's FOV.

These are not good shots, but they are demonstrative of the power of FOV twiddling. Experiment and have fun with it. And remember you can crouch and tippy-toe if you need to subtly alter things.

Then there's the hard way - which allows you create a floating camera. Just like Arma itself, its fiddliness conceals much reward... Read on!

Here's how to get yourself access to a floating camera.

Press F3 in the editor. It'll bring up a Trigger menu. You're going to use the in-game radio to trigger an effect. Select 'Radio Alpha' from the 'Activation' drop-down menu. That'll bind the effect to the in-game radio. In the 'On Act' box cut and paste the text below:

player exec "camera.sqs"

Make sure you make it a repeatable action in the same menu. Now drop a character into the editor and start the game. As normal you'll be in the character's body. Press 'backspace' and then type: 0 0 1. What that does is spawn a floating camera wherever you placed the player or object. It'll spawn the character (or object), but you're not in control of them. If you don't want them in shot, just hide them behind something in the editor. In fact, it doesn't matter where you place them in the world, as the camera can go anywhere. If you press 'right-mouse' and end up back in the character, just type the commands again.

Now you're in the Machinima camera! Woo! It has a lot of functionality, but you won't need most of it you're just taking screenshots of pretty places. Right away the controls are odd: the camera swooshes on the horizontal plane using either the mouse or WASD. There's a crosshair in the middle of the screen, so press 'L' to get rid of it.

The plus and minus keys on the keypad work the same here, so from the same position, these are the zooms.

Frankly, I stopped zooming in to give the shot some perspective, otherwise it would have kept going until it was a mess. The zoom is incredible. Additional keys to worry about: 'Q' and 'Z' move the camera vertically, and the arrow keys on the numpad change the camera's inclination. Here's what you can achieve messing about.

The scroll wheel will select the focus depth, and there are a few filters bound to the number keys. If you're only taking screenshots you don't need to worry about performance. I tilted the camera forwards and zoomed up to take the next shot. The visibility setting in the Options > Video was set to 20km, and all the settings are at 'Ultra'. Though make sure you disable 'post-process' effects in the video settings.

Again, these photos above are illustrative of the process - not the artistic potential. Over on the next page, I'll suggest a few things that you might want to point your lens towards - with handy grid references too.

Now you know what to do, where should you go? Here are a few suggestions for scenic spots.

Twin Suns

Time: 4.15am

Map Grid: 065051

This is all about timing. Capturing the flare from the lighthouse just before the daylight stops it from beaming and lining it up with the rising sun was a pretty delicate operation.

A New Reef

Time: 12.00

Map Grid: 014047

At the end of the airport's runway is a crashed Osprey. It's very easy to spot, as the left prop is sticking up out of the water. I set the time to midday to give as much below surface light as possible.

Chilling

Time: 4.15am

Map Grid: 045088

One of the better places to enjoy the sunset is the 'Kill Farm'. I hope that's Mr and Mrs Kill's farm. The fun thing about having civilian character is they look like tourists. This guy is just having a chill.

Up In The Sky

Time: 19.53pm

Map Grid: 043038

Spawn a character anywhere on the map and cut and paste this into the initialisation field: player setPos [4363.82,3894.28, 1000.781]; player setDir 302.92; 0 setOvercast 0.3; setDate [2035,7,6,19,53];

Then cut and paste this as a 'Radio Alpha' trigger and activate it as soon as the level loads: player exec "camera.sqs"; setAccTime 0.01

That will launch the camera and slow time down enough to take a screenshot.

Metal Canyon

Time: 12.00

Map Grid: 016028

There are a number shipwrecks around the coast, but this is the most photogenic. It's split in two, so you can play with the angles.

The Spartan

Time: 19.45

Map Grid: 026005

The southern most point on the island. If you want to be truly impressed with the engine, stand here and whack the view distance up to maximum. You'll be able to see the lighthouse in the distance.

T.U.R.T.L.E

Time: Unknown

Map Grid: Unknown

Just to remind you that you can take interesting screens without worrying about all this. It's a dynamic game world, so there's always going to be something worth hitting the screenshot key for.

I'm sure you can do much, much better. Be sure to drop your best pics in our forum's screenshot thread .

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