Screen shock

Elite’s screen­grab­bing tool of­fers as­tro­nom­i­cal fi­delity

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Elite: Dan­ger­ous is chart­ing new space for in-game screen grabs

With all the hype sur­round­ing No Man’s Sky after E3, you’d be for­given for for­get­ting about Elite: Dan­ger­ous’s sim­i­larly am­bi­tious goal of ac­cu­rately ren­der­ing our en­tire so­lar sys­tem and much of the uni­verse be­yond. Scales of this mag­ni­tude are dif­fi­cult to con­cep­tu­alise, but Fron­tier is at least let­ting you cap­ture the view in ex­quis­ite de­tail. Hit F10 and you’ll get a reg­u­lar screen­grab, but hold Alt+F10 and the game will spit out an im­age at four times the res­o­lu­tion Dan­ger­ous is cur­rently run­ning in. If you’re play­ing the game in 1080p, then, you’ll end up with a 7,680x4,320 pixel screen­shot. A 4K setup will give an as­tound­ing 15,360x8,640-pixel im­age.

“This was a fea­ture we wanted for cre­at­ing shots for full-page print cov­er­age and posters,” Fron­tier founder David Braben tells us, “and we knew the game as­sets could take those su­per-high res­o­lu­tions.”

When you take an im­age at this scale, the game runs for one frame at the rel­e­vant res­o­lu­tion, caus­ing it to stut­ter slightly in the process. It’s tempt­ing to toy with the idea of run­ning the game at these res­o­lu­tions in­def­i­nitely, but it will be a lit­tle time yet be­fore that’s pos­si­ble.

“The game wouldn’t run smoothly at 8K on any graph­ics card avail­able to­day, and they don’t sup­port 8K yet, any­way,” says Braben. “But that’s not to say they won’t in a few years’ time! It is pos­si­ble, in the­ory at least.”

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