Category Archives: Audiovisual

Your Guide to Taking Great MMO Screenshots

If you follow a lot of MMO blogs, you’ve probably seen a lot of good screenshots, and perhaps wished to replicate that level of quality yourself. Or maybe you just want a good visual record of your virtual adventures. Whatever your motivation, there’s an art to taking the perfect screenshot, and our guide can help you master it.

A first person shot of tanking the Sha of Pride in World of Warcraft

Figure out how:

An obvious tip if there ever was one, but still worth saying. For most MMORPGs, taking a screenshot is very easy. Most come with a simple hotkey to take screenshots, usually print screen or a function key. Just check the key binding section of the options menu to find it.

Some don’t make it quite so simple, though. For those games, your best bet is to use some kind of third party software. I prefer Steam for this — it’s a simple, easy solution. Even if an MMO isn’t available on Steam, you can usually get it work via the “Add a Non-Steam Game to My Library” option. If it doesn’t work at first, try running Steam with administrator privileges.

For example, I run Star Wars: The Old Republic through Steam because the game’s innate screenshot function has the distressing tendency to not work during cutscenes and conversations.

Hide your UI:

Unless you’re looking to highlight some element of the interface, you should always hide it before taking a shot. Otherwise, it will serve only to clutter the shot, distract from whatever you were trying to take a picture of, and generally make the shot look sloppy.

The good news is the large majority of MMOs allow an easy way to hide your UI. A lot of games seem to have settled on alt + Z as the preferred hotkey combo for hiding UI, but some use different methods. In Elder Scrolls Online, the key is not bound by default and has to be assigned manually. I bound it to Insert.

A screenshot of the city of Elden Root in Elder Scrolls Online

Hiding your UI can be a little dangerous in action shots, but you’ll learn to quickly hide and then restore your UI for a perfect shot. Generally hotkeys will still work even with the interface hidden, too, so with a little practice you can hang in fights without UI for longer, giving you more chance to grab the perfect shot.

Learn the tricks:

I started simply taking the occasional shot of things that struck me as pretty or interesting, but as I’ve grown more serious about my screenshots, I’ve started to find various little ways to enhance my shots.

Say you’ve got a sweet new outfit for your character and you want to record it for posterity. Sure, you can just take a shot then and there and call it done, and that’s fine. But if you want, you can do better.

Find a spot in the game that would serve as a good backdrop — ideally a place with good lighting and maybe some aesthetic or story connection to your character and their new outfit.

Next, consider your pose. Your character need not simply stand there as they model their new duds. Find a good emote, or capture them in the middle of a fight for that heroic flare.

A screenshot of Zakuul's Spire in Star Wars: The Old Republic

You needn’t settle for the most obvious shot when it comes to environments or other subjects, either. If you find a gorgeous vista in-game, don’t just grab the first shot that presents itself. Find the perfect angle, even if it’s from some place your character wouldn’t normally go. Climb onto a box for more height, or circle around the area until you find the angle that grants the best view.

Recently I was treated to a beautiful view of Zakuul’s Spire by night while playing through Knights of the Eternal Throne, but a large handrail was blocking my shot. My solution was to jump in place and take my shot at the parity of the jump. This eliminated the handrail from view and let me take in Zakuul in all its glory.

Take many shots, keep the good ones:

According to Steam, I’ve taken a bit over 1,600 screenshots in Star Wars: The Old Republic since I started playing about a year ago. However, if I navigate to the file where I aggregate all my MMO screenshots, I’ve kept only around a third of those.

Opportunities for a good screenshot can be fleeting, so I try to seize them whenever possible. If at any moment anything seems like it might be worth grabbing a shot of, I make sure to do so. Often it turns out that my shots weren’t as good as I was hoping, or there was an opportunity to take a better shot of the same thing a moment later.

When in doubt, take the shot. It’s easier to trim the fat later than it is to go back and recreate a beautiful shot that you missed out on.

A shot from The Secret World's Rider event

This is especially true when trying to go for action shots. Animations play very quickly in combat, and a split second can mean the difference between an awesome shot of your character swinging their sword like the epic badass they are, and an unintentionally hilarious shot of them screaming into their own armpit for some reason. If you’re trying to take a good shot in-combat, it’s best to take many shots in rapid succession and hope for the best.

Even in quieter moments, it’s not always fun to spend several minutes figuring out the perfect angle for a shot. The point is still to play the game, after all. It may be better to just grab a bunch of different shots from the available angles and figure out which one you want to keep later.

Always be ready for the perfect shot:

You should always be on the lookout for good screenshot opportunities. Cinematics, major boss fights, and pivotal story moments are always good fodder for screenshots, and you should always have one hand near the screenshot button at such moments, but the opportunity for a great shot can arise at any time. Some of the best screenshots I’ve ever taken have come in the course of fairly mundane gameplay.

The 10 Best MMO Music Tracks

At some point you will get fed up with repeating the same track of your favorite video game from time to time. It’s why a lot of us switch to outside music sources when playing games. Everyone has a unique taste and preferences when playing MMOs and games after all. But the best MMO music tracks offer a wide range of appeal. And they offer memories of positive experiences from playing said MMO.

Long after cancelling your account and even wiping the game from your computer, several memories of the old MMORPG will remain. One way to relive these memories is through the games’ soundtracks. Compositions and scores cooperate with the visuals in the games to craft the overall atmosphere of the game. Within the scores, individual tunes and tracks which will bring back waves of nostalgia. The following are our top 10 most most memorable MMO music tracks.

10. Runes of Magic – Main Theme

Runes of Magic was released in the year 2009 and since then it has been a strong free alternative to the World of Warcraft. For some people the game was impressive and listening was also not a problem. It is a great game with a stronger score largely due to its theme tune.

9. Cabal Online – Abomination

This is the song which plays in the Forgotten Temple in the Cabal Online and it’s recognized for two main reasons. This is the only best MMO music that plays in a higher level area. If your desire is to listen to Abomination while playing a game you will have to be past level 100. However, you can hear this song after loading up Cabal Online’s Website. The soundtrack is also notable simply because it is a MMORPG song with words. You can play the song easily in your car and no one will suspect that it is a song from a game you dedicated most of your time playing.

8. MapleStory – Lith Harbor

MapleStory was a unique MMORPG immediately after its launch. It offered the players a wonderful game with stunning graphics, action oriented combats, 2D platforming capabilities and lower system specs. The game managed to claim over 90 million players in two years. The first town, Lith Harbor, in the Maplestory has an inviting and a very friendly tune which earns its memorable honors.

7. DAoC (Dark Age of Camelot) – Combat Music 1

The combat music qualifies to be one of the best MMO music. DAoC established nation war combat, pitting three historic and mythical realms against each other in the struggle for relics. The game is about thrilling PvP combat and holds a large space in many hearts of MMO gamers particularly as most feel PvP in DAoC is yet to be topped.

6. Lineage 2- Dion Theme

If you played Lineage 2, possibly you made it to Dion before you got sick of the awful grind. If this is so, the Dion theme will definitely bring back some of the best memories. It completely and perfectly sets a fantasy world’s stage.

5. Anarchy Online – Main Theme

The Anarchy online is one of my favorite games. I like everything that the game offers but during its release it was not the best – but today it is much improved. Its promotional video highly helped in its popularity growth particularly due to the epic primary theme behind it.

4. Eve Online – Below The Asteroids

This is another MMO soundtrack which is among the most popular and there are people who also use it in other games. Just like Dion’s theme captures the fantasy world feel, Below the Asteroids also captures the free roaming space feel. Moreover, Eve Online offers freedom for gamers to play exactly how they want and the songs allows them to achieve exactly that.

3. Ragnarok Online – Prontera Theme

This is another town’s theme song which forms part of this list. Similar to the MapleStory’s Lith Harbor, you will have to visit Prontera for some time. Ragnarok online has established a big player base that allows job advancement, reminiscent of earlier sprite based RPGs, colorful 2D gameplay and killer music which include the happy go lucky music track.

2. World of Warcraft – Vanilla Login

This game reached over 10 million downloads and such a large number of players cannot be wrong. For the hardcore and the casual gamers, the World of Warcraft was a differentiated game that even made MMORPG one of the household terms. Belief it or not, most games fail to craft a masterpiece by forgetting the fundamental components like the musical tune which everyone has to hear even before logging in. World of Warcraft had a special tune that people will remember for a very long time.

1. Ultima Online – Stones

One of the features that made Ultima Online a popular game is the login music whose name was Stones. The game involved many features from nine previous games. The game was an impressive score that it actually allowed the creator of the game Mr. Richard Garriott – character to be killed. When this game was launched almost everything was possible regardless of whether the producer intended to achieve it or not. Stones helped in setting up the stage for this freedom.

Bottom Line

Video games may be described as audiovisual performances. This means that the sound and the visuals come together to make a cohesive, interactive experience. But when the producer ignores one over the other, the experience will be rather jarring. And unlike graphics which are dated within the MMORPG’s release year, the best of music tracks from MMOs can live on eternally. The tunes are an important component in the grand memories of the MMO you’ve been playing. Nostalgia can play a big factor in the enjoyment of any music, video gaming related or otherwise.

In a game, music is necessary in establishing the mood and the tone. When playing the game, the soundtrack plays into your senses and creeps into your mind. Wonderful music in a game will not become boring or irritating after repeated listens. Instead, positive emotions will be associated with these music tracks, which in turn motivate players to play more frequently or after a long hiatus. Even decades later, I’ll be glad to have been a part of these games. In for nothing elese, just because I got to experience the most memorable MMO music tracks the industry has offered thus far.

8 Most Visually Appealing MMOs

Gameplay is more important than graphics. Any gamer worth their salt will tell you that. But let’s be honest: You like the graphics, too. You want to step into a game and say, “Whoa.” You want virtual vistas that take your breath away, rich imaginary worlds that pull you away from the dreariness of reality.

Today, we’ll take a look at some of the most visually appealing MMOs. Not just those with the most technically competent graphics, but also those with the most unique and beautiful artistic styles. All those games that are feasts for the eyes.

8: World of Warcraft

A Night Elf monk basks in the moonlight of Shadowmoon Valley in World of Warcraft

It is interesting to consider the difference between graphics and art. A game can have impeccable, technically advanced graphics, but without good art design, it will still end up looking bland.

World of Warcraft is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Its graphics weren’t even state of the art when it launched over ten years ago, yet its art design is among the very best, with vibrant colors and extravagant sights around every bend. WoW could never be mistaken for any other game; its bombastic style is utterly distinctive.

And while it may be a bit long in the tooth these days, Blizzard does take the time to improve their graphics with every expansion. Warlords of Draenor introduced new character models with incredibly expressive facial animations, and some of the new zones are truly gorgeous.


TERA is beautiful and bright graphics

TERA’s artistic choices may be a bit hit and miss — at times haphazardly combining cartoony elements with more realistic styles and featuring some of the genre’s most ridiculous armor models — but the quality of the graphics is top notch, and when they get it right, they get it right.

When TERA’s developers produce a horrible monster, it’s truly the stuff of nightmares. When they build a beautiful landscape, it’s truly awe-inspiring. Add to that some spectacular ability animations, and you have a game full of visual treats, despite its flaws.

6: Aion

A player character soars through the beautiful world of Aion

Aion is showing its age these days, but it when it was first released, it was among the MMO genre’s most visually striking titles, and even now, it can still impress.

Aion offers one of the genre’s most powerful character creation tools, with a dizzying variety of options, and some lovely armor and wing models, but its greatest virtue is how strange and alien its world is.

In a genre awash with generic, Tolkien-inspired fantasy settings, Aion’s world of Atreia is something truly different. Bizarre alien creatures wander in the distance and soar through the sky, and the world’s cosmos and landscape have a dreamy surrealism that is unlike anything else.

5: Skyforge

A majestic cityscape highlights Skyforge's strong visuals

The new free to play action MMORPG Skyforge boasts some impressive graphics, from detailed and colorful environments to some of the most intense and spectacular combat animations in the MMO world.

But like Aion, what truly sets it apart isn’t its technical prowess, impressive though that is, but its art design and its unusual setting.

Set in a world of mighty gods and advanced technology, Skyforge blends elements of science fiction and fantasy to create locations and landscapes that are unlike anything else. From pastoral wildernesses, to teeming technological metropoli, to enigmatic ruins set adrift in the sky, Skyforge is another game that is instantly recognizable through its unique style.

4: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

A misty night showcases Final Fantasy XIV's spectacular weather visuals

The art style in Final Fantasy XIV is a bit odd — hyper-realistic one moment, utterly cartoony the next — but when it comes to sheer graphical fidelity, it’s one of the best MMOs on the market, and it can produce some truly awesome sights.

One of FFXIV’s greatest visual strengths is its incredibly detailed and realistic systems for weather and time of day, which can transform the game world before your eyes. A forest that seems bright and serene during the day becomes a haunting place of mystery as the sun sets and a fog sets in, shrouding all in gloom.

Sunrises flood the land with amber light, and when a rain storm blows in, your character will grimace and start brushing water off their clothes. It’s a game with a brilliant eye for detail.

3: Destiny

A spectacular vista in Destiny

With no PC port in sight, MMO players without consoles can only stare longingly at the beautiful screenshots and videos coming out of Bungie’s multiplayer shooter.

Luckily — or unluckily, depending on your perspective — Destiny provides no shortage of videos and images to tantalize. Its incredible graphics depict a future vision of our solar system with color, beauty, and detail, realistic and fanciful in equal measure.

2: The Secret World

Sunset over London showcases the beauty of The Secret World

The Secret World is one of the MMORPG genres only true horror titles, and its stellar visuals play a crucial role in building its uniquely disturbing ambiance.

The graphics of TSW are for the most part realistic and detailed — horrifyingly so, in the case of many of its monster models — yet it adds a touch of style when it needs to, a slightly dreamy air to some landscapes that creates an aura of mystery and dread.

Even more impressively, TSW’s graphics can shift massively to help tell the story. Landscapes bend and distort impossibly in dream sequences. Rooms melt away into new landscapes seamlessly. Few other games can immerse the player through visual storytelling as The Secret World.

1: Guild Wars 2

A uman warrior stands over one of the many gorgeous vistas of Guild Wars 2

So far on the list, we’ve covered games with technically strong graphics but lacking art styles, and games with fantastic art design but less than stellar graphical fidelity. But there is one game that manages to hit both out of the park at every opportunity, and that game is Guild Wars 2.

Out of the whole MMORPG genre, no game balances style and realism better than Guild Wars 2. Its visuals are stylized, but not cartoony or ludicrous. Its landscapes are colorful, its character models flawless, and its animations among the smoothest and most detailed you’ll ever see. At no point is it anything but awe-inspiring.