Synthesizing artificial worlds

You’ve probably all seen or even made Photosynths of computer desks, living rooms and scenic locales all around the world, but what about virtual worlds? Photosynth might have been made for the “real world” but it works just as well for virtual worlds like those in games. Granted, regenerating a virtual environment of a virtual environment might be defeating the purpose but the result can be still pretty interesting.

For proof, take a look at this wicked synth of the Halo 3 multiplayer map “Zanzibar” made by AlexOpposite.

Inspired by the above, I decided to take my own stab at making a synth of a virtual world. My weapon of choice was the classic Team Fortress 2 map “2fort”. To get the clean screenshots, I used a few console commands from this machinima tutorial.

Whilst mine has a slightly higher “synthy score” of 100%, the result isn’t as impressive as the Halo one but still looks pretty extraordinary. What I found is that Photosynth was sometimes confused by some extreme angles you can achieve in video games you might not otherwise. Game screenshots also lacked EXIF data like focal length which Photosynth otherwise would have used to make more accurate models.

I’m definitely going to try synth some other game maps, but for fun I’d love to see someone try synthesizing a side-scroller like Super Mario.

7 insightful thoughts

  1. Psh, everyone knows that 2fort is the worst official map in TF2, but I suppose Dustbowl would be a bit wide for this.

    (Really though, it looks very cool – it’s just a pity that Photosynth doesn’t support Opera.)

  2. I think the purpose of Photosynth is the reverse of this; map out an area to make a level in a video game. At least that is what I would do.

    I am writing a post on this at my blog too… I plan on requesting some features from the Photosynth team.

  3. I think Photosynth makes for an interesting casual game of the “Where’s Waldo?” variety–put something only in one image, buried somewhere in the “synth.” Give points to whomever finds it first in an online gaming community/groups. Could be quite fun!

  4. :I love the comment you get when you try to install the Photosynth software whilst under OSX:

    Unfortunately, we’re not cool enough to run on your OS yet. We really wish we had a version of Photosynth that worked cross platform, but for now it only runs on Windows.

    Trust us, as soon as we have a Mac version ready, it will be up and available on our site.

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