Photosynth is out!

Note to self: must rethink my RSS feeds. Somehow I managed to miss the launch of Photosynth. So finally, the software that inspired Illucinated, my upcoming game is out. It is a software capable to create browseable 3D Collages out of collections of photos. Kinda like Autostitching but the result is not a single photo. Instead the source photos are arranged in 3D space and the user can move the camera form one photo to another. Really hard to explain, I suggest you experience it yourself if you don’t know it yet.

What I like about it is that they decided to make it available for free. This is a smart move when you consider how the web works.

However, besides this the software is quite a disappointment right now. First, the stitching quality is really poor. Working on Illucinated I had already a huge database of theoretically synth-able photos. I loaded them up in Photosynth but the software fails to assemble even the simplest locations. It seems like they expect you to get A LOT of coverage of the locations. You need several photographs of every spot from different angles. My experience with Illucinated is that doing this is really difficult. When on-location you tend to loose track of what you already photographed and what you are still missing. This is already true when creating photos for stitching. Photosynth requires you to get EVEN MORE photos and I don’t see it happening. You can certainly throw out the idea out of the window that you could take you vacation photos and synth them: it won’t be enough coverage.

I mean, here is a Synth of the Gaming Setup I was talking about recently. It took a whooping 58 Photos and it still just 75% “Synthy” (Whatever that means). If you go to the 2D Overview you will see that most of the close-ups haven’t been registered. And it is still the best one I had.

The second problem I see is that you can’t manipulate the Synths to fix problems. Basically, all you can do is to cross your fingers. If something comes out fucked up, you need to redo everything. Which can take half an hour or more. That’s quite frustrating. I imagine that they will add some advanced features later on. I can even imagine they will charge for those features.

Finally, you need the a browser plugin to browse through the Synths. Why? I understand how you need a plugin to create them but expecting users to install yet another plugin to merely see the content is quite the stretch, especially since Microsoft already struggles make things like Silverlight spread. It would haven been an excellent opportunity to combine the two plugins. Photosynth could have been the Silverlight killer-app. But instead I’d rather refrain from creating Synths because I know that only a fraction of my users will jump through a bunch of hoops just to see my holiday photos. In fact, even my family won’t be able to see my synths because they process of installing Photosynth is just too complicated.

And then I can’t link it to Flickr, users can’t merge their databases, and and and. It might get better with time but right now it is not more then an interesting, troublesome, geeky toy. When you consider the last web app from Microsoft, the rather disappointing World Wide Telescope: It’s deja vu all over again.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

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The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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