Day Of Defeat: Prelude To Victory

May 23, 2013 - SFM Team

If you have a WW2-themed story kicking around in your head, or are just a big Day of Defeat fan, today is your lucky day! Why? We've added Day of Defeat as an optional DLC for the SFM.

Don't worry, we're still plugging away at the Workshop. But we also think it's really exciting to experiment with putting up large content packs as DLC.

Incidentally, Day of Defeat was also the first game to get a trailer made in the SFM:

"Prelude to Victory" has a special place in our hearts because it was made with an early prototype of the SFM that only had game recording, clip editing and camera manipulation. There was no animation system, no posing, no set dressing, and no lighting. Everything you see in that video is us recording ourselves running around in the game, then later adding motion blur, depth of field and some film grain and color correction. Having a constrained set of tools with which to make a trailer meant we had to get creative with our process. It also taught us a lot about the process of telling stories using game assets.

We wanted to create the feel of squads of soldiers running, fighting and ambushing each other, and our first attempts to recreate this for the trailer involved simply getting a dozen folks connected to a server and recording them running, fighting and ambushing each other. Easier said than done, as it turned out. The first challenge we encountered with this approach is that it's surprisingly hard to get an in-game actor to walk a set path and shoot a designated target correctly each take, let alone trying to get a dozen people to do it simultaneously.

The second challenge (and this seems obvious in retrospect) is that when you get a dozen people together in a first person shooter, they tend to... well... shoot each other. On countless occasions while trying to get everybody in the right place hitting their marks, someone would inevitably shoot someone else, triggering a firestorm of bullets and rockets as everything promptly descended into chaos.

Learning from our mistakes, our next attempt involved recording a single person running down a street. Then we recorded that person again, this time following the first recorded player. And recorded a third following the first two recorded players, and again, and again. We found that recordings of players following their previous actions generated a surprisingly natural crowd behavior, and as opposed to the free-for-all of a dozen actors shooting each other at once, it was very easy to create.

We found that in general, recording multiple takes was useful - not just for larger, more ambitious scenes, but also as a way to find better camera angles. Since all of our animation was getting recorded, everything was rendered in real-time, which meant that it was easy to fly cameras around and discover better framing shots than we'd originally blocked out. The best example of this is in the shot where the German machine-gunner is sniped, and his helmet rolls onto the floor. Having recorded the gameplay first, and being able to fly the camera around afterwards, allowed us to find the right angle to see the helmet roll right up into the camera, which placed the viewer more in the scene than the higher-angle shot we'd started with (our first of many happy accidents with Source's physics engine).

Day of Defeat will always have a fond place in our hearts. It was the first time we'd ever tried telling any kind of story with the SFM, and while it looks kind of primitive compared to later efforts, a lot of it was us discovering the full potential of the SFM tool for the first time. Now that all the assets from Day of Defeat have been added as optional DLC, we hope you'll make some interesting discoveries of your own.


The SFM Blog

Here well be sharing news, tips and tricks about all things relating to our storytelling tool, the Source Filmmaker. Because its the tool we use here at Valve to create our own movies, we will be adding features as we need them and then sharing them with everyone through Steam. You can join our official Steam Group to stay up-to-date with all the latest SFM news.


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