If you’ve used a selection of different game recorders in the past, you may have noticed that there are a couple of different ways that they can capture your gaming exploits.
At the most basic level, they may just have a screen recording mode that simply captures whatever is displayed on the screen. For ease of use and reliability, this is great because it just works. But this comes at the cost of the performance that it can achieve – while good, it will rarely be great. And when every frame can count, that is not ideal.
At the other end of the spectrum are game recorders that use a game capture mode to record directly from the game’s processes. This ensures that the record is able to squeeze every last drop of performance out of the game and the saved videos should look great. However, this is far more complicated to get right because the recorder has to know exactly what it is that it is supposed to recording – some recorders require you to launch the game that you want to record and then select it from a list of applications that it sees are running, while others will try to work it out themselves.
FBX falls into the latter category – it attempts to detect gaming process that are running and uses those to identify when you playing a game. When successful, FBX’s overlay will appear on top of the game and you can record to your hearts content. Automatically detecting the game like this means you don’t have the hassle of changing the recorder settings to look for a different game each time you decide to play something new, but it isn’t perfect and will occasionally detect a non-game app that is using similar process to games. We can try to keep this to a minimum by telling FBX to ignore apps that we know can be incorrectly detected.
So automatically detecting games and then recording directly from them is generally a pretty great way to go about recording games with the best performance possible whilst generally being easy to setup. But game capture mode is not always the answer.
Here are a few cases that explain why we’re also adding a screen recording mode to FBX…
For old games that don’t use the supported versions of DirectX
FBX supports game capture mode supports games that use DirectX 9 and newer or OpenGL. For OpenGL, this isn’t really an issue as you’ll have no problems recording games from the dark and distant past. Quake, which was released all the way back in 1996, is a classic example of this
However, DirectX 9 was only released 15 or so years back meaning there are plenty of fantastic games that use older versions that aren’t supported.
Well, to say that pre-DirectX 9 are completely unsupported is not quite accurate. Some games using older versions of DirectX will be recorded fine while there are others that will mostly record ok but with the odd hiccup here and there. Max Payne 2 seems to be an example of one that records fine, while Far Cry 2 will sometimes contain some graphical anomalies but will often record fine.
Of course, there are also games that don’t even use DirectX or OpenGL. Surprisingly, one of these is the extremely popular GTA: Vice City, which uses a technology known as GDI. Occasionally you may get lucky and be able to record these games with FBX, but most of the time you’ll struggle.
And then there are things like retro console emulators like ZSNES that also use technologies such as GDI and DirectDraw.
When using a screen recording mode, this is all a moot point because the technology the game is using doesn’t matter. The recorder doesn’t need to directly interact with the games processes. It just needs to capture the end image that is sent to the screen.
When anti-cheat blocks game capture mode
The best example to use here is Destiny 2. To ensure fair play, Bungie implemented extremely aggressive anti-cheat that prevents any app from accessing the game. The idea is that this will prevent devious players from using cheat apps, such as aim-bots, but it also blocks apps that players may be using for honest reasons, which gives them no gaming advantage.
Game recorders using a game capture mode are obviously one example of apps that are affected by this. But looking at the bigger picture, any app that displays an overlay will be blocked from doing so. This means chat apps like Discord and performance monitoring tools like MSI Afterburner.
In reality, it’s very rare for games to deliberately be this aggressive with anti-cheat measures. Widely used anti-cheats like Battleye, EAC and Fairfight will white-list popular apps that they verify aren’t for cheating. Of course, if a new anti-cheat appears on the block, it very well may block recorders until they’ve gone through the verification process.
Like with the previous point, fullscreen offers the solution here because it simply does not require the recorder to be able to access the game.
For web games
Although not as popular as conventional gaming, there is still plenty of demand from gamers to be able to record games that are played via a web browser. Obviously web browsers are not games themselves so FBX is unable to detect them as such.
The only answer here is to use a screen recording mode instead. Ideally one that allows the user to just record a selected region of the screen so that their video doesn’t have to include all the ads and other stuff that is normally plastered around the webpages that the games are embedded into.
When games are made using unconventional methods
Although pretty rare, there are some games that recorders using game capture mode are simply not able to record correctly. One example is the flight sim, X Plane 11, which is made up of multiple separate windows, each of which is run by its own process. This causes problems because game capture can only attached itself to one process at a time.
Android emulators such as Bluestacks are another example where the app is built in an unusual way which prevents game capture modes from correctly recording it. Like X Plane 11, these are often built from multiple separate process for each tab that can be opened in them and this causes the same sort of problem.
When using a fullscreen record mode, it doesn’t matter how many windows are on the screen. There could be one or there could be twenty. And they could all be for completely different applications. The recorder just sees the total image that is presented to you on your screen and records that.