Not everybody who plays this game knows, but Neverwinter actually has a replay feature! It allows for capturing high quality screenshots or replaying the action of an entire dungeon boss fight. So how does it work?
It is more than just a video
A demo is basically a replay of all the action that occurred while you were recording. Imagine it as if a football stadium would have 3D cameras installed everywhere. After the game you could rewind to your favorite moments, freely choose camera perspectives and even pause to zoom in. And all of that without the game’s HUD, so you can focus on the game’s beauty itself.
Yes, beauty, you read that correctly. With the proper settings (where some of them are only possible in this demo mode) we can max out the visual experience of Neverwinter.
Recording a demo is so easy
In your game chat (the channel does not matter and what you type will not show up in the actual chat) type “/demo_record X”, where “X” stands for the name your demo should have. If you do not enter a name, it will put the current date and time as name instead. A red line of text on your screen will tell you that a demo recording is in process. The game will then record all of the action happening around your character within a certain radius. Players, NPCs and environmental actions will all be recorded.
To stop recording type “/demo_record_stop”. You will then find the demo in your game folder usually in the directory “…\Cryptic Studios\Neverwinter\live\demos” under the name you have chosen. It will have a “.demo” file ending.
A few tips: Stop recording before you load into a new map, as it may crash your game which will lose you the demo. Also you should record in short bursts and split up your demos. Up to 3 minutes is usually okay, but going above that will cause your game to freeze for an extended time period after finishing the recording.
Replay the action
To watch the demo you will have to close the game first. In the launcher after you log in and before you hit play, you must go into the launcher’s settings and scroll down to “Command Line”.
There you enter “-demoplay X.demo”, where again “X” stands for the demo’s name and save. When you hit play, the game then skips character selection and throws you directly into your demo.
Navigate the demo
You will see that the demo has automatically started playing. Notice the HUD on top of your screen where you can pause, resume or rewind the demo. You are yet locked onto your character’s perspective you had during the recording. Now press “F2” and witness magic! Suddenly your WASD keys let your camera roam around freely, getting out of bonds into places, where no Neverwinter character will ever have the luck (or doom) to go. But don’t worry, if you should ever lose yourself in an endless ocean of darkness (which might actually happen), you can just press “F2” again and you are locked back onto your character.
To quit watching the demo you may “ALT+F4” or just hit the cross in the top right corner.
Start working the magic
You are in your demo, now what? That is up to you and your creativity, but you may start by taking a high quality screenshot! But first let’s give the game a facelift, shall we?
When you are in demo mode you can press “^” to open a console, that is no different from your ingame chat. Here are a few useful commands, press enter after typing in each command and it will be applied immediately:
- “options” brings up your normal options window, where you may max out all graphics settings. It uses your actual ingame settings, so you may have to change them back while playing.
- “visscale X” where X is a value between 1 and 1000. This defines the draw distance, how far away an object can be to still be rendered on your screen. This one is very important for recordings in wide open areas. I usually just default it to 1000.
- “renderscale X” where X is a value between 1 and 3. This basically defines how beautiful the game looks. “1” is the standard and “2” is spectacular mode, where the game starts increasing the graphics beyond your regular settings. “3” will usually break your PC and honestly does not show much more effect than “2”. I usually use “2”.
- “timestepscale X” where X is a value between “0 and “32”. This sets the speed at which the demo is being played. “1” is standard, “2” will double the speed and “0.5” will halve it.
“^” will also close the console. Also in the actual demo tool a “/” is not necessary before the command.
How to take a screenshot
Let’s say you want to record a screenshot of your character performing an awesome looking ability! Increase your game settings and watch the demo to the point where the ability cast starts. Then pause the demo. Now open up the console and type in “timestepscale 0.1”.
This will set your replay speed to one-tenth the regular speed (often referred to as “realtime” in the editing community), so you can now wait up to the perfect point, where your power looks the coolest, to take a screenshot. Once that point is reached, pause the demo and arrange your camera perspective.
To take the actual screenshot, open up the console again and type in “screenshot”. Pro tip: on the top of your screen you may click “transparent” to make the HUD see-through so you can see what your screenshot will look like. The screenshot will have no HUD on it and will capture your entire screen.
You will then find your screenshot in your game folder usually under “…\Cryptic Studios\Neverwinter\live\screenshots” as a .tga image (a format very common in the editing scene). Converting it into a .jpg or .png can be done by nearly all image editing softwares and is really easy to do.
I hope this helps you getting started with the Neverwinter demo tool. A guide on more advanced settings, the mysterious “Camera path editor”, and a how-to record awesome videos will follow!