Spore: how to record HD-sized videos

Here’s how to increase the size of the in-game video capture in Spore to 1280 x 720, so that it’s a decent size and widescreen as well. Default Spore records only fairly small videos…

1) Find your main Spore install folder. This should be C:/Program Files/Electronic Arts/Spore/.. But for me it’s C:/Games/Spore/.. It may be different again if you downloaded Spore from the Steam games service.

Once you’ve found where you installed Spore to, navigate down to ..Spore/Data/Config. In the ../Config folder you will have the files properties.txt and configmanager.txt files.

2) Open properties.txt with Windows Notepad (you might want to make backups first).

ADD the following lines, at the very bottom of properties.txt…

# Set Video Res
property recordMovieLength    0x0456f974 float
property recordMovieFPS    0x0456f977 float
property recordMovieQuality    0x0456f978 float
property recordMovieWidth    0x0456f975 int
property recordMovieHeight    0x0456f976 int

Now save properties.txt.

3) Open configmanager.txt with Windows Notepad.

ADD the following lines, at the very bottom of configmanager.txt…

# Set Video Res
floatProp recordMovieLength    600
floatProp recordMovieFPS    15.0
floatProp recordMovieQuality    1
intProp recordMovieWidth    1280
intProp recordMovieHeight    720

Save configmanager.txt

recordMovieLength is measured in seconds, so 600 = ten minutes of recording time. And an .avi file of around 500Mb.

Sadly the Spore: Galactic Adventures expansion-pack integrates very awkwardly with the main Spore, and one aspect of this awkwardness is that if you have GA then you’ll need to make the same changes with the GA properties.txt and configmanager.txt files — which should be in C:/Electronic Arts/Spore_EP1/Data/Config. This will enable recording of your GA adventures.

By pressing ‘V’ inside the game, you’ll start to record in-game video footage, and without any of Spore’s in-game interface elements cluttering up your view of the world. Nice. Simply press ‘V’ again to stop. Triggering any talk/examine cut-scenes while in a GA adventure will stop the video recording, and you’ll have to remember to hit ‘V’ at the right times to get reasonably full video coverage of your adventure.

Watch the resulting video (found in My Documents/ My Spore Creations/Movies) to check you’ve recorded at the desired size, and to check the compression. Spore videos are very heavily compressed, even on a MovieQuality setting of 1, and have many nasty compression artefacts clustered around sharp edges set against the sky or some other neutral expanse.

FRAPS for better compression quality:

If you need better quality, use FRAPS to record in-game video. There is a huge drawback to FRAPS recording, though. FRAPS will of course record the user-interface elements, and so you’ll then need to use a video-editing program that offers the ability to ‘crop’ video (Simple tutorial here). FRAPS also records vastly larger video file-sizes — assume about 1Gb a minute at 1920 x 1200.

Above: Cropping out Spore‘s user-interface elements, to leave a clean view of the game world.

It’s possible that your video editing software will slightly shift the colours when doing the cropping. Don’t forget to click “no cursor” when capturing game video with FRAPS. Automatic in-capture video cropping is one of the areas in which FRAPS might be spurred into innovation, by the new competition with the free Xfire. Here’s hoping.

Forcing anti-aliasing:

The free Nhancer add-on for Nvidia graphics cards can force strong anti-aliasing, for better image quality.

Enabling a free camera in Spore:

Press Ctrl + Shift + C, all at once. This brings up the Console box. Then type into it: freeCam