Words and Pictures

Here is a typical in-game mistake for me.  Way back whenever, I picked up a quest in Theramore to kill murlocs.  I needed forked murloc tongues for a quest called “Murloc Soup and Bugs.”

I did not really look at the quest, as will become obvious below.  I just ran off to the murlocs I saw near town (you pass over them on the griffon flight from Ratchet) and started hacking away.

I slew murlocs for quite some time.  I even got some nice loot, as I recall.  But I did not get a single forked murloc tongue.

I decided that I must have the wrong murlocs and that I should pick this up another time.

Months pass.  The quest sat in my log, untouched.

Finally, Thursday night I get out my hunter again and decide to clear out some old quests sitting around in his log.  With only 25 quests allowed in your book, you cannot keep a lot of dormant quests sitting around.  So I actually took a look at the quest:


Oh, yeah.  M-u-d-r-o-c-k. Not M-u-r-l-o-c.

So I wasted some time.  I took the above screen shot to add to the pile of evidence that I am still a noob.

And then I noticed something.

I noticed what crappy quality the screen shot was.

At some point, while we were off in Middle-earth, Blizzard changed the format for screen shots.

They used to be in Truevision format.  I have a lot of screen shots in my WoW directory with the .tga extension.

But now the screen shots are in JPEG format, and the compression is turned up, so the quality is now crap.

Sure, the screen shots are smaller.  All of my recent screen shots, the ones in JPEG format, are between 300 and 600 KB, which is tiny compared to the 7501 KB that each .tga screen shot takes up on my drive.

But the quality is really bad.  I like to crop, edit, and play with screen shots, so I want a full uncompressed bit map if I can get it. (EVE Online and EverQuest at least give me that option.  Vanguard too!)  Truevision isn’t a bit map, but it is close.  In fact, since the sizes are the same for .bmp and .tga screen shots I have, I would have to guess there is no compression at all.  The quality is good.

And, worse still, there is now a huge lag while you take a screen shot, no doubt caused by the software compressing down the screen shot on the fly.  I do not remember there being such lag before this change over.

So I went digging through the settings to find out how to set screen shots back to Truevision format.  I mean, there has to be a setting, right?  They wouldn’t just screw the quality of screen shots without giving you the option to go back the way it worked for two and a half years, right?

I can’t find the setting. 

I could find that setting in EverQuest II, where it is buried deep.  I could find the same setting in EVE Online where it is called something innocuous.  But I cannot find it in World of Warcraft.

Somebody find this setting for me please.

Or am I going to have to load up FRAPS just to take screen shots now?

8 thoughts on “Words and Pictures

  1. Drinkitt

    The default screenshot option was indeed changed to JPEG, and the reason mainly being because people didn’t know what the hell a TGA was. Windows wouldn’t open it, if they didn’t give up right then and there they would need to find a viewer that could even open them and then probably need to find out how to convert them so they could upload them somewhere or share them. It was just kind of a pain for a lot of people, and we don’t want to make screenshots a painful issue.

    We did however, as mentioned earlier in the thread, provide a way for players to change back to the TGA format if they want to take the higher quality screenshots.

    Open your config.wtf file found in your \World of Warcraft\WTF\ folder (default C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft\WTF\) with WordPad and add the below line at the bottom of the file. Save it, close it, and then you’re taking TGA screenshots again. You’ll need to do this without the game running of course.

    SET screenshotFormat “tga”

    You can go back to jpg by deleting the line or using “jpg”. (Apparently “png” does work, but only on Macs.)

    You can also change the quality of a screenshot by using the below line, with a value between 1 and 10. 10 being the highest quality but also the largest file size.

    SET screenshotQuality “10”



  2. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    If the issue was that people couldn’t use .tga with Windows Media Viewer (which is annoying, I will admit), why not go to .bmp? A 1600×1200 bitmap screen shot taken on my system is the same size on my disk as a 1600×1200 .tga screen shot taken with WoW.

    I have to imagine that if .jpg was chosen, and the overhead that compressing it causes, that disk space must have been part of the calculation as well.

    And Krones, I did actually finish the quest, and the follow up in the swamp of sorrows. I hate tossing quests. I am compulsive that way.


  3. Game Dame

    I thoroughly enjoyed the murloc/mudrock confusion story! Believe me, you are not alone in feeling like a noob sometimes after 20 years. My opinion is that ANYTHING associated with murlocs is bad — even if it’s not even about murlocs.


  4. Sente

    Would the .bmp format work on Macs though, do they support Windows bitmap out of the box?

    Most of the MMOGs I can think of that has built-in screenshot capability support both JPEG and TGA, so it makes sense from a familiarity perspective to use those two.


  5. Joel

    You should check out the addons Lightheaded and TomTom from Wowinterface. Both are coded by Cladhaire who also produced Warcrafts cleanest raid interface Perfectraid. Lightheaded will give you a window next to your quest log that will hold all the comments from Wowhead about a any given quest. The comments are all mined from the website by Clad and stored in a small local DB. TomTom will allow you to click on any of the coordinates in those comments to give you a way point on your minimap to help you find the spot. The footprint of this addon is amazingly low. It only realy uses resources when you open your quest log and even then i don’t notice much more than a brief stutter (probably because I don’t have enough ram). Such a simple Idea and such a useful tool.


  6. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    “Murlocs. Whey did it have to be murlocs?”

    Thanks for the notes there Drinkitt. I am now taking high quality screen shots again.

    I will have to go check if .bmp opens up okay on a Mac. I do not recall ever having any issues opening up the more Windows-centric formats on a Mac, though I recall issues the other way around. .pict used to be a pain when moved to Windows.

    I find something of a split on who supports what format. As I said above, EVE, EQ, and VG all support .bmp, while only WoW and EQ2 (that I know of) went for .tga for “high quality.” I think JPEG is about everybody’s default now, but compression seems to always set so high that quality suffers too much.


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