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Joined: Sep 21, 2009
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|Posted: Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:53 am
Post subject: Screen Capture Facility PunkBuster™
| The PunkBuster Screen Capture Facility allows Server Admins to request actual screenshots from players' screens while they are playing. The screenshots are transferred over the network and saved by the Server Admins either for private use or possibly for publication to a website. PunkBuster limits the filesize of the screenshots by setting a maximum number of pixels that can be captured. PunkBuster also limits how many times a PunkBuster Server can request a screenshot within a few minutes to prevent Server Admins from taking screenshots one after another continuously. All PunkBuster screenshots are saved in the PNG image format and therefore have the ".png" extension. This format is similar to the JPEG format but does not reduce image quality during compression. Most newer Web browsers can view PNG files directly. Programs that convert PNG format images to and from other formats are widely available. More information about the PNG format can be found at the PNG-Homepage.
There are two PunkBuster settings that can be used by players to track the activity of PunkBuster Servers that request screenshots from their system. The settings are called PB_SSLOG and PB_SSSAVE. If PB_SSLOG is set to 1 (which is the default), then PunkBuster will keep a log file on your hard drive in the "pb" folder called "pbsslog.htm". This log can be viewed using any web browser such as Netscape or Internet Explorer. The log contains information about each screenshot that was requested by a PunkBuster Server. If PB_SSSAVE is set to 1 (note that 0 is the default), then PunkBuster will save the actual screenshot to your hard drive after the screenshot image has been transmitted to a PunkBuster Server. Note that screenshot images vary in size usually between 40 and 80 thousand bytes. If you play frequently, saving Screenshots to your hard drive can consume a lot of disk space after only a few days. We don't recommend setting PB_SSSAVE to 1 unless you are sure that you will routinely view the screenshot images and remove them if they start to take up too much disk space for your system.
If PB_SSSAVE is set to 1, PunkBuster saves the screenshots into the folder called "scrnshot" inside the "pb" folder. The filename used is based on the date that the screenshot was taken. For example, the first screenshot taken on March the 15th will have the filename "0315_000.png". The next one would have "0315_001.png", etc. If you exit the game and play again later the same day, PunkBuster will start over at 000 and overwrite the images taken in earlier sessions. Please keep this in mind if you intend to keep all of your screenshot images.
When PunkBuster writes log lines to the "pbsslog.htm" file due to a screenshot request from a connected PunkBuster Server, the log lines will have the following format: "<local> <server> <time> <MD5> <address> <name>". If the PB_SSSAVE setting is at 0, meaning that screenshot images are not saved locally, then the first item <local> is replaced by the date and the words "(Not Saved)". The information called <MD5> is a type of digital signature of the screenshot image. Logging the MD5 is a way to protect players from unscrupulous Server Admins who would otherwise try to alter or create images in order to "frame" players by making it look like they are running some type of game hack or cheat. If a screenshot image is modified, then it's MD5 will no longer match the MD5 that is saved to your log file. For players who are very concerned about protecting themselves from this type of thing, we offer the Remote Logging Facility.
Taking local screenshot
PunkBuster also allows players to take their own local screenshots in addition to the screenshot-taking ability built into the game itself. For players who want to only save images of a portion of the game screen, the PunkBuster option may be more desirable. To take a PunkBuster screenshot of your own screen, first use the PB_SSOPTIONS command to set the parameters for subsequent screenshots. Type "PB_SSOPTIONS" alone to view the current parameters: Width, Height, X-component, Y-component, and the Sample Rate. The defaults are 640, 480, 50, 50, and 1 respectively. The width and height represent the size and shape of the rectangular area on your screen that you wish to capture. If either of these are set beyond the resolution of your game playing screen, then the actual screen dimension will be used. The X and Y components are measured in percentages and specify how far across (X) and down (Y) the center of the captured rectangle should be from the upper-left corner. The defaults of 50 and 50 specify the center of the screen. If, for example, you decide to use X=25 and Y=75, then the captured image would come from the lower left region of your playing screen. The Sample Rate parameter can be either 1, 2 or 4. Setting Sample Rate to 2 means that only every second pixel will be captured and setting it to 4 means every fourth pixel will be captured. Using a higher number for Sample Rate will allow you to get larger screenshot images into smaller files but the sharpness of the resulting images will suffer accordingly. The best way to become comfortable with the parameters and the effects from changing them is to experiment. To actually take a screenshot using the parameters currently in effect, use the "PB_GETSS" command. This can be bound to a key-press for convenience. For example, to bind PB_GETSS to the 'P' key, press the tilde (~) key to bring down the game console and type "bind p pb_getss" followed by the Tab key and then the Enter key to issue the Bind command. Then while you are playing and you wish to capture an image, press the 'P' key and the image will be saved. Each time PunkBuster takes a local screenshot, you should see a message at the top of the screen (and also in the Game Console) that displays the image filename on your hard drive.