Can we please have an option to turn off all images in games?

Hi,

I’ve purchased pretty much every game in CoG since Choice of the Dragon was first released and I’m a big fan of this company and the work all the writers make.

Recently though the last few games I’ve purchased have had illustrations for characters, and honestly it really doesn’t work for me. I wouldn’t want to take them away from people who are enjoying them, but I would really very much appreciate being able to disable all of that by default.

For me, seeing drawings of the characters takes away my immersion and destroys the internal image I had of the characters. I played as an orc in Crown of Sorcery and Steel, and the orc guy’s image just made him look like such a smug and unpleasant jerk that I really struggled to tolerate him. I’d be much much happier to just have only text.

It’s also handy when I’m on my kind of bad mobile connection, as I like to play CoG games knowing that it’s just text and won’t use up my data as much as most mobile games do.

Thanks,

PtmChopper

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Hi,

I think too that it would be nice to have an option to disable characters’ illustrations while reading.
While some games have really nice illustrations that can enhance the experience (for example some Vampire - The Masquerade games), sometimes others have images that may not suit everyone’s tastes and, as you said, they can destroy the mental images we create for the characters (and, at least personally, I can find difficult not to recall the illustrations I saw).

I had the same problem with Vid, he is a bit insufferable in that picture and I couldn’t help but recall that expression every time he spoke!

Unfortunately in Skystrike I had the same issue with some of the characters’ portraits (yeah, I’m thinking about Amardeep’s sunglasses and jacket!), so it would be really nice to have the option to turn off the images.

As @PtmChopper said, with an option like that in the Menu those who enjoy the portraits or the occasional image in the story will keep the images while reading, while those who prefer a more “in-text” experience can turn them off.

I reckon that this option could be not all that simple to implement in a way to satisfy everyone, as some games may have maps or other illustrations functional to the story or to help us readers to go more swiftly through the game (I have The Great Tournament’s map in mind as example).

To conclude, personally I think the main issues are characters’ portraits so an idea could be to add an option to disable them while keeping the more, let’s say, traditional images that are present occasionally even in older CoG and HG games.

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I totally agree. I also think it goes against the whole, “entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination” disclaimer cog puts in every game description, even the ones with ugly orcs.

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Hard agree with this post.

Just played the demo for Skystrike, and I found some of the portraits rather off-putting.

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I concur, part of the charm for me is to not have images of characters – the option to turn these off (keeping maps or such things) would be the best solution, if the need to include these portraits is needed to perhaps appeal to a large audience (I assume this is one reason, at least).

As @Galavantic said above, it does go against the blurb of a text-based, powered by imagination game for me personally.

So, please put in a toggle, at least?

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I would honestly go so far as to say art in CoG/HG should be actively discouraged; the whole point of a text-based game is to allow the player to use their imagination. If your writing isn’t strong enough to do this, then it’s likely not strong enough to carry a story, either.

I’m definitely not saying people should include painstaking and unnecessary levels of detail into descriptions, but give the reader enough to work with, and let their minds take it from there. These titles are, after all, supposedly “entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.”

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In Crown of Sorcery and Steel I found the caricature-esque picture of the dwarf bard to be so instantly offputting that I immediately wrote them off as a character. I actually liked the other pictures, though. Sure, Vid’s picture makes him look snotty and insufferable, but it works for him because once you get to know him you learn that he’s actually snotty and insufferable.

Another example of this is in Skystrike, where the picture of Amardeep immediately gave me some extremely strong “chain smoking wine aunt” vibes that ensured I had no interest whatsoever in doing that romance line.

None of the pictures are actually bad, really, so much as they immediately give me associations with the character that change how I think of them.

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Skystrike really struggles with this. It’s put me off all the characters :face_exhaling:

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This!!! I dislike the style personally and it really put me off of any of the romance interests, which is usually my favorite part of any CoG game!

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Oh my GOD I’m so glad I’m not the only one who wants the option to turn off the portraits!

I don’t hate the artist, and I’m sure they have great artistic abilities, the style just isn’t to my taste and it’s really immersion breaking when I get given a picture of a character instead of just being given descriptors and then making it up myself.

It’s really dampened both new release games for me, as now I’m unable to get the image of the characters out of my head and part of the fun is imagining what the characters look like.

Please please implement the ability to turn portraits off! :sob:

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I hear you folks loud and clear on this and I’m sorry a toggle is not something I thought of pre-release. I’ll explore improving this in Crown in the near future.

For me, the portraits are one very cool and stylized interpretation of the characters, but not intended to be the final and definitive word on them – the final word should ultimately be however you like to picture them in your heads based on the text.

I want you to be able to fan-cast to your heart’s content for how you’d like to picture a snooty-yet-sexy orc and chipper dwarven bard, and I see how that’s tough to do if you struggle to get the portraits out of your heads once you’ve seen them.

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I totally agree with you on Skystrike. Plus, as @BourbonDingo pointed out in his review of Skystrike, the portraits in the stat screen hamper its readability (it happens in A crown of Sorcery and Steel too, but there the page is still readable. By the way, thank you for looking further in that @JoshMLabelle, we’re looking forward to that update!).

As I was saying regarding Skystrike, it becomes a bit annoying especially when you’re reading on your mobile phone because you have to scroll a lot to check the relationships’ percentages and I think that a lot of us like to check stats frequently.

An option to turn off images would be really great in this case, regardless the fact that you can like the game’s art or not.

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I love Art, portrait, scenery, and such. But a Toggle is always a must. Because they can also make the game lag.

And to be frank, I would have loved more art about the scenery, like the Vault, or the Dwarf Mountains, or the Humans City, or the Ork Legions. You know? those would have made the game even more memorable. In old games like Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate, I remember fondly the scenery more than the portrait of a companion. You remember the emotions they evoked in you, but the portrait isn’t that Important.

You can use a portrait, but it should be a curiosity. Leave them in the Stats hidden, make people think ‘Oh the portraits as the author imagined them! I wonder how he saw them and if my Kathya looks like his?’.

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As an artist and wannabe game designer myself, I still can’t help but agree. A toggle would be great, though it would be even better if there were two options: to only hide character portraits, not maps or other kinds of illustration (a visual guide for a puzzle, etc) and, optionally, to hide everything and swap all illustrations with descriptive text (which is something a lot of designers are used to do, for example, for accessibility in websites with a text-to-speech function: the tool describes the images within the page as well).

If I may be so bold as to give a suggestion, I think that a lot of it this “uncanny valley” feeling could be circumvented if the character illustrations still left some or most things to the imagination. That is, if the illustrations themselves were more stylized than realistic. One simple way to achieve that for most content creators on a budget is by giving a silhouette of the character, not a full illustration. But if there’s an artist involved, there are sooo many ways this could work… If the story happens in the old Egypt, for example, the characters could be shown as illustrations in hieroglyphic style, which gives a general sense of how the character looks but still leaves a lot of for the player imagination to play with. One excellent example of the use of this stylized artistic direction are the tarot cards in Dragon Age Inquisition.

I think it’s important to consider if the illustrations are there with the purpose of enhancing the sense of immersion and improve one’s experience/gameplay. If the art is there exclusively to “look pretty”, then there should be none at all imo. It is a problem many hyperealistic-focused games have nowadays… There’s a saying where I’m from that roughly translates as: “If one one only sees the face, they can’t see the heart”, well, “if one only sees realism, they can’t see art direction”. Haha. :sweat_smile:

And if there’s a concern about the game becoming too slow on mobile, I recommend to vectorize your art instead of using .png/.jpg images. Vectorized artworks usually come most commonly in *.eps and *.svg formats (and yes, websites use those all the time, especially in logos and animations, and basically all text fonts are vector data). Because a vector uses a mathematical formulae to drawn shapes and lines, contrary to bitmap tech that creates images from a lengthy list of pixel per pixel data (this pixel is this color, this pixel is this color, next pixel is that color and it goes on and on forever until it shapes the whole thing…), they have a much smaller file size and are processed much faster by any machine. Also, vectors can be scaled to infinity without ever losing image quality/looking blurry, because you are basically just changing the values in a math equation. There’s no “pixel stretching” since it doesn’t drawn things per pixel to begin with.

The process of transforming an bitmap image into a vector image is called vectorizing. It can be done with both free tools and paid ones… Or one can drawn an illustration as a vector from the beginning, though that may require some additional study as it is a bit different than drawing the usual digital art.

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And here I was under the impression that rasterizing is turning a vector image to bitmap, not the other way around (I’ve heard that called tracing, but that may be a program-specific term).

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Oh, sorry! I may have got confused a bit. English is not my first language, and I’m quite tired… Still the subject here was quite interesting and I couldn’t help myself. I’ve fixed what I wrote previously, thanks for pointing it out. :melting_face:
And yeah, that would be correct, vector tracing transforms rasterized data into vector values.

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Using vectors is definitely a great suggestion when it comes to chapter and stat labels (which I know a lot of CoG use). They end up looking blurry when zoomed in as they’re scaled up to match the increases in text size.

I don’t think vectors are suitable for all art styles. They work nicely with cel shading and other more “streamlined” styles, but not so much with artworks that use varying textures and shades of colour. But designing headers tends to involve simpler elements to begin with, and the vast majority of fonts support vector, so making the switch is doable in this case.

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Yeah, I agree vectors won’t work for everything… The style does tend to “flatten” surfaces. Though someone skilled can go pretty far with them if using their tools creatively. Here’s an example of a more complex vector art from a stock images website:

I think being simple in this case is a good thing, since textures and small details can be either described in text or left to the imagination. But again, in the end, it’s all up to what the author wants and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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The only way I could think of doing it for now would be having a variable set in the settings menu that would be “Show Portraits True/False” then "If Show_Portraits True “image.jpg” or something, but I think that generally authors just haven’t really thought to include an option to not allow them. As an artist myself and someone who wants character portraits for my game, I am going to have them in a separate menu so only people who want them will see them.

If you want to know how it’s done, try looking at The Midnight Saga: The Monster. The very first thing you do when you start the game is decide whether you want to see pictures or just text.

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