For me, and I know I’m not the only one, it’s not about how “realistic” or “stylized” the art is. These are text-based games; the author’s writing should do the talking. If that’s not enough, then in my opinion, they didn’t write well enough.
Traditional novels, by and large, have zero images (including maps, backgrounds, etc.), and many people have no issues with immersion or having a enjoyable experience reading them.
It would be a good idea to have individual options to toggle each type of image: portraits, pictures that are important to the story in some way like maps and diagrams, and chapter/stat headers. Some readers might still want to see things like headers because they add visual flavour to the game and don’t conflict with their own imagination in the way that character portraits tend to do.
And finally, we should also have the choice to disable all images to avoid lagging.
At the risk of getting off-topic, earlier on I mentioned using vectors for headers because of the way they get blurry when the text size is increased. It’s not a problem on mobile, but I like to read on PC with the text zoomed in for ease of viewing. Strangely enough, this is apparently only an issue on Steam as the headers don’t drastically increase in size in the site version. Screenshots below:
Hmm, maybe COG needs to update their summary then. Because as far as I know, those who use pictures are under the Hosted Label. And since they are hosted, they certainly could use more freedom in the medium. Choice of Games, for example, can stay your hardcore Text-based only.
Of course, the argument of 'If you need pictures, maybe it means your writing isn’t good can be easily countered with ‘If a picture kills your enjoyment, maybe you didn’t train your imagination that well’.
Absolutely! I’ve wished for a toggle since the first image popped up. While the artwork is good, I prefer the pure text, and it’s definitely not a style that makes me want to romance any of the characters.
I actually haven’t managed to finish any story with images in it.
Actually, both A Crown of Sorcery and Steel and Skystrike are under the Choice of Games label (oh, and the games from Vampire the Masquerade too, now that I think about it) and they all have character portraits.
So I guess that maybe by adding some images in the CoG label games they’re trying to attract more readers or to add new layers to the experience (if I like the images of a game I’d be happy to confront my imagined characters/ambience with the author’s, but after finishing the story).
The only way to satisfy both those who like to see some art and those who prefer to build mentally the characters’s images would be adding an option to turn off images, I reckon.
As @AletheiaKnights pointed out, in The Midnight Saga: The Monster you can choose to turn off the pictures at the beginning and I found that very nice of the author. That could be a feasible solution I think.
I am personally of the opinion that it doesn’t make sense to not have them toggle though. Like, if some players find it enhances the experience then let them have the images but for others it’s immersion breaking or distracting. I myself find it difficult to focus on reading when an image is displayed beside it. Additionally, if the image doesn’t fit my mental image of a character it can make it a lot less appealing to try to romance them?
A lot of the time, our minds will do best in filling blanks to make a character we find visually appealing internally. But when you have an image forced that this is the ‘canonical’ way a character looks then it sets an expectation that’s different. I don’t know if I explained it particularly well but… I hope the idea comes across cleanly enough.
I wonder what thoughts are though on portrait pages that are part of the settings menu, like The Soul Stone Wars series? Something that is kind of out of the way, but also readily available if people want to see them.
Really it’s less about ‘training your imagination’, and more about “I can’t unsee this!”. lol It ruins their mental image that they had prior to the artist’s depiction of the character.
Everyone’s brain develops and functions differently in terms of processing information and memory retention. For example: photographic memory; eidetic memory; etc.
“An eidetic, or photographic, memory involves being able to recall images, names, words, and numbers with extreme precision. If you are not born with an eidetic memory, there’s no way to have one. But don’t worry! While you may not be able to train yourself to have a completely photographic memory, there are certain things you can do to significantly improve your ability to recall information. Games, activities, strategies, and even lifestyle changes can all help!”
When you’re born with it, it’s not something that can really be turned off or ‘trained’ out of naturally. Photographic memory is basically equivalent to having an image literally burned or scared into your memory. Once it’s there it’s very hard to get rid of, and can take many years to forget, or even a lifetime. Even the most insignificant things can still be retained unwillingly.
I can understand how this would severely dampen someone’s experience when they’re reading a book/game that claims to be “entirely text-based with no graphics”. They end up blindsided by an unexpected picture that they find unattractive or different from what they imagined a character to be, and that leaves them feeling disappointed.
How good or bad an author is at writing descriptions of things doesn’t really matter to me because I can still use my imagination to fill in the blanks. I prefer it over character portraits forced between the text, or stat screens. A simple toggle to turn off character art specifically would balance things out for everyone by having the option to opt out of unnecessary imagery at the start of every game. I love things like maps in the stats screen though because it gives some added insight to the world around us in that story.
It’s also not the reader’s job to imagine things as they aren’t, regardless of whether or not they have an eidetic memory. As it stands, CoG/HG claims to be text-based, so unless they change that, text alone should be able to enough to carry the story and any descriptions.
For like no matter how good a description of a character is? my Imagination has a will of its own?
Avatar Movie Narrator: And the group finally step out of the forest and meet a strange tall Alien with blue skins, and long dark hair…
My Imagination: They were short and looked like the smurf!
Me: What? Oh come on! Can’t you do better?
My Imagination: Oh look at the time! Gotta go!
Me: But I…you didn’t give me a visual damnit!
My Imagination: oh…right! Sorry, here you go! Enjoy!
Me: Wait…is that Yoda?! Now I’m confused
Still enjoy the story, but…yeah. Feel like I should ask the power that be for a refund or a replacement!
I’d call your ‘power’ a blessing because it makes for some fun interpretations of the characters, and you potentially won’t have that one image stuck with you through the whole book. lol (The avatar-smurf-yoda depiction made me laugh. Thank you for that. )
I have the same issue, regardless of what the narration say, I can’t stop picturing her as basically Wednesday Addams. I guess its because of her attitude AND my automatic assumption of what a ‘daughter of the underworld god’ bring to my mind.