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

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:

Them pixels!


Web version:


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.

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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.


I have the opposite…hm power I guess? lol

For like no matter how good a description of a character is? my Imagination has a will of its own? :grin:

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! :sweat_smile:


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. :smile: )

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I feel that. No matter how many times I see in, say, the Zeus’ Dilemma WIP, that Mor is BLONDE, my brain refuses to recognize them as anything other than dark haired, and I don’t know why.


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.

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Apologies for the Late Thread Necromancy, but I believe it’s worth adding this response from Jason here.

The short version is that I commissioned them because I thought it might help us sell more units. Nobody complained about Tesla or Social Services, so I went ahead and did Viking, Crown, Skystrike, and Professor.

Adding a save system is a totally different set of resources than commissioning art.

(If you wish to check it for yourself it’s in this Reddit post, just scroll down a bit: Reddit - Dive into anything)

So I got to ask the more active forum members, were there any announcements, comments, or literally anything that stated that portraits were to become the norm after Tesla and Services of the Doomed? the entire point of the games is that “It’s entirely text-based—without GRAPHICS or sound effects—and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.”

Recently in Choice of the Viking, I don’t even recall any descriptors to the characters so if you wanted to have a general idea of how they looked then you would have to check the portraits anyway which just feels intrusive, especially since the portraits are being used as something essential for you to have an idea of how they look like instead of being a complementary artwork to help visualize how they look like

Of course they are not the worst so far yet it still takes a toll because it’s a text-based game whose company tagline tells us that it’s “fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination” so how it would help boost sales exactly? it doesn’t even show on Steam and App Store preview pages to begin with.

I would also like to touch a bit on artworks in WIPs like say Adventures of Sherlock Holmes has some portraits of the characters, yet they work because they feel complementary, the demo tells you about some of the details and the portraits feel like an optional bonus that you have to go on your way to check it, the portraits feel like they took the details of appearance and put it into artwork with the details serving as a foundation, but in these recent releases, it feels like it the details are more and more sparse with only the artworks being the only notable reference on their appearances.

Jerel is a good artist don’t get me wrong and I believe the main problem is the style itself, the cartoon style makes them feel… off? It doesn’t work, the characters look plain and lifeless, their eyes and faces don’t show personality and they all feel the same, and in some cases, it just exaggerates traits which makes them just look like caricatures.

Another thing to add is that we have been requesting other features for a long while like say save systems, for instance, I don’t recall a strong community desire surrounding official Portraits (if there was any desire for this at all)

Yet they were added because there wasn’t such a negative outcry on the artworks when Social Services and Tesla were released even though we weren’t forewarned because artworks were never the main point of the releases in COG and HG compared to the story, characters, and romance.



I have hyperphantasia. Once I have seen an image of a character - before I had the chance to come up with my own idea of them - it’s borderline impossible for me to get it out of my head again and it’s one of the easiest ways to make me lose interest in an RO, because 99,9% of all depictions are unappealing to me. Or let me phrase it differently: Someone else’s idea can never keep up with my own definition of appealing, naturally.


I have the opposite, low grade facial blindness. If I ever need to talk to a police sketch artist that criminal is getting away. So I generally don’t have that problem, but even I can’t romance the dwarf from Crown of Sorcery and Steel after seeing that um … toothy portrait.

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Hey, Jesus–long time fan, thanks for posting.

I’d resist having character portraits in my own CoG games, and they don’t add to my enjoyment of the games I’ve read with them in…so nothing I’m about to say comes from a pro-image stance. I’d be happy for CoG to go back to an image-free norm, and think it’s great for people who dislike the art to make their voices heard.

At the same time, I strongly feel that CoG should always be trying new things – tweaking their formulas to see what people are more interested in playing. Implicit in your post is the idea that if they’re going to try something new, they ought to run it past the forum or reddit first… and also not do it unless they’ve changed their mind about save systems. I don’t think either is right.

I love the forums, but we’re a small fraction of the audience for CoG games, and there have always been some odd skews where the forums love something that never gets super popular, and vice versa. “Strong community desire” isn’t best measured by what makes waves in our discourse, but by what most people actually buy. And CoG measures that by trying things out, like they are with the art.

Again, I’m not saying “don’t complain about the art”-- complain away, let CoG know what you feel! But “were there any announcements” – nope, and there’s really no reason there should have been. “We’ve been requesting other features” – some of us have been, sure, but regardless of the state of play on those requests, CoG shouldn’t stop tweaking their formula in other ways.


The only thing that bug me is the lack of a save function on finished games. I know they claim it’s because people replay less but that is literally the opposite of true for me. I enjoy playing with the save function a lot more, I drop most WIPs when they don’t have one and end up having to look up guides whenever I play finished games so I can avoid fucking up in a way that locks me out from the good ending or something.

Regarding character portraits, it’s so simple to include an option to turn it off or only display them in the stat menu I don’t know why people would feel the need to make them mandatory. Plus, as others have mentioned, usually their artistic flair doesn’t match with the imagery we have of what they looked like before. What really bugs me is when there is no physical description for a RO and instead only the portrait so if it’s off you got like no idea what they look like lol.


If you’re on steam you can use save tool. While it’s a bit chore to use, with needing to close and re open the book, it’s still a life saver in terms of convenience.

💾 [TOOL] Softly -- A Soft Save System for ChoiceScript - #41 by malinryden
Save manager and editor for Steam (open-source)

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No you misunderstood me, I am not saying for COG to ask for player input every single time they decide to try doing something

I feel that the decision of adding artworks should have more officially discussed with the public and audience, things like “which style should it be? Should it be Author’s or Editorial Team’s decision? Should every single work have portraits or should it be used sparsely?” Et Cetera Et Cetera,

It could have been any conversation that attempted to establish the “do and dont’s” for the in-game portraits since that’s a very important topic for a company that their “about us” section even says that “By using text, we can interact with the imagination in different ways from a graphics-based game”

But instead it just happened and we had no input in that decision even though the artworks reception was very negative at worst and toleration at best

Hell, the options to hide the artwork only showed up in Professor of Magical Studies because the dislike of the artwork in Skystrike alongn with Crown of Sorcery and Steel were among the notable things that the community talked about regarding those games

Don’t get me wrong I am not entirely against the idea of in-game portraits,

Of course different forums and communities doesn’t exactly mean same desires, yet the save system is one of the features that has been requested for years by a lot of people in different forums and communties, I believe a person even made a save system for Steam too if I am recalling correctly, and a lot of independent coding languages have a almost already a save system.

Yet the idea of implementing it in the full releases is mostly dismissed and ignored while a less requested experimental feature gets highlighted, for me this does not make sense.


I get that you want COG to ask for public input when they’re making a big-deal change, and fair enough… but not everyone will agree on what’s a big deal. Character portraits hardly turn a CoG into a “graphics-based game.” Portraits came in with the VtM games and were pretty warmly received in that context; people who dislike the more recent game art have been more vocal, and if that’s reflected in actual sales numbers I’m sure it’ll lead to a change.

The community discussion highlighted an easy fix that should make it possible for people who don’t like portraits to play without them, and CoG implemented that ASAP. Good on them.

CoG hasn’t ignored those requests–it’s disagreed with them. From the original FAQ onward. That debate has its own thread(s), but whether or not CoG ever changes its mind on a save system doesn’t really have anything to do with whether and how it tries other new things.