Character Images


So I am working on a game where I will be using character images. Now I have downloaded real photos from Shutterstock (purchased them with license of course). Now, which of the following form of images would you prefer seeing in your game?

  1. Would you prefer the photos to be as realistic as possible or;
  2. Would you prefer them to look sketchy, artsy or overlaid with other effects?

I think it would help if you are all aware that I am not really a professional Photoshop user. I am simply using online tools to add effects to the image to make it look less real.


I think it depends on the tone/theme of your story and the overall vibe of your setting, plot and characters. Grimy story, to me, = grimy noir-type imagery. Realistic story would probably deserve less stylized art.

Just my two cents.


Thanks Eric. That did give me a bit of inspiration. Well, it is a supernatural based story and yes, it will be rather gritty. In fact, I am focusing on allowing the player to have a strong moral compass as some of the choices are going to be harsh.

That being said, I the game to be more like a text based version of games like Mass Effect, Baldur’s Gate, etc. as you will be able to form romantic links with the NPCs. Moreover, I wanted to introduce an element of ethnic, cultural and sexual diversity. Meaning, none of the NPCs are from the same ethnic/cultural background and you will be able to form relationships with any of them, regardless of your gender.


Sounds interesting. It’s obviously harder to write a narrative when allowing a wider range of “moral” type of choices (for example, allowing the MC to be anything from a pacifist to a mass murder swimming in the blood of his enemies, but I digress) but I’m sure many readers will find that flexibility to be very satisfying and it could certainly result in some vastly different endings.


Thanks Eric. That was a bit of motivation that I really needed.


I’ve gotta second @Eric_Moser here. For the best effect, you should have the images try and fit the tone of the story you’re trying to set and try and maintain a consistent ‘feel’ throughout the images. If you’ve got a dark story, desaturation tends to work well particularly with red colors being emphasized. Oversaturation tends to work well with fantasy settings and so and forth.

My one concern would be the fact you mention using real photography. I’m not sure how others feel about it, but I personally prefer it if games use artwork rather than photography for illustrations. Unless the artwork used is a form of hyper realism, there’s typically some leeway room to allow readers to shape their own mental image of the character(s). A photograph leaves no room for interpretation, even if altered through filters and overlays, unless it’s your explicit intent to portray x, y, and z characters as looking this certain way (to emphasize the ethnic/cultural diversity as you said). :thinking:

The way you describe the bonds you could form with the NPCs definitely sounds interesting, though. Best of luck to ya!


@Lithophene. Thank you so much for that.

I agree with you and @Eric_Moser. I initially explored the Deviant Art website in hopes of finding digital art, artsyt or sketched characters but didn’t have a lot of luck there.

Later, the reason I decided to give everyone a more accurate picture of the characters in the game is because I wanted people to get stumped when choosing a romantic interest. Though all characters are from various ethnic backgrounds, they all possess appealing facial features. Moreover, these characters have their own personality strengths and flaws, making it even harder to choose an “interest”. This will form one of the moral areas I wanted to explore. Can someone truly know a race/ethnicity/culture by looking at a few people? How can we define “love” and “romance”? What do we look for in a partner? If it is looks, can you make a choice if they are all good-looking? If it is personality, does our outlook of a particular race/ethnicity/culture affect our standing?


You’d have to be careful with that. Unless you purposely commissioned an artist for the intent of utilizing their art in your story, most people won’t be comfortable or willing to share their personal creations. If you plan to invest yourself in this project, it could be potentially worthwhile to try and find an artist willing to work with you to bring your game to life, either pro bono or through commissions.

I know a few authors here are working with @defenestratin to get some illustrations done for their work (and I technically am too for some of my own personal writing :grin:), but there’s always artists out there looking for some work if you know where to look.


Arty, defiantly Arty though it would depend on the style of your story to be honest.
what sort of story are you writing exactly? fantasy? Si-Fi? Horror?


@Lithophene You’re right. In fact, I tried messaging a few at DeviantArt to request them for assistance but they don’t reply.

I shall try asking the person you mentioned. Might even try asking around to see if someone can create such illustrations for the project.


@moonwalkerdragon It is a Supernatural story with a bit of horror elements thrown in. The horror part mostly refers to the parts where tough choices are presented. No extreme violence.


@defenestratin is top notch. She drew the awesome Crook/Dirty Girl print I’m selling this weekend. I’m roping her into working on the CCH Part 2 art.


A lot of artists I know don’t use DeviantArt anymore. In all honesty, it’s an awful website. They applied some new bullshit policies that essentially gives them full rights to claim ownership over any artwork posted on there. Not only can they claim ownership of anything you post, but they can also sell it as if it were their own and you can’t fight against it. In short, uploading artwork on there is essentially forfeiting ownership over it and a lot of great artists left.


Seriously? Wasn’t aware of that with DA(wanders off to read the policy). Glad I haven’t been posting photography there now. That’s actually one of the reasons why I don’t have a instagram account. Sounds like you need to be careful of a lot of image sharing sites these days.


I’ll post the long cut of it under a details tag.

[details=Important bits of aforementioned policy.]

x. License To Use Artist Materials. As and when Artist Materials are uploaded to the DeviantArt Site(s), Artist grants to DeviantArt a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to do the following things during the Term:

a) to prepare and encode Artist Materials or any part of them for digital or analog transmission, manipulation and exhibition in any format and by any means now known or not yet known or invented; (DA can post them on their website and edit them in any way they see fit)

b) to display, copy, reproduce, exhibit, publicly perform, broadcast, rebroadcast, transmit, retransmit, distribute through any electronic means (including analog and digital) or other means, and electronically or otherwise publish any or all of the Artist Materials, including any part of them, and to include them in compilations for publication, by any and all means and media now known or not yet known or invented ; (They can publish your art in any media, use it to showcase their website or even promote certain groups without your knowledge.)

c) to modify, adapt, change or otherwise alter the Artist Materials (e.g., change the size) and use the Artist Materials as described in Section 3(b); and

d) the right to sublicense to any other person or company any of the licensed rights in the Artist Materials, or any part of them, subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement. (They can edit, change, or otherwise modify your artwork in any way they want, as well as sublicensing it to third parties, such as Hot Topic.)

e) Artist acknowledges that Artist will not have any right, title, or interest in any other materials with which Artist Materials may be combined or into which all or any portion of Artist Materials may be incorporated. (By posting on DA, you forfeit your right to dispute any third party profits or copyright infringements upon your art.)

f) During the Term, DeviantArt’s licenses under this Agreement include the right to use any part of the Artist Materials in the promotion, advertising or marketing of the DeviantART Sites. (DeviantArt can use your art to advertise anything they want.)

g) As used in this Agreement, the term “Artist Materials” means any content uploaded to the DeviantArt Site(s) which may include without limitation Artist’s name(s) (including professional names), trademarks, trade names, likenesses, photographs, biographical materials, audio-visual materials, artwork, liner notes, and other graphical, textual, video, film or audio materials and any and all “skins,” computer-generated images or other artwork or images that Artist submits to DeviantArt in any medium or format whatsoever. (ANYTHING you submit to DeviantArt belongs to DeviantArt now. Including your drawings, your photos, videos, your stock materials, your music/audio, your written stories, and your artist name.)[/details]


I prefer artsy pictures, but I’m also super picky (less so for mostly text games like CoG) about art. It would be so weird to lust over real people. What would you do if you saw them in real life? I wouldn’t want to be a character in a romance game and have strangers lust over me and write horrible fan fictions about me that are not safe for anyone’s eyes, so I imagine that’s how real people feel when they are placed (a lot of times without the individual’s knowledge) into romance stories. I just doubt that consent was given in a lot of instances and that makes it creepy.

On the topic of romance, I have super high expectations for romance because I play a lot of romance based games. Choice of Romance was bad to me because I have played numerous otome games that did romance better.

As for “appealing facial features,” there is no one universal standard of beauty that everyone agrees with, so diversity is the key to appealing to a larger audience.

For the flaws, please don’t beat the player over the head with flaws like in CoR. I wouldn’t like it if all the ROs were majorly aweful in some way. I like it when the pros and cons are the same. One person may view character A as funny, delightful and charming while another person may hate character A because they never take anything seriously and goof off too much even if both people were given the same description of character A.

I usually like at least four different ROs of the correct gender and orientation, so I have a greater chance of finding someone I like.

As for the choosing between ROs, why do we have to choose? I don’t like to be locked into romance routes because I usually don’t have enough information to make a good decision and when I finally choose and see that the person is a jerk, I have to restart the game. What about the poly people? I’m monogamous, but I like to get to know people first before I settle down. I might like to casually date a little and accept compliments from others. Can I choose to be single and happy if I don’t like any of the options?

I feel the more detailed you make a RO, the higher the chance that someone won’t like them, but it would be interesting to explore the different cultures idea even though I’d only date someone whose views aligned with my own. I could date a vegan or vegetarian even though I’m an omnivore as long as they don’t constantly attack me for my choice. But, things like wheather a traditional or modern relationship is prefered, wanting to or not wanting to have kids, abortion and adoption views, religion, and other things could be a deal breaker.


Then if I were you I would go for realistic since it can bring out your stories theme better.


Yup. Had an account on there for almost a decade, but deleted it entirely a few years ago. Sadness, it started out as a cool little community. I guess that happens when someone in charge starts seeing cartoon dollar sign vision.


Wow. @Lithophene. I didn’t know that at all. It was no wonder I spotted a lot of profiles where the last visited date was displayed as 2014. By the way, I took yours and @Eric_Moser’s advice. I contacted @defenestratin for the artwork. She is indeed very good. I especially loved the work she had done for Heroes Rise. I suppose I might look for illustrations along those lines.

@Sovereign2Lilith, a lot have played Mass Effect where each of the characters’s faces were rendered after real people. I definitely knew my Sheperd’s love interest wasn’t Miranda but Yvonne Strahovski. Regardless, you have made a valid point in mentioning that people mind find interacting with real faces very uncomfortable.

There isn’t an universal standard of beauty and that was what I had mentioned earlier about how I want people to truly experience and understand relationships while interacting with the characters. And no, no one gets beaten for picking or not-picking a romantic interest. :joy:

Moreover, I don’t recall mentioning that one will be locked to a particular character. Here are the features of the game that I intend to encompass with the player experience:

  1. Your choice does truly determine the story. You could romance characters or not romance them.
  2. You decisions could have all of them killed (including your character) or save all of them.
  3. This will definitely not explore relationships in a more detailed manner (example: wanting to have kids, abortion, etc.) but will explore them as much as possible within the framework of the theme and story.
  4. It is a supernatural game with tough moral choices.

So yes, I just made a rough estimation yesterday and I realized I might be coming close to 35 different endings and the list just keeps growing. Mostly because I want the player to truly experience choices. I don’t want them to lead along a branch only to have then returned to one particular ending. I see that majority are leaning towards real images.