Opinions on art in text based games

I wondered what was everyone’s opinions on small pieces of art in text-based games? Similar to how in Vampire: The Masquerade — Night Road, when you meet certain characters an image of them appears. Does this break the sort of ‘code’ with text-based games?

Do you guys love it, or hate it?


Depending on the target age group, some classic choose your adventure books (as in the ones you could hold, and manually turn pages in) sometimes had pictures in them. In that sense, there’s nothing wrong with a picture, or two.

The only time I find it disruptive is when the image, or images–as the case can sometimes be on a single page–are very large, and don’t really add anything to the story aside from a bit of flair that games like these don’t really depend on to be well received. I don’t mind “cover art” pages. Those make sense from a stylistic standpoint. However, huge images in stat screens aren’t very appealing if they make it difficult to get at the info you’re trying to check.

So I guess my opinion is somewhat conditional. I have no issue with images, and even like them sometimes. But if they’re a bit cluttered, and far too large, that tends to mess with my enjoyment of the story.


In your opinoon have you played any games with a good-sized image? Did it help you better understand the characters or did the writing do that more for you?


Images kind of belong in the “grey area” for me, and I use that term loosely. It solely depends on how it’s used. If implemented well then it could add to the experience and if it’s not done well then it can take away. Having to look at an image that’s unpleasant multiple times can really overshadow the writing in the games. Using images appropriately and not simply because you can is a good thing.

Like you mentioned with Vampire: The Masquerade. The images don’t take away from the story as it was used to shed light on the character appearances. For other people it might not be the case but I had no problem with it.

There are fantasy games that have maps in the stat screens which are hidden away and you can access it if you want to know more about the world locations. Which I’ve come to appreciate because then a callback to the image doesn’t have to be repeatedly made. You can simply go look at it without it interfering with the story whenever characters talk about going somewhere.

Art in text-based games are really a “can do with or without” situation, and that once again depends on execution.

Side note : It’s important to have images that fit with the story no matter how bland or bizarre they may be, as long as they make sense. Finding stray images just makes it weird and I’d be left thinking about why it was there in the first place.


If there are going to be images (and thats a big if), they should be less specific. Maybe an overall battle or city, but I want to imagine the characters for myself, not have the author tell me what they think they should look like


As far as image size goes… I wouldn’t actually know the optimal dimensions. The main thing to be considered in that regard is that your story won’t just be read on PC screens, but phones, too.

They can help to better understand a character, if it’s art related to them, but generally I find character art to be more miss than hit. Other topics have brought up ambiguous/lack-of character descriptions, and later suddenly using more specific descriptions, or images for the characters that left some readers wanting, or unhappy to learn that what they were picturing wasn’t what the author was describing at all.

Art meant to show more of the world isn’t such a pain to get just right, though. One of the things I liked to while reading novels growing up was to pause reading just to look at the maps in the book to track the progress of the story’s heroes. That’s always a fun bit of interactivity. :slightly_smiling_face:


Yes, I do love maps. Specifically, the maps from The Way of Kings? Gorgeous

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I prefer my text-based games without pictures, but I don’t let them bother me when they do appear in games, they are easy enough to ignore.
The best way to use images in a game in my opinion is by asking whether the player would like to see them in the beginning of the game.


I don’t care very much for character portraits — I already know what those characters look like, I have them pictured in my mind, and I prefer to fill in any blanks in their description myself.

Which is a bit odd because I love seeing fanart for games I like and comparing the artist’s impression of the character to mine, but when the art is in the game itself, I don’t know… It feels like that’s the author giving us a “canon” version of what the character should look like.

Maps are sorta “meh” for me. I never pay them any attention (as a child it puzzled me that so many fantasy books had maps, I just couldn’t see what the point was), but their presence doesn’t necessarily bother me either.

I would definitely say that you shouldn’t be relying on images to convey information that’s not in the text itself, though: a great thing about these games is that they’re so accessible for people using screen readers, and we should keep it that way.


It’s sort of the same reason why I don’t like to watch a movie or TV show adaptation of a book before I have the chance to read it, it kind of corrupts (for lack of a better word) the picture I have of what all these things look like, you can picture a character or city or object etc. A certain way, but the actual depiction of them on screen or in a piece of artwork, will take that away from you and tell you that this is exactly what they are supposed to look like. I don’t want to badmouth it too much as it’s an authors choice to include them in their games, but I’m not a fan of them.


I don’t have a strong opinion about it. If I had to choose, then maybe not. If I wanted to see a portrait, then I’d maybe look at fanarts or something. But I do like art on the scenery though. Nonetheless, I still do appreciate them because I know that every art takes time and effort to make. No matter how “simple” it may seem for you, or no matter how much it deviates from your own imagination, people put an effort into making that and it deserves to be appreciated.


I made a poll a while back with a similar question, some users made me understand a few things I wasn’t aware off and I think you could be interested in reading their answers too.


For me it’s a risky thing. If it match my imagination in general direction, it can be an enjoyable bonus. But if it doesn’t, it can be an awkwardness hunts me to the end.
But then again, while text description usually tend to be more vague, sometimes it can have the same awkard effect.

So these games are very popular with visually impaired players like myself. I have no problem with images but I strongly ask that information that is conveyed in images is provided accessibly as well, either in the text of the story itself, or on an area in the stats screen. typically, you’ll need to write out a text description of your ideal image anyway, so just including something like that would help to make sure all the potential players of your game can appreciate it.


I have no issues with images of cities, landmarks, items or similar things.

I’m not keen on character portraits, at least not those, that are a main part of the story or romances. I’ve had a few of those and the images did NOT match my imagination at all and kinda spoiled the fun and immersion for me.

If the author wants to add them, add them in the ‘View Stats’ screen under a portrait tab. That way, players can decide, if they want to check them out or not.

I felt this was a good compromise.


I like it when they’re little things like chapter headings, but I don’t like character pictures and such.

As an artist and generally a visual person, I like them. Both secenery and characters. It provides reference for fanart, for one, and it’s sometimes hard for me to distinguish characters if their appearance hasn’t been properly described… Or I just don’t remember it enough lol I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the author having a clear vision of what their characters look like.