Pictures in Cog: in-depth discussion


Hello, I would like to discuss the use of pictures for choice games.
I have a game in mind but would like to use pictures like a visual representation of the characters, landscapes, and enemies (maybe) but in my other chat a lot of people said they would rather not have pictures but let the imagination flourish.
What is your opinion on the matter?


There are other game making systems like the renpy engine that would be better suited for pictures.

But, as long as pictures are introduced initially and I haven’t already formed an image of the characters in my head, pictures would be good especially in fantasy stories as long as the MC is not drawn.


I don’t think it’s a bad idea. However, for me personally, I would rather the author use words to the best of their ability to meet me halfway on imagining the appearance of setting and characters.


I like pictures too, but I agree with @Sovereign2Lilith that there might be better game engines for text games with images.

The problem with ChoiceScript is that you can insert an image, but it is either left, centered, or right aligned. It doesn’t scale to your browser so people using phones will have a different experience than people on browsers, and even people using different SIZE phones will have a different experience. I’d love to create a graphical UI for the game that displays based on health left, lives left, stats, etc., but it would be incredibly hard to line up.

The best integrations of pictures I’ve seen have been chapter headings, where as long as you had a decent sized margin the picture would display properly, and give you a non-generic-font title.

A health bar might be possible in this way, because while CS has some health bar integration, it is not very pretty.

I have seen a very clever IF competition submission where the author has adapted the ChoiceScript code to go along with images. This actually turned the entire game into one of those Japanese dating-sim type games. Not everyone can customize ChoiceScript in this manner, though. It would be incredibly difficult, not to mention you’re using ChoiceScript so they won’t publish it and you can’t sell it :slight_smile:


Well there’s always

The thing to remember about images is that they exclude people. There are blind players, there are those playing on small screens, there are those who just don’t want pictures with their stories. I like my imagination doing the work when I’m reading a novel, it’s similar for this form of interactive fiction.

While I think images can be nice, I’ve used them, don’t rely solely on them for anything. Use your words too.

Edited to add: Aha! I see @CitizenShawn ninjaed me in regards to Lunchtime at St Expeditus.


I like the idea of using images as Chapter deliminators or in a “compilation” method, such as Divided We Fall does to show historical items and other “encyclopedia” type elements of the story. The unit colors displayed in the above mentioned work do so much to bring the story alive from a historical perspective.

Maps, illustrations and historical material are perfectly justifiable in CoG works - the use as a visual novel go against what CoG games represent to me.


If you want to publish (mobile, online, download) and have a profit, you can do that with other game engines also. I don’t know how the royalties, publicity, and profit margins compare to that of Choice of Games.

The good/bad thing about Choice of Games is that there are certain quality expectations such as the choice of gender, name, apperance that is not predefined, personality choices,lots of meaningful choices and mobile friendlyness, and games without these qualities are generally less well recepted. Lunchtime at St. Expeditus misses all but one of these and fits the ideals of a ren’py game.

Pictures are often not mobile friendly. But, if the game is mobile friendly and matches the general ‘standards’ of a Choice of Game, I don’t know anyone that would refuse to play a cog game because it has pictures (unless it’s extremely mobile or computer unfriendly).


I seem to be unusual here, but I like illustrations, if they’re well done and suitable. To quote a favourite author of mine,

‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?’

I don’t think they take away from my experience as a reader, they just alter it, and very possibly add to it. The art is another part of the experience.

Some indie publishers for adults are starting to include illustrations again, and even some more mainstream authors and houses as well. Kevin J. Anderson’s zombie P.I. series is one, and I thought the illustrations were nicely spooky and fit the mood.

Edward Gorey is one of my favourite illustrators, and I love the mood his illustrations have given so many great books.

That said, as @FairyGodfeather mentions, illustrations aren’t for everyone, and some people are not able or do not wish to view them. So they’re an addition, not a substitution.

I suppose it would also be easy enough to code them so that you could choose at the beginning whether you wanted to view the illustrations, if one wanted, aye? So maybe that is a workable way to allow for both options.


I actually have no problem with pictures because sometimes, even with a picture, I still develop my own kind of image. But I actually sometimes like to see what the writer was envisioning. The only times I don’t like seeing what the character looks like is if I’m already deep within the story and then all of a sudden, I’m hit with the image.

I agree with this especially when it comes to fantasy places and what not.


Pictures of the main character besides the cover means an automatic not buying. I playing to create my character if you made one, there is only an option then there is no character development nor real replay value or meaningful choices. That’s my main concern with visual novel genre.


I’m probably the biggest advocate of using images in CoGs and HGs. But only if it’s quality art.

I know everyone has preferences, and those preferences are certainly valid, but there is a huge segment of readers who enjoy some pictures in the story. I’m one of them. As any trial lawyer and as any teacher will tell you (and I’ve been both in my lifetime :slight_smile: ), most people are visual learners.

So CCH Part 2 will have at least just as much, and hopefully more, art as compared to Part 1. And art also gives you starting material for marketing and promotion, which I think more CoG/HG authors are starting to do.

EDIT TO ADD: I do agree with Mara about pics of the main character, not because I have some great objection to showing images (I obviously don’t), but only because I think a main draw of interactive novels is allowing the reader to make the MC “his/her own,” and so by depicting the MC you lock in all physical aspects of the character.


Haha yea, that’s the one! I couldn’t remember the title at all. Very cool school project, but you can do it easier with existing interactive novel software, so why use CS?


I only use pictures for chapter headings and the like.


This is really cool - how do you nest choices like that? They appear to be coloured and feature over the pictures.


I quite like a few pictures in there for COG’s, especially if they contribute to the story and are consistent in style. If I see a book with a map at the start, it usually gets a few bonus points from me as well. I think if you’re going to drop pictures of the main characters in there, it helps to do it early. Sometimes you see art later and think “that’s exactly how I imagined them” other times though it can be quite jarring if they’re nothing like you were thinking. If the artwork is in there early it’ll avoid most of that though.

Pictures of the mc: Most of the time I’d say no. The an exception might be if you’re playing a particular character out of history or legend where the appearence has already been largely established.


Because I could? The project really came out of a desire to hack around with CS rather than a plan to make a VN. If I’d been working with Ren’py I probably would have made a text adventure… :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s just some CSS doing that (if I remember right - it’s been a long time). If you’re curious, the extra styles I used should all be in here. I make no promises about the quality of my code, though.


Haha I didn’t mean why did YOU do it, you obviously have the know-how. But for the average person, why would they take something made for one type of game and come up with a complicated way to make it do something else? :slight_smile:


Thanks @aetheria - pretty inspiring stuff :smile:


Honestly, I don’t think anyone else really wants to. Most writers on the forums are making games in ChoiceScript because they enjoy the CoG house style, so I wouldn’t expect many games to turn up that use images for more than a little flavor here and there. So while I don’t mind talking about my own game, of course, it might be a bit of a red herring in the original context of the topic. :slight_smile:


You see what I plan to do is like the very first thing you choose is gender and there will be a picture of the protagonist as a boy and a girl. Like how in pokemon you choose the gender of you character but what the character looks like is determined. Then throughout the game you will see the protagonist of what you chose in scenes with other characters