Okay, here goes nothing

So a little while ago I commented on the absence of cover art for IF games, and several people posted saying they didn’t feel like they had the skills/wherewithal to make art for their own games. I somewhat rashly suggested we should have some kind of cover art drive, whereby people could contribute art for other people’s games, and this met an initially positive response.

Having suggested it, I thought of a whole bunch of potential issues. One, it’s not really practical to run this kind of project as a competition, etc., which is the traditional IF community way of encouraging people to do lots of work for free. The idea is to cover as many different games as possible, so it doesn’t entirely make sense to put up some kind of head-to-head contest between contributions, and anyway I’m not sure how that would be judged. So no contest, no prizes.

Two, what if authors don’t want cover art made for their particular games? I can easily imagine some authors feeling like they have a particular vision in mind that they don’t want tainted by other people’s intervention; or like they didn’t like the cover art created for their work but they were somehow obligated to use it anyway; or just feeling like, dammit, they wrote a text game and it should be allowed to be texty, without this newfangled picture stuff attached to it in any way.

So here’s the deal. I’ve made a Flickr space, and I’ll maintain it for, say, the next two months, putting up cover art people send me. If you want your name attached as the artist, great; if you’d rather submit it anonymously, that’s fine too. If you send anything, you’re effectively assenting to the following statements:

1) you assert that you own the copyright of the image and its components, or that the images you used are public domain, or that you have secured the reproduction rights, such that there should be no negative legal ramifications to posting same on Flickr and later on IFDB and other webspaces.

2) you are willing for the author of the game to adopt the image you post and use it in promoting his or her game, without any further rewards other than a warm and fuzzy glow.

3) you are also willing for the author of the game *not* to adopt the image, for whatever reason, and you will not be too distressed about all that.

If you don’t feel like playing along on those terms, then it’s probably better to arrange your illustration collaborations in some other way. You may also want to check out IFDB and find out whether the game(s) you’re thinking of illustrating already have cover art there.

If you’re an *author* and you don’t want your work to be even considered in this project, feel free to comment here or let me know and I’ll post indicating that you’ve asked to be excluded, and not add any of your work thereafter.

I’m hoping that will make everything as fair as possible, and minimize grumpiness. I’m not announcing this to RAIF for a day or two because the idea as presented here is essentially in beta — if you think it’s tremendously ill-advised, lemme know and if your concerns seem reasonable I’ll pull the plug.

But I’m hopeful; cover illustrations make IFDB look snazzier, and they make IF easier to promote in the outside world. So we’ll see how it goes.

18 thoughts on “Okay, here goes nothing

  1. I’m curious to see what will happen. I’m not sure whether it would be a best-case scenario or a worst-case scenario if Fark decided to use this as the premise for a photoshopping scenario.

  2. Sounds good.

    I would suggest that in the R*IF post, you encourage authors who would like to have cover art for their games to make a post saying so. Potential artists might prefer trying to make cover art for a game if they at least know that the author is interested in having cover art.

  3. Chiming in as an artist who likes playing IF: I’d add my support to the idea of encouraging authors who are actively interested in cover art to post saying so.

    While I’d love to make (proper) cover art for games I enjoyed, it’s discouraging to spend two or three hours pencilling/inking/coloring a picture only to find the author was never particularly interested in cover art. (I mean, of course if they don’t like it they shouldn’t have to use it, but I’d prefer to make cover art for people who actually want it in the first place…?)

  4. It occurs to me: the other half of this project is to try to get as much existing cover art as possible into IFDB, since some of it exists but was never uploaded. I’ve worked on this a bit, but I’ve probably missed stuff.

  5. It sounds like this is worth going ahead with, then, with the caveat that I should invite authors to explicitly opt in as well as explicitly opting out. (That still doesn’t guarantee that the author will get anything by dint of asking, but hey.)

    I’m going to put off announcing this to RAIF for another couple of days because I’m still working on getting a couple of existing pieces of cover art into IFDB — I tracked down a bunch of stuff last night, but one or two people have also said they’d like to revise material they have on personal websites in order to make appropriate covers for their games. That should help give a better sense of which games still stand in need of artwork, so we can go from there.

  6. It’s a good idea to encourage authors to create cover arts, as it’s a great medium for the promotion of Interactive Fiction outside the community (and even within…)

    For our French games, we’re trying to create a cover for almost all our games : (still missing for the speedif, but I’ll upload some soon)
    http://ifiction.free.fr/index.php?id=jeux

  7. Terrific, Eric!

    I’m still in the process of talking to a couple of authors about whether they have existing art they want to upload, and I’ve been filling in more of the commercial games of the 80s as well. (I haven’t gotten around to doing the Level 9 games yet, but perhaps I will have time next week.)

    Also, “Même les pommes de terre ont des yeux” is a completely fantastic title.

  8. I should try to play more French IF. Is there a convenient list somewhere of the standard French IF verbs? (I’ll be able to figure out what each of them means, but I might be able to think of the right verb when I have to translate the other way around.)

  9. You’re welcome on our forum as well :)

    I’ve just updated a new version of the IF guide, because some verbs haven’t been checked and were not present in the libraries. I’ve also chosen a better readable font. To keep the topic of this post relevant, I’ve also added a few vignettes of our covers art in this guide :)

    The new location is there :

    http://ifiction.free.fr/fichiers/Introduction-IF-fr.pdf (the old link will be still active for a while)

    Also on your main page Emily (“How to Play”), the link for the French file has a dot in the end, making it unaccessible. Thank you for talking about it.

    It’s not really worth mentionning it, but I’ve also made a one-page flyer of the introduction document, for maybe printing it in quantity one day and distribube it: http://ifiction.free.fr/fichiers/flyer_ifictionfr.pdf

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