Cover Art Drive

IF Cover Art Drive is now officially running. From now until April 30, I am collecting IF cover art on Flickr. There are a few pieces already there, but more will be posted as they’re contributed.

The idea here is to try to collect contributions of art to serve as cover images for existing IF. There are two reasons to do this: first, to make IFDB more attractive and less pure-text; and second, so that people writing about IF on indie game blogs and websites will have something other than a screenshot of raw text with which to illustrate their articles. (More about the rationale for this is here.)

[Edit: for reference, a list of how things stand.]

Cover art submitted and accepted, or submitted by author:

  • The Act of Misdirection, by Callico Harrison
  • An Act of Murder, by Chris Huang
  • Ad Verbum, by Nick Montfort
  • Adventurer’s Consumer Guide, by Øyvind Thorsby
  • All Hope Abandon, by Eric Eve
  • All Roads, by Jon Ingold
  • And the Waves Choke the Wind, by Gunther Schmidl
  • Attack of the Yeti Robot Zombies, by Øyvind Thorsby
  • Augmented Fourth, by Brian Uri!
  • Bad Machine, by Dan Shiovitz
  • Balances, by Graham Nelson
  • The Baron, by Victor Gijsbers
  • The Beetmonger’s Journal, by Scott Starkey
  • Being Andrew Plotkin, by J. Robinson Wheeler
  • Blighted Isle, by Eric Eve
  • Blue Lacuna, by Aaron Reed
  • Breath Pirates, by Mike Snyder
  • The Chinese Room, by Harry Giles and Joey Jones (pending revisions)
  • Coke Is It!, by various
  • The Cove, by Kathleen Fischer
  • Cryptozookeeper, by Robb Sherwin
  • Dangerous Curves, by Irene Callaci
  • A Day for Soft Food, by Tod Levi
  • Degeneracy, by Leonard Richardson
  • Desert Heat, by Papillon
  • Distress, by Mike Snyder
  • The Djinni Chronicles, by J. D. Berry
  • The Edifice, by Lucian Smith
  • Enlightenment, by Taro Ogawa
  • An Escape To Remember, by IF Whispers
  • Fate, by Victor Gijsbers
  • A Fine Day for Reaping, by James Webb
  • Fine Tuned, by Dennis Jerz
  • Firebird, by Bonnie Montgomery
  • For a Change, by Dan Schmidt
  • Gardening for Beginners, by Juhana Leinonen
  • Gourmet, by Aaron Reed
  • The Gostak, by Carl Muckenhoupt
  • Help! My Vacuum Cleaner is Broken!, by Admiral Jota
  • In the End 2, by Adam Thornton
  • Katana, by Matt Rohde
  • King of Shreds and Patches, by Jimmy Maher
  • The Land of the Cyclops, by Francesco Cordella and Simone Di Conza
  • LASH, by Paul O’Brian
  • Learning to Cross, by Mark J. Musante
  • Legerdemain, by Nathan Jerpe
  • Letters from Home, by Roger Firth
  • Losing Your Grip, by Stephen Granade
  • Lost Pig, by Admiral Jota
  • Luminous Horizon, by Paul O’Brian
  • Lunatix — The Insanity Circle, by Mike Snyder
  • Lydia’s Heart, by Jim Aikin
  • Masquerade, by Kathleen Fischer
  • Moon-Shaped, by Jason Ermer
  • Mother Loose, by Irene Callaci
  • My Name is Jack Mills, by Juhana Leinonen
  • Not Just an Ordinary Ballerina, by Jim Aikin
  • Nothing But Mazes, by Greg Boettcher
  • Pass the Banana, by Admiral Jota
  • Persistence of Memory, by Jason Dyer
  • Photograph, by Steve Evans
  • Revenger, by Robb Sherwin
  • Rameses, by Stephen Bond
  • Ribbons, by J. D. Berry
  • Scavenger, by Quintin Stone
  • A Simple Theft, by Mark Musante
  • Snowblind Aces, by C. E. J. Pacian
  • Square Circle, by Eric Eve
  • Tales of the Traveling Swordsman, by Mike Snyder
  • The Tarot Reading, by Michael Penman
  • To Hell in a Hamper, by J. J. Guest
  • Trading Punches, by Mike Snyder
  • Treasures of a Slaver’s Kingdom, by S. John Ross
  • Undertow, by Stephen Granade
  • Voices, by Aris Katsaris
  • Waystation, by Stephen Granade
  • The Weapon, by Sean Barrett
  • Wearing the Claw, by Paul O’Brian
  • Whom the Telling Changed, by Aaron Reed
  • Worlds Apart, by Suzanne Britton

Cover art submitted and declined; submitted and unanswered; or supplanted by other art:

  • Aisle, by Sam Barlow
  • Anchorhead, by Michael Gentry
  • Chicken and Egg, by Adam Thornton
  • Choose Your Own Romance, by David Dyte
  • Christminster, by Gareth Rees
  • The Corn Identity, by IF Whispers
  • Deadline Enchanter, by Alan DeNiro
  • Delusions, by C. E. Forman
  • A Dino’s Night Out, by Aris Katsaris
  • Downtown Tokyo, Present Day, by John Kean
  • Elizabeth Hawke’s Forever Always, by Iain Merrick
  • Goldilocks is a FOX!, by J.J. Guest
  • Guess the Verb!, by Leonard Richardson
  • House of Dream of Moon, by IF Whispers
  • Janitor, by Peter Seebach and Kevin Lynn
  • Lost New York, by Neil deMause (would prefer no future cover art be created)
  • The One That Got Away, by Leon Lin
  • Rematch, by Andrew Pontious
  • Shade, by Andrew Plotkin
  • She’s Got a Thing for a Spring, by Brent VanFossen
  • Sins Against Mimesis, by Adam Thornton
  • Sting of the Wasp, by Jason Devlin
  • Theatre, by Brendon Wyber

Cover art submitted:

  • A Change in the Weather, by Andrew Plotkin
  • Delightful Wallpaper, by Andrew Plotkin
  • Hunter, in Darkness, by Andrew Plotkin
  • Spider and Web, by Andrew Plotkin

Cover art in progress:

Cover art requested:

Cover art “opted out”:

  • Building, by Poster


(1) Explicitly opt in (or out). I waffled a lot about the idea of running this drive at all because I don’t want to meddle in authors’ processes, and I know some people may either not want cover art at all, or not want to have art created for them by someone random. If you don’t want to be included, let me know (or comment here) and I’ll not post any covers for your work. (That’s to keep anyone from even getting anything submitted. All authors will have a chance to accept or veto submitted art.) If on the other hand you *do* want cover art created, you might want to mention that too. There’s no guarantee that your request will lead to results, but the artists I’ve talked to so far have said they would prefer to illustrate when they know that the author is at least open to having covers created. So it raises your chances.

(2) Accept and adopt images created for your work. Any image posted to the Flickr account is fair game for the author (and only the author) to pick up; I won’t be posting any of this art on IFDB, etc., unless the author says he’s okay with it. If you do like something that’s been done for you, though, you can let me know and have me attach it to your game on IFDB; or download it yourself and put it on your websites or wherever else you want it to appear. You can adopt an image that’s been submitted at any time; at the end of April/beginning of May I’ll email authors whose work has been illustrated to let them know it’s there, if they haven’t already responded. But that doesn’t mean you can’t accept submitted work before that deadline.

(3) Add the cover art to your game with blorb. Inform users: Inform 7 can be used to attach metadata, including cover art, to games that already exist, even if they were written in Inform 6. This information will then show up when people play your game on a cover-art-enabled interpreter such as Zoom. To do this,

  1. download and install Inform 7
  2. create a new project file
  3. follow the directions on Republishing Existing Works of IF in the Publication chapter


Create your image and send it to me; I’ll post it on the Flickr account. (I can post things either anonymously or with attributions, depending on what you prefer.) If the author of the game likes it, he can choose to take it up and use it on IFDB and elsewhere.

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 and perhaps a note on the author’s website or in the game credits.

The further use of the image may include, but need not be limited to, posting the image on IFDB, adding it to IF wikis, blorbing it onto the game proper, showing it on a personal website, allowing it to appear in print in a magazine article on IF, etc. (Rare, but it has happened. And magazines are even more obsessive than websites about wanting illustration. The layout people don’t know what to do without it.) I’d suggest a creative commons attribution license, but in practice not all venues where game art might be used are reliable about providing a credit caption for the box covers, so I think such a license would be inviting abuse. Instead, you’re effectively assenting to the idea that your art may be used in all the contexts where game cover art might be considered ordinarily covered by Fair Use rules.

(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 those statements do not fit you, then a different kind of collaboration will probably be better; you might want to explicitly contact the author of a game, say, or post on RAIF that you’re taking cover art requests. (A few people have already done this.)


Quite a few games already have cover art of some kind. In preparation for the cover art drive, I’ve done my best to round it up and get it all onto IFDB, and I’m happy to say that that has meant the addition of over a hundred images: art for many commercial works of IF from Infocom, Magnetic Scrolls, and Melbourne House (I simply haven’t gotten around to tackling Level 9 yet), but also existing cover art, or revised versions of existing website art, for games by Graham Nelson, J. Robinson Wheeler, Adam Cadre, Andrew Plotkin, David Fisher, and others.

That still, however, leaves a vast number of games with no kind of cover art. If you’re an artist who would like to celebrate your favorite game(s), this is a chance.

There is also no rule that you can’t offer another illustration of something that’s already been illustrated in the drive but whose illustration hasn’t been accepted yet; it might be that your interpretation is closer to the author’s intentions.

You may also want to check out what authors have said they’re especially interested. The comments below may contain additional remarks, but Paul O’Brian, Mark Musante, and Lucian Smith have all already expressed an interest in cover art for their games.


There are several possible things to bear in mind when you’re choosing a size and shape for cover art.

The Treaty of Babel blorb standards suggest that cover art should be square and 960 pixels on a side — large enough to be printed off as a respectable CD cover.

In practice, that may be overkill. The other principal applications of cover art are to ornament reviews and write-ups on websites and gaming blogs; to be shown at the start of your game if you put together a blorb package; and to appear on IFDB.

IFDB accepts image uploads at a maximum of 256K, so the odds are that if you have a complex image at 960×960, it will have to be reduced in size a bit to fit onto the database. IFDB itself will display the art at three sizes: in thumbnail at max 80×80 pixels; on the game’s main screen at max 175×175 pixels; and on its own page, if the reader clicks on the image specifically, at the full size at which it was uploaded to IFDB.

For the purpose of illustrating gaming blogs, etc., most images are used at a thumbnail size (again around 70×70-80×80) and also at a larger size (several hundred pixels on a side, say — this part varies a lot).

So one approach is to make art at 960×960 and then scale it down a bit for IFDB, but keep the full sized art to go with the blorbed game. Another is to forget about the 960×960 thing and create art around 350-400px on a side, on the assumption that this will be enough for most web purposes.

There’s also not an absolute law that the art has to be square; many box scans of commercial IF are not, for instance. But there does tend to be a trend towards squareness, and it tends to look most uniform when used on IFDB.


If you want, you can comment here to let people know you’re working on a specific cover, to discourage accidental duplications of effort.


(1) If you’re so inclined, post (preferably constructive) comments on Flickr.

(2) AFTER an author has accepted a game’s cover art, you can also add that art to other wikis, etc., as appropriate. But please do not use things that have merely been submitted to the Flickr site but which the author hasn’t approved.

That’s a lot of explaining for something I hope will actually be relatively simple.

55 thoughts on “Cover Art Drive”

  1. I replied to the earlier post, but yes–count me in as an interested author. (My game’s ‘The Edifice’, which is not actually based on ‘2001’.) I suppose I’ve been co-author on a silly game or two which, speaking for my co-authors, are also eligible: ‘Coke Is It!’ (which has an image if not a cover image for it), ‘An Escape To Remember’, and ‘House of Dream of Moon’.

    Heck, if someone wants to put in a cover image for CompXX, I’d add it to next year’s release.

  2. This is a great idea. If I had any design skills, I could submit something good; this way, I’ll just have to submit something mediocre, so I’ll keep it to my own stuff, assuming I get around to it.

  3. I’ll opt in. I made some cover art for Fate, but if anyone thinks he or she can do better, be my guest. The Baron is also eligible, it doesn’t have any over art yet. (But if you do choose that piece, make sure that you do not spoil it by making the image too explicit / suggestive.) And it may not be worth making cover art for, but you can do Figaro as well.

    Thanks in advance, prospective artists. :)

  4. Uploading versions of my games “Gourmet” and “Whom the Telling Changed” with the proper cover art and bibliographic data has been on my list of things to do. I already have cover art for both games, so I guess I’m “opting out” — I’ll commit to getting these uploaded by the end of March.

  5. “Sins Against Mimesis” can be opted in, as can “Chicken and Egg” and “In The End 2”.

    As for “Stiffy Makane: The Undiscovered Country”…I really couldn’t ask anyone else to do that for me.


  6. I’m more than happy for people to come up with cover art for my games that don’t have them. I think that’s mainly my earlier ones: Losing Your Grip, Undertow, Waystation, and the small silly games.

  7. I’d be delighted if someone was interested in providing cover art for my 2002 IF Comp entry, “Photograph”.

    I’d been thinking of trying to to do something myself for IFDB (if not a blorb package), but have so far been discouraged by a complete lack of artistic talent.

  8. I hope to have the completed version of my IntroComp 2007 entry, The King of Shreds and Patches, ready sometime this spring. I would love to have cover art to accompany it. Playing the introduction should be enough to give prospective artists an idea of the flavor of the piece. I’d like something with an Elizabethan (obviously!) printed woodcut feel.

    Thanks for doing this! It’s a great idea.

  9. I haven’t been emailing art to you directly, but I did go through IFDB and add cover art to a large number of games for which I already had done art: all of the Competition 2003 entries (including Aaron Reed’s Gourmet), Paul O’Brian’s two Earth and Sky games, and Max Blaster (I really should combine the Max and the Doris pictures so that both appear in the cover art, though. Something for the to-do list.) I also did smaller art for all of the Comp02 games, but I haven’t uploaded that (yet).

    Since Slouching Towards Bedlam was a Comp03 game as well, it got the art upload, but like I said to you earlier on ifMUD, I think as one of the premier IF games it deserves a swankier treatment. It’s currently on my stack of things to do…

  10. I haven’t been emailing art to you directly, but I did go through IFDB and add cover art to a large number of games for which I already had done art:

    Hm, okay. The reason I didn’t arrange things that way was that I didn’t want to put up anything anywhere official until authors had okayed it as being what they want, but that’s really between you and them.

    (Re. Max Blaster, that’s cool with me.)

  11. I always hated the thing I did for “Revenger” on several different levels. I would encourage potential artists to work on a more deserving game (which, at brief estimate, would be “all of them”) but what the heck, it’s in!

  12. I’d like to explicitly opt-in for “The Gostak”.

    This suggests its own whole mini-drive in which we try to get lots of people to produce covers for Gostak and then see whether there are any commonalities at all…

  13. Eek! It looks like I was beaten to the punch on Earth and Sky.

    Can anyone else suggest a game that might benefit from a comic book-y and/or detective noir look?

  14. Can anyone else suggest a game that might benefit from a comic book-y and/or detective noir look?

    Heroine’s Mantle? I don’t know if the author still is around though.

  15. Oh, right, sorry — well, with the art I just uploaded, it’s something I would have done independently of this Cover Art Drive. In fact, I did do it independently of this Cover Art Drive, but this was a good occasion to mention it.

    More specific artwork drawn for the Cover Art Drive I was going to email to you as requested above.

  16. Hey, this feels like my birthday. :) I went to the Flickr page, and saw both a very stylish cover for The Baron (who made it?) and an absolutely gorgeous cover drawing for Fate. Thanks Angie, I love it!

  17. I plan to do something for Augmented Fourth. (I’ve e-mailed Brian Uri, who replied with an opt-in: “feel free to go wild with cover design”.)

  18. Anything listed sans attribution is contributed anonymously.

    Okay, but if you remain anonymous, you cannot possibly

    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

    in any way that will count as a legal justification for the person who posts your art to IFDB or wherever.

  19. I’d like to opt in for “Goldilocks is a FOX!” There’s a shiny new, Inform 6 version of the game nearly ready for release which I can send to anyone interested in designing a cover.

  20. Okay. I somehow knew that this would turn out to be more complicated than I expected.

    Here’s the deal: for cases where the artist or designer wishes to remain anonymous to the rest of the world, one option is to legally transfer the copyright to me, whereupon I can permit its distribution on IFDB etc., while privately retaining the evidence of the copyright transfer. Note that I am very much *not* *asking* anyone to do this! But it appears to be a legally valid mechanism for maintaining anonymity while protecting the users of the art, if that is a serious consideration.

    If for some reason you want to do this, please let me know and we can talk about template legal forms and where to send them and all that excitement. But, like, there are probably easier ways of doing business.

  21. (Also, FWIW, the situation with The Baron is not so complicated as that — it’s actually my own modification of a licensed royalty-free photograph, and I’ve added the info to the picture — but I realized when you pointed it out that I’d need to figure out how we should deal with anonymity issues, because the original plan of just saying ‘this was submitted to the cover art drive, so it’s good to go’ might not hold up.

    Have I mentioned I hate copyright threads?)

  22. Oh, man, I didn’t realise that this had opened already. That’ll teach me to pay attention in future.

    All righty then. Up and at ’em.

  23. Another option for Anonymous contributors would be to release their contribution to the public domain or the like; might be simpler.

  24. Hey there. It’s been a while since I’ve participated in the IF community (am easing myself back in with playing games from the competitions of the last few years), but I would like to explicitly opt in for both the small games I created, “Voices” and “A Dino’s Night Out”…

    Thanks Emily for doing this!

  25. I wholeheartedly opt-in for my game “Legerdemain”. I know it doesn’t quite fit into the traditional IF space, but I plan to promote it this year, and would love to have some feelies (CD cases, a cluebook, a map, etc.) to help spread the word. I’ll make an honest effort to ensure your work gets noticed.

    Thank you Emily for your community spirit! Now to hunker down and explore the rest of your blog…

  26. Couldn’t find your e-mail Emily, so responding here. I’m fine with anybody using the AOTYRZ picture on the database or wherever. Would be nice if my name was spelled right, but either way. Who made it, if it’s not secret?

  27. I plan to attempt something for King of Shreds and Patches, but I need to replay it first to make sure I can come up with something good for it. :)

  28. The Cover Art drive is an outstanding idea, but here is something that I think would make it even better.

    If the pieces of cover art could be provided in high resolution, they could be put in a design template of a Cd jewel case inset (both the front inset and the back inset with the folded spines). From this template a printable PDF-file would be outputted and made available for download. This way anybody would be able to download Cd insets for the games, print them out, burn the games on Cd:s and thus collect them in the bookcase as real tangibles. A kind of feelie!

    The design templates should be made available for download to the artists, and could be provided in both the Photoshop format and the InDesign format. This way the artists themselves can do the layout work. The actual output to PDF files is probably best done by the project administrator for the sake of consistency.

    Well, could this upgrade of an already brilliant initial idea be something to follow through?

    (I have also posted this at

  29. The cover art for my game “Firebird” is great! I like especially how Ivan is shown falling down, something he does a lot in the game. Please consider me opted in.

  30. I like the one for The Tarot Reading, but I can’t see who designed it. I accept it, but please let me know who made it!

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