IF cover = Square ?

Just wondering: is there a reason, other than a traditional one, for the general use of square covers (CD like) and not rectangular ones (DVD and book like)?

Inform7 documentation recommends it, and I imagine it being practical when printing CD sleeves, but when distributing, the DVD format is much more common, and for personal purposes, well, does anyone still burns one CD per IF game?

Not sure I get the CD vs DVD thing. They’re both exactly the same size…

Since a relatively low proportion of IF works are likely to be published in hard-copy, it doesn’t make much sense to think of cover art in those terms. The most common use of cover art (apart from in the game itself) is going to be in a browser, either as an icon in a list (as with IFDB) or as an image accompanying a review or similar. Squares are a good shape for both of those; I was illustrating a recommended IF list well before cover art became common, and square graphics were the most natural choice.

It’s nice if they’re all the same aspect ratio – makes it easier to lay out libraries and interface screens.

I think Graham picked square back when we were talking about how to embed cover art in blorb files. Square was as good as anything else.

DVDs are usually packaged in larger boxes than CDs.

I7 docs recommends a square format following Treaty of Babel guidelines. There goes a copypaste:

[spoiler]2.1.2. Requirements and guidelines for cover art

A design system is not required to provide cover art for newly
published works. However, if it does choose to do so, then that
art must conform to the following requirements:

  • Cover art must be a single square or rectangular JPEG or PNG
    image to be used as visual identification of the work, like a CD
    sleeve or a book jacket image. A PNG should not contain transparent
    pixels.

  • Each side of the image is required to have a minimum length of
    120 pixels. The aspect ratio of the image is required to be between
    1:2 and 2:1 inclusive (i.e., it can be twice as tall as it is wide,
    or vice versa, but not more than that).

In addition, IF authors should be asked (in the documentation for the
design system) to follow the following guidelines:

  • Cover art for new works of IF should be square. (While non-square cover
    art is legal, this is provided mainly to enable scanned box covers to
    serve as cover art for 1980s commercial IF story files.)

  • The ideal dimensions for new cover art are 960 by 960.

  • Neither height nor width should exceed 1200 pixels.

  • Cover art should be designed in the expectation that it will often
    be seen in a thumbnail form where the longer of the two sides is
    reduced to 120 pixels. (Thus a square image will be 120 by 120, which
    is about 3cm square on most screens.)

  • Cover art should not actually invite prosecution for obscenity.
    Those writing erotica should provide reasonably coy covers, as might
    be acceptable to ordinary bookshops. The IF-Archive and other sites
    are entitled to refuse to archive any items which do not follow this
    guideline.

(Present builds of Inform 7 enforce the maximum-of-1200-pixels
guideline as an absolute rule, but that is Inform’s choice, and not
a requirement of the treaty.)[/spoiler]

My guess is, if I understood it right, that the reason is certainly traditional, and it pretends to cover 80’s commercial IF works. On second thought, only Infocom works were mainly square during their “greybox” years. Last Infocom releases didn’t have a fixed box size, and their early games followed no standard at all. In fact, most european IF games used to have a rectangular cover during the 80’s (Magnetic Scrolls, Level 9, the spanish Aventuras AD, just to name a few…)

Anyway, rectangular is legal within certain limits. I’m using square for my WIP and added a size chunk of black to make it look more “rectangular” as in an ordinary book. Unexpectedly I liked the result, so it stays square! :smiley:

That’s actually the reason I thought of asking: since I don’t imagine much IF getting distributed or burned to CD, why the square? Many icons are rectangular, most software is “rectangular capable”, and most games/books/movies/software have rectangular covers. Music albums are a sort of exception, but there’s an historical reason to it, and so I thought there could be a reason why IF covers are ruled by square shapes.

Is there still a technical difficulty with different aspect ratios, or did it just stick?

I’m asking because I was playing around with some ideas for a cover and the one I liked the most was rectangular, but I like the idea that a given genre shares these kind of things, and I was wondering if I would break something if sticking with the rectangular version.

The Babel spec doesn’t say they have to be square. It supports rectangles up to 1x2 or 2x1 if I recall.

Games? Usually not. I think you mean movies vs audio CDs.

If you’re supposed to stick it in a DVD player, a Blu-Ray player, or a gaming console of the latest generation, it’s one of those bigger cases…

If you’re supposed to stick it in a CD player or a personal computer, it goes in a jewel case. (I think Dreamcast and earlier PlayStation games came in jewel cases too.) Although this isn’t necessarily the case (HAR-DEE-HAR) for computer games anymore I guess.

Then again, I haven’t bought a dang commercial computer game from a store, in disc format, in a long time. I suppose the trend now is to dispense with the plastic case and put the discs in the little envelopes—inside of a rectangular box that is probably the same size as a DVD case. (I still associate computer games with the jewel case size anyway, because of games like the Myst sequels that came in those huge awkward multi-disc cases that broke incredibly easily.)

For the coming Zifmia based Textfyre website, I had planned to recommend 200x300 pixel poster dimensioned art work.

David C.

As a data point, Fallout 3 and Dragon Age (sitting on the shelf next to me) are in DVD-movie-aspect-size cases, albeit a double-thickness one for Fallout 3. Those are the newest things I own purchased on physical medium, though.

I like squares. I have nothing useful to add, sorry.

I really don’t think the intended function of IF cover-art has anything to do with physical distribution formats, new or old.

If you’re publishing your game physically, just produce whatever cover you need. If not, not. What’s the question again?

My argument for a square would be while a “squared rectangle” (that is, black borders added to the top/bottom or left/right) look ok, while a “rectangled” square doesn’t look nearly as good.

I had this question earlier and the main concern, for me, was that according to the I7 documentation, interpreters will scale the cover image up and down, and whether any of them would force your image into a square aspect ratio (ie, if an interpreter was designed to always display the cover image at 600x600 regardless of its original dimensions). I haven’t noticed any of them doing that, though.