Jac's IFComp title image first impressions

Hi everyone. I thought I’d do a short review of the title images used by games in this year’s IFComp as for me, the images are often the first thing that’ll draw me in to looking at a game. They’re based solely on the image and reading the description on the main page and do not reflect anything about the quality of the game play. (I’m trying to write these down before I play them so I’m not biased by anything within. My impressions may even be wrong in some cases, but this may also hopefully be helpful to the entrants I hope if the images aren’t conveying what they’re meant to.) Nothing is mean to be nasty even if critical (I’m trying to be constructive and explain if I don’t think something works for me personally), please don’t take offense as it’s honestly not intended that way. These are just the thoughts of someone who is not a professional artist or graphic designer so take my opinions with a grain of salt :blush:


Lost coastlines: I love the image chosen for this. The colours are beautiful and eye catching and muted enough to give that sense of mystery the title seems to suggest. The single person in a paddle boat also seems to give that feeling of being alone.

I do like the swirly compass which again adds to a feeling of being somewhere unmapped, however to me it seems too large an dominates the image too much. It also pushes the text down so if feels like its sitting too low on the page and squishing/obscuring the boat image. Personally I’d make the compass smaller and lift the text further up the page. I do like the colours chosen for the text. It’s visible without being overwhelming. I’m not a fan of the text at the bottom. It’s in a different text type, and a bolded font and in plain white, making it seem like it’s not part of the image in the same way as the other elements.

Death by lightning: Unfortunately I’m not really a fan of the image used here. It’s small and doesn’t take up the full space provided, and when combined with a heavy image filter + monochrome colours makes it hard to make out what it is. (I thought it was probably a cabin in the snow, which was confirmed by looking at the original image.) It doesn’t feel eye catching enough to draw attention, and the image doesn’t seem to match with the description so I’m not sure what to think of the game going in.

To Persist/Exist/Endure, Press 1: Simple, but gets the point across. The angled, sketched phone gives a sense of movement which fits with the likely urgency of the call, and the only colour: liquid red highlighting on the call and 1 buttons, suggests the horror elements suggested in the summary.

Crash: I’m not sure about this one. Although the title is clear and it’s obvious at a glance it’ll be sci-fi, the cutesy cartoon spaceship and curvy font suggests something light hearted, possibly even suitable for children, which is at odds with the title (crash) and description that is about a harrowing mission and disaster. There’s no colours added, which might help with confirming the tone. It makes me unsure what tone to expect from the game. On the plus side the uncluttered image and text is clear and suitable for a small image space.

Blood Island: This image seems to have been made by someone who has an eye for details that work together well. There’s a bright sunlit almost empty beach, but by contrast the water beyond looks deep, dark and foreboding. A paradise with a dark side. The text looks like it could have been written in the sand, but is highlighted in red. The innocent scene on the beach of two umbrellas is off set by the knowledge outlined by the text that there can be only one survivor and gives it a sinister undertone.

The Pool: The colour scheme shows this game is likely horror genre clearly. Unfortunately the chosen font for the title looks fairly friendly to me, and I’m not sure what the red and white objects in the image are depicting. Against the black, without the text to tell me it’s a pool, it doesn’t look water themed. A bit more detail here in the images, or some water ripples could in my opinion give a bit more interest by suggesting what might be out there, without giving away so much that you know exactly what is in the water.

Star tripper: I like this one. It’s colourful, eye catching and makes me want to look further. The simplified images spaceship and moon against a starry background makes it clear what the game is about without getting cluttered, and the asymmetric placement of the image gives a bit of a sense of movement. Going by this image, I’d expect a fun, space themed adventure game that doesn’t get too dark and serious.

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Interesting point. And indeed the tone of the game may be a little inconsistent. By the way, the art comes from a game I played as a kid called Planet Busters by Tom Wham, who graciously gave me permission to use it.

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Cool idea. Most people will form some opinions based on the cover art. It’s nice to see someone explicitly talking about what the images did for them.

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And you’d be right! :rocket:

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Use Your Psychic Powers at Applebee’s: Ok, I saw this one and knew I’ll have to play it. The game is literally lit up in a neon sign. It’s bright, eye catching with its contrasting colours, and the sign theme nicely fits the premise of being set in a bar. The text is easy to read, the image not cluttered, and the jagged psychic waves coming out of the person’s head with arms in the air in the sign made me chuckle. I’m guessing this won’t be as easy as it sounds.

i wish you were dead: The lower case “i” kind of set the grammar nazi off in me, particularly as it’s also the first word in the title. I’m not quite sure why it’s been used, perhaps that will become evident in the game. (Feeling small/helpless maybe?) I’m pretty certain it’s deliberate, but in other work that hadn’t been entered into a comp with generally high standards it would make me concerned about the proof reading. The asymmetry of the text could suggest a few things about the game (feeling unbalanced, leaving a hole in your heart etc) and definitely works better than a central placement, although it is a little plain to stand out among some of the other images of games here. The colour appears to be a reddy-pink which is a nice touch rather than just going for a straight red, since it seems to be dealing with emotional rather than physical wounds.

Arborea: I do really like the image chosen for this game which shows an old, wild and perhaps not entirely friendly landscape to set the game in. It would have perhaps been nice to personalise the image with the game’s name?

Under the Bridge: Yup, unmistakably horror genre at a glance. It’s simple and uncluttered but still manages a creepy vibe with the stark predominantly black colour, which is broken only by white shading to highly the sketchy, spectral, possessed deer head and the uneven scribbled text in all caps. The image seems to fit well with this game’s description.

The Thick Table Tavern: Simple, clear, easy to read text that has a suitable font for the genre (looks slightly ye olde with the curved T’s but no so much it gets annoying to read or too flowery for a tavern setting) and shadowed slightly to keep it clear of the wooden “table” background. Perhaps not the most eye catching of the images on the list, but does the job as a fitting title image for the game. Bonus points for managing a natural sounding title where all words start with the same letter.

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Lazy Wizard’s Guide: This reminds me of a fantasy book cover from the 90’s. Usually all the text wouldn’t work for me on a cover image but because the premise is a self help type book, it seems to suit in this situation. I’m guessing this is might be a stock image? But if not for my own curiousity is the lower half of the wizard levitating? It seems like his legs would have to be angled upwards towards the knee and then his feet aren’t supported by anything. It’s a little hard to make out where the structure the wizard is lying on starts and ends. The hovering lamp is a nice touch.

Glimmer: Lovely image. The description says “bleak” but the sky looks wonderous. I guess maybe it could be a situation of being alone in a universe that cares little for the individual, but is wonderous enough to not be able to look away from the wonder that is out there. I’m not quite sure what this game is about, but the image has me intrigued enough I’d like to take a look.

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Thanks for the cover image review! I like your point about the fairly friendly font, ha!

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