What's up with the cover art for the 2003 IFComp entries?

Right, so, the book club I’m running is doing Slouching Towards Bedlam, the winner of the 2003 IFComp, and I went to the IFComp page for 2003 to see what other stuff was going on back then. I didn’t recognize any of the games or anything but I was struck by the fact that every single game that year had cover art - and of the 30 listed games, 28 had cover art done in black and white line drawings in varying but still somewhat similar styles.

You can go take a look here: IFComp 2003

I was really surprised by this, so I went and checked the pages for 2000-2002 and 2004-2006, and it appears 2003 really was unique in that many of the other years had majority no-art entries. So, what’s the story with that? Is it as simple as somebody volunteered to do cover art for every entry that year?


Yeah J. Robinson Wheeler (probably best known for writing Being Andrew Plotkin) did them all – I think two games later got other cover art, but originally it was all 30. Here’s a link to the full set:


I’m not sure how it all came together, but it was a one-time, pretty cool thing.

(Also yay, Slouching Towards Bedlam! Haven’t played that since it came out but I really dug it).


Wow, these are super cool. I wish Wheeler were still active (although I suppose the task would be significantly more labor intensive now)


Relatedly, someone made drawings of a lot of the IFComp 2020 games:


Thanks for clearing that up! That’s pretty cool.

As for Slouching Towards Bedlam, I found it frustrating but in the sense that I find parser games frustrating, generally. I accidentally got cued into the first ending when, frustrated with the ask/tell systems’ “guess the subject” gameplay, I tried to punch James - and instead immediately murdered him with a knife that I wasn’t aware I possessed.

Good atmosphere, though.


I remember someone drew alternate cover art for the majority of the 2012 entries. I think mine was the last they did, which was cool. The links would be on IFWiki, if they’re still there. Mine (Shuffling Around) had a goat wearing a toga, which I found very cool.

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