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.
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?
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.
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.