Topic: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Hi list,
I'm a legally blind computer enthusiast, hobby musician and programmer from Finland and just found this sight and ´forum. I do have a tiny bit of vision left in my left eye which has been, however, good enough for playing loads of computer games ment for the sighted over the years. The truth be told I haven't actively played much within recent years but did so as a kid and find I still enjoy especially deathmatch or co-op style multi-player games. This post is here partially to introduce me on the list, relate numerous game examples and chat about accessibility and so on. I'd love to hear other people's opinions and work-arounds as well as tips on other games I might try. Here we go:

First of all, games have had quite a drastic effect in my life in general. Here are a few examples. Though I had picked up some individual letters at school and in other places, games tought me how to read text for the sighted. In particular, the 1988 Grandprix Circuit by Accolade was one of the games I happened to play back in primary school. AS I got tired of asking sighted folks to read me the results listing, I started looking at the screen and over a period of time of which I only hav vague memories, eventually learned to read enough bits and pieces to know which driver is which. The font in that game was big enough for me to read real close to the screen, even on those old 15 inch crts.

a more fundamental effect had to do with actually starting to use my sight for computing. As I grew up reading braille having learned how the sighted read broadened my access to games, electronic texts, magnification and eventually Guis like Windows. I do use screen readers these days, though, as reading for me magnified is many times slower.

Lastly regarding the social effects of gaming, the fact that I had a PC early on and could, all be it tediously, play many of the same games that the sighted could made me part of the lot at school. I mostly made friends with what one might call geekish guys you know people who are into gaming, science fiction, role playing and other such things rather than say sports, which I wanted to do but my sight wasn't much good for say football. OF course, this is a somewhat grose simplification in both directions, and games certainly weren't the only factor, but you do get the idea.

Which reminds me, I browsed through the section on games for sight impaired folks and was surprised to find that partially sighted people weren't considered in detail. It would be very nice if the focus could be widened to cover us partially sighted players as well: including somewhat accessible mainstream game lists, ways to make games accessibleuniversal options. Of course the range of vision impairements is simply staggering, but I'm sure some common guidelines, generalizations or estimates of accessibility could be drawn. For more info on what I see and what not, by the way, including some gaming related stuff, you can go here:

http://www.student.oulu.fi/~vtatila/sight.html

To facilitate some of this in a sort of case study fashion and encourage discussion with other low-vision gamers, here are some descriptions of games I can and cannot play well arranged by genre with tips included.

Some puzzle games are accessible to me, though the degree vaeries. One common problem with board games like chess or reversi is getting the big picture, if you can see an item or two at a time, though as there's usually no time limit, this is a problem that can be overcome. Another sub-genre are games that do have time and require action but which don't require you to see an awful many objects at once. Tetris is probably the canonical example here, I particularly enjoy Microsoft's implementation for Win 3.1 which runs in XP fine. IN Tetris the blocks are big and different from each other and there's a bit of time to look around. Though as my field of vision is very narrow and resolution so bad that i have to get very close to the screen itself, it does mean I can see a very small portion at once at a detail level good enough for playing. If I can get as close to the screen as physically possible, which gives me the highest detail level, I can read Arial black Bold 24 pt at 1024x768 x 17 inches, though I can barely make out the text.

In Tettris all this means I'l have to turn my head to look down and scan a couple of the top rows to see where I can place a piece and then pan back up to move the piece around and rotate it. Given a bit of practice Tetris is very playable, though block and background luminance difference could be higher for many pieces i.e. no colors. Also extrras like block preview or stats are hard to follow in real time and require me to pause the game.

Other examples of games with strategy elements include the Scorched Earth clone Tank Wars for the PC which is very playable, and the Worms series, whose accessibility varies. IN tank wars it helps a lot if the other party is willing to make some adjustments: i.e. black background, turn on trajectories and give me a tank whose contrast is good against the background say green, yellow or white. One can also play by the speeed and direction i.e. velocity figures alone, seeing them and where you hit is good enough. The original worms had a great GUI in that the text in menus was huge. Worms 2 also had a Windows:ish GUI that worked with screen readers decently but they spoiled that in Armageddon and later. In worms minimizing the background detail helps a lot, as does picking weapons via f-keys rather than the tiny menu. One curious example of where I need the other sighted players help are worm names. They are so small that I can hardly read them and telling apart sides based on color isn't very easy either, because though I can see some stark hue differences the difference in luminance between those colors isn't very good. As an odd work-around, I've started prefixing or appending certain strings to the end of my worm names such as numbres. I can then tell based on them that this name which starts out with some thing that looks like some number and a period must be part of my team.  Crude I know, but there's more than one way to do it or TIMTOWTDI if you will.

One of my all time favorite genres are driving games. From an accessibility point of view, they are easy as the road is a static, relatively large unchanging entity at the middle of the screen, the dashboard doesn't usually need examining in detail hearing and feel work well enough, and you don't always have to see very far in the horizon if curves have some indication such as in F1 tracks. Games I'm able to play well include the first two Geoff Grammmond games for the PC, Lotus 3 (an arcade:ish racer ported from the Amiga), Test Drives 1 to 3 and the ancient but classic Stunts AKA 4D Sports Driving and the original Need for Speed (DOS version). Factors that mmake any newer games pretty hard include: low contrast due to shadows as in Grammonds GP4, small GUI text in most formula and rally games and highly detailed road textures say Colin McRae Rally and later. In Colin MCrRae, for example., night time and forrest passages tend to get the better of me. In many games, lowering graphics detail such as killing smoke, skid marks and other artifacts do help somewhat but often not quite enough.

Another favorite genre for me are 1 on 1 fighting games. Once again part of the appeal is that the characters are very big and you don't have to see in detail what they are actually doing to counter and perform special moves, fatalities and whatever. This comes from someone whose completed the first two MK games and One Must falll 2097, which are good examples of the genre, though arguably Street Fighter was first and might be a better game. Well beat em up does have its share of problems.

As with so many other genres, going 3D killed accessibility for me. A simple zoom-out effect as in Killer Instinct (MAME version) is bad enough and the truely 3D playfield in many newer titles makes me lose to even sighted newbies. IN 2D games, i've discovered that as I can only see with my left eye, I fight slightly better if I'm player 1 on the left. Another observation is that contrast does matter, in One Must Fall 2097, for instance, the power plant is a better map than the stadium or arena in terms of accessibility, because the latter has much worse contrast against most robots.  A sighted penpal of mine from the States thought cellshading might solve some of the accessibility problems but that doesn't work for me. At least in the games I've tried the 3D tricks and zooming those games still employ far outweigh the benefits of a more cartoony and simplistic look.

Yet another genre I enjoy immensly are scrolling platformer games. I can play quite a number of the early ones stuff like Commander Keen, emulated Super Mario and Megaman games on the 8-bit Nintendo, Jazz Jackrabbit and oh yes one of my all time favorites the original Prince of persia games 1 and 2. In many of these games the character you are controlling is pretty big as are the platforms and or enemies. Prince makes a very good example of that. Sword fighting in it would be a problem for me but you can almost continuously parry and advance in a way that let's you win fights without having to actually see and react to the exact moment the guard is striking at you. This is one of the few cases in which poor Ai means good accessibility, I think. Again I have pretty big issues with many of the newer games even in the 90s. Donkey Kong Country for the Super Nintendo would be playable if it didn't have fancy backgrounds. The issue for me is that I cannot figure out in detail which parts of the screen are objects I can colide with i.e. they clip, and which are in the background layer. In some games, emulation is a nice work-around. Emulators let you turn off individual graphics layers, which may make some games that used to be virtually unplayable, at least somewhat accessible.  Another example are sadly the 3D Mario and Zelda games, they'd require much more sight than I do have.

Speaking of scrolling Shoot em up games, they've always been somewhat problematic to me. Even in cases that hav good contrast say Xenon 2 for the PC or Gradius for the 8-bit Nintendo, I do poorly. Games with more elaborate graphics and perhaps 3D are of course, worse. I've analyzed things a litle and the trouble seems to be that one would have to be able to see a large playing field around the ship in detail, to be able to dodge the bullets and other projectiles in time. There are exceptions, however, such as galaga the Nintendo version or galactic Battle for the PC. Here the trick is that the movement of the ship is very restricted and you can generally deal with some particular enemy one at a time. This is not the best strategy and doesn't always work but gets the job done, as they say.

I'd like to say a word on adventure and strategy games. I don't see graphics well enough in most adventures and too small text size is one cronic issue they share with most strategy games, which also suffer from the geting the big picture syndrome. There are some work-arounds, however. In Star Trek 25th Aniversary, the magnification program magic for DOS does seem to suppport the 2x zoom in it automagically, great. I Wonder why that is, that is which VGA modes are supported like that? I do know UFO Enemy Unknown works magnified, too . Which reminds me, I wonder if any of the Master of Orion games might be playable with magnification? at least the DOS games aren't an I've never gotten a chance of trying out Moo2 with my magnifier's direct draw compatibility mode in Windows.

Bac to adventures, without so much of the visuals, though. In some elaborately described games, clicking on objects whose function I cannot get in detail does work and can be fun, although that's a slow method of playing and traversing object descriptions like that is virtually never explicitly supported in-game. I didn't use to like text adventures much myself but after reading up on Inform and playing games like Photopia or Emily Short creations such as Galatea got me hooked far better than Zorks ever did. As a gamer in addition to story driven stuff, I appear to enjoy works that exploit the specialties of interactive fiction as a medium.

Another odd genre I'd liek to mention are music games in which you'll have to play in rhythm. As I play the piano and am an analog synth buff, I find the genre highly enjoyable. Quest for Fame for the PC, that virtual guitarist game in the early 90s comes to mind very first. The beauty of most such games is that you can play without seeing the rhythm track. Though I did have to rely on it quite frequently and in that game switching to 640x480 made the game big enough. In a more modern incarnation, Donkey Conga for the game cube, telling each of the drum symbols apart from each other against the background made playing pretty hard for me. SO bad that I cannot really complete the game though can manage with occasional sighted help.

Last but not least let me address 3D shooters. Based on what I've written above you might think I cannot play them but I can. Playing 3D shooters, in combination with real lief observations, of course, have made me realize how bad my sight actually is. In stead of seeing in detail that say there's a mouse sitting near this laptop, I see a vague shape and know that this kind of a blob with some fuzzy luminance and color info must be the mouse by context. The same is true of 3D shooters. I usually cannot tell how enemies look, which gun is which, in what kind of a place I am etc... in an alien 3D shooter. I do have enough sight to see walls and major objects, though items to be picked up often go unnoticed, and can tell them apart from each other. In fact I've learned to recognize some of the most common weaponry in 3D shooters though to know how they actually look would require me to examine real world objects or ask sighted folks for a description.

Speaking of explaining, a sighted friend of mine, against which I play most of my death matching and co-op in a LAN, is very good at that. He knows what I know and draws analogies to other games, series and the real world where applicable. In fact we found this site with that friend of mine and as I'm legally blind and he's got Asperger, I guess we're both intended target audience here, <grin>. Anyway, my point was that playing 3D shooters is the most fun with him as he can explain what kind of places are being encountered, how new enemies look and so on. In fact he often does that while playing himself, quite fluently, to keep me informed of what's going on.

Wolf 3D was the game that started it all for me. It's quite fun even these days with the highest difficulty, as most places are swarming with enemies, the AI seems smart in the simple environment and two shots close up willl kill you instantly. It is pretty accessible because all rooms are trapezoidal, I think, totally 2d and statically lit. Doors have good contrast from walls, objects are big and easy to spot and the status bar text like health are easy to follow. The only minor gripe I have is that some of the enemies could be easier to spot if floors were differently colored. Here we go again, with that luminance difference issue.

Doom was the next big thing to me and the first ever 3D shooter I played in LAN or rather via Null-modem cables. I still play Doom Legacy both in death mach and co-op in mods like Alien Doom.

Even in Doom, I do have to keep the lighting as high as I can and it does help if the opponent chooses an easy to distinguish skin, light colors usually work well depending on the environment.  I'm also able to play Duke Nukem and the original Half-Life. Half-life is one of the greatest 3D shooters to me ever and one of the last in which I put lots of effort and completed about one third of the game. Most dynamically lit and or polygon based games are very difficult, however. Quake, Unreal and Half-Life 2 come to mind. In fact I was extremely disappointed to find out that Half-Life 2 isn't quite accessible enough. You can read up more on my HL2 experiences here:

http://www.forumplanet.com/planethalfli … id=1951453

as to what could be done to make 3D shooters more accessible, here are some ideas:
Compatibility with magnification or print screen captures is great. Half-Life 1 menus support the direct draw compatibility mode. in Aliens Vs Predator, whose Predator vision modes and Marine flares make the game manigible, the print screen key can grab screenshots of the menus. You can then paste the shots in some imaging apps and zoom in as needed. Another possibility is running the game in a window, as in Half-Life 2, to use Microsoft Magnifier or something fancieer for the menus.

Another classsic obstacle is lighting. In Doom 3 the only way to make it somewhat playable for me is to multiply the intensity of all light sources by some integer using the lightscale chaet. In Half-life 2 there's a Similar ful-bright option, though even that one is not good enough, in that the world is apparently too complex for me to follow efficiently.

Yet another obstacle is small text. Fortunately, most FPS games have pretty big main menus and though console and status bar messages aren't usually readable, they often don't have anything significant. Much worse are text messages ala Doom 3. I managed to find good descriptive text for the levels in the Doom 3 closed captioning project at:

http://doom3cc.planetdoom.gamespy.com/about.htm

Later on I also found a full walk-through with all the textual messages typed out in text. I imagine there could be better options, though. IF the text is just text, why not make it in a true type font and allow the user to adjust the size say via the console? As long as it is text, another possibility would be to pipe it to speech synths such as those that are SAPI 5 based. Speaking of text, most chat messages get posted in the status bar. One work-around is being in the same place and another possibility is running Skype in the backround.

Even with all of these cheats, many games often look fancier than I'd like. It would be pretty cool if someone someday would write a Direct3D or openGL driver wrapper that would use the original video card but in a mode that is more accessible and universally available in games. You could then have stuff like rendering low polycount objects, refusing to render fancy lighting while claiming to do so, mapping the colors to a simple high-contrast palette based design and so on. I'm not sure what level of control would be available but I bet something akin to killing the layers in emulators could be achieved in 3D. I wonder if game specific hacks could be developed, and new shader programs could replace the existing ones, say to highlight some object in the game. Of course such a low-vision driver in general would not have any idea of what is rendered in a particular game  or app. For analogy compare to color changers and application specific support in screen readers. Could anyone more proficient with 3D graphics estimate What could be done and how useful that might be say in FPS games?

AS with desktop software and the Web I'm guessing that the three reasons why accessibility gets ignored are ignorance, unwilllingness and lakc of resources (minimal return on investment). Still the point about Half-Life 2 on this site, namely that addding closed captioning took only two weeks, is an excellent example it need not be time consuming.

Another one comes from a little Finnish uni project we did here in Oulu. It is a platformer demo that despite being 2d used a 3D engine. The official finnish site is here:

http://www.student.oulu.fi/~jlehtone/PVY/

And my English page about it can be viewed at:

http://www.student.oulu.fi/~vtatila/toygame.html

I did the music and most of the SFX; the latter based on sample libraries. Well, as soon as we had a crude proof of concept proto up and running I realized the game was not really playable as I didn't know what's background and what not well enough. So I asked our lead programmer if he could throw in a hack that doesn't render any of the background textures but leaves them black. Although it is something he wouldn't have never considered alone, he did that in some hours, I think, and now we have the undocumented -a switch for accessibility. it is still a bit of a hack but it does mean the game is playable to me now, great.

To conclude this mammoth thread on gaming, I'd say that despite all these major difficulties, I still greatly enjoy gaming especially against human players. And that is for me gaming with visuals. I've tried some games aimed at totally blind people and although I marvel at their accessibility and appreciate some of the game ddesign, I crave for even simplistic graphics in those games.

--
With kind regards Veli-Pekka Tätilä

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Hi Veli,

Thanks for your *gargantuan* post! It is great to read your experiences with gaming!! And thank you for including your suggestions. We really need those for our Top 10 List! So if you have more suggestions, please post them!!! Veli, thank you again and welcome to the website!!!

Greets,

Richard (AudioGames.net)

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Hi Richard,
Glad that you found my initial post useful. Actually huge introductory posts are one bad habit of mine, <smile>. TO cut a long story short, I usually post long mails as I find a Web based forum interface largely inferior to an e-mail or news client as far as keyboard usability in managing messages goes. Just compare the hotkeys for windows list views and menus to sequentially tabbing around a Web page.

But back on track, great to hear you're actually building a top 10 list for partially sighted people as well. I recommend you get input from as many people as possible. Although one can list features that are likely to make a game accessible across the board, my sight is still pretty unique so something that's accessible to me might not be so accessible to someone with a different kind of sight impairment. But then again I'm at the low end of the spectrum with only a very small fraction of useful sight, so that balances things a little.

Also I suppose some low-vision gamers might be reluctant to come in on a forum like this as they can play mainstream games and not something VI specific. But as with so many other things promoting awareness of accessibility issues and sight-impaired gameers could actually boost accessibility quite a bit. The example of the Toygame in my original post is one such thing. A trivial hack made an unplayable game decently accessible.

Another point I'd like to raise here is that it is hard to order the games in terms of accessibility. It all depends on persistency as well not just how accessible the graphics are.

I would tentatively categorize the accessibility into groups like no accessibility problems, minor issues, major issues and inaccessible. A number of games I've listed do have minor issues, but that's again a matter of definition.

In beat em up games, for example, I cannot really trakc how much strength I've got left as that means I'll have to look up and examine the meter meaning I'll be more vulnerable during that time unless I pause the game. But that's not an issue in most such games. Having an approximate idea and hearing the danger cling are good enough in say Mortal Kombat.

One genre I totally forgot in my initial mail was pinball games. Most of them such as the WIndows NT pinball or the old DOS game Tristan would be in the major issues category as both the ball and the flippers are very small. I cannot play real world pinball machines either. But there are exceptions. Many 90s DOS based pinball games had the wonderful idea of zooming in close and then tracking the ball in a playing field that was scrollable. Such games have a big enough ball and flippers for me to play them effectively.

Pinball Dreams and Fantasies are the first games that come to mind in this genre and they are accessible, although pretty hard to play otherwise. There are others as well. Epic Pinball is not very easy but it is playable. The pinball machine I've enjoyed the most over the years is the DOS game Psycho Pinball, however. SOme of the mini games could be easier but all in all it's got easier gameplay than say Pinball Dreams. I'm uncertain whether the difficulty of Pinball Dreams is that it is simply difficult, that I haven't played it all that much or if it might have something to do with accessibility.

Hmm thinking of other games, there are plenty of platformers of course. Many bitmap brothers games are accessible largely due to same reasons than Prince of PErsia is that is Gods and Magic Pockets, for example. Some older EGA based platformers are quite playable too, stuff like Dark ages and Commander Keen. Of the early releases, I liked the original Duke Nukem quite a lot the first game is much easier than its sequel due to simpler graphics. Of course many CGA games are, too, such as early Apogee releases but the trouble here that they are not good games frankly speaking.

There are also plenty of old emulated games that are playable. Most vector based affairs are hard or immpossible to play, for me at least. I haven't used MAME much but one of my favorites is the ancient driving game Pole Position. A few minutes of extreme concentration trying to get a perfect score nailed down. In the emulated category many 8-bit Nintendo games do well. THey are actually easier on the computer as I've always been a PC gamer and because the average PC monitor suits my sight better than the average telly. I've already mentioned Mario and Megaman. Others include: Bubble BObble (playable but not easy), Galaga, Gold Medal Challenge (depends running is the easiest), Ice Climber (this is very accessible even with a narrow FOV), Tetris (of course, no background is a bonus) and Winter Games (at least the PC port ).

Hmm I wonder what I've missed:
Ah strategy games, well many conventional ones are accessible, if you're able to manage large chunks of the playing field in your mind. Computerized versions of stuff like chess, othello, four in a row and Reversi, though I haven't been very good in any of them. Others include hmm Lemmings, that's one I've forgotten. Basically plenthy of time to look around, especially if you pause the game and if you select tools with the F-keys, the only thing you need the mouse for is actually using the tools on individual lemmings. They are pretty small, admitted, but there are so many in a screen at once that this is usually not a problem.

I have yet to try those but I imagine some Master of Orion style games with standard GUI controls just might be playable. I think the WIndows game here is Stars. ANd on the Mac using the spoken interfface one might be able to play Spaceword Ho. I have yet to try either of those so this is just speculation at this point.

Many breakout games are also quite playable, though again a larger field of vision would benefit players. For some reason the top two games in this genre that come to mind are the original arkanoid (DOS) and a piece of Windows shareware called DX Ball.

--
With kind regards Veli-Pekka Tätilä

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Hello vtatila.

It's really great to meet someone in a similar position to myself. I am also registered blind, also read braille, also have a small (probably smaller than yours), amount of vision in my left eye, and also have played main stream games for many years.

One difference however, is that my gaming experience has mainly been console gaming rather than gaming on the Pc, sinse for quite a long while I worked entirely on a laptop, and so the screen was far too small for me to even considder playing games on, though I did play online text games such as Sryth, and interactive fiction (I've also played Photopia and the works of Emily short, Pytho's mask was my favourite of hers).

the reason I believe you have slightly more vision than myself is that I cannot usually read printed text at all, even yellow text on black (most letters just run together too much), I can however see where text is, and occasionally distinguish a couple of things such as the numbers 1, 0, and 7, and the letter l.

therefore often if I can learn what options are on an in game menue, (iether by asking someone to read it or by using a faq), I can usually handle matters such as setting game difficulty and other options.

Faqs, and game scripts are often extremely helpful, particularly for games like Mega man Zero which are very heavy on the text, and have huge amounts of items to collect, and that the items are in a fixed position so that their location can be explained by a faq, rather than having hundreds of randomly dropped items who's description is contained in text (this has actually stopped me playing several otherwise perfectly playable games such as the castlevania games on the Gameboy advanced).

SinseI cannot read the text, stratogy games like Command and Conquer, and rpg or adventure style games like Zelda are generally out for me, but sinse my favourite aspect of playing games is exploration, I'm a huge fan of platformers. 3D platformers like Mario 64 or crash Bandicoot are just too graphically and spacially complex for me to play, but I'm a huge fan of 2D platformers, especially the ones that require huge amounts of exploration such as the Metroid or Mega man series, and the Turrican games and as you said, Prince of Persia (though I haven't managed to track down prince of Persia two at the moment). Though annoyingly Metroid has recently gone into 3D, and mega man has moved onto the Ds, which doesn't have any hardware to play games full screen at the moment.

I have similar contrast issues to yourself, but sinse on consoles there's no way to change graphic effects in games, I've generally used a bit of persistance and stratogy in the parts of games that are difficult for me to see, for example, learning the position of enemies in the levels of Donkey Kong country that have irritating backgrounds, such as grilla Glacier, or saving screen clearing weapons for such situations. Good Faqs also help of course (there's two fantastic ones for the Dk games by brian Sulphur on Gamefaqs that I find extremely handy).

As far as puzle or scrolling shooter games go, my position is fairly similar to yours sinse I also have a limited visual field. In the puzle line I rather like Tetris attack on the Snes, sinse the blocks appear from the bottom of the screen and you only need to worry about the blocks that are close to your box.

I also like beat em ups, as you say, the large sprites help considderably. In fact beat em ups are the only games I can play in 3D, sinse your always facing your opponent, and generally speaking you don't have to worry too much about where in the Arena you are unless your close to the edge (and this is usually fairly obvious). Also with recent games like soul Calibur 2, increasing amounts of game audio or highly visible hit stars are often helpful as well.

while I do have similar problems with the contrast of certain stages (I always dreaded the china stage of Streetfighter 2), I generally found a bit of persistance would get me through against the computer, and when playing with friends we'd just not select those stages.

I also play some of the older scrolling beat em ups like Streets of rage or final fight. these tend to involve large sprites, and while it's true that seeing where all the enemies on screen are can be a pest, keeping an eye on the charactor's back and making extensive use of reverse hits can help a lot here (streets of rage 2 was particularly good for this, sinse all charactors had back hits).

the main problem I've experienced is that ever sinse the release of the playstation 1, more and more games have been produced in 3D, and are thus not playable for me. while the gameboy advanced (or rather in my case, the gameboy player), provided some great 2D games, withmore complex gameplay than I was used to on the snes or Mega drive, however the Ds his putting a stop to that.

I've recently therefore, been looking into the hole retro gaming community online, and have found some great, highly accessible games, often with things like user created levels that extend them far beyond what similar games could do on a console. also, being as their mostly created by individual's, it's possible to ask for a couple of program modifications such as keyboard shortcuts , or documentation that explains the menues or other text (I am at the and most game authors I've found to be highly obliging.

In particular I'd highly recommend turrican 2002, a freeware remake of turrican with many user created levels:

for more info go to: http://www.pekaro.de/ and

and for some extra add ons to the program (such as a starter kit to make loading of user created levels instantanious), go to: http://www.turricanforever.de/

Also, there is Rocks -n- diamonds, a multiple game emulation for playing boulderdash, emerald mine, and other such puzle games with literally thousands of levels. The backgrounds are all black, and (best of all), you can turn the timer off to give you more time to scan the screen, or even save your game state mid level before attempting anything risky. Almost everything in the program can be done through the keyboard or in game menues, however for playing of recordings of previously created levels, you do need to use the mouse and screen reader mouse emulation won't work (though the game's creator says he'll be adding keyboard short cuts for this in the next version).

for more info go to: http://www.artsoft.org/rocksndiamonds/

Oh, and of course, you might want to check out Archaist (see the previous topic), though it's a scrolling shooter, it's got several contrast options, is highly customizable and makes extensive use of Sapi.

there are probably a few more games i can recommend, but I believe this post is about to collapse under it's own weight into a blackhole so I'll stop. If you want to contact me, (maybe swap low vision game recommendations), my E-mail address is Dark@xgam.org.

sorry people for yet another gigantic rambling post of doom in this topic.

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Hello Dark,
It's great to share experience with people in a similar situation and I think our sightes are actually pretty close at least in terms of gaming ability. But let me first address one particular genre of games I've forgotten. As far as reading text goes, my sight is only good for large and high contrast menu text and other truely large print.  I canot read most story text let alone real world stuff like unmagnified books or news papers.NO chance at all.

The genre I forgot are the so called snake, or if your Finnish worm, games in which you navigate a snake in a maze and collect things that make the snake grow. The classic game here would be the Q-basic program nibbles.bas  for MS-DOS. Although the numbres collected could be larger, the game is easy to play as you don't have to necessarily see which number you r collecting. The name is also a funny hacker pun as a nibble in addition to meaning a small bite means a small byte with a y, that is half a byte to be exact. The game is so popular that even the Linux desktop environment Gnome has a clone of it with the same name.

I think one of the favorite snake games of mine is gotta be Drug Worm 2 for DOS. It uses relative rather than absolute movment and the worm makes analog like turns rather than turning 90 degrees at once. The bonuses are very large and easy to see as well. The catch is that when the worm gets high it introduces jitter and all kinds of other control gliches which is actually more fun than it sounds and the whole point of the game is surviving in such circumstances.

The other classic snake-style game for me is the MAMe version of blockade. It is like 2-player nibbles except that there are no obstacles or collectables, the snakes grow continuously and move in grainy and large chunks probably due to performance reasons. The objective is to kill the other player by making him or her collide with the walls or you or the other player's tail. The game is so good that I did as an exercise an 40x25 character-based ASCII version in Turbo C 3 for DOS but have, unfortunately, lost both the source and binaries.

And now I'll comment your post in detail:
It's interesting you mentioned console gaming, I've never even owned a console myself having been a PC gamer since a 386SX with DR-DOS 4 on it. Many friends of mine have had consoles, though,and I got into 8-bit Nintendo and N64 games in their houses and later via emulation on the PC. Still I'm pretty much a console newb starting from the controls. I find the 8-way D-pads pretty hard having always used the arrows. The trick is to use your thumb for them, of course, but that took me quite long to discover. A friend of mine gently made fun of my playing saing that I hold the controller like girls do, <smile>.

Yes laptops are hard for gaming, the keyboard is on the way so you cannot get as close to the screen as would be needed for my gaming. Fortunately I have a stand under which the laptop goes at home so I can work and play rather ergonomically yet use a laptop such as this one.

Agreed the FAQS you mentioned can be mightily helpful in games, especially now that it is easy to multi-task and jump in and out of the game to refer to some guide. In fact when I tried playihng Half-Life 2, which turned out to be a pretty complete failure as HL1 is just bearly playable, I would use the walk through virtually all of the time.

Another valuable resource are game manuals which usualy list stuff in left to right, top to bottom order as opposed to say alphabetically.

Ah Command and Conquer, I havne't been able to play that one iether, but thatsighted gaming friend of mine used to be a fan. I was very impressed by the cutscenes and overall SFX back then. Now I liked some of the music, too, and have noticed that in my own music making I'm into wonderfully LoFi gamy textures resembling the NES and some sounds in C&C.

Ah I share your frustration with most 3D games apart from some FPS stuff like Doom which I've mentioned, audio Doom would be cool and simple by the way. Most newer console titles are out for me too due to fancy backgrounds and or 3D. I've been thinking of getting into console gaming some day, though, are there any console platforms or games you would recommend in particular?

Being an oldschooler I'd still like to support NIntendo but am afraid most Wii titles would be too graphical for me. It isn't a Wii game but do you know if guitar hero might be playable? I used to play an early rendition of the same concept on the PC called Quest for Fame which was playable if I switched the graphics to 640x480. Yet some newer games in that genre aren't. IN Donkey Conga for example, it is hard for me to differenciate the note symbols from each other in time. If I could kill the background layer in some emulator or patch the game graphics that would probably help. BOth are prety much no can do. I've played the piano many years and do music on the computer so I guess it is natural to be interested in games that measure musical skill yet manage to be fun.

Regarding DS Vs the old GameBoy Advance, how are you able to play the Advance games do you get the image on the TV screen? I don't actually have a telly here in my room so to use a console with some existing monitor I'd need a small yet surprisingly expensive converter that is from PAL to VGA I think.

A slight tech niggle most beat em ups don't have sprites the old MK games would have digitized actors and nowadays it is graphics made up of polygons. A sprite is a usually hard-ware managed small image or pixmap which supports moving operations in which you don't have to worry about redrawing the background under the moving sprite. Back to more relevant stuff though, yes I know exactly what you mean about large characters in beat em ups helping mightily. My friend's little bro is into beat em ups so I'll ask if he has Soul Calibur also. Unfortunately, his main focus areas seem to be wrestling (not the real Greco-Roman thing) and Dragonball Z as far as fighting goes.

Yeah my sighted gaming friends are also very willing to choose game settings in which it is easy for me to play. In scorched Earth clones like Tank Wars we always pick the black background. In FPS games like DOom I max the lighting and the opponent chooses a skin that's easy to see.

The only scrolling beat em up I've played seriously is the old PC game Time COmmando. IT is actually fighting with weapons in 3D but the levels do scroll. Not very accessible, the stone age is easy but ROme after that always beats me.

My retro-gaming has been game emulation on the PC as that means authentic games rather than clones, the ability to customize graphics by disabling layers as well as in some games reading the text if I pause the game and set my screen reader magnifier in DirectDraw compatibility mode. I might be able to play early FInal Fantasy games that way but have yet to try that.

Of course clones do have advantages like not being technically illegal as is emulation for most people. Another legal way is to get the WIi and use its emulated NES and Super NES games, too. I think that might be one of the major attractions for me, legal emulation that is.

As I'm much more into driving and 2D platformers than strategy or puzzle, would you happen to know of any clones of the arcade game Pole Position? IT might be cool even in 3D but I've yet to find any. SO I play the original in MAME in stead.

You know I'll have to familiarize myself with turrican I've heard the name and the C64 sound track but that's about all i know . Wikipedia is probably my friend in this regard.

Rocks -n- diamonds seems pretty cool as well, thanks. The only game of that kind I've gotten into seriously is the early DOS-based realtime bolder-dash variant called paganitsu. It's got moving enemies and all.

On a side note, do you know of any fighting space sim style games in 3D which might be accessible? Being a Star Wars nut as far as SF movies go (in books Asimov, Brin and Clarke beat the heck out of Zahn's Starwars), I've tried playing the original PC game Tie FIghter. There ar two main issues. The first is that the radar Which shows were enemies are in space is at the two top corners of the screen which means that when I look at it I cannot pay attention to the main gameplay. The second difficult moement for me is when the box that indicates a target changes into an initially tiny ship. THat transformation is hard to follow quickly before the ship is too close.

I've also played the original Descent which was cool in terms of controls but not very accessible otherwise. ANd a Babylon 5, another great SF series, inspired freebie for Windows with physics resembling Newtonian stuff rather than dog fights in space. Well that wasn't very easy, either, and flying with Newtonian physics is very difficult to say the least. I still think it might be great fun to do head to head combat in such a sim if it was accessible. Too bad that gaming ffriend of mine has completed The whole Tie FIghter game so I'd have to train myself pretty rigorously to even get close.

Well if your post is about to become a dark star AKA blackwhole then my original is got to be a singularity, <smile>. I'm a big fan of e-mail myself but in this case would suggest we keep the discussion on the forum at least for a while. chances are that other low-vision folks might join in and the management wanted our input forr a top 10 list of accessible games in terms of low vision, so that's another reason.

--
With kind regards Veli-Pekka Tätilä

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Really enlightening reading your posts. Thanks.

Didn't quite get you as to 2D clones of Pole Position. There were lots of 2D overhead race games prior to Pole Position that you may find emulated, such as Sega's Monaco GP and Midway's Racer and Laguna Racer. In fact, I have an disk image of a BBC Micro racing game that was deliberately aimed at visually impaired racers, that I'll upload eventually.

You might or might not know that MAME allows you to tinker with the graphics, add cheats and slow game play down. One day I'll cover all this on-line.... Just don't have enough time...

Barrie
www.OneSwitch.org.uk

7 (edited by Dark 2007-02-17 17:30:31)

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Well as far as consoles go, I'm stil a big fan of the mega drive and snes, and stil collect original games for both of them. unfortunately though, tracking down games for them is now becoming a slightly difficult process, and sinse I've been collecting games for them for about 15 years, it's actually getting to the stage where I'm running out of new titles to search for (there are stil a few, such as Prince of Persia 2 on the Snes, but not many).

there are some great and highly accessible games on both machines, but as original hardware is getting increasingly hard to come by, emulation might be the way to go. Games like Super Metroid, Castlevania 4, first Samurai and Gunstar heroes are deffinately worth playing (to name a few of my personal favourites).

Even counting the odd beat em up, there haven't really been enough playable games for me to warrent buying a Playstation (or much less Ps2), of my own, though I've picked up one or two games which I've managed to play on my brother's playstation.

the next console I bought was a Gamecube, mainly because of the Gameboy player add on that allows playing of any Gameboy, Gameboy colour or Gameboy advanced game full screen. this is great, sinse there have been some 2D Gameboy advanced games like Mega man Zero, Metroid fusion or Astro boy Omega factor that have really complex gameplay elements, (and of course some good Faqs and game scripts written for them). also, I've recently played quite a few games in the Nes classics series, such as original Castlevania (though the contrast on some of the enemies is horrible), Ice climbers and Dr. Marrio.

The buble boble old and new game is alsogreat, particularly sinse it allows you to start at any level you've completed, which makes it easy to learn enemy positions (I'm currently on level 87, but it wasn't easy to get there).

The Gamecube also has a few great game collections available, such as the mega man Aniversery and Mega man X collections, which contain original Mega man 1-8 pluss the two arcade games, and the 6 Mega man X games (they didn't have a Pal release, but the Freeloader disk from Datel design is a quick, cheap and easy way of changing regions).

Mega man 8, and mega man X 5 and 6 are probabnly the most graphically complex 2D platformers I've ever played, sinse they were some of the very few 2D platform games released on the playstation (the only other Playstation platformer I know is Pandemonium).

I think the only actual game cube games I own are Mortal combat deadly alliance and soul calibur 2, (again, thanks very much to Mzilinski's highly complete faqs at gamefaqs for help playing these games).

I'm very interested in the wii, mostly because of it's emulation capabilities (odds are that I wouldn't be able to play any Wii original titles either). However, when i tried one at a friend's, I found the remote controled mouse pointer an absolute nightmare, particularly sinse you couldn't actually point at the screen, and had to sit a fair distance away for it to work. However, recently my friend tells me that they've updated the wii's operating system to allow the mouse to be directly controled via the D-pad. When I next go and see my friend, I'll try this out and see if it's any better.

the annoying contrast on the mouse pointer doesn't help either, though I'm hoping that the large game icons, and the fact that the control goes into force feedback when the mouse pointer hits an icon will make it possible to use with a bit of logic and memorization.

there are loads of great original Snes and Mega drive games that are highly worth playing, and my older hardware won't last forever, so i'm very much hoping the wii will be workable.

It's not particularly a site thing, but I also don't like joypads much, I can use them if I have to, though I hold them in a very weerd and possibly feminine way (though sinse I have a couple of female friends who are also gamers and up until recently had a pony tale, I don't particularly mind this), ;D, but my favourite games playing device is deffinately a good arcade joystick!

I've got several capcom arcade sticks for the snes and Mega drive, and an absolutely monstrous X arcade stick for the Gamecube (it's apparently bullit proof), which I'm hoping will convert to the Wii should I get one.

I deffinately appreciate the Tv business. One of the reasons I've got interested in Pc gaming is that I just don't have the space to bring any console or a Tv to my room here at university (especially considdering that I really need at least a 20 inch screen to play most games). hopefully when i manage to finally move out of colidge and get myself a flat things should change.

At the moment though, it's console gaming whenever I go home, and Pc gaming here at uni using my 19 inch flatscreen.

I don't know why, but for some strange reason I am absolutely appauling at any racing game I've ever tried! The graphics are (as you said), highly visible, and I've even tried topspeed 2 which is a completely audio racing game, butt whatever I do, I end up with more crashes than the average copy of Ms windows! so, I'm probably not the best person to ask about racing games. I do remember a top down racer on the Amigar called Nitro, and I believe the Micro machines games were a similar viewpoint as well.

As far as 3D space combat games go, the only one I've really played extensively was Starwing aka Starfox on the Snes, which had several handy features, such as large, highly visible (and even highly audible), enemy bullits, and good cartoony graphics, not to mention a fantastic psudo orchestral soundtrack (yes! I'm a game music fan as well), I'm afraid I never eally spent time with that game getting used to the controls.

I did enjoy several of the psudo 3D vehicle stages in the Super starwars series on the Snes, because the controls were very easy and the enemies obvious. I also like those games because there is a real mix of Gameplay elements, 2D based platform exploration and 3D vehicle stages.

\It's interesting you mention snake games. the amigar game Negatron sounds very similar to the game blockade you mention, accept that rather than beeing snakes, you simply drew a green or orange line on the screen with the joystick. Also, one of the stranger applications of the Rocks -N- diamonds engine has been the creation of two Snake level sets, which are certainly fun, ------ though rock hard in terms of the spacial logic required.



I'd certainly advise you to try Turrican 2002. turrican 2 on the Amigar was the first game that I really loved, and thhe soundtrack actually got me interested in music with interesting minor chord sequences (an interest that stil continues, even in my own compositions).

what's also great about the Turrican games is that the one background that does  provide contrast issues, is a sky background that's drawn as a set of colours that flow one to another in strips , fading from blue to white to yellow to orange to red to black, therefore only some bits are difficult to see (the yellow and white sections), and Turrican has some great weapons for clearing the screen.

Amigar emulation with windows is beyond my technical expertees at the moment, (also the version of Winuae I tried wasn't particularly screen reader friendly), but T2002 is a great game, and actually expands quite considderably on original turrican 1 and 2, particularly in size of levels, some fan created levels are truly huge!

One other game that I probably ought to mention here is RoX. It's another boulderdash style game, but features much larger charactors, some great music, and something which I've not seen before, elements that change colour every level. so, if your not happy with the colour of the earth, the gems you must collect and the rocks, just restart the level and they'll change!

This page contains the game as well as lots of other info:

http://www.bd-fans.com/RoX.html

One thing I really like now that I'm getting into Pc games, is that I can use my screen reader to muck about with the game, change options, or rename things in the game to make them easier to find.

for example in Rocks -n- diamonds, because there are so many user created levels, I've created three folders in the levels directory called 1, 2, and 3 in progress, and any level sets I want to play I can just load streight into them, rather than trying to find them on an absolutely huge list.

this is deffinately one helpful aspect about Pc gaming, though i think learning things on menues or large pictures like the charactor select in beat em ups or the level select in mega man games has helped to improve my memory.

I must admit, that the hole 3D fps thing is something I've just not gotten into. My brother didn't really play those games much, so I didn't get chance to try them in the early stages of developement when graphics were relatively symple, and now of course, the likes of Metroid Prime are well beyond what's easily visible for me (worst luck!).

this has been one reason I've got into playing audio games, sinse there are several rather fun 3D perspective things that I couldn't usually play. I do admit playing without the graphics did take a bit of getting used to, but once I'd adapted it was fine.

It's interesting you mention Audio doom. The first audio game I played was shades of Doom, a game heavily enspired by the doom series. one thing that made that a nice way to adapt myself to playing audio games is that Shades of doom, like most games produced with the Gma engine, actually has an incredibly minimal, white on black graphics display (though you stil have to use the audio extensively for matters like targiting enemies).

You can find a demo of the game, as well as more info here:
http://www.gmagames.com/


Oncemore, this post is getting very very long with many links, so I'd better stop before I run into my own tale ;D.

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Hi Barrie and Dark,
Barrie, great tips on Pole Position like games for various platforms. I haven't gotten into Megadrive emulation besides the obvious stufff like Sonic and Virtua Racer but Monaco GP and Laguna Racer sound good to me. I'll check what MAME has on offer in this regard. In addition to games like Sonic and Golden Axe, my cousin's Megadrive introduced me to the whole Mortal Kombat series. I got as far as the mirror match on my first-ever attempt in the game and later picked up the PC version, too. But frankly speaking the AI in the Sega version was pretty horrible.

In MAMe I've noticed the menu accessible via the tab key. It let's you remap controls and has some DIP switches. I didn't know you could tweak the graphics, though. IT would be great if you could post more info at some point. One obstacle to using the MAME dip swiches is that the font is a bit too small and I don't like the face used that much, either. If I get MAME to run in a window I could use magnification to look at it.

Dark, ah the Megadrive and SNEs it is cool that someone is actually still collecting games for those. Incidentally I have the ROM for the SNES version of Prince of PErsia too as well as the PC version but of course the ROM cannot easily be transfered in the real SNES. If you're willing to use an emulator on the PC such as SNES 9X or ZSNES, the latter is more up to date as far as Windows ports go, the game will work in both. I can contact you of-flist about setting up the emulators if you'd like. You can find SNES 9X and ZSNES here:

http://www.snes9x.com/

http://www.zsnes.com/

You mentioned the Amiga emulator s. The difficulty with them is that you need ROM images dumped from the original machines to boot them. But if you're a productive Googler that should be  no problem. Well I've managed to set up Win UAE here based on a tutorial which is down nowadays oh well. I also have a real Amiga 500 here whose speech synth I've reviewed on my site, all be it emulated.

Of the games you mention for SNEs only SUper Metroid and Castlevania ring a bell here. Maybe it's just me but I never got very interested in the whole Metroid thing. granted some of the music is cool and the plot in the later games but I found the original metroid pretty boring and the super one much less accessible.

But trying to be objective here I suppose that is because I've never owned a real SNES so I haven't put very much effort into mastering emulated games apart from the Megaman series on the NES. You mentioned that driving games aren't inaccessible but that you just aren't very good in them. I think I have a similar attitude towards many emulated titles. Driving games for me were one of the first genres I got into and have played games like Grandprix circuit, Test Drive 2 and Grammond's original World Circuit more than most people.

Call me boring but somehow I've never gotten into Bubleboble big time in terms of game play. The closest NES game I've seriously played in that regard is Ice CLimber which is actually pretty fun, too. Bubleboble music is very nice, though, a classic happy arcade tune with those NES sounds I'd say. Regarding platformers with a single screen on the PC I got into a shareware title called Jumpman years ago.

Wow those Megaman collections on the Game Cube look pretty nice especially considering that the Wii is able to play them, too. Even better. I'm afraid many of the new Wii games that use the controller are going to be pretty inaccessible. You mentioned the mouse pointer, even if you can control it from the D-pad later on, it is still a mouse and might not be very easy to work with. It reminds me of trying to use a tablet PC magnified. Pen and fullscreen magnification don't go well together at all.

Not sure if it is due to you playing console games more in general but you're definitely much better in console titles than I am. I mean even the original Megaman X emulated is much more difficult than the NES based Megaman games for me. The trouble is the background textures right in the first level.

Ah controllers as I've been a PC gamer literally half of my life the keyboard is the one and only controller for me. Plus the mouse in some 3D shooters. In general usually I do much worse if I have to play with a game pad or joystick regardless of platform. But for multi-player games game pads might be the only sensible choice. The trouble with racing wheels is that if I use Such a gadget I cannot get as close to the screne as I'd need to.

A funny thing I've found that for me it is the other way around with screen size. I've got a 17 inch CRT here and have found that in some games such as 3D shooters a 15 inch screen would actually be better for me. It is all about balancing the level of detail and the portion of the screen I can see all at once. The bigger the screen the smaller my viewport in terms of total screen size, to put it geekishly. I've tried playing around with window size in games but that's not quite the same thing. I'm thinking of downgrading to a 15 inch screen but too bad the newer flat screens are 17 inch or more. So if I don't want native resolutions greater than 1024x768 soon there are going to be no flat screens that are this LoFi, oh well.

Starfox, that sighted gaming friend of mine is a big fan of the N64 version. I have the SNES version emulated here and checked it out yesterday. The levels seem quite accessible to me in a way and the music and SFX are certainly cool. But I might find flying from a first person perspective much easier. I found it difficult to track my ship exactly in the game and did very poorly actually. But then again I've never been very good at flying games stuff like Terminal Velocity for the PC or Tie Fighter for that matter, as it has non-Newtonian physics.

Regarding Snake games they aren't really snakes in most games. IN NIbbles and blockade there's no head on those things at all as far as I can tell it is just a colored line or bar if you will. I wonder if Megatron is related to the PC game GL Tron. Not that it would be very accessible. The URL here is:

http://www.gltron.org/

I tried the Turrican remake you mentioned and it seems pretty fun. ABout as nice as some of the good PC platformers out there stuff like Jazz Jackrabbit for DOS though the game play is a bit different. I especially enjoy the Lofi soudn effects and the recorded MOD musing though hard panning is annoying when using headphones. I wonder if you can switch the game audio to mmono.

I tried playing Audio Quake with a sighted friend of mine and foud the game play much more difficult than playing Doom with graphics for me is, which isn't easy. But then again the same Google search that found Audio QUake also brought up this site. Audio Doom was just a suggestion, as Doom with its virtually 2D levels, might map to audio much better and be simpler to work with. I wonder if it would be hard to implement. I might check out Sshades of Doom at some point thanks for the tip.

Regarding Driving and FPS games in which you haven't gotten into let me recommend a couple of PC games. I still think one of the most accessible and most enjoyable PC driving games is got to be Stunts AKA 4D Sports driving, which has still got a dedicated fan community. I recall paying about 40 Euros for the game when it came out though that was in Finnish marks back then, of course. The game is now freeware and can be downloaded here:

http://n.ethz.ch/student/loehrerl/4dsports.html

The main page of the site asks for authentication just hit enter a couple of times without entering any user name or password. this is clearly a bug.

There is a level editor which is mostly accessible, opponents, loads of cars and the various Stunts of course. I still have archived tracks some of my friends did several years ago. The oldest might be up to ten years old at this point, wow.

It might be hard to get the game running under XP with sound. If you've got access to some PC that can still boot to real mode DOS and has sound support in there, that would rock. I have such an old gaming machine here with just MS-DOS 6.22 in it.

THe other alternative is to download a good DOS emulator such as Dos BOX at:

http://dosbox.sourceforge.net/

You might want to get a nice front end for it so you don't have to use the emulated DOS console magnified, though it only requires a few commands. BE sure to read the readme as well for the hotkeys and how to edit settings in DOS Box itself. As with so many other emulators the interface could be much easier. But as I'm an old DOS junkie myself, well, I can put up with it. I can also walk through you the setup off-list if you're interested.

As for 3D shooters I think one of the most accessible one's out there is the original Wolf 3D. You'll get a pretty good idea by downloading the shareware episode and trying it out, though finding the ful version is easy these days on those so called abandonware sites, which are again technically illegal. You can find the shareware episode here on the 3D realms site which has other apogeee and 3D realms titles I've mentioned:

http://www.3drealms.com/downloads.html

The controls as with many other erly 3D shooters are left and right for turning, up and down for moving, space to use, alt with left and right to side-step or strafe and ctrl to shoot. Numbers change weapons one per each.

I did a quick test and apparently XP's Ad Lib emulation isn't quite up to the music and some of the sound effects that are not digital. The digitized sound works ok, though. FOr an even better Experience you might try the game under the DOS BOX emulator.

Wolf 3D cannot be played head to head or in teams against friends. For that I would recommend a WIndows port of Doom. the situation is similar in that technically only the first episode is legally downloadable though the fulll game is easy to find. YOu can get the idea in the shareware episode as well. You can download it at:

http://www.dosgamesarchive.com/download/game/7

You only need the WAD file in that game, though, supposedly short for where's all the data. Then get a good front end such as Doom Legacy which you can configure using your Windows screen reader. Make sure you point LEgacy to the WAD file in question. To get it go here:

http://legacy.newdoom.com/

The controls in Doom are the same as in WOlf except that f11 adjusts brightness.
I don't like the single player game all that much and especially the first level in the shareware episode is annoying, even for multi-player. Though playing with or against friends is much more fun. FOr that I would recommend getting a copy of the Doom 2 wad somewhere, I have it too, and starting with the very first level of the game. It is pretty small and so easy to learn in bits yet actually makes a good level as well. in the multiplayer mode it even has all the weapons in the game.

If you feel like trying out the multi-player, provided that you like WOlf or found Doom managable in the first place, I could probably teach you the basics and serve as a death match opponent, too, <smile>. Not sure when I'd have the time but Skype would be the easiest medium for communicating in-game, because the message text in Doom is too small for me to read even at 320x200. Also if you run into technical trouble feel free to drop me an e-mail and I'll give the answer a pretty high priority. My e-mail user name which is the bit before the at is vtatila and the machine is mail.student.oulu.fi. Put an at between those and you'll hav the e-mail address.

Well hoep this can be of help.
By the way, it might take me a few days to reply the next time as there's some pretty demanding Uni stuff ahead. But don't worry, I'll get back to you in this forum sooner or later, <smile>.

--
With kind regards Veli-Pekka Tätilä

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

I've actually heard quite a bit about Wolf 3D, and having played Shades of doom fairly extensively I can hopefully get used to the controls, so I'l certainly give it a try. I must admit though, matters relating to both my Phd and the production I'm doing (I sing and perform on stage fairly seriously), are pretty heavy at the moment, so it might have to wait for a bit.

I've considdered downloading Dosbox for quite a while, sinse there are loads of programs, from old Interactive fiction to some Pc games that I'd love to try, I even think I can find a copy of turrican 2 for doss somewhere.
Speaking of turrican, I personally really like the panned sound effects, sinse their actually handy for knowing where canons and other enemies are that might not be in my immediate visual field, the Tfmx music is also as I said, fantastic, there are various ways to play the soundtracks (my favourite being an appropriate plug in for Winamp), but if you don't want to go to that much trouble, most of the soundtrack has been Mp3ifyed on this site:

http://www.nemmelheim.de/turrican/index2.php

Speaking of Music, generally I've had similar problems with seeing music symbols in Rythm games, particularly as most rythm games came out on later consoles with highly nasty 3D or over complex graphics.

If you can get it on emulation though, I'd highly recommend the Playstation game Vib ribbon. The graphics are symple, just a cute little white rabbit continuously walking along a single grey line, with a few sorts of obstacles on it each associated with a button on the controler, that the rabbit would need to get past in rythm with the music.

the really clever thing about the game is that it could generate levels from any wav file track on a Cd. Unfortunately, it had a very bad reception outside Japan, and is extremely rare (I've only played it because my brother is an Anime nut), though you might be able to get it on emulation.

As far as emulation goes, I've read up on various emulators and Zsnes actually looks pretty symple to use, however I'm not really sure how many games it would be worth my while playing with it being as I have quite an extensive collection of original snes cartriges. Sinse however it's becoming increasingly difficult to find original hardware, I might try the program out anyway just for the four or five games stil on my wanted list, which include Gods and Prince of Persia 2.

the Emulator I've always fancied using is Mame, sinse there were several highly playable original arcade titles like the Turtles and Simpsons walk along beat em up games, however even looking at a tutorial the program stil looks slightly difficult to run ----- particularly as I don't have a magnifyer and am entirely reliant on my screen reader's compatability with it. Any tips would certainly be appreciated here.

As to platformers, as I said originally, exploration is one of my absolute favourite aspects of gaming, therefore while something like Bubble Bobble, Ice climbers or even original Mario bross is fairly entertaining, I generally want a bit more out of my platformers (I have been knownto play those sorts of games whilst listening to books on tape).

I've therefore very much got into the exploration style games.

I agree with you that Metroid 1 is quite an irritating game, I think many game play issues weren't ironed out until the sequel, but I'm slightly surprised at what you say about Super Metroid not being accessible, I've always thought Sm was the absolute archetype of a visually accessible game.

All the backgrounds and even the map screen I find to be exelent for contrast, item equipping is totally automatic and there is almost no game text. Even the audio in the game is helpful, Sfx for selecting different weapons. I'd be glad to help with any accessibility questions you've got about the game, sinse that's one game I know absolutely backwards.

As to Mega man X, the original X game actually had slightly less sharp graphics than it's sequel, X2, which I played first. there are indeed a couple of nasty contrast moments in X1, such as some sections of Chill Penguin's stage and the begining ledge puzle of Storm Eagle's stage (I always hate ice or sky stages, even in the original Mega man games). However, there are various techniques for getting through these few problematic sections.

For one thing, Mega man can run and shoot at the same time, so going psycho with the gun can be helpful in sections like Chill Penguin's stage. There are also some great faqs for the game, i actually had to use one in the start of Storm Eagle's stage sinse I didn't realize the paths of the moving platforms until someone pointed it out to me. However, now I know where to look and what I'm looking at, I can hapily finish the game in one sitting.

Generally, if I play a game and something attacks me that I didn't previously see, i'll restart the level, and try varius methods of getting rid of it when i get to that section, standing stil and having it hit me so that I can see where it's coming from for instance. I couldn't do this for an entire game, but if it's just one or two screens in an otherwise quite playable game I don't mind at all.

I'm not sure precisely how the Mega man collections would work on the Wii, because of the hole region business (I'd have to investigate whether the Freeloader disk would also work for the wii), though sinse I don't believe nintendo is releasing a Gameboy player for the wii, i'll stil be hanging onto my Gamecube even if the Wii would play Gc games.

the mouse on the Wii is indeed a pest, and I very much doubt I could use it in games. but once you start an emulated game, it works just as it would on the original system, therefore the only trouble is starting the games. Any games that are downloaded come up as fairly large icons on the wii's main menue, therefore if I can find a way through that menue I should be fine to play emulated games, which is really all i'm interested in the wii for.

true, I'll stil have to ask somebody with working vision to download games for me, which I'd rather not do, but at least I can play them once their downloaded, which is the important thing, and I can always do my downloading in great long batches whenever one of my friends happens to pop round for coffee.

Now, this post is most deffinately getting to cosmic proportions, so before it opens up into a gigantic jump gate and releases loads of freaky shaddow ships (yes,i'm a B5 fan as well).

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Hi Dark,
Turns out I had time after all as a lecture got cancelled. On an OT:ish side-note you mentioned PHD, cool, what are you studying? I'm still an undergrad but will be doing my master's thesis within a year likely about either how keyboard usability has been neglected in the GUI or What kind of daily problems screen reader users face, I've already read lots about the technical aspects of it. I'm studying information processing science here which is a lighter form of computer science with more focus on information systems and practical programming. In brief, I've found that I like human computer interaction, especially usability, GUI design and accessibility, even more than I do programming, nough said.

YOu also mentioned music, allow me to stay OT:ish for a while and ask what kind of stuff and if you could give me any links. I'm doing fairly game-music and heavily synth-oriented tunes myself merging Blues, Daft Punk and various other things conceptually. YOu can find the tuens on my home page, here's a direct URL:

http://www.student.oulu.fi/~vtatila/my_music.html#tunes

I've even played around composing stuff for the NES using the Japanese music macro language.

But now back to games, good to hear you're interested in Wolf 3d. It is very easy to set up as it will run with sound in XP which isn't true of so many DOS games out there. I recommend DOs Box, too, although you do need to use the ctrl+(f11/f12) keys to boost the emulated clock frequency. DOs BOx is also fairly nice for capturing audio, like the UFO Enemy Unknown GeoScape music, or recording video files from Stunts. Other hotkeys you might like include alt+enter for full screen and ctrl+f9 to kill DOs BOx right away. A frontend would also simplify configuring the sound and mounting WIndows folders as virtual drives in DOSBOx itself. One bad thing about DOs BOX is that it is very slow as it emulates the PC hardware-agnostically unlike say VIrtual PC. But then again it means I can play Stunts on my friend's G4 Macintosh.

Which Winamp plug do you use to play the Turrican music? I've got most game music plugs already installed but Winamp's MOD decoder couldn't make sense of the original ripped Turrican music I found on the Web.

I've managed to emulate the N64 quite succesfully here but haven't .looked into Play Station emulation though I recall an emu named bleam. Vib ribbon sounds very interesting, though, but I'm afraid none of my friends have it at the moment.

LEvel generation based on music or any other input data is very cool. Of the accessible games Lotus 3, I've played the PC port, had a similar system based on English letters and numbers. But we'd use FInnish words here with umlauts converted to a and o, of course. ANother game with a similar feature is the original Worms, which is still a great game I think.

Yup I think too that the SNEs emus are pretty easy to set up, though their usability isn't much to speak of. Be sure to choos full-screen with alt+enter or alternatively double or tripple the window size and then make it stretch the image to get it as large as the window is. FOr accessibility, you can also toggle the background layers on and off. The hotkeys for SNES 9X are ctrl+(1-8).

It's funny you mention Prince of Persia 2 and Gods. Both are one of my favorite games on the PC, which I have here. I think both are also much easier for me to play than say Super MEtroid would be. Though arguably the message text could be larger and some of the objects like keys could be easier to spot, but overall Gods is still broadly speaking quite accessible. Both games are hard to find legally be the platform the PC or the SNES.

Nope, MAMe is actually fairly easy to set up once you get a native WIndows port with a standard GUI. You can find MAME32 on the NET but maybe it would be easier if, again, I posted you a copy of MAME off-list. I happen to have plenty of ROMS from a friend, too, though havve found only a handful of MAME titles I truely enjoy.

I'm generally very poor at multi-tasking, if I play the game I want to hear its SFX and music so cannot really listen to music in the background let alone an audio book. THe same thing with computing in genral as I concentrate heavily on the speech. But bakc to accessibility, sound is especially important for me in FPS games like Wolf or DOom, so in the latter I always turn off the pretty nice music, just to hear even distant SFX more clearly.

I'm not sure about the accessibility of Super Metroid. Maybe it is because I got into the whole emulation seen at a time when my interest in gaming was vavering so I didn't get into all that many emulated titles. Before that it was console games at friends which ment I never got real good in those games back then.

What I'm aiming at here is that maybe the problems are not accessibility, per se, but difficulty and my rather newbie skills in console gameing and in SUper MEtroid in particular. SOmetimes it is hard to tell objectively whether a game is inaccessible or just otherwise plain difficult. I think our sights aren't exactly identical either, so that's yet another factor.

One of the emulated titles I got into big time, when my friend reintroduced me in the game, was Megaman 2. I still think it is in my top 10 list of games and have very fond memories. Though as it was emulated I would save the emulator state maybe once or twice in a level and right before boss battles , too. And once you quick save often enough you sometimes hit save hwen you ment load, like falling in an endless pit and losing your last life in that. Has happened to me, <smile>.

The game was still hard enough, even though not as challenging as the original. I'm guess I'm as good in the old driving games like Test Drive 2 or Stunts as you are in the Megaman series, all I can say is wow you're a real whiz in it.

You know I have a similar feeling about ice or air in MM games. They are one of the hardest levels accessibilitywise. And then of course those fast scenes that you'll just have to learn. Likee the Quickman stage, for instance. ANd, in a completely different and a pretty bad game, and like the motorcycle stage in the PC version of Terminator 2. I like the first two movies, by the way, but the games I've played based on them are pretty poor.

Another game in which I used to save heavily is the original Half-LIfe. Exploration isn't so big a thing for me but games that have action concenttrated in short bursts or have an interesting storyline can be extremely gratifying. Half-Life had both, and many driving or platform games have the action side well covered. As I said Half-Life was about the last 3D shooter in which I've gotten seriously. I still don't know how I did it but I managed to complete about one third of the game before it got too difficult even as a dedicated FPS gamer. Still my first moment after the Black Mesa incident and fighting the tentacle are gotta be some of the coolest FPS moments so far.

My point about Half-Life was that it's another game in which you can moderate the difficulty by quick saving. ANd that's something I did a lot, as the game play was real hard. Wel, somtimes it even reminded me of shooting a movie, Rehearsing small scenes and moving on once they're complete. BEcause of the architecture, the game would actually freeze and show a loading prompt for a couple of seconds as it ran very large levels in a modified Quake engine. Your strategy of playing Megaman and restarting levels does remind me of this Half-Life quick loading, though I only did it if I died. IN MM games I would learn the surprising bits in traning but didn't try to actively ,memorize the levels. In stead I just suffered and took a lot of damage if something real nasty and surprising was about to happen.

Speaking of cool FPS moments some of them are related to Wolf 3d as well. AS the levels are pure 2D with only right angles in them The AI seemed comparatively smart in the game, especially if you regard random events as meaningful.

So one of my favorite pastimes in the game is to take the highest difficulty level, run around the level activating numerous guards, and then run away and hide waiting for the enemies to find me.

In the first level of episode one, for example, I once happened to wait in one of those secret areas having notified maybe half a dozen guards so far. I waited for quite some time and nothing seemed to happen. just as I thought hey this is boring maybe I'll run out, one of the guards came in and I got him. Then I thought to myself, OK that's just one I won't wait any longer but will come out now, and did just that. But the rest of the guards waited right outside and shot me to death almost instantly, a single shot can do about 60 percent of damage at closeup. So quite a memorable ambush.

I think I'd better do a blocking read in this thread and busy-wait for your reply, rather than rambling on and on, <smile>. I'll hault right here. But this piece of output comes from a bufffer to be flushed, note that thread also has a computer-science meaning so this is an end-of-message pun in our geekish spirit.

--
With kind regards Veli-Pekka Tätilä

11 (edited by Dark 2007-02-21 08:45:57)

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

I'm really sorry for the lateness of this reply, as I said, the performance I'm in is looming and rehearsals, serious singing practice and script learning are eating up my time, not to mention the tiredness induced by all of those things.

Well to get onto things, a copy of Mame would be great. Not only are there some original arcade games like The Simpsons, toki and Metal slug that I'd quite like to play, but also there have been several games where I've only played the console ports, which are usually inferior, for example, while I used to love Amigar Golden axe because of the large sprites and great music, now I'm stuck with the Mega drive version which has horribly bad audio, much smaller charactors and graphics that are a good deal less clear. I'd also like to try some Beat -em ups like original Mortal Kombat and Streetfighter 2, though I think playing those on curser keys might be a litle difficult (another reason I like joysticks so much).

i'd also agree with you about game plot and atmosphere (one of the reasons I like the Mega man X series), but sinse as soon as a game becomes overloaded with text it becomes almost impossible for me to play, quite often I have to balance different factors against each other. I'd love to play complex Rpg type games, but sinse I can't, large exploration style platformers are sort of a second, which is probably why i've got so much into those sorts of games, and found ways round bits of them that cause me difficulties.

As far as memorization goes, I don't tend to memorize hole stages, just occasionally tricky enemy placements, or bits that I can't just charge through like a tank (a stratogy I've used myself on several occasions). For example, most enemies in the first stage of Mega man X 1 I don't find too difficult to deal with, however just after you cross some falling platforms there is an extremely nasty couple of bat attacks, which is a pest sinse the bats attack from above, are small, and get lost in the background. However, through a bit of experience and losing quite a few lives when I first played the game, I've found that jumping and firing one fully charged shot just infront of that blue box shaped building thing in the background, and one just after will take care of them nicely. It's a very similar process to learning a complex quick reaction area, like learning the paths of the forcebeams in Quickman's stage.

Speaking of Mega man 2, you cheating person for using save states! ;D, though I think if the option was available to use them on the gamecube I would've probably done it myself, especially in stages that provide contrast issues like Airman's stage, I certainly make use of them in Rocks -n- diamonds. thinking about Airman's stage, that is one other thing I like about the Mm games, you can change your charactor's colour to stand out from the background, very handy in those annoying sky stages.

I think mega man 2 is probably also my favourite of the Nes Mega man's, though four does come fairly close to it Imho. In general though, I prefer the X series, sinse the charactors are bigger, there is a great deal of music, and the story (especially in the later games), is extremely interesting. it does just rather irritate me that when X7 came out they had to run the series streight into highly complex 3D, grrrrrr!

As to multitasking, there are only a few games that I'd actually try it with, usually games that either have no music such as rick dangerous, or games who's music and audio I've become very familiar with like bubble bobble, original marrio or Ice climbers. Also, they must be fairly symple games that don't require really fast reactions or thinking out stratogies (I could never play even original Mega man like that). then, I couldn't play with no audio at all, so I generally just balance the volume of the game against the book's volume, so that I can here the important game effects (like stomping enemies in original Marrio).

It's funny, when I was younger I always went for the hyper complex or huge area based games, whereas now I've come to enjoy fairly symple games as well, ----- perhaps I'm just becoming more relaxed.

I'm glad you like turrican and it's music, I think it's been one of the things that's had a very big impact on my life, sinse it was the first computer game that really! grabbed my attention back when I was about 8 years old, and also my first introduction to really interesting cord sequences and changes of key.

You can find the Tfmx plug here:

http://listen.to/tfmx#

Pressing alt 3 when playing a Tfmx brings up the plug's configuration bit, where you can muck about with settings like loop and sterrio filtering, but also (and most importantly), play Subsongs.

the plug isn't a perfect solution, sinse it's rather quiet, and the loading themes in Turrican2 and 3 don't seem to play properly in it. Personally though, the volume doesn't matter (not when I've got five logitec speakers hooked up to my Pc), and the two tracks that don't play properly don't mean much (I believe there are Mp3 versions of them available anyway).

the other alternative is the game music player Deliplayer. The old version used to have a fairly accessible layout, however once the software upgraded to version 2 it became incredibly unfriendly to Screen readers (useable, but not very easily), and when I found that there was a winamp plug in available for Tfmx format stuff I switched to that. However, if you want to give Deliplayer a try, you can get it here:

http://www.deliplayer.com/

As reguards Gods and Prince of Persia, there is a section on the Turrican seta website called search for turrican alternatives. as This manages to list almost all of my favourite games, the Mega man series, first Samurai, Super metroid etc, I've been basing a lot of my game acquisition on it, and Gods is one of the titles I haven't yet got my hands on.

I have heard however from friends and other places, that Gods is also similar to First Samurai, which is a great game if rather short (I even tried writing a faq for the game, when Gamefaqs were stil being reasonable).

As to Prince of Persia 2, sinse I certainly like the first game, I'm thinking that I'll like the second. the only thing I find visually particularly hard in Prince of Persia are the tile switches. On most backgrounds I can't see these at all. However trial and error, the fact that there's a very clear door opening sound, and a very good faq on Gamebfaqs all help to get around this problem.

I think in deciding about how to play genres of games, it's a fairly subjective process, heavily based upon experience, learning and personal preference. As I said, I became extremely familiar with turrican and similar games back on the Amigar, so making the move to games like Super Metroid, mega man X and eventurally games liek Astro boy Omega factor and Mega man Zero was a gradual process. I expect when I get around to trying Wolf 3D, it'll take me quite a while to learn my way around the game and familiarize myself with the style, and it'll probably take a good bit of practice and experience for me to become as good as you at such things, ----- I've actually seen Halflife and doom 3 at a friends, but I would have no idea what to do with the games visually at the moment, particularly when it comes to object recognition. I think this is one of the advantages to using faqs, especially the ones written with interminable amounts of detail. Not to mention of course, the help they can provide in reading game text and understanding menues, as I've said, there's many a game that would be unplayable for me if it weren't for various faqs.

As far as music goes, I'm having a couple of difficulties in transferring stuf from my keyboard and other instruments, onto my boss multitrack recorder, and off that into Mp3 format. However, I've recently acquired a very nice litle Rowland digital recorder that should help this process, I just need to set aside a great big wodge of time to actually do it.

As to my music style, I suppose it's sort of a mix betwene Broadway musicals, psudo orchestral rpg game soundtracks and Anime. I've done several atmospheric orchestral pieces which I might end up using if I get around to creating an audio Rpg with audio game maker, as well as a few very weerd songs.

As to the Phd, it's actually in philosophy. While I'm not %100 sure of my final title, it's going to be something involving empathy, and the day to day classification and treatment of disabled people, sinse this is an area I don't think has recieved anything like enough work, and also I have disagreements with the litle work that has been done.

I was originally going to write on disability and equality, but looking around, it seems that a lot of the basic theoretical work on disability and it's everyday relations just hasn't been done, so I've had to change my focus a bit. also, I do have an interest in everyday questions of ethics.

Practically speaking (yes! I believe there is such a thing as practical philosophy), I want to deal with matters like precisely why people can attempt to help, and yet treat disabled people in a less than pleasant way, how assumptions about disability effect people's ethical outlook, and how to work out a clear distinction betwene facts and assumptions about disability.

Now, this long and rambling post has lead streight into the swamps of offtopicitude, so I'd better stop before I sink.

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Hi Dark,
I posted about the technical, i.e. non-accessibility aspects of MAME off-list, hope you got my message. Regarding the accessibility of arcade games say via MAME it depends. As they are emulated you can most certainly use magnification with text which can help sometimes. HOwever, text is not usually a problem in MAME titles as arcade games are rather action oriented, because of the context in which those games are played. Depending on your tastes it can be a good or a bad thing. I'd sure like more tips on how MAME can be tweaked graphically, as mentioned by someone else on this thread. I've already discovered that you can set up quite involved things in the options such as what kind of hardware tricks are emulated in Direct 3D or how wide the vectors in a game are, cool most certainly.

Still I've found that the arcade versions of quite a number of games are not as accessible as their console ports. I find vector games such as Asteroids style stuff hard enough with sprites yet entities made up of vectors are even harder to see for me. I also find, for example, the NES port of Galaga being much more accessible than the Arcade version mainly because the sprites might be bigger and the background is simpler, which helps in tracking small stuff like most projectiles. But of course sometimes it works the other way round, too, and there are plenty of titles with no consoel or PC releases.

Yes cursor keys can be a bit difficult in arcade games though as I've never been a joystick guy I don't usually find that a problem. Some games do require more analog control, though, and especially in multi-player pads can be nice. Most modern keyboards cannot, supposedly due to savings in scanning or multiplexing costs, handle all that many key presses at once. Mortal Kombat requires that you use five buttons: two kicks, two punches and block in addition to the direction keys making it very very hard to play using a laptop. Having to use arrows with the left hand and  numpad for the rest is bad enough.

But sometimes it helps a lot if you do choose the controls wisely. One such thing for me are driving games. I drove using the arrows until I played the Geoph Grammond World Circuit game in which they had chosen a and z for throttle and brake, plus period and the comma for steering with no proper remapping suppport.  First I complained but after I learned the setup I found it much better than the arrows and would continue to use it in other games, too. THe trikc is that as your hands control steering and acceleration independently it is quite easy to fluently turn and brake at the same time which is not so easy using arrows.

Another genre in which I'm using just the keyboard are 3D shooters as you've probably guessed. Most sighted people these days use the mouse for turning and looking up and down where as the arrows walk and strafe. That setup does give you more analog turning and looking with great increases in speed. However, from an accessibility point of view it makes game play difficult. I find that I play much more certainly, actually more accurately two and have an easier time tracking where I'm going if I can use the keyboard for everything in a rather conventional way. One thing is that it is quite easy to look up or down accidentally and even leave the view non-centered, which makes making out the surroundings even harder for me, mind you I can only see a small portion of the full screen at once. The other thing is that I've just never been very good with the mouese as 99 percent of my computing happens from the keyboard, even in Windows, though I'm a GUI fan. That means, in turn, that you can compare me to a person whose just learning to use the mouse in a GUi environment the first time, well almost. Sure I know the terms and even most mouse tricks in Windows but from a purely physical point of view I'm not a good mouser at all. Speaking of games in which the perspective warps my mental model of the level, well playing aliens Vs Predator with the Xenomorph is one such thing. I can somewhat play it using the marine or Predator, if I use lots of flares and the suitable sight modes, but as the Xenomorph can climb walls and hang from the ceiling that's just well, seriously inaccessible.

I'd like to continue on 3D shooters a bit. YOu mentioned that you cannot easily recognize objects in 3D shooters, well frankly speaking neither can I. Fortunately, there are few actors, meaning items or enemies, in a game that do matter from a gameplay point of view and learning to recognize them is quite possible. that is enemies, weapons, items and so on plus stuff you can use like doors and switches.

Of course, one could claim that playing a 3D shooter is a fundamentally different experience if you cannot clearly distinguish many of the surroundings that, though they don't have any significance in game, contribute to the atmosphere and sometimes even the plot. And that's right, but the important thing is that some 3d shooters are at least playable and given enough practice it is possible to beat sighted peers in such games, too. Besides when-ever that sighted gaming friend of mine is around, I do get a more detaild explanation of the surroundings when it is something new and or significant.

For learning to play I would actually start out with the single player options as they force you to familiarize yourself with the maps to get through. I've never completed any 3D shooters mmyself and actually only know a handful of levels very well in ggames like Doom and Duke 3D. Most of them are early levels in those games which are rather small, simple and easy to get into. I've been thinking of methodically trying to learn new levels on my own so that the palette of accessible levels would be broader in games, though.

You mentioned watching Half-Life and Doom 3 being played and said they were particularly difficult. Well, I cannot really play Doom 3 much at all. To see around well I need the lightscale cheat which multiplies the intensities of light sources in the game by a fractional amount. Another big problem is that though many logs in the game are pure audio, there are many text based ones in it, too, such as e-mail. I think I liked the initial atmosphere and the story of the game more than Half-LIfe 2, though, and Doom 3 might even be a tiny bit more playable. My other point with Half-Life is that even the original is about the most complex game I can play and that's pushing the limits. Not all sprite based games are accessible, either. For example, I tried playing aleph One, the open-source clone of the Mac game marathon Infinity, and found it very difficult. The same is true of Halo, by the way, about as bad as Half-Life 2.

YOu know I'd like to play RPG style games much, too, as I enjoy complex stories, but I'm not sure if I'd enjoy the MORPG aspects so much. Well the accessibility problems are numerous. Small text is one thing, especially for communicating with other players, and even in 2D style games the characters are often very small so one would need more sight than I have to get around. And in early 3D RPGs like Eye of the Beholder, fighting is realtime and one would need to see the text and items well. Maybe some turn based variant, which would run in a window in Native Windows and use DirectDraw, might even work accessibilitywise.

In the mean time there are always text-based games like Nethack and Adom, I've played the former and found the game very cool but the complexity somewhat high. WHy cannot I type in a unique substring of the command I'd like to carry out, if I cannot recall the hotkey=? That would help loads. As would having a menubar of commands like in the early Mac ports of Nethack. This is not accessibility related in terms of sight at least, but I'm very good at recalling info for which I have some mnemonic e.g. alt+t for tools and o for options in it. yet not all of the Nethack commands and very few of the screen reader commands are mnemonic in such a way.

It is not as cool but I've played a few games of Rogue whose game play is much simpler and thus there's less to remember and wonder about using a screen reader. There's pen and paper role playing as well with a human game master, which is totally  accessible and can be much more immersive and diverse. Once you play seriously enough, that means lots of time and ccommitment, though. I've played AD&D, Cyberpunk and few episodes of GURPs.

Another class of games I'm curious about and tentatively interested in are table-top based strategy games such as the various Warhammer games out there. That sighted gaming friend of mine took me in a mini tournament in the space battle game called Battle Fleet Gothic. AS few of us had models for ships, we would use pieces of colored cardbord as placeholders. Although the game play can be visual and involves measuring distances in cm it still happens on a 2d plane like a table top and is turn based. Thus there's plenty of time to look around, and examine the situation in various angles. Nowadays even some of the older rules are freely downloadable on the Web, <i think.

I brought BFG, not the Doom weapon, up to ask if there are any similar games that model the gameplay on the computer and which might be accessible? We've been thinking that games like Battlefleet Gothic would be pretty easy to computerize, though it would of course take away some of the social and physical aspects and copyrights might be an issue, even in an open-source app.

Back to Megaman though, is lots of MMX similar to the beams in Quickman? In a way I find learning such a hassle very rewarding but I wouldn't wish to play a game whose primary mode of play would be like that.

Wait, changing the Megaman color, I didn't know this is possible. How do you do that? ANother game in which I do tweak the colors is the PC one on one fighting freeware title ONe Must Fall 2097. I still think that's my favorite fighting game as far as single-player goes, that is the tournament play in the game.

Ah Rick Dangerous I see what you mean. IT is a bit of a Unique game and I actually liked the RIck 2 game for the PC very much, though it uses adlib FM in stead of the digital samples on the Amiga. I would say the game is prtety accessible, as you don't have to worry about time, though again elements of it could be larger and it is certainly not an easy game at all.

Regarding Prince of Persia agreed the switches and placement of the falling tiles in the cealing are hard to spot for me. But as you said both make sound and the doors are easy to see, so that's just a minor issue. DO you also find the sword fighting hard?  I have to parry almost continuously as I wouldn't have time to react otherwise. Well that tac is good enough for beating the game whicch I've done. Stil one of the most accessible platformers I think regardless of screen size. The controls take a bit of geting used to initially, too, but once that's done are easy to master.

That Tfmx plug looks pretty nice, although if it can only play Turrican I might as well use the mp3 soundttrack of the game. Do you know any other plugs that would enable me to play other Amiga music in Winamp? I don't like Deliplayer or Modplug player much, though both are usable enough to simply play back pieces. One tack that always works is to associate an app with some command in the context menu for the file type. Ah having to use the plug user interface for song switching is annoying. The Nes music plug I'm using can use the native Winamp controls while the C64 plug SIdAmp cannot, for example.

As I don't have the Gods SNES rom here but do have the PC version, would you like to try that out? HM seems I don't need any off-list files at all. Home of the Underdogs has a copy here:

http://www.the-underdogs.info/game.php?id=2020

There's that annoying image-based verification screen. TO get around that use the code audys. I guess this is just the right forum for sharing this piece of info. Do avoid spreading it as the whole protection scheme would be useless then. The code will work every time and was especially set up for the sight-impaired community. That's truely something, I'm a big fan of HOTu and while you are at it you might want to read the scratchware manifest, too.

I think you're right about the genre and game preferences affecting matters a whole lot in addition to the sight situation and motivation. I know other legally blind folks with roughly similar  sight and not all of them have seriously tried computer gaming at all.

Lastly, a cool thing that PHD about philosophy for a change. It's funny that people in the science community are something of philosophy, too. talk about legacy stuff. Why computer science is in the same faculty as sciences is beyond me, though.

About philosophy, I liked it back in highschool and would even try to read some Plato on my own, <grin>. I do believe that philosophy has practical significance, too. and it is great both you and I are making the sight-impaired better known. In my case, as you can imagine, when the graphical user interface was deviced, people didn't think about using it without a pointing device and without even seeing the screen contents. Thus even so it is still a minority topic compared to other human computer interaction stuff and to even Web accessibility. But I'll stop right here before I'll drift outside the visible playfield and end up optimized away in rendering.

--
With kind regards Veli-Pekka Tätilä

13 (edited by Dark 2007-02-25 01:08:44)

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Well firstly, I do see what you mean about the accessibility of some arcade games as far as graphics go, however the lack of text is particularly helpful for me, and some genres of games such as walk along beat-em-ups had many arcade titles, quite a few of which like the Simpsons never made it to consoles. I'll admit these aren't the most complex games in history, but i stil find them entertaining and replay them fairly often even when I've finished them several times.

then of course, there are many one on one beat em ups like Mortal combat and Street fighter. However, I'll really! have to sort out an alternative control method for those games. the Mk tapping in commands style of move activation is bad enough, but the Street fighter style circular motions would be absolute murder on a keyboard!

While object and location recognition is certainly a larger problem in 3D games owing to the greator perspective, I've frequently come across similar situations in fairly complex 2D games, especially in games that are heavy on the plot. and even in very symple games, there are details which I miss. for example, I recently played a Pc port of Manic Miner. Sinse I'm a Wikipedia adict, I decided to see if there was any interesting info about the game. Reading the artical, I was quite surprised to find that what I'd just seen as fairly abstract coloured graphics were actually extremely representational, for example, what I thought were litle fireball spitting columns in one stage turned out to be dragons' heads (admittedly Dragons' heads drawn with Spectrum graphics, but recognizable to fully sited players nonetheless).

this is just generally a low vision thing I think. If I remember some of the stuff I've done on perception properly, fuly sited people use direct perception of objects, ie, they recognize objects instantaniously (though possibly with some underlying data processing going on that their not aware of), where as in low vision conditions, people use indirect perception ie, inferences based on shape, position, colour and above all, context. This is why I'm personally awful when it comes to recognizing random images in pictures, or games, at risk of repeating myself annoyingly, Mr. Faq is also my friend here.

On the pluss side though, I do find that quite often, i can pick up on atmospheric clues in films or games, even without knowing precisely about the environment, which helps.

As to tabletop roleplay, I've played a litle Ad&D myself, but in durham, most of the role playing tends to be Larp, (live action swinging plastic swords), which isn't as great. there are a couple of groups I've heard about though, who play over Skype,, and when I can escape the university network and it's unfortunate habbit of blocking random ports for no reason, i'll certainly look into one of those.

As to Nethack and the like, i found Nethack rather a pestdue to the command issues you mention. I've recently been trying out Adom though, and found that mutch easier to handle, especially sinse that's extremely reliant upon the colour of objects, has a really helpful look function, and key commands that aren't too much of a pain to learn.

Interestingly though, there's a roguelike is under developement with some really great accessibility features. One of these is the rather strangely named "Blind vision" which will give you the details of all the unique charactors and objects on the screen, and their positions in X-y coordinates relative to your charactor. the other is a sonar, which is a directional command that states the distance betwene your charactor and the nearest wall, using these, it's actually fairly easy to play the game, Warprogue without even looking at the map, though due to some curser issues, my screen reader won't read the text messages as the game generates them and I have to physically go and read them myself using a virtual curser, which slows things down considderably. For more details on Warprogue, check out this topic on Audiogames.net http://forum.audiogames.net/viewtopic.p … 90&p=2

Perhaps I'll E-mail the creator of Adom and ask if he might include such features in a future version at some point.

I like the tabletop war game idea sinse this is a style of game I've never personally tried. I'm not sure how you feel about Gamebooks, but Chronicals of Arborell is a great site for such things, with interesting plot and a lot of good writing. Also, there's a very strange gamebook and solo tableletop hybrid, which uses drawing and placement of cards to generate a random map. I've been inn discussion with the page creator about making a version that can be played on the Pc, using Gma games self-voicing dice program to generate a random number and pick the cards, then drawing the map using a table. You can find the Chronicals here: http://www.arborell.com/

it'd be interesting actually to have your input about the card game, sinse I suspect there would be a more technical and less arduous way to recreate the game in an accessible form.

Talking of things Rpg, it's interesting you mention Morps first. It might just be me being antisocial, but I've always enjoyed interacting with a game world much more than with other players, so it's been the solo rpgs and the completing quests aspects of games like World of Warcraft that I've found interesting. One of my supreme irritations is that the vast majority of so called text Rpg games on the internet ssymply revolve around increasing a set of stats by a combination of continually growing resource management and very repetative actions, symply so that you have larger stats than other players, with no exploration or in game goals beyond stat crunching, and only the faintist nods in the direction of plot. the only online text Rpg I know that differs significantly from this format is Sryth, and that is exclusively single player.

As to the turrican music, at the time i first discovered the appropriate sites, there wasn't much of the soundtrack inn Mp3 format. Even though there's more now, it's much more in the matter of edited highlights than the entire thing. the only two tracks that don't function welll with the Tfmx plug are loading themes, and are thus only about 8 bars long and not musically complex (and I've got one of them in Mp3 anyway).

I'm afraid I'm not sure about other amigar music plug ins, but you can always try this site, (where I found out about the Tfmx plug). http://www.nemmelheim.de/cgs_small/

the Quickman forcebeames are rather infamous as being one of the nastiest traps in the Mm series, and (thankfully), there aren't too many things quite as long, or as lethal as them in the other mm or Mmx games,  ----- though they do reappear in X5. Most gameplay in the X series is like that in the Nes mega mans, accept for the introduction of the wall kick, which is actually helpful from an accessibility point of view sinse it can stop you falling down pits quite as quickly, a lot more plot, and quite a few more hidden items and such.

I'm afraid when I was talking about changing Mega man's colour, I meant the charactor changing whenever you equip a new weapon, not the game as a hole. Stil, i do find this handy on bakcdrops with blue backgrounds, ------ I always select the leaf shield before attempting those evil moving ledge jumping sections of air man's stage for example.

As to rick dangerous, I played the first game on the amigar, but have only recently rediscovered the game. I think the invisible traps that you just need to learn are probably a fairly good indicator of the memorization that I find necessary in some games, in fact when I've read some reviews of Rick Dangerous in which people are complaining that the memorization aspects of the games make them hard and unfair I have to smile.

I've recently found Rick2 for the Pc, but as you say, it's not the best version, and running under Windows xp makes the game a litle slow and clunky. When I've sorted out dosbox I'll have another bash at running the game.

there is however, a very nice flash port of Rick 1, based upon the Atari St and amigar versions, which I've had a good deal of fun with. It also has an inbuilt infinite lives feature which I must admit I do use quite frequently, sinse there are sections of the game I'd certainly only rather play once.

For anyone who reads this and doesn't have an amigar Emulator to run the original rick game, you can play it here:

http://rickdangerousflash.free.fr/
the relationship betwene philosophy and computing matters is sort of interesting, especially when it comes to logic and ontology, but I think I'll have to discuss that elsewhere sinse this post has already gone a long way and if walking into the off topic dungeons, is likely to take 50 100 hp of rambling damage with no saving throw or resistance available.

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Hi Dark,
And sorry for the lag in posting, my bad. AH I caught your drift about arcade games. MAny of them are action titles that require relatively brief moments of intense concentration which is a pattern in gaming I've grown to like. Apart from some very new 90s games such as the Sega Model 2 titles, the trouble is not so much that there are not games for MAMe but what to play. I'd sure like a comprehensive site on well-known, highly rated or just otherwise interesting arcade titles out there. I've read a few sites on the history of arcade games but the temporal approach is just one possible method. Interestingly, MAMe let's you sort games by genre or hardware so if you're a fan of a particular CPU, like puzzle games or find vectors hard from an accessibility point of view, you can easily navigate your way around the gamelist.

Know what you mean about keybord, too. although I've learned to play beat em ups and even do the circular motions using arrows it is surely not very easy. One of the reasons why I like the original MOrtal Kombat or the PC game One Must Fall is that the moves are relatively simple to perform.

In addition to fighting games the keyboard is a problem in a style of games we'd call cavern flying here in Finland. That is 2d space shooters with Newtonian mechanics in a cave against humans very briefly put. IF you've ever played games like Auts or Wings you know the genre. I don't know if it was very popular outside of Finland, though, and particularly if there are console ports of games in this genre.

I didn't find the genre very accessible and Would lose to most human players, however. It shares the problems with shoot em ups and in addition the screen is small as it is split into two or four portions in multiplayer.

Manic Miner doesn't ring a bell, but I'm a Wikipedia fan, too, as far as trivia about games and Tv shows goes. Your example about the dragon heads in the game is a good one. I have similar issues frequently in games though in most of say the 3D shooters you don't have to recognize such fuzzy objects to play.

You said: inferences based on shape, position, colour and above all, context, I second that very honestly. I think our sights lend themselves to similar data processing. I deal with these highly context sensitive vague shapes and patterns on a daily basis. My sight page has more info on it outside of gaming. You can find the link at the very beginning of this thread. I think this fuzziness and what I call shape to object mapping are some of the main difficulties in movies and cinematic scenes in games.

First, there's the concept of the camera which makes orientation a bit difficult as I've gotten used to viewing the action from my point of view. All of my dreams happen in the FPS perspective but that gaming friend of mine often has much more movie-like experiences.

The other main thing is that it is hard to establish the context. Often one doesn't have enough time and clues in the image and audio to determine exactly where the action takes place. So an object in a movie, when it cannot be placed in a certain context, is virtually impossible to recognize. OF course some basic and simple and familiar objects like tables are easy but once it gets more complex than that, well things get more difficult in a non-linear fashion. ANother problem is that movies often have contexts of which I have no real world experience, often even totally fictitious locales, making the problem an order of magnitude harder.

To bring the discussion back to games, though, I've found I'm  very poor in third person perspective games say Mario 64 or the Original Tomb Raider to mention a few. Camera trickery makes things even harder, too. I once tried playing some Dragon Ball Z 3D fighting game but found the camera highly distracting in it. Oh yes, and I don't get much anything out of random images or photos, either. Could you elaborate a bit more on the atmospheric clues, though? I wonder if brief and coded DVS descriptions would help in 3d shooters. I haven't played the game very much, as it is visulaly challenging to say the least, but there are some such bits for DOom 3 in the closed captioning project at:

http://doom3cc.planetdoom.gamespy.com/

For example, from Mars city:

Quote:
    Common Area
You arrive at the entrance to the common area. The low mechanical hum of machines fills the room, punctuated by the sound of a man's coughing. Facility staff are relaxing with a drink or watching the TV that is playing an IPN News channel…  <snip> You exit the Common Area at the Command Access Junction, picking up the pda of Adam Berneche lying on the counter-top which contains the following "Maintenance Update" audio log… <snip>
End quote.

The script can help somewhat, too. I appreciate the extra attention givne to the tone of voice, too, as a legally blind person and find it helpful that the dialog is in text. I speak English as a second language, so it's a great aid if you miss some bits in the in-game audio, especially if you're far away from the sound source. I've gotten used to reading movie scripts just out of fun, especially for stuff for which there's no DVS so I need someone sighted to explain what's goin on.

Well well, Warprogue sure seems accessible enough, I wonder when it will be out and if the blind vision you mention is merely some bonus or an aid gearred towards VI-folks. I think changing the map file in HAL might help with Nethack, though, at least it does With some other console apps. The thing is if you run another exe than cmd.exe or command.com HAL uses the default map file. In such cases, if it is a command-line app, be sure to choose the console application map for it which should auto-read new text for you. Yeah, I've had issues in Nethack, too, and found it easier to play using Supernova 4.5 back in WIn 98.
Another point, if you use the console map, do make sure the cursor in the game, if any, is a vertical bar rather than a horizontal one or a block. Make sure it also blinks. I once killed the blibking in WIndows and after that SN would not auto-read any text in console games and apps, oh well. I think the shape detector looks for a vertical line by default, which is the shape of the WIndows cursor in edit areas, so that's why the advice.

A friend of mine played some Adom some years back. After I had tried it a few times I attempted getting into the game by reading through the manual. I would often do that in Windows software, even before trying to use the app in question. My impressions of Adom were that it was a more complex game than Nethack and so I didn't get into it as the former is already pretty complex. But if Adom is more accessible, now that's another story. I also do hav an idea for a media transformation to Nethack kind of like the falcons Eye mod but more accessible, but I'll save that in the next iteration in this thread.

I'm familiar with the concept of game books though have never played anyn, unless you count the rather exponentially branching on-line choose your own adventure games. I think most of those books would be rather easy to automate, many of the on-line stories have no state apart from where you are in the story. And even if you would have dice, inventory and stats I suppose a common framework could be written to which such games could be plugged in with minimal effort. I suppose it has already been done, actually.

Yes, I think that trying to play role playing games like it was an optimization problem in game mechanics isn't very fun to begin With. I was part of a pretty strict RPG party in which our GM required that meta-gaming talk about stats, hitpoints and skills should be kept to the minimum. We would create characters based on what roles we'd like to play rather than using the stats-first approach. The Gm would award points for good role playihng, which is not about playing optimally in terms of stats, but convincingly emulating what that character would do in the situation. WHich presents another dilemma, I find characters whose ethical outlook differss greatly from mine, that is chars for which I have no respect, are hard to play convincingly. While I think this role playing approach works very well with a human GM, in computer role-playing and adventure games I always try to play optimally for some reason. Speaking of depth, one RPG I would recommend is the general universal roleplaying system AKA GURPS. It is independent of the locale and time and in addition to very generic skills and such has a huge array of game books for particular settings. I find the means for character creation quite extensive compared to most other RPGS. Here's the seriously cut down, free lite version:;

http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/lite/

In comparison, AD&D isn't logical or realistic at all: only thiefs can move stelthily, all skills are binary choices, and to learn something not modelled, say painting, about the only way to get lots of experience fast is to go and kill some monsters. Of course the context of AD&D is quite different, though, the game mechanics are quite sufficient for some recreational dungeon crawling, which can be great fun, too.
Nough AD&D bashing, as this isn't about accessibility at all, <smile>.

Ah the Megaman collor, the funny thing is that I've never before noticed the color change on switching weapons, does it also happen in mm2? HOw's your color vision, by the way. I find that I have difficulty unambiguously distinguishing different hues of color unless they are very strong. What matters to me much more than the hue is the contrast, that is brightness diffference as seen by the huma eye, between the colors.

I think I havne't played the first RIck game at All, are there plenty of accessible Flash based titles out there? Somehow I don't like Flash all that much but that's probably from the point of view of general Web accessibility as opposed to say gaming. Ah I discovered the IE7 zoom feature, hold down ctrl while using the mouse wheel, can also zoom Flash games, nice.

Lastly, speaking of games with stats and multiple choices, have you played the life simulator called Alter Ego? It was much better than I thought based on the age of the game. There's a PC version with rather small text in it. SO I'd recommend this faithful on-lien Web version in stead:

http://www.theblackforge.net/

Happy gaming, and maming, too, <grin>.

--
With kind regards Veli-Pekka Tätilä

15 (edited by Dark 2007-03-01 06:30:14)

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Well where do I start with this reply? so many topics being discussed here.

Thanks for your tip about the console map file, (I really should have thought of that one), I'll try it next time I run warprogue. I know that Hal V6 has got the facility to change the look of the curser (even without using Supernova). I've never had need to play with it before, but if I have trouble in the console mAp I'll try it again, I'll also add retrying Nethack to the long, long looooong! list of things this topic has generated for me to try, grin! I think one problem I had in getting used to Nethack is that when it's difficult to see quite a few of the charactors, some commands are quite hard to grasp.

One of these is the look command (I couldn't see the "look" curser in the game" which I assumed to function in a similar way to "look" in an interactive fiction, ie, you get a certain amount of information about all objects in the vicinity of your player.

Another helpful (though not essential), modification to Warprogue that helped me realize this mistake is the use of those charactor relative coordinates in the look command.

One thing I like about Adom both inj accessibility and complexity terms is that several actions are automated. For example, to attack something you simply move into the same space as it, and when you activate the "Targit" command, the game will automatically generate a list of possible targits. It's therefore quite easy to start the game only knowing a couple of commands.

also, I found the in game documentation a good deal more accessible than in Nethack, particularly sinse the manual is indext by topic, rather than simply having five or six pages of text which you have to trudge through with a screen reader (a sited person would just quickly skim read the page to find the information they were looking for).

On the down side, the talk to or "Chat" command is directional, and only effects the square next to you. Normally this wouldn't be an issue, accept that in Adom the friendly Npc's have this annoying habbit of wandering randomly around the screen each move. Quite often, in the village where the game starts I've found myself spending large amounts of time running around trying to catch and speak to other charactors, particularly if their represented by a coloured symbol that doesn't contrast particularly well with their background. A blind vision command as used in Warprogue would completely solve this problem though.

the creator of Warprogue is trying to design a version especially for blind people, and was asking about it on audiogames.net (the sonar command was actually my idea), but I think some of the things he's doing would be highly useful in other roguelikes as well, particularly in Adom, and maybe in other games like Nethack as well.

what's this accessible interface mod? Given the limits of text Rpg's, I think putting accessibility options into roguelikes would be a very good thing, particularly if it could be made possible for completely blind people to play them as well, sinse Rpg's with spacial combat and complete top down maze navigation just aren't availableto fully blind players. Even in Sryth, and other text rpg's with some kind of exploration, the navigation is always gamebook style, with a set of locations your charactor moves into in only one turn, each having a number of possible exits, some initiating turn based combat or other plot when you step on them. No movement rates, no realistic use of missile weapons (only Sryth actually has them, and even then, only at specific times).


I do enjoy Gamebooks though, both online and alson playing them together with one of my friends, ----- him reading, me being in charge of stat and Dice rolling on the Pc, and each choice made by discussion. But to get back to online accessible stuff, the Fighting fantasy project site has several ameter gamebooks with fully automated stats, dice etc, using the Fighting fantasy rules system. A couple of other sites (such as Chronicals of Arborell), have the book's pages linked appropriately in Html, but require you to write up your own charactor sheet and role your own dice, ----- I don't personally find this too much of an issue though, in fact I've even played a couple of gamebooks just as streight text files or converted Pdf's where I need to find my way through the sections with Ctrl F as well as managing my own stats etc.

For all online gamebook related things i know of try this page from the highly useful whitestick.co.uk site:

http://www.whitestick.co.uk/fantasy.html

Of particular note there is the Project.aon site, because that hosts Htmlified versions of the Lone wolf gamebook series by Jo Diva, very popular in the 1980's. It's really great to see this sort of thing now made accessible, especially sinse a lot of printed material that's stuck up on the net (including a lot of old Gamebooks), is annoyingly scanned image files of the text pages (this provides me with endless frustrations when it comes to doing research, sinse the backlogues of just about all philosophy and other academic jernals are hosted online, but in a way that's totally inaccessible to screen readers, of course, they can always be printed out and scanned back in again, but that's a terribley long winded way of doing things).

I think because the rest of the roleplay discussion is getting offtopic as far as game accessibility goes, we'd better move that one off list.

As reguards colour, perhaps this is one respect where our vision differs. while contrast is certainly for me a huge requirement of a game, I find I often use the colour of things to recognize in game objects, such as power-ups. For example, in turrican, I have no chance of seeing  the letters on the individual power-ups (I only know they're their from reading the manual), but I can distinguish them by colour, red for multiple, yellow for power-up, grey for laser etc (though of course, this is entirely dependent upon having a background with good contrast in the first place).

Another example is in one on one fighting games. In Streetfighter, Mk and various other games produced at the time, if fighting a computer controled version of your own charactor (as in the Mk1 mirror match), one charactor's outfit would be a different colour. I never had too much trouble distinguishing who was who.

However, in later and more complex beat em ups, the second player would get a different costume, occasionally of the same colour as the original. In these situations, telling the charactors apart can be a good deal more difficult for me.

the changing colour thing was introduced in the original Mega man (it's even listed as a special feature in the original game's manual, which I have a text file of), and continued into subsequent games. Later on, it actually got plot significance, and any robot charactor designed by Dr. Light would do it. the upshot of this is that all playable charactors in the original mega man series, plus X, will change colour.

What's particularly useful about this feature for me is that in the Mm games produced on machines with enough buttons, the ability was added to quickly cycle through available weapons with two buttons without using the weapon select screen (they even added this feature to the nes games in the Aniversery collection). Sinse I can't read the name of each weapon, and learning the weapon select screen can take time, I can just remember which colour corresponds with each weapon, though I have sometimes had trouble with similar shades, particularly in the nes games owing to the limited number of colours available.

Manic miner is the first game inn the Jetset willy series, which i believe has already been mentioned in this long and tangled thread somewhere. I find the game quite accessible in terms of seeing what's going on, however I personally am not a huge fan of that style of platformer (it might just be my violent nature, but I like to overcome my enemies not just dodge them!). If you fancy playing the game, you can find the Pc port, ---- as well as lots of other quite fun litle Pc ports of Spectrum games right here:

http://retrospec.sgn.net/game-overview. … cybernoid2

I haven't tried many flash games, some I've found slightly difficult to run, especially when authors include buttons in the flash pane (which often isn't very large at all, don't lable things properly, and have menues that change just by sticking the virtual focus over them. As the flash port of rick shows though, it is possible to make flash games behave. Speaking of rick, I find the game generally accessible, once I finally realized that I was dying as a result of invisible traps rather than dying as a result of traps I was failing to see smile!

the only thing in Rick i find particularly difficult to see are the spikes, sinse they're rather small. however once i knew what I was looking for I found they were visible for me.

I can certainly see the value of scripting in games. I personally collect gamescripts. Sometimes I find them necessary to play a game, and at other times they just provide extra background that i might otherwise miss. For example, in the 2D platform shooter game Cybernator for the snes, each level is supposedly a different military mission you cary out. for all practical gameplay purposes these missions simply involve running (or flying), through the level to the end, blowing 7 shades out of whatever gets in your path. Stil, i find the game much more fun when I know what it's about, or would if the flying stages weren't rock hard!

then, I also collect gamescripts for games I'd have no chance playing, but find the plots interesting, such as the various final fantasy games, and the later, unplayable for me Mega man and Metroid titles. the only thing that can be a litle annoying is that occasionally game script writers don't really do a good enough job in describing the action in games besides the dialogue. Some even totally neglect the task of actually describing what's going on, which makes the scripts for me completely unreadable, ----- and also, rather nonsensical generally (as a stage performer myself, a script that doesn't have even minimal stage directions just won't work!).

I also find well-written plot synopses, ----- both of games and films, highly useful to pick up on anything I might have missed first time around, particularly when it comes to fast action sequences or litle details that add to the plot.

As to atmosphere, the best I can say is that it's a sort of general impression of the feeling of a place or thing, ----- like emotional resonence, that find I can pickup from films, games and even in real life. I'm not suggesting any sort of extra sensery perception, (though as a good open minded philosopher I wouldn't be set against the idea), it might just be a holistic putting together of all available information.

to take a practical example, in the recent fellowship of the ring film, I got the impression of Lothlaurian as a very mysterious and slightly synister place (completely opposed to the way I've always thought of it in the book). I got this impression immediately, I didn't have to directly construct any inferences or chains of reasoning as I frequently do when trying to work out what's happened plot wise in a scene with litle dialogue, beyond reasoning (from my knolidge of the book, the rustling of leaves, and the large brown objects I could see), that this was a forest.

I can't point to any single factor that would've given me the idea of Lothlaurian as synister, it might have been a combination of the music, the charactor's vocal atitudes, the subdued blue lighting I could see and maybe other factors I'm not aware of.

But interestingly enough, watching the Dved commentary on the film, i found out that that was very much the sort of impression Peter Jaxon wanted to give. I couldn't see most of the details he used to make this empression, ----- -such as the curving, organic style architecture that supposedly looked as if it had been grown over hundreds of years, but stil, i got this impression.

In something i don't know as well as I know Lord of the Rings, ----- such as the recent series of Doctor who, I'll use atmosphere as another indicator as to what's going on.

also, I find experiencing different atmospheres and what i can of different environments one of the main reasons I play computer games, though for symple games like original Marrio bross, there isn't exactly a huge atmospheric component. this is one reason I like Donkey Kong country so much more than Marrio, even though the gameplay is extremely similar.

Even some very symple games I find can have a good atmosphere. One of these is the oled Atari 2600 game Yar's revenge.

Arcade games like final fight or double dragon, despite being rather symplistic in terms of the amount of thought required, I find very nice for atmosphere. I frequently used to watch my brotherand other people playing games just to pick up on this component.

I haven't come across Cavern flying games before, but I admit, beyond the obvious things like doom which i used to see reviewed on a couple of old games related Tv programs here in the Uk, I don't know much about the history of Pc gaming at all.

It was my attempt to play Mario 64 that really convinced me that the days when I could be fifty percent or so equal with my brother and friends in mainstream gaming were coming to an end. I remember it as quite a sad experience, sinseI'd been looking forward to trying it for a long while. Back in the days of the snes, i frequently used to look forward to the release of games like Mortal Kombat, Killer instinct and Donkey Kong country with my brother and friends. We wrented an N64, and I really enjoyed watching my brother playing Mario 64. However, within half an hour of trying the game myself I knew things weren't going right. I was walking into walls, failing to find objects, having trouble with the camera and game controls, and generally becoming highly frustrated.

I later made an attempt on Crash Bandecoot (toomb rader had far too poor contrast for me to even considder), and found the same thing occurring, even though the graphics were less complex.

But that's enough being mysserable in this topic I thik.

I'll certainly be looking forward to spending many happy ours maming ------ a disturbing phrase indeed!

sorry about the random reeddits to this post, I was interupted in writing it before, and I really didn't want to double post (one gigantic diatribe of doom from me is enough I think).

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Hi Dark,
Firstly more thoughts on Displays. I had to play Stunts on my laptop screne which is a 15 inch 16:10 aspect ratio screen and it was pretty horible. AS you mentioned earlier in this thread, one problem is the distance because the screen cannot be freely placed on top of the keyboard using some dedicated stand. THis means that either the distance to the screen is too great for me or else I hav to bend down over the keyboard to see the screen well enough, which is a nightmare in terms of ergonomy.

But the other observation came to me, when reflecting back on playing, and is new stuff to me. A 16::10 screen is about 30 percent wider than a 4:3 screen I think and this is a serious issue. My field of vision isn't regularly shaped, I think, though my brains render it as such, and is very small to begin with. A wider screen means I see even less horizontally than I normally do,  which makes playing a great deal of games more difficult. I've been analysing several genres of games and in stuff like one-on-one fighting, driving, platformers which center the characters and in FPS games that don't require looking up an down the ability to see a large chunk of the screen horizontally is more essential than a large vertical portion would be. The reason is that in driving games, for example, the sky and dashboard are just fluff. They can be looked at but you can play the game without seeing them. The same is true of one-1-one fighting and energy bars as well as most platformers and such.

It is not so bad a thing in platformers in which the vertical changes are controllable. take Prince of Persia or Megaman, for example. In both you know hwen you climb up a platform and have ample opportunity to turn your head to optimize the playing field around the character.

Another thing I've been doing is thinking of a top 10 list of games I've played. Most of these are very accessible, early 90s PC or Amiga titles. I've played all these on the PC, though.

List:
Prince of Persia
Megaman 2

Stunts (AKA 4D Sports Driving)
World Circuit (AKA f1gp)
Lotus III the Ultimate Challenge

One must Fall 2097
Mortal Kombat

Duke Nukem 3D

Worms 2
Tetris (MIcrosoft version for WIn 3.1)
End list.

Another thing I realized is that the fact that a game happens to be some favorite of mine doesn't mean it would be the best game in that genre. Take Duke 3D, for example. It came at a time when I was in my teens and so the subject appealed to me. It has also been the only 3D game in which I put serious effort into modding the game starting from CON files and even trying to master the build engine. i managed to build some rooms, place enemies, and do texturing but I recall that building a working door or an elevator was regarded as quite a feat. Partly I'd claim my age, I didn't know that much computer science and couldn't think as formally as I can now, but partly it was the GUI which was just a horrible example of an interface that is neither discoverable nor intuitive. Fast-forward ten years and I still think Duke is pretty fun in multiplayer and has probably been the single most influencial 3D game for me. Still Half-Life has better single player, Marathon's multiplayer aspects are more fairly balanced, Quake has a nicer engine, Unreal good editing tools and Wolf 3D is loads more accessible. So Duke is far from the best game in any respect yet is my favorite, talk about subjectivity and nostalgia here.

And now back to addressing the points in your latest reply:
Hmm what do you mean about HAL's ability to change the cursor in games? I thought that's a Supernova only feature if you are talking about focus highlighting. I'm using it a great deal here. VIrtual focus uses an inverted line background for me so it shows well in all text games no matter how their background is set up. FOr following the cursor I would use the bottom wedge highlight style with the tint option inverse, that works for me. FOr highlighting the mouse, again an inverted circle of radius 20 percent and width 100 percent is what I use to highlight the mouse cursor, though I rarely need to use it in games. FOr overall focus changes I use a magenta tint and a blakc box around it.

Context-switching to Rogue Likes, I didn't know Adom was that automated. Especially the target listing command can give you a great big picture of where the enemies are, I'd imagine. Still Nethack is fairly automatable, too. MOving to an enemy attacks with the default weapon and auto-pickup is something I might recommend. I always find it helpful in FPS games, as without picking up a weapon and auto-switching to it, I wouldn't necessarily no I had ran over one.

As to my Nethakc accessibility idea, I thought it would be quite viable if the game logic aka the model, how it is rendered on screen the view and how you input commands the controller are separate entities. Nethack would be so much easier to play with a screen reader if the input was an interactive fiction like Englis parser and the output would be textual descriptions like in an IF game. Of course, if the user interface of Nethakc would be an interactive fiction game, it would not make sense to model each and every step. IN stead you would have an algorithm which partitions the playing field into rooms and abstracts your location in a room. You would then walk along corridors and from rooms to other rooms, pick up items and do stuff in an easy one-command fashion. Of course, if there were monsters or other actors around the UI would switch to fine movement mode and start to indicate your position in some notation, maybe a distance in horizontal and vertical game units say meters. Another thing this idea would solve would be the difficulty of recalling which key command is which plus the quirks having to work with a screen reader brings to the table. Lastly, this game would also be more accessible, because interactive fiction environments like WinFrotz already have HAL map files. Only the user interface and itts parser could be native Winfrotz code, though, because the game model is probably C. SO here we get the need for inter-process communication with Nethack itself.

When I proposed something like this in the NEthack newsgroup just for kicks, there were too technical obstacles people brought up. One is that Nethakc's code is not cleanly partitioned into the view, model and controller paradigm so it would not be an easy job to plug-in another UI like this. The other was that Nethakc is quite a complex game and thus it would be harder to easily indicate the placement of monsters on screen especially if there are several rows of them. But well you could either develop good algorithms for textual desscription, or use the multimedia facilities to programmably generate sound whose amplitude, frequency, tone, duration and pan position could indicate something about the view.

In Nethack, I don't find navigating around text docs that hard. But nowadays I use a text editor which let's me find stuff using regular expressions, which is a mathematical language for describing sets of strings to match a pattern of text. They would also help you navigatte docs in game books I suppose. Using regular expressions finding the next numbered chapter, the next non-quoted line or the next word with two or more initial caps in it are rather trivial tasks, for example. If you want to know more, go to:

http://www.regular-expressions.info/

or ask me off-list.

It would be even cooler if roguelike accessibility ideas, liek the Sonar, would have some ingame explanation. This would not work for Adom, of  course, but maybe you are some creature with no sight say some deep sea thing or the Xenomorph in the alien movies.

Ah Gamebooks and the good old White stick site, I've visited that one before. I'll bookmark the gamebook resource you mentioned, though, and check it out once I get round to that.

I think I might have been too negative in my description of color. Certainly the color helps in games like Tank Wars AKA Bomb in which the only distinguishing feature of the tanks is their color. I can differenciate them by it OK. One game in which it doesn't help enough is Worms, though. The wormname text is a bit too small for me and though it is of a different color to show the team in Which that worm is, the luminance difference is too small for me between the colors. Another difficult example is the colored potions of Prince of PErsia. I can tell them apart but because of the tiny size of the potions  and the rather LoFi contrast, have to stop to look for a while.

Does the background color affect your ability to see other colors? I've found via experimentation that it is pretty easy to see color differences against something dark such as black. Yet if the background is white or something bright, telling apart say black and dark blue text isn't very easy.

Ah speaking of game scripts, I've been very interested in the Doom 3 plot. And found a walkthrough with all in-game e-mail etc... pretty well described. Here you go:

http://members.iinet.net.au/~tmorrow/do … f%20Review

THe site makes heavy use of hyperlinking.

Final Fantasy is another series that interestes me. WHere did you find the scripts for them? That gaming friend of mine once spent quite a chunk of his time telling me what happens in FF7 and I gotta say that's one of the most interesting game plots I've seen so far. I'veb been thinking that it just might be possible for me to play some of the Super Nintendo final fantasy games using plenty of magnification and the ability to pause the game. It's probably all too tedious and difficult, though.

As to atmospheres I don't recall Lothlaurian in LOTR1 well enough to comment on your atmosphere comment all that much. I do have a game-related example of picking up atmospheric clues. King's Quest 6 was a real family game back when I was young and we actually managed to complete it. It was also accessible in the sense that all the speech in the game was digitized audio. Anyway, two of the charactres in the game, who got together In it, had a very similar musical motif in their screens, and I was the first person to pick that up.

On a side note, now they showed, for the first time, the new Dr. Who series here in Finland so I got a chance of finding out whose this Dr. Who <pun intended>, and what Dalek's are, for example. I didn't like the characters and series too much, though some of the good moments reminded me of Douglas Adams. My point wass that Dr. Who is pretty hard in terms of atmospheric clues and often the plots were pretty messy too. Now I have the DVs versions here but didn't back hwen the series was aired. But that's again, seriously OT.

Closing comment on Lotr,
someone used a sig on a synth forum that I found funny Lord of the Ringmodulators.

Ah new edits, I had cached an off-line copy and now have to deal with the additions, on replying, my bad. FOr some reason I've never found nes games as being very atmospheric. They usually didn't have much of a story and were limited in terms of audio i.e. only crappy 6-bit drum samples for the most part. In that regard, games with digitized audio have lots of potential. Doom 3 has an excellent, multi-layered audio ambience for instance, though I cannot play it myself.

I know exactly what you mean about Mario 64, though it was not that big a loss for me. True I've read and heard everywhere it is a great game but had learned the hard way that even Super Mario WOrld is difficult enough. it was missing yet another console game in my case. I guess it would have been analogous to finding out you cannot play Quake on the PC back then. Mind you I've never had a console and at friend's houses didn't have a chance to practice as often and as much as I'd have needed to become good at console games. That's why I know  so much about PC games having properly discovered console gaming via emluation quite late.

I think the revelations that I really can play neither Doom 3 nor Half-life 2 are some of my recent very depressing gaming experiences. I could add Worms going in 3D, the inaccessible gameplay in GP4, Mortal Kombat 4, the new One Must Fall Battlegrounds and plenty of others on this list, to. But I think the situation on the consoles is generally worse, as they don't have the homespun industry churning out small freebies and shareware titles in which, chances are, it might be 2D and it might be accessible. I've heard Wii SDKs and other game developer tools would be very cheap, but am unsure about this.

--
With kind regards Veli-Pekka Tätilä

17 (edited by Dark 2007-03-06 09:02:22)

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Well Vtatila, oncemore appologies for the long posting lag, however the performance of my production was Thursday and Friday, so for the past two days I've been well and truly out of things recovering.

Reading through all the previous posts in this topic this afternoon (a truly epic task!), I've had a thought about displays.

In gaming, I have always gone for as large a screen as possible. Of course, the vast majority of my experience has been using Tv's rather than flatscreens or monitors, which obviously produced a less clear immage.

Generally, I would find a game with charactors the size of mega man or Marrio extremely difficult to play on anything less than a 21 inch Tv (minus the two inches of boarder on the Tv, that would be a 19 inch screen).

Currently, at home, I have my mega drive and gamecube (and Snes when I'm using it), plugged into a 25 inch Tv, ----- thus a 23 inch immage, and I would not object to a larger screen. Though there would certainly come a point where the screen did indeed become too large for my limited field of vision to handle, but from experimentation I know that playing with a 30 inch image (a 32 inch tv), can be very helpful for me in seeing the smaller objects in games like Mega man, though it does require extra head movement on my part particularly in sections of games with large amounts of scrolling.

Almost all the games I play however, are games in which the important actionhappens in a comparatively small area around the charactor, or  can be effectively reduced to that area without too much trouble. In a 2D platformer for example, for navigation purposes most of the time, it's only really necessary for me to look one jumps distance around my charactor. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, such as dealing with enemies who attack from outside this range, or controling a downwards fall, but this is where logic and retrying comes in for me.

Obviously in side scrolling beat em ups, things are even easier, due to the fewer possible areas of attack as well as the very large charactors. On the other side of the coin though, games where attacks may come from more possible directions outside my field of vision can be much harder. Examples of this type might be topdown shooters like Smash Tv, robotron 2084 or Chaos engine, games like Gauntlet, or even certain flying or swimming sections of 2D games (I always dread the swimming sections of turrican for this reason).

Of course, if the angles of attack are limited by other factors, such as the earth in the boulderdash derivatives or the walls in Bomberman games, this might help.

Also, the majority of games i play are self-scrolling, so that I can progress at my own pace and deal with things as I come to them, my brother once said I'm the slowest sonic player in history, which is true, I actually find keeping up visually with the main charactor in Sonic like platformers rather difficult. I've always found auto scrolling in games rather a pest, either when it's occasionally (and annoyingly), used in 2D games liek mario, or in 2D scrolling shooters.

Speaking of scrolling shooters, sinse the majority of the threats are coming from outside the immediate vicinity of my charactor and I don't have time to move my field of vision around the screen to check where they are, things in this genre are especially difficult.

while I do occasionally play Tetris style puzlers, my favourite puzle games (and the ones i'm better at), are those that involve some kind of focus, either an actual charactor controled by the player, as in Wario's woods or Boulderdash again (assuming you count Bd as puzle), or a highlight box like the one used in Tetris Attack, always assuming of course that ssaid box isn't too small in the first place.

The point to all this, is that almost all the games I play have some sort of charactor or focal point around which the majority of the action takes place.

Given this fact, it makes sense for me to use a screen size that makes the objects within that focal area as clear as possible. I quite often completely forget about the rest of the screen, for example, I frequently walk my charactor close enough to something, ----- say a deadend passage to bring it into my field of vision, even though it's been on screen for some time (I've even been known to do this with non-scrolling games like Prince of Persia as well).

the only real exception to this rule are one on one fighting games, but even here, it's only really necessary for me to see from where my charactor is standing to where my opponent is (I can easily switch view points if the charactors switch sides), and the charactor's are so large anyway, sitting further away to see more of the screen is a viable option if necessary.

In more 3D games such as racing, or (especially), Fps, it strikes me that the focal point around the charactor is much larger in terms of the amount of screen it takes up.

for example in a racing game, it's not just  necessary to see the track in front and immediately to either side of the car, but also to see the track far enough ahead to anticipate turns, and to know where the boundaries of the track are to make certain your not veering off center. thus, in these types of games, it's neccessary to see a good deal more of the actual screen, and with a limited amount of vision, that means cutting down the screen size so that the appropriate amount of detail can fit into the limited visual field.

In practical terms, I suppose this would mean buying a moderately large screen (say 23 or 25 inch), for my pc, and then switching to windowed mode whenever playing anything 3D, but playing 2D stuff in full screen.

Now, after that exhaustively long wrant, let me actually finally give you some replies to your post.

colour wise, indeed, backgrounds with bad contrast would destroy my ability to distinguish colours. Sinse the first level of many 2D platform games is often set in a contrast wise nasty environment such as a blue sky background, I often find I have to actually get a ways into the game before I can considder details like power-up items. For example, in gunstar heroes, which has rather small, non-auto pickup power up items, I can never get a second weapon for my charactor on the first level due to the background. Luckily, you can choose to do the first four levels in any order, sso I always start with stage 2, the underground mine, specifically to gain an extra weapon.

I deffinately like your notion of an Interactive fiction style display for Nethack. Perhaps you could borrow the relative coordinates system of warprogue to show the locations of monsters and other objects with variable positions (such as items). To elaborate, no matter where your charactor is actually standing on the screen, they will always be at coordinates 0 0, at the intersection of the X and y axis'. Anything to the north or east of the char will have positive coordinates, where as anything to the south or west negative. Thus, you can tell at a glance, without any calculation or real thought, the exact distance and location of any object.

You can also tell when something is in direct line of site (and line of attack), as it will either have a coordinate with a zero, or have coordinates with double numbers such as 3 minus 3 if it's on a diagonal (in the case of 3 minus 3, a diagonal south east of your char).

With a bit of simple maths over a couple of turns you can even work out movement rates this way. While I imagine an absolute coordinates system, just giving the coordinates of your char and everything else would be easier to program, I always find that sort of system slightly more clunky to use, particularly when working out what is on a diagonal line from their charactor.

I will admit though, my spacial memory and abilities with distance etc when only looking at something one square at a time are probably not half as good as those of people with no vision at all, ----- I find even something as symple as othello or battleships difficult when only examining the board one square at a time.

Of course, you'd have to combine a coordinates system with some fairly good distance and directional information about your surroundings in the If style output, but I don't think this would be too hard. As I said, I found warprogue completely playable only using the relative coordinates and the sonar, which gave your char's distance to the nearest wall in the specified direction, though I will admit that it wasn't exactly the fastest way of playing.

Your sound idea is certainly intreaguing, especially when combined with the text. Something similar has been done in the partly audio, partly text submarine combat simulation game Lone wolf (nothing to do with the gamebook series). the game is shareware, but you can play the first two missions which should give you a pretty good idea of how things work. there is even a hal map file for the game, though sinse V3.5 the developers have added direct text output to Ms sapi, which I actually find preferable to use sinse the game is built around it and has several features such as automatically stopping the real time in game clock while sapi is speaking. You can get the game here:

http://www.gmagames.com/

for a quicker look at the game, various people have recorded audio demonstrations and reviews. You could try the www.Audiogames.net website for instance, or there is a complete audio walkthrough of all 17 standard missions which shows of the features of the game very well available here:
http://asmodean.net/

While i do admit that as an interactive fiction fan, a proper Parza would be nice for Nethack, I think if all the display issues could be ironed out, learning the Nethack commands would be a good deal less arduous.

As far as plot goes, quite a few audio games have included explanations of accessibility features as part of the game story, sometimes very well, sometimes imho with slightly questionable success.

In shades of doom for example, it's explained that all the navigational look commands such as speaking the size of a room, or warning you of passage turns are part of the E-v-a, electric vector analyser, a devise necessary for finding your way in the dark. Even the minimal in game white on black block graphics are apparently the belt display of the Eva.

This seems quite reasonable to me, given the setting of shades which is both futuristic and incredibly dark (your even equipped with an Alien's style sonar motion tracker for targiting enemies).

On the other hand, I'm not quite as certain that having your co-pilot bellowing "Gravel!" or "Hard right" in the Topspeed 2 audio racing game I mentioned sits quite as well with established reality.

who cares though, the game is stil fun, ----- or would be accept for my abysmal driving skills ;D.

I agree that it's harder to get an atmospheric game when the plot, and the audio isn't of the best quality, but I have known it to happen. One particular example of this was when i first played through Metroid II on the gameboy. I actually got seriously freaked out by the last area of the game, sinse it features audio that includes some extremely nasty A-tonal things that should just not! be done to Synths. Also, in any Metroid game, fighting off the Metroids themselves can be fairly intense.

By the time I get to the end of any Mm game, even one of the Nes ones, I'm usually fairly immotionally engaged with what's going on. Once at four in the morning I managed to wake my parents with my yells of triumph at finally! defeating the last boss to Mega man X 5, ----- who even given my limited visual perceptions looked fairly terrifying ----- or did to me anyway, though that could've been the music. Unfortunately, given the extremely dysmal ending to X 5, I then spent the entire creddit sequence feeling depressed!

but to get back on track here, for gamescrips I will either try to find a dedicated fan site, or look on Gamefaqs. unfortunately the quality of some of the scripts on gamefaqs can vary, particularly with those annoying people who don't write about actions (there is an Ff6 script that really! annoys me in this respect). Sinse some of the material I have is from sites that have been taken down or is otherwise unavailable, I'd be glad to send you some stuff off list.

The Mega man network site: http://megaman.retrofaction.com/ used to be very good indeed for everything mega man related, Scripts, manuals, very good Faqs and even some rather interesting plot analyses, I even used to hang around their forum  occasionally, before the mm series went into 3D or onto the Ds.

Unfortunately they seem to have been going through a site redesign for the last year! and all their material seems to have vanished (though fortunately I've saved just about all of it), but I'd stil advise you to check their site occasionally for anything new. In the mean time, I can send you coppies of their stuff offlist as well if you like.

As to final fantasy, a friend of mine actually played through all of 7 with me, so I'm fairly familiar with the plot (when I was 14 I even tried novelizing it). I played through a couple of other games with her as well, such as resident evil and Xenogears, which was deffinately fun, and it now means that I can cope with a mediocre script. The FF7 one on Gamefaqs isn't too bad (there's an exceptionally good plot synopsis there as well), but I have heard rumers that knocking about the net somewhere is a large, full scale film script transcription of the Ff7 dialogue, complete with notes of camera changes and lots of description. Thus far though, I haven't managed to find it.

I have however got an exceptionally good script for Final Fantasy 8 (thanks to some googling), which is very complete, and great on description. Let me know if you'd liek that one as well.

suggesting gaming top tens might indeed be difficult, especially sinse i now realize how much of what I do gaming wise is down to experience (I would've deffinately suggested super Metroid, but now I'm not so sure).

also, I have been known to go to fairly major lengths to play games. I remember that in order to play mega man Zero, I had to use a Faq, a gamescript, and actually construct myself a heavily anotated item list with various pieces of information about the in game items that i gathered from a number of Faqs. Sinse the game featured about 80 different items of 21 different types, all only distinguishable by text descriptions and their position in the inventory, I'll admit that it wasn't easy, ----- even the gameplay is reguarded as some of the hardest in the entire Mm series!  As you can imagine, I was extremely pleased when I completed the game with a one hundred percent item count. what's particularly nice is that sinse you can start a new game on the same saved file you finished the game in, with all the non-plot related items, I can now just bash through the game whenever I like without worrying about item locations or use.

You mention Mk 4 as not being accessible. I've not personally played 4, but Mk 5 aka Mk Deadly alliance is one of only two gamecube games I actually own.

I will admit, I don't find the game quite as accessible as Soul calibur. all the charactors have the same voice, the graphics are uniformly extremely dark so nothing stands out (there is a boss who is made particularly evil by this), and unless my opponent changes to a weapon style with an easily visible weapon like a sword, it's sometimes quite hard to tell what their doing.

On the pluss side though, extensive sounds are used for special moves, it's not possible to fall out of the ring, (making 3D positioning completely pointless), and it's even possible to tell when the charactor is performing a combo symply by the rythm of the hit sounds ----- though on a personal note, I don't find the dile a combo system used in the later Mk games all that enspiring from a gameplay point of view, sinse it turns the game into what is effect a rythm action game. there is also an extensive faq for the game with all text coppied out (even the loading screens are described), which certainly helps, especially in single player story mode.

while I don't find the game quite as accessible, ----- or indeed as fun, as soul calibur 2, it's certainly marginally entertaining. It's just a shame that in the sequal, Mk 6 akaMk deception, somebody had the bright idea of turning the single player adventure mode into a third person adventure game.

while I certainly can't play usual third person 3Dgames, in a beat em up with 3D view, your always facing your opponent, and the majority of the time, it doesn't practically speaking matter where you are in the arena, ----- and even in the games where you can be knocked out of the ring, this is usually fairly obvious.

I admit, good audio is very helpful, particularly in learning 3D dodges (it doesn't matter where you dodge to, as long as you dodge!). In fact, for this reason, many completely blind people frequently play beat em ups, often extremely well against sited opponents.

It is possible of course, that sinse I started off with Street fighter and original Mk, then moved on to the limited 3D titles like Soul blade, Tekken and Virtua fighter (soul blade was my personal favourite), I've probably built up some experience in this genre as well, especially sinse my brother is a major beat em up player, so I've spent lots of time either watching or playing against him (usually getting pounded! owing to his skills at such games).

Appologies for the reeddits again, but I realized that there was actually more I wished to say here than I already had, ------ and not only is double posting extremely bad netiquette, but as I've said before, one of my giant diatribes at a time is absolutely enough in this topic.


any comments about the length of this post would make it even longer, so I'll stop before I fall into tortology.

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Hi Dark,
Don't worry about the timing in this thread. I decided to wait until I can allocate a largish chunk of my freetime for replying both in this thread and off-list in burst-mode, if you will. That took a few days and it's already way over midnight localtime, so expect typos. Well with a speech synth homonyms will go unnoticed anyway.

I still doo think our sights might be different in terms of field of vision in degrees and the accuracy as a function of distance. I find that I need to be as close to the screen as I can get to play almost any game succesfully, apart from those large beat em ups you mentioned. The optimal distance is as close as I can get which means roughly 10 cm or so, I've got a good display stand here so this is quite possible.

YOure analysis that accessible games for low-vision folks can be reduced to a small viewport around the character, to put it technically, is a fine one. I think we could start to categorize games in that dimension. Certainly for me, too, shoot em ups are the Worst as you  must have time to react to enemies and other actors even before they are in the viewable playing area i.e. viewport. To go even more abstract also the ability to stop the game and pan the viewport around, i.e. turn your head to lookat things, is very beneficial. In Prince of PErsia, which is one of the about ten or so games I've completed, seeing only a small area around the character is quite possible. Though as that game does not scroll but moves from screen to screen it means I'll have to pan my viewport with the character movement but I can control it myself so this is relatively easy. ANother benefit is that time is not often an issue, so you can stop to look around before completing say some demanding series of jumps. there are exceptions, though, such as in levle 8 in Prince of Persia 2, PC version.

I think some gauntlet like games are actually playable to me though not many. One that's great fun in split screen and in which the weapons are sufficiently powerful to get around is the PC game Cyberdogs V 1.0. Later versions and most other games in the genre, such as the Finnish Tapan kaikki (literally I'll kill you all, where I and you are implied) aren't accessible enough for me, though.

For some reason I've found I'm dizmal at Pacman, though. My field of vision in that game could be emulated by implementing a line of sight algorithm for sighted players and also emulating a very short drawing distance in the direction in which you are moving. The trouble in that game is that obviously one should be able to see where the ghosts are, even though they are not near Pacman at all.

It's funny you're of quite the opposite opinion in terms of scrolling. MAybe this comes down to taste, sight and or to which thing you have gotten used to. I don't find sonic that easy as I've only completed a few levels in both games, but enjoyed it greatly. Sonic 2 LEvel 2 has great music, for instance, I've got it here on PC and some random guy had it as a ringing tone, I currently have the Metal Mario theme in Mario 64. NES didn't have the CPU and GPU powre for the speed that some of the pipes in sonic had.

QUite a funny analogy to use the computer usability term focus as in keyboard focus in gaming. But I think that it actually applies quite well here. MAny shoot em ups Would require the player handles multiple points of foci where as it is manual and slow multiplexing for us, as the viewport needs to be panned around. MAn I gotta get rid of computing jargon, even though this is a gaming context. <smile>. Well mind you I speak English as a second language so the term focus is most familiar for me in computing, so that might explain things. Still I don't deny I enjoy applying computing terms in the real world even in Finnish. But it depends on to whom I'm talking to and where.

I think you are right in assuming that driving and 3d games would benefit from seeing a larger portion of the screen at once so smallish PC monitors might work better. FOr some reason decreasing the screensize in games doesn't have quite the same effect. I'm not sure if I agree about the need to see very far or a large chunk at once in driving.

Once you get DOS BOx up and running you should try Stunts. You can also actually play it in native XP, but the trouble here is that the timing is a bit off, keyboard slightly unresponsive and as the Sound Blaster emulation fails, it is the horrible PC speaker sound. Well my point was that the dashboard occupies a large portion of the screen so the area that needs to be Examined is rather small to begin with. Additionally, the Roads are pretty narrow and have good contrast so I don't find I have to llook left or right to see their boundaries. There are road signs that warn about most curves and even though I have to look a bit further at times, that is moving my head maybe about 5 cm or so. Naturaly other driving games that have forewarnings about curves are accessible in that regard e.g. co-drivers in rally games and most F1 tracks.

I do find I need to look around more in Wolf 3D, though, which is about the simplest and most accessible 3D shooter. The skill level is not that hard and again it runs even in XP, though without some of the FM sound effects and music. Wolf is the most accessible 3D shooter to me as the level geometry is very simple, there's no darkness, doors have good contrast against most textures and most of the ingame and menu text is large enough for me to read.

Yes I agree, I'm rather fond of the Nethack as interactive fiction idea, too. IT's greatt that the character is the origin of the coordinates in Warprogue. HOwever, I've never liked directions, even in IF, such as west, south and so on. They are absolute and I use them very littel in the real world so I always have to think, ok which way I'm facing, where's north. I'd actually like to see a relative movement system e.g. left, right, forward, back. But in interactive fiction rooms are nodes in a graph in which the player is not facing a particular direction in a room, so you cannot use fully relative coordinates. It would be doable, if we assumed that the player is facing in the direction to which he or she had to mov to get to that node i.e. room.

I agree my short term memory and ability to handle complex mental models in my head isn't that advanced, either. I'm poor at reversi AKA Othello and even in 4 in a row, the most embarassing way to lose is to fail to notice an obvious 3 piece row and fail to block it. Has happend to me more than once, when only making a half-hearted attempt. Also red and green in the real world, at least in the pieces in my set, don't have that great a luminance difference so here we go again.

Ah Lone wolf that brings me to odd associations. I listened to a sound file of the game and tried the tank COmmander game earlier finding it pretty complex. Two observations: apparently Dectalk doesn't know how to pronounce ascending, ouch, and the skill levels, such as Can I play daddy, are lifted straight out of, you guessed it, Wolf 3D. AS I also read this thread earlier and browsed Whitestick, I tried the Lone wolf series of game books. QUite impressive a start and certainly more interesting than some of the mediocre text adventures. Still, you cannot exactly play a role as in a good GURPS session in such games and I find the need to keep stats and the possibility of cheating kinda annoying. It's called good laziness in Perl circles, disliking work the computer could do and trying to automate it.

I'll dig up those scary sounds you mentioned in atmosphere and Metroid. Being an analog synth nut at heart, I often find I'm analysing synth patches from a technical point of view. Is there an official game music format and Winamp plug for Gameboy stuff?

Yes, I think it would be best to send me any game scripts off-list, if they aren't easily available. One site you should try is:
www.archive.org
They cache all kinds of Web pages and sometimes even downloads. www.microsoft.com was a much more user-friendly place back in 96, judjing by their copy of the site.

As for Final Fantasy,ah playing games with friends can be  cool, though. I've tried Civilization as a kid but failed to see the appeal of it. And later a friend of mine tried to render Europa Universalis to speech and automate some of the low-level changes. Wel that was not too good, either. Maybe strategy games are not my thing, though I followed with great interest back when my friends would play UFO Enemy Unknown and find descriptions of the aliens or their tech.

Back to FF, was your novelization any good? Well I wouldn't dare show you how my background stories in RPGs were like a couple of years back, pretty bad stuff, and in FInnish, too. Yes I'd liek that FF8 script off-list, thanks.

That full FF7 script looks good, have you seen iether of the two FF movies? One way to dig things up is Google. Just paste in a unique passage of dialog in quotes that's in the pretty beginning and often Google finds it. I've found entire books, and by hacking at urls, entire sites that way. Another good tac is to look for related content based on a filename in an HTTP directory listing.

Back to assisted gaming that same friend of mine, with whom I played Europa Universalis, who is a different guy from the other friend I've mentioned here and a diehard Mac user, also helped me to try out the Flightsim X-plane. WEll I can land and take off with help, and the mac even speaks the traffic control prompts. But it is apparent that game would require much more sight than I do have. EVen REd Baron and TIe FIghter are two difficult and I'm talking early 90s PC titles here. anyway in X-plane some of the sounds are excellent, though not very realistic. I mean I once tried flying about the fastest realworld plane there is and flying at speeds and in a style which is so wild that the physics engine computed the wings will snap off, is about the scariest SFX I've ever heard in a flight sim. The sound the wind makes at that point I mean, though it was heavily hard-clipped and doppler-shifted to heck  at that point. Another great one is the cold female voice uttering the prompt: "pull up, pull up", when you're too close to the ground. I heard that even in real planes the prompts are echoedd twice to make sure the pilot doesn't miss them.

After having read that some blind guy has actually managed to fly a realworld plane, though I'm not sure about the circumstances, I've been wondering if a screen reader could be written for X-plane. Certainly an audible readout of some of the meters and spoken feedback would be quite possible. The Sim supports plug-ins.

I think you've played much mor than I am. I mean you appear to be slightly older, have more persistance in games (Half-
life is about the only one in which I used a FAQ) and you also still play actively these days. HMm as to Mortal Kombat I ment that it was not quite as accessible as the earlier titles as it is more 3D and let's you pick up weapons. SOme of the chars are cool, admitted, but after MK2 I find most of the new stuff is basically rehashing, as it so often is in sequels. But maybe that's just me. I also miss Test Your Might in MK1.

You should definitely check out the PC 1on1 fighting game One Must Fall 2097, if you are into MK. I still think that's my favorite beat em up, though again this is as subjective as ever. OMF has one of the best manuals in a game I've ever seen, even the developres have their own mini intro section I found funny. Not to mention the fatalities, or their equivalents, have actually been documented for a change.

--
With kind regards Veli-Pekka Tätilä

19 (edited by Dark 2007-03-12 14:15:38)

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Well vtatilla, as a typical philosopher, i tend to make up random words for things as I need them, ----- henceforth this process shal be known as enjargonation! ;d.

The word "focus" just seemed correct here.

A slightly less appropriate wording though is what I said about scrolling, rereading my post I wonder if I made myself quite clear on this point.

I find games such as R-Type, Xenon 2, Swiv, Parodius, or Moon patrol difficult not only because of the angles of attack, but also because the screen is constantly moving independently of what the charactor is doing, which increases the amount of objects on screen and thus multiplies the number of focal points.

Even in 2D platformers, if this kind of auto scrolling is introduced I end up with problems, sinse not only do I have to concentrate on the area around the charactor, I also have to keep an eye on what new obstacles and hazards are coming onto the screen, especially if the timeing required is very precise.

Luckily, this kind of automatic scrolling isn't too comon in 2D platformers, though it is known to happen. Certain stages of the later Mario games (such as Mario 3 and Mario world), worked in this way, as did certain stages of James Pond 2, aka robocod.


there are even certain sections of Mega man games that have this sort of scrolling, usually in Vehicle based stages riding motor bikes or jet skees, but once or twice in normal platform stages as well.

there are only a couple of 2D platform games I can think of that made really extensive use of this irritating kind of scrolling, Wonderboy 3 Monster's laire on the mega drive, and formation Zero and Video kid on the amigar (though sinse both of those games give the character the ability to fly as well as walk, their virtually 2d scrolling shooters anyway).

As regards screen distance, ten Cm is about my usual distance as well I believe, ----- I quite recently hurt my kneck through playing rocks -n- diamonds for a long period, craning over my desk to be close to the screen. Hopefully sinse I now have a proper monitor stand, this shouldn't happen again.

I have been known to do some fairly extensive head movement in games though, and screen scanning in games, so maybe my preference for larger screens is just a difference of of technique.

As I said, I would find playing a game like Mario extremely harde on a smaller screen owing to the size of the objects.

also, sinse I have Glorcoma, avoiding eye strain has to be a very major considderation for me. I actually find that when I'm tired, doing anything visually intensive such as watching Dvd's, playing games or huge amounts of mobility becomes more difficult, ----- probably why I spend so much time reading random stuff.

I can't say I've ever particularly noticed curve indicators in racing games, ---- or at least not in the few I've tried fairly extensively such as Ridge racer or Mario Kart on the snes, ---- but maybe that's one of the reasons I'm doing so horribly badly, that and a total lack of coordination when it comes to anythinh with wheels I think.

I agree about Packman, I believe the angles of attack thing does apply to that one particularly, sinse the ghosts move incredibly fast, and can come and get you from any direction that your not protected by a wall. Also, if you don't mind a litle more meta-gaming analysis, i wonder if one of the problems with games like Packman where you can't get rid of your enemies is actually related to lack of vision.

If you have a ranged weapon, you can always use it to dispose of things outside your immediate visual focus before they can trouble your charactor. However, in something like Packman or the old avoidance based platformers such as Manic Miner, generally speaking if an enemy comes into your field of vision, you've got to leg it, and in a game with multiple moving on screen enemies like packman your jjust as likely to run into the path of another enemy sinse you can only maintain a focus around your own character and can't look at where the other on screen enemies are going.

Even if you've got only a short range weapon such as Mario's ability to jump on enemies, you can stil deal with threats one at a time as they come into your visual field, rather than having to run your field all over the place.

then of course, it does help to have a way of getting rid of threats that doesn't actually involve moving your character around too much, especially when it comes to moving your character horizontally as in sonic's attacks.

Even playing slowly, i don't find Sonic style games particularly easy, especially because there are many sections that you have! to play through at speed. I think the only sonic game I really do well with is Sonic spinball, ----- which is also the only pinball game I've really played extensively as well.

to get back to reduced viewpoints, I was recently reading a review of the Boulderdash game RoX which made me laugh, sinse the author's only complaint was that in some levels, the viewpoint was reduced to a small lit section around the character, ----- something he (I believe it was a he), found very irritating! what was quite amusing is that playing roX myself, there have been levels where I don't actually notice the reduced viewpoint, ----- sinse it's not half as reduced as my normal point of view! ;D.

As far as Gauntlet goes, I've tried the Mega drive version, but find it extremely difficult owing to the large amount of enemies and very free form angle of attack style. Also, I didn't find the contrast on some of the enemies particularly good.

i think the only top down shooter I've ever done vaguely well at is Smash Tv on the snes, sinse the contrast in the game is generally quite good, and (at least for the first world), it's possible to hide in a corner to reduce the angles of attack.

Sinse the second world introduces enemies who can take loads of damage and stil keep coming though, as well as vastly increasing the numbers of regular enemies, I've never actually managed to get further than about the middle of it, ----- even using the extra lives cheat.
One rather nice recent application I've been playing in Rocks -n- diamonds though, is a Zelda style game somebody's written for the engine. Yes! a Zelda style game written in a Bd engine, goodness knows how!

anyway, I can't usually play zelda derivatives, even the top down ones, owing to the huge amount of text required, both when it comes to talking to other characters and management of your own character's stats. also, while the dungeons tend to be fine visibility wise, some of the out door areas can be hell when it comes to luminance.

Anyway, as the Zelda game is written for the R&d system, it has almost no in game text, and though it has a fair few items, they're all auto-equipped. The entire game is also set in a dungeon, so very nice dark backgrounds as well.

the only miner difficulty I find with the thing is that some of the monsters in later sections can be pretty fast, but the R&D developer has promised that the next version of the game will come with a variable speed control which should help considerably.

I'd also agree that time is a pest when playing with a limited viewpoint. If I can, I like to play games without time or turn the timer off completely, though this isn't always possible (the timer is my only real complaint in turrican games including T2002, though in those games, running out of time luckily doesn't result in game over).

Removing the timer is another feature I like in rocks -n- diamonds. It's interesting that Many of my favourite games, like Metroid and Mega man don't use timers at all, ----- or at least, not internal game timers (accept for the escape sequences in metroid games), though as the quickman forcebeams show, there are stil sections of such games where you deffinately have to get a move on.

then again, this could possibly be a matter of personal preference as well, sinse I tend to play games in a fairly slow, methodical way, exploring as I go. One interesting example of this is Donkey Kong country, sinse given the choice I would always have Donkey kong as my main Character, sinse he's better at taking out enemies and handling barrels, where as my brother prefers diddy Kong because he likes to play through the game fairly quickly.

I think the only games that time doesn't really make any difference to me are the various beat -em -ups, ---- either one on one or side scrolling, sinse as has already been said, panning the viewpoint around isn't particularly necessary in such games.

to continue about bet em ups for a second, the weapons pick up thing might indeed be a miner pest in 3D, sinse it would actually mean paying attention to the 3D position in the arena. Mortal Kombat 6 also introduced various arena based elements, like death traps and distroyable background into the games, but owing to the hole adventure game thing I mentioned, I don't know whether I'll be getting Mk6 to find out, sinse a lot of stuff in the game is accessed through the adventure mode.
I'd generally agree about the Mk games, I think 2 is stil one of my favourites of the series. From a gameplay point of view I do rather dislike the automated dile a combo system employed in the later games, and as far as plot goes things did seem to get slightly rediculous as the series goes on.

Reading a recent Mk series plot faq, I was highly amused to see that all the characters who died in Mk 5 and Mk 6 seem to come back in Mk7, ---- unlike Street fighter, Soul calibur or other series, it really does seem that despite all the gorey deaths, midway can't actually kill off any characters unless their really! unpopular.

"Midway wins! popularity!"

Lol.

to get back on topic here, I find Gma tank commander to be one of the more difficult applications of the gma engine, sinse it is very complex in terms of audio, with many enemies and other objects which need to be tracked simultaniously.

to get back to Packman for a second, I actually find the audio variations of Packman both easier to play and more fun than the visual ones, sinse there's quite an exploration element involved. I think my favourite application of such a game is Dyna man by Draconis Entertainment, sinse it also features variable maze design (even a maze editer).

They also have a couple of audio pin ball titles, which are very cool.

I've just realized, that like the audio games net forum this board allows use of Bb code, but I'll stil stick to giving the addresses rather than constructing links just for consistancy's sake if nothing else. The address for Draconis is:

http://www.draconisentertainment.com/

I wonder if stunts is the same game we used to have on the amigar? i can't precisely remember the name, but that one certainly involved stunt tracks with loops, jumps etc, and had a track editer as well. Owing to my general awfulness at any racing game, i never did too well, ----- though plunging hundreds of feet off a track and then being lifted back onto it by a crane was mildly entertaining.

I deffinately think there's a gameboy pluging for Winamp somewhere, but sinse I don't actually own many Gb games, I could generally find the soundtracks knocking about as Mp3 format on sites like Galbadia hotel or Metroid or Mega man fan sites.

I'm not actually sure how atmospheric you'd find the Gb metroid stuff, sinse I suspect a lot of the atmosphere comes from the maze like gameplay, ---- music is a good deal more scary when you've just walked into a room and within only a few seconds something has latched onto your head and is sucking away your health very quiickly!

As I've played a good deal of interactive fiction and read quite a few faqs, I'm probably used to thinking in terms of absolute cumpus directions. This is certainly something I'll have to get used to if I start playing 3D games. I'd stil go for a mix of absolute and relative directions and distances to represent the information in something like Nethack, sinse you have to represent things that are very much out of the character's immediate view, ----- like those lines of monsters you mentioned.

I'm glad you like the Lw books, one thing I rather enjoy is that they do make a continuous story with developement of your character, ---- along with his skills etc throughout the series.

in my turn I've had a go at Alter ego, ---- it actually reminds me of one of those situational psychology quiz things that measures your personality by response. I do find the writing in it rather entertaining though.

As I was saying to somebody on Audiogames.net the other day, one of the things i really enjoy in games is interacting with the game's world, it's plot, history and atmosphere. while probably the most dynamic way to do this is with a human Gm, a good interactive game can come close for me. This is probably why I've gone to such lengths to play certain more plot oriented games like metroid fusion.

Even in a beat -em -up, I like to know about the background, and enjoy game atmosphere (assuming there is one of course).

As to my game experience. As I've said, I'm fairly abysmal at anything driving, ---- that counts space sims as well.

You mention my age, well, sinse I was born in 1982, I suppose I was very much of the generation that grew up playing games as a fairly major thing. As I said, i used to be quite into main stream gaming, and experienced a lot of the hipe over various game releases, ---- many of which I could actually play. Also, sinse we owned an amigar, there were always new Public domain or demo games available, not to mention various hacks and such, my best friend at that point was well and truly into that sort of thing.

while growing up I frequently played through games with my brother or friends, ----- often games I couldn't have played on my own such as secret of Monkey island.

We'd also often play cooperative or Vs games as well, ---- especially beat em ups or games like bomberman.

One particular game I remember in this respect was the highly grusome Rpg beat -em -up Hybrid Moonstone, where my friend would handle the map or equipment screens for me when it was my turn, but I got to do all the actual monster fighting myself.

Thinkin about Moonstone actually, ----  that would make a pretty impressive audio game!

to anticipate you slightly here Vtatilla, if you've not come across Moonstone before, you can find out all about it, ---- and download a copy which would run with Winuae, right on this site:

http://www.moonstonetavern.co.uk/

I remember getting new Snes games as a fairly regular christmas or birthday present.

I suppose this is why I'm so irritated about the rise in highly complex 3D gaming that started with the release of the playstation in 1995, and am rather stubborn when it comes to playing games.

Before this post sinks completely into nostalgic childhood memories I'd better stop.

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Hi dark,
Wow, a big post once again. Take your time with this. In addition to your comments and some new experiences I'll consider reintroducing some of the tech discussion we moved off-list here. The reason is that some of it is related to accessibility and the rest could be generally useful, provided that someone else is tryihng to get these old DOS apps and emulators working.

Ah now I finally see what you mean about automatic scrolling. In addition to Xenon 2 on the PC the first such title that comes to mind is the Apogy game Raptor, which might be a freebie these days. I agree, scrolling independently of the player's actions means you mustcope with timing constraints and thus hav less time to look around. I second you on timeouts in games. ALthough it is not usually a tight constraint at all, I've never liked it in Mario or in turn based games such as Worms. Turning the timing requirement off means one has more time to, once again, examine the environment which happens in small pieces anyway.

I do wish MOrtal KOmbat had a way to turn off the timing, though. Often when I play some less familiar character, such as Kano in MK1, I'll have to spend some time to get reacquainted with some of the special moves. If both players have to do that , a large chunk of the first round is wasted in no KOmbat at all,.

Regarding vision my eyes get tired in long playing, too, and I might even have short-term loss of focus if I play very much. That's something that happens to me in real life from time to time though so it is nothing to worry about. Still I think playing computer games for me is about the most demanding use of sight so far. I find that when I'm navigating around I do use mostly conventional blind techniques and the white stick, too.

As for screen size, here's a funny observation about it in MMX. But before  I tacle that, lemme tell me about the game. I tried the SNes version of the original Megaman X and think the game is actually much more accessible than I recalled. The first stage is not easy, sometimes I have trouble telling which objects on the screen clip, i.e. can be collided With, and which are purely in the background layer. But it is still well much more playable than I recalled and I might consider seriously getting into the MMX game, using save states as in NES Megamans. That gaming friend of mine hyped that MMX is a truely unique game compared to the early Megaman's and without his praise I probably would never had given MM2 a serious enough try to actually complete the game on the PC.

I also played around with the layers in MMX and it turns out most of the background and the clipping objects and platforms ar layer 1. SO if you remove that one, it will also get rid of almost everything apart from the characters, oh well. But then again, the layers in the SNes were used to separately manage sprites, give them a z-order (3rd dimension towards screen) and a priority in drawing, I believe, so this is more a programmer concept than anything purely intentional and accessibility related. I recently learned how layers work in graphicss programs, which took me a long time to discover conceptually.

Even the MMX plut seems cool, if I'l start playing it big time, your FAQs will certainly help in getting the story in the game. Though I'l probably try to avoid tips on getting the stages in the right order, as figuring it out on my own could be more fun. That gaming friend of mine read me the intro, though we had to pause the Snes9X with the alt key from time to time. Kind of cool that they borowed asimov's first law of robotics. NOt that this would be the first nor the last time that's done.

There are a number of interesting aspects of MMX and sight. This is using a 17 inch CRt screen at about 10 cm:
First of all, I find that the text they use in the intro screen is about the smallest type I can read arbitrary text in . I can occasionally read stuff that's even smaller, still, but have to do some vague and fuzzy matching .e.g. this word starts with something that looks liek M and the last word is FX or something liek that, as an example of a hardware virtual analog synth screen. Anyway, the MMX font is really quite small, I have to read it tediously a character at a  time about at 5 cm, and would find it helpful if ai different font with less spacing between characters would hav been used. Still it is doable, nice. I would nevre use this small a font given a choice though. I'm typing this at a 10 pt font 7x full-screen magnification here on the PC:

It also follows I can read the main menu choices but regarding color and contrast, are you able to follow which item is selected in the options sub menu which is the last item in the main menu? The text in that is very small to begin with. And Even though the selection is highlighted with color, its luminance diffference to the main text is very very small to me. So this is an example in which the hue diffference conveys very little information to me.

I also like the MMX music. YOu can get most SNES tunes here:

http://www.zophar.net/zsnes/spc/

My favorites gotta be the ARmored armadillo stage and though it relies mostly on harmony, the simplel yet effective Dr. Light capsule theme. Nice and smooth strings given the compression, little amount of memory and mostly single-sampled waves in the good old Amiga Mod tradition. Sure sampled electric guitars are cheezy in MMX, but I think one of the newbie mistakes in trying to listen to NES music is associating the parts with real instruments and looking for authenticity. I'd say the same goes for the SNES quite often though its sampled audio is much better and it even has 8 sample channels. Understanding the technical aspects such as subtractive synthesis fundamentals and the Nes registers helps a lot. I've even got a page about Megaman music here:

http://www.student.oulu.fi/~vtatila/megaman.html

Kind of cool, it is the first page if you type in megaman music and hit I'm feeling lucky in Google.
Not sure how much game music has affected my own compos, though, apart from preference for certain types of sounds and trying to manage with mostly monophonic parts. This is getting all the more OTter but while I'm at this, here's some of my stuff by category:

http://www.student.oulu.fi/~vtatila/my_music.html

You may comment here, off-list or nowhere, up to you really. I don't think very highly of these myself but think my composition method might be unique. I won't even mention that's off-list, though.

anyway one point I'd like to make about the Megaman X game here is the Screen size. You mentioned that the fact that enemies and other sprites are much larger in MMX is an advantage for you. WHile that is true to a certain extent for me, as well, I find that part of why MMX is so hard to play is that the field of vision around MEgaman itself is even tinier than it is in the NES games. So I might benefit from the ability to get an even smaller screen here.

I've been trying to coax SNES 9X into a nice unstretched  video mode with less than stellar results. I can either select the stretch option after which the image takes the whole screeen which is a maximized window in this case. Or I can choose not to stretch, Which results in a very small display at the center of the window. Changing the resolution in display preferences does not seem to affect the size of this unstretched window as I suspect it would. I wonder what's wrong.

We tried playing the Snes version of MOrtal KOmbat with that gaming friend of mine. One problem in a number of multiplayer games is that my head might be on the way meaning I don't get as optimal a viewing position as I normally would. The other is the keyboard. MOrtal KOmbat is quite playable with my old DOS machine as it has the numpad.- But just imagine binding a dozen keys on both sides of a tiny laptop keyboard, oh well. ANother problem is that they cut costs in new PC keybords. the scanning is done in segments, I think, meaning that it cannot reliably tell when a large number of keys is pressed down at any given time. IF you hit the limit, it does not accept new keystrokes until you release some. This has lead to some interesting effects in 3 to 4 multiplayer cavern flying games like AUts, we call the effect where a dead player locks down the keyboard after his or her death the beyond the grave effect, though in FInnish you can use it as a noun.

So one creative solution to that multiplayer problem is to give each player a deddicated keyboard and screen using the SNES 9X feature net play. That's good in theory but in practice it is a disaster. Though the games have the same notion of time initially, meaning random number generators are seeded using the same time in seconds and proeduce the same sequence of random numbers from that point on on both machines, keeping netplay code in sync and recovering from an out-of-sync situation is a common problem in open-source software and a non-trivial thing, too. THe result is that after some minutes of playing some keyboard input might not be delivered to all the machines after which they go their own ways, even though future keyboard input still gets delivered.

It's quite funny actually, playing MK, and finding that the second round goes very well as the opponent doesn't seem to block much. THen you hear, from one machine, "Johny Cage wins" and just seconds later "Rayden wins" from the other machine. It made me laugh heartily when It first occurred to me.

As to what's so hard about netplay, you cannot predict through which machines, in which order and how long it will take for the data packets to travel across the network as the situation varies dynamically. You can either use TCP in which threeway handshaking and lots of acknowledgement packets, whose essential message is I got it, get sent from machine to machine. or you can use UDP, which is lighter but in which there are no guarantees that your packet might not be lost on the wway. So, Would anyone happen to know a SNES emulator with better netplay code?

Hmm about beat em ups, what platform and version would be a good intro to that Saga? A game music and retro gaming fan from the States, with whom I've been exchanging e-mail for a couple of years, damns the whole MK phenomenon and says Street Fighter rocks. I played it a bit on my friend's Amiga ages ago but never got into it not to mention the horrible digital joysticks, though music and SFX was good compared to the PC.  I have also bought the PC version but it totally sucks. I mean, the music is crappy FM, it skips frames even on fast machines meaning choppy animation, and the game crashes randomly stating: stack overflow. It's a common problem with little memory and static datastructures OR HEAVILY RECURSIVE FUNCTION CALLS, but only makes sense to the coders and is a type of error from which it is hard to recover gracefuly.

Too bad I cannot play Zelda here, either, largely due to the same problems you have with it. I've heard lots of good things about its newer incarnations. I cannot truely play Final Fantasy either, as even if I could stop the game to make sense of the landscape with magnification or walk around randomly, getting through all the text would be hugely tedious and slow. I've heard the newer FF games have voice-acting, which does help in that regard. My sighted little sister, whose got the PS/2, used to play Kingdom hearts in it and In game the dialog in the cutscenes helped me to follow the plot.

I've been thinking the FAQs you sent off-list might help in this regard. FOr KH, for instance, the whole dialog has been faithfully written down. And if you stick pieces of it double quoted in Google its result set contains other sites with similar material.

The FF scripts are nice, too, for getting the plot. But they hav been written with fans of the series in mind which isn't that nice. It means none of the looks of characters are described, and that's info that often the Wiki articles lack as well e.g. here we have an image of X in stead. Another annoying habbit is cutting corners, summarizing the main point briefly in stead of launching into the dialog and detailed scene descriptions. I think movie scripts are better in this regard and I've read some I have not been able to see here in Finland for one reason or another.

Of course greatly detailed strategy faqs are still heavily appreciated. I don't think the MK FAQs you sent are that structured, though. WHere might I find out, say, how the backstory of Scorpion was described in the first MK game? I think I might be able to read the text ingame, but it goes so fast that I don't have time, before the demo kicks in, hmm, kicks, pun intended.

I'll check out the audio pacman at some point. As to pinballs, I would recommend the old, scrolling pinball game for DOs called Psycho Pinball. I'll see if I can find it for you off-list. I do have a huge pile of floppies lying around somewhere.

yes I think Amiga has a port of Stunts, too. You should retry the PC version at some point. I wonder if it would help you to have a graphics card with TV out on it. THat way, if the PC can scale all resolutions to fullscreen you could use the TV screne for playing. I'm not sure if it works like that as I have never used one myself.

Yes, I was also into hypd PC games at one point, and still follow the local mags here, though most of their reviewed games are unplayable to me. Moonstone rings a distant bell somewhere but a WIkipedia search turned up more info. I Wonder how playable the PC version might be these days. It is also an early detective novel, according to the disambiguation page.

And now the tehcc stuff additions:
You said that new MAme games don't show up in the available list though they are available via all games. MAme is stupid enough to have to scan its rom FOlder for new files to detect themm, which can take some time. It stores the previously scene set of files in a text file named MAME32ui.ini, in case you ever need to manually edit that. TO make MAME to scan for new games at start up, go in the options menu. Under interface options on the game selection group there's a checkbox called search for new games at startup.

Another way is to manually initiate the process  via the file, audit all games menu entry. that latter thing will also notice ROm files that have been deleted manually in the mame ROM Folder, whose location, is customizable, I think. YOu could even run it off some read-only media like CD-ROM.

You mentiond running the Wolf 3d setup and encountering a blue box which cannot be gotten succesfully through via guessing or enter. Welcome to the world of wonderful keybord and text based DOS user interfaces that look like dialogs and menus but are just colored special characters. TO make that setup accessible, you should press alt+enter to go back to windowed mode in stead of full screen. Additionally, I recommend turning off the tool bar, you should find it in the system menu accessible via alt+space in a window. In windowed mode you can read the window contents using virtual focus as it looks like just another console app to HAL. You can also use the setup menus assuming that the selection, which is just a colored bar, is initially on the first item. us Use arrows and enter to navigate and letters to type in general. By following these instructions and the on-screen stuff you should be able to install the game.

If you find it especially difficult or hit some other problem in the process, drop me a quick mail off-list. I can also send you the installed version directly. That's quite doable, as it is a DOS app, can still be freely moved around, copied, backed up etc... That's great about DOS games, WIndows apps with the registrey and all the path har-dcoding and shared DLLs, have lost plenty of flexibility from the user point of view. The Mac hides such things better. But I'd better stop here before I get into the wonderful horrors of DOS memory management and the good old times when games fit on a floppy or two and didn't have bug fix releases, <smile>.

PS: Seems we are almost the same age. I was born in December 1983.

--
With kind regards Veli-Pekka Tätilä

21 (edited by Dark 2007-03-17 15:40:03)

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

OOOOh dear, I think the posts in this topic are growing on an exponential curve, sinse any potentially solved answer seems to generate three or four new questions, it rather remind me of growing amoeba and viruses. Hmmmm, that's a cool thought! the viral theory of dialogue, I'll have to save it for a philosophical paper later.

Anyway, to begin on the rather futile task of answering some questions, the Mortal Kombat faqs are indeed extremely unstructured, partly because Midway have this annoying habit of releasing prequals, or retroactively changing the plot of earlier games in later ones.

Out of the two guides I sent you, (also available here: http://www.gamefaqs.com/coinop/arcade/game/583599.html ), the plot guide is by far the best written of the two, sinse the writer of that one can actually explain things in a reasonable way, ------ and use grammar! It's just a shame the plot faq is slightly behind when it comes to new game info.

the writer of the history guide however, while not the world's best writer, is a wonderful coppier and compiler of other info, such as in game character bios and endings, game intro text, and even the old commics that Midway produced for the Mk games (though I think they're available in the plot faq as well). Reading the commics is actually great for me sinse my brother read them back in the day.

If you do a search in the faq for "Mk1 bio" you should be able to find the info, ditto for searching for "Mk1 ending" or the same for Mk2.

Alternatively you can search for star character's name to get to the character's individual entry with all his/her bios etc. Searching for star mortal kombat or star mortal kombat 2 will also get you streight to the transcripts of the intro sequences.

I agree about the descriptions of things in faqs, I've found very few that are really adequate for description, ----- though there are a couple. quite often though this happens in movelists or similar rather than in actual faqs, such as those developed by Mzilinski (as I said, these even describe the loading screens).

As to the keyboard issues, i think I'm going to wait until i can find a really good joystick for my Pc before I try serious beat em ups, sinse doing those sorts of motions on a keyboard wouldn't be easy for me, and that's apart from all the various issues with keys pressed at the same time.

now as to street fighterI would deffinately agree that it's one of the best 2D beat em up series going in terms of stratogy, and certainly has been fairly land mark in beat em up developement I think. the computer Ai is also reasonable, and cheap tactics such as just jump kicking your opponent to death (which often works in Mk 1 and 2), won't work at all in a reasonable version of Street fighter 2.

My only problem with the series, is that as things went on through successive versions of Street fighter 2 the alpha games and Sf 3, the games got more and more complex in terms of stratogy, and more and more difficult for the casual gamer to just pick up and play.

While you can probably get various street fighter games on mame, I'd actually recommend you try a decent console port, sinse these added several extra features like variable speed and difficulty, and the ability to turn off the timer (this also goes for Mk console ports I believe), which made things easier. Several also added other modes of play which improve the game as well.

I'm afraid I've never played the Pc port of Sf 2, but the Amigar port of the original Sf 2 world warrior was a horrible, horrible port of the game. Of course, sinse I was generally used to the original Arcade version, I probably have fairly high standards in this respect.

In the amigar version, the sound was rather nasty, the backgrounds were deffinately far too pastel, but most of all the control was a nightmare!

The hole point of the strategical system in Sf 2 was that you have light, medium and heavy attacks, both normal and special, which all range in speed and damage. instead of doing something likee implimenting a partial keyboard driven interface, the amigar completely missed out the medium attacks catagory and tried to have everything else done via the joystick, which just didn't work! many characters lost moves, the strategical system was fairly distroyed ---- things were just all around bad!

Us gold, the makers of Amigar streetfighter even made some horrible elementary mistakes, such as forgetting that your character should move back when performing a throw. this meant that you could actually cheat by playing any character with a fairly close range throw such as E honda and continually throwing your opponent into a corner.

As to what port you should try, I've got quite a soft spot for Street fighter 2 turbo edition on the Snes, sinse it was the first snes game I ever played! You might be better trying super Sf2 though, sinse not only does it have more characters, but features such as giving each character the choice of 8 possible colours (highly handy in light stages), and modes like tournament mode make things quite interesting.

the only other Sf 2 port i can think of that you might be able to emulate is the mega drive version, which was okay, but imho not up to the Snes, particularly in matters of sound, music and control.

Now as to Mega man X, the first stage is actually the worst in the game in terms of 3D effects. I think because it was Capcom's first Mega man game on the Snes, they rather wanted to make a big impression with the first stage. If you've met Dr. light though, you'll have hopefully got past that.

I'm afraid I can't help you in the options screen, sinse the only options in the original X game were various controler config settings and the ability to listen to the music and sound effects.

I never tend to bother playing with the controller options in most games, sinse I generally found it easier to get used to the defaults than try and muck about with them.

As to the intro, even on my 23 inch Tv, I stil find the letters of the text run together far too much to be visible to me. i can tell where each word is, and occasionally guess that here is a number one or a word ending in an L, but that's probably about it, and that's fairly normal in games i've found.

Luckily though, the script for X was highly useful in this regard.

One highly useful thing i found in the Mmx games, is that charged shots can be used at close range to take out enemies above or below, which i found highly handy particularly when it comes to enemies like those annoying bats.

I think in terms of graphics, I'd say MMx2 is slightly better than X1, sinse it generally has sharper graphics with slightly better luminance, and no annoying snow or sky stages. Playing the games chronologically in terms of plot is generally a good thing though.

One quite interesting thing in MMx, is that all the enemies, ----- not just the bosses, have backstories. In the archive I sent you, you should find a file (the file I've called X1 info), with collected japanese source book information which was deffinately a good read and increased my enjoyment of the game by giving extra background detail.

As far as the game music goes, while I don't exactly know much about synths or how they work, I've never had a problem with the snes's sampling, I've just regarded most of the instrumentation as sort of representational. so, by the time you get to things like Smash brothers Melee on the gamecube (visually difficult but musically lovely), and can here lots of game music played orchestrally, it sort of confirms the way I was thinking of the music on the snes.

The Dr. Light theme is one of my favourites (it reappears very nicely in X 5), as is Storm Eagle's stage and some of the later themes such as the ending music and music to some of the final stages.

My favourite site for spc music is the homepage of snesamp, I'm not sure how it stacks up against Zophar's domain in terms of stuff, but I know they've got over 800 game soundtracks there. you can find it at:

http://www.snesmusic.org/v2/

As to the music to Mmx though, I actually have mp3 versions of the soundtracks to almost all of the X and zero series, and many of the classic series.

I'm only misssing some of the more obscure titles such as the mega man gameboy and gameboy colour games and the two arcade games.

Just a miner correction, At risk of sounding like a rather sad Mega man fan, the main character in the X series is X, not Mega man or even Mega man X. though he was built by Dr. Light, he's officially a different character, and (as you'll see if you play the later games), he actually has quite a different personality to Mega man as well.

the plot of the X series certainly improves from the first game onwards I think, in fact I'd say tha X4, sinse it involved anime cutscenes and quite a few speech samples is one of my favourite games ever in terms of plot, ----- despite the rather cheesy acting at various points.

thanks a lot for the tech advice, I've already tried the business with mame and it's working fine, I'll have a look at wolf 3D soon.

I might have some more faqs knocking around that could be helpful to you, such as movelists for Streetfighter and Mk so I'll send them along. One of them (which I actually only found quite a while after I first finished the game), is a faq for Mega man X in absolutely excruciating! detail! ----- it's about 170 K of text I believe. It might however be handy if you run into difficulties, particularly in sections which are visually troublesome like the first stage.

thinking about Movelists, I'd say these are probably the hardest faqs to read, sinse how much sense they make while using Hal will very much depend upon the notation system the faq author has decided to use to explain how to upull off the various moves. There is a now standardized notation system for beat em ups which is actually quite readable most of the time, though occasionally I've come across faq authors who either don't know about it, or angrily reffuse to use it for reasons best known to themselves.

As to moonstone, I've read the novel, but the game is not related ;d. I'm not precisely sure how accessible the game would be, sinse it depends quite often on item and equipment screens that employ large amounts of text, the symbols on the map are fairly small, an  there are even occasional dialogue sequences or discussions with shop keepers.

I can certainly recommend playing it multi-player though. In fact if I can get Dosbox working, I might download the pc version of the game especially for when my friends come round, ----- nothing like a bit of coffee and disemboulment to get a party going.

As to the Tv video card, sinse my Pc is also my main Dvd watching apparatus (hence my rather excessive amounts of speakers), I'd actually like to buy mysela f a really seriously good screen. I'm hoping that by the time I move out of university and get a flat, Hd screens will be available at a relatively reasonable price. I could then get one of those and plug my Pc ----- and maybe my gamecube, into it, which would provide not just a large, but also a inhumanly clear picture.

Of course, sinse the video connections on my older consoles would probably not be compatible with it, I'll probably stil need a Tv of some sort as well.

As to me just talking about buying an Hd screen, I am by no means rich, I do however have a few savings and my parents are fairly good at finding reasonably cheap deals.

sinse at the moment though I've got fairly major space and plug constraints, that will certainly have to wait.

Now,I'd probably better stop before this post gives birth to yet more questions and answers, and thus grows even longer!

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Hi Dark,
Replying out-of-order, buffered , to throw more funny half-relevant computer jargon here.

AH yes, I've noticed the size of this thread does fluctuate quite a bit and have even measured posts informally in screenfuls, though that's an artificial and machine dependent thing on the Web. Seriously, I don't think the growth is quite exponential as we tend to prune the tree of questions and answers and optimize replying pretty heavily. But someone referred to this phenomenon of one root message in a thread spawning multiple independent sub-threads as a fractal structure. I lack the math skills to know what exactly is and is not a fractal anyway, and in fact judjing by the sightees verbal descriptions of them fail to see their beauty. But that's once again, seriously OT,

Speaking of the TV screens, why do you want to invest in the Hd  stuff. Many legacy games don't support it anyway and I doubt that with our sights there would be little or no apparent diffference anyway. Of course, you might be sighted-friendly but that costs money, <smile>. I can actually see individual colored pixels at pretty high resolutions but have never found, even at 320x200 on PC screens, pixelation being a problem. Unless you count trying to read very small text magnified.

As to something that's quite on topic, I recently tried out a Guitar Hero clone for the PC called Frets on FIre. The idea of playing virtual guitar is the same as in quest for fame. In stead of just strumming in the tempo, though, you'll have to pick the correct string out of five using the keyboard and have a separate button for trigging notes. To keep the game playable to the non-guitarist in the general public, the song is not a one to one mapping between actual notes on the guitar and in the song. SOmetimes they are chords, short sequences or components of lead licks. There's no need to simulate vibrato, tremolo, pull-offs and such.

Rather than playing MIDI data with a good Sound Font, like Quest for fame used to do, the approach here and in Guitar Hero is based on multi-tracking. THere's a song track without the guitar part and trigging the notes in time and getting their durations right plays snippets of the separate guitar track on top. WHile not flexible, this arrangement does sound fairly realistic. So a perfect score means playing back the guitar track exactly as it has been recorded.

As to the game, it's really a proof of concept these days and using the keyboard is not quite as fun as a dedicated guitar controller like in Guitar Hero, I sppose. There are only three freebie songs: the vocals in the first are annoyingly weak and not to my liking though mind you I like hardrock and blues, at all, the second is a fairly conventional rhythm guitar instrumental and the third and final one about solos. ONe funny thing is that there are lots of analog-like and sampled synth textures in the background, even portamento, arpeggiator riffs that would be more at home in an electro or dance piece if you ask me. The good thing is that you can create your own songs, if you have separate guitar and audio tracks and record the timing info in MIDI. The thing can also import songs from Guitar Hero so I might consider getting that game for the playstation. Even if I could not necessarily play the original, I could still reuse the tunes. ANother gripe is that unlike in Quest for Fame or Even GUitar Hero this game has no plot or aim. You can perfect your scores and compete but that's about it. More info at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frets_on_Fire

And now the good, bad and ugly in terms of accessibility:
First of all, I think Quest or Fame has had the easiest to see note display so far just a scrolling display of vertical bars where you're supposed to hit notes. If you can zoom in on this using IE7 (ctrl and the mouse wheel), here is a screenshot from Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Qff_rekganim.gif

The display in Frets is quite different. It is in 3D and has the notes scrolling towards you in pretty much the starwars text fashion. You'll have to judje the length of the note and which string to hit yourself. Here's another image:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Fret … reen_3.png

I really don't like this system very much. AS I cannot see all the frets at once it took me a time to learn to estimate which horizontal Screen location corresponds to which string. I also found it easier to look pretty much ahead in the distance, apart from fast runs of notes, and leave the exact timing to my sense of rhythm. AFter a few runs, knowing the song helps a lot, too.

Another problem are chords. They are hard to estimate quickly, which is often required, and I find it relatively hard to determine whether something that looks like a long note is one or if it is just multiple notes on the same string, with their heads very close to each other.

I've been playing the game only for some hours yet have not had as much fun playing on the computer for many many days, I think. This beats even MMX at least as far as the effort to fun ratio goes. Well, still I find I have  hard time achieving scores that are well over 50 percent, which I'd attribute to accessibility mostly. I've completed Quest for Fame when it came out after all, have played the piano (well mostly synths really) for quite some time and know rhythm dictation from basic music theory. I'm also a touch typist, by the way, so I mapped the game controls from f1 to f5 to a, s, d, f, and g and use my right hand to trig,  TOo bad the laptop keyboard was not designed for this kind of gaming, it does not react very well and has a hard time coping with combo hits.

As for what Works in terms of accessibility. Firstly, I'll have to congratulate the authors for making all the menus nicely big. THey are about as big as you can get, and if this is not good enough, you can change the resolution or scale the text in percentages. ANother thing, once you become good enough in the game not that much sight is required anyway.
I first managed to make the screen so big that the menu wouldn't fit on screen. I had to then find and mod or delete the game settings in:

windowsDrive:\Documents and Settings\yourUserName\Application Data\fretsonfire\fretsonfire.ini

I wonder if the guitar hero game itself on the PS2 would be accessible? I suppose not. Judjing by the screen shot, it looks much more unclear than Frets or Quest:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Guit … screen.jpg

But one of the benefits of a PC game, in addition to making your own songs, is that it appears to be written in Python and thus could be easily modified or exteneded, too. I'm not really a Python programmer but have read a few books about it and know enough Java., Perl and C to know my way around. One obvious mod, if someone was up to it, would be to make the user interface more accessible to us.

I'm not exactly sure what could be done apart from making the notes clearer and killing even more of the background such such as the scrolling grid in it. Any ideas based on experience with other such games? ONe thing that came to mind would be to reduce the screne back to a 2D thing with a horizontally scrolling, resizable bar display of when to hit notes with adjustable bar width and height. To represent the various strings, they would have to be coded in some way. One thing would be to add say an Arabic or Roman numeral under each note using run-length encoding, i.e. storing repeat counts e.g. 3[5] in stead of five similar notes for string 3. Another possibility would be to kill the bars and just use numbres 1 to 5 to denote the string. Audio is not much good but maybe Braille could show the string numbers and numeric approximations of length and distance. My braille display even has 8 quick buttons that could be used for playing instead of inputting Braille. DO you know if there are blind-only rhythm games and if so how is timing and length conveyed in them?

Well thanks for the MK links. I don't think the plot guide lagging behind would be that bad of a problem as I have not seriously followed the series after the PC release of MK3. I'm not even certain if the newer games after MK4 have been ported, oh well.

We talked about Street Fighter and I'm glad to hear you actually recommended them, too. I think I'd have better luck with the SNEs version in terms of authenticity, speed and ease of control remapping compared to MMAME. But then again MAME might have the timing and other options available via dip switches, I'm not certain. I own the PC version but it is so bad that I won't even give that port another try. OUch too bad to hear about how they messed up the controls with the Amiga. What's the SF release with the least amount of chars in it? Kind of like my gaming friend who, as he had gotten used to floppies, wanted a USb stick that is as small and cheap as possible, <grin>.

The reason I ask is that new games are getting very complex and I don't think I might explore them fully. So I'd like to start with a basic set first rather than being overwhelmed at first sight.

Again Mortal Kombat is a great example. Even in the first MK game I would learn to play the chars at quite different abilities and rates depending on whose moves and back story I happened to like. So I'm pretty adept with Sub-Zero and Liu Kang, good using Sonya and Rayden, can play Johny Cage and Scorpion passably and have always hated KAno, period. The First MK game was the game to me, because of my age back then and the effort I put into it. MK2 was good but I didn't play it quite as much and would only really learn half of the characters. WIth the increase in characters, complexity and moves I gave MK3 even less focus, passed MK4 with a cursory glance and have dropped out of the MK loop ever since.

The same focus to particular pieces, with no real desire to master the whole, is true for me in the megaman saga. I completed MM2, which is about the only NES game I've completed, because my gaming friend recommended that one in particular. THen I played MM3 through, too, for the same reason. I loved some of the tunes but didn't think that highly of the game. I've never looked at the rest of the NES MM range quite as seriously and don't feel bad about it.

All this is to say that even on the SNes, I would probably pick some fav MM game of mine and complete that one. SO given only one, which one would you recommend? I'm afraid the MMX 2 and 3 might be even harder accessibility wise, because they use some special Capcom chip for wireframe and scaling FX. Cool that X4 does have dialog, that's bound to help. THe only trouble is, it ain't for the SNES.

I haven't gotten up to Dr. LIght yet, I've just heard the music beforehand. I didn't realize SNES amp has SPC tunes, too, although I have been using the plug for years myself, thanks for pointing this out.  For all too much cool info on MMX, be sure to check out Wikipedia. Almost every robot in the game has its own article. I think Wikipedia excels at documenting popular entertainment phenomena. Even Full Metal Alchemist, which is one of the few Animes  they show here, has an article for every episode, argh.

Yup sighted folks have read me comics, too, though gaming related stuff is pretty rare here. Still I recall liking the MK movie but that was about a decade back, when I considered Commando to be a good one, too. SO take this with a really big grane of virtual  salt. By your commics comment, do you mean Mortal KOmbat? I didn't realize it was that popular. But I recall having a real lousy annoying Finnish LoFi production of children songs about game characters on some ancient cassette here. I cannot recall where it is now but remember with horror how bad even the tunes were back then. There was one about Mario with the Finish lyrics going "Super Maaaario hän mies on paikallaan" which translates to something like: "Super Maaaario he's the right man in the right place".

Regarding fighting moves, could you describe to me the standard system and is it XML based i.e. look like HTMl? I'm curious as I've been honing systems of my own for conveying hotkeys in a possibly speech friendly manner. ONe I use is names for normal keys, plus meaning hold the previous one and the comma press in sequence. THen plus and parens mean the plus extends up to the parens kind of like a function call. so ctrl+shift+esc for task manager, or alt+f,s to save to give you a few examples. In such a context I spell out all the quarter, semi and full circles explicitly. ON the other hand to be more abstract the descs for fighting games should probably use game jargon independently of keys and relative directions like towards and away.

Well the Amiga AI was not that bad. Consider the Megadrive AI with the very easy difficulty in MK1. YOu can win the game by jumping away from the opponent in the corner and holding down low kick. No, I'm not kidding. the computer just never learned.

WHen it comes to MK and the ability to execute the move  several times for a human opponent, I don't think that's a weakness. It's funny if you get it through many times and is a matter of learning to block. Of course, if you use missile moves with chars like Kung Lao, things will get doubly annoying and unfair. But we had an unwritten conduct of what was fair play in the game and sticked to it, most of the time. Back when I was into MK, which should be on the accessible games list I think, we would even have special taunts. If you got the same move threw trice, you'd be allowed to compare your opponent to the first computer opponent this is a literal translation from Finnish and a bit formal sounding in it, too. This refers to the fact that you could get many moves through trice before the computer would learn. But I think I'd better stop here before the whole topic beats me, <smile>.

--
With kind regards Veli-Pekka Tätilä

23 (edited by Dark 2007-03-26 05:41:55)

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Hi again Velu and anyone else brave enough to wade through this topic.

Hmmm, as far as topic structure goes, perhaps an evolutionary style model would work, sinse the subthreads that tend to get chopped out are those that either A, don't generate extra discussion or B, fall outside the remit of the topic. but in a very nice case of self-referencial theories, this discussion is off topic and so shal be closed to avoid it reproducing ;D.

Now to get back on track, sinse Rythm action games didn't really come in until the post-Snes era, because of the need for good sound sampling I'd guess, I haven't played many.

the ones I've seen, like Parappa the Rapper, Guitaroo man and the arcade game Guitar freaks, tended to employ so much background detail during the tracks that they were unplayable for me, which is a shame, sinse both Parappa and Guitaroo man had wonderfuly strange and weerd plots complete with cut scenes. Your horizontal bar idea might be a good one though, as I saidthe only rythm action game I've found playable thus far has been Vib ribbon on the Ps1, (see http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/psx/data/199188.html for details). Though the mechanics in Vib ribbon were fairly different I believe to a guitar game, the basic display was indeed a continuously scrolling bar on a black background, with a white rabbit walking along it. So your interface idea is probably a good one. I'm afraid as I don't have either ie 7 or (at the moment), a mouse with batteries, I can't examine your image from Qff, though generally, even in game genres I'm highly familiar with like 2D side scrollers, I can only get basic info from a screen shot (sometimes I can't even tell where or what the main char is).

It's most deffinately a matter of preference, but the hole idea of just getting larger and larger scores never personally appeals to me much in games, I like things that can be completed, especially if there's some plot, and even more especially if there's exploration.

in Vib ribbon, though there was no plot or exploration, getting to the end of the song was quite a challenge, sinse every mistake lost your char energy, also, sinse the game could generate levels from music tracks on Cd, new combinations of obstacles to try your hand against were always available.

It's possible I might enjoy Quest for Fame though, if it has plot.

to return to your bar idea, rather than the numbers 1-5, (which wouldn't be workable for me sinse I don't have a braille display), how about using colour to represent each note? Say red, yellow, green, blue and purple. If the background had good contrast, I could see this being highly accessible.

As to audio games in the same style, I'm always amazed, with the amount of visually impared musicians knocking about that nobody's developed a true audio rythm action game. About the closest have been various audio versions of Simon, but obviously that's not nerely the same thing. somebody did post on the audiogames.net forum last year looking for suggestions for such a game, but as far as I know nothing ever actually materialized.

Now as to beate em ups, in the first two Mk games, if I remember rightly, the only major differences betwene the chars were their specials. In Mk1 at least, and against certain computer players in Mk2, I've actually found it possible to play a char without knowing his/her specials and stil hope to do vaguely well, ---- though specials do help.

I've actually finished the snes port of Mk1 on everyone, though as matter of choice my player order would probably go Scorpian, Rayden, Sub-zero and Lu-kang, Cano, Johny cage and Sonia right at the bottom.

Though I played Mk1 a litle in the arcades, i didn't get the Snes port of Mk1 until about 1998 though, (we certainly didn'tbuy it at the time due to it's lack of blood), Mk2 will always be thee! mortal Kombat game as far as I'm concerned.

that's one I've played fairly extensively, both multi-player and on my own, so much that I can generally remember most of the char's moves, and even fatalities for my favourite bunch, people like Scorpian and Kitana (I've only ever managed to get past Kintaro with a couple of people).

Sinse my brother is sort of a Beat em up addict, playing against him I tended to learn quite a few counters, combos etc, whether with him or some of my friends, also had a code of conduct, ie, simply repeating the same move over and over again we'd call crudding or spamming, and winning with a cheap shot, like forcing your opponent to constantly block until the time ran out would be called cheese.

The commics I mentioned were actually the official game Commics published by Midway themselves. I believe they were either distributed with the game, or shown in various magazines.

On a related note of Mortal Kombat and Nostalgia, I remember the Mk film was the first 15 film I managed to sneak into the cinema to see when i was in fact 12 or so, ----- sinse my brother is three years older than me and we apparently look fairly similar, it wasn't exactly a difficult job (and I don't believe they checked that closely in a 15 rated film anyway).

To oncemore get back on track, and continue with beat em ups, you might find Sf a litle more complex than Mk sinse not only do the chars have different specials, but also their normal moves have slight differences etc. all have the basic six attacks, light, medium and heavy punches and kicks, but the way their executed can be different, ---- for example, Ryu and Ken have a standing heavy kick that double hits, and Douseem can stretch extremely far to hit enemies from a distance. also, most specials can be activated in either light, medium or heavy versions which will vary their speed or hight,. while adding stratogy, this does make working out char's moves easier sinse most specials will be activated either with any punch or any kick, and the game didn't use that many variations in the joystick motions.  Sinse I played Sf slightly before I played mk, ---- and sinse I always had my bro and friends around to ask about tactics, getting used to the system was sort of second nature.

If your just getting used to the system though, I'd recommend one of the early versions, ---- probably Champion or turbo edition, or maybe even the original game.

to explain all this version business, the first version of Sf2 was known as "The world warrior" 
You could pick 1 of 8 chars (though ryu and Ken played exactly the same), and had to fight the other 7 pluss four non-selectable boss characters to complete the game. you couldn't,in World warrior, fight against your own char in the mirror match style.

champion edition introduced the mirror match feature, made a few miner tweaks to the game mechanics and other changes, ---- such as changing some stages from daytime to night (I actually find the stages in Champion in general easier for contrast than those in World warrior). but the big thing added in Champion, was the ability to play as the four boss chars.

turbo edition was basically a speed upgrade. On the console ports though, the speed was variable. It also added several new moves and altered a few other elements, which balanced the characters out more nicely, like making Honda's sumo torpedo move knock down, so that he wouldn't instantly be attacked by his opponent after performing it.

the snes port of Turbo (which as I say, was my first ever! snes game), contained both Turbo and champion edition.

Overall, the balance is one really good aspect of streetfighter games, a lot of effort is made to insure that the characters are Distinctly different, but also fairly equal in ability.

Sf2 super (aka the new challengers), came out slightly later, and was basically a game upgrade. four new chars were introduced to bring the rosta up to 16 (though you only had to fight 12 of them), several people got new moves, and stages, music and other audio was redesigned.

super was I believe, the last version of Sf2 to have a Snes port.

there was one very final arcade version, Super-turbo, which had new moves, more graphical upgrades and even a secret boss (not to mention some cool music), but though I played this (and other people play), in a couple of arcades, the only console port i believe was on the Neo geo, thus I never got to play it.

As far as accessibility recommendations go, I'd advise you to start with turbo or Champion edition. Things were settled in terms of game balance, and though the game features 12 chars (11 sinse ryu and ken are stil almost exactly the same), it's stil fairly user friendly to someone who's knew to the series.

I'd also say, that sinse many of the stages were changed to have the fight take place at night, the contrast generally improved, though there are stil two nasty spots, ----- Chun-li's china stage and Sagat's TTyland stage are the two that always gave me trouble.

Now, to actually get onto Mmx, i will admit I have a very large apitite for such games, that genre is probably my personal favourite game style and certainly the type of game I've spent most time playing. I've finished a fair few of the MM games  (especially in the X series), though there are several which stil consistantly defeat me.

If your looking for a single MM snes game to play, well, ----- let's see.

the two classic Mm games, mega man 7 and Rockman&forte (which was originally a Japan only game, but Capcom ported it to Gba and made an English release under the name Mega man&bass), are both imho, some of the hardest mm games in terms of gameplay, ---- I've not completed either of them yet, though I've got to the 2nd to last stage of Mm7. Also, some of the graphic effects can be a pest, ---- there's some absolutely awful shading used in some of the water sections for example.

So, I'd not advise trying either of those.

As to the X games, X3 was only released on the Snes in America, ---- over here it is one of the only playstation 2D platformers (with remixed music and some fmv sequences added).

you can probably guess from that, and from the fact that it was released at the very end of the snes era, that it's graphically extremely complex. It's also imho, the hardest of the first six X games besides X 6 in terms of gameplay. while I've finished the game, it certainly wasn't easy.

That leaves X1 and X2. X1 is imho, the easier game in terms of game play, finding hidden items, getting through boss battles etc. However, it does have a few graphically nasty sections such as the bats in the first stage, chill Penguins stage and Storm Eagles stage (as I said, I hate! ice and sky stages). I've also often thought, that X1's raphics in general have slightly worse contrast than those in X2, ie, the difference betwene light and dark objects is smaller.

X2 on the other hand, is a slightly more difficult game, and has a few very nasty boss battles (though as it also has two different endings, some of the more evil battles are entirely optional). Also, some of the ledge jjumping sections and item locations are slightly more difficult.

Of course, sinse I got X2 in the summer of 1999 (about the same time as I first read Harry potter), and I got X1 in Early 2000, I had a bit more experience of the Mmx style when I first played X1.

Also, sinse I didn't have much information about the game (like an instruction manual), I'd actually found several items without realizing what they were, ----- as picking up heart or sub tanks makes the same item sound as an extra life (and I wasn't too adept at finding many of those either).

In general though, whatever chips the game contains, I'd stil advise you to go for X2 rather than X1 if you want a single game recommendation.

Just to get back to a previously discussed subject, I'm not sure how Hd and Pc's or games would go, but I know my parents recently bought a 30 inch Hdtv, and I found a very deffinate difference in clarity with a higher degreee of luminance. While it's true this is mainly compared to an audinary Tv screen, as I watch all my Dvd's on my Pc, I believe the hd thing was even superior to my flatscreen.
sinse i don't have any magnification software, I'm not sure how many screen fuls of text this is, but I know for a fact that reading through the thing on document read takes quite a while!

and on that note, that's most certainly enough drivle from me for now I think, especially as it's approaching midnight overhere.

Btw, sorry about the eddits again, when I got your mail I came back and reread this post just to remind me of what we were discussing, and realized I'd actually got the number of char's in the Sf version wrong, ouch!

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Hi Dark,
The edits are not a problem, I just find it helpful if you are willing to take the time and actually trim and correct stuff you've written. HOpe you also got my off-list mail, in which I said I would be answering this thread on Wednesday and confessed being an HP fan. IF not, let me know off-list and I'll repost. If, on the other hand, I've manually messed up with imap folderes and you've already sent a reply to the mail I mentioned, please resend. Sorry for using up bandwidth for this kind of coordination.

HAha, yes your recursion pun actually makes sens to a programmer like me. Well you're rright the branches that get killed first are those that don't generate new comments. So one tac would be to go minimalist and not comment at all, if it won't generate extra discussion. But that's a bit too Sparten and slightly cold for our purposes, I think.

In music games you mentioned guitar freaks. I haven't been much into arcades, as arcade ports are not very accessible to me personally, but if I recall right the guitar freaks game also has a keyboard counterpart. I wonder if I might do well in that since I'm a bit of a pianist, I say a bit of a, as I still play using synth keyboards. ANother nifty feat would be the ability to link the keybord and guitar parts together for an impromptu session, though I'm not even sure I'm talking about the correct game here. So a grane of virtual salt, pleasse.

Judjing by the graphics and the Wikipedia text, though the premise seems a bit cutesy, reminding me of Nintendo titles, ribbon looks like a game I'd like to play very much. Follow the white rabbit, eh. A corny joke I already have two ribbon controllers here, <grin>. Anyway the ribbon graphics are about as bare bones as it gets, great. Are the songs any good? Quest for Fame had Aerosmith and made me a fan of that band, or the singing at least.

As my sighted little Sis has a PS2 here, I could actually play the game using the real thing. IS the Vib ribbon hard to find these days? At least older PC games are. For ages I've been trying to track down a physical copy of the original PC Need For speed but have yet to find it, for example.

Yes, you know I have a similar thing about screen shots. Lots of my gaming is based on tracking a moving target or two with a very limited FOv, field of vision, so a static shot is hard to interpret in terms of accessibility. If I had the software which I don't, I could capture a video of the Quest for fame notation, though. One nice thing about Quest was that it had a pretty good plot, as far as music games go.

I would probably personally map notes to large chunks on screen and differenciate them using contrast to make the guitar games accessible. I've found that certain yelows and greens are hard to tell apart, or tel which is which, as they can come pretty close in terms of luminance. If you recall me complaining that the MMX selection is very hard for me to tell apart from menu text in the options menu, I have news for you. Seems my ability to distinguish small hue differences is not any good. a friend of mine converted the MMX shot to a gray scale image in a graphics editor and said that after that, there's virtually no luminance difference. I do see some colors and have preferences, too, liking dark blue, cyan or turqwoise kind of stufff in particular. Blue and red are easy to tell apart, too, but brown actually is not for me. I could send you some of my favorite 24-bit RGB tripplets, read colors, here or off-list. That goes to say  i specify color numerically.

As for exposing rhythm info in an audio game howabout using an ascending frequency, a shortening series of clicks or spoken feedback to indicate exactly when you should hit a note. IN rally games, the co-driver can be of great help: "right 7, left 3, long straight,, right hairpin" to use the Colin McRae rally syntax here. Though the trouble with audio games and an auditory interface is that the interface is on the way, as you'll stilll have to listen to the music.

I think MOrtal Kombat games should be on the accessible games list for partially sighted folks, seeing how deeply you and I have gotten into the phenomenon with very littel sight. Playing using the PC keybord, I'm very fond of the simplisity of most MK1 moves and fatalities. Yes I like the fact that MK has little difference in the basic moves for chars. It makes the gameplay easier for me. This is not the case in the robot fighting game One Must Fall 2097, which is nowadays freeware. You know, if you are interested in PC beat em ups, and when I have the time, I could prepare you a preinstalled DOS Box with OMF2097 in it, so you could give it a try. If you like arrows for movment, what would be good for kick and punch, that are the rest of the keys? I use right shift and enter myself.

mm Sonya being the worst MK char, I disagree. From the stats point of view, Sub-zero and Scorpion are good because their projectile attacks do an upper cut's worth of damage if you are any good. But Sonya, Sub-Zero and
LIu kang also have an advantage. You can right after a jump kick, usually also combo a slide, flying kick or Scissor Grab respectively. YEs, Kintaro in MK2 is annoyingly hard. Apparently Goro, by the way, is a real Japanese name. I saw one goro in the context of anime recently and instantly thought MOrtal Kombat, cannot help it, <smile>

AAh darn Wikipedia I used to believe in Ermac the MK1 charactre short for error macro. The fact that the C programming language has a global integer variable called errno, doesn't help matters, either, <grin

What does Rayden shout in the torpedo or Superman move, by the way? Being FInnish me and muy friends had various real odd guesses of what it might be as kids, none of them even close, I guess: "Alibaba Yeah" is one that would translate to English with ease. At the risk of going nostalgic, I really like the announcer voice in MK1. It says Sonya as "sewn-ya", though, which is not how I say it neither in FInish nor in english. Wonder if that's right? And how it says "Scorpion" with a distinct r and a funny intonation is also, well, cool. Another one that has been bothering me is "flawless victory". I think the pronounciation, is again, a bit off to my non-native ears. But that's part of the spirit.

I played the PC version some more here and man the sounds are bad. It can play only one channel at a time so if you finnish off your opponent with the spear it says "get over, Scorpion wins". The sampling rate sounds like 8 to 11 kHz to me. Many of the grunts of pain are not char specific at all, and lots of the audio like missing an opponent, Sonya's ring toss and various other things are crappy 3 op FM synthesis. I wonder if all sounds were samples in the arcade version? Ah and now that we talked about this I recall perusing the Mk2 folder using SOund Forge and found that though their extension is raw, the mk2 audio for the PC is available as wave files, I think., SO one could replace the sounds, I gotta try that. This fails to work if they've hardcoded some checksum or audio length, however.

AS to the MK movie I actually liked it as a kid though that might not reflect the current situation. i also liked the sounds in the soundtrack back then, but would have to relisten it to re-evaluate that stance.  HEy thanks for the Street FIghter tips, the simpler the better I guess. i have yet to try any of them out, but will comment more on that once I do. All in all it sounds much more complex than either MK1 or OMF.

Regarding MMX I guess MMX2 would be the game for me, then. But I'll have to get spoiled about the MMX1 plot, as that would be, unlike in the earlier MM games, a motivator for actually playihng the thing. The intro is cool at least, period. DO you know if Megaman 7 would be any good and or accessible?

Interesting that HDTVs offer better contrast, somehow I thought the resolution increase would not affect matters in such a way. NOw that I've tried using a 16:9 28 inch TV screen and a 4:3 15 inch monitor, I can say that the TV is much much worse for me. I cannot even see enough of the road in most driving games using the wider screen i.e. it is all too wide and if I go further away, I canot get enough detail out. Maybe your field of vision is wider but a bit more low resolution than mine is. OR so it seems.

Lastly, I'll comment some more on other games I've been able to play and that we've talked about:
YOu recommended the audio game Sarah and the Castle of Witchcraft and Wizardry which is a Harry POtter fan game, for other lurkers in this thread. I gave it a try but fail to see the appeal. The biggest problem for me is naviggation. As I still navigate a lot based on my sight, although I do use my ears, too, I find it extremely difficult to do even with stereo headphones. Just give me even dark, dynamically lit, polygon graphics and though I cannot play most such games, I'm likely to do much better. Even HAlf-Life 2 was easier, and that's a game that I abandoned due to inaccessibility. You mentioned having crude graphics of the surroundings in the Sarah game? Do you have to enable them and where are they rendered on screen? I failed to find them myself, or else my monitor is just very very dark.

The other main gripe of mine is the voice acting. SUre it is actually pretty good for an amateure game, though I've spotted some obvious MIDI instruments in the music bits. Anyway, the trouble is canonicity of voice acting. When I read the books ages ago, I would form my own mental picture of how the chars sounded, e.g. Hagrid to me would be a bit like like Lenny is in the MEn and Mice movie. And then I heard the movie, whose actors in terms of voices, didn't reflect my ideas much,  apart from a few exceptions, and so tried not to adopt those voices when reading the books. and then lastly I heard the JIm Dale version which was pretty good, though not an exact match. ANd now this HP audio game is all different, too, and not very much to my liking as far as the voices go. But I'm nitpicking here. IF I found the game more interesting, maybe I should give it another try, I would play it regardless.

I also got a chance of quickly trying out an X-box, which to me reads as a programmer a box of everything, i.e. x is a variable:

AS I suspected neither the new Need for Speed nor the Colin McRae Rally are accessible, <sigh>.The first NSF game for the PC, DOS, was and bits of Colin 1 were, too. too bad the latter doesn't even start under XP any more, not even in compatibility mode.

A more interesting find is a pretty easy and relaxed 3D pacman game in which you can move and jump, too. AS I've never been much good with pacman anyway, I think this X-Box port, despite being 3D, is actually easier than the NES or MAMe ports and more fun, too. I'm not a fan yet, but this is decently fun.

Lastly I found the Tetris World game, this is the X Box version. It's impressive in terms of gameplay and graphics but it all goes to show how used to one can get to conventions. The WIndows 3.1 Tetris, which is pretty faithful to the original PC version I've played, is the Tetris to me. The diffferences are:
1. The X-Box Tetris does not have a black background meaning less contrast between the blocks and canvas. It is playable, but not quite as easy.
2. The x-box vversion shows ghost blocks and the next indicator, neither of which is much help.
3. The xBOx version smooth-scrolls the blocks where as in the Win 3.1. version the movement is jerky and thus easier to understand e.g. measuring distances
4. The up arrow drops the block in the X-box version. In the WIn 3.1 version it rotates and down drops. I got these confused more than once.
5. The X-box version rotates the blocks in the wrong direction, When you use the left-most lowest button of the six pack on the X-box. I'm not sure what it is called actually.
6. The X-Box version has music and bad at that. I mean I like creating synth patches and tweaking them, but this is a good example of using such sound play to avoid having to do any kind of real composition or even anything rhythmically interesting.

ALl this goes to show that I prefer the Win3.1 version by far, although the xBOx game probably has more depth and might actually be a better game. I have the Win3.1 version here so I could send it to you. It runs in XP and even in Vista, I think, great. It is technically illegal, but I guess MS does not care too much of me distributing a 17 year old classic Windows game which is part of some long gone entertainment pack. One unique feature in the 3.1 version is that it has splitscreen play and playing well can optionally trigger penalty rows for the opponent. Me and my sighted gaming friend would play last man standing this way.

I also saw step mania being played, though that would not be accessible as I cannot get close enough to the screen and don't have enough time. Some of the songs are incredibly bad and sound to me like Japanese LoFi Eurovision entries, argh. NOw I truely appreciate J-pop and most ANime soundtracks compared to this. I heard a horible EUro dance:ish, pseudo-ethnic, cutesy song about butterflies and samurai, that made me laugh out loud when I heard the lyrics. But hey, even though I'm doing music as you are, that's just my subjective take on things. Maybe someone somewhere likes the song. And if that's so, nothing wrong with that.  My philosophy about music is that though you can measure complexity, popularity and other factores, whether something is good, i.e. evokes feelings, is almost totally subjective and is not much worth debating.

PS: My real name is actually Veli-Pekka Tätilä of which this vtatila is a Unix:ish compaction and my user name, as I could not use a real name here. Most people call me Vellu. I usually am not into handles but have used Welbereth a couple of times in IRC.

--
With kind regards Veli-Pekka Tätilä

Re: Mainstream Games for Low-Vision: Examples, Tips and Hacks (long)

Vib Ribbon is a lovely little game for the PSone (and PS2) by the way - you can listen to the music from here:

http://gh.ffshrine.org/soundtracks/595

If you like wacky J-Pop then you may love this - I think it's great personally.

You can use your own music CDs with this game anyway.