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Re: [Entombed] hold the torch high dark Tue Feb 21 07:00:58 2012

Hi Joel. 

You asked "who in their right mind wouldn't want to make these games 
accessible?" 

The simple answer I'm afraid is every single company concerned with prophet.

Entombed is one of the most successful audio games having sold more than 500 
copies. In terms of audio games that's amazingly good, the average is about 
200. 

For mainstream companies such as Square, blizard and capcom however, that is a 
drop in the ocean, they are only concerned with thousands of sales and what 
will get them those thousands. 

Indeed, when I spoke to Capcom Uk myself this is the response I got, that 
because (according to them), it was only me that would value access changes, 
they refused to do it for one person, the same would be equally true for 500 
people, there just aren't enough customers to make a difference to the almighty 
prophet margin, certainly not enough for the mainstream developers of games to 
justify adding access features or even creating accessible games in the first 
place.

While I believe this may eventually change in 10 or 20 years time when a 
greater proportion of those gamers who grew up in the 1970's and 80's start 
losing their vision and becoming blind, thus creating more of a markit for the 
games, it will still take a heck of a lot more people interested in access than 
we currently have to make a difference to the mainstream industry. 

Then of course, don't forget that the people in! capcom and nintendo who are 
actually responsable for programming! the games, aren't the same as who make 
the decisions about what gets made. Nintendo Uk were a lot nicer than Capcom 
when I asked about menue access on the wii, however there was nothing even they 
could do to propose a developement change even though they worked in the same 
company, because all the actual developement work went on in some undisclosed 
location in the middle of Japan under a giant mountain base guarded by robitic 
Samurai killer bees! ---- well maybe not that! inaccessible, but you see the 
point. 

While i applaud the attempts of people like the game accessibility special 
interest group to promote audio games to the mainstream industry, I'm not 
myself confident of how likely they are to have an effect. 

personally, I think it more likely that access will come through the growing 
industry of independent game developers, close nit player communities and 
online participation. 

Having worked for audiogames.net now for close to five years, I've seen a lot 
of new indi developers get involved in game access. 7-128 software, jeremy 
Kaldobski and indeed Jason Alan himself, some very talented developers of indi 
games have spent their time developing new and interesting accessible stuff 
just for the shear challenge and fun, or because they find it a worthwhile 
thing to do, irrispective of the prophet margin. 

Then of course, there are the many occasions when, like you did with this line 
software, a developer has been contacted to make access changes to their games. 

niels bauer and the smugglers series (smugglers 5 will be accessible), a hole 
range of muds and mmorpgs, brouser stratogy games, interactive fiction, 
gamebooks, and the list goes on! 

With screen readers able to read text, this offers a handy way in to access in 
a number of games, as does sapi output for a game display. indeed there are now 
beginning to be some quite legitimate sets of resources kicking around the net 
to provide information to developers on how to create accessible games, one 
very good example is www.blindcomputergames.com, an informational site setup by 
the 7-128 crew. 

As to entombed, myself the way forward i could really see with the game is the 
inclusion of readable text and maybe an ascii map on screen, so that it is 
playable (like JEremy Kaldobski's games), by fully sighted gamers just as 
equally. 

There are however communities of people devoted to gamebooks, roguelikes, and 
other games that do not rely upon a major graphical display for their appeal, 
and those sorts of people would probably very much like entombed if there was a 
way of interacting with the game that could be done through their reading of 
text, rather than, ---- as unfortunately would happen currently if a sighted 
person with no screen reader or knolidge of synths downloaded the game, through 
microsoft sam or Anna, which are both probably enough to put off anyone from 
playing, especially if they didn't understand that these voices were part of 
windows and were a variable option, and thought they were implicit to how the 
game worked. 

if onscreen text were included in Entombed however, it could be advertised to 
players of muds, text mmorpgs, roguelikes etc as a game they may be interested 
in, sinse as we all know it's well fit to stand on it's own merrits as a game 
aside from any access concerns, ----- which probably is why it's had such a 
major impact and gained such a following. 

Beware the Grue! 

Dark.

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