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Hey there,

My name is Jamie and I'm the Producer of Falling Squirrel games, an indie studio from Ontario, Canada. We're currently working on a fully-funded, high-quality, all-audio medieval RPG called The Vale.

I wanted to reach out to tell you about our game and invite you to our upcoming playtest.

We will be demoing our game at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind's community hub in downtown Toronto.  The Vale is a fully-featured RPG with real-time combat, different weapons and skills, and a rich and branching story.  We're currently in the middle of production and are aiming to release the game early next year.

That's where you come in! We'd love to hear your input, feedback, questions, and concerns  about making The Vale. I'll post a link below to our Facebook event and should their be interest, i'll see if I can put a demo online for y'all.

I don't want to put a whole wall of information here. So please follow us on Facebook  at www.facebook.com/fallingsquirrel
and check out out event page here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/401665303617858/

Really looking forward to talking to you more about The Vale.

Cheers,
Jamie Roboz
Producer - Falling Squirrel

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Oo, real time combat always catches my attention. big_smile Too bad I'm in the wrong part of Canada though.
But this sounds pretty neat, looking forward to hearing more.

"I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee."
guards, skyrim

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Sadly, I don't think there are terribly many of us in canada, but this seems neat. Just for future reference though, you might want to consider posting some more info out here or creating a website, since facebook can be a little clunky on the PC side with screen readers.
I'll be watching progress with interest either way, I love rpgs and we definitely need more of them.

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4 (edited by Orin 2018-02-15 03:59:50)

Same here, I'll be keeping an eye on this.

Orin

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Hi.
Sounds really interesting. I'm following your Facebook page, but keep in mind that posts from a Facebook site easily can drown in all other activities on Facebook. So therefore I hope you'll share the news in the future here on the forum as well.
Currently, it seems like there isn't much available to check out for us who don't live in the US. A black image? Lol... smile I look forward to checkout any gameplays or other information you'll share in the future. I hope you will release the demo you are doing to the public so others can join it as well. Maybe record the demonstration you are doing.
Keep up the great job.

Best regards SLJ.
If you like the post, then please give it a thumps up.
Feel free to contact me privately if you have something in mind. If you do so, then please send me a mail instead of using the private message on the forum, since I don't check those very often.
Happy gaming... :D

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This sounds awesome, the more rpgs the better and I definitely like the idea of something audio with real time combat (especially if the combat doesn't come down to a basic hear it, hit it type of affair).

As people have said progress reports via website or on the forum would be great, and a playable demo even more so.

I'm afraid I don't use facebook myself due to it having a very high noise to signal ratio, and I'm on the wrong side of the atlantic ocean to get to events in Canada big_smile.

Still, I'll definitely be watching out for updates about the game.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

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Hi,
I also think putting a "wall of text" here is a better option for many of us. A lot of us come here to check audiogame news, and it's interesting but while some devs have Facebook pages they don't really seem that active on those pages.

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Hey folks,

I appreciate all the feedback. I'll be sure to post more info here for you soon. Thank you for the info about Facebook as well - I'll move towards making blog posts on our own website in the very near future.

For now, feel free to take a look at this video on The Vale made by AMI-TV, an accessible media group. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AF8VVenKMVg&

I'll be sure to be back soon, so spread the hype, The Vale is coming!

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sounds a very in-depth video. will this be for mac os or just windows? ios would be cool too in the future maybe? Will

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Hmm, not a big fan of the main character being blind trope that happens in audiogames made by sighted devs, but the game does seem neat.

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Yeah, agree @Stirlock.

Orin

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To be honest I agree on the main character being blind.
Maybe he could be sighted and become blind but to be honest, blind people in blind games we have this with blind legend which is itself really cool.
As for the rest of it, no not following you guys on facebook, facebook is just really clunky and bad, however if you guys want to put a social network out I do use twitter a lot  for reading I would encourage you to make a wordpress blog or something for those to follow as well.
As for play testing the game, cool you are doing this but its not likely the global audience is going to be able to join in.
If you open yourselves up for beta  and alpha testing even if its a buy in I'll go and test for you and whatever you need.
Currently I have no contract work that I need to do and I havn't done a long project since reality software days.
if interested, email me with my email link in my profile which is crashmaster if you are searching for it and we can sort out something.

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Oh [wow], I really wish and hope a playable demo of this game will come soon!!! I really want to play it, but, I live in Texas, nowhere near Canada.

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I was interested to see the video.

Interestingly enough I was doing  work today for my own ethics research on representations of disabled characters. One problem, which sadly the "blind hero of an audio game" trope is following, is  a lot of literature featuring disabled characters always feels they have to make the disabled person super awesome and their disability as the central fact about them.

This is particularly bad with blind characters, they fall into the Jordi laforge syndrome, where the fact that they are blind is really the salient part of who they are and makes them either A, a super awesome ninja assassin (who isn't really that blind, or at least never has trouble being blind, the random force user in Rogue 1 was a prime example), or B, they're super useless being blind and talk about how they love to "touch things" and "smell things" and how "just because they're blind they still "see life as beautiful" (nice to know the ghost of Tiny tim is alive and well).


There is a direct refusal by so many authors to  disabled characters generally, and very more specifically blind characters, characters first , blind second.

So while I personally don't mind the idea of a blind protagonist, make him a protagonist first, blind second.
maybe he's a bit of an arse hole, maybe he's suffering unrequited love, maybe he's got some moral quandry, he's got a desire for revenge, hay  maybe he  has an insatiable liking for cheese on toast, ---- oh yeah and he's also blind!


Of course being a computer game and an rpg with a distinct goal in mind, combat mechanics, levelling exploring,finding items and all of that good stuff, there is a limit in terms of presentation, but since in your video you mention taking time with actions and consequences, the narrative of the story and providing a Cyoa direction for events i thought I'd mention it.

Oh, and I've written all this and not talked about gameplay? Oh yes,I should probably do that big_smile.

In terms of gameplay, one thing I'd love to see is an audiogame which actually works on what has been made before.
I can think of a hole bunch of projects over the years, the somethinelse games on Ios, Blind side, a blind legend, blind swordsman, HeartRead going right back to The blind eye and terraformers in 2005.

All of these were attempts by developers of graphical games to create audiogames and all generally ended up doing the same thing, creating an audio environment (usually first person), with obstacles represented in audio, obstacles which the player either had to avoid, or counter, usually by hearing, centering  and reacting quickly.

this is fine as far as it goes, but each of these projects had essentially reinvented it's own wheel.

Audiogames are so little known outside this community, that everytime someone comes to matters anew, they need to go from scratch in discovering how many aspects of gameplay, audio beacons, centering of sound, need for ability to sidestep etc work in terms of navigating, and many of the challenges they present are rather similar to one another.

Thus, what to a developer who has no experience of audiogames previously might seem to be a "dynamic combat system" might to an experienced audio gamer simply mean the same "center and shoot" mechanics as previously seen. I indeed recently had this experience with an audio demo created by one of the students of game design.
this certainly isn't to discourage anyone from creating audiogames, far from it, the more audiogames developed, and  more complex those games the better we'll all be pleased, however it would be nice if prospective developers took a look at what had been done previously, had a play of existing audiogames in the category of game they're developing, and then tried to build on what had come before,  than coming at  completely afresh and creating something which, while a lot of fun and undoubtedly superior in sound design (such projects tend to be), and worth playing for that reason alone, either has fairly major gameplay holes or frustrations that could've been addressed by examining  had and had not worked previously, or, a playability and difficulty curve which, while steep to someone inexperienced with audiogames, is a rather familiar one to those of us who play audiogames on a regular basis, and thus instead of moving the hole development process forward and raising the bar just leaves it where it is.


I'd therefore encourage you to please play some of the games available on this site, try them out and maybe see what works and what doesn't and how to incoorporate working mechanics into The Vale, or indeed better mechanics that have not worked in the past.

As a rough suggestion, Swamp, Aprone's Multiplayer first person zombie survival shooter is the new benchmark for first person games in audio, while the previously mentioned A blind swordsman provides exceptional use of combat mechanics.

The very recently released (just a month ago), A hero's call  made a huge impact on audiogame development, being probably the  most fully featured and cinematic audio rpg we've seen, and therefore something not to be missed (I need to sit down seriously with it myself), while Manamon provides a great idea of how to tell an audio story, create complex menues with information organized enough to manage a full index  pokemon like creatures and! tell a slightly darker story into the bargain while not getting too bogged down in audio navigation  beyond simple top down mazes.

Bockerano Daibuken 3, though a side scrolling game, provides a good grounding of how to create complex combat in an audio scenario, while Castaways by Aprone includes a great idea of how to manage audio real time events  and a great many complicated factors (complicated enough for a city building map  assigned jobs).

There are  other games both myself and others on this forum could suggest taking a look at for one reason or another, but either way hopefully this illustrates the point.

i'd love to see a new game developed which built on what had come before, rather than simply retracing old ground.

That will also help in appealing to a mainstream audience as well, since if you can get mainstream gamers beyond the "hay it has no graphics", and into the "hay that is a really cool game mechanic, oh and btw it has no graphics either" then all the better, indeed it's a very similar point to the above mentioned issue with blind characters.

And now methinks this epistle needs to come to an end big_smile.

Whatever you choose to do, I will reiterate that I am very much looking forward to hearing more about the game, and indeed playing it when released.

In fact I would be willing  beta test myself, if occasion arises, and perhaps consult via telephone as well (I'm always up for more rpgs).

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

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Great points raised all around here. We're a little busy at the moment, so I can't go into as much detail as I like, but I also couldn't leave so many of these questions and concerns unanswered!

1) Facebook isn't great for signal-to-noise and accessibility. Do we have a website?

I will be working on setting up a blog on our website http://www.fallingsquirrel.com/ hopefully by the end of the month.

2) The trope of fetishizing a blind protagonist is poor representation

So I have to say first-and-foremost that I am not the writer of The Vale, so I can't entirely speak on his behalf. I'd definitely be able to get him to answer questions but that brings me to my next point. The Vale is a heavily story-driven game, so I may have to be censor what I can discuss with regards to the specifics of the plot and characters.

With that disclaimer out of the way, we are a team that personally uphold strong beliefs of equality and proper representation. We are attempting to be as aware as possible of our privilege and sighted bias in story-telling and game design. We have accessible technology consultants, the wonderful folks at the CNIB, are continuing to reach out to other advocacy groups, and hopefully the rest of the community here to help us along, so I want to thank you all for your points here and the beginning of a great dialogue.

I know that we have internally discussed a protagonist that is blinded during the story, and our script is not set in stone. More importantly, to refer to what Dark said, we are definitely trying to build a (flawed) character that is person-first and blind second. We're open to all of your concerns or suggestions here, but I want you to know that this is a part of our game that we take very seriously. Unfortunately, I'm unable to get into further specifics here at the time, but that does not mean we are not addressing your concerns.

3) Other audio games exist, how are you different or the same?
I definitely can't reveal everything here yet, but your enthusiasm is really appreciated. 

We are very aware of the current and past audiogame market and believe that The Vale will stand out. Collectively we've played or sampled almost all of the games you listed above, Dark, and we are always adding to our market research. The Vale has a triple-A experienced development team, an award-winning author, high-quality audio design, and we're set to have excellent voice-acting and direction. So in terms of fidelity, we think we have that locked down compared to virtually every other audiogame that has been commercially released.

So with regards to game design and having your prospective developers make a game that is aware of the faults of its predecessors, I'm happy to say that we're on the same page. We don't want anyone to get stuck climbing an icy mountain, encounter frustrating difficulty spikes, or have the exact same mechanics as past titles. Boring!

We are always continuing to reflect on our game design, and are really happy about the recent release of A Hero's Call, which we are all eagerly finding time to play. I have not played Bokura no Daibouken, so I'll be sure to add that to the list, as it sounds inspiring to say the least.

I know I couldn't address anything too specifically with gameplay or story details, but I believe this is better than dead air. Besides, now we have more info to get excited for!

TLDR: We'll get a better mode of communication, we don't want to have poor representation, we are trying to make the best darn game possible and are continuing to look at all other audio games.

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Hey awesome, thanks for the follow up! Glad to hear you guys are aware of the market. Eagerly awaiting news when it arrives.

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Hi.
[wow], nice video. Keep up the great job. I look forward to see more about the project.

Best regards SLJ.
If you like the post, then please give it a thumps up.
Feel free to contact me privately if you have something in mind. If you do so, then please send me a mail instead of using the private message on the forum, since I don't check those very often.
Happy gaming... :D

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Hi Fsg, I'm really pleased that your looking over these points, that is most encouraging, and I appologise if my previous message came across as harsh or overly critical.

In terms of gameplay, i would recommend Bockerano Daibuken 3. The  game is Japanese but has a translation pack available. Though it is a side scroller, what it is great at showing is how to present a complex combat system in audio with different styles of enemy movement and attacks, and multiple enemies on screen. It also raises the difficulty by upping the complexity and detail in enemy movement, where previous audio games tended to raise difficulty either by swamping the player in sound, or  decreasing the player's effective margine for mistakes, ie. raising enemy damage.

Audio strike, again a side scrolling shooter would also be good for the same reason.

I'm also very glad to hear you've played both Swamp, a hero's call and manamon, since all are great examples of audio movement and how to create audio games with increased complexity.

As to a blind protagonist, I wouldn't say it's specifically a matter of "representation" or contrasting "privileged" vs "disabled" (an unfortunate point in my own research).

it's more a matter of just creating an interesting character who happens to be blind, rather than saying "this character is blind! look at how awesome they are for being blind!"

That was why Jordi failed so miserably in  the writers were so concerned with the fact that he was a blind engineer, that he never became anything else, ---- plus of course the fact that technology had negated his blindness completely to the point where it had little to no impact unless the writers felt like writing about it didn't help either.

So, if your having a blind main character, it'd be really cool if they did other things too, had other likes and dislikes and facts about their identity and if their blindness is a factor in the story, have it be a real factor not " at the awesome blind character!"

Btw, if all of my winjing hasn't put you off, I can say I'm really looking forward to seeing  happens with this project. I do gather from what you've said, the video and your willingness to interact with people here that your very commmitted to making a quality game.
In that light I'd be extremely glad to help if I can, for example with testing, and of course when we have some news about the game we'll be glad to publicise things on this site.

Actually between A hero's call, Echoes of Livia and now The Vale, it seems like 2018 will be the  of the audio rpg, something I for one have been waiting for for a very long time indeed!

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

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I’d love to help beta test this game as I really love RPG style games!!! And has been said before, we don’t have enough of this kind of game in the audio games.

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OH another RPG? That's very, very great to hear I'm always a fan of RPG's and, from what I see of great games that are in the way, I always say that the future of audio games is promising.

Regards
Add me on skype
Follow me on twitter
Our blind community is unfairly treated, when it comes to games.

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Hi,

darn, where was my list of "must buy games" again ... ah, found it, the vale noted down big_smile

Really, this year i will be 10 years blind, and i really didn't realise i would be ever able to play games like fable i did back all those years. well, that was my mistake, last year we got a hero's call, echo's of levia is close to release as i believe now as well, and the vale is in building stages as well. Oh my god, 2018, the year of 10 year of blindness, will bring awsome games to our community.

I am very greatful, more then i can show on screen smile

And as a sidenote, hopefully i didn't sound overly emotional, that was not my intention, but just an attempt to show my enthousiasm.

The past 10 years i learned one thing, a sentince wich dardar has under his posts: it isn't disability, it is ability.

In short, keep up the awsome work! big_smile

Greetz mike

we are back in active business, visit our homepage at:
http://www.nonvisiongames.com
http://www.facebook.com/mikeygamezone
or follow @mikeschippernl on twitter

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Bump.

"I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee."
guards, skyrim

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[wow]! I will also be waiting for this game to be released! And I also think that this year is gonna be filled with new RPGS! Keep up the good work. And, I forgot to say that I also love RPGs.

Some day I'll become a game developer! Rofl!

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24 (edited by fallingsquirrel 2018-03-31 15:27:37)

Hello all!  My name is Dave Evans and I am the game director and writer of The Vale.

First off, it’s great to be posting on my very first troll-free forum!  I’ve been reading the feedback here and it’s all respectful, amazingly concise, clearly informed, and a massive benefit to our team… please keep adding to the conversation!

Audio games afford me the opportunity to concentrate energy on what I love… crafting story and working with voice actors.  I sincerely hope that our team’s efforts will be appreciated, which is why I want to talk a little about our decision to make our game’s main character blind. 

In the development of this game, we are working with young and not so young members of the blind and low vision community, many of which have never played audio games before.  All seem very excited for the game after playing our demo.  When asked why they had never played before, some had just assumed video games were not for them ... unaware of what audio games had to offer… some noted a dislike of current conventions in audio games (challenging navigation and the robotic text-to-speech)… and some cited a lack of production quality when compared to visual based games.  All of these issues, we intend to address as we look to bring new members of the community to video games.

This focus group also widely appreciated the fact that the protagonist was a blind character.  Trope aside, they liked the connection between the lack of game visuals and the perspective of the game’s main character.   For this group, the connection was personal and has been described as “important”.

Now, for many of you on this forum (those who have been playing audio games for years) do not despair!  We intend to create a game that has depth and nuance.  We will have multiple difficulty modes to challenge more advanced players;  Along with our protagonist, there will be multiple, fully fleshed out blind characters in the game world, that represent the diversity within the blind community;  And finally, a little secret: It is our intention to make follow-up games that will include full visual gameplay… where players may chose to create blind or sighted characters.  Playing as a sighted character will still be fully accessible, while choosing a blind character will remove game visuals during combat and exploration to provide novelty for sighted gamers looking for new challenges.  I believe this is immersion and representation at its best.

Please feel free to weigh in on our game plan for The Vale, and I’m hoping we’ll have something available soon for you all to try out!

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