So if anyone remembers the games from gamesfortheblind.com, 10 games that all used the Eloquence speech synthesizer, these games are no longer available for purchase. And they haven't been, for years. Neither has his domain. It moved to gamesforblind.com in 2011, but even that site went down. And unlike Bavisoft, no one had to pull strings to get the website off the net, because his domain must've expired without renewal. With that in mind, we should at least change the license status to unknown on the site, since there's no way to obtain these games. And to top that, there's no way of getting in touch with the dev that I'm aware of. Unlike Bsc, who had co-developer Dan Zingaro and even Justin with active methods of contact for that matter, Robert Betz has no contact info that we're aware of. His old email address went the way of the domain itself. Since this has been the case for all of 6 years now, what's the best thing to do about these games? Also, it would probably be nice to change the compatibility to windows xp since these games fail miserably under windows 7.
1 (edited by jack 2017-06-28 23:43:09)
Iactually never tried any of these so am not sure about the status or running of them, especially since I don't think demos were ever available.
I can certainly change both license and platform info and put a note to the affect Robert bets has vanished off the map, though for anything else I'm afraid I am not sure.
I have the full versions from the cd rom but I still don't think we could actually go ahead and distribute them, yet. Even with years complete and total internet inactivity from the dev distribution would still be somewhat risky. There were demos, and I can upload them for now. Here they are. These are future proof since I've uploaded them to the archive.
OH man. I remember those. There was also Accessible starfight. This was also back when Accessible Chat was around.
I might still have Accessible Starfight on a CD somewhere. I haven't been able to find said CD for about as long as the site's been down, because irony. :-/
I've got the trial of Starfight as well as the registered version, perhaps that one might be the safest one to upload as that game actually was never offered when they moved to using eloquence, they never had a self-voicing version of Starfight. Ironic, considering that was about the same time Accessible Chat was scrapped and it was recommended to use Freedom Chat to try and play online instead. Of course, I could be wrong, and whether it's being sold or not it wouldn't be a good idea to upload. But we'll see. I will say this though, STarfight works flawlessly with windows 7, as well as the older versions of all his other games that interfaced to the screenreaders. Possibly because eti eloquence is not present in these versions.
Well redistributing the demos might be nice, I confess the eloquence was actually part of what put me off since I've never been an eloquence fan, that and the fact that with people like Jim Kitchin and Ian Humphries already producing extremely good free to play versions of games like battleships I never saw the need to investigate these.
Accessible starfight ironically would probably have been the one I was most interest ed in, accept that other than a few old posts mentioning it as having once been available I don't think I ever heard about it, indeed it never got an original Db page back in the day.
While I understand his desire to provide us with natural voices to use with the games, what got me is why he didn't just use sapi. Firstly, if it wasn't for Eloquence, he could've probably charged way less for the games, since he had to pay bloody Nuance royalties for every application sold that included the eloquence library. I think it's fair to provide people with games, then you're on your own with voices. Second, Eloquence, at least the vb6 implementation, is probably the reason why the games don't run under windows 7.
The reason for bundling Eloquence with the games is I think more a product of its time than anything else. The games were coming out in 2000/2001, and this was the time when SAPI wasn't even included with most versions of Windows in use and you couldn't be sure everyone had it. Window-Eyes I think actually started shipping with SAPI Eloquence around this time, but most people had JAWS which had an internal copy. Second, most people did not have multi-channel sound cards. If you recall developers like VGStorm recently complaining that they didn't like screen reader API's because you couldn't easily sync up speech and sounds, well this problem was made much worse back in those days. If you wanted sounds in the game, using a screen reader API meant that you'd either play them to early and crash your app because the sound card was busy, or cause the screen reader to miss an important message because a sound effect was playing.
And finally re: royalties, Nuance was far from having Eloquence rights back then. It makes me wonder if ETI/Speech Works offered developers better licensing deals versus what Nuance is doing now. Aside from AT I don't think Eloquence was too popular in the software speech world, certainly less than Softvoice which you saw much more often in old Windows Shareware. I wonder if this was a case of marketting, pricing or both.
Actually that made perfect sense foor the time, Peter. That's totally fine. Actually, my mistake. Both Nuance and Speechworks required royalties, but to be able to keep the price for the games as low as he did definitely suggests that the rates were a lot more reasonable. Besides, had it been Nuance, I'll bet you a million bucks the games would've had drm, which they have nothing of the sort. I guess the only thing I don't get is why they were never updated when built-in speech wasn't as much a necessity as it was back then, but he didn't. All he did was change his domain to gamesforblind.com back in 2011. Even hos newest tiPoker Squares and Suit Yourself titles used Eloquence, but that's only so that the games could remain the same feature-wise.
Well it would've been nice if he pdated the games to work with Sapi, then again since all accept for starfight have good sapi versions elsewhere, maybe he saw the eloquence as a selling point even though most people who run sapi habitually probably have a semi decent voice for it, and these days even the windows default voices are not too bad (a long time Since the horrors of Microsoft sam).
either way unless Robert bets will update these somehow probably they'll just remain a curiosity, though I'll add links to the demos from the archive and a note about the games' current status and run problems next week when I'm back at my desktop and can do some more work on the db.