1 (edited by daisyalesoundworks 2017-09-11 15:17:34)

Hey everyone, I'm Brian from the threads about the game that's being made for both blind and sighted people, with full and beautiful visuals but also a heavy focus on audio in terms of mechanics and information transmission. You can find our main thread here. http://forum.audiogames.net/viewtopic.php?id=22912

I made this game as a way to get a game with average indie funding into the hands of VI gamers, because most audio games are dramatically, horribly underfunded as you know. If this game makes it, we'll have an audiogame that sighted people will be buying, playing and therefore supporting financially. We'll get a fully accessible game with a solid budget behind it.

I'm presenting the work I've done on accessibility through solid game design at a panel at one of the biggest games conferences around: Penny Arcade Expo Australia.

I want your input. I know what I want to say, I could write a dissertation, but I'm a sighted developer. I've spoken at length with my writer for the game who has blindness to gain a better perspective, and now I want more thoughts to bring to the mainstream gamers.

What do we want to say to them? This is a huge step forward for bringing vision impaired accessibility to the mainstream gaming scene.

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I didn't even know they did PAX in other countries, that's cool.

Friend me on Steam
and follow me on Twitter

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Hi.
What to say? Well, there are a lot of things to say.
Sony: Please make your screenreader available world wide. There are actually a lot of blind people outside the US. smile But, Sony don't listen at all, and they don't seem to care.
It would be fantastic to have accessible games for blind people on the consoles. Some games are playable, but that's pure lock. There are so many games which would have been playable, if just some small audio cues was added, or if the gameplay was changed a bit. Microsoft have made Narrator, their screenreader, ready to implement in games, but no developers have done that yet.
It would be fantastic if other companies would follow EA Games, who have started to implement accessibility for blind people in their games. You can read more about this in the Madden accessibility topic. Feel free to ask if you need more information.

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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Sony won't be in the audience, the audience for these panels is primarily gamers, with some indie gamer developers there too. So think more about what you would like to say to them. For the developers in the room, both the xbox text to speech API* and the Unity accessibility plugin would probably be worth mentioning, together with Tolk

* Narrator isn't available for games.. instead it's an API that sits there waiting for text strings to be passed to it, which it then speaks out. So the work to detect focus and send the text strings out etc needs to be done on the developer's end. Same as developing with Tolk.

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I've been reading the Madden accessibility topic, I was actually going to talk a little bit about that but from what I've read, they have a lot more work to be done before it's fully functional. Like they haven't thought out something as simple as an audio cue when the strength meter is min/maxed out when you're kicking a field goal. I'm going to try to not talk about what specific companies haven't done, because that's how you get blacklisted in the games community.
I think the focus of my portion of the talk will be to try to convince developers to bring the sound designer in earlier and try to address accessibility through solid game design, which is what I tried to do with my game.

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Ianhamilton, thank you that's some good insight about the different text to speech stuff that's going on. Cheers! big_smile

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I would love to point out the amount of games that do have audio cues for things, however accidental. Knights of Valour, available in the EU and AUStralia, has cues for when your special meter is full, when your boost meter is full as well as when new entrances open after defeating enemies. I would love to see that game brought to more accessible levels... so much of it is already there. Right now wanting help with menus and screens. Other than that, most fighting games such as Street Fighter V and Killer Instinct also have substancial audio cues. This would be something to bring up, that often times developers simply have to think of the sound design as communicating as much information as is possible, and express that to the sound designer so they can create for different onscreen events, player states, etc.

regards,
assault_freak

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That is exactly how I feel, Assault_Freak but I'm glad you said it, the sentiment has more meaning when it comes from the community than from a sound designer turned game developer.

Developers need to stop being afraid of sound as detracting from the gameplay but as another informative source.

Assault_Freak, do you know of any games that are naturally playable without any or much accessibility measures?

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9 (edited by assault_freak 2017-09-13 08:08:39)

As I said. Street Fighter V, Killer Instinct, pretty much any 2d or 3d fighting game. Guilty gear, Blazblue, Tekken 7, Mortal Kombat, and Injustice and Injustice 2, just to name the more current ones... but the list is much bigger than that of course! You Don't Know Jack on the ps3 is playable, as are some of the included games in the Jackbox party pack series from Jackbox Games. Samurai Warriors 4 is playable thanks to its AI controlled taggable partner. Knights of Valour, the free to play game on ps4, is playable to a point... but because menus are not read or written out anywhere, I can't upgrade characters or buy new ones. But I've beaten all the battles of the first chapter out of 4 in the campaign. This game is the one I am currently obsessing over and wanting to be able to play more. haha.

regards,
assault_freak

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Sorry, I have a few threads going I forgot you already mentioned the cues in this one. So the fighting games have great audio cues, but how do you know where you are on the screen? And do you mind if I mention the points in this discussion in my talk? I want to talk about games that are already doing things right in a lot of ways, and also talk about how my game is completely accessible without any external means (I narrate the menu buttons) but I don't want to sound like a pompous jerk, implying mine is the only game designed around accessibility.

Thank you for this input, it's making me worry about this talk I'm giving less and less haha.

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11 (edited by magurp244 2017-09-13 09:01:17)

Can't find the link, but there was an article somewhere about some fighting games having subtle regional audio cues depending on where the players character is in relation to the arena. You may find [this] list of resources on the subject useful. There's also a couple of other resources on Killer Instinct's accessibility such as articles [here] and [here] about some blind gamers experiences and methods, along with a video about its audio design [here].

-BrushTone v1.3.0: Accessible Paint Tool
-AudiMesh3D v1.0.0: Accessible 3D Model Viewer

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@9/10
I'd have to vehemently disagree about any game that's in mono being accessible without much extra work.  Tekken 7 and as far as I know, the Blazblue and Guilty Gear franchises are only in stereo in certain iterations on certain platforms, not universally like Injustice 1/2, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter V etc.

even Injustice 2 which has full stereo has very limited access to a vast majority of the game, including but not limited to the gear system and multiverse modes due to a lack of Microsoft Speech Synthesis API support that could be implemented by the developers, as with most games running on Xbox One.

However, Post 9 is correct that fighting games are more accessible than most, though accessibility and playability/enjoyment don't always share the same priorities on everyone's lists.  I'm happy to further explain my stance on this, such as it is, should you wish.

@10
In terms of how you know where you are on the screen, in a game like Killer Instinct or Injustice 2, where stereo panning is involved, you can use that to tell both where yourself and your opponent are.  It's not always easy to tell whether they're blocking etc, but that's a problem that could also be solved by audio cues.  Projectiles, in a game like Killer Instinct and most of the time in Injustice 2, travel across the screen as part of their audio via panning, so it's possible, though not easy, to jump over/duck under elements if you know what they are/where they're coming from height-wise.  However, with a mono game like Tekken 7 or the majority of what might be termed as Anime fighters (i.e. Blazblue, guilty Gear, etc) the latter two possibly having stereo iterations, it's a much more frustrating job as if the opponent does a move that crosses you up and you don't realise it, you would then likely get hit by at least one thing before you realise.  That one hit can, as from personal experience, lead to losing not just a round but an entire match.  In mono titles, it's far easier for sighted players to have an advantage, since technically, you're fighting with one eye completely shut, if you want to think of it that way.

As for a game that's fully accessible on PC, rather than consoles, Skullgirls is the prime example - it uses Tolk, a screen reader abstraction library that allows you, as with the Microsoft Speech Synthesis API on Xbox One, to pass a string through it which then is read by the screen reader as output, as far as I understand it.  It's in stereo too, which is definitely a plus in my book.

I hope that answers your questions and if you have any further ones, please feel free to ask.

Regards,
Sightless Kombat.
***If you wish to refer to me in @replies, use Sightless***

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Yep. As has been said.. people will definitely have different opinions on the subject. I play Tekken 7 and blazblue just fine, because Ive learned to not rely on stereo panning for games like that.. especially in tekken, where projectiles are rare enough that it's not much of an issue. I rely on the sounds of the actual moves to judge positioning, as special moves, throws, all will have unique sounds and you can determine if they register or miss. For me, regional tracking for my own character is more mental, and I do my best to be aware of what each movement is doing, rather than listening and reacting. Even in a game like stereo panning it's not something I focus on 100%, just enough to confirm what I'm already thinking. But again, gamers have different opinions on this one... Sightless and others are on one side of it and I'm somewhere in the middle. Stereo panning is nice to have, yes, but it's not a deal breaker and doesn't ruin the game for me from a playability standpoint... only as an audio nerd. You can use any points I've made so far in your talk if you wish. The more perspectives there are presented, the better. Might even be helpful to include that some people rely more heavily on stereo panning than others, and some blind gamers don't enjoy or find games with mono combat audio playable, etc.

regards,
assault_freak

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14 (edited by ross 2017-09-14 00:56:10)

One game that hasn't been mentioned here is Pokemon. I'm a huge Pokemon player and I have videos of me playing Pokemon on my Youtube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoZujT … ax9BTc7s2g

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15 (edited by daisyalesoundworks 2017-09-14 04:23:35)

Hey Ross, watching your video now! This is big, I didn't think of Pokemon.

What accessibility measures are in place to help navigate the world?

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Firstly, just thanks for doing this. It's awesome that more and more folks are turning out for accessibility. I personally want some big RPGs like Xenosaga, and more strategy games like Golden sun or Kingdom under fire.

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You're welcome man. I love this community, and I think a lot of games need to make accessibility a core tenet and not an afterthought. It needs to be a room in a building, instead of an external addition after the building is done, and that's what my talk will generally be.

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100% of Pokemon's accessibility is unintentional. There's honestly a bunch now, so I'll try to list a few.

1. Bump sounds when you hit a wall.

2. Footstep sounds that change based on terrain.

3. Certain menus don't wrap, which is useful.

4. Different cries for every Pokemon.

5. Just in general, sounds for practically any event.

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Really fantastic feedback Ross. Thank you.

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