2019-01-25 03:23:14 (edited by zkline 2019-02-10 18:38:33)

Hi all,

I've been  wanting to write this post for around a week, ever since I first stumbled onto this game more or less by accident. I hesitated because it's not perfectly accessible, and there are some parts that are kind of confusing at the moment. Nevertheless, I had a bit of an accessibility milestone today and so thought I'd share.

X3: Terran Conflict is a giant, sandbox space sim available here  on Steam. It's kind of like a souped-up, elaborate version of the Smugglers games, only with much more going on under the hood and requiring the use of NVDA OCR to play. This normally would be inaccessible for us, except for the fact it features a lot of spoken audio, a very robust autopilot system, and scripting.

The basic premise of the game is familiar, you start in a small, inadequate ship and can gradually work your way up to larger and more powerful ones with a combination of trade, combat, and doing missions for any of several factions. What distinguishes the X series from similar titles is its depth, and the emphasis on a dynamic economy you can fully participate in. You can end up owning not just ships, but space stations and factories and whole fleets, which you can use to fight for you, become rich, and potentially even conquer entire sections of the universe, depending on the mods you have installed.

The reason I mention this game here is largely because of its modibility. You can write scripts to do pretty much anything, automate almost any task, print out information from the game to files, and a lot of other things. I'm working on making a series of accessibility modifications to help with certain sections which aren't as nice as they could be with OCR alone.

Even without these modifications, you can do a lot in this game purely by hand. THere are keyboard controls for almost everything, ranging from hotkeys to menus, and you can easily control multiple ships by giving them orders remotely, a feature rather unique to this game. There are software upgrades your character can buy for his ships which automate everything from trading to combat and exploration.

If there is a flaw in the game at the moment it's that the audio isn't quite as complete as I wish it were. An excellent example of this is the way trade is handled. I'm working on modifications to put trade prices into a log file, because the game reads just about everything else outloud itself, including lengthy item descriptions. There are also inaccessible symbols used for missions and such, which I will hopefully be able to address at a future date.

FOr anyone interested, here is a stream I did last week, outlining how I do things and what's still problematic. I note that it isn't the best quality, there are a number of issues I had with it that I've since found solutions for, such as the disappearing space stations and problems with undocking. OThers, such as trade price reading, are currently in progress but showing significant promise.

Below are some links to resources i've either created or discovered:

X Universe Plugin Manager: DOwnload this, as you'll need it for the scripts below.
X3TC Accessibility Scripts, V 0.2: https://www.dropbox.com/s/u6b84g5mk62ni … 2.zip?dl=1 DOwnload these scripts and unzip the .pck files to the proper scripts folder. Install the plugin Manager, run it, and point it to your X3 folder. Finally, set the save game mode to "modified," and you should find a trade log whenever you dock at a station, in log file 0150 in the DOcuments\Egosoft\X3TC folder.

Note: already pre-installed in the Albien prelude add-on. Move to COordinates Mod, V1.00: https://www.dropbox.com/s/z0khysehniz2n … 9.spk?dl=1 Download this, install it using the plugin manager, and buy some navigation software for your ships. You will be able to ask the autopilot to move to specific coordinates, which is very handy in unknown sectors.

X3 TC Stats Compendium: https://www.dropbox.com/s/3p44xmfgyku50 … xlsm?dl=1. This file contains a bunch of statistics about ships, sectors, missiles, and a ton of other information. It's got spoilers in some parts, but is hopefully useful to someone.

More info wil be posted as I find it or write scripts for it.

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2019-01-25 04:16:46

I think I'm going to get this. I need more games to play on Twitch/Youtube.

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2019-01-25 04:35:54 (edited by zkline 2019-01-25 04:42:12)

For anyone interested, there's a fairly active subreddit here. The game's official forums are here, but they're more focused on the sequel at the moment, which is sadly probably not as accessible, though I haven't tried it.

THe subreddit is a great place to discuss the game and ask questions, and has a bunch of very helpful readers.

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2019-01-25 07:51:43

Hi zkline: How did you managed to finish the tutorial?

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2019-01-25 08:01:41 (edited by zkline 2019-01-25 08:03:22)

I honestly didn't. I just took this list of shortcuts from Steam and ran with it. The tutorial is entirely optional and you can just ignore it completely.

As a note, I've got a small accessibility script I'm working on which will help with reading trade prices. The only way to get info out of the game with scripts is to send it to a debug log. I basically have a scrip which will run through the goods available for sale on your current station, and produce output like this…

Good Meatsteak Cahoonas, trading at 106 credits
Good Silicon Wafers, trading at 459 credits
Good Crystals, trading at 1813 credits
Good Energy Cells, trading at 18 credits
.

YOu need to read the log file and clear it manually each time, but hopefully I can automate this at least a little in a future version. I'm trying to find out how to bind this script to a keyboard command from the trade menu, so I don't have to muck about in the game's internal script editor to run it.
I'll keep everyone posted smile

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2019-01-25 08:22:12

I am from german and i got the german version. So if you want, i can test it tomorrow.
The developer-team is also from germany. Maybe i should try to contact them? Or we even could try to find someone in the modding-community?

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2019-01-25 08:35:09

Hey…

Yeah, I tried to contact the developers earlier on the forums, but didn’t get much in the way of help. It might be worth more people doing so, when I get back to the computer tomorrow I can pass along the thread I made. My plan for the moment is to keep working on the script, and try to make it slightly friendlier to use. I am hoping to stream again on Saturday, with access to more information.  I should note that the community on Reddit has been very helpful, answering many questions and giving play advice.

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2019-01-25 09:01:03

Hi.
Wow. Awesome you are able to make those accessible scripts. Sounds complicated. I'm following the topic with interest.

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

2019-01-25 10:26:00

Hi.
for the next stream with the game you should fix your audio levels.
Especially when you are in the Argon system, the music was far to loud and I couldn't hear your voice.
You should turn down the music if possible or turn it off fully.

I quite like the game, what seams to be problematic though is that I couldn't tell what was a ship, a planet, a station or what ever object there is.

I will get the game as soon as possible.

Greetings Moritz.

Hömma, willze watt von mir oder wie, weil wenn nich, dann lass dir mal sagen, laber mir kein Kottlett anne Wange und hömma, wo wir gerade dabei sind, dann iss hier hängen im Schacht, sonns klapp ich dir hier die Fingernägel auf links, datt kannze mir mal glaubn.

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2019-01-25 11:32:18

I think, x 2 got the same engine. But maybe the systems for automation are not implemented and the output-speech is maybe not on the same level.

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2019-01-25 13:23:51

I will definitely try to fix the audio next time around, I am planning to stream Saturday at 1 PM Pacific time, 4 PM Eastern, 9 PM GMT.  My twitch channel is at http://twitch.tv/BlindGuyNW.   I will of course upload to YouTube later.

Regarding games that use the same engine, there is at least one more expansion to the Terran conflict, as well as reunion, the earlier game in the X 3 series.  This doesn’t take into account some community modifications, which are extensive enough to probably qualify as their own games. For the moment, the bass game suits me just fine, there is still very far to go.

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2019-01-25 13:43:47

Hi.
What I fear will not be accessible is combat. I mean how do you want to know where your oponent actually is, how to target him and all that stuff?
Still, I listened to your earlier stream again, and I am still confused what a planet and what a ship is for example, because it's not really clear to me.
Maybe we can ask people from the modding comunity to help us in creating scripts for the game and also show them this topic, maybe we can achive something with that.


Greetings Moritz.

Hömma, willze watt von mir oder wie, weil wenn nich, dann lass dir mal sagen, laber mir kein Kottlett anne Wange und hömma, wo wir gerade dabei sind, dann iss hier hängen im Schacht, sonns klapp ich dir hier die Fingernägel auf links, datt kannze mir mal glaubn.

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2019-01-25 13:52:17

Hi Moritz,Yeah, combat is harder, but there are ship programs you can get to help with that as well. One thing which isn't quite clear from the stream is that you can order autopilot to follow a target. It's something I'll certainly demonstrate this time around. As for distinguishing ships from stations and such, that comes with practice. It's worth noting that the designers decided to forego planetary landing in this game, so they exist as largely background color. Everything is either a ship, some kind of station, or something relatively rare like an asteroid.  Figuring out which is which takes a bit of getting used to, but I will be sure to mention it next time.

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2019-01-25 14:03:32

I found out i got only X3 reunion.
Maybe we can work on this simultaneously
I realy think we should try to get in contact with the moddingcommunity as Simba said.

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2019-01-25 14:12:09

hi.
@zcline hmm ok, well, I probably get the german version of the game, at leased I suppose due to the localisation it will be the German version I am downloading.

Something that might be inaccessible are the missions where you have to search a ship, get out of your ship and take over another ships command system, you actually have to get out of your ship and fly twards the other one with your space suit, at leased that is what I found out in a let's play.

Maybe showing how to start a game and such would be a good idea.
Have you actually completed any traids or combat situations in the game already?

Greetings Moritz.

Hömma, willze watt von mir oder wie, weil wenn nich, dann lass dir mal sagen, laber mir kein Kottlett anne Wange und hömma, wo wir gerade dabei sind, dann iss hier hängen im Schacht, sonns klapp ich dir hier die Fingernägel auf links, datt kannze mir mal glaubn.

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2019-01-25 15:00:19

oh xac xac xac you have made my day! i loved this game for so many years i ouldn't begin to tell you.
i've sent this link direct to the head of egosoft. his name is Bernd. with any luck he'll see this and respond. i used to be very very active on the x-forums. i got rid of all my x games last year. but i'm going to keep a good eye on this thread. something else you'll need output for is asteroid yields for planting asteroid mines. ore and silicon. are you using an argon mercury? you can get plenty of trading upgrades if i remember from terracorp which is 2 sectors south of argon prime. watch out for the Khaak though. they use effectively beam lasers and they are deadly when they swarm. also i can't remember how you do it but there's a x/y/z coords system you can access to fly around in system. this would be useful for placing factories. speaking of which you would also need a way of being able to manipulate the factory menu so you can set the max distance your transports can go to get resources, you will also need to set prices minimum buy prices for your factory to buy resources from other factories, whether you want to let others dock or only your own ships. then setting your selling prices for others to buy.

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2019-01-25 15:17:35

Hey,

I'm so glad to find at least one other person who has some familiarity with this game around here. smile

Yeah, I'm using an Argon Mercury at the moment, and will definitely be walking through how I start the game on my next stream. I've done some combat, though mostly focused on trading. I asked about the EVA question the other day, and was told that there are a few ways to avoid getting stuck outside my ship. THe communitiy has been super helpful in general, suggesting all kinds of ship upgrades to make life easier for us. There's an autopilot mod to move to specific coordinates, for instance, among many other things.

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2019-01-25 15:27:17

yeah darth vader was responsible for that initially because at first it was a script that he wrote for x2. so now it's an actual addon is it? excellent. yeah the hardcore x players should be pretty helpful. i wonder who's still there from the old days. the murcuries are the fastest of the transports with the borons having the highest cargo capacities.

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2019-01-25 15:28:22

actually he was called lord vader sorry. he became a mod on the forums if i remember rightly.

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2019-01-25 15:36:33

I've had better luck getting help from Reddit, oddly enough, though they don't seem to know as much about modding the game as the forum people. Everyone is mostly focused on the new X4, though I'm quite content to play a slightly older, though more refined, title.

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2019-01-25 15:47:08

yeah i don't know much about foundations i must admit. although the scripting engine maybe somewhat more advanced than in conflict so maybe you might have an easier time of it there. i really don't know am only guessing to be honest.

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2019-01-25 17:50:03

I grabbed this as well. It does look really interesting! I'm not getting great results with OCR unfortunately. Does anyone know if there are tricks to getting better results? Maybe system video settings?

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2019-01-25 18:58:15

I would love to know. I’ve had some issues with Jaws OCR, but had a lot better luck with NVDA in general, though neither is perfect. A combination of patience and memory for keystrokes is necessary in some cases. I wonder if a higher screen resolution might help, mine is only 1366x768.  Some screens, like the opening menu, are not very friendly, but fortunately, they are easily memorized. There is a manual available, which goes over each menu in some detail, which is very helpful.

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2019-01-25 21:04:30

zac i've heard back from Bernd. he's had a brief look at this topic and is basically asking what sort of help you need so he can direct people. could you fill us in a bit as to what you require? am not promising anything but it is a response never the less and a quick one smile.

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2019-01-25 21:18:25

Darren,

Thanks so much for relaying that. I wish I had a more definite ask for him at the moment, I'm just trying to learn the scripting language and see how much I can do with the tools we have.

The areas I struggle with right now are all related to reading information from the game. Some screens, such as the trade interface, are just not very friendly with OCR. In particular, I had to write a script to get trade prices out into a log file I can read outside, because i couldn't find an easier way to do it.

On a more important note, the mission system is difficult at the moment because mission guidance is indicated with a visual symbol. I asked earlier about some kind of auditory equivalent which I might be able to script, but didn't get any responses.

Finally, while I'm dreaming, some kind of auditory tone to play when you're heading in the right direction/aiming at your target in manual flight would be great. As of now it's pretty hard to do it in free space, especially when you're ejected from your ship. This is pretty low on the totem pole however.

Thanks again for getting in touch and for your help.

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