I've been having quite a lot of thought about this lately but definitely did not want to just go ahead and do this without feedback.
The amount of audiogames on Steam is slowly increasing. Now, I know steam is not the most accessible of clients to use. It's not about adding every single game, either. It's about adding the games that are fully accessible, with screen reader support. It's the same with some browser games. Back in the day, this website also had a few games listed that were quite hard to get going properly, especially stuff like Demor and older games like Beautiful Ears. It also had a game for the xbox called In The Pit, and even a game I think for dreamcast called real sound kaise no regret.
On Steam, so far we've got Skullgirls, Smuglers, and a bunch of text-based games from Choice of Games. This is not about adding Mortal Kombat, Naruto, or anything like that to the list, it's strictly about adding accessible Steam games. Grail to the Thief and A Blind Legend are another two.
It might even be as easy adding Steam just as a platform to some of the game list, like ChoiceofGames.
This will be for screen reader friendly games, the latest version of Skullgirls, for isntance, actually has tolk library support which means jaws, super nova, window eyes and NVDA will work.
Grail to the Thief and A Blind Legend are also fully accessible games.
In my opinion this site needs to evolve with the rest of the accessible gaming scene. I can’t say that I agree with the views of some of the people editing the game database. For example, Skullgirls I think really needs a database entry, because I find it a lot more playable than the new Smugglers games. Sure, if you have SuperNova, Smugglers works quite well. But with JAWS or NVDA it’s very difficult to play and I for one know what I found less frustrating. Is Steam a barrier? Yes, but it’s one that you can overcome, and there might be people willing to do so. Likewise, Pokemon Crystal, or more specifically Pokemon Crystal access should probably also get an entry because of the amount of work and heart that was put into the project.
Also, I don’t think the news section is getting enough love. It’s quite surprising how much is going on that you only really get to find out if you follow either sites like Applevis, or the new releases section of the forum. People that come to this site while googling may end up missing on a lot of content as a result. Perhaps we need more database editors and news posters? People that, in addition to playing games made specifically for/by the blind, but also play games on Steam or consoles. And I’m not saying this because I think games like Mortal Kombat, Shank or Kungfu Strike should get entries, as they don’t have enough audio queues or reading menus. But if we get more games like Skullgirls, someone will need to play them and write reviews, someone who doesn’t mind having a Steam account.
I agree. I've been listening to people who have been playing SG, and I definitely think that this game deserves an entry in the database
#4 (edited by robjoy 2016-05-03 19:14:36)
@pitermach summarised my thoughts on this.
I think Mike Z. put a lot of effort into SkullGirls accessibility, as well as community members behind Narcissu. Grail to the Thief and A Blind Legend should be certainly added, as they are self-voiced. I wish we had more games to add, but these are the ones I can think of. This list should increase slowly, as we approach more developers.
Edit: Regarding the issue of Steam's inaccessibility. Yes, Steam is not the most accessible platform in the world, but we do have workarounds which can be used to make Steam Accessible to a point where the most crucial features are accessible, including purchasing, downloading and running games, adding/removing friends, chatting, inviting friends to play, etc.
Considering how much work the existing developers had put into their games, excluding them on grounds of having to use workarounds should not be a reason.
Skullgirls has Tolk now? Rather than clipreader?
This forum and web site is about games that are accessible to the visually impaired. Not somewhat accessible or partially accessible, but fully accessible. So, until the Steam client is fully accessible to the visually impaired, games that require it don't belong here.
If you want to have a forum where you can discuss Steam games, there is the Steam user's group forum, go there.
I wholeheartedly disagree with Figment's assessment that Steam games should just be wiped off of the Audiogames forum, simply because there are a couple accessibility hurdles to overcome. Steam has command parameters and options to make it more accessible, and I don't see those challenges as anything more than the hurdles people went through to play Japanese games (changing system settings, installing language packages, etc). Given that some accessible games are already coming out for the Steam platform, it seems short-sighted to exclude the entire platform as a whole, simply because Steam isn't the holy grail of accessibility. Do I wish it worked better? Of course I do, but I and various others have learned to use Steam, which obviously means it's not a task unsurmountable.
I could see a separate category for Steam games, but to out right alienate the platform because of some shortcomings would do a serious disservice to several of us on the forum who happen to love the games we play on Steam. Would you have games like A Blind Legend and Skullgirls alienated simply because they are hosted via Steam, even though every effort has gone to make Skullgirls accessible, and ABL is nothing but an audio game?
If we start filtering games by "partial accessibility", the question becomes all too mercurial. What might seem pretty accessible to me may not be so to another person, and vice versa. If a game functions well with Super Nova but not with JAWS, am I within my rights to proclaim the game as unplayable? And if I can do so and possess the ability to remove the game from the forum, might I not be robbing someone else of the opportunity to play a game which, to them, might be perfectly acceptable? Should games which are playable by those who have some slight degree of vision be ostracized because they are inaccessible to those of us who have no vision, but are perfectly accessible to them?
I refuse a Draconian measuring stick, wherein all things are subject to a specific criterion. What works well for me may not do so for you, an what works well for you may not do likewise for me or the next guy down the line, but if we start closing our doors to adversity and diversity, our gaming community will be very small. We need to embrace what's available,. Doing so will only broaden our game library. Throwing away everything which doesn't meet every specification for perfection can only constrict our growth as a gaming community.
Ok, everyone is going to hate my guts for saying this but I don't think we should put any accessible games on here for steam.
There are a few reasons.
1. steam is inaccessible and just doesn't work unless it suddenly sort of does in windows with nvda.
It is a semi webpage so not much would need to be done to the actual client.
2. valve showws no interest in making it accessible and I refuse to support anyone that has an inaccessible games client, even if the games are accessible I see no way to launch them so steam games are not accessible because steam isn't.
I also do not agree with japanese games being that hard to handle especially now we have the jgt addon for the nvda reader by mr reed.
3. while yes you can use the website to buy games and such what is the point if the client interface just doesn't work.
If you need to compromise put the games on the database, but say that steam has issues.
I have sadly seen renpy games on steam, and can't see my way to getting them, I mean I had issues to get the steam account up even with my capcha fixer and I see no future for steam.
Unless someone is going to write an alternitive interface to it that is.
Next I know friends 1 in particular that although he will use steam is less than happy with it for many ways.
It is aparently not stable, it also needs updates and the games on it need large updates some of this comercial games he buys offline will need gegs of updates even before they are playable.
A lot is online and the steam client is well not as good as is desired.
Anyway if I started aggreeing that steam would even be something I'd use that would mean I agree that drm enabled games are something I'd actually play, and with the acception of dentin's guidedog client I actually don't agree with games you need a client to do anything with.
I also don't agree that we as blind should put up with games we have to play with an inaccessable front end.
Its better to put all games that use this frontend as inaccessible so we can stop this ever being used by real developers even though some think steam is a good idea.
If valve won't budge then neither will I.
There are enough games right now that are not steamed and so I won't play steam games.
Ofcause if someone knows of a work round for steam I'm game I guess.
I totally agree with pitermach
I think it's time to add an entry to the Steam client, and accessible games mentioned above as Skullgirls.
I also believe the steam guide could be improved and contain more details to help users.
greetings and thanks.
Maybe i could be wrong, but i don't remember reading about this forum behing only for games full accessible. I ever see this community as a community of blind gamers, that talks about accessible games and adaptations to make one more accessible.
This is why I've taken so long thinking about whether I should, or shouldn't, add them, all of the issues listed above have also been on my mind.
I agree, the Steam client itself is not the most accessible thing in the world. However, I can also say the same about Smugglers, which has a database entry and only seems to work properly with Supernova, the same can be said about the Japanese games working with NVDA the easiest.
Also, here's the thing. Didn't some of the web games people discover have unlabeled buttons at first?
The client definitely needs fixing, but it seems like without publicity Valve won't listen. With audiogames being on the rise, if we start to add some and then spread it to some gaming news sites (this is definitely possible if you contact them first) and say look, there are now some audiogames, valve need to step up, this might actually help. We tried a petition before but that didn't really work because the only game we had access to was Skullgirls. But now, we've got Skullgirls, the Choice of Games like Heroes Rise, Renpi, A Blind Legend, Grail to The Thief, the accessible games are going up. We don't have any of them listed anywhere though. OK they are on the forum but the topics could be all over the place.
With database entries there are also kind of reviews which would describe how they are accessible. It could also lay the groundwork for the future because I actually think more and more independent devs are going to use Steam.
Even with my optimism though, I'm still a bit on the fence, as I'm still worried that new users won't have a chance to even get logged in without sighted help. Plus those pesky captchas, no audio option as it currently stands, at all.
Here is my view on this. I realize I haven't been gaming as much as I usually do, so I might be a bit behind on this, so I accept corrections.
I definitely think accessible Steam games deserve an entry in the database. Why? Because while this site *IS* called AudioGames.net, there are already a bunch of playable mainstream games in the database, and not of them are fully accessible. Here's an example. I recently got one of the Adventure to Fate games, which I found on *THIS* website. Is this a fully playable game? Yes, as far as I can see. But it is definitely not intuitive. A lot of buttons have double labels, one of which doesn't work. The screen never fully refreshes, so there are lots of leftovers from previous screens. It reuses widgets like crazy, so if you do two consecutive fights, your obtained items will look all weird and it is impossible to know which ones are new and which ones are just empty widgets that voiceover is reading wrong.
And yet, this game has an entry.
While I do realize the Steam client's accessibility is terrible, and that is Valve's problem, do the developers really have to pay for this? Steam is a good platform for developers to work with. We're a minority here. I'm sorry, but you can't expect Mike Z to release Skullgirls on Guide Dog Games, for example. That just won't work. Yes, I realize the steam client is terrible. But I have never, ever had a problem with accessibility within the game. A blind legend doesn't sem to have a single problem either.
I'm not saying very game should be added. I'm not even saying most games should be added. Hell, maybe they should have their own separate page, or category, or some tag on them, something. But people who don't want to look through page and pages of posts deserve to know about games such as Skullgirls.
The Steam client is not a game. The games within Steam are. And they're what you're interested in. yes, you might have to use a workaround for the client. But is it possible? Is it worth it? Yes. I have more than 30 games on steam and there are a bunch of people that I know who have even more. And the whole community deserves to have the choice of going through Steam to get access to these games.
An enemy we cannot defeat.
A destiny we cannot escape.
Follow me on twitter @guilevi2000
Ok, so maybe I'm wrong about partially accessible games not being allowed here. But, in my defense, in the past, I've seen Dark decline to allow a game to be announced on the forums because it had a CAPTCHA that wasn't usable by the visually impaired. I guess I took that to mean that partially accessible games weren't allowed.
My feeling is that if audiogames.net is going to allow partially accessible games on the site and forum. It shouldn't promote itself as being about games for the visually impaired. I say that because if partially accessible games are allowed, who decides which games are listed and which are not, and just how inaccessible will a game be allowed to become before it is removed. audiogames.net should then promote itself as a source for information about audio games, but not for games accessible to the visually impaired since that won't necessarily be true anymore.
I came here because audiogames.net was promoted as being a source for information about games that would be accessible to me, if I now have to worry about partially accessible games and whether they are accessible enough for me to be able to play them without have to jump through all kinds of hoops or get sighted help, I'm sorry, I can no longer continue to use or recommend audiogames.net.
#15 (edited by guilevi 2016-05-06 01:43:51)
Not trying to offend you here, but your argument makes no sense. Yes, Skullgirls might not be made specifically for the blind, but it is an accessible game. Steam is the biggest issue here, and we have a perfectly good and detailed guide on how to set it up and install games. Audiogames.net might have to change the expression "games for the visually impaired" to "games accessible for the visually impaired", but is that seriously such a big deal? If, like I suggested, steam games are propperly tagged as such, people who don't want to accept Steam don't have to give a meow about it. They still may be accessible games (which by the way is not a synonim of audiogames) but they won't be made specifically for the blind. Which makes me ask myself why the site still says that, when we have games in the db like Adventure to Fate which are most definitely not made specifically for us
An enemy we cannot defeat.
A destiny we cannot escape.
Follow me on twitter @guilevi2000
I think as Guillebi.
I think we all should be more open and not close ourselves as wayward children.
If we are to question the accessible games many games for IOS and browser should be removed from the database.
greetings and thanks.
First of all, I agree that, in the interests of diversification, games that are accessible should be listed no matter the platform. It doesn't matter how challenging the game is to play; as long as it is aside from the general question of whether it's accessible, it should get a listing.
But I disagree that there is no standard benchmark for accessibility. A game that's accessible only because you can play it entirely from start to finish using nothing but memory is clearly not accessible at all. In this respect, I believe the Steam client is a very serious obstacle. The fact of the matter is that it is actively hostile to accessibility, and the margin by which you can use it at all is barely sufficient to play the games, and requires a tremendous amount of effort, and possibly even sighted help. I cannot on principle advocate games which, even by accident, can be played by a blind person, if a condition of doing so is to endure such appalling mistreatment from the game client. Maybe you want to disagree on the details and that's cool, but you're not going to deny that it takes more than installing the right pieces of software and changing a couple of system settings.
So I want to ask you guys, seriously, if you'd considered any alternative venue for listing such games--maybe as an always up-to-date list under a single entry--by which people could learn about the games, but still be strongly aware of the conditions for playing. If we can get games listings sharing both Steam and some other platform, even better, but it must be possible for users to know what challenges they will face in playing the games on Steam, and that only the most advanced of computer / screen reader users (specifically, NVDA and OCR) are even likely to succeed.
Your thoughts welcome.
The problem here is "accessible" as used by this site is a very formal deffinition. ie, playable with the same degree of effort as a sighted person.
Smugglers is, using Nvda, supernova or window eyes, ditto with the japanese games with nvda (the translation problems are another issue not related to access but language).
Last I heard the steam client required ocr interpretation, literally printing material to the screen and then clicking with guesswork, not something a sighted person needs to do, and not an effort that will dicrease with time.
The plane fact is a large amount of effort has! gone in to trying to get valve to make the client more accessible, but they asimply re not interested. Poticions, e-mails detailing access fixes, all of this has been tried and they simply do not responde. Generally when a company does not respond to access requests it's because they have little to no interest in responding, indeed the fact that developers like the developer of skullgirls have! included access fixes in their games and valve still have showed no interest in fixing the problems in their client is a pretty clear message.
Therefore, until! the client is fixed, steam games won't get pages, indeed I'd strongly suggest that developers of games like Skullgirls if they want their games to be fully accessible do as the developers of smugglers, and the cog titles do and offer downloads without! the inaccessible mess of steam, indeed I actually think this website should not! support Steam given Valve's basic lack of interest in accessibility.
As to other games like Pokemon crystal access, well I don't know sinse I've not played it, simple as that. There is only one of me and there are lots of games to work with, and I tend to write news about games that I myself have played, that is why we have several news posters so it's hoped there are enough people to cover all relevant accessible new releases.
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.)
@dark: the thing is, Smugglers is not exactly playable with NVDA, even with the screen/flat review mode and on recent windows systems there's the whole DPI thing to contend with whereby if you try to click something NVDA's focus moves all over the place.
For a game like Skullgirls, having a download only would almost require a re-write particularly as the infrastructure for online mode relies on the user's Steam friend list. Single player would work fine for this sort of thing, but part of the fun is definitely playing online.
Since Skull Girls, which I have never played, is listed despite it's accessibility problems, I'd suggest that the game description also describe the game's accessibility issues. That way people, like me, who aren't interested in trying to play a partially accessible game can easily avoid them.
Skullgirls is not listed in the database yet, as this is an issue not to be taken lightly. If it were to be listed though, it will definitely have a heads up about Steam. There's a poll that's here and lots of people seem to have an interest in Steam games being listed, which then results in, how exactly we can go about doing this due to the fact that Steam is, quite frankly, not the most accessible thing out there and still needs a heck of a lot of work.
It's interesting, it makes me wonder if people want this website to start branching out a bit. If that is the case, then the earlier question comes to mind: how can this be done?
@dark, the steam client does not require either OCR or guesswork. To me, it looks like you haven't even tried the Steam client. No offense, but in my opinion, you can't realy make an informed decision if you haven't even tried the software, so right now you're going on information that is outdated and not true. It's like saying that you shouldn't get Windows because you need to pay hundreds of dollars just to get JFW, WE or SN. NVDA came out a long time ago, but you might not know about it. Of course this is a stupid analogy, but you know what I mean, you're limiting what people can find on this site because you *think* it's not good, although you haven't experienced it.
An enemy we cannot defeat.
A destiny we cannot escape.
Follow me on twitter @guilevi2000
#23 (edited by Xoren 2016-05-06 21:07:53)
@guilevi: You said everything I wanted to say. @Dark: You're being incredibly narrow minded and ignorant about Steam. As Guilevi said, steam does not need OCR, once you make a couple tweaks. I will confess that making some of those tweaks *might* require OCR (depending on your situation), but again, I've seen you and various others jump through bigger hurdles to make certain games work. I just don't understand this backwards view about Steam. Sure it's not always an ideal client, but can you say that Smugglers 5's accessibility is 100%? Can you say that all of the games in the database are 100% accessible? And when I say accessible, I mean to everyone, not just you and your setup. Steam is no different in that regard, and dismissing it so out of hand and so arbitrarily makes me very sad at the general display of ignorance and dictatorian rule over the database. You're basically saying you will only condone games which you yourself or a small subset of contributors can play, want to play, or have interest in playing.
I just checked, and BK2 and BK3 are both in the database, both games which require translation tools, various system install packages, and system settings. If I don't have, or don't want to use NVDA, these games are inaccessible to me, since those tools work with NVDA, right? That renders BK2 and BK3 inaccessible to me, and by the very virtue of having to install various third party tools and system modifications, makes the prospect of playing these games just as daunting as you're making Steam sound. Even with the advent of the JTG add-on, I still need to install Japanese keyboards and such, and trust that the services offered by JTG (since it's being paid for) will endure.
I've never had to make a single system setting change to make Steam work, so lets please not cloud the issue with things that don't really exist. I've had to make application tweaks to the Steam client itself, sure, but that's nothing compared with the Japanese language setting, the Japanese keyboard, the need for NVDA, the installation of third-party add-ons I can't personally verify as trustworthy. Where do you draw the line, and how is BK2 and BK3 in their distribution platform any different?
Amusingly, I see that the pole has 16 yes votes and only 5 no votes, so Dark is basically saying that, even though the majority of the votes say yes, he's going to pull rank and deny the majority. I urge you to think more carefully in future about such a strong-arm decision.
Firstly, let me say that I personally do not currently play mainstream games. This may or may not change in the future, depending on a number of different factors.
However, I do want to comment on some of the arguments, and explain why I do think that some of these games should at least be on the site.
Some people say that these games should not be on there, because valve clearly does not support our efforts, which means we shouldn't support theirs. Unfortunately, we're the minority here, which means that if we continue to pretend steam doesn't exist, Valve will definitely not help us. But what if Valve gets a new management, or does respond to someone's email in a helpful tone, or changes its stance in some other way? Having steam-accessible games on here would be a nice way to show that there are actually quite a few people who still care. While it is true that they might not be willing to provide more accessibility even when we put steam-accessible games on the site, the chance that accessibility will improve will be much, much smaller if we do nothing. Bottom line, would you rather have a small chance of more accessibility, or next to no chance at all? We are not in a position to put pressure on valve to get their act together, so the best thing to do in this situation is to show that people on here still care. Pretending accessible steam games don't exist will only be detrimental to those efforts.
And who knows, perhaps something else happens which significantly increases the accessibility. The Japanese games were next to impossible to play at first, until somebody made an NVDA addon which allowed instant translating via the clipboard. There were definite issues with this, but the community still embraced it because it was very obviously worth it. Now we have JGT, which makes life a whole lot easier, it requires very little in the way of configuration, it reads everything directly rather than you first needing to press a key every time you want to read something, etc. I don't think JGT would have been made if no one cared about Japanese games in the first place, and no one is going to bother making steam more accessible if the interest in steam dies in this community. Not until there is an alternative, and as people have already stated, there most likely won't be one.
In short, I think it is very important to raise awareness, rather than lowering it. Rejecting the addition of steam-based games to the database on the grounds that Valve still hasn't bothered to listen to us is not justified in my opinion.
Actually, the Japanese games are easier than ever to play now, in part because of direct endorsement by the community and authors, and that makes the world of difference in my view. They are now, in essence, indistinguishable from any other audiogame.
Again: it's the difficulty of access to the Steam client that most concerns me. Just think about it. Could you, in good conscience, recommend using Steam to any visitor that happens upon a game listing, out of the blue?
As I said, from my POV, if people want to experience accessible Steam games, in and of themselves, I'm all for it, but the Steam client is a bitch. I would love for there to be some way to simplify it to the point that most people could simply install and start using it, with an absolute minimum requirement of software and configuration. Clearly software and hardware dependencies are unavoidable. The question is whether or not it is really practical for somebody to play the games. Insisting that it is possible only because some people are able to with very specific skills and a willingness to tolerate varying degrees of inaccessibility to functionality opens up a very large can of worms about what exactly we as a community are willing to tolerate as accessible, and I really feel that unless people are willing to put up with a rather underwhelming, exclusionary and frustrating experience not becoming of pretty much any other audio game, we should be very candid about cautioning people that the games are exclusive to Steam. And yeah, if you want to know what I think, I think Steam is a lost cause, really. Somewhat ironic in my case, since I'm mostly on OS X, where the Steam client is quite a lot nicer to use and doesn't require faffing about constantly with hit-and-miss mouse routing. Pity there aren't so many games on OS X.
Smugglers is an interesting case though. Does it really not work satisfactorily with any screen reader beside Supernova? NVDA is probably out of the question, mind, but at least NVDA is free. Still, I don't think financial cost comes into it; some games will be out of reach if you don't have the right hardware or software, simple as that. Convenience is also a big factor: if it's monstrously difficult to get a game running, it just won't get played, not unless it's really, really good. What I look for in a game is, at a very minimum, an actual commitment to accessibility. Clearly others have different opinions.