Games Accessible to the Blind
Issue 36: First Quarter, 2003
Edited by Michael Feir
Fun, Friendship, Knowledge, Charity
Welcome to the thirty-sixth issue of Audyssey. This magazine is dedicated to the discussion of games which, through accident or design, are accessible to the blind either with or without sighted assistance. This issue gets the new year off to a good start with updates from many game developers including some new ones. Discussion on the Blindgamers list has been quite interesting, and you’ll find a selection of thoughts on a number of hot topics. A number of excellent articles are from a few new writers who have chosen to contribute their time and effort to Audyssey.
Note: This magazine uses plus-signs as navigation markers. Three plus-signs are placed above any articles or sections. Within these sections, two plus-signs denote the start of a new sub-section. Smaller divisions are marked by a single plus-sign. This allows people to use their search capabilities to go quickly to the next division they are interested in. For instance, the "Letters" section is preceded by three plus-signs. Each letter within it has two plus-signs before it. Answers to letters have a single plus-sign before them.
Distribution Information and Submission Policies
This magazine is published on a quarterly basis, each issue appearing no earlier than the fifteenth of the publication month for its quarter. All submissions to be published in an issue must be in my possession a minimum of two days before the issue is published. I use MS-Word to produce Audyssey, and can therefore accept submissions in pretty much any format. They may be sent either on a 3.5-inch floppy disk, or via e-mail to:
I will give my home address at the end of the magazine.
Please write articles and letters about games or game-related
topics which interest you. They will likely interest me, and your fellow readers. This magazine should and can be a
highly interesting and qualitative look at accessible gaming. To insure that high quality is maintained, I'll need your
written contributions. I reserve the right to unilaterally make changes to submissions if I deem it necessary to improve them
grammatically or enhance their understand ability. I will never make changes which will alter the spirit of a submission.
All submissions must be in English. However, people need not be great writers to have their work appear in Audyssey.
Many of our community come from different countries. Others are quite young. Where possible, I try to preserve their
different styles of expression. The richness that this adds to the Audyssey experience far outweighs any benefits
gained from having everything in prose so perfect as to be devoid of life. Audyssey is a community and magazine built
on the need for blind people to have fun. There are no formal structural requirements for submissions. Within reason,
they may be as long as necessary. Game reviews should all clearly state who created the game being examined, where it
can be obtained, whether it can be played without sighted assistance, and any system requirements or other critical
information. Although profanity is by no means banned, it should not be used gratuitously. Submissions not published
in a current issue will be reserved for possible use in future issues if appropriate. Those who are on the Audyssey
discussion list should be aware that I often put materials from the list in the "Letters" section if I feel that they warrant it. Anything posted to this discussion list that in some way stands out from the common and often lively ongoing
discourse will be considered fair game for publishing unless it contains the author's wish that it not be published.
This magazine is free in its electronic form, and will always remain so. Due to a lack of demand, PCS Games is no longer making Audyssey available on disk. I'm writing this magazine as much
for my own interest as for everyone else's. Your articles, reviews, and letters, as well as any games you might care to send me are what I'm after.
Accessible Game developers should be aware that I very much appreciate receiving copies of their games for review purposes. Many developers have treated my wife and I to free copies of their games purely to thank me for my extensive efforts in keeping Audyssey Magazine alive and well. I sincerely hope this continues as it makes it all far more worth-while for me to continue working on Audyssey and for my wife to tolerate the time and energy I put into the magazine. For the record, my policy on this is as follows:
I will review any free full version game that I am sent as fairly and thoroughly as I can. Also, if developers wish and are able to, they can provide a single registration key or unlocking code to be used by Audyssey staff and/or reviewers chosen by me from people who have written material for Audyssey. Another benefit of sending me free full copies of your games is that I can demonstrate them to interested people and/or special interest groups when opportunities for this present themselves. Whether or not these games are of particular interest to me, I pledge to learn to play them as competently as those games which I am partial to so that I can facilitate their demonstration and enjoyment for others. I will never give out full game copies unless you specifically offer me free full copies for distribution to one or more people in such groups. I may, however, assemble CDs containing game demos to share with such groups. If any developers do not want their demos to be given via CD during such presentations, please inform me of your wishes in this matter. Where time permits, I’ll attempt to keep all developers informed of any opportunities which emerge for me to be an ambassador for accessible games. Whether or not developers choose to send free full copies of games is entirely up to them. If they do not, I will use a game demo to form my opinions of the game and write a review in Audyssey Magazine. My time is limited, and I will give priority to free full games that I receive. However, developers need not fear that I will treat their games more harshly or abuse my editorial powers if they choose not to send full copies. I believe I’ve written reviews for long enough that developers will have a good idea of my sense of fairness in this. For an example of a review of a demo game, see my comments on ESPSoftworks’s Change Reaction in issue 35.
For people who need help with games, send any games, articles, letters, or reviews via E-mail, or on a 3.5-inch disk in a self-addressed mailer so that I can return your disk or disks to you once I have copied their contents onto my hard drive.
Please only send shareware or freeware games. It is illegal to send commercial games unless you are their creator or have obtained permission to do so. By sending me games, you will do several things: first, and most obviously, you will earn my gratitude. You will also insure that the games you send me are made available to my readership as a whole. As a
further incentive, I will fill any disks you send me with games
from my collection. No disk will be returned empty. If you want
specific games, or specific types of games, send a message in ASCII format along. If you have a particular game that you need help with, and you are sending your questions on a disk anyhow, include the game so that I can try and get past your difficulty. If you can, I recommend that you send e-mail. I can send and receive attachments with ease. This way, no money will be wasted sending me a game I already have, and
you'll get my reply more quickly. You are responsible for shipping costs. That means, either use a disk mailer which has your address on it, and is either free matter for the blind, or is properly stamped. I can and will gladly spare time to share
games and my knowledge of them, but cannot currently spare money above what I spend hunting for new games.
I encourage all my readers to give my magazine to whoever they think will appreciate it. Up-load it onto web pages and bulletin board systems. Copy it on disk for people, or print it out for sighted people who may find it of value. The larger
our community gets, the more self-sustaining it will become.
There are now several ways of obtaining Audyssey. Thanks to the generous support of Monarch, Your PC1Source LLC., Audyssey Magazine now has an official home on the Web. All previous issues of Audyssey can be obtained from there in several different formats. LVG makes Audyssey available in MS-Word and PDF formats. There efforts on our behalf are very much appreciated. Visitors may take advantage of a growing amount of content as well as submit material. Check it out at:
Those who want to receive issues of Audyssey as they are published should send a blank E-mail to:
The Audyssey discussion list facilitates discussion about games
accessible to the blind between the publication of issues of Audyssey. All are welcome as long as they respect their fellow community members and keep in mind that the topic of the list is supposed to be games. Other topics are allowed within reason as long as they don't begin to monopolize the list traffic for too long. Newcomers should be advised that
traffic is frequently fairly heavy. To help those who are swamped with E-mail cope with this, there is a digest mode available which sends one large E-mail per day containing the day's traffic. Anyone participating in the discussion list will have issues of Audyssey automatically sent to them via E-mail. Representatives from all major developers of games for the blind are actively participating on the list. All staff members of Audyssey are also encouraged to participate on the discussion list. There are two moderators keeping things civil and orderly. Be certain to read the Audyssey Community Charter as all list members are expected to follow its rules. If you want an active role in shaping the future of accessible games, this is where you can dive right in. To subscribe to this discussion list, send a blank message to:
To post messages to the list, send them to:
Should you wish to unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
To change your subscription to digest mode so that you only receive one message per day, send a blank message to:
To go back to receiving individual messages, send a blank message to:
There are more options at your disposal. To find out about them, send a blank message to:
Stan Bobbitt has made Audyssey Magazine available in HTML format for easy on-line browsing. To take advantage of this, you are invited to visit our home-page. People can easily and quickly navigate through the various articles and reviews, and directly download or visit the sites of the games that interest them. This will be of especial benefit for sighted people who wish to make use of Audyssey and/or join the growing community surrounding it. The Audyssey community thanks Mr. Bobbitt for his continued
efforts on its behalf in this matter.
Darren Duff has made all issues of Audyssey available on his web-site at:
You can also find all issues of Audyssey on the Internet on Paul Henrichsen's web site at:
J.J. Meddaugh has long been famous in the Audyssey community. He has now started his own web-site called The Blind Community. All issues of Audyssey are there in zipped files in the file centre.
Another site has recently added Audyssey issues to its resources. We welcome:
to the Audyssey community and hope that visitors to this site find our resource to be of value to them.
If you have ftp access, all issues are also available at Travis Siegel's ftp site:
Look in the /magazines directory.
Distribution Information and Submission Policies
From The Editor
My View of Gaming
Piracy and Accessible Games
How To Stop Software Piracy In It's Tracks
Sunday Night Dungeons and Dragons
Away from the Arcade
Grabit Grotto Developer Diary: Part II
The Graphic Truth
Free Game Winner
News From Code Factory
News From BSC Games
News From ESP Softworks
News From PCS
News From Zform
On The Web
Game Announcements and Reviews
From The Editor:
The holidays were an absolute blast this year, and the action hasn’t stopped since then for accessible gamers. You’ll read about a number of new games and some old favourites as well in this issue. I was surprised and very pleased to see a few new writers try their hand at writing articles for this issue. I hope this new trend continues. If Audyssey is to remain the resource for those in search of fun that it has been, I’ll need your thoughts and ideas as gamers. I’ll also need the continued support of game developers.
Along with the good news, there have, however, been a few less desireable developments. Most noteably, the death of the author of World Series Baseball. This game was one of the few accessible sports-based games available for blind players, and had quite a large loyal following. Also, due to business reasons, ESP Softworks has indicated that they are going to halt work on the more ambitious titles such as the Jenesis Project in favour of games which are faster and less costly to produce. They are, however, still cooking up some innovative and fun games.
For you fans of Nethack out there, a new version has just been released which contains mostly bug fixes. You should pay a visit to:
for further details and to obtain the new version.
Those waiting for Code Factory’s release of the first of the Time Adventures series of games should check out their news section in this issue. I never received the newsletter they sent out, and only found out yesterday, February 27th, that two games have been released. I have determined that it would be more fair to wait until the next issue when I’ve had a chance to properly look at the demos and/or full games before reviewing them.
As the second quarter unfolds, I hope we can all look forward to more interesting discussions and innovations in accessible gaming. Any efforts which can be made to broaden awareness both of our community and accessible games in general would be a very good thing. I recently made an extensive attempt to get the Canadian press interested in accessible games in conjunction with White Cane Week earlier in February. I’m disappointed, but far from giving up on the mainstream media. As the weather gets nicer around here, I’ll be trying to see if any local groups are interested in learning about accessible games. Perhaps, my efforts in that department will be more successful.
While we have lots of articles in this issue, reviews are a little thin. I would remind all of you that it doesn’t matter if somebody else has already reviewed a game. Your take on it will more likely than not be at least slightly different, and developers can get a better sense of how successful or unsuccessful a game is if they have more than one person’s thinking to go on. Keep those reviews coming, folks. Interactive fiction has suffered particularly from a lack of attention for a while now. Now that there are three months between issues, there should be lots of time for text adventure fans to guide those who are interested with their experience with the many adventures out there. Also, as new sound-based games come out and you pounce on and enjoy them, please consider writing a review for the next issue of Audyssey. Until then, I hope you all enjoy what this issue as well as our constantly updated web-site have to offer.
I just realized, I've posted a couple times here and still haven't
introduced myself. Since only a couple of you have probably ever even seen
my name, I guess an introduction is in order.
I've been heavily involved with computers for several years and always loved
games. However, after switching to windows I found it very hard to find
decent accessible games. I've been into muds for a long time, and really
love that because it allows for a lot of interaction with sighted people, on
an almost equal playing field. However, I still remember and love the arcade
style type games too, anyone remember the old space invaders game on the
apple? I loved that talking disk! <g>. Anyway, eventually I discovered Jim
kitchen's games, I'd played the dos ones but this was way different and I
loved it! Then someone got me onto shades of doom. I only recently
discovered BSC games, and this list has introduced me to esp softworks and a
couple of others I didn't even know about. As money permits, I know where
it's going to go! <g>. I did register lone wolf a long time ago, but didn't
get into it much. Now that I'm attempting it again, I'm having to relearn
everything all over again and I'm having a hard time even completing the
first mission. One of these days though, I will! Looking forward to lots of
good discussions, and to the game authors on this list keep up the fantastic
This introduction was sent in during the holidays after issue 35 was published. I include it here both to publicly extend my greetings to Christy and to all new members of our community. I trust, Christy, that we’ll continue to benefit from your thoughtful posts. To other newcomers who might not have taken the plunge and introduced themselves yet, I would hope that introductions like Christy’s serve as heartening examples. You don’t have to know a whole lot about computer games or be a fantastic and eloquent writer to take part in either the magazine or the Blindgamers community. Christy was rewarded for the time and courage it can take to write an introduction that you’re satisfied with by many replies of welcome as well as ones about games. We were all beginners at this new-fangled fun once upon a time. Newcomers should never feel like they’re wasting time asking questions when they’re stuck in a game. To be a community worthy of growing, us veterans have to take some time to help out beginners. I include myself in this, and confess that I too should set aside more time and not be so quick to assume that others have already given aid. I’ll try to make amends for this as this next quarter begins.
Over the holiday period, many developers were kind enough to produce simple free games as gifts in the spirit of the season. Two examples of this were ESPSoftworks’s game Woopass and BSC Games’s Bobby’s Revenge. These games were certainly pounced on with glee by many appreciative gamers. However, the old debate of over-simplification and whether games should be praised due to their author’s motives or their merits was also touched on again. One reader’s opinion provoked quite a large number of responses. Here’s what the instigator of all this had to say soon after Bobby’s Revenge was released:
“I had a chance to play the Christmas game from BSC Games, but while I
appreciate the thought, I wasn't very impressed. I know it's a free game,
but why bother really when you can spend time developing full games instead?
Having a paint gun stuck in the centre and pressing a key as Santa flies
by just doesn't do much for me! It reminds me of those little flash
animations people play to blend up a frog.. it's fun for about thirty
seconds.. in fact, it probably takes longer to download the game than the
amount of time you'll get any enjoyment from it. For being blind game
players, it certainly seems as though the folks at BSC don't really
understand how to serve the blind gamers as well as they claim on their
website. Honestly, it seems like more dumbing down of us gamers and people
with nothing better to do to sit around and talk about how cool it is.”
Overwhelmingly, the gamers supported developers in making these free games. For the most part, the detractor of these games received a kind of puzzled and sad response to their charges. Typical of this were comments like this supporter’s remarks:
“ It's a nice way for the author to thank those of us who have purchased
other games this passed year, at least that's the way I took it. It is a
free game, and he probably didn't put as much time in it as he would have
something he was going to sell, but it's free, and a gift to the people who
purchase other games. It's a nice thing to do.
The problem with our world today is that people don't realize when
someone is trying to do something nice for them. Someone does something,
out of the goodness of their heart, and people stand in line to burn them.
I don't understand it.”
Another supporter remarked:
“That is exactly what it was supposed to be.
A little gift for small entertainment.
I am certain younger children would love it as it does test a little reflex.
I concur with you that it is a very easy game.
I beat it on the first try, even with my left ear out of commission.
It is a cute little game that somebody took the time to make just to be cool and give
it out for Christmas.
And I am certain development of better games has not stopped.
If you have played other games from bsc, and by this I refer to the free games you
will no doubt realize that they are also quite easy, geared toward the younger player,
or newby keyboard user.
Be it as it may, we really didn't have this type of games before unless you had a dos
machine. And even those are crude at times.
I am sure by the evidence that all the free games bsc has put are seeking to fill that
Your sighted counter parts have access to those little let's waist a few minutes doing
nothing constructive but paint ballling Santa. Why shouldn't we have access to this
type of fun as well?
Unless you are part of the development staff of bsc, I am certain you got no basis for saying that they are wasting time with these small toys.
Please man, I am aware your opinion is yours, and it is welcomed, but let's not
make false assumptions.
It is a free gift that somebody took a few hours out of their life to give out to the
community as a here is something to do while you wait for better stuff, and in the
spirit of Christmas.
Won't we accept it for what it is?
Just as a side remark, my sighted nephew had a ball with this game for a while, till
he beat it.
Despite an on slot of opposing responses, the detractor stuck to his point and, in my opinion, highlighted an important trend which occurs as far as freely offered games are concerned. These are remarks he made later in the thread:
“I'm glad you found the game to be a challenge. It didn't hold my interest
long enough to play it through. Music is a good example that has a lot to
do with preference and opinion. We can agree or disagree that a certain
piece of music has done something for us on some level. We can agree or
disagree on the technical aspects of the performance to some degree. But,
opinions are subjective and I think I've already spelled mine out quite
clearly. It's not required that you understand my reasoning any more than
I'm required to understand your reasoning for your tastes in music. It
seems as though it's okay--or, rather I'm being permitted--to form and
express an opinion, but there's always a "but, .." somewhere in there. But
nothing. My opinion is my opinion. Your opinion is yours and may vary.
Again, the idea that just because something isn't costing you money means
that it escapes the usual critique is beyond me. That's reasoning beyond
me. If someone buys an economy car and it falls apart the next day, is "you
get what you pay for" good enough? Everybody seems to attach quality and
purpose to monetary value. Why? Only because there's no legal recourse?
What about other value? Pride? Accomplishment? Integrity? The pioneering
spirit? If someone gives you something for free and it's not something you
enjoy or admire, you have a right to still form an opinion irregardless. By
the way, nothing is free.. you're just thinking in terms of money. I've
also seen some people use the fact things are free as an excuse not to
accept critique from others or an excuse not to refine their work. If you
develop and put it forth to the public, expect that it'll be critiqued. I
honestly enjoyed Super Shot much more than I did Santa, for what it's worth.”
This debate has certainly come up occasionally in the past. I have no doubt that it’ll continue as time goes on. Personally, I think it a healthy debate for the blind community as a whole. As someone who has been given a lot in life, I have always felt a sense that it is my duty to give back wherever and whenever I can. However, I still feel no compunction about offering constructive criticism where I can and in refusing what is offered. Until the overall economic and social situation changes drastically, it is important for blind people to make certain that what we receive and what is offered us are things of genuine value to us and not things which others might assume are of value. Like our detractor, I have also noticed how free games get a far easier ride than commercial ones. I believe it is curtail to separate criticism of the game from showing ingratitude for a generous developer’s efforts. I look forward to future incarnations of this debate.
Unlike previous occasions of disagreement we’ve gone through in our community, a level of decency prevailed throughout. Things never escalated to anything beyond simple disagreement despite the sheer one-sidedness of prevailing thinking. I, for one, am very grateful for this, and trust that an overall orderly and open atmosphere will continue in coming months.
Just prior to this issue’s publication, a discussion arose about pirating accessible games. Many people joined into this extensive look at all the issues surrounding piracy, the reasons for it, and most of all the reasons why it’s such a danger to the accessible games developers. The following are samples of current thinking on piracy:
Sadly, lowering prices will not deter piracy among the more lazy and less scrupulous gamers. In their minds, this stuff should either be free to everyone, or their idea of a 'good game' is set to a standard so high that few games can stand up to it, and thus are 'not worth buying.' Doesn't stop the greedy bastards from playing them though and 'suffering
through' enjoying them, sheesh!
Others would also use the excuse that, "there are so many great games out
there, and I can't afford to buy them all on my <insert excuse for no money>
budget." The idea of saving money and only getting the games when you can
is totally lost on just about all of these kinds of people.
You don't need a game when it's new and you don't need to use a game
purchase to impress your friends or give you status! If the developers could remove the consumer's need for the above (or seriously reduce it), this is where I think piracy would drop off. Companies wanna compete though, and they know your dollars are limited. That said,
there doesn't seem to be enough of a separation in quality between
competitors (nor a separation between one release and the next) to create
enough of a competitive environment; in the end, game sales are based on
personal and group preference, popularity and loyalty (and less on whether
it truly is a better game or not).
A real serious problem is that today it is far too easy to pirate software,
music, movies, and so forth; jump on Kazaa, GNUtella or DirectConnect, and
you can (eventually) find anything you want. The more hard core pirate will
take the time, and the casual ones will probably find some of what they
want on the first go, and that's better than having to beg your friends for it.
There's no way to reduce piracy, but I do think there are definitely ways to
slow it. Yes, pricing affects piracy, but set it too low an you will still
have the piracy and you won't be making enough money off the game. (some people still feel they have a right to own this material, and for nothing). Another is to keep in personal touch with your market: if you can show that you are interested in what they have to say, their problems, and what they'd like to see in the future, they will be far more loyal to you and your
products (even if they don't entirely get what they want).
It's hard to know what to do right and do wrong, but generally speaking, if
you treat your market with respect (instead of as a number of profit margin)
then you will get it in return, through purchases of your product. the
further removed the consumer feels from the people that make the software
happen, and the more the company makes their clients feel like fools (I
think MS and their home user market), then the less inclined you'll feel to
respect in return.
In the end, those people that want something will get it, and it will be
their personal morals that decide how...it's a struggle to turn
'less-than-honest' people to the side of the legitimate consumer, but I
don't think it is a lost cause.
Why buy games from ESP Softworks when you can get free games from Jim
Kitchen's site? Play them and see why. AVG virus checker is good, but I
like Norton 2003 better. There are packages ranging from about $20 to $70.
If, like me, you don't need or want all the extra tools, but do want the
virus checking software but not much else, get the $20 program. Software
piracy has been extensively discussed on this and other lists. Especially
in the production of games for the blind, which is a much much smaller
community of gamers who do need specific game features, and thus the games
are so specialized, those who make the games as their business need money
coming in. They don't make much on each copy sold. They make absolutely
nothing on each copy pirated. If they make nothing, guess what? They go
out of business and produce no more games. Now, our game choices have been
more limited. If you think, "Oh, come on. I only pirated one copy.
What's the harm? They won't miss it or even know about it." Think. What
if 99 other people did the same thing? What if your copy was borrowed,
copied, and passed on to others, and so on? This will generate fewer sales,
cutting developers profits to the point at which they will go out of
business due to game piracy, and here we go again. Cutting our own game
supply just to get a $30 game for free. Even if I had the ability to crack
the code of a game to get the thing to work in it's full version without
paying for it, I would! not! do! it! I was brought up by my parents that
stealing is wrong. And that's exactly what game piracy is--stealing. I
would like to see any game developer prosecute game pirates to the full
extent of the law. If I find someone who is a game pirate, I'll let the
developer of that game know who he or she is. So, if any of you are wanting
me to send you the code to unlock a game that I have, better forget it. I
bought it, it's mine, and nobody else's. I will, however, give you the
information you can use to purchase your own copy legally, with your own
I believe for every copy of a game that's pirated 2 copy's get sold or I'd
like to hope so. Our market being so small it seems to me that every person
would want to protect it. Game development is hard work and even harder
for the visually impaired games. Machine specific licenses are one way to
slow this problem but if the developer goes out of business your game can
become useless. Sometimes we need to just save for something we want.
Every time I unlock something I buy I have a great satisfaction knowing I've
helped a developer and I've encouraged him/her to produce more great
On a sad note, Phil Vlasak of PCS Games informed the community of the following news on December 4th.
Harry Hollingsworth's long battle with a brain tumour ended this
morning. He died
just before 11:30 am with family members present. He was under hospice
care to the end and passed away quietly.
Many sports fans have joined our community to find that precious little sports-related entertainment is out there for them. Mr. Hollingsworth’s World series Baseball game was and still is one of the few examples of such games we have access to at the time of this issue’s publication. Many people expressed their condolences and prayers for Harry, his friends and family. No firm conclusions have been reached yet about what the future of Mr. Hollingsworth’s much enjoyed legacy to blind Baseball enthusiasts is going to be. However, discussions are underway with the product’s owners. We’ll keep you all posted on any new developments.
My View of Gaming
By Bryan McGucken
Though it has been done quite a bit before, I thought I would reserve this space to introduce myself as one of the newest members of the Audyssey community. My name is Bryan McGucken. I live in Central Connecticut in the United States. I am twenty-six years old, and currently hold a Master’s degree in philosophy from Boston College. I have been playing computerized games since I was about eight years old, when my brother and I received an Atari for Christmas of 1984. I was one of those kids who was always itching to play new titles, so you can imagine my excitement at playing them. I’d say my favourites were “Solaris,” “Pole Position,” “Krull,” “Sea Quest,” and “Squeeze Box.” IN December of 1988 we received the Nintendo Entertainment System. Although “Gyruss” enjoys status as one of my all-time favourites for that system, I think my interest in games really piqued in the spring of 1990 when I got the chance to play a copy of “Mega Man II” that my brother’s friend had brought over. From then on “Mega Man” and later “Dragon Warrior” became mainstays in my gaming experience. “Crono Trigger” and “Final Fantasy III” burst onto that list when I tried them several years later on my own Supernintendo Entertainment System.
Currently I enjoy playing “Mach One” (I will compete in this year’s championship series), “Grizzly Gulch: Western Extravaganza,” and “Super Shot,” and will likely add “Shades of Doom” to that list once I have the money again (blast the holidays). No, never mind! My hobbies include music (I have an Alesis QS8), the outdoors, reading, and watching game shows (not much of a hobby, is it)? Like some, I used to get a kick out of playing video game music (and still do to some extent). Anyway, there’s the lowdown on me. If you want to drop me a line or talk to someone, please feel free to do so at
Piracy and Accessible Games
By Michael Feir
There’s a lot of talk in the computer-savvy blind community about the high prices of accessible software and the inability of many blind people to afford to pay for their copies. Something like seventy-eight percent of blind people in North America are unemployed, and this statistic hasn’t changed very much for at least ten years while I can remember hearing it. Piracy is rampant in the sighted world, and there’s a lot of sympathy out there for it. This sympathy seems to be spreading into the blind community fairly rapidly.
I saw it start with the larger companies producing screen-readers first. It’s scary to think that you could buy a very good computer system and then pay even more for screen-reading software as well as print-reading software. I’ve been a Jaws user for as long as I’ve used Windows computers. I use Kurzweil for reading. Together, those two programs would cost around three thousand Canadian dollars. I’ve heard of computers which are better than the one I’m using being sold for around a thousand or fifteen hundred which come with a scanner and printer thrown in. Such comparisons are often used to justify piracy, and they certainly carry a lot of emotional weight. Why should blind people who on the whole have far less money than their sighted contemporaries often despite equal or more strenuous efforts to better their situations have to practically pay for two computers just to get one that’s accessible? There are all kinds of ways to rationalize obtaining illegal copies, flawed though they are.
The larger companies who produce software vital to employment such as screen-readers, magnification software, and other accessibility aids have all kinds of advantages. They’re larger, more established, and recognised as essential by governments and other agencies wanting to help lower that high unemployment rate. They don’t have to face the same grim economic reality which game developers must. The Canadian government made it possible for me to own Jaws and Kurzweil for my personal use. Governments and agencies have the funds to pay higher prices allowing these companies to make sufficient profit to recruit the talent necessary to try and keep up with changing technology. Especially now that equal opportunity laws are coming into effect, there will always be people willing to pay higher prices for such software. This makes it harder for individuals to purchase it if no government or agency is there to help. It could be easy for somebody in such circumstances to rationalize steeling a copy.
Let’s suppose a hundred people in North America did that. If each legal copy costs around a thousand dollars, the software company has just lost a hundred thousand dollars. The average salary for a university graduate like myself is around thirty thousand dollars. Therefore, that theft has possibly cost two or three people a year’s salary. That certainly won’t put the larger companies out of business, but it’ll slow them down and blind people will lose whatever insight or skill those two or three people might have put towards building better software.
Game developers aren’t nearly so bullet-proof. People who want entertainment are naturally not helped by anyone to get it. No government or agency is going to subsidise the purchase of an accessible computer game. Schools and other organisations haven’t yet really woken up to how helpful games can be in teaching lessons as well as coordination, hearing and computer skills. As a result, it’s strictly up to blind individuals and whoever they associate with to purchase these games. Due to a lack of large-scale advertising enjoyed by mainstream computer games, it’s taking a long time for awareness of them to spread beyond a smaller community who takes a special interest. Developers of accessible games must therefore be motivated in other less tangible ways than a good financial return for their work. Many developers have shared what started them producing accessible games. Zform was created because of a personal friendship its founders had with a blind student they wanted to be able to play computer games with. Jeff Gibbons of Bavisoft had similarly altruistic motives for producing Grizzly Gulch. I’ve heard a number of different reasons. However, I have yet to hear that a developer wanted to exploit blind people or expected to make loads of money from the sale of their games.
Most of the companies producing accessible games are one-person operations. I would be quite surprised if any of the companies had more than ten people working for them. A hundred thefts of a developer’s games would therefore be quite devastating. It might very well convince them to get out of the business entirely. It also might prevent them from investing money in better sounds or recording time to improve future games. We’ve seen some incredible strides taken over the past seven years in accessible gaming. Possibilities we hardly dared to dream about are now realities we can enjoy thanks to the dedication and trust of some very special people. Piracy could kill all that very quickly. There’s absolutely no safety net for developers of accessible games. They cannot know in advance how many people will purchase their games. Investing money in equipment, time in recording studios, or sound effects might or might not pay off. There are no health plans, pentions, or other perks typical when working for large corporations. Suppose a very good game was sold for a hundred dollars. That would be an outrageous price, and I’d be stupefied if a hundred people bought it. For the sake of argument, let’s suppose they do decide to leave me scratching my head in wonder and purchase the game. The developer would then receive ten thousand dollars. You’d have a hard time living off that for a year, and you’d have to take more time than that to make a game even close to worth such a high price. To see very much profit, developers must charge prices which most blind people feel they can afford. They must also have a number of games available for people to purchase.
James North of ESP Softworks recently halted work on the Genesis Project due to the inability to take as long as such a project was going to take before releasing new games. The only way to see a profit is either not to invest any money in producing a game or to have enough different games out there so that people buy them while new ones are produced. That’s why most developers have other sources of income or tend to work more on smaller and less ambitious projects.
I’ve personally come across two pirates during this last quarter. I reported on one of them, and the other publicly bragged about it on the Blindgamers list. If we want to see higher quality accessible games which are more complex than what’s out there now, we have to show developers that we’re worth their trust. As editor of this magazine and as a member of the community of blind gamers, I’ll do all I can to reduce piracy and encourage honesty. If people are stupid enough to brag about pirating games, I’ll report it to game developers.
Many people use the argument that prices are too high. This is especially true if people live outside the US. As a Canadian, I pretty much have to double the US price of a game in Canadian dollars. As things are now, there’s simply no way that I can afford to spend money on computer games. However, I do have time on my hands. Unlike money, blind people are likely to have this resource in abundance. I’ve decided to put a lot of time into editing Audyssey and doing whatever I can to promote accessible games. This has been rewarded by many developers giving me free copies for reviewing and as a reward for my service. There are a lot of other ways people can earn free copies of games. Developers are still sponsoring the Free Game Winner contest which merely requires that you write an article or review to have a chance of winning a free game. A big area where developers need a lot of help is with testing their games. It’s fairly typical for those involved in testing a game to get a free copy of the final product. James North has released a game which will allow its more skilled players to obtain his games at a cheaper cost or even no cost at all.
Also, let’s not forget that games make great gifts for special occasions like birthdays. I specifically try to get an issue of Audyssey out in advance of the holiday season so people can more effectively do this and developers can benefit from the generosity of parents, friends and others towards their blind acquaintances. That might mean that a bit of patience would be required before a game was obtained, but that’s a small price to pay for a free game.
In the sighted world, piracy is so rampant that companies are foolish not to invest resources in protecting themselves from it. An ongoing war is being fought against those who would crack and illegally distribute games. Coming up with better ways of thwarting pirates costs time, money, and talent which could otherwise be spent improving games or lowering their prices. I believe we may be approaching the point where this war starts to enter the world of accessible games in earnest. In fact, I know developers are starting to invest time and effort into copy protection. As I see things, there is still hope in the smaller community of accessible gaming that honesty and long-term thinking will prevail and we won’t find ourselves in a protracted state where piracy threatens to knock developers out of business. However, I would assume that we’ll notice the effect of pirates in other ways such as developers not attempting projects they might otherwise have been able to. Personally, it’s making me wonder whether I can afford to invest in a sound effects library to use for my game. I’ll probably try to get it as a gift and thereby reduce or even eliminate the cost entirely. In the meanwhile, I’ll have to develop my game with sounds found on the Internet which I won’t be able to use in the final product.
If they can afford to be generous, it’s far more likely than not that developers of accessible games will show their charitable nature. If they’re faced with increasing theft of their hard work, I would predict that we’ll naturally see less generosity and a harder line taken against pirates. I would like to think that we’ll see developers cooperating with each other to produce better games. However, piracy could force them to cooperate mainly in finding better ways to secure their products. As the accessible gaming industry grows, it’s up to us as consumers and fans of their work to make certain things move in the right direction.
How To Stop Software Piracy In It's Tracks.
By Jason White
Oh, what a pain software piracy is.
To have your software pirated more than honestly bought.
Well, I can tell you some tips on "how to stop software piracy in it's tracks".
Have your games so that they register like ESPSoftworks's games do, like Alien Outback.
The only difference is, that you have the program establish an internet connection with a server, and download a data base of registration names and keys, and validate the key using the downloaded data base.
Every thirty days:
Every thirty days (1 month) make it mandatory for all registrants to establish an internet connection with an "Antipiracy" server, and have it send such information as registration name and key, and IP Address. Then the game's developer can make sure there are no trouble makers out there.
Also, have it get an updated version of the data base, and validate the key with the new data base. And if it cannot find a match, make the program assume that the key has been revoked, and act accordingly with such notification messages as the "This registration key has been revoked, please contact customer service for more details" message.
And if the user refuses to do so, have it send out a "panic button" signal to the server which makes the server revoke the key automatically, or what I'm calling, "AutoRevoke".
If you ask me, these features are unstoppable, because the only way to get past them, is to decompile the program, which is against the law, and would get the criminal in yet more hot water.
I suggest that all software and games be modified to utilize these features as soon as possible.
Editor’s remarks: If there’s one thing that is pretty much accepted by almost everyone in the software security field, it’s that there’s no such thing as perfect security. Jason points out a very good method for stopping pirates from the game developer’s point of view. However, it would tie the consumer to the internet. Would it be fair for a game not to be available to a legitimate purchaser of a game which otherwise wouldn’t require the Internet? For instance, now that ESP Pinball doesn’t require a CDROM to play, I can run it on my laptop. This laptop is unable to connect to the net. Other people wanting to take their legally purchased games on the road could theoretically run into the same difficulty. Personally, I would much rather see honesty and decency prevail and developers not feel forced to take such extreme measures.
News About Interactive Fiction
This section of Audyssey will feature news about developments in the world of interactive fiction which have a broader scope than new games released. For information about newly released games, you should still look to the Game Announcements and Reviews section. Now that we’re operating on a quarterly basis, I hope that more people will submit reviews of interactive fiction games they have played. There should be more time for people to play through a game in order to give it a more in-depth review.
Items in this section will be separated by single plus-signs to make navigation easier. To start this section off, I have personally gone to the major sites and searched for new developments. However, I would appreciate it if anyone responsible for websites related to IF or for major projects in the IF community would submit material on these things for my inclusion in Audyssey.
The thirty-first issue of SPAG Magazine was published in January. This issue focuses exclusively on games entered in the last Interactive Fiction competition. You can find all issues of the magazine and much more on their homepage:
Each year, Xyzzynews Magazine which deals with interactive fiction has held an awards ceremony for recognising accomplishments in the art of Interactive Fiction. I have included the latest information about this year’s Xyzzy awards below: I would recommend that anybody who loves text adventures should visit:
XYZZY Awards for 2002 Games: Thank You for Voting
Second-round voting in the annual XYZZY Awards ended on Friday, February 21.
Stay tuned for the awards ceremony, which will be held Sunday, March 2nd, at 1:30 p.m. Eastern (6:30 p.m. GMT) on the
And the Nominees are...
1893: A World's Fair Mystery
Earth and Sky 2: Another Earth, Another Sky
Lock & Key
Till Death Makes a Monk-Fish Out of Me!
Earth and Sky 2: Another Earth, Another Sky
The Moonlit Tower
Till Death Makes a Monk-Fish Out of Me!
When Help Collides
The Moonlit Tower
Till Death Makes a Monk-Fish Out of Me!
When Help Collides
1893: A World's Fair Mystery
Earth and Sky 2: Another Earth, Another Sky
The Moonlit Tower
Earth and Sky 2: Another Earth, Another Sky
Lock & Key
Out of the Study
NPC stands for "non-player character"
The Frenetic Five vs. the Seven Deadly Dwarves
Lock & Key
The PK Girl
Best individual puzzle:
Constraints (the maze)
Forever Always (entering the church)
Lock & Key (setting the traps)
Savoir Faire (decoding the letter)
Till Death Makes a Monk-Fish Out of Me! (computer password)
Best individual NPC
Emily, in Earth and Sky 2: Another Earth, Another Sky
Boldo, in Lock & Key
Musculo, in Lock & Key
Charles, in The Temple
Nebusan Sedonkawa, in When Help Collides
Best individual PC:
PC stands for "player character"
Dutch Dapper, in Dutch Dapper IV: The Final Voyage
Goldilocks, in Goldilocks is a FOX!
The janitor, in Janitor
Jack Downer, Photograph
Pierre, from Savoir Faire
Best use of medium:
Earth and Sky 2: Another Earth, Another Sky
Lock & Key
When Help Collides
Sunday Night Dungeons and Dragons,
By Phil Vlasak
Three years ago, a group of us started a weekly D and D adventure.
At that time, David Greenwood sent out this message to the Audyssey list:
"Anybody interested in learning, and eventually playing D&D over the
Audio-tips chat line should join us this Sunday night.
Randy Hammer is doing a great job as Dungeon Master. We decided to try a
test dungeon, so four of us armoured up and entered a tower filled with
Hobgoblins and other nasty creatures. I have played D&D many times sitting
around friends' kitchen tables , and I wasn't sure how it would work over a
chat line. It works very well.
For those of you have never played the game, the concept is simple. The
Dungeon Master verbally describes in detail the dungeon world to you, while
you slowly explore. All events in the world are controlled by an
assortment of various multi-sided dice. For example, you might tell the
Dungeon Master that you are going to try to kick down this door that is
blocking your way. The DM then rolls several times. First to see if you
are successful. Next, to see if you attracted any wandering monsters with
the noise. Then again to see what type of monster shows up. An yet again
to see how many of them appear. This is all totally transparent to the
gamer, who interacts with the other gamers in the group while the world is
slowly being revealed.
Even if you are mildly interested, it might be worth your while to listen
in and see what it's all about. And for those of you who want to play, you
should contact Randy at
Randy Hammer <
Hope to see you there,
We are planning to have the Dungeons and Dragons
adventure back in the public Gamer's room on Audio-Tips Sunday night at
nine o'clock Eastern time.
The next date will be March 9, 2003.
First, go to Audio-Tips
Then click on Visit the members only talk rooms
Then click on the Special Events Area
Then you will find the Gamers Room, which is the last link on the page.
This is the only room in Audio-tips that requires you to enter your User
Name. You may enter any name you wish for role playing purposes.
There is room for a total of twenty people, and there are currently eight
players, so twelve people can listen in to the adventure.
Audio-tips uses the Chatterbox software for voice chats.
If you haven't been to Audio Tips in a while, you may need to register.
Cave Confrontations part two
by Phil Vlasak, playing Kava the Mage
This story contains graphic descriptions of violence. It therefore may not
be suitable for younger readers.
As the lightning crackled outside, we had to decide where is it
safer. Here in the cave where a greater force of Goblins may spring out,
or out in the middle of a thunder storm with no cover to speak of.
We were truly caught between a rock and a wet place.
Any minute that door could open to the tunnel and we had no way to stop it.
I didn't have my shrink and enlarge spell that would have allowed us to
move the rock that could block the sliding door.
We did move the cooking fire back so that it was against the wall where the
door had appeared. This way, if it opened, we would see what was attacking
us much better. I looked at the five dead goblins and wondered out loud were they good for
eating? All I got were growns and smiles from the others, so I dropped the subject.
I buckled Nostromo, my cat, into my pack for possible quick retreat, after
taking out one of my two flasks of Greek fire. Inside the bottle I could
feel the oily liquid slosh, and I was satisfied that it would come in handy
at the right moment.
Between dozing off and being rocked awake from the tremendous lightning
strikes outside, I resolved to study a new spell.
This was to be a defensive one, for I was sure there were more than just
six Goblins inside the mountain.
It was a little after sunrise, and the storm outside was strong, when
Syrah came over to our wounded ones after praying for healing
spells and growing some special fruit trees.
He healed our three fighters, Drax, Tylen and finally, Galin.
His prayers and special seeds truly made a difference in the health of our
main offensive strength. We decided to stay in the cave until the storm's anger dissipated.
Tylen, our leader, and I took over the second watch.
It was past noon when the storm finally slacked off.
Tylen went outside with Mayfire to examine the results of the rain.
Mayfire, our weather priestess, would be able to tell us what was to come
from the sky.
The lake had risen a foot, and there was mud everywhere.
I was worried that Tylen with his sword would attract the waning but still
dangerous lightning, but they both got back to the cave fine while I had just finished memorizing my spell. I glanced up to the small
fire and noticed that the embers were growing brighter. I stood up holding
the flask realizing that the fire could only be brighter if a breeze was
flowing over it. A breeze that would be caused from the door opening!
With a rumble, the door did slide aside and I was confronted with a vast
hoard of Goblins!
I saw that they were four abreast and the front ones had axes, the second
row had short spears and the third row had long spears. Behind this row
were surely Goblins with bows, for their was a rain of arrows that shot past
and thankfully clanked harmlessly over our heads.
Then, I heard their snarls and growls, and their leader saying something in
their Goblin tongue, that Tylen later translated...
"Surrender now! You are doomed, Drop your weapons!"
Tylen responded by quickly sending an arrow through his head.
I tossed the burning flask in the centre of the first row and four Goblins
cried in unison at the pain caused by the oil consuming their flesh.
While this stopped the sudden on rush of the army, I was able to cast a
colour spray spell that caused three in the front row with axes to drop
As they fell, in the next row, three more with short spears were knocked
Tylen rushed forward firing an arrow dropping another Goblin.
Two of the Goblins took up the fallen one's axes and pass them back.
Then they picked up and pass back the short spears.
I could tell from their slow deliberate motions that the Goblins were
very confident that because of their vast numbers, they would easily
overwhelm us. Galin with a grimace, tossed his axe of hurling smashing a Goblin holding a
long spear. Then, Mayfire invoked an obscurer prayer
and a dark cloud swiftly took up the entire volume of the cave.
Our vision dropped to 5 feet, and there came a great shouting from the
Goblins, now blinded from seeing their targets.
I heard Mayfire yell, "Get out of here!"
With her clearer Elf vision, and her keen danger sense, she knew it was
time to run and not fight.
Mezai turned and rushed towards the exit grabbing the reigns of a horse
While the rest of the animals alarmed by the screams and smells of burning
Goblins were further frightened by the smoke.
Tylen grabbed Drax and pushed him toward the cave opening saying,
Drax shook his head and turned back to cover Mayfire, still concentrating
on keeping the cloud intact and making us safe from accurate projectile
attack. I heard the whining of several horses being hit by stray arrows.
The blinded Goblins continued to shoot wildly
most arrows bouncing off the cave walls but some finding their intended
targets. Drax was hit in his upper arm but the arrow caused no serious damage.
Mezai got a flesh wound from another arrow.
I heard the fleshy smack of his axe returning to Galin's hand.
Then Galin shouted, "Get the horses through!"
We probably had about two minutes to evacuate
And the three foot gap was wide enough for the horses to squeeze out.
Tylen picked up his pack and led a horse past the rock.
Drax threw his axe of hurling towards the shouts of the smoke obscured
Goblins but I heard only a clunk of steel meeting stone.
I still had my pack on my back with Nosie still inside, so I found the
rains of a horse and was heading out when a sharp pain cut into my shoulder.
A damned arrow went clean through and blood started to gush from both sides.
I felt faint, and started to have a sick feeling in my stomach.
Everyone in my party was looking for their gear and heading out, there was
no one to help me, so I bit down on the horses reins and quickly stuffed the rag I had
wrapped around the Greek fire flask into my wound.
I could barely stand the intense pain, but eventually it lessened to a
point where my arm only felt tingly from the loss of blood.
I took the strap out of my mouth, and managed to hold on to the horse's
reins with my good hand. Passing the rock, the air cleared and I could see that Mezai and Tylen had gotten out ahead of me, and Syrah was waiting for us near the lake with 2 horses.
That left Drax, Galin and Mayfire still in the cave.
Tylen stood by the rock and yelled for them to, "Get out now!"
There was an answer yell from the Goblins in the tunnel where dozens of
them were reforming and preparing to charge.
"Get out of here, Drax!" said Mayfire.
Drax drew his other axe then ran towards Tylen's voice at the opening.
Three Goblins collided with him in the smoke.
Two had spears and one held an axe. All three attacked Drax.
Tylen called for Galin to "Leave!"
I heard Galin cursing under his breath almost reaching the rock.
Drax swung his magic battle axe at the three Goblins.
Two Goblins jumped back out of range and missed him, but the third sunk a
spear into his leg.
Drax decided at that point to retreat out past the rock
Meanwhile, Mayfire and Galin got out.
Tylen realizing that Drax was the only one left, took his weapon out
preparing to go back in if necessary.
Drax, almost to the rock, was hit by all three thrown weapons.
The axe bounced off his helm with a clash.
One spear stuck him in the rear and the third spear stuck in his other cheek.
But the wounds were not too serious, and Drax passed the rock dragging the
two spears behind him.
Tylen shouted, "Everyone ride!"
Syrah helped Mayfire onto her horse.
With a burst of energy, I was able to mount up by grabbing the saddle horn.
everyone from our party mounted and rode off.
Behind me I could still hear the yells and curses of the Goblins rushing
out of the cave a little too late.
Frustrated, they were stabbing at the rock that prevented their final attack.
We were riding with reins on the horses but most did not have their saddles.
It was still raining slightly and the sound of the screaming Goblins soon
faded behind us into the whistling wind.
After riding hard for twenty minutes, Syrah called a halt.
We got off to sort our packs and give the horses a rest.
Syrah was the only one who did not recover his pack.
But luckily, his magic healing tree seeds were in a pouch attached to his belt.
We rode about five hours and crossed over a hill.
Down below us was a forest about thirty minutes away.
When we reached the edge, we stopped. Syrah said looking at the sudden line of trees, "It doesn't look natural!"
We noticed that the forest started strangely, up full to the barren rock
with no bushes on the edge. Drax pulled out his magic detecting axe and held it toward the forest.
However, there was no glow, and no magic.
I was weak from loosing blood caused by the arrow wound in my shoulder made
worse by the jostling from the horse, so the next few hours go unrecorded
in this account.
The son was down when we reached a small bungalow.
There was light coming through the shutters indicating that someone was home.
I noticed that the door was short, only 5 foot tall.
Tylen knocked, and a husky halfling opened it.
He said, "greetings travelers may i help you?"
The halfling was short of stature with hairy feet and a large grin.
"We have come from the mountains to your forest through a twisty path."
Tylen answered and continued, "Where are we?"
"This is the land of forest, the forest of aflon." replied the halfling.
"You are in the south western portion."
Tylen told him of our quest to drum up support for the war with the
invading humans and to gather information about the halfling Balsour.
Tylen introduced the rest of us.
"I am dewer, a forester." the halfling replied.
He said that there are quite a number of his folk north east of here.
The road that passed his home was part of a ring that surrounded the forest
with other roads heading into the centre of it like spokes of a wheel.
Tylen explained that we need a place to stay, some sleeping facilities, or
a place to set up camp.
The halfling looked us over and said that his house is small but he could
Dewer paused and continued, "It would be good to keep your talk simple."
Tylen smiled and answered, "Your hospitality is appreciated."
Dewer led us in. His home was one long room with four beds along the walls and a large table
and benches in the centre. There was a burning fire place taking up the whole rear end of the room with hanging meat and vegetables above.
Tylen asked about what creatures inhabit this forest
Dewer answered "That there is a roaming band of pixies,
And goblins that try to raid the edge of the forest."
Drax cursed, "Blast those maggot filled filthy vermin!"
Galin said, "The Goblins may try to track us here."
Mayfire looked at the dwarf and replied, "rain washed our tracks away."
Tylen asked "What protects the forest?"
dewer smiled and said, "Most evil creatures cant get into the forest."
He nodded slightly and continued, "Evil ones get killed off."
Dewer took a large ham off a hook and started to roast it in the fire.
Drax seeing what the halfling was doing, exclaimed, "holy cow! We've had no
hot food in a week!"
Dewer smiled broadly and said, "We are simple folks, but we know how to
Tylen asked Sarah about tales of this area.
Sarah answered, that he knew of no magic forest and no tails of what
protects it. I asked Dewer about the four beds and wondered if he had a family or
friends that would be here soon.
he was shy, and blushed before replying,
"I have no family here, this is a way point for travelers."
We sat down to a hardy dinner and I thought back over our recent daring
escape and frantic ride and our luck in discovering this generous country bumpkin.
I was indeed fortunate to have that Greek fire in hand and for having
memorized that colour spray spell.
But Mayfire really saved our skin from what was probably an army of at
least eighty Goblins. Having hot food in my stomach, and my shoulder bandaged, I relaxed and
lifted a tankard of ale. I glanced over to Dewer and thought of how we could reward him.
A grin filled my face as I leaned over and ask Syrah to plant some magical
fruit trees to thank our host for his help.
The story continues in the next issue.
Away from the Arcade:
Give Me Military Simulations
An Open Letter to Game Developers
by Christopher Bartlett
back when I had some vision, I purchased a game called "The Ancient Art of
War." Some of you may remember it, a DOS-based simulator for fighting
battles based on a series of historical engagements. You controlled units
of different sorts of troops against a computer opponent. Maps were made
up of various kinds of terrain that affected units differently. It wasn't
super-sophisticated, but it was a fun game for the boy who'd spent hours
creating rules for table-top gaming of battles from Gettysburg to the
sinking of the Bismarck.
Well, it's almost twenty years on, and I've discovered the wonders of
accessible games. There is a growing list of titles out there for many
tastes, but there is a noticeable hole to be filled, the military strategic
This sort of game is a perfect fit for computer gaming. Board game
versions of these games require huge maps with sometimes thousands of
counters to play the battles out. In other words, they are completely
inaccessible to the blind gamer. They also require hundreds of tables,
calculations and chart look-ups. In short, they marry themselves to what
computers do best, manipulate a lot of information behind the
scenes. Computerized play also allows for "fog of war" effects that aren't
achievable in face to face play over a board.
To my knowledge, no such games have been adapted for the blind
gamer. GMA's excellent submarine simulator "Lone Wolf" almost fits this
category, but it is still a complex shooter rather than a purely strategic
simulator. I expect their tank game will be much the same.Other than these
two, I see nothing but arcade games, well-executed adaptations of space
invaders, Tetris and the like. Don't get me wrong, as someone who just
purchased EspSoftworks' "Alien Outback" these games have a place in my
life. But being able to run a historical naval engagement like Trafalgar,
or general one of the armies at Gettysburg would for me be much more
fulfilling. I therefore ask game developers to look into the idea of
creating such simulations with accessibility built in. I offer my own
knowledge of military history to such a project, though my programming
skills are rusty and not modern, (I left the programming industry in
1992) It's a hole in need of filling.
Grabit Grotto Developer Diary: Part II
By Michael Feir
I had it all worked out in my head. It was absolutely stunningly clear how things would all work out. Exactly how everything would play, sound, and behave like was all there for me to examine in my mind’s eye. And then, I woke up. Fortunately, enough of my original vision of the game I’m now attempting to design stuck with me long enough for a basic outline to be written down. Doing that has always been a battle for me. What initially balked me from trying to produce a computer game was my fear of and dislike for programming. I wasn’t all that worried about coming up with the actual game. Explaining it to a computer, on the other hand, was my major stumbling block. It still may prove to be my ultimate challenge in this whole process. I won’t know for certain until I’ve started trying to code the game. However, writing the design document is proving to be far more of a battle than I would have expected.
Part of the problem is that I have to start considering the game engine which wasn’t exactly designed for the kind of game I’m working on. David Greenwood has already proven himself to be a remarkable dedicated and supportive ally. He has already made numerous changes to the game engine which will make things easier and/or possible. He is also updating the game engine for his own purposes. Due to this, as well as my original instincts, I’m going to at least complete a rough draft of the design document before I even start trying to program the game. This will also reduce the likelihood of running into the “what if I add this element” problem which I’m already suffering from.
Initially, the game was going to be strictly an arcade game with some occasional vignettes where the player would have to choose what the wizard tried to do. These decisions would effect the status of the island and the player would then return to the arcade portion of the game. However, I began to see that the island had to be more than just window-dressing. The wizard also had to be more of a participant and less of an absentee benefactor. I set out to accomplish this by making the enchanted island something the player would have to take care of in order to win the game. The wizard would have to grow in power himself and take risks. More of an involved story was needed. This more detailed approach would also make it easier to come up with the decision vignettes I still wanted to have.
Eagerly, I started to add different variables to represent the wizard and the island. I had to find out how many variables I could define and use in the game. Initially, only ten user-defined variables were available. Thank goodness Dave could increase that. I’ll be able to have fifty variables in the game not including the many built-in ones such as enemy health, score, difficulty level and so-on. I’m confident that this will ultimately be enough room to work with. However, I’ll have to constantly keep that limitation in mind as I complete the design document. I’ve started keeping track of variables needed for different major elements in the game. Over the past while, I tried to nail down how I wanted the enchanted island to work. As things stand presently, I have ten key structures represented by variables. These are things like the mines, city, farms, etc. I also have twelve other variables used for things like island morale, food, labour groups available, lumber, metals, and other factors. These will change as the game progresses, and will be inter-related in fairly straight-forward ways. During pauses in the arcade action, players will have to make decisions effecting the enchanted island. From time to time, the wizard will set sail on a sea voyage and players will have to make decisions dealing with that. For times when I and others want a more simplified experience, I’ll be making a version containing arcade elements only. Players won’t have to stop and make decisions for the island, voyages, or the wizard. I’m going to make it so that the arcade-only version goes on indefinitely until either the grabit loses all of its lives or the wizard is killed due to the grabit’s poor performance in recovering enough jewels or artifacts.
Currently, I’m hoping to have the rough draft of the design document done before June. I then hope to have the scripts for the voice acting and narration done some time in the early Fall.
The enchanted island was my biggest victory this time around. Over the next while, I’ll be working on sea voyages as well as fine-tuning the arcade portion of the game which I already have fairly firmly nailed down. I’ll report back in the next issue of Audyssey with a third developer diary.
The Graphic Truth
By Bryan McGucken
One of the aspects of blind accessible gaming which has always struck me as odd is the fact that few or no games designed specifically for use by players with little or no usable vision contain graphical interfaces or displays. The exception to this rule, of course, is “KM2000” by Code Factory and “Zform Poker” by Z-Form Games, and, to some extent, “Shades of Doom” by GMA Games. Admittedly, this is only strange to me because I grew up around graphics, as my biography indicates. I have low vision, and find the graphics on many console and computer games quite stimulating and enjoyable to look at. I think for those of us with low vision that like this sort of thing such a graphical interface is in order for more titles than is currently the case. There are those, it is true, who would suggest that graphics give an unfair advantage to those with sight, even in small amounts. While this may be true, I fail to comprehend why such a disadvantage on the part of totally blind persons could not be overcome in time. Consider the following. You are playing a racing game with another person who has some sight. For the first few times that you play, it is possible, though not certain, that you will be beaten by your sighted friend. However, as you become better and better at the game, and once you know where turns are and how to accelerate and brake properly, the playing field will become somewhat more level, will it not? With the technology we have sound and sight imagery could be combined quite well without taking up much memory on a disc, especially if, as Jay Pellis astutely points out, digital video discs are used as the medium for storing game information. The long and short of this editorial is that games that have graphics built into them can be playable without sighted assistance if we take advantage of the technology available. I’m aware that this is somewhat of a leap, but if there are sighted developers out there that are working on games designed to be played by the blind without sighted assistance, then graphics should not be much of a problem. Price would be an issue in many cases, but I don’t think the trade off would be an unfair one. We don’t live in a blind world, nor is it true that there are two separate worlds: blind and sighted. We live in one world where the blind and sighted must, and of nature ought to, coexist. If we make games that can be enjoyed by both groups, then we should. It would be one way to narrow the perceived gap between the blind and sighted.
Free Game Winner
This quarter’s free game winner is Bryan McGucken for his willingness to pitch in for Audyssey with a number of contributions. It’s rare that a new writer will start out as prolifically as Bryan has, and I hope he continues to share his thoughts with us in future issues and on the Audyssey web-site. The sponsore of this issue’s free game is Phil Vlasak of PCS Games. Be certain to contact Phil and claim your well-deserved prise, Bryan.
News from Code Factory
Time Adventures 1
The future of humanity is in your hands!In the not too distant future, the world is divided between citizens who lead an ordinary life and those who have
signed a contract with the megacorporations, who offer a happy life, free of problems. However something sinister is lurking behind all this ….The future
of humanity is in your hands!
- More than 60 different scenes
- Over four hours of digitalised voices
- Dozens of sound effects and animated drawings
- More than 50 original soundtracks
- Easy-to-access menus
- In two languages: Spanish and English
- New intuitive user interface
- No installation required. Simply insert the CD-ROM and start to play
- Pentium II 300 MHz with 64 MB of RAM
- 16 bit Soundcard
- Windows 95 - 98 - 2000 - Me - NT - XP
- CD-ROM reader
The Ugly Duckling
Enjoy learning while playing The Ugly DucklingMummy Duck: gives birth to seven little ducklings. They are all beautiful except one, who is different from
the others. He is big, ugly and clumsy. Everyone laughs at him and calls him “The Ugly Duckling”. The poor duckling feels so embarrassed that he decides
to leave the farm. Will the duckling come to be respected by the others? Will he some day be reunited with his family? The ending of the story is in your
- Develops the areas of Music and Language.
- Many animated drawings.
- Numerous sound effects.
- In two languages: Spanish and English
- Two levels of difficulty.
- No installation required.
- No adaptive devices needed.
- Pentium of 166 MHz with 32 MB of RAM
- 16 bit Soundcard
- Windows 95 - 98 - 2000 - Me - NT - XP
- CD-ROM reader
News From BSC Games:
Editor’s note: In lue of a formal update from BSC Games, I have included the most up-to-date information from their web-site’s “What’s New” section. For further details, please visit:
WHAT'S NEW AT BSC GAMES
List of 5 items
is almost ready to go live for download! We need a little more time to finish up some final aspects of the game. Based on this, Hunter will not be ready
until the first or second week of March so hang in there! Check back the first week of March and we will have an exact date posted for the release of Hunter!
Hunter sound trailer is ready for download
! Take a sneak listen to the latest upcoming game from BSC Games before it is even available!
• Troopanum v1.6 has been released
• New look and feel to our web site for 2003! Hope you like it!
• Word Strain Volume 2
is released! Our second pack of fun, educational, and addictive word games are here.
News From ESP Softworks:
Things are going full speed ahead at ESP Softworks. No formal update was sent for inclusion in Audyssey, and the information on the web-site at the time of this publication has already been rendered obsolete by the passage of time. I have nothing but sympathy for James and David as they struggle to complete their latest game and also deal with the flood of questions concerning their high score server. They’ve asked repetedly for people to just be patient. Here is the description of the latest creation which is nearly ready to be released:
Enter the high energy world of DynaMan and conquer the electron grid in this fast-paced, multi-level grab n' run style game. As the main character DynaMan,
you'll navigate several stacked 3D layers of twisting pathways and transports gathering electrons while avoiding the ever-present and menacing Spark Brothers
who are out to zap you of your precious energy reserves. Rack up mega points as quickly as possible, but beware of the short circuits!
- Fast-paced arcade action requiring quick reflexes and good memory skills!
- Multi-level 3D game play with 3D positional audio
- Real-time variable skill setting
- ESP Score Server enabled - Bonus score level
- Lots of cool sound effects
- Great fun for all ages!
DynaMan will retail for $24.95. Pre-orders are accepted for this title to lock in price.
Here is the latest information on the site about the other highly anticipated title from ESP Softworks:
Get ready to start your engines race fans--ESP Raceway is soon speeding into PC's everywhere! Sit yourself inside one mean machine and prepare for fast
and furious racing competition against an assortment of computer-controlled cars for the season championship trophy. It's only you, the asphalt, and up
to 270 miles per hour of raw speed to achieve victory!
Check out these features of what promises to be one of this years' hottest titles:
- Wonderfully Realistic Sounds
- Accurate Engine & Car Physics
- Steering Wheel & Pedal Controller Support
- Force Feedback Effects--You're Actually Able to Feel The Car & Road!
- Two Dozen Completely Different Tracks
- Pit Stops With Full Crew Including A Pit Captain
- A Radio Link To Your Pit Captain For Real-Time Information
- Several Weather Conditions Including: Sunny, Rain, Snow, and Ice
- Manual & Automatic Transmissions
- Varied Landscapes & Road Surfaces
- Realistic Spin-Outs, Skids, and Peel-Outs!
- Great Crowd Ambience To Keep You Going!
- And, much more!
ESP Raceway will become available by mid-2003 and retail for $39.95. Pre-orders are accepted for this title to lock in price.
News from FantasyStorm
The sequel to The Savage Gambit will be called,
The Savage Gamut--Redemption
SGR will have a training program and the game itself will have 8 of the
original 9 boxers. This time you are the champion in the ring and each of
the boxers will be challenging you. The 8 boxers will be much quicker,
stronger, and harder to knock out..
Currently, I am coming close to completing the coding of the training
program and working on the new boxing game itself should go quickly.
In the title of The Savage Gambit I selected the wrong spelling of Gambit.
I chose g-a-m-b-i-t which apparently is an opening move in Chess.
What I should have selected was g-a-m-u-t.
So this will be changed in the new release.
I hope to release SGR by the middle of March but it all depends on how
things go between now and then.
For those who have already purchased The Savage Gamut, the trainer and SGR
will be free.
For the entire package including The Savage Gamut, the trainer, and The
Savage Gamut—Redemption, the cost will be $12.
The distributor of my games is changing from PCS Games to Steve Nutt at
Steve and I should be ready to sell The Savage Gamut by the time you read
this. I hope to sell future games through the CompRoom as well.
Many thanks to Phil Vlasak at PCS Games for originally being my distributor
and also many thanks to Steve Nutt for agreeing to be my current
For those of you who are still wondering what TYMA means on my web site, it
Throw Your Mouse Away. Therefore, FantasyStorm has Throw Your Mouse Away
games for your keyboard arcade.
Finally, once SGR is finished I will immediately be launching into the
creation of a Windows basketball game. I have no idea how long this might
take, but with the ideas I have whirling inside my head, it should be a cool
News From Lworks:
what's new with LWorks:
Over the last three months, a lot has happened with Lworks. Here's what's happened, and what will happen in the future.
Super Liam concept demo:
The super Liam concept demo is now here. Run, jump, and blast your way through four sample levels in this concept demo. you play as Super Liam, sent to
destroy the evil robot x1. ON your way you'll encounter many different types of enemies, pitfalls, and other distractions. The full version is scheduled
for release sometime in 2003.
Super Liam is the first of it's kind. In that it is a side scroller requiring the user to only walk forward and backward. There is no confusing 3d movement.
Check out the newest release from LWorks. Super shot.
Get your fingers ready, cause this game is sure to challenge your reflexes, and your mind. A descending rocket will be falling from the sky, use the corresponding
arrow key to blow it up, if your too slow, the rocket will land, and you'll lose a life. As you play, the game gets faster. 6 levels, 3 difficulty settings,
and a cool online score server make the game worth the low low price of 15 dollars. Cool stereo sounds, and an even easier gameplay, and a cool bonus
level await you.
LWorks words v1.2:
Looking for a cool game to get your word fix. Check out LWorks words. now with over 80000 words, a smoother interface, and cool sounds, this game will
get you hooked. For the low price of 8 dollars. you can bring this addicting game to your desk top. Race the clock to unscramble a certain number of words,
but if your too slow. Buzz, the game is over!
Lworks is planning on releasing the following: (note that these are just ideas, but they may happen)
a space ship game,
a text army game,
Super Liam of course
possibly a hockey or goalball game
and many more ideas.
to visit LWorks check out.
to e-mail me. send your mail to
News from PCS Games
She could hear the faint rustle of the crowd while approaching the line.
Hearing that familiar target tone to lock it in her memory, she was ready
to roll. Ready to cream the opposition. Ready to have the greatest score of
Then she tried not to think too much. She just kept reminding herself to
breathe. She concentrated on the important tones and eliminated all other
She imagined herself standing at the top of the lane holding her
ball waiting for that correct tone. She reached forward and hit the space
bar releasing the ball with all the grace she could muster.
the twelfth ball rolled in a gentle curve down the alley and struck the
wooden pins, sending
them flying in all directions. All of them except one.
The upright pin was still wobbling a bit, and she breathed hard and it
toppled over with a small sound Then the crowd burst into an explosion!
It was over and she had bowled a perfect game.
The sound of her triumph resonated throughout the building.
"I believe that would make it your turn." She said to her opponent.
As she backed away from the computer, she enjoyed the continuous roar of
appreciation from the crowd.
Tenpin Alley is now in development by PCS Games and it is coming along
PCS is in collaboration with Josh de Lioncourt, a visually impaired
computer programmer and musician.
He is well versed in Visual Basic and has some experience in
Visual C plus and many other languages.
He also has lots of experience with sound engineering and audio manipulation.
His last music CD Single can be demoed at
It was completely recorded in his home studio.
PCS has some interesting plans for Tenpin Alley.
The sounds of the bowling alley will be in a high quality format.
We will be using a combination of DirectX and the Microsoft Text-to-Speech
engine. The game will be self voicing, and will require that the users
screen reader to be shut down or running in Sleep Mode.
You can choose and save which TTS voice and speech rate you want.
We will definitely give you a left handed or right handed option.
We also plan to have a hot key so you can hook the ball.
We think that the hook should definitely work two ways.
One is the natural hooking to the left or right when you try to roll a
The second type would be a controllable hook which would be useful for
those players trying to pick up a particularly difficult spare where the
pins are spread out a bit.
Josh is making many of the sound effects (such as background and crowd
reaction) selectable so you will be able to turn them on or off.
You will be able to change many settings using the function keys.
The bowling analyst comments may be bypassed by users who don't wish to
turn them off but may be pressed for time. This will be done by pressing
the left control key, similar to the way the control key interrupts JAWS.
We are considering panning the aiming tones from the left to the right as
they are played, to give a more tangible feel to the aiming process. This
would make hitting the correct tone easier because you could react to
either the position or the note of the tone.
This too would be optional.
We also might be able to implement Internet play.
We are getting suggestions from friends who have been avid bowlers for over
We think this Windows version should and will be far more complex than the
original DOS version, but most of the complexity will be kept optional, for
those players who liked the game the way it was.
Pacman Talks on ACB Radio
Kelly John Sapergia has done a review of Pacman Talks and has submitted it
to be aired on ACB Radio's Main Menu show.
Main Menu airs at 1 Universal time each Wednesday, that's Tuesday
evening in the USA at 8 Eastern and 5 Pacific, on ACB Radio mainstream.
It repeats continuously for 24 hours before making its way into the on
Visit ACB Radio at
and choose the Mainstream link.
Kelly's contact info:
KJS Productions: Affordable Web Page Design and Audio Production
Phone: (306) 355-2254 (no collect calls please)
Business Web Site:
Personal Web Site:
Kelly Sapergia <
Pacman Talks was created by PCS Games using the GMA Games engine.
It has an MSRP of $30 US.
For more information, and to download the demo, visit the PCS Games web
Pacman Talks is the first PCS game created for Windows.
You can find out what is in store at PCS Games by joining the PCS games list.
To subscribe to this discussion list, send a blank message to,
Our mailing address is,
666 Orchard Street
Temperance, Michigan 48182
phone (734) 850-9502
Call us between the hours of 8:00 A M to 10:00 P M
Eastern time, Monday to Saturday.
E-mail Phil Vlasak,
We make games that tickle your ears.
News From Zform:
ZForm Releases Second Upgrade to ZForm Poker
ZForm is excited to announce the launch of ZForm Poker 1.2. The latest free upgrade to ZForm Poker offers much improved support for low-vision users, along
with enhancements in betting and chat mode. In addition, everyone will have another fifteen days to evaluate this version.
What's New in 1.2?
* New support for low-vision users: ZForm Poker 1.2 now works with your magnifier to enlarge the appropriate part of the screen. The focus of magnification
follows the action throughout the game, ensuring that you know what's happening at all times. The arrow keys let you move the focus around the screen manually,
allowing you to enlarge any part of the game.
* All-in Betting: It was a dreadful outcome that happened to a few luckless ZForm Poker players: you have three kings-a practically unbeatable hand. The
betting gets fast and furious-suddenly you realize you've bet 30,000 chips that you don't have. Then, the unthinkable-the other player had a full house!
You listen in horror as he rakes in the chips, and you're left staring into the abyss of eternal Guess'Em. Not so anymore! Thanks to all-in betting, you'll
never be allowed to go below zero chips, making those Guess'Em sessions much more tolerable. Here's how all-in works: If the bet comes to you, and you
don't have enough chips to call it, you'll be allowed to bet the rest of your chips. If you win, you'll only win the fraction of the pot that reflects
what you bet. The person with the next best hand will win the rest of the pot. Naturally, if you lose, you'll be left with no chips, and will be promptly
sent to Guess'Em to earn some back.
* Emotes: That old adage still holds true, even in text chat: actions speak louder than words. The new version of Poker lets players use a special command
to perform "actions" while in chat mode. For example, if my name is Cardshark and I want to let the other players know just how dangerous I am, I could
tab to chat mode and type:
"/me grins evilly."
The other players at the table would then see:
"Cardshark grins evilly."
As you can imagine, emotes go a long way toward spicing up the interaction around the poker table.
We hope you enjoy all the new features that version 1.2 of ZForm Poker has to offer. The ZForm team would like to thank our beta testers for their feedback,
which helped shape what ZForm Poker has become.
How to Get It
If you already have an account with ZForm, you can download the new version by visiting
From there you can choose either the "fast download" or "enhanced audio" version.
If you've forgotten your account info, you can request it from the login page by going to:
and clicking "log into ZForm".
or you can simply create another account, by clicking the "create an account" link on the games.zform.com page.
Once you create an account, the game will download automatically.
We thank everyone for your support, and look forward to continuing to serve you with the highest quality, equally playable online games.
The ZForm-Community E-List
When the dust settles for the moment and the chips stop flying, discussion continues on the ZForm-Community E-List. It's the place to go to chat with the
friends you've made online, ask any questions you might have, and to give feedback directly to ZForm. To sign up, just send a blank email to:
On The Web:
The Sweet Science Goes Digital
by Christopher Bartlett
This is the first of what I intend to be a regular feature about web-based
games that are more or less accessible for the blind. There are quite a
few of these creatures out there, but they take some finding. I'll try to
take some of the effort out of this for you, the loyal reader.
The Web Boxing League
And here we have true fantasy sports, a boxing league where the fights
aren't rigged, and where Don King is only a nightmare to frighten the
devotees of the "sweet science" as it is called by those who love it and
mourn its current condition. But I digress.
The Web Boxing League (or WeBL) as they style it, you take the role of a
gym owner/fight manager. You create and manage a stable of fighters who do
battle weekly with fighters from other gyms. You control the physical
abilities and the tactics used by each fighter. You receive detailed
reports about each fight. Finally, you also control what areas the fighter
will train to improve for the next fight.
That's the short version. This is a detailed simulation of the fight game
from the manager's perspective. You create fighters by choosing statistics
including strength, speed, agility, chin (your fighter's ability to
withstand a solid punch) conditioning, height and build. You then have
access to a detailed scripting language to determine your fighter's
strategy, controlling variables such as your fighter's aggressiveness and
defensiveness, the style, whether your fighter will muscle inside and slug
it out or stay outside and dance. You can check your fighter's and his
opponent's condition and make choices based on them to change your
strategy, to fiercely attack a wavering opponent or protect your own
fighter. You can even fight dirty, though I've not seen the Mike Tyson
The site is fairly easy to use with a screen reader. It uses two frames, a
menu control frame and a content frame where you'll perform the majority of
your actions. You have to fill out forms to perform most actions, but the
forms are fairly self-explanatory and standard. JAWS users will have
little or no trouble accessing them, and I can only assume that Window Eyes
users will have the same experience.
Playing the game costs nothing. There are ads on the site, but they're not
pop-ups and I do not find them annoying. There is an option to donate to
the site under the "go professional" link, but you have no loss of
functionality for not doing so, and there is very little soliciting for
All in all, for fans of boxing, this is a very well-constructed game, with
an accessible site. You can choose the amount of time to dedicate to the
game by how many fighters you control. I'd give it 4.5 stars out of five.
By Michael Feir
Recently, my interest and appreciation for an old favourite game has been re-awakened. Back when I began writing Audyssey, I reviewed Fallthru. It still stands as the only multi-player adventure which is accessible to the blind played on one’s own computer. This game has also proven enjoyable for my wife, and we’ve started a game together. I hadn’t played Fallthru for some time prior to this, and find that I’ve forgotten quite a bit. However, I’m confident that my previous victory over the game wasn’t a fluke and that it can be done again.
It was a completely unexpected surprise to finally be put in contact with the author of the game. Paul Deal was contacted by a member of the Rec-games.int.fiction newsgroup. We’ve corresponded via E-mail over the past while, and he has been kind enough to answer a number of questions I put to him. Also, he has indicated his willingness to answer any questions he can from players of his game. His e-mail address is:
The first point of curiosity that Paul satisfied for me had to do with the fate of Fallthru. Having tried unsuccessfully to register the game years ago, I naturally wondered why the author had stopped supporting this game which had obviously taken painstaking time and effort to create. His remarks on this subject are as follows:
Paul: “When I was distributing Fallthru as shareware, I hardly ever heard from anyone who solved the game. Mostly people called to tell me the game was too hard or that it was impossible. Very few actually registered. I finally concluded the game simply did not provide most people
with the kind of game playing experience they wanted, and so I abandoned it.
I asked Paul what led him to create such a unique game.
Paul: “Ironically, when I wrote it, I was not interested in computer programming per se, but rather in using computers to create biological simulations. Programming Fallthru was a learning
project to help me develop enough programming skill to write effective simulations. However, the game became something of an obsession, especially after
I became fascinated with certain routines, as in figuring out how to create an "open territory," or developing procedures to allow characters to carry
objects in hand or put them in sacks or packs or on burros, then nest the sacks in other sacks or in packs or on burros, etc.
I wondered how Paul now regarded his creation in terms of commercial status. He responded as follows:
Paul: “Though I no longer provide formal support or solicit registrations (Fallthru is now freeware), I'm always willing to answer questions by Fallthru users.
I'll be glad to answer questions by your Audyssey readers, at least to the extent that I can. After several years, I've begun to play the game again and
will reassemble a strategy document as I proceed. I'll make the results available as a text document to anyone interested.”
For anybody who might not know, Fallthru is a Dos-based game. This means that if people don’t take the time or are otherwise unable to access Dos programs, they won’t be able to enjoy Fallthru for themselves. Users of Jaws for Windows can access Dos programs fairly easily. Fallthru works quite well with the screen echo set to all using the insert-s key combination. Don’t forget to set it back to highlighted when you’re done playing. It’s not perfect, but it works quite well compared to other games. Other Windows screen-reading packages may not allow the use of Dos programs at all. WindowEyes users are completely out of luck on that score. I therefore inquired whether it would be possible to write Fallthru as a Windows program. Unfortunately, Paul has lost the source code of the game and it is therefore an impossibility that we’ll ever see any Windows versions or upgrades to the Dos game. On that note, I asked about what kinds of upgrades Paul had planned for Fallthru had it been a more successful shareware game.
Paul: “I had planned
to take advantage of increased memory to make combat more realistic. As it is now, combat actions and messages are limited, redundant and tend to become
repetitious in long fights. That resulted from the very limited memory that could be devoted to such actions and messages. With more memory, combat actions
could be described in greater detail with many more possibilities for specific actions. I had hoped to make descriptions in general more detailed, the
landscape more varied, and to add additional and more challenging mazes. I also designed what I called subgames to include in the master game. These were
little games to be played against computer generated characters, sages or masters, in lieu of combat as a means of gaining information or entry to special
With a far more life-like feel than most text-based games, I always wondered while playing Fallthru whether I was dealing with purely random outcomes or situations, or whether there was more science going on behind the scenes than might be supposed. Things like combat results, hunting success, and other aspects gave me much cause for thinking about chance versus reality-based statistics. He replied:
Paul: “Fallthru is what I call a stochastic game; everything is controlled by probabilities. Random number generation is the key, from initiation right through
the end. Of course, the probabilities are weighted for the particular circumstances, but there is little "science" beyond that. I wrote two command processors:
one to handle all regular commands and a second to deal exclusively with combat. I used this approach because it allowed an overlay to run combat--that
is, the regular command processor could be replaced by the combat processor during all fights. Though the total code was increased, the amount in memory
at any one time was lessened. This, like many other things in the game, was a compromise to accommodate the limited memory environment of the day. Other
than that, combat is a statistical process, based on weighted probabilities like everything else in the game. The odds automatically adjust to favour the
stronger and more experienced combatant, but the outcome is never perfectly predictable. Even a weak warrior can sometimes get "lucky" against a strong
opponent or suffer an "unlucky" defeat at the hands of a weaker challenger. Lucky wins against stronger opponents are, of course, the most rewarding, so
chance can greatly facilitate (or hinder) a player's progress through the game.”
Unlike other fantasy games, players aren’t faced constantly with magic while playing fallthru. Magic didn't dominate everything. It was more sparse, and that, for me at any rate, made it more real somehow. I inquired into the author’s thoughts on realism versus magic, and he responded as follows:
Paul: “I tried to make the game realistic--that is, players have to eat, drink, and rest as they would in the real world. I originally intended to use no magic
at all, but to have everything based on some kind of natural explanation. However, my critics said that was too limiting, and it tended to make the game
run even longer than it does now. For instance, without salve to cure wounds, long delays were forced after injury to wait for "natural" healing. This
made the game too tedious. Other magic was added for similar reasons.”
The uses and effects of some items have puzzled me for a while. These include capes and blankets which didn’t seem to do anything obvious. I also wondered about whether sleeping in safety helped you recover faster than sleeping in the open. Paul sent these answers my way:
Paul: “Blankets and coats, carried in hand, should reduce the rate of tiring in cold climates and facilitate resting under such conditions. Capes should provide
a similar advantage in hot climates. Resting in an inn provides no advantage except protection from renegades and wild animals in outlying areas.”
While Paul hasn’t made any other computer games, he is the author of a number of books. He is also working on a novel loosely based on Fallthru. I asked Paul about where these books might be obtained:
Paul: “I have published four novels through iUniverse.com and one through xlibris.com. All are available directly through those sites, or preferably through Amazon.com
where prices are often a little lower and shipping discounts sometimes apply. Search the Amazon site for books by Paul H. Deal. These are publish-on-demand
books, and so are not stocked in book stores, though they can be ordered in most book stores.”
The feeling of travel in Fallthru is like nothing I’ve come across anywhere else. To help players get started well, I’ve put together the following hints: I hope that beginning players find them helpful as I believe this game has a lot of valuable lessons to offer those who take the time to play it.
When starting out, I always purchase an axe and knife from the weapon shop. This requires the majority of your starting ralls, but it’s worth it. I also buy a sack, canteen, and at least six pounds of food. Remember to put the food in the sack until it is needed and pick up everything after making your transactions. I don’t buy a lamp, flint and oil until later since lighting is no problem for the first fifteen days. Most of the time, I travel to a good hunting spot that you’ll eventually learn about from peasants you talk to. It’s near Or’gn, but that’s all the hint you’ll get from me there. Hunting increases your food supply and also improves your knife-throwing skills which can be decisive in battle early on. Use the day time for hunting and the night for preparing the killed animals using your knife. A full canteen will last a number of days. There are many sources of water if you have to refill it, but leave enough time so you don’t ever run out of water.
Talk to peasants and warriors. Don’t just try to win battles right away. Make certain you take note of the names of warriors. There’s not as much point in fighting them until after you have earned honour through giving to peasants. Use the “level” command to determine whether or not you’re an honourable warrior. Once you are, go ahead and fight if you’re in the shape for it. Once you’ve talked to a warrior and learned his name and level, remember them. The next time you meet, you can make an informed choice whether to fight or not. Have a rall in hand so that you can yield if you have to. Throw your knife before using the fight command to take advantage of your extended range. After you use “fight”, you’ll be too close to use the knife.
Once you get a ruby or otherwise receive enough ralls, get a sword and armour. By that time, you should likely also be certain to have a lamp, flint, and oil. I’ve lost many lives to those nasty felven. If you get a ruby, you’ll have to go to Forod to exchange it for gold which can be quite a hike.
That Info command is absolutely curtail. Also, much of the game’s epic feel comes from reading the interesting information about various things and places. Paul went to great lengths to invoke a sense of a land with history which goes a long way to negate the static feeling resulting from nothing happening in the land while you’re going on your adventure.
Later in the game, you can have access to more ranged weapons. Take advantage of them particularly against demons. For a while, I went around carrying two spears which I could fling one after another at warriors. After those, I could also throw my knife. I almost started getting bored with how easy it was to win fights this way. The more powerful demons can be a challenge even with two spears and a knife.
That will hopefully be enough to help get people over the start of the game. Be certain to read the pamphlet and readme file that comes with the game. You can save yourself 39 ems or so and read the pamphlet.txt file without paying for the privilege in the market. Good luck to all players who choose to give Fallthru a try. It’s not everyone’s idea of a good game, but it has certainly struck me as a game deserving of much more success than it had commercially.
+++ Game Announcements and Reviews: Above the full reviews which appear in this section, any new games which have not been fully reviewed yet will be announced in the hopes that readers and/or the Audyssey staff will try out and review these games for us. Reviews of games will not appear in any particular order. The only exception to this will be when we have more than one review for a game. In this case, reviews will be placed consecutively so that it is easier to compare them. As with Anchorhead a few issues back, I may wish to interject my own thoughts on a game should it provoke significant reaction or otherwise prove itself especially noteworthy. When I choose to do this, you'll find my remarks above the review or reviews for the game in question. Should a game have more than one review, two plus-signs will be placed above the first review and/or my remarks. This policy will hopefully encourage people to try both the latest as well as some older games which may have been overlooked. Just because something isn't hot off the presses doesn't mean that it is any less worthy of a gamer's attention. Also, remember that it doesn't matter if a game has been reviewed before. If you have a different take on the game than has already been published, send in your review and I'll consider it for publication. If a review fails to interest you, simply skip to the next plus-sign. It's that simple, folks.
For a good start, here’s Jim Kitchen’s announcement of a new version of his popular free racing game:
I have put a new version of Mach 1 up on my web site.
New in this version is that your car will accelerate faster and
have a higher top speed. The brakes are better now as well.
I also got rid of the unintentional shifting cheat that was
discovered by Simon.
The file name is wincar6.zip. It is 5 meg in size and can be found
on my web site under the free windows games link.
My web site is at
This version is in Visual Basic 6 rather than 4 so the set up
program is a bit different as well. It is not totally automatic
but I found that if I just press enter whenever it is asking me a
question, it works for me.
Hope you all enjoy the new version 6.
The following information about two on-line web-based games was passed along by Tim Chase. Perhaps, people who find them interesting can write full reviews of these two games for a future issue.
To those chess players in the crowd, I'm not sure how accessible this web
version of chess is, but a chess-buff friend from college had a link to it
on his site. It's sort of a chess-by-mail program where you can specify
the time between turns in large units (12-18 days if you want a *real*
slow game). I'm not sure if it needs Java to run the regular
player-vs-player (They detail a need for Java, but it may only be for the
single-player versions. I am lead to believe, however, that the rest of
be accessible). The site is
Perhaps the chess-buffs in the crowd who haven't checked it out already
might want to give it a go-over.
Another friend passed along
for those of you who liked the "drug wars"
games--though it's a little table-heavy from what I've explored, it
doesn't seem to use anything but plain HTML. The content is aimed at
those over 18, if you catch my drift. They give you a certain number of
free turns (each month?), and if you give any sort of donation (my friend
says a buck is sufficient to count as a donation) or click on certain ads,
you get bonus turns.
Thought I'd pass along the suggested web-games that came down the pipe
Also for those interested in Chess, here’s an announcement about a new version of Kchess from Ark Angle Software.
KChess Advance and KChess Elite version 4 have now been released. Some of
the major enhancements over version 3.6 include:
Play abilities new lower levels of play for beginners
new time limit with game time plus increment per
move * separate time limits for each player *
option to force move of touched piece *
improved selection of openings at lower levels
bookmarking of moves
undo all / redo all stops at bookmarks
print moves includes board layout at every
Saving/loading games save game in HTML format with JPEG graphics *
save board layout in BMP or JPEG formats *
paste any supported chess file from clipboard *
enter multiple moves in the Enter Move dialog
paste individual or multiple moves from the
clipboard playing mode saved in KCH files
easier Email Game function *
On screen display new piece sets and textures *
new button bar
support for XP themes
additional languages *
enabling of separate translations for opening
encyclopaedia * international/correspondence notation and
FIDE algebraic notation
Speech separate Speak menu with enhanced speech
functions * additional voices *
Other new install program
installation option to tailor program for screen
reader software automatic program updating from the KChess server
( * denotes enhancements in KChess Elite only )
You can download the latest versions now from our web site at
As usual, they are free to all registered users. I hope
you enjoy the new
ARK ANGLES - Advanced Australian Software
Alter Aeon: A Mud for Everyone
Reviewed by Sean Randall
Freely available from:
host address: dentinmud.org
IP address: 126.96.36.199
I have been playing this mud, Alter Aeon, for about two weeks now. You maybe thinking that two weeks is a little premature for making conclusions about
the mud, but I disagree. This is why:
Quoting from the website:
What is Alter Aeon?
Alter Aeon is a type of game commonly called a 'MUD', or Multi-User Dimension. It is an on-line environment where many different people, from all over the
world, can get together and interact in a huge virtual world. Think of it as being similar to multiplayer Quake, only without graphics and a much more
rich environment. Of course not having graphics sucks, but Alter Aeon makes up for that with massive player interaction, a huge world to explore, and very
entertaining gameplay. There are people who have been playing on Alter Aeon for over 5 years!
When you start in the world of Alter Aeon, you must create a new 'character' who you will guide through the world on your adventures. Your character need
not be anything like you, and it is even common for females in real life to play male characters or the other way around. There are several ways you can
build up a story around your character, such as its history, personality, appearance and skills, but you need not do this to play the game.
When you first start, you will find your character to be relatively weak and inexperienced. As you learn more and explore parts of the world, you may find
trainers which can help you improve your character in many ways - from becoming stronger, to learning spellcasting arts or worshipping one of the many
deities in the game. Over time, your character will be capable of exploring farther and farther from the main town of Ralnoth, and by grouping with others
you may even glance at the things that lay ahead of you.
Ok: now you understand:
1. What a mud is.
2. Why blind and visually impaired people play it (because of the text).
and 3. That me, who often tends to shut up about something unless I like it a hell of a lot, am talking to you about this mud.
If your new to muds and have never played one, don't stop now: I'll address some questions about the basics I.E. connecting, later on: but before I do
that, we have to keep the old-timers happy by letting them get on with playing it.
If your experienced in mudding and want to get in off of the bat, here is the vital info you'll need:
host address: dentinmud.org
IP address: 188.8.131.52
Note: there is another mud hosted at the same place called banished lands (I think). I haven't played it but, if you wish to, altar the 3000 port to 6000.
Ok, the next information will be handy for all players, new and old (age not withstanding).
When you have made your character, and set up and all that, you get a choice of where you wish to be: in the mud school to get equipment, experience and
armour or, in the local university where you can read up on things.
Ok, hold on mud addicts: I no that mud schools are practically all the same and offer stupid info you don't want but, take a tip from me and go there?
There is valuable experience (not to mention gold) to be gained from all the kills in the school...
Before you all start exploring and killing things, there are several commands you want to type.
a command: something you type to the mud and hit enter when your done.
For example: the hp command: type hp then hit enter. That's how commands work.
Back to the plot: the first command you want to probably use is the noprompt - (no prompt as a single word) command. That will turn off your prompt.
Secondly, the set blind on command.
This is a recent addition made by Dentin (who is the main coder) to the mud. I got to talking with him, and together we sorted out some of the accessibility
issues for the blind. I said some, not all: but if you have a problem, feel free and please tell him, or me about it, then we'll see (pardon the pun)
what we can do about it.
A third useful command is the brief command: when you have explored a place and just want to get around quickly, you don't need the room descriptions popping
up whenever you move. Brief turns the descriptions off.
Whenever you moved outdoors in the mud, you would hear:
The sun is shining.
Or stuff like that, info that you don't usually want: the sunset command turns it off! Yippee!
I think the advanced mudders can go now, but for one small channel detail:
Channels are methods of communication, you can connect to the blind channel:
channel connect blind
and send messages to it:
channel send blind message
You may want to make an alias - a shortened expression that invokes a longer command - to help you with that one.
Other channels of interest are newbie, auction, and ppk (see the help files).
Before I wrap it up for the old players and go on to tell the newbies how to connect, I'd like to draw some of your attention to the help files under:
syntax: help string - where string is those things listed above...
Lets quote from the website again, about the main city of Ralnoth:
In case I didn't tell you which I didn't, I am quoting from this address:
Being the main website for Alter Aeon, and the Area listings a bit of which your about to here can be found at:
Alter Aeon - The City of Ralnoth
The City of Ralnoth
Recommended Level Range: 15 - 30
The city of Ralnoth is the centre of the Alter Aeon universe. Many of the
adventurers of the realm choose to rest within the walls of the (relatively)
safe city. The immediate area around the city is safe for adventurers of
all skill levels, with sightings of the Demonwolf rampaging through the
nearby lands becoming rarer and rarer...
At the heart of the city lies the thoroughly evil and unwholesome
Temple of Dentin.
Once devoted to worship of the god Dentin through blood
sacrifice, it has now become the resting place of the eldest of adventurers
who sit within the temple, ruminating over days long past.
Ralnoth sits on a relatively flat plain, just south of
It is said
that Ralnoth was founded a thousand years ago on the remains of an ancient
city, some of the walls of which can still be seen preserved in the local
Ralnoth is the centre for much trade, being at the
the Southern Road.
Roads from the east and west connect it to local
villages and provide a relatively safe means for merchants to export and
All the major guilds have representatives in the town, and there are a
variety of shopkeepers and traders.
This is the place you'll go after your mud school and forest hunting days, and contains many a interesting thing.
Ok, experienced mudders: pick up your clients, altar your hosts and off you go, I'm merneau, a level 20 thief (so watch your backs: with your ears:...)
and for those who want to play but never have?...
There are two practical ways for the blind:
By using telnet - comes with all versions of windows from windows 3.1 upwards: jfw users I advise you to either get some scripts, or if you're only using
telnet for mudding to
open jfw configuration manager in telnet, insert 6.
Go to the set options menu, choose user options:
Uncheck typing interrupt, altar the typing echo to what you like, and set the screen echo to all (if problems get scripts).
You can run telnet from the windows run dialog box, just type telnet.
There in, you can connect via menus or, if you feel brave, you can type in the run dialog box:
In this case, you could type:
Telnet dentinmud.org 3000
The second option is use a mud client (see articles on gMud in audyssey magazine).
from then on, it's childsplay: enter the information your asked for, hitting enter when your done. If you require assistance when your playing, you can
ask on the newbie channel type
You can ask on the blind channel (see above) and if I'm on the mud, you can always type
tell merneau message
I'll be happy to help, as I'm sure fellow players and visually impaired players alike will.
Well, I've rambled on for, what? One hundred seventy seven lines? I think that's enough:
Have fun playing, and remember. It's dentin's mud - don't be naughty!
Game produced by Bill’s Games
Available for free on the web by visiting
Game Reviewer: Bryan McGucken
Fully playable without sighted assistance
WordScram is a fast-paced mind bending word composition game that can be played by between one and four players inclusive. The object of the game is to form words using only the letters presented to you. The more letters and words involved in your answers, the more points you score. To access the game visit www.dictionary.com, click on the hyperlink labelled Fun & Games (use an ampersand instead of the word “and” if using the JAWS find command in Internet Explorer), then click the hyperlink labelled WordScram.
When the page is loaded, there are several options you can set. They almost all involve combo boxes. Set the number of players between 1 and 4. The number of rounds can be set between 1 and 3. Decide whether you want a java script timer, a gif timer, or no timer at all. I’m a chicken and don’t use a timer, but some of you word buffs out there might have fun with it. If you use a timer, you can set it to 60, 90, or 120 seconds (the amount of time allowed to submit words using the given letters). There’s an option to set a sidebar on or off but I’m not certain what it’s used for. You can also check a check box which allows you to verify your selections with dictionary.com.
Once you’ve done all this, click the begin game button and wait for the page to load. When it does, start at the top of the screen with your screenreader and arrow down. When you hear 1/3, 2/3, or 3/3 (for the round number), arrow down twice more to hear the first letter of the group. Keep arrowing down listening to each letter on a separate line, then think up the words you want to use. When ready, enter them in the edit field below the last letter (using a space between words if you think of more than one) and click submit. Note that if you use more than one word, you cannot repeat letters in the second and subsequent words that were used to form your first word. Thus if you used a “v” in your first word and it was the only occurrence of that letter in the given list, you may not use that letter for subsequent words. With a few exceptions, the score is the sum of the squares of the number of letters in each word. Thus cop and hilt would yield a score of 3 squared plus 4 squared equals 9+16 = 25. On the score page arrow down to hear the words you entered and the scores for the words and your subtotal for the round and overall score (once you hear “graphic WordScram” you’re close to the vital information). Click continue and do it all over again. After the final round there should be a button that says “start a new game.”
Overall, I’d give this game a ten out of ten. The replay value is unparalleled because you get different letters every time and the dictionary is quite large. Also, as mentioned above, it’s fully playable without sighted assistance. So, think you’re totally word perfect? Well alright then! Have a go at some WordScram and let’s see what ya got!
Game developed by American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
Commercially available from:
Fully playable without sighted assistance.
Reviewed by Michael Feir
Termites are attacking the city of Woodville! Only you can save the city! Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this computer game from the American Printing House for the Blind is a very different animal than is advertised. Billed as an arcade-style game, I was expecting quite a lot more than I found. In all fairness, it was also developed to aid low-vision players in learning coordination and tracking skills. For people with some sight, it lives up to actually being an arcade-style game. Torpedoes drop down the screen and must be guided into termites to create blobs. When a torpedo hits a termite, both the termite and the torpedo change into blobs of the same colour. When enough blobs of the same colour are in a row or column, they will all disappear. Exciting background music plays in the background, and you can hear the torpedoes fall.
While sighted players must actually use some reflexes and coordination, blind players should definitely not be expecting an arcade-style game. This is nothing like Shades of Doom or Pacman Talks which are much better representatives of arcade action. When placed in a special mode for blind players, the game is reduced to being a puzzle game which is something like Tic Tac Toe without an opponent. Sighted players can miss with their torpedoes which then become dead at the bottom of the screen. Blind players can choose exactly where their torpedoes detonate. Nothing happens until they make their moves. They can take as long as they wish to find the perfect spot to explode each torpedo. This eliminates two of the main increases in challenge that the game has to offer as you’ll see below.
As the manual says, “Each level introduces new twists and complexity. The number of termites increases, the speed of the falling torpedoes increases, and the rate at which the
aardvark releases the torpedoes increases.
When you reach level five, an additional torpedo colour is introduced. Along with yellow, green, and pink, you may start using blue torpedoes to eliminate
Once you reach level 6, the number of contiguous blobs in a column required to eliminate them increases from three to four.
After level 6, a rain cloud appears periodically and rains a special rain with golden lightning. This rain is unusual, because it eliminates the top layer
of termites, blobs, or torpedoes. You do not get to control the golden lightning. This golden lightning can be both a help and a hindrance--it introduces
an element of random action into the game. If the lightning eliminates termites, it helps. If, however, it eliminates blobs that you worked hard to line
up, it may be annoying.
Once you reach level 9, a multicolored torpedo may appear. When you hit a termite, blob, or torpedo with this multicolored torpedo, the entire column gets
eliminated. When this happens the message Zap appears on the screen for a few seconds to let you know a column is now cleared.” Since turning on the mode for blind people effectively eliminates any pretensions to being an arcade game that Termite Torpedo has, the different levels lose much of their different feel. For blind players, new elements are introduced relatively slowly. This adds to the distinct lack of urgency or attachment to the city that players experience. The game turns into more of an academic exercise.
All in all, I have to give APH credit for their logical thinking when designing the game’s interface. The arrow keys move you around by row and column, and the space bar detonates a torpedo. There are other keys for repeating information. Also, the game provides information about the columns you are moving through. I strongly recommend reading at least the “Words mode” section of the manual before playing as well as the sections dealing with the interface. It is also available on-line during the game. However, if a blind player has disabled his/her screen-reader while playing, it may be annoying to reactivate the screen-reader to consult this help.
I have no gripe with the quality or choice of sounds in the game. They all seem perfectly suitable to the events in the game. The background music is also quite suitable, although I certainly didn’t find it to my personal liking. Perhaps, I wouldn’t have minded it so much if it didn’t serve to remind me of how lacking in action the game actually is for blind players. The aardvark’s voice is well chosen. Aardvark? Oh yes. I forgot to tell you about this heroic aardvark who flies left and right across the screen dropping torpedoes to be guided by the player. Had I not read about him in the manual, it wouldn’t have mattered a bit in terms of relevance to the game. The narrator does a good job of conveying what’s happening to the player, but sounds somewhat calm and detached for a heroic figure attempting to save a city.
In all fairness, the folks at APH have indicated that they are happy to consider ideas on making it more of an arcade-style game for blind players. They were not defensive in the least when I asked them if there actually was any arcade action for blind players and admitted quite frankly that there was not. I have given some consideration to how they might solve the problem of making the experience of blind players more closely resemble that of low-vision players, but have so far been unable to think of a way to achieve this. To have story elements such as the aardvark, the city under attack, and such might have helped make it easier to create an arcade experience. As things are now, the game is utterly devoid of conflict. Termites cannot act to defend themselves or move to attack buildings in the city. There are no important landmarks to defend, no people desperately trying to flee from disintegrating places. The aardvark can blithely go about dropping torpedoes completely free from any danger of counter-attack of any kind. Sadly, anybody who purchases this game should not hope for arcade action. Termite Torpedo is more like a puzzle or board game. As such, it is well-programmed and seems suitable for anybody looking for such an activity. I can picture its utility in the classroom for teaching blind students about relative locations of objects on a grid as well as critical thinking to achieve a higher score. As an actual fun game, it could definitely use more adverse elements to contend with. It does, however, offer re-play value for those who are enthusiastic about puzzles. Termites are placed randomly every time a game is played. Also, later levels have the rain as described in the information taken from the manual above.
While I won’t personally be spending a lot more time playing Termite Torpedo, it did provide me with about ten hours of what I would loosely call amusement as I learned to master its elements and won the game. Frankly, to keep me hooked, I would have needed more than obtaining a higher score. Perhaps, in the future, APH may revisit Termite Torpedo and make its story more a part of the actual game experience. While I couldn’t solve their arcade experience problem, I could think of several means of accomplishing this. As a first thrust into the accessible games area, I give APH high marks for production values. However, they’ll have to learn a bit more about what fun actually is rather than how to try to candy-coat an educational activity.
I can be reached in two ways. The easiest is via my Cogeco E-mail address.
My e-mail address is as follows:
Alternatively, you may correspond with me on 3.5-inch disks,
provided you be sure to send them in returnable disk-mailers. I don't have the money to pay for postage. My mailing address is:
350 Lynnwood Drive
Adam Taylor, star of Adam, The Immortal Gamer, and our resident ADOM guru, can be reached three ways. You can send him e-mail at:
Or, you can check out his homepage on the web:
His page is dedicated to providing help, cheats and solutions to many games. Send him a request, and he'll do his best to find what you need. He also has sections on ADOM and Nethack available. Also,
you can download the magazine from his page.
Finally, if you wish to contact him at home, his address is: 3082
Canada L5N 3L1
Jay Pellis is an avid fan of graphical adventures and console games. For those of you wondering which Sega or Nintendo games are at all enjoyable to the blind, he's the one to turn to. He can be contacted at:
Kelly Sapergia is our expert in interactive fiction. He is a
well-established reviewer of games for Audyssey, and has an
interest in developing interactive fiction as well as playing it.
He can be contacted at:
David Lant has long been an active member of the Audyssey community. He is now one of our two moderators keeping things pleasant and orderly on the Audyssey discussion list. He can be contacted at:
Brenda Green is the co moderator. Her efforts on behalf of the Audyssey community are very much appreciated. She can be contacted at:
Paul Nimmo is a long-time resident of the Audyssey community who maintains a Frequently Asked Questions or faq file for Audyssey. When it is updated, it gets posted to a number of sites. He can be contacted at: