Computer Games Accessible to the Blind
Issue 23: May/June, 2000
Edited by Michael Feir
Welcome to the twenty-third issue of Audyssey. This magazine is dedicated to the discussion of computer games which, through accident or design, are accessible to the blind.
Packed with reviews and some exciting news, this issue is certain to have something in it that will captivate you. David Greenwood gives us a status report on the ongoing Shades of Doom project. Randy Hammer gives a review of the soon to be released Windows version of LoneWolf. James Peach introduces a new section of Audyssey which will contain definitions of gaming terms for novices. These are but a few of the exciting items you'll find below. *Note: Long-time readers should skip ahead to the next plus-signs.
Please write articles and letters about games or game-related
topics which interest you. They will likely interest me, and your fellow readers. They will also make my job as editor a lot more interesting and true to the meaning of the word. This magazine should and can be a highly interesting and qualitative look at accessible computer gaming. To insure that high quality is maintained, I'll need your written
contributions. I'm not asking for money here, and won't accept any. This magazine is free in its electronic form, and will always remain so. PCS needs to charge a subscription cost to cover the disks and shipping costs that it incurs by making the magazine 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. 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. 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. Never ever send your original disks of anything to anyone through the mail. Always send copies! This principle may seem like it shouldn't even have to be stated, but when it comes to just about anything related to computers, there's always some poor soul who will act before applying common sense. Disks are not indestructible. Things do get lost or damaged in the mail, and disks are not immune to these misfortunes. 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. Thanks to my new computer, I can now 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.
This magazine is published on a bi-monthly basis, each issue
appearing no earlier than the twentieth of every other month. All submissions to be published in an issue must be in my possession a minimum of two days before the issue is published. I now 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 my CompuServe address. I will give my home address and my CompuServe address at the end of the magazine.
There are now several ways of obtaining Audyssey. Thanks to ESP Softworks, there is once again a distribution list for those who want to receive Audyssey via E-mail. To subscribe to the distribution list so that you receive all future
issues, the direct Url to the subscription form is:
You may also refer a friend and pass onto them the current issue as well as an introduction e-mail explaining the magazine in detail. Then, if they wish to subscribe they
will be referred to this form. The form is available from the Audyssey Magazine section of the ESP Softworks web-site. To get there directly, go to:
The Audyssey section also contains all back-issues of Audyssey if you want to get caught up with events.
Travis Siegel has set up a list to facilitate discussions among
readers between issues. 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 participating. 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 message to:
with "subscribe Audyssey" in the body of the message. To post to the discussion list, send your messages to:
You can find all issues of Audyssey on the Internet on Paul
Henrichsen's web site at:
If you have web access, Audyssey now has an official web-page, maintained by Igor Gueths at:
Besides having all issues of Audyssey available for down-load, six megabytes of storage space are available for popular games.
Another source for back-issues of Audyssey and accessible games is provided by Kelly Sapergia. He was our first interactive fiction expert, and has put his Internet skills and resources to splendid use for the magazine. Visit his site at:
If you have ftp access, all issues are also available at Travis Siegel's ftp site:
Look in the /magazines directory.
For those of you who have trouble finding some of the software discussed in this magazine, or if you know someone who doesn't have access to the Internet, but would be interested in the magazine, this magazine is now available on disk. PCS has agreed to distribute Audyssey, as well as selected shareware or freeware software on disk for ten dollars US per year. To subscribe to Audyssey on disk, contact them at:
Personal Computer Systems
551 Compton Ave.
Perth Amboy N.J.
E-mail: [email protected]
From The Editor
Strength In Numbers
Shades Of Doom Status
Online Gaming: The Blind Gamer's Extreme Sport
Dolphin E-mail Leagues Welcomes Blind Coaches
Free Game Winner
News From ESP Softworks
News From PCS
News From Zform
Gaming According to James
The Definitions of Gaming
Game Announcements and Reviews
From The Editor:
Greetings to all of you, new readers and old. The Audyssey community has gone through a series of remarkable events since the last issue. While not all of these have been entirely favourable to us, we have emerged from it all as a much stronger and stable entity. By far, the biggest news was David Greenwood's release of the alpha version of Shades of Doom. I was originally planning to take the best of the discussion that this generated on the list and share some of it with the rest of you. However, there was so much excellent material that it was a far too daunting task for me to complete. I counted well over a hundred messages on that game alone. Fortunately, Mr. Greenwood himself was able to give us a concise status report which you'll doubtless find of interest.
Grizzly Gulch also saw some extensive discussion. There is no new information from Bavisoft as of this writing to put in this issue. However, last reports indicated that a patch to fix some bugs in the game is still in the works. We'll doubtless hear from them in the next issue at the end of August. You'll find two reviews of Grizzly Gulch in this issue from Audyssey staff members.
The company I work for has begun to support the Audyssey Plus staff, and you'll see some of what's in store for you in the near future when the Audyssey Plus site launches. Since things are still just getting started, the full benefits haven't yet kicked in. Eventually, however, the constant flow of material from the Audyssey Plus staff will provide the base of future issues of Audyssey and finally end these marathon cessions I go through when things come in at the last minute.
Who are these staff members? We have already come to rely on most of their expertise. Randy Hammer is now solely in charge of mainstream and commercial games. Kelly Sapergia and Justin Fegel will continue to cover the ever-popular and still growing area of interactive fiction. James Peach will cover accessible games and game-related sites on the Web. Our new staff member, Jay Pellis, is an expert in console games such as those for the Playstation and older systems. He will report on which of these are worth a blind person's attention either with or without sighted assistance. He is also a veteran of graphical adventures as you'll see in a review in this issue.
So then, where is Audyssey heading? The way I see things, two paths lie before us. If we simply wait passively for things to happen, we will walk the path that leads us into obscurity. I'm certain that all of us have let opportunities slip past which might have lead to enjoyment or benefit. On a whim, we decided not to bother going to that party or enter that contest. Those who would support our quest for fun must first know that we're here and have an idea what we're after. Why bother making games if nobody seems eager to play them?
Game developers are all set to propel us with a vengeance into a whole new realm of experience. Things we consigned ourselves to never being able to fully experience are now about to appear. Arcade-style action is now a reality. Real-time strategy is only months away at the most from happening. The path that leads to all of this coming to pass is called participation. To walk down it, we must all become active in our pursuit of fun. Our love of fun is what brought us all here. Everybody involved in the Audyssey community came here in search of that most important element of
life. Our common quest for this has caused us all to become, to some extent, friends. Due to this friendship, none of us need be afraid to admit our difficulties, defeats, or mistakes.
Charity is another crucial element of Audyssey's success. I started Audyssey to share what knowledge and pleasure I had gained through computer games with other blind people. Over the years, others in this community have chosen to give of their time and expertise to benefit all. Game developers have seen the potential of Audyssey, and have generously stepped in to help us take the right path. Even the act of participating in discussions is a valuable service to the community. It gives us direction, purpose, and continuity. To all those who think that just because they've never submitted an article or review, that they haven't helped us walk down the path of participation, you've got another think coming. Simply by discussing the games you play, you do quite a lot
for Audyssey. By telling us how unfair that puzzle was, how unsuitable that sound was, or how fantastic that game that's eating up all your time is, you are participating. That grass roots participation is the key to everything. Audyssey is merely a catalyst for this.
Fun, friendship, charity. Seems like a pretty good motto for Audyssey to me. These three elements seem to be common to all of the people who have helped me build a reality out of my dream. I thank you all for getting me this far,
and hope that you continue to trust me as your editor as we move down this path. I couldn't ask for a better crew for this ship of exploration. A great many changes will take
place in the months ahead. I hereby give you my word that I'll be the best captain that I know how to be. I hope you all enjoy this issue of Audyssey. Over the next months, I hope that you choose to lend a hand at the helm.
From Stan Bobbitt:
Hello to all the listers,
I would like to remind everyone about my Audyssey web page where you can browse Audyssey magazine online, just as you would a web page in HTML version;
You can click from article to article, view the latest issue , including back issues, and direct links to all the games mentioned in the magazine, as
well as links to the sites of the providers of the games that were reviewed.
The main reason I have worked so hard on this is that it saves you having to remember or record all the different addresses to where these games are! If
you are interested in a game, simply click the link provided and get the game.
Granted, this is a free site through GeoCities. It cost me nothing monetarily, but I have put a lot of long hours of work into providing Michael Feir's marvellous magazine in HTML version.
My intent is not to detract from this smashing magazine in any way. Rather, I want to provide an alternative means for anyone and everyone to be able to
have access to all the interesting and helpful information found in the magazine.
That work of yours is starting to pay off already, Stan. I've gotten a number of E-mails from sighted people who have stumbled onto what you've done. As things move forward with the on-line community my employers are working on, it will become even more valuable as a means of quickly becoming familiar with what's happening in the gaming world for the blind. One of the things we plan to do is to try and get mainstream game sites to link to Audyssey Plus. Nobody is quite certain how things will turn out just yet, but there will likely be more discussion on this before the next issue goes out in August.
From Robert Betz:
I am a new member, and I would like to introduce myself.
My name is Robert Betz, and I am the developer of Accessible Games.
I have wanted to read the Audyssey magazine, and join this list, but was
too busy developing new games.
I have a small break, so I thought I would join, and see what is going on.
I look forward to contributing to this list in any way I can, and reading your views about games that are accessible to us blind folk.
If anyone is unfamiliar with Accessible Games, my web site is:
A hearty welcome indeed to you, Robert. You've certainly put up a large number of games in a short space of time. It is no wonder you couldn't squeeze us in before. I trust that you'll find this community to be a good springboard for ideas and discussion. As other developers turn their attentions to producing action games, you have filled the need for more conventional Windows-based games rather nicely. Of course, your professed long-term plans for producing more complex games in the future are intriguing. I'm certain all of us look forward to further discussions with you over the coming months.
From Kent Tessman:
I've build a simple-text version of the Hugo Engine that seems to work well with speech software. (Mike Coulombe helped me test it; I'm copying him on
this as well.)
Currently it's sitting in ftp://ftp.gmd.de/incoming/if-archive, and will
soon move to ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/programming/hugo/executables. The
file is called hugov25_16bit_simple.zip.
Hopefully this may be of interest to Audyssey readers.
Thanks for coming to bat for us, Kent. Thanks are also due to Mike Coulombe for testing for accessibility. This letter was received quite a while ago, so readers interested in examining Hugo games should look in the second location Kent gave for the correct Hugo interpreter. It has long since moved out of the Incoming directory. We have yet to receive any reviews on Hugo games. Let's see about rectifying that situation, folks. As the quote says in Heist: "With the tools, we are prepared". Kent and Mike have provided the tools, so it merely remains for us to explore with joyous abandon.
From David Lant:
[Editor's note]: This letter was addressed to Phil Vlasak and was part of a small but important discussion concerning the reliance of screen-readers for accessibility.
...Regular accessible programming and design techniques should make any game accessible, irrespective of which
screen reader is being used. Saying a game is now accessible, by specifically providing tailoring for named screen readers, is kind of ducking the issue in my opinion.
When I build an Access application, I don't design it with my own screen reader in mind. I use the techniques and guidelines that will make as much
of the application easily available through the automatic defaults of most screen readers. Simple things like using standard Windows classes, sticking to standard colour schemes, and using the normal focus and re-drawing of
Windows to generate highlights and dialogues.
If, in fact, these games are accessible to most screen readers, rather than just the named ones, then I'm leaning on an open door. But it would be nice if the fact that there are at least half-a-dozen screen readers in regular
use, could be acknowledged a bit more often. I do not want developers of games for the blind to think that if their games are designed to work with JAWS and Window Eyes, that they are covering the accessibility issue.
From my vantage-point, there seem to be two conflicting demands being directed at game developers about this issue. On the one hand, we have the call to have games be self-voicing so that screen-readers are not necessary at all. At the moment, this option seems to be a more attractive one for game developers. Both PCS and Bavisoft have demonstrated that such games can indeed be made. On the other hand, I am constantly being asked whether there are games which work with certain screen-readers. This is particularly desirable for new users who want a fun way of learning their access technology. It would not surprise me in the least if manufacturers of screen-readers eventually took aggressive steps to have games made that were particularly accessible with their access software. We've already seen an example of this in Winboard. This Chess software was specifically modified to be accessible with Jaws For Windows. When educators finally wake up to the possibilities offered by computer games, I think the funds and resources will emerge to support more such development.
From Jak Goodfellow:
Hi all fellow readers out there!
as all of you will be aware threw either Audyssey or it's list, we are socialising together as a group with audio-tips which allows us to play games and other stuff like that and the list. after thinking about this for some time and how it could be done, I came up with the below idea.
now after some tohught, I have decided to bring the below preposition to your attention and would like to see some discussion and maybe the idea be carried threw with some of you.
I have recently become interested in mudding.
so interested In fact, that I spend hours and hours on them every day [grin].
What if we on the discussion list were to decide on a mud we would like to play and set up our own party to go exploring?
This could be grate fun, as it would allow team work from our fellow readers.
Of course, we would all have to decide on a particular mud we were going to try and play, and become familiar with the special commands, layout and the software used to connect to muds etc.
I would not want to be the leader of the party because I have little experience. However, I would be more than willing to organise such an event.
I my self am not to familiar with muds and have only tried the darkwind mud which seems fairly interesting.
once you have a fair understanding of how it all works and how to chat with others, your away.
if people were to find chatting on the actual mud it's self hard, and had the write equipment, our party could use the audio-tips chat room to talk to each other, and just use the mud to play our game on.
if this was not possible, I would set up a closed email list to facilitate the discussion whilst in play.
my only thought is all the different times and time zones. If we were to set these ideas in motion, we would all have to discuss and decide on a convenient time for everybody.
If any other readers would be interested in this, please contact me personally or threw the discussion list.
I think it is well worth a go, and I am not just saying this because it was my idea. who knows? It maybe like a regular thing like DD and voice chats.
Hope to hear from you.
I've long imagined what fun it could be to do something like that, but have steered clear of muds since I would likely never want to stop playing one once I started. This fear of being swallowed whole forces me to decline to join any such expedition. I have no doubt, however, that brave venturers like Jak could start something like this. It might be fun to have reports on any such adventures to put in Audyssey. It might also be a good eago-booster to have a band of blind adventurers become known in the sighted world. Of course, they'd need a catching name. In honour of the intrepid but modest lad who put forth this suggestion, might I suggest Jak's Dungeoneers?
From Kevin Lyon:
hi, my name is Kevin Lyon, I live in st. Helens in the north of England. I am new to all types of PC games (I've been playing for about 8 months), a definite novice. I've got the hang of text-based games such as Zork, jigsaw etc. (even though I've not completed any of them as yet). I keep reading about games such as Adom and nethack (I have recent versions which I downloaded from the Internet). The thing is, I just cannot get the hang of them. I've spent hours reading the documentation, which, even though it is a bit overwhelming (there's such a lot of it) is very in-depth and informative. when it comes to starting the games, I just can't get my head round them. These are the first screen-orientated games I have encountered and I just can't seem to combine what the documentation says and the actual screen. I am using windows 98 with JFW 3.31 if this helps. I'd really like to get playing these types of games as, judging from the documentation that comes with them, they sound absolutely great and right up my street. I hope you, or someone, can provide some advice.
I think the idea of a website for novices is a great idea (in fact I could do with it right this minute). I hope someone is willing to start one.
anyway, that's all for now. keep up the good work with Audyssey.
Welcome aboard, Kevin. I'm always encouraged when ambitious newcomers like yourself decide to try the more unconventional games available to us. Screen-oriented games like Nethack can be quite difficult to come to grips with. I hope you don't give up on them. No other games have nearly as much replay value as the screen-oriented ones. Much earlier in Audyssey, I did a brief tutorial about playing those kinds of games. Perhaps, this might help you get your feet wet. Remember to route your Jaws cursor to your PC cursor since the PC cursor will always be where your character is. It's a little tricky playing these games with JFW since it keeps wanting to say the whole line when you move up or down. Despite this, it can still be done and is worth the effort. Best of luck to you, Kevin. Be certain to look in our new gaming definitions section to become familiar with the terms you're likely to start bumping into. Happy gaming.
Strength In Numbers
By Michael Feir
When I began Audyssey, I had no idea where it would take me. It was a simple hobby that has grown into something far larger than I dared to hope. I have always strongly encouraged people to distribute and post issues of Audyssey
to whoever they wished. May this practice forever continue. The bigger we are, the better things can be for all of us.
I've often been asked how many people actually read Audyssey. Because of how openly Audyssey is distributed, it has been impossible even to give an educated guess. People can down-load Audyssey from numerous web-sites, or
simply read it online. They can receive it via E-mail, and might even have obtained it in other formats from friends or colleagues.
Audyssey has now become the centre of a vibrant and growing community. That much is proved by the activity on the discussion lists and the continued support from the game developers working to add some fun to our lives. I
think that it might now be time to try and accurately measure how many readers Audyssey has. This will give me, the staff, the game developers, my employers, and all of you an idea of how large we are.
To get this information, I ask everybody who reads Audyssey in whatever form to send an E-mail to:
Put the phrase:
I read Audyssey
In the subject field of your message. Please only do this once. These messages will be kept in a special folder so that they are automatically counted. The E-mail addresses will be kept absolutely confidential. From this point forward, each issue of Audyssey will include the current number of responses from your fellow readers. We can all thank Doug Poirier, my
very clever and talented co-worker, for finally solving the mystery of how to begin to get a sense of how large we are and how quickly we grow. I would also like to thank you, the readers of Audyssey, for doing this small favour. In the future, we might also try and see just who we are as a
community. For now, however, this will make for an excellent start.
Shades of Doom Status
By David Greenwood
Almost a year ago, I asked the Audyssey community if they were interested
in designing a Doom-like game, using the discussion mail list as the medium
to exchange ideas. My hope was that the final result would be a game that
contains an interesting playing environment, and a user interface that
works well for the VI community.
One of my main interests was how the whole process would work. Would this
type of exchange encourage the development of ideas that would lead to a
better game, or would it produce a game that looked like it was designed by
a committee. I think the jury is still out on this one, but I feel that it
is going quite well so far.
The process has developed much more interest than I could have imagined. I
have over seven hundred e-mail messages, from people both on and off the
discussion mail list, giving advice, sharing ideas, offering encouragement,
and providing constructive criticism. The best part of the process is the
way ideas have evolved from initial discussions through to today. If I
were to design and develop this game by myself without all the input I
received, I feel that the game would have turned out much differently, and
I am sure, not nearly as well.
We are currently on the third go-round. The first step involved a general
discussion of what type of game we would design. Would it be a RPG, a
shooter game, or both? Would it contain puzzles? How would we handle
orientation and navigation? How would monster melees work? This is just the
tip of the iceberg. I used the ideas generated in this step to create the
prototype I released in November 1999.
In Step two, the list reviewed the prototype, then we worked on a finer
level of detail. We considered many aspects of the game. Do the ambient
wind sounds do the job as intended? Does the movement of your character,
and targeting of monsters make sense? What would be useful as a source of
information during the game? How do you avoid bumping into walls? How do
you find objects in the game? What type of game are we working towards?
Again, there were many more questions which we addressed. In May of this
year, I released what I called the alpha version of the game.
We have just started the next step. The list is discussing the alpha
version and is concentrating even more on the details. We are grappling
with the following questions, to name a few. How should rooms be
identified? Should there be signature sounds used to identify passageways
and rooms? How do we keep score? Should the layout of rooms and passageways
be simpler, or more complex? How should the detecting, taking, and
automatic inventorying of objects work? These and many more questions are
still being discussed as you read this issue.
Where are we going from here? I would like to release at least one more
alpha version, maybe in September or early October. This will contain all
the decided upon features of the game, if not all the content. Depending
upon the outcome of this release, I can see the beta version released
before the end of the year.
The Blind Gamer's Extreme Sport
CAUTION: The word "extreme" and "extremely," will be utilised in extremely excessive amounts. If you have an extreme problem with the word "extreme," then please proceed onto the next article (which won't be quite as extreme).
We have all enjoyed text adventures and single-player role-playing games. These are extremely popular, but they are still fairly tame compared to the avenues in gaming being offered to us today. Aside from the conventional, we now have sports simulation and management, arcade, and even some action
games to give us a blast of fresh air. These however, are merely that sharp drop that begins your ski run down the Swiss Alps. The ride is only beginning. While action, arcade and the like are quite exciting and challenging for the lone blind gamer, some may feel even these extremes to be extremely tame. You may be ready for the ultimate challenge. If so, look no further than web-based gaming. What? Were you expecting something else?
Yes, web-based gaming could be considered an extreme sport when contrasted with other games in their genres. Their content and characteristics make them a genre all their own. For those of you who don't know what I'm babbling about, web-based games are games that are played over the Internet
as the primary platform. Such games generally consist of:
A] online RPGs: In these games, your character goes online to compete with other characters. These are usually commercial downloadable software that sets up and accesses an account online. Some of these, such as Everquest, have software available in computer stores.
B] Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs), which are discussed in past issues of Audyssey, will be the most referred to in the following article.
With that said, such entertainment could be considered an extremity for the following two reasons:
(1) one must have a connection to the Net. They must be able to browse pages that contain such things as Java, tables and style sheets. Older computers or those unfamiliar with their access technology may have problems in these
(2) the very nature of some of these games requires not only some devotion of your time, but also a devotion to the community which you may belong to.
If you've ever seen an entire computer room filled with people playing the same online game (in this case, Archmage), all starving for more time to play, you know firsthand how out of control it can be. With this issue in mind, the following questions could be asked of one's self before setting
foot in this new and exciting realm of entertainment for the blind:
1. Could I afford the time, money, and effort that these kinds of games require?
2.If so, how much of each could I contribute without going overboard?
3. If I got my friends involved, would I be doing more harm than good (if you stop playing and they don't, or one of your friends is sacrificing things to play, what will you do?)
These are merely a few of the many queries that should be made to determine whether you're ready for such an extreme activity. I urge anyone considering playing these games to think critically about their possible impact. In all seriousness, it may be one of the toughest gaming decisions
you'll ever have to make. I'm not trying to be extreme about it).
The following is a short list of warnings and advice:
(1) Don't join any online games unless you either have a home connection to the Internet, or a good school connection with a lot of time to use it. Using a friend's connection is at best unreliable. Using one at work could possibly get you behind or even in a lot of trouble with the boss.
(2) Don't join a game that doesn't suit your interests. This is more a common sense warning than any "DO" or "DO NOT" warning. You most likely won't have fun if you don't like the games content; you only joined because your friends did, for example. Utopia and Earth 2025 are examples of such
taste differences, as the same group maintains both but have completely different content.
(3) If you have a friend who is playing a game you are interested in, ask them to describe it and go over any problems they have with the game
(mechanics, not content). Also, do some research on the game. Most of what you're probably looking for could be found at the game's website. Determine if the game is right for your style, speed and level of ability. WARNING:
Most of these kinds of games will take at least an hour out of your time, and can take longer depending on the game and the level of detail.
(4) If at some point, you can't continue playing a game, or no longer wish to play, quit the game cold turkey! The reason is that most (if not all) web-based games are expecting that you spend some time online each day, and
if you don't, you could be dead, or far worse off, by the time you start up again. If you want to start up again, start a new character (or whatever), and begin anew.
These tips and warnings should hopefully give you a head start when it comes to online gaming of this type. NOTE: Internet gaming options for software driven games especially, are very different than totally online ones. However, most of the afore mentioned advice, questions, suggestions and warnings could be applied to both. The web can be a fun place to play, but knowing its nature and effects beforehand can greatly reduce possible future problems for the gamer. Have fun, good extreme gaming, and see you online.
Dolphin E-mail Leagues Welcomes Blind Coaches
Have you ever wanted to run your own sports team? Ever thought you could do a better job than the millionaire coaches? Dolphin E-mail Leagues (http://www.dolphinsim.com/) gives you that chance!
Dolphin E-mail Leagues is a family of e-mail and web-based sports strategy leagues, giving you the chance to run a professional or college football,
basketball, baseball, soccer, or hockey team. You take full control of your team's personnel decisions through the draft, free agency, trades, and contract negotiations in the professional leagues; and recruiting and scholarships in the college leagues. You also set your team's strategy on
game day, giving you the chance to affect your team's performance in a way that fantasy leagues can only dream of.
Dolphin E-mail Leagues has been online since 1995, and has attracted hundreds of coaches through word-of-mouth advertising alone, as well as numerous spin-off leagues not on the official website. We offer the following features:
-E-mail and web-based command interfaces, both with immediate feedback, for ease of entering personnel and coaching orders.
-Entirely text-based interface for easy use with text-to-speech software.
-Your choice of sports: baseball, basketball, football (American), hockey, and soccer, with college levels available for baseball, basketball, and football.
-Full control of your roster and finances in pro leagues: contract negotiations, draft, trades, and free agency.
-Minor leagues and training squads in pro leagues to let you see younger players' performances.
-Realistic recruiting and scholarships in college leagues.
-Ability to view season and career stats for all players. The stats library is up to 28Mb for professional leagues, and up to 55Mb for college leagues.
-Detailed game plans that you can set before each game.
-Games are simulated play-by-play, based on game plans and player
abilities. The home computer versions of the game engines have been published world-wide on shareware CD-ROMs, with the football game listed by download.com as one of the top 10 all-time shareware games.
-Season-by-season simulation, so you watch as players come in as rookies, develop, and eventually get old and retire.
-Games, draft rounds, and free agency signing periods are run on a strict schedule, so you will always know when your next deadline is.
-Excellent customer service. Most questions are answered and bugs are fixed very quickly, usually within 8-12 hours.
The cost is $5.95 per season, with a season lasting roughly three months (depending on the sport). All new coaches get a free trial season. For more information, visit our website at http://www.dolphinsim.com/
Free Game Winner
This time around, the free game was easily won by Stan Bobbitt. Stan has done the Audyssey a tremendous service in making Audyssey available online as HTML documents. He has plunged into pretty much every thread on the Audyssey discussion list and has thereby shown himself to be an extremely well-rounded gamer of the highest order. You'll find examples of Stan's excellent work in the Game Announcements and Reviews section as well as on pages he has set up on the Internet to help players. Congratulations, Stan.
News From ESPSoftworks
Here's the new update for ESP.
What's New @ ESP Softworks - June 2000
ESP Softworks is an up and coming game and entertainment software company
that specialises in the development of software that's completely accessible
to those with low or no vision. You can visit the website at
The following news and/or changes are occurring at ESP Softworks:
Monkey Business To Be Released in July 2000
Get ready for an absolutely fun action arcade-style game in this
first-person adventure against the evil Dr. Wobble! As a net-for-hire by a
scientist who's teleportation invention and plans have been stolen by Dr.
Wobble, you must catch a fleeting group of monkeys across ten levels of
arcade-style insanity and several bonus levels!
Dr. Wobble has broken into your bosses laboratory in the middle of the night
and stolen the teleportation device he's invented. But, that's not all..
Dr. Wobble's also spiked the monkeys used for the teleportation tests' water
supply with a drug that has made them extremely smart and mischievous. Not
only does Dr. Wobble have the device, but the monkeys have gotten loose and
stolen the plans! Now, it's up to you to catch the monkeys, retrieve the
pages of the plans, and put a stop to Dr. Wobble!
Monkey Business features:
- Ten Themed Levels of Gameplay With Fun Puzzles
- Great Ambient Sound Effects
- Complete Player Freedom of Movement
- Several Bonus Levels
- Innovative and Fast Action Gameplay
- Cool Music
Monkey Business will be released in July of 2000. The estimated price will
be $24.95. Check our website at http://www.espsoftworks.com during July for
news about this upcoming release.
Web Site Overhaul
ESP Softwork's website will be undergoing a face lift in order to simplify
navigation. There will only be a single version available at that time
that's most conducive for ease of navigation. We also have a few surprises
The free game 'Shell Shock' is still available on our website's Freebies
section. Shell Shock is an 'artillery' style game that can be played by two
players or one player against the computer. It features cool stereo sound
effects and is easily accessible to play. Requires Microsoft Direct X to
Two new Freebies will be available via the website during July and August so
News From PCS:
Personal Computer Systems is releasing Snipe Hunt. This game
is a no brainer, intense planning of strategy isn't needed. Fast
action, using quick reflexes is what counts. You run through a
winding path chasing and catching snipes in your bag. What are
snipes? They are small birds with long straw-like bills. They fly
close to the ground with great speed and dexterity. What is it
about snipes that lures scouts, campers, and fun folk like you and
I to seek them out? Could it be the adrenaline rush of chasing down
snipes with your potato sack? Or is it the chill that runs down
your spine as you listen carefully for their call? Or is it the
smell of the midnight air as you pursue them on the path with your
lamp, hoping to catch these marvellous creatures?
Regardless of what it is that has drawn people to hunt this bird at
night under a moonlit sky, the sport of snipe hunting has grown and
become more difficult than ever. The common snipe has a complex
disposition unlike any other bird known to civilisation. Most
snipes fly away when they spot you. But now there is an insidious
demon snipe that will attack your light, sending you back to the
starting point for another torch.
This game uses the same system to navigate as our Pack man
game. A blip in the right or left speaker indicates openings to
path ways. Snipes peaking around corners are revealed. The path
always raps around keeping you in the fertile hunting ground. So,
your next evasive Snipe may just be around the corner!
The game doesn't need any screen reader to play, all the
speech is recorded by Cristina Downey. It comes on CD with both
WINDOW and DOS versions.
Free CD demo
P C S is putting out a demo on CD which contains both WINDOW and
Just send your name and address to,
[email protected] and we will send you the free CD.
The demo restricts you to one lamp and five snipes. The full
version starts you out with three lamps and the chance to get more.
In the full version, you will also get unlimited snipes to catch
and a Braille map of the path.
If you request a demo of Snipe Hunt, you will also receive a coupon
for five dollars off of your order when the CD demo is returned.
Snipe Hunt costs forty dollars. With the return of the coupon and
CD demo the cost will be thirty five dollars.
You can contact P C S in any format at
PERSONAL Computer Systems
551 Compton Ave.
Perth Amboy NJ. 08861
phone (732) 826-1917
E-mail [email protected]
P C S Games web site:
News From Zform
Dear Audyssey community,
The Zform web page has been silent for a while now, this is because our small team has been working furiously on many fronts. You might be wondering what all the "furious work" is, yes? Well, read on.
* This year portions of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (UMass), the nearby colleges, and Mass Ventures Corporation decided they wanted a program to encourage entrepreneurship in our area. This program, the Entreclub, sponsored a business plan competition. In this
competition, participants worked on their business concepts and crafted them into formal business plans. Zform is proud to announce that our business won the competition! This success brings with it prize money to help fund the company as well as prestige that has already helped
us move forward.
Zform gives a special thanks to our editor, Elizabeth Slavkovsky, who's help in writing the plan was indispensable.
* Zform makes the paper!
As winners of the Business Plan Competition, Zform was interviewed by the Union News. The article can be found online at:
* Zform is proud to announce that Patricia Pizer has joined our board of advisors. Patricia is an industry veteran with over 14 years experience working for some of the greatest computer game companies of all time.
For instance, she worked for Infocom during its glory days and helped develop, among others, the famous Hitchhiker's Guide
all-text-adventure. Patricia told us she was excited to be able to help us make our mission a reality. She is currently the Lead Designer at turbine games, makers of Asheron's Call
* Zform attended the "Internet Economy Comes to Main Street" conference, held in Northampton and Springfield MA. There, we were able to touch base with the pulse of the new economy and participate in excellent discussions on the
changes the information revolution is bringing to everyone. We also learned that the many beneficiaries of the new economy feel, like Zform, a commitment to their communities and social responsibility.
* Cofounder Paul G. Silva, after an intensive five year career where he balanced the work of a very challenging major and starting Zform, graduated from UMass with a degree in computational physics.
(there was much rejoicing)
AND, last but certainly not least:
* Zform has begun raising the funds necessary to finance the development of its first fully accessible computer game, Tre.
For more information on Zform, see our website:
Stay tuned to it for the latest Zform news.
To contact zform directly, email us at:
We welcome any and all questions.
Zform would also like to thank Audyssey Magazine for giving us this opportunity to let you know what we're up to.
Gaming According to James
For the novice, it can often seem difficult to grasp all the terminology bandied about by veterans of accessible games. This problem may even be the cause of some intimidation or paranoia of gaming in general. Being faced with a barrage of unfamiliar words and concepts can scare people away
from a great source of entertainment, which would be a real shame. In a magazine and community that is devoted to computer games accessible to the blind, it is essential that newcomers receive the guidance and support needed to get them started. Apparently, from current discussions on the
Audyssey Discussion List, this support for novices is somewhat lacking.
If you have gaming friends or have visited gaming sites, you're probably already aware of some definitions, abbreviations and acronyms associated with this sort of entertainment. You may already know what IF stands for
(Interactive Fiction), and maybe know what a patch is (a replacement of unstable/buggy files), but do you know what RTS stands for? How about what a trailer is? Probably not. You may be even more baffled with how much these terms and tons more are used. Fortunately, you are not the only one out there who feels totally confused, bewildered, and quite frightened by some of these colloquialisms. We at Audyssey are here to help. Be warned though. There are a lot of them. As new types of games become available, there will
always be more to ponder.
Thanks to a lot of comments and suggestions from Audyssey fans, we have decided to include a new section in Audyssey Magazine entitled "The Definitions of Gaming." This section will attempt to dispel some of the
confusion and anxiety when concerning games and gaming resources. The section will include the newest definitions, abbreviations and acronyms sorted alphabetically. With the clear fact that there are heaps of terms, phrases, acronyms and abbreviations, we'll try to cover the most commonly used and least understood ones first. If after seeing what this section has to offer, you have any suggestions, comments, or definitions, please send them all to:
[email protected] and we'll try and get it in the next issue.
The Definitions of Gaming
Section maintained by James Peach
This issue, we will focus on the genres that games can fall under as an icebreaker to this new section within Audyssey. It is important to know of the different types of games that exist before understanding the language associated with them. As with all concurrent issues, there will be a minimum of ten definitions to give everyone a broad area of information to deal with. I hope that with this first instance of "The Definition of Gaming", that you, the blind/visually impaired gamer, will become more aware of the possibilities in gaming around you and be ready to travel in new paths in gaming.
Action - Action games are games typically less cerebral than those of other genres. They are generally linear, with a very simple plot, and simple operation. Don't be fooled. To achieve your goal of getting to the end of the game (that's basically the only objective), it often involves taking on tough enemies or traversing difficult climes; nothing is ever easy. Examples of some action games are Super Mario Brothers series, the Metal Gear Series, and the Doom series. For the most part, action games are inaccessible without sighted assistance, though that is slowly changing.
Role-playing games (RPGs) - These types of games include the pen and paper (Dungeons & Dragons type) games, as well as console and computer games. It has been explained that there are five basic elements that define an RPG: (1) the player must be playing a role of some kind; (2) there must be more than one objective in the game (i.e.: find the magic crystal, and defeat the end boss); (4) there must be a way for a character to advance in ability (gain levels, increase in skill, etc.); (5) the must be some sort of storyline. While these elements may not be the only ones that define an RPG, they are the most objective that could be found.
Real-time strategy (RTS) - These are organisational games where actions, decisions, mistakes, are all made in real-time with little time to think, and only enough time to react. Real-time strategies a generally inaccessible due to their impulsive action/reaction nature; this is unfortunate. The WarCraft, Age of Empires, and Command & Conquer series of games are all examples of RTS's, with this genre being the one of the most popular.
Turn-based strategy (TBS) - Games defined under this genre are such that are played in a chess-like fashion. This means that actions are made back and forth, with each player having a turn to make decisions. Chess, as mentioned above, is a simple version of an TBS. Each player makes a decision, and then allows the other player to make theirs. This continues back and forth. TBS is distinctively different from RTS, and not just for the obvious reasons. Each has it's limitations; TBS on realism and RTS on flexibility as examples. Even the techniques implemented are different. TBS is easier to play, and should be sought to play over RTS.
Active Turn-based (ATB) - ATB is a combination of the aforementioned real-time and turn-based strategy. It is essentially like turn-based strategy. The difference is that each turn is timed. Decisions must be made quickly or the other players will take their turns. The Final Fantasy series is an example of it's implementation within an RPG, and the MAX series (see previous issues) is an example of ATB within a strategy game.
Sports - Hockey, baseball, soccer, curling and football are all types of sports simulated on the computer or on console. These games simulate not the individual player, but either all of the players, the coaching of the players or the management of the team. Aside from on the field/court/ice decisions, there are a lot of external choices to be made, like the signing of players or the organisation of rosters. Sports games can come in text-based versions which are most accessible, though with some help, the graphical versions can be played as well.
Arcade - Space Invaders, Pong, and Tetris come to mind as the classic arcade games, though most of us know that that's old hat. These days, arcade games seem to be defined as entertainment is the least cerebral, with the minimum of background and maximum of hack and slash. Even if you are blind, you could probably play most of these games as they require little skill, and some would be helpful with a sighted partner playing along.
Racing - While racing is considered a sporting event, it has grown out so far that it has become it's own gaming genre. On motorcycles, jet skis, boats, snow mobiles, and even cars, racing can be seen and played. There is little to say about racing games, as they are all basically the same with only subtle differences in quality, options and realism. Some assistance from the sighted would make the experience more enjoyable, though you can play alone at your own risk.
Simulation (sim) - Despite that other genres might simulate some elements of the experience, they are not simulations. To truly call something a simulation, a game has to be *simulating* portion of reality it is based on. For example, a flight sim simulates the experience of flying an aircraft, right down to the turbulence, the landing and takeoff, and everything else involved in flight simulation. Technically, sports is a sub genre of simulation, but has grown to become it's own like racing. The accessibility of sims are quite variable, and should be examined further though most will require some form of assistance.
Interactive Fiction (IF) - This is by far the most recognised of all gaming genres within the blind gaming community. It is completely accessible, and available in whatever flavour of story you desire. As the name implies, you are playing within of story, making decisions and generally acting to move along with the story to it's end. RPGs and IF games have been confused in the past as they are both similar, though IF games lack some of the elements that would define them as an RPG; multiple objectives and character development as starters. What you may be referring to as IF may in fact actually be an RPG, such as Nethack, ADOM, Rogue, and Fallthru. It is easy to put all text-based "story" games into the IF category, but now that you are aware, this may happen somewhat less.
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.
Accessible Word Scramble Announcement
Developer: Robert Betz
Accessible Word Scramble is a Windows 95/98 game written specifically for blind users of JFW version 3.3 or higher, and Window-Eyes version 3.1 or higher.
The object of this game is to unscramble 5 words in as little time as possible.
It is a race against the clock. The game is timed, but there is no time limit.
The game screen is a grid with 2 rows. The scrambled word will appear in the top row, and you must move the letters in the scrambled word to the bottom row to create the word the computer is looking for.
Many times, the letters in the scrambled word can be unscrambled to create more than one word, so the object is to find the word the computer is looking for.
When all letters have been moved to the bottom row, you will be informed if you have created the correct word or not. If you did not create the word the computer is looking for, you will be told how many letters are in their correct position, and those letters will remain in the bottom row.
So, if you have no idea what word can be created, or you are not the world's best speller, you can make up nonsense words and if any letters are in the correct position, you can use the correct letters as a guide to create the
word the computer is looking for.
This game interfaces directly to JFW version 3.3 or higher and Window-Eyes version 3.1 or higher to provide spoken feedback to the user.
This interface combined with several keyboard commands and sound effects make this game completely accessible to the blind gamer!
An easy to use interface is also provided for sighted family members, allowing them to enjoy Accessible WordPlay too. Play your family and friends, and see who can unscramble 5 words in the shortest time!
You may download a trial version of Accessible Word Scramble from the Accessible Games web site at:
Produced by Jim Kitchen
I have put a windows version of the trucker game up on my web site. So far, it plays pretty much like the DOS version but with continuous and multiple sounds. I do plan to keep working on the game and make it similar to the super rig door game.
The file name is wintruck.exe and it is 4.5 meg in size.
my web site address is
Discovered for Audyssey by Stan Bobbitt.
[Editor's note]: The following was taken from the Monarchy web-site. The Basics
Monarchy is a free turn-based strategy game. It is played online and does not require any downloads or plug-ins. All you need is a fairly recent web browser.
Monarchy is a fantasy game featuring dragons, sorcery, and more. Each player takes on the role of a lord or lady in charge of a small territory. Your goal is to turn these few acres into a thriving kingdom. By building, recruiting, and making war on other players, you attempt to make your kingdom the
What is required to play?
Monarchy is an online text based strategy game. No download required, just a web browser capable of frames.
What is EDC?
Evernight Design Corp. consisted of Daniel Crowe (Neurosis) and Dustin Collis (Decae). Together we designed and created Monarchy. In 1998 Monarchy became
part of the Shareplay gaming network. Dustin and I are now employees of Shareplay and continue to support Monarchy.
To play Monarchy, visit:
Metal Gear: Solid
Published by: Konami Inc.
Reviewed by: James Peach
In such a delicate operation as this, only one can truly succeed where many would fail; that one is you, as mercenary Solid Snake. A seasoned soldier
and mercenary from the Outer Heaven and Zanzibar campaigns, you've been called up one more time for this important mission. Despite what the game
hype leads you to believe, you're not the lone maverick who sees, thinks and knows all. In fact, you actually have a former member of The Next Generation Special Forces backing you up, in spirit anyway. A motley crew of unlikely
and mysterious contacts encountered during the game also assist you in moments of panic or uncertainty. In Snake, one can also quickly gain the impression that you're not just dealing with your average grunting male,
blindly following orders. Instead, we see an intelligent male who is able to calculate, contemplate and understand. At the risk of spoiling it, you'll find this snake to be far more than the sum of it's parts.
This group of contacts you will acquire keeps in touch with a personal codec system. Advice, suggestions, inspiration and support are all gained through the use of the personal codec for personal or group communications. It won't
be too long into the experience before you realise that you have an invaluable resource in this collection of people, each with their own knowledge, skills and experience to bring to the fray. Before too long, you will find that the codec is the most valuable piece of equipment you're carrying. You may have to do it alone, but you're not doing it without help.
You'll need all the help you can get.
After leaving the personal sub behind and floating to the surface, you'll notice right away that Metal Gear Solid is very different from your average action type games. With superior numbers in manpower against you and former
members of Foxhound out for your blood, creeping your way in is the only sane option. The emphasis on cloak and dagger techniques cannot be stressed enough, as the only other avenue is out the way you came in, in a box.
Patience is the name of the game here, considering that aside from drugged up genome soldiers, there are mines, wolf hounds, a sensor-guarded "death
chamber," and sensor-operated mounted guns to deal with. Oh, did I mention the former members of Fox Hound? Well I did, and for good reason! Every so
often, you'll have to face one of these men or women and they were trained to be killers! Furthermore, some of them have a horrible tendency to come back for more, so expect the unexpected.
Is the action a little too intense? Security getting tighter? Enemies getting smarter? Well, why not relax and go for a round or two in the VR training sessions? Such simulations as: weapons training, timed training, offer the intrepid merc an opportunity to unwind and let it all fly out the
barrel. Only after completing a training level successfully will you be able to move onto the next level. Some levels aren't even available until you've played through some of Metal Gear Solid. Once you feel a bit more confident
in your abilities, you can leave training to continue the quest. This type of training may be one's only saving grace, as they may not be ready to traverse some of the challenges awaiting them.
For enthusiasts of the RPG genre, one could almost classify Metal Gear Solid as such for: it's attempt at rich plot development, the portrayal of the cold mercenary character, character development (body meter increases after
every boss), and the use of multiple objectives which you uncover later.
Though it has many shortcomings, I don't think RPG fans will be too disappointed so long as they're not expecting an RPG. In actual fact, there are two primary objectives to give you plenty to do: (1) rescue the DARPA
Chief and the Armstech president as well as other key hostages; (2) locate and shut down Metal Gear.
One of the highlights of Solid that is slowly becoming a standard in the graphical gaming universe is the implementation of intelligent enemies. Gone
are the days when mindless monsters, mutants and zombies would be plodding around and waiting for you to dispatch them. Instead, as you improve, they
improve, forcing you to advance to a higher level far faster than usual. The general gaming public has been complaining for years that non-player characters (NPC's) are getting to easy to kill, and so this was the result.
Just to give you an idea of how "intelligent" these genome soldiers are, relatively speaking: if a genome soldier hears a noise, it will deviate from it's path in the direction of the noise and continue to do so until satisfied. For all the smarts of the computer artificial intelligence (AI) in this game, they can be fooled and lead around as it suits Snake.
Aside from many fine options in items and weapons, and the intensity of a spy thriller, Metal Gear Solid also has a stunning plot and great voice-over acting. The primary reason why I chose to review this Playstation game was
due to this, and it's movie-like flavour. After playing for a short while, you'll feel more and more like you're playing a role in a movie instead of a character in a game. This feeling is supplemented by the fact that this title is loaded with integrated video clips and lengthy cinema scenes. Even
if the non-sighted player is not actively participating, it is an experience in itself just to sit and listen to the dialogue, the ambience, and the experience as a whole.
Game by Echelon Entertainment
Reviewed by Stan Bobbitt
Utopia is a web based interactive text-HTML adventure game that you play online. You will need an Internet connection and a web browser to play. To sign up for a FREE account to play utopia, go to:
Remember to click on the link to test your browser's compatibility with the game and to get solutions to possible browser compatibility problems.
See more about signing up and logging-in at the end of this review.
I recommend reading threw the entire "guide to the age of chaos before beginning your game. You will find a link to this guide on the forms page during sign-up. The link is labelled, guide to utopia. It is a well written introduction/HowTo to the world of utopia.
You may even find it necessary to refer back to this excellent guide from time to time after you've created your account. There will always be a link to it titled, "the guide", at the bottom of the main menu screen.
Another first class how-to guide to help you get started called, "utopia for dummies" can be found at:
Here is an excerpt from the guide to the age of chaos.-
Welcome to Utopia, a world where reality and dreams come together, a world where the lowliest of peasants can become the world's greatest heroes. A world unlike any other that you may have experienced now stands before you.
Any peasant can become Lord of their own province, but only the greatest can survive. Being a leader in the world of Utopia will challenge your every skill and demand your careful attention. Without diplomacy and tact, you will never rise to the respect the people demand of you. You must decide when to be ruthless and when to be compassionate. Will you run an empire of might or magic? Alas, it is almost impossible to do both. Every decision, every challenge
will be yours and yours alone. Are you ready to be a Lord or Lady here in Utopia? ...
Utopia is an interactive game played in "real time". That is, there are thousands of players online at any given time, playing and interacting together. The actions of one player can have a positive or an adverse effect on other players.
One day in utopia is equal to 1 hour in real time, a utopian month has 24 days, hence, a utopian year has, you got it, only 7 months, one week in real-time.
It is played in what is called, "ages". One age of utopia is equal to roughly 12 weeks or so in real time.
Currently, we are nearing the end of age 8, the age of chaos. The next age should begin sometime in July.
To keep things running smoothly in your province, and so you do not lag behind in growth, it is recommended that you log into your account at least once a day. If you are going to be unable to log-in for a number of days, you'll need to select the vacation mode located under preferences. The link to preferences can be found at the bottom of the main menu screen. The vacation mode will keep your province from being pillaged and attacked while you're away.
Utopia is similar to a (RPG, role playing game. It is set with a medieval ambience. Your role is that of a lord or lady of a province within a kingdom on an island. You have peasants, money, military, and land to manipulate.
Your soldiers are drafted directly from your total population according to how your draft rate is set. You can obtain new lands either through exploration or attacks.
You must train your soldiers into specialised troops for battle, defending your acreage, and/or building up a den of thieves. You must erect armouries, barracks, strong holds, guard stations, and other structures for these military.
To house, feed, and employ your peasants,
You will need to build homes, farms, plazas, banks, and other such structures.
Maintaining a suitable balance between the myriad facets in governing your province will have a direct affect on the growth and prosperity of your land. Too little military will leave you vulnerable to attack. However, too much military will cause your peasants to revolt and abandon you. Not enough farm land will leave your population open to starvation.
An integral part of this growth is how well you interact with the other provinces in your kingdom. You must vote for a Monarch, regularly read and post to your kingdom's forum, and participate in kingdom projects such as aid programs, battle plans, and war.
Utopia is set up in text-HTML form. You navigate the pages or screens just like you would a web page. Each page will have 4 frames.
The first frame is the links frame, It contains the basic game commands. The links are in the form of "image map links". In the links frame is also an option to turn off graphics. I would recommend doing this until you become more familiar with the
workings of the game. You will find such commands in this frame as, menu, council, explore, build, science, military, magic, thievery, attack, forum, and so on.
The second frame is the "Freebies" frame. It contains free food and gold links, as well as links to turn background music off and on. You can choose from 5 different pieces of music. The music links are labelled: 1 2 3 4 5.
The third frame is an "adlink" frame, blank for now. Perhaps reserved for future use.
The fourth and final frame is the utopia main frame, (utomain). frame
It displays your province statistics such as:
money, peasants, food, runes, NetWorth, as well as the results of your commands
when training soldiers, building structures, casting spells, launching attacks, and so forth.
Because most of this information is contained within tables, you may find it necessary to use the JAWS cursor or an alternative cursor to read across the columns.
In this "utomain frame, after you've clicked the corresponding link, is also where you'll find your kingdom's forum, kingdom status, news, and various other reports. The rest of your game commands are comprised of forms with buttons, edit fields, combo boxes, and pull down menus. You'll find them blind user friendly and very easy to employ.
To become a utopian, go to:
click on either the: Newacct.htm image map link or the Newacct2.htm image map link, fill out the form, and create your free world of utopia account.
After you've successfully created your utopia account, to log-in, go to:
and click on either the log-in.htm image map link or the log-in2.htm image map link.
NOTE: Because of server overload problems during the last game, this age has been divided into 2 groups. The main game, the world of utopia, with over 40,000 active players is recommended for the novice, while the utopian battle fields, a smaller, more intense game of 15,000 players, is reserved for the veteran player. I.E. the double log-in and account links.
As far as accessibility, I would give this game a rating of 9 out of ten. The lack of a perfect score in accessibility is due to the frames and tables one must learn to utilise.
As an overall rating, I give this unique, intriguing game a 10 out of 10.
I wish you success in all your endeavours, live long and prosper.
May we meet in the world of utopia, in peace, not war.
I have set up an e-mail discussion group through egroups.com called blindutopians.
It is targeted toward, but not limited to, the blind player of utopia.
Any member of utopia is cordially welcome to subscribe and join in the discussions.
The discussions are open to events, strategies, and any other aspects of the game utopia.
To subscribe to blindutopians, send a blank message to:
I have also built a site on the Web for players of Utopia in need of help. Check it out at:
Randy's Glimpse of Things To Come:
Last issue I said that I would write up a few reviews of windows-based games. However, only two were available at the time of publication. ESP Softworks reports that it will release Monkey Business in July. PCS has sent me a pre-release version of two of their new Windows/DOS hybrids. All three of these will be reviewed and placed on the Audyssey Plus site as soon as possible.
LoneWolf, The Windows Version
Last issue I said that Windows users should not purchase LoneWolf because a Windows-based version was coming. Well, for the past month I've been playing a beta version of the Windows version. Everything that I said about the game is true, and more.
To get a description of the game please read my review in the previous issue. In this review, I'm going to describe the improvements. Suffice to say that this game, when it is released, will be better than almost anything on the market. The game will not be produced by PCS, David Greenwood will be marketing the game under his own label, GMA. What this means for pricing and availability I don't know at this point.
The first thing that you will notice in the game is the easier switch between missions. Each mission is described and the user has a choice to accept or decline the mission before it starts.
The second thing that will be noticed is the ease of play. The use of Windows sounds allows you to work a lot more quickly. The problems with sound cards is gone. Continuous sounds really are, and they are overlaid with other sounds pertinent to a sub captain. You hear every ship around you, the torpedoes streaking out ahead, and the planes sweeping over. The new soundscape feature gives excellent navigational information. It's actually easy to complete some missions with just the soundscape (no screen reader).
Other features include a greatly improved sound delay, a deck cannon, and a mission creator. The sound delay actually works in the Windows version. It is now easy to play the game without having to review the screen. Just set your reader to read highlighted changes and you will have no problems. The deck gun is an excellent weapon when you aren't being pestered by destroyers, aircraft, or other attackers. You even have an advantage with the gun, as it shoots further and with more accuracy than enemy guns. The mission creator may or may not be included in the package. I'm not certain on this point yet, but some will have it. Those who do will be able to create and share new missions for the game. Creating missions is fairly easy, and increases the enjoyment of the game.
Grappling With Grizzly Gulch:
Bavisoft's first game has certainly provoked a lot of discussion and debate in the Audyssey community during the weeks since its sudden appearance. I have yet to beet this game on the easy level of difficulty. Worse yet, I now must wrestle with a strong temptation to resort to cheating in order to get past some nasty rattlers. Below are reviews from two members of the Audyssey staff. They'll help people make an informed decision whether to invest in this unique and fairly expensive game.
Grizzly Gulch Western Extravaganza
Developer: Bavisoft Inc.
Playable without sighted assistance.
Reviewed by Randy Hammer
About three months ago a new producer of games for the VIP community unveiled itself. Bavisoft showed up on the scene with a BANG! Their first entry to the market is Grizzly Gulch Western Extravaganza. Several reviews have been done on this game, but I'm one of the few who has beaten it. I'll be able to give you a full review. If you've been reading Audyssey for a while I don't always review on playability and plot, there are more interesting facets of games that keep you entertained.
Okay, so I've just discounted plot, but I need to describe Grizzly Gulch before I tear it apart. the game is set in the old west in the town of Grizzly Gulch. The premise of the game is that you are an up-and-coming defender of the law. You start with a few bucks and no name, and must defeat bank robbers, hunt down chicken and horse thieves, and defeat the meanest murderer in the West. Along the way you'll buy and trade for goods and services, meet the townspeople, and play a few games at the local saloon.
Bavisoft should be commended for this game. They are the first to come out with a truly windows-based game, and market it. The game is relatively entertaining, and can be addictive. The interface is extremely easy to use, and there are several options for practice before you go out on your own. The game has two levels of difficulty, and it is almost impossible to die.
Now for the bad side. I said above that the game was entertaining. This is true if you can get past the corny dialogue and cheesy music. In other words, the atmosphere is bearable, but not by much.
There's also the matter of the plot. There is very little flexibility in the game. In fact, the story line is not changeable at all that I can find. Somewhere I remember reading that you can change the plot by trying to become a criminal instead of a lawman, but I can't seem to find a way to do this. Add to the linear plot the fact that the game is rather unbalanced. This means that you start off relatively easy, and slowly ramp up with each mission. The game gets generally harder by the addition of more enemies per encounter and the speed at which they attack. This is great until you reach the final mission. At this point the game goes from medium difficulty straight to incredibly hard! As of this publishing I don't know of anyone else who has beaten the game besides myself, mainly because of the last mission. I agree that the last mission should be terribly difficult, but there should be a better segue into it.
Finally, there are three more problems with the game that I'll touch on briefly. First, the game is buggy. Bavisoft is promising a patch that will cure most of this, and I don't recommend buying the game until this patch is available. The second item is the interface. I said above that the interface was incredibly easy to use, and this is correct. However, oversimplification means that you'll have to do some things in annoying ways. The game is interfaced through the arrow keys alone. Obviously trimming down to just four keys causes some problems for advanced players (though newbies will love it.) The Third and final issue is the price. $50 is pretty expensive for the VIP market. You'll need to make your own decisions about this.
So I've spent most of this review bashing the game. Does that mean I don't recommend it? Strangely no. Yes, the game is very irritating at times, but it is still fun. Besides it is the only piece we have on the market right now that even claims to be a fully functional commercial windows-based game directly for the VIP community. Go check out the demos and see what you think.
In closing, I always like to put in a bit for readers who are buying for a younger audience, and a tip about hardware. This game includes violence. It is a cartoonish violence. When you shoot someone they don't die. they are just injured. However, for some people even some violence is to much. Also, please note that this game requires a stereo sound card. I also highly recommend headphones.
"GRIZZLY GULCH WESTERN EXTRAVAGANZA"
Game by Bavisoft
Reviewed by Kelly Sapergia
Are you looking for a game with continuous action, excellent sounds, and that is totally useable by visually impaired game
players? If yes, try ""Grizzly Gulch Western Extravaganza", to be
referred to as GG.
In this new game from Bavisoft, a new game developer, you play the role of a visitor to the town of Grizzly Gulch. You can play a few games at the Saloon, or make a name for yourself by rounding up some of the "badest gunfighters in the west".
Let's start by reviewing the interface. This game uses only
the four arrow keys. When you're asked a question, you use the left and right arrow keys to move through the various choices,
and the up key to select that choice. The down key will also
sometimes interrupt the dialogue. If you're in a gun fight, or
practising at the target range (more on this in a minute), the
left and right arrows move your gun, and the up arrow key fires
Here's what happens when you start the game. You can listen to the intro music and audio help (more on this later). Next, you will be asked what player you are. If you're playing for the first time, you'll have to choose New Player. You can have up to five saved player positions in the game.
You will then be asked what level you want to go for: Cow
Poke, which is the easiest level, or Gun Slinger, the hardest. I
recommend you start on Cow Poke. The differences in these two levels are in the gun fighting sequences. If you're in the Cow Poke level, enemies will come at you from the far left, middle, or right. If you're in the Gun Slinger level, enemies will come at you from the far left, near left, middle, near right, and far right.
When you first start the game, you don't have a gun in your
possession, so you have to try to get one. I don't want to give
everything away in this review, but when I started the game and went to the bank, it got robbed instantly. I was told that I
should have a gun. I got one from the General store (after
getting some money from the Saloon), and went to the Target
Range. I highly recommend going there when you first get your gun so you can practice. Bottles will be thrown into the air, and you have to shoot them all without missing. You can practice for as long as you want. Shooting your gun at targets is, in my opinion, simple. When the bottles are coming at you in the Target Range, you can move your gun to where the bottle is and press the up arrow key to fire. For instance, suppose that a bottle is be thrown to your left. You have to press the left arrow key until you hear your gun click to the left where the bottle is, then shoot. If you hit
it, it will break. If you miss, you get a buzzer sound. Fighting
bank robbers or gang members is similar, except that you have to point your gun to the location where they're taunting you before they shoot you. If you get hit, the fight will be over, and you'll probably lose all your money, especially in a bank
Speaking of bank robberies, bystanders will occasionally
appear. Try not to hit any innocent people. One time, I
accidentally fired at Cecil, the bank manager. Let's just say he
wasn't pleased with me for awhile.
In the saloon, you can play four games: Blackjack, Poker, Slot Machine, or the Shell game. I like the Blackjack and the Slot Machine games, but I think the Shell game could use some work.
You can practice the Shell game, but I can't figure out where the coin is. I'm also not an expert at Poker. I wish that the rules for Poker and the Shell game were explained more clearly in the audio help. A brief demonstration of Poker and the Shell game would be nice too, especially for people unfamiliar with the games.
When you get tired of playing this game, you can exit it by
going to the Hotel and getting a room for the night. Your game
will save and will then exit back to Windows. When you start the game again, select your saved game. You'll wake up in the hotel.
Need some help with the game? Try the Visitors Center. The
Marshall built the Visitors Centre because he "got tired of
answering questions from people visiting Grizzly Gulch". When you enter the Visitors Center, you'll be presented with a menu of help topics. Just move to the topic you want to listen to, and press up arrow to hear it. You can also use Quick Help while in any of the locations in the game, by pressing the space bar. For instance, if you're in the Saloon playing the Slot Machine, press space and you'll be told what you can do in the game.
The thing that impressed me about this game was the sounds and the acting. Since this game uses DirectX technology, you'll hear sounds in stereo all mixed together. While in the Saloon, I enjoyed the various comments from the dealers at the various tables, although they sound like the guy at the Blackjack table.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this game a rating of 9 out of
10. I'm very impressed with the game, and highly recommend it for anyone that's looking for a Windows-based game that's completely accessible to the blind and visually impaired.
The only complaint I have is that some of the dialogue is
repetitive at times.
Other than that, I highly recommend this excellent game! For more information about it, to order it, or to listen to demos of how the game works, visit Bavisoft's web site at:
By Jim Kitchen
Reviewed by Ron Schamerhorn
After the opening music for this game which has been changed from the DOS version, you are asked if you would like to read the instructions.
These are as follows:
"You will first be asked to enter 'V' for voice or 'T' for tone, I
recommend that you try voice first. Next you will be asked to enter the number for the difficulty level. Now it is time to start playing, so as soon as you hear 'Twist it' press the right arrow key. As soon as you hear 'Pull it' press the left arrow key. As soon as you hear 'Bop it'
hit the down arrow key.
The amount of time you have to press the correct key will decrease as you play. At 100 you will get a break, but be ready to continue. To play, you need to have the PC cursor on."
As quoted above it is easier to begin with the voice feature since you are told what action you should take. The sound only option does make it a different dimension because you need to go on the sound rather than the "Pull it" or "Bop it." There are various sounds for
different events, such as the opening theme, a sort of "Whoop" sound for the timer, and a 100 level effect. When you make a mistake in button
pressing, there are also two separate scoring sounds. One for the ones column [1-9] and another for the tens plus column.
I have played both versions of the game and believe that Jim has done a superb job in converting this game to the Windows format. Bop it is well, just fun to play! It isn't necessarily a short game. If you're doing well, it can take some time [that is if you hit the proper
One of the best advantages of this version is that it does play in windows. The reason I mention this is this seems to be the prevalent operating system for many people. By having this available, it means you don't have to go into DOS mode.
This game is excellent in that it is straight forward to play, and probably ranks as one of the more addicting additions in my collection.
It is a fair size download [forgive me I still use a dial up
connection*grin*] but worth the time. To sum it all up, it is a good break from anything too serious.
Game by Echelon Entertainment
Reviewed by Stan Bobbitt
EARTH2025 is a web based interactive text-HTML adventure game that you play online. You will need an Internet connection and a web browser to play.
To sign-up for a FREE account to play EARTH2025, go to:
Remember to click on the link to test your browser's compatibility with the game.
See more about signing up and logging-in at the end of this review.
EARTH2025 offers 3 game variations, held by 3 different EARTH Servers.
1. Intensive Game--The Standard Server
This game is for players interested in the most involved level of games with a relatively large number of players. It is intended for players who know quite a few others or plan to spend a large amount of time within the game.
2. Regular Game--The Tournament Server
This game is for players interested in a standard level of competition with a relatively large number of players. They are also designed for players who just know a few other players and plan to be relatively active in the game.
Players should NOT select this option if they know many other players. These games are meant to allow families and small groups to play together.
3. Randomised Games--Free for All Server
This set of games is also for anyone who wants to be placed into a smaller game at random. Because there are many games in this selection option, the games
will be small, thus more manageable and interactive. These games allow players to develop more meaningful interaction with a smaller group of opponents.
Players who know no or few others in the game should join this set of games.
You are allowed only 1 account per player in both the intensive and the regular game. However, the randomised games allow you unlimited accounts.
For a more detailed look at each of these games, click on the "game descriptions" link located at the URL listed above.
I recommend that you read through the "instructions" before beginning your game. You will find a link to the instructions at the URL above as well. The link should be labelled as help/instruct.htm.
These instructions will always be available to you after log-in by clicking the "instructions" link near the bottom of the main menu screen in the earthmid frame, in the "additional options" section.
Here is an excerpt from the instructions.
The year is 2025. A few years ago, the greatest war the Earth had ever known had just come to an end. All that remained were small pockets of life scattered throughout the world. No governments. No communications. No organised
civilisation. Since then, you have banded together a small group of survivors and put together a small country. Where others saw chaos, you saw opportunity,
and now you want to be the leader of the most powerful country on the planet.
However, during this same time, thousands of others have done the same in their area of the world and are now having the same thoughts in their heads.
Your success will depend on mastery of every skill of rule -- economics, military development, diplomacy, and more. With an array of options and strategies at your disposal, can you prove stronger, more cunning -- and most
importantly, smarter -- than all of your opponents?
EARTH2025 is an interactive game played in "real time". That is, there are thousands of players online at any given time, playing and interacting
together. The actions of one player can have a positive or an adverse effect on other players.
It is a turn-based game. The amount of turns you receive each day depends on which of the 3 games you are playing. The intensive game, standard, gives you 1 turn every 40 minutes. The regular game tournament gives you
1 turn every 25 minutes, and the randomised games, free for all, gives you 1 turn every 60 minutes.
To keep things running smoothly in your empire, and to collect a number of turns, it is recommended that you log into your account at least once a day.
How you choose to use your turns is entirely up to you. Earth is an empire based game of strategy and thought. As leader, Your elemental goal is to become supreme to all others. The ultimate aim? To become the most powerful
country on the planet.
You can use your turns to enlarge the size and wealth of your empire by exploring for new lands or by warfare. You can expand your empire's wealth and power by researching such technologies as business, military, warfare,
weapons, medical, and more.
To increase stability, power, and wealth, you can erect various structures on your lands such as military bases, research labs, farms, and oil rigs, just to
name a few.
Or, you can use your turns to launch spy operations upon other empires such as military spy, bomb air-bases, commit espionage, bomb structures, and
many others. You can launch outright attacks upon other empires. You can pick from
attack types like standard strike, planned strike, missile attack, or declare war, again, just to name a few.
You can choose from various attack strategies such as planned, cautious, or aggressive. Keep in mind, however, If you choose warfare as the means to expand and
enlarge your empire. There is always the chance you'll decrease instead.
If you find you have a surplus of goods, such as troops, jets, bushels, or oil barrels, you can sell your goods at the public market. Selling goods takes 1 turn. However, you can buy freely at the market.
You can build alliances with other empires/players to share technology,
assist in defensive and offensive operations, share intelligence's, and/or
You can join the Global Defence Initiative, (GDI), an organisation similar to the United Nations. You will be required to pay $4 per acre of land you
own to the GDI to receive their protection.
There are many other strategies, possibilities, and options, as well as other menus and commands to choose in this game. my instructions here are meant to be only a simple guide -- the best (and only) way to really
learn the game is to sign-up for your free account and experiment for yourself.
EARTH2025 is set up in text-HTML format. You navigate the pages or screens just like you would a web page. Each page will have 4 frames.
The first frame is the links frame, It contains the basic game commands The links are in the form of "image map links". In the links frame is also an option for a text only frame. I would recommend choosing this link until
you become more familiar with the
workings of the game. You will find such commands in this frame as, main
menu, advisor, clans, purchases, explore, build, research, military, war
room, and so on.
The second frame is the "Freebies" frame. It contains links for extra
turns and bonus turns which you are allowed each day.
The third frame is an "adlink" frame, blank for now. Perhaps reserved
for future use.
The fourth and final frame is the EARTH2025main frame, (earthmid).
It displays your empire's statistics such as:
money, population, food, NetWorth, as well as the results of any of your commands
when exploring for land, building structures, spying, launching attacks, and so forth.
When you've become comfortable with the workings of the game, you may want to skip to this frame to quickly view your results.
Because most of this information is contained within tables, you may find it necessary to use the JAWS cursor or an alternative cursor to read across the
In this "earthmid frame, after you've clicked the corresponding link, is
also where you'll find status reports, recent news, messages, and various
The rest of your game commands are comprised of forms with buttons,
edit fields, combo boxes, and pull down menus. You'll find them blind user friendly and very easy to employ.
To start building your empire, go to:
click on the "create account" link of the game of your choice, standard, tournament, or free for all, and create your free account at EARTH2025.
After you've successfully created your EARTH2025 account, to log-in, go to:
fill in your user name and password and click the enter game button.
As far as accessibility, I would give this game a rating of 9 out of ten.
The lack of a perfect score in accessibility is due to the frames and tables one must learn to utilise.
As an overall rating, I give this unique, intriguing, futuristic, Mad Max like game a 10 out of 10!
I wish you success in all your endeavours, live long and prosper.
May we meet in EARTH2025, in peace, not war.
I have set up an e-mail discussion group through egroups.com called,
It is targeted toward, but not limited to, the blind player of EARTH2025.
If you are a member of either 3 of the EARTH2025 variations, you are
cordially welcome to subscribe and join in the discussions.
The discussions are open to events, strategies, and any other aspects of the
To subscribe to blindearth, send a blank message to:
I have also modified this review into a help page and made it available
on the web at:
Sent: May 30, 2000 10:48 AM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Transylvania review
TRANSYLVANIA and CRIMSON CROWN
P.O. Box 311
Geneva, IL 60134
Reviewed by Mike Fleischmann
In Transylvania you are a brave traveller journeying to Transylvania to search for the king's daughter who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. You receive a letter from King John (in your program documentation) asking for your help, as well as a business card
from Zin the Wizard and a page from the local newspaper.
Beginning your trek at an ancient stump, you are almost
immediately confronted by the land's monstrous inhabitants. There are bats, floating figures, voices from nowhere, strange forces, witches-and an annoying werewolf that incessantly hounds you (excuse the pun) until you find a way to dispose of it.
Now, in The Crimson Crown (Further Adventures In Transylvania), you are once again a bold adventurer. But this time the king has died and the evil vampire has taken his magic crown. You must somehow find the crown and get it back before the vampire learns of its magical powers and bends them to his will.
In this adventure you have two travelling companions, Eric the Crown Prince and the Princess Sabrina. Each has a definite role to play in the adventure, but it is up to you to find out what those roles are and to use them to succeed in your quest.
Included with your disk is a full colour poster, a map of the
countryside, a journal, and a sealed parchment. Do not open the parchment! In the game there are definite instructions for what to do with the
parchment and you lose some of the fun when you peek early.
You start the game on the shore of a lake, but soon fall into a trap. It seems as if the entire land is out to get you!
You will also see some old familiar places and animals from the
earlier Transylvania adventure. I found that this gave Crimson
Crown a nice feeling of continuity. But you don't need to have
played the previous adventure to enjoy this one.
Crimson Crown is a riddler's delight. At least four major
riddles need to be solved. Also, during your journeys you will
occasionally come across a hooded sage who gives you cryptic
hints-more riddles, of course-about how to solve the
Of the two adventures, I would rate Transylvania as
easy-to-medium. Crimson Crown is definitely harder-especially if you have trouble with riddles, as I do.
The graphics are good in both programs but Crimson Crown's screens are somewhat superior. Nevertheless, both adventures
contain colourful, atmospheric and well-detailed pictures. In one
screen, there is even a small spider on a web
that is clear and distinct.
Both Transylvania and Crimson Crown use an interpretive parser
called "Comprehend" which allows use of full sentence commands and
has a vocabulary of over 1,000 words. I found Comprehend easy to
use. It understood what I wanted to do about 80 percent of the
time-which meant that I wasted very little time
rephrasing my instructions so the programs could understand them.
The adventures are not without their flaws. The worst is
probably the text scroll. When there is enough text to fill the
area at the bottom of the screen, the program waits for you to
press the mouse button or a key. I often found myself typing in
Also, if you try to type while the text is being put on the
screen, the type-ahead buffer captures only a few characters
randomly. This annoyed me at first, but I soon adapted and the
problem became only a minor inconvenience. In
all fairness, when running the programs in text mode, covering
ground you are familiar with, you don't experience this problem.
Crimson Crown has a few logic flaws. As an example, I had been
trying to get some flies to feed a hungry frog. In a cellar, when
I felt the ceiling, I had bugs raining down on me, but I couldn't
get any to feed the frog with.
The programs let you save as many as four games on the game
disk, so you don't have to constantly switch disks. Also the
company is supportive. You can get a free book of hints just by
Overall I think these two programs are worth the money and quite
enjoyable to play. Even my wife (who is no adventure fan) liked the
pictures and enjoyed the text.
Available at computer software stores
Requires sighted assistance
Reviewed by Jay Pellis
Shades of Doom has shown that a 3d accessible game is possible. By 3d, I mean having the ability to move forward, backward, left and right without just being restricted to a 2d left/right way of movement. In 1998, LucasArts decided to enter the 3d realm with a new graphical adventure
called Grim Fandango. How does this game hold up to all those 3d shooters out there? Read on to find out!
This game borrows heavily from Aztec beliefs of the 9th
underworld. They believed that the 9th underworld was a peaceful place people went to when they died. To get there, you had to do many good deeds life. The game takes place in the Land of the Dead as describe d in Mexican folklore. You play the role of Manny Calavera, a travel agent in the land of the dead. Manny wants to find someone who recently died that was good enough in life to deserve a premium travel
package to the 9th underworld. That way, he can pay off his debt and his spirit can rest in peace. His boss tells him of a recent poisoning in the world of the living. Manny gets his bones up to earth pronto, only to find all the good deadheads taken by his rival travel agents. He accidentally
overhears a conversation to plot a conspiracy in the land of the dead. He therefore joins a rebellion group, the Lost Souls Alliance, and it looks like they have a bone to pick with the leaders of the land of the dead. Manny must go on many adventures to uncover the conspiracy, save the recent dead from non-deserving travel packages, and meet some funny characters along the way.
The interface is nothing that has ever been tried before in an adventure game. It is fully keyboard driven, the mouse isn't used at all. Similar to shades of doom, the arrow keys are used to move Manny forward, backward, left and right. Several keys on the keyboard are used to perform actions.
For instance, E to examine objects, I to enter the inventory screen, T to talk to characters etc. Whenever an object is examined, Manny will describe it in detail. Also, there is no cursor like in other adventure games. Manny himself is your cursor. When he walks past an object, Manny will turn his head to look at the object. This means you can interact with it in some way. There is a slight but not bad problem with this. If there are a few objects in a room that are close to each other, you must position Manny exactly in front of the object in order to interact with it. Also, having
full 3d freedom to move around the world has it's disadvantages. Sometimes, if there is an object blocking Manny's path, it is hard to move him around the object in order to progress.
This game is highly recommended. It has a great
story, humorous characters, high content of speech, and an innovative approach to the adventure game genre. The free 3d movement aspect really gives the feeling that the world is free to explore. For example, you can walk outside a building and just walk down an alleyway examining what is there. This game requires sighted assistance to be
played by the blind. If you have sighted friends who are in to adventures, pick up this game immediately! Even if you don't have much sighted assistance for playing computer games at the moment, find someone and make them play this game with you! That's how good it is! It can be picked up at your local computer stores for around $25 US. It is a bit hard to find, but well worth the effort. You'll have a blast in the land of the dead! Also, a soundtrack of the games music is available directly from LucasArts for $15 US.
Review of LASH
Available from FTP://FTP.GMD.DE/IF-ARCHIVE/GAMES/INFORM/LASH.z8
Reviewed by David Lant
This is a fairly recent game which places you in the year 2062, after an apocalyptic nuclear conflict. The North American Continent has been destroyed by radiation, and the new civilisation is exploring its remnants to recover bounty and information for profit.
The game takes the form of a Local Asynchronous Satellite Hook-up, by which you are controlling a robot, or Multi Use Land Explorer. As the game unfolds, the significance of these acronyms becomes obvious.
You have been allotted a plot of land to search, using your MULE robot, to find any artefacts. The North American Salvage Company will pay you for any items you find, splitting the sale price with you. So initially, the game takes on the appearance of a straightforward treasure hunt of the Zork kind. However, as you search and discover information about the previous occupants of the land you have been allotted, you find that there is more to life than just making a quick buck.
The puzzles in the game are largely logical, and not especially dastardly. Often, it is simply a matter of being quite sure that you have both explored all available locations, and that you have carefully read all instructions and information. Examining everything most carefully, and being sure to leave no stone, or tree, unturned, should reveal the answers to as many problems as you need. Be sure to read all the accompanying information via the HELP command, as this is invaluable at various times.
The game, which contains some adult content, cleverly weaves the familiar and common interactive fiction commands and facilities into the plot. For example, your directions are entered not to direct yourself, but to move and command the robot. Indeed, even the UNDO, SAVE and RESTORE commands have been implemented as ground-breaking technology in the robot which has the ability to "fold time" in order for you to jump backwards and forwards in small amounts. So, performing a RESTORE, jumps you to the time slot where you last issued the SAVE command, which could be either in the future or the past from your present point.
After a while, it becomes clear that there is some astonishing technology available that will enable you to get a unique insight into the past of this land. But since you are only able to explore remotely via your robot, some unexpected results can occur.
I warn readers that from this point on, I will of necessity be giving away some of the themes and plot of the game. So, if you don't want to have any surprises spoiled, stop here.
The primary theme of the game is the study of racial hatred and exploitation, otherwise known as slavery. The history of the land, both ancient and recent, is shown as a conflict between ethnic groups that eventually leads to the nuclear holocaust. But as time goes on, the realisation dawns that even in this new 21st century world, a new form of slavery is being continued, and you are an unwitting participant.
The aim, as far as I can ascertain, is for you to discover your part in the new atrocity and take action according to your conscience. Some who want a winning or tangibly rewarding end, may find this a little weak as conclusions go. But I found it a worthwhile and appropriate reminder that material concerns will often blind us to the injustices used in the pursuit of wealth. In the continuing tradition that Michael Feir has expounded so often before, this game adds as much in educational and ethical content as it does in entertainment and diversion.
I would rate this game as moderately difficult. However, due to some of its content, it is not really suitable for children. Its prose is not captivating in the manner of some other games, but it does provide good atmosphere and detail for solving the puzzles.
I can be reached in three ways. The easiest is through CompuServe.
My e-mail address is as follows:
You can also call me via telephone. I have voicemail, so you can leave a message if you fail to catch me at home and off-line. I'll do my best to return calls, but won't accept collect calls. My number 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:
5787 Montevideo Road
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Postal code: L5N 2L5
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:
Justin Fegel is one of our two interactive fiction staff members. He will be happy to advise and guide players through the many interactive fiction games out there. He can be contacted at:
Kelly Sapergia is another 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:
James Peach, our web-based games expert, will do his best to advise those seeking accessible games played on the Internet. He can be contacted at:
Randy Hammer conducts an ongoing search for worth-while mainstream games that can be enjoyed by blind players with sighted assistance. He will also review commercial games and shareware produced specifically for the blind, such as that from ESP Softworks, PCS, and eventually, Zform. He can be contacted at: