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Audyssey;
Games Accessible to the Blind
Issue 34: Third Quarter, 2002
Edited by Michael Feir

Fun, Friendship, Knowledge, Charity

+++
Welcome
Welcome to the thirty-fourth issue of Audyssey. This magazine is
dedicated to the discussion of games which, through accident or
design, are accessible to the blind either with or without sighted
assistance. This issue is a relatively light one due to a number of
circumstances. However, readers will still doubtless find something
to interest them. Besides updates from several game developers, this
issue contains letters which were a part of a fantastic debate on the
Blindgamers list. You'll also find a number of game reviews. Note:
This magazine uses plus-signs as navigation markers. Three plus-signs
are placed above any articles or sections. Within these sections, two
plus-signs denote the start of a new sub-section. Smaller divisions
are marked by a single plus-sign. This allows people to use their
search capabilities to go quickly to the next division they are
interested in. For instance, the "Letters" section is preceded by
three plus-signs. Each letter within it has two plus-signs before it.
Answers to letters have a single plus-sign before them.

+++
Distribution Information and Submission Policies
This magazine is published on a quarterly basis, each issue appearing
no earlier than the fifteenth of the publication month for its
quarter. All submissions to be published in an issue must be in my
possession a minimum of two days before the issue is published. I use
MS-Word to produce Audyssey, and can therefore accept submissions in
pretty much any format. They may be sent either on a 3.5-inch floppy
disk, or via e-mail to:
[email protected]
I will give my home address at the end of the magazine.
Please write articles and letters about games or game-related
topics which interest you. They will likely interest me, and your
fellow readers. This magazine should and can be a
highly interesting and qualitative look at accessible gaming. To
insure that high quality is maintained, I'll need your
written contributions. I reserve the right to unilaterally make
changes to submissions if I deem it necessary to improve them
grammatically or enhance their understand ability. I will never make
changes which will alter the spirit of a submission.
All submissions must be in English. However, people need not be great
writers to have their work appear in Audyssey.
Many of our community come from different countries. Others are quite
young. Where possible, I try to preserve their
different styles of expression. The richness that this adds to the
Audyssey experience far outweighs any benefits
gained from having everything in prose so perfect as to be devoid of
life. Audyssey is a community and magazine built
on the need for blind people to have fun. There are no formal
structural requirements for submissions. Within reason,
they may be as long as necessary. Game reviews should all clearly
state who created the game being examined, where it
can be obtained, whether it can be played without sighted assistance,
and any system requirements or other critical
information. Although profanity is by no means banned, it should not
be used gratuitously. In all submitted material, it is helpful if any
E-mail addresses or links to places on the Internet are on their own
lines. Submissions not published in a current issue will be reserved
for possible use in future issues if appropriate. Any content
submitted to Audyssey Magazine may be used on the web-site as well as
in the magazine. Those who are on the Audyssey discussion list should
be aware that I often put materials from the list in the "Letters"
section if I feel that they warrant it.
Anything posted to this discussion list that in some way stands out
from the common and often lively ongoing discourse will be considered
fair game for publishing unless it contains the author's wish that it
not be published. Until now, this practice has been commonly
consented to. From now on, it is now officially a policy of the
Audyssey community.
This magazine is free in its electronic form, and will always remain
so. Due to a lack of demand, PCS Games is no longer making Audyssey
available on disk. I'm writing this magazine as much
for my own interest as for everyone else's. Your articles, reviews,
and letters, as well as any games you might care to send me, are what
I'm after. Send any games, articles, letters, or reviews via E-mail,
or on a 3.5-inch disk in a self-
addressed mailer so that I can return your disk or disks to you once
I have copied their contents onto my hard drive.
Please only send shareware or freeware games. It is illegal to send
commercial games unless you are their creator or have
obtained permission to do so. By sending me games, you will do
several things: first, and most obviously, you will earn
my gratitude. You will also insure that the games you send me are
made available to my readership as a whole. As a
further incentive, I will fill any disks you send me with games
from my collection. No disk will be returned empty. If you want
specific games, or specific types of games, send a message in ASCII
format along. If you have a particular game that you
need help with, and you are sending your questions on a disk anyhow,
include the game so that I can try and get past
your difficulty. If you can, I recommend that you send
e-mail. I can send and receive attachments with ease. This way, no
money will be wasted sending me a game I already have, and
you'll get my reply more quickly. You are responsible for shipping
costs. That means, either use a disk mailer which has
your address on it, and is either free matter for the blind, or is
properly stamped. I can and will gladly spare time to share
games and my knowledge of them, but cannot currently spare money
above what I spend hunting for new games. I
encourage all my readers to give my magazine to whoever they think
will appreciate it. Up-load it onto web pages and
bulletin board systems. Copy it on disk for people, or print it out
for sighted people who may find it of value. The larger
our community gets, the more self-sustaining it will become.
There are now several ways of obtaining Audyssey. Thanks to the
generous support of Monarch Business Systems, Audyssey Magazine now
has an official home on the Web. All previous issues of Audyssey can
be obtained from there in several different formats. Visitors may
take advantage of a growing amount of content as well as submit
material. Check it out at:
www.audysseymagazine.org
Those who want to receive issues of Audyssey as they are published
should send a blank E-mail to:
[email protected]
The Audyssey discussion list facilitates discussion about games
accessible to the blind between the publication of issues of
Audyssey. All are welcome as long as they respect their
fellow community members and keep in mind that the topic of the list
is supposed to be games. Other topics are allowed
within reason as long as they don't begin to monopolize the list
traffic for too long. Newcomers should be advised that
traffic is frequently fairly heavy. To help those who are swamped
with E-mail cope with this, there is a digest mode available which
sends one large E-mail per day containing the day's traffic. Anyone
participating in the discussion list will have issues of Audyssey
automatically sent to them via E-mail. Representatives from all major
developers of games for the blind are actively participating on the
list. All staff members of Audyssey are also encouraged to
participate on the discussion list. There are two moderators keeping
things civil and orderly. Be certain to read the Audyssey Community
Charter as all list members are expected to follow its rules. If you
want an active role in shaping the future of accessible games, this
is where you can dive right in. To
subscribe to this discussion list, send a blank message to:
[email protected]
To post messages to the list, send them to:
[email protected]
Should you wish to unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
[email protected]
To change your subscription to digest mode so that you only receive
one message per day, send a blank message to:
[email protected]
To go back to receiving individual messages, send a blank message to:
B[email protected]
There are more options at your disposal. To find out about them, send
a blank message to:
[email protected]

Stan Bobbitt has made Audyssey Magazine available in HTML format for
easy on-line browsing. To take advantage of this, you are invited to
visit our home-page. People can easily and quickly navigate through
the various articles and reviews, and directly download or visit the
sites of the games that interest them. This will be of especial
benefit for sighted people who wish to make use of Audyssey and/or
join the growing community surrounding it. The Audyssey community
thanks Mr. Bobbitt for his continued
efforts on its behalf in this matter.
You can also find all issues of Audyssey on the Internet on Paul
Henrichsen's web site at:
www.henrichsen.org
J.J. Meddaugh has long been famous in the Audyssey community. He has
now started his own web-site called The Blind Community. All issues
of Audyssey are there in zipped files in the file centre.
Another site has recently added Audyssey issues to its resources. We
welcome:
www.blindhelp.com
to the Audyssey community and hope that visitors to this site find
our resource to be of value to them.
If you have ftp access, all issues are also available at Travis
Siegel's ftp site:
ftp://ftp.softcon.com
Look in the /magazines directory.


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Contents:
Welcome
Distribution Information and Submission Policies
Contents
From The Editor
Letters
Assistant Editors Needed
The latest company to hit the Net.  LWorks!
Race-Calendar 2002-2003
Arcade Mania Meets The Blind Gamer
MarvelSoft's Talking Typing Teacher
Puzzles and Games
Accessible Games--Lagging Behind?
Free Game Winner
News from Code Factory
News From BSC Games:
News From ESP Softworks:
News from GMA Games
News From Lworks:
News From PCS:
News From Zform:
Game Announcements and Reviews:
Answers to Puzzles and Games
Contacting Us

IF Only
Second article
Friendly Travellers
Puzzles and Games
Free Game Winner
News From Bavisoft
News From Code Factory
News From Danssoft
News From ESP Softworks
News From GMA Games
News From PCS
News From Zform
Third article
Answers to puzzles
Game Announcements and Reviews
Contacting Us

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From The Editor:

Hello, everyone. It's been a long time since I edited issue 32 of
Audyssey six months ago. During those months, much has changed for
myself as well as for the prospects of blind gamers. On a personal
level, I'm now a married man living in our own apartment with my wife
Rebecca. These are both quite drastic changes to go through, as some
of you know from experience. I would like to extend my thanks to all
of you who have offered your congratulations, advice, and support.
Rebecca and I certainly appreciate it, and trust that the friendships
we've begun in this community will continue. The Summer has been
filled with activity for us, and I admit that our marriage has been
my first priority as it ought to be. It'll probably take a while to
really hit my stride in terms of time management and such, but things
are settling down into a semblance of normalcy which I hope will be
reflected in the next issue.

It would appear that the Summer vacation phenomenon has struck the
writers in the Audyssey community in full force. There were no
articles at all until the very last minute well after the deadline
for submitted material had passed. Had I not been flexible this time,
this issue would have been very short indeed. This time, I had time
to edit things. However, I more than likely won't have time in future
to pull a last-minute miracle or take advantage of those performed by
others. Please keep this in mind and don't wait until we're down to
the wire to submit material.

People had a disturbing habit of sending in reviews and calling them
articles instead. To clarify the distinction for everyone, a review
deals with a single game discussing its uniqueness, merits and
shortcomings. An article deals with a broader aspect or issue. For
instance, an article might examine educational games for blind
children and draw conclusions about existing games versus what
teachers and parents might want. We've had articles which deal with a
whole type of game such as muds or arcade games. In short, articles
paint broader strokes than reviews. To be a positive force and good
resource for both game developers as well as people in search of
accessible games, Audyssey needs to have both things in a steady
continuous supply. I hope for the sake of the community that this was
simply a low ebb in creative thinking and writing about the games we
all love. Otherwise, the web-site won't be nearly as effective and
vibrant as it should be. This is even more vital since we're no
longer the only forum for discussion of accessible games in town.

James North of ESPSoftworks has successfully launched a great new
site for blind gamers everywhere. They're currently in the process of
getting things going, and have big plans for the future. I hope
everyone will visit the site and help it prosper. Their E-mail
discussion list has been host to some very good discussions of the
kinds of games people want and other topics.

For the Audyssey community, the appearance of this new haven for
blind gamers means that we'll have to alter things somewhat in order
to make certain that each place offers something unique. Frankly, I
would rather see Audyssey disappear entirely than get into a
situation where we're in direct competition for loyalty and
resources. I'm just not interested in participating in something
which would divide and dilute the progressive elements of the
community. Helping people is what I've always been striving to do,
and that's one thing in my life that will never change. For everyone
who decides to pitch in and help me to do that, Audyssey should be
looked at as a hobby. I have a habit of treating it like a job. It
has been a very meaningful and critical force in my life for the past
seven years. When times come up when nobody seems willing to take the
time to write material, I've sometimes taken it more personally than
I ought to. When you get involved in a good cause like spreading
awareness and promoting accessible games for the blind, it takes a
real effort to step back and look at things objectively. Well, folks,
I've made that effort. Here's what I think:

At its best, Audyssey is a place where games are like fuel for
thought and discussion. They are more than merely entertaining. Each
game has its place in the total growing mosaic of games available to
us. Games are not necessarily separate from other areas of life. They
can teach us lessons about ourselves and our world. The Audyssey
Magazine and web-site must be where a higher and level-headed
thinking about the games we play is set out for all to enjoy. Reviews
in the magazine and on the site should try to approach games fairly
and thoughtfully. Problems found in games should not diminish or up-
stage a game's good points unless it is warranted. Of course, the
reverse is also true. A game's problems should be clearly stated and
discussed. Developers and consumers should both feel that their
interests have a place here.

Another thing I would like to see represented on the Audyssey site is
creative writing related to games. Poetry and stories would be
welcome additions to the magazine and site. Overall, I'd like our
Audyssey to take us along the higher and more literary road and serve
people who are after more than just fun. After all, although fun is
the first word in our motto, it isn't the only one.

One good bit of news is that I have at last finished the game I have
been working on for the past while. Sparkle is available for
downloading from the Audyssey site in the "Games download" section.
If any game developers out there require space for their demo files,
we are willing to host them on our site and server. Please contact us
if you're interested. In the mean-while, I hope that everyone enjoys
what this issue contains. May it inspire you to help me make the next
one due at the end of November even better.  

+++
Letters:

Discussion was quite far-ranging on the Blindgamers list during the
third quarter. Each game released attracted some attention.
Unfortunately, problems with games got far more discussion than their
merits. This is pretty much expected these days, although I hope to
see a less knee-jerk reaction in the future. Developers need to be
told what they're doing wrong, but also need to be encouraged about
what they do right. Sadly, the scale was tipped towards harshness in
this quarter.

Free games are pretty much always pounced on by inhabitants of the
Blindgamers list. Particular note was taken of Dan Zingaro's freeware
game Deekout. People gave very little analysis in their exchanges,
but it was astounding to see how they were all bent on out-doing each
other's highest scores. Like Pong before it, Deekout seems to have
that strange kind of delightful simplicity which keeps people coming
back for more.

++

From Matthew Bullis:
Hello, I've been away from the gaming community for a while, but have
now just joined this list. Although this is not directly blind gaming
related, I thought I'd direct some people to where they could find
those puzzles that you have to twist and turn or try to get apart.
They are the metal puzzles, and here are a few sites you can go to.
You will have to ask sighted people to describe the pictures of the
puzzles to see if you want those particular
ones. For me, I don't like the ones with beads and ropes. I prefer
those which you have to take two pieces or so apart, or twist it to
get a ring or ball or other metal object out of it. They are called
disentanglement puzzles, and for the longest time I never knew what
name they were referred to as. I always called them metal puzzles or
metal hand puzzles. Anyhow, I just ordered a few puzzles from
www.BitsNPieces.com
and I'm enjoying the following selections:
man the torpedo
free the key
black hole

if you type these phrases into their search box, you get a
description of the puzzle.
There are other sites, such as
www.BinaryArts.com
which have a great one called Spin-Out. It's plastic, and you have to
turn a series of discs to get the board to slide free of the base.
www.BrainPuzzles.com
has some, and Seth there is responsive, and will describe puzzles if
you don't have sighted assistance.
Other than that, just type in the word disentanglement into your
favourite search engine and see what you find.
Matthew

+
Welcome aboard, Matthew. The only reason why your post seems off-
topic is because the tendency of this community is towards computer
games. In actuality, I have long established that Audyssey Magazine
can be about all kinds of accessible games for blind people. Your
information is a welcome and refreshing example of the other
directions the focus of the discussion list and magazine can take.

++
From Graham Pearce:

Hi all. I am pleased to announce that my new web page is ready for
viewing. You can find it at:
www.anycities.com/graham43

At the moment there is a home page for my huge collection of basic
games, the simon home page, and a links section. Soon I'll be adding
a section about my writings, and lots more stuff as I think of things
to put on there. I'm not going to use this list to announce any
updates to this web site, as
I fear it might clutter the list, grin.

Again the address is:
www.anycities.com/graham43

Enjoy!

Regards,
Graham Pearce

++
Other discussion on the Blindgamers list mainly centred around
specific games. Each game to emerge generated quite a bit of chatter
about it. Also, it seems that there is a growing interest in the
games of Infocom. A number of these were discussed during the past
while. Cryptic hints are still the preferred method of handing out
clues. However, it is reassuring to note that the convention for
giving due warning before revealing outright solutions to problems is
being honoured and seems well established. For those new to the list,
please be certain to spell the word "spoiler" putting each letter
below the previous one on a new line. This warns people not to read
further since doing so may ruin the enjoyment of trying to solve a
problem by one's own skill.

BSC Games released an update to its flagship product Troopanum.
Details about it can be read in the News From BSC Games section found
later in this issue. Unfortunately, the small amount of praise from
satisfied and excited customers and discussion of the new features
added was completely overshadowed by a discussion about the
unsatisfactory security methods employed by BSC Games. Despite what
seemed to be a clearly announced policy shift complete with an
apology from Dan Zingaro, people seemed unwilling to let sleeping
dogs lie. for the record, people can request additional keys for any
games they purchase from BSC Games. There is no charge for additional
keys. I find it somewhat sad to see such obvious progress in gaming
terms met with the reception that it was on this occasion. James
North's Alien Outback was met with far more praise, but despite its
marvels and extraordinary efforts on the part of ESPSoftworks to
respond quickly to customer complaints, the initial bugs and problems
of this game seemed to take centre stage. I fervently hope that this
tendency changes in the months ahead. Although it is vital that
Audyssey remains a forum where people feel free to give criticism and
point out such problems, it should also be a place where the games
themselves are discussed and reviewed. A painful irony which I was
presented with when looking through the discussions of the previous
quarter was that Jim Kitchen's relatively simple Pong game garnered
more analytical discussion than either of the two Space Invaders
interpretations we've just seen emerge.

++
From Bobby:
Hello. I believe that the approach to blind gaming is all wrong. 
programmers are  just not coming up with games that suitably astound
us.  They are basically  just taking games that have been free to our
sighted comrades for years and
making them accessible to speech.  I mean, if you stripped some of
the games  available to blind people today down, like battleship and
monopoly, they are  nothing more than the simple space invader type
games programmed in the early  eighties, made more attractive, i may
add, with high quality sound effects,
but nevertheless, they are just simple programmes.
That's just my opinion of course.
Bobby

+
It's interesting how life works. Many people had wondered whether
Audyssey Magazine still had a real role to fulfil with the emergence
of
www.accessiblegames.com
onto the scene combined with lagging interest in starting our own
page and my new and very busy life. Just like how the only full-time
paying job I have ever had found me when I had given up looking for
one, the answer to a lack of true direction for Audyssey began with
the posting above. At the time, I remember thinking that if we were
lucky, this wouldn't degenerate into a completely nasty flame battle
which would lose us even more membership. Over the next days, I was
blown away by the passion and style of the extended and wide-ranging
discussion which resulted from it. The debate had its highs and lows,
but never degenerated as I had originally dreaded. In fact, it proved
to be the one realisation of what Audyssey at its best is all about.
People argued their points with spirit and vigour without getting
overly personal or offended when disagreed with. My hope for our
future was at its lowest point when all of this started. Prior to
this, the list had been prone more to complaints and the healthy but
largely unusable chatter about games which typically comprises the
bulk of messages. Not much had come in for me to use in constructing
this issue, and I started to seriously question whether I was the
only person who thought deeply about the games I played and the
issues they raised. One of the best things about the debate was that
it compelled a number of people who were not normally given to
posting messages to the list to stand up and be counted. To all of
you who participated, I extend my deepest thanks and appreciation for
restoring my weakened faith. If enough of you who so ably
demonstrated your ability to reflect and express yourselves are
willing to submit articles and reviews as well as participate in
these kinds of discussions, I think we can take the higher ground and
do alright. I have included a very small sample of the debate which
will give readers a taste of what an interesting place the
Blindgamers list can be. It won't, however, begin to do justice to
the scope and large number of different areas the debate explored.
May many more such discussions lie ahead of us.

+
From Darren Duff:
hi, have you ever played Shades of doom? or lone wolf? or monkey
business?
These are just a few of some of the great games out there for blind
people. and, before playing them, I never new that such games were
available to the blind. And if they are games that the sighted have
been playing for a long time, there all fairly new to the blind
community and open up a hole new world to those of us that have never
played or have been able to play a game like this before. Just my 2
cents worth.

+
From Debra harper
Hi Bobby,
Well then you haven't taken a good look at several great games
including Shades of Doom, Lone Wolf and Star Trek and Phil is coming
out with a new Pacman Talks.  I have really enjoyed all the games our
developers have made accessible for us.  Before Jim Kitchen, David
Greenwood, Phil Vlasak and
Dan of bscgames, and let us not forget  Mr.  North came along to make
these games accessible for us we had little or nothing besides on
line gaming. Any new and unique games would be appreciated by all of
us.  However there still probably an infinite number of games out
there accessible for sighted people that we as blind people would
give a lot to be able to play.  So much
criticism of our game developers occurs while sometimes it seems
there is little appreciation.
I for one thank all of our accessible games developers at least a
dozen times a day when golfing, playing black jack, Sod  or LW or any
of the fine games they have created.

+
From Bobby:

I'm not saying that the games you play are awful, but what I am
saying is this, don't try and duplicate sighted games like doom and
quake.  I lost my sight when i was 21 and I played games like doom
and wolfenstine and believe me it was the graphics that astounded me
and not the sounds, but that's beside the point, when i look back
now, they were extremely boring games, no
story, no plot.  We are better than that!  When I lost my site and
got back into playing computer games, i found that text adventure
games were incredibly more enjoyable.  why not make these games come
more to life? 
Games like colossal cave and zork.  Give them more than just text,
give them sound!  I'd rather play something like that rather than a
game where you go around shooting endless monsters.

+
From John R. Jeavons:

Hi, Bobby.
If all those games you played while you were sighted seemed as boring
then as they do in retrospect, you probably would not have played
them very much.  While they were very likely somewhat repetitive and
challenged only a small subset of the skills and abilities you may
now possess, competing with your own best performance and honing your
eye-hand coordination must have been interesting enough to you then
to keep you engaged. Different people enjoy different genres of
amusement at different stages in their lives. this seems to me to be
a natural progression of preferences and interests as one develops
different values, skills  and abilities. 
At any given time, there are lots of different fully and partially
sighted people in different age and interest groups playing different
genres of games for different reasons.
There are also all kinds of blind people who like all kinds of
games.  Each has his own preference and is entitled to it.  there are
still plenty of text adventures out there, and some people on this
list have expressed interest in gaining the knowledge to write more
of them.  the present state of the accessible gaming art includes
both audio arcade games and audio adventures.... only you have to pay
for most, if not all, of the accessible audio adventures.  Such is
the nature of business, and many of the accessible game developers
are indeed in the business of accessible gaming.  These developers
expend a great deal of effort to generate original story lines,
characters, obstacles and sound environments, consuming a lot of
resources in the process. They can only succeed financially, which is
the point of business, if they produce games that are interesting or
challenging enough for consumers to want to play, so they try to plan
and program to meet the desires of their target markets.  Hobbyist
developers who present their games for free as a public service
logically program to their own tastes, which apparently include
audibly playing arcade style games they remember from being sighted. 
Those games were fun for them then, and they are still fun for many
people now. The hobbyists in this field are to be lauded both for
their skills and philanthropy.
Interestingly, you seem to be promoting the aural enhancement of
existing, fairly old, text adventures such as Zork over first person
shooters, which you seem to not enjoy.  Some people find adventure
games intellectually demanding, and are playing games as an
amusement, bereft of social or political or intellectual stress or
morality. For them, Puzzles may be annoying while first person
shooters may be quite relaxing.  There is one unofficial patch for
sighted players of Doom that presents all of your enemies as the
children's television character Barney.... and some parents find it
quite satisfying to wreak havoc on him and destroy him in various
violent ways.  Others would find this diversion quite abhorrent. they
can either play other games or not use the patch.
there are collectors who place a premium on non-interactive fiction
arcade games such as Space Invaders, Pac Man, and even the Black Hole
pinball game, to name a few, indicating their lasting value in the
sighted gaming world.. For them, playing these games may be a means
of connecting with their youths (mis?)spent in local game rooms.  The
sighted gaming world clearly also senses a lack of stimulation such
as you express, even given stunning and 3-D graphics, as demonstrated
by overwhelming spectrum-filling soundtracks and sound effects, as
well as forays into the arenas of tactile stimulation through force-
feedback devices including gloves and joysticks and steering wheels
even chairs and body suits. How long will it be until the general
gamer wears a helmet and suit which generates a visual   panorama
accompanied by 3-D sound, tactile stimulation all over, and even
appropriate smells and tastes as they venture through their gaming
experience? Infocom used to distribute some of their interactive
fiction computer games with props and scratch and sniff cards to
promote the purchase of the official legal game.... and they had a
lot of fun with the concept. the smells were not always the ones you
expected.  Perhaps accessible game developers will one day ship
textures and smells with their products, and even start to include
force-feedback technologies into their designs and revisions.
visual computer games began their evolution as simple arcade games as
well, eventually moving into story-line based arcade games and then
even interactive movie-style games which permitted player choices to
alter the outcomes of the story lines.  As different techniques of
animating these games developed, such as vector graphics and later,
texturing, the arcade developers took advantage of them.  Some
developers led the way in creating proprietary techniques that gave
them the market edge for a while.
The interactive fiction genre arose roughly simultaneously with the
visual arcade games, outside the arcades and game rooms, as mainframe
computer exercises in teaching computers to parse natural language
commands in what would now be called an "online" setting, with games
like the original Adventure, which Zork closely resembles.  Their
amusement value was secondary to the task of programming  an
opportunity in which to employ typed conversational commands for the
computer to analyze and interpret.
Now visual video and arcade games are moving more towards realistic
action and visual and sound immersion... visit any local game room
for a sample... and a virtual reality closer to the experience of the
gamers' real one.  Some, like fantasy bowling, try to approach
alternate possible realities, which can disregard the conventions of
time and space and physics as we know them, as well. All of these
approaches to games are equally valid for those who play them, and
those who produce them.  The market determines each approach's
economic viability in the end. If lots of people like a game, and
they think the price is warranted and can afford it, they will buy
the game, or go to an arcade an play it.  I am unaware, but would
certainly like to hear about, any public arcade primarily for blind
gamers. This leaves the market for these games in the homes and
schools of blind and visually impaired consumers. 
Accessible gaming has taken a long time to get where it is, and
hopefully will continue pushing the potential of the supporting
technology as it matures. It is following the same rough direction in
its evolution that occurred naturally in visual gaming. Perhaps it
will catch up to your tastes soon, or perhaps your tastes will change
again, as they have since you enjoyed those now boring visual arcade
games. 
The accessible game developers are only limited by their
imaginations, prior experiences, skills and the capabilities that
they can use which are offered by the technologies which they can
create or already have available to them. simply keeping up with the
state of the art of programming and operating systems is challenge
enough for many programmers, let alone pushing the concept and design
envelope.  Gamers are only limited by the quality and power of their
computer systems, the scope of their interests and the size of their
wallets, and the choices the developers make about what they can
feasibly implement. Not all of those choices are entirely voluntary,
as the tools of both accessible and visual game development are
inextricably linked to the limitations of the hardware and software
platforms upon which they are implemented.
Games such as those already mentioned in this thread have already
taken audio gaming to the next level from simple auditory
implementations of existing board and arcade games to interactive
adventures including original quests and mazes, as well as original
quick ear-hand coordination games. All three genres are equally
valid, even if radically different on other technical and
philosophical planes.  They have moved through this evolutionary
process in much less time than it took to get from the original Pong
and home TV gaming systems to today's advanced graphics and intense
sound spectacles and accurate visual statistical representations of
various sports events.
One apparent irony is that those who have the means to afford the
paid games may not actually have the time to play them, due to work
obligations, while those who have the time to play lots of games may
not have the means to afford the paid ones.  this dichotomy is not
unique to the blind and visually impaired community, by any means.
Indeed, it is a point of commonality with our sighted peers. A
categorization of accessible games for the blind based upon an
analysis of only those games available for free would certainly
render a spectrally limited and slanted view of the overall industry,
since many of the games available for free tend to be original or
classic arcade style games, rather than the interactive fiction  or
adventure genres. This by no means implies that none of the paid
games are arcade style ones, indeed many of them are. The trend seems
to be that the more interactively styled games are paid ones, though.
I can only hope that as the skills and resources of the programmers
and developers of accessible games increase, that they can include
more universal design features in their projects, such as including
graphics and alternate human interface devices like joysticks and
steering wheels for the visually impaired and the sighted families
and peers of blind gamers, as well as the blind gamers themselves.
One accessible game developer has even promised inclusive practices
such as graphics in his public mission statements on this list.  I
also look forward to the time when the accessible features of mass-
market games are not inadvertent and discovered by vigilant
enthusiasts, but are rather designed in and programmed in from the
beginning to intentionally include the entire spectrum of gamers with
the entire continuum of abilities, across the various market genres.
in the interim, each genre and implementation philosophy has its
place and niche market, and this list is a fine resource for
gathering information on them as it emerges.
Each amongst us will enjoy what we do, and the developers will
develop what they can, and hopefully there will be a lot of common
ground between the two.

+
From David Lant:


Hi Didier,

I appreciate that you do not find much enjoyment from arcade style
games.  To be honest, neither do I.  I never found Space Invaders,
Pong or Pacman very interesting, even when I could see.  However, to
say that the community wants to move on to other things is being
slightly egotistical perhaps.  I think you'll find that many blind
gamers are perfectly happy to pay for the good quality arcade games
that are available to them.  If they weren't, they wouldn't buy
them.  You say that some sighted developers make things freely
available because they can't be bothered with marketing.  Well, when
you do the marketing, you realise that there are a significant number
of customers who are very willing to pay for such games.

The other point you slightly glossed over, was the point about the
relative quality and technological advancement in games.  AS you
pointed out, the accessible games developers are very small, often
one-man outfits.  You just cannot sensibly compare their output to
mainstream games, which are designed, built and tested with large
teams of professionally paid technicians, producers and artists. 
Certainly, there are games on the market that cost little more than
the present set of accessible games, and that possess much superior
sound quality and features.  But that is largely due to two factors. 
First, the sheer size of the market.  These games are likely to sell
in such numbers that it is easy to price them at a lower level to
make a reasonable return.
Secondly, they are developed with the benefit of economies of scale.
When you have an outfit that is set up to produce entertainment media
of many types, you don't need to regularly buy in technology or
skills, just to turn out a new title.  Thus the overhead costs of
producing cinematic quality action games is kept reasonably low
because they are being produced in comparatively continuous streams
through the software house.

I accept that the accessible games market is lagging behind the
commercial mainstream.  It has to.  Until one or more of the
companies and developers are able to buy in the resources necessary
to be on a par with their mainstream counterparts, I think it is
going to have to be an evolutionary process that moves us into the
kinds of games and technology that you are talking about.  If you've
got a couple of million dollars sloshing around to fund some heavy
duty studio work, I'm sure there are a few developers around here who
would be willing to put it to good use. <grin>

You're not hurting my feelings at all, as my feelings don't come into
it.  I wouldn't mind if no more arcade games were turned out by the
accessible games developers.  However, I think you'll find that there
are people on this list and elsewhere who are very happy to play
Troopanum or Packman Talks for hours on end.  You may not, and you
would be in the same opinion group as me in that preference.  But
that shouldn't be extrapolated into a statement that things that are
presently available aren't good enough.  They're actually pretty
good, in comparison to what was available 2 years ago.  They are, in
the same way, pretty poor in comparison to what is going to be
available in the next 2 years.  You can see from the demand being
expressed by gamers here and on other lists, that there is certainly
a growing clamour for games with much more depth, content and
richness in them.  The developers, given time, will undoubtedly rise
to the challenge.

+
From Toti Alberto:

Hi to everybody, gamers!
  I'm Albert from Italy and I would like  to express my opinion in
this interesting discussion. I've played with Shades of doom because
one friend of mine has bought it and shown it to me. I find this game
is very realistic and very amazing
because of its sounds that give to the player an idea of the space.

Here in Italy, a game producer created 4 years ago a game for sighted
people called Blindness that was accessible to the blind people
because the player could reach the buttons with the mouse and every
button representing the action the player was doing in the game was
audible through a wave file that said, for example,:
  "Open the door, or dial the telephone number, etc".
  This game had a plot: a blind man was witness of a murder and had
to discover who had killed his friend.  The game was rich in
dialogues and animation and it was possible even to
play in cooperation with sighted people. It was a thriller! The game
was in Italian language, but I don't know if there was a version even
in other languages like for example in English.
  Anyway it's the best game accessible to blind people I have ever
played.
  I think that the two things that the  accessible games haven't got
actually are these ones: there isn't an amazing story and there isn't
a graphic support that make possible to blind people to play with
sighted people too.
Games should be a valid means of social integration for blind people,
don't you think so?

+
From Michael Mccarty:

    I think you are both right in a way.  One thing to remember
though is that we need the simpler games in order to "train" the ears
as to what to listen for, and how the basic control of a game is to
be mapped.  You can't compare the classic arcade games with the basic
games for the blind today. When ATARI was out, it was the top of the
line in game consoles.  The games were simple, because they couldn't
be any better.  As people played these simple games, they gained,
some would argue with this, skills that prepared
them for later games like Mario Brothers.  Even Nintendo kept simple
games in the market when they put Duck Hunt on the "Getting started"
cartridge, sold with thousands of Nintendo systems.

    Games for the blind are simple for another reason, people need
time to build those basic skills that the sighted world got with
ATARI.  many of us didn't get the chance to home in on those skills,
or the want to build those skills wasn't there due to a lack of
interest in a game for the sighted world.  When ATARI was out, I had
vision, and I played every game I could
get my hands on.  As the Nintendo craze took hold, the graphics
became too involved, and things got too hard to see.  Glaucoma took
the rest of my vision, and I lost interest in all games, they were
for people who could see, and I found them annoying.  Recently, I
have really built an interest in games for the blind, and I find that
I miss the thrill of the game.  I like the simple games, one of the
first that I downloaded was SuperShot
from LWorks.  This is not brain surgery, but it showed me how to
maneuver in games of this nature.  I would later find, after
downloading the demo of Shades of Doom, and then Monkey Business,
that there are some "standards" in the way the controls of a game
work.  I had no idea of this before, but
these simple games taught me how to listen to the game, and how to
control it.  More complicated games are on the way, that's the
natural progression of any gaming market, but as they are released,
they will build on the skills we all learned from the simpler games,
and in ten years or so, we will look back on these "legendary" games
and want to download them again,
much like the revival of the ATARI 2600 games that can now be
downloaded from the net today.  These games are simple, almost
ridiculous compared to today's technology, but people still want
them, for the memories.

+++
Assistant Editors Needed
By Michael Feir

In order to make the move from E-mail magazine to constantly updated
web-site, I need the help of some dedicated people in addition to
those already standing behind what we'd like to achieve. The ultimate
goal is to develop and sustain an active community of gamers willing
to share their thoughts and hopes with others. We should all be
responsible for keeping Audyssey Magazine going.

I will remain chief editor of the quarterly magazine. Also, I will
continue to be the community leader I always have. My task will be to
keep a good overall grasp of what's happening and to do whatever I
can to improve the overall health of the community. To that end, I'll
be available to help resolve any disputes, keep a good overall view
of how things are going and what's available, and act as an
ambassador for accessible games to any interested parties. 

What will assistant editors do? Assistant editors concentrate on
specific parts of the site and visitors interested in their area of
responsibility. They will strive to help gamers having trouble with
the type of game they specialize in. When possible, they should try
to submit material for publication on the site. However, this is of
secondary importance to the task of inspiring others to contribute
writing for their areas. They need not submit material for every
issue of Audyssey. One of the ways that inspiring community
participation should be done is to make certain people are aware of
the latest developments in their areas. For example, when a company
releases a game, the assistant editor in charge of commercial
accessible games would make certain that information about it was
posted to the site. He/she might then write a full review of the game
for people, and/or pose questions about the title to provoke
thoughtful responses from others.

Our first assistant editor is Randy Hammer who will be responsible
for commercial accessible games. He was previously a staff member
covering the same territory for Audyssey Magazine, and has always
produced fine work. I have no doubt he will continue to do so under
these new and more flexible terms.

If you're interested in becoming an assistant editor, please contact
me. I will send you information on how to join a private E-mail list
set up for the use of Audyssey staff only. Also, if you have the
skills to edit web-pages, you may be able to update your section of
the Audyssey site on your own. However, people without such skills
need not worry. Material can be submitted to either Luis or Stan who
can help get things posted. Assistant editors will be responsible for
viewing any submitted material pertaining to their sections and
submitting it to Luis and Stan for publication. Copies of everything
should also be sent to me so I can keep track of what's being posted.
Areas which need coverage include interactive fiction, educational
games, board and casino games, on-line games, and other areas which
may be thought of in the future. Assistant editors need not restrict
themselves to covering games in their particular areas, but their
priority should always be to see that those games are covered first.

I can't stress enough how much Audyssey depends on the community it
serves to keep going. Without an infusion of new ideas and material,
I simply won't be able to produce quarterly issues. Also, the web-
site will fall far short of its full potential of being a centre for
ongoing discussion and clearing house for information on accessible
games. All communities need to have people who inspire and rally
others around them. If you think you have what it takes, please
contact me. Help keep Audyssey going. Help us enter our seventh year
with a spring in our stride.

+++
The latest company to hit the Net.  LWorks!

HI All.  This is Liam Erven, programmer and founder of LWorks.  Since
I was little, I had always wanted to make computer games.  I played
games on my apple 2e and always wanted to make software for the
blind.  A year or so ago, I was introduced to visual basic, (a
programming language for windows.)  With the help of some friends of
mine, including James North of ESP Softworks, I was able to learn
direct x in a short amount of time.  And, that brings us up to
LWorks!  LWorks produces quality games and software for those who
have visual impairments.  LWorks Focuses on games that are fun and
affordable.  LWork's first release is a game called Super Shot.  The
object is to shoot at falling objects by using your arrow keys. 
Three difficulty levels of play, 5 levels, cool music, awesome stereo
fx, and addictive play make this game a sure download. and priced at
a comfortable $0.00, this game is a sure bet!
 
The future of lWorks includes:
a drum machine,
an action arcade style game,
a children's typing game,
and much more.

You can visit LWorks on the web at
 http://liamshow.com/lworks

+++
Race-Calendar 2002-2003

2002 July, 1-14,
500 Miles of Indianapolis

2002 Indy, level 3, 9 laps

2002 September 1-14,
Short-track-Cup

Kirtland level 1, 1 lap

2002 November 1-December  5,
Worldchampionship Mach1 2002

ohio gp, level 1, 2 laps
Chardon hill gp, level 1, 2 laps
snake river gp, level 1, 2 laps
erie lake gp, level 1, 2 laps
mentor road gp, level 1, 2 laps

2002 November 1-14, (only for competitors who do not participate in
the worldchampionship)
500 Miles of Maple

maple, level 2, 9 laps

2003 February 1-14, (2003)
Series Mach 1 Worldchampionship

ohio level 1, 2 laps

2003 march 1-22,
Enduro Race 24 Hours of Le Mans

ohio level 2, 4 laps
ohio level 3, 2 laps
ohio level 1, 4 laps

to join the races send a mail to
[email protected]
All Information about the races can be found at:
www.blindsupport.be/mach1

+++
Arcade Mania Meets The Blind Gamer
By Michael Feir

Over the past while, I have been drawn to examine what goes into
making a truly successful video game. I don't simply mean a game
which does well commercially. Figuring that out takes no brains at
all. Good design combined with clever marketing will give a game
developer for the sighted world a financial success. Even some games
which look flashy enough but have little substance will sometimes do
that. These games will hang on for long enough for the developers to
walk away with a tidy sum before fading from the public
consciousness. Some games, however, obtain a special cultural status.
Games like Pacman, Space Invaders, Zelda, and the like were what I
was focussing on.

For sighted people, arcade mania struck in the 1980's. Games such as
Pacman and Space Invaders swept millions of quarters out of the
pockets of people only too happy to fork them into video games. I'm
talking here about all kinds of people from all walks of life. There
were a number of factors which made it possible for arcades and games
to be as incredibly successful as they were and not simply develop
small cult followings. In essence, these factors added up to the
basic truth that people were ready and waiting for something new.
Clever marketing also helped catapult games like Pacman into pop
culture phenomena of incredible magnitude. Every kid had to have a
Pacman lunchbox. Like Star Wars, everyone knew the basic fundamentals
of Pacman. Good design and good marketing were certainly involved,
but I was unable to answer to my own satisfaction what allowed the
awareness of and desire for the game to spread and make such an
impact.

Over twenty years later, there appears to be a critical mass of blind
people wanting arcade action for themselves. It seems they've all
heard of the games their sighted contemporaries have been playing and
become envious. For quite a while, this didn't occur all that widely
since text-based games held us in their clutches for quite a number
of years. Now that the average computer owned by a blind person is
powerful enough to support sound-based arcade games, the cries of "I
want to play too!" have reached the right proportions to start the
process in earnest. Developers have sprung into action. However, the
ultra-wide spread awareness of the games already available and those
under development has not happened. Unfortunately, developers have
yet to find a way to make it economical to engage in large-scale
advertising. Also, no game has come out which seems to be as
universally satisfying as Pacman was for the sighted. Were a game to
appear, the blind community's more closely connected nature could
very well offset the advertising handicap developers of accessible
games face. Before that occurred, a game would have to accrue a large
enough player base to fire off the chain reaction.

Games like that are quite rare even in the sighted world. Nintendo
struck gold with the Zelda series of adventures. Despite their
relative complexity, they had the playability and longevity which
counted for people of all ages. Children are still captivated by the
Zelda series, but so are parents. The game just has that universal
calling capability. Of course, companies like Nintendo have the
ability to do lots of market research and can afford to take risks.
Many developers of games for blind people cannot. They therefore take
their time and try to be as certain as possible that their games are
the right ones for a market whose desires are only beginning to be
apparent. No sustained flow of games will therefore contribute to a
developer's notoriety or understanding of the current and developing
market.

The way I see it, two things must happen before a wonder-game for the
blind can appear: First of all, general awareness of games accessible
to the blind must increase dramatically. There are millions of blind
people the world over. Although economic factors prevent a large
portion of these from experiencing or desiring computer games, there
are still likely a far larger number of willing gamers out there than
are currently reached. I believe that there are currently enough
different games out there so that at least one appeals to the
majority of those interested in accessible games. What is needed,
however, is a game which appeals to practically all of them. Pacman
did this in the sighted world with such success that an entire
industry was propelled into being. Although the blind gaming industry
is already present on a small scale, a wonder-game would give it the
badly needed popularity and financial kick developers have been
hoping for. Even if such a game were developed and given away for
free, it might well spark a new interest in commercial offerings.

Many people who lose their sight are elderly. Their gaming interests
seem not to coincide with those of younger blind people. Younger and
middle-aged folks seem to be aboard the arcade action band-wagon.
Older people, if they're interested in games, seem to want slower-
paced board, card and/or word games. A game which bridges such a wide
gap is unlikely, and each segment of the market is likely too small
to allow developers to ignore the other for long enough to hit their
stride and develop such a game. This problem may very well disappear
with time as the current generation ages. If we're truly on the verge
of arcade mania hitting home in the blind community, we may very well
see a revival a decade down the road.

Initiatives are underway which may change these almost right
conditions into perfect conditions. The recent launch of
www.accessiblegames.com
by ESPSoftworks as well as advertising campaigns launched by Zform
and other developers indicate the presence of a substantial market as
yet untapped. Depending on the demographics of this market, it could
either extend or shorten the current push by developers to satisfy
the demands for arcade action. Zform Poker was an attempt to appeal
to the widest audience possible, and it appears to have succeeded
wonderfully in that sense. However, it lacks the originality to
really count as a wonder-game. Poker, after all, has been around for
centuries. Zform had to go to quite a bit of trouble making it
accessible and playable by people the world over. They are certainly
deserving of praise not only for doing this, but for being such a
good catalyst for awareness of other games. However, nothing will
make Poker catch hold of the minds of people like Pacman did. It was
different from anything which came before. Perhaps, the wonder-game
will be something other than an arcade game. However, given current
conditions as I see them, I would bet on a sound-based arcade miracle.

What would be the kind of arcade game to sweep blind people off their
feet? It would have to be a game with very impressive sound work.
Current games out there have some amazing sound effects and use of
stereo panning, and these will be pre-requisites for a wonder-game.
No corners can be cut in those areas. Re-play value is a definite
must. Pacman went on indefinitely. Games like Zelda have all kinds of
features from hidden items to dozens or hundreds of levels to keep
players going. Playing the game after one has already beaten it must
be rewarding in some way. Also, the game would have to be hard
without having a very complex interface. This is because it must
cater to non-experts and people on the borderline of not having any
interest in games at all. The novice at both computers and games
should be able to easily master the game's controls.

A Pacman game for the blind is actually in the works by a company
called Personal Computer Systems Inc. It may be able to pull off an
economic miracle. Like its counterpart in the sighted world, Pacman
Talks uses simple controls and is quite intuitive. ESPSoftworks's
recently released Alien Outback also meets the criteria despite its
slightly more complex nature. Although it won't be too hard for
beginners to tackle, I get the feeling that it will be the game
turned to when whatever the eventual wonder-game ends up being starts
to bore fledgling gamers not brave or persistent enough to stick with
it initially. Excellent use of sound and stereo combined with
basically simple and well-placed control keys may give total
beginners enough confidence to learn Alien Outback's more advanced
features. Blind Software's Swish may also strike gold when it emerges
attempting to satisfy those after a game like Mario or Zelda. It will
be the first side-scroller to be done for the blind. Although the
author has stated his goal of having an intuitive interface, I can't
venture an opinion on the interface design until I've looked at a
beta version.

I wouldn't be surprised in the least if one of this current group of
arcade games turns out to be that wonder-game. However, due to
current perceptions of games as wastes of time by many agencies and
organisations helping blind people, I won't hold my breath. A broader
cultural engagement with games must happen among blind people and
those falling within their social sphere. There are one or two slim
signs of this beginning to happen. The National Federation of the
Blind's recent stand behind BlindSoftware's flagship product
Troopanum demonstrates that at least some heads are turning. Through
work I've done with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, I
know that there is certainly interest among parents and blind youth
in accessible games. Perhaps, if enough people show improved
concentration, hand-ear coordination, reflexes, memory, or some other
important attribute, something major may happen at that time. Until
then, it is up to the more brave explorers among blind people to
enjoy these games and spread the word about them. As arcade mania
sweeps the blind community and developers try to create a wonder-
game, Audyssey will be there to cover all the action. Stay tuned and
play on.

+++
Marvelsoft's Talking Typing Teacher

Over the last few years, we've noticed an ever-increasing need for a
typing program that's both fun and easy to use for novice and
advanced computer users alike. MarvelSoft's flagship product is
TALKING TYPING TEACHER FOR WINDOWS, a revolutionary new typing
program that's ideal for home or classroom use.

Built from the ground up with blind and visually impaired students in
mind, TTT features HUMAN SPEECH, which is used everywhere in the
program. This means that whether you're navigating menus, changing
options, managing dozens of student accounts, or visiting the Help
Desk, you'll enjoy listening to Eager Eddie read the screen. What
makes TTT so special, however, is that each and every typing lesson
or practice session is read aloud with clear, concise pre-recorded
dialog. Put quite simply, you won't need to worry about trying to
understand synthetic speech when you're learning to type with TTT.
The only thing Text-To-Speech is really used
for is to read your name and play back text you type into Workbook, a
fully-functional talking word processor that ships with Talking
Typing Teacher.

But that's not all! TTT easily accommodates the specific needs of all
visually impaired typists. With just a few clicks of the mouse, you
can pick from dozens of fonts, change the size of text, and decide
how heavy the print should be, (not to mention achieving the ideal
colour contrast by selecting from thirty different background and
text colours). These options ensure that everyone will get the most
out of Talking Typing Teacher. Whether you're reading the screen or
letting Eager Eddie do the reading for you, you'll have the chance to
learn to type, and enjoy doing so!


For more information, please feel free to drop by the MarvelSoft web
site,
http://www.marvelsoft.com
  There, you can listen to an audio demo, which takes you through
just some of the many exciting features of the program.  Of course,
you're also welcome to give us a call at 1-800-987-1231, or send an E-
Mail to:
[email protected]
to find out more about TTT.


Cheers,
Craig Faris
MarvelSoft Enterprises, Inc.
http://www.marvelsoft.com
Tel: 1-800-987-1231 Ext. 3066
Fax: 1-800-695-8271
E-Mail: [email protected]
 


+++
Puzzles and Games
by David Greenwood

In this issue, I have included three brain teasers.  One is dead
easy, the
next is of medium difficulty, and the last is a definite challenge.

1. The farmer and his ducks were walking along the path.  A stranger
came up
to the farmer and asked him how many ducks he had.  The farmer
said, "Hmm.
Let me see.  I have one duck in front of two ducks, one duck between
two
ducks, and one duck behind two ducks."  How many ducks does the
farmer have?

2. A bicyclist peddled up a hill averaging ten miles per hour.  He
peddled
down the same hill at twenty miles per hour.  What was his average
speed?

3.  Although not confirmed, the following puzzle has been attributed
to
Albert Einstein.

There are 5 houses in 5 different colours. In each house lives a
person of a
different nationality. The 5 owners drink a certain type of beverage,
smoke
a certain brand of cigar, and keep a certain pet. Using the clues
below can
you determine who owns the fish?

The Brit lives in a red house.
The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
The Dane drinks tea.
The green house is on the left of the white house.
The green house owner drinks coffee.
The person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds.
The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
The man living in the house right in the middle drinks milk.
The Norwegian lives in the first house.
The man who smokes Blend lives next door to the one who keeps cats.
The man who keeps horses lives next door to the man who smokes
Dunhill.
The owner who smokes Blue Master drinks beer.
The German smokes Prince.
The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
The man who smokes Blend has a neighbour who drinks water.

+++
Accessible Games--Lagging Behind?
By Daniel Zingaro

1993. The world is taken by storm when Doom, the revolutionary
shooter from ID software, is released. It was one of the first of its
kind, sporting amazing (back then, at least) digital sounds and
brilliant vga graphics. This thing really pushed those 486 computers
to their limits. The hype was incredible, with thousands of levels
being created by fans all over the
world. What were we playing instead, in 1993? Text adventures. While
everyone else was blasting away monsters with futuristic weapons, we
were hitting n, s, e, and w trying to get out of a twisty maze of
passages.

1998. Starcraft is released. Not only was it the best real-time
strategy game ever, but it boasted unparalleled multiplayer
capabilities on Blizzard's battle.net. They also got smash releases
like Unreal, and Halflife. Many have argued that 1998 is one of the
turning points in computer gaming. What were we up to in 1998? Thanks
to PCS, we had finally moved into games which included some realistic
sound effects. But we were still stuck in ugly DOS, while the rest of
the world had moved to Windows gaming at least two years ago.

2002. Stunning games like Warcraft 3, Soldier of Fortune 2, Mafia,
and Grand Theft Auto 3 hit the shelves. But something's finally
changed on the accessible side of things. No-we don't have accessible
Warcraft. And no, there is no accessible.net. But accessible games
took a giant leap in 2001
and now again in 2002, with groundbreaking titles like Shades of
Doom, Monkey Business, PacMan Talks, and so on. (boy, I'd love to add
another one to this list. <g>) We've also got zForm, producing games
with multiplayer capabilities. Accessible games are no longer just a
bunch of twisty little passages. Nor are they stuck in Dos. Today's
games are full-blown Windows titles, utilizing directX for the best
level of sound complexity possible. We're not quite there yet, but
Shades of Doom and others are light years ahead of what we had even
two years ago.

Accessible games will never reach the complexity of mainstream games,
however. Most companies producing these games have only one or two
people involved, doing everything from programming to sound design
and tech support. And even though the graphics portion of the games--
one of the most difficult parts of game design--is gone, its
impossible to compete with massive companies consisting of thousands
of employees.

Its simple to realize why this is occurring. In 1998, a game called
Battle Zone was released. Battle what? Exactly. It pretty much bombed
as a money maker, selling only (yes, only) 50000 copies. This is tens
of thousands more than the best accessible game sells. Its
unfortunate, but comparing mainstream games to accessible games is
impossible. They are two completely different markets. Instead of
raving about how much better main stream games are, why not take a
look at the advances in accessible gaming over the last
few years. Its miraculous--and we should be going crazy just like
everyone else got to do in 1993!


+++
Free Game Winner

The winner this time around is John R. Jeavons. John was a key
contributor to the excellent discussion we saw on the Blindgamers
list regarding the theoretical  lack of originality in accessible
games. He responded with coolness and thoroughness. John's messages
are the kinds of higher thinking which will keep Audyssey viable and
give it an important integral niche in the blind gaming community.

For participating in such stellar fashion, John wins a free game
donated by Justin Daubenmire of BSCGames. You can either choose one
of the games already offered, or wait for their next release called
Swish. Contact Justin at:
[email protected]
in order to claim your prise.

Editor's note: My thanks go to Justin for agreeing to this
arangement. I hope that all developers continue to show their
generosity as long as future issues of Audyssey are published.

+++
News from Code Factory
www.codfact.com

Hello Gamers!

In Code Factory, we are working very hard on the first game of our
new collection of adventure games. It will be released some time in
or around September. The collection is called Time Adventures. In the
first title of Time Adventures, you have to travel through different
ages and fight against the technocrats, an evil group of Enterprises
that want to take over the world. The game has got lots of sound
effects, conversations, characters, scenes and a very good
soundtrack. It is also quite easy to handle through a very intuitive
user interface.

You can download a mix of some of the first title's soundtrack songs
from our web page www.codfact.com. Time adventures is designed for
people of all ages. It is a game full of action. In order to complete
the game you have to use your intuition and imagination.

In some weeks we will publish a demo of the game. Therefore you
should regularly visit our website for updates in the download
section.

Moreover, I would like to inform you that there is a new game of our
educational series "Enjoy and learn with" on the market. It is called
Hansel and Gretel and it is for children mainly from 6 to 10 years
old. In this game, there are lots of activities. Remember that you
can listen to the story or participate in it. Like all the other
games of the educational series "Enjoy and learn with" this game has
two levels of difficulty.  To download the demo you can go to our
website. The games are available in the shops of ONCE-CIDAT and
through their distributors in the whole world.

On our website:
 www.codfact.com
and in the website of ONCE-CIDAT you can download demos of all our
games.

We also would like to thank our more than 700 subscribers for their
support. You have helped us a lot. Remember that you can always email
us your opinion to
[email protected]


See you

The Code Factory Team

+++
News From BSC Games:
www.bscgames.com

Hey Gamers,

Just a quick update this time. (That's cuz its only hours before the
Audyssey submission deadline!!! *g*)

I am continuing to work on my next game--Swish, but no time limit has
been set on its release (hopefully in the next two months???). Its a
side scroller, like Mario for Nintendo, with level creating abilities
so everyone can make their own completely different games. The game
will ship with several pre made games, from the simple to the
ridiculously impossible
(haha). Run, jump, duck, shoot, warp, and fly through hundreds of
levels, killing enemies, collecting powerups, and avoiding many
dangerous objects as you go. Many levels have additional
requirements, such as collecting all of the coins, or killing all of
the enemies. Its gonna be fun!

Since last issue, Pipe has been released, as well as two free games
which you might want to check out! Additionally, we released a
package called Word Strain, consisting of two educational word games.
Troopanum has been upgraded to version 1.5 and this is free to all
registered users. Features added are listed below:

What's New in V1.5

1. You can now pause the game while the next/prior level warp sound
is playing with the alt key. Press alt to unpause. Additionally, when
you warp to the next or prior level, you are told your score and
which level you are on.
2. There is a new options menu which allows you to toggle background
message speaking, as well as toggle hyperactive sides (hitting the
side of the screen will cause your ship to bounce somewhere else on
the screen).
3. There is a new game mode called speed round. This mode has no
levels, but you keep playing until you can no longer keep up with the
ever-faster ships.
4. On higher levels (and on normal/insane difficulties), bosses must
be shot multiple times while falling. In other words, one hit will
not knock them off the screen any more.
5. The game statistics option now shows you which items you picked
up, along with other small changes.
6. Some minor bug fixes

Check out all of this at
www.BSCGames.com.

Keep gaming!
Dan

+++
News From ESP Softworks:
www.espsoftworks.com

Editor's note: This update was sent to E-mail lists run by
ESPSoftworks on August 13. I have fixed a few typo's and have made
certain that E-mail addresses and links given in this update were on
their own lines as is the standard procedure when assembling issues
of Audyssey. Other than that, I have made no other changes. The only
portion which has been rendered obsolete at the time of this
publication is that Alien Outback is now available for downloading.
The current version is 1.7. Those who are interested in games from
this or any other company are advised to visit their web-sites and
subscribe to one or more lists. This way, you'll be kept updated with
progress made by the companies in between issues of Audyssey.


Greetings, Gamers!

This e-mail is being sent to help keep everyone up-to-date as to
what's going on at the ESP Softworks' website as well as to  let
people know of new additions to the site.  If you don't already know
what it is that we do, or haven't already been to  the web site, now
would be a *great* time to find out! *grin*  ESP Softworks is a
premiere developer of accessible game software that's completely
accessible to those with low or no vision. You
can visit the website at
www.espsoftworks.com

If  you don't wish to receive further ESP updates via e-mail, please
send an e-mail to
[email protected]
with the word  'unsubscribe' in the subject line.

On To The Good Stuff.. News!
----------------------------

Well, it's been awhile since our last update, but this one should
prove to be worth the wait! *grin*  Read on for the latest  scoop
direct from ESPSoftworks..

ESP Welcomes An Additional Programmer/Game Designer onboard!
------------------------------------------------------------

ESP is proud to announce that it has taken on an additional
programmer.  You may have already come to have known him in  another
life as David Lant, hailing from Devon, England.  David brings with
him over a decade of programming experience and  is also an avid fan
of accessible games.  He
will be arriving to the United States on September 22nd.  I very much
look forward to working with him and I'm certain you can all expect
very good things to come from our collaborative efforts.

Alien Outback--Let's go, mate!
------------------------------

Our latest title, Alien Outback, is finally shipping on CD as well as
available as an eighty megabyte download via our  website in the next
day or two.  The game begins in demo mode until it's registered using
a purchased registration key.  The  demo gives you ten sample levels
for fifteen days. Once the game is activated with your registration
key, it will turn into the full retail version.

The Alien Outback list server is now open for subscriptions.  To
subscribe, simply send an e-mail to
[email protected]
To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to
[email protected]

Also, the new AlienOutback.com website will be going up soon and will
contain game downloads, update patches, game  information, monthly
high score contests, and the full high score board.

Downloadable Game Versions
--------------------------

There have been many requests for downloadable versions of our games
for quite some time and we decided to offer future games as 
downloads as well as retrofit our previous titles so they may be
downloaded as well.  The exception will be games that are  multi-CD
or DVD due to their size.

What Happened To ESP Raceway?!
------------------------------

ESP Raceway is heading back to active beta testing now that Alien
Outback is finished and is scheduled to be released in  September. 
It's come a long way and has proven to be quite an amazing amount of
fun!

What's Next From ESP?
---------------------

Once ESP Raceway is completed and shipping, we'll be releasing two
smaller games and then will be beginning work on our next  project in
the beginning of October.  Can ya guess which project that might be? 
Here's a clue..
'Genesis'. *grin* While  we'll be keeping development under tight
wraps most of the time, we'll be giving exclusive press release
information and interviews to the AccessibleGames.com site.  So, stay
tuned!

New Website Features
--------------------

The ESP Softworks' website is due for an update soon and here are a
few of the things to expect:  Game instructions available  in Italian
(other languages soon), refer-a-friend from the website, and list
subscriptions from the website.  New demo  versions will also be
appearing soon.

Price Increases Due For January 2003
------------------------------------

Starting in January of next year, all of our game prices will be
increasing by $5.00 each.

+++
News from GMA Games
www.gmagames.com

This is a quick note to fill you in on what's going on at GMA. We are
planning on releasing a tank combat game before the end of the year. 
In the game, your tank is landed on the enemy's beach, and you must
work your way through several missions to join up with friendly
forces. It will have an arcade mode, which will make the movement and
firing of the gun relatively simple to learn, and a reality mode,
which will more closely reflect what is
involved in operating a real tank.  It has already been through a
concept test, and this provided a lot of excellent input on what
would make the game even better.

We still plan on releasing another version of Lone Wolf and Shades of
Doom, but these are on the back burner until GMA Tank Commander is
released. We also have a couple of other exciting things in the
works, but it is too early to talk about these yet.

Happy gaming!

David Greenwood.
http://www.GMAGames.com


+++
News From Lworks:
http://www.l-works.net


Here's the latest from the little company that could.

  New Released Scheduled. 

Looking for a  word game that's fun and addicting?
Why not Race the Clock in our Brand new Game.  LWorks words!
Choose between 1 of 7 word lists.  Choose the time limit, and the
number of words, and then you're off! 
Racing the clock and hoping for the best.

"btes"

what is it!
what is it!
grr!
Someone tell me please!

But if your not fast enough.
Buzz!
You lose  and the game is over.

LWorks Words is scheduled for release in Mid September.
 The retail price will be between 8 and ten Dollars.
Details are Pending.

Visit
http://www.l-works.net
for more info and release dates when available!

  Super shot is Taking a Super face lift

Look for the update to Super shot: the addicting, fun, and all around
fun game to be hitting the net in November. 

enhancements include:
more levels,
more music,
2 new bonus games only in the retail version,
send your scores directly to our website,
and much much more

The Retail price for Super shot upon Release will be 15 dollars. 
Check
http://www.l-works.net
for release dates when available

If you haven't downloaded the original Super shot. then grab it now
for fast paced, adicting fun!

  Tick, Tack, Boom!

Do you love Tic-tac-toe?  well. now lWorks energizes your favourite
game for something that is flat out fun!
Look for Talking Tic-tac-toe in the near future.
Want details?  You'll just have to wait!

Remember:
For all things LWorks
visit our house at
www.l-works.net

if you have questions, concerns, criticisms , credit cards, or
anything else, then send them along to
[email protected]


+++
News From PCS:
www.pcsgames.net

PCS Games.net, we make games that tickle your ears!

PCS Games News Blast!
Pacman Talks is our Breakthrough Release!
all of a sudden, you're whisked back  to those carefree and exciting
days as Pacman, traveling down passageways chomping away on dots and
ringing up thousands of points while trying to avoid those relentless
ghosts.

"Hey, what's that noise off to the left?  Is it coming this
way?  I'll          slow down to check it  out. Oh, no, I think it's
tracking me!  The low hum hum is getting closer, and then I hear the
thump, thump, thump of an opening just a few blocks away!
Oh, wow I know that whispering voice,   it's gotta be  Clyde and I
gotta run! I'll go into cruise control and zoom around the outer ring
to get away, but wait, yes! There's a super power pill that'll help
me scare that ghost back to his home. Tick tick tick tick.  I hear
the sound of a wall coming up, so I gotta hit that left arrow right
now or I'll smash into it! Thwack thwackq thwack. Ya! and a little
off to the right is an escape tunnel!  Great! Now, when Pinky is hot
on my tale and thinks I'm caught, I'll sneak through and leave her
way behind!

Pacman Talks immerses you in a world of fast movement and suspense
with rich   dynamic sound effects and many wonderful and unusual
voices. This  highly addictive game is as exciting as the video
arcade game of the  eighties. It has all the things you need, a full
audio menu with game sounds described, hot keys to tell you what's
going on around you, many levels and a high score standings list.

         PCS Games knows you'll be captivated by our awesome multi
sound  game using Windows and the GMA game engine.
We're sure it will bring you hours of enjoyment.  So, download the
demo, grab your ghost detector and zoom through the echoing corridors
of Pacman busting ghosts.
Soon, you will be able to download a 30 meg demo at the
www.PCSGames.net
web site. This download is both the demonstration version and the
full version. Once you enter your PCS issued Registration Name and
Product Key, the full capabilities of the game are unlocked.

Pacman Talks Version 1.0
Available soon for download
Price: $30 U.S. for download version
$46 Canadian,  for download version
If you would like to receive Pacman Talks on CD, please go to the
Pacman page on the PCS Games.net web site for further details.

PCS Games
666 Orchard Street
Temperance, MI 48182
phone (734) 850-9502
E-mail Phil Vlasak [email protected]

Web site: www.pcsgames.net

No ghosts were hurt in the making of this game.

 


+++
News From Zform:
www.zform.com

Dear Audyssey community,

I am happy to report that the launch of ZForm Poker earlier this year
has been a great success.  We now have hundreds of people playing our
game and more signing up every day.  After years of hard work and
building the foundations of the business, it is extremely satisfying
for us to finally be "air born."

I am also happy to report that ZForm has partnered with a wonderful
online voice-chat community so that now, our customers can easily
voice-chat with each other while they play!  And this voice-chat is
available free of charge, thanks to our partner, For-The-People.

For those of you who don't know us, ZForm is a company who's mission
is to bring blind, low vision, and fully sighted together by creating
online game that anyone can play regardless of visual impairment. 
Our first game, ZForm Poker, is a multiplayer online version of five-
card-draw poker (with fake poker chips, of course).  With ZForm Poker
you can text-chat and play with up to four friends.  We have
scoreboards for those who like bragging rights, and we have casual
tables for people more interested in conversation than competition.

You don't have to pay ZForm to check out our game and see if you like
it.  In fact, you can evaluate ZForm Poker completely free for
fifteen days. 

If you would like to sign up to play free, browse to:
http://games.zform.com/signup.php?referrer=1005

To create a free voice-chat account so you can voice-chat with your
friends online, browse to:
http://www.for-the-people.com

You can learn more about ZForm at:
http://www.zform.com

Thank you Audyssey for the opportunity to fill you-all in on what's
new!

Cordially
-Paul G. Silva, Cofounder & President, ZForm - Games with Vision
(http://ZForm.com

+++
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.

+
Black nova traders
Reviewed by Christopher Toth
Available free at multiple sites including two in this review
Fully playable without sighted assistance

Recently, I have not been able to pull myself away from this totally
awesome game called Black Nova Traders, bnt for short.

In this game, which by the way, you can access at:
http://daniel-chavez.dns2go.com/blacknova
or:
http://www.blacknova.net/
you are a lowly ship captain, with only 1000 credits, credits are the
monetary system, and a very small ship! In the game, you get around
by navigating to different sectors. On each page, there are up to 10
warp links.  Depending on what sector you're in, the links will
transport you to many places in the bnt universe. Also, you can get
around by using something called "real space."
You can have up to three real-space presets, which you can change too.

Ok, how do you make credits, you ask?
Well, what you do is something called trade routs.
By clicking on the trade control link, and selecting create a new
trade rout, you can make a trade rout from one sector to another.
Also, you can colonize planets.

Now for scoring.
For accessibility, I give this game a complete 10!
Is it fun?  You'll be playing for days on end!
By the way, I'll be glad to give you any help with this game, simply
e-mail:
[email protected]
Have fun!

++
A game which has drawn a great deal of reaction is Alien Outback from
ESPSoftworks. Below are three reviews of the game including my own. I
hope these shed enough light on this product for people to decide
whether it suits their fancy. The first is from the designer of
Troopanum which is in direct competition with Alien Outback.

+
Alien Outback
Created by ESP Softworks
Fully playable without sighted assistance
Available from
www.espsoftworks.com
Reviewed by Daniel Zingaro

Its another space invaders clone with the standard features, but this
one's got some very cool surprises!

It starts off simple enough, with the boring descending ships. But
you won't be saying that by the time you hit level 5! The game
consists of eight levels, consisting of five waves per level. That's
40 levels of action. Successive levels introduce a new type of ship--
level 2, for instance, introduces ships with shields, level 3
introduces swaying ships. Some of the ship types border on devilish--
the ones on level 5 actually shoot back at you! Besides the standard
levels, having no ships land throughout an entire
wave allows you to play one of two amusing and fun bonus levels. (One
includes monkeys, believe it or not...)

One feature I especially liked was the ability to review the top ten
scores right from within the game; its not necessary to exit and go
to a website to do this. (don't you think Eloquence sounds better
than James, though? *g*)

Another cool feature is the ability to start play at any level you
want, without having to start over at level 1 every time. The game's
also got the sound description menu, so you can learn how to play as
quickly as possible.

The game is over 80 mb, so dial up users will have their modems on
fire by the time the download is done. And, although version 1.0 was
an extremely shaky release, the current version, 1.7, is a solid
piece of work. Check it out!

+
Aliens In the Outback [AITO]
ESPSoftworks Co.
Reviewed by Ron Schamerhorn
Fully playable without sighted assistance.
Available from:
www.espsoftworks.com

  You're Busha Bob, sheep rancher and drinker of 'fine' beer.  While
on the way home from the Town n' Country pub, Busha's truck engine
dies and its electrical system goes haywire.  Spotting strange lights
in the night sky and a commotion at his ranch in the not too far
distance, he's witness to an invasion of the worst kind!  After the
purely blind luck of taking down one of the drone ships with his
rifle and a lit
n' gum, he's got the hardware to fight back!  So, take a seat in
Busha's place and kick some alien tail!

ESP's third release!  Again delving into another different genre of
game. This time it's reminiscent of the classic arcade shooter Space
invaders.  Naturally it's got a few surprises in store for a player. 
That is to say it's not identical to the original by any means. 
Another arcade game it's similar to would be Galaxian.

  This game features fast action shooting.  Various levels of
gameplay from easy too insane.  Two bonus rounds, meteors and sheep
drop.  Eight different types of aliens from simple straight falling
ones to others that have random patterns and shoot back!  Six special
items you can use to help protect yourself.
 These items are rapid fire, shields, nuke, missiles, turbo,
vaporize, and a score bonus.  Players high scores and the scoreboard
to see how you match up against others.  Some other great options and
a whole lot of fun as well.

  AITO is certainly a excellent contribution from ESP. The game holds
a great deal of replay value in keeping with the arcade style. 
There's more I could say but I wouldn't want to explain everything
since then there wouldn't be anything left for the players to
discover on their own.  Suffice it to say [yet again] it's a super
game!  I'd have to give AITO a passing grade of 9 out of 10!


+
Alien Outback
Game produced by ESP Softworks
Available commercially from:
www.espsoftworks.com
Fully playable without sighted assistance

Replete with excitement and explosive arcade action, James North's
Alien Outback is certain to please all of us who hunger for what our
sighted fellow gamers have taken for granted for decades. Space
Invaders has been taken to a refreshingly higher level of depth and
strategy. Novices will find the basics simple to grasp, but there are
many elements in the game which present marvellous challenges for
experts. Alien Outback won't be one of those games you'll ever stop
playing completely even after it's been conquered.

*Game Play:

Busher Bob must contend with a wide array of enemies to defend the
outback. Being a Space Invaders-style game, you control a ship moving
left to right across the bottom of the game area. You can shoot
directly upwards at alien ships falling from the top. Additionally,
you can shoot left and right at aliens which manage to land and begin
attacking you on the ground. Once they've landed, all aliens turn
into landers which rise on robot legs and begin approaching you. They
can drain your energy if you aren't quick and careful. Also, landers
take multiple hits to destroy. Before they land, aliens come in a
nicely broad variety of flavours. These are introduced one by one as
you progress through the game, so players shouldn't be overwhelmed by
new enemies they've never faced before.

The enemies to be destroyed include ships which simply fall in a
straight line, enemies with shields, zigzagging ships, and some which
can shoot back as they descend. Good hearing is essential to line up
directly beneath these ships and destroy them. Unlike Troopanum,
there is no beeping sound to indicate you're locked on. You have to
judge that by making certain that your enemy is in the exact centre
of your hearing. Ships which zigzag or suddenly warp to new
horizontal positions as they fall are therefore especially
challenging targets. The heat-seeking missiles Bob can obtain are a
nice addition which can even things out.

Featuring four levels of difficulty, the game is packed with re-play
value. There is also the element of comparing your high score to that
of other  players around  the world. ESPSoftworks will be having
contests and other things happening in the future as they have with
their other games.

To aid Busher Bob against this opposition, he can obtain various
power ups from flying saucers which travel from one side of the
screen to the other. If Bob manages to shoot these saucers, a power
up falls to the ground near where the saucer was shot. A homing
beacon sound will activate indicating its position. However, Bob will
only have around three seconds or less to scoot over and grab it
before the package disintegrates. There are eight power ups in all.
Some of these act instantly. They can give bonus points, boost
energy, allow rapid firing for a short time, etc. Others must be
activated by the player with the appropriate key. These keys can be
changed if players wish to do this, but the default setup is quite
good. The Turbo power up allows for rapid travel across the area.
This can be quite handy for preventing enemy landings. Shields can
also save you from being zapped particularly in the later levels. The
Nuke power up is equivalent to a smart bomb and destroys all enemies
in the air. Another power up does the same for landers.

Various power-ups, enemies, and the edges of the board which can
damage Bob's ship if players aren't careful not to run into them add
an incredible amount of depth and strategy to the game. Those in
search of having an experience like what sighted people enjoy will
find that Alien Outback doesn't cut corners or simplify things to
make them more accessible other than to introduce new enemies slowly.
Players might find themselves in quite complex situations. For
instance, there might be a flying saucer going across the screen and
one or more landers on the ground approaching Bob's location. Is the
power-up worth taking damage to obtain? It might come to a choice of
shooting down the saucer or letting it travel farther across the area
to be in a better location where landers won't be able to attack Bob
for a longer period of time. Meanwhile, other enemies are constantly
dropping from above. On higher levels, they may be able to attack Bob
with lasers or bombs. Thankfully, a pause key is available allowing
players to take a breather from the game or think about how to
conduct themselves during crucial periods of game play.

*Interface:

The controls are quite simple. The left and right arrows move Bob in
their respective directions. They can be held down for easy
continuous movement. The left control key fires the vertical laser.
The alt key in conjunction with the left and right arrows fire
horizontally left and right. Holding down shift and using the left
and right arrows allows the Turbo energy to be used moving Bob
rapidly across the area. The Enter key activates the Nuke power up.
Missiles are fired with the space bar and home in on the nearest
enemy in the air automatically. Menus are accessed in what seems to
be the conventional simple way of using up and down arrows and the
Enter key. Over all, James North deserves top marks in this area of
game design. The default layout is excellent, and players always have
the option of making their own. This may actually make it possible
for people with less motor control in their hands to play the game. I
don't know if it could be played single-handed, but it may be
possible.

*Sound:

Alien Outback will immediately impress people with how well the
sounds in the game were thought through. The background music and
other ambient noise can be turned on or off with a single key during
the game. While not exactly orchestral in quality, the music makes
good background and adds a nice arcade atmosphere to the game. It
does this while not being so overpowering that players miss other
important sounds. Enemies have their own neat sounds which behave
wonderfully in stereo. They are extremely intuitive and easy to
attach meanings to. One never has the problem of sounds masking other
sounds. This is good since no such masking elements exist for sighted
people in similar games as far as I am aware. It's quite impressive
to have a game which delivers arcade-quality sounds without ambiance
playing a large portion. Most of the sounds you hear while playing
are vital to the game and not just dressing.

*Conclusion:

Alien Outback is certain to be a very successful game for
ESPSoftworks. I find it hard to imagine a better Space Invaders game
being developed for the blind, and believe that sighted people would
not find the game overly simplified or boring. A definite ten out of
ten is in order for such a masterpiece. Also, the efforts James has
gone to in order to respond to customers has been extraordinary. He
has very quickly come out with updates taking into account feedback
from players. This has resulted in a very polished and solid arcade
experience worth every bit of its price.

+
Space
Available for free from www.anycities.com/graham43/basic.html
Fully playable without sighted assistance

Space is a basic game.
In this game your goal is to deliver some secret plans to the earth
outpost.
At the start of the game, you will be asked to choose your current
rank. The higher you rank, the harder the mission will be.
Then you can enter your first name and your ship's name.
Then you will have 10 units of energy, and you must distribute them
between shield value, firepower value and speed value.
Make this selection very carefully, folks. Then the computer will ask
if you want to carry out a pre launch inspection on the ship. I
always do this and I recommend doing it because if you find a
malfunction you will be able to fix it before launch.

And then the fun starts...

Unlike most space games, navigation is automatic.
You just press return and move a specific number of parsecs closer to
the outpost, determined by your speed value.
But this is not a drawback. Decisions are the most important thing in
this game!
There will be accidents along the way, and I'll list some of them.
You will suffer computer failures, that will reduce power to one of
your generators: speed, firepower or shield...this happened to me a
lot of times.
An other accident occurs when the morale of the crew descends too
much: this value is shown in the screen in percentage and decreases
by one unit each turn, but if you do good things, your crew's spirits
are lifted and the morale value increases.
Ok...like I said before, if the morale value decreases too much, some
of your crew will most likely leave the ship, and if you're unlucky,
one of them will destroy a generator!

There is also combat in this game.
In fact, you will encounter alien ships and you can decide to attack
them, wait or communicate with them.
I attack them most times, because attacking increases the morale
value and the crew and shuttles number will be more stable. Note:
there's also a battle factor, which will determine your final rank at
the end of the mission which is determined by your crew plus your
shuttle crafts plus your energy)
But if you are in a bad condition, I suggest communicating with them.
They'll most likely give you some crew to help you and fix damaged
generators if there are some.
Combat works like rpg games: you attack first, and depending on your
firepower, you'll do a certain amount of damage. Then it's the
aliens' turn to attack.
If you have a decent shield value (I suggest 3), you will be able to
destroy the aliens without being damaged in any way.

You'll also discover new planets, and you have the choice to  use the
gravity to accelerate the ship, send out one of your shuttle crafts
to investigate or make scientific measures which will increase the
morale.
There are also more things to discover, but I can't list them all
here!

Final rating
I have great fun playing this game and recommend anyone interested in
sci-fi games to try this one. I must say it's cool and I have no
reservations at all.

+
Battlezone
Developer activision (website www.activision.com)
Available in computer stores
Requires sighted assistance
Reviewed by Tom Nonis

If you are looking for a cool game where strategy is at it's best,
then you have to try out battlezone from activision!


The story
This game is set in the days of the cold war.
A new scientific discovery has been made: a material called bio metal
has been discovered, and obviously, they began to use it to produce
deadly weapons: bombs, missiles, and such.
But this bio metal is not found around Earth, it's found on Mars, and
other planets of the solar system.
So, the conflict between Russians and Americans moves from Earth to
Space!

Game play.

This game combines both strategy and frenetic, real time combat.
You will have to build vehicles, weapons, and other supplies to help
you in your missions against the Americans or the Russians (it
depends on what you choose to be).
There are two main building units: the recycler (which you have from
the beginning), builds basic units such as defensive turrets,
ammunition, scavengers  and so on... and the mobile unit factory
which builds more advanced units such as tanks.

You will have to use strategy in this game and there isn't that much
time to think since the game is entirely real time. For example you
can build some turrets and place them around your base, and then
build two or three tanks and tell them to follow you so you will be
more strong and safe when attacking. Also, to build these things, you
need the bio metal which you can find around the planet by using
scavengers. You will sometimes need to tell one of your units to
return to scrap, so you can build an other one. You need to be really
skilled and fast with decisions!

Combat is also a frequent thing in this game. You will find yourself
involved in incredible fast action battles. And again, you need to
use your units properly so that they can provide you with assistance
in combat.

The interface

The game uses both the keyboard and the mouse. The keyboard is used
to move your tank, communicate with vehicles, shoot and switch
weapons. The mouse is used to move the smart reticule used to target
enemies and to select the friendly unit you want to give orders to.
For example, to communicate with the recycles, you need to move near
it, point the smart reticule with the mouse and press the spacebar to
start a communication with the recycler. Then a menu will display on
the screen and you need to press the number associated with the task
you want your vehicle to accomplish.

Sound, music and voice acting

The sound effects in this game are really amazing. You will hear
vehicles moving, weapons firing, as well as other sounds such as
alarms etc. The only sound that should have been improved a byt, in
my opinion, is the sound of footsteps when you are walking instead of
driving a vehicle. The music makes you really feel the sensation of
being involved in an action movie. Really good!

The voice acting is an other plus in this game. You will hear people
such as general George Collins and Lieutenant Corbet calling you via
the radio and telling you what to do. They are really well done!
Also, you will hear pilots talking when you tell them to do
something. For example, if you tell the recycler  to build, you will
hear the pilot saying "building started!".
 

Final rating

I absolutely give this game a full rating. I really can't think of a
drawback except for the one I mentioned before, about the footsteps
sound.

So, if you have some sighted friends, tell them to play this game
with you!

For example, the sighted person moves the mouse and drives the
vehicle, wile the blind person uses the keyboard to communicate with
vehicles, decides how to use them, and so on. In conclusion, I give
this game a 10 out of 10!

+++
Answers to Puzzles and Games

1. There are obviously three ducks.

2. 13.333 miles per hour.  Since he will complete the downhill
portion of
the trip in half the time, he would then be bicycling two thirds of
the time
up hill, and one third of the time down hill. Therefore, you would
add two
thirds of ten miles per hour to one third of twenty miles per hour.

3. I solved this problem by assigning each attribute to a small
Brailed
card.  By using paper clips to associate attributes, and positioning
of the
cards to relate relative geographical location, things fell into
place.

The German owns the fish. Check the list below for more details.

The Norwegian lives in a Yellow house, drinks water, smokes Dunhill,
and
owns cats.
The Dane lives in a blue house, drinks tea, smokes blend, and keeps
horses.
The Brit lives in a red house, drinks milk, smokes Pall Mall, and
keeps
birds.
The German lives in a green house, drinks coffee, smokes Prince, and
keeps
fish.
The Swede lives in a white house, drinks beer, smokes Blue Master,
and owns
a dog.

If you have any puzzles or games you would like to see here, or if
you would
like to see certain types of puzzles over other types, you can
contact me
at:
[email protected]
 

+++
Contacting Us
I can be reached in two ways. The easiest is via my Cogeco E-mail
address.
My e-mail address is as follows:
[email protected]
Alternatively, you may correspond with me on 3.5-inch disks,
provided you be sure to send them in returnable disk-mailers. I don't
have the money to pay for postage. My mailing address is:
350 Lynnwood Drive
Apartment 103
Oakville, Ontario
L6H 1M8

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:
[email protected]
Or, you can check out his homepage on the web:
Blade's Armoury
http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/Arcade/9111
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
Bartholomew Crescent
Mississauga, Ontario
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:
[email protected]
Justin Fegel has resigned his official position as an interactive
fiction staff member. As such, he will be sorely missed. However,
Justin plans to remain active in the Audyssey community. Therefore,
those who need guidance with interactive fiction may still benefit
from his experience. He can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Kelly Sapergia is our expert in interactive fiction. He is a
well-established reviewer of games for Audyssey, and has an
interest in developing interactive fiction as well as playing it.
He can be contacted at:
[email protected]
James Peach is responsible for maintaining our new official homepage.
Your feedback will help him make our site a better place to be on the
Web. He can be contacted at:
[email protected]
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:
[email protected]
Justin Ekis is our new web-based games expert. He will search for and
report on on-line games like Utopia and Archmage. He is also going to
keep a close eye on the re-emerging BBS scene. You can contact him at:
[email protected]
Dave Sherman has become well-known on the Audyssey list and has now
joined the Audyssey staff as our multi-user-dungeon expert. Interest
in muds has popped up again and again in the Audyssey community and
elsewhere among the growing net-savvy blind community. Thanks to
Dave's efforts, newcomers will have another expert to turn to for
guidance. Dave will also report on the various different MUDs out
there and steer us to the more blind-friendly ones. You can contact
him at:
[email protected]
Muds take a long time to become familiar with. Therefore, Maria
Dibble joins Dave Sherman in his exploration of muds. They also make
a great team to tackle interactive fiction games together. Maria can
be contacted at:
[email protected]
David Lant has long been an active member of the Audyssey community.
He is now one of our two moderators keeping things pleasant and
orderly on the Audyssey discussion list. He can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Brenda Green is the new co moderator. Her efforts on behalf of the
Audyssey community are very much appreciated. She can be contacted at:
[email protected]


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:
[email protected]
Paul Nimmo is a long-time resident of the Audyssey community who
maintains a Frequently Asked Questions or faq file for Audyssey. When
it is updated, it gets posted to a number of sites. He can be
contacted at:
[email protected]


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