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Audyssey;
Games Accessible to the Blind
Issue 30: September/October, 2001
Edited by Michael Feir and Rebecca Sutton

Fun, Friendship, Knowledge, Charity

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Welcome
Welcome to the thirtieth 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.
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.
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Distribution Information and Submission Policies
This magazine is published on a bimonthly basis, each issue
appearing no earlier than the twentieth of every other month. All submissions to be published in an issue must be in my possession a minimum of two days before the issue is published. I now use MS-Word to produce Audyssey, and can therefore accept submissions in pretty much any format. They may be sent either on a 3.5-inch floppy disk, or via e-mail
to my Sympatico address. I will give my home address and my Sympatico address at the end of the magazine.
Please write articles and letters about games or game-related
topics which interest you. They will likely interest me, and your fellow readers. This magazine should and can be a
highly interesting and qualitative look at accessible gaming. To insure that high quality is maintained, I'll need your
written
contributions. I reserve the right to unilaterally make changes to submissions if I deem it necessary to improve them
grammatically or enhance their understand ability. I will never make changes which will alter the spirit of a submission.
All submissions must be in English. However, people need not be great writers to have their work appear in Audyssey.
Many of our community come from different countries. Others are quite young. Where possible, I try to preserve their
different styles of expression. The richness that this adds to the Audyssey experience far outweighs any benefits
gained from having everything in prose so perfect as to be devoid of life. Audyssey is a community and magazine built
on the need for blind people to have fun. There are no formal structural requirements for submissions. Within reason,
they may be as long as necessary. Game reviews should all clearly state who created the game being examined, where it
can be obtained, whether it can be played without sighted assistance, and any system requirements or other critical
information. Although profanity is by no means banned, it should not be used gratuitously. Submissions not published
in a current issue will be reserved for possible use in future issues if appropriate. Those who are on the Audyssey
discussion list should be aware that I often put materials from the list in the "Letters" section if I feel that they warrant it.
Anything posted to this discussion list that in some way stands out from the common and often lively ongoing
discourse will be considered fair game for publishing unless it contains the author's wish that it not be published. 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. Thanks to my new computer, I can now send and receive attachments with ease. This way, no money will be
wasted sending me a game I already have, and
you'll get my reply more quickly. You are responsible for shipping costs. That means, either use a disk mailer which has
your address on it, and is either free matter for the blind, or is properly stamped. I can and will gladly spare time to share
games and my knowledge of them, but cannot currently spare money above what I spend hunting for new games. I
encourage all my readers to give my magazine to whoever they think will appreciate it. Up-load it onto web pages and
bulletin board systems. Copy it on disk for people, or print it out for sighted people who may find it of value. The larger
our community gets, the more self-sustaining it will become.
There are now several ways of obtaining Audyssey. Thanks to ESP Softworks, there is once again a distribution list for
those who want to receive Audyssey via E-mail. To subscribe to the distribution list so that you receive all future
issues, the direct URL to the subscription form is:
http://www.espsoftworks.com/forms/audyssey_to.asp
You may also refer a friend and pass onto them the current issue as well as an introduction e-mail explaining the
magazine in detail.  Then, if they wish to subscribe they
will be referred to this form.  The form is available from the Audyssey Magazine section of the ESP Softworks web-site.
To get there directly, go to:
http://www.espsoftworks.com/textonly/audyssey/audyssey.html
The Audyssey section also contains all back-issues of Audyssey if you want to get caught up with events.

James North of ESP Softworks now manages the Audyssey discussion list. This 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 at midnight PST 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
participating. If you want an active role in shaping the future of accessible games, this is where you can dive right in. To
subscribe to this discussion list, send a message to:
[email protected] with the words
'subscribe audlist' in the message body. Send a message with the word "help" in
the message body to the above address for a list of available commands such as
the command to switch to digest mode and receive one large E-mail per day. To
post messages to the discussion list, send them to:
[email protected]
It is important to keep the purposes of the above addresses straight. The
[email protected] address is where you send commands to subscribe or
unsubscribe and other automatically handled things to. You're sending commands
to a server which does not have the answers to all your game-related questions.
To communicate with live people, send a message to the [email protected]
address. Remember that these live people will not appreciate seeing commands
meant for the server as they are powerless to act upon them.

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:
 http://www.concentric.net/~sbobbitt

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 source for back-issues of Audyssey and accessible games is provided by
Kelly Sapergia. He was our first interactive fiction expert, and has put his
Internet skills and resources to splendid use for the magazine. Visit his site
at:
http://ksapergia.cjb.net
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
"Is it only a game?"
Introducing Code Factory
Introducing Danssoft!
Contests From Danssoft
Puzzles and Games
Adam The Immortal Gamer
News From Bavisoft
News From GMA
News From ESP Softworks
News From MindsEye2
News From PCS
Chess wherever
MYRTHORN & KORIAL'S MONTHLY MUD PICKS
The 2001 Mach1 World Championship
Game Announcements and Reviews
Answers to Puzzles and Games
Contacting Us

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From The Editor:

Hello, everyone. We've had quite an interesting time of it these last couple of months. Two new developers have appeared on the scene, and both of them have offered introductions to us in this issue. At long last ESP Softworks has released its first product. ESP Pinball has certainly bounced into our lives. High scores, hints, and all manner of praise have livened up the Audyssey discussion list for everyone.

The events of September eleventh captured my attention, and were also discussed on the Audyssey list. Many of us found comfort and support in this community, and although there was certainly some justifiable anger, members of the discussion list have proved to be a compassionate and level-headed bunch that I'm very proud to be a part of. Jay Pellis is going to work on an article about how these events have effected gamers for the next issue. Since most of our games developers are in North America or were likewise caught up in these crucial events, it is not surprising that plans have been thrown off a bit. Certainly, my plans have been.

Negotiations are still ongoing regarding the new arrangements for offering free games. I hope that we'll have everything worked out by the time of our next issue which will be published on November 17th. This will be our annual special holiday issue, and will give developers a chance to catch up and let us know of new games in plenty of time to order them. It also makes for an excellent time to reflect on events of the past year.

Sadly, the game I've been working on for the past while has run into more snags. These are due not only to the actual game, but are also a result of the many changes that my life has gone through. Preparing for married life is certainly proving to be both exciting and time consuming. I've already started living skills training and will shortly be continuing with travel skills.

Unfortunately, Joshua Loya has just informed me that he will have to step down as an active moderator of our list. Until a new moderator is found, the responsibility falls to our remaining moderator, David Lant. I would appreciate anybody who wants to be an active moderator along with David Lant to contact me as soon as possible. Joshua has surprised many in this community with how splendidly he has handled the sometimes arduous task of keeping order on our list. We've dealt with some extraordinary and interesting debates which had a tendency to turn personal at times. I wish Joshua the very best of luck in his future projects, and trust that he will remain a member of the community he has served so well.

Finally, I'd like to offer an apology to PCS, GMA Games, and any other Audyssey community members who were inconvenienced by my misinterpretation of information in the last issue. PCS and GMA Games are not merging. They are, however, going to collaborate on a game. No information about this game has been released as of this publication. PCS is going through some changes as you'll discover in their news section. I can certainly appreciate what they're going through being in preparation for movement and marriage myself.

Until our next issue, I hope that everyone enjoys the many new games in this one. Let's all play the great game of life with the honour, safety, and excellence which are so evident in the Audyssey community.            


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Letters:

All sorts of fascinating discussions took place on the Audyssey discussion list over the past while. Everything from prejudice among blind gamers to where we stand in terms of technological and economic factors have all come up for some fairly intense debate. Thankfully, our moderators have done a fantastic job of keeping things enjoyable and preventing the heated discussion from starting a community melt-down. One of the topics which aroused some interesting discussion was whether it mattered that game developers were blind or sighted. A while into this discussion, the following letter caught my attention:

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From Chad Fenton

I'm not going to beat a dead horse, but this issue has become ridiculous.
If the games are of high quality, I could care less whether the developers of accessible game software are blind or sighted.  If someone only wants to purchase a game if it's being made by a blind person, that's a pretty sad reason.  If nothing else they could easily miss out on quality games, but that is their loss.  That's like saying I will only buy American-made cars rather than Japanese.  While that is the individual's choice, if the Japanese make a superior product to what the American car manufacturers produce, that's where my money is going.  If nothing else, that sends a message that when American companies produce vehicles with superior offerings, then the consumer may purchase their model.  Perhaps this is oversimplifying the issue, but it's the only comparison I could come up with at the moment.
Granted, as long as the human race exists, there will always be prejudice, bigotry, jealousy, envy, all the wonderful traits that separate us from the lower orders of the animal kingdom.  I don't believe such negative traits will ever be erased from mankind's psyche, as emotions are one of the very things which make us human.  Unfortunately, there will always be some who, through their ignorance or prejudice beliefs, will miss out on what life is all about.  Ok, I'll get off my philosophical soap box.  So for any game developers out there, blind or sighted, if you make high quality games, I'll buy them.

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At times, people who have been on the Audyssey list have grown a little impatient when newcomers have asked questions or continued discussions which others felt had already been dealt with. It is important for all of us to keep in mind that newcomers are a very critical part of our community. We were all newcomers once, and I hope that the letter below gives us all something to think about in the months ahead. It was, in my judgement, one of Joshua Loya's finest acts in his capacity as moderator. It illustrates how far he has come since his days as a newcomer, and also reminds us of the work ahead for all of us:

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From Joshua Loya

Fellow Audysians, In light of the past couple of days, while I haven't yet read all the posts yet, I find it necessary to remind everybody that we're supposed to be having fun here.  If you have an issue with somebody, keep it off list.
That was in the FAQ, for those of you who missed it.  As someone mentioned, many people rarely post, or not at all.  We even had a couple of members leave in the past because of flame wars on the list.  I'm not perfect, as long time Audyssey members are aware.  When I first came on the list I did make an ass out of myself, but I am now on fairly friendly terms with the person with whom I had the miscommunication.  Before Audyssey, I was fairly unfamiliar with games specifically designed for the blind.  The most I had ever played were old text adventures like Advent and Dungeon.  The only totally self voicing game I ever played before Audyssey, was PCS Space Invaders.  (You should try it if you're in to arcade games.) That said, I had no knowledge of Rogue like games.  The only RPGs that I had ever played were table games, and games like Final Fantasy and Shining Force.  All of us have different strengths and weaknesses, pearls of wisdom and times of ignorance, but that's what makes Audyssey unique and good.  If the more mature and experienced of us can't learn to be patient with annoying and/or ignorant newbies, Audyssey will eventually disintegrate into obscurity.  All I'm asking for is common sense, and I think my co-moderator David Lant would back me up on this.  Please...  please...  please, if you have an issue with somebody, please try to work it out amongst yourselves, off list.  If that doesn't work, email either me or David.  We are more than glad to help.  Feel free to joke around, but be aware that not everybody is on the same page with you, either due to lack of experience, language barriers, or even actual cognitive disabilities.  People often forget that quite a high percentage of blind and VI people have other disabilities as well.  Be considerate, that's all I'm asking.  NOW GO HAVE FUN!  THAT'S AN ORDER!
*grin*

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One of the most stimulating debates was started by David Lant when he wondered about how capable the blind community was at keeping up with technology. You'll find his message plus others below regarding this;:

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From David Lant

Hi all,

I thought I'd kick off another one of those intriguing discussions on technology and accessible games. 

I've been sitting here, reflecting on how much things have changed over the past 5 years.  The most significant, apart from the number of companies producing accessible games, appears to be the determined shift away from DOS and text based games, into the Windows and multimedia environment.

For a long time, an argument was put forward that most blind or visually impaired people could not afford modern, up-to-date hardware and software.
For this reason, some game writers insisted that we had to develop for the lowest common denominator.  Now, the emphasis appears to be shifting.  Is it that we now feel most blind people are more affluent than before, and can afford to buy new machines fairly regularly, and can update their software without difficulty?  Or is it that those who have such equipment and programs are deemed to be a more lucrative market?

Speaking as a well paid, professional blind person, I certainly notice a difference in my own ability to acquire and improve my computer equipment.
For a long time, all I had was a second hand 286 AT PC, with a 1Gb hard drive, and a shareware DOS screen reader.  Now, I have two computers, one a desktop machine which is soon going to be considered passé, and a new laptop which exceeds the specifications of a few of the corporate servers at my place of work.  My gaming experience has altered in similar fashion.  From free, limited complexity text games, through the full splendour of Shades of Doom and Lone Wolf, to the new developments from ESP Softworks.

So, as a general point of discussion, I was wondering what other people on the list thought was the currently accepted baseline for blind gamers today.
I don't want this to degenerate into a thread where people just post the specs of their own machines.  I'm more interested in how the broad concept of the resources available to blind gamers has changed.

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From Bryan Smart

David,

Would you be marketing a card game to a broad audience, or going after a niche group with something like a flight simulator or RPG game?  The niche group will spend more money on software and hardware, and will therefore have a system that performs over average specs.  For a broad blind audience, I feel that a 166mHz CPU is all that you can ask.  Most blind people that are highly involved in technology would have at least a 400mHz system.

Of course, my belief is that, as a developer, you should always shoot for the moon.  By the time your project makes it to a release date, the average system specs will have moved up.

Bryan
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From Aman Singer:
David.
Your topic is certainly interesting.  Let me suggest something.  What if, now that communications have become so much easier, primarily through email, those who are, either through government programs or employment, able to update their systems, are becoming the elite, sort of speak?  They are the ones that are heard, and their needs are the ones responded to.
Two years ago, I started training blind students on their computers for my local school system.  It surprised me that most students weren't using the equipment to potential.  They just turned the computer on in the morning, did word processing an sometimes some scanning on it, and turned it off again.
That's all some wanted it for, while others wanted to do different things with it and didn't know how, while still others were afraid to break the machine and kept to the familiar things that they had been taught to do.  A last group didn't know that other things could be done, that is, they had heard of email and the internet, but they thought this was beyond them or that it was difficult to learn.
What this long rambling message is leading up to is the thought that the blind people with the older equipment, those who are still running dos or using windows 95/98 at a basic level, have become islands.  They have very little communication on computer topics, and they're satisfied with what they have in terms of games, or don't know how to get more, or don't know that more exists.  Those, however, who are using computers in a more advanced way are on lists such as this one, and they're telling developers what they want and what they want is games with a multimedia flavour.  Therefore, the baseline hasn't really changed in terms of blind gamers.  The market has, though.  The gamers that want more advanced games are speaking up and those that are using older systems aren't.
That's my $.02 (Canadian funds, $.01 American, half a UK pent, etc...).

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From Charles Rivard:

Not sure if I'm right or not, but another reason I can see right off as to why games for the blind are using technology that is not up to par with today's computer technology is that, for the most part, we need to use a screen reader, which also lags behind in today's technology.  A lot of games are self voicing now, though.  My question is:  How much in the way of resources is taken up by this technology.  The games for the sighted are requiring more and more powerful systems.  Can most blind people afford to
get computers that are powerful enough to fit the bill along with being able to run what it takes to make the games accessible to us?  I think the majority of blind gamers are unemployed.  This greatly limits resources.
-----
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From Nick Adamson

Hi James.

One thing you said I Totally agree with.  Fun is the over ruling factor.  I found out about the blind gamers community about 2 months ago and I didn't believe that blind gaming could get so advanced.

1 point about the man power thing though.  I'll agree with the point that there are about 5 to 10 people working on one game.  You should also take in to consideration the fact that unlike our developers they can be working on many games at the same time using different programmers.

Our developers can have more than one game out But they can't be working on more than one game at any given moment.  Unless they have 2 pairs of hands.


One Thing I do love about this community is the fact that we don't demand stuff.  We work as a community, gamers and developers, to make accessible games as good as we can get them.


Nick Adamson.


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Our old friend James Peach started another discussion which branched off from David Lant's thread. It concerned the recycling of ideas taking place in the accessible games market. It is no surprise to me that this line of discourse struck quite an interesting cord. As blind gamers, we often find ourselves in envy of our sighted counterparts and the games which have long been available to them.

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From James Peach:

Another issue I would like to bring to life concerning the last paragraph of the last post: the recycling of ideas within the accessible games market.

SOD is an example (though I think they took a great classic and bastardized it in it's name).  Many of the games PCS puts out, and Games-For-The Blind (what's their company name again?).  Sure, there is creative thought going into this, but little originality.

I'm not an IF gamer, but I get the impression that there's lots of original ideas hiding in many piles of unoriginal rubbish.  Got to slog through the mud to get to drinkale water -indicative of the Net itself.

ON the flip side, I think we are seeing more creativity emerging from cloudy waters.  Developers have tested the waters, and now that they have a feel for the flow of the community, they are willing to wade in, venturing more and more with each step forward.

I have a question for the community here: in general, do you care if an idea is original or not, so long as it is accessible?  I will use Shades of Doom and StarFighter as examples.

After gauging the general response on list, I will attempt to inject more of my reflections on the issue.  Until then...

James Peach
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From Nick Adamson

Hi James.

This is my opinion, I'm sure that some people will disagree with me but In regards to coming up with original ideas I think that we have a better situation than sited gamers.  For example, there are lodes of different versions of doom under lots of different titles for the sited gamer, they all base on the same idea.  I guess that with the accessible game developers if one of them brings out a game like SOD the others will try to avoid making a similar game, if they make something like it they will make enough differences in the game so that the gamer will still be interested in the game even if they have both games.

My brother Has GTA, "a drive around and blow stuff up game." he wont by driver, "a drive around and blow stuff up game" because He already has something like that.

Nick Adamson.

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From Ron Schamerhorn

Hi

As for the recycling of older game themes.  If a company tests the water and finds a warm reception in the community for the idea then wonderful!  A case in point would be the Accessible Games, Simon.  Sure the idea isn't new, but maybe for some blind/vi user's it might have been a minor break through.  Though making the old Simon game accessible would have been possible with a little work.

Pinball isn't new either, but it's the only way I can play the game.
Mainly because I don't have any regular sighted assistance.  For me it was a great investment!

The factors are varied concerning the accessible market.  These include though not limited to, "is it a game I would enjoy?" "can I play it over and over?" and of course "what is the price?" [Not trying to start the price wars again *g*]

Personally there are some games even if they are accessible, I probably won't buy them.  Even if they are free I may not want a copy.  Not trying to disagree with people, just a few thoughts.

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It's always exciting to meet new people. Joining the discussions you've gotten a glimpse of in the above letters were a number of newcomers to our fine forum. Below are some of the messages they wrote to introduce themselves. I hope that those of you who might perhaps be feeling a little shy may find these messages helpful and encouraging. All are welcome in our community who have an interest in games accessible to the blind.

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From Buddy Brannan

Hi y'all,

Just dropping a note to introduce myself here.
My name is Buddy Brannan.  Some people probably already know me.  Briefly, I've been on the internet for 10 years, have played at various times with text adventures (like the Infocom games), muds, etc.  I also love trivia games, and I'd sure like to find good ones that I can play!  I've been following Audyssey on and off (unfortunately, a lot of off) since close to its beginning.  I'm sure glad to see more games that blind people can play, especially games that are playable more than once! 

I, like a lot of you, am waiting anxiously for ESP Pinball.  I'm already addicted to the pinball game and am further looking forward to trying the Monkey Business demo.  I think having games with full sound more like what our sighted counterparts play is a great step forward for us!  Believe me, I want to waste my time just like anybody else!
(He says, with tongue firmly in cheek)

I'd also like to see more (ermm...actually...some...) games for Linux.  There are some text-based ones, like monopoly, but I'd love to see others.

You might have noticed the "[email protected]"
address.  (Here's where the shameless plug comes in.) I'm starting my own adaptive technology company to sell and support different adaptive technology products, and among the things I want to offer are games.  I believe that there should be room for more fun in our lives, and I think a well-rounded catalog should have games in it.  So, along with the usual screen reader, OCR, and speech synthesizer stuff (BTW, I'm sure glad to see less expensive stuff coming out like the Scan And Read products), I plan to carry the ESP games and have brielfy talked to James about this.  I would love to talk to other developers as well about putting their games in the catalog, and would also like to know if people would be interested in subscriptions (or a one-off) of the IF-Archive collection of games, compilers, articles, and so on, on CD-ROM. 

The Web page isn't up yet, so you won't see one, but after a little setback, I'm on track again to get started with this venture. 

Enough about that though...

Anyway, I'm getting a new notebook and will be trying out the pinball demo, Monkey Business demo, and the GMA games on it.  I got to play Shades of Doom's demo a little bit before Windows stopped working on this computer, and I'm looking forward to the registered version I now have once i get the new machine up and running.  Believe me, I'll be around pleading for help on these games, I'm sure.  If not, I'll at least be having fun with them right along with everyone else on the list!

Happy gaming,

Buddy

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From Robert Pires

Hi all, i just joined this list.  i was amazed to find so much available for blind/visually impaired gamers.  a lot of this stuff is still new to me, i only found out about this list and audyssey in the past week and only found out about games created for the blind within the last couple of months.  it is comforting to know that there is an entire community of computer literate blind people who have found ways to enjoy computer games, just as our sighted counterparts.
i hope to learn a lot from this list.
hello again.
--- Rob

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From Nick Adamson
hi all.
I'm new to the list and new to the idea of games for blind people. I am currently on my summer brake and was just looking around the net and found the GMA games site and was astounded that there was finally a game I could play with out my brothers help. I downloaded lone wolf 3.0.2 and have now ordered a full version.

And now the question, "about time I hear you call."
Can any one recommend a game like lone wolf for windows.

Nick Adamson.


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"Is it only a game?"
By Allen Maynard

I've often wondered why I sometimes get so upset when I am defeated by a computer game.  I'm sure that most, if not all of you have done as I have; that is utter those immortal words, "It's only a game."  Normally my frustration evaporates soon after I've been trounced by one game or another, however, I do recall one instance where I lost all my possessions do to a sneaky trick perpetrated by the creator of a multi-user domain called Razor's Edge.  I had tried to climb up a steep mountain even after the game warned me that it could be dangerous.  And as you might have guessed, I fell and lost everything except my life.  In about two seconds I went from a moderately powerful human fighter with a cool sword, to a weak and naked human.  Grumbling, I got up from my desk and stalked into the next room.  Without really planning to, I slammed my fist into a door.  Yes, it hurt like hell and I put a small crescent-shaped crack in the wood.

When I think of that scene and the game I was angry with, I tried to figure out why I got so upset.  I remember, just before I punched the door saying to myself, "It's only a game so calm down."  Obviously those inner-soothing words had little effect.

But why?  What mechanism causes us to rage against images produced via cathode ray tube or text created by mindless microchips?

Some might argue that it is the same part of the brain that causes Dad to scream at the one-inch tall football player who is dashing across a miniature field on curved glass in the living room, but who is actually hundreds if not thousands of miles away.  That one's easy.  Dad wants his team to win.  He is competing vicariously through the players on the TV screen.

You're right.  It is a very similar feeling while playing Lone Wolf, Monkey Business, or the myriad other interactive fiction games.  In our excitement we might shout at the screen, or maybe laugh out loud, or even whoop in triumph which, I must admit, I have done only a few times when conquering a game.  But the argument is the same--"It's only a game."  In reality it means nothing unless you are playing for money of course.  But that is a different story altogether.  But "it's only a game," whether you get up from your computer console after defeating the 17-eyed beast of the crystal skull and walk away whistling with a spring in your step, or stomp away frowning after being smashed by the 17-eyed beast of the crystal skull.

I believe it is more than wanting to win; more than competition; more than wanting to achieve a higher score than before.  I think the overall reason is time.  If it takes me an hour to either do well at a game or win then I feel that it is time well spent.  But if after that same hour I do poorly or lose, it is wasted time where I could have been doing something else more satisfying or even playing a different game where I might have succeeded.

I cracked the door with my fist after doing poorly at Razor's Edge because I had played the game for two hours and when I lost everything I had gained, it became two hours of wasted time from my weekend.  True, it was only a game that meant absolutely nothing, but because I failed, it was a two-hour chunk of time taken out of my day off.  I was now two hours closer to going back to work.

Now, have you ever noticed that when you have more time to play, you aren't nearly as frustrated when the game defeats you or you perform poorly?  If you are on vacation, for example.  You have more time to burn.  You might play with more abandon or take greater risks.  But as the end of your vacation draws nearer, you begin to tense up.  It becomes more important that you do well in the game.  In fact, if you are having trouble with a game you may not even play it on the last day of your vacation so you can savour every hour of the time remaining.

Failure is definitely a part of the frustration and anger felt when defeated by a game.  But we fail at different tasks on a daily basis.  We fail to get an A on a test.  We fail to return a phone call at work.  We fail to complete all tasks on our "to do" lists.  But why is it, when we fail to conquer a game or fail to snag those bonus lives, that we shout at the computer screen, bang the computer keys, or, yes, even put a small crack in a wooden door?  Why?  Because our failure is tied to the passage of time.  The wasting of time has a greater effect on emotions because there is always something "unfun" that has to be done in the real world so we want to make the most of the time we have for fun stuff.  Take Dad.  I'd be willing to bet that he will be grumpy for a while after the game ends if his team lost.  He's thinking that those three hours could have been spent doing something else fun, but now those three hours are gone, wasted.

"It's only a game."  We've all muttered this sentence many times to attempt to calm ourselves; to quench the rising heat of frustration; to convince ourselves that it isn't important.  Many games mirror reality but we know that they aren't real.  "It's only a game."  Most of reality involves doing things that either we'd really rather not, or doing things we have to out of necessity.  So when we find a little time to have fun we want to spent that time feeling good, doing well, winning.  Yes, "it is only a game," but we have all asked and will continue to ask another immortal question:
"What time is it?"

+++
Introducing Code Factory

A few months ago, Michael Fair asked us to write an article about our company in Audyssey. We were quite happy about this opportunity and promised to do so.

About the company

Code Factory is situated in Barcelona/Spain. The company was founded by Eduard Sánchez Palazón and his brother Jordi in 1998. Eduard got the idea when one of his friends became blind because of a disease. He realized that there were only games available on the Spanish market which were made for non visually impaired people. For most blind people it was nearly impossible to play them.
Three years later Code Factory has grown a lot and there are many people involved in our projects. The team consists of young-professionals with wide experience in different fields: Eduard the executive director and main programmer, Jordi the accounts and administration manager, Sonia who is in charge of the sound studio and is responsible for the voices and sound effects, Susana a graduated school teacher who supervises the writing of the scripts and also does programming and Javier a graphic designer who also develops the animation. But on each game,  there are even more people at work:  A lot of programmers and also actors who give their voices to make the games more interactive.
 Our games are currently available in Spanish and English but in the future we would like to do them in other languages too.

Our main objectives

You may be wondering why there is a graphic designer working at our company?
One of our main objectives is to bring blind and sighted people together so that they can play our games.
Another reason is that our games are also suitable for deaf people or people who regain their hearing after an operation.

Collaboration

I would like to point out that in all our games we collaborate with ONCE-CIDAT, the most important organization for visually impaired and blind people in Spain and one of the biggest ones in the world. For them we produce our computer games and other accessible products. They sell them in their outlets in Spain and through distributors in the whole world.


About our products

For all our multimedia games we ensure a high quality:
- All of our actors are native speakers.
- Lots of special effects.
- High quality graphics.
- You do not have to install the game. Just put it in your Cd Rom drive and start playing.
- No adaptive devices needed.

Here is a list of the games which are currently available:

KM 2000 - Vol.1 (Action series)
KM 2000 is a car simulator game. There are about  25 different circuits throughout the world and of different difficulties. The aim is to drive around the world and complete all the circuits successfully in the shortest time possible. You drive your car relying on your sense of sound.  Consequently there are 3D sounds and lots of sound effects. You can choose between practicing and competition mode. Currently we are thinking about producing Vol.2 with more graphics, more interactivity and more sound effects. There are also additional circuits available on our homepage.
Get the demo at www.codfact.com .

Educational collection:
At the moment we are producing a collection for ONCE-CIDAT called:
"Enjoy and learn with".
There are about 6 fairy tales for children now. Each one consists of a part in which you listen to the fairy tale that is told in the traditional way and another part in which you take part in the story. There are two levels with lots of different activities to train your skills. Level A is designed for six- and seven- year-old children and level B for eight-to ten-year- olds. According to the score you obtain in each activity, there will be a different ending.
Each story of "Enjoy and learn with" focuses on one or two themes and fits perfectly into the concepts, procedures and values of study programs for children. Consequently our games are used in schools for educational purposes as well. Of course all of our products are non-violent and non-sexist. The main aims are to combine fun and learning and to help develop different skills. Demos of  The Hare and the Tortoise, Snow White and the seven Dwarves, and The Pied Piper of Hamelin are available on our website.

Here is a list of fairy tales which are currently available and their main objectives:
- Little Red Riding Hood (to develop language and nature awareness)
- The Hare and the Tortoise (mathematics and nature awareness)
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (language and environment)
- The Pied Piper of Hamelin (music: to develop listening memory)
      (contains a wide range of tunes and sounds of musical instruments and a piano)
- Cinderella (language and environment)

Coming soon:
- Puss  in Boots (language, typing skills, knowledge of environment)
- The Sleeping Beauty (geography, mathematics, language, orientation in space)

Characteristics of all of these games:
- Division in a listening part and an interactive part of two levels of difficulty
- About 50 different scenes with lots of graphics and animations
- Wide range of different voices and sound effects
- Easy Access Menus
- Screen Text (you can choose to have the text on the screen or not)
- Keyboard echo (voices repetition of the selected keys)
- Two languages : English and Spanish in one Cd

An advantage is that you do not need Jaws or Window Eyes or other adaptive devices to play them. Each game comes with a detailed text manual in English and Spanish and a Braille manual. We want it to be a useful guide for parents and/or teachers.

For more information:

We invite you to visit our website at
 www.codfact.com
 and to download demos of our games. Under products you will find as well a catalogue with detailed information on the games and system requirements.
You also can subscribe to our newsletter or if you have got questions or suggestions mail to
 [email protected]

If you want to buy a game please contact ONCE-CIDAT.

+++
Introducing Danssoft!
By Daniel Zingaro

Hello, Audyssey readers,

I would like to introduce myself. My name is Daniel Zingaro, and I run a new company known as Danssoft which specializes in the creation of games for the visually impaired community.

+
Background
Before I describe what I offer, some comments are in order. I have been interested in accessible games for many years, but until recently, most of what was available to us was interactive-fiction style games. But the gaming scene has changed considerably because of certain companies, such as PCS and Esp Softworks. It is my opinion that companies like these have revolutionized the future of our games, by showing us that we can go beyond IF with high quality, sophisticated sound environments. It is extremely difficult to write software which works with the variety of operating systems and screen readers on the market, but these companies have done a superb job. Generally speaking, what these companies release is greatly appreciated by most of the community; without their hard work, of course, games of such high calibre would be impossible. Along with the game producers, Mike Feir deserves credit as well for the plush state of games for the visually impaired. Audyssey is like an
oracle to many people, and it provides a way for gamers to stay up-to-date on the latest titles. Audyssey has made itself out to be the central station through which almost all game discussion passes.
It is into this thriving community that I introduce Danssoft. Several goals were kept in mind when developing this company. The first thing I wanted to do was create some more high quality, Windows, Directx games. No matter what people wish, DOS is on the ropes, and will eventually go down for the count. I feel that Windows games are the way to go, even though DOS games have attained a great following, and regularly work well with screen readers. The rest of the world is moving (or should I say, has moved) to Windows, so I feel we should be right alongside them. The next star on my list was price. If you do a quick search of the Internet, for "regular" freeware games, you will find hundreds in a matter of a few minutes. For the case of accessible games, other than IF, this is not the case. I realize the work that goes into creating accessible games, so I'm not in the position to complain about pricing. Still, I feel that I can offer extremely low prices, for games which are hopefully fun and enjoyable. Finally, I wanted to create a company which was dictated to some degree by the users. By reading further, you'll see what I mean with my first game release.

+
Winfight
What do I have available? May I unveil the curtain hiding Winfight, an amazing fast action fighting game for Windows. Using Directx technology, sounds are given to you with extreme accuracy and speed. Move around the fighting arena, desperately trying to knock out your opponent before he puts you out of commission! Listen to the sounds to determine where the enemy is, then track him down and attack like mad! But it's not only about going psycho on your opponent. There is also strategy involved. Miss the target too many times, and the amount of money you win is decreased. And once you find a way to spend your money, what do you buy? More energy? More attack power? Super attacks? Invisibility? Some other magical weapon? Or do you wait for the next opportunity to buy even deadlier supplies! A demo is available but it limits you to defeating only the first three enemies. However, purchasing the game will entitle you to fight all of the enemies, complete all of the quests, and much more! As new updates are made to the game, you also receive these! Finally, when you register, I will provide the opportunity for you to create your own quests to share with every other person who has purchased it! Visit Danssoft's website to obtain the demo or to learn how to buy the game.
http://members.home.net/danssoft

+
Blazie Note taker games
Do you own a Braille n Speak or Braille Lite? If so, you'll be delighted when you realize that Danssoft has a superb collection of games available. Sure, we've got the classics, like hangman, word scramble, Minesweeper,  Ticktacktoe, and Simon. But we go beyond that! Ever think you could play hockey, pinball, or football on your note taker? How about a stock simulator, space invaders, or intense battle game? We've also got Gotcha, the world's first board game for the note takers, with the ability to have any mixture of up to four human and computer players! With a great variety of action, strategy, and word games, you're bound to turn your note taker into a fulltime game console. Many games have sound effects which can be toggled on or off, and there are a substantial number of two player games. And what's better? Purchase the games package, and get all of these games, as well as all future updates! Version 1.0 is available as freeware on the danssoft website, but register, and you'll be sent the current version (2.5 as of this writing), which includes a legion of new games and enhancements!
http://members.home.net/danssoft

+
Future
You may be wondering what Danssoft is up to now? Continuing enhancements will be made to Winfight and the Blazie note taker games, as expected. I haven't decided on my next game yet, but it will obviously be very fast paced and fun! I'm thinking of something similar to the Mario games for the Nintendo consoles, but I honestly can't predict what exactly I'll dream up. Please feel free to email me at
[email protected]
with any suggestions.

+
Closing
Feel free to email me any time with comments, questions, problems, or suggestions. Also be sure to visit the website to obtain game updates for a product you have purchased, or to see what's new. Hopefully, the community will be well served by what I have to offer. Thanks for reading, and have fun!

Danssoft
http://members.home.net/danssoft
[email protected]


+++
Contests From Danssoft:

Greetings, Gamers

As you may know by now, I run a company called Danssoft which produces accessible games. My current products include a Windows fighting game, Winfight, and a collection of Blazie note taker games. Now, it's time to give something away!
Ever since I began reading Audyssey, I have been impressed by PCS,
generously giving away a free game after every Audyssey issue. It's acts like this which really keep our community going, so I have decided to try my hand at it this month. I will have two contests running.

The first contest is for all you people with experience in creating computer sound effects. My next game will be a spin-off of a classic game from the 80's called Paratrooper. Basically, people fall from the sky, attempting to land and subsequently destroy you. Your mission is to move under them and shoot them out of the air before they land. If you allow too many to land uninjured, they will team up and put you in your place! Beyond the elements that I will use from the original, I have no ideas of my own yet. The person who can send me the best sound effect for the game will win a free copy of Winfight! I have no suggestions or recommendations for sounds to send; be as creative as you like, and also send along a note describing possible scenarios for when the sound could be used. For instance, "this sound could be used when you hit one of the falling parachutists". I realize this contest is somewhat subjective, but sometimes, a bit of luck can be rewarding! Send sounds in wav format, and keep them as small as logically possible. Feel free to send as many sounds as you like, and realize that I may use any sound you send in the game, even if you are not the winner. (Yes, it is laziness on my part, I agree.) Send entries to [email protected].

For my second contest, I will be giving away a copy of my Blazie note taker games. Since we're on the subject, why not conduct this one by use of some Freedom Scientific note taker trivia. The first person who can send me all of the correct answers will be the winner. Send your entries to [email protected].

1. In what year was the ability to create folders introduced?
2. In the new Millennium note takers, dot 2 and dot 5 from within the speech parameters menu perform different functions than in older models such as the 640 and 2000 series. What is this new function?
3. You have a file which is 5 Braille n Speak pages. The room left in the file is 1544. How many bytes is this file?
4. When flash memory was first introduced, problems existed with the memory becoming fragmented when files were deleted and moved. How was this counteracted by Freedom Scientific?
5. Give the method for sending the selected file to a PC which uses the fewest keystrokes.
6. Give me a plausible suggestion for a new game which could be added to my collection. Provide as full a description as possible.

Good luck. And don't forget to visit the website
http://members.home.net/danssoft


+++
Puzzles and Games
By David Greenwood. 

The following three puzzles are based on the intrepid Sunday night D&D adventurers. 

This first puzzle was solved by Naenor during a recent exploit.

The mists clear as the group steps cautiously through the portal into a room, where their attention is drawn to a clear dark pool.  Behind the pool stands a basin hosting a brightly burning fire, providing light to the room and clearly illuminating two small goblets near the edge of the pool.

Slowly, a ghost rises from the pool and says, "In front of you sits two glass goblets.  The larger of the two is seven ounces, and the smaller is five.  You must use these goblets to measure out exactly one ounce to pour on the fire to extinguish it, and obtain the sword within."

Without hesitation, Naenor, the Northman, fills, empties, and moves the liquid from goblet to goblet.  He gives a grim smile as he holds up one of the goblets containing exactly one ounce. 

Question 1: Can you figure out how he did this?

In the Mordue forest, the adventurers are confronted by a wizard.  Before any could react, the evil wizard casts a spell, and then disappears in a puff of smoke.  Cyprian, the Elf, is unaffected, but he knows that the spell cast on the group will either make a person always tell the truth, or always lie.  As the leader of the group, he is responsible for its security, and hence, he feels that he must know who can be trusted, and who can not.
Cyprian looks at Breene, Brik, and Muldred, and asks them as a group, "Who can I believe?"
Brik states that not one of the three could be trusted to tell the truth, but Muldred asserts that one of them could be believed.

Question 2: Between Brik, Breene, and Muldred, who can be believed, and who can not. 

Cyprian moved on to questioning others in the group.  He looked at Kellindyl, and decided that asking him a question directly would not assure him a straight answer, and so he asked Kellindyl to go over and ask Trellin if he always tells the truth.  Kellindyl returned to Cyprian and said that Trellin can be believed. 

Question 3: Can Cyprian know for sure whether or not Kellindyl is telling the truth?

+++
Adam The Immortal Gamer
Episode by Brandon Hicks

Adam was just floating there in that all too familiar black void that was his hard drive. "Adam, this is going too be your most important lesson yet" says the disembodied voice. Adam feels himself falling, and when he lands, he is on a helicopter landing pad, with 2 towers too the north and south of him. "oh boy! inheritance. I've never gotten through this one. damned computer!" Adam goes north, and he climbs down a spiral staircase, and finds himself in a deserted mansion. He heads south, picks up the guitar, and heads down the stairs.

After exploring the house, he decides to go out into the court yard, and see if he could find anything out there. He eventually gives up, and heads back up to the landing pad. this time, he goes south, but he can't open the door to the south tower. he tries the intercom, but he can't figure out how too work it. After a while, he decides too try and ram the door down. but all that happens when he hits the door with his shoulder is he gets a sharp pain that makes him grunt.

He sits down, and tries too think. finally, he tries too hit the door with the guitar he picked up. after a while, he steps back too rest, but when he steps back, he finds himself falling. he shuts his eyes tight, and waits. when he doesn't feel anything, he opens his eyes, and sees black.

"what have you learned from this experience Adam?" the computer asks him.

"that the game inheritance sucks? no, that it doesn't help too get impatient with something. I probably should have looked harder right?"

"yes, exactly." says the computer. "you should have searched under and behind things."

Then Adam feels himself falling again... where will he be next time?
Find out next issue.

+++
News From Bavisoft

October 4, 2001
Our next game, an exciting adventure set in and around a haunted village, is now in the final stages of production. We would love to give a release date,
but for now can only say that we're getting close.
Also thanks for all the great emails! They've been a blast to read. Keep them coming.

+++
News From GMA

Hi all, There are seven new Lone Wolf missions, numbered 30 to 36.
A big thanks to Stuart Foster for gathering, testing, organizing, and writing up the summary for this new batch. 

You can access the user mission page directly from:

http://www.GMAGames.com/usermiss.html

Here you can download all the user created missions as well as the new ones, or you can download the new zipped missions directly from:

http://www.GMAGames.com/usermiss3.zip

David Greenwood.


+++
News From ESP Softworks

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 game and entertainment software company that specializes in the development of software that's completely accessible to those with low or no vision.  You can visit the website at http://www.espsoftworks.com.

What's New at ESP Softworks' Web Site:

We've recently completely updated our entire website to bring it back up to date as well as centralize the available information.  All the playable demos have been brought back online as well as the audio trailers, freebies, and all issues of Audyssey Game Magazine.  We have a new look and feel we think you'll enjoy!

Since we've released the full retail version of ESP Pinball, we've created a members' only ESP Pinball Lounge where registered users can hang out, post their high scores using our automated web processing, take part in several ESP Pinball-related surveys with instant results, take part in monthly contests, download text and Braille printable versions of all six pinball tables, and more!

ESP Pinball customers may now register their copies of ESP Pinball automatically by using our online automated registration system.  Within a few minutes, you could have your copy registered and your own unique username and password to log into the members' only area!  Soon, members will be able to create their own profiles and gain access to many more features.

All subscriptions hosted by ESP Softworks will soon be able to be handled online by subscribers.  You will be able to subscribe, unsubscribe, and change your subscription settings at your own convenience.

We've also been working on posting employee biographies online so you can learn a bit more about the people who are involved in bringing you high quality, accessible games.  Everything you've probably wondered about and maybe even some things you've never wanted to know!  Jump to the 'Contact Us' section of the website and click on the name of the employee you'd like to find out more about or jump here http://www.espsoftworks.com/contact/contact.html.

ESP Pinball Full Version Available For Purchase:

ESP Softworks has released it's very first retail game title--ESP Pinball.
The game is currently shipping immediately.  Information about this title follows below:

Since the first pinball game was introduced in 1947, people the world over have had an obsession with making a little silver ball jump all over a table, hitting targets and flying up ramps along the way.  Pinball has been one of those true classic arcade games with ongoing appeal to generations old and young.  ESP Pinball captures the magic and fun of arcade-style pinball and makes it accessible for everyone.

ESP Pinball features:

- Six exciting and interactive themed tables including a free bonus table, including:
Heist, Haunted House, Safari, Soccer Star, Wild West, and Pac Man
- Great Ambient Sound Effects & Music
- Two Modes of Play: Classic and Accessible
- Two difficulty levels: Normal and Insane
- Fast-Action Game Play

ESP Pinball is priced at $24.95 plus shipping & handling.  See our website and contact details below on how to obtain more information about this title.

Monkey Business Demo is Released:

Chase and catch monkeys and avoid obstacles in real-time through a lush 3D audio environment while visiting more than ten completely different themed levels.  It's fun and furious action and puzzle solving at it's best!  Run, jump, climb and swim through ten themed levels of game play with fun puzzles, great ambient sound effects, complete 3D player freedom-of-movement, several bonus levels, and cool music!  Monkey Business is tentatively scheduled for release during Holiday Season 2001.

Changing Gears:

Keith Milbourne has decided to try his hand at the programming side of ESP Softworks and will be trained to be a fully proficient coder.  This will effectively speed up the development time of our games which means more games, better games, and quicker releases to you!  Keith has shown great aptitude in this arena and it will be a pleasure working with him on future projects.

Two New ESP List Serves:

We've added two new list serves here at ESP Softworks--ESPList and PBList.

The ESPList is for general discussion regarding our games, the company, idea suggestions, support issues amongst customers, and more.  To subscribe to ESPList, simply send an e-mail to [email protected] with the words 'subscribe ESPList' in the message body.

The PBList is for ESP Pinball related discussion such as high score flaunting, questions and answers regarding game play, tips and tricks, behind the scenes information, expansion table idea suggestions, bug reports, and upcoming news regarding ESP Pinball.  To subscribe to PBList, simply send an e-mail to [email protected] with the words 'subscribe PBList' in the message body.

For more information:

Please visit our website at http://www.espsoftworks.com, e-mail us at [email protected], or call (916) 922-7808.  Playable demos, audio trailers, and free back issues of Audyssey Game Magazine are available at our website.

+++
News From MindsEye2

Date: October 2, 2001 12:28 PM

News from MindsEye2

Note that my new email address is
 [email protected]

Over the Summer MindsEye2 moved from Bland, VA to Fairmont, WV and the website got lost in the process.  Anyhow; It will be up and running soon. 

MindsEye2 will be making and selling some other educational products for visually impaired children starting this Fall.  Visit our website once it is up and check for these or write for more information. 

This Fall MindsEye2 will release a number of new accessible games for early learners.  Two or three will be released during October.

One is another playroom like the Christmas Playroom except this one is not based on a Christmas theme.  Almost all the keys have new pictures and sounds and read different nursery rhymes and poems.  There is some overlap however with Christmas Playroom.  A big difference is that this one is not based on a Christmas theme and also it is part of the Early Learning Playground group of programs.  All Early Learning Playground programs are grouped into one so the child can hop back and forth between activities (Games) without ever leaving the main program.  The new playroom game will come with Farm Animal and Wild Animal picture books which are two other activities in the playground group. 

Another game to be released during October is a board game on the computer in which the child helps Jumper Frog to hop across her pond to her favourite log.  This is also for preschool children and includes 300 questions on topics the child is learning.  These cover areas of learning such as colours, shapes, counting, first/last, rhyming words (Sounds like), biggest/smallest, starting sounds, parts of the body, holidays, recognizing sounds, and many more fun and educational topics.  The child only uses the arrow keys and the space bar to play this game.  It also will come with the Farm and Wild Animal picture books. 

Speaking of the picture books they work like this.  Each time any key is pressed another random animal is selected and its picture shown and a simple description appropriate for young children is spoken.  Also the sound of that animal is heard.  If the space bar is pressed a description of the picture is heard.  There are about
12 farm animals in the farm animal picture book and about 20 animals in the wild animal picture book. 

Besides the playroom and frog hop game we will also be releasing a money counting game in which the child helps Barkly Puppy count change to assist customers in buying various items.  There are about 13 customers, all cute animals, who want to buy different items costing up to 19 cents.  In easy mode the child counts only pennies by adding pennies or taking away pennies until the amount is exactly correct.  In hard mode the child has only 4 pennies, 1 nickel, and one dime to work with.  He/she also adds coins and takes coins away to reach the correct amount.  This game only uses the arrow keys, the six keys above those and the enter key. 

We will be including Jungle Tic Tac Toe with this money counting game. 

All the games I mention above are in the Early Learning Playground group.  So if all were installed for example the child could be playing the money game and then with one keystroke switch to playing Frog Hop, the playroom game or farm animal book and easily switch to Jungle Tic Tac Toe all without ever leaving the playground program.  So as one purchases additional games in the group new areas of the playground are opened up for the child to play in. 

There will be other games in the playground group for early learners in coming months but the ones I mention above are to be the first ones released.  Our other eight computer games are also available. 

Let me know if you have any questions on any of our games or want more information. 

Roger [email protected] - Roger Myers


+++
News From PCS

Date: October 3, 2001 7:58 PM

PCS Games News

PCS Games is not merging with GMA Games as reported in the last issue of Audyssey.  We are collaborating on a game using a Windows based game creating program as its core.
Audyssey is no longer available on disk.
PCS had distributed Audyssey, as well as selected shareware and freeware games on disk for five years.
Each year we got less and less requests for subscriptions, until the number reached zero.
This is a good thing for it gives us at PCS more time to develop games and also means that more people are getting the magazine directly.
Carl Mickla is working full time at IBM in New York so Phil Vlasak agreed to take on more responsibilities of running the company.  Meanwhile, Phil moved to Michigan and on October 27, 2001 Phil will marry Betty Jo Payne.
We hope to update the web site after the wedding!

You can contact PCS at PCS Games
666 Orchard Street Temperance, MI 48182 New phone number!  (734) 850-9502 E-mail Phil Vlasak [email protected] Web site (dreadfully outdated):
http://www.pcsgames.com

+++
Chess wherever
By Charles Rivard

While browsing the net, I stumbled on www.pcsgames.com
 and became hooked.  I noticed issues of a magazine for blind gamers and, after being a reader for some time, have decided to try my hand at writing an article about a way for blind people to use a "tabletop" chess opponent.  I have had some of these machines for quite some time, and find them both stimulating and challenging, especially in the past year or so.  I started out with one that voiced all movements through electronics.  It did not play a very good game unless you set it on a level that took on average 15 minutes per move.  This meant that it might make a move instantly this time, but might "think" for half an hour on the next one!  This makes for a very long game!  They've come a long, long way.  I was using a specially adapted chessboard & set of men to view my game and decide my next move.  While this method was OK, I got thinking, "Why not try modifying the board on the machine for use by blind people.  In this way, I won't have to use a separate board."  I am now using a machine from Radio Shack (there are plenty of stores in the United States.  Check out their site at www.radioshack.com
for electronics of all sorts) that has 64 different playing levels.  Although the pieces and surface of the machine are magnetic, the magnetic field is not strong enough.  If a piece is touched, it will move very easily.  This makes playing the game impossible.  The idea of the game is to let the machine know your move by pressing on the square you move from, then move the piece and press on the square you move to.  Sound easy?  The chessboard on the machine is a smooth surface with the squares painted on it.  It is pressure sensitive.  I solved this problem by obtaining a roll of rubber "strip magnet" from a local hobby store.  If you have seen those rubber magnets that are stuck to refrigerators, you know the kind I mean.  They have adhesive on the back.  I cut a piece off the roll to the appropriate size to stick onto the bottom of each chess piece.  Then, with a brailed ruler, I measured the distance from the LED (light emitting diode) that is along the edge of the machine in the centre of one square, to the next LED in that column.  I then measured and cut a magnet that was an eighth of an inch shorter than that distance.  I centred it over a square along the edge and pressed it into place.  I continued in this fashion until I had the 8 squares of the first row placed.  Then worked my way up until all 64 squares had a magnet on them.  The chessmen will now be securely held in place as the board is explored.  I used a small saw to cut a groove into the top of each black piece to distinguish them from the white ones.  The machine can now be used!!!  A beep is heard when you press to move from a square.  It beeps again to confirm your destination square.  Then you wait for it to respond with the same high beep as it registers that it has made an answering move.  If you hear a high beep followed by a lower beep, that is not the right square it moved from.  Press on any of its men until only the high beep is heard.  If you know that the king is the piece move, you know where it CAN be moved to.  Press on those squares until you find the one it moved to and leave the piece there.  Make your next move, and your game progresses until someone (probably you) is checkmated.  I used Open book unbound to read the manuals to learn how to operate the functions of the machine such as how to set your skill level and such.  This machine is now adapted very well for the blind chess player.  It can be operated on either house current or batteries, so you can take it anywhere.  So if you go on a vacation and no one will be playing chess, you can take an excellent computer opponent along with you! 


+++
MYRTHORN & KORIAL'S MONTHLY MUD PICKS

Hidy Ho, no chips and Coke this month.  Instead, I've brought along my new partner,  Korial.
Didn't realize that Mike was going to introduce her as a new staff member last month (lack of communication <bonk>).  Anyway, she'll be working with me to bring you the scoop on some fun muds.  We've decided that we should implement some sort of rating system to give you readers an idea of how we truly think these muds rank, (and a lot of them out there really 'are' rank <giggle>).
     Well, Korial, would you like the honours in revealing our new rating system?
 
 Emerging from nowhere, clad in a muddy brown cloak and, of course, muddy boots, Korial flicks some dried mud from her fingers before beginning to type.

Although I think our ratings are self explanatory, I'll just add a brief comment for each category of the rating system:

5 - a Muddy good time: This is our highest rating, awarded to only the most extraordinary and enthralling of muds.

4 - Here's mud in your eye: Outstanding mud with only a few minor flaws marring its perfection.

3 - stick in the mud: Reserved for the mud that is nothing special, completely mundane and probably going nowhere.

2 - mired in quicksand: So bad that it's sucking you under, likely to drown you in boredom and kill you with it's lack of creativity.

1 - pig slop:  So bad that you wouldn't even send your worst enemy to it (not even good enough to feed to your pet pig).

That's the down and dirty rating system. Let's not wallow in the meanings of each category any longer. As you play each mud, you will most assuredly give it your own rating (and hopefully you'll share your opinions and experiences with us on via the "muddylist" mentioned at the end of this article.

Now, without any delay, let's burrow into the mud!

  New Moon
 Mud Created: January, 1988
Code Base: LP, LPMud
Site: eclipse.cs.pdx.edu 7680 [131.252.208.48]
Admin Email: [email protected]
Theme: Medieval Fantasy
 Location: USA
Primary Language: English
Avg. # of Players: 25 - 49
Multi-Play: Limited
Player-Kill: Restricted
 Equipment Saved
 Quests Available
Character Approval Unnecessary
Role-playing Is Encouraged
Newbie friendly
Skill-Based Training System
Skill-Based Equipment System
 Detailed Character Creation
World is all original
Medium World (3,000+ rooms)
Mud is fully operational

I'm a long-time mudder, visiting or playing hundreds of games over the last
eight years and I'm constantly in search of the illusive perfect mud. Of
course, there is no such thing, but I've found a mud that gives me much of
what I'm looking for, and that mud is Newmoon.

The thing that I find most attractive about Newmoon is that you can advance
fairly quickly and easily without ever killing a mob (though of course
killing is an option). This mud is heavily quest based, and you can get
anywhere from 5,000 to 50,000 experience points for one quest. (Actually,
50,000 is the most I've ever gotten, it may not be the maximum limit.)

Newmoon has four basic Guilds: League of Warriors, Hall of Acquisition
(thieves), Temple of Damara and Academy of Magi. Once you advance enough in
the base guild and meet its criteria, you are able to make other choices of
guilds, allowing you to specialize in a certain area.  In the totally
original and quite creative intro to the mud, you are given a tiny taste of
how these guilds work so that you can decide in which direction you'd like
to take your character.

The intro to the mud is somewhat extensive and enjoyable, allowing you to
gain some basic skills of the four major guilds before actually entering
game play. I must admit though, that while I found it fun, different and
interesting with my first char, it becomes a bit tedious when you've
already created several. Nevertheless, it certainly beats traditional mud
school by miles, in my opinion, offering plenty of opportunities to read
help files and learn more about the mud.

This isn't the easiest mud to get started on, though the people are helpful
for the most part. There isn't a list of quests you can read with hints on
how to start them. The closest thing to such a list is in an area
highlighting the achievements of different players. If you look up a high
level person, his/her plaque or statue will show the accomplishments, which
are tiny hints to the quests real goal and location.

I've played a ranger twice now on the mud, and I must say that it is an
extremely well thought-out, diverse and rewarding guild to play. Rangers
begin as warriors then specialize to become defenders of the forests. They
have herb lore skills, gathering, collecting, drying and preparing herbs
for making potions, salves and the like. They can also summon beasts of the
forest to aid them in battle, to mention just a couple of attractions.

Once you gain experience, either through fighting, solving quests, or
actually using a skill, you can advance your skills in a wide variety of
combinations. I found this part of the mud a bit confusing, but was able to
get help from other players. The skills are laid out visually, so it is
sometimes hard to tell when listening to the list, which skill falls under
what category. I'm sure I could have fiddled around a lot with screen reader
settings to read it more easily, but I was lazy and it eventually did make
sense to me when I discovered I could list specific categories and
sub-categories by themselves.

While Newmoon has an extensive help system, I found that the files weren't
always clear and didn't always convey the essential points to the newbie
player. Explanations sometimes seem to assume that you already know certain
information, or that something is "obvious" when it isn't, etc.

The atmosphere of the mud is rich and diverse as well, with detailed room
descriptions and the ability to examine and search just about everything
you see in a room. Additionally, mobs wander the areas performing tasks,
(such as lamplighters at night in the cities moving around to light the many
lamps placed at close intervals along the roads.).

Player killing/stealing is optional, and only those players making the
choice will ever be attacked or stolen from by another player.

Unlike other muds I've played, I'm never bored on Newmoon. There's much to
explore, quests to solve, mobs to kill, and treasure to be had aplenty.

Just a couple quick comments from the peanut gallery.  I was also delighted to see the detailed descriptions on Newmoon.  I Agree with Korial about the character generation phase of Newmoon.  It is quite enjoyable and is far from anything you'd find in the typical Diku based mud school's.  However, the skill system on Newmoon is quite daunting to the newbie (regardless of what the administration would like to think of themselves - as displayed in their own description on TMC).  It took me three characters to even get a clue as to what I was doing.  The help files could stand some revision.  I first tried to be a priest, then a hobbit/thief, and finally a (boring) warrior.  This was when things fell into place - and it was only by pure chance.  I happened to see a (obvious) veteran player starting a new character.  I was standing next to one of the trainers in a guild when the other player came in and said some key phrase which enabled him to obtain some training from the guild master.  I would have never figured out the command on my own.  After getting these skills, and rereading the help files over and over again, I finally ran across several words which cross matched, and things sort of fell into place.  (And BTW - my thief and priest are still clueless newbies).  I understand the skill system now, but have no clue what the "trigger"  phrases are at the various guild masters.
I'm going to give Newmoon a rating of 4 out of 5.

Hey! Boring warrior? Warriors rule! They can become rangers and rangers truly rock!

 Don't tell Brik I made that comment <cringe>.  Just an offhand comment from an old mage who was trying out a few other classes.


And now for the second review.  This is another one that Korial has played extensively in the past.
NannyMUD
 Mud Created: April, 1990
Code Base: LP Very extended LPMud
Site: mud.lysator.liu.se 2000 [130.236.254.159]
Admin Email: [email protected]
Theme: Medieval fantasy, with magic added.
Location: Sweden
Primary Language: English
Avg. # of Players: 50 - 74
Multi-Play: No
Player-Kill: Restricted
Class-less System
 Quests Available
Character Approval Unnecessary
Role-playing Is Accepted
Newbie friendly
Level-Based Training System
Clans Offered
World is all original
Huge World (15,000+ rooms)
 
 In my search for enjoyable and challenging muds, I'm finding that most of them seem to be LP based muds.  I'm also finding that due to the flexibility of LP code that it takes quite a bit of learning to get used to each individual LP mud.  Nannymud is no exception.  I'd recommend that anyone wishing to play a new LP mud set aside about a week to play solely that mud.  This is so you can learn that muds workings - syntax, areas and landscape, character dynamics, and overall quality of the mud.  Then judge it.

Korial sticks her nose in between the paragraphs to insert this point: While it is true that lp muds are more complex and sometimes difficult to learn, I've found that after playing a few of them there are many commands that are common to most of them so they become less daunting with a bit of fun-filled experience. Korial's nose slowly withdraws.

     As mentioned, Nannymud is a huge world, so I was only able to touch the surface of it.  My overall impression ... agh, mediocre.
Nannymud does have a decent set of documents which are placed in your inventory in order to help the newbie get used to the mud.  It does have a number of different newbie areas where you can get started and help to build your character.  When you start out you will have all of your attributes set to 1 (that includes strength, dexterity, intelligence and constitution).  So be prepared to do a lot of rabbit hunting near the beginning of the game <chuckle>.  You'll need experience points to both raise in level and to buy yourself advancements in your attributes. (And you will want to increase your attributes - con will increase your HP, dex will increase your speed, and I assume strength will help in some sort of brute force manner, and int will most likely enable your char to deal with magic).
     Their online help system is quite unique.  It's set up in a tree structure, and you basically search down through the different branches to find the information you are seeking (if it's documented).
The world of nannymud is full of quests (more than I care for).  It prides itself on its quests  -- and is always looking for feedback regarding them.  So I guess I have to give the admin. Staff a pat on the back for their effort in this area.  One newbie area I went to left me unable to do anything at all in that area do to a stuck gate.  There was a brief description of the gate and the wall nearby.  However, Nannymud seems to like to play the game of "guess the verb".  I don't.
Standard commands such as "push" and "pull", just get responses of "What?".  Quite frustrating.  And, yes they do have decent descriptions of rooms -- but rarely have detailed descriptions of the objects in the rooms.  And there is no 'search'  command.  No way to examine an object in further detail than just looking at it. <ding>  
     Nannymud also does not save equipment.  This means your character needs to sell all his/her  eq before logging off - and is required to buy new eq when logging back in.  I despise this quality in a mud. <ding>
Since Nanny is such a large mud, I imagine it is quite enjoyable to get out and explore its realms (once you get beyond newbie status).  Being such a large world, it has plenty of players on at any one single time.  Some are quite helpful - and some are down right ... ahem, well, let's just say they are anything but helpful.  The administration has clearly outlined its policies.  Unfortunately, many players don't adhere to them, and the admin. Staff doesn't respond to reports of breaches of these policies.  I spent a good fifteen minutes this morning, fighting a wolverine over it's helmet it was wearing - only to have another char come along and take my kill and loot after I had spent time wearing it down.  This is a very strongly emphasized breech of Nannymud's rules (which is explained to you in the newbie docs).  When I confronted the player, he just ignored me.  When I addressed some admin. Staff - they never even bothered to acknowledge my 'tell'.  That was fine - I had a review to write and no more time to waste on this mud. <ding>
I'm only  giving Nannymud a rating of 3 out of 5. 

But to be fair, Korial has spent a lot more time than myself playing Nanny.  Let's get her opinion.

Tis a sad day indeed when Nannymud gets so mediocre a review, but then of course, Myrthorn is very wrong and I'll give you the real scoop on this excellent mud.

First of all, I beg to differ about the admins responses to rule violations. All one needs to do is read the bulletin board in the adventurers guild to see that they take violations very seriously. Perhaps the admin was afk, or busy building/coding and missed your tell?

As for object descriptions, etc. I've found that most everything in the mud has a description and while search is not a universal command, it is present in many of the muds zones.

Nannymud has some very unique guilds as well. For example, there is the chefs guild where you learn to prepare different types of foods which give you increasingly more powerful skills/abilities/spells. Truly a unique and interesting concept.

Then there are the knights. Being a knight is somewhat difficult for a blind player though I did manage to reach level 18 with in this guild long ago. It is tough because the knights periodically are attacked by hoards of orcs, ghouls, ghosts and the like and all guild members must return to the grounds to defend the honour of the knights. There is so much action and movement of mobs that it is pretty spammy and thus very easy to be killed. Nevertheless, it is quite a fun guild to play.

As for quests, well, I love questing so I find this aspect to be a plus.

Nannymud was the first or second mud I ever played and I probably stayed there longer than any other mud I've encountered over my ten years or more of mudding. For the most part I've found people to be quite friendly, though there ar certainly exceptions.

I give this mud a 4.5. Guess the best thing you can do is play it and find out for yourself.


 Well, hopefully these reviews will give you mudders something to keep you busy until the next issue.

And if any of you are interested in discussions regarding mudding between issues, Korial and myself are moderating a list for mudding.
Send a message to: [email protected], with 'subscribe muddylist' in the body of the message.
Posts to the list are sent to: [email protected].
 
See you next time - Myrthorn out <phwoosh!>

Korial waves and as she slowly transforms into silvery moonbeams, her  voice echoes in the distance calling "Happy Mudding!"!

+++
The 2001 Mach1 World Championship

What is it?

The Mach1 World Championship is a friendly, but highly contestet, competition based around Jim Kitchen's Mach1, an accessible version of that old Formula I racing game for the Atari, Pole Position.  Previously, the competition has only been hosted in Belgium.  The year 2001 marks the first time the competition is to be held internationally with drivers from Belgium, the United States and Australia already signed up.  We are looking for more keen racers from different countries from around the world to fill out the full complement of 24 places in the championship so that the competition can become as diverse as the real live counterpart on which it is modelled.

The Rules of the Championship

1.  The Grand Prix consists of 5 races, each on a different track of the Mach1 game.  These are:

Race 1: Grand Prix of Ohio (1 lap to be made on difficulty level 1)
Race 2: Grand Prix of Chardon Hill (1 lap to be made on difficulty level 1)
Race 3: Grand Prix of Snake River (1 lap to be made on difficulty level 1)
Race 4: Grand Prix of Indianapolis (Indy) (2 laps to be made on difficulty level 2)
Race 5: Grand Prix of Maple (2 laps to be made on difficulty level 2)

2.  Points for each race are awarded on the basis of time to complete the race.  The players with the best 5 times in a race will receive 25, 20, 16, 13 and 11 points respectively.  The next 10 competitors in that race will be awarded 10, 9, ..., 1 points, while the remainder receive 0 points.

3.  All drivers are allowed to make as many attempts as they like on each track between October 1 and December 31.

4.  On January 1, the final result of the Championship will be published.

5.  In order to participate, all competitors are required to download the new version of the Mach1 game from Jim Kitchen's web site: http://www.simcon.net/jkitchen/.  The new version is packaged in a file called wincar4.zip which can be found by following the "Click here for free Windows games" link.
The new version of the game accounts for differences and speed between different computers so that no handicapping is required in order to compare the times of different players.  The older version of the game does not do this and the times obtained under it are not comparable with times achieved playing the new version.  For this reason, only times from the new version will be considered valid and accepted during the championship.  It is therefore vital that all participants download and run the new version of the game.

6.  If you have been playing the new version of Mach1 prior to the commencement of the Championship, you must delete all the .rec files in the Mach1 directory before starting the championship.
This will zero all your previous records so you are not submitting records made prior to the championship.  Please check that you are running the latest version of the game and that your record files have been zeroed before starting your first race in the Grand Prix.

New personal best times for each race should be E-mailed to [email protected].  Simply E-mail the .rec file for each track you have made a new record on.  Be sure to either attach the file to the message, so that it's name appears in the attachment list, or paste the .rec file into the body of the message, being sure to indicate which track it is for.  Each week, an update summarising times for each Grand Prix will be sent out so that the competitors can see how the Championship is progressing.

7.  Together with the Individual Championship, a Team Championship will be conducted.
The teams, each comprising two drivers, will be determined by lottery.
For the Team Championship, the points of both drivers will be added together to obtain a team total.  The team with the highest number of points for the 5 races will be declared the winner of the Team Championship, and so on.

8.  In case of any disputes, the rules of the F.I.A.  will be decisive.


If you wish to participate in the 2001 Mach1 World Championship, please send a message to Janssens Hugo at [email protected], but you'll have to be quick as there is only room for 24 participants in the championship.

The organiser of the Championship trust that all competitors will abide by the rules of the Championship and wish all participants good luck.  Cheating is not encouraged.  Those of such a mind are not welcome and need not apply.


+++
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.

A new discovery for Football fans has been made thanks to the vigilance of Andrew Hart. It appears that sports fans have something to tide them over until Bavisoft comes out with their sports offerings in the near future. The game is called Playmaker, and it appears to work quite well with Jaws For Windows. Since menus and dialog boxes are apparently used quite extensively, it should theoretically work well for all Windows screen-readers. A review of this game from a Football enthusiast would be very much appreciated. Note that this is American Football and not Soccer which is what British people call Football. To get the game, go to:
 http://www.playmaker.com/

Jim Kitchen has two announcements for us in this issue. We will begin with his update for everyone's favourite racing game.

Hi, I have put a new version of my Mach 1 car racing game up on my web site.  The file name is wincar4.zip and is 4.7 meg in size.

New in this version is a navigational wall echo sound that gets louder the closer you get to either wall and is silent when you are in the dead centre of the track.

Also new is a universal timing scheme so that you can compare race times regardless of the computer the game is run on.

There is also now a universal date routine and the game is now 1 executable file rather than 6 separate ones.

My web site address is below.

 Jim  Lot's of bugs fixed in this version !!!

[email protected] http://www.simcon.net/jkitchen
1-440-286-6920 Chardon Ohio

The other exciting creation that Jim has come out with is a new Golf game for Windows. You'll find a review of this later in this section. Below is the original announcement posted to the Audyssey list:

Announcing Wingolf
by Jim Kitchen

Hi,

I have put a new game up on my site.
It is a windows golf game.
The description is

wingolf.zip 4.9m bytes play 18 holes of golf on 1 or all 3 of our beautiful courses or hone your skills on the driving range and putting practice green hand ear coordination required to hit the ball game is self voicing so no screen reader is required

Hope that you will stop by my web site and check it out.

BFN

 Jim 

Nothing increases your golf score like witnesses.

[email protected] http://www.simcon.net/jkitchen
1-440-286-6920 Chardon Ohio

Kelly Sapergia was the first to inform the Audyssey community that the latest Interactive Fiction competition is now underway. There are fifty-two games this year, and I hope that many of you will choose to participate by playing some or all of the games and voting on them before the competition deadline at midnight on November 15th. While you're playing the games, please write some reviews of your favourites for the next issue of Audyssey.  The link you want to check out is:
http://plover.net/~textfire/ifcomp

+
 Braminar
Reviewed by Ron Schamerhorn
Freeware [I believe]
Fully playable without sighted assistance.

  Due to the discussion on the Audyssey list about this older DOS game I was motivated to go and seek it out on the Internet.  It was quite easy to find using the title as the search criteria.

  The game objective is to overthrow the evil King of Braminar.  After doing this you will become the new leader. It is a very basic RPG styled game.  Your character begins between 7th and 9th levels.  You need to build yourself up to at least level 20, and possess the Staff of Avatar [and the talisman helps too].  You can buy or sell slaves, fight or flee opponents, buy weapons or food, and so on. 

  Playing the game doesn't get much easier then this interface.  Player's options for the most part are either a yes or no style of choosing.  Occasionally there are other options when you enter a number or other corresponding key to the appropriate action, like units of food or medicine. 

  I am not even certain if RPG is the right genre to classify this game.  It can be completed in about an hour, and really lacks depth.  Braminar might have been good for it's time [can't fill in much detail due to lack of docs] but compared to some of the other RPG's like ADOM and Nethack it is a rather disappointing way to spend time.  If you had thought of checking this one out, my advice would be don't bother!  The only reason I finished it was for this review. 

  My rating for this game would be 3 out of 10.  The game gives the player virtually no opportunity to alter the course of game play, and it gets quite dull quickly.

++
     The Dunjins of Dunjin
Review by Daniel Zingaro
Game Created by Olsson
     DOS Text Adventure
Fully playable without Sighted Assistance

     If you remember the classic treasure hunt text games, you'll love this one. You begin lost in a forest, and your objective is to travel
through a massive dungeon, collecting treasure. Your main and ultimate goal, however, is to track down and return the holy grail.
     The game is based on a points system, and if you manage to get 350 points, you are deemed victorious. But it won't be easy. There are many difficult puzzles awaiting, and they include vivid enemies with intriguing qualities. Some objects, in particular, have extraordinary value, and are used to complete multiple puzzles throughout the game. Then, there are some puzzles which are technically simple, but are magnified in difficulty by the legion of objects which could potentially be used in the situation.
The different locations are expertly described, creating a plush and astonishingly real  environment. And just when you think you have the map somewhat memorized, you could potentially find yourself in a maze, with no indication of how to get out! It also comes with a top-notch documentation file which should get you up and running in no time.
     The game provides a nice array of features, including the ability to save and load games, as well as to receive hints about your current predicament. It works amazingly well with DOS screen readers, as the game uses the BIOS for output. If you use a Windows screen reader, things may not be so perfect, but setting screen echo to all, and using review keys as a backup, should provide for ample access. The game is a standalone exe, which means you don't have to download any engine to play.
     The game was initially shareware, but now the author has generously released it as freeware. Pragmatically speaking, however, this simply means that the initial "please register" splash screen has been removed.
     This is definitely my favourite text adventure. The plot is trivial, the setting is common, but the puzzles, enemies, and overall game play are amazing. Do yourself a favour and get this one!
http://www.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/pc/dunjin45.zip

++
By far, one of the most hotly discussed new games these days is ESP Pinball. James North has at last released his first commercial game to the resounding delight of an eagerly awaiting Audyssey community. Having only received our copies a two days ago, I will wait until the next issue to offer a more lengthy commentary of my own. Rebecca and I have, of course, tried all of the tables out. Both of us are thrilled with the ease of play and excellent sound work of this game. The re-playability and expandability that James has offered pinball enthusiasts is fantastic. Plans are already well underway to offer more tables to expand the product. James has also made a special web-site area for game owners which will doubtless please a lot of customers. Ron Schamerhorn has put in some serious hours on this game, and offers the following review:

ESP Pinball
By: ESP Softworks Co.
Type: Commercial
Reviewed by R Schamerhorn
Fully accessible without sighted assistance
Available from:
www.espsoftworks.com

For decades, countless numbers of people have enjoyed pinball.  Originally with bells, rotary scoring, and straightforward design to the more modern unlimited sound effects, digital scores, and any theme imaginable.  Now the blind/visually impaired community can delight in this enduring pass time thanks to the amazing debut release from ESP Softworks!  ESP Pinball will keep players tackling tables for quite some time.  With six challenging tables and optional methods of game play.

Overall game play is a little different.  For example the ball doesn't roll off your flipper, it sticks to it.  This allows for the scanning process.  Various sound cues are used to locate and aim for particular objects in all tables.  All the sounds for the tables can be heard from the help menu. 

Two options for accessibility have been used.  The first is described above.  The second is more traditional.  A rapid beep sound is played when the ball comes close to the flipper.

The speed of the game can be set to either regular or insane. 

Pac Man The arcade classic Pac Man is given new life and transformed into a pinball table.  Unlike conventional tables where a player attempts to avoid having the ball go down the drain there is no such concern.  But don't think it's a piece of cake!  You need to shoot your Pac Man [the ball] around the table and munch all the food dots possible, keeping out of the ghost's path unless you find a power pill to help you gobble them up.  Other features include the bonus fruit appearing randomly, points for clearing a table and an extra ball every ten million points.  The bonus ball is given on all tables unless otherwise stated.

Soccer Star Take to the field.  Prepare to play fast and hard against the visiting team.  Defend your goal when the opponent kicks the ball towards the net.  The kick is indicated by a rapidly rising tone.  You need to quickly hit the space bar to have your goalie make the save.  Take aim at the spinners to spell out "save" which will give you an automatic save, or "goal" and face the visitor's goalie one-on-one.  Hit the "Double Score" to rack up twice the points, or pass the ball to your flippers further a-field to line up for a goal.  The game also features throw ins, yellow or red penalty cards.  Be careful about the penalties or you might loose a ball.

The scoring for this table has two parts.  The first is the points from spinners, and bumpers.  The other is the goals each team has scored.  The crowd will react accordingly depending on if the game is won or lost. 

Heist

Who says crime doesn't pay?  In this game it pays off in some pretty big points.  On this table the word is "jobs".  Then you get a call to carry out a job for the boss for bonus points if you hit the secret letter.  You have about 15 seconds after getting the phone call.  If you don't hit the letter your chance to do that job is gone.  The police are doing everything they can to catch you.  Roadblocks have been set up and after a job is completed they come out in force.  If you are brave enough to try a second job while they search for you the points are worth the risk.  Bonus balls every twenty million points.

Safari Time to hunt for the big game.  This jungle like table is full of danger.  Avoid the raging river, or if your ball ends up taking the plunge, do your best and swim for shore by repeatedly hitting the space bar.  A cougar is on the prowl.  If this little kitty comes after you just run using the shift keys.  With the spinner spell out "safari" and go hunting for five different animals. 

Haunted House Every city or town seems to have one.  Let's go investigate!  Breaking out the windows, wrecking stuff in the lab, and spelling "grave" are some of the ways to earn points in this seasonally appropriate table.  The spinners will take you to the graveyard, where you need to knock down as many tombstones as you can.  After leaving the lab you aren't alone in the house!  A monster has been created, and it's roaming around seeking to get its creator.  Behind the letter 'A' is the fireplace, stay away from it after it's been lit or you'll be burned.  Smashing all the windows can put out the fire, but you might accidentally fall out of one if it's already broken.

Wild West Enter the tiny town of Silver Dollar.  You are a horse thief even if there are only four horses to be had.  If the sheriff finds you he might give you a chance with a gunfight or just hang you.  Visiting the saloon you might have a relaxing beer, or end up in an all out brawl.  Be fast to defend yourself and throw punches with the shift keys.  If it's a little speed you want then head over to the blacksmith's for a little fire.  No western setting would be complete without a general store.  Being a bad guy, naturally you rob it.

I could go on about this game for quite a while!  With the selection of tables how could anyone get bored of this excellent release from ESP!  I love it!  With the possibility of other tables being added the potential is outstanding!  The CD has lots of items of interest on it but, I didn't want to let it all out of the bag smile I commend James, Keith, and who ever else might have been involved in bringing this phenomenal game to the community.  I'm hoping [patiently waiting] to see such quality work in the future.  I rate this game a 10 out of 10, great job!!

++
The Windows Golf Game
By Jim Kitchen
reviewed by Graham Pearce
accessible without sighted assistance
available at:
www.simcon.net/jkitchen

Remember in audyssey issue 27, where I was raving about how good Jim's casino game was? Now, I think I've found a game that rivals the casino. The windows golf game! It starts with a title theme, then the sound of you hitting a ball, then something funny happens, which can vary from game to game. After a prompt asking you if you want special key instructions, you are given the opportunity to select either a golf course, a practice driving range or a practice putting green. Both of the practice courses are good, because they allow you to try at getting a particular distance for the real golf course. Oh by the way, you also have a choice of 3 golf courses, from the easy to the devilishly hard.

The game mechanics are very simple. You hear a rising scale of beeps, and you must press a key when the beeps reach a particular pitch. The higher the pitch of the beep when you press that key, the more power is in your shot. On the driving range, there are obstacles hindering your path like a pond and a lake. It takes a few games to master the subtleties of play, but once you have, getting that ball into the hole is a breeze!

On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate Jim's golf game a 10 out of 10! I think Jim has done an excellent  job of making it really feel like you're at a golf course. The game is self-voicing and it's  free, so there are no excuses for not trying it! Of course, unless you're not running  windows.

+
Star Mule by Jim Kitchen:
Review by Joshua Loya
Can be played without sighted assistance

 Ever wonder what degenerate life will be like in the future?  Ever wondered what it would be like to break intergalactic law?  In Star Mule by Jim Kitchen, you'll get that chance.  Fuel her up Cap'in, and let's get us some good stuff.
 A game about selling hashish, bootleg whiskey, heroin, and acid would be fun enough, but add a little intergalactic travel... now that's the sh** right there!  In Star Mule, you are the captain of a rogue ship traveling from planet to planet, buying elicit substances for the lowest price possible, and selling it to the next unlucky sucker who's willing to fork out top dollar in exchange for the murder of a few hundred more brain cells.
 It is recommended that you not be to wasted at the time of your voyage because you will have to pay attention to whether pot can be bought at a lower price on a mining planet or a cultural planet.  You'll also have to pay attention to whether brown and clears will sell better on an industrial or agricultural planet.  Don't forget that your crew gets there dibs too; you have to pay them and still have enough for fuel.  And be aware, drug dealing is still illegal, so you might get your stash confiscated by the space pigs.
 Star Mule runs on DOS, though I've played it with no problem in Windows '98 Second Edition with Jaws for Windows.  I'm not very familiar with Window Eyes, Window Bridge, or any other Windows screen reader, so I don't know how well they will work with the game.  If you are running in DOS, however, any decent quality DOS screen reader should do the trick.
 The game is free and is available for download at the Kitchen's Inc. web site at:

http://www.simcon.net/jkitchen/

 Be sure to check out some of Jim's other free games while you're there; you will not be disappointed!

+
Editor's note: Although this isn't a formal review, I thought it best to put it here. Charles does a fine job of describing this accessible slot machine game from Radio Shack which may be of particular value to travellers in need of portable amusement.

If you are looking for a battery operated handheld slot machine game that is accessible, there is one at Radio Shack for around $15.  It operates on 1 AAA battery.  You can bet from 1 to 5 lines, each line costing you 10 points.  Payoffs are 20, 50, 300, 3000 and 6000 and can be differentiated by the length of time it takes them to be added to your total.  You can keep track of your total any way you like, an abacus, calculator, or in your head.  It starts you off with 500 points.  Sighted people can use it with the sound turned off.  If you don't play for a few minutes, it turns itself off, but retains your current total.  You can start a new game with the "new game" button, but will be reset to 500.  Check it out at
www.radioshack.com
or your local store.  The battery will last for a very long time.  It doesn't take much power to run..  Have fun!

++
Winfight
Game by Danssoft
Reviewed by Michael Feir
Fully playable without sighted assistance
Available at:
http://members.home.net/danssoft


Dan Zingaro has plunged head first into the Audyssey community. He has sent me a copy of his first game Winfight. The game requires the use of a screen-reader in order to read dialogs to the player. Everything else is entirely sound-based. The concept is an interesting and fairly successful attempt at making a blind-accessible fighting game. It comes with three quests, and Mr. Zingaro is planning to make more for it in the near future. Each quest involves numerous fights with enemies.

The fighting method is quite intuitive and uses tones to indicate when you are near your opponent. The left and right arrow keys move your character left and right along a row of squares. The enemy moves along a similar row of squares. When you are directly facing your enemy, you can use the space bar to attack. Thus, you have the basics of game play. Bonus advantages may be gained or purchased for the money which you earn for defeating your enemies. These include super hits, invisibility, energy, extra strength, and so-on.

The only serious drawback of the game is that it doesn't work all that well while a screen-reader is loaded during a fight. Since the game is mostly about combat, it would, in my opinion, work far better if it were self-voicing. It was a slight nuisance having to unload and reload the screen-reader to read dialogs which were there simply to add atmosphere for the most part.

On the whole, Winfight is a good first attempt from Mr. Zingaro. I look forward to seeing what games he produces in the future. He is eager to learn and eager for input. Such readiness to interact with the knowledgeable Audyssey community will doubtless result in a win-win situation for all parties. The price of $7 US is quite reasonable for this game.

+++
Answers to Puzzles and Games

1.  Naenor fills the five ounce goblet with water from the pool and pours it into the seven ounce goblet.  Again, he fills the five ounce goblet, and tops up the seven ounce glass, leaving three ounces in the smaller glass.
Naenor then dumps the larger glass, and pours the three ounces from the smaller glass into the larger one.  Again he fills the five ounce glass and tops up the seven ounce glass, leaving one ounce in the smaller glass.  He walks over to the fire and pours the contents of the glass onto the fire, immediately extinguishing it.  Brik then reaches into the stone basin and takes the sword.

2.  Only Muldred can be believed.

3.  Cyprian determines Kellindyl can be believed.  Whether or not Trellin can be believed is not important since Trellin would say he told the truth regardless of how the spell affected him.  What is important is that Kellindyl reported accurately what Trellin said. 

+++
Contacting Us
I can be reached in three ways. The easiest is via my Sympatico E-mail address.
My e-mail address is as follows:
[email protected]
You can also call me via telephone. I have voicemail, so you can leave a message if you fail to catch me at home and off-line. I'll do my best to return calls, but won't accept collect calls. My number is as follows:
(905)-814-0608
Alternatively, you may correspond with me on 3.5-inch disks,
provided you be sure to send them in returnable disk-mailers. I don't have the money to pay for postage. My mailing address is:
5787 Montevideo Road
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Postal code: L5N 2L5

Adam Taylor, star of Adam, The Immortal Gamer, and our resident ADOM guru, can be reached three ways. You can send him e-mail at:
[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]

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]


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