Games Accessible to the Blind
Issue 35: Fourth Quarter, 2002
Edited by Michael Feir
Fun, Friendship, Knowledge, Charity
Current Community Members as of Nov 29, 2002:
Audysub members: 105
Welcome to the 35th 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.
You're in for a real treat this time around. Being our seventh holiday issue,
I've pulled out all the stops. Updates from several game developers are present
in this issue as well as reviews and an interview with a new rising star in the
field. An unprecedented four reviews deal with an old favourite made shiny and
new by one of the first developers of accessible games. They're back in a
ghostly blaze of glory which will add a dash of spooky pleasure to this year's
Note: This magazine uses plus-signs as navigation markers. Three plus-signs are
placed above any articles or sections. Within these sections, two plus-signs
denote the start of a new sub-section. Smaller divisions are marked by a single
plus-sign. This allows people to use their search capabilities to go quickly to
the next division they are interested in. For instance, the "Letters" section is
preceded by three plus-signs. Each letter within it has two plus-signs before
it. Answers to letters have a single plus-sign before them.
Distribution Information and Submission Policies
This magazine is published on a quarterly basis, each issue appearing no earlier
than the fifteenth of the publication month for its quarter. All submissions to
be published in an issue must be in my possession a minimum of two days before
the issue is published. I use MS-Word to produce Audyssey, and can therefore
accept submissions in pretty much any format. They may be sent either on a
3.5-inch floppy disk, or via e-mail to:
I will give my home address at the end of the magazine.
Please write articles and letters about games or game-related
topics which interest you. They will likely interest me, and your fellow
readers. This magazine should and can be a highly interesting and qualitative
look at accessible gaming. To insure that high quality is maintained, I'll need
your written contributions. I reserve the right to unilaterally make changes to
submissions if I deem it necessary to improve them
grammatically or enhance their understand ability. I will never make changes
which will alter the spirit of a submission.
All submissions must be in English. However, people need not be great writers to
have their work appear in Audyssey. Many of our community come from different
countries. Others are quite young. Where possible, I try to preserve their
different styles of expression. The richness that this adds to the Audyssey
experience far outweighs any benefits
gained from having everything in prose so perfect as to be devoid of life.
Audyssey is a community and magazine built on the need for blind people to have
fun. There are no formal structural requirements for submissions. Within reason,
they may be as long as necessary. Game reviews should all clearly state who
created the game being examined, where it can be obtained, whether it can be
played without sighted assistance, and any system requirements or other critical
information. Although profanity is by no means banned, it should not be used
gratuitously. Submissions not published in a current issue will be reserved for
possible use in future issues if appropriate. Those who are on the Audyssey
discussion list should be aware that I often put materials from the list in the
"Letters" section if I feel that they warrant it.
Anything posted to this discussion list that in some way stands out from the
common and often lively ongoing discourse will be considered fair game for
publishing unless it contains the author's wish that it not be published. Until
now, this practice has been commonly consented to. From now on, it is 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
obtained permission to do so. By sending me games, you will do several things:
first, and most obviously, you will earn my gratitude. You will also insure that
the games you send me are made available to my readership as a whole. As a
further incentive, I will fill any disks you send me with games
from my collection. No disk will be returned empty. If you want
specific games, or specific types of games, send a message in ASCII format
along. If you have a particular game that you need help with, and you are
sending your questions on a disk anyhow, include the game so that I can try and
get past your difficulty. If you can, I recommend that you send e-mail. I can
send and receive attachments with ease. This way, no money will be wasted
sending me a game I already have, and
you'll get my reply more quickly. You are responsible for shipping costs. That
means, either use a disk mailer which has your address on it, and is either free
matter for the blind, or is properly stamped. I can and will gladly spare time
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
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
There are now several ways of obtaining Audyssey. Thanks to the generous support
of Monarch Business Systems, Audyssey Magazine now has an official home on the
Web. All previous issues of Audyssey can be obtained from there in several
different formats. Visitors may take advantage of a growing amount of content as
well as submit material. Check it out at: www.audysseymagazine.org
Those who want to receive issues of Audyssey as they are published should send a
blank E-mail to: [email protected]
The Audyssey discussion list facilitates discussion about games accessible to
the blind between the publication of issues of Audyssey. All are welcome as long
as they respect their fellow community members and keep in mind that the topic
of the list is supposed to be games. Other topics are allowed within reason as
long as they don't begin to monopolize the list traffic for too long. Newcomers
should be advised that traffic is frequently fairly heavy. To help those who
are swamped with E-mail cope with this, there is a digest mode available which
sends one large E-mail per day containing the day's traffic. Anyone
participating in the discussion list will have issues of Audyssey automatically
sent to them via E-mail. Representatives from all major developers of games for
the blind are actively participating on the list. All staff members of Audyssey
are also encouraged to participate on the discussion list. There are two
moderators keeping things civil and orderly. Be certain to read the Audyssey
Community Charter as all list members are expected to follow its rules. If you
want an active role in shaping the future of accessible games, this is where you
can dive right in. To subscribe to this discussion list, send a blank message
to: [email protected]
To post messages to the list, send them to: [email protected]
Should you wish to unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
To change your subscription to digest mode so that you only receive one message
per day, send a blank message to: [email protected]
To go back to receiving individual messages, send a blank message to:
There are more options at your disposal. To find out about them, send a blank
message to: [email protected]
Stan Bobbitt has made Audyssey Magazine available in HTML format for easy
on-line browsing. To take advantage of this, you are invited to visit our
home-page. People can easily and quickly navigate through the various articles
and reviews, and directly download or visit the sites of the games that interest
them. This will be of especial benefit for sighted people who wish to make use
of Audyssey and/or join the growing community surrounding it. The Audyssey
community thanks Mr. Bobbitt for his continued efforts on its behalf in this
You can also find all issues of Audyssey on the Internet on Paul Henrichsen's
web site at: www.henrichsen.org
J.J. Meddaugh has long been famous in the Audyssey community. He has now started
his own web-site called The Blind Community. All issues of Audyssey are there in
zipped files in the file centre.
Another site has recently added Audyssey issues to its resources. We welcome:
www.blindhelp.com to the Audyssey community and hope that visitors to this site
find our resource to be of value to them. If you have ftp access, all issues are
also available at Travis Siegel's ftp site: ftp://ftp.softcon.com
Look in the /magazines directory.
Distribution Information and Submission Policies
From The Editor
Are You The Next Great Game Author
My adventure through the world of games
Chipping In and Chatting Up
Sunday Night Dungeons and Dragons,
Free Game Winner
News From BSC Games
News From ESP Softworks
News From Lworks
News From PCS
News From Zform
Grabit Grotto Development Diary: Part I
Game Announcements and Reviews
From The Editor:
As we close off the year, things are looking up on the whole for the Audyssey
community. We've gained many new members in our active discussion list as well
as our list for subscribers who simply want the magazine when it appears. Both
kinds of readers are very much welcome. One trend I'm still noticing is that
pretty much all of our material is coming from members of our discussion list. I
would therefore like to encourage all our readers to participate. Even if you
can't participate fully by joining our discussion list, our readers as well as
game developers would still like to hear from you. Give us your thoughts in a
review, article, or letter. Your voices can be heard as well.
I was surprised to see an increase in the amount of submitted material. Keep it
coming, folks. I know how easy it is to sit back and enjoy what others have
written, but we need more readers to put on their writing caps if Audyssey is
going to remain fresh and healthy. Remember that your material doesn't have to
wait for each quarterly issue. It can appear first on our web-site. Some of that
has begun to happen, but things aren't moving as quickly on that front as I
would have liked them to. One exciting development being worked on by Monarch
Business Systems is to have the ability to have audio content on the site. This
may encourage some people who might feel better doing recordings than writing.
We'll always need writers though, and I hope the new year sees more of you
taking up the torch instead of merely taking advantage of its presence. For the
first quarter, I'm going to focus on ways to expand the community. One of these
is by approaching the Canadian media which I'll feel more comfortable doing
after a couple more games are released which will hopefully happen prior to mid
January. Radio would be an excellent medium for coverage of these games, and I
hope to interest a number of programs which seem suited for human interest
I received a brief note from the folks at Code Factory to tell everyone that
they expect to release Time Adventures by Christmas time. I wasn't clear on
whether they're releasing the first game, or a whole series. I naturally suspect
the former given the ambitious nature of what they're attempting with those.
I'll close here by wishing everyone a happy holiday season. This will be the
first one I've spent as a married man, and it ought to be quite a different
experience for us. The next issue should come out at the end of February. Until
then, I hope you'll all check out our site from time to time and keep well.
Traffic was quite high during the fourth quarter. This first letter might
interest any sports fans out there. I'm not much of a sports enthusiast, and
have no idea about various season starts and whether you can join in after they
start. However, it seems to me that people who are more up on various sports may
want to give the site in this letter a try.
Hi, have you ever imagined owning a sports franchise or being the GM/Coach of
one? Would you like to compare your knowledge of a given sport against other
Well here's your chance. http://smallworld.com
This is a web-based fantasy sports game run by The Sporting News. They offer
both premium and free versions of their games. The seasons and
players/participants correspond exactly to the actual sport the fantasy game is
based upon. Best of all, these fantasy games are accessible with screen readers.
My favourite sport is hockey and I played the free fantasy hockey game last
season and it was a blast. Anyone who follows hockey knows the season is coming
up soon. Therefore, if you would like to participate in this season's game, you
need to register with the web site.
Once you have registered an account, you can participate in as many of the
fantasy games as you wish. For example, I actually created two fantasy hockey
teams and managed them against each other, as well as against thousands of other
teams. As far as I know, most of the fantasy games are based on a salary cap
system. Since I am personally familiar with the hockey game only, that will be
the one I will focus on.
Once you have created an account, you will want to create a hockey team. If you
choose to play the free version, you will want to look for the link "basic
fantasy hockey-season 1" and proceed to create a team name. Once you have a team
created, you need to fill your roster. For this particular game, you are given
$30,000,000 and need to select 7 players in the following breakdown:
1 any additional attacker
You are also given 2 transactions per week, starting on 10/9/02. You'll receive
each new set of transactions at 12:00 noon on Wednesday of each week.
Since this is a salary cap based system, the game also works in a
stock-market-like manner. The initial prices attributed to each player is based
seasons stats. However, once the first night of games is complete, at 12:00 noon
the next day the player prices will fluctuate on a daily basis. Price
changes work on the simple supply and demand theory, the more team owners buy a
given player, the more the price increases for that player, and vice versa.
Therefore, the better you are at picking up an undervalued player, the more
money you create for yourself to use later in the season. Of course, if you
buy an expensive player and he goes on to have a bad stretch, you may loose a
bit of your buying power.
In terms of actually buying a player, there are a couple of ways. When you first
create your team, there will be a link for the empty roster spot. For
example, "buy centre" is the first roster spot. If you click on this link, you
will get a list of centres. You can also generate your own list buy using
a series of combo boxes where you can select the position you want to search,
maximum price, and a sort criteria. The sort criteria consists of "by TSNPs,
which stands for The Sporting News Points, "by TSNP per game, and "by price".
Finally, you can also buy a player by directly entering the players name
into an edit field.
There are several links that explain how the game works and the rules. The only
draw back, like most other web sites, you will have to deal with a number
of links at the top and left margin of each page. However, once you understand
the lay out and know what you are looking for, you can easily use the find
feature of your screen reader.
There's probably more that could be described here, but this should be enough to
determine if you would be interested in such a game. Don't be afraid to
poke around the web site and feel free to ask any questions. I'm willing to
help, if I can.
I was somewhat disappointed that this quarter did not see any thought-provoking
debates or particularly insightful messages. However, there were numerous
positive indications of a thriving and more welcoming community being formed.
Quite a few new members were added, The noteworthy games which were discovered
and released provoked lengthy discussion and sharing of experience. PCS's
long-anticipated Pacman Talks arrived just in time for Halloween to the general
delight of the community. Around the same time, ESP Softworks released Change
Reaction which also received lots of loving and some frustrated attention. I
have reviewed both of the preceding games further on in this issue. InspiredCode
released a musical game called Metris which also got its fare share of band
width. A review of that game will have to come from somebody more musically
inclined than myself, as I have not yet figured out how to get anywhere at all
with it. A more recent release was a game from some students over in Holland.
This free racing game, despite being targeted at children aged ten to fourteen,
has been discussed and played by people of all ages and has generally fared
quite well. Credit for discovering the game goes to Sally. A fine discovery
you've made for the youngsters in our community. The place to visit to grab this
free game is:
The other game to cause far more major a stir than I would have expected was a
Harry Potter text adventure which I stumbled upon during one of my searches for
undiscovered games. There are a lot of blind Harry Potter fans among us, and
they attacked this game with vigour. I can only hope that the professor of these
students who made the game as a school assignment was as much of a Potter
enthusiast as our readers are. One of our community contacted the developers and
learned that no updates at all are planned for the game as they consider it a
finished project. Last reports from the Blindgamers list are that the manual
written by the students was not fully translatable into plain text for some
reason. However, what I read of it was certainly enough to give players a good
start in playing the game. I hope that one of our Potter enthusiasts will be
kind enough to write a more detailed review for Audyssey. You can get this free
Phil Vlasak sent in the following information about a new game which appears to
possibly be accessible. I should caution you that nobody in this community has
sent in any feedback on this game, so be certain to check it out for
accessibility before giving it as a gift. I'd hate to be the cause of
disappointment during the festive season by not reminding everyone that just
because things may talk does not mean that they are necessarily accessible. Here
is Phil's information below:
I went to the games page of the catalogue and found a new bop it type game:
It's the game that jams when you master the commands! Can you keep up with
and lights? Play solo or battle it out in a 2-player command jam. Then, jam
advance level. There's twice the challenge in DOUBLE TIME, when your
to move at double the speed. PLAY lights out as the music is your only cue.
it to the beat as the music is your only command! Other features include; R
and rock music styles, plug into your stereo or headphones, multiple skill
and keeps and stores your scores. NuJam measures 17" long and requires 3 AA
batteries (not included).
"Are you the next great game author?" Interview: by Stan Bobbitt
A self voicing game engine that will enable any and every user to create their
own good quality games?
A programming language that is so straight forward that anyone could read down
through a source file and understand how to modify it?
A wizard that will converse with the user to create a new game within this easy
to understand language?
Well, a programmer named Robison Bryan has proposed just such a game engine,
and after some initial inquiries to the blindgamers list, he has decided to take
on the mammoth task of putting it all together.
This idea has sparked so much interest among the members of the blindgamers
discussion group, that I thought that the audyssey community at large should be
made aware of it. It is very exciting indeed!
First, I would like to introduce Mr. Robison Bryan: (SB:
Could you tell us a bit about yourself Mr. Bryan?
I'm an Electronic Engineer by day and a Programmer by night. I'm sighted, but
am primarily an auditory learner, as many musicians are. I first became
interested in accessible software when members of the VI community wrote to me
about my first major software product, ChurchBells. I added a speech capability
to it, then created an accessibility enhancement called4BlindMice, and a
talking text editor called SayPad. Don Coco reviewed these three programs on
ACB radio. Next came Metris, and now this project ...
Yes, I remember quite a rave over that Metris on the list. I haven't given it a
shot for myself as of yet. Perhaps time will allow soon. An engineer and
programmer ... wow, when do you find time to sleep?
Occasionally. And when I'm not doing that I'm working on music. (Oh yes, I
remember what sleep is.. that's an API call in kernel32.dll)
Hehehe, well, I know first hand that the learning curve is a major deterrent
for anyone attempting to create games of any kind. How will your audio adventure
engine be different?
From the beginning, the idea has been to enable any and every user to create
their own good quality games. To accomplish this I envisioned a two level
approach. The first level is for there to be a language that is so straight
forward and so close to ordinary English that anyone could grab a game file,
read it and understand what is going on so well that they could modify it or
write their own.
The second level is a wizard that will simply converse with the user to create
a new game within this easy to understand language or format. I'll be the first
to admit that the language itself provides more flexibility and power than any
wizard could take advantage of, but the wizard will be a great place for many
to start, and even limited as it may be, it will still empower any newcomer to
create some great adventure games. The next step after using the wizard is to
make minor modifications to one's own game.
Yikes, this is where they get to look at all that complex coding lingo?
The first time a wizard user gets to look at their game's source code, they'll
most likely say something like: "Hey, where's all the geek jargon? Wait a
minute, this stuff is in English!" From there they may just go straight into
writing games directly in WordPad or SayPad or something, and then test it on
the system. What I'm hoping to achieve is a path that is easy to get on and easy
to follow at one's own pace, that leads without much noticeable effort to the
place where game authors can write games directly from their imaginations.
What about all the varying degrees of programming ability out there? Will it be
able to meet the needs of the beginner as well as the advanced?
It is intended for all levels of ability, easy for the beginner yet having
advanced features to make very impressive and complex adventures.
Sounds simple enough to me. Oh yes, you said that the engine is self voicing?
Yes, the Engine is self voicing via the MS TTS voices Mary, Mike and Sam. For
those who do not like those voices there is an option to mute the self voicing
and let the screen reader do the talking. There is also the option to include
wave files, filling out the idea of an audio adventure.
Ok, could we get just a bit more technical? Could you break it down
and tell us exactly, step by step, how one would go about putting together a
game using your audio adventure engine?
There will be a wizard guiding you through using this stuff.
As the wizard will converse with a game author in English, it will take notes
by writing game files in a language pretty close to plain English. I have posted
the wizard's private language on my site for any technically minded humans who
may want to get a head start. It will take a while to make the Engine, and then
the Wizard. By the time the Engine is done there may already be games available
that are written to run on it.
I see ... and the actual games?
Games are made up of a whole bunch of files (you can have one for each scene).
Every situation file has a bunch of situations. (duh). A situation is a moment
in the game where the person playing it is told what's going on and is asked to
make a choice. Here is what each situation has:
Wave sound (if you want)
Picture (if you want, but pictures will load only if you also provide a
description of it).
Text (You can have either Mary, Mike or Sam say anything you want said. The
person playing it can mute that and let the screen reader talk. You can have
more than one speech, and by more than one voice.) Choice (It's up to you
whether it's multiple choice or a phrase they type.) List of where to go when
the player does certain things. You make up this list.
Depending on what they decide, you send them of to a certain situation in a
certain scene. There are ways provided that you can tear apart and rebuild the
things they type, and to make decisions based upon the stuff you come up with.
You can remember how things are and stuff from what people say. By changing how
things are based on what the player types, you can create and maintain a world
that works according to rules you can make up. You can send players off to
various situations based upon the present condition of things.
Or else you can keep it really simple and within every situation, have a certain
response send the player off to a certain other situation.
There were a few points brought up on the blindgamers list which you promptly
... I would like to reiterate those here and get your input for the benefit of
the audyssey community.
This may yet seem a bit complicated to some out there I mean like setting up
situations for the player and such.
Yes and no. If you get the concept of menus and sub menus then the idea of
setting up something like that for the player is a simple idea. How complicated
it gets is up to you.
What about total novices, non-programmers? A (beginner)? They too, will be able
to create games?
Yes. You answer questions in interactive dialogs to create situations. You
don't even have to look at your game files directly, you can just use the
situation editor wizard. All you need to know is how you want it to be.
And again, what about the more advanced users?
You can hand hack the game files even if you know zip zilch nothing about
programming. Just use some common sense and observe the format. There is a
simple and straight forward format for the situation files, which I believe is
self explanatory. Even the math you can do is on a one by one simple calculator
like basis. It is like ^C = ^A * ^B, or ^Stamina = ^Stamina - ^Exertion
You can make it more complex by making several such equations if you like.
Ah I see, and what about those programming wizards out there?
If you are a wiz at programming, good for you, but no special advantage, except
that you are probably used to thinking practically and using common sense.
There was also mention of being able to include random?
That was a good idea. I will include a variable called ^Random. Each time it is
used it will deliver a random number from 0 to 99. Just don't make your own
variable called ^Random or you'll get random results.
Let's see, someone asked about random background sounds?
That would make it complicated. What I can do, though, is to allow you to
specify that a sound would loop until the player has made a choice.
Now I don't know if we've mentioned that this engine will be shareware. Will it
include a demo so that one could give it a shot before committing?
This engine has a 30 day demo, plus grace period. That should certainly be
enough time to play plenty of games and even try your hand at making a scene.
You said this game engine will be self voicing. Will the user be expected to
have any special speechware already on their machines?
This engine will expect you to already have either Sapi4 or Sapi5 on your
system, along with the three voices Mary, Mike and Sam. You can get all that
my site already. When I post the engine, I'll have my site arranged to make it
easy to get what you need for your particular windows, just like I have now for
Ok, another issue was, let's say that I have come up with what I consider to be
an awesome game using this engine. Is there anyway to protect my game, to keep
anyone else from making changes?
I can provide a check sum feature.
The game author would certify a file when done, and they would be prompted for
a password. The password is combined with the author's name and a checksum of
the whole game file. If someone modifies the game and then re certifies it, then
the encrypted password does not match what the author has posted somewhere, and
the player will know that this copy of the game is bogus. That is as far as I
can go with an open text format such as this.
Hmmm, there was one other point ... ah, multiuser?
I'll see what I can do. If it is implemented, the game author will have to keep
track of the players interaction with the same universe and with each other by a
careful use of variables. Beginners should write single user games, for sure!
Well, I must say that I am impressed. I believe that even I could come up with
a game using this engine. By the way, Mr. Bryan, how did the idea for this audio
adventure engine come about?
The initial request for this software is credited to Mike Coulombe, who found
my site and had some questions about SayPad. For some reason I thought he found
me through the blindgamers list, but I just found out he recently joined. Mike
told me about wanting to write Adventure text games, and that tads was not
considered an entry level authoring tool by any means. We talked a little about
it, then I posted the first "Is this something you want?" message to the
BlindGamers group. There was such a unanimous affirmation of the idea that I
made a commitment to the project within a day or so. Since then I have sought
and received guidance and preferences from gamers on and off list.
I am certainly looking forward to giving this engine a try myself when it is
ready. For any other interested folk out there, how can they get started?
Initially, the way it works is that whoever wants to do so can go to my site,
http://InspiredCode.net/Adventure.htm and download the language document. Then
they can start writing games immediately. By the time they are done writing some
creative and elaborate games, I should have the Engine ready so they can test
and debug their games. After the Engine has been out a little while I'll post a
version that includes the wizard, so that anyone who was not ready to learn the
language can start writing their own games that way.
On behalf of the audyssey community, I would like to thank you in advance
Robison Bryan, for all the hard work that this project will for sure take, and
for all the hours you have already put in toward making things just a bit easier
for gamers in the VI community. I think I'll go grab that document right now
and get started. I'll let you close out this interview.
Thank you Stan. For those early birds (and others) who write game files
directly in the language, there is another opportunity for infamy. (grin)
Suppose you notice that certain sections of your game files provide generic,
common or useful functions.
You could send them in and I'll make room on my site for posting such as
"library files". I'll soon make a page section all about library files,
including a growing list of library files that are either available or
suggested. If anyone is interested in more technical details, please let me
know. My e-mail address is: [email protected]
One final note: There are some geek toys hidden at the bottom of the document.
There is support for every higher math function known to man and UFO
And there is also support for having functions that write or edit other
functions. People into artificial intelligence might have a blast with that!
My adventure through the world of games
Article by Tommaso Nonis
With this article I would like to present myself to the audyssey community and
tell you a bit about my story with computer/video games.
My name is Tommaso Nonis. I am from Italy and I am 13 years old.
My hobbies are listening to and playing music, playing games, meeting my friends
So, let's talk about games now...
My adventure through the gaming world began when I was only 4. At that time, I
had a Nintendo Entertainment System (nes) with tons of games thanks to my aunt
who was from the USA and worked at a store where they rented games. And when the
person wanted that particular game and the rent time was expired, she sent it to
me. So I had lots of games ranging from platform to sports etc... Then, one
year later, we bought a Sega Mega Drive. We had a few games on it, and they were
fun to play.
I don't remember when, but one time I was at my cousin's home and he introduced
me to street fighter, an exciting fighting game. So...my sixth birthday present
was a Super Nintendo. I liked the games that were on it too!
I must say that all those games developed some of my skills a lot. For example,
Street Fighter increased my reflexes, some other games developed my timing
skills, etc. Then, when I was 8, my cousin gave me a cd with some interesting
dos games. And one of these was "Dungeons of the Necromancers Domain", the role
playing game that brought me into that kind of game and to the fantasy genre.
Some time later, I won a lottery (the only one in my life). The prize wasn't a
big amount, but enough to purchase a Sony Playstation console. So I went and
purchased one...and I still have fun with it! When i was eleven, I remember
that I emailed the author of a very good text adventure to ask a question. She
then pointed me to the Gma Games website, cause she said that there were games
for the blind and Shades of Doom was one of the best. So I went and checked it
out. It was pretty cool! But, some days later, I decided to search the net for
other accessible games, and I found out about the magazine, Jim Kitchen's site,
Esp softworks, Pcs, and other resources of interest. So now I am here, playing
a lot of games ranging from action/adventure, to sports, to card/board games...
People, I hope this article gives you a good idea of who I am and about my story
News About Interactive Fiction
This section of Audyssey will feature news about developments in the world of
interactive fiction which have a broader scope than new games released. For
information about newly released games, you should still look to the Game
Announcements and Reviews section. Now that we're operating on a quarterly
basis, I hope that more people will submit reviews of interactive fiction games
they have played. There should be more time for people to play through a game in
order to give it a more in-depth review.
Items in this section will be separated by single plus-signs to make navigation
easier when more than one item is present. I would appreciate it if anyone
responsible for websites related to IF or for major projects in the IF community
would submit material on these things for my inclusion in Audyssey. Developers
of interactive fiction should be aware of how appreciative blind people are for
such a wealth of accessible thought-provoking entertainment.
This time around, the major event was the Interactive Fiction competition. I
haven't gotten any reviews yet of the various games, but long-time IF
contributor Kelly Sapergia has sent the competition results to the list. I
include them below for everyone's benefit.
1. Another Earth, Another Sky
2. Till Death Makes a Monk-Fish Out of Me!
4. The Moonlit Tower
6. The PK Girl
7. TOOKiE'S SONG
8. Fort Aegea
9. The Temple
12. Unraveling God
13. Identity Thief
16. The Granite Book
17. Eric's Gift
18. When Help Collides
21. Sun and Moon
22. Not Much Time
23. Hell: A Comedy of Errors 24. Out Of The Study
25. Color and Number
26. BOFH (The Bastard Operator from Hell) 27. The Case of Samuel Gregor 28. A
Party to Murder
30. Concrete Paradise
31. Scary House Amulet!
32. Coffee Quest II
33. Four Mile Island
36. Ramon and Jonathan
37. Terrible Lizards
38. Blade Sentinel
Chipping In and Chatting Up By Rebecca Feir
For the longest time, i was hesitating about whether or not to write an article
about zform's popular online poker game, because i figured that there would be
tons of articles and reviews about it in other issues of audyssey. However,
Michael suggested that i write an article about what poker means to me. so here
goes: Out of all of the sound based games on the market so far, poker is the
one that i love the best. I have tried playing many of the games with Mike, but
poker is the one which I find the most fun, the most rewarding, and i think it
will be here with us for a very long time. When i first started playing poker,
i found it very addictive,
and of course many of you can relate to this. I always felt a certain
satisfaction and degree of excitement when i would win several hundreds of
chips, or any amount for that matter. I found later that being able to chat
with one or more people while i was playing made the game more fun, and i grew
tired of just playing hand after hand with no one saying anything during the
game. Since I've been playing for a while though, I'd begin a game and people
would remember me, and we'd proceed to tell jokes back and forth, or just be
there for one another, and then we'd add one another to our growing list of msn
contacts. I feel that poker is a great game for beginners and experienced
players alike and that we can all be considered equal with one another. we can
either win or lose at several hands of poker and no one player is better or
worse than another. I like the fact that there is always plenty of time to
decide whether you want to fold or call, discard your cards, or tab over and
chat with someone else while you're playing. When you've completed these tasks,
you just hit the enter key which makes the game very user friendly for blind
players. then if you want to hear what cards you have you just type f one.
There are very few key strokes which one has to remember in this game. You
don't have to worry about how much time you have to select things as you do in
other computer games for blind persons. The thing which makes this game unique
is that you can play it online with people all over the world, and of course
there aren't many games like that available yet for blind computer users. In
past articles, i have said that with other games there is not a lot of support
for people who are new to computer games. Most people do not experience poker
in the same light as they might other games, because Zform gives you a lot of
clear help and instructions about playing the game, and you can ask other
players for help while you're playing. That is my experience with poker and I'm
glad i wrote this article so that i could share this with you. In a few months
my year of poker will be up and I'm probably not going to be able to afford
another one because of it being so expensive in Canadian money. however, I'm
glad that i have this experience with an online computer game.
Sunday Night Dungeons and Dragons,
This story contains graphic descriptions of violence. It therefore may not be
suitable for younger readers.
The Dungeons and Dragons adventure is now held in a private Gamer's room on
Audio-Tips each Sunday night at nine o'clock Eastern time. George Buys says he
will soon make this room public again.
The Dungeon Master during this campaign was Randy Hammer.
My life was changed by the talk with the great wizard. In the past, I would
experience my day to day events and not try to sit down and describe them. Now
with the possibility that I would be his student and study the art of
Alteration, I thought it was my duty to record the events and deeds of our
party. From that moment on, this idea was constantly on my mind.
It became an obsession, my own personal crusade. I must tell our story! Our
party now consisted of Two dwarves, two elves, a human Mage, a
Githzerai magic user and finally our Druid healer, a half-elf.
We were still nursing the wounds of our previous battle with a group that
carried magic weapons, when we encountered a strange cave at the edge of the
mountains. After investigating the area, we thought it might give us protection
from the impending storm. Outside of the cave was a curious lake that glowed
I had put in long hours preparing the spell of identification, and when cast, I
discovered that the water was tainted with a spell of enchantment.
My world began to spin and my head grew fuzzy. My thoughts dimmed for a good
part of the day so I only know in retrospect what happened then. MayFire, our
Priestess of the Sky and Weather, used her breathe water prayer on Tylen, Drax
and herself. They could go underwater for an hour to an hour and a half to
search for what was enchanting the lake.
I recalled a story about a powerful sword that was hidden in a lake's depths.
The two gradually waded into the water while Mayfire walked on its surface. She
grinned and looked at her hand. She was still wearing the ring of water
walking. She quickly slipped it off and handed it to Syrah the Druid healer.
What weakened my memory seemed to affect them too, for as the three descended,
they looked around, confused and befuddled. MayFire's danger sense went nuts and
she hurriedly swum to the surface. Tylen glanced at his feet, then followed
after a moment. Drax came up only after swimming around for a while. The three
all felt a sense of deja vu. They asked why was the rest of the party gathered
at the lake's edge? The three seemed to either have lost time or their memory.
Mezai recommended not going in again and suggested that this might be related
to the River Styx. Galen though, being foolhardy, drank some of the water and
experienced the same effects. Mezai said, "This smells of a trap. This lake was
changed to catch its victims. The thing that set this trap will attack us soon."
But MayFire saw the dark clouds approaching and we decided to stay only until
the storm passed.
Syrah cast his 2 healing prayers and planted a tree that could grow us more
healing fruit. I spent the afternoon recovering from the great weakness,
thinking of how our original adventure, searching for the mysterious silver
mine, had gone awry. Right at the beginning, we had lost our leader, Thoren, a
famous war hero when he was called back to consult with the king. Just
recently, two of our party had died. The first, Rejec, a human Assassin, was
plucked off his horse by a black dragon and disappeared before we even had a
chance to think. He was off like a thief in the night. The second, Drax was the
object of a glance from the death eye of the
Beholder. At least we were able to keep his body with us so that the priests
could res erect him. These kinds of shocks made old men of young ones. Not to
mention the Evil ghost that did just that to myself. Well, I pondered, a wizard
with grey hair does look more distinguished after all.
Some residual ache still clung to my bones when the sun set and we started the
night's watches. I could sense the great storm coming soon as I sat in the
middle of the cave during the second watch, a dying fire glowing a deep red at
Around me I could hear the loud snores of the stocky heavily muscled dwarves,
Drax and Galen and the quieter sniffles of the others. One of the horses was
having a bad dream and its hooves were clawing a few pebbles covering the
floor. Outside in the full moonlight, Nostromo my familiar cat was scouting to
the west of the lake of forgetfulness while Tylen with his sharp night vision
was scanning the vast plain that we had just crossed.
I was going through my spell book when suddenly In my head I felt a flash of
warning. Nostromo was scampering back, gripped by a great fear.
I hurriedly rolled the large scroll and tried to get up. I could only
accomplish this slowly. Then I felt the vibrations of heavy footsteps coming my
Tylen yelled a curse and I heard the twang of his bow.
An instant later there came a loud screech of pain in a low booming voice.
I shouted to my party members, "Wake you chittermouses! We have guests of a
terrible nature!" Drax quickly rose to his feet with a magic axe already in hand
and rushed to the narrow opening next to the bolder that was blocking the
entrance to the cave. With my knees still aching, and my cat clinging on my
ankle, I gradually followed him. I saw Tylen with his back against the outside
of the rock shoot another arrow at whatever was coming. Just then, In the full
moonlight I could pick out 2 large figures rushing down the hillside towards us
about thirty yards away and coming fast. Now I could clearly make out their
dark skin, long thin legs, bushy hair and long muscular arms and fingers ending
in claws. I smiled for I recognize what they were and I knew some of my spells
would be very effective. They were trolls, and their great strength was the
ability to regenerate limbs and even be brought back from the dead. They could
be stopped permanently with either fire or acid.
I yelled out to Drax, "Are you awake yet, ready to fight?"
Drax frowned and replied, "I'm not ready to fight, I'm ready to kill!"
I was concentrating on a spell when Drax suddenly ducked, and Tylen dived into
the cave over his head.
The horses, awakened by the yells, were shuffling and whinnying nervously,
frightened by the commotion and tried to back up as far into the cave as they
could go. Mayfire watched the onrush of the trolls thinking of the oncoming
storm and if she would have enough time for her powerful lightning prayer.
Syrah grabbed several rains in an attempt to calm the horses.
He handed the other rains to Mayfire and pleaded for her to help him saying,
"Our horses are very nervous and I'm afraid some will try to bolt!"
The lead troll slammed into the barrier rock with a earthshaking crash and
reached over it to attack Drax
It flailed wildly with both hands missing high then leaned down to bite his
head. Drax jumped away from those teeth while swinging his battle axe slicing
through nothing but the air. I noticed that The troll didn't seemed to mind
Tylen's arrow that was imbedded deep in its shoulder.
I cast two Melf's Minute Meteors, one against each troll. that hit their chests
with satisfying sparks and sizzles.
They both stumble back jarred by the small globes of fire and sudden pain. The
lead one recovered and renewed its attack on Drax
Mezai cast a stinking cloud spell ten feet beyond the rock directly at the
second troll. The front troll shook its head briefly but continued to come on
while the other one doubled over with a fit of vomiting. The near troll, with
the spell confounding its senses, missed its attack against Drax again.
But its sudden stopping caused Drax to miss too.
With her senses attuned to any changes, alarm bells went off in Mayfire's head.
Then she heard a low rumble from behind. She spun around and saw that the back
wall was moving.
I was busy casting two more Minute Meteors so I didn't notice what was going on
behind my back. My two spells were directed to the Troll that was now in the
mouth of our cave. One hit its upper arm and the other burst near enough to
singe the Troll's leg.
While all this was happening at the front, the rear of the cave opened and six
little creatures rushed out. Mezai not knowing what these things were, cast an
invisibility spell to protect himself. He then dumped a bag of marbles by the
lead troll's feet while squeezing through the opening in the barrier rock. The
marbles only made the Troll slip slightly, but they also through off Drax's
attack and his swing cut through the empty air. Meanwhile, Galen joined his
friend and his axe bet deeply into the Troll's arm.
Outside, the other troll was bent over facing the lake, still throwing up.
I cast my last meteor on this troll and hit him in the rear making a satisfying
sizzle but without causing too much damage.
Mayfire called out, "goblins are attacking!" Which caused a howl of glee to
erupt from the two dwarfs. Syrah and Mayfire both swung their weapons hitting
the two lead goblins while the other ones were blocked by the horses.
Tylen's mighty sword decisively cut into the lead troll and it dropped. I
looked back at the commotion behind me but with only the dying campfire for
light could just make out some indistinct shapes.
So I switched my attention back to the troll on the ground.
I quickly cast my burning hands spell on it.
Ten flames shot out of my fingers covering the troll charring its skin with the
intense heat. The black hulk that previously was a troll was now truly dead.
Behind me, Mayfire attacked the goblin with her plus club while in front of me,
the second troll fled down to the lake to get out of the stink cloud. Inside
the cave, two goblins swung their short swords at Syrah but missed him.
The troll by the lake was raised up into the air a foot but it soon landed
unharmed. Its attention was centred on Mezai, standing by the lake, for his
invisibility spell had dispersed. Galen used his new axe of hurling and hit the
troll with a critical blow. It dropped with a crash, and the axe returned to his
hand. Drax turned to the back of the cave and threw his axe of hurling at a
goblin but it hit off the rock before coming back to him.
Mezai turned away from the fallen troll by the lake's edge and slowly returned
to the cave where he still noticed the sound of fighting. Incredibly, the troll
quickly jumped up alive and well, its wounds healed. Mezai heard the
approaching footsteps, spun around and shot three magic missiles. They were all
direct hits to the Troll's chest. It lurched back and screamed with its belly
Back in the cave, Drax on his second throw sliced the head off one goblin.
Mayfire smashed her goblin's side with a club killing it too. Syrah swung his
weapon down on the third goblins head driving it to a
Outside, Galen threw his axe of hurling at the troll but it missed its head by
The two remaining goblins, realizing that their forces were dwindling, try to
run away. Drax, Syrah and Mayfire all threw weapons at their backs Drax and
Syrah missed while Mayfire hit her target squarely, killing it.
The last goblin reached up to a stone, moved it and the great rock door slammed
shut behind it.
The troll by the lake only had to wait a moment while its wound closed before
advancing again. I cast three Magic Missiles at it an with a flash of light,
flames engulfed its shoulders. The Troll screamed in pain, shook its head, spun
around and ran away from us. Galen threw his axe at the retreating creature but
missed to the left and the troll quickly disappeared over the hill.
Mayfire examined the wall where the opening appeared but found no controls on
this side to open the door. Her brow furrowed, realizing that the escaping one
could call on a host of others to come back.
Mezai came over to the rest of our party in the cave.
He said shaking his head, "you might have warned people about creatures that
come back to life!"
I now think back on the fight and feel lucky that I cast the burning hands
spell at just the right time.
We examined the five dead goblins and troll but found no treasure to speak of.
As the lightning crackled outside, we had to decide where was it safer. Here in
the cave where a greater force of Goblins could suddenly spring out, or out in
the middle of a thunder storm with no cover to speak of.
We were truly caught between a rock and a wet place.
Free Game Winner
Congratulations this quarter are in order for William Lomas for contributing his review of Pacman Talks. William has attempted numerous times to write reviews for Audyssey, and has done a very good job indeed for a game he apparently enjoys a lot. Justin Daubenmire of BSC Games has sponsored this quarter's free game. William, congratulations. Be certain to contact BSC Games at:
and claim your well-earned reward.
News From BSC Games:
It's Justin Daubenmire, owner of BSC Games. Thanks to all of you for emailing
about Hunter and expressing such excitement about it. I wanted to take a few
minutes here and give you some detail about the game. For those of you who don't
know, Hunter is a new game I am currently developing and it is to be released
mid to late January 2003. Hunter brings a new twist to BSC Games and I am
thrilled about it! Of course, true to the heart of BSC Games, Hunter is packed
full of arcade action at its best! However, it also has a touch of adventure!
For the Hunter project, I have teamed up with a new programmer named Igor
Khmelevtsov. Only Igor and myself are programming Hunter and we know it will
bring hours of enjoyment to your ears and fingers on those arrow keys! *smile*
The game is based on an actual story, which I wrote, and it will be installed
with the game for your reading enjoyment. The game is directly modeled after the
story. Although it isn't required to read it, it is recommended to read it prior
to starting the game so you can get the full effect of the game. Although Hunter
is an arcade style game, it has heavy overtones of an adventure/role-playing
game. I'm certain it will hook arcade fans with ease. Those of you who enjoy
role-playing games or adventure games will find Hunter to be delightful. It's
really a unique and fresh blend for BSC Games and we think it will hook ya!
Your characters name is Hunter Joe. Your adventure is to hunt through 10 back to
back levels of intense play gathering as many points as possible! Are you a
skilled enough hunter to journey far enough to find the ancient land of Bobo?
Once you find it, are you good enough to capture the ancient Bobo tribal statue
and win the game?
Here are a few of hunter's currently developed features. Please understand that
this is in no way a complete list of what Hunter has to offer. We are still
developing the final stages of the game so this is sort of a "sneak preview".
Jungle level - you use a blow dart gun to hit jungle beasts to lull them to
sleep. After all, they clue the voodoo doctor in to your location and if the doc
gets you, its lights out! However, if he comes at you, you can climb up a tree
if you're quick enough and avoid him.
Fishing level - You have your net in hand and listen for swimming fish that pass
before you. Once they are in the centre cast your net and catch them for points.
Look out! The crocs will come up out of the water at you and you must be quick
enough to step back away from them or become their dinner!
Valley of the tigers - you're running across a valley avoiding oncoming tigers
almost like oncoming meteorites. You also have to jump over the wacky Rhino who
charges you occasionally trying to ram ya!
Mountain climb - Your climbing up the side of a mountain avoiding rattlesnakes
etched in the cracks of the mountain. They want to strike you and those buggers
are quite sneaky. A silly monkey on top of the mountain isn't to happy your
getting closer to him so he whips coconuts at you trying to knock you off the
Vine level - The ancient warrior Marpoo is hot on your heals trying to kill you!
While running from him, you come up to a waterfall with a swinging vine in front
of it. You have to jump up and grab the vine and swing across the water and let
go on the other side before Marpoo gets ya. If you let go to soon... splash! you
lose a life.
Hunter will consist of 10 arcade adventurous levels. The 10 levels will directly
model the story line, which again, is installed with the set-up for your reading
enjoyment. You can play the 10 levels at three different difficulties: easy,
normal, and insane. This totals 30 levels of game play!
Hunter has our ever-popular easy to use keyboard interface. Install the game and
be playing in seconds. It's that easy! Each level has its own distinct set of
digitized stereo sound effects. While at the main menu, you can individually
play any of the 10 levels by pressing numbers 1 through 0 on the number keys.
The unregistered version of Hunter will let you play the first 6 levels of the
adventure on all three difficulties for 12 days. Registered users will enjoy the
ability to play the entire adventure with no restrictions and post scores
real-time to our Hunter top 10 score charts. Registered users will also receive
a new menu item upon registering the game called random adventure. Every time
you select this option, the levels will shuffle up into a new order and toss ya
right into a new adventure! Talk about variety!
Hunter has many full-bodied stereo sound effects. As of this writing, we are
close to 200 of them! We really went all out trying to engage you in the game by
using many rich stereo sound effects!
Hunter is expected to be released mid to late January 2003 and will cost $30
USD. Once you place an order for the game using our secure order form, your
unlock code will be emailed to you within seconds! Or I should say as quick as
your local ISP can deliver your email. You will need to be running DirectX 8.0
or higher to play the game. You must unload your screen-reading software before
playing as Hunter is a self-voicing game. To stay up to date with Hunter's
progress, visit my web site at:
While you drop by, feel free to sign up for our newsletter (there is a link on
the home page). When Hunter is released, we will send out a newsletter to your
email box and then you can start the adventure! A final warning! Hunter will
cause you to stay up hours upon hours playing it and could cause sleep
deprivation! *smile*. Thanks to all of you for your continued support. I
Stay tuned and happy Hunting!
President BSC Games
News From ESP Softworks:
Editor's note: This is a copy of an E-mail sent by ESP Softworks in order to
update everyone on their lists about what's going on. They will always be
included in issues of Audyssey Magazine unless they are sent out after it is
published. I advise everyone to check out the ESP Softworks site and sign up for
their lists in order to make certain that you are kept right up to date with
developers who particularly interest you.
Seasons Greetings, Gamers!
This e-mail is being sent to help keep everyone up-to-date as to what's
going on at the ESP Softworks' website as well as to let people know of
new additions to the site. If you don't already know what it is that we
do, or haven't already been to the web site, now would be a *great* time
to find out! *grin*
ESP Softworks is a premiere developer of accessible game software
that's completely accessible to those with low or no vision. You can
visit the website at
If you don't wish to receive further ESP updates via e-mail, please send an
with the word 'unsubscribe' in the subject line.
ESP Pinball Is Back.. With An Add-On Three Pack!
Get back into one of ESP Softworks' all-time favourites with a three pack add-on
featuring three completely new tables! Due to popular demand, we're releasing
three new themed tables just in time for the holiday season. The three new
tables are: Batter Up!, Top Gun, and Sudwerks. In 'Batter Up!', take to the
plates in this hard-hitting rendition of the popular game of American baseball.
Take to the skies and dogfight your way to glory in 'Top Gun'. And, serve 'em
up cold and frosty to the customers in Sudwerks! Each table features lots of
cool sound effects and great ambience with plenty of objectives. So, head back
to the ESP Pinball arcade and, ".. serve me up some of your finest!"
ESP Pinball Pack #1 is scheduled to be released December 20th, 2002. The retail
price is $14.95. If ordered on CD, an additional shipping and handling charge
of $4.00 will be applied (shipping on additional titles is only an extra $1.00
per title). Pre-orders are accepted--click here to reserve your copy today!
Holiday Special--ESP Game Trilogy ================================= Own the ESP
trilogy game set compilation that launched ESP Softworks as the forefront
developer of accessible games with this single CD three pack compilation
featuring: ESP Pinball, Monkey Business, and Alien Outback. Not only do you get
all three of our most popular games on a single CD, you get them all at one
heck of a deal! Almost a hundred dollars worth of ESP games for just
$69.95--more than 2535466576ff the retail price! A great holiday gift for someone
special or even yourself! Only fifty copies of the ESP Trilogy will be
available--So, don't delay!
ESP Trilogy is available for immediate shipping. Each CD will feature special
edition artwork and a personalized and serialized certificate of authenticity.
The retail price is $69.96 plus $4.00 shipping and handling and is shipped on
CD media. Order your copy by visiting our website at
http://www.espsoftworks.com (click on the order link)
New ESP Game--Change Reaction!
Looking for a break from the intense action-arcade games and craving something
a bit more cerebral and puzzle-oriented? Check out Change Reaction! It's a race
against the game timer in a bid for connecting as many similar coins as you
possibly can to start a chain reaction--a Change Reaction!
You start off playing above a ten by thirty coin grid and given a coin to toss
amongst the denominations in hopes of starting a chain reaction.. exploding as
many contiguous coins as possible. Clear a row and the coin denominations are
added to your jackpot score. Reach the bottom for a bonus! Try to grab a
randomly placed time bomb to set off
multiple reactions to help you in your race against the ever-present clock. The
faster you play, the more coins you react and the bigger your jackpot!
Best of all.. your jackpot translates directly into ESP Bucks that can be used
toward the purchase of any game title by ESP Softworks if you can top the
The retail price for Change Reaction is $19.95. Shipping and multiple title
discounts apply. See order form for details. For a playable demo of Change
Reaction and our other games, please visit our website or click here to
download a demo!
ESP Raceway News
Hey, racing fans! A quick update to let everyone know that ESP Raceway is
*still* coming along and coming along wonderfully! We know it seems like it's
been forever in development--actually, it has!--but, it will be well worth the
wait! We're adding two new special features to the game that'd we *love* to
tell you about, but we'd like to surprise you all instead! Muuaahhh!!
Seriously, though.. in addition to the cool stuff we've added, the tracks are
now able to be over seventy-five percent larger with a much greater array of
effects and detail! ESP Raceway will be accessible racing like you've *never*
The retail price for ESP Raceway is $34.95 and will be initially shipped on CD
media. A downloadable version will be available shortly after release as well
as a playable demo. Pre-orders are accepted--reserve your copy today!
The Genesis Project News
We're still not ready to release many details on the development status of
what's promised to be the most incredible accessible game of all, but.. We'd
like to let everyone know that, "Yes, it's now in active development.." and,
that that development is going wonderfully. You guys n' gals really have no
idea how fantastic this release will be! We often have to take work breaks and
guzzle a few frosty ones just to recover from the sheer awesomeness of it!
We'll be featuring news regarding the T G P development via the
AccessibleGames.Com website as time goes on.. (well, as soon as David gets
around to setting it back up!.. okay, don't tell 'em I said that!)
E S P's BIG Secret.. Shhhh!!! =============================
If we told you, then we'd have to...? Okay, we can't really say.. but, it could
very well change the way you play accessible games.. forever. More later..
Demonstration CD's are now available via the secure online order form at no
charge (other than shipping and handling charges). These CD's contain all the
playable demos of current products, company information, product information,
audio trailers, and much more. Great for those who'd like to sample the
accessible game products we offer or to use for distributor demonstrations.
As usual, we encourage everyone to visit the ESP Softworks' website at
http://www.espsoftworks.com where you'll find the latest news and playable
demos of our games. You may also click here for information regarding our
current product line-up. If you have any questions at all, please e-mail us at
[email protected] or call via telephone at 916-359-2224, Monday
through Friday, 9 A.M. 'til 6 PM Pacific Standard Time.
Please Note: All pre-orders are offered as a way for you to lock in the current
price of titles before their release dates (at which point, they may be
raised). All titles that are offered as pre-orders will be shipped upon
completion. By pre-ordering now, you're guaranteed the best price on upcoming
titles. Any of our game titles may be purchased via our secure online order
form at https://hestia.ntsecure.net/espsoftworks/orders/secureorder.asp or by
calling us at 916-359-2224.
News From LWorks:
Here's more news from That company with the L in it's name.
News on our latest game.
Have you ever wanted an action packed, fun filled, an addicting computer game?
Well, LWorks is promising that, and more. Super Liam is our latest project
scheduled for release next summer. Run, climb and duck through 7 levels of
intense arcade action. Run across the sands of the beach avoiding robotic seals
that will zap your energy. Dash through a cave filled with fire and lava. And
much more. With lots of cool music, and cool sfx. This game will make those
summers even more fun!
LWorks has some of our old games on the site like LWorks words, and the original
Super shot. Check them out today. If you enjoy LWorks words, feel free to
new super shot:
At the end of December, look for the new Super Shot. New features, new modes of
play, and new fun is what is in store for you. Super shot will be priced
at 15 dollars. The most exciting feature of this release is the online real-time
scoreboards allowing you to compete with friends from all around the world.
Find out what the buzz is about at www.l-works.net today
News From PCS:
PCS breaks into Windows with Pacman Talks. Deunhnhnhnhng, Deunhnhnhnhng!
We have released the epic arcade game, Pacman Talks that is self-voicing, and
will now play on Windows ME and XP systems. Pacman, a rolly polly pizza shaped
guy, is set amidst a simple pattern of passages, and after twenty two years,
he's still going strong on the computers of blind and visually impaired people
around the world.
You can play Pacman with your latest computer technology to reap havoc on the
ghosts who want to scare the lives out of you.
You are taken into a multi level audio environment, set in the world of weird
sounds and quick action as you become the elusive Pacman chomping away on dots
while trying to avoid those four relentless ghosts! Suddenly, you've got super
O'o'o, O'o'o, O'o'o, chomp,
O'o'o, O'o'o, O'o'o, chomp,
Ourhrhrhrhrhrhrhrhrhrhrhrhrhrhrhrhrhrhrhrhrohrhrhrhrhrhrhrhg! Now that it's
worn off, you've got to stop and listen,
Zeunhnhnhnhngowhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhzeunhnhnhnhng, to the sound of your ghost
You hear Inky's voice saying,
"I would make each hair of yours to stand on end." then you hear the
Deunhnhnhnhng, Deunhnhnhnhng, Deunhnhnhnhng, of an opening just a few blocks
You quickly tap the space bar and,
Owhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwh, Nowhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwh! you find
that Inky is blocking your path while Clyde is hot on your trail repeating
"You don't belong here."
"You don't belong here."
"You don't belong here." Sh'sh'sh'sh'sh'sh'sh'sh'sh'sh'sh'sh'oot,
Could that be Pinky or Blinky off to the left? And do you try to get away or
hit that panic button to get out of danger? And, Deunhnhnhnhng, Deunhnhnhnhng,
nowhwhwhwhwhwhwh nowhwhwhwhwhwhwh? You get caught!
Pacman Talks takes the most exciting elements of our DOS Pacman game, such as
the original sound effects and music, blending them with the kind of multi
channel sounds you're accustomed to in today's top accessible games. You come
equipped with a powerful ghost detector and several dot finding tools, plus
many ways to tell you where you are and what the heck is going on around you.
Pacman Talks brings an exciting twist to arcade games and takes blind gamers
into a new type of sound experience. There are enough twists and turns to give
you hours of all-out action and thought-provoking fun. Deunhnhnhnhng,
Free Game Contest!
Now you can ring up thousands of points and be known world wide as the top
Pacman player, plus win a free game! Just send an E-mail message to Phil Vlasak,
[email protected] with your high score, and you may be awarded a free PCS game
for Windows. There will be a high score winner for playing the first demo
level, and another for playing all twenty four levels of the game. Just send
your best score as a number in an E-mail message. Then when we sort the scores,
we will ask for the highscores.dm file from the top scorer in both categories.
We can read this file but it can't be tampered with. This way, we won't be
flooded with lots of attachments! The contest ends December 31, 2002 at
Midnight eastern time, and the top ten players will be posted on the PCS web
Pacman Talks was created by PCS Games using the GMA Games engine. It has an
MSRP of $30 US.
For more information, and to download the demo, visit the PCS Games web site at
Pacman Talks is the first PCS game created for Windows. What will the next one
be, Snipe Talks, Duck Talks, Beep Bop Breakout, or Cops Talks? You can find out
by joining the PCS games list. To subscribe to this discussion list, send a
blank message to, [email protected]
Our mailing address is,
666 Orchard Street
Temperance, Michigan 48182 phone (734) 850-9502
Call us between the hours of 8:00 A M to 10:00 P M Eastern time, Monday to
E-mail Phil Vlasak, [email protected]
We make games that tickle your ears.
Nowhwhwhwhwhwh ghosts were hurt in the making of this game.
News From Zform:
Paul G. Silva
Cofounder and President
ZForm Announces Release of ZForm Poker Version 1.1
New Version Adds Many New Features, Integration with Window-Eyes Screen-reader
Northampton, MA - October 30th, 2002 - ZForm today announced the release of
version 1.1 of their flagship product, ZForm Poker. The new version offers a
host of exciting new features, while maintaining the robustness and reliability
of version 1.0. The upgrade can be downloaded from ZForm's website
Foremost among the new features is complete integration with the Window-Eyes'
screen-reading program from GW Micro, adding to ZForm Poker's existing
integration with the Jaws for Windows screen-reader from Freedom Scientific.
These two products combined represent an overwhelming majority of screen-reader
"One of the goals of ZForm is to make games that are equally accessible to the
blind, visually impaired, and fully sighted," noted Jeremie Spitzer, ZForm's
cofounder and CEO. "Integration with Window-Eyes allows us to give the vast
majority of our blind players unparalleled access to ZForm Poker."
"We at GW Micro have been working closely with ZForm to ensure that users of our
product have easy access to this hitherto unexplored area-that of modern, online
entertainment," said Doug Geoffrey, cofounder and Vice President of Support and
Development at GW Micro.
Version 1.1 of ZForm Poker also boasts significantly upgraded audio. The Wild
West ambience is enhanced, complete with saloon background activity and dialog.
Starting with version 1.1, there are now two versions of the game available for
download. One version is optimized for shorter download times, while the other
is larger and includes additional ambient audio. The audio in both versions is
improved over version 1.0.
"The atmosphere really compliments the game now," said one customer. "The new
ambience makes for a much more immersive experience."
Also new for 1.1 are several usability features. The Away From Keyboard mode
lets players hold a seat at a table while attending to other tasks. An enhanced
review mode allows more flexibility in reviewing prior game activity. Players
can now keep track of how long they've been playing and how many chips they've
won or lost in the current poker session. Ability to change the speech rate on
the fly helps players keep up with those fast-paced hands, and the ability to
ignore all chat lets players who are only in it for the gold have only
game-related messages spoken to them.
"I didn't think it could get much better than 1.0," remarked one customer. "Then
I played 1.1 and was impressed all over again."
ZForm Poker 1.1 can be downloaded via:
New customers can sign up for a fifteen-day free trial by browsing to:
http://www.zform.com and clicking on "Sign up for a Free Trial of ZForm Poker".
ZForm's mission is to create fun and engaging ways for friends and family to
interact as equals regardless of visual impairment. The company got its start in
a college dorm room in 1997. "I had a friend who was totally blind," remembers
Silva. "I wanted to hang out and play games with him, but there was just nothing
out there that would be equally fun and playable by both of us."
Cofounders Paul Silva and Jeremie Spitzer had a dream of starting a game
company, and when they realized the need for these games they formed their
company with a mission to fulfill that need. "We were sure we weren't the only
ones to come up against this social barrier," said Spitzer, "and we hoped that
if we could break it down, the entire blind and visually impaired community
could benefit." They spent the next three years recruiting the ZForm team and
securing the funding needed to bring their vision to life. Their efforts
culminated with the launch of ZForm Poker in April of this year.
ZForm can be found online at: www.zform.com
Quotes from people playing ZForm Poker:
"You play against other people who are sitting at this virtual poker table on
the Internet, and the software does not care - the players do not care - who is
blind and who is sighted."
- Curtis Chong, Director of technology, National Federation of the Blind
"My family has played games on the net for a good while but Friday night was the
first time ever that I have been able to play with them. Which is fantastic to
feel a part of the same sorts of things that your other family members do for
- Scott W.
"One thing I'd very much like to add is that I've made a number of friends and
increased my contacts with people from all over the world. ZForm has truly
brought a new and pleasant meaning to the term Global village, and if poker was
to be used as a yardstick to measure the success of building a community, then I
say let there be more of such games."
Grabit Grotto Development Diary: Part I
By Michael Feir
I've spent a lot of time over the past six years seeking new accessible games.
These have long been a primary source of fun for me. In almost every game I've
ever come across, no matter how good it is, I find myself wishing that the
designers had thought to add this or that feature, provide for this or that
possibility, etc. Of course, I realise that it is an incredibly hard thing to
create that illusive "perfect game", assuming for the moment that it's actually
I'm certainly not about to stop being an ambassador for all the developers of
accessible games. Nor am I going to step away from the editorship of Audyssey
Magazine. These objectives are, I still believe, how I can best contribute to
the advancement of accessible games. For as long as I'm able, I'll do my best to
make certain that Audyssey remains the informational hub for accessible games
that it has become over the years. I have decided that it would be worth my time
and energy to put on the additional hat of a game developer and try to make my
own computer game. After years of reporting on the efforts of others, I feel
that it's time I took a dip in the pool. At this stage, I believe that even if
it proves impossible to make the game, I'll learn a lot by trying and be able to
use the incites I gain to be a better editor. It's so easy to look at what a
developer is doing and demand more and more from games when you don't have to
make them yourself. I've certainly been guilty of this in the past.
Of course, I do this with a number of people having volunteered to help me. As
with Audyssey Magazine, the contributions of others will be crucial to ultimate
success. We're still in very preliminary stages of talking things through.
However, it looks like I, a complete novice at programming, will be able to
achieve a life-long dream thanks to the GMA Games engine designed by David
Greenwood. I've also have the assistance of Kelly Sapergia, owner of KJS
Productions to aid in providing sounds and music for the game. People have also
agreed to lend their voices to my project.
I don't for a moment think I'll find it easy going. If I've learned anything
from reporting on the efforts and anguishes of the many capable individuals
involved in producing accessible games, it's that my path will be as full of
unexpected twists as any good novel. I hope to eventually produce a game which
you, my readers, will find worth your while to purchase. Now that I'm a married
man, I have to be certain that any large-scale projects I become involved with
will compensate both of us for the time and energy they take. As I'm also aware
of how tight money can be, I'll set the price of the game as low as I can while
still maintaining an acceptable level of compensation.
What is this idea which has finally succeeded in getting me to take on such a
level of commitment? I'll let the introduction to the game's design document
speak for itself before I proceed further. The game is going to be called Grabit
Deep beneath the surface of a kind wizard's enchanted island, a small furry
creature called a grabit must collect various jewels which appear randomly and
deposit them in the treasure chest in the centre of the grotto. Opposing the
player's efforts are terrible trolls, ghastly goblins, frightful fraggons, and
the dreaded phantoms. While the goblins attempt to steal jewels from the grotto,
trolls will attempt to tip the treasure chest and cause damage to the passages
and mushrooms. The only ambition of the fraggons and phantoms is to destroy the
grabit in order to decrease the powers of the kind wizard. Knowing that danger
might threaten his little helper, the kind wizard has not left it defenceless.
Four passages are available to hide in or slide quickly through to escape
enemies. The passages also have other magical properties which will aid the
grabit. A crystal barrier has also been erected protecting the area near the
treasure chest. This inner sanctum will allow the grabit to rest in relative
safety and heal injuries rapidly. The grabit may use its sharp horn to attack
adjacent goblins and trolls or fire lightning bolts at more distant enemies on
the ground or at phantoms and fraggons in the air. Eating mushrooms which grow
in the corners of the grotto will cause injuries to be healed. On occasion, pits
will be uncovered and filled in by quakes. Special items will also appear which
present additional opportunities and dangers to be faced. The grabit must also
try to keep the grotto in good repair, or face being crushed by cave-ins or
ultimately having the grotto collapse onto them. All of these responsibilities
must be born in mind while at the same time striving for the highest score
This main portion of the game will play like a classic arcade game and hopefully
have that kind of cartoonish atmosphere. The game should be able to go on
indefinitely if players are skilled enough. I may have both a simpler arcade
mode as well as a more detailed campaign mode. If I'm able to, I would also like
to have another portion of the game involving the kind wizard and his enchanted
island more fully. Every so often, an event will occur on the enchanted island
which will require the wizard's attention. These events may even require the
wizard to put himself in peril of his life if he has been previously injured or
the grabit cannot retrieve enough jewels to give the wizard the power to deal
with a crisis in the most optimal way. In the arcade mode, the grabit would be
given an amount of time to gather enough jewels to allow the wizard to deal with
a crisis on the island. Success would win bonus points and a victory story scene
while failures would have unpleasant consequences. The campaign game would keep
track of the enchanted island as well as the wizard's health and possessions.
Successes and failures the wizard had while dealing with situations would have
more far-reaching consequences. If players couldn't collect enough jewels in
time to deal optimally with a situation, the wizard would have to choose from
more risky options. The player would choose on the wizard's behalf which of
these options to try. For instance, pirates might try and capture the island. If
the grabit retrieves enough jewels in time, the wizard can cast a spell which
causes a storm which leaves the pirates lost at sea far from the island. If the
grabit cannot do this, the pirates can land on the island's shore and begin to
attack various structures or settlements. If the wizard is in good health, he
might choose to summon a mystic knight to do battle with them. If the elf forest
is in good condition, he might call on elven archers to defend the island.
However, if too many of these are killed, they won't be available to help the
grabit for a time. There will always be at least two options at any point of
decision. The campaign would lead up to an ultimate duel between the wizard and
an evil arch enemy. After this battle, the game would end differently based on
the condition of the island and the wizard's health. Decisions would have to be
made quickly before circumstances changed for the worse.
This gives you a fairly good idea of my initial overall vision. I've only had to
make one major change so far. Originally, I wanted the game to be multi-player.
It would have been a hot-seat game with one player in active control of his/her
grabit. The other players would be able to set priorities for their grabits who
would be controlled by artificial intelligence until their turns came up.
However, this was beyond the capabilities of the GMA engine which is designed
for single-player games. It also very likely would have been beyond my
capabilities to figure out how to implement this to my satisfaction. Other than
the above, my original vision seems possible at present. I've started collecting
some sounds for my game. However, my primary focus for the next while will be
completing the design document containing the basics of all game elements. The
grabit's enemies have been worked out. However, they might need to be revised
when actual programming starts. I still have to work out the enchanted island's
geography and design most of the kind wizard's situations. A keyboard layout
will also have to be worked out for the main game. The wizard's choices will be
made using a standard menu with up and down arrows.
In future issues, I'll keep you all informed of my progress or possible lack of
it in further developer diaries. A very long road lies ahead of me if I'm going
to see this project all the way through. I'll also be looking for employment as
opportunities come up which may further delay work on the game. Audyssey will
always take precedence over my spare time. However, at the slow rate that
material for Audyssey arrives, I should have lots of time between issues to work
on the game. Keep it coming, readers. Audyssey is counting on you.
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.
One new game that shows some promise was discovered for us by Zachary Kline. He
Freeciv is the best strategy game I have found that is of the sort that sighted
people play regularly. Has anyone heard of the "Civilization series" by
Well freeciv is a clone of civilization released for free under the general
Basically, for those who have not heard of civilization, it is a game of empire
t and conquest set on earth.
You take command of one of many nations, each expanding, each fighting for
Well, if you want to know how to access freeciv, read on!
You have no need for sighted assistance, and a grid of graph paper might be
handy for mapping, or whatever. Well, the display can be a bit confusing, but it
is like a windows program with the menu bar at the top and the map and things
like that in the middle.
Basically, I use the mouse emulation of Window-eyes to navigate the screens,
select controls, etc. You start with a settler and an explorer, which you move
around with the arrow keys like all units. Well, I leave you to the very well
written manual that is on the web site:
Editor's note: I had some difficulty getting the game going, but haven't spent a
lot of time on it. It could be helpful if somebody writes up a general help file
for blind players which we can put in a future issue of Audyssey and on the
King Of Dragon Pass:
Available commercially for $19.95 US from:
Game requires sighted assistance
Reviewed by Michael Feir
Being fortunate enough to have sighted friends willing to play computer games
with can open the door to a lot of marvellous fun. One game which is
particularly suitable for assisted play is King of Dragon Pass. For an
independently produced game, it has done remarkably well in sales despite being
mostly text-based and not easily categorised. It is, in essence, a story-based
strategy game. You must make decisions governing the lives of a clan settling in
a new and magical land. I've included material below from their web-site to give
you a better sense of whether the game would be suitable for your situation.
First of all, however, I'll relate my own experiences and observations.
Right off the bat, I should make it absolutely clear that there is sadly no way
to enjoy this game without a sighted person to help out. There are enough
inaccessible graphical elements to make this impossible. In all other ways, it
would have been perfectly suitable. It's all reading dialogues, learning about
your clan's people, myths and history, and entirely turn-based. There are no
timed elements at all leaving you plenty of time to think about your next move.
You and your sighted helper can discuss what to do next for as long as it takes.
Battles and all other situations result in text output explaining what has
happened or what people say. I contacted one of the game's designers about the
possibility of making the game more accessible. Unfortunately, he didn't think
it would be possible. However, he did suggest that the game would be suitable
for playing with sighted assistance. He was absolutely right on that score.
The music and sound adds a lot to the game despite the sounds being fairly
minimal. There is no voice acting or battle sounds, but different areas of the
game usually have small sound clips and their own music to accompany them. The
game comes with a good deal of online help as well as a manual which scanned
quite well on my Kurzweil 1000 software. The rich background of the game is
astonishing. As long as your sighted partner doesn't mind reading, the game
provides a lot of depth and detail about your clan members, history, and other
things. For instance, the people who lead the clan, known as the clan ring, each
offer their own advice whenever it is requested. There are seven people on the
clan ring, each having their own personalities and agendas which can influence
what they say. During one situation, a group of people tasked with hunting the
undead arrived at our clan's home. They offered to hunt for any spectres,
spirits or other undead creatures in our land if we permitted them. Our clan
members had various opinions. Some worried about how intrusive it would be for
clan members. Others thought that we should offer gifts and have a feast to
honour the brave hunters. In another case, Adam and I were thinking of
conducting a raid on another clan. Various clan members had conflicting opinions
on that as well.
The game which Adam and I started will likely take us quite a while to finish.
We've played for around twenty-five game years. Each season, two things may be
initiated using members of your clan ring. For instance, we sent out an
exploration party and also sent a trade caravan to a distant clan to attempt to
start a trade rout. Our explorers found a woman who feared she was still being
pursued by enemies and had to decide what the best course of action was. We
elected to take her into our clan which pleased the people but may have
repercussions in the future. The game is chalk full of things like that. You
never know when decisions made years ago may come back to haunt you, but can
safely assume that most decisions will have consequences in the longer term.
With the exception that the sighted player must control the computer and read,
blind and sighted players are placed on an equal footing. No sharp perception or
lightning-fast reflexes are required. It's all about memory and judging risks.
As you play, the game writes a saga as a text file which can be read afterwards.
I should warn parents that the game deals with some mature subject matter.
However, it contains no overtly offensive material which I've noticed. I would
recommend this game for people aged fifteen and older as they'll likely be able
to appreciate the game's intricate nature. Below, I have included some text from
the King of Dragon Pass homepage. See the top of the review for the URL, and pay
the site a visit.
King of Dragon Pass is the saga of colonizing a magical land. You control the
future of a ragged clan which has decided to settle the empty land of Dragon
Pass. Your decisions determine whether they prosper over the course of a
century, and whether they will be remembered forever as a great clan.
Of course, yours isn't the only clan which has emigrated to Dragon Pass. You
ve to cooperate and compete with other clans of your own people, as well as
folk you know nothing about. Each has their own personality.
Your goal is to become King of Dragon Pass, uniting all these people through
diplomacy, magic, and battle. (The objective for a shorter game is to forge a
tribe and remain king for ten years.)
The game is set in the magical world of Glorantha, explored in detail through
the games Hero Wars and RuneQuest. This provides a rich background not seen in
most computer games. Block quote end
Block quote start
The game begins with an overview of the clan's legends and ancient history. You
choose how your clan responded to important events. These choices define your
clan, and provide goals for victory. They also serve as a gentle introduction to
The backbone of the game is the economic model. You can review the status of
your clan in screens for Farming, War, Trade, Relations, Magic, and The Clan.
In each of these areas, you're given advice from your clan council, or Ring, and
can make changes or initiate activities (such as a raid or diplomatic mission).
Your clan's magic is directed towards worship of Glorantha's many gods. For
example, you'll want to make sure the agriculture deities are worshipped
properly to improve your harvest. As you develop temples and sacrifice to
deities of different aspects, more magical options become available.
A detailed map shows what your clan has learned about Dragon Pass through
exploration or from other clans.
You also have access to background about your people and their myths and
history. And you can review your own deeds in the computer-written saga of your
Although the game is centered around the clan as a whole, at any time 15-18
outstanding individuals are presented in more detail. Each has a distinct
personality, which colors the advice they give. From these clan leaders you
pick your Ring, and can attempt to nurture a Hero. Over time, these leaders gain
knowledge, but grow old and eventually die, to be replaced by promising
Block quote end
Block quote start
In each of the Gloranthan year's five seasons, you can make two changes (such as
increasing the amount of land devoted to crops, enlarging a temple, or arming
About once a season, you have to respond to an event (offers of alliance,
visitors from distant lands, or raids). Your decisions can trigger other events,
and have long-lasting consequences. Your clan Ring will advise you.
You also initiate activities, such as sending a trading mission to another clan,
or building a new temple. And you can risk performing a heroquest, reenacting
the mythical deeds of one of your gods in the hope of gaining a similar reward.
Combat is handled abstractly. After assigning your forces, you choose your
tactics and objective. You may also get the chance to exploit battle
opportunities through individual heroism.
Block quote end
Block quote start
The game is composed of hundreds of unique stories, which fit together into an
At the beginning, the player's concern is the clan: building up magic potential,
strengthening relations with other clans, responding to cattle raids, and
exploring the new land in search of treasures.
The next phase of the game is the attempt to form a tribe, through a series of
negotiations with neighboring clans.
Once there is a tribe, new problems arise, from the election of a king to
warfare to tribal politics.
After the clans of Dragon Pass band into tribes, the final step is integrating
them into a kingdom. This requires a series of tests, including making peace
with enemies you've been fighting for dozens of game years, and fulfilling
Block quote end
Block quote start
A fair degree of variability enhances replay. Different clans will be found in
different locations, and local details (such as ruins, sacred groves, standing
stones) are randomized. And your clan's leaders will be different each game.
Their abilities are used to randomly resolve most situations.
The pre-game decisions also allow for replay, since they change the starting
situation and victory conditions.
Block quote end
Block quote start
King of Dragon Pass runs on Windows (95 or later) and Mac OS (PowerPC). Hardware
requirements are fairly minimal. Block quote end
Block quote start
The game was designed by David Dunham, Greg Stafford, and Robin D. Laws, with
additional design by Rob Heinsoo and Elise Bowditch. Block quote end
Available commercially from: www.espsoftworks.com
Fully playable without sighted assistance
Game created by ESP Softworks
Reviewed by Kelly Sapergia
"Monkey Business" (hereafter referred to as MB) is a new audio arcade game from
The evil Doctor Wobble has broken into Professor Smegal's lab and let the
monkeys loose. They, in turn, have escaped, taking parts of a new teleporter
with them in the process. You play the role of Professor Smith, Professor
Smeegal's assistant. You must go through ten challenging levels to get back the
parts for the teleporter by catching all the monkeys you can, then battle it out
with Dr. Wobble himself. When you start playing MB, you find yourself outside
the lab. Professor Smeegal arrives, and you follow him inside and through a long
hallway to the lab. Here, you discover that all but one monkey has escaped.
Professor Smeegal will give you a quick intro on how to use some of the keys on
your keyboard, and will communicate with you at the beginning of each level.
MB is loaded with keyboard commands. The arrow keys are used to move your
character, while the "six-pack" set of keys is used to give you feedback about
your location, your health, percentage, and more. You can also start various
scans using these keys. These "scans" are similar to Lone Wolf's radar system,
where you hear different sounds for different objects as the scanner sweeps over
I really like the atmospheric sounds in this game. You can tell where you are by
listening for certain sounds. For instance, if you hear a bubbling sound, you
know you're near an acid pit. You can also tell where a monkey is if you hear
one running away from you. (The monkey sounds differ, depending on whether it's
running through the grass, or into water.) When you catch up with a monkey it
will shriek and try to get away from you. At this point, you have to catch it
using your net by using the space bar.
The Object Locator is another important part of this game. It beeps to let you
know there's an object near you, but it does more. If you press the C key, you
can see if there are any coins near you. The more coins you get, the more bonus
points you'll get. The M key is used to track a monkey. When you get near one
and press M you'll hear a beep which is louder depending on how close the monkey
is. While MB is a great game, there are a couple things that could use some
improvements. There is some great voice acting in the game, but some of the
voices could use a bit more in the way of dramatics. I also think that some of
the puzzles are a bit too advanced for beginning players. For instance, on the
Aztec Temple level, you first have to get around various acid pits, avoiding
snakes along the way, then you have to try getting into the temple without
getting killed by rocks or poisoned arrows.
In situations like this, I think it would be a good idea to add a feature where
you could save your game anywhere. (Currently, when you load a previously saved
game, you begin at the beginning of the level you're currently on.)
I'm rating MB 8 out of 10. If you like a game with lots of action, this is the
one for you.
For more information about MB, or to download a playable demo, go to
Available commercially for $19.95 from:
Created by ESP Softworks
Reviewed by Michael Feir
Fully playable without sighted assistance.
If anything, Change Reaction is solid proof that ESP Softworks hasn't lost its
pioneering spirit. Once again, the edge of the envelope has been pushed farther
a field for accessible games. Nobody has ever done a real-time puzzle game for
the blind like this one. Complete with background music, randomness, and well
considered sounds, the game is an excellent introduction to its type.
I used the demo version to base my review of this game on. This lasts for
fifteen days which gave me ample time to get a feel for the game. I never got a
chance to see the high-speed bonus round, so I can't comment on that. The full
version gives you the ability to post your scores to the Internet and
participate in monthly contests. The winner can use the ESP bucks won playing
the game to lower the actual cost or even purchase games from ESP Softworks.
This is the first time something like this has ever been done by a game
developer. Given the industry's early stage where developers aren't even
expecting to earn their livings by producing these games, I never would have
expected such a generous move.
The instructions which come with the game are in a text file and are
well-written. There is also audio help which makes it easier for players to
learn game sounds. The usual menu interface has been used where you move up or
down to reach various options. James North, president of ESP Softworks, speaks
all the options as you move over them. He also speaks the coins and narrates
other dialog boxes in the game.
The concept is pretty straight forward. Nine columns of twenty coins each are
positioned in a line from left to right. The denominations of these coins are
random. The player is given a coin to toss onto one of the columns in an attempt
to start a chain reaction by having it land so that three or more coins of the
same denomination are adjacent. This will cause all such coins to explode and
disappear from the playing field. When a whole row is cleared of coins, its
total is added to the player's jackpot. Only when a whole row is cleared are
coins added to the jackpot. Clearing columns doesn't score any points. A cash
register sound tells you when you've cleared a row and added to the jackpot.
At times, a fuse will be lit. This fuse will move slowly over the columns while
it burns, and is a bomb. This bomb has the capability of exploding all of the
same denomination of coins in a column if a coin matching the top coin in the
pile where the bomb is getting ready to explode. If the bomb explodes when
you're on top of it, or you throw the wrong coin onto the bomb, you are
penalized ten seconds. Every minute, a siren will sound making it easier to keep
track of how much time you have left.
The interface is simple and about as intuitive as it's possible to get with a
game like this. The left and right arrows move you in their respective
directions over the columns of coins. You can use the shifted left and right
arrows to quickly glance to the columns immediately left and right of you to see
if coins match up. The down arrow enters coin review mode which lets you look
down, left and right through the coins lower in the columns. The up arrow snaps
you out of review mode back to the top row. The space bar or insert key on the
numpad will toss coins. Other keys give you information such as the percent of
coins cleared and the coin you're currently holding. You certainly don't need
all of them for beginning or casual play, but they'll come in handy when you're
going for that top jackpot.
The music which plays in the background is cheerful and doesn't take away from
one's ability to focus on the task at hand. Due to the short time duration of
the game, it doesn't get annoyingly repetitive. The coin explosions are neat,
and you can hear the coins above the ones which exploded fall onto the columns.
All of the exploding sounds are proportional and nothing struck me as over the
top at all. Very importantly, I never felt that I was losing time by listening
to something fully.
Having a game like this completed certainly raises some interesting
possibilities for future games. It has now been proven that arcade action-style
puzzles can be done for blind people very effectively. What developers do now
that Change Reaction has thrust open the gates is anyone's guess. This game is
suitable in content for all ages, but I can't picture people younger than around
eight getting a very good grasp on the game. It would make for an especially
good gift for people who might not be able to afford to buy many games due to
the ESP bucks contests.
DELUXE SLOT MACHINE
Reviewed by Charles Rivard
No sighted assistance is needed if you have a method of keeping your total such
as your head, a calculator, a Cranmer abacus ETC.
Available from Radio Shack stores, website, or phone.
Around Christmas time, handheld games come out by the ton! You can get such a
slot machine that has enough sound so you can keep track of how you're doing as
far as winning and losing is concerned. I use a Cranmer abacus, but you can use
a calculator or your head to keep your current total. It runs on one AAA battery
which will last for a year or longer, and if you do nothing for a few minutes,
it shuts off, retaining your current total. There are 5 buttons on the deluxe
slot machine. Going from right to left, here's what they do:
#1: Places the maximum bet and then spins the wheels. For each 10 points bet, a
beep is heard.
#2: You can place from 10 to 50 point bet in 10 point increments, rather than
the full bet. A beep is heard each time you add a 10-point bet. If you only have
20 points as a total, this is your maximum bet, and the wheels will spin at this
#3: Makes a single 10-point bet and spins the wheels, or, if you have placed a
bet using the second button, this third button, which is larger than any of the
others spins the wheels.
#4: Press this button if you want to reset the game to the starting point total
of 500. Actually, you hold it down until a beep is heard. Continuing to hold for
a few more seconds, and the wheels will spin without making any bet. This is so
you can see the operation of the machine. No wins or losses.
#5: Toggles sound on and off. The default is on.
If you want to add quickly and move on to the next bet, press the second button
once while the machine is adding to your total. It adds faster and then, makes a
bet of 10 points when complete. If that is all you want to bet, spin the wheels
with the third button at this point, or continue adding another 10 points with
the second button until you reach your desired bet. Be careful, because if you
bet too much, you cannot take any of it back. You can bet a little faster if you
hold the second button down until your desired bet is reached and immediately
let up on it. Again, you will hear a beep for each addition to your bet. You
always know how much you're betting, unless you cannot count to 5, that is.
(Just kidding, folks.) It's a very easy game to use for the blind, and far, far,
far cheaper than going to Vegas. The games are priced at approximately $15 US.
As far as being playable by the totally blind, I would give this a 9 out of 10
rating only because the visual screen cannot be read by us, but, as I mentioned,
with a simple method of keeping score, it's no problem.
The website is
for more info, or to order online, or to check on availability.
The visual display will show a score of up to 19,999 and then stop. However, any
higher score is retained in memory, and when you get back down to 19,999 or
lower, the correct score will be displayed.
This chart lists the winning combinations and
points awarded for each, based on a bet of 10
# Lines Bet 1-4 5
Triple Bar 3000 6000
Double Bar 300 300
One Bar 50 50
Any Bar 20 1 20
It's been quite a while since a game has had four reviews of it submitted for a
single issue. It seems that Personal Computer Systems has really hit the nail on
the head with their rendition of this old arcade hit. I think you'll find the
four reviews below will give you a good idea of whether the game will suit
either yourself or somebody on Santa's list. It generated quite a lot of traffic
on the Blindgamers list during the latter half of the fourth quarter. I can't
recall another occasion where four people have written reviews for the same game
for the same issue. Given what the developers are working on for next year,
it'll be interesting to see how long PCS has that record.
Developed by and Commercially available from: www.PCSGames.net
Totally accessible without sighted assistance
Review by Stan Bobbitt
I check to see how many dots are remaining, Ah, only 7 dots to go and this level
will be cleared ... Ooo, but only 1 life left, hmm. I suppose I should turn the
dot detector on. (CLICK) The audio navigator tells me that there's a passage to
the left and I hear the ding-ding signal from the dot detector telling me that
there are more dots down that passage but ...
I can also hear that low hum and that taunting, haunting voice in the distance,
letting me know that there are ghosts near by. (CRINGE)
Well, let's just see how near by. (CLICK) Hmm, 39 blocks.
I wonder which ghost it is ... (CLICK) Yikes! It's Clide!
I turn and flee, kicking into cruise control, back down the passage from whence
I came. The ghostly voice and the hum grows fainter and fainter in the distance,
then fades away. (PHEW)
I slow to a walk and listen. Everything is quiet save for the low, inspiring
background music. Suddenly I hear a welcome voice calling out, "Super power,
super power." (SMILE) A few more steps, the voice grows stronger, and the audio
navigator tells me that there's a side passage to the right. (AH)
An agile turn into the passage, I grab the super power pill, and I am super
powered! It won't last for long though, so quick, I'll head back and get those
last 7 dots, with no worry about those pesky ghosts, Clide and his friends
Blinky and Pinky.
As I skid left into the passage and begin gobbling up the last remaining dots, I
hear those ghosts taunting me, telling me to leave, that I don't belong here !
They have me surrounded! It sounds like Blinky is ahead of me and old Clide is
hot on my trail! A quick check tells me there are only 3 dots left. Let's see,
Clide is the slowest of the ghosts, so I guess I'll try to get Blinky first and
hope to gobble the last of the dots before my super power pill wears off.
Reassured by the friendly whine of the alarm, signalling that I am yet super
powered, I make a mad rush forward ... One down! (GRIN) Bye-bye Blinky! I hear
another close by. How many dots left ... (AGH) only two!
Oh no, the rate of the alarm has speeded up, meaning that my super power is
about to run out!
As I turn to take flight, Clide is upon me ... I hear a low pitched oomph ...
meaning that the super power has run out.
Oh well, better luck next time. (GRIN)
----- ----- -----
That's just a taste of some of the fun you can have with PCS Games' Pacman
Talks, an audio version of Pacman for windows.
The sounds are excellent, well chosen for their purposes, and certainly
reminiscent of the old arcade game.
I found the interface to be very intuitive and easy as well.
The demo includes the full version which allows you to play only a single level.
You'll have to purchase a product key to unlock all 24 levels.
When you first start the demo version, there's a (product security) window. Just
click ok. The next screen will ask for your product key. To run the demo
version, simply click OK or CANCEL without entering anything in the edit field.
Next comes the Pacman Talks' theme music, which you may recognize, and then a
voice giving the product name, copyright, and version. You can hit the CONTROL
key at any time to skip these.
Now you can choose training mode or not; the training mode stops the ghosts. You
can turn this on and off later under options in the help menu during the game.
Pacman Talks includes an extensive help file. Part of the help file plays the
game sounds and tells you what they mean. Another part of the file is available
in text format and must be read by your screen reader.
Hitting F1 any time during game play will bring up this help file. Hitting
CONTROL+F1 will bring up the text files, which again, will have to be read by
your screen reader.
It only took me a few minutes to familiarize myself with a few essential sounds
and key strokes using this help and I was off, chasing down those passages,
avoiding those ghosts, gobbling up dots, and racking up some high scores. So I
won't go into any specifics here. Just take the time to peruse through the help
menu and you shouldn't have any problem racking up those
humongous scores for yourself!
I recommend this game for all ages.
As far as game re-play, well, with 24 levels to play with ...
I give this game a 10 out of 10. Phil Vlasak has done a superb job putting
Pacman Talks together using the GMA game engine.
PS, It would make a very nice Christmas present. (HINT HINT) Santa ...
Available commercially for $30 US or $46 Canadian if downloaded
Also available on CD for $40 US or $56 Canadian if Visa or Mastercard is used.
Game fully playable without sighted assistance
Created by PCS Games
Reviewed by Michael Feir
My long-time readers will have noted my fascination with classic arcade games.
This has doubtless struck some as strange since I cannot play most of them.
While I won't go into a long personal defence of this interest, I am quite
pleased to be able to review this excellent adaptation of a classic arcade game
that I wasn't certain could be effectively done in accessible form.
The first fully Windows-based game to come from PCS Games, Pacman Talks has
proved that we can still hope for more exciting developments from this long
absent pioneer of accessible games. Using the game engine from GMA Games, a
brilliant rendition of the game which swept the world in the early eighties has
been created. I was quite surprised to discover that the game engine which
brought the blind community its first action shooter could be used for such a
non-violent game as Pacman to such good effect.
The game features excellent documentation as well as on-line help which will
likely be all players will need to get started. The speech used in the game is
of very good quality. The only words I didn't fully understand were those spoken
by the ghosts which seem to have been intentionally made to sound creepy and
distorted. Controls are very simple and intuitively laid out. It may take
players a while to get used to the layout of the board as well as how navigating
When you move forward, you do so continuously until you either tell Pacman to
stop or hit a wall. As you come to branching passages, a three-chirp warning is
sounded in your left or right speaker depending on which way you can turn. You
can hit the left or right arrow as soon as you like, but won't turn until after
the three chirps. As you go through the maze, you'll hear dots being eaten
unless you're going down a passage through which you've already travelled. When
you've eaten most of the dots, you can resort to a handy dot detector to help
locate remaining dots and keep from wandering endlessly through passages you've
The sounds work quite well in the game. Each ghost has a different voice and
says various things depending on the circumstances. It is also easy to tell when
you have superpower and are able to scare ghosts, when that power is about to
expire, when ghosts are near, and other things. A lot of spoken audio navigation
help is also available if it is needed.
When compared to the normal version of Pacman, the layout of the board has been
greatly simplified. I'm usually not one who appreciates this sort of thing, but
think it was a wise decision in this case. Blind people have a fighting chance
to become familiar with the layout where I'm not certain that would be possible
with the normal one. Even though I've played over a hundred games by now, I can
still find myself getting confused if I'm not careful. The minimal graphics
available will make this game particularly suitable for families where there are
blind and sighted siblings.
There is enough complexity to this accessible version of Pacman that I would not
be able to recommend it to as young an audience as its normal counterpart was
suitable for. Small children may have trouble piecing together what the sounds
mean and becoming used to the layout. I would suggest that children aged ten and
up would be able to enjoy the game. New players should try out the training mode
to become familiar with how the game works.
On the whole, the game seems free of bugs with one exception that I know of. I
have on occasion found myself closer than six spots away from ghosts. This is
supposed to be impossible, but I've managed it and found that movement becomes
sluggish and that it is hard to navigate. While in this situation, ghosts are
unable to eat Pacman. Other than the above, the game seems flawless. It has
excellent replay value, and should hold the interest of players for quite some
time. The demo gives players an excellent opportunity to evaluate the game. The
full version lets players go through twenty-four levels, while the demo lets
players experience only the first level as often as they wish. In higher levels,
ghosts are faster and power pills last for shorter amounts of time. The ghost
house is a nifty part of all levels. A lot of different sounds can be heard
while Pacman is in there, and there is a bonus item which can be picked up for
additional points. It can be quite a challenge getting into the ghost house
before superpower expires, and it is quite dangerous entering the ghost house
without such protection. It can become a bit frustrating when all power pills
have been used and only the escape tunnels can be used to flee from ghosts after
luring them away from areas where dots remain to be eaten.
The background music is an impressive addition with adjustable volume and the
option to have it completely turned off if players find it too distracting. It
is of a non-distracting nature, and good enough not to become annoying after
In closing, I would like to reiterate my hearty endorsement of this game. It
would make an excellent gift for blind people of almost all ages. PCS Games has
managed to capture the essence of what make the original game so universally
enjoyed by people from all walks of life, and I hope blind people who may have
previously feared computers or thought that no games were out there which would
interest them will give this one a try.
Many people have enjoyed packman especially in the 1980's, when he was seen
chomping away on those dots on arcade machines.
I personally liked the dos version of packman that PCS produced, but this
windows version is truly unique and professionally well crafted, as it uses the
GMA game engine found in the shades of doom release from GMA.
The game is still packman but with many more variants. There are escape tunnels
so you can move from one side of the maze to another, panic buttons in case you
are really stuck and you are surrounded by ghosts and 25 levels!!
In the demo version, you only get one level, but this is enough to give you a
sampling of the game. It certainly provides many hours of fun for both the
newby to packman and the advanced. It is certainly tense as you zoom through
the echoing corridors trying to find all those dots and avoid those ghosts.
The game is a standard installation program, and shouldn't cause any
difficulty. From what I remember off hand it does run off all operating systems
but do check on the websites mentioned at the start of this article for the
Starting the game.
When you start packman talks you are presented with a dialogue box that asks
you to enter your registration name and key, just press enter until the music
starts, which I think means pressing enter twice. The registration key will be
supplied to you upon purchase of the game. One thing I should point out here,
is that there is no expiry period on the
game, so you can play the one level for as long as you want. The game does have
25 levels, which means the ghosts get harder and smarter as you progress.
You can move in two ways in the game. Step by step, or continuously. When you
move continuously, you can set the game so that packman can describe what is
around him as he is zooming down each passage way. One nice feature is when you
are approaching a wall you will hear it on your left, and you will know that
you can turn left then. There are sound description items in the main game
sound menu so all the sounds will be revealed too you. Avoiding the ghosts is
fairly straightforward and when you are getting near a ghost you will hear them
getting louder, there are four ghosts each with different characteristics, but
I'll let you read about those for yourself grin
Also in the game, the sound effects are stunning, this game is really immersive
and well crafted for all arcade lovers. I myself may purchase the game.
It is a shame you don't get more than one level, but the other levels will
certainly provide a challenge to you, the player.
The instruction file in the game is well laid-out, giving you clear and precise
instructions on how to play the games. To order it, go to www.gmagames.com,
where you can also download the demo. You can also go to www.pcsgames.net as
Happy fruit picking!!
I can be reached in two ways. The easiest is via my Cogeco E-mail address. My
e-mail address is as follows: [email protected]
Alternatively, you may correspond with me on 3.5-inch disks, provided you be
sure to send them in returnable disk-mailers. I don't have the money to pay for
postage. My mailing address is: 350 Lynnwood Drive
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
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:
Justin Ekis is our new web-based games expert. He will search for and report on
on-line games like Utopia and Archmage. He is also going to keep a close eye on
the re-emerging BBS scene. You can contact him at: [email protected]
Dave Sherman has become well-known on the Audyssey list and has now joined the
Audyssey staff as our multi-user-dungeon expert. Interest in muds has popped up
again and again in the Audyssey community and elsewhere among the growing
net-savvy blind community. Thanks to Dave's efforts, newcomers will have another
expert to turn to for guidance. Dave will also report on the various different
MUDs out there and steer us to the more blind-friendly ones. You can contact him
at: [email protected]
Muds take a long time to become familiar with. Therefore, Maria Dibble joins
Dave Sherman in his exploration of muds. They also make a great team to tackle
interactive fiction games together. Maria can be contacted at:
David Lant has long been an active member of the Audyssey community. He is now
one of our two moderators keeping things pleasant and orderly on the Audyssey
discussion list. He can be contacted at: [email protected]
Brenda Green is the new co moderator. Her efforts on behalf of the Audyssey
community are very much appreciated. She can be contacted at:
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:
Paul Nimmo is a long-time resident of the Audyssey community who maintains a
Frequently Asked Questions or faq file for Audyssey. When it is updated, it gets
posted to a number of sites. He can be contacted at: [email protected]