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Audyssey;
Computer Games Accessible to the Blind
Edited by Michael Feir
Issue 12: May/June, 1998

++
Welcome

Welcome to the twelfth issue of Audyssey. This magazine is
dedicated to the discussion of games which, either by accident or
design, are accessible to the blind. We also discuss any concerns
and issues raised by them. This issue marks the second anniversary
of Audyssey. Kelly Sapergia, our Interactive Fiction Expert, has
once again come through with some very insightful reviews and
articles. As usual, the latest thinking and developments at PCS
will be covered. In addition, two of our readers have come forth
with special offers for the rest of us.

Please write articles and letters about games or game-related
topics which interest you. They will likely interest me, and your
fellow readers. They will also make my job as editor a lot more
interesting and true to the meaning of the word. This magazine
should and can be a highly interesting and qualitative look at
accessible computer gaming. To insure
that high quality is maintained, I'll need your written
contributions. I'm not asking for money here, and won't accept any.
This magazine is free in its electronic form, and will always
remain so. PCS needs to charge a subscription cost to cover the
disks and shipping costs that it incurs by making the magazine
available on disk. I'm writing this magazine as much for my own
interest as for everyone else's. Your articles, reviews, and
letters, as well as any games you might care to send me, are what
I'm after. Send any games, articles, letters,
or reviews on a 3.5-inch disk in a self-addressed mailer
so that I can return your disk or disks to you once I have copied
their contents onto my hard drive. Please only send shareware or
freeware games. It is illegal to send commercial games. By sending
me games, you will do several things: first, and most obviously,
you will earn my gratitude. You will also insure that the games you
send me are made available to my readership as a whole. As a
further incentive, I will fill any disks you send me with games
from my collection. No disk will be returned empty. If you want
specific games, or specific types of games, send a message in Ascii
format along. *Never* *ever* send your original disks of *anything*
to *anyone* through the mail. *Always* send *copies!* This
principle may seem like it shouldn't even have to be stated, but
when it comes to just about anything related to computers, there's
always some poor soul who will act before applying common sense.
Disks are *not* indestructible. Things *do* get lost or damaged in
the mail, and disks are not immune to these misfortunes. If you
have a particular game that you need help with, and you are sending
your questions on a disk anyhow, include the game so that I can try
and get past your difficulty. If you can, I recommend that you send
e-mail. I have acquired a copy of the UUencode software, and can
send and/or receive files which are encoded via this means. This
way, no money will be wasted sending me a game I already have, and
you'll get my reply more quickly. You are responsible for shipping
costs. That means, either use a disk mailer which has your address
on it, and is either free matter for the blind, or is properly
stamped. I can and will gladly spare time to share games and my
knowledge of them, but cannot currently spare money above what I
spend hunting for new games. I encourage all my
readers to give my magazine to whoever they think will appreciate
it. Up-load it onto web pages and bulletin board systems. Copy it
on disk for people, or print it out for sighted people who may find
it of value. The larger our community gets, the more self-
sustaining it will become.

This magazine is published on a bi-monthly basis, each issue
appearing no earlier than the twentieth of every other month.  All
submissions must be sent to me in standard Ascii format either on
a 3.5-inch floppy disk, or via e-mail to my Compuserve address. I
will give my home address and my Compuserve address at the end of
the magazine. There are now several ways of obtaining Audyssey. To
subscribe to the distribution list so that you receive all future
issues, send a subscription request to J.J. Meddaugh. As he is
running several lists, be sure to specifically ask to join the
Audyssey list. His address is:
[email protected]
Travis Siegel has set up a list to facilitate discussions among
readers between issues. To subscribe to this discussion list, send
a message to [email protected] with "subscribe audyssey" in the
body of the message. To post to the discussion list, send your
messages to:
[email protected]   
You can find all issues of Audyssey on the Internet on Paul
Henrichsen's web site at:
www.thesocket.com/~henrich
All issues are also available in the disability forum on
Compuserve, and also in the gamers forum. If you have web access,
Audyssey now has an official web-page, maintained by J.J. Meddaugh.
There are links to other interesting sites, and all issues of
Audyssey are available there as well. In the near future, software
may also be posted there for you to down-load. The address for this
page is:
http://audyssey.home.ml.org
If you have ftp access, all issues are also available at Travis
Siegel's ftp site:
ftp.softcon.com
Look in the /magazines directory.

For those of you who have trouble finding some of the software
discussed in this magazine, or if you know someone who doesn't have
access to the Internet, but would be interested in the magazine,
this magazine is now available on disk. PCS has agreed to
distribute Audyssey, as well as selected shareware or freeware
software on disk for ten dollars US per year. To subscribe to
Audyssey on disk, contact them at:
Personal Computer Systems
551 Compton Ave.
Perth Amboy N.J.
08861
Phone (732)-826-1917
E-mail: [email protected]

++
Contents:
Welcome
Contents
From The Editor
Letters
News from PCS
The Latest Finds
Questions and Answers With Anacreon's Creator
Hints for Cosmoserve
Game Reviews
AGT Utilities: Pros and Cons on How to Improve Your AGT games
Getting a Handle on Games
Contacting US

++
From the Editor:

Well, folks, it's official. As of July 15th, Audyssey will have
been in existence for two full years. It's been quite a journey for
me, and, I hope, for many of you. unlike the last anniversary
issue, where I found myself doing most of the work of making the
issue special, you, my readers, have marked the second anniversary
of your community's existence for yourselves. I extend my thanks
for the many excellent contributions made over the past two months.
This issue is a prime example on what can happen when enough of you
decide to put in your time, thought, and effort into writing
provocative articles, reviews, and letters. It's good to see that
you enjoy this magazine enough to help in its creation. We still
need more of you to start writing articles and reviews, so I don't
want anyone to think there's some surplus of material I have
stashed away. Nearly everything contributed over the past two
months went into this issue, and it will take a substantial
increase in reviews and articles if I ever hope to have a surplus
to draw upon when there are no new games to report. This magazine
is still a fragile creation in that regard. As a mark of this,
consider that I'm writing this editorial half an hour before I
intend to publish.

I suppose the next order of business is to explain how this crazy
summer is going to work out for us. As I've indicated in the
previous issue, I'm about to head off to Score, a program which
teaches young visually impaired and blind people how to use
computers in the work-place. I'll be helping a chosen group of
teenagers learn the ropes, and updating my own knowledge of
Windows95 and Internet skills. I'll be away for a period of three
weeks as of this coming Saturday. Speaking of July 4th, happy
Independence Day to all you Americans out there. While I'm at it,
most of you will probably receive this magazine on July 1st. for
all my fellow Canadians, happy Canada Day. Well, enough fireworks.
Let's get back to business. I'll be unable to receive E-mail or
respond to other mail until July 27. If you want to send stuff
directly to me, you'd best wait until early August. However, I
haven't left you without help. My father will be keeping track of
my E-mail for me. He will let you know when your message was
received, and will keep it for my viewing when I return. If you
want a more indepth response, or are in need of feedback, Adam
Taylor has agreed to act as editor for the month of July. Send your
E-mail to:
[email protected]
Adam will help as much as he can, but please remember that
interactive fiction and other text-based games aren't exactly his
favourites. Therefore, he might not know much about the games you
want help with. However, he does have an exceptionally creative
mind, and has excellent problem-solving abilities. Explain your
problem as fully as possible, and be certain to tell him where he
can find the game in question. I have no doubt that you'll find him
quite a good resource. He'll also save things for me when I get
back, so send any games or articles his way.

From messages posted on various newsgroups, it looks as if July
could be quite a stellar month for interactive fiction. Two Inform
ports of Dungeon, the precursor to Infocom's Zork trilogy, are
being worked on. The word is that they're nearing completion, and
could be released quite soon. One port is called dungeon.z5, and is
an exact port of the original Dungeon with a few extras like
historical information and hints thrown in. The other is apparently
going to be a .z8 file, and will be loaded with footnotes and
extras. I certainly look forward to examining both of these takes
on a game of such historical importance. Also, Avelon is apparently
going to appear at long last as well. The butt of jokes among game
developers for years, this game might finally give its excellent
author the last laugh. A new version of Adom is also on its way for
all you role-playing fans.

Well, that about sums it up for this very special edition of
audyssey. I hope you all thoroughly enjoy it, and look forward to
the next year of this magazine's publication with a good deal of
hope and confidence. I hope you all have a great Summer. When
you're not enjoying what are predicted to be very warm days indeed,
perhaps due to excessive sun-burn, you might want to check out the
many games discussed in this, or previous issues. What the future
holds for this magazine is as much a mystery to me as it is to you.
Like I said before, it's still quite a fragile creation. However,
as this issue demonstrates, fragile things can be beautiful.     

++
Letters:
+
The following two letters are from David Sherman:

Mike,

   (First off, I want to apologize if this letter does not display
well on your end.  The mail program I am using is the "Internet
Mail" package that comes with MSIE.  So if the lines are choppy,
please use your editorial discretion to clean it up.
Unfortunately, I have no control over line length with this
package.  I guess I need to spend some of my free time obtaining a
better e-mail package, and put the games aside temporarily!)

I want to thank you for all your hard work in compiling and
publishing Audyssey.  I first became aware of the magazine from a
posting in the BLIND-L mailing list, last winter.  The first Issue
I received was #9, your "Holiday Edition".  I have to admit that I
was sincerely surprised.  I've been visually impaired for 21 years,
and had no idea that there was such a large resource of games
available for the blind. I was intrigued by the different
"toolkits" or languages available for writing accessible text
adventure games.  In particular, I appreciate your explaining  (in
Issue #9) what three main "languages" are used.  I myself am a
programmer, and am looking forward to bringing some of my ideas to
life, and contributing to the "game pool".

OK, enough with the formalities ... let's take the gloves off.
I'd like to pass along some tips, hints, suggestions, or whatever
one chooses to observe them as.  First, I'd like to thank Kelly
Sapergia for all of his work in reviewing a wide assortment of
games.  Keep up the good work.  ***However***, (and there always is
some objective criticism) I felt that your review of "Urban
Cleanup", in Issue #11, was a bit too harsh and too quickly cast
aside.  I myself admit that it is a difficult game (and I still
haven't solved it).  But I am an engineer, and enjoy trying to
solve a difficult problem.  I am not sure how far you advanced in
the game, but if you didn't get the floppy disk from the hacker --
try "looking" at your hand.  (Give it another try).
     I imagine that clues can be passed between individuals on the
interactive fiction news groups ... but who has time for
everything! Oh well, maybe someone reading Audyssey can pass
further hints.

Also, in Issue #11, Carman McCauley brought to my attention a game
with a filename of sub.exe.  He was having trouble with the game.
You responded that you had also given it a try, and had trouble.
I thought I would give it a shot.  As it turns out, this is
actually quite a cleverly designed game.  I have enclosed a review
(below) if you care to use it.
    Thanks for everything, and don't let the ship sink... I would
have never stumbled across the wonderful world of text adventures
and the games put out by PCS were it not for this magazine.

---------------------------------------------------------

Thanks again Mike.

Dave Sherman
+
And thank you, Mr. Sherman, for your kind words and helpful advice.
Incidentally, I found very little problem with your lines, at least
as far as speech is concerned. I load everything into Wordperfect
though, and that might have something to do with it. If you're
concerned that your messages might look odd, you may still want to
examine other packages. Your criticism was quite fair and
constructive, and I'm certain our young interactive fiction expert
will profit from it and your praises.
+  
Mike,

Thanks for getting back to me the other day.  I hope my review
helps.  Feel free to edit what I wrote.  I threw the review
together fairly quickly, and writing (without several revisions) is
not my specialty.  Like I mentioned, I am hoping to contribute some
games to those currently available.  I will probably work on some
text adventure  / puzzle games this summer.  And, I plan on working
on some more complicated strategy games in the future.  I'd like to
design some strategy games that take advantage of a PC's sound
card.

Speaking of complicated, Wow! -- Your article in the last issue was
amazing.  That must have taken a hell of a lot of time and effort
to assemble Space Miners.  I think it will be a wonderful game,
once it is put into a software format.  I read the article, and had
no idea how anyone could play that game as a straight board game.
It has so many rules and stipulations that are dependent on each
other and the current event status of the game... extremely
complex.  It seems difficult enough for each player to keep track
of their own ship ... I can't imagine how any human could keep
track of all the aspects of the game and be the "manager" of the
game.  It definitely is a game designed to have a computer keep
track of all the little details.
   Anyway, I am very impressed and intrigued by it and can't wait
until it is developed as a software package!  No offense, but
personally I just can't fathom attempting to play the game as a
board game.  I guess I've spent to many years around computers --
relying on them to keep track of intricate details for me.

Once again, thanks for your time editing Audyssey.  Congrats on the
design of Space Miners -- and most importantly, congrats on your
college graduation!

Dave Sherman
+
thanks for your congratulations. It certainly takes a bit of
getting used to, not having to worry about exams and essays. Now,
I can hopefully find a job, and concentrate on writing stuff like
this, which will hopefully interest many people. I'm certain all of
us are looking forward to your games. As a prospective developer,
you'll doubtless find Mr. Sapurgia's articles in this issue to be
of some interest. With the two of you examining the various methods
of game development along with PCS, the quality of games will
hopefully increase quite quickly. Space miners was indeed quite a
lengthy project, and work on the deluxe version is taking longer
than anticipated. Your opinion coincides with the results of the
testing which took place in my Creative Writing class. They found
it quite hard to keep all the factors in their heads. I certainly
hope it makes a good game when it finally emerges as a software
program.  
+
From Phillip Vlasak

Hi Michael, it's Phil
I just got Issue 11 and was surprised it was so big.
I thought you would only have room for Space Minors.
Hope that more material comes in so you don't regret putting too
much in one issue.
I will have a hard time picking the games to put on the disk
version! I usually try to download all the games talked about and
then find out how many I can squeeze on a disk.

I wish you would put all of the subscription info at the end of the
issue.
I know I can search for the plus sign to skip it but I am lazy.
I turn my text file reader on and read the magazine straight
through.
By moving the subscription info from Welcome to the end, you can
put all the repetitive info in one place.
Then when I hear it I can stop my reader.

When do you plan to release Issue 12?
By the note in this issue I assume at the end of June.

INFOCOM MASTERPIECES AVAILABLE!
From the FERGUSON CD-ROM LIST FOR February, 1998
The following CD-ROM is  the latest in Infocom series.
CLASSIC TEXT ADVENTURE MASTERPIECES: Includes the following:
A mind forever Voyaging, Arthur, Ballyhoo, Beyond Zork, Border
Zone, Bureaucracy, Cutthroats, Deadline, Enchanter, Hollywood
Hijinx, Infidel, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, The Lurking Horror,
MoonMist, Nord And Bert Couldn't make head nor tail of it,
PlanetFall, Plundered Hearts, SeaStalker, Sherlock The Riddle of
the Crown Jewels, Sorcerer, SpellBreaker, StarCross, Station
Fall, Suspect, Suspended, Trinity, WishBringer, The Witness, Zork
One, Zork Two, Zork Three, Zork Zero, plus special Surprises from
the Archives of Infocom. DOS/WINDOWS. 2 lbs.
*CD-10033. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $29.95
(plus shipping $5.60 for UPS ground shipping.
                       FERGUSON ENTERPRISES
                        104 ANDERSON AVE.
                    MANCHESTER, SD 57353-5702
                       VOICE: 605-546-2366
                        FAX: 605-546-2212
              Email: [email protected]
           Web Site: http://www.fergusonenterprises.com

I just ordered this CD and Pat says she still has stock.

Thanks for the great magazine,
Phil

+
Thanks for the info and the suggestion, Phil. From what I've been
able to gather, it looks like supplies of the Infocom Masterpiece
cd-rom are dwindling. I advise all of you to take advantage of this
timely tip from Phil. As to your suggestion, lets see what our
current readers have to say. What do you all think about having all
of the contact information at the end of the magazine? Please send
your reactions to Adam or I, and we'll come to a decision by the
next issue.

+  
From Magali Gueths:
Hey there. To all audyssey readers:

     Don't think that I've forgotten that home page thing. Now that
I've got aol, I will attempt to create one there. I am also getting
jfw
3.2 in the beginning of June.

     Mike, you no that uu-encoder/decoder thing that you have? I
would
like it if you could send it to me at the [email protected]
address.
This is because aol doesn't have an online encoder/decoder, so
every
attached uu-encoded file that somebody sends to me I will have to
use that
one. I would appreciate it if you could send me that
uu-encoder/decoder.
+
Hi, Magali. I'll try and get that out to you pronto. However,
things are a bit hectic around here, and I might not be able to
before I leave for Score. The file you want to track down is called
Netsend. You should be able to find it on the Internet somewhere if
I don't get it to you. Best of luck with your new software and with
AOL. Keep us informed about your progress, and most importantly,
keep playing those games.
+

From Chris Demwell:
I actually tracked down the author, and yes it is on the web now.
Here
is the message I got from him.

Thanks for your help.

     Chris

From: "George Moramisato"
Actually, I have bad news and good news. Although you can no longer
register
the program, the full version is available on the web. Look at:

www.neurohack.com/anacreon

to download version 1.30 and the manual.

Good luck.

-- George
+
Yes, folks! Thanks to the detective work of Chris, we now have
access to Anacreon Reconstruction. This is one of the few highly
detailed strategy games accessible to the blind. While it is far
from perfect in terms of accessibility, I have no doubt that you'll
find the game to be absolutely captivating.

+
From Krista Giannak:
To Whom it May Concern,
    Hi!  My name is Krista, and I am thirteen years old.  I live in
the
United States, and I downloaded your magazine via the url
http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/Arcade/9111/audyssey.html
    This site has all of your issues since July of 1996.  I am
visually
impaired, and when I read some issues of your magazine, I thought
they
were very interesting.  I have a game review for you.  I have a
game
called "You Don't Know Jack" on CD-Rom.  However, the game is for
Macintosh users, and I don't know if it is for versions of Windows.
This program has a voice of its own, and screen-readers are of no
use.
It is similar to a TV trivia game show.  The program asks questions
(reading them aloud as well as flashing them on the screen) and you
answer them by "buzzing in" (pressing a key on your keyboard).
There
are a few visual aspects of the game, however.  For example, the
Jack
Attack, where you have to pick out words that match and buzz in
when you
see them (this feature is not detectable by my screen-reader,
"outSpoken"
OutSpoken) and you will not be able to read your final score.
However,
by following the rules given to you at the start of the game or any
feature of the game, your score will not be hard to calculate.
This
game can be played with up to three players, but I give you a word
of
warning that some of the questions can be a bit dirty.
    In addition, my father has found some games by Infocom that are
for
the Macintosh.  However, they did not come with manuals, and I am
not
sure where to get them.  There are few instructions, and I can't
really
figure out the rules without instructions.  So, if you have any
information for me about Infocom or any other games for the
Macintosh,
please let me know.
    Now, I have a question for you.  Since you discuss Windows or
DOS
programs mostly, I wasn't sure if you could answer my question, but
I'll
ask anyway.  I was wondering if you knew of any games for the
Macintosh
that are accessible to blind or visually impaired people.  "You
Don't
Know Jack" and Infocom games were the only games we have been able
to
find.  I was told by Erols Internet Technical Support that I can
accept
and decode UUEncoded files.  However, I was also told that
downloading
them can create problems.  But, if you have any ideas for games
that can
be purchased or games that I can download from you or off the
Internet,
please let me know.

Sincerely,
Krista Giannak
+
Well, Krista, and all other Mac users, it seems as if accessible
Mac games are fairly scarce outside of interactive fiction. There
are several interpreters for the Mac which will allow the running
of Infocom and/or Inform games. I'm fairly certain that Tads and
AGT games can also be run on the mac. If some one knows the names
of the best interpreters to download in terms of speech
accessibility, please tell us of them. I don't have access to a Mac
myself, so I'll have to rely on any of you who are Mac users out
there to keep us posted on developments and games you find. You
Don't Know Jack is also available for the PC, and is one of the few
commercial products which is at all workable for the blind in
Windows95. I am quite an avid player of it. The only really crucial
problem in the game, aside from the visual elements, is that it
doesn't read out the categories available. You have to either pick
a random number, or let it pick for you and throw in an insult or
two. If you're playing with sighted players, you can have them read
out the categories, but they've got to read them pretty fast.  

+
From Stephen Granade:
Michael,

I'm the author of _Losing Your Grip_, one of the text adventures
which
Theresa reviewed in Issue #11 of Audyssey. I was unaware of your
magazine
until a friend pointed it out to me, mentioning that my game was
reviewed
in it. The magazine is great! I spent quite a bit of time reading
back
issues.

I'm writing to offer a "better" registration deal to your readers.
Part of
the $20 registration fee covers the cost of printing game materials
and mailing them and a disk. I would be willing to offer your
readers
registration for $10, which would include a disk with the
registration key
and the manual transcribed in plain ASCII form.

Two caveats, though. The registration items other than the manual
are
visually oriented and thus cannot be offered in ASCII form. Also,
I
cannot offer the $10 registration through the on-line Kagi service
due to
how they handle on-line transactions; you would have to register by
sending me a check or money-order direct.

If you or anyone else is interested, please feel free to e-mail me
at
[email protected].

Yours,

Stephen
+
This is indeed a generous and thoughtful offer. I certainly hope
that a lot of you will consider it. You might also want to give his
other works of interactive fiction a look. He has written
Waystation and Uncle Zebulon's Will. In subsequent communications
between myself and him, he has made several observations which I
thought I'd pass along. Here are some of the questions I asked, and
his answers as taken directly from his reply:

> What do you think about adding hearing-based descriptions to
> dark rooms? I've gotten the occasional resentful posting that IF
games almost never
> describe what should
> be easily heard within a dark room. I'm a little neutral towards
this myself. While I can
> hear where doors, hallways, large objects, stairs, etc are in a
room,
> it seems that a lot of my sighted friends fail to notice such
things.
> How hard would it be to implement
> features like sonic descriptions?

I think that depends on how "realistic" you want it to be. I put
some
simple responses to "listen", "listen to", and "feel" in Grip, and
that
took a reasonable amount of work, especially since I also included
some
gloves. However, I think it's because most IF authors, like authors
in
general, are lazy and stick with what is easiest to do: visual
descriptions.

> About Losing Your Grip, how is registration going
> anyway? Can you give us an idea about how long the game's been
out and how many registrations
> you've gotten?

Sure. Losing Your Grip has been out since late January, and I've
gotten
roughly 20 registrations. It's not a lot, but it's enough to make
me
happy. :)

> What is your sense of the whole shareware venture of IF? Is it
> economically comparable
> to things like video games?

Not at all. Right now, you couldn't make enough money off of
shareware
text adventures to support yourself. You can, however, make enough
money
to help keep you interested.

+
From Travis Siegel:
Ok.  The list is up and running.  The address is
[email protected] for
posting to it, and to subscribe, send a message to
[email protected]
and put subscribe audyssey in the body of the message.  That's all
there
is to it.  There's also a web interface to the postings of the
magazine
(for those interested in seeing back postings and such.  That
address is;
http://www.softcon.com/archives/audyssey.html
Hope this helps.
+
My thanks to Mr. Siegel for his efforts on behalf of Audyssey. The
list he mentioned will act as both a backup means of distributing
the magazine, and as a forum for discussion between members with
Internet access. If you want to participate in any discussion which
might occur, please follow mr. Siegel's instructions and join the
list. If you don't want to receive messages from the discussions,
and just want to receive Audyssey when it is released, be certain
that you are subscribed to J.J. Meddaugh's Audyssey distribution
list. It is my sincere hope that this forum will stimulate
discussion and provide more material for me to use in the making of
this magazine.

+
From Allen maynard:

Hi, Mike,

It's been a while hasn't it?  Another great mag issue.  Sorry for
not
contributing for a while.  I've been busy at work, out of town, and
I had
to completely wipe my hard drive and rebuild the software, which
included
games.

I have 2 questions for you.

Have you downloaded/played the game called Abbey?  It is on the gmd
site in
the pc directory.  I looked at the solution file and it said find
a rope in
the south tower, but there is no rope there.  If you get a chance,
could
you check this for yourself and let me know what you find?

Second, I saw a file called invation.sol on the gmd website, but I
have
never heard of a game called invation.  Have you?  If you have,
where can I
find it?

I'll try and think of some articles for the next issue of audyssey.

Oh, congratulations on finishing college.  It's a great feeling
isn't it?

Take care.


Allen
+
I was quite pleased to receive Allen's letter and learn that he was
still a gamer through and through. I was a tad concerned that the
real world had claimed him for good. Nice to have my lack of faith
unjustified once in a while. anyhow, if anyone can help us out with
Abbey, please let us know where this rope is and how to get it.
I've never come across a game called Invasion. Has anyone else out
there? If so, could you please send in a review of it, and be
certain to include where it can be found on the Net. I certainly
look forward to future contributions from Mr. Maynard, and hope you
don't find it too taxing to rebuild your games collection.

+
From Maurice Press:
Hi Michael,
Thank for the message.
To start with the magazine comes out quite well in Braille although
it is of course, quite bulky.  I translate it from Windows 95 so it
comes out rather well.  Because of not being quite sure whether
this was the correct address, I didn't quite make myself clear
about my offer to readers.

I have a company amongst whose services are Braille/Tape/Large
print/Disk production. Should any readers not have sufficient space
on computer or prefer Audyssey in another format, I would be happy
to provide it free of charge in either Tape or Braille formats.
I would be happy for you to publish this in the next issue.
If anyone is thinking of producing Braille from Windows 95, it is
superb but there are problems that companies either do not let you
know or have not found out yet.

Recently, I have converted all my computer equipment from Dos 6.2
to Windows 95/office 97. As a Visually impaired person without any
sight, I was continuously warned off doing this as problems would
occur.  Many people said to me "if you are happy with DOS, then
stick with it".
I tried 2 training courses which were absolutely useless, and so
have trained myself.
In the last 4 weeks, taking into account I knew nothing about
Windows 95 but being very computer literate, I have so far become
adept in: Windows generally, Word 7, Microsoft Publisher, Internet
explorer, Microsoft explorer, Outlook, and a variety of Braille and
speech programs.  Oh yes, and of course exell.
This isn't at all bad.  I have also loaded various sound drivers so
that I can get Real Audio from the web.
From the point of a Visually impaired user, Windows is the best
thing since Barbara Streissand (See my Age).

Thank for the information regarding the Two games you suggested.
Silent Steel etc. Where are these games purchased from. 
You said that games with sound is better from PCS, Could you
explain a little bit more.

Is there anything good in the Dungeons and Dragons/adventure area
I can download "safely" from the Web.

Look forward to hearing from you.
Maurice Press.

+
Quite a generous offer, Mr. Press. This opens up some new
possibilities. It will also doubtless bring more members into the
Audyssey community. If anyone wants to obtain a Braille copy of
Audyssey, I invite you to contact Maurice at:
[email protected]
If any of you have suggestions on improving the magazine's
readability in Braille, please don't hesitate to send them my way.
I can't change anything which would make it harder to read in other
formats, such as on computer. However, I'll do what I can to make
Audyssey as enjoyable as possible in all formats.

As to your other questions: first of all, PCS is the only
commercial company making games specifically for the blind. It has
made several games, including a World War II tank game, a shooting
range, and a version of the arcade classic Breakout. these games
are Dos-based, although PcS is investigating the potential of
Windows. Jim Kitchen's games are also quite good, although not as
polished. Silent Steel and You Don't Know Jack can be found in most
computer stores with selections of games for sale. They are both
CD-rom games. Silent Steel is made by Tsunami, and You Don't Know
Jack is made by Sierra. the best Dungeons and Dragons games are
still Fallthru and Legends, (both strictly text-based), and Adom
and Nethack, (both screen-oriented games using text symbols for
graphics making them playable by the blind.) Fallthru is on:
ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/pc
Legends is at:
ftp.cdrom.com
I can't remember where it is within that site, but it shouldn't be
impossible to track down.
Nethack can be found at the same site, or at:
ftp.win.tue.nl/pub/games/nethack
An early version of Adom can also be found on this site, and it is
also on the Gamesdomain.
if you have Web access, the official Adom site is:
ftp://adom.dartmouth.edu/adom

+
From Kelly Sapurgia:

Hi Everybody!,
   A few months ago, I downloaded the magazine XYZZYNEWS from the
Internet. (I heard about this magazine in Audyssey.) I've been
reading in the magazine about different text adventure creation
programs that are available. The authors of these systems keep
saying that "this language is very simple to use and is great for
beginners".
Personally, I don't agree with them. I've got copies of AGT
(Classic, Master's, and all the utility programs for both
systems), TADS (freeware version) and Inform. I played games
created with all three systems and think they're great. But when
I started fooling around with systems like TADS and Inform I
thought to myself "How am I supposed to create a game with this
system?" The problem is that just about all these systems are
basically like programming in C, and I'm not a total expert on C
programming. I hate it when you have to use C-style programming
or some other language like PASCAL. On the other hand, systems
like AGT are very easy to use. The only drawback to using AGT is
that you don't have all the power that you get out of TADS and
Inform. I've even heard that a version of the classic edition,
1.83, looks a lot like Inform.
Note- When I searched the IF-ARCHIVE/PROGRAMMING/AGT directory on
the GMD.DE site, I couldn't find version 1.83. Where can I get
this version of the AGT?)
There are also new languages on the IF-ARCHIVE, such as Hugo,
ALAN (Adventure Language), Questmaker, etc. ALAN is a freeware
system. You can download the interpreter as well as the
documentation from the following Internet address:
FTP.GMD.DE/IF-ARCHIVE/PROGRAMMING/ALAN. There is also a
compiler for ALAN available, but you have to EMAIL the authors if
you want a copy. (Not bad, but I'd prefer to download it from the
IF-ARCHIVE). From what I've heard, you can add graphics and
sounds to your games.
I've also read that this is a "good system for non-programmers".
(I'll believe it when I try it).
One game, which I got a few days ago, is "The
Hollywood Murders". There are two versions of this game: a demo
version that contains graphics and sound files, and the complete
text-only game. (See Audyssey Issue 3 for
more information about the demo). Another game that was written
in ALAN is "A Day In The Life" which is something like Infocom's
title "Suspended". (I've never played Suspended so I have no idea
what it's about). However, in playing the "Hollywood Murders"
demo game, I found out the following about ALAN:

1. This game was and is very hard, but I managed to get through
it. I now have a choice: either register the game, or forget
about it.
2. The sound effects were really good.
3. The parser isn't too bad, but it isn't as powerful as TADS or
Inform. As long as it's easy to write a game with this system,
that's fine with me.

I'm going to see if I can get a copy of the text-only version of
"The Hollywood Murders", as well as a copy of ALAN. I may even
try to get the compiler for it, but I read that in order to get
the compiler, you must combine and uu-decode a multi-part EMAIL
message. The reason you can only get the compiler through EMAIL
is that the author of ALAN wants to see how many people are using
his system.
   The Hugo compiler is also very popular, although I've never
played any games for this compiler. I do know it's also a
freeware system. I'm also trying to get a copy of this system. I
plan on reviewing these systems in Audyssey and will try to write
a small game with these systems.
   Here's one suggestion for anyone who's trying to decide what
system to go for: on the FTP.GMD.DE/IF-ARCHIVE site, in the
directory /INFO, there is a file called WHICHSYS.ZIP that
contains some information about these adventure game creation
systems. Also, it's a good idea to check out the
GMD.DE/IF-ARCHIVE/PROGRAMMING/ site and try out all the languages
on the site and see which one is the best for you. I would be
interested in hearing what people think of these programming
systems. I personally haven't checked out this site, but when
(and if) I get onto the Internet, I'm going to try just about
every system as much as possible.
You might also want to check out the "REC.ARTS.INT-FICTION
Frequently Asked Questions" file.
   Speaking of beginning programmers, if you're writing an IF
game, I'd be happy to review it for you in Audyssey. I'm also
interested in seeing what people have done with TADS, INFORM,
AGT, and other development systems. If you'd like to send me a
copy of your game please send it to me on a 3.5 inch disk. Also,
please send a solution file along with your game, or tell
me if there are any online hints.
   I hope this information was of help to those of you who are
interested in writing your own games. Meanwhile, I'm already
having some problems with the Master's Edition of AGT. I wonder
if someone could tell me why no room descriptions are
displayed when the commands GAME_END or GAME_WIN are in a room
definition?
Here's an example of this type of definition:

ROOM [I'm Dead]
I'm Dead!
GAME_END
END_ROOM

After that, I define a normal room description, like this:

ROOM_DESCR [I'm Dead]
Darn it! I just fell off a cliff and, of course, killed myself.
END_ROOM_DESCR

Now, here's where the problem starts. If I enter this room while
playing the game, the only thing that's displayed is the score
information. Needless to say, I'm thoroughly disgusted with this
system, although everything else works. So why isn't this
function working? My guess is there's a problem with the game's
MRUN.EXE program, but since SoftWorks is now out of business, I
won't be able to contact the programmers, which is too bad I
guess. But hopefully, I'll get this problem figured out.
Note- The manual says that the room descriptions are supposed to
be displayed. I think these guys just took the manual for the
Classic Edition of AGT and changed the command style to the
syntax required by the Master's Edition.
If that's the case, that was a poor move on their part. I'm not
impressed.
   Here's a tip for those of you who can't access the GMD.DE/IF-
ARCHIVE sites via FTP. If you want to get onto the site without
using FTP, try this:
WWW.GMD.DE/IF-ARCHIVE/
(Derek told me about this when he got some more games from that
site for me.)
   One article that I've sent along to Mike is my "Hints for
CosmoServe" article. This article is my first attempt at writing
a article with tips for a particular game. I've tried to make
this article as simple as possible, but it was hard to write.
Please accept my apologies if this article isn't helpful. (Hey, I
had to try).
   Oh, just one more thing before I close this letter for this
issue. I read in Issue 9 about some suggestions for Audyssey.
These included a discussion on utility programs for blind and
visually impaired people as well as a Classified Ads section.
Personally, I don't like the idea of having a section for utility
programs because, like Mike said in that issue, it would change
the scope of the magazine. You can find out about some useful
utilities in such magazines such as "Tactic Magazine" (if it's
still being produced). On the other hand, I like the idea of the
classified ads section. The only drawback though is that because
I'm still receiving the magazine on disk two months after the
magazine was published, most of the items probably might have
been sold.
   Anyway, that's all for now, and keep up the good work!

Yours Sincerely
Kelly John Sapergia


Hi Tim Truman,
   I read your letter in Issue 7 of Audyssey. I think that the
idea of having a company, that makes graphically-based games,
and that wants to create text adventures for the blind is a good
one!
With regards to your questions, here's what my personal opinions
are in order to make a game accessible for the blind:

1. What makes a game accessible?
   There are two things that make a game accessible:
A. The game must write to the BIOS and not directly to the screen
so that it can be interpreted by speech synthesizer software.
B. There shouldn't be any graphics, or anything displayed on the
screen in columns. If graphics or columns were displayed on the
screen, they might interfere with a screen reader for speech or
braille.


2. Are there any games that fit the requirements?
   A lot of today's interactive fiction games are created with
systems like AGT (Adventure Game Toolkit), ALAN (Adventure
Language), Inform, TADS, Hugo, etc. You can find a lot of these
games on the GMD.DE/IF-ARCHIVE site. The directory /PROGRAMMING
contains literally dozens of game-writing systems and tools for
writing your own games.

3. What is the average age of your readers and what types of
games do they like to play?
   I am 18 years old. Personally, my favourite game categories are
fantasy, horror, science fiction, adventure, and educational
games.

   I hope this information was helpful to you. I know I can't
wait to see what you come up with.

Yours Sincerely,
Kelly John Sapergia
+
Thanks a bunch for all your contributions, Kelly. You've certainly
made the making of this special issue of Audyssey a lot easier. I
haven't heard anything from Tim Truman since his first contact. I
hope he is still reading this magazine, and considering making
games accessible to the blind. I invite all of you to write
responses to his questions, as Kelly has done here. They will
doubtless be of interest to the game developers in the audience, as
well as other readers curious about each other. The more we know
about ourselves, the better we can all help each other navigate the
universe of computer games. Keep up the splendid work, Kelly.

++
News From PCS
By Phillip Vlasak

NEWEST GAMES FROM P C S

P C S introduces a new mapping approach in their two latest games,
COPS and HAZE MAZE.
In FOX AND HOUNDS, and PANZERS IN NORTH AFRICA we introduced a  two
dimensional, birds eye view to navigate around a map.  That was
fine for an outdoor perspective.  Now we are taking the art of
mapping inside, for a three dimensional, ground level, viewpoint.

COPS and HAZE MAZE are PERSONAL COMPUTER SYSTEMS'  two newest games
created using the 3-D look.  When moving indoors it is important
to know what is ahead and on either side of your position.   With
the new approach, you can move forward one step with a touch of the
up arrow key unless you run into a barrier such as a wall or a
building. You can turn ninety degrees or one quarter turn left or
right with The arrow keys. After moving forward or turning your
perspective is different, and the computer lets you know what has
changed.  This style of mapping gives the perception of moving as
if you are walking along a passage, path, or in a chamber.  We feel
a ground view of a maze, dungeon, or city would be more realistic,
easier to manoeuvre, and more fun then a birds eye view especially
when small detailed movement is necessary.
Not to say that the birds eye view is dead, because when games use
maps to show the position of cities and other items like lakes,
roads, and oceans, being able to view an area of the map with full
access to all directions will be necessary.  Having the two
different approaches for mapping makes it better for game
development.  Now we have a choice to custom fit a game with the
mapping requirement which works best.
  
COPS:  An alarm goes off, and you know that somewhere in the county
criminals have struck.  Your duty is to find and catch them.  In
this new game by P C S, you play the roll of a police officer in a
police car restricted to movement only on roads, parks, and
parking lots.  The objective is simple, all you have to do is catch
the suspects before they escape by crossing the Middlesex county
line.  This is usually a nice, quiet, suburban place to live and
work, but lately a criminal element has moved in.  When the alarm
goes off and the dispatcher gives you the approximate location of
the hooligans, it is time for you to fight the traffic and use your
memory of the street layout to cut the thieves off and apprehend
them.  The streets of Middlesex are laid out in a way to help you
know where you are, and how you might travel in order to get to
where the suspects are.  The North/South streets are in
alphabetical order named after states.  With Alaska being farthest
West.  The East/West streets are sequentially numbered, with First
Avenue furthest North.  There are also many landmarks for you to
become acquainted with, and a subway system in the county that the
gangsters can use.  So, make sure you do not lose them in there.
Just because you have a siren, don't think you won't have cars,
trucks, kids, or many other obstacles getting in the way.  Using
the siren will help you get through traffic quicker, but if the
crooks hear you they will move faster.  One other small matter, the
bad guys are not restricted to roads like you.  Well it is all up
to you now to sweep the county clean of trash, so, go out there and
get them before they get away! 


HAZE MAZE:  Hear your footsteps as you navigate through a maze.
Listen closely can you hear the sound of your footsteps change when
the ground beneath you goes from stone to wood?  Oh! what is that?
Hear the echo off to the left, where the passage splits.  Oh! wow,
did you hear the sound of the footsteps become flat when a wall
appeared ahead.  Cool! The only way to get a better feel for a maze
is to walk it yourself. 
P C S takes you one step farther in audio game experience.  As you
walk through a maze we made it sound as if you are really there.
While you walk through the maze, you will hear the sound of
footsteps differ as the ground beneath you changes.  You will also
be able to hear the sounds of echoing footsteps off to the sides
when the area next to you is free of obstructions.  When you hit a
wall, the sound of the type of wall being bumped will be heard.
Just before you walk into a wall, if you're listening closely, you
will hear the sound of your footsteps flatten out, warning of a
wall ahead.  A wind chime becomes slightly louder as you work your
way closer to the exit and complete the maze. 
The game uses stereo sounds to indicate paths to the left or right.
This will allow for more sensory information for a player to work
with, instead of waiting to read and evaluate text.  Not to say
that text is out, but in areas where text becomes repetitive the
game play can be sped up by letting you know the basics with audio
clews.  Text will always be needed for the small details.  P C S
will blend the sounds of movement along with text descriptions
giving you all the information needed to make a move.  This mix
should make for a quicker and more interesting game now and in the
future.         
  
The games cost thirty dollars each. Please add two dollars shipping
per order. 

     You can contact P C S in any format at
PERSONAL Computer Systems
551 Compton Ave.

Perth Amboy NJ.  08861
phone (732) 826-1917
E-mail [email protected]

++
the Latest Finds

There are four major finds this month for our readership. Actually,
there are five with the availability of Anacreon Reconstruction,
but this has been covered in another article.

The most recent discovery has been Zrogue, a port of Rogue made in
the Inform language for use with interpreters like Frotz. this will
enable collectors of screen-oriented role-playing games to finally
play the game which sparked them all. Following in the footsteps of
this small but challenging game came such renowned masterpieces as
Nethack and Adom. for the most part, this port seems to be quite an
excellent job. I have yet to encounter any bugs. However, Gevan
Dutton has chosen a version which lacks the help facilities found
in other versions such as that enjoyed by any Eureka users out
there. Players are basically left to their own wits and caution
when it comes to finding out the various capabilities of monsters
and items, and the meaning of symbols on the screen. The player is
represented by the conventional @ sign, and monsters are
represented by letters. Walls are vertical bars and dashes, and
doorways are plus signs. Another serious flaw in the instructions
is that they make no mansion of the amulet required to escape the
dungeons of doom. I've played this port using dosfrotz, and I can
vouch for its accessibility. You can find zrogue in the
/incoming/if-archive directory at:
ftp.gmd.de
The file is called rogue.z5.
If you haven't tried a screen-oriented role-playing game before,
this game is a nice and simple beginning. It is free from the
complexities of other similar games. However, I still side with
Nethack and Adom as being the best overall games due to their
extensive instructions and on-line help. Aside from offering us a
game of historical significance, Dutton's work has major
implications for future works of interactive fiction. For quite
some time now, there has been a debate over the possibility of
combining rogue-like game play with a non-linear interactive
fiction plot. If Inform can be used to create something as packed
with intriguing story as Jigsaw, and as random and complex as
Rogue, imagine the possibilities when these two forms of game play
are combined. I can only hope that some one will dare to try.  

for all you Baseball fans out there, I've just learned from the
latest issue of the National Federation of the Blind's newsletter
that version 12 of Worldseries Baseball has been released. Not
being a Baseball fan, I leave it to those more expert than I to
enlighten us on the improvements and changes hopefully by the next
issue. Earl Zwicker, a long-time fan of the game, says that
upgrades for those with previous versions cost five dollars US.

A second crucial Inform release is the spectacularly large game
Anchorhead, written by Michael Gentry. Despite some effort, I was
unable to get a full review of this game in time for this issue. If
some of you could send in your reviews for the next issue due out
at the end of August, I would greatly appreciate it. Fortunately,
I can offer some initial observations. This game is a modern
American gothic, in which you play the wife of a professor hired to
teach at the university of a small town. Your husband sends you
over to the real estate office in order to obtain your keys. Here,
you discover that all is not as it should be in town. The office
has been deserted and locked. Your first task is to forcibly gain
entry to the premises. If this first puzzle is anything to go on,
it would seem that people will probably find this game to be quite
fair in terms of puzzle quality. The author appears to have gone to
great lengths to provide plausible responses to anticipated player
commands, and has also made the game easier to win by making it
unnecessary to solve all of the puzzles in order to win. The file
is called anchor.z8, and it can be found in the /games/infocom
directory of the if-archive at:
ftp.gmd.de/if-archive
The file clocks in at an unprecedented four hundred forty-three K.
This breach of the four-hundred-K barrier puts to rest all of my
conceptions on how large Inform games can get. While Gentry admits
that this size is due to sloppy coding, this should in no way
discourage people from trying out this very well-written game. The
quality of prose is quite high, and the player character seems
especially well developed.

Finally, Tsunami has produced one of the few commercial games which
are fully accessible to blind people using Windows95. Silent Steel
is a very well executed submarine techno-thriller written in the
style of movies such as Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide. You
play a submarine captain in charge of a ballistic missile sub
caught in the middle of a disaster in the making. the whole world
hangs in the balance, with your actions playing a decisive role.
Using dialogue boxes, the game plays through the story and offers
you choices at crucial moments. There are reported to be at least
thirty different endings. Touted as an interactive movie, Silent
Steel certainly proves that the branching story can be quite an
entertaining medium despite its ultimate limitations. Apparently,
the game is designed for both PC and Mac systems. It can be found
at computer stores.    


++
Questions and Answers with Anacreon's Creator
by Michael Feir

Several issues back, I reviewed anacreon Reconstruction. This game
is one of the most complex strategy games accessible to the blind.
At the time, I was somewhat annoyed that the author of this game
left it to fade away into obscurity, leaving only the crippled
shareware version to be enjoyed. I was also uncertain as to whether
he was still among the land of the living. At long last, this
mysterious man has emerged once more. This emergence is due to
Chris Demwell's efforts at tracking him down. His initiative has
made it possible for everyone with web access to retrieve the full
version of this game, along with artwork and manual. I should
caution here that the manual is in MS-Word 4.0 format. This is
accessible to Windows users. for the rest of us, you'll need to
find a program like X-ray which will strip out everything but the
text characters. If anyone finds other solutions to the manual
problem, please send them my way so I can inform everyone else. The
manual is extremely well-written, and well worth the effort
required to access it. Mr. Moramisato has graciously answered the
questions I've put to him on behalf of myself and all of you, and
has agreed to answer any further questions the rest of you have.
Simply send them to me, and I'll forward them to him. At the
present time, he doesn't want his e-mail address to be generally
known. Most of the text below is taken directly from his reply to
my message.    


Michael,

Thanks for writing; I'm flattered by the attention and I'm very
happy that you and your readers have enjoyed playing Anacreon. I do
wish that I had been able to support the game a bit better, but
lacking a large-enough user base, I could not support myself on the
sales of Anacreon alone. Nevertheless, I am
proud of the game and I would be glad to answer your questions and
to field some questions from your readers.

Here are the answers to your questions about the game:

1. Can you give us an account of the history of the game in terms
of its popularity. How many registrations did you ultimately
receive?

I received about 200 or so registrations over a period of three
years. In my opinion, this low response was due to a couple of
mistakes that I made: First of all, I think that I charged too much
for the registered version; had I originally set the price at $20
or $25, I'm sure that I would have gotten more than double the
number of registrations. Second of all, I did not spend enough
money advertising and otherwise marketing the game; while I relied
on word-of-mouth and the BBS network that existed at the time, I
should have also tried to advertise in some mainstream gaming
magazines.

2. The version released on the Internet was made several years ago.
Are there later versions?

Unfortunately, there are no later versions. The version at my site
(www.neurohack.com/anacreon) is the latest version.

3. Why did you ultimately stop taking registrations for your game?

By that time, registrations had dwindled to a few a year and I
simply could not invest the emotional energy in supporting the
game. By then I had already moved on and started a career in more
mainstream software development.

4. Did you anticipate that your game would be playable by the
blind, or was this a completely accidental occurrence? In either
case, what are your thoughts on this?

I never did anticipate that Anacreon would be playable by the
blind, but having found out, I am obviously very happy about it. I
have always enjoyed games that are challenging to the mind, and not
just to the senses and reflexes. Certainly, when it comes to games
of pure strategy, blind people are as capable as anyone else. I'm
glad that Anacreon can demonstrate that.

5. Assuming you're still developing software, what products have
you come up with other than Anacreon? Are there any which are not
graphically dependant which you think readers of Audyssey might be
particularly interested in?

Unfortunately, no. Other products that I have created have relied
on graphical user interfaces. There is hope for the future,
however. Microsoft has included special subroutines in the Windows
development tools that can be used to read-out the text of a
graphical user interface. In the future I plan on
making sure that my programs are compatible with that system.

6. Do you have any advice to give people thinking of developing
strategy games?

I think that the most important thing is to ask yourself the
question "what's the fun part?". Every successful game has a core
payoff that makes it fun to play. In Anacreon, for example, I think
that the fun part is successfully executing a complex plan that
eventually causes your opponent to suffer. Thus, in Anacreon, there
is a lot of room for creating devious plans that hopefully
your opponent will not discover. Too often, I think that game
designers make the mistake of concentrating on peripheral issues,
such as how pretty the game looks or how complex the simulation is.
No amount of 3D graphics will help if the game is not fun.

And there you have it. The mystery behind the game's disappearance
is at last solved, and the game is now available to all. Quite a
happy ending indeed. Or, is it merely the beginning of a new
chapter in game complexity? I hope that the excellent advice of
this thoughtful man will spark new interest in strategy games, and
guide their wood-be authors to excellence. Wherever Mr.
Moramisato's future leads him, I wish him the very best of luck on
his odyssey. In closing, I thank him once more for contributing so
much to our own. 

++
HINTS FOR "CosmoServe"
                     By Kelly John Sapergia

Note- This article is not really a step-by-step walkthrough of
the game, but it will tell you how to win some of the difficult
puzzles.
The game is actually easy to win, so this will not be a complete
solution. You can obtain hints from within the game. (See my
review of this game for info on how to use the online hints.)

   The first puzzle you have to work out is to find your system
password. (If you have trouble finding it, read my review of
CosmoServe.)
The password, which will log you onto CosmoServe is
"OPTIMIZATION-DIAPHRAGM". When you get to the ORFCOM menu, type
"UPDATE OPTIMIZATION-DIAPHRAGM" and press Enter. Then you can log
onto the CIS network.
   When you are at the simulated DOS prompt, you'll have to type
some commands that will help you get through the game. One thing
you should do is to try and run your program. You just have to
type "TURBORF" and press Enter. Answer YES and copy the error
message that appears. (You'll need this information later.)
   The easiest way to get to a particular are on the network is
to use the GO command. For instance, if you want to go to the
"Adventure Gamers" forum, you can type:

GO GAMER

(At least I think that's what it is). In any case, you'll be at
the forum and can do whatever you want from here.
   There are two things that you must keep an eye on: your
account activity and the clock. Why the account activity? Well,
for one thing, someone is trying to defraud your account by
taking money from it without you being aware of who's doing it.
There are two things you can do, which are:

- Scramble your password.
- Order a pizza.

Yah, I know. You're saying, "What do you mean, 'order a pizza? I
don't need a pizza, I need to find out who's defrauding me like
this!'" Well, believe it or not, you should do this because you
are hungry and if you don't eat anything, you'll pass out from
lack of food.
But before we do this, we'd better scramble our password. To do
this, go to the Customer Service menu and select option 3. (Or
you can type: GO PARANOID.) You'll be asked if you wish to report
a violation. Answer YES. (Remember, you'll have to do this at
different times in this game.)
   Before we order the pizza, there are four files you'll need to
download. They are on the following forums:

ORFLAND FORUM --OVRA.TXT (This contains information on how to set
up the VR adaptor and interface card. You must read this file
because it contains some precautions you must follow if you want
to win the game.

GAMERS FORUM --HOWTO.TXT (Contains information on how to get onto
the game within a game on VR as well as the access code.

VIRUS FORUM --SWAT.COM (This file will tell you that a virus is
on the hard drive. You need to know this information when you
talk to "The Shrieker" tonight.

PLUMBERS FORUM --BIBLIO )The bibliography file contains some
information on different plumbing books. Look under "The Timeless
Way of Plumbing" and note the page number.)
   Now for the pizza. At the top level menu, select option 5,
then select option 1. Order item 103, the screwdriver.
Then type M to return to the menu and select 2 for the Computer
Store. Order items 207 and 208 (Don't order anything else from
here!). You'll be told that one of the items will be shipped via
DPS or Dominos Pizza Service. You'll also be told that if the
item hasn't arrived in 30 minutes then it's free!
Now you can go to the top menu. While you're waiting, go to the
plumbers forum. (The game will tell you what to type to get
there, so I won't bother explaining what to type.) Read the
messages and answer YES to the question about your response to
the message. You'll get an E-mail from a lady who is holding a
grudge against you. (Don't believe everything you read. She is
really annoyed with you.) Anyway, after you read her E-mail,
return to the Plumber's forum and see if there are any new
messages. You'll be told that you have won a book for winning an
essay competition. Congratulations! But you're not done yet. But
we'll return here later. Leave CIS and quit ORFCOM. Then PARK
your hard drive. Get the $20 bill then go to the driveway. When
the DPS truck pulls up, ask the boy about the VR adaptor. Then
ask him about the pizza. You'll get both the adaptor and the
pizza. You know what to do from this point! (If you don't, cook
the pizza, eat it, then put the interface card and the adaptor in
the computer).
   Now about that book you won: when you eventually get it, read
page 137. (I don't think this is random, but if you don't get any
points for reading that page, then check the bibliography on the
plumber's forum. Anyway, there's a message that was scribbled in
the book. When you log back on to CIS, go to the plumber's forum
again and go to the conference area. You'll see what that message
meant!
   You can respond to any new messages in any of the forums on
the network, but be careful! For example, if you don't want your
computer to be destroyed by a virus, don't respond to the new
messages section on the Virus forum.
Also, in the Dangerous Sports Forum, DO NOT respond to the
message about going onto VR for free. (If you do, and if you type
the password that you are given, you'll be in big trouble! Also,
if you answer the message, but don't use the password, you'll be
convicted of password fraud! But if you want to, go ahead. Just
remember to save your game.) Other than that, respond to every
E-mail on the network and check each conference area and the
E-mail section of the network. (You never know who'll want to
talk to you.)
If you don't read the new messages in the Virus forum, you won't
be able to have a conversation with "The Shrieker"! (I've heard
of grues and other strange things, but never "The Shrieker".)
When you meet up with "The Shrieker" in the Virus Forum
Conference at 8:00 PM, answer it's question about what virus you
have on your hard drive. (Be sure you ran the SWAT.COM program
first.)
You'll be told that it will meet you at some area on Virtual
Reality.
   OK. So far, we've been told that "The Shrieker" isn't
responsible for this scandle and we need to fix our program.
So what do we do next? We go to the Virtual Reality section of
CIS. But first, we need to do one more thing. Go to the Sexual
Relations forum and wait until it's 9:00 PM. Then enter the
conference. Type HELLO, then answer the questions (it doesn't
matter what your answers are) then, when you're given the numbers
of the people to talk with, type "JOIN 8" (8 is Mario's number).
Keep in mind that if you type another participant's number, you
won't be able to win the game. Anyway, now we can go onto VR.
   The VR section of the game is fairly straightforward, but here
are some pointers to keep in mind:

1. If you need a hint, ask Judith herself. She's in the "Hint
Office" which, if I remember correctly, is northeast of the Top
Level.

2. When you meet the sysop in charge of the role-playing
adventure, it doesn't matter what character you choose. Just
remember to do it first thing when you log onto VR. Also, after
you choose the character of your choice, grab the clipboard. Read
it. The directions are for the "Maintenance Tunnels" in the game-
within-the-game. If you meet the sysop at a later time, like
11:30 PM, then you can forget about winning the game.

3. While you're in the bar, don't talk to Lucille! (She's the
lady I spoke about earlier who congratulated you on winning the
essay competition.)

4. To get the microchip that will destroy the virus, you'll have
to do a little gambling. On the note from the Shrieker, you'll
find a ticket. Take it to the Theatre Box Office. Show the note
to the sysop and you'll be able to enter the Theatre. When you
get to the Night Club, talk to Deb. She'll give you a roulette
chip. Try to go east into the Casino. The bouncer will stop you,
but you can get past him. Give him the purse. Now you can enter
the Casino. Type "Bet chip on 17" and you'll get the microchip.

5. During the Skydiving section, don't open your parachute until
you've heard the conversation about the Doctor. After that, take
the watch to the doctor's office and give it to him. Warning!: If
you don't give the watch to the doctor, you'll be killed at the
end of the game after you've destroyed the virus!

   That's all there is to it. Everything else is self-
explanitory. If you still need help, let me know and I'll try to
help you. Alternatively, you can also EMAIL Judith Pintar, the
author of this game. Her EMAIL address is:
[email protected]

++
Game Reviews

+
                     "ENCHANTED CASTLE"
                      Game by Michael R. Wilk
                 Reviewed by Kelly John Sapergia
Standalone game for Ms-dos

   If you're looking for an adventure game that features tons of
puzzles that would make any adventurer happy, then this is the
perfect interactive fiction game for you! The game is small in
size, but has a very good parser. And even though it doesn't work
well with speech, it's still fun to play. I got a copy of this
game from the Internet (I think it's somewhere on the GMD.DE
site.) Previously, however, I really didn't like the game but the
reason for that will be given later. That is until now.
   Before I review this game, I'd like to explain how I
came to play it. Yesterday, April 26, was a miserable day. It had
rained  on the previous night, and the sun wasn't out. I was
feeling bored, so I went to my computer and took a close look at
my "C:\AUDYSSEY\GAMES" directory. This is a huge directory on my
hard drive that contains .ZIP files of every game from most of
the issues of Audyssey as well as other text adventures I've
collected over the years. Well anyway, I was deciding what game
to play, when I thought about "Enchanted Castle", a game which I
had fooled around with but never really liked until now. So I
went to an empty directory on the hard drive, unzipped the game,
started playing it, and actually had fun with it!
   OK, I know you're getting tired of reading this, so I'll now
discuss the game in detail. The game begins at midnight and takes
place in the center of a midieval castle. You have no posessions
and you don't have a clue as to how you got there. But you do
know one thing: you must escape from the castle. But in order to
do that you must complete three missions:

- You must find and take the legendary Star Diamond.

- You must rescue a beautiful princess (no true adventure game
should be without one) from a wicked witch.

- You must destroy the castle as you escape.

Along the way, you'll encounter such characters as a tiger, a
troll, fire-breathing dragons, etc.
In your exploration of the castle and it's grounds, you'll also
find various magic words that when spoken (or in this case typed)
will help you do certain things, such as to return to the
starting location from just about anywhere in the castle if you
get stuck at some point.
   One thing that is important to every adventure game player is
the saving and restoring of a game. Normally, you would have to
type in a command like "SAVE GAME" or just "SAVE", press Enter
and specify a file name. But Enchanted Castle has a unique and
ingenious way of saving your game, or as it calls it, a "State".
The method of saving games is to find a magic word that allows
you to save your state. When the word is typed, you'll be asked
the question about what file name you want to use. The file will
be given the name you chose and the extension is your initials
that you can type in when you start the program. For instance, at
the beginning of the game, I answer the question about my
initials as "KJS" (Kelly John Sapergia), and the question about
my gender as M for male. (I don't know why this question is in
the program, and have never experimented with it). Anyway, when I
find the magic spell for saving a game, I give the file a name
like "KELLY". The file is then named "KELLY.KJS". This isn't a
bad idea, although that was one of the reasons I didn't like the
game before yesterday.
   The descriptions of all the rooms in the castle are very good.
The objects in the room, such as the tiger, or a ladder, are also
described in the room descriptions. This isn't a bad idea either,
although I prefer to type something like "EXAMINE LADDER" or
"LOOK AT TIGER", etc.
When the game starts, it's in the "VERBOSE" mode. Normally,
VERBOSE means that it will display the room description every
time you enter the room and not just the first time. However, in
this case, it's the opposite. It will give the full room
description when you first enter the room, then give a brief room
description when you enter the room again. If you want a full
room description every time you enter a room, you have to type
the command "PROLIX" when the game starts.
   On a scale of 1 to 10, this game is rated at 10, meaning
this is an excellent game for any adventure game
collector/player! The only problem with this game is that it
writes directly to the screen and doesn't go through BIOS. You'll
need to use your screen reader's review mode or you must have the
capability of reviewing the screen by means of the screen
reader's cursor. (An example of this type of screen reader is
JAWS.) Other than that, I highly recommend this game for any game
player!
I have no idea what adventure system (if any) was used, but I do
know that a solution file is also available. (See Issue 8 of
Audyssey to find out where you can obtain the solution).

+
NUCLEAR SUB ADVENTURE
by Steven Neighorn of AdventureWare (Agency Automation)(?)
review by Dave Sherman
Standalone game for MS-Dos

This adventure starts out by explaining a brief scenario and the
necessary instructions to interface with it.  The scenario is: You
have been assigned to a nuclear sub, and are currently going
through a test run with a skeleton crew.  Apparently the test run
is to see if the sub can be safely operated in an emergency
situation when put into "real action".
   You wake up in your bunk.  Within a couple of turns, it is
obvious that something has gone wrong!!  You are alone in the aft
section of the sub.  as you proceed forward through the sub, you
encounter numerous problems with the equipment.  Your generator is
dead, and so is your radio ... come to think of it, where is the
rest of the crew?  You pass several water-tight sealed doors, and
hatches.  Where do they lead to, and how do you open them?  You
also find several lockers and a safe (which of course are all
locked).  Suddenly the emergency klaxon goes off letting you know
that the nuclear reactor is about to blow!!!
   [A few hints]:  The first thing you should do is find your
crewmates.  (Also, it couldn't hurt if you pump some iron.)  Once
you've got the bums on their feet, they will be able to help you
open some of the doors and hatches.  The author of this game put
some careful thought into its design.  He has you running from one
end of the sub to the other.  It is very important to prioritize
your repairs and needs.  Also, when a repair is required, simply
use the verb "fix".
This text adventure is slightly more rigid than the standard games
developed with TADS.  Instead of looking for a "simple imperative
sentence", it looks for a two-word input at the ">" prompt (i.e. -
a verb and an associated noun).  Manoeuvring through the sub is
fairly easy.  The author has assigned directions to the function
keys.
   This game can be found under the filename "submarine.zip" at
ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/pc/.  Have fun!
(   I've only been playing with this game for two days -- in my
spare time.  Currently I'm stumped on one of the puzzles.  If
anyone figures out what "$#%$^#$%#%'" means, pass it on to Mike for
me.)

+


++
                          AGT UTILITIES
         Pros and Cons on How To Improve Your AGT Games
                     By Kelly John Sapergia

   As many of you IF players/programmers know, AGT (the Adventure
Game Toolkit) is available freeware. This means that all the AGT
manuals, programs, as well as the popular Master's Edition are now
available to everyone!
However, before you decide to log onto the Internet and download
all the extras that were only available to registered users, let's
take a look at some of the pro's and con's.

BIG AGT
   As it's name suggests, Big AGT is an add-on to the Classic
edition of AGT that is used to create big games. This is sometimes
useful. Here's a list of what it can do to improve your game: you
can have up to 299 rooms, 199 creatures, 299 nouns, and 500
messages for your game! (This is really impressive. I just wish
they could have included that version with the classic edition of
AGT).
There are no con's for this system, other than you have to be
careful when entering data for creatures and nouns.
For example, in the normal edition, you have Creatures with numbers
from 300 to 399, while the Big AGT system has creatures from 500 to
699! See the enclosed documentation for more information.

The Pophint Hint Creator

Note- The POPHINT package comes with the AGT Master's Edition. Also
note that the manual for the program is for Version 2.0 of the
POPHINT system, but Version 1.0 is included instead of 2.0.

   POPHINT is a package that allows you to create your own hint
file for an AGT game. While I find it easy to use, the only
drawback is that it isn't accessible with speech. It includes an
option to set the program up for BIOS output, but it doesn't seem
to work (at least on my machine). It's really designed to be used
by sighted people.

Pretty Printer

   This program is supposed to take the source files for a game and
create files with annotated descriptions. It also will allow you to
decompile a game to read the source code. The only drawback is that
the version of Pretty Printer that I have only will decompile only
files from AGT Version 1.16 to 1.18! I was surprised to find this
version on the IF-ARCHIVE. There really isn't much point in
downloading the file.

AGTNUM and AGTLABEL

Note- AGTLABEL comes with the Master's Edition.
   AGTLABEL will convert a Classic Edition game to the format
required by the Master's Edition of AGT. The AGTNUM program does
the reverse: it turns a Master's Edition game back into a Classic
Edition game.

The Master's Edition of AGT

Note- When you download the Master's Edition of AGT from the IF-
ARCHIVE, download the files AGTMASTR.ZIP and AGTMSTR16.ZIP. After
extracting the files from AGTMASTR.ZIP, extract the files from
AGTMSTR16.ZIP into the same directory as the Master's Edition. The
version in AGTMASTR.ZIP is 1.56 of the Master's Edition and
AGTMSTR16.ZIP contains the files that are needed to upgrade to
Version 1.6.

   The Master's Edition of the AGT has many more features than the
Classic Edition. For one thing, you can add sound effects and
music, pictures, and custom fonts to your game. You can even use
the Sound Blaster.

Where Can I Get These Programs?

   You can download these programs from the FTP.GMD.DE site. The
directory is:
IF-ARCHIVE/PROGRAMMING/AGT/


++
Getting a Handle on Games
by David Lant

What are the first issues you think of when trying to design a
blind-friendly computer game?  Will it work with a speech
synthesizer or braille display?  Does it use text or graphics?  Is
there audio feedback?  These are all, of course, perfectly valid
and laudable considerations.  But why is the method of control
always made to be the keyboard?

Before a storm of replies comes through, there is nothing wrong
with using the keyboard as a means of controlling game play.  The
thing is, there is nothing wrong with using any other input device
either.  For example, how many games accessible to the blind use
the mouse for controlling the action or input for the game?  I
cannot think of any myself, not that I have an exhaustive knowledge
of such things.  An obvious reason why a mouse is not chosen as a
control device is that it is intuitively linked to the hand-eye
co-ordination for which it was designed.  This need not be a
limitation though.  As we have seen from existing games on the
market, the use of hand-ear skills is just as challenging and
enjoyable.

As an example of how a very simple task can be a challenge with a
pointing device can be found in the screen reader that I use every
day.  Slimware Window Bridge has a mouse tutor function, which
enables the user to practice tracking in straight lines with the
mouse.  As you move the physical mouse, and hold down a shift key
on the keyboard, the PC emits two simultaneous tones.  One tone,
having the lower pitch range, indicates vertical movement, while
the other, with a higher pitch range, indicates horizontal
movement.  The task is to move the mouse in a given direction such
that you only produce changes in one of the directional tones.
This is not very easy, but the audio feedback makes it possible to
practice and refine your mouse control technique.  Eventually one
can progress to being able to use the actual pitch value of each
directional indicator to estimate your approximate location on the
screen.  Clearly, those with perfect-pitch will be at an advantage
here.

So, how about other devices?  Let us consider an existing game and
how simply choosing an alternative control device can add extra
skill and realism to its play.  PCS have a shooting game, which
includes sections for shooting at static or moving targets.  In
particular, the clay pigeon shoot provides an excellent opportunity
for added difficulty and action.  As things stand, the player hears
a series of clicks from the PC speaker and, at some point during
these clicks, a higher pitched set of beeps are played to indicate
the target.  The player hears this through once, and then has to
hit a key on the keyboard the next time it is played such that
their key press coincides with the high-pitched tone.  This is
deemed to be a hit.  To make the current game a bit more realistic,
one could pull the trigger on a joystick to fire, rather than
pressing a somewhat un-gun-like space bar.  Now, think how much
more life-like, not to mention challenging, this could be made if
the user were able to move his point of aim, as well as for the
target to track along the series of clicks.  As in a real clay
pigeon shoot, you hear the clay launched, and you then have to
track its flight with your gun before shooting in such a way that
your shot intercepts it.  The practicalities could work something
like this.  Instead of indicating the target as a single tone in a
fixed location in a series of clicks, it could be represented as a
intermittent beep whose pitch rises as it moves.  Now, by using a
joystick, for example, the player's point of aim could be
represented as a continuous tone, whose pitch rises and falls with
the movement of the joystick, much like the mouse tutor in Window
Bridge.  When the tone of the target is matched by the tone of the
joystick feedback, the user pulls the joystick trigger to fire at
the clay.  If the tones do indeed match, then the clay is hit,
otherwise it is missed, or winged.  This concept is very similar to
a game which I came across on the Eureka A4.  It used the same
audio feedback as I've described here, but the player had to track
by using the cursor keys on the keyboard.  Using the joystick to
control the aiming makes the game that much more dynamic and
realistic for the player.

Consider all the alternative input devices that are available.
From the humble mouse, through the joystick, game paddle, music
keyboard up to expensive add-ons like wheels and consoles.  The
fact that a player has a visual handicap does not preclude them
from handling physical devices with which to control their
computer.  Even more sophisticated systems such as voice input and
touch screens are usable without sight.

The mighty keyboard does indeed have its place.  Obviously it is a
piece of equipment which a game designer can safely assume that any
potential customer will already have.  But, as I indicated on an
earlier article on the use of synthesized sound, choosing the
lowest common denominator robs many people of greater and more
exciting experiences than they are otherwise allowed.  You could
not possibly imagine a general high street store refusing to stock
games because not everyone who walks in might have the capability
to play them on their machine.  AS technology progresses, and
prices fall, new and more exciting features get included in games
and packages to enhance the play enjoyment.

Many commercial games produced for sighted players include the
option to select what device you want to use to control the game.
For instance, a Star Wars game, that came with my old 486, offered
the player the opportunity to control their ship with the keyboard,
the mouse or a joystick.  There is no reason at all why this same
level of choice cannot be incorporated into games which are
playable by the blind and visually impaired.  Even text based games
could have an extra dimension, simply by adding the support for an
alternative input device.  An example might be a game such as
Infocom's Journey.  Here, the player almost exclusively controls
the game by selecting options from menus.  This can just as easily
be done with a joystick or track ball, provided the software is
intelligent enough to restrict movement to within the menu
structure.

None of these concepts require the invention of any new technology
or techniques.  It has all been done before.  What does not seem to
have happened, is that little extra step of imagination that moves
beyond solving the problems of output for people who cannot see the
screen, to enhancing their experience with physical movement and
dextrous control.  And think on this:  what would it be like for a
blind-friendly flight simulator?  Combine the use of 3D sound
effects, with joystick control, and tone targeting, and you have
the possibility of an enthralling struggle to control your
environment, and survive!

++
Contacting Us

I can be reached in two ways. The easiest is through Compuserve. 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:
5787 Montevideo Road
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Postal code: L5N 2L5

I have acquired a copy of UUencode and UUdecode for dos,
so you may send files to me via this means. Also, thanks to a
reader named Frank Haslam, I have acquired a copy of something
called Netsend. this is a program written and encoded so that it
can be sent as a standard e-mail, but once it is cut from the rest
of the message text, it can be run as an executable file. You will
then have all you need to send and receive files over E-mail. this
should go a long way to making sharing of files easier. thanks a
bunch, Frank.        

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 Armory
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. And,
you can download the magazine from his page.

Finally, if you wish to contact him at home, his address is:
3082 Bartholomew Crescent
Mississauga, Ontario
Canada L5N 3L1


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