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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]

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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

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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.     

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Letters:
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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 sh