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Audyssey;
Computer Games Accessible to the Blind
Issue 17: March/April, 1999
Edited by Michael Feir

+++
Welcome


Welcome to the seventeenth issue of Audyssey. This magazine is
dedicated to the discussion of computer games which, through
accident or design, are accessible to the blind. This issue has a
whole bunch of reviews for those who play games with sighted
companions thanks largely to James Peach. In the aftermath of
Anchorhead, James Peach gives his response to the idea that a
rating system be formed for games. For those who make a habit of
ignoring the Contacting Us section, this one has some new
information and a correction for those trying to contact Kelly
Sapergia. Also, a new company has emerged with games for sale
designed for the blind. Read all about I Can See Books in this
issue.

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. I can
receive attached files, but cannot currently send them. 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 has changed to:
[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
If you have web access,
Audyssey now has an official web-page, maintained by Igor Gueths
at:
www.concentric.net/~igueths
Besides having all issues of Audyssey available for down-load, six
megabytes of storage space are available for popular games. 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
LEVEL9: An Interpreter for Level9 Games in Any Format
The Latest Finds
Free Game Winner
News From PCS
Welcome to I Can See Books: A New Player Arrives
Game Reviews
Setting the Standards
Contacting Us

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From The Editor:

Things are starting to look up for the Audyssey community. This
issue has benefited from a revival of communication between
readers. The Audyssey discussion list has once again become much
more active and lively. Help and discussion has been sought on a
number of issues including programs for accessing multi-user
dungeons and some heated debate on Anchorhead. After the last
issue's somewhat botched publication, one of the first things that
happened was that several of you were quick to point out my error
regarding Jaws for Dos. It indeed has a command for removing it
from memory. People also pointed out that it was excellent for most
interactive fiction and for PCS's games. I have yet to hear from
anyone using Jaws to play rogue-like games. I still stand by my
statement that Jaws for Dos uses up far too much memory. On that,
I have so far received no argument.

While discussion is heating up, we still need more articles and
reviews. Once again, I had to use almost all the materials sent to
me to put this issue together. Sadly, Adam, The Immortal gamer will
not make an appearance here. However, due to many requests to bring
him back, I'll do my utmost to have an episode for this year's
anniversary issue to be published in June. Although the official
date would be July 15th, we seem to have fallen a month off of
schedule. If any of you have ideas on how else to make the third
anniversary issue of Audyssey special, i'd love to hear them.

A lot of things are changing for me around here. I now have my own
phone line, and can therefore offer you the ability to call me.
you'll find it in the "Contacting Us" section. I will also soon be
getting a new and very powerful computer. This will make Audyssey
a lot easier to put together. I'll also be far better able to test
potential games. You'll learn more about this new machine in the
next issue after I've actually had a chance to use it. The search
for a permanent job is still going on. I suspect it will go on for
quite a while. A BA degree is quite a worth-while thing to attain
in terms of personal growth. However, businesses don't seem to
value a strong ability with the written word too highly. On the
whole, I am still optimistic about my prospects. I can only hope
that all of you are having more success at job-hunting.
Fortunately, in all other respects, life is quite pleasant. I have
excellent friends and a lot of fun. I also have plenty of time to
help people. This is something I have always found quite rewarding.

At Mr. Peach's request, I am changing the title of his department
from commercial games to mainstream games. James pointed out that
covering commercial games was too broad a mandate and ruled out
shareware if interpreted literally. By "mainstream games", I am
referring to those games designed for the general public. Only
games for the PC fall within his responsibility. This still leaves
far too many games for one person to investigate. if any of you out
there want to join the Audyssey staff as a mainstream games expert,
we could certainly use your help. You must be able to either see
well enough to play these games, or have ready access to a sighted
companion to play the games with you. For example, I play a lot of
mainstream games such as Return to Krondor with my father and with
Adam Taylor.

Well, that about wraps it up for now. I hope all of you enjoy this
issue, and look forward to hearing from you. Keep those letters,
reviews, and articles coming. For you strategy buffs, look out for
Birth of the Federation. It is due to be released on May 19th here
in Toronto. It is reputed to be a Star Trek turn-based strategy
game. Advance reviews have been quite positive. Another game called
Fable has also been recommended to me as worth investigating. Until
next time, play on.

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Letters:
++
From Maurice Press:
Hi Michael. In the latest Audyssey, you asked for correspondence.
Well, I really like Audyssey and so I have come out of the woodwork
to air a few views. Firstly, a while ago I offered Audyssey to
subscribers in braille free of charge.  I have had only one request
so far.  Because of the nature of my business, I would be happy to
provide Audyssey either on Audiotape or in Braille, particularly to
people. I enjoy computer games. However, I am still very concerned
at the amount of DOS games around.  In this Windows age, I think it
is important for people to use the latest programs and try to adapt
them.  A year ago, I was still using DOS 6.2 with Wordperfect. I do
realise however, that using games written in windows progs can be
quite daunting for Visually Impaired individuals particularly as
there seems to be less and less text  used. What I do like in a lot
of the latest games is the sound. I have a Yamaha Gold soundcard on
this Pentium 400 machine and the stereo effects are quite
fantastic.  My latest game is "Generations", the latest  TNG game.
It begins once loaded, with a short film sequencing events up to
the time when you have to control events on the enterprise.
Unfortunately, it is at this time that things become difficult
because you have to guide people around. I am looking at a way of
modifying this but will have to be a bit careful until I have
copywright. Lastly, sorry to go on,  can anyone answer  2 queries
for me? 1.     Are there any good websites with good  games in
windows with great sound effects? 2.    I am a big fan of Terry
Prachett and have read most of his books.  Does anyone know whether
there are any Discworld computer games yet?


If anyone would like  to contact me my Email address is:
[email protected]

Please keep publishing Audyssey.
Maurice Press.

+
Well, Maurice, in answer to your second question, I am fairly
confident that there is at least one Discworld game out there. I
doubt it would be all that accessible however. The search is still
going on for great-sounding accessible games in Windows. I suspect
we'll have a long wait before any freeware or shareware accessible
games are offered with very high quality sound besides action
games. Silent Steel is so far the best commercial game. you Don't
Know Jack is second in line. If you would stoop to playing a Dos-
based game, Flash Traffic is also fully accessible. It has
fantastic sound. On the subject of Dos versus Windows, I have no
problem with people playing Dos games. Lets face it. there are more
Dos games which are accessible than Windows. For the foreseeable
future, this will doubtless continue to be the case. Even if there
comes a time when more is available for Windows, I am not about to
stop playing all these great games we've found and discussed in
Audyssey over the past years. Take interactive fiction for example.
Before graphics took off, interactive fiction was the best computer
entertainment available. Are these games any less worthy of our
attention just because video games have blasted them out of the
main stream? Even if a whole crop of audio-based games should
appear, I'll still pull out Zork or Jigsaw. The puzzles will still
be as challenging, and the writing is still first-rate. By your
logic, you should also be concerned that there are so many old
books around. After all, there are a whole crop of modern writers
out there. Dickens and Doyle are still just as vivid and powerful
as ever. I'm not about to stop reading Sherlock Holmes just because
I can watch mysteries on TV. Certainly I hope that more games are
offered in Windows. Games make an excellent way of learning how to
use one's access technology. Windows also offers some exciting
possibilities for accessible games. I think we should be able to
enjoy both kinds of games without being unduly concerned about it.
I hope that as the demand grows for more Windows games, developers
will come through with more offerings.

Regarding Mr. Press's offer to distribute Audyssey in tape or
Braille, I hope we can get more people interested in that. If
anyone knows some one who can't obtain Audyssey on the Internet, or
a place or agency which would be interested, please let Mr. Press
know. I'm still trying to get the CNIB and other Canadian agencies
and media interested in Audyssey, but have not had tremendous
success. A few of you have been kind enough to pass out flyers
about Audyssey at conventions. I hope you continue to do this, and
that all of you spread word about audyssey to others. The more
readers we get, the better. Part of the reason why Mr. Press got so
little response to his offer was that everyone who got it was
already able to obtain Audyssey. We need to get the message to
people or places which could have it available for people. If there
are places which frequently deal with blind people, they might want
it for their clients to read while they are waiting. Before we move
on, I'd like to thank Mr. Maurice for keeping his offer open.

++
From Igor Gueths:

Hi Michael. Long time no see huh? I've been pretty busy with school
and everything else, but I just wanted to bring up an interesting
point. I was rather interested in the article you published about
music for speech-friendly computer games. When I read the part
about midi, I remembered that midi doesn't sound good on my sound
card. It can sound good if a computer game uses direct-x, which is
the multimedia system used in Windows 98. I have played a game that
uses direct-x, and it sounds very good, especially the music. Well,
one way to go is having Pcs make windows-based games that take
advantage of Windows 98's multimedia capabilities. Another way is
using a format called mpeg, which stands for motion picture experts
group. The research for mpeg was originally started in Germany (I
believe). As you can see, I know you would be asking the question:
Why mpeg if it is all video? Well, mpeg also can store cd-quality
audio. These files are called mp3 files, which is technically
called mpeg audio layer 3. The real advantage to mp3 or mpeg is
that it can deliver high-quality audio with about twice less
memory. For example, a wav file that has a song recorded from a cd
could take up anywhere from 20 to 60 mb or more of hard disk space.
If it were encoded in mp3, it would only take up about 1 mb. Mpeg
layer 4 is supposed to be released later this year. But anyway, if
you wanted to put music in a game, use mp3. I have listened to
these files, and they sound like a cd playing in the cdrom drive.
You can find them on the internet if you search for mp3 streams. If
you use ms-dos, go to webcrawler.com, and search for mp3 players.
Go to the link that says "main" below the summaries link. If you
used a lot of mp3s, a game could get quite large. But, if you used
a combination of mp3's and wavs, you could probably make a pretty
good game in terms of high-quality sound. All you need is something
called a cd ripper, which you can find on www.mp3.com if you have
web access. A cd ripper basically extracts the audio from an audio
cd and encodes it into an mp3 file for you. Then, you could use a
sound editing program to remove the words if you want. A program
that I have found quite useful is called goldwave. The only
drawback to its remove vocals effect is that it removes the stereo
sound. The result is usually a song with a lot of echo. But, for
somebody who wants to put music in their game, they should
definitely look to mp3. The only thing is that you need a computer
with a pentium processor to listen to the very high-quality mp3's.
I heard from Jim Kitchen that mp3's sound ok on a 486, but they
sound better on a pentium. Also, the pages.prodigy.net web page no
longer exists. Instead, my url is www.concentric.net/~igueths.
Please put this letter in the next issue of audyssey.

+
Having heard some MP3 files for myself, I can certainly agree with
Igor about their quality. I would certainly welcome more Windows
games which could take advantage of the multi-media capabilities.
However, I think that such games will be quite rare for the
immediate future. Neither PCS nor I Can See Books seems ready to
take the plunge into producing Windows audio-based games. These
companies are still smarter to stick with Dos-based games since the
majority of their potential clients are using Dos-based systems or
are more comfortable with Dos. The demand for Windows games is
certainly increasing. However, it would still be very hard to turn
a profit on a high quality Windows game made exclusively for the
blind. If we are to see such games, I suspect that they will be
accidentally accessible. This is certainly most likely according to
a historical perspective. PCS has indicated that they are
investigating the Windows environment, and may start producing
Windows games by next year. This is by no means certain to occur
however.

++
From Patrick R. Davis:

Hi Mike,
     Sorry I took so long to get back to you.  I have been having
some computer trouble.  Now, I have Windows98 and Windoweyes 3.0.
If I had gotten this fixed earlier I would have helped you with
number 16.  I also just wanted to make sure that nobody thought now
that I won a game I would just sit back without reviewing it for
you.  (grin)
     I am considering going into computer programming so I can make
games of my own.  I have just got a braille book on basic
programming, so my materials are right under my fingers (pardon the
pun).  I thought of starting with basic programming then moving on
too C++.  I was wondering if you or any of your readers had any
advice for me.  There are some classes that I could take my junior
or senior year that will teach me C++.
     If I didn't review Haze Maze, I would be taking advantage of
this magazine.  Anyway, this game has excellent stereo effects. 
I also liked the echoes in the walking sounds.  It made the effect
of the mazes more creepy.  The wind chime isn't really needed to
play the game but I leave it on for the effect.  The terrain sounds
are excellent, but I think the grass covered ground one could use
a little mor work.  I haven't even gotten through all the mazes,
but so far, I think that mazes 4 and 7 are pretty challenging.
Also, the game saves your position in a maze if you quit it.  The
menu will tell you which mazes are and aren't completed, and it
will have a "last maze" option, which is the one that allows you to
resume playing the maze that you were playing when you quit.  I
also like the doors on maze 3.  Carl says that he might be using
that in Dungeons and Dragons.  My particular game came late, so I
am still not very far on it.  Even Allan Maynard "the maze hater"
should give the demo a try.  This demo, like all of PCS demos, is
available at Paul Henrichson's web site.
     If I get any games, I will certainly write a review on them.
Good luck to you on future issues of Audyssey.  I want to thank you
and Carl for the game.

Patrick
+
You certainly earned that free game, Patrick. Outside the staff,
your contribution to issue 14 was absolutely outstanding. Thanks
also for your comments on the maze game. We'll have to get Mr.
Maynard's reaction. I also wish you all the best in your efforts to
learn how to program. We can always use more games, and these days,
programming is an excellent career choice. I hope that many of our
readers can offer you their wisdom.

++

From Edward Green:
Hi Michael
I've discovered a games website which I think may be of interest to
several Audyssey readers, perhaps more specifically to those who
live either in the U.K or in other cricket-playing countries.  It
is a  site devoted to computer cricket games and simulations.  It
covers  shareware, freeware and commercial games.  Some of them are
old dos games meaning they are almost bound to be accessible,  and
I know for a fact that at least one of the games for windows is. 
The focal point of the site is a game called International Test
Cricket which costs #15 to register.  I have played the shareware
game with no problems.  However, many of the programs are small
and, if you're a cricket fan, I'd say it was worth the download
time  just to check them out.  The website address is
http://www.cricketgames.com

Edward Green
+
Thanks for informing the Audyssey community about the availability
of these games. I'm not a big sports fan myself, but a good number
of our readership is. I hope at least some of these games are found
to be accessible. If anyone finds one or more of these games to be
to their liking, please send your reviews so others may know what
is accessible and won't have to gamble. Ever since Field General
emerged, there hasn't been anything for sports fans to talk about.
perhaps this will stir them up.

+++
LEVEL9: An Interpreter for Level9 Games in Any Format
Program by Glen Summers
Article by Justin Fegel

I discovered this program several months ago while browsing the
Interactive Fiction Archive. The program is called Level9 and, as
you may have already guessed from the title of this article, this
program will allow you to play games that were produced by the text
adventure company Level9.

If you've been playing text adventures for a number of years, you
probably have some knowledge of Level9. This company has a
prominent place in the history of interactive fiction. For those of
you less familiar with the company, I will give you a brief
overview.

Level9, like most of the commercial text adventure companies, had
its heyday during the 1980's. They were a UK based company and were
the leading publisher of text adventures in England. In fact, they
have been referred to as the British Infocom. Their games were so
successful that Scapeghost, their last and least successful game,
still sold about 15,000 copies.

Some of their more well known game titles are Lords of Time,
Snowball, Colossal Adventure, Worm in Paradise, and Lancelot.
Overall, they produced 20 text adventures making them the second
largest producer of text adventures next to Infocom. Their games
featured a decent parser, a game dictionary that could contain
1,000 or more words, and it wasn't uncommon for a game to have an
average of 200 or more locations, much larger than most Infocom
games. Level9 officially closed its doors around 1991 for the same
reason that most of the other text adventure developers went out of
business. They could not compete with the growing demand for more
graphical games. For more detailed information on Level9 and their
games, you should download and read The Level9 Fact Sheet. You can
find this
fact sheet at ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-
archive/level9/info/Level9_Facts.txt. I will plan on reviewing a
couple Level9 games in an
upcoming issue.

Level9 games were available for a wide variety of computers.
According to the documentation for the Level9 Interpreter, the
computers that games were available on were, Comodore 64s, BBCs,
Ataris, Amigas, Spectrums, and IBM PCs. The Level9 interpreter is
supposed to be able to play these games no matter what format they
are in.

Even though games were produced for different computer platforms,
the Spectrum versions seem to be the only versions that are widely
available on the Internet. I have been searching for PC versions of
Level9 games for the last couple of months, but, I have had very
little success. I did find a web site that had a small selection of
Level9 games available for the PC, but, when I returned a couple
days later the site was gone and I never found it again.

 Since Spectrum versions of Level9 games seem to be the most common
format available today, the Level9 Interpreter is a very useful
utility, especially for someone who is blind. Ordinarily, you would
have to use a Spectrum emulator to play the games and emulators are
not at all speech friendly. An emulator is a program that can run
under Dos or
Windows that simulates the operating system, sound, display, and
keyboard layout of an older computer. People use them primarily to
play games that aren't available in a format for the PC. But these
emulators tend to be buggy, sometimes unstable, and don't work at
all with screen readers. In fact, when you try and use an emulator
on a system that has a screen reader installed, you lose speech
entirely and you can't even use the screen reader's review
functions.

It should be noted that the Level9 Interpreter is not an
emulator. It's just a run-time engine that can read the contents of
a Level9 game file and execute it, like Frotz for Infocom games.
For example: To start playing the spectrum version of Lords of Time
you would type: level9 time.sna. The extension .sna tells the
interpreter
that the game is a spectrum snapshot. Once you have
loaded a Level9 game with the interpreter, you play it just like
any other text adventure.

The Level9 Interpreter is available for both MSDos and Windows. If
you use the MSDos version you will have to use your Dos screen
readers review keys to read the output, as The program writes
directly to the screen. How well the Windows version works with
speech depends on your Windows screen reader.
For example: If you use JFW, you can set the screen echo to all,
and everything will be read automatically.

Here are the files you need to download. You can find the MSDos
version of the interpreter at
ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/level9/interpreters/level9/l9dos.zip.
The windows version is in the same directory, but the file is
called l9win.zip. Next, you need some games to play! You should
download
ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/spectrum/level9.zip. This file
contains spectrum versions of some of Level9's most popular games.

If you have any questions feel free to drop me an e-mail. My e-mail
address is in the Contacting Us section at the end of this issue.
Have fun!
+++
The Latest Finds:

The past two months haven't turned up too many fully accessible
games for blind people. Thanks to Brandan Williams, I have a copy
of the eleventh release of the Inform port of Dungeon. I'll try and
get that up on Mr. Henrichsen's site when I can. No news has come
to either myself or either of my staff regarding the .z8 port being
worked on. This .z8 port is supposed to be loaded with footnotes
and other extras. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is
definitely being offered as shareware. Justin Fegel's last-minute
investigation on Audyssey's behalf was able to clarify that point
at least. However, I had no time to investigate the sites he
pointed to. The next issue will hopefully contain more details on
where to obtain the game and what the cost is. Some of you may have
noticed or obtained the early version of the Hitchhiker's Guide
game which suddenly appeared and then vanished from the If-archive.
As an owner of the Lost Treasures of Infocom collection, I had a
copy of the Hitchhiker's Guide which had built-in hints. I hope
that this later version will be released or available as shareware.

Another arrival of interest has been a new version of Colossal
Caves. This version is written in Tads, and is a five hundred and
fifty-one point version. It also can simulate the classic three
hundred and fifty point version. With excellent parsing abilities
and a number of other enhancements, this game is superbly
resurrected yet again. Due to its built-in hints and extensive
instructions, I can highly recommend this game for beginners. It is
available in the if-archive.

Tsunami Media has now shown us two games which are accessible to
the blind. Silent Steel is one of the very few fully accessible
Windows games available. It is now also available in DVD format for
those lucky enough to own such systems. I will soon be one of these
individuals, and will report on how accessible the DVD version of
it is. More recently, Mr. Maynard and I were able to try Flash
Traffic. This game is a Dos-based game, and is played in a similar
manner to Silent Steel. My father and I played it through over
about a week, and found it quite interesting. Here is what Mr.
Maynard has to say:

Hi Gamers,

If you have played Silent Steel--the interactive movie thriller,
then you'll also love Flash Traffic.  If you are not familiar with
Silent Steel let me give you a short explanation.  You are the
captain of the U.S.S. Idaho, a modern-day submarine.  The game is
an actual movie and at different points the game pauses and you
must make one of three choices. Depending on your decision the
movie will go off in different directions. What's nice about these
interactive movies, at least the ones by Tsunami Media, is that you
use the up and down arrows to make your selection and each time you
hit the up or down arrow you hear the captain's voice speaking that
option.

Flash Traffic works the same way, but in this game you are the head
of the F.B.I. investigating what appears to be a plot to build and
plant a nuclear bomb in Los Angelis (at least I think it is Los
Angelis).  The only difference between Flash Traffic and Silent
Steel is that Flash Traffic is not a Windows95 game.  According to
the instructions it must be run in a DOS mode.  It can't even run
in a Windows95 DOS box or a Windows3.x DOS shell.  The only way
I've been able to get it to work properly is to select the shutdown
option from the Start menu in Win95 then select "Restart the
computer in MS-DOS mode".  It doesn't seem to work when you hit the
F-8 key on boot up then selecting menu number 6, command mode, from
the ensuing menu.

Using Vocal-eyes I was only able to get speech from the opening
credits but nothing else.  I needed sighted help to install the
game.  Once done, however, the game is a blast to play.  Without
speech it is a little hard to tell when the game asks you to insert
the next cd but if you just hit your up or down arrow after waiting
a few seconds and nothing happens then you are probably being asked
to insert the next cd.  Pop in the next one and hit enter twice and
the adventure continues.

It's important to read the readme.txt file because it tells you
what each function key does.  There are save and restore function
keys, a replay last clip key, as well as a play movie key.  With
the save feature you are not allowed to save anywhere you want, you
must wait until you come to a decision area and the game saves at
that point.  Now, without speech I haven't yet figured out if you
can enter your own file name or if you can only use the game's
default name.

Since Flash Traffic came before Silent Steel I don't believe it
will support the later sound cards, at least the ones which have no
DOS drivers.  If you'd like to order the game it can be ordered on-
line at www.tsunamimedia.com.  The form is a little difficult to
figure out but it can be done.  Or you can call Tsunami Media to
order or get more information.  Their number is:  209-683-8266.
The game costs $40 and comes on 3 cd's.

I've played it three times so far and I've died three times in
three different ways.  It's a hard way to learn.

I opened a DOS box in Windows-95 and tried to run Flash Traffic.
It worked just fine.  Now I am using Windows-95 Version B and an
AWE32 SoundBlaster sound card but I don't know if either of these
facts made a difference.  I guess if you buy the game the only
thing you can do is try it in a Windows-95 DOS box.  I just wanted
all the readers to know that the documentation concerning
Windows-95 looks to be a little outdated.

Dope Wars (formerly Drug Wars) is a DOS, text-based game in which
you must gain your wealth through selling drugs on the streets.
Obstacles will be a constant problem, as you climb out of debt and
into fortunes.  To increase your chances of survival, you can buy
weapons to defend your freedom, or life, and there are six
neighbourhoods that you can hind in, as well as sell illegal
narcotics in.  This is a game that requires wit, nerve, skill, and
luck, as you battle to victory in Dope Wars.  WARNING: due to the
nature of this program, it is a games strictly for adults, and not
for children!

Stone Keep
This is a n RPG that will have you on edge, and screaming "Bring on
the goblins!".  You, as a boy, were spirited away by mysterious
forces, and now ten years later, you have returned to your home,
only to find it ravaged by evil and darkness.  You, with nothing
but nerve (and some clothes), will journey deeper and deeper into
this evil and darkness, battling giant insects, goblins, skeletons,
and much more.  For what you might Ask?  As if evil and darkness,
hitting you where you live, wasn't enough of an incentive, you have
to reclaim your immortal soul, free a great dragon from bondage,
and much more; are you up to the challenge?

Campaign for Windows
Want to be in the middle of a Civil War kind of battle?  Then look
no further than WinCamp.  Campaign of Windows, is a simple, turn-
based strategy game, where you pit your army of horses, cannons,
and men against theirs.  With just a roll of the dice, you can move
or attack your enemy units, and hear all the action.  With full
sound (sound card not PC speaker), this game should be entertaining
to any blind/sighted team looking to take the day, with Campaign of
Windows (also known as WinCamp).  This game is freeware.

Heroes of Might and Magic 3
The Heroes of Might and Magic (Heroes or HoMM) series, has been one
of the greatest series of games ever produced, and is truly a
testament to those who believe there is something beyond real-time.
This third instalment will essentially be what Heroes 2 was to
Heroes 1, improvement and expansion on the good, and destruction of
the bad.  With new maps, more units, characters, spells, artifacts
and more, it is plain to see that no drastic change can be made on
a game (Heroes 2) that's already a winning combination.

SimCity 3000
Did you think that there was no life after SimCity 2000" That you
couldn't make it any better or that it couldn't be done in your
lifetime?  Well, you're about to be startled.  SimCity 3000 is
here, and it looks like a very sweet game.  After such a long wait
(nearly five years!), Maxis has truly created the definitive city
builder.  This game is about as realistic as it gets, with the
ability to build just about anything, build it pretty much where
you want.  You can gain a street census or poll on just about
anything, can query schools, services, banks, and so on.  For those
on the sighted side of the game team, with the ability to zoom to
ground level, you'll see your citizens commute, communicate and
travel, on your streets and sidewalks, just like in a real city.
With the sounds to bring the game to life, to the realism that will
help to truly grow, and make you look like a planning pro, SimCity
3000 looks like it was worth the very long wait.

+++
Free Game Winner

This month's free game goes to Robin Mandell. Many thanks are owed
to her for bringing news of I Can See Books to the Audyssey
community. It has been a long time since a new source of games has
been discovered. The folks at PCS have long hoped that more
companies would enter the gaming market and generate more interest
in computer entertainment. At long last, this has happened. Robin
Mandell has contributed a number of reviews including one on
Anchorhead. She has recently been accepted at Queen's university.
Despite the often hectic pace of life on campus, I hope she finds
the time to enjoy the odd game and tell us about them.
Congratulations, Robin.

+++
News From PCS

In a recent conversation, PCS programmer Carl Micla gave me an
update on future plans and sales trends. Apparently, the older PCS
games are doing better than the more recent ones. Packman has done
surprisingly poorly so far. So has the maze and card games. Due to
the volume of requests I've gotten over the years about accessible
card games I'm personally quite surprised at how poorly Ivan's card
games are doing. I remind all of you that a demo is now available
on the Internet, and hope you'll give it a try. Plans are also
afoot to release a game about king Arthur fairly soon. You'll find
out about the current two releases below thanks to Phill. Carl also
explained that PCS was investigating the Windows environment. They
have some interesting ideas about how to design games which may not
even require a speech program. They'll speak by themselves. Other
speculations concerned the use of MP3 files for better sound. As
long as sales pick up, it looks like we'll be living in quite
interesting times thanks to the innovations of PCS.     

  Personal Computer Systems
                            Presents
star trek the battle begins.

David Greenwood takes us from beneath the oceans in lone wolf, into
the heavens with his new game star trek the battle begins. You
command four Federation Star Fleet star ships.
The frontiers were always a problem, but now three old nemesis
joined forces.  The Federation must take on the Tholians,
Klingdons and Romulans; all the members of the evil alliance at
once.  You are the best the Federation has, and if it is going to
survive, you will have to be the one to come through. Your star
ships contain the latest technology the Federation has. The ships
are equipped with the most powerful phasers, the
latest photon torpedoes, and a secret super powerful tri-lithium
matter anti-matter mine.
The navigational and targeting computers are
loaded with the newest software. These last four star ships have
the most powerful and stable dilithium matrix warp core drives
around today. They can provide instant warp speed and protect the
ship with a force shield unmatched by any of your enemies. You have
the best tools, but will it be enough?
This is the first P C S game with continuous background soundS! It
also includes the sounds of weapons explosions and the female
computer voice.

STAR TREK cost $30.00

RED DRAGON KICK BOXING CHALLENGE

     Hay!  You.  Yes you!  I am talking to you!  I hear that you
think your pretty tough!  Well, do you think you can take me on?
Well, I hear you talk the walk.  but can you walk the talk?  Lets
see!  Meat me at the RED DRAGON Kick Boxing Ring in five minutes
and we will go a few rounds and see what you've got!

Your hands are sweating as the trainer wraps them. You try to
concentrate as the gloves go on, but the excitement of the event is
beginning to mount. This is the day you have been training for the
past year. All of the hard work is about to be put to the limit in
the most physically and mentally draining test of your life.

As you walk down the runway the cheers from the crowd makes your
adrenaline run through your body like a train through a corn field.
By the time you reach the ropes, you can feel yourself float out of
your body and look down on your opponent.
This is it. There is no turning back and you are up to the
challenge. The moment of truth has finally come.  The bell rings...

     Personal Computer Systems has produced a real time kick boxing
game for you fast action lovers.  The game uses the six pack key
group, the arrow key group, and your stereo speakers to play the
game.  There are twelve ranked kick boxers for you to fight.  You
can even make the computer fight itself. 
    
     Listen for your opponent to throw a punch to your head or
body, or to kick out at you.  The sound coming from your left,
right, or centre STEREO SOUND will tell you which direction the
attack is from.  The type of yell he makes tells you what he is
aiming for.  You try to block his blow, by hitting the correct key.

     Attacking the opponent is easy by  using the three top keys on
the six pack group, INSERT, HOME, AND PAGE UP to throw a punch to
the opponent's head.  The three lower keys DEL, END, AND PAGE DOWN
throws a blow to the body.  You Kick using the left and right arrow
keys.  You move towards and back from your opponent by using the up
and down arrow keys.  That is all the keys you need, but it takes
lots of practice to beat the champ!

     So, get those fingers limbered up, put in your mouth piece,
and lets go a few rounds!

RED DRAGON KICK BOXING CHALLENGE COST $30.00
  
         
 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]

+++
Welcome to I Can See Books: A New Player Arrives

Thanks to the thoughtfulness of Robin Mandell, the Audyssey gaming
community now has a second source for commercial games made
specifically for the blind. I was about to head out for a social
outing when Robin Called to tell me about I Can See Books. This
company, she informed me, had some games and utilities for sale
that Audyssey readers might be interested in. Primarily a
transcription company, I can See Books translates print books into
audio or Braille formats. They also offer a small but growing
collection of Dos-based software for sale. I have included the
assortment of games from their catalogue below for you to examine.
If you want further information or a complete catalogue, they are
quite happy to provide it electronically. I can also attest to
their exemplary promptness. They were very quick to send the
catalogue. I also found them eager to provide the additional
information which I thought would interest you.

Starting strictly as a transcription company in the early eighties,
They have recently begun offering computer programs for sale. It
seems that at least one member of the small and bustling home
enterprise has a hobby of computer programming. Eventually, they
decided to sell these programs in addition to the books. The latest
addition to their collection of programs is a typing tutor designed
with the needs of blind people in mind. I asked if they planned to
expand their collection of games and programs. They are indeed
planning to do this, and say that we can expect more educational
games in particular from them in the future. This will be
especially delightful and long overdue news for the educators and
parents in our readership. for those of you after pure
entertainment, I Can See Books has a few items of interest as well.
They are quite open to suggestions and ideas, so if you want
something that hasn't been done yet, you may want to see what they
think.

How this newcomer fares in marketing their games will be quite
interesting to see over the months ahead. Like PCS, they are
putting out these programs as an addition to their main business.
Both businesses are home-based at present. Those who call PCS may
hear the occasional meo of a cat. In contrast, those calling I Can
See Books may hear all manner of bustle in the background. One
disadvantage for Audyssey readers is that there are no demos to get
off the Internet. You'll just have to take the gamble. To offset
this, it is worth mentioning that I Can See Books sells their
programs for a mere $8 Canadian versus PCS's usual fee of around
$30 American. The exception to this is the typing tutor as you'll
see below.

From my perspective, I doubt that these two companies will actually
compete directly with each other all that often. Monopoly is the
only game which both companies have produced in common so far. If
some one would provide us a comparison of the two Monopoly games,
I would be very much obliged. This would shed light on any
differences in technique and philosophy regarding accessability.
Please also send reviews of their games so we can get to know this
company better. Without further delay, here is their selection of
games:

                              I Can See Books
                         88 Captain Morgans Blvd.
                               Nanaimo, B.C.
                              V9R 6R1 Canada
                           Phone: [250] 753-3096
              Electronic mail address:: [email protected]    
    World Wide Web address: http://www.ncf.carleton.ca/~dr100


                              SPEECH-FRIENDLY
                             COMPUTER PROGRAMS

     The following is a list of DOS-based speech-friendly
computer games and utilities which we have designed to work
especially well with any speech synthesizer. These programs do not
require any specialized, modern equipment to run
satisfactorily.

     All programs cost $8, and are mailed on a 3.5 inch high
density floppy disk, unless otherwise specified. We offer a
discount to anyone purchasing many computer programs. For every
four programs you purchase, you will receive an additional
program of your choice free of charge.

                              COMPUTER GAMES
                               FOR ALL AGES

     The following is a list of the computer games we have to offer
which can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. They are all
speech-friendly, and the rules of each original game have been
carefully retained in the electronic version of the program.

Dominos. You can now play the famous game of dominos on the
computer! If this game is popular, we plan to have our computer
programmer write many domino games, each with different rules and
objectives. Please note that this game allows only two players.

Monopoly. The world-renowned game involving buying and selling
properties, renting houses and hotels, paying income tax, and
choosing chance and community chest cards is now incorporated into
a speech-friendly computer game! Please note that this version of
Monopoly allows only two players.

                             FUN, EDUCATIONAL
                             CHILDREN'S GAMES

     All of the computer games presented in this section are fun to
play and extremely educational. Each game has a specific
educational purpose which incorporates learning and fun into an
amazing blend of hilarity and suspense that makes the child want to
keep playing without his or her even realizing what valuable things
he or she is learning. Games such as the Balloon Game teach
keyboard and computer readiness skills. Such word games as The
Phonix Game, Spell It and Learning the Alphabet help the child
learn his or her alphabet in a fun and exciting fashion. Story
Maker and Computer Quiz help to teach the child valuable skills and
information concerning English and history. And, finally, such
games as Battle Ship and Uno teach strategy and concentration while
playing for a definite objective, to triumph over the computer and
become the winner!

Balloon Game. This is a wonderful game of chance. The goal is to
blow up a huge balloon without popping it. Such common mishaps as
having someone step on the balloon, week rubber and not enough
money to buy the balloon are only a few of the problems the player
must get around!

Battle Ship. This strategy game takes a great deal of thought and
concentration if the player is to win. Each player is presented
with a grid with one-hundred squares, on which five boats are
hidden. Your goal is to defeat the other player's fleet before he
gets yours. You can even play against the computer, with 3
different skill levels!

Computer Quiz. This educational game has quizzes on anything from
the sinking of the Titanic to famous cities all over the world.
Complete with numbered questions and letter-chosen answers, this
game is a fun, educational program to enjoy!

Count the Sounds. This terrific preschool game has thirty
different sounds. It plays each sound a certain number of times,
and then waits for the child to press the number of times the sound
played. All sounds are chosen with care, and are guaranteed to
catch the child's attention!

Electronic Tunes. This fun program allows you to compose tunes on
the computer. It works just like a piano or an organ, only it has
more features, such as pitch set and length of notes.

Guess the Sound. This program is great for kids as young as one and
as old as nine. There are five different skill levels,
determined by the age typed in at the beginning of the game.
Children of all ages are sure to love this game! (Please note that
an external sound card must be used with this program.)

Learning the Alphabet. This program is great for kindergartners. It
asks the child to press the letter of the alphabet that comes
directly after the letter displayed. For example, the program asks,
"What letter comes after A?" When the child types B, the computer
plays a tune and moves on.

Phonix Game. This is a great game for children starting school. The
child can type in the beginning, middle or ending letter of the
three-letter word presented. You can even change the data file
containing the words the program presents and the number of words
the child is asked during one session!

Spell It. This game is excellent for children learning to spell. It
has twenty-six common, easy-to-spell words, 1 for each letter of
the alphabet. After the word has been spelled correctly, a
different word of congratulations is offered and an ever-varying
tune is played on the computer to encourage the child.

Story Maker. This fun game is designed to allow the child to make
up crazy and hilarious one-sentence stories. The child selects one
of six different fraises from one of each of the five
sentence parts. Then, the child can listen to the sentence he or
she has picked out on the computer. The computer can even
randomly pick a sentence for the child to listen to! This program
is excellent in helping the child to understand the various parts
of the sentence and how to make sentences with proper and regular
nouns, verbs, subjects and predicates.

Uno. This delightful card game is fun and easy to play for all
ages. Your goal is to have played all of your cards before your
opponent gets a chance to win. Draw two, wild and wild draw four
cards make the game interesting and fun. And the computer knows all
the rules!

ATTENTION ALL TYPISTS!  Are you a new computer user just learning
how to type?  Do you wish to dramatically increase your typing
speed so that you can use a computer more efficiently?  I CAN SEE
BOOKS is proud to present "TALKING TYPING TEACHER", our newest and
hottest computer program yet!  Talking Typing Teacher, or TTT for
short, has been designed especially to help teach
you to type or increase your typing speed.  The program guides you
through every aspect of typing in such a straight-forward, exciting
manner that you won't even realize how much your typing ability is
improving.  Since typing is so essential in our modern society, we
felt that it was about time a program be written to teach you to
type without typing boring drills over and over again.  The main
goal, kept in mind when TTT was written, was to change the method
of learning to type from a boring, strenuous process to an exciting
and rewarding activity.

As its name implies, Talking Typing Teacher has built-in speech.
By this we mean that you do not require speech output devices to
use TTT.  You are guided through the menus, prompted to type
drills, asked questions and informed of everything else by Eager
Eddie, our friendly, prerecorded man's voice.  The built-in speech
option allows you to run TTT on your computer, regardless of
whether it has a speech synthesizer installed.  In most cases, you
don't even require a sound card to be installed on your computer,
as TTT presents you with the option of playing its sound on the
internal PC speaker--the speaker inside your
computer on which all system beeps and whirs are heard.  In fact,
we originally designed TTT for blind and visually impaired users,
but found that our sighted customers also enjoy having their
computers talk to them while learning to type or increasing their
typing speed.

TTT consists of ten main menu items and twenty sub-menu options,
which are arranged with the easiest first and the hardest last.
Under each menu, you are presented with a series of choices
designed to take the repetition out of typing and keep it
interesting.  Here are just a few of the highlights of TTT: y The
LEARN THE KEYBOARD option--under the FIND KEYS menu--allows you to
press any key or key combination on your keyboard and hear the name
of that key spoken aloud.
y Under the VERY BASIC DRILLS menu, you can practice typing the
keys on the home row of the keyboard, or type amusing words,
phrases and sentences, consisting entirely of words which can be
typed on the home row.
y Under the BASIC DRILLS menu, you are presented with a series of
choices, allowing you to practice typing on specific areas of the
keyboard.  Rather than randomly selected letters, we have found
words that are typed almost entirely on the area of the keyboard
you wish practice with.
y By the time you enter the HARDER DRILLS menu, you will have the
opportunity to type interesting sentences.  These sentences are not
all about the benefits of typing and working hard; rather, every
sentence will present you with an interesting fact,
anecdote, saying or moral which you will find absolutely
fascinating.
y In both the VERY BASIC DRILLS and HARDER DRILLS menus, we have
included special choices to allow you to practice typing numbers,
since we have found that many people do not get enough practice
typing numbers and end up developing hard-to-break, incorrect
habits of reaching these keys.
y The MATH and SPELLING menus allow you to practice typing
numbers and letters as the answers to questions asked by your
computer.  y When you suspect that your typing speed is
improving, you can always select the OPEN TYPING menu and have the
computer tell you your current typing speed.
y If it is ever possible to get tired of practicing typing with the
numerous choices already described, you even have the option of
playing memory games under the GAMES menu!

Technical requirements: IBM-compatible computer, 386 or better, 2.5
megabytes of free hard disk space, MS-DOS 4.0 or higher, and a 16-
bit sound card (optional).  If you do not have a sound card
installed in your computer and wish to know whether TTT's built-in
speech will play adequately on your internal PC speaker, please
call us and we will help you determine whether your PC speaker has
the appropriate volume to support the program's built-in speech
system.

Your copy of Talking Typing Teacher will come with a
comprehensive disk and print manual and your choice of either a
Braille or audio/cassette version of the manual.  Send your cheque
or money order for $49 (Canadian funds), made payable to Danny
Faris, President: I Can See Books.

+++
Game Reviews:
+
Lords of the Realms II  By: Sierra inc.
Reviewed by James Peach

Lords of the Realms II is a turn-based strategy game, set in
medieval times. It is a scenario style game, in which you are 1 of
5 nobles vying for control over all the land, as well as the
throne.  Though it might seem accessible to the blind, it is a
graphical strategy, so sighted assistance is required, and though
much of the game is turn-based, the combat is real-time
(unfortunately). Sierra took a really nice try at merging the
sophistication of Civilization, with the combat style of Warcraft
II, into Lords II (as it's commonly called) creating an intriguing
strategic experience that holds the best of both worlds, and more.
I enjoy engaging in the mind exercise of strategic movement and
thought, involved in such games, so I can hardly disagree with
considering Lords II to be a first rate strategy, I do have a few
complaints about game play. I shall discuss the smiles and frowns
of Lords of the Realms II.
One of the best things I found when playing this game, was it's
level of complexity, involving 2 strategies within 1 game. There is
the strategy dealing with resource development, from which plots of
land will be farms, what they will produce if they become farms,
how much of the populace will farm and which will not, over to
strategic location of buildings, to even the country's health and
loyalty. There is also the strategy of war, from the buying of
weapons, to training units, to organizing raids and sieges, to
actually controlling units on the battlefield in real time, as they
bring down enemy forces in the attempt to expand your borders.
This shows that not only the size and strength of your army is
important, but also, if you make incorrect judgements, whether in
battle or in resource use, nasty, painful things can happen to you,
like a riot could start, or you people could die of starvation or
disease!
Another thing I like about Lords II is that it's easy to use, with
simple mouse use (for your sighted assistance anyway), and step-by-
step audio assistance and advice. Also, whenever a building is
double-clicked, or when an option, like say turning mining on or
off, the audio in the game will tell where you are or what you've
done.
     The audio output (which is not speech synthesis) doesn't only
involve game selections and beginning assistance and advice (which
will end after the beginning of a new game), but is also extended
to unit selection, so that when a particular unit is selected, it
has it's own unique sounds when it is chosen to do different
things.
     Finally, I enjoyed the interactivity of the game, though
limiting. What I mean by this is that you can act in a particular
way, and possibly get a response, or not, which can be interesting
in itself. For example: I wish to send an insult to a particularly
annoying neighbour, and he might send a response saying that I'll
rue the day when he gets to cut the tongue from my throat.
     Though there might be good argument to rush out to the stores,
falling over each other and caning each other to death to get this
game, there are a few things I disapprove of in Lords II.
     For starters, the choice in military units, if you know what
you're doing, can be very limiting, though there are a number of
different fighters to choose from, and I am not giving any tactical
secrets away today.
     Another is the fact that if I want new lands to conquer, I
have to go out and buy an expansion pack, and I can't just download
fan-made scenarios, nor can I make any my own, since they don't
include a map editor in Lords II.
     When I happen to want a quick way to save and exit my game of
Lords II, I can't just use the Alt+F4 shortcut command, or else the
game will shut down and I won't be able to save it. This is
particularly annoying since I'm used to having the programs that I
use ask me if I'm sure if I want to exit and if I want to save.  
  Finally, on the flip side of my review, the combat play of the
game, which can be the most challenging, is in real-time, and I'm
sure anyone who's familiar with what that means knows that real-
time and the blind in strategy games don't mix too well. Perhaps
this will change in the future, we can only hope that such
demanding game play will become available to the blind community.
     Based on my relatively intense review of Lords of the Realms
II, created by Sierra, I give it a rating of about 7.5/10, based on
the pros and cons of it all. If you choose to indulge in this game,
I feel that you shouldn't be too disappointed with it and should
have many hours of strategic fun; enjoy!
+

"THE ADVENTURER'S MUSEUM"
Game by Lee Chapel
Reviewed by Kelly Sapergia

   I first came across this game while browsing the Interactive
Fiction archive. I hadn't seen any reviews of this game before, so
I thought I'd download it and give it a try, and I'm glad I did. 
 In this game, which is the first of three games in the "Legacy of
the Necromancer" trilogy, you play the role of a visitor to the
"Adventurer's Museum". When you enter the museum, you are told, by
the museum's curator, that due to some remodelling, some protective
spells had to be removed from various exhibits. Now, a local
wizard's apprentice has summoned an imp, that has stolen all the
treasures from a display case, and hid them all in a nearby cave.
Your mission is to find all the treasures that the imp has taken,
and put them back in the display case. Sounds simple, huh? Well, it
isn't.
   As you go through the cave, you'll encounter a troll, a
dragon, a witch, and other creatures. The imp will occasionally
appear, and steal any treasures you have taken, but there is a way
around this problem, and NO, I'm not going to tell you what it is.
  This game reminded me of the games by Infocom, because of it's
look and feel. The text is well-written, and the game is very
speech friendly.
   This game is intended for advanced game players. You may need
the solution file for some of the puzzles, which can be found on
ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/solutions/advmuseum.sol. (I think that's what
the file name is.) This game is shareware, and is still being
worked on. I found a web page where you can download the latest
shareware version of this game, but at the moment I can't remember
it. If anyone's interested, let me know on the Audyssey Discussion
List, and I'll look for it. Parts 2 and 3 of "The Legacy of the
Necromancer" trilogy are available to registered users only.  
This game is being rated 9 out of 10. One thing I would have liked
to see are the commands "ask" and "talk" implemented, but other
than that, the game is an excellent one to play. I
recommend it for players aged 8 and up.
   If you'd like to download the version of this game mae in 1989,
you can find it on the ftp.gmd.de/if-archive site, in the /games/pc
directory.
+
Fantasy Empires
Silicon Knights, Strategic Simulations Inc. and TSR
Reviewed by: James Peach

Strategic Simulations Inc. (SSI), for the most part, is the premier
developer of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D) games for the
home PC.  Though their games are not the newest or the most
spectacular today, many of them were at the time they were
produced.  For those of you who don't know what AD&D is, it was,
and still is, a pencil and paper game, where you create a character
and put it into a world created by a Dungeon Master (the game
coordinator); this particular game has created a lot of suspicion,
controversy and debate, among parents/guardians, and people with
too much time on their hands.  However, for those of you who do
know what AD&D is, and may have even played some of SSI's PC
adaptations, then you will be taking something with you into
Fantasy Empires.

Fantasy Empires is a turn-based strategy game, which must be played
with sighted assistance It has a wide variety of options and
character combinations.  As you begin the game, the music begins to
ply, and then you hear the Dungeon Master's (DM's) intro, telling
you about your past victories and informing you about the
challenge, and the world, that awaits you; Mistara.  You will then
come to a menu screen, which will give you option like load a game,
and to start a campaign or scenario.  If you do begin a campaign,
you will then have to select the characters and non-player
characters (NPC's) you wish to have involved in the campaign; if
you'd like to create your own character, you can do so from here.
It should be noted that if you do crate a character, it's
statistics (strength, wisdom, constitution, etc), are all developed
at random, and cannot go above 18 for any statistic.  After all
this, you will be transported to the world of Mistara, were you
will be expected to make strategic decisions, like training troops,
moving into neighbouring lands, recruiting a hero, cast spells,
etcetera.

The main objective in Fantasy Empires is to squash your enemy, but
that need not be the only thing you wish to accomplish.  Making
alliances with other characters, accumulating the most gold, and
taking control of the most territory may be secondary objectives
you wish to accomplish.  When you start, you are set in a random
location and given a nation and a castle, complete with barracks
(used to house and train troops), In order to conquer thine enemy,
you will first have to develop an army, so that yo can commence
taking control of your neighbour's lands.  However, unless you will
receive enough money, in the turn after which you moved, your army
will all that's holding these lands, and they won't survive
forever, so build a keep to secure your position.  It might also be
worth your while to recruit heroes, and then send them on quests to
bring back weapons and artifacts, or to put them in your armies to
give them a morale boost.  After this, there's little more advice
I could offer, except to thrive and survive.

Now onto the ups and the downs of Fantasy Empires.  Firstly, I like
it's replay value, where you can be a multitude of character
combinations, random map (only what's in it, not it's shape and
location of territories), and just like in the AD&D of books and
paper, the characters can advance in level through experience.  I
also liked the wide variety of game settings I could adjust, to
have game play just the way you like it.  Though the game is not
especially complicated (for those of you who are wanting something
about as complicated is the pencil and paper game, this is
unfortunate), it makes up for this in addictiveness, making it good
for anybody; I can remember playing Fantasy Empires nearly 12 hours
straight (had to stop for food) one weekend.  For those of you who
are looking for combat, like only AD&D games can provide, can find
it in here, only simpler; what I mean is that you can fight based
on numbers and statistics, with one difference being that a weaker
enemy unit won't opt to switch sides over being killed.  Lastly,
though it is mainly geared for mouse control, you can set keyboard
controls in the settings screen, making the game a little easier to
navigate.

One thing I did find both good and bad was the DM advice during the
game, were every now and then he'd give out a helpful suggestion,
however, this gets very annoying as he will usually repeat the same
advice over and over again; you can fortunately turn him off in
settings if this occurs.  As a casual AD&D player and observer, I
did not like the limited number of character classes (compared to
what you can have in the non-computer version, there isn't many).
I also did not like that the map never changes, or that there
aren't more maps; if there was an expansion pack for the game, that
would make it even better.  Also, I dislike the disadvantage turn-
based strategy games in general create, where if you are playing
with more than one player (oh, did I forget to mention that you can
have up to four other human players playing with you?), they can
see your stats, and because they may have control of movement, they
could do this at anytime during your turn; more advice, have
someone who isn't playing with anyone else to play with you and/or
try to play with allies or someone you trust not to give away your
secrets.  Note: though turn-based gaming allows the blind player to
think out his/her actions, the sighted player has control and
instantaneous visual confirmation, you, the blind gamer, have
neither in most cases, so unless your partner is your ally, he has
the advantage.

Even though this game is quite dated, compared to today's
standards, it is still a game I'd recommend anyone buy today, and
I give it a rating of 8/10, which I'd would consider a good rating,
given what it's up against these day in the turn-based strategy
category. For those of you who are wondering these days if all
games run in Windows 95/98, well all SSI games I've seen run in
DOS, though you'll need a CD ROM drive to install it, unless you
can order a disk copy of this and other games from them.  Conquer
the world and have a nice day.

+

"BOP IT!"
Game by Jim Kitchen
Reviewed by Kelly Sapergia

   Once again, Jim Kitchen has made a game accessible to the
visually impaired, but this time it's based on the game "Bop It!"
  First, you're probably asking the question I asked myself when I
first heard of this game: "What is Bop It?" Well, Bop It is a
handheld electronic game that tests your reflexes. It features
sound effects and voices to tell you to "Bop It!", "Twist It!" and
"Pull It!" You have to press the right button for the
required action, otherwise you lose! (Note- I've never seen the
handheld version of this game, but I found a description on the
Internet.)
   Even if you've never played the handheld version of this game,
you'll be spending hours trying to beat the high score. Jim's
version is speech friendly, and uses multimedia sounds that, I'm
guessing, were taken from the handheld game. There are different
ways to play this game with the keyboard: you can use either the
shift, control, or alt keys, or the left, down, and right arrow
buttons to perform the required actions. I prefer using the arrow
keys. When the computer tells you to "Twist It!" you press the
right arrow key, for "Pull It!" you use the left arrow key, and
"Bop It!" can be accomplished by pressing the down arrow key.  
That's how you play the game, but what happens when you start it?
Well, after the opening theme music you'll be asked if you want
instructions. Read them at least once! When you're finished reading
them, answer yes the question "Are you ready to play?". You'll then
be asked for a difficulty factor (1 is hardest, 9 is easiest!) I'm
not sure why there's a difficulty factor in this game, but if it
has something to do with the rising tone after you're told to
perform a required action, then it can get
difficult, but more on that later. After you pick your difficulty
level, you'll be asked if you want voices or tones. For first time
and beginning players, go for voices! The tones section is geared
for more experienced players, but you'll have to figure out what
each tone means.
   After the computer tells you do something like "Bop It" for
example, you'll hear a rising tone. You must press the key for the
required action before the tone stops. If you wait too long, the
game is over for that turn.
   Calculating your score is easy. After the game is over, you'll
hear some sounds to indicate what your score is. For instance, if
you hear one sound count to three, and another sound count to
eight, you have a score of 38. If it's high enough, you'll be asked
to enter your name and it will be saved to your score file.    The
sounds in this game are totally cool! As I said at the beginning of
this review, Jim has taken sounds from the handheld game and
incorporated them into this speech friendly version. My favourite
sound is the sound when you press the wrong key, or if you wait too
long.
   I've rated this game 10 out of 10! It's great to see a
handheld game being made especially for blind people who use
computers. I hope Jim will continue to make PC versions of these
handheld games! If you like games that challenge your reflexes,
then you're in for a treat!! This game is recommended for kids aged
8 and up. I know I had a lot of fun playing this game. KEEP IT UP,
JIM!
   This game can be found on Jim's site at:
www.now-online.com/jkitchen. The file to download is DOSBOP3.ZIP.
+++
Setting the Standards; The Issue of Rating Games Included in
Audyssey Article by: James Peach

Through the grapevine, I have been recently informed that it would
be nice, to have game found in Audyssey rated, so that such games
as Anchorhead can be directed towards it's intended audience.
Rating could be something as simple as a word or code, like "A" for
Adult or the word "adult", or it could be more complicated, like
the movie rating system.  I personally have mixed feelings about
rating these game, of which I will explain further, later.

I do of course feel that there should be something done to set a
guideline, so that games are received by their intended audience,
but I think it's a lot more complicated than that.  To begin with,
for commercial games, there are ratings on the boxes, complements
of the ESRB, however, as I've purchased software over time, I
notice that such rating is worthless.  Not only do most people not
really look at the rating, including the cashier, but really only
those who can afford the expensive games, are the same people of
whom the games are mostly targeted at.

So far, the only way we've informed people of the appropriateness
of a game we review, is really only through a few mentions within
the review.  Though this should be fine enough, however, if someone
is just skimming the article or review, they may pass the warnings
(or encouragements) by, making the warning useless.  If a word,
phrase or whatever was placed at the top of the article, it would
be very hard to miss through skimming, and thus be a more effective
method.

In our magazine in particular, Anchorhead has been the only game
with which there has been a real controversy.  Most of the games
we've covered are pretty clean, in that there is little profanity,
and aside from some of the commercial games I may cover, there is
little audible display of violence if any at all.  I guess what I'm
getting at is, if there is to be a rating system, there should be
guidelines to determine what qualifies as for adults, children, et
cetera.  If you, the Audyssey community, could either post your
criteria on the discussion list, or send I to either Mike or
myself, that would help to create a system that most people will
agree on.

If would be simple enough to devise a system that would easily
inform the Audyssey reader of the age group a game covers, but I
would only support it if the community supports it.  If you think
it is worth doing, than input is required, so that way this system
can be as fair as possible.  Obviously some of you feel that this
would be a good move for Audyssey, but it won't happen if the lot
of you don't.

Though not necessarily related to a rating of games in Audyssey, I
think that a game that is not intended for children, should somehow
have an explanation, explaining why the game is inappropriate and
not the it just is.  If there is not an understanding of what is
appropriate and what is not, in children (and possibly adults too),
then they will be less tempted to try games such as Anchorhead.
Though I may be stepping over the moral line here, however, I feel
that this can be another part of the rating process; yes, no,
maybe?  I know from observation and experience, that ratings and
warnings on game boxes, mean very little, since I have seen youths
(including my younger brother) playing games that were meant for
older teens and/or adults.

I must make this very clear, we will NOT be a closed-door censor
board, trying to protect blind youths from bad games, but if you at
least like some soft of warning/rating system in place, then we can
arrange that, if you, the community, really wants it.  If you would
like to contribute, please send questions, comments, and
suggestions to use, by whatever means you wish.

+++
Contacting Us

I can be reached in three ways. The easiest is through Compuserve.
My e-mail address is as follows:
[email protected]
You can also call me via telephone. I have voicemail, so you can
leave a message if you fail to catch me at home and off-line. I'll
do my best to return calls, but won't accept collect calls. My
number is as follows:
(905)-814-0608

Alternatively, you may correspond with me on 3.5-inch disks,
provided you be sure to send them in returnable disk-mailers. I
don't have the money to pay for postage. My mailing address is:
5787 Montevideo Road
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Postal code: L5N 2L5

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

Justin Fegel is one of our two interactive fiction staff members.
He will be happy to advise and guide players through the many
interactive fiction games out there. He can be contacted at:
[email protected]

James Peach, our commercial games expert, will do his best to
advise those seeking commercial entertainment which is accessible
to blind players with or without sighted assistance. He can be
contacted at:
[email protected]

Kelly Sapurgia is another expert in interactive fiction. He is a
well-established reviewer of games for Audyssey, and has an
interest in developing interactive fiction as well as playing it.
He can be contacted at:
[email protected]


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