Quickmenu: Go to content Go to account Go to quicklinks for games Navigation menu: Content starts here:

Audyssey;
Games Accessible to the Blind
Issue 27:February/March, 2001
Edited by Michael Feir

Fun, Friendship, Knowledge, Charity

+++
Welcome
Welcome to the twenty-seventh issue of Audyssey. This magazine is dedicated to the discussion of games which, through accident or design, are accessible to the blind either with or without sighted assistance. This month, we have a lot of changes in the Audyssey community to report. Also, it appears that our dry spell with no new games is over at last. Jim Kitchen's excellent and completely free racing game is announced in this issue. Also, MindsEye2 has a perfect game for those who celebrate Easter.

Note: This magazine uses plus-signs as navigation markers. Three plus-signs are placed above any articles or sections. Within these sections, two plus-signs denote the start of a new sub-section. Smaller divisions are marked by a single plus-sign. This allows people to use their search capabilities to go quickly to the next division they are interested in. For instance, the "Letters" section is preceded by three plus-signs. Each letter within it has two plus-signs before it. Answers to letters have a single plus-sign before them.

+++
Distribution Information and Submission Policies

This magazine is published on a bimonthly basis, each issue
appearing no earlier than the twentieth of every other month. All submissions to be published in an issue must be in my possession a minimum of two days before the issue is published. I now use MS-Word to produce Audyssey, and can therefore accept submissions in pretty much any format. They may be sent either on a 3.5-inch floppy disk, or via e-mail to my Sympatico address. I will give my home address and my Sympatico address at the end of the magazine.
Please write articles and letters about games or game-related
topics which interest you. They will likely interest me, and your fellow readers. This magazine should and can be a highly interesting and qualitative look at accessible gaming. To insure that high quality is maintained, I'll need your written
contributions. I reserve the right to unilaterally make changes to submissions if I deem it necessary to improve them grammatically or enhance their understandability. I will never make changes which will alter the spirit of a submission. All submissions must be in English. However, people need not be great writers to have their work appear in Audyssey. Many of our community come from different countries. Others are quite young. Where possible, I try to preserve their different styles of expression. The richness that this adds to the Audyssey experience far outweighs any benefits gained from having everything in prose so perfect as to be devoid of life. Audyssey is a community and magazine built on the need for blind people to have fun. There are no formal structural requirements for submissions. Within reason, they may be as long as necessary. Game reviews should all clearly state who created the game being examined, where it can be obtained, whether it can be played without sighted assistance, and any system requirements or other critical information. Although profanity is by no means banned, it should not be used gratuitously. Submissions not published in a current issue will be reserved for possible use in future issues if appropriate. Those who are on the Audyssey discussion list should be aware that I often put materials from the list in the "Letters" section if I feel that they warrant it. Anything posted to this discussion list that in some way stands out from the common and often lively ongoing discourse will be considered fair game for publishing unless it contains the author's wish that it not be published. Until now, this practice has been commonly consented to. From now on, it is now officially a policy of the Audyssey community.
This magazine is free in its electronic form, and will always remain so. 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 via E-mail, or on a 3.5-inch disk in a self-addressed mailer so that I can return your disk or disks to you once I have copied their contents onto my hard drive. Please only send shareware or freeware games. It is illegal to send commercial games unless you are their creator or have obtained permission to do so. By sending me games, you will do several things: first, and most obviously, you will earn my gratitude. You will also insure that the games you send me are made available to my readership as a whole. As a
further incentive, I will fill any disks you send me with games
from my collection. No disk will be returned empty. If you want
specific games, or specific types of games, send a message in ASCII format along. If you have a particular game that you need help with, and you are sending your questions on a disk anyhow, include the game so that I can try and get past your difficulty. If you can, I recommend that you send
e-mail. Thanks to my new computer, I can now send and receive attachments with ease. This way, no money will be wasted sending me a game I already have, and
you'll get my reply more quickly. You are responsible for shipping costs. That means, either use a disk mailer which has your address on it, and is either free matter for the blind, or is properly stamped. I can and will gladly spare time to share games and my knowledge of them, but cannot currently spare money above what I spend hunting for new games. I encourage all my readers to give my magazine to whoever they think will appreciate it. Up-load it onto web pages and bulletin board systems. Copy it on disk for people, or print it out for sighted people who may find it of value. The larger our community gets, the more self-sustaining it will become.

There are now several ways of obtaining Audyssey. Thanks to ESP Softworks, there is once again a distribution list for those who want to receive Audyssey via E-mail. To subscribe to the distribution list so that you receive all future
issues, the direct Url to the subscription form is:
http://www.espsoftworks.com/forms/audyssey_to.asp

You may also refer a friend and pass onto them the current issue as well as an introduction e-mail explaining the magazine in detail.  Then, if they wish to subscribe they
will be referred to this form.  The form is available from the Audyssey Magazine section of the ESP Softworks web-site. To get there directly, go to:
http://www.espsoftworks.com/textonly/audyssey/audyssey.html
The Audyssey section also contains all back-issues of Audyssey if you want to get caught up with events.

The Audyssey discussion list has moved from its previous home at Softcon. Due to circumstances beyond Travis Siegel's control, It proved expedient to take this step despite the temporary confusion such a move entails. James North of ESP Softworks has volunteered to take over the management of the Audyssey discussion list. The Audyssey discussion list was created to facilitate discussions among readers between issues. Anyone participating in the discussion list will have issues of Audyssey automatically sent to them via E-mail. Representatives from all major developers of games for the blind are actively participating on the list. All staff members of Audyssey are also participating. If you want an active role in shaping the future of accessible games, this is where you can dive right in. To subscribe to this discussion list, send a message to:
[email protected]
with the word "subscribe" without the quotes in the subject line. To post to the discussion list, send your messages to the same address.

Stan Bobbitt has made Audyssey Magazine available in HTML format for easy on-line browsing. To take advantage of this, you are invited to visit:
http://www.geocities.com/sbobbitt21/audall.html
People can easily and quickly navigate through the various articles and reviews, and directly download or visit the sites of the games that interest them. This will be of especial benefit for sighted people who wish to make use of Audyssey and/or join the growing community surrounding it. The Audyssey community thanks Mr. Bobbitt for his continued efforts on its behalf in this matter.   
You can also find all issues of Audyssey on the Internet on Paul Henrichsen's web site at:
www.henrichsen.org
J.J. Meddaugh has long been famous in the Audyssey community. He has now started his own web-site called The Blind Community. All issues of Audyssey are there in zipped files in the file center. The site is at:
www.blindcommunity.com
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.
Another source for back-issues of Audyssey and accessible games is provided by Kelly Sapergia. He was our first interactive fiction expert, and has put his Internet skills and resources to splendid use for the magazine. Visit his site at:
http://ksapergia.cjb.net
If you have ftp access, all issues are also available at Travis Siegel's ftp site:
ftp://ftp.softcon.com
Look in the /magazines directory.

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


+++
Contents:
Welcome
Distribution Information and Submission Policies
Contents
From The Editor
Letters
Audyssey Magazine Online!  Finally
Sold! Auctioning Gaming Fun
Audyssey: Why Bigger and How Better
Justin Fegel Steps Down
E-MAIL GAMING?  NOT A WASTE OF TIME!
Puzzles and Games
The Gamers Rescue Unit
Gaming Adaptation: Part1
DVD players for the blind?
Free Game Winner
News From Bavisoft
News From GMA
News From ESP Softworks
News From MindsEye2
Answers to Puzzles and Games
Game Announcements and Reviews
Contacting Us

+++
From The Editor:

Hello, everyone. A whole lot of exciting things have happened to us over the past while. Also, a lot has happened to me personally. Since I'm the editor in charge of what comes first, I'll start by acquainting you with my own good fortune. I've become engaged, and will be married in just over a year's time. Some of you have already begun to know Rebecca Sutton as she is an active participant on E-mail lists and chats. With this familiarity, you'll be better able to imagine my happiness. She has only recently begun to discover what fun computer games can be. As she becomes more knowledgeable, we'll doubtless hear more from her in Audyssey circles.

Of course, this means that the days when games were the centre of my life are over. They'll just have to settle for a position in near orbit. Games have long been a hobby of mine, and nobody should worry that I'll suddenly lose all interest in games or in Audyssey. I owe them, and you, far more than that. Just realise that there is now a whole lot more to my life, and be patient if I'm not always immediately there to tend to things.

Another major development is that the Audyssey discussion list was moved. Travis Siegel's service suffered a failure that was beyond his control and not at all his fault. Unfortunately, before we knew what was happening, pressure from the Audyssey community as a whole was high for a change of list management. Given the steady stream of E-mails calling for this and the abcense of any word from Travis, I had no choice but to move the list. James North of ESP Softworks was kind enough to offer his services as list manager, and has gone through quite a lot of effort over the past weeks to get things running smoothly. Other developers should realise that James is doing this out of a strong desire to help the Audyssey community rather than through any commercial motivations. He has found many good friends here, and it is in the spirit of friendship that he invests his time and effort. This in no way effects the independence of Audyssey magazine. James North in no way expects any special treatment simply because he runs the discussion list. In fact, he has often worried that reviews would be too positive and not point out shortcomings of his work. People should always feel free to say what they wish about any games in Audyssey or on the discussion list.

I would like to take the opportunity here to thank Travis Siegel for his years of service as list manager, and hope that he continues to participate in a grateful Audyssey community.

Unfortunately, there is some bad news to tell you in this issue. The BEAT organisation that I had such high hopes of starting is being put on indefinite hold. It has proved impossible for us to find the funding and support necessary to get it up and running. My partners have been forced to find other employment. While I am not under the immediate financial pressure that forced them to find other work, life is pulling me in different directions as well. One thing I have to finally come to grips with is travelling. Orientation and mobility have long been my weakest areas. While I can move about safely enough, I haven't exactly led a very active life to this point. Learning to navigate outdoors is going to take time and effort. Those of you who are still in school should be certain that you don't dismiss mobility lessons as unimportant as I did. It's a lot harder to correct for such an oversight later in life when you have more responsibilities eating at your time.

Having less time for games seems to be a common thread these days. One of our long-time staff members has tendered his resignation. Justin Fegel's announcement can be found later in this issue. He still plans to be an active part of this community, but cannot commit to trying to write a submition for each issue of Audyssey. Although I will sorely miss knowing for certain that he was trying his best to submit materials for each issue, I can certainly understand how time can run out for people. I'll always count him as a good friend, and am glad that he has chosen to remain in the community he has served. Having lost one Justin, the Audyssey staff has gained another Justin. Young Mr. Justin Ekis has agreed to be our new web-based games expert. You'll find a letter and review from him later in this issue. James Peach is also now a part of the Audyssey staff once again. He is in charge of the new central web-site for Audyssey that he is in the process of building.

The current system we have for staff members seems not to be working as well as it once did. As many of us are taking on more of life's responsibilities, it seems clear to me that we've got to find a better way of approaching this. My goals for staff members are:
A] To make certain that we have enough articles and reviews for each issue.
B] To have people knowledgeable about the various kinds of games who can be turned to for help and information by community members and interested people outside the community.

Is there a better way of acomplishing these things than our current method? Calls for more staff members have gone largely unanswered. To make our community more friendly to newcommers and those interested outsiders, I would like to call for people willing to be ambassadors for Audyssey in general as well as a specific type of game that they are familiar with and interested in. These people will have their E-mail addresses added to our Contacting Us section as well as brief descriptions of themselves which they should submit. Your responsibilities as ambassador would be to help community members as well as outsiders in finding and playing the type of game that you're the ambassador for.

Now that it has become clear that we cannot hope for financial backing for Audyssey's operations, it seems best to proceed as best we can on a voluntary basis. I would still very much like to have Audyssey turn into how I earned my bread and butter. However, all hope of this seems to have gone for the present. Until we drastically increase the size of our community, we won't attract the attention of people who might eventually sponsor us. I've written an article outlining my vision for what Audyssey could be, so I'll direct you there if you're interested. 

In this issue, we have updates from MindsEye2, ESP Softworks, GMA Games, and Bavisoft. Readers should not be alarmed at the abcense of news from Zform and PCS. You can be certain that Zform is still going ahead strong, and has made major in-roads at making other game developers aware of the blind community and what they're working on. I haven't received any official word from PCS in quite a while. This is somewhat troubling, but I would suspect Carl or Phil would let us know officially if they were going to close down as some rumours on the discussion list have suggested. We'll doubtless hear from them in the next issue of Audyssey. On the brighter side, Ken Downey has returned to the Audyssey community after a long abcense. He has started a company called Dreamtech Interactive, and is selling his game called World of Darkness. Before I leave you to enjoy the rest of this issue, I'll point you to his site where you can get a demo of his game and also hear his music. Ken's address is:
www.dreamtechinteractive.com
     

    
+++
Letters:

++
From Justin Ekis:
Thanks Michael. I'm glad to here that.
Also, if nobody else has done so yet, I'd like to become an audyssey
staff member and fill the position of web-based games expert.
I am a 17 year-old high-school student who loves games. Thanks to the
audyssey community, the past year or so has been the most fun time of
my life. It is because of this, that I would be glad to serve this great
community as a staff member.
As web-based games expert, I would continue to write articles and reviews
like the one I've submitted for this issue.

Thanks, and I look forward to serving this great community!

Justin Ekis

P.S.
I've just agreed to help James with the development of Audyssey online.
We have decided that I will be responsible for the development of the
message boards. I can probably have them up at the same time as the rest
of the site. I may even be able to get them running even sooner! This
will speed up the project tremendously.

+
Well, Justin, I'm pleased to accept you as our new web-based games staff member. The review you submitted for this issue will serve as a fantastic introduction for everyone. You're taking on quite a bit of responsibility. I hope you find it a rewarding experience. It's obvious that we'll find having you constantly on the look-out for accessible on-line games quite rewarding. I've placed your E-mail address in the Contacting Us section along with the other staff members so people can more easily contact you directly with questions about the on-line games out there. If you continue to produce as thorough and thoughtful reviews like the one you've submitted in this issue, you'll do us all proud. Thanks for taking up the challenge for us all.

++
From Graham Pearce:

Hi Michael! I just e-mailed you to ask you some questions and tell the
audyssey readership about a site I discovered. I also have a couple of
reviews which I would like placed in your wonderful magazine, audyssey.
First, an introduction. My name is Graham Pearce and I am thirteen years
old. I live in Perth, Western Australia, and am currently at first-year high
school. Next, I have a few questions about the Eureka a4. Is it possible to
transfer files from a windows 32 computer and the eureka without the serial
port? I contacted my eureka distributor, and he said he could do it for me
but that is sometimes quite inconvenient, and also the serial port method
can be tedious. You see, I am running an advanced eureka, which does not
have dosread on it. I have also heard of a programme called Pc alien, but
have so far not found out where it is on the net, if it is there at all.
Leading in to the first question, I think there should be a Braille note
taker page somewhere on the net where people can share games or music
freely. There would be different sections for the different types of note
takers, such as the eureka, the Braille lite and the Trans Type just to name
a few. I did look up eureka a4 on the net, and the best I could find was a
eureka archive with just a description of the machine on it! Sort of like
the if-archive with only a readme file on it? On the same server I found the
eureka archive, I found a truly amazing site with games and utilities for
just about every operating system which is accessible with speech. I have
only begun to dabble my feet in it, but anyhow, the address is
ftp.nfbnet.org/zfiles. On the subject of new finds, I discovered a site
called The Underdogs which contains many old games for the pc, among which
are almost all of the games that are not in the level9.zip file in the
interactive fiction archive at gmd. It is rather easy to get to the file you
want, but actually downloading it is another matter. You need to press tab
until you get the button labelled "here!", then click on another button
labelled "here" to download the file.

On the subject of old games, is it possible to make Zork 0 or the licence
form of bureaucracy accessible with win frotz?

I think I have asked a few too many questions, so here are my reviews of Jim
Kitchen's Windows Casino and level9's The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole. I
had to put them at the end of this message, because I could find no menu
option about attachments in Microsoft Outlook, the e-mail programme I'm
using. All I've got to say before the reviews is keep up the good work with
audyssey, Mike.

+

Well, Graham, you've certainly made quite a good entrance into our community with that letter and the reviews. Congratulations are definitely in order. Some of you who are less familiar with my writing outside Audyssey might be wondering what a Eureka A4 is. It was a nifty little portable computer from Australia which I used to own during my secondary school days. Even back then, I had a reputation for being an enthusiastic gamer. My career of finding accessible games began when a worker at the CNIB gave me access to his account on a major Canadian bulletin board system and asked me to go hunting for potentially accessible games. The Eureka used an operating system called CP/m which made finding games somewhat tricky. I managed to snag quite a sizeable collection which quickly found their way into the Eureka community. I wrote articles for their Arky newsletter which was sent to Eureka users everywhere. The most ambitious writing I did for that publication was a tutorial on how to play a game called Rogue. If you're good with your speech or Braille screen review capabilities, you may want to give Rogue a chance. There is a version called rogue.z5 which will work using Dosfrotz and may possibly even be playable with Winfrotz. I haven't tried it out in Windows since I prefer using Tinytalk, a Dos-based screen-reader, for games like Rogue.

Sadly, I was unable to help Graham on his more technical questions about the Eureka. My approach to computers has always been somewhat humanistic. I know a lot about how to use software on them, but have no idea how it all actually works. Anyhow, I believe we may have a number of former Eureka users who might be able to help Graham out there. Regarding his question about Zork0, I don't believe that it's possible to play that game without sighted assistance. Every attempt I've made hasn't proved successful. I would be quite surprised if Bureaucracy was not accessible though. I remember playing that in Dos a number of years ago. Some games like Journey can be harder to access in Winfrotz since they work somewhat differently than a typical Infocom adventure.            


++
From Robby Spangler:
Hi Audyssey community!
 My name is Robby Spangler. I have just put up a web page for all of you to visit. It contains three of my recent programs, and another program called HomePage by Oscar Sosa. Bye the time you read this letter, there might be even more programs for you to grab. I have made programs for DOS and Blazie note taker users. I have also put up a section for links to other sites. You will also find the current version of Audyssey magazine. If you want to visit this site, go to:
my.voyager.net/robertspangler
Thank you very much for visiting my page!
Bye for now.
Robby Spangler
+
Welcome aboard, Robby! Actually, he's been a reader of Audyssey for quite some time now. Recently, however, he has gotten access to the Web and joined the Audyssey discussion list. In a very short time, he has made a name for himself as well as a home on the information superhighway. A young and eager gamer, I have no doubt we'll be hearing a lot more from him as he learns the ropes of life on-line.

++
From Noel Romey:

Hey guys,
Just wanted to let you know that I've installed a new role playing game on
the NER bbs.  It's called usurper.  Fight battles much like lord but
without a time limit.  There are 100 levels of the dungeon etc.  You can
also be on a team and fight while your friends are on.  I really loved this
game when I used bulletin boards back in the day, and I'm sure you'll love
this as well.  It's option number 6 on the role playing games menu.  Enjoy.

Ner

+
Noel's fantastic BBS has been the talk of the Audyssey discussion list since the last issue of Audyssey came out two months ago. It seems there's quite a lot of interest in on-line multi-player games. With his help, the glory days of such games have returned with a vengeance. You need to be able to use Telnet to connect to this BBS, but most of you will be using Netscape or Internet Explorer which both make this possible. Should you require assistance, the Audyssey discussion list is definitely the place to ask for it. This also holds true for the many games offered on this expanding hot-spot on the web.

++
From Martin Courcelles:

Hi there:
I've just been trying the Castle Marrach online adventure game at
www.skotos.com
It's amazing.  It works really well with  JFW.
When at the web page, find the link which says play Castle Marrach and press
enter.

First you have to create your character, which takes a few minutes, but it's
a neat process.  Go to create a character and follow the prompts.  The
screen reader should read all the screens and you should be able to follow
the options.
After doing that, a code is sent to your email address and you will have to
enter the code to start playing the game over the internet.  Next step, is
to click on the enter Castle Marrach link and the fun starts.  The page will
prompt you for your username and password and also for the code which the
system has previously sent to you.  Next, a program applet will be
downloaded to communicate with the  adventure server.  If you are using a
slower connection, it will take a few minutes to download.  The applet is
downloaded only once, you do not have to wait through it again.  During
installation of the applet, you will get a security warning, simply choose
yes and you are off.  Set which ever screen-reader you have to read all mode
and you will be set to explore the castle and find some clothing.
    The game is in Beta test right now, but it seems kind of neat.  You can
interact with other characters in the game as well as real-time players.  My
character's name is Halsey.  Hope to bump into you in the castle.
Regards,
Martin

+
Martin was one of many people on the Audyssey discussion list who chose to give Skotos's new game a try. Quite a lot of messages were sent in the days after the last issue was published regarding Skotos. Unfortunately, I made a one-letter blunder when quoting their web address which you'll find the correct version of in Martin's letter. My sincere apologies for any initial frustration I may have inadvertently caused.

In an interesting development regarding Skotos, Paul Silva of Zform was able to meet with the legendary Brian Moryarty while attending a game developer conference. Brian has personally taken the time to make clear his desire that Skotos be fully accessible to blind players. If any of you have constructive feedback regarding your Skotos experience, you are strongly encouraged to give them whatever assistance you can. 

++
From adrian higginbotham:

hi all:
don't think this has been mentioned on this list.
during the last age of utopia, the web based medieval strategy game the
site owners introduced a scrolling advert banner.  this appeared at the
bottom of the screen and meant that the screen refreshed about every 5
seconds causing screen readers to loose focus. this of course made it very
difficult to play the game.

some of us on the blind utopians discussion list wrote to swirve who host
the game and got replies thanking us for our input.

well yesterday the new age started and what do ya  know but the banner has
gone.

or rather it hasn't but there is an option on the log on screen to not have
the banner
so well done swirve for listening to game players though admittedly it
wasn't just us v i's apparently it also caused problems for web tv users.
all the same its nice to see a web master who listens to  their audience.


Adrian Higginbotham.

+
Given the popularity of Utopia in the past, this is certainly very good news indeed. I hereby offer my own nod of respect to the folks at Swerve.com for responding to their customers. Any of you who were previously unable to use Utopia may wish to make another attempt.
++
From David Russell:
Hi Gamers

I have joined the list today, and am a complete games novice.  The only game I know about, and have played, is Grizzly Gulch from Bavisoft.  I have just received the latest Audyssey magazine, issue 26, but it all sounds somewhat daunting.  I have heard about GMA Games, and will probably be purchasing Lone Wolf soon.  In the meantime, where do I
start in learning and playing simple computer games so that I can
progress onto the more complicated stuff.  I have windows 98 and have
never used DOS, so that probably counts me out in respect of all the DOS
games that I know have been available.

Any assistance and tips on getting started would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

David Russell
+
David Russell is one of many newcomers to our list

++
From Frank Cuta:

I just learned about your mag and I thought you might find this interesting.
Frank Cuta


I went out and purchased a talking dart game for myself for Christmas.  Its
been fun and it really can be played independently by a blind person but it
has not been    anywhere as near as fun as talking tennis and it cost ten
times more!  Now I have found something that rivals the tennis.  Its called
starwars interactive yoda.  I found it on amazon, normally $30 and now on
sale for $10.  I bought it for Judy as a novelty and boy what a surprise I
got!  It is completely non visual.  Yoda is very verbal-- giving you all
kinds of philosophical advice on the force in addition to   your
instruction on light sabre technique.  The light sabre is included and has
its own set of sound effects which is alone worth the $10.  When you go into
light sabre training mode he tells you what moves to make and tells you if
you got them right or wrong.  It is incredible!  For $10 this thing actually
tracks the movements in the air that you make with the light sabre!  There
are about  16 different stabs and blocks that you need  to learn to make by
thrusting and waving the light sabre around in different ways.  Yoda is very
forgiving and starts out very slow for the novice jedi master.  He also
admonishes you if you shake him or don't play with him for too long of time.

I can imagine a completely different kind of game competition at next year's
convention!

May the force be with you,
Frank

+
Well, Frank, it seems you've found quite an unusual treasure for any Star Wars fans in the Audyssey community. Thanks for passing that on. Eventually, I hope we'll see accessibility awareness spread to the point where manufacturers and mainstream game developers might send us word of things like this. Even when things aren't designed to be accessible, it may still be possible to modify them. James Peach has begun a series addressing this in an article found later in this issue.

++
From Carla Ruschival:[Sent to the Audyssey discussion list]

Thanks, Jim, for the link to your site.  I'll check it out.

I changed the subject to reflect this discussion, and hope others will
respond with links and info as well.

I have taught adults and children for years, and believe that one great
way to get people interested in something is through games.  Computer
games, homemade games, board games, card games - it really doesn't matter;
people (most of them anyway) learn when they are enjoying themselves.

Although I am not teaching technology right now, many people call me for
information and help with the computer.  I'd like to pass along game
information, and add it to my list of resources that I use in newsletters
etc.

Thanks again, Jim, and I look forward to hearing from others about
recommendations for good games.

Carla

+
And it's a good thing too because she certainly got her wish there. Many members of the Audyssey community responded quickly to Carla's request for information. It's nice to see that people like her who help people with computers see the potential benefits that games can offer. Too many of us dismiss games as unimportant and/or useless. This is so despite the increasing role they are playing in modern culture. Historically, games have long been used as teachers of life's lessons and illustrators of truth. Certainly, they have shown me many things about myself and others. In the coming months, I hope to increase awareness and participation among educators and agencies of and for the blind about the games out there. School was where I was first introduced to computer games.

++
Despite having the discussion list move fairly suddenly and other obstacles, the above letters are examples taken from over twenty-five hundred messages posted since the last issue was published. The days when there was a danger of having no letters from people seem to be well and truly behind us at last. This certainly is gratifying to me since I've always wanted Audyssey to be a forum for discussion. To everyone who participates in making this happen, I thank you.     


 

+++
Audyssey Magazine Online!  Finally
Announcement by: James Peach

Editor's note: James has been having some last-minute troubles with getting the new official Audyssey site on-line for us. I hope that you will show patience and offer your support as he brings our new central point on-line over the next while.

Hello everybody!

Audyssey Magazine has always and will always be an Internet-based publication.  However, while it may have plenty of "archive" sites, it does not have a home on the Web.  Well, as of today, that has all changed!  Through efforts in creation and collaboration, I have finally created an official endorsed Homepage; it is not complete, and will continue to evolve, but I have received much support, and will plod forward!     

Below is a carbon copy of the proposal I submitted to the community on the Audyssey Listserv Discussion List, as per Michael Feir's request.  With this as my foundation for support, I have built the house which Audyssey, its staff and community, can all reside and gather in.  Please read and let me know via email what you think.

Audyssey Magazine Online: Community Development Proposal

The community surrounding the Audyssey Magazine bimonthly publication is fragmented, and recognized through loose associations.  The Audyssey Discussion List and continent of Audyssey archive sites seems to be the backbone of this community; I believe it could be much more.  Through the following proposal, I wish to outline my intentions, and highlight our goals.

Through thought, imagination and inspiration, the Audyssey Magazine community has become a fellowship of men, women and children all over the world.  Through the development of an official Audyssey Magazine Website, I (by myself, for the present) wish to augment this community

The site itself will, of course, contain issues of Audyssey Magazine in formats such as Generic Text, Word6, and HTML, but this is by no means the sum of this page.  Aside from the issues, an archive of the Audyssey Flyers and all games and files discussed in the magazine can be found there as well, centralized access to this desired content.  More than an archive site, a location for community contacts, message forums, and fast subscription to all relevant list (for example), the site can truly bring the community towards itself.  Finally, I also plan to have linked access to all relevant sites, including fan sites, and the developer's official homepages.  There is more that I am planning to offer through the site, but they are currently not preliminary issues, relevant to this proposal, at this time.

The objective of this official presence is simply to bring this solace of a community into harmony with itself in a greater way than it currently is.  For those who may misunderstand our intentions, know that we are not intending to undercut the thoughts, efforts, and ideas of others within the community; I want everyone's content and services acknowledged through, and augmented by, this potential community hub.

I put this proposal forth to determine interest in the project, and garner feedback from the community, for which is Website would serve.  I urge everyone who reads this to consider my offer to develop the official Website in question.  I thank everyone for their time and consideration of the aforementioned project, and await the community feedback.

Sincerely,


James Peach

The following are verbatim email statements from the community concerning their interest, concerns and support.
---
Hi James, yeah nice ideas there. Go for it, we game players need another focus point and your sight idea would certainly give us that, and much more.
Regards
-James-
---
James,

As a comparative newcomer to the games community, it sounds a superb idea to
me. It would be much easier for the beginner if he/she knew exactly where
to find whatever he wanted.

You have my support.

David Russell
---
YES! YES! YES! DO IT JAMES! DO IT!!!

Peace and love be yours,
Joshua/Vapour
---
I must admit, this sure would help people who are looking to join the
magazine. I only found it after doing a lot of looking around via various
sites, and a central point for the magazine would be grate.

Jak.
---
Hi James,
I think an official Audyssey site is a great idea and is something that is
definitely needed for the continued growth of this magazine and its ever
growing community.

Justin
-
Hi James-
I think the website thing is a great idea! Your exactly right about what
you said in your proposal, the whole web thing is sort of fragmented, with
ESP softworks and other sites including the issues of audyssey, and new
gamers have no idea where to go for issues and information. So you've
definitely got my support on this, and if there is anything I can do to
help, let me know.

Jay
-

Also, there was a brief discussion concerning the implementation of message boards.  Lets have a read, and see what people have to say.
-
Hi, I find it a good idea, the only idea I think you need to ad is voice chat
abilities for more then 2 or put a link up to for example for-the-people. I
also think that you need to promote your site and sign it up at as much
search engines as possible.
Greetings, Anouk
-
Hey, James, how about putting a voxchat or some such client on the site to reunite the voice chat community
Ken Downey
Founder and President
of DreamtechInteractive
-
I agree. If we set up a centralized location for chatting, that'd make things very interesting indeed. We could even have multiple RPG sessions planned with different slants if we had multiple rooms. I like the idea.

I think message boards might not be a horrible idea either.... for those wanting to leave a message for everybody, but wanting to catch those not subscribed to the list.

Joshua
-
hi people
i think a message board and a list are fine. And a home for audyssey is a
*great* idea.
Sincerely
Robby Spangler
-

This is merely a sample of the overall community interest in this project, attempting to accurately represent the thoughts and feelings of supporters.  If you wanna know what all the excitement is about, check us out now at:
 www.audysseymagazine.com
(w w w dot a u d y s s e y m a g a z i n e dot com), and participate!  I am looking forward to taking what everyone has to offer on this latest of endeavours of mine as Head Administrator.  Keep it coming strong!

+++
Sold! Auctioning Gaming Fun
Article by: James Peach

If you are fortunate, and live within a reasonable distance to the nearest games retail outlet, you can get in on completely or partially accessible gaming titles.  Sometimes, they are in stock or in the bargain bin, and sometimes they have to be ordered.  Such an arrangement isn't so bad, is it?  Well, what if that hard to find game is finally discontinued?  Out of stock?  You might think you're up a creek without a paddle, but there may be a solution as close as your Internet connection.

In this issue, I will be discussing online auctioning as it relates to the games and the gaming accessories you love.  I will also be discussing tips and words of advice to help you with your auction experience.

EBay (pronounced "E Bay"), is by far the most popular auction house on the Web, selling and auctioning off anything you can imagine. It will be the most frequent example through this article.  For those of you that don't know much about what an auction is, it is simply this: a meeting place, where a consigner's (seller's) items, are sold off in lots; these lots are sold to a group of interested buyers who are willing to bid against each other to get the item(s) they wish. The highest bidder gets the item.  This kind of thing happens within a few quick minutes, but in the world of the online auction, it stretches for days.  Why? So that others who can't check auctions all day have a chance to find what they want, and bid within a reasonable amount of time.  It also ensures that those who are the most interested (not necessarily the most lucky passers-by) can win a desired item.  It is a good system, but if you don't know what you are doing, or know how the "game" is played, you could lose money.  Maybe I can help.

BUYING AND BIDDING

In order to bid on auction items with houses like eBay, Yahoo!Auctions, Amazon Auctions, and so on, you need to set-up an account.  Once an account  with a valid email address or credit card number is in place, you can bid to your heart's content. Let's use games as our desired items for now.  You don't need this account if you are just looking to see what is being sold, but since the information in the account is necessary for the transaction (email address and feedback rating only!), then you need one to bid; they don't cost a thing if you are a buyer.  PLEASE NOTE: Auction houses will not accept Web-based email accounts, unless you supply a valid credit card number; if the email account, is one from your business, work, or ISP, then no credit card number is required.  This setup is to ensure that those buying and selling are legitimate people, as incidents of fraud have occurred in the past.

Once you find an item you wish to bid on, placing a bid is easily done by simply filling out the maximum amount you wish to bid at the bottom of each page.  The system setup for each house will bid on your behalf while you are away up to the amount you specified earlier.  Therefore, you don't have to be monitoring your item every moment of the auction.  You will be notified via email as to what item, and your maximum bid on it, and the system will keep you apprised of any changes.  In the event that someone has "outbid" you, (bid higher than the max amount you specified), you will be notified.  A choice must then be made based on time left and desire to continue with that item. You could: (a) continue bidding, until the auction ends; (b) stop, and search for another similar or identical item.  Depending on the item you are bidding on, their could be more of them, either by the same seller or by a different seller going for less.  Maybe, holding off and going to a different auction might be in your best interest.  If there are no other auctions involving a same or similar item, but you still want to wait, you take a risk that there may not ever be another one available again, (as I have done many times) so the choice is yours.

Once you have won an item, you will be notified that you have won, the amount of the highest bid (yours), and based on the conditions of the auction (listed on the item's page, and in the said email), you will have a deadline by which to pay.  The method by which one pays is completely up to them from the choices the seller has given, and does NOT necessarily mean credit card; I have paid for many an item via both cash and postal money order.  Also, you will notice that some sellers will only sell items within their own countries or regions (usually this only applies to the US).  With a little talking and some convincing, you could get some of those "Isolated" sellers to sell to you no matter where you live (I live in Canada and have done it successfully many times!).

PLEASE NOTE: Not everyone is that flexible, so ask them first and try as much as reasonable.  They might, in the end, be willing to sell to you.  You never know unless you try.

SELLING

To sell off your treasured items like that old copy of the "Lost Treasures" on the 5.25 inch floppies, you will need to setup a seller account.  The process for setting up one is similar to a buyer account except for a few important differences.  Each seller is obligated  to pay the auction house a commission based on their agreement and the final amount the item goes for; this is the same for actual auction houses, as it's the only way they make their money.  Also, the house will need a definite way to be able to receive payment from the seller, so either a credit card number, or the use of a service such as PayPal is necessary.  As with a buyer account, this info also serves to affirm their credibility with eBay administration (if a seller is fraudulent, revocation of the account, or even legal action could ensure).

PLEASE NOTE: For those within nations such as Canada, where PayPal currently doesn't reach, you will NEED a credit card or access to one for reasons stated above; you're stuck if you are either not old enough or not employed, to be able to receive one, or you do not believe in them.

SEALING THE DEAL
  
After a successful transaction is made, regardless of whether you bought or sold, and the transaction is completed (the selling party, has received their money, and the buying party has received their goods), feedback may be exchanged between the two parties.  The process of contributing feedback is a formality, but it can be valuable and informative to other buyers, to a seller's future auctions.  Positive, neutral or negative feedback can be given to a buyer or seller, and can be attributed to anything from the speed of transfer, the involvement of buyer or seller, to whether the goods were intact or "as advertised."  Neutral feedback, on a seller, could generate apprehension on the side of the buyer, and negative, a powerful blow, left by buyers for their own reasons (usually something like, not "as advertised," damaged goods, or was never contacted, concerning item or payment, by seller).  In the case of a buyer, some sellers may not even sell to them if they have even one negative strike against them.  Quantity may be the key, as the more positive feedback you have, the less important that one neutral or negative one might be.

AN AUCTION GOLD MINE?

If you are particularly ambitious and feel you could make a decent income off the auctioning or sale of items other than just your collection of games then why not become a business at one of these places?  There are many businesses that sell/auction off their items over Amazon Yahoo! and/or eBay, and some that are businesses that only sell through such channels or a Website tied in with their items.  These houses are great venues, because hordes of people may be looking for items you are selling, and could possibly become interested in other stuff you are selling too.  Depending on what kind of angle you are trying for, you could have people going for the highest bid, have them "Buy It Now!" or setup a "Dutch" auction, and seller all off!

"Dutch" auctions are simply auctions where multiple quantities of an item are being sold within a single auction (instead of them all being in separate auctions).  If you have clearance items to sell off, for example this might be a way to get a bunch of them out of the way within one auction instead of dealing with them in their own auctions.

TIPSYOU'VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR!

TIP: When an auction you have been monitoring is nearing its completion and you have been waiting on bidding, check the high bid by entering the item's page.  If you still wish to bid, DO SO!  Depending on the kind of attention the item has been receiving, and the amount of time left on it you could catch another bidder by surprise, and nab that item right out from under their fingers!  Timing may be key, but don't try and cut it too close, or the auction might end and you'll have missed out!

TIP: If you are a seller selling off demand items (like the Masterpieces of Infocom on CD), then invest in the "Buy It Now!" feature.  You can set a price (usually higher than the starting price), which a buyer can pay if they want that item before the first bid has been made.  There will be those out there that will want something RIGHT NOW, and will not be willing to wait when that item could go much higher than the "Buy It Now!" price.  Keep this in mind if you are a buyer. Not all items are worth it, so some patience may be in order.

TIP: When locating an item and finding that there is one going for a really low price, look into: (a) the location of the seller; (b) the rating of the seller (beside their seller name), and then scan through their feedback.  Depending on where they live, it might be expensive to have that item shipped to you (which, in the end, could balance the price out with other auctions anyway!). The rating could indicate a new seller (only a single digit number), that is trying to break into the market by offering rock bottom deals (doesn't mean they can't deliver, and it might mean, that you will get a great deal!)  Finally, checking the feedback could tell the whole story; if they have several neutrals and/or negative feedbacks, then read them, and compare them to the rating (there could be a reason for why nobody is bidding on that copy of Silent Steel).

TIP: Reading an item's shipping policies, and locating the shipping price: do a little research yourself and find out if that is what you will actually pay (or roughly, based on your location).  If it isn't (as in too high), then talk to the seller via email before the auction ends and negotiate.  Also, if they want to send it via a faster/more expensive delivery system, and you don't want them to, talk to them and hash it out.  Many sellers are fair and only want the money they're due, concerning the highest bid on their items; others want as much out of their buyers as possible, and so some of their S&H values might be a bit exaggerated.  You have every right to determine your own shipping and to pay exact values as you choose.  If a seller that is not a business tells you he won't negotiate (business may have set rate or special deal, inhibiting S&H negotiation), or to look elsewhere, then either demand an explanation for their decision, or discourage others from dealing with them; be honest and fair, and everyone will want to do business with you!

STUFF TO WATCH OUT FOR

Auctions can be great, but they are not scam-proof nor are they fail-proof, and so buyers and sellers must be wary.  If you asked for an item to be shipped via a method that might damage the goods, then if it is damaged, you must accept all responsibilities associated with the risk taken.  If it was indeed negligence on the part of the seller, then contact the seller and demand an explanation; if none is received, then make sure it's reflected in the feedback so that everybody knows how they treat their goods (it may not be the first time).  Similarly, if the item received is not the item advertised, then it is up to you to contact the auction house, or and/or the seller, and have things sorted out, or if nothing gets done, to leave feedback reflecting the seller and the event in question. 

You have rights to fairness, honesty, and quality, but make sure to do your research so that you are not caught unprepared.  Life is nothing without risk. Just know how to minimize them, so that you can enjoy the activity more fully, then it will be worth it.  There is no guarantee that you will never get a bad deal on an online auction (maybe you bid too much, when you didn't intend to, even thought you won the auction?). However, with practice patience, and experience, you will know what to do, and will be ready, to snatch up those gaming treasures and tokens of nostalgia.

"Good luck, and happy bidding!" -eBay

+++
Audyssey: Why Bigger and How Better
By Michael Feir

Audyssey started purely as a hobby. I wanted to know what others thought of the games which blind people could play, and starting an E-mail magazine seemed the perfect way to do this. At first, I wondered whether I'd ever get much reaction. The first few issues were written solely by myself other than letters. Over time, more people started reading Audyssey and contributing to it. A community of readers started to emerge and interact with each other. More people decided to help Audyssey grow with their own resources and skill. With this help as well as input from other readers, we have become a fantastic community.

Thus, in a nutshell, I summarise the history of Audyssey as it is. We are now at a critical phase in our history. There are now a number of small companies who want to make games accessible to the blind. These small companies are made up of people who have taken the time to gain an understanding of the blind community's desires and their overall economic situation. If these companies are able to hang in there long enough, I think they'll eventually find themselves turning well-deserved profits. However, if nothing changes, they are very unlikely to be financially successful, and will eventually be forced to close down as any other unprofitable business is forced to do.

So then, why do we need to expand our community? A number of reasons present themselves to me: First of all, we've got to get bigger in order to make certain that Audyssey can continue. Most of what you read in Audyssey comes from a relatively small core of dedicated readers who care enough about Audyssey to take active steps to help keep it going. The trouble with this is that people will eventually burn out. Other parts of their lives may force them to put aside the work they're doing for Audyssey. Alternatively, they may simply reach a point where they have temporarily run out of things to say. Most game-related magazines have a paid staff whose job it is to find and/or create material to be used in them. Before Campus2Day went under, I planned to have a payment system where folks would be paid per article or review. This, I felt, would fairly reward people for their work and make certain that a reliable and steady core of material was present for Audyssey. This, in turn, would fuel greater interest in us. Sadly, things were shut down before we even got to launch our site.

Whether we're employed or not, all of us have other interests and responsibilities in our lives. As things stand now, a lot of other obligations pull me this way and that way. Audyssey has grown to be far more than simply a way for me to pass time. However, it isn't a career. I put a lot of time into trying to make Audyssey as good as it is. None of us put the dedication and time into Audyssey that we would if it were the way we earned our keep. If I spent from nine to five working on Audyssey five days a week, it would be quite a bit different than it is now.

First of all, let's look at what the on-line Audyssey could be like with the right resources backing us up. I would direct your attention to sites like:
www.gamespot.com
and
www.intelligamer.com

Yes, there are advertisements and links to sponsor sites. However, the end result is that an excellent source of information as well as a forum for gamers to communicate has been given to the public. I'm as annoyed by extraneous links and ads as anybody else is. I certainly would never allow ads which could interfere with access technology such as flashing banners or pop-up ads to be a part of Audyssey. However, if a computer vendor offered a free system, or a developer wanted to give Audyssey participants a special discount on their games, I wouldn't begrudge reading that:
"This special discount or free system was sponsored by Gofer Guts Incorporated." It would be only fair that they be recognised as having contributed.

Sites like Gamespot and Intelligamer are as lively and exciting as they are because people put the time and money into making them that way. Their efforts are financially and otherwise supported by the games industry as a whole. Game companies do everything they can to foster communities of gamers who would likely be interested in games they produce.

This is certainly true of the game developers producing games for the blind. Audyssey is being aggressively supported by all of the companies that have become widely known by our readers. There is one very big difference, however. People who make games for the blind do so without anywhere near the same financial security or resources that companies producing games for sighted people have. I cannot ask these companies to support Audyssey financially as other magazines in the sighted world are. The money just isn't there given current conditions. Until we succeed in dramatically increasing awareness and interest in games for the blind, these pioneers will likely not break even. Research they have done tells them and myself that the raw demographics are there to support themselves. This is especially true if efforts are made on a global basis.

In the sighted world, games are a billion-dollar industry. Sponsoring such publications is no trouble at all for such large and well-established companies. They would likely spend more money on making a trailer movie for one of their games than the average person would earn in a year. Whole staffs of people earn their wages by seeing to the contentment and growth of communities of gamers. With all of the games being produced and the news associated with this, it is far easier for such staffs to find and/or create material.

Things are still just getting started in the field of accessible games. This is particularly true of games which are not interactive fiction or text-based. Added to this is the problem of lower economic resources of the smaller community of people that these games are designed for. A statistic being bandied around North America is that something like eighty percent of blind people are unemployed. This means that games must be priced to take that into consideration. Investors must also consider that people may not be able to get a game right away, but will have to save up for it. In turn, this means that their prospective customers are going to be a lot more careful than your average sighted gamer. They're going to want to be even more certain that the game they purchase will entertain them for a long time. Sighted folks can be taken in by great graphics and flashy advertising enough to go out and buy a game. They operate on a different overall economic level. This is not to say that sighted people are completely gullible. They can merely afford to be less careful with their entertainment dollars. Chances are that a game good enough to make it to store shelves will do alright simply by being available. Good enough advertising can make even a lower-quality game initially do well until word gets out that it isn't so hot.

Over time, newcomers to computer games can become jaded by disappointments. They'll stop being lured by the shiny boxes and start turning to the wealth of reviews and other info available to them freely. I constantly monitor developments in the sighted gaming world for games playable by the blind with sighted assistance. All it costs me to keep up-to-date is time and the willingness to suffer frequent disappointment as games which initially show promise prove unsuitable. I mostly use the Internet to monitor activities, and plan to do an in-depth article on sites that I use in a future issue. Occasional trips to the shops my father and I use to purchase games also help make certain that we don't miss anything exciting. Without spending a cent, sighted people can find out a tremendous lot about games, even when they have yet to be released. Blind people and those who would want to find games playable by blind people have a far harder time of it. There are no TV or radio ads. No widespread knowledge exists about games for blind people. Agencies and organisations which help the blind are only now starting to realise just how beneficial games can be. Finding accessible fun is largely an uphill battle. That's what has to change for Audyssey and the game companies to survive and grow over the long term.

There are also ways that I would like to see Audyssey expand off-line as well as on the Internet. Recently, I was offered the opportunity to present a kind of workshop on computer games to a group of blind youth participating in a youth program run by the CNIB. Despite the equipment available not being the most up-to-date or prepared, things turned out quite well. I was able to excite a group of five youngsters about computers and games. All of them found something fun to do despite constraints posed by equipment and time available. Some day, I would like to have around ten desktop computers in a room loaded with as many games as possible. Ten participants would then be given two or three days to explore what fun was out there in a comfortable and friendly environment. I and other assistants would be there to make them aware of what was available, teach them how to play, and keep things running smoothly. Having conferences where game developers and Audyssey community members could meet in person is another of my long-term wishes. These conventions happen in the sighted gaming world, and have proved to be excellent for sparking interest and for better games being developed. I would also like to travel to various agencies and schools which serve the blind, and spread awareness about what computer games are playable by blind people. E-mail is just too easily deleted or buried in the in-boxes of people who are usually under-paid and over-worked as it is. Hearing the games in action or trying them out would deliver the message much more forcefully.

As things stand now, the lofty ambitions above cannot happen. I have neither the time nor the money to make them happen except when others such as the CNIB are willing to sponsor and facilitate the occasional workshop. I am an artist, not a businessman. I have no head for finances and numbers. Time and time again, people have wondered: "Why don't I charge for Audyssey?", or "Why don't you become a consultant and charge for helping people with their computer problems?" They don't grasp the state of things as they are. If people couldn't read Audyssey for free, and find it easily on the Internet, we would be growing a lot more slowly than we are already. If Audyssey were not freely available, how many of you would freely give me your writing to use in it so that I could make the magazine worth paying for in the first place? How many people who could benefit from Audyssey would feel justified in paying for it given their limited finances? Audyssey is what it is because it is free and open to all. If advertisers or corporations are going to back us, they must do it with this in mind. The folks at Campus2Day were smart enough to recognise this. I believe that Audyssey Plus, had it been launched, would have been a boon to all in the Audyssey community.

For the present, we are on our own. As I announced in the From The editor section, the BEAT organisation that I and others were trying to start seems to be completely impossible at the present time. We have all been forced to look elsewhere for employment. Although I still hope that future events may prove that the work we did was not done in vain, I wouldn't be willing to bet on that. As before, we are left with what we can do voluntarily to help our community grow larger and more stable. For now, at least, Audyssey will remain a splendid hobby for us all to partake in. I hope that enough of you out there share my vision of what Audyssey could be, and will help make as much of it as possible come into being. I've given you my thoughts on why we should get bigger and how I'd like us to get better. What do the rest of you think? Perhaps, you have other ideas or reasons you'd like to share. Alternatively, you may have concerns with what will happen when and if we are able to expand what Audyssey is. These too are important. You will help keep us from losing our purpose and sense of closeness that we enjoy as a smaller community. Whatever your thoughts, I and other community members are eager for your input.

+++
Justin Fegel Steps Down

Greetings fellow gamers,
As most of you know, I have been an Audyssey staff member for a little over
two years now. In fact, I was one of the first to respond to Michael's call
for volunteers to help assemble a staff near the end of 1998. As one of the two interactive
fiction staff members, I have tried for the last two years to write reviews and
articles that I felt readers who enjoyed these types of games would enjoy
and benefit from. For the most part, I feel I have succeeded.

However, over the past few months, I have started pursuing some new found
interests and have started working on other projects in my spare time. This,
coupled with a full-time job, is giving me a pretty full schedule. Based on
these circumstances, I have decided, after several weeks of serious
consideration, to resign from my staff position. This is something I wish I
didn't have to do for I have enjoyed being an integral part of this
magazine, but I'm finding that I just don't have the time to contribute
articles to each issue which is one of the requirements of being an Audyssey
staff member.

As I have already told Mike, even though I have resigned from the staff, I
still intend to remain active in the community and contribute reviews and
articles from time to time. I have been involved with Audyssey for too long
to just turn my back on it and I fully intend to help in its continued
growth in any way I can. So thanks again Mike for Audyssey and all of your
hard work and dedication
to keep it alive and thanks to the staff and all of you readers who
contribute and help to keep this community growing.

Happy gaming and long live Audyssey!


+++
EMAIL GAMING?  NOT A WASTE OF TIME!
By Randy Hammer

 I've worked through a lot of the recent accessible commercial releases in
previous articles.  We've gone from the Old West to WWII and all points in
between.  This issue I'd like to step back and bring forward a rather old
game that very few know about.  Along with this game I'm hoping to introduce
a little known genre of game to the Audyssey reader.

 Who knows when the first chess game was played via postal mail?  How about
the first game via email?  No one may ever know (or care), but the end
result is that back in history one friend wanted to play a game with
another.  They were far apart, but didn't let distance hamper their fun.

 The advent of email improved the transfer.  Not only were stamps
unnecessary, but the time between turns was greatly diminished.  Players
could run an entire chess game in one sitting.  Computer opponents were
created, responding to emails automatically.  Play-by-Email (PBEM) games
grew in number and complexity.  Gamers actually found that quick transfers were too cumbersome to accomplish in short periods of time, the pendulum
began to swing backwards, and led to the lengthening of games.

 There are many PBEM games on the market now.  Some are free, others have small charges for computer time and programming labour.  Should you be interested in this quite untapped form of gaming I refer you to the PBEM Game News website at
http://www.pbem.com.
There you will find links for newbies to PBEM gaming, and excellent "Player Wanted" searches.

 The PBEM Game News site is an excellent resource.  However, I've done a lot
of the legwork for you and believe I have found the best game played by
Email.  A mistype of www.pbem.com recently brought me to www.pbemgame.com.
A new and intriguing page opened for a PBEM game called "War of Wizards."
Being a fantasy fan I began reading through the rules and examining the
player supported pages that described basic game play and strategy.  I
signed up for my first game, and was hooked.

 Players act the role of a fledgling wizard.  Players have, either by good
or evil means, gained control of a small band of humanoids in a number of
different worlds.  Races range from the standard elves, dwarves, and humans
to Tolkienesque orcs and halflings.  The world maps are varied, balanced,
and offer excellent strategic challenges.

 The games are typically run weekly (players may request more frequent turn
reports if all players of a game are in agreement).  Each turn, period
players send in orders to the game master (which is completely
computer-run).  The game master responds with an error report, highlighting
any syntax errors that have been detected.  The computer will not check your
strategy; all mistakes of those kind are left on your shoulders.  A sample
of an order set and its associated error report are available on the
website.

 At the deadline for each turn the computer runs each order set, generates
customizable reports for each player describing what happened during the
turn, and emails them out.  A sample turn report is available on the
website.

 I quickly found myself eagerly awaiting each turn report; desperately
wanting to know if my attacks had been strong enough and my defences
victorious.  However, the greater challenge of moving armies, pleasing
populations, and researching magic (all critical portions of the game) was that of politics.  In the game of War of Wizards the politician is the
master!  He or she gains allies to defeat enemies, trades for needed
resources, and keeps stronger players at bay while making them believe it is
in their best interest.  Communication between players is typically handled
through email.  The addresses of all players are provided on a web page
designed specifically for your game.  This is a downside, and I would recommend providing an email address for WOW alone.  Just realize that not only messages from other players will come to that address, turn reports are sent to that address as well.  Additionally, your order sets must be sent from the registered address.

 War of Wizards is a commercial game.  This means that players must pay for
turns.  However, the new player is encouraged to try the game by entering
one of the play test games.  These are made up of all new players, and are a
great way to get your feet wet in the world of WOW.  Practice sending in
orders, work with other players, and learn what certain combinations of
structures and magic produce.  After this full-featured game one can decide
whether they wish to pay for a commercial game.  Prices are listed in
Australian dollars, and are extremely low.  Commercial players even have
many options for acquiring game credit, and may even amass so much credit
that they can get paid back!  Paying for games can be accomplished in
several ways.  The game designers prefer that players use the options that
give the most competitive exchange rates.

 Signing up for a game is somewhat complicated, and may take a bit of time.
New games are set up as players become available, so you may have to wait a
few weeks for a game to open up.  Signing up is accomplished with a
combination of email verification and web forms.  The forms are accessible
in any recent browser (I specifically tested NetTamer, Lynx, and IE 5.)
Read the directions closely, and you should have no problem setting up an
account.

 After signing up, game play is extremely easy.  Text orders are sent in via
email, and text reports are sent back.  Large reports may even be compressed
to help slow modem connections.  The number of possible orders are, at
first, daunting to say the least.  However, players will quickly begin to
understand and naturally use the game's syntax.  Unlike other games, WOW
orders are sent in plain English, making learning even easier.

 I'll leave the actual mechanics of orders and turns to the rules that are
available on the web site.  My esteemed editor would like to have other
material in this issue, not just a duplication of rules material.  Suffice
to say that if you are interested in magic, politics, and exploring a
new/old medium of game playing I encourage you to check out War of Wizards.

+++
Puzzles and Games
By David Greenwood

I thought I would do things a little differently in this issue of Audyssey.
 I have a couple of games which you can play with your friends or family,
but first, try to figure out the strategy.

+ Fifteen Coins.

In this game you start with fifteen coins.  You and your opponent take
turns taking your choice of one, two, or three coins each turn from the
pile.  Who ever takes the last coin loses. If you go first, there is a way
that you can win every time.  Can you figure out how to do this?  As well,
if you started with thirty coins, would you still know how to win every time?

+ It's not the Peas, it's the carrots.

This is a word game.  You are gradually given a series of phrases, such as
the title of this game.  You must find the pattern and come up with your
own phrases which work as well. 

This is most fun to do with a group of people.  As each person figures it
out, they shouldn't tell the others the secret who haven't figured it out
yet.  You should tell the participants not to write down the phrases, since
Part of the challenge is to remember them. See if you can develop your own
phrases given the ones I have listed below.  Do you see the pattern?

It's not the ceiling, it's the floor.
It's not the paper it's the book.
It's not the movie, it's the screen.
It's not the pasta, it's the noodles.
It's not the mouse, it's the cheese.

Editor's note: In the spirit of fun, I figured I'd also give you all a riddle I've always been fond of. It goes as follows:
"They use my father, but I am banished to the four winds. What am I?"

Are you well and truly stumped? If so, you'll find the answers later in this issue.

+++
The Gamers Rescue Unit
By David Lant

Standing in Oxford Street, Kate gazed wistfully into the store window.  She had her eye on a chic little blue velvet dress.  It would do just perfectly for the dinner party at the weekend.  But even as she considered the reactions she might get on entering, dressed in that elegant number, she frowned.  The trouble was, the kids needed new trainers, and the budget wouldn't quite stretch to the dress too.  She sighed, wondering just how long the kids could last in their old footwear.  Suddenly, as though gripped by another will, she hitched up her handbag, and strode into the store.  She would have that dress!  Hang the trainers!  It was about time she spoiled herself.  Her spirits were lifting even as she was half way to the counter.  At that moment, an annoying, but persistent beeping noise began to emanate from her handbag.  Kate stopped short, her shoulders sagged, and she wearily opened the bag to root out her pager.  Glancing at the screen, she read:

"Urgent!  Reality Gate Alarm!  Response code 2."

With a last hopeless glance at the velvet dress, Kate switched off the pager, and stuffed it roughly back into her handbag.  She turned on her heel, and stalked out of the shop.  It just wasn't fair!  She had come that close to getting something she really wanted, and some poor sap had gone and got stuck in a dumb game.  "This had better be good," she thought angrily, "or there'll be trouble!"

Reaching the street again, Kate flagged down a passing black cab.  Climbing into the back, she ordered the driver to take her to the local Institute offices.  Of course, she didn't refer to it as such, but gave an innocuous address, which the driver would find easily.  Kate had never quite understood why the Institute was so keen on all this secrecy, particularly as it was supposedly performing a public service.  But, she supposed, they had their reasons.  The technology required for opening the Reality Gate must be pretty advanced, and might be open to dire misuse if it fell into the wrong hands.

After a moderately tortuous journey, circumnavigating the one-way systems that were now in place to foil the unwary motorist, Kate was finally decanted outside the Institute building.  Stuffing her last ten pound note into the cabbie's hand, she approached the large, ornate front entrance.  "maybe," she pondered as she climbed the wide wooden stairs to the second floor, "I could ask the Institute to buy that dress for me as a sort of payment."  But thoughts of remuneration were quickly driven from her mind as she arrived at the large oak doors at the end of the spacious landing.

Although the building was classically designed, and ornately furnished, it was every bit as technologically secure as any other Institute building around the world.  The London office was designed to blend in unobtrusively with its surroundings, in a way which a super-modern steel and glass fortress just wouldn't have.  It was soon realised that the best security of all, is to be completely overlooked.  The huge oak doors were a perfect example.  Kate stood before them, glancing over their immaculate carving and bronze-like burnish.  To the naked eye, it was simply a pair of wooden doors, with brass handles, and an imposing frame.  But Kate knew that no amount of wrestling with the knobs, or kicking the panels in the woodwork would open this door.  She reached into her handbag again, and pulled out her security card.  Looking for the line marking the joint between two panels, she inserted the card in the crack between the two doors.  She heard a faint click, followed by an even fainter beep.  Then, with a hushed susurration the whole barrier, including both doors and the heavy frame, began to slide into the right hand wall.  She only just had time to withdraw her card before it was crushed in the disappearing woodwork.

Stepping forward as casually as if she had just opened the door conventionally, Kate entered a well-lit corridor.  It was white, and gleaming; much more what you'd expect of a high-tech scientific establishment.  Briefly she inserted her card again into a door on the left, and stuck her head inside the room as the door opened.  Just inside, was a rack bolted to the wall.  Hanging from this was a belt, which Kate took and strapped around her waist.  A sound from the other side of the room made her glance across.  The clerk sitting at the terminal looked over his shoulder and smiled at her.  Kate returned the smile, and gave a little wave as she ducked back out the door into the passage.

At the far end was the final destination.  At least, it was the final destination this side of reality.  Another large, but this time wholly metal door, barred her entrance into the Reality Chamber.  The security card made quick work of admitting her, and she stepped inside, the first fluttering of excitement beginning in her stomach.  The white, featureless walls were now very familiar to her.  But that one, black, impenetrable surface on the right was always awe-inspiring.  Even as she stood, waiting for events to unfold, the changes in it from solid wall, to imperceptible gateway never failed to fascinate her.

"OK Kate," squawked a voice from her belt.  "We're pretty sure this one's stuck in a fairly nasty situation." 

Kate pulled the communicator from the belt, and spoke into it.  "Where are you sending me today?"

"Um, well, I'm not sure," came the less than comforting response.  "But all the indicators are that this game has a high difficulty rating, and a potentially high mortality rate."

"Thanks for the reassurance!" replied Kate in some exasperation.  "Can you give me any clues at all?"

"Uh, er, only what you see in the Gate."  The voice was sounding more and more reticent.  That could only mean bad news.

The image resolving in the blackness before her seemed brightly coloured.  It swirled and shifted as it drew nearer, and Kate strained her eyes to get a better view.  Then, as form and features gained definition, she let out a loud, despairing groan.

"Oh no!  I recognise it!" she cried hopelessly into the communicator.  "it's the Yumitsi building!"

"Er, the where?" the puzzled voice sounded even more quizzical through the tiny communicator speaker.

Taking a deep breath to steady her nerves, Kate said, "It's Heroine's Mantle!"

There was a long, stunned silence from the communicator.  She could imagine the operator wiping sweat from his brow as they contemplated the severity of this news.  Heroine's Mantle was renowned as being one of the most difficult games recently released by that arch fiend, Andy Phillips.  Well, of course, "arch fiend" wasn't an accurate description, or even an official one.  No-one seriously suggested that Andy Phillips was deliberately getting people stuck in the cyber-reality on the other side of the Gate.  The Institute was sure that he was really a very nice guy, with a job, and hopes and dreams, just like everyone else.  No, it wasn't the man who was the fiend.  It was his games.  And Heroine's mantle was just the latest in a growing line to trap the unwary player.

"Ahem... I suppose you'd better go in," said the communicator, apologetically.

Kate looked at the room now adjoining hers, and quickly determined the location.  It was the ladies washroom, just off the main exhibition hall.  Stepping on to the tiled floor, she looked around for signs of the player, but could see none.  But straight away, she could see that whoever it was would be in trouble.  Lying on the floor was a crucial piece of equipment, without which the game could not be advanced to its next stage.  Stooping, Kate picked up the toilet brush lying on the floor.  She glanced at the mirror, and saw the smudge mark, where the chewing gum had been removed.  At least the player had shown enough presence of mind to take that.  Checking around once more, Kate headed for the door, and the main room beyond.

As she emerged from the washroom, the sight that greeted her almost made her burst out laughing.  Standing in front of the lift doors, in a bewildered, and frankly distressed state, was a young boy, wearing a blue dress.  He was pushing the call button repeatedly, and watching as the doors opened and closed.  Occasionally, he prodded the doors, as if reassuring himself they were real.  He then disappeared down a flight of stairs beside the lift, only to return minutes later panting and looking even more confused.

"Hello," said Kate, in a cheerful tone intended to put the player at his ease.  Unfortunately, it appeared that her entrance had exactly the opposite effect.  The boy leapt in the air, spinning around as he did, and backed up to the lift, clutching at the skirts of his dress in comical panic.

"Who... who..." stammered the boy, eyes wide.  "Are you Mistletoe?" he eventually breathed, in a strange combination of fear and hope.

"No!" Kate answered sternly.  She vividly remembered the rather lewd scene that would have taken place in the washroom earlier, and the last thing she needed was some pubescent lad getting the wrong idea about her.  "I'm here to help you get out.  You seem to be stuck."

The boy gulped, still unsure of his predicament.  Only then did he appear to realise that he might look rather odd, wearing a blue velvet dress, and seemingly sporting prosthetic padding to accentuate the feminine character he represented.  He glanced down sheepishly, plucking at the fabric, and said, in a subdued tone, "I'm supposed to be Lisa Flint."

Kate couldn't suppress her grin, so tried covering it with a mild coughing fit.  "Oh I know," she assured the boy.  "That doesn't matter, ahem."  What we've got to do is solve this problem for you, and get you out of here."

The boy looked at her hopefully.  "You mean you know what I'm supposed to do next?  I mean, I think I'm supposed to get upstairs, but the lift won't go any higher, and the stairs only go down!"  his voice was starting to tremble in the beginnings of distress.

"You forgot this," said Kate, waving the toilet brush at the teenager.  Clearly from his bemused frown, he didn't know what possible use it could have.  So Kate stepped over to the lift doors, inserted the handle into the crack between them, and pried them apart.  The lurid decor of the lift came into view, and Kate sighed.  "Oh yes, we've got to get the lift out of the way first."

"Huh?" the boy mumbled, edging around to look inside the lift.

"Don't worry, I know what I'm doing."  Kate trotted down the first flight of stairs, hearing the ping as the lift doors slid shut again.  At the landing below, she pressed the call button, and hurried back up the steps to the 24th floor.  As she emerged from the stairwell, she could see the boy reaching toward the call button again, and dived over, swatting his hand away.  "don't touch!" she commanded, feeling slightly guilty as the boy retreated, abashed.

Once again, Kate pried the doors open with the toilet brush, and this time stepped on to the roof of the lift.  She beckoned to the boy to follow, and glanced upward.  Then looking back down at the youngster, she couldn't help the smirk on her face as she said, "OK, strip."

The boy took a couple of steps backward, surprised at this forward woman.  But then a small smile, akin to that of a naughty child about to steal sweets, began to spread over his face.  Realising that this boy was at a vulnerable age, Kate decided she had better put things in perspective.  "Don't be shy," she said matter-of-factly, "I've got children your age, so I've seen all there is to see."  The disappointment on the boy's face was almost as funny as his initial incongruity, but Kate managed to conceal it better this time.

"Why?" said the young lad, starting to exhibit the recalcitrance of a teenager at last.

"You need to use it to reach that ladder," said Kate, pointing up the lift shaft at a rusty extending ladder, bolted to the side.

"Huh?" said the boy again, clearly adopting this as a meaningful catchphrase.

"Oh come on, I don't have all day!" muttered Kate.  Before the boy had time to react, she had stepped over to him, bent down, and yanked the hem of the dress up and over his head.  And now, Kate found herself having another coughing fit.  Under the dress, the boy was wearing a bra and panties, apparently inflated from within by strategically placed air bags.

With crushing embarrassment, the boy made a feeble attempt to cover himself.  "It's not my fault," he moaned, "this is how Lisa Flint is dressed.  What can I do about it?"

Recovering her equilibrium, Kate averted her eyes, and concentrated on the job at hand.  She was about to fling the loops of the dress at the ladder, when she suddenly realised that the dress she was holding was the exact duplicate of the one in the Oxford Street store.  She turned it over in her hands, sizing it up, and was shocked to find it was even her size.  This was too good an opportunity to miss.  She had come so close to buying this dress, only to have this kid spoil it for her.  The least she deserved was to take this dress back with her, wasn't it?

"What's up?" came the querulous voice behind her.

"Oh nothing," said Kate, thinking hard.  How was she going to get the boy up the lift shaft, without using the proper solution?  She glanced down at her own clothes.  Quite apart from her unwillingness to undress in front of the boy, she wasn't sure if she was prepared to sacrifice the pinafore dress she currently wore.  Although it wasn't anywhere near as elegant or stylish as the blue gown she held in her hand, it was comfortable and practical and...  "Oh heck!" she thought.  "There's no alternative."  She began to unbutton her dress, but then caught sight of the boy again.  He was fidgeting in a most unnerving way, and Kate soon realised that this was going to be rather too provocative for him.  Considering her situation again, she made a rapid assessment, and decided to proceed.  But first, she slid the blue dress over her head, and pulled it down over her own clothes, before continuing to unfasten, and then remove the pinafore.  She smiled to herself when she again saw the disappointment on her companion's face.  She was starting to wonder if this game was entirely appropriate for someone of his impressionable years.  But she resigned herself to the fact that he was going to come into contact with some of the material in this game one way or another, so it might as well be in a way that makes him think a bit harder, rather than just react to his hormones. 

Finally tugging her pinafore free from under the blue dress, Kate gripped the bottom, and flicked the shoulder straps at the ladder above her head.  After a couple of attempts, it caught, and she was able to heave on it to assure herself it was secure.  "I can only hope my dress stands up to this better than the game one," she breathed, as she began to clamber up the material.  About half way to the bottom of the ladder,  the lower set of rungs suddenly loosened, and the ladder dropped down with a clang.  Kate was unceremoniously dumped on the roof of the lift, gritting her teeth as she heard the material of her previous clothing rip.  "Oh well," she thought, getting to her feet again, "maybe it was worth it for the exchange."

Turning to the boy Kate said, "OK, after you."

"Huh?" said the boy, clearly getting into his new vocabulary.

"climb the dress, and then up the ladder."

With a look of comprehension, the lad clambered up the remnants of Kate's dress, and began to swarm up the ladder. 

Breathing a long sigh of satisfaction, knowing that she had got him on his way, Kate reached for the Reality Booster in her belt.  But she felt a cold chill, that wasn't entirely due to the snow flakes drifting down from the hatch far above her.  Since putting on the blue dress, and removing her pinafore, the belt containing the GRU Gun, otherwise known as the Reality Booster, was now underneath her clothes.  She couldn't put her old dress on again, as it now hung in tatters from the bottom rung of the ladder.  She looked up the lift shaft at the receding backside of the boy, and waited.  He reached the top, and climbed over the edge of the open hatch.  Releasing another sigh, this time of relief, she began to haul up the hem of the dress, in order to reach the holster where the device that would get her home was located.  She was just tugging at the holster flap, when a wolf-whistle echoed down the lift shaft from above.  Kate snatched the GRU Gun out of its resting place, and hurriedly pulled down her dress, looking angrily up at the boy who had returned to the hatchway, and was leering down at her.

"Nice legs!" he called from a safe distance.

"yeah," Kate answered, aiming the GRU Gun at the boy, whose face was taking on a horrified expression.  "Nice b-"  And with that the blackness flashed from the Booster, and obliterated the scene.

+++
Gaming Adaptation: Part1
Collectible/Tradable Card Gaming
Article by: James Peach

Magic: the Gathering, and Pokemon: TCG, are two of the hottest card games in existence, earning their developer, Wizards of the Coast, millions through sales and by being tied to major events, and movies.  If you haven't heard of them, don't know what their games are all about, and possibly don't know what I'm talking about, read on!

A brief history may be boring to some of you, but I feel it a bit necessary in order to draw you in to the exciting world of Collectible/Tradable Card Games.  The idea started even before "Magic: The Gathering", by Richard Garfield (Wizard's founder), and "Five Magics."  It didn't sell very well, but the seeds were sewn and Magic was borne in 1992.  Without going into further detail, I can tell you that Magic has made a lot of changes over the past 10 years, and has inspired other games to try and duplicate their success.  Card games such as: "Vampire: The Eternal Struggle," (originally called, "Jihad"); "Battletech: CCG," (now discontinued) licensed from FASA; Star Trek: CCG; the firestorm, that is "Pokemon: TCG," all by Wizards; "Rage" by White Wolf, and a wide number of others by Wizards on other developers.

"Collectible Card Games" (CCG's), now referred to as "Tradable Card Games" (TCG's), have been around for --you guessed it!-- ten years now, and are now as popular, or even more so, than computer, console or arcade games.  The term was coined by the father of the CCG scene, Wizards, and was used to describe card games that could be collected and traded based on want and collectability but with a set of rules so that they could be played as a fast and exciting new game!  I can only speculate as to why the nomenclature has altered, but I suspect it has something to do with the desire by Wizards to cast their titles in the light of fun and playability instead of collectability.  No matter what you call them, each game has its own style and flair that will appeal to nearly every fantasy or Sci-Fi bent.

Now that the history lesson is over and I've sparked your interest, let us get down to the business at hand.  Magic was the first and most influential and thus will be most prominently exemplified.  To start with, anyone can play TCG's, and in the case of Magic, are in multiple languages.  "Did I hear right?  Anyone can play them?"  Yes, you heard right.  Until now, only those with partial or complete vision (or assistance) could play these graphical games, but that time has now come to an end!  There are ways in which to bring these games to the blind, and I will proceed to explain them in greater detail.

Methods for Playing and Cataloguing Cards For Accessibility

Card games such as Pokemon, Vampire, and Magic, have symbols that represent elements of their respective games.  In the case of Magic, there are different symbols that represent different coloured "mana" (magical energy), required to played cards; one symbol equal to one string of mana.  There is a symbol for "tapping" (using the abilities and effects of a card; nearly every game has them).  Aside from these, in every game, there are numbers and text, labelling each cards, giving a description of what its capable of, and even the card's illustrator (each card has a illustration on it).  Symbols, letters and numbers can all be represented in Braille.  "R" for red, "G" Green, "W" for white, and so forth, and instead of writing "W, W, W", "3W" to save card space.  As in, Brailing the text, right onto the card?  No way!  That would destroy the value of the card.  Through the use of plastic sleeves, and either Braille taps on see-through sticky-backed sheets, the following will attempt to explain various methods for accessing these cards.

As mentioned, plastic playing sleeves can be used for a variety of reasons.  Aside from the sleeves properties for preventing fingerprints, and reduction in playing wear and tear, they provide a surface to apply either Braille tape or fitted sticky-backed Brailed plastic sheets.  One could apply the card text in Braille to these sleeves, thus making each and every one accessible.  That's a heap of work, isn't it?  Manually typing the text for each and every card you might own and the amount of sleeves could get quite expensive.  I agree though, if you wanted to read your cards, sleeves might be the only way to do it.  However, if you do not require all text to be displayed on your cards, nor feel like doing it anyways, there may be a much simpler solution.

Instead of including all text, include either: (a) title of the card; (b) a text representative of the symbols at the top of the cards (or down the sides, if there isn't enough room; (c) a number or alphanumerical system to represent that card.  Each card belongs to a set, and can be placed in alphabetical order.  Thus, if you had a listing of every card (downloadable from the developer's site), then a number could be assigned to each card, and thus, when you draw, say, number 327, you can search the list and find out what that card is.  This means a lot of searching and eventual memorization is necessary, though it involves the least amount of typing onto card sleeves.  Breaking it down again, you could use something like, "VI:211," which in "Magic: The Gathering" could represent Sixth Edition, card 211 (whatever that is).  More specific, yes, but you'd have to know your sets and cards pretty well, which would require time to memorize also.  Including the cards title, might make the process easier, but still, a list would have to be kept, either of the deck being used, or of all cards being used.  Find a combination that works for you and suddenly, that game becomes accessible to you!

If you are computer orientated, or you have a device such as the Braille Lite, you could have these lists of cards, sets, and decks, easily searchable.  Save time and paper!  Such devices, might make the memorization process easier as well, though I still recommend that at least the card title be Brailed onto the card sleeves, if nothing else.

If such a device such as the Braille Lite is not available to you, but a business card reader and computer could be, then scanning the text, passing it through an OCR text program, could be another answer.  Once would not require as many (or any, if they weren't concerned with the condition of their card surfaces or card wear), and it would not require having a list of the cards, either on paper or computer.  The only flaw in such an easy-to-use system is that the OCR< cannot read symbols, since they are graphical representations.  A work-around is available through the use of a font set, that can identify the symbols, and attach a text letter to it.  Some OCR programs, like TextBridge Pro, and OmniPage2000, allow for multiple font sets to be used when the software searches for text of different styles.  Unfortunately, I have only seen these fonts for "Magic: The Gathering" and only with the PC CD-ROM version of it (they are copyrighted).  If there are other font sets out there for the games you want to play, then by all means, try this out, and see if it works for you.

For those who are particularly ambitious, or are having a hard time finding interested player in your area and want to play online, I have a few suggestions.  However, in the interest of moving conservatively, I will not be discussing it here at this time (in Part2).  If however you cannot wait, please seek me out, and I will work with you, both to help you learn the game, and help you attempt playing over the Internet; I have done it successfully, through ICQ, MSN Messenger Service and For the People, and you could to!

Like any other game, if you wanna learn and play, you have to make some kind of effort.  In this instance, you have an opportunity to take games that were never meant to be accessible, and make them so that you can play them against anyone; since the cards are never altered, you can sell and swap them like anyone else too!  Also, this kind of gaming as it implies, is about randomly-generated packages of cards purchasable from gaming or some book stores.  What?  They only sell Magic cards, and you don't much care for Magic?"  Well then, try search for cards, from a game you do like,, on online stores or auction houses (see my other article in this issue!); chances are you can snag a pile of cards for a good deal for a game you'd rather play.  Yes, the sleeve will be costly too, at a about $1.00 to $2.00 per hundred pack (depends on brand, quality, and purpose of plastic; there are gaming).  It would find any, maybe one could split 'em between friends, help a great Tradable Card Game last a little bit longer.

If you wish to find out more about Collectible/Tradable Card Games in general or specifically, the best place to start is www.wizards.com though others have made their own games, so maybe do a Web search of them; Wizards holds or held rights to most of them.

PART2: Sneak Peek!  In the next issue, Part2 of 2, will discuss adaptation of Pen and Paper Role-playing and Strategy games, such as: Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Battletech, and the newest addition, MageKnight.  Until then, if I don't hear from you on this one, enjoy the great unlocked chest of gaming to await being rifled through!

+++
DVD players for the blind?
Article by Jay Pellis

The DVD format, first introduced around 1996, has upped the standard for
both games and movies.  A DVD (Digital Video Disk) feels and looks the same
as a standard cd with one of it's many differences being that some can be
double sided, holding twice the information of a standard dvd.  The main
differences however that separates the DVD from the CD is the amount of
information it can hold.  A regular cd-rom for a computer can hold 650
megabytes.  By today's computer standards, it may not seem like a lot but
adventure games like the Longest Journey have shown that that storage can
be put to good use.  The game had a high speech content, with full spoken
dialog and a fully orchestrated musical score.  DVDs however can hold up to
4 gigabytes of information.  Most RPGs such as the final Fantasy series
take more then 50 hours to complete, with the storyline and entire game for
that matter being presented in text.  By using the storage capacity of a
dvd, this text can be changed in to spoken dialog, with the dvd being able
to hold the many hours of speech quite easily.
Commercial games are slowly starting to take advantage of the dvd
technology but the main use for it is to store movies, documentaries, live
concerts or anything else that is stored on a vhs cassette.  These DVDs can
be played on a stand-alone DVD player which is similar to a vcr, on a
computer equipped with a dvd-rom drive or on the recently released sony
playstation2.  DVD movies have many advantages over their vhs
counterparts.  When they were first introduced, a single dvd movie was around $25 US.  They have dropped in price, and are always on sale.  Even if the full price must be paid, the advantages they have out way the extra money that must be spent.  The sound and video quality are better, and it won't where out over time like a vhs cassette would.  The
DVDs must be cleaned every so often to prevent scratches, similar to a
cd.  As long as they aren't scratched, there won't be any skips in the
audio or muffled sound.  Also, you can start at any point in the movie,
with out having to worry about rewinding and possibly destroying the real
of a vhs.  Also DVDs have many extra features.  From commentary on the film
by the director, to behind the scenes footage, to even being able to watch
and listen to the movie in other languages, you never know what you'll find
as an added bonus.
Most new computers are sold with dvd drives, and software dvd players to
play disks.  These players however don't seem to be accessible with a
screen reader like Jaws for Windows.  When the player comes on screen, a
picture of a tv remote control appears with buttons labelled stop, play
etc.  These can be highlighted with the arrow keys but JFW doesn't read the
names of each icon.  Most programs work quite well with screen readers,
with out needing any special configuration files but sadly, the software
dvd players I have tried are non accessible.  I have contacted some
companies of screen readers on the matter of making them accessible, and if
I may, I would like to quote what one of the representatives said to me-

"Blind people don't use those, so we won't be supporting them."

A very disappointing statement indeed.  I have however, discovered an
alternative to this matter of non accessible players, the sony playstation 2.
This recently released console system can not only play games made for the
original playstation but it can play playstation2 formatted games, audio
cds, as well as DVDs!  The layout of the player can be navigated with a
little bit of memorization.  On the ps2 controller, there are 8 buttons
that control various functions of the player.  For example, the start
button pauses, the x button resumes playback or starts a dvd at the
beginning, and the l1 and r1 buttons advance backward and forward through
scenes in a movie or perhaps songs in a concert depending on what is on the
disk.  Once a dvd is placed in the drive of the console, the player
automatically appears on screen.  So all that has to be done is to press
the x button, and the dvd will start.  Audio cds work the same way, so once
the button functions are memorized, they can be used for 2 playback formats.
The dvd capabilities of the playstation2 is only the tip of the iceberg as
to what this system can do.  With a library of over 500 cd-rom games for
the original playstation, many of which I have reviewed in previous issues
and which are accessible, the blind gamer can play accessible games at a
very inexpensive price of perhaps $10 per game.  Most of the games I have
reviewed are older titles, and they are still widely available.  The price
of the system is another story entirely however.  A new system can be
purchased for $300US.  That is quite expensive because a dvd player itself
can cost around $150US, however the playstation2 has many more functions
than a stand alone dvd player.
With a new age of gaming on the horizon, who knows what else the
playstation2 and other consoles like the upcoming Microsoft X-box, and
Nintendo GameCube can offer.  I haven't tried any of the newly released
playstation2 games yet but with a faster cd drive then the original, and
some dvd formatted games, and with the added dvd player built directly in
to the system, the future looks promising.

Editor's note: Having a DVD drive on my system, I certainly share Jay's enthusiasm for what is available on DVD-ROMs. If people are already making some DVDs with audio descriptions like Terminator II and Basic Instinct, it certainly shows that we blind consumers have a lot of educating to do. The main reason more blind people aren't using DVD players is that they're still relatively new and have yet to be made accessible. Where would we all be if the upper classes paternalistically denied the ability of literacy to common people on the same grounds? Forget lawyers. If we could chuck all the idiots who have such delusions about blind people not wanting access to what everyone else takes for granted into the bottom of the ocean, there would be a good start. Such stupidity is well beyond what I have patience for. On the brighter side, those who own DVD drives on their computers should take the time to check for keyboard commands. I can operate my ATI DVD player just fine for basic watching-watching. It's only those menus where extras and things can be found that are inaccessible. If your DVD software has no such keyboard commands, you may want to look for a player on the Internet. If anybody finds a DVD player that is particularly suited to use by the blind, please let us know.   

+++
Free Game Winner

This time around, Graham Pearce wins the free game from PCS. He has plunged right into the fray with a letter and two reviews that can be read in this issue of Audyssey. Best of luck with your future gaming activities, Graham. You've definitely earned this award.

+++
News From Bavisoft:

A Letter from the president of Bavisoft:

Hello,
I would like to take a minute to discuss the subject of software piracy. In recent months we have received numerous reports of our product being illegally
copied, then traded or in some cases sold. Through various means we have confirmed these reports, and in the course of doing so have found the problem
to be far more widespread than we had feared. It has unfortunately come to the point where decisions need to be made.

Bavisoft is a small company which produces high quality products which we then market and sell to a select group of people, the blind and visually impaired.
It is up to that group to support the company by legally purchasing the product if they would like us to continue making and selling new games. Cheating
us will end up affecting you and our paying customers when unfortunate business decisions are forced upon us, and we stop producing these games.

You may think that copying the game for just one person causes no real harm when in fact it not only deprives us of the funds we need to produce these games,
but also leaves a customer who is interested in this type of product unaccounted for in the target market group data. This data is seriously examined by
not only our company, but also by others others when making decisions as to whether or not the market is worth producing new software for. To make matters
worse, if this person then copies for another, and another, and so on, this further compounds the problem. It is exacly this type of communication between
people that we count on to promote sales of the game, so spread the word about our company, don't spread illegal copies.

At this point, I would like to thank all of you who have supported the market by purchasing the game, and to appeal to those who have aquired it illegally
to do the right thing for everyone and purchase a legal copy to replace it. If you are not sure, legal copies have the official Bavisoft color artwork
for the game printed on the CD. If you have any information about illegal copies, please pass it along to us.

Remember that the blind and visually impaired game software market is your market, and that you are ultimately responsible for its growth or demise. The
next few months are up to you, and I sincerely hope things turn around.

As always I welcome any questions or comments you may have. Feel free to write me personally at [email protected]

Thank you,
Jeff Gibbons
President, Bavisoft

+++
News From GMA

We have been receiving many queries on when the next release of Shades of
Doom will be out.  All we can say is soon.  It has been in the hands of the
beta testers for seven or eight weeks and we are getting lots of valuable
feedback.  Developers always need to make a decision on whether to save
additional enhancements until the next release, or implement them now and
delay the release.  As it looks now, we will probably take the middle
ground.  So far, the beta has gone relatively smoothly. A few glitches, but
this is to be expected for such a major release, and we are well on the way
to fixing the ones reported.

The next release of Lone Wolf is in its planning stages.  We have compiled
quite a few of the enhancements we would like to see, along with ones
suggested by the users of Lone Wolf.  We are still receiving suggestions,
and so, if you have any, send them to:

mailto:[email protected]

If you haven't looked at the Lone Wolf page for the last couple of months,
you may want to download some of the new user-created missions.  Currently,
we are up to mission 29 with a few more almost ready to go.

Visit the GMA Games web site at:

http://GMAGames.com

+++
News From ESP Softworks

What's New @ ESP Softworks - April 2001

Greetings, Gamers!

After quite a hiatus in the development department due to studies and other obligations, we're back on track here at ESP and looking forward to
FINALLY getting the Monkey Business demo out around the middle of April.

Speaking of Monkey Business...

The final retail version of Monkey Business will be released later this
year.  We sincerely apologize for the delay, but was necessary due to
scheduling issues.  We hope that when it is posted to the website for
download, that you'll find it's been well worth the wait!

The retail price for Monkey Business will be $29.95 plus postage and
handling.

For information about this release, please visit our website at
www.espsoftworks.com.
For a chance to win a *FREE* copy of 'Monkey
Business', please take our very short Monkey Business Survey which is also
located on the website.

Audyssey List Serve Has a New Home...

The Audyssey Game Magazine list serve has recently found a new home at ESP
Softworks.  If you enjoy the magazine, then be sure to join the list and see
what everyone's talking about between the issues!  A great place to discuss
your favorite games, obtain hints, rub elbows with the staff, and find up to
the minute information on new releases, new companies, and accessible online
games.  To subscribe, send an e-mail to
[email protected]
with the
word 'subscribe' in the subject line of the e-mail.

Since it's move to the ESP server, there has been quite a flurry of
activity.  In the month it's been running, there have been over eighty
subscriptions and over 2,200 messages.  As we gear up to move forward with
our marketing strategies, we fully intend to spread the word of Audyssey
right alongside to help raise awareness of this fine publication.

And, Finally...

We're preparing a surprise release for the month of May that we think
everyone will have a lot of fun with and will set some precedence in the
accessible gaming market.  Stay tuned for more details on the website to be
posted in early May.

+++
News From MindsEye2
Contact:  http://www.mindseye2.com and [email protected]

Mindseye2 has released a new educational computer game for young
children just in time for Easter. It is a collection of three
games and a picture story book about Peter Rabbit.


MindsEye2 releases Forest Friends Easter Egg Hunt Adventure!

Enjoy lots of Easter fun in the new Forest Friends Easter Egg
Hunt Adventure. The new Windows title is a collection of
thrilling, self-speaking Easter-themed games.

Search for Easter eggs in 8 fun-filled games (4 for the younger
child and 4 slightly harder, more complex games for the older
child). Accompanied by Freda Fox and Michael Myna, who sings out
clues, roam through the forest, stroll through the field of wild
flowers and crawl through a hollow log, searching for eggs. Meet
many friendly forest creatures along the way.  Oh, and don't
forget, to explore the gloomy bat-filled cave and to paddle
across the beautiful blue lake in the canoe.  Explore many more
exciting sound-studded locations as you hunt for that next Easter
egg.

The Bunny Trail - Let's your child show off his knowledge in a
curriculum-based educational quiz game, while he has fun helping
the Easter bunny gather jelly beans on the Bunny Trail. (For
preschool and kindergarten)

Easter Tic Tac Toe - Join Lily Lamb and Quackey Duck in a
challenging game of Tic Tac Toe. Includes background music as
well as pictures and sounds. Two levels- an easy level that
allows the younger child to experience the thrill of winning and
a harder level to challenge the thinking skills of the older
child as she plots her way to victory.

Experience more traditional Easter fun as you enjoy The Tale of
Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter and listen to The Easter Bunny.
Relive the exciting adventures of Peter in Mr. McGregor's garden
and enjoy the imagery and fun in the  poem The Easter Bunny.


Educational Benefits: The Easter Egg Hunt provides practice with
keyboarding and orientation skills, increases auditory
comprehension and memory and provides exposure to screen-reader
type voices. The Bunny Trail  provides practice with multiple
choice questions, reviews preschool and kindergarten level
reading, math, vocabulary, social studies and science.  Example
skills include beginning sounds, opposites, rhyming,  and
ordering events. Easter Tic Tac Toe promotes logical thinking.

The Forest Friends Easter Egg Hunt Adventure , like all of
MindsEye2 games, is fully playable by blind and sighted players.
It includes full-colour artwork, exciting background music and
over 117 MB of spoken text and exciting sound effects. New
features include a player-selectable volume control for music and
sounds in the game, and the use of Direct X to increase
responsiveness.

Order today and experience the excitement of The Forest Friends
Easter Egg Hunt Adventure.           
Price $40 plus $3 shipping
Suggested age: 3 to 7

A complete, time-limited evaluation demo is available for $5
shipping and handling. On purchase of the game, the $5 will be
refunded when purchased directly from MindsEye2. The evaluation
copy may also be available for free download from our website
(http://www.mindseye2.com) in the near future as a 100+ MB download.
The evaluation copy may be converted into a registered copy with
a registration key provided once the game is purchased.
Evaluation copy not available via purchase order.

To purchase this Easter Egg Hunt adventure visit our website
http://www.mindseye2.com or send check to:

MindsEye2
Route 1 Box 404-A
Bland, VA  24315

Roger
[email protected] - Roger Myers

+++
Answers to Puzzles and Games

+ 15 Coins.

The key to solving the problem is to work backwards.  You know you can win
if you are left with two, three, or four coins, since you would take one,
two, or three coins respectively, leaving your opponent with the fatal one
coin position.  This follows that you want to leave your opponent with five
coins, since no matter what he takes, you will be in the winning 2, 3, or 4
coin situation. It follows that the game is no longer working towards
leaving your opponent with one coin, you are now trying to leave him with
five.  Continuing this logic upwards, the next coin count you would want to
leave your opponent with is 9.  This killer count continues incrementing by
four to 13, 17, 21, 25, 29, and so on.  Therefore, in the fifteen coin
game, if you go first, you should take two coins to bring the count to
thirteen. After your opponent has taken his 1, 2, or 3 coins, you should
take the number of coins that will reduce the count to 9.  Do this again
bringing the coin count to five.  As described above, you can now easily
force a one coin position on your opponent.

During the games you don't go first, if your opponent hasn't figured out
the strategy, try to force your opponent into one of the fatal coin counts,
as described above.

++ It's not the Peas, it's the Carrots.

In all the phrases listed, the first noun never has a double letter, and
the second one always does.

Editor's note: The answer to the riddle I posed to you is smoke. Fire is the creator or father of smoke.
 
+++
Game Announcements and Reviews:
Above the full reviews which appear in this section, any new games which have not been fully reviewed yet will be announced in the hopes that readers and/or the Audyssey staff will try out and review these games for us. Reviews of games will not appear in any particular order. The only exception to this will be when we have more than one review for a game. In this case, reviews will be placed consecutively so that it is easier to compare them. As with Anchorhead a few issues back, I may wish to interject my own thoughts on a game should it provoke significant reaction or otherwise prove itself especially noteworthy. When I choose to do this, you'll find my remarks above the review or reviews for the game in question. Should a game have more than one review, two plus-signs will be placed above the first review and/or my remarks. This policy will hopefully encourage people to try both the latest as well as some older games which may have been overlooked. Just because something isn't hot off the presses doesn't mean that it is any less worthy of a gamer's attention. Also, remember that it doesn't matter if a game has been reviewed before. If you have a different take on the game than has already been published, send in your review and I'll consider it for publication. If a review fails to interest you, simply skip to the next plus-sign. It's that simple, folks.

+
Code Factory S.L. Discovered

In a recent search for any new blind-accessible games which may have escaped our notice, I was fortunate enough to stumble onto a company called Code Factory S.L. It appears that they have been in existence for some time over in Spain. I have sent out a message greeting them on behalf of the Audyssey community and containing the latest version of our flyer. I hope that we'll hear more from them in the next issue. For now, I would urge you to visit their web-site at:
www.codfact.com/en_index.html


+
Since the last issue of Audyssey, our old friend Jim Kitchen has not been idle. His latest game is Mach1. This racing game has taken the community by storm and was extensively discussed on the Audyssey discussion list. He has upgraded and added to the game a few times now. Below, you'll find his latest announcement:

I have put a new version of Mach 1 my rendition of the Atari Pole
Position car racing game up on my web site.

The file name is wincar3.zip and is 4.7 meg in size.

New in this version are 4 new tracks to race on, the ability to
adjust the rate of speech, the number of cars that you passed
reported and a key press to report which lap you are on.

I have also made better the sounds for when you pass a car or get
off the track and up into the marbles.  Fixed the midnight gremlin
thing and believe that the game will now run at the same speed on
all windows 95, 98 and ME computers.

You can find the wincar3.zip file on my web site at

http://www.simcon.net/jkitchen

Please read the mach1.txt text file included in the zip file before
running the game.

+
Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective volume 1
Developer Icom Simulations
Available on DVD Rom at:
http://www.infiniteventures.com/
Requires sighted assistance
Review by Jay Pellis

In the past decade, there have been a bevy of mystery adventure games
released for various platforms, such as Dejavu for the Nintendo
entertainment system or the Tex Murphy series for the pc.
However, there have only been a few Sherlock Holmes games released.  That's
quite sad to see, since the Holmes novels can quite easily be turned in to
great game adaptations.  There was the Holmes text adventure by Infocom,
"Sherlock Holmes and the riddle of the crown jewels" which was very well
written and brought the atmosphere of England to life through it's
characters and story.  In the early 90's, the Sherlock Holmes Consulting
Detective series was release for various platforms, including the pc and
Sega cd.  There were 3 volumes in all, with each volume having 3 cases to
solve.  The games were touted as being interactive movies, which is exactly
what they are.  They can be thought of as one of those choose your own
adventure novels that were popular in the 1980's, brought up to date with
video, speech and sound effects.

*the story*
In Consulting Detective volume 1, there are 3 cases that must be solved,
and they can be played through in any order.  They are, the case of the
Mummies Curse, the case of the mystified murderous, and the case of the tin
soldier.
In the mummies curse, 4 men are found strangled to death with bandages
laying around them.  Some say it's a 4000 year old mummy returned for
vengeance, and Holmes is out to prove this theory wrong and catch the suspect.
In the Mystified Murderous, 2 sisters are blamed for a rich mans murder,
and one of them is innocent or maybe both are?  It's up to Holmes to find out.
Finally, in the case of the tin soldier, a prominent general is murdered, a
prized possession of his is stolen, and it's up to Holmes and Watson to
crack the case.

*the Interface*
As stated above, interactive movie is definitely the way this game can be
described.  Most games that are called interactive movies usually have
adventure game like puzzles interlaced in them.  However, consulting
detective is a textbook example of this genre.  Basically, you watch an
opening video of the case, with characters describing the case description,
then you are in control.  Using the mouse, you can choose to do various
things such as using a map of London to go different places, and talk with
other characters or you can read the local newspaper to try to find out
information that way.  You only have a limited amount of time to solve the
case, so your mode of travel may be a factor.  If you choose to walk to a
particular location, it may take a little more time but you'll eventually
arrive there.  A taxi takes less time but if there is traffic on the way to
where you are going, that can also take up more time.  When you decide to
talk to a character, you can choose who it is, and what topic you'd like to
discuss such as a murder or the location where the murder took place.  Once
you choose your topic, you will watch a video sequence, where the character
and Holmes/Watson will speak about the topic.  That may sound boring but
this is where the story really shines and the backbone of the
game.  Whatever you decide to do, either going somewhere or talking to
someone, you will usually end up viewing a video.  They feature live actors
speaking all dialog in the game, and they can usually be quite long,
depending on how much information Holmes or the other characters
have.  There are also many newspaper articles to read through in order to
get more clues on the case.  When Holmes finds a particular place of
interest in the articles, it will automatically appear on your map so you
can go there.  This also happens if characters tell you about a particular
location.  Holmes also has a group of shady characters called the
irregulars, and usually for a price, they can help Holmes discover more
clues to solve the case.  You have full control of where the irregulars
will go and what they will do for you.  If Holmes thinks a character won't
answer questions because they may be afraid of him, he can send one of the
irregulars in, and they usually end up getting the info Holmes wants.

*conclusion*
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective volume 1 is pretty much a perfect
representation of what it would be like to control the dynamic duo in
solving 3 mysteries.  You have full control of every aspect of the game,
and this lends a sense of freedom to the 3 cases.  There are many clues to
discover, and multiple suspects per case, so it will take many hours of
play to complete all 3 cases in as short a time as possible.  Also, the
speech content is quite high in this game, making it perfect for blind
gamers to play with sighted assistance.  There is even a very well narrated
tutorial by DR. Watson at the beginning of the game explaining the mouse
driven interface, and how the game is played so a printed manual isn't
really needed to enjoy this game to it's fullest.  There are 2 versions of
the game, the cd-rom version released in 1991, and the recently released
dvd version.  The cd-rom version is quite hard to find, and it is a dos
based game, so may not run on older machines.  However, the dvd version is
easily available from the website address above, and it has a few
advantages over the cd version.  It can be played either in a computer dvd
drive or in such devices as the sony playstation2 or any stand alone dvd
player.  Also, the sound and video quality isn't very good on the cd
version I own, and this is corrected in the dvd version.
I enjoy Sherlock Holmes a lot, and this was a real treat to play.  The
novels are great, the audio collections of the old radio shows are also
good but nothing beats a fully interactive Holmes mystery. What would be
great is if all 3 consulting detective volumes were released on 1 dvd.  If
that collection was ever made, there would then be 9 cases, and many more
hours of fun gameplay.
So if detective stories are your thing, what are you waiting for!  Head
over to that website and order your copy of Consulting Detective volume 1
because the games afoot!


+
casino
by Jim Kitchen
accessible without sighted assistance
Reviewed by Graham Pearce

available at www.simkon.net/jkitchen
Jim Kitchen, as you all know, has created many free games that are
accessible to the blind. His Windows casino, the game I am reviewing now, is
in my opinion the best game for windows he has ever created. So what is it, I here you ask? As the name implies, windows casino is a simulated casino containing three games which are Blackjack, Poker and a slot machine, the object of all being to get as much money as
you can. My personal favourite is poker because it needs strategy to play
and I personally enjoy strategic board and card games.

All three games in the casino are very well-crafted and addictive. I
especially like the fact that you can customize almost anything in the game.
You can customize the confirmation of betting, the amount of speech, and
many other things that in some way effect game play. There is also a feature
of toggling the noise of the crowd while you are playing, which I personally
leave on because it adds to the atmosphere of the games greatly.  There is
excellent help about the games in the casino, both on-line and in text files
contained in the windows casino. I  especially like the care Jim has taken
to make sure that the player knows everything he/she should, and no
information is left hidden to the player. I can't think of anything to
complain about the game, except for a bug in the blackjack game which can
seriously determine your result sometimes.

Over-all though, Jim Kitchen's windows casino is well worth playing. It does
take a while to download, however, but it is certainly worth it!

+
The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole
reviewed by Graham Pearce
accessible without sighted assistance
Available at ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/games/spectrum/level9.zip, along with
some other games by level 9
The growing Pains of Adrian Mole is an excellent multiple choice adventure
about a teen-ager, the object being to make him as popular with everyone as
you possibly can. It is an adaptation of the famous Sue Townsend series by
the same name. It is delightfully-well written, with some good humour thrown
in. The humour isn't all about sex, as illustrated by the following example:
"The dog's licence has run out, and I don't have 30p to buy another one. I
had to explain to the dog that it is now a criminal."
Reading the book may help you to understand the characters a bit more, but
don't do everything it says in the book! The game is a radical departure
from level 9's other offerings. Instead of a passer, it has a menu-driven
system which, thankfully, is completely accessible with screen readers,.
(It's accessible with my screen reader, which is jfw 3.3, but I don't know
anything about the other screen readers in terms of accessibility). The only
problem with the game is that it's menu-driven interface does not allow all
that much freedom, but then again, neither do many of the video games offer
you much freedom in their choices. Over-all though, if you aren't bothered
by menu driven interfaces, give this one a try. You will need the level 9
interpreter found in the directory level9/interpreters/level9 in the
if-archive. The game growing pains of Adrian Mole is found in four files in
the level9.zip archive: mole1.sna, mole2.sna, mole3.sna and mole4.sna. I
wish they would have bundled the game all into one file, but I guess the was
very limited space on the 80's home computers.

+
Accessible baseball.
Available from:
http://www.toad.net/~quinnbf/
 
Although I live in the UK, I'm a big baseball fan and have been looking for an accessible windows based baseball game for a while. I thought I had found it with this one.  When Michael first mentioned this game on the Audyssey list, my immediate thought was "great, let's go get it!". I downloaded it and started "playing".

  The first thing to say about it is that, to be honest I was disappointed. The term "game" is not appropriate for this program, I'd call it more of a simulation.  the installation is a pain, and the installation instructions given on the site, I think, only confuse the issue more. I'm using JAWS, and I found the best way to install it was to use the JAWS cursor and "route jaws to PC" for each necessary action. Once I got it installed, I settled down for a game or two, and was soon bored to death with it.

  I found that I had no influence on the game whatsoever, everything was computer driven, shot selection, base running, pitching, fielding, the lot! All the player has to do is press the enter button with monotonous regularity, and occasionally read the two line status window to keep track of the game. I also found there seemed to be a bias towards the pitching team. I played a total of about a dozen games, and in that lot, there were 2 home runs (both by the "visiting team"), three triples, 5 doubles. The pitching team seemed to be experts at double and tripple plays! The thing which really annoyed me, was the very high proportion of strikes. I'm not a baseball expert but I doubt a strike rate of about 85 to 90 % is normal. I got fed up with the long "sterike!!" every few seconds.  Finally, there were no catches in the game, which seemed very odd to me as, from listening to numerous live games, catching seems to account for a large proportion of "outs" in a game.

  All in all, I was thoroughly disappointed in this "game". I've played Jim Kitchen's batting simulation game, and I found it far more enjoyable than this game. Not one I'll be playing very often, unless I've got 20 minutes to kill and nothing else to do.

+
online game review: funbets.com
Reviewed by Justin ekis
I recently discovered a relatively new online game at www.funbets.com.
The idea behind this site is very creative and original.  It's kind of like Los vagus stile gambling but with a bit of fantasy stock market mixed in.
  Here's how it works.  You choose a category such as sports, stocks, politics or entertainment.  Then you choose a subcategory. for example after choosing entertainment you can choose music, movies, etc.  Then you get a list of things you can bet on.  For example, a popular topic earlier this month was who would win the "Best picture" award in the academy awards.
  Once you choose an event to bet on You are given choices on
how to bet.  Following our example, you could choose which movie you think will win.  Once you make you're selection, you are
asked how much you want to bet and how many shares you want.
Continuing our example, I chose 750 shares of ""Traffic" to win best picture," I bet 1000 funbet dollars per share.  I lost
750000 funbet dollars when the motion picture
Academy announced that "Gladiator" had won the award for best
picture. It's like the stock market because you bet on shares.
However, it's also like Los Vagus because you choose how much to bet.  There is no set amount that you must bet like in the stock market. The way the game works may be confusing to read, but don't let that stop you from playing this fun game.  Once you make a few bets, you'll understand it much better.  I'd recommend this game to almost anybody.  It has so many topics that there is something for everybody to bet on.  To play, register at
       www.funbets.com
       ratings:
       replay value: 10
       New topics are being added all the time so you never run out of
       stuff to bet on.
       site speed 8: There pages with more information load a bit
       slower than I'd like, but the pages where you find events and
       place bets load very fast.
       Reliability 10: I've never had a problem loading any pages on
       this game.  Some pages load slow (see the speed rating,) but they
       always load.
       Originality: 7: This game has some aspects that look like they
       might have been taken from some other fantasy stock market game,
       but it has some components that make it original.
       Overall: 10: Highly recommended.

+
Escape from Monkey Island
Developer Lucasarts
Available in computer software stores
Requires sighted assistance
Review by Jay Pellis

Lucasarts is one of the few adventure genre pioneering companies still
heavily in to adventure game development.  Companies such as Sierra On-line
have stopped development of these games years ago, thinking at the time
that the genre was dead.  The recent resurgence in adventure games
popularity proves this theory wrong.  Games such as this one and the
Longest Journey ranked very high on the 2000 year end pc game charts, and
many copies are still being sold.  With the upcoming Myst3 being released
in May, the genre seems to be making a comeback.

*the story*
Escape from Monkey Island is the fourth in the popular Monkey Island
series.  It's prequel, the curse of monkey island was the series first
incarnation on cd-rom released in 1997, and it quickly became a
classic.  EMI starts soon after the previous game.  Guybrush Threepwood and
his new bride Elaine Marley are now married.  Returning from their
honeymoon, they discover some disturbing things happening.  They have been
gone so long that everyone presumes they are dead.  Elaine is the local
governor of the islands where the game takes place, and her mansion is set
to be demolished.  Elaine quickly sets off to find out what else is going
on, while one of the first tasks in the game for guybrush is to stop the
mansion from being destroyed.  Also, a new politician named Charles L
Charles is trying to become the new governor, while the businessman Ozzy
Mandril wants to take over the islands for his own sinister purposes.  It's
up to guybrush and elaine to set things right, while having many humorous
adventures along the way.

*The interface*
The interface is quite similar to Lucasarts last adventure game, Grim
Fandango.  It is fully keyboard driven, with no use of the mouse
whatsoever.  The game is in 3d, which means movement is possible in all 4
directions.  The 4 arrow keys are used to move Guybrush around, with the up
and down arrows moving forward and backward, and the left and right arrows
turning him left and right.  Other keys control other actions, such as the
E key to examine something, the P key to pick up an object or the I key to
enter the inventory screen.  Whenever the examine feature is used, guybrush
describes the object in great detail mo matter what it is.  From a sign on
a building, to a bottle sitting on a bar, guybrush will describe it.  As
usual with all recent Lucasarts games, the speech content is really
high.  The game spans 3 islands, with many locations on each to
explore.  In the first part of the game, many areas are available from the
start, such as a town which includes a bar and many other buildings which
Guybrush can enter.  The character interaction is also quite
detailed.  When guybrush wants to talk to a character, you can choose from
a list of options detailing what you'd like to say to them.  There are many
things to say to each character in the game, and depending on what is
happening in the game, the same character may have different things to say
at different times.  Interacting with the environment is also quite
interesting, with Guybrush able to do things such as eat pretzels that he
has in his inventory.  They are needed for a puzzle later in the game but
it is still interesting to have this much interaction in an adventure
game.  Another thing that has to be mentioned is the music and sound
effects.  There is different music for every location and character in the
game, and the sounds are quite plentiful.  You can hear the waves of the
ocean if you are on a beach or dock, as well as footsteps when Guybrush
walks on gravel or the wood of the dock.

*conclusion*
Escape from Monkey island is a very enjoyable game.  It's a good length,
not too long or short, and spans 2 cds.  The game is also quite humorous,
with the characters making jokes, and guybrush being put in to some funny
situations.
This game can be found for $30 US in stores such as Electronics Boutique.

 

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

Adam Taylor, star of Adam, The Immortal Gamer, and our resident ADOM guru, can be reached three ways. You can send him e-mail at:
[email protected]
Or, you can check out his homepage on the web:
Blade's 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. Also,
you can download the magazine from his page.
Finally, if you wish to contact him at home, his address is: 3082
Bartholomew Crescent
Mississauga, Ontario
Canada L5N 3L1

Jay Pellis is an avid fan of graphical adventures and console games. For those of you wondering which Sega or Nintendo games are at all enjoyable to the blind, he's the one to turn to. He can be contacted at:
[email protected]

Justin Fegel has resigned his official position as an interactive fiction staff member. As such, he will be sorely missed. However, Justin plans to remain active in the Audyssey community. Therefore, those who need guidance with interactive fiction may still benefit from his experience. He can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Kelly Sapergia is our expert in interactive fiction. He is a
well-established reviewer of games for Audyssey, and has an
interest in developing interactive fiction as well as playing it.
He can be contacted at:
[email protected]
James Peach is responsible for maintaining our new official homepage. Your feedback will help him make our site a better place to be on the Web. He can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Randy Hammer conducts an ongoing search for worth-while mainstream games that can be enjoyed by blind players with sighted assistance. He will also review commercial games and shareware produced specifically for the blind, such as that from ESP Softworks, PCS, and eventually, Zform. He can be contacted at:
[email protected]


End of content, go to quickmenu