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Audyssey;
Games Accessible to the Blind
Issue 29: June/July, 2001
Edited by Michael Feir and Rebecca Sutton

Fun, Friendship, Knowledge, Charity

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Welcome

Welcome to the twenty-ninth issue of Audyssey. This magazine is dedicated to
the discussion of games which, through accident or design, are accessible to
the blind either with or without sighted assistance. You're in for a real
treat this time. We're celebrating our fifth anniversary with the
publication of this issue. As you'll see from the articles, letters, and
reviews below, we've arrived at a turning point in blind-accessible games.
The past two months have seen extraordinary events and exciting releases
from game developers. Life on the Audyssey discussion list has also gone
through some radical changes. Learn about all of this and much more in this
very special issue.

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.
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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 understand ability. I will never make changes
which will alter the spirit of a submission.
All submissions must be in English. However, people need not be great
writers to have their work appear in Audyssey.
Many of our community come from different countries. Others are quite young.
Where possible, I try to preserve their
different styles of expression. The richness that this adds to the Audyssey
experience far outweighs any benefits
gained from having everything in prose so perfect as to be devoid of life.
Audyssey is a community and magazine built
on the need for blind people to have fun. There are no formal structural
requirements for submissions. Within reason,
they may be as long as necessary. Game reviews should all clearly state who
created the game being examined, where it
can be obtained, whether it can be played without sighted assistance, and
any system requirements or other critical
information. Although profanity is by no means banned, it should not be used
gratuitously. Submissions not published
in a current issue will be reserved for possible use in future issues if
appropriate. Those who are on the Audyssey
discussion list should be aware that I often put materials from the list in
the "Letters" section if I feel that they warrant it.
Anything posted to this discussion list that in some way stands out from the
common and often lively ongoing
discourse will be considered fair game for publishing unless it contains the
author's wish that it not be published. Until
now, this practice has been commonly consented to. From now on, it is 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.
James North of ESP Softworks now manages the Audyssey discussion list. This
list facilitates discussion about games
accessible to the blind between the publication of issues of Audyssey. All
are welcome as long as they respect their
fellow community members and keep in mind that the topic of the list is
supposed to be games. Other topics are allowed
within reason as long as they don't begin to monopolize the list traffic for
too long. Newcomers should be advised that
traffic is frequently fairly heavy. To help those who are swamped with
E-mail cope with this, there is a digest mode
available which sends one large E-mail per day at midnight PST containing
the day's traffic. Anyone participating in the
discussion list will have issues of Audyssey automatically sent to them via
E-mail. Representatives from all major
developers of games for the blind are actively participating on the list.
All staff members of Audyssey are also
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 words
'subscribe audlist' in the message body. Send a message with the word "help"
in
the message body to the above address for a list of available commands such
as
the command to switch to digest mode and receive one large E-mail per day.
To
post messages to the discussion list, send them to:
[email protected]
It is important to keep the purposes of the above addresses straight. The
[email protected] address is where you send commands to subscribe
or
unsubscribe and other automatically handled things to. You're sending
commands
to a server which does not have the answers to all your game-related
questions.
To communicate with live people, send a message to the
[email protected]
address. Remember that these live people will not appreciate seeing commands
meant for the server as they are powerless to act upon them.
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.concentric.net/~sbobbitt
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 centre.
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
666 Orchard Street Temperance, MI 48182
phone (743) 850-9349
E-mail Phil Vlasak [email protected]


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Contents:
Welcome
Distribution Information and Submission Policies
Contents
From The Editor
Letters
My Journey Through the Gaming Universe
Welcome Aboard, Maria!
Audyssey Community Charter
The Audyssey Update
Puzzles and Games
Reliving the classics, part 2
News From GMA
News From ESP Softworks
News From Bavisoft
News From PCS
News From Zform
The Unexplored Realm of Voice Games
Game Development Truisms You know your game is in trouble when...
THE UNOFFICIAL DIRTY LOWDOWN ON MUDDING: PART 2
An Overview of Pay-to-play Muds
Game Announcements and Reviews
Contacting Us

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From The Editor:

Editor

It's taken us five long years to get here, but what an exciting place and
time this is! Summer has certainly proved itself to be a bountiful season in
many ways. Game developers as well as their customers have gone through two
months of growth and soul-searching beyond anything which might have been
anticipated.

It's hard to know quite where to begin. The Audyssey discussion list is
probably as good a place as any. With overwhelming support from the
community, the discussion list has become a formally moderated one and has
adopted a charter of rules designed to maximize the positive aspects of
belonging to a community. Joshua Loya and David Lant have taken up the task
of keeping things peaceful and orderly. You'll find the charter drafted by
yours truly later in this issue. I hope and trust that it will promote a new
era of mutual respect and security in our Camelot that is the Audyssey
community.

The staff of Audyssey has received another new member in addition to our
moderators. Maria Dibble joins Dave Sherman in exploring the many multi-user
dungeons out there. You can read her personal introduction later on in this
issue. On a similar note, whoever said that opposites attract was certainly
not fooling around. It seems that my fianc‚ Rebecca finds helping me edit
Audyssey to be an enjoyable pastime. Spell-checking has always been the
worst aspect of editing this magazine for me. Pour all the different ways of
spelling that Americans in particular seem to relish into a cauldron. Add
three cups of company, personal, and game names to confound any
spell-checker's dictionary. Throw in a liberal sprinkling of typographical
errors and poor spelling. What you end up with is a brew certain to drive
one to distraction... unless, of course, you happen to be Rebecca. Like
myself, Rebecca has a degree in English that was put to good use as this
issue was constructed. She is now officially a tremendously helpful and
appreciated assistant editor.

This month, there won't be any free games awarded. As you'll see in their
news section, PCS is merging with GMA Games. Since I have no idea yet of
what the ramifications of this are going to be, it seemed prudent to wait
until the dust settled. One of my goals over the next couple of months will
be to try and work out arrangements for contest prises and such which will
give all game developers an opportunity to participate.

Another goal will be to complete the board game I have been working on over
the past while. Yet again, I was unable to finish it due to various
circumstances. However, I believe that the end result will be all the more
enjoyable for the extra time I'll take with it.

An interesting web-site I came across recently deals with older text-based
games. I have been in contact with the page's owner who was delighted to
find out about the existence of blind gamers. Check out his site at:
www.classicgaming.com/ascii

If you want to hear games and their developers in action, be certain to
visit ACB Radio at:
www.acbradio.org
There, you'll find game reviews and interviews with developers like Jim
Kitchen, David Greenwood, and Paul Silva. You'll also find lots of other
useful and enjoyable content.

After we publish this issue, Rebecca and I are off to a special resort here
in Ontario for a week's vacation. It'll be a very nice break from the normal
routine, as diverse and exciting as that has been over the past couple of
months. I'll be back on the sixth of August, and will then start the process
of catching up with events. In the meanwhile, those in need of information
and assistance should call upon the Audyssey community at large as well as
our excellent staff.

Since its release, Shades of Doom by GMA Games has been constantly discussed
on the Audyssey discussion list. It appears that this long-awaited game is
very successful and has filled a widely held desire in the blind community.
Congratulations to David Greenwood and the Audyssey community who helped him
make the game as great as it is are definitely in order. ESP Pinball is also
making waves on the Audyssey list. Those who may have found Shades of Doom
overly complex have been given a more simple pastime. The demo was released
and eagerly snatched up by community members. So eagerly, in fact, that ESP
Softworks was forced to remove the demos while finding an internet  provider
who could handle all the downloads.

A whole lot of important issues were raised due to the games discussed
above. Should developers dictate the morality of their customers by
restricting access to cheat codes or deducting points for saving a game?
What price is too high for entertainment in a community where many are
unemployed? How far does the "it's a small market" argument for higher
prices go? Is it fair to compare blind-accessible games to those produced by
gigantic mainstream companies making them for sighted players? All of these
questions and many more suddenly find themselves being hotly debated. Not
long ago, you'd be hard-pressed to find such things talked about at all.
Change is definitely in the air. The short answer to all the questions
above, and perhaps the only answer possible at the moment is that we're all
learning. Developers and their potential customers are all exploring limits
and testing ethical and economic boundaries. Mistakes and misjudgements
should be expected on all sides.

As we head into an exciting, fun, and thought-provoking future,
communication and the free exchange of ideas is even more vital than it has
been over the past five years. As a forum for this, Audyssey's role is
absolutely crucial. It behoves us all to seize the day. Efforts must
continue to expand our community and make certain that newcomers feel
welcome. I'm very thankful and proud to see just how far we've come over the
past five years. I am also humbled and awestruck by the trust and confidence
placed in me. For that faith, I thank all of the developers, volunteer
staff, and especially my readers who have transformed my dream of a forum
for discussion of blind-accessible games into a reality.

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Letters:
Normally, I tend to personally answer the letters I include in this section.
However, due to the exceptional nature of the ebb and flow on the discussion
list this month, I'm going to present readers with answers and other
messages of especial interest which emerged during the past months. There
were in the neighbourhood of three thousand messages on the Audyssey
discussion list, and with all the changes and developments, this is no small
wonder.
Shades of Doom has taken the Audyssey community by storm over the past
couple of months since its release. All kinds of controvercial issues were
brought to the surface by this revolutionary game. The first few letters
will give you a peek into the varied discussion surrounding this title.

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From Alisa:
Thanks to all those who've welcomed me here already.  I've already found out
that I like it very much here, most likely because I can feel as if I know
more, since the rest of you on this list who play games are blind too.
Where to begin now?  Yes, more opinions.  As I said before, cheat codes
should be free.  I mean, a person like me with little patience doesn't have
time to get to 20000 points.  Besides, I'd never make it there, not with
saving and loading games, getting myself killed, and so on.  I also wonder
what is meant by the cheats being unique to each registered user of the
game; seriously, that worries me some.  LOL!
I agree with the rest of you in that points should not be taken away just
because you save and reload a game.
Now, to defeating monsters.  I know all about the night scope, how to shoot,
etc., but that isn't helping me any.  It seems almost as if when I get close
to something, I'm hit, or it moves.  Not having any luck at all!  BTW, have
any of you had a mutant human run from you?  This happened to me today, and
though I'm not sure, either it went to get one of its friends, or it
returned with a gun, because not long after it ran, I was being shot at!
smile

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Adrian Higginbotham provided this response to Alisa's inquiry:
a good tip is even if you're low on ammo and intend to use a low range
weapon like the knife, switch to something like the bolt gun which has a
longer range and use the night scope to get your target lined up. by using
the m key you can check how far away your enemy is, only when he comes close
do you need to switch to the weapon you intend to use to execute him.
this way you can be sure of a quick kill and minimum damage to yourself.
Adrian Higginbotham.

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Joshua Loya answered:

It isn't very difficult to kill monsters, though it takes a bit of getting
used to.  Be sure you have your speakers placed far enough apart, or are
using a decent pair of headphones.  Also, make sure you are using your night
scope.  When you hear the high pitch sound peak, you know that it's time to
fire away.  You can even use your night scope to aim when you're using your
knife.  You can toggle your scope on and off by hitting the "s" key.  If you
hit control-s, you will get a read out of how much battery your scope has
left; this will also tell you if the scope is on.
I hope that helps.  Feel free to ask anymore questions; a lot of this is new
for all of us.
Joshua monster assassin for hire
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From Andrew Hart
SPOILER ALERT!!!

Concerning temporal disturbances, There are a number of strategies for
getting around them.  Sometimes, you can use the transport pad to teleport
past them, but since it's destinations can be random and don't always take
you to somewhere new, this will not always work.  The biodisruptor mines are
very efficient at killing them.  But the real trick is to get them to pass
over one.  I think the proximity blast mines are also effective.  No other
weapon will hurt them.  The problem is generally get the mine to arm in time
before the temporal disturbance actually passes it.  I have a couple of
strategies for dealing with this, but it all depends on the situation and
where you find the disturbance.
If you are very quick, you can let a TD chase you into a room, run out
another door and close the door behind you.  This can trap them in a room or
in a part of the maze where you no it is.  Then, you can either get around
the TD by using the transport pad as I mentioned above or blowing a hole
through a wall into a part of the maze you haven't been to before.  Also,
you could set a mine, wait for it to arm, open the door, get clear of the
mine and wait for the TD to come after you.  It is important to place the
mine correctly so it is between you at the TD.  Also, you have to get it's
attention so it wants to chase you.  You can to this by opening the door and
making sure it is close to the door.  If it has gotten bored and wandered.
off, opening the door might bring it back.  Be sure to close it quickly
though.  Your EVA can help you with the distance from the door the TD is.
Once you have peaked the TD's interest, you execute the plan I described
above.  The timing is the hard part because you have to clear both the mine
and the TD before the TD reaches the mine.  You'll need to figure that out
for yourself.
By the way, the TD's don't actually kill you as far as I'm aware.  They
simply teleport you to random places in the maze.  So, sometimes, if you
really can't get past one, the best thing is to let it transport you and
keep letting it until it sends you somewhere new or somewhere where you want
to be.  they are a jolly nuisance, but there worth a lot of points if you
nail them, so it's worth having a go.
Good luck, Andrew.

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From David Lant:
Hi all, Even though I was one of the beta testers for SOD, I've only just
got to appreciate the full benefit of the games atmospherics and
playability. Before, I was running it on my older Pentium II 350MHz machine,
with only
64Mb of memory, and a dodgy Creative Labs AWE 64 Gold sound card.  The
sounds were really choppy, and I could always tell if there were monsters in
a room I was about to enter, because the sound of the door opening would
always stutter.
But now I've installed SOD on my new Lifebook X-7595 laptop.  That is a
Pentium III 850MHz machine, with 128Mb of memory, and a wonderful dual
channel sound card, whose make I can never remember.  But wow!  Is it like a
totally different game or what?  I can turn, pirouette, shoot and run, all
at the same time, without losing any of the ambient sound and direction.  Of
course, all this extra speed and power makes the game that much harder to
win.  But I could never go back to playing it on the old machine again.
Anyway, since the list seems to have gone very quiet, presumably because
everyone is immersed in SOD, I thought I'd share my impressions, even at
this late stage.

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Recent discussions have not always been entirely without their stings.
Developers found themselves at the sharp end of some hard-hitting criticism
both for their games and their business practices. Chiefly under attack was
Bavisoft and its flagship game Grizzly Gulch. This prompted James North and
Jeff Gibbons to step forward and add some much-needed perspective to things.
The letters below are lengthy, but well worth the reading.
James North writes:
just wanted to take a few minutes to throw my two cents in here regarding
the recent flurry of messages and opinions about all the companies out there
working hard to produce accessible games for everyone.
Before I get to specifics on a couple of the companies mentioned, let me
just say that they have all contributed to the accessible gaming world in
their own ways and should at least be given that credit.  It's also
important to understand that what we're all trying to attempt to pull of is
not easy-especially for those of us with limited manpower, resources, time,
and money.  In fact, most of us are on the very edge of our resources and
capabilities in order to make the dream of more entertaining, high quality
accessible games for you all to enjoy.
As unique as each of our ideas are in contrast to one another, so seems our
ways of doing business whether it be community interaction, programming,
marketing research, or advertising and the like.  Many of us are new at this
and at being the sole proprietors many of us have become with our new
businesses.  I can tell you first hand that it's very different than
strolling-or, running-into someone else's company each morning and being
told what needs to be done and then doing it.  Even for those in management
positions, there's no one higher up to give you direction.  Instead, there
is you and then there are your customers.  The customers aren't obligated to
have any sympathy for us developers and have come to expect production-line
efficiency in most other aspects of their consumer experiences.  When a
company like Electronic Arts sets a release date, they have several million
dollars, dozens of employees, and top-notch programmers, artists, composers,
sound effect designers, marketing, advertising, accounting, and
everything-else-under-the-sun employees at their disposal for nearly 60-80
hours per week.  No one even so much as strolls up a muffin cart or makes
coffee at ESP Softworks!
It's very easy to be critical of someone's work especially when it's
presented behind a business name.  It's easy to say that Bavisoft's Grizzly
Gulch was simplistic or over-priced, but it's important to remember who and
what Bavisoft is..  who and what ESP Softworks is..  and, who and what
stands behind every developer that you expect and anxiously await
high-quality products to be produced from.  We're not talking about slamming
a riding lawnmower from Sears here.  When comments are made against a
product, you are touching more than the readers of the list..  you're
touching the person behind the company name and that person in these cases
is not very far removed from the company name.
My first thoughts on the messages posted about Grizzly Gulch were mixed.  On
one hand, I think it's important that the consumer's opinions be made known
because it will help Bavisoft adjust their goals in order to better meet the
consumers expectations and needs.  On the other hand, I was somewhat
saddened by the approach that was taken and I can feel for Jeff Gibbons on
this front.  I have been in a similar situation a few times myself and was
fortunate enough that by providing information to those involved and the
community at large, they came to understand exactly what's involved and the
personal sacrifices that are made.
You are not obligated to be thankful for the developers and you are not
obligated to enjoy or appreciate every game title that is released.  But, I
ask that everyone consider the sacrifices that have been made in a market
that is only mature enough to barely support a sole proprietor of a handful
of developers.  The bottom line is that business is primarily money-driven.
It would be ludicrous to expect anyone to provide something they devote so
much time to without being compensated in the end.  For myself, I took a
chance and left my employment to work on ESP Softworks full-time.  That
never really happened due to the demands of others not related to the
business.  I've come to find a way to remedy that and it's proven thus far
very effective.  A few of the other developers also have full-time jobs
aside from their game companies.  But, not many people understand the time,
energy, and sheer determination it takes to walk backwards from the finale
you all enjoy to the beginning of a game and then somehow turn that into a
tangible reality.  It is very difficult work and a lot of blood, sweat, and
tears goes into that process.  We are limited in our capacities, but we've
risen to the challenge and are giving it our best shots.  If an employee
calls in sick at Intel Corp., it's business as usual that day.  If I get
sick at ESP Softworks, it pushes everything back a week while I recover and
gather my bearings again.  I am going through a very difficult time right
now in my personal life and it's excruciating to maintain
'business-as-usual'.  I won't go into the details; I'm simply illustrating
that we're not Electronic Arts or ID Software, etc.
Many of the points brought up regarding Bavisoft are valid points..  minus
the vicious lynching.  Temperament and tact go a long way in this world.  As
a developer, I can tell you that constructive criticism-even if it's not
favourable-can contribute so much to our understanding of what you, the game
player, wants.  The price tag is and will always be an issue.  Many have
claimed that this market isn't large enough to support the burden of
developing accessible games.  I strongly disagree with this opinion and am
fully prepared to prove otherwise over the next year.  It's true that this
market isn't large enough to support a mainstream company like Electronic
Arts, but we're not Electronic Arts.  Someday that may very well change, but
for now..  we are the pioneers of this market and have the potential to make
the most impact.  As well, we receive the biggest impact from the consumers
directly.
It is my own opinion that prices should remain reasonable for the time being
as we all go through our growing pains as developers.  Don't let the
apparent 'small market syndrome' scare you into charging high-prices for
your introductory software titles.  Innovative marketing strategies can help
offset these fears and go a long way into meeting expectations previously
only thought possible by making that bottom line snowball right off the bat.
The quality of Bavisoft's product was impressive as far as the voice and
ambience was concerned.  The gameplay was menu-driven and somewhat linear,
but kept effectively simple and as an introductory game to those newly into
accessible gaming, was probably very effective in that respect.  It's
important to remember that not every potential customer out there has had
the same type of exposure to or experience in playing accessible games as
the readership of Audyssey.
It's also my opinion that at such a crucial point in accessible game
developments that the developers should immerse themselves as much as
possible into the communities they're developing for.  I've probably done
this to a fault myself, PCS and GMA games have been quite good about this,
but I haven't seen much interaction between Bavisoft or Games for the Blind
with a gaming community that is foremost.  There is a lot to be learned and
gained here.
Anyway, this has ended up being longer than I intended so I'll wrap it up
for now.  Just wanted to add some perspective to the discussions.
* James

+
Jeff Gibbons responds:
Well said James.
While I think that the comments about liking or disliking Grizzly Gulch are
fair, some of these posts are beginning to be nothing more than personal
attacks.  I can't remember the specific comments that were made, so I would
like to respond to the list in general.  To say that I'm greedy and in it
for the money, or that I don't care about the community, or that I'm
insulting your intelligence is really unfair and unkind.  Like James, I have
a life too including a family and a full time job during the day.  As some
of you know, I've also spent the better part of the last three months in the
hospital with my daughter who is seriously ill, and I do not have time to
contribute to the list regularly, but I do read it whenever I can.
Grizzly Gulch was meant to be played by everyone at any experience level.  A
lot of the people on this list are or may be above that level but there are
many more who are not.  In other words, I certainly wouldn't say the latest
family movie from Disney insulted my intelligence.  If you want the
community to grow, perhaps you should be more accepting to people whose
computer gaming, or physical and mental skills are not at the level that
many of you are.  A comment that the game insults your intelligence is
really just insulting to those who did enjoy it and find it challenging.
Give new players a chance and respect everyone's opinions.  Isn't that what
a community is all about?
I've spent all of my free time in the last year promoting our product and
games for the blind in general.  I've written every newspaper in America,
every magazine, and done everything else I can think of to raise awareness.
Of course this helps Bavisoft, but it helps all of us too.  I've also
continued to work on new products.  What more can I do to help the
community?  Believe me that I care, if I didn't I'd be doing something else
right now.  Oh yeah I forgot, I'm in it for the money.  Let's talk about
that.
Bavisoft is not a huge company.  It's just me, with the help of some good
and true friends, all of us doing it for fun.  I started the company with a
small amount of money which was left to me by my blind grandmother a few
years ago with the intent of doing something she would really be proud of.
To be subject to these attacks is heartbreaking.  I know a lot of you are
unhappy about the price, but we believe it is fair.  None of us are getting
rich here, we do this because we like to.  Running a business is very
expensive.  What little money we do make is small compensation for the time
we spend away from our families working on this stuff.  I could lower the
price, but I choose not to.  Others produce great games and still offer them
at a lower price.  This is their decision and I respect it.  It's tough to
run a business, and it's easy to call the shots from the sidelines.  All of
these companies are doing their best, and I think the past year has easily
been the best in blind gaming history.  Why spend your time bashing people
when there's so much positive stuff to talk about?  Constructive criticism
is one thing, but this has simply gotten vicious.  I can't believe I've done
anything to offend anyone to the level that some of these posts are at.  Are
these really the type of messages we want on Audyssey?
I hope I haven't responded too harshly and the last thing I want to do is
encourage more bashing, but I feel a reply is necessary.  Once again
comments, especially those that are critical, are vital for the benefit of
us all, but please stick to the games and lay off me (aka Bavisoft)
personally.  As for my presence on the list, you'll hear from me when I have
something to say, that should suffice.  I have a lot going on right now, and
that's all I can give you.  I know at least some of you understand what I'm
talking about, and I once again thank those who wrote with their support in
the last few months.
If you have a comment or question you want to ask me personally, I always
welcome it and I'll do my best to get back to you as soon as I can.
My email is [email protected] Thanks everyone, Jeff

++
Another issue which was very well debated concerned on-line games which must
be continuously paid for in order to play them. As companies like Skotos
emerge offering such text-based entertainment, the question of whether there
is any likelihood of many blind gamers being able or willing to afford this
arises. Chad Fenton engaged Dave Sherman in a friendly and exquisite debate
which progressed as follows:

++
From Chad Fenton:
I'll admit most of my experience with text-based RPGs are of the pay for
play variety, and there's a reason for it.  Of the thousands of free muds
out there, I would contend that a vast majority are a dime a dozen.  I've
played muds using code bases of Diku, Lpmud, Godwars, Rom, Circle, etc, and
there's only so much you can do with those code bases.  Sure, you can have
original rooms and a couple features not found on your typical garden
variety mud, but the pay games offer a custom code base, usually made from
scratch, with features not found in the free games.  Keep in mind that the
pay to play muds available used to cost $3 to $12 an hour in US currency
when they were on such services as Compuserve, Genie, Delphi, etc.  Now a
flat rate, be it $10 to $20, gives you unlimited access every month.
Compared to what they used to cost, $10 is a small price to pay, and
assuming Skotos is sincere about making their games accessible, $10 gives
you access to all their games, not just one like Simutronics.  I'm by no
means saying there aren't quality free muds out there, but I've yet to find
any using a custom code base, offering high standards in role-playing, and
features differentiating them from your stock Diku or Lpmud that was not of
the pay to play variety.  As a consumer, I have no problem paying a nominal
fee for a game of superior quality.  It tells companies that text-based RPGs
are still viable, even in the age of flashy 3d graphics.  I respect your
opinion, David, but as with many other things in life, I contend to receive
superior quality in your mudding experience, sometimes you have to pay for
it.
Regards, Chad

+
From Dave Sherman:
Hi again Chad, I briefly looked at the text games you pointed out from
Simutronics.  I'll also take a look at the game from Skotos that you were
inquiring about.
But I noticed that the Simutronics games were all $10 per month to play.
And I know that the Castle Marriage game from Skotos was turning to the pay
for play mode, once it's beta period was over.  If the other game you
mention requires payment, then personally, I'm not interested.
There are literally* thousands* of free muds for anyone to play on.  Yep,
multi-user text games!  Why anyone would pay $10 per month to play a type of
game which they could play for free is beyond my grasp.
An accessible, multi-user action game-with lots of sound effects, etc ...
that I can understand paying for.  But not for a text-based multi user game.
There are just way too many free ones out there.
Just my egotistical opinion ,
* Dave S.

++
From Paul Silva:
Hello all,

Paul from Zform here. I noticed there was some discussion about Skotos'
games. I was fortunate enough to meet Brian Moriarty at the Game Developer's
Conference in March. When I told him that blind
players were enjoying Skotos, he was VERY excited. He
wanted to know what ways Skotos could make their games more accessible.
They're no doubt on a tight budget, but he said he'd love to do whatever he
could to improve the accessibility.
So if there are any Skotos lovers out there, Brian would love to hear from
you. he can be reached at:
[email protected]

++
From Jayson Smith:
Hey guys.  I've taken a long time off from this list, but I'm glad to be
back!  I got way behind in reading issues of Audyssey but finally got caught
up the other day.
I just thought I'd mention a few things that may be of interest here.  First
of all, there is a bbs you can access via Telnet, called Chungkuo BBS.  It
is at chungkuo.org.  It was mentioned in recent issues of SPAG.  If you are
a new user, all they need in order for you to get an account is a valid
Email address.  That's it.  I don't think you even have to give them your
real name!  Anyway, they mail you a randomly generated password, and you use
that password and the username you chose to log in.  Once online, go to the
online games section.  And there, you'll find just about any type of online
game you could want, from the old DOS door game favorites, to Unix
multi-player games, to even text adventures!  Yes, you heard right, they
have lots of text adventures for you to play, right there on the BBS!  This
includes most if not all of the Infocom games as well!  According to them,
this use of the Infocom games is perfectly legal.  I'd heard in another
program's docs that this use is legal, so long as there is no way for the
users to download the actual game data files.  I think the BBs uses ansi
graphics or something, anyway, you get a lot of junk at the top of the
screen.  You can use the review keys of your screen reader to get around
this.
Also, I just downloaded the Shades of Doom game demo and am playing with it.
I especially like it using wireless headphones, since my stereo system is a
bit far for most cords to reach.  That way, I don't find myself attacking
the monster that was never designed into the game, the hostile headphone
cord!  Hehe.
Anyway, glad to be back on the list!

++
From David heilman:
Hello, I was wondering if there were any known Football games, (American
football)
that work well with speech.  I have an old game called Field General that
works OK in DOS, but have been wanting something a bit newer for Windows.
Anyone have any Windows based Football games they play with Speech?
thanks, Dave H.

++
From Kevin:
I looked at the part of your article, "Audyssey;Games Accessible to the
Blind," dealing with console emulation.
You mention that "new sites keep popping up everyday, so eventually the
companies stopped trying to hunt the sites down." If they did that, wouldn't
they be hurting themselves with declining sales due to people downloading
emulators and ROMS for the newest systems and games?
Recently, I have been thinking about emulating some old NES games, but
aren't they also protected by copyrights even if they are no longer in
stores?  On several web sites, I read about an act that makes software no
longer sold with a copyright older than two years public domain.  However I
am still uncertain as to if its true.
Kevin
+
Well, Kevin, I would tend to suspect that it would be illegal to emulate the
games as they would be under copyright. Regarding hunting down all the sites
where such games are obtained, I think that would just be a losing battle
for the companies. The rabbit is well and truly out of the hat, I'm afraid.
The more sites they shut down, the more new ones would emerge. Also, the
owners of the new sites would learn from the mistakes of their less devious
counterparts and be even harder for the companies to deal with. Anyhow, I'm
certain Jay can shed more light on this, so we'll leave it in his capable
hands.

++
From Ryan Strunk:
Greetings everyone, I happened to stumble across this magazine rather by
accident.  After attending the NFB convention this past week, I spoke with
Mr.  Paul Silva of Zform, who by the way, is a cool guy, and obtained the
addresses for Zform and GMAGames.  As I'm sure all of you know, the GMA page
has a link to this magazine, and so I read through the latest issue and was
instantly hooked.  I ran and grabbed a copy of Once and Future, and also
checked out the GameLand BBS.  Since then, I've been incredibly entertained
...  until now.
Unfortunately, I am masterfully stuck in Once and Future, and I am wondering
if anyone can provide me with helpful hints.  How in Merlin's green Avalon
do you solve the puzzle with Snookums in the tunnels below the necklace?
What do you do with the plank, glass, and carrot?  I believe I have an idea,
and my problem may just be syntax, but as I'm not sure, might someone be
able to provide assistance, or a place where I can look at a walkthrough as
needed?  Thanks much, and I look forward to the discussion henceforth.
Ryan Strunk

++
From Garrett Klein:
Hi, My name is Garrett Klein.  I am a thirteen-year-old blind gamer (duh),
and joined this list a few days ago.  I'm really looking forward to having a
lot of great discussions!
Regards, Garrett Klein

+
To all of the many new participants on the Audyssey discussion list, I
thought this would be a good way of welcoming you into our community. The
introductions above should demonstrate that you don't have to be a star
writer to fit into Audyssey. Ryan's first message quickly got him in touch
with people on the list who could provide hints in the game he was having
trouble in. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he's won it by this time.
Garrett's introduction announced his eagerness and his presence to the list,
which is a very good first step. It lets everybody know that new people are
joining, and that has a number of positive effects. It reminds the
old-timers who are tired or annoyed at seeing similar questions asked more
than once that not everyone was present when they came up before. It also
breaks the ice for the newcomer and makes it that much easier for him/her to
participate.

+++
journey Through the Gaming Universe
By Graham Pearce

I believe that my first experience with a computer game was in 1992.  When I
was 4, I was given a new version of the Speak and Spell.  My mother brailled
what the icons meant.  Soon, I knew how to operate the Speak and Spell to
the same degree that any sighted person could.  I also learnt which games I
could play by myself and which ones I could not.  I would play the better
games on that unit for hours on end, trying to beat previous scores.  A
couple of years later, I acquired a Mathematics version of the Speak and
Spell, and I used the same procedure in learning that machine as I did with
the Speak and Spell.  Around the time I got the Speak and Spell, I obtained
a machine which would soon change my life for the better, the Eureka a4.
(See issue 27 of audyssey for a description of this fantastic machine.) I
had no games for it for a period of about three years.  I didn't really need
them because the fun of the eureka for me, at least at the beginning, was
trying to work out the eureka's commands on a trial and error basis.  I got
my first set of games for the eureka in 1995 when I was only 7.  I can still
 clearly remember the feeling of wonder and excitement in playing these new
games.  Among them were Hangman, Missile, a shooting game, The Hitch-hiker's
Guide to The Galaxy, and many more.  Even though there were only 7 or so
games on that disk, they kept me amused for hours because of the variety of
genres of these games.  Soon afterwards, I got many more games for the
Eureka, like Nimmoia, a role playing adventure system, Blackjack and many
other text adventure and strategy games.  I learnt how to type on a PC a
couple of years later at a computer club, and since I was told I had the
best internet skills in the club, I was assigned the job of searching for
games which might be accessible with screen readers.  When I got the
internet at home, my first impulse was to search for Infocom, because they
were the only company who made games for the blind that I knew existed.  On
the unofficial Infocom Page, I immediately found the ftp.gmd.de/if-archive
site, and was amazed by the quantity of games available.  I actually
discovered audyssey by sheer luck, on the if-book club site, which is at
www.textfire.com.  Through audyssey, I learned about fantastic games like
Jim Kitchen's games and those written by pcs.  I have met many wonderful
people by way of the audyssey discussion list who have helped me out in many
ways related to gaming.  I have helped many people by way of my own
experience.  It is a wonderful feeling when all your trial and error has
paid off, and you finally help someone not to make the same mistakes as you
had made previously.  I find, when I think about it, that I have learned an
awful lot about games.  Hangman has taught me skills which I may need in
other word games.  Missile, and a few other games, have increased my
reflexes.  Text adventures have meant the most to me.  They have taught me
patience, courage, increased writing skill and above all, what it might be
like to be in an environment that I may never experience. I hope, when you
read this, you learn the wonders of what it is like to go through games one
step at a time, by trial and error.

+++
Welcome Aboard, Maria!
It is with great pleasure that I hereby formally welcome Maria Dibble to the
Audyssey staff. She joins Dave Sherman in exploring the many multi-user
dungeons out there for the benefit of all who dare to enter that text-based
universe. As you'll see from her bio below, she has plenty of experience to
offer. Without further delay, I'll turn over the floor to her words of
introduction:
I'm very pleased to have this opportunity to introduce myself to the
Audyssey Community as this magazine's newest staff person. I will be working
with David Sherman to review muds and discuss a variety of mudding-related
issues which will hopefully be of interest to readers.
Now, here's a little background info on who I am, what I do, etc.
On April 1, 1956, my twin brother and I were born. It was an Easter Sunday
and when my father told my grandparents that my mother had given birth to
blind twins, they thought it was an April Fool's joke. I've always thought
that I Have the best, most interesting and certainly very appropriate
birthday (grin).
Writing has always been one of my joys and hobbies, beginning with my first
poem when I was seven years old, to writing extensively as a builder and
then head builder on a mud for the last three years. I especially enjoy
creating detailed descriptions, attempting to paint vivid living pictures
with words.
In 1979 I graduated with a B.A. in Sociology and shortly after was married
to a man whose only major flaw is his lack of interest in mudding. (Smile)
One of the founders of a Not-For-Profit disability rights/advocacy
organization in 1983, I have been its Executive Director ever since. My job
has just the right combination of challenges, successes, variety and change
to keep me interested and happy, and on most days, I'd have to say I love my
work.
In addition to writing, my other hobbies include gardening (I have a
good-sized herb garden), reading (sci fi, fantasy and good historical
fiction), baseball (go Yankees!), and of course mudding/gaming. I have a
very wonderful yellow lab guide dog named Misty (who is eleven years old)
and I live in a quiet peaceful rural setting.
As you can see, not the most exciting bio in the world, but I have a good
life, with good friends, a great marriage, an interesting and rewarding job
and much to keep myself busy.
If you wish to contact me for any reason, please use the email address
below:
[email protected]

+++
Audyssey Community Charter
By Michael Feir

The Audyssey community has evolved and grown largely due to the good will
and efforts of its members. From a simple forum for the discussion of
accessible computer games, Audyssey has also become a place where
friendship, moral support, and technical help can be easily found. Members
have proved themselves willing to help each other out in many ways. This
charter is an attempt to formally state for the record all the policies and
rules which have previously been obeyed voluntarily by the majority of the
Audyssey community. From this point forward, all Audyssey community members
are subject to these rules on an official basis. The moderators of the
discussion list have the responsibility of enforcing these policies if and
when that becomes necessary. By having the following policies in place, it
is hoped that the worst aspects of being a part of a free community can be
minimised for the greater enjoyment and comfort of all.
1. Respect for other community members is absolutely paramount. All members
have a right to state their opinions as long as they do so in a considerate
and respectful manner. Personal attacks should be kept private and not be
sent to the list at large. It is recognised that tempers will sometimes
flare and that emotions will occasionally get the better of common sense and
courtesy. List members should not expect that those who occasionally write
disrespectfully to the list will be expelled immediately. The moderator
guidelines contain a three-stage procedure which is designed to give time
for people to calm down and give sober thought to aggravating situations
which will inevitably arise. This is not a bubble where only people who are
always decent are allowed. It is equivalent to a club where people will only
be interfered with if their actions cause serious danger or inconvenience to
other members.
2. In the event that a member of the community threatens one or more other
community members in complete earnest, that member will be immediately
removed from the list. This is true both for threats of personal harm and
also for threats to cause damage to the computers of list members. While
heated discussion and occasional losses of temper are tolerated, no bullying
of any kind will be tolerated by the community.
3. The main purpose of this list is the discussion of games which are
accessible to the blind. While this area of interest remains the primary
purpose for the Audyssey community, it is recognised that a great deal of
good has resulted in the willingness of community members to tolerate
discussion of other topics from time to time. Friendships have been formed
which have drawn the community closer together than if discussion had been
strictly limited to game-related matters. A vast amount of moral support,
technical help, and excellent advice have been given freely by community
members to each other. This willingness to share wisdom, kindness, and
knowledge is therefore officially encouraged and commended in the highest
possible way. Other non-games-related topics are welcome on the list as long
as they do not become bothersome to the majority of the community and drag
on too long. Any topic may be discussed for a minimum of three consecutive
days. This should give time for a large portion of the community to
participate publicly in discussing these topics before moderators are free
to use their judgement and decide when a topic should be closed. After a
topic has been declared closed by the moderators, further discussion of it
should be conducted privately between interested members. Members who are
not interested in what is discussed should feel free to delete messages
whose subjects do not interest them. This is, after all, a community. People
should not expect each and every message to be of value to them personally.
In the long run, it is more likely than otherwise that disinterested members
will benefit in future non-games-related discussions. The above will
hopefully lead to a happy medium where games will typically be the most
prominent topics on the list while still allowing the community to take
advantage of the diverse skills and talents of its members.
4. All who are interested in blind-accessible games are welcome on this list
unless and until their actions cause their removal. It follows from this
that members of the Audyssey community may at any time include people of all
ages and backgrounds. People are strongly encouraged to keep this in mind
when writing messages to the community. Parents, guardians and others who
are easily offended should not take the above to mean that they can complain
to moderators about the discussion of mature subjects or the use of curse
words. Both of these have been tolerated in the past and will continue to be
tolerated within reasonable limits. People who routinely go out of their way
to make their messages unreasonably indecent will be subjected to the
intervention of the list moderators.

The above policies may be added to or changed at any time if support for
such change is given by twenty or more members of the Audyssey community, or
if I, Michael Feir, deem such changes in the community's best interest.
Similarly, those who moderate the list do so with the community's overall
consent. Members who feel that moderators are improperly exercising their
duties should first attempt to resolve matters directly with the moderator
or moderators. If this proves impossible, complaints should be sent
privately to myself, Michael Feir.
In most situations, moderators will use the following three-stage procedure
when addressing problems which may arise on the Audyssey discussion list:
Stage 1: Private messages should be sent to offending parties reminding them
of the common interest and/or policies they are acting contrary to. These
messages from one or both moderators will serve as notice to offenders that
they are under close scrutiny by the moderators. At least a day should then
be given to make certain that offenders have time to make amends and/or
begin to comply with the policies of the community.
Stage 2: Should troublesome activity continue after this period, a public
message should be sent to the list. Moderators should explain why they are
concerned, remind people of whatever policy is being breached, and ask that
the rules of the community be obeyed. As before, a day should be given for
people to comply with the rules.
Stage 3: Should trouble persist after the above steps have been taken, a
public message that specifically names the offending parties and warns that
more serious action will be taken should be sent by one or both moderators.
The third stage is the most serious form of minor intervention which either
moderator may undertake on his/her own at any time if he/she deems it
appropriate unless the trouble is of a bullying or otherwise threatening
nature. Rather than being swift, justice in the Audyssey community is to be
applied with care, compassion, and consideration. Both moderators should be
in agreement when topics are officially closed or when trouble-makers are
evicted from the community. I reserve the right to veto any major actions
taken by moderators if I deem such intervention to be in the community's
best interest. However, unless and until I do so, the decisions made by the
acting moderator or moderators will stand as final.

+++
The Audyssey Update
By Liam Erven

People have many different ways of receiving information, via, computers,
books, television, and word of mouth.  It seems that the telephone is
another one of these sources that will provide information for those who
need it at little to no cost!  you can find such things as news, weather,
sports, entertainment, and much more!  unfortunately, Audyssey is not
something you will find too much information about.  That's why, in the last
month or so, I was able to get an extension with tell me, (a voice portal,)
and have set up the audyssey update.  What is the audyssey update?  well, it
is simply an extension on tell me that you call, and you can get updates
about games and much more.  I'm working to maintain it, and of course record
the updates for it.  If you are interested in checking it out.  you can call
tell me.  unfortunately, this voice portal is only available in the u s.  I
have plans for possibly making a site with a stream of the update for those
who would like to listen to it, but, then, this probably kills the whole
point on audyssey on the road.  Well, I guess it is up to you the reader.
The information for tell me is as follows.  the number for tell me is
1800-555-8355.  This is a toll free call and you will not be charged, unless
you are calling from out side of the u s.  At the main menu, say extensions,
then enter the extension 54263 you will be connected with a recording of the
update, after it has finished playing you will be taken back to the main
menu.  Of course, I'm looking for feedback, and suggestions.  those can be
sent to [email protected].  I look forward to hearing from you, with
your suggestions and feed back.

+++
+++Puzzles and Games
By David Greenwood.

Test your abilities at identifying patterns in well-known number based
expressions.  For example, 7 D in a W equates to 7 Days in a Week.  Some of
these are easy, but I bet a couple of them will get you scratching your
head.  Hint: the biggest clue is in the number.
1. 12 M in a Y=
2. 40 D and 40 N=
3. 57 H K=
4. 52 C in a D=
5. 64 S on a C B=
6. 9 I in a B G=
7. 4 Q in a G=
8. 3 F in a Y=
9. 23 P of C in the H B=
10. 16 O in a P=


+++
Reliving the classics, part 2
Article by Jay Pellis

My last article, reliving the classics focused on a recent internet
phenomenon, emulation.  Emulation is the ability for a computer program to
act like or emulate such things as a Macintosh computer or Nintendo
entertainment system.  Games for the video game system emulators or programs
for the computer emulators are downloadable on-line, and they can be played
using the emulators.
The focus of this article is another recent computer internet phenomenon
called AbandonWare.  The concept of AbandonWare is as follows.
AbandonWare sites include older programs, games, and other things for
various computers including the Macintosh and IBMPC.  After a game or
program has been released for 7 years, it is not available through a store
or on-line ordering, and the publishers aren't supporting it anymore in any
way, it is considered abandonware.  It can then be uploaded to internet
sites, with full electronic documentation such as manuals.  These sites
separate the games in to categories such as action, adventure or interactive
fiction.  Most of these games are older games, and were made before windows
was released.  They generally will run under windows using the ms-dos prompt
though.
Technically, Abandonware is illegal just like emulation.  This is because of
copyright laws.  However, a quote from the Frequently Asked Questions
section of an abandonware site called Home of the Underdogs may clarify the
legalities of abandonware a little more.
Question "Isn't abandonware illegal?"
Answer "Unfortunately, yes.  Despite the fact that publishers no longer
derive revenues from these games since they have stopped selling them (and
any revenues from retailers that still sell them were gained a long time
ago, at the time of sales), it is illegal to distribute them so long as
copyright holders have not released them into the public domain, and 75
years after the games' >release have not elapsed.  Despite the illegal
status of abandonware, we >believe that we are offering a valuable service
to the gaming community: >classic game collectors have a chance to retrieve
games that have otherwise been lost or rendered defective with the passage
of time.  As our Disclaimer printed on every page makes clear, we will
gladly remove download links to any game that is either 1) still being sold
by the publisher, or 2) at the request of the publishers themselves.
Encouraging publishers to continue publishing great classics of yore has
always been this site's foremost goals, and we will gladly link to the
publisher's order or download site without hesitation should they make their
products available again, whether commercially or as freeware."
As you can see, Abandonware sites will gladly remove games that are still
being sold, and provide links to a site where the games can be purchased.
For example, most sites have a link to the store of Activision to purchase
the masterpieces of infocom cd, instead of having the infocom games up for
download.
Many, many older games can be downloaded as abandonware, including the
classic simulation SimCity, and older versions of the Microsoft flight
Simulator.  Also, Doom, it's sequels, and other games in other genres that
have started the genres rolling such as Wolfenstein3d as the first person
shooter or Rogue as one of the first computer based RPGS.  Another great
reason for abandonware games is that you can find many old interactive
fiction classics such as games by the companies Level9 and Magnetic Scrolls.
These were 2 British companies competing with Infocom back in the 1980's,
and their games are hailed as being right under infocom games in terms of
being considered as interactive fiction classics.  The Home of the Underdogs
abandonware site didn't have all the games under their interactive fiction
section but they had links to sites where the game files can be downloaded.
The games play similar to infocom games, where they need an interpreter to
run.  The games are split up in to data files called dat or sna files, and
the magnetic scrolls or level9 interpreters found on the interactive fiction
archive can run the games in text mode in either dos or windows.  Most of
the level9 games are already up on the IF-archive as z80 files, which are
files formatted for a spectrum computer.  You can always use an emulator to
play the games but there are no accessible spectrum emulators out at the
moment.  I used a converter program to convert the z80 files in to spectrum
sna files that the level9 interpreter can play.  As for the magnetic scrolls
games, they are made up of 2 separate files, a story file, and a graphics
file.  The only file needed to play the games in a text only mode is the
story file, and they are called .mag files.  They are again, similar to the
way infocom games are played by using an interpreter to play them.
I have compiled a collection of all the level9 games, and the windows
interpreter that will play them.  This interpreter works perfectly with jaws
for windows, you just set screen echo to all, and it reads text as it
appears on screen, with out repeated reading of previous text.  If possible,
I would like it to be uploaded on a website for others to download.  These
games can not be illegal because most, if not all of them are posted on the
interactive fiction archive already, just in a file format that the
interpreter can't read.  I also have all of the magnetic scrolls games
collected but for one called Wonderland, which I can't find for download
anywhere.  A site called the Magnetic Scrolls adventure archive had all the
story files for the games downloadable but the site seems to be down at the
moment.  I luckily downloaded the files last year when they were available.
The concept of abandonware has grown extensively over the last few years,
with sites that have bevies of old classic games popping up all over the
internet.  You can download anything from a version of pacman for the pc, to
some older text adventures from the early 1980's.  All of the infocom games
were downloadable last year from various sites but when Activision started
reselling the masterpieces of infocom cd, the sites rightly removed the
games, and linked to a page where the cd can be purchased.
Here are some links to get you started searching for some old pc classic
games.
An abandonware search engine http://titan.spaceports.com/~pcaleiro/ This
site will let you search for any older game or program, and will search
multiple abandonware sites for it.  A great place to go if you know exactly
what you're looking for and you don't want to spend tons of time browsing
abandonware sites for a game.
An abandonware webring http://www.abandonwarering.com/ A directory listing
that lists over 500 abandonware sites.
Home of the underdogs http://www.theunderdogs.org/ One of the best starting
places for abandonware, this site has been around since about 1997.  Not
only do they have older games and applications for the pc but you can search
by genre or letter, as well as read information about companies, and the
people behind designing games.  The site also has direct links to places
that sell games that can't be downloaded, such as the masterpieces of
infocom cd or some older cd based graphical adventure games.


+++
News From GMA Games
It is hard to believe, but it has been almost two months since the release
of Shades of doom.  We would like to thank everyone who has helped us.
Sales are booming, and I must give a special thanks to the Audyssey
discussion list whose members helped make it the success it is.
Shades of Doom will shortly be translated into German, Danish, and maybe
Italian, and for those who had trouble understanding the messages, we are
considering translating it into English.  Grin
Shades of Doom will continue to grow.  We plan to make the environment
richer, and add additional levels.  We will be adding some technical
enhancements as well.
So what are we doing now?  Lone Wolf is due for an upgrade.  We have
compiled, and will continue to compile suggestions for improvements to the
game.  We plan to make these changes over a couple of releases so that we
don't hold up the most often requested enhancements.
To speed up the production of quality games, we are looking at partnering
with other developers and individuals.  I think this will prove to be a boon
for the gaming community, so be sure to stay tuned.  We are working on a
couple of other games, and if I recall, one of them has something or other
to do with flying, but I think we will keep the other one under wraps for a
little while.
Happy gaming.

+++
News From ESP Softworks


What's New @ ESP Softworks, August 2001

Greetings, Gamers!

We have some news for you all this time around that you're sure to like!
We've been hard at work here at ESP preparing for our first retail release
which should be ready by August 1st, 2001.  We have news regarding the
Monkey Business Demo as well as a new addition to the ESP Staff.  Our
website will also be experiencing some technical changes that will allow it
to support the heavy traffic load that it has been experiencing recently.

New Team Member Joins ESP Softworks:

We would like to invite you to extend a warm welcome to ESP Softwork's
latest addition to our team, Keith Milbourne.  Keith has joined the ranks as
the Vice President of Operations and has promised to help make our company
reach the extraordinary potential it is capable of.  He has reached out to
the Audyssey community by joining the AudList list serve and may be
personally contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

ESP Website Moves to New Webhost:

The ESP website is scheduled to move to a new home during the first week in
August.  We're preparing to make the transition as easy as possible and ask
in advance for your understanding and patience during any downtime that may
occur as a result of the transition.  Our current webhost was incapable of
handling the incredible amount of traffic our site was generating so we've
decided to look elsewhere for a more scalable webhosting solution.  The
online demos had to be taken offline because of the download traffic, but
will all be back online shortly after the move to the new webhost.  During
this time, the list serves--AudList and MuddyList--may experience some
downtime as well as company e-mail.  We will notify everyone via the website
after these changes are complete and functional.  Again, we apologize for
any inconvenience this may cause during our exciting move to a much better
host!

ESP Pinball Scheduled to be Released August 1, 2001:

ESP Softworks is preparing to release it's very first retail game title--ESP
Pinball.  The game is scheduled to ship promptly during the first week in
August.  Information about this title follows below:

Since the first pinball game was introduced in 1947, people the world over
have had an obsession with making a little silver ball jump all over a
table, hitting targets and flying up ramps along the way.  Pinball has been
one of those true classic arcade games with ongoing appeal to generations
old and young.  ESP Pinball captures the magic and fun of arcade-style
pinball and makes it accessible for everyone.

ESP Pinball features:

 - Five exciting and interactive themed tables plus a free bonus table,
including:
   Heist, Haunted House, Safari, Soccer Star, Wild West, and Pac Man
 - Great Ambient Sound Effects & Music
 - Two Modes of Play: Classic and Accessible
 - Two difficulty levels: Normal and Insane
 - Fast-Action Game Play

ESP Pinball is priced at $24.95 plus shipping & handling.  See our website
and contact details below on how to obtain more information about this
title.

Monkey Business Demo is Released:

Chase and catch monkeys and avoid obstacles in real-time through a lush 3D
audio environment while visiting more than ten completely different themed
levels.  It's fun and furious action and puzzle solving at it's best!  Run,
jump, climb and swim through ten themed levels of game play with fun
puzzles, great ambient sound effects, complete 3D player
freedom-of-movement, several bonus levels, and cool music!

Fully-playable demos will be available once again via our website for both
ESP Pinball and Monkey Business as soon as the transition to the new
webserver is complete.

For more information:

Please visit our website at http://www.espsoftworks.com, e-mail us at
[email protected], or call (916) 922-7808.  Playable demos, audio
trailers, and free back issues of Audyssey Game Magazine are available at
our website.

+++
News From Bavisoft:
June 22, 2001
We've received so many email inquiries about future products that we've
decided to let some release information out. Our next release is due to ship
in the Fall and let's just say that it should fit very nicely with the
spirit of Halloween. Not too long after that, we'll be releasing a sports
package featuring bowling and golf, as well as a few more surprises.

+++
News From PCS:

For the fifth anniversary issue of Audyssey Magazine, we at PCS Games thank
Michael for all of his work promoting games for the blind.
Starting in June of 2001, PCS Games and GMA Games have agreed to collaborate
in creating games written for Windows.  This will allow PCS to join the
other developers of games in utilizing the advanced features of Direct X in
playing game sounds.
For those new to the field of games for the blind, we would like to give you
a short history of our company.
Carl Mickla started PCS in September of 1995 with Any Night Football.
It was a DOS only game that used the PC speaker to make referee whistle
sounds.
Phil Vlasak joined Carl in March of 1996 and helped him to create DOS games
using real sounds recorded as wave files.
The first game was Monopoly in March of 1996 followed a month later by
Tenpin Bowling.
We explored the idea of making the sounds play from within our games but
found that there were so many different DOS sound cards that it would be
difficult to do.  We realized that several sound drivers were already
available for DOS and we contacted their developers and got their approval
to include them in our games.
In April of 1997 we started working with Harry Hollingsworth in making a
real sound version of his World Series Baseball game.
In May of 1997 we collaborated with Ivan G.  Roelofs in developing his Card
Club.
In March of 1999 Christ van Willegen modified his Playwave sound player to
make it easier for us to use it from within our games.
In June of 1999 David Greenwood of GMA games joined with PCS to develop
three DOS games, Lone Wolf, Star Trek, and Rainy Day Games.
In June of 1999 we released Breakout, the first of our self voicing games
that can be played in both DOS and from Windows.
These are DOS games with a Windows interface that come on CD.
In 1999 we started our web site, pcsgames.com.

You can try a Windows/DOS demo called Snipe Hunt and several DOS game demos
from P C S Games on J.J.  Meddaugh's site!
Go to:
http://www.blindcommunity.com Arrow down to the J-Squared File Center Then
hit enter on the PCS Directory You can contact P C S in any format at
PERSONAL Computer Systems
666 Orchard Street Temperance, MI 48182 phone (743) 850-9349 E-mail Phil
Vlasak [email protected]

+++
News From Zform
Date: July 23, 2001 9:14 PM
 Dear Zform Community, The past two months have been incredible.  First of
all, GameSpy Industries has donated over $50,000 worth of software to Zform!
We attended the National Federation of the Blind's annual conference where
we presented the multiplayer version of our technology prototype.  AND, an
expert in fundraising joined our board of advisors.  Whew!  (Details on all
of this are below.)

I would also like to let you know the Zform Foundation website has been
updated.  We have:
* Added the major developers of blind-accessible games to our links page
(http://zform.org/links.html#l5)
* Added GameSpy to our Sponsors page (http://zform.org/sponsors.html)
* Added "New To Zform" pages to help introduce new people to the Zform
Foundation (http://zform.org/new_to_zform.html)
* Updated the About Us pages (http://zform.org/about_us.html)

As always, your thoughts and questions are invited.
Cordially, Paul G.  Silva (e: [email protected] | v: 413/587-2163)
Cofounder and Community Director Zform Foundation (http://www.zform.org)
"Video games that bring the blind and sighted together."
+++Zform Update + GameSpy, a leading Internet entertainment company, donates
over $50,000 worth of software to Zform.  + Zform Presents prototype at the
National Federation of the Blind's annual conference.  + Meghan Connolly -
Director, Corporate Social responsibility. Newswire, joins Zform's Board of
Advisors.  ++ In Detail + GameSpy Donates $50,000 of Software to Zform:
GameSpy, a leading Internet entertainment company, donated over $50,000
worth of software to Zform.  This software will be the technological
foundation upon which Zform will build its community.
GameSpy Industries is the leading online entertainment and technology
company that delivers live multiplayer gaming and editorial content to
consumers worldwide.  It provides the infrastructure and technology for
online gaming and digital distribution to the growing games industry.  For
more about GameSpy, go to http://www.gamespy.com.
Interested in donating to Zform?  Contact our executive director:
* Jeremie Spitzer, [email protected], 413-587-2024 To learn more about
Zform's Sponsors:
* browse to http://www.zform.org/sponsors.html + Technology Prototype
Presented at NFB Conference:
On July 1st-7th the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) held its annual
conference.  On the NFB tradeshow floor, Zform presented the latest version
of its technology prototype.  The game lets two players to explore several
virtual 3D environments populated by some interesting creatures.  Zform's
specially designed Audio User Interface (AUI) provides blind-accessibility.
This prototype uses the Quake engine for graphics, providing a solid
graphical experience that attracted many players with sight at the
conference.  The game's networking allowed two players, regardless of sight,
to play together.
Our engineering team was proud to see how much sighted and blind attendees
enjoyed playing the prototype.  Attendees were generous in their praise and
gave valuable suggestions on how to improve the prototype further.
We'll be beta testing some Zform games in the coming months.  If you are
interested in being a beta-tester for Zform Games, join our newsletter
(http://zform.org/newsletter.html).
* Zform Foundation Welcomes New Board Member:
Zform Welcomes Meghan Connolly to its Board of Advisors.  Meghan Connolly is
the director of CSRwire.com, a newswire service and information site devoted
to corporate social responsibility and sustainability.  Meghan brings her
years of experience in nonprofit fundraising and public relations to Zform's
board.  She holds a master's degree in International and Intercultural
Management with a specialization in Corporate Social Responsibility.  She
earned her B.S.  in Business Administration from Fordham University.

+++
The Unexplored Realm of Voice Games
Thinking back into my Internet past, I can remember a time, probably around
the same time that the Audyssey concept was just born, of regular text chats
on a system known affectionately as IRC.  IRC stood for Internet Relay Chat,
and was a text chat system that, like voice chat does today, allowed people
from all over the world to communicate with each other.  Amongst the realm
of the various IRC servers were channels such as blinkchat and blindtalk
that were devoted primarily to fostering relationships between blind people
all over the world.  By the way, I was known as Legend (if anyone who used
to frequent these rooms remembers seeing that nickname).
Aside from meeting new people from all corners of the world, IRC offered
many fun and fast-paced games that one could play any time of the day.  Many
of these games were controlled by robots, known as bots, that administered
play and allowed contestants to join and leave the games 24 hours a day, 7
days a week.  Among the most popular of these games:  Risky Business, a
Jeopardy-style question-and-answer quiz, Acrophobia, a comedy game to see
who could create the most popular phrase from a randomly displayed acronym,
and Boggle, a real-time adaptation of the classic word game.  All you had to
do was join the desired game channel and type in a command to join the game.
Other games were administered at various times by live hosts.  Fans of the
British and American improvisational game Whose Line Is It Anyway? Would
join a channel to textually act out various games from the show such as
Authors, Superheroes, or Party Quirks.  And yours truly hosted a
semi-frequent trivia game on one of the blindness channels that pitted 15-20
people against each other in a test to see who not only knew the right
answers, but could type them in the fastest.  Popular game creator Richard
Destino was probably the most frequent winner of these nights.
Today, text chat is alive and well in the same form that it used to be,
thanks to the Accessible Chat program from Accessible Games.  But voice chat
clients such as Teamsound and For The People's Telcopoint have surpassed
text chat as the new standard for communication with other blind people.
With voice chat comes much of the same interaction that text chat brought in
days gone by.  You can still meet people from all corners of the earth to
exchange ideas, find answers to a technical query, or meet your future mate.
One part of text chat, to this point, has not been duplicated, and I can not
put my finger on why.  Wouldn't it be great if you could go to a voice chat
site any night of the week and play one of your favourite games run by a
live host?  It's a simple concept.  Nearly a year ago, I ran a test with a
group of players doing a version of Family Feud.  There's lots of
possibilities for formats that would work on a voice chat website, and if
people took turns hosting, the work that would be required to prepare a
game, small as it is already, would be split amongst a variety of people.
Several classic and current game shows would be simple to implement on a
voice chat website.  As you might imagine, most trivia games such as the
Weakest Link or Jeopardy are simple to present.  The hardest part of these
games is determining who rang in first for a question.  Using private
messages to clue givers, password would become a fun game with only four
people required to play.  With two contestants and the rest of the people in
the room as celebrities, the popular comedy game Match Game could become an
instant hit.
But, why stop at traditional game shows?  Many board games, such as
Outburst, Tri-Bond, and 20 questions would be simple adaptations.  You can
also makeup your own game formats and try them out.  I think you're getting
the idea.  Most of you will agree, that playing a game with a bunch of
people is more fun than pitting yourself against a lifeless computer.  And
the technology is already in place for you to do this.  All you have to do
is utilize it... Oh, and tell the world about your idea on the listserv.

+++
Game Development Truisms You know your game is in trouble when...
Discovered and edited for Audyssey by Andrew Hart
I was browsing around the Net and just came across the following collection
of rather humorous indications of when a developer's game is in trouble.  I
couldn't resist sending it to you for possible inclusion in Audyssey.  Given
that a number of the Audyssey community's developers have released, or are
in the process of releasing, a bumper crop of game titles this year, I think
that some of them might find this amusing In addition, some of the players
might like a humorous glimpse into the commercial side of game development.
I have edited out the more esoteric lines and truncated the list as it is
far too large to include in its entirety, but to give credit where credit is
due for this collection of truisms, the original may be viewed at
http://www.gameai.com/youknow.html.
Thanks go to Diana Gruber, who is responsible for compiling this list.


Game Development Truisms You know your game is in trouble when...
Some Real Life truisms from the world of game development.
Background: This page began when we were all in the office late one night
trying desperately to get a demo for our Playstation game done before the
customer showed up.  It was late, we were all tired, and then as we were
driving around the database (it was a tank game) we came around a ridge and
saw-the face of Jesus Christ on the side of the mountain!  Plain as day too.
Nobody put it there...it was just sheer coincidence that the texture maps
for the mountains came together in that spot that way.  Somebody said, "Wow,
you know your game is in trouble when Jesus appears in your texture maps",
and thus this page was born.
Fellow developers, feel free to send other examples from your own personal
experience (and yes, if you want to post anonymously nobody will mind...we
all understand, believe me....)
Anonymous ...when you've slept on top of your desk for all of 2 hours over
the last three nights and it's starting to feel pretty comfortable...
Courtesy of future gme designer Noam Weiss ...when the project you've just
been assigned to has a graphics engine containing numerous references to EGA
and CGA modes....
...when Marketing asks you to put all "Easter eggs" in the manual....
...when you've just spent four days at the office without sleep your
producer sends you an angry email demanding to know why you went home so
early Friday evening....
Anonymous Previous Contributions Note: This next group are the ones that
Started It All....
...when Jesus appears in your texture maps.
...when one of your engineers asks, "Is that an explosion or a tree?".
...when the CPU count is higher than the polygon count.
...when your engineers are more interested in what's in the cookie jar than
the code.
...when the managers start asking the engineers "Is it done yet?" while
holding a schedule for the next game.
...when you've already built up 40 hours of comp time this week-and it's
only Wednesday.
...when two terrain blocks fill up all available memory.
...when your producer "forgets" to bring in cookies.
...when all your engineers are playing the competition's game.
...when your engineers begin planting subliminal messages in the textures
that say "This game doesn't suck."
...when you see the managers having a blast playing the game, then discover
they haven't coined in yet.
...when the copyright take up more disk space than the code.
...when the game contract weighs in heavier than the code documentation.
All of the above courtesy of late, lamented Real3D Gaming Team ....when you
discover...two weeks before shipping...that the hardware you've been
developing on isn't the production boardset....
....when you can't get $5K to finish the sound for a game that's due out by
the end of the month, but your managers are flying around the country
spending a cool million to line up "demos" for the company's hardware
line....
....when your management will cheerfully spend thousands of dollars to drag
you across the country to work an emergency integration effort but won't let
you spend $50 on a new reference book.....
....when you spend more time putting together progress reports than actually
adding new features to the game....
....when your managers admit to having negotiated an "aggressive
schedule"....
Courtesy of yours truly....
...when you finish the game, and discover that your company doesn't do games
anymore.
...when the software developers suddenly begin taking home all of their
personal belongings.
...when you texture a model with the sound files, and it looks BETTER...
...when you use a model AS the sound file, and it sounds BETTER...
..when you have spent 16 hours burning EPROMS, only to discover the burner
wasn't plugged in...
Courtesy of Pitspawn (strange name, yes)
...when your lead developer asks, "What's the difference between a function
and a macro?"
Courtesy of Mason H Smith ...when you're developing your game with an API
that your 3D card doesn't have drivers for...."
Courtesy of "a small group of game programmers, who aren't officially a
company but whom already have submissions for the list"....
...when you notice that you accidentally sent the full version of your game
to all of the demo sites and game magazines...."
Courtesy of Ruffi of Switzerland ...when you hear Pearl Jam play your
"original" title theme over the radio on the way to work one morning...
Courtesy of Paul, the NJIT frosh....
...when you ask the producer about the AI and he says, "Those random number
generators can do anything" in an awed voice...
Courtesy of Alan Crank ...when mysterious "Do you want to register now or
later?" dialog boxes begin popping up on your development server...
Courtesy of Sean Howe, part of a little-known Idaho-based development
company.
...when it's 6:00 AM, your producer is heading to Japan with a copy of the
game, but you can't go to bed until you've written and emailed him a patched
.exe...
From the boys at Purgatory Entertainment...who really sound like they're
having all kinds of fun...
...when all of your programmers show up before 11:00 AM...
Courtesy of Darren Schueller.
...when you start coding patches even before the game is finished...
Courtesy of Andreas Stieger ...when you are introduced to your new 20-year
old producer halfway through the project....
...when the creative staff are known as 'puck monkeys'...
...when game changes from the producer come in the form of faxes in
Japanese...
...when you find out that there will only be 1100 units of your game
actually produced (this from the arcade world)...
...when you find out your game was contracted only to support a larger, more
lucrative hardware deal...
From one Dave Levinson, former Real3D gamer and a good friend ...when the
team laughs out loud every time they pass the milestone schedule posted on
the lab door....
From an Unnamed Pacific Northwest Game Company...
...when the producer says 'my wife doesn't like that, so we have to change
it'...
Courtesy of a Freemont, CA game studio ...when half the game code is
actually Easter eggs....
...when you surf the Web one day and find a freeware game that's similar to
yours, but better....
Courtesy of Devin de la Parte, Project Manager, Distortion Software ...when
the boss insists that 300+ polys need to be added to the female's chest
because "...players won't play a game with blocky characters..."
...when the boss states that the Windows 95 game will not use the right
mouse button because the player will not understand what a right mouse
button is.
Provided by AMP ...when the lead programmer asks, "Whats a vector?".
...when the management starts talking about "toning down the violence just a
bit"...
...when you can look at a Dilbert comic and not laugh, thinking, "Been
there, done that."
...when you catch the lead programmer at the book store buying a copy of
"Beginning Visual C++ 6.0"...
These all-too-true missives provided by Bill Campbell IV ...when you tell a
headhunter you aren't interested and he says he'll call you back after your
Friday ops meeting....
Courtesy of Bob Stanton, of TSC Management Services Group, Inc.....a
recruiting firm, no less!
...when the title graphics require more coding than the actual game...
...when the website advertising the game takes up 95% of the budget...
Courtesy of Jenn Tapley ...when you lay awake at night hoping that those
elves from "The Elves and the Shoemaker" know where you work and can program
in C++ as well as they can sew together sandals....
An all-too-true contribution from rthwtwj wrywnyyn ...when the lead game
designer asks the lead programmer if the game is still 3D or not 2 years
into the project...
Overheard in an Irvine Game Development studio...
...when management fires the producer who thought up the game, then forms a
committee to "ensure it's going in the proper direction"...
...when your new producer declares that Myst was the "pinnacle of game
development"...
...when marketing throws a company wide party celebrating going Beta, and
this completely surprises the development team....
...when you can read a huge "You know your project is in trouble when..."
list and say "Yep, been there" to most all of them...
You are a programmer.  They fire the producer.  They have no intention of
hiring a new one.  You now report directly to the VP of Marketing.  You are
in Hell.
From Jeff Thomas, who swears it's all really happened to him...
...when the GIF promoting your web site is cooler than the title screen in
the game...
Courtesy of Jeremy Lowrey ...when upper management comes to tell you that
they have just acquired a movie license, so you need to change the name of
your game...
Courtesy of one Jacques Lemire ...  when you use the word "technically" to
describe whether something works or not...
Courtesy of on Blaine Hodge ...when you move development to your parents'
computer...
...when you start wondering if banging the mike on the desk really makes a
realistic gunshot sound...
Kindly provided by Darrell Johnson ...when your senior programmer is 13
years old ...when your title screen takes up 3/4 of the CD.
From the mysterious Thaqui....
...when your lead artist thinks "true color" means actual photographs...
Courtesy of the adventurous Millennium Falcon ...when the Lead Artist is
replaced with a person whose previous job was "truck driver"....
...when there is a clause in your contract saying "employee will be sued for
$10,000/month if he/she quits"...
...and the boss thinks it's "inspirational"...
...and 50% of the company quits anyway.
...when programmers are barred from attending design meetings....

Contributed semi-anonymously from somebody at Aramat Productions....
...when it takes 6 weeks for the lawyers to negotiate a contract on a 4 week
project.
...when your team leader wants a clause in the contract that says he never
has to leave his house or meet anybody in person.
...when you get a letter from your publisher's lawyer containing the words
"NOTICE OF COMMENCEMENT OF CASE UNDER CHAPTER 11 OF THE BANKRUPTCY CODE"
An eerie missive provided by Charlie Wallace of Universal Studios ...when
your AI says, in a calm, soothing voice, "I'm afraid I can't let you do
that, Dave"....
...when someone asks you what time it is and you reply "oh, 0000 1001
o'clock"....
...when you decide to give up and just write the game as one big batch
file...
Courtesy of Spider Man (apparently taking time off from crime-fighting)
...when after telling your artist to use as few colors as possible, he hands
in his work in black and white....
Courtesy of Michael Lafreniere of TE Software ....when half way through the
development cycle, your boss decides that "Well, maybe the game should be
real-time instead of turn-based"....
....when the Dr.  Pepper Company sends you a Christmas card....
....when the lead programmer wears a suit to work one day....
....when your boss thinks a video codec is a Flic player....
....when you're doing a tile based game, and your artists hand over the tile
artwork-all 65 by 51 pixels (true story)....
....when everyone keeps asking you, "How hard would it be to ...?" a week
before release....
....when you finally lock down the design....a week before shipping....
....when your boss finally figures out what you mean by "If we have
time"....
....when your lead programmer decides to take a 'short-vacation' to scenic
Silicon Valley...on a Tuesday....
....when you forget to buy soft drinks for the week, and Dr.  Pepper calls
you to see if you're ok....
....when your boss says, "I've found a way to reduce our development time",
while holding a copy of Klik and Play....
....when your boss wants you to port your new 16 Meg PC title to the Game
Boy....
....when your development team enjoys playing Windows Solitaire more than
your game ....
....when your producer keeps asking, "Do we need all these engineers?"....
Courtesy of Nick Shaffner and Scott Hansen, who both work for DigiFX ...when
you start begging for a DWIM instruction-Do What I Mean.
...when your head of audio manages to start and finish a game by himself
before you even start coding....
...when you spend more time debugging the debug code than actually coding...
...when you get your head of audio to start coding...
...when you spend meetings nostalgically looking at past failed projects...
...when you have to beg for corporate sponsorship just to rent a scanner for
a week...
...when you spend more time checking for new e-mail than actually coding...
....when it takes you eight months to come up with the company name....
These courtesy of Sunir Shah ...when one week before your game is finished
20 other games in the same genre are released...
...when all the neat features in the game only work on your own computer...
...when the producer tells you to drop the AI and hire some more graphic
artists...
These courtesy of John Christian Lonningdal ...when your engineers start
making "You Know Your Game is in Trouble When" lists...

+++
THE UNOFFICIAL DIRTY LOWDOWN ON MUDDING: PART 2
By Dave Sherman and Maria Dibble

Last issue, I began this article by giving a basic description of what
'MUDs'  are, and briefly describing some general categories.  I then
discussed how one gets started mudding, and giving a few pointers to novice
mudders.  In this part of the article, I'm going to dig a bit deeper under
the surface, to give you a glimpse at what lies on the inside of a mud-so
you can see what and who is behind it all.
Let's start off with the three most common and general forms of muds, and
work inward from there.  These three terms you are likely to see are: LPMud,
DikuMud, and TinyMud.  LPMud's were originally known as 'hack n' slash'
muds.  The main focus of this style of mud was a free-for-all  killing fest;
kill monsters, get experience points, and raise in level, etc.  Diku's on
the other hand employed a factor of strategy not found in the first LPMud's.
They usually had 'quests'  to solve - and thus they were more like
interactive fiction games than LP's were.  TinyMuds tended to be geared more
towards socializing, and still are at present.  All three types used a
different style of coding, and I'll address each individually.
Since the first LPMud's, things have changed quite a bit.  The LPC code and
derivatives of it are still used to code, but the objective of the games has
changed.  LP's are no longer strictly 'hack n' slash' muds.  In fact, some
are quite the opposite.  By its nature, the coding of LP's tends to make
them a bit more "free form"  than the other two general types.   The
techniques of 'building'  and 'coding'  are mixed on LPMud's, whereas these
are two separate functions with the Diku  style (see below for definitions
of 'building'  and 'coding').   Since the code is a bit more "free form",
so are the commands used during gameplay.   On the whole, I think you'll
find yourself taking a bit more time in reading documentation, and learning
the muds commands from one LP to another.  And you'll definitely find
yourself needing to learn the structure of the game and its commands
compared to any Diku based muds you play.  I'm going to go out on a limb and
use the word 'customized' when I refer to LPMuds.  Granted, there is a
standardized code, but it is flexible enough to make most any LPMud
customizable to whatever theme the developers wish.  (NOTE: I don't want
this to be confused with muds that do truly use a 'customized' code - which
is a code the developers of that mud have designed themselves, specifically
for that muds purposes.)
Diku's comprise a large majority of the muds available for play these days.
I don't have enough fingers and toes to count all of the different code
bases derived from the original Diku code, but I'll list some later on.
Probably the most common code base which you will encounter is called ROM
(or any of its multiple derivatives).   (This comes from one of the earliest
Diku's called 'Rivers Of Mud').  Once you've played on a few Diku's, you'll
begin to see some similarity.  Actually, quite often you'll find more
similarities than you care for.  People developing this style of mud often
'borrow'  code from other muds.  It's not uncommon for you to run across the
same cities, forests, or other similar areas between one mud and another.
The mud will usually change some names around, but it's not at all unusual
to encounter the exact same areas from mud to mud.  Street or path layouts
are the same, stores and houses are in the same place, the monsters (mobs)
are the same, etc.-get used to this.  Sometimes this is an advantage, if
visiting a new mud and you recognize an area, then there's not a lot of new
adventuring needed to be done, if all you are interested in is solving
quests and killing mobs and gaining experience.  Personally, this gets a bit
boring after years of mudding, and I usually will look carefully at the
description of a mud on TMC, when deciding whether to bother logging into a
mud.  If the description lists 'mostly stock areas', or 'mostly stock code',
then I skip it.  Stock code or areas means they've copied it from somewhere
else and I've probably already seen it before.  One thing that may be
considered an advantage (especially to novices), is that most commands on
Diku's are either the same or very close (usually only the need to stick in
a preposition, if the command is not understood).  The commands on Diku's
are the closest you are going to get to the commands you are used to using
while playing stand-alone interactive fiction.  So for those of you new to
mudding, but not interactive fiction, this may be the best style to start
off with.  You'll already have a fairly decent grasp of the commands
necessary to have your character function within the mud.
As I mentioned above, TinyMuds are mainly developed with some sort of social
interaction in mind, and for the purposes of this article, are probably best
described in the section below - where I talk about the various types of
MU*'s.  In particular, MUCKs, MUSHs, and MUSEs.
I need to quickly interject a couple of common terms used in mudding.  The
first term is 'role playing', abbreviated RP.  When looking at the
description of a mud, you'll usually find one of three words associated with
RP - allowed, encouraged, or enforced.  When the description says 'allowed',
then the administration usually could care less, and leaves it up to you as
the player to get what enjoyment you may from RP.  When you see
'encouraged', then the administration usually takes a bit stronger stance on
RP, and will often award bonuses to players/characters  exhibiting good,
detailed RP.  When you see the word 'enforced', then you had better be
prepared to understand the theme of the mud, and be prepared to act in a
certain way.  Usually, if you join an RP enforced mud, and you don't comply,
then you go bye bye.
The second term I'd like to mention is player killing, or PK.  This is an
action on a mud where 'you'  and your character are just as likely to be
killed as an NPC.  PK muds specifically allow the killing of other
characters, and looting of their corpses.  Muds vary greatly on this issue.
Some do not allow it at all, others allow it, but keep it restricted to
either certain areas of the mud, or make it an option which the character
can choose.  Then there are other muds which allow full PK, but are normal
in every other sense of a mud (i.e. - there are still NPC's to interact
with, quests to perform, etc.).  Then there are pure PK muds, where the
entire objective is player killing.  Its basically you against everyone else
logged in.  If you play a PPK mud, good luck!
I've already discussed the acronym 'MUD', and its different 'definitions'.
Those generally being: multi-user dungeon, multi-user domain and multi-user
dimension.  But as some of you know (and others have probably surmised)
there are variants of the generic term MUD.  In fact, a common standard
adopted by many, is to write 'mud'  in lower case, when describing the genre
in general.  If someone wishes to get more specific about a particular
variant, then upper case is used for the acronym for that variant.
The most common acronyms are: MUD, MOO, MUSH, MUCK, and MUSE.  I've already
explained the acronym, MUD.  It is used primarily to refer to LPMud's  and
Diku's.
For the rest of this small section of the article, you'll have to excuse me
if things are a bit vague.  I've spent hours and hours of time researching
on the net, trying to get definitions for MUCK  and MUSE - to no avail.
Also, the descriptions are not hard and fast descriptions.  They are going
to be based on my observations, and therefore 'my'  explanations (not
necessarily the correct ones).  I apologize for the lackadaisical appearance
of my presentation.  But here goes ...
Moo: MUD, object oriented. (fact)<grin>
Muds revolving around a scheme where users start off as players, and work
their way up to builder status. (again, I'll explain what builders are in a
bit).  The MOO requires a player to participate as a character until they
reach a certain level.  By then, the administration generally feels
comfortable that the individual is familiar enough with the theme of the
MOO, and all of its parts.  They then grant the player the opportunity to
create their own areas (building).
(I'm not going to say that 100% of all MOO's do this, but that is the
general tendency of a MOO, and the purpose for using this acronym).
MOO's also tend to be used quite often for educational muds.  Again, I
briefly mentioned this in the first part of this article, but educational
muds are essentially virtual classrooms.  They seem to be used more and more
frequently, with the boom of the net over the past few years.

MUCK: Multi-user Chat Kingdom
As far as the actual game play of a MUCK and the themes,  let me start by
saying that role playing is almost always 'enforced'.  MUCK's tend to
revolve around another real life entertainment avenue.  They are based on
movies, TV shows, novels or a certain series of novels, board or video
games, etc.  As a character, you are expected to play the role of whatever
character you end up roleplaying, whether that be a key figure in the story
or a mere bystander.  Regardless, you are expected to stick to the theme of
the MUCK.  I've never played any of these types of muds, but I assume, for
instance, if the MUCK is based on a series of novels, that you are not
required to re-enact  the books, as if performing in a theatrical
performance, but rather just sticking to the basic theme of the environment
of that novel and interacting with the other characters.  If you have a
favourite book or TV show, and there is a MUCK revolving around it, then
this may be quite enjoyable for you.
MUSE: (guess) multi-user simulated experience (???)
Again, I'm going to have to draw a blank here.  Role playing is sometimes
enforced (not one of my favourite concepts).  Most of the code I've seen
relating to MUSE, tends to be of the tinyMud sort.  I'm afraid I'm at a
disadvantage here <embarrassed frown>.
MUSH: multi-user shared hallucination
These also vary as to whether RP is enforced or encouraged.  The themes of a
MUSH vary greatly.  They fall into the category of TinyMuds.  So RP and
socializing is stressed over mob killing.   Most of the sexually explicit
muds I've seen listed are of the MUSH flavour.  I'm not endorsing this
action.  Merely pointing it out.  For those of you guys who have a bit too
much testosterone built up, I'm going to paraphrase, from Harley Hahn's
Internet Guide-"that scantily clad young woman you are talking to on a sunny
beach in Southern California may actually be a middle-aged, sweaty, fat,
balding male accountant in Milwaukee". <grin> Just a word of advice.  You
never no who's on the other end of the keyboard of another character.
I want to touch a bit on the different code bases used in writing muds.
This will by no means be a complete list, but hopefully will help out some
of you who are relatively new to mudding in determining what sort of mud you
are dealing with.  You'll find lots of code bases used to design Diku muds.
The most common will be ROM and CircleMud and their countless derivatives.
Other code bases you will run into are: MERC, Smaug, ROT, iDiRT, pDirt,
ENVY, ABER, Resort, and many others.
LP muds will usually have code bases such as Lima, LPMud, MUD OS  driver,
and more.
The TinyMud category has a fair number itself.  Here's a sample: TinyMUSH,
PenMUSH, Tiny MUCK, MUX, TinyMUX,  and several other obscure ones.
Probably the most common MOO code is LambdaMOO.
Remember, all of these terms I've mentioned have various versions and
mixtures of each other ... so don't let these terms daunt you when you see
them.  I just wanted to give you an idea of what code bases belong to which
types of muds.
And there is one final type which I have not yet mentioned - mainly because
it is not specifically in one of the three main categories I mentioned at
the beginning of this part of the article.
If you are searching the TMC database for a mud to play, it will be
impossible to avoid the terms GODWARS and RACEWARS.  These are two code
bases used for PK muds.  So if you're not into playing kill or be killed,
skip these.
Finally, I want to spend a little bit of time talking about 'who'  is behind
the scenes at a mud, and the hierarchy  of these individuals.
Basically, there are two distinct categories of characters on any mud - the
mortals and the immortals.  The mortals are the players.  The immortals,
typically known as imms, are the various characters of the administration.
Since you, as a player character are a mortal, I'll let you find out about
that aspect on your own (beyond what I've explained in the first part of
this article).  The imms are what I want to cover here.  Every mud varies,
so what I'm about to cover does not stand hard and fast for every mud, but
I'll do my best to discuss the most common hierarchy.
At the top of the dogpile is the person or persons responsible for starting
the mud and keeping it running (i.e. - paying the bills).  These individuals
are known as gods.  They are the top rung of the administrative ladder, and
it can't hurt to find out who they are, so you don't accidentally offend
them.  That's one quick way to get a permanent boot, if the god is in a bad
mood.
I'm going to rattle off some common terms used by different muds to refer to
their imms.  Again, each mud uses its own choice of terms, but this should
help in understanding some of the lingo you're going to come across.
Besides imms, a common term for the administrative staff is wiz's (short for
wizards).  Some muds use these terms interchangeably, and some muds use the
term wiz for a particular level in their hierarchical  structure.  But for
the most part, imms and wiz's are identical.  You'll also see the terms:
coders and imps (implementers), builders, and in very large muds, you'll
encounter individuals involved in a PR department.
So essentially, you have the gods at the top.  Below them you will often
find heads of administration for the entire mud (though the gods often
handle this themselves).  If the gods have characters below them handling
admin. Work, those individuals are usually referred to as the wiz's.  The
type of mud makes a difference on how things work from this point.  DikuMuds
usually have coding staff and building staff, and sometimes a PR department.
Due to the nature of LP code, building and coding tend to overlap ... and
this is actually the only place I've personally encountered the term 'imps',
being a general term for implementers.
OK, so what is a coder and a builder?  Anyone having written some
interactive fiction should be able to handle the responsibilities of a
builder.  Their purpose is to conceive of and design areas/zones, give them
a consistent, theme, background and history, and then write descriptions of
rooms, objects and NPCs to fit the overall concept. In essence, builders
envision and lay-out the world, objects and NPCs with which the player
interacts. On many muds, builders also create puzzles and quests for players
to solve.  It isn't as complicated as it sounds, since most of the work is
done with the use of online largely menu-driven editors. (phew!) ... no
offence to any builders if that sounded a bit brief.  They are an integral
part of any Diku style team.  The coders on the other hand, deal with the
more complex programming tasks necessary to keep the mud running,
implementing the ideas presented to them by builders (which don't exist in
any stock code.). This includes creating new commands, developing triggers
which allow things to happen in response to certain actions, etc. They write
the code that makes guilds/classes, clans and the like actually function the
way the builders and Gods have envisioned. If anyone's interested in
programming-I've yet to find a mud that is not constantly looking for
coders.
As far as the large muds are concerned, they often have a PR department.
These people are usually responsible for compiling a regular mud newsletter,
dealing with player/character  problems/complaints, and quite often being
responsible for the upkeep of the muds website.
Most muds have a 'head' coder and 'head' builder (and if the department
exists, a head of the PR department).
Every imm has 'someone'  to report to.
That brings me to my final point for this part of the article.  Namely, the
one factor which 'I'  feel can make or break a mud.  That 'factor'  is the
conduct of the imms.
Since there exists this mortal / immortal distinction, and the imms hold the
reigns of the mud, they can make it an enjoyable place for the player, or
make it unbearable to waste any time on the server.  This usually stems back
to the 'gods'  intentions when they decided to start a mud.  If they did it
for their egos, then the mud is pretty well doomed from the beginning.  If
you've got a god or group of gods who are running a mud, merely so they can
'rule'  over others, and they expect to be treated as God (with a capital
'G'), then they usually will not keep much of a playing audience (except for
their friends characters, who they usually will grant special benefits to)
On an ideal mud, the imms will stay in contact with the players via message
boards, and occasionally via restricted channels which should not be abused
by the players.  But they will usually stay out of sight and out of earshot,
unless there is some problem, such as a major quarrel which requires
intervention, or if some infraction of the muds policies is breached.  I
know that 'I' find it distracting to play a mud with imms constantly popping
in and out of various rooms and areas.  It's hard to settle into the theme
of a mud when imms are using their unlimited teleportation powers to go
anywhere they want, and do anything they want.
Nothing ruins a mud faster than an imm or an entire imm staff with ego
problems.  When they just want to play head games with the characters, then
its time to say "bye". [disconnect].
I was severely disappointed by the Zone Runner mud I reviewed last issue.
Everything I wrote about the mud was true.  Its concept is the most unique
I've ever come across.  I think it is 'ideally'  incredible.  Unfortunately,
after writing that article, I played ZR some more, and apparently ran into
some imms who liked to play games with the characters.  So, in practice, ZR
turned out to be a playground for someone's ego, instead of the truly
incredible mud it could have been.  Its still in its early stages, but if
the imms don't wise up, they won't be keeping players.  I haven't touched it
in over a month since the incident where I ran into the most incredible mob
I've ever encountered.  This thing was definitely a mob, but had a hand of a
god guiding it.  No mob has the AI capabilities that this one did.  It
stalked me everywhere I went, and killed me several times.  Another fellow
mudder from the community has been playing ZR since the last issue, and he's
never encountered this mob.  It just showed up long enough to harass me and
force me to say, "to hell with this place".  Then hasn't shown its face
since.  My conclusion - an imm interfering with mortal characters gameplay.
That's an equation which equals failure.  I know, I started coding for a
couple of guys about two years ago.  It was apparent after about three
weeks, that the mud was merely an ego trip for them, so I resigned my
position from the project.  I haven't seen the mud listed on TMC in a long
time.
What am I babbling about?  Don't let the imms ruin a mud for you.  If you
can tell right off the bat that the imm staff are improperly administrating
the mud, then don't waste any more of your time there then you already have!
There are thousands of muds, and there are plenty with imm staff who are
sincere in their intentions for the mud, and not for their egos.
Well, I hope this helped answer a few questions for some of you (and didn't
confuse the rest of you too bad <grin>).  I know I've received a number of
questions asking me what these different coding languages meant.  So
hopefully my explanation brought some clarity to those of you who were
curious.
OK, so this part of the article had a few holes.  They need patching.  I'll
post an addendum to this article in a later issue, when and if I can ever
track down the missing information.
I still have one more section I'd like to write for you in this article.  It
will tie up all of the loose ends and give some advanced tips on playing in
a mud.  So look forward to some tips about grouping, guilds and clans, and
more.
See you next issue.

+++
An Overview of Pay-to-play Muds
By Chad Fenton

[Editor's note]: This was an E-mail Chad sent responding to the discussion
of these commercial games. As such, it wasn't designed to be an article.
However, it serves as an excellent starter's platform and quick sketch of
the financial side of pay-to-play games.
All the pay to play text-based RPGs should offer a trial period, some longer
than others.  Inferno, for example, costs $20 a month, but they give you a
month trial period to get your feet wet and become accustomed to the game
world before you commit to pay.  Perhaps one rationale for their higher cost
is roleplaying is enforced, players are required to stay in character, and
the staff runs at least two events per week that are alignment-specific.
That means two events per week for players of each alignment, be they light,
twilight, or dark.  Their web site at www.ke9.com explains more.  The
Simutronics games offer a 14-day free trial, where you can try any or all of
the four text-based RPGs they offer.  At the conclusion of the trial, you
choose whether to subscribe to the game or games of your choice and are
billed accordingly at $9.95 a month per game.  Other games, such as Avalon,
sadly only give you five hours to try the game before paying, while
Wolfenburg allows you to log in five times before having to sign up.
Federation gives a ten hour trial, I believe.  The trial period will vary
from game to game.
For any that are curious, you can read more about Wolfenburg by going to
www.onlinegamescompany.com and clicking on Wolfenburg.  Their telnet address
is ogcserver01.onlinegamescompany.net port 31000.  Avalon's web address is
avalon-rpg.com and their telnet address is avalon-rpg.com port 23.
Federation's web page is at www.ibgames.net, where you can sign up for an
account and a free trial.  Can't recall their telnet address but it's on the
web page.
Simutronics offers four text-based RPGs.  They are, in order of when they
first were made available online, Gemstone III, Dragonrealms, Modus
Operandi, and Hercules and Xena: Alliance of Heroes.  The games offered by
Simutronics, contrary to what is posted on their web page, can be played via
telnet.  The process is a bit tricky, but is fairly simple once you've done
it a couple times.  I would like to say I figured it out on my own, but I
have to give the credit to a guy who installed my cable modem a couple years
ago.  Here is the step-by-step process you need to follow to play
Simutronics games with a mud client.
First you have to sign up for an account at www.play.net.  In doing so they
request that you provide them with payment information during the signup
process, such as credit card information, but you can also pay via check or
debit card.  They provide secure transfer of payment information while
online, but should you be uncomfortable sending such information over the
Internet, you can call their customer service department via an 800 number
and they will process your request.  This number is toll free in the US and
possibly Canada, but I am not sure if it is toll-free in other countries.
Once you have signed up, your account should be activated immediately.  Then
you have to download their game launcher and their front-end client called
the Wizard.  It's also helpful to download a program called SGE or
Simutronics game entry, which allows you to log into their games without
having to go through their web site.  All three programs are available at
the file library area of their web site and have specific versions for
various platforms, including Windows 3.1, Windows 95 and above, and Mac.
Technically you don't need the Wizard client to play Simutronics games, but
you will need it to create a character and will log into your game of choice
using the Simutronics Game Entry program each time before switching to
telnet.  Let's use a hypothetical example.  Suppose you've signed up for a
trial account with Simutronics and have installed the three programs I
mentioned, the games launcher, the Wizard, and the Simutronics game entry.
What you'll do is start the Simutronics Game Entry program, which will
prompt you with edit fields where you type in the account ID and password
you provided during the signup process.  You can also check a feature that
will remember your ID and password, thereby saving you the trouble of typing
it in each time you play.  After choosing Next, the program will ask which
game you wish to play in the form of a list box.  Choose the game you wish
to play and choose Next.  Then finally it will ask you to select the
character you wish to play or choose to create a new character.  Since it's
your first time, you'd scroll down to create and click Next.  At this point
the Wizard program is launched and you are placed into the character manager
where you can create your first character.  Note: I use Jaws for Windows 3.7
and can read the information without difficulty using the Jaws cursor review
functions.  I would imagine Window Eyes is similarly accommodating.  Once
you've finished creating your character, you are thrust into the actual game
and likely your screen will start to scroll, as in a couple of Simutronics
games there are over 1000 players online.  At this point you can quit your
gaming session with the Wizard client.  Now here is when you can telnet into
the game.  Once the Wizard application has closed, you'll need to look for a
file with an ~xt extension, which can easily be found with the Find menu in
Windows.  I believe the file name is sge.~xt, but you should be able to find
it just looking for ~xt.  This file can be read with Notepad or your
preferred text editor.  The file lists, among other things, the telnet
address and port number of the Simutronics game you last played, as well as
a login key.  Only the last three lines of the file will be of interest to
you, as they contain the telnet address, the port number and login key.  It
might look something like this if you had just finished creating a character
in Gemstone III.
Gamehost=gs3-ext.simutronics.net Gameport=4900 Key=e9f16a8t9s.  Before
loading up your favorite mud client, you'll need to copy the login key onto
the Windows clipboard, as it is necessary to actually play the game.  From
there, it's just a matter of putting in the connection information into your
mud client, Pueblo or Gmud in my case, and clicking connect.  When you have
connected the game won't respond in typical mud fashion with a login screen,
as it's waiting for the login key.  You simply paste the key you copied to
the clipboard earlier, hit Enter or Return twice, and bingo!  You're in.
Note: The login key will change every time you play a game using the Wizard
in order to prevent non-paying customers from being able to play for free.
Thus You have to do this procedure each time you want to play a Simutronics
game, so to save time, it might be prudent to make a shortcut directly to
the ~xt file I mentioned.
Just so all of you are aware, I am not sure how much longer this technique
to play Simutronics games will be available.  Obviously Simutronics must
know their games can be played through telnet but they have done nothing to
prevent it.  However, I've heard through the grapevine that a new front-end
client using the web will be coming out within the next couple months which
may render the Wizard client, the Simutronics Game Entry program, and/or
this procedure useless.  I might have to e-mail Simutronics and inquire if
this eliminates using telnet as an option.

+++
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.

++
There hasn't been much new with interactive fiction since the release of
Once And Future which is still frequently written about on the discussion
list. One new game which has just appeared is called First Things First.
Below is the announcement which appeared on the rec.games.int-fiction
newsgroup recently:
You've just arrived at home from your nightly visit to the science and
invention section of the local public library, where you spend each night
dreaming your dreamy dreams of one day inventing a time travel machine.
Tonight, for some reason, you're especially fatigued, and can't wait to get
inside and go right to bed. Seems like a good plan, but somehow you have a
premonition it's not going to be that easy...
First Things First - A Text Adventure Game by J. Robinson Wheeler Developed
with TADS: The Text Adventure Development System.
Now available exclusively from JRW Digital Media:
http://jrwdigitalmedia.com/ftf/index.html

This is the big one some of you have been waiting for. They don't
make 'em like this any more, folks. Have fun!

++
Adom, Ancient Domains Of Mystery:
Reviewed By Paul Nimmo.
Hi Everyone, many of you will know me from the Audyssey discussion list.
I have been permitted to share some very exciting news for readers of this
anniversary edition.
Many of you will already be familiar with a great rogue like game called
Adom.
This game has been reviewed and mentioned in past editions.
However, very, very soon, possibly by the time you are reading this or soon
after, the long-awaited version 1.0 will be released.
I have been fortunate enough to have been one of the Pre-release testers
working With Thomas Biskup on this exciting project.
For those of you not familiar with Adom.
Adom, Ancient Domains Of Mystery, is a dungeons and dragons style Rogue-like
game.
A rogue like game means that your character is represented by an at sign
(@), and walls, floors and other creatures in the game are represented by
other ASCII symbols.
This makes the game accessible to a blind gamer.
A word on accessibility before we proceed any further.
Adom is a dos-based game.
It will run under windows but you will probably want a dos-based screen
reader to play.
I have Jaws for Windows and the dos access does not make for easy game play.
I have not tested the game under any other windows screen reader so you may
need to experiment.
You will need good access to and familiarity with, your review cursor.
I use Microtalk's Asap for dos with a Doubletalk synthesizer.
You will need a hardware synthesizer for most dos-based screen readers.
The game, therefore, is not for everyone but worth your while to try.
If you want help configuring Adom, jfw or Asap, please feel free to drop me
a line at:
[email protected]
And I'll help if I can.
You move around worlds interacting with, and sometimes fighting, the various
creatures in this world.
In the case of Adom, you are on a quest which depends entirely upon the
character you chose to play.
There are 10 different races, 2  0 different professions, and 3 different
alignments, Lawful, good, Neutral, self-explanatory, and Chaotic, evil.
This means that the game can be played literally hundreds of times with
different outcomes.
You can explore towns and villages, dark caverns, sunny forests or tall,
mountain ranges.
You can become a champion of all that is good, rescuing puppies from deadly
monsters for little girls or become a spreader of Chaos destroying all in
your path.
You can become a holy priest, dedicated to your God, or a world-renown
outlaw feared by all.
The combinations are limited only by your imagination.
but to many magazine readers this is already known.
What's different in this new version.
Well, I'm not allowed to say much really, however.
There are many new magic spells for those who are the magic user type.
Also, new places to explore, and many, many new items and vastly intelligent
monsters and creatures to interact with.
As well, there are further improvements to Adom's big plus over other
rogue-like games, the character development.
As those of you who play Rogue-like games will know, your character is
decided by dice roles, with some input by you as to race, profession,
alignment, etc.
the new version of Adom adds the ability to determine character types by
answering a series of questions about behaviours of your character.
By the time you start the game, you will have a full history of, and
therefore a feel for, your character.
All of this, is entirely optional, of course.
If you are one of these people who prefers randomness in all things, then
this too is possible at almost every prompt requiring input from the user.
While the map is constant throughout this game, the construction of each of
the caves, and placement of monsters, objects, etc., is totally random.
This means that almost every time you play the game you will have a
different experience.
This game can be enjoyed by people of all ages, I have spent many a pleasant
rainy day playing this with my 12-year-old son and my wife.
There are no graphics and no complex configurations.
Most items are configurable but the defaults will suit most players.
I rate this game a 9 and the only reason it doesn't get a 10 is that it will
be inaccessible to some players who do not have software that can give them
adequate screen access and good cursor tracking in dos.
The latest version of Adom can be found at:
http://www.adom.de
And I can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Paul Nimmo.
Happy anniversary Audyssey!

++
ESP Pinball
Demo examined by Randy Hammer

Pinball.  It's a game of skill, speed, finesse, and patience.  Little
flippers pump away attempting to keep a steel marble from dropping down the
funnel of death.  One false flip and your ball could find itself zooming
into a perilous track.
We're all able to play pinball.  It takes no vision to continuously push
buttons and pull plungers.  A visually impaired person simply continues to
flip the flippers until the ball is gone.  But something is lacking from the
game.  Pinball is not just about sending a ball into play.  The game
requires skill and concentration to achieve the highest score possible.  The
player, using the flippers economically, is able to fire his marble into the
safest routes and rack up the all-important points.
It is difficult to do this while visually impaired.  We, of course, can't
see the board in order to aim the ball.  Not to mention the fact that one
must catch the ball before aiming it.  How do we even the playing field and
defeat our sighted enemies?
Sound schemes are the answer.  Sound allows us to know where the ball is on
the table.  It allows us to catch and aim the ball around obstacles and
hazards.  Sound is the great equalizer.  Playing with sound adds a new
dimension to an old game for sighted players.  It also allows them to
compete with their visually impaired friends heretofore assigned to the
sidelines.
ESP Softworks' first major release is just such a sound-scheme pinball game.
Bumpers, special scores, and obstacles all have a special identifying sound.
The player can, after a little practice, track the ball in its meanderings
around the table, and successfully learn to aim for particular points that
will keep them in play the longest.
At this writing I was only able to evaluate the demonstration version
available on the company's web site (http://www.espsoftworks.com).  The
twenty-megabyte download may seem large for those that are used to one
hundred kilobyte interactive fiction.  The rest of us have seen
multi-megabyte downloads from GMA Games recently, and will understand the
vast improvement with size.
If you have played ESP Softworks' free release "Shellshock" you will be
somewhat surprised with the play of this game.  The opening of the game
features a menu navigable by the arrow keys that include a fully voiced help
section, and options for each table available.  For those playing with
headphones there is an entry to check speaker locations.  The demo tables
available don't require this option.  It is possible to play both tables
with speakers reversed.
The demonstration tables are challenging, and offer great replay ability.
Though a few bugs have been found in earlier versions ESP Softworks promises
these have been squashed in beta patches, and will be taken care of in the
full release that should be available when you read this.  Pinball is an
ever-changing game.  It is theoretically possible to have two games exactly
the same, but good luck in making it so.
Pricing on ESP's Pinball is acceptable.  It is the first arcade style game
released that is designed for Windows (for DOS arcade games look at PCS).
We seem to still be in a stage of growth, and because of this innovations in
gaming are all around us.  Therefore, it is acceptable for companies to
charge in the $20-40 range.  Newness may, in the future, disappear and
prices will drop accordingly, but in the meantime Pinball's price is
reasonable.
If you are looking for a fast, addictive, arcade-style game that has
excellent replay ability this one's for you.  If you like this genre it will
not be one of those that will sit on the shelf after the first week.  Once
ESP releases the final version, and all the bugs are squashed, this
pioneering game will truly be worth your gaming dollar.

+
Nightlong Union city conspiracy
Developed by Dreamcatcher Interactive
Requires sighted assistance
Reviewed by Jay Pellis

Graphical adventures with a good science fiction storyline are hard to find.
With so many possibilities for stories about aliens, the future or
timetravel, you'd think developers would be jumping at the chance to create
some great science fiction adventure games. Many games such as star trek the
next generation a final unity, blade runner, and the dig showed that the
sci-fi medium was starting to be used for games but still not to the
potential it could be. Nightlong is a very good game to add to the small
sci-fi adventure genre, and it stands up to the likes of the dig in terms of
sound, quality gameplay, and voice acting.
the story
You play the role of Joshua Reev, a typical private investigator. The twist
however is that this story takes place 100 years in the future, and this
future is your typical sci-fi blade runner setting with flying cars, and
wrist watch sized communicators. Joshua's x-military friend Hugh Martens is
now the governor of union city, the most powerful city in the world. He
saved Joshua's life a few years ago, and he needs a favour. Some strange
things have been happening at a company called Genesis, which is sort of
like a futuristic Microsoft. Lots of money has been disappearing, and when
government agent Simon Ruby goes to investigate, his employers lose contact
with him, and he seems to have disappeared as well. Hugh drops off Joshua on
the roof of Simons apartment building, and the first puzzle is trying to
figure out how to fix the elevator in order to enter the apartment. From
there, the plot gets better and better as the game goes on, with Joshua
visiting a variety of locations, such as a zoo, virtual reality cyberspace,
and finally ending up at a military base near the end of the game.
the interface
The interface for nightlong is mouse driven, however it is very very easy to
control. As with almost every adventure game, there is a cursor on-screen
that highlights when it is moved over something that can be interacted with
the mouse. The left mouse button will cause Joshua to look at an object,
person or just about anything in the game. Similar to Kings Quest 6 by
Sierra on-line, Joshua will speak about everything that he looks at, be it
an elevator door, an animal or an item in his inventory. The right mouse
button allows an action to be taken. The actions can't be chosen from icons,
like they can in some adventure games however. If there is a door, Joshua
will try to open it instead of knocking on it first or if there is a ladder,
Joshua may climb it or may try to pick it up. The inventory is at the bottom
of the screen, and appears when the mouse is moved to the bottom. The items
can be looked at with the left mouse button, so a sighted player will have
no problem identifying an item if they are having trouble seeing it.
music, sound, and voice acting
In this game, there are short musical pieces for almost every single
location. The music that plays in Simon Rubies apartment is very mysterious
and ominous, in fact, most of the music has a very ambient quality to it to
enhance the sci-fi atmosphere. The sound effects do the same as well, with
the far off noises of cars and sirens being heard while on the roof of a
building or water dripping while inside an underground tunnel. The voice
acting however is quite good, with the ability to choose from conversation
choices when talking to characters. If you talk to a character about a
subway station at the beginning of the game, it will appear on the map, and
when the map is accessed, it just takes a single click to go to a location
in the game. Most of the dialogs are quite long, and provide very good story
background. The puzzles are very easy, which is sort of a let down. They
consist of simple tasks such as finding a fuse somewhere, and using it to
repair a control panel in order to progress to the next area. There is a
very well crafted mathematical puzzle at the end of the game however, and
this can take hours to figure out. It needs lots of patience and trial and
error but it leads right up to a very satisfying ending.
conclusion
Nightlong was a very satisfying game in this drought of graphical adventure
releases. Only a handful of adventures have been released in the last 2
years, and this one goes back to the older, third person sierra-online like
adventure experience with lots of narration and spoken dialog. This game can
be found at your local computer software retailer for $20US or lower.

++
Myrthorn's Monthly MUD Picks
Hey ho, Myrthorn here again!
Nope, no Coke and chips this month ... and I already had my Triscuits and
Cheese Wiz <mmmmm>.  Chomping'  on an apple and a bottle of water now - Hey!
Who gave me the poisoned apple!?  ... ARDRAH!!!  (damned ingrates can't seem
to respect their leader ... even after their leader left them to die.  But
you haven't read about that yet, so never mind ... ahem ...)
All right, down to business --   Ok, so what am I getting paid for here? (oh
yeah, that's right, nothing ... except I'm supposed to be giving you folks
some mud reviews <bonk!>).   Well, seeing as how this is the fifth
anniversary issue of Audyssey, I wanted to make this as special as possible.
(BTW - Hope this magazine is potty trained by now <grin>).  OK, enough
joking around.
Hats off to Mike and all of those staffers who have persisted, and made
Audyssey what it is today.
Let's get into the reviews.  Once again, I want to give credit to TMC, for
the header and stat info of these reviews.
Special thanks to Justin E. for the heads up on this first mud.
Shattered World
Last Updated: March 3, 2000
Mud Created: August, 1990
Code Base: [LPMud] Shattered World Mudlib
Site: shattered.org 23 [131.170.42.16]
Admin Email: [email protected]
Theme: Medieval
Location: Australia
Primary Language: English
Multi-Play: Yes
Player-Kill: Yes
Extended Race Selection
Extended Class Selection
Level-less System
Multi-classing Allowed
Equipment Saved
Ansi Colour
Quests Available
Character Approval Unnecessary
Roleplaying Is Encouraged
Newbie friendly
Skill-Based Training System
Clans Offered
Detailed Character Creation
World is all original
Large World (8,000+ rooms)

Shattered World turned out to be much more than I had expected.  This mud,
being over a decade old, has its roots well buried.  Its not a new mud in
its alpha/beta stage, with code being constantly updated.  You may have
noticed that it is based in Australia, so this should give a break to those
of you over in that part of the world, who normally experience a bit of lag
from muds based in the States.   I did notice a slightly annoying problem
with JFW.    Basically, some of the speech tended to repeat itself (so I
still need to check with someone in Ausiland [probably P.N.] and see if he
has problems with JFW, GMUD, and Shattered Worlds).
Beyond that, I didn't find any other technical problems.  And the gameplay
was quite enjoying.  Maybe I've spent too many hours playing D&d, but the
concept of having to go kill NPC's, collect experience points, and try to
increase in level has become boring to me.  Shattered World takes a whole
different approach to its environment.  On the whole, this mud is run by the
players.  (That's not to say that there are no imms behind the scenes).
Shattered World is fairly heavily quest based.  Character creation is done
via a unique, mini-drama which will determine your race and stats.  Once
your character is created, you're ready to wander around the initial
hometown.  Instead of having classes and guilds, SW  has guilds and cults
(which essentially serve the same purpose as the two previously mentioned).
In SW, you may join any of the standard guilds (such as the cleric or
fighter guilds) (which is similar to choosing to be one of these classes in
a standard Diku style mud).  Also, as long as there are alliances between
guilds, you may join more than one.  Cults in SW are more along the lines of
guilds in other muds, and are run by individual characters, and you need to
pledge to these cults, and be accepted in order to participate in them.
There is no set 'goal'  in SW.  Different players aim for different
objectives.  Some want to be King, and others just want to be wealthy money
mongers.  The whole lifestyle and economy of SW is based on player actions.
The players main initial goal is to join a guild and become a citizen.  Once
a citizen, you are allowed to vote on various proposals drawn up by other
players.  In SW, there is a distinct difference between 'rules'  and 'laws'.
The 'rules'  are the conduct that the imms have laid down, and everyone is
required to stick to these.  'Laws'  on the other hand, are voted upon by
the citizens, and are the laws of the city.  The players also vote for
elected officials (including the judges - who dole out the penalties when a
law is broken).
After joining a guild, you perform various tasks required by the guild, and
once these are completed, you are raised to lord/lady status.  There is a
hierarchy  within the lord scheme, and you rise through this hierarchy to
levels starting with Sir, and rising to levels such as Count, Baron, Duke,
etc.  At the top of the hierarchy is the King.
The whole economy of the city fluctuates like a normal city would, and the
currency is maintained within the game (i.e. - new money is not printed up
by the imms).  New players start off, as usual, going around killing rats
and cats ... which they may then take to the butcher for sale <yum!>.  The
various restaurants in the city go to the butchers to buy the meat used in
the food they sell.  All of these shops are owned and run by player
characters.  (Don't worry, there's plenty of other meat that the butchers
buy and sell).
I don't want to give the impression that this hometown city is the only part
of the game.  As listed above, this game has well over 8000 rooms, and is a
large mud.   There is plenty to do outside of the city.  And there's plenty
of room for those of you who like to play the hearty warriors.  When I
mentioned the guilds above, there is actually only three that reside in the
safety of the city.  The other eight lie outside somewhere.  This game
offers much for just about any style of character a player wishes to RP.
One of the most interesting things I noticed (which would make my old pal
Brik happy here), is that the recommended way of regaining hit points is via
alcohol! (And I don't think they meant to use it as a disinfectant.)  The
'sleep'  and 'rest'  commands don't exist on SW.  However, there's plenty of
brew to be had.  And if you have the money, there are medical facilities
where you can be 'patched'  up - not to mention the blood donation
facilities.  You can sell some blood, as a new player, in order to get
money.  How much they offer you depends on whether they have any cash in the
kitty.  I'm assuming they 'get'  their money from other players wishing to
buy transfusions, in order to regain HP.
Basically, the entire economy is a closed system.  There's no new money fed
into the system.  Prices fluctuate from day to day.  Everything depends on
supply and demand.
If this sounds like a mud you might be interested in, check out their
homepage first, to get a bit of background info about the mud directly from
them.  (Not absolutely necessary, but I always like to be a little bit
informed before I enter into a new environment - especially an LPMud.  Sure
saves a lot of time).
Here's the web address:
http://www.shattered.org
The second review in this issue is of a mud which a lot of you are familiar
with.  But I've received a lot of notes from new Audyssey readers since the
last issue.  The favourite question (once a mud client is set up), is ...
"what mud should I start on?".
So I realize this may not be informative to the mud vets out there, but
hopefully you'll bare with me on this review, to enlighten those new to
mudding, and give them a quality mud to turn to.
LegendMUD
Last Updated: May 31, 2001
Mud Created: February, 1994
Code Base: [Custom] Architecturally derived from Diku
Site: mud.legendmud.org 9999 [64.7.5.163]
Admin Email: [email protected]
Theme: History, with all of the legends and beliefs of the day.
Location: USA
Primary Language: English
Avg. # of Players: 25 - 49
Multi-Play: No
Player-Kill: Restricted
Extended Class Selection
Class-less System
Multi-classing Allowed
Equipment Saved
Ansi Colour
Quests Available
Character Approval Unnecessary
Roleplaying Is Encouraged
Newbie friendly
Skill & Level-Based Training System
Skill & Level-Based Equipment System
Supports MCP
Clans Offered
Detailed Character Creation
World is all original
Medium World (3,000+ rooms)
Mud is fully operational

This is probably the mud I've spent the most time on.  Why?  Because it is
very well organized, administered, and is just down right fun!  I'll give
the address of their homepage at the end of this review, but if you want a
site to check out, which gives you detailed basics about mudding in general
(as well as specifics about Legendmud) this is the site.  It's got to be one
of the most thorough I've ever come across.  In my article this month,
you'll read about how immortals can ruin a mud.  Legendmud is as far from
that characterization as a mud can get.  They have a large staff, and they
all tend to keep each other in check.  They are a friendly bunch of imms,
and if you treat them with respect, you'll be rewarded ten times over by
their graciousness.
OK, let's get into this mud, and its theme.  Granted, the TMC description of
the theme was a bit vague.  Well, that's because its hard to describe
Legendmud in a few words.
Legendmud is based here on Earth.  Plain old ordinary Earth.  As the TMC
theme suggests, its most definitely a historical-based mud.   Builders of
new areas are required to thoroughly research the history of an area and its
truth and legends of that age, before the head builder even let's someone
get started on an area.  Basically the mud is split into three main time
eras: ancient, medieval, and modern (though modern does not mean 2001 - at
least not yet.  Maybe an area will be designed in the future which gets
closer to our time, but the most modern area is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh
in the early 1900's).
I don't want you to think that just because the word 'history'  is used,
that this is some sort of 'educational' mud.  True, you can learn things
about history which you may not have known, but that's not the main focus of
Legendmud.  It's not a classroom - you still get to interact with other
characters and NPC's (and hack them into little bits).
Can you jump between eras?  Sure, you just need to find the portals, and
learn how to use them <grin>.
Each era has many different cultures represented within that era.  For
example, the ancient era includes areas such as: Ancient Ireland, Roman
occupied Britannia, ancient Arabia, ancient Egypt, ancient Peru, the Aztecs,
and more.  The medieval era includes: medieval Germany, Romania, medieval
France, medieval Spain, Victorian London, The Crusades, Spanish occupied
Peru, and other areas throughout the globe.  The industrial era includes
places such as "modern London (early to mid 1800's), most of Europe is
devoted to WW I, Casablanca, an opium drug run between India and part of
"modern"  Far East, San Francisco (during the 'gold rush'), Alaska (during
its early stages of inhabitance by foreign peoples, early North American
occupation by the English, French, and Dutch, and lots more.
Are there restrictions on taking equipment from one era to another?  Nope.
That means you can have an UZI wielding mobster fighting a sword wielding
Viking (though I'd put my money on the UZI, unless the Viking character has
a 'really'  high strength stat <grin>).
You are given a choice of five 'cities'  to start in.  These are spread
throughout the three eras.  Read their homepage before playing, in order to
get a feel for what sort of character you may want to play.  Your home city
will play a big part in your characters development.
What else does Legendmud offer?   Well, more quests than you could ask for,
both major and minor ones.  A very thorough help system.  And one of the
features I've found to be the most handy - separate IC and OOC areas.
Legendmud doesn't have a simple OOC channel (as other muds do) - it has a
whole separate OOC area.  Just type OOC while in any inn, and you'll be
transported to the OOC area.  There, you can wander around the various
rooms, take your time to read message boards, purchase gifts from the gift
shop to give or send to other players, or just hang out with John, Paul,
George or Ringo.  Hang out with other characters in the OOC area if you
want, and I always liked to use this area as a place to sit and relax while
reading the docs.
Just type 'IC', when you're ready to go back 'in character', and you'll be
sent back to where you went OOC from.
There's lots of professions for a character to become.   And lots of areas
to train your skills in.  There's plenty of help for newbies.  There's even
a guild set up to help out new players.
If you're new to mudding, then I recommend Legendmud.  It may seem a bit
complicated at first, but it seems to be one of the most comprehensive muds
I've encountered.  It's won plenty of awards and accolades and deserved them
all.  Enjoy!
Homepage:
http://www.legendmud.org
I found a mud last week related to TRON.  For those of you who may be
interested, keep your pants on until next issue.  It seems quite intriguing,
but being an LP mud, less than a week was not sufficient to master it enough
for a review.  Give me until next issue.
Also, I have another surprise for you readers coming next issue, which
should make the entire concept of mudding more interesting to most of you (I
know it will give a boost to these reviews <grin>).
Well, cheers to Mike and Audyssey, and I'll see you next issue!

+
Usurper
Reviewed by Justin Ekis
Playable without sighted assistance
Available on the NER BBS

In my opinion, Usurper is one of the best games you can play on bbs sites.
There is so much to do in usurper that it will be a long time before you get
tired of playing. I like this game so much that I currently have 15 or 20
different active characters on different sites. I've been playing for about
seven or eight months now and I'm still not tired of it. This game is a
blast.
The final goal of usurper is to reach level 100 and beat the final monster.
However, there are many other smaller goals to achieve along the way.
One goal that you may choose to try to meet is to form a team of real
players or computer characters and eventually become the best team, referred
to as the town controllers. A cool thing about team play is that you can
take your team mates into fights with you to help them gain experience and
even take them to get a level raise if they have enough experience, all
without them even being in the game in person. In other words, you can help
each other win the game faster. Another advantage to teaming up is that you
can resurrect your partners. Normally if you get killed in usurper, you are
finished for the day. However, if you are on a team, a team mate can
resurrect you and you can continue playing, even if you've already died that
day.
So, you aren't the kind of person who likes teamwork? Well, usurper has
something for you too. You can forget about that team stuff and go it alone
if you want. Once you get to a certain level, you can try to become king,
but the road to royalty is full of dangers. If you beat the monsters the
king has put in the mote, and killed all of the player guards the king has
hired, then you fight the king. If you beat him, you are in! Now you can
make players pay taxes, put players in jail even for no reason, and a lot
more. If you lose however, you lose all of your money.
There are many telnet bbs systems where you can play usurper. Two of my
favourite are
gameland bbs: gameland.darktech.org, and bobos bbs: bobobbs.net.
I have a list of almost 25 different addresses to play usurper where I
currently play or have played at one time or another. If you want the entire
huge list, e-mail me and I'll send it to you.
I like this game so much, I made a discussion list about it. We talk about
usurper strategy and give advice to new players. If you decide to play, and
like it, then you are welcome to subscribe.
Send a message to [email protected] and put subscribe usurper
in the message, not the subject. Note the list has been having a few
technical problems lately so if you get errors, e-mail me and I'll add you
myself. Now, the actual numbers, the ratings of how good the game is in a
few key areas.
Accessibility 9.75: This game has very few graphics and the few it does have
are only a minor annoyance.
Speed varies: The speed of this game seems to very from one bbs to another.
It is simply too slow to handle on some bbs systems, and extremely fast on
others. You really can't rate it's speed.
Replay value 8: the fact that you are dealing with other real people raises
the value of the game in the replay department. If this were a single-player
home game, it would be something you would play one time only then forget
about. However, the fact that you are competing with others makes this game
a keeper in my collection of games. Totally different things may happen
based on what the other players decide to do.
Overall rating 9: Great game! Check it out!

+
Rent a Hero
Developer THQ software Requires Sighted Assistance

Rent a Hero is a pretty rare gem in the graphical adventure genre. Even
though it is quite short, it has the humour of the Monkey Island series,
plus a good plot to keep you playing until the end.
the story
On the island of Toll Andar, being a hero isn't easy. You play Rodrigo, who
owns a Princess rescue service. Poor Rodrigo isn't rescuing a lot of
princesses however, since all of the other heroes always get hired before
him. Things look promising in the introduction though. As he vanquishes a
dragon, and enters the cave, he discovers...A prince! Well I guess they need
rescuing too sometimes huh? Rodrigo heads back to his office, and better
luck befalls him as he is hired by a dwarf to rescue the dwarfs wife. The
other heroes are occupied in fighting pirates that want to take over the
island, so Rodrigo was the only hero left for the dwarf to choose. It turns
out our hero is in for more then he bargains for, as he is destined to save
the world.
the Interface
This is another mouse driven interface, with the right mouse button looking
at things, and the left used to pick things up or interact with them.
Rodrigo will describe most things that are looked at such as objects or
people but the descriptions aren't as polished as Kings Quest6 or Nightlong.
The narration is still good however, and so is dialog between characters.
Instead of having a choice of things to say to someone, you just click on a
character until they repeat themselves. The inventory is at the bottom of
the screen, however there is a slight twist to this game that makes it
easier then most other graphical adventures. If you are in the right
location, and are carrying the correct item, Rodrigo will use the item in
the appropriate place when you left click on it. So, you can inadvertently
solve a puzzle before you even know what it is, such as opening a door with
a key when you never knew where that key would be used in the game.
The SOund, Music, and Voice Acting
Just like in my review of Nightlong, there is a piece of music that plays in
every location in the game. It is very enjoyable, so much in fact, that you
may want to stay in a location for a while just to hear the music. As the
credits move across the screen at the end of the game, there is a nice vocal
song that is sung that adds a little more to the ending. The sound effects
are few but what is there is nice. When you click to move to a location, you
can hear the footsteps of Rodrigo as he is walking or if you double click,
you hear the little pitter patter of his footsteps as he runs to that
particular location. It is quite funny. Also, a nice effect that I really
enjoyed was the underground sewer tunnels. When Rodrigo enters them, every
sound has a very ecco-like quality to it, and if you have a good set of
speakers, the ecco effect bounces from left to right, giving the illusion
that Rodrigo is walking and talking inside
large tunnel where every sound echoes off in to the distance. There is a lot
of voice acting in this game, mostly in cut scenes, movies that play after
you solve a particular puzzle. They are very long, and they move the story
at a good clip. The characters also give a lot of background information.
For example, if you talk to someone, leave that location and solve a puzzle,
when you return, they will have different things to say to you. This sort of
makes up for not having conversation options in the game.
conclusion
This game is aimed at the first time adventure player. It is probably the
shortest adventure game I ever played, taking around 4 hours to complete.
Most of the game is great, with various locations such as towns, a pirate
ship, a forest and other islands to explore. If you and a sighted friend
aren't sure what adventure game to start out with, Rent a Hero is highly
recommended. It can be found at your local software retailer for $15US.

+
Silent Steel
Developer Tsunami Media
Requires some sighted assistance
Available at http://www.tsunamimedia.com/
Reviewed by Jay Pellis

 By complete accident of design, Tsunami Media has created a very accessible
commercially available interactive movie.  The interactive movie is a genre
of multimedia products released in the early to mid 90's, which tried to
showcase the power of cd-rom drives and computers in those times.  Usually
in these movies, the player would watch a video sequence, and at particular
points in the sequence, he or she would be presented with a decision that
had to be made in order to advance the story.  For example, in Star Trek
Borg, you may choose to shoot a robot you are facing or to run away from it.
If you shoot it, a video is shown of the main character shooting and
destroying it.  However, if you choose to run away from it, a video is shown
of the character being killed by the robot, which means you chose the wrong
path in the movie.  Most interactive movie interfaces are mouse driven, and
they are timed, which means if you linger a long time before making a
decision, the movie will play on, and you lose a chance to make that
decision.  Silent Steel however is not timed, and the interface is such that
it will work perfectly with jaws for windows.
the story
Silent Steel is a naval drama where you play the role of a captain of a
nuclear submarine at the end of the cold war.  You must patrol deep below
the Atlantic ocean, prepared to deliver your 24 Trident C-4 intercontinental
ballistic missiles if they are requested by your commander.  However, all is
not well, as 2 unknown subs are picked up by the tracking equipment on your
sub, and you are in danger!  Instead of being the hunter, you are now the
hunted.  Your decision making will effect whether or not  the crew of the
sub will perish or live to tell the tale of this under sea adventure.
the interface
The interface uses menus and dialog boxes to control the action.  At the
beginning of the game, a video is played where someone is telling the
captain he is receiving a message via a computer.  After the video is over,
a dialog will come up with 3 choices, labeled, 1, 2, and 3.  By using the
jaws cursor to read the choices from top to bottom of the screen, you can
read each choice one after another.  To select one, simply press the number
of the choice you want on the keyboard or use the tab key until you hear the
number you want and press enter.  The  rest of the game consists of the same
interface, and there are many options to configure it to your liking.  You
can choose for the choices to be spoken out loud by the captain when the
jaws cursor is moved over the first word of each choice, and also for the
choice to speak after you have selected it, before the next video sequence
plays out.  An example of a choice dialog may be something like this.  After
the captain gets the information about the message, the dialog may say-
"1.  I'll be right down, hold that message til I get their."
"2.  I'm going back to sleep, I'll pick it up later."
"3.  It's probably not that important, don't worry about it."
During movie playback, there is a menu bar at the top of the screen that
will let you save and load a game, as well as restart or quit.  After you
have completed the game, lost, or discovered one of the three possible
endings, you will have the choice of saving the game, and playing it back as
a movie.  When this is done, you can sit back, relax, and watch your
progress as if it were  an actual movie, with the choices you selected
appearing  automatically.
Music, Sound, and Voice Acting
There really isn't much music to speak of in this title.  Most of the movie
sequences consist of the characters talking although there are some pieces
of militaristic music in some longer sequences or cut scenes.
The sound and voice acting is where this interactive movie delivers.  You
can hear the rumbling of the sub engines as they are running, people walking
on the sub decks, and it is presented in beautiful stereo sound.  Even when
characters are speaking, the voice of the captain may come from the middle
of the speakers, while another person's voice may come from the left or
right.  The acting is of Hollywood quality, as most interactive movies are.
The lines are delivered with emotion and feeling, and there is generally
enough narration for the visually impaired or blind player to figure out
what is going on in the movie with out sighted assistance.  Like any movie
however, it is always a good idea to have a sighted companion to describe to
you what is going on screen.  However, if the narration is a little hard to
follow, the choices you select after the scene plays out will help you to
understand the story a little better.
conclusion
This may be the only fully accessible interactive movie ever released, and
it is great!  The movie comes on 4 cads, with 1 disk lasting around half an
hour to finish.  However, depending on which paths are chosen, you may be
switching disks a lot, and there is a lot of movie to go through before the
end is said and done.  One drawback is that there is not a lot of replay
ability in interactive movies.  Once you've explored all the possible paths,
discovered the endings or any secrets, it's all over.  These are titles to
play through the first time, really enjoying them, and put them down when
finished for another play through a few months or years later.  Minus those
quirks though, Silent Steel is still highly recommended if not for the
playing experience and decent story, then for the accessibility of the
interface, and the options that can be used to customize it to your liking.
The game can be ordered from the company website listed above but I have
found it to be somewhat inaccessible, and to use a lot of graphical
animation.  The auction site Ebay is your best bet for finding this game.
It was released in 1995, and bundled with many computers to show off the
power of the cd-rom drive, so $10 or $15US would be a great price to find
this product for, since it is so old.
It is also recommended to own a multi channel soundcard such as the
SoundBlaster Live that is able to play more then 2 sounds at once, so your
speech synthesizer and Silent Steel can operate at the same time.  An
external or internal hardware synthesizer can also be used to play the game
with a single channel soundcard.

+++
Answers to Puzzles:
1. 12 Days in a Year
2. 40 Days and Forty Nights
3. 57 Heinz Ketchup
4. 52 Cards in a Deck
5. 64 Squares on a Checker (or Chess) Board
6. 9 Innings in a Baseball Game
7. 4 Quarts in a Gallon
8. 3 Feet in a Yard
9. 23 Pairs of Chromosomes in the Human Body
10. 16 Ounces in a Pound

+++
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]
Justin Ekis is our new web-based games expert. He will search for and report
on on-line games like Utopia and Archmage. He is also going to keep a close
eye on the re-emerging BBS scene. You can contact him at:
[email protected]
Dave Sherman has become well-known on the Audyssey list and has now joined
the Audyssey staff as our multi-user-dungeon expert. Interest in muds has
popped up again and again in the Audyssey community and elsewhere among the
growing net-savvy blind community. Thanks to Dave's efforts, newcomers will
have another expert to turn to for guidance. Dave will also report on the
various different MUDs out there and steer us to the more blind-friendly
ones. You can contact him at:
[email protected]
David Lant has long been an active member of the Audyssey community. He is
now one of our two moderators keeping things pleasant and orderly on the
Audyssey discussion list. He can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Joshua Loya is the other moderator of the Audyssey discussion list. He can
be contacted at:
[email protected]

Michael Feir
Editor of Audyssey
Phone: 905-814-0608
E-mail: [email protected]
MSN name: [email protected]



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