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Audyssey;
Computer Games Accessible to the Blind
by Michael Feir
Issue 2: September/October, 1996

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Welcome


     What's life without a little fun? Just as life would be
incomplete without its pleasures, computers, in my opinion, are
incomplete without games. To find such entertainment, sighted
people need only look as far as their local computer store. There,
they can expect to find high-quality commercially developed games.
Should they need some guidance as to which games are worth their
time and money, they may look to a variety of magazines, friends,
and salespeople for advice. For the blind person, solving the
problem of finding a game is a harder proposition. Games must not
only suit the interests, levels of patience, and intellectual
levels of their players, but must also fulfil another requirement
of being accessible to speech synthesizers or braille display
devices. Added to these difficulties is the dismal fact that
most commercial companies are not interested in tapping into the
relatively small market of blind computer users who would buy
games. Finally, the majority of games which are accessible to the
blind are of the interactive fiction type. While the quality of
these games is usually quite high, their one serious drawback is
their general lack of replay value. This magazine will discuss
commercially
developed games, as well as those of the shareware/freeware
varieties which, through accident or by design,
are in some way accessible to blind people. Topics relevant to
these games and those who play them will also be discussed. In this
second issue, topics covered will include a healthy attitude to
take towards
games in general, information on a new company which is making
games for the blind, and much more. This magazine is published on
a bi-monthly basis. Issues will be published on or about the
fifteenth of every other month. All submissions must
be sent to me in standard Ascii format either on a 3.5-inch floppy
disk, or via e-mail to my Compuserve address. I will give my home
address and my Compuserve address at the end of the magazine. I
have received a lot of encouraging letters, and I very much
appreciate them. It's nice to know that I'm making people's lives
that much more interesting. However, I need more material to work
with. Please write articles and letters about games or game-related
topics which interest you. They will likely interest me, and your
fellow readers. They will also make my job as editor a lot more
interesting and true to the meaning of the word. Also, note that
I'm going into my third year of university at the Erindale Campus
in Mississauga, Ontario. I won't have as much time as I have in the
summer months to make this magazine what it ought to be. To insure
that high quality is maintained, I'll need your written
contributions. I'm not asking for money here, and won't accept any.
This magazine is free, and will always remain so. I'm writing this
magazine as much for my own interest as for everyone else's. Your
articles, reviews, and letters, as well as any games you might care
to send me, are what I'm after. Send any games, articles, letters,
or reviews on a 3.5-inch disk in a self-addressed mailer
so that I can return your disk or disks to you once I have copied
their contents onto my hard drive. Please only send shareware or
freeware games. It is illegal to send commercial games. By sending
me games, you will do several things: first, and most obviously,
you will earn my gratitude. You will also insure that the games
you send me are made available to my readership as a whole. As a
further incentive, I will fill any disks you send me with games
from my collection. No disk will be returned empty. If you want
specific games, or specific types of games, send a message in Ascii
format along. *Never* *ever* send your original disks of *anything*
to *anyone* through the mail. *Always* send *copies!* This
principle may seem like it shouldn't even have to be stated, but
when it comes to just about anything related to computers, there's
always some poor soul who will act before applying common sense.
Disks are *not* indestructible. Things *do* get lost or damaged in
the mail, and disks are not immune to these misfortunes. If you
have a particular game that you need help with, and you are sending
your questions on a disk anyhow, include the game so that I can try
and get past your difficulty. If you can, I recommend that you send
e-mail. I have acquired a copy of the UUencode software, and can
send and/or receive files which are encoded via this means. This
way,
no money will be wasted sending me a game I already have, and
you'll get my reply more quickly. You are responsible for shipping
costs. That means, either use a disk mailer which has your address
on it, and is either free matter for the blind, or is properly
stamped. I can and will gladly spare time to share games and my
knowledge of them, but cannot currently spare money above what I
spend hunting for new games. One thing which I forgot to make
explicitly clear in the last issue was that 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. Send it to the four corners of the globe! (How can a
globe have corners?)

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Contents:
From the editor
Letters
The Confessions of a Hard-core Gamer
PCS Provides New Horizons
The Latest finds
 Infocom Masterpieces Now Available on CDrom
Game Reviews
Adam, The Immortal Gamer
Having Fun with Sighted Companions
Coming Soon
Contacting Me

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From The Editor

Hello to all my readers. For those who have read my first issue,
welcome back. To the many new-comers to this magazine, I extend my
greetings, and hope that you will enjoy this issue. The past two
months have seen significant developments in the search for games
accessible to the blind. Several new games have been found, and I
have received some new games from one of my readers. My special
thanks to Judy Prociuk, who was kind enough to send me Wizard's
Castle, Hearts, and Cribbage Partner, as well as a gwbasic
interpreter. Wizard's Castle is a fine introductory role-playing
game, and Cribbage Partner and Hearts are sure to be of interest to
card-game enthusiasts. These games and more will be discussed in
greater detail in the Latest Finds section. There will be a slight
change in format in this and future issues of my magazine. The
Latest Finds section will now contain full reviews of anything
which is discovered or sent to me between issues, while the Game
Reviews section will contain reviews of older games from my
collection, as well as reviews of games which are submitted by you,
my readers. If you send me reviews, articles or games which I
haven't discussed in this magazine, please include information on
where you found the game. For example, if you located the game on
an internet sight, provide the electronic address. Prior to the
first issue, I never kept notes myself on where I found things.
Most of my collection comes from Compuserve. From now on, I'll keep
track of where things come from, and provide you with this
information. This way, you can get the games for yourselves, and
can also explore the locations in which they were found.

Around six months ago, I posted messages on Compuserve offering my
assistance to people wanting to know about games which were
accessible to the blind. I received a message from a father who
wanted to give his son a meaningful gift for his eleventh birthday.
He was feeling a bit guilty about seeing his son's friends getting
books, toys, and games, when most of what his son got on his
birthday was clothing and other practical things. He also wanted
his son to learn more about his computer. Since his son's birthday
was only a few days away, he didn't have time to look through
computer stores for suitable games. I sadly had to inform him that
his time would most likely have been wasted, as commercial text-
based games are quite rare. Since the little guy was turning
eleven, I suggested that we might try and find eleven games which
would interest him. I asked the man for some information on his
son's interests, which he quickly provided. It turned out that his
son liked fantasy and science fiction. If fairly short order, I
provided a list of eleven games dealing with science fiction and
fantasy, which I thought would be suitable. I also explained to him
how to search for the games on Compuserve. It was cutting things a
little closer than I would have liked, but things worked out
splendidly. A few days later, I received a message thanking me for
my help. Both of them were enjoying the games quite a lot. I still
receive occasional questions from them from time to time, but I
haven't for a couple of weeks now. I guess that means they're doing
alright. Games make excellent gifts. There are games for all ages
and interests which are accessible to the blind. Most of these are
shareware or freeware. If I can be of any assistance to any of my
readers in tracking down games for this purpose, or setting up
customized disks for people, let me know. I've made a couple of
customized disks already for my own use and for distribution to
others. They are the Special Interactive Fiction Disk, and the
Strategy Games Disk. On these disks, I make a menu system using
batch files and a text file, which makes it easier for people to
access the games they want. I also provide all documentation,
solution files, and a text file which introduces people to the
particular kinds of games on the disk. I would be happy to help
people construct such disks.

Some of you have pointed out that some games will get better
coverage than others due to my personal likes and dislikes. Until
I start getting some reviews and articles from you folks, this is,
of course, entirely true. I am a third-year college student who
enjoys thinking for my entertainment. I enjoy strategy and
adventure games which are random enough to sustain interest, but do
not depend exclusively on luck. Luck-based games are not my idea of
serious fun. Because I've attracted a wide variety of readers with
interests ranging from suitable games for young children, to
computerized versions of old games like Cribbage and Poker for a
group of senior citizens, I'll do my best to insure that all kinds
of games are covered in each issue. When possible, I will turn to
other reviewers who enjoy the types of games which I'm not as fond
of. A good example of this is my decision with Chess. I'm not good
at the game, and find it too heavily based on pure logic for my
taste. although I had the copy of Gnuchess in time to write up a
review of it for the last issue, I chose to turn the task over to
my good Friend, who also happens to be quite an abid Chess-player.
He knows more about the game, enjoys it, and also knows more about
the various conventions of computerized chess. Someone suggested
that muds, or, multi-user dungeons might be a good topic for this
magazine to cover. I heartily agree. Unfortunately, I can't access
those through Compuserve, and wouldn't have time to give even one
mud a really good exploration if I could. I pay by the minute for
my time on-line, and searching for games which are accessible to
everyone, regardless of their internet capabilities must remain my
priority. I would very much like to read an article on muds from
people who have more thoroughly explored them.   

For the next issue, I would like to start publishing a list of
people who want to communicate with each other about games and
related topics. Several other magazines have done this, and have
started their own kind of communities of people with similar
interests. I believe that such a community would be very helpful
for everyone involved. Newcomers will have people to turn to with
their troubles with games. Ideas can be exchanged and tried out.
Anyone who wants their name and e-mail address to appear in the
list should send me a message to that effect. I will continue to
publish list updates in each issue. Due to space and time
constraints, the tutorial on playing screen-oriented games has been
withheld for the next issue.

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Letters:


Hi Michael, below is a question we are working on that one of your
readers
could answer.
From: Phil Vlasak at PCS
E-mail: [email protected]
We have run into a programming problem and need some help.  Up to
now in writing games in C plus plus, we have paused the game and
played an external sound playing program and a command line .wav
file. We can't use the same technique on sounds that are continuous
or sounds played in a repeating loop.  For instance, we would like
to play an engine sound in the background while using the arrow
keys.  We have an engine sound that lasts for a half a second.  We
would like to put that sound in a loop where it keeps playing
continuously.  With the pausing technique mentioned above, the
motor pauses for about a tenth of a second every half a second,
thus sounding sputtering and not like it should.  If anyone knows
of a way to play the sounds from within the program while still
being able to use the keyboard please let me know.
Note, we located a file called SBPROG.ZIP that would play the .wav
sounds from within the program but does not work on as many
different sound cards as the external sound playing program we are
now using.

If anyone knows the answer to this question, please send it to the
e-mail address given in the above letter.


Hi Michael,
  Read your magazine and loved it!  Posted it on the MCB BBS
(Massachusetts Commission for the Blind) at (617)-451-5327 and I
suspect
that you will get lots of folks chattering about it.  We have lots
of
text games and BBS doors that run  like a charm (Love BRE -- Barren
Realms Elite) and perhaps I can get stuff to you once I have more
time.
  Wanted to send you this because I really loved the mag and will
send
stuff later.  I develop software as well and am blind myself.
Could
write a really cool game if I knew what folks would be interested
in.
  Later.

The person who wrote this letter has not specifically given me
permission to release his e-mail address, so I have withheld it for
the moment. If any of you have suggestions for the kinds of games
you want to see, just send them my way and I'll pass them on.

Hello MICHAEL,

i am a blind pcuser from europe, more precisely from belgium.
i 've got the first issue off your magazine from the ftp site off
PAUL HENRICHSON, and read it with great interest and pleasure.
i agree with your view on the value off games, and were very happy
with
your first issue and the excellent way you described the quality of
some off
them.
i am looking forward to the next issue.
meanwhile, i found fallthru on the internet and downloaded it.
it seems as interesting as you described it, and for someone
who does not talk and reads english every day(my natural tongue is
dutch)
it is a great way to improve and exercise a foreign language.
just would mention this aspect off the value off games.
i've been trying to locate begin2 on the internet but failed.
could you tell me where i could find it, or would it be possible to
send it attached via email?
i also gave audyssey to JIM KITCHEN, a blind programmer from OHIO,
who provided me with some very good dos games he created himself.
i am sure he will contact you, but i will give you his email
address :

[email protected]

hope to hear from you soon.


guy vermeulen

To use games as a means of practising a foreign language was a
totally new concept for me. The thought had never occurred to me
before I read this letter. I have always advocated for the use of
games as teaching tools, and have come up with a lot of ways to
teach things via games. Languages, however, were a completely novel
idea. I hope that more ideas of similar quality are on their way
from the rest of you for future issues. As to locating Begin2 on
the Internet, I have been unable to do this as of yet. A friend of
mine gave me the game, and he has forgotten where the game comes
from. If anyone else out there has found it, please inform me so
that I can tell the rest of you.
 
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The Confessions of a Hard-core Gamer
by Michael Feir

In the last issue, I included a piece of writing I did back when I
was in secondary school, which recounted my first experience with
a computer game. Ever since that first adventure, I have been an
abid gamer, playing just about anything I could get my hands on. As
I've stated before, I have benefited a lot from my explorations
into games, but there are a few pitfalls which I experienced as
well. By writing this, I hope to make it easier to avoid these
pitfalls by pointing them out. I'll also explain the steps I've
taken to find a safe balance between the very real need for
unrestrained enjoyment, and the demands of life in the real world.

There are times in our lives when reality can seem unbearably
unfair, tedious, and cruel. This is particularly true for
youngsters. I remember one Friday night when I was in the seventh
grade. The week prior to the evening I'm about to recount was a
particularly hard one. Two big projects were due during it, and
despite my best efforts, I had to hand one of them in a day late.
Added to this was a daily dose of Math homework. My classmates had
goofed off a bit too much during the previous week, and this was
how the Math teacher decided to get even. It wasn't fair! At least
a third of the class, myself included, hadn't done anything. The
teacher agreed that it was anything but fair, but then, as he said,
neither was life most of the time. It was an imperfect solution for
an imperfect class. to give the man due credit, the solution
worked. Even supply teachers found our class remarkably
unproblematic. Anyhow, there I was with thirty questions to do for
Monday's class. I couldn't believe the injustice! On our way out of
class, the teacher had cheerful told us to have a good weekend. A
good weekend which involved thirty Algebra questions seemed like
the biggest oxymoron I had ever heard.

I got home, and marched up to my bedroom in anything but a weekend
mood. I decided to play a game to cheer myself up a bit. I had
plenty of time to tale the math later. I turned on my Apple II E,
and started to play one of the larger Eamon adventures. these
adventures were small, computerized role-playing games. They were
not even close to Infocom standards, but they were the best thing
I had access to back in those days. Thinking back on it, I can't
imagine how I got so involved in such a plotless, two-dimensional
game. I guess what it all came down to was that I didn't want to be
who and where I was. I didn't want to be a seventh-grader with an
undeserved amount of Math homework which seemed like it would take
centuries to finnish. I hated math, and still find it hard,
although I've managed to accept it more or less as a necessary part
of life. Back then though, Math was the enemy. I let my imagination
run wild with the Eamon adventures. I journeyed to distant castles,
explored the unknown depths of caves and dungeons, and must have
killed enough monsters to make Rambo look like a saint. This wasn't
just pleasurable enjoyment. This was a desperate escape from
reality. I wanted to hold it at bay for as long as I possibly
could.

When I came back to my senses, my first instinct as a seasoned
adventurer was to rise quickly to my feet and reach for my sword.
That was when my carefully constructed illusions were thankfully
shattered. Instead of the plate male I imagined myself in, I felt
a sweat-shirt and ordinary pants which a butter knife could have
penetrated with ease. I sat down at my desk rather hard, shocked at
how real the game had become. I looked at my braille watch to
discover that it was two o'clock. That couldn't be right. I had
only been dismissed from school at three. Something was wrong here.
I opened my bedroom window to clear out the stuffiness that had
built up in my room, and was surprised to hear crickets instead of
the birds I expected to hear. I realized that it was two o'clock
alright. It was two in the morning.

That was the last time I ever let myself get so absorbed in any
game. I had wilfully ignored reality completely, even to the point
of losing all sense of time. Of course, the Math homework wasn't
nearly as terrible as it was cracked up to be. I finished it in
around two hours. The lesson to be learned here is never to
completely lose track of reality. There are four dimensions to the
reality we experience. These are length, width, depth, and time.
The first three dimensions are less important than the fourth. Time
is a good anchor to reality. Time is what our lives are most tied
to. There's dinner time, working time, free time, night time. As
long as time is kept track of, it is very hard to completely cut
lose from reality as I did on that terrifying night. Too many parts
of our identity are linked into time. I make a point of checking my
watch fairly constantly while I play games, unless all of my
responsibilities have been attended to. I only really let the game
take me up completely, when I know that I have a good chunk of time
to spend, in case I do lose track.

When people play a game of cards, or Monopoly, it doesn't absorb
them completely. This principle extends to war simulations and word
games as well. These games just aren't rich enough to take us
completely away from our lives. They are pastimes, and the only
real danger that they pose is that pastimes can become obsessions.
As long as proper care is taken, this is the worst that can happen
with fantasy and role-playing games as well. I think that it's
fairly normal to experience this when a good new game is
encountered. You're bound to play it more often than other games
for the first while. It's new. It's exciting. I equate being
obsessed with a game to being obsessed with collecting or wood-
working, or knitting. Games are tools of entertainment. They are
nothing more than this, as some of the more zealous people against
games like Dungeons and Dragons would have us believe. I got
curious about all the cases I've heard of about players of that
particular game doing bizarre things, and investigated a bit. It
turned out that most of the people who had done strange things had
some form of social or family problems, not to mention the
occasional serious mental illnesses and psychotic potential. Each
case I heard activists use against Dungeons and Dragons fell apart
on closer inspection. You were left wondering how anyone could
blame a suicide on a game when both of the parents of one
unfortunate individual had a long history of abusing and/or
neglecting him and were also alcoholics. In retrospect, I should
never have played adventure games on that night. I had too much
motivation to completely escape from reality. I might as well have
started drinking, as a lot of foolish people do to drown their
problems instead of dealing with them. It amounts to roughly the
same thing, except that games don't have physical side effects.

These days, I use games to enhance my life, and not necessarily to
escape from it. They are simply a hobby for me. Given the option,
I'd much rather go somewhere with friends, and enjoy their company,
than play any computer game. As long as you can honestly say that,
then I don't think you're in any danger. Life has to come first.
Also, try and vary the games that you play to avoid getting
obsessed with one game in particular. I find that it helps to try
and apply lessons learned in games to real life. You'll be
surprised how much you can actually apply.

Finally, with the internet, and the on-line games on bulletin
boards with which I'm more familiar, there is the danger of getting
too involved in too many games. I liked to try everything out as
soon as I found it, and this lead to several times when I was
involved in upwards of ten on-going games at a time. Serious
players of these games tried to get in at least half an hour a day.
I couldn't really do that, even back in high school. As a result,
my performance in real life, as well as the games, was degraded. A
lot of the fellow participants of the two games I eventually
elected to stick with remarked on the improvement in my playing. I
hadn't learned any new tricks or little-known facts. I had simply
learned not to bite off more than I could chew.

The healthy attitude to take towards games involves recognizing
what they actually are. They are never free. At the very least, you
expend time to play them. Don't allow yourself to become so tied
into a game that it seems like losing it would be a disaster. The
trick is never to let the stakes get that high. On the other hand,
don't play a game which you have no feelings for at all. Find
something that is enjoyable to you. As long as you act responsibly
and keep track of time, you won't allow games to wreck the rest of
your life. That's where a lot of people seem to go wrong. When you
set aside time to play a game, be sure to let yourself enjoy it.
You want to take something from the experience, even if it is
simply a relaxed or invigorated feeling. Games are meant to enhance
life as a whole, not to be dealt with as separate from it. Keep the
lessons I've learned in mind, and you shouldn't go too far wrong.
I'm not saying that I've achieved perfection here. I still
sometimes get so obsessed with games that they interfere with the
rest of my life, but I've learned to minimize the damage. I always
make sure that I deal with any immediate commitments before
allowing myself to indulge in a game which I know has the ability
to hook me into it. Dangers posed by games largely depend on
current life conditions, as my earlier recounting illustrates. I
had a strong motivation to want to escape from my life at that
point. Well, it seemed major then. College makes two hours of math
look like a walk down a side-walk, but I didn't know about how hard
things would get back then. Part of the reason that I've been
largely immune to the hazards of gaming is that my life is
relatively good. I do well in college, have a lot of good friends
who I care about very much, and a very good family. This is why
games are more easily compared to journeys for me, rather than
escapes from reality, as they once were. I play a game, and go on
a kind of journey in doing so, but afterwards, I always come home.
If the game is good enough, I'll bring something back with me. I'll
bring back a good mood, or at least, a lighter one than the one I
started with. I might discover a whole new line of thought which
may have applications in my life. Games show us a lot if we bother
to look hard enough. Well, I hope this helps someone avoid learning
these lessons the hard way. I've found this bit of self-analysis to
be interesting, and if anyone wants to discuss aspects of the

+

Game Reviews:

Dave's Gnuchess, version 30f
Reviewed by Michael Feir, Adam Taylor, and Stephen Murgaski

At long last, a completely text-based chess program has been found,
which should work on most IBM computers. A math co-processor is not
required to run it, and it uses text characters to generate a
simple display of the board. Squares are drawn by vertical bars and
dashes, and pieces are depicted using representative letters. Pawns
are represented by the letter P, knights are N, kings are K, and
so-on. Black pieces are distinguished from the white pieces by a *
character which is placed to the left of the black pieces' letters.
This means that a black pawn is represented by *p. Squares on the
board are given alphanumeric coordinates, using letters a to h for
files, and numbers 1 to 8 for ranks. (Rows are numbered and columns
are lettered, for those like myself who are not familiar with Chess
terminology.). The bottom left of the board is a1, and the top
right is h8. 

Moves can be made using algebraic and semi-algebraic formats. For
instance, to move the left white knight from its starting position
at a2 to a new position at c3, you would enter "a2c3". Help is
available from within the game by simply typing "help" when it is
your move. Hints can also be obtained by typing "hint". One of the
worst things about this program is that it fails to announce when
a player is in check.

According to the author of this version of Gnuchess, David Giunti,
the USCF rating of the program is better than 2400. It has beaten
some commercial chess machines and programs, including Chessmaster
2100. He compares its capabilities to commercial Chess programs
worth $80 US. Stephen Murgaski did some checking, and found that
the rating of Casperov, one of the best human Chess players in the
world, was 2775. As to the use of ratings, Stephen cautions that
the ratings of computer programs will fluctuate due to various
situations and circumstances. I offer the further caution here that
no comparison testing between this and any other products was made
in the course of reviewing this software. This means that the
review is decidedly biased, relying on the honesty of the author.
If anyone can perform a more thorough comparison, and write a more
fare and independent review, I would be much obliged if they would
send it my way for the Christmas edition.

All in all, the program offers its users a wide range of options.
Depth can be set from 1 ply to 29 ply. (Ply is the number of half-
moves that the program can think ahead.) You can also limit the
computer's thinking time. It can be set to beep when it is your
turn to move, or not to beep. Also, you can tell it whether or not
to use a hash table. (The hash table keeps track of all of the
calculations made by the program for various positions, so that it
doesn't have to redo them whenever a position is encountered for
which it has calculations in the table.) Various books of moves,
stored in files with a .boo extension, can be used, and books can
be edited and added to. According to the author, the program can
run in as little as 280 K. The hash table requires roughly 1280 K.
The documentation provided with this game is quite good, and
explains all of the commands and features. I had some trouble with
some of it, since I was never too familiar with Chess to begin
with. Setting the depth to 1 ply and the game level to 1, Adam and
I, both novices at Chess, were beaten in fairly short order.
Although unfamiliar with Chess, I feel fairly safe in saying that
this program should provide a fair challenge for most players. From
an options standpoint, I am quite impressed with the range of
options and levels of difficulty available. Adam is convinced that
there are better programs which are accessible to the blind, and
will search for such programs. His findings will be announced in
the next issue. this program can be found on Compuserve in the
chessforum.

The Vip611.zip package of games contains several games designed
specifically for the blind or visually impaired user. These games
include Solitaire, Twenty-one, Yahtzee, a deck of tarot cards which
comes complete with descriptions of all cards, and several more.
All of these games are very well programmed, and are well worth
obtaining. They can be found on Compuserve in the disability forum.
I have had these games for around a year now, and they have
provided me with many hours of amusement. A version of Cribbage is
also included in the package, and complete documentation is
provided.


+
Adam: The Immortal Gamer: Let The Game Begin

>From the void of nothingness between games, Adam suddenly emerges
into the captain's chair of the federation heavy cruiser NCC1701,
the USS Enterprise. Looking down from his raised command chair, he
notices the intrepid crew that all Star Trek fans have come to know
and respect. In front of him are Checkov and Sulu, their stations
located just under viewscreen. Behind Adam is the turbolift. Uhura
is located behind and to the right of the captain's chair. Adam's
science officer, Mr. Spock, is located to the right of the captain.
Noticing Adam's glance in his direction, Spock realizes that
another simulation is about to begin. He raises an eyebrow, and
stares at his new commanding officer. He turns to Uhura, and in his
typical monotone voice, says:

"Uhura, please inform the crew that a new cadet has been assigned
to use the tactical combat simulator. As of now, he is in command."

Adam is incredulous. "What? I get to command the Enterprise? Cool!
Fire all torpedoes!"

Sulu shakes his head sadly. "Damn! We got ourselves another hot-
head here."

Spock responds with a typical lack of emotion. "Sir, your order is
illogical, as the simulation has not even begun, and there are as
yet no targets for our weapons to fire on."

Adam is practically bouncing out of his seat with impatience.
"Well, begin already! what are we waiting for?"

"your orders, sir." Checkov responds dryly.

"Well, begin already!" Adam exclaims.


"The simulation has now begun. We are pitted against two Romulan
birds of prey."

As the red alert claxons begin to sound, Sulu intones: "Two Romulan
birds of prey are approaching from bearing 340, sir. They are
cloaking."

"Load all torpedo tubes with Mark7 torpedoes with 250 proximity
torpedoes. Lock all weapons on the closest ship."

"Aye, sir." Checkov responds, locking the weapons on target.

"Sulu, take us straight in on the closest vessel at cruising
speed."

"Aye, sir. We are now gaining velocity and closing on the Osprey."

"Mr. Checkov, load all probe launchers with px2 probes with time
fuses of 20 seconds and proximity fuses of 50."

"Aye, sir," Checkov responds.

"Is that all you numbskulls can say?"

All the crew responds: "No, sir."

An alert sounds on Spock's console. "Romulan ships are decloaking,
sir. They have just fired a total of four homing plasma torpedoes."

"Kill! Maim! Destroy! Er, I mean, ah, fire all torpedoes!"

Checkov calmly complies. "Torpedoes away, sir."

"The ships have just cloaked again, sir." Spock announces.

"Sulu, come to course 275, warp factor 1."

Sulu complies, and the Enterprise slows and quickly comes about to
its new heading. The torpedoes streak in towards the manoeuvring
ship.

"We have achieved a heading of 275, sir." Sulu announces.

"Go to full speed."

"Aye, sir."

As the ship quickly increases speed, Scottie's alarmed voice is
heard over the intercom. "What da ya think you're doin' to me poor
engines? They're overheating already, and we haven't even been hit
yet."

"Just hold those engines together, like you do in the series,
alright?" Adam says.

"This is just a game, sir, and I can't work any miracles, sir.
You'll have ta slow down, or they'll go critical on us."

The ship continues to race at top speed, while warning lights and
buzzers announce the overheating status of the engines. The
torpedoes continue to close with the Enterprise, although not as
quickly. In an agony of indecision, Adam wracks his brain for a
solution. At last, an idea strikes him.

"Sulu, come to heading 355, warp factor 4. We'll try and deal with
those torpedoes. Mr. Checkov, fire all phasers at the torpedoes."

The Enterprise slows and makes a sweeping turn to its new heading.
The phasers fire and destroy two of the incoming torpedoes. the
other two blast into the Enterprise's shields and cause minor
damage to the reactors and shield generators. The torpedoes fired
by the enterprise each score hits on the Osprey, puncturing her
shields and causing moderate damage to various systems. the Osprey
decloaks again and fires another torpedo at the rapidly closing
Enterprise.

"Adam to all decks. Give me a damage report." Visibly shaken, Adam
waits for the news.

"Captain, we've taken lots of casualties, sir." Bones replies.
"Let's try not to make a habit out of that, sir. I'm a doctor, not
mortician."

"Scott here, sir. I'm tryin' to fix the shields for ye. The
reactors are only damaged slightly, and the engines are a little
cooler now."

"captain, we've lost two shields, and two other shields aren't
functioning at peek efficiency."

Adam is coming to realize that he's no captain Kirk. He decides to
try and take out the Osprey. "Load all tubes with mark8 torpedoes
with 200 proximity fuses. Sulu, head straight in on the Osprey."

"Aye, sir."

the Enterprises closes in on the Osprey. Adam is too busy watching
the status of his torpedo tubes to pay attention to the incoming
torpedo fired by the Osprey. It slams into his forward shield. The
force of the impact sends Adam flying out of his chair. He lands in
a sprawl on the floor. Regaining his feet, he climbs dizzily back
into the chair. Settling back in, he notices that his tubes are all
ready to fire. "Fire all tubes!"

the torpedoes flash away as the two ships continue to close with
each other. the Osprey fires another torpedo. Undetected, the Owl
closes in from behind the Enterprise. It has remained cloaked since
it fired off its first volley. The Enterprise's torpedoes all score
direct hits on the Osprey, and the ship explodes with a thunderous
boom. Adam starts to cheer, failing to notice the torpedo closing
in on him, and completely forgetting about the Owl. The Osprey's
last torpedo crashes into the Enterprise and causes major damage.
Consoles spark and sputter all around the bridge, and sirens blare,
indicating the various catastrophes suffered by the Enterprise.
Adam must pick himself up off the floor again. "I thought we killed
the Osprey. Where did those two new torpedoes just get fired from?"

"They came from the other bird of prey, sir." Spock responds in a
completely flat voice.

"Damn it, Spock," McCoy bellows from his place near the turbolift.
"You realize that we're all about to die now."

"Indeed I do, Doctor. However, having been observing the dismal
performance of our commanding officer for the last pitiful three
minutes, I have had more time to come to terms with the situation."

"Die? We can't die! This is the Enterprise! I'm invincible!" Adam
is approaching a state of panic. "Quick! Sulu! Turn us around!
Checkov, lock all weapons on the Owl! Scottie! Do something!"

The enterprise is moving too fast to turn quickly, and slowly
curves around to  a new heading. What few weapons remain are locked
onto the Owl, and in anticipation of his captain's destructive
tendencies, Checkov fires the only working torpedo tube. "fire the
phasers! Quick!" Adam screams. Checkov complies. Two phasers are
undamaged and fire wide blasts of energy. these blasts detonate the
two incoming torpedoes and the outgoing torpedo in a massive
explosion which completely destroys the Enterprise.

Adam suddenly finds himself back in the void. A disembodied voice
calls out to him. "So, Adam, what have you learned from that
experience?"

"Well, I guess just charging in at everything isn't such a good
idea. I should have tried harder to defend my ship, instead of just
trying to destroy the others."

"Very good, Adam. You have just learned the first of many lessons.
It is always best to strike a balance between aggression and
defense. Might doesn't always make right. This lesson will aid you
in your future travels through the universe of games."

Where will Adam's adventures take him next? Find out in the next
episode of:
Adam, the Immortal Gamer

+

playing with Sighted Companions
by Michael feir

Ever since I can remember, my father and I have played various
games on computers. We started playing video games back when I was
quite young. He would attempt to tell me where to go and/or what to
shoot at before we got destroyed ourselves. I used to find the
sounds and action to be quite entertaining. As I grew older,
however, my interest waned. I wanted something to challenge my
intellect, and so did my father. We started looking for adventure
games, and have found several in recent years. By far, the best of
our recent finds has been the Star Trek, A Final Unity game. this
cdrom puts you in command of the USS Enterprise, with the crew of
the Next Generation series. You are Captain Picard. All of the cast
members of the television show lent their voices to this exciting
and involving game. The sound is quite incredible. It's almost like
the show, only you get to decide what happens. Other good games
include Shanara, Return to Zork, and the King's Quest series.

As long as a game isn't time-dependant, or completely based on
hand-eye coordination, it should be suitable for play by blind
players with sighted assistance. When discussing this with my
friend, Adam Taylor, he thought it wise to point out that it is
easy for sighted people to take their vision for granted, and
assume that the blind player knows details which he/she may in fact
not. Patience must be exercised by both the blind and sighted
players, as blind players often assume that there is more detail
than their actually is, and sighted players must explain what's
happening as best they can.

To play a game with a friend or friends is always more rewarding
than playing it alone. Ideas can be discussed, and the pride of
winning as well as the agony of losing can be shared by all. If
anyone finds games which they think are suitable for this kind of
play, please send reviews of them for inclusion in this magazine.
If I receive enough of them, I will devote a new section to reviews
of games of this kind.

+
Coming Soon:

The next issue of this magazine will be a very special one. It will
be my Christmas present to all of you. You'll find categorized
reviews of games which will include my recommendations in terms of
who these games might suit best. this list will replace the normal
review sections in the next issue. I will choose fifty of the best
games in my posession, and include them in the list of reviews.
Send any games that you think are especially good my way before
November 1, and I'll consider them for my list. Adam, the Immortal
Gamer will make two appearances, in two episodes for your
entertainment. The tutorial on playing screen-oriented games will
finally make its appearance. I would also like to include a
contest. any suggestions are most welcome. Until next time, happy
gaming!


+
Contacting Me

I can be reached in two ways. The easiest is through Compuserve. My
e-mail address is as follows:
[email protected]

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

I have recently acquired a copy of UUencode and UUdecode for dos,

+
PCS Provides New Horizons
by Michael feir

In the last issue, I stated my opinion that the market base was too
small to support a company which made games specifically for the
blind community. I was quickly proven wrong in this assessment when
soon after I published the first issue, I was contacted by Philip
Vlasak, a member of a company called Personal Computer Systems.
This company sells computers and also designs games specifically
for the blind. Instead of the word-based games which one might
expect them to be making, they are concentrating on more sound-
based games. They have devised a bowling alley, a shooting range,
a Snakes and Ladders-style math adventure game, a very good version
of Monopoly, and a football game. I have included their complete
catalog below, which includes more detailed descriptions of these
games, and also provides information concerning contacting them.
They are always interested in ideas for games, and have already
welcomed one of my own suggestions, still under development by
myself and a good friend of mine. Projects being worked on by PCS
include a Dungeons and Dragons game and a five-on-five tank battle.
The next issue of this magazine will be the Christmas edition, and
detailed reviews of all PCS products will be included. Before I
leave you to their catalog, let me urge all of you to give this
company's products serious consideration. PCS is a small company,
which has already shown tremendous promise in terms of initiative
and original thinking. With our support, who knows where their
creative energies will take us?

EXCITING GAMES FOR THE BLIND
Personal Computer Systems is a company that only includes blind
programmers.  PCS is interested in providing fast action, fun, and
exciting computer board AND arcade games for the blind.  In our
board games, everything is described with all the necessary details
as the game is being played and any information such as position or
score may be obtained by hitting a key.  In our arcade games,
instead of using visual graphics or pictures, which depend on a
player aiming at an object we have the player aim by using their
ears TO HEAR A TONE OR A SERIES OF BEEPS TO TARGET BY.  Thus, the
impossible to play eye hand video game becomes an easy to play ear
hand audio game.  We believe that the same enjoyment can be
achieved by a blind player playing our games, as a sighted person
playing a video game.
We are developing programs to make use of one area where a blind
person can grow and succeed.  Playing sounds through a sound card
will be used to enhance and blend with the operation of our
programs.  We in the blind community can get a similar enjoyment
from a sound card as the sighted community gets from graphics on a
monitor.

GAMES BY PCS:
ANY NIGHT FOOTBALL.  This is a text based football game.  Which is
simple to play, and the teams are historically reflected in the
statistics used.  (This game has no digital sounds like the other
four games but we are working on a new version with real football
sounds and player's names due out at the beginning of the 1996
football season.
ANY NIGHT FOOTBALL sells for thirty dollars.
MONOPOLY. A very speech friendly Monopoly game with over fifty
multi media sounds. MONOPOLY sells for thirty dollars.
MOBIUS MOUNTAIN.  A speech friendly math adventure game with real
sounds. It was written similar to Shoots and Ladders, with speech
in mind to enable blind children to know exactly what is going on
in the game at all times. MOBIUS sells for twenty dollars.
TENPIN. Use your ear and hand skills to bowl against up to eight
players or try to beat your highest score. Hear the sounds of the
ball rolling down the alley and the pins knocking over! TEN PIN
sells for thirty dollars.
SHOOT. An exciting gun shooting game using hand and ear skills.
You can shoot with over fifty guns in four different shooting
ranges. SHOOT sells for thirty dollars.

We at PCS are always looking for new ideas for programs, and if you
have a new idea we will give it some consideration.  If we make a
program which you suggested you will receive the program free.

Contact PCS in any format at:
Personal Computer Systems
551 Compton ave.
Perth Amboy N.J.  08861
Phone (908) 826-1917.

Below is a more detailed review of the games.

ANY NIGHT FOOTBALL.
A text based football game.  Which is simple to play, and the teams
are historically reflected in the game.  It includes 28 teams and
their stats to make a very realistic, enjoyable and easy to play
game for the blind.

The following is a sample of the description:
THE QUARTERBACK IS CALLING AN AUDIBLE.
THE CHIEFS ARE IN A PASS PREVENT SHORT.  THREE, FIVE, THREE,
DEFENCE.
the quarterback gets the ball. and fakes it to the back. and sets
up to pass.  HE PUMPS! AND HE IS LOOKING DEEP DOWN THE SIDELINE!
AND HE PASSES!  IT IS A HIGH WOBBLY PASS!
COMPLETE! THE RECEIVER HANGS ON TO IT! NICE CATCH! THE BALL WAS
HUMMING!  THE PLAY IS GOOD FOR A 49 YARD GAIN.
IT IS FIRST DOWN AND 10 YARDS TO GO.
the COWBOYS ARE ON THE CHIEFS 20 YARD LINE.

This game follows the same rules as the NFL with 24 offensive and
8 defensive plays and allows you to play another person or against
the computer.
ANY NIGHT FOOTBALL sells for $30.00

     MONOPOLY

MONOPOLY was written for the blind and follows all of the
conventional rules of the PARKER BROTHER'S board game.  It has
options that allow for very detailed descriptions, location of
properties and tokens, and distribution of the players money.  The
aim of this game was to enable blind people to follow and know
exactly what is going on in the game at all times.  This game also
has over 50 multi media sounds.  If you have a sound card in your
machine, you will now be able to enjoy the game even more.  If you
do not have a sound card, the game is also designed to play the
sounds through the P C speaker.

The following is a sample of the description:

PLAYER 1 CARL IS UP
THE DICE ARE 4 AND 2
THE ROLL IS 6
PLAYER 1 IS ON SIDE 4 AT POSITION 5
YOU HAVE LANDED ON SHORT LINE RAILROAD
THE COST OF THIS PLACE IS 200
THE FOURTH OF FOUR OF RAILROAD
YOU ALSO OWN ANOTHER PROPERTY OF THIS GROUP!
PLAYER 2 PHIL OWNS A PROPERTY BELONGING TO THIS GROUP!
THE PROPERTY IS NOT OWNED.
PLAYER 1 HAS 334 DOLLARS IN THE BANK.

PLAYER 4 ZACK IS UP
THE DICE ARE 1 AND 5
THE ROLL IS 6
PLAYER 4 IS ON SIDE 2 AT POSITION 8
YOU HAVE LANDED ON TENNESSEE AVENUE
THE SECOND OF THREE OF ORANGE
THIS PROPERTY IS ALREADY OWNED BY PLAYER 3 TIM
THE RENT COLLECTOR.
YOUR RENT IS 14 DOLLARS.
AFTER PAYING YOUR RENT,
YOUR ACCOUNT IS REDUCED TO 1412 DOLLARS.

You may play the game with two to four people.  You can save a game
in progress then restart that game later. Most of the rules are
taken care of by the computer, but you may set the starting cash
any where between zero and three thousand dollars.
MONOPOLY sells for $30.00

MOBIUS MOUNTAIN.

This math adventure game was written for blind children and follows
the format

of the Shoots and Ladders board game.  It was written with speech
in mind to enable blind children to know exactly what is going on
in the game at all times.  This game also has multi media sounds.
If you have a sound card in your computer, you will now be able to
enjoy the game even more.  If you do not have a sound card, the
game is also designed to play the sounds through the P C speaker.

The following is a sample of the description:

PLAYER 1 DAN IS UP.
THE SPIN IS 12
HERE IS AN ENTRANCE TO A COLD DAMP CAVE!
A MATH PROBLEM.
HOW MUCH IS 3 MINUS 2 5
THAT ANSWER IS NOT RIGHT.
THE RIGHT ANSWER IS 1
     oops! FALLING DOWN A DEEP PIT!
DAN IS ON THE PATH, AT LEVEL 10 5 STEPS FROM THE NEXT LEVEL.

PLAYER 2 AUGIE IS UP.
THE SPIN IS 1
THERE IS A BOLDER BEGINNING TO FALL ABOVE THE PATH!
A MATH PROBLEM.
HOW MUCH IS 11 PLUS 5
HIS ANSWER IS 16
CORRECT!
AUGIE RUN QUICKLY. VERY QUICKLY UP THE PATH.
AND AVOID THE ROCK SLIDE!

You may play the game with one to four people.  You can also play
against the computer.  There are seven skill levels so children of
any age will be able to play and succeed at the game.  These levels
range from addition and subtraction problems of two single digit
numbers to multiplication and division problems of two double digit
numbers.  At the end of the game each player will get a report of
how well they did in solving the math problems.

MOBIUS sells for $20.00


     TENPIN BOWLING

Now through the addition of sounds a blind person can throw a ball
down a lane with the aim of knocking down ten pins that are
positioned in a triangle at the end of the lane.
this bowling game was written for the blind community.  The game
follows the format of the real tenpin bowling game.
It was written with speech in mind to enable blind people to know
exactly what is going on in the game at all times.

This game has multi media sounds.  If you have a sound card in
your computer, you will now be able to enjoy the game even more.
If you do not have a sound card, the game is also designed to play
the sounds through the P C speaker.

The following is a sample of the description:

PLAYER 1 AL IS UP.
THE FIRST BALL.  OF FRAME 9
AIM FOR LANE 12 WHICH WILL HIT ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE 1 PIN.
A PIN ROLLS IN TO A STANDING PIN. ROCKING IT. BUT IT DOES NOT FALL!
THE BALL HIT THE MARK! OH!  TOUGH BREAK.  THE PINS DID NOT FALL
RIGHT!  5 PINS WERE KNOCK DOWN WITH YOUR FIRST BALL.
THE 2 4 7 8 AND 10 PINS ARE LEFT STANDING.
YOUR SCORE IS 214
PLAYER 1 AL IS UP.
THE SECOND BALL.  OF FRAME 9
AIM FOR LANE 8 WHICH WILL HIT ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE 2 PIN.
THE BALL SWEPT WIDE!
YOUR BALL HIT 3 LANES TO THE LEFT OF THE MARK.
YOU KNOCKED 2 PINS DOWN WITH YOUR SECOND BALL.
FOR A TOTAL OF 7 PINS KNOCKED DOWN IN THE FRAME.
THE 2 8 AND 10 PINS ARE LEFT STANDING.
YOUR SCORE IS 216
PLAYER 2 JOAN IS UP.
THE FIRST BALL.  OF FRAME 9
AIM FOR LANE 12 WHICH WILL HIT ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE 1 PIN.
ITS SPINNING! ITS SPINNING. THE 6 PIN IS SPINNING.
AND IT KNOCKS OVER THE 10 PIN.
YOU GOT A STRIKE! THE BALL HIT THE MARK!
FOR A TOTAL OF 10 PINS KNOCKED DOWN IN THE FRAME.
YOUR SCORE IS 217
THE LEADER AFTER 9 FRAMES IS,
JOAN WITH A SCORE OF 217 POINTS. AND HAS A TOTAL OF 6 STRIKES.
FOLLOWED BY:
AL WITH A SCORE OF 216 POINTS. WITH A TOTAL OF 5 STRIKES.  PLAYER
1 AL IS UP.
THE FIRST BALL.  OF FRAME 10
AIM FOR LANE 12 WHICH WILL HIT ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE 1 PIN.
JUST ENOUGH. JUST ENOUGH SPEED ON THE BALL!
YOU GOT A STRIKE! THE BALL HIT THE SPOT!
YOUR SCORE IS 226
PLAYER 1 AL IS UP.
THE SECOND BALL.  OF FRAME 10
AIM FOR LANE 12 WHICH WILL HIT ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE 1 PIN.
A LITTLE BETTER THERE A LITTLE MORE SPEED ON THE BALL.
YOU GOT A STRIKE! THE BALL HIT THE SPOT!
YOU KNOCKED 10 PINS DOWN WITH YOUR SECOND BALL.
YOUR SCORE IS 236
PLAYER 1 AL IS UP.
THE LAST BALL.  OF FRAME 10
AND AL HAS 2 STRIKES IN A ROW.
AIM FOR LANE 12 WHICH WILL HIT ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE 1 PIN.
ITS WOBBLING. AND. AND. IT STAYS!  TOUGH BREAK.
THE BALL BROKE WIDE!
YOUR BALL HIT 1 LANE TO THE LEFT OF THE MARK.
THE 6 PIN IS LEFT STANDING.
YOUR SCORE IS 245
PLAYER 2 JOAN IS UP.
THE FIRST BALL.  OF FRAME 10
AIM FOR LANE 12 WHICH WILL HIT ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE 1 PIN.
YOU GOT A STRIKE! THE BALL HIT THE SPOT!
YOUR SCORE IS 237
PLAYER 2 JOAN IS UP.
THE SECOND BALL.  OF FRAME 10
AND JOAN HAS 2 STRIKES IN A ROW.
AIM FOR LANE 12 WHICH WILL HIT ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE 1 PIN.
OH! NICE BREAK. WITH THE BALL BREAKING SHARPLY. AND SWEEPING THE
LANE OFF.  YOU GOT A STRIKE! THE BALL HIT IN THE GROOVE!
YOU KNOCKED 10 PINS DOWN WITH YOUR SECOND BALL.
YOUR SCORE IS 257
PLAYER 2 JOAN IS UP.
THE LAST BALL.  OF FRAME 10
AND JOAN HAS 3 STRIKES IN A ROW.
AIM FOR LANE 12 WHICH WILL HIT ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE 1 PIN.
THE BALL BROKE WIDE!
YOUR BALL HIT 12 LANES TO THE LEFT OF THE MARK.
YOU ROLLED A GUTTER BALL!
YOUR SCORE IS 257
THE GAME IS OVER!
THE FINAL STANDINGS ARE.
JOAN WITH A SCORE OF 257 POINTS. AND HAS A TOTAL OF 8 STRIKES.
FOLLOWED BY:
AL WITH A SCORE OF 245 POINTS. WITH A TOTAL OF 7 STRIKES.

You may play the game with one to eight people.  You can also play
against the highest score in five speed categories.

TENPIN sells for $30.00

     SHOOTING RANGE FOR THE BLIND

You can shoot with more than fifty guns in four different Shooting
Ranges.  In the skeet range you can shoot at clay birds.
In the rifle range you can shoot at a target trying to hit the
bulls eye.  In the pistol range you can shoot at a steel human
silhouette target
In the junk yard you can shoot a rifle, a shotgun, or an automatic
weapon at over thirty objects.

This game has multi media sounds.  If you have a sound card in
your computer, you will now be able to enjoy the game even more.
If you do not have a sound card, the game is also designed to play
the sounds through the P C speaker.

The following is a sample of the description:
YOU ARE AT THE SKEET RANGE.
YOU WILL BE SHOOTING AT 10 CLAY BIRDS.
YOU ARE USING A SHOTGUN.
YOU ARE SHOOTING A TOURNAMENT.
HIT ANY KEY TO GO.
A HIT!
YOUR SHOT 1 WAS A HIT.
YOU HAVE 1 HIT.
OUT OF 1 SHOT.
FOR 1 SKEET.
HIT Q TO QUIT, OR HIT ANY OTHER KEY TO GO ON.
LEFT OF THE MARK.
YOUR SHOT 1 WAS OFF TO THE LEFT OF THE MARK.
YOU HAVE 1 HIT.
OUT OF 2 SHOTS.
FOR 2 SKEETS.

YOU ARE AT THE RIFLE RANGE.
YOU WILL BE SHOOTING AT A CARD BOARD TARGET
AND WILL BE SHOOTING 10 ROUNDS TRYING TO HIT THE BULLS EYE.
HIT ANY KEY TO GO.
1 RING TO THE LEFT.
2 RINGS TO THE RIGHT.
1 RING TO THE LEFT.
YOUR SHOT 1 WAS 1 RING OFF TO THE LEFT OF THE BULLS EYE.
YOUR SHOT 2 WAS 2 RINGS OFF TO THE RIGHT OF THE BULLS EYE.
YOUR SHOT 3 WAS 1 RING OFF TO THE LEFT OF THE BULLS EYE.
YOUR SCORE IS 24
OUT OF 3 SHOTS.

You may play the game with one to four people.  You can also play
against the highest score in several categories.

SHOOT sells for $30.00

+
The Latest Finds:

As mentioned earlier, Judy Prociuk has sent us three games from her
collection. Two of these are card games, Cribbage and Hearts.
Unfortunately, I am an absolutely lousy card player, and neither
game came with any kind of documentation. Both seem to be perfectly
speech-friendly, however, and are relatively small. If anyone is
interested in reviewing these games and possibly providing some
instructions for those of us who are less adept at card-play,
please contact me. I would like to have reviews for these games for
the Christmas edition, as card games are in particularly high
demand judging by the questions I've been getting over the last
while.

Wizard's Castle, the third game sent by Judy, is a game I am better
able to explain. It comes with documentation, and is also a game
which I've played before on a Eureka A4. this Australian computer
was my companion through my high-school years, and still serves me
quite faithfully today. It is an introductory level role-playing
game which is completely randomized so that each game is different
from the last. Basically, you are a bold adventurer in search of
treasure. You must explore the wizard's castle and recover the
magical orb of Zot. Full documentation and on-line help are
provided, and the game can be played without even using the map and
flares, which provide text graphical maps. The game announces
everything in text messages, so it should be playable by anyone
with an IBM. On-line help is also provided.

Experienced gamers might find this game to be simplistic, and may
become annoyed by the multitude of insults the game flings at you.
It is a good game for passing time away.

Legends is perhaps the largest game found since the last issue. It
is a text-based role-playing game of immense proportions. You can
choose to play one of a number of characters, and explore a world
with dungeons and characters, monsters and magic. The writing in
the game is quite good, although the game is easily crashed if a
player enters a command for which a response has not been prepared.
Hopefully, future releases will be more crash-free. The game
automatically saves the positions of players, so saving is not a
concern as it is with other role-playing games. The game is
exceptionally large, expanding to a size of roughly 2.65 megs.

While the writing was quite good, I found the combat system to be
a little simplistic. there are two difficulty levels, and the game
is so large that it will probably take me quite a while to solve it
even on novice mode. I have merely scratched the surface of
Legends, and if someone manages to delve deeper into it, and can
give a fuller review of it, I would very much appreciate it. the
game can be found at: http://www.cruzio.com/~tao/games.html This is
Jeff Mallet's Games page. From there, go into the Games Domain.

sofar is the latest addition to the growing collection of games
using the Inform interpreter. It can be found at: ftp.gmd.de, in
the if-archive section. This text adventure is by far the strangest
adventure I have ever encountered. In it, life begins to imitate
art as you find out that your wife has been unfaithful to you. You
find yourself in a hot and uncomfortable theatre where a play based
on the same thing is being performed. The game eventually takes you
into four worlds representing the different seasons, and having
very different characteristics. You travel between worlds and other
dimensions through the use of shadows which you are able to enter.
I have yet to fully complete this game, but came very close to
winning before college started. The puzzles encountered are logical
and fair for the most part, and the prose are quite good. I found
the various worlds to be quite rich in detail and utterly
absorbing. You need a z8 interpreter to run the game, which can
also be found at the sight mentioned above.


+
Infocom Masterpieces collection Now Available
by Michael Feir

Back before graphics games achieved their current domination of the
games market, there was a company called Infocom. This company made
games which were storybooks brought to life. Even though nearly two
decades have passed since Infocom started up, the games made by
that company still represent the very best in interactive fiction.
There was a time when Zork was as well-known as Pac-man. Over the
years, however, it has faded into obscurity. Recently, however,
interactive fiction has re-surfaced. In response to this,
Activision has released the Masterpieces of Infocom collection.
This cdrom contains thirty classic Infocom games which are fully
accessible to speech, since they are completely text-based. In
addition to these works, Infocom also designed some more graphical
adventures. Since these games are not action-oriented, as video
games are, they are suitable for playing with sighted companions.
They are still largely text-based, but are presented and interacted
with  in more graphical ways. I particularly recommend Journey. It
is an interactive story of epic proportions, concerning the journey
undertaken by a band of heros to seek the aid of a wizard to save
their village. The story is told from the viewpoint of your
character, a young apprentice food merchant whose tasks are to
manage supplies for the party, and to keep a journal of the events
which unfold. My father and I have begun to play this game, and
both of us have found it to be quite enjoyable and captivating.
Graphics are basic, according to my father, and his personal
opinion is that they don't really add much to the game. The prose
are quite exceptional, and characters are quite well developed.
Arthur, the Quest for Excalibur, is reputed to be another fine
game. I cannot attest to this, however, as we have yet to delve
into its mysteries. zork 0, a prequel to the text-based Zork
trilogy, appears also to be a fine game. I've had limited
experience with it, and liked what my friend and I played through,
but other games lured us away from further exploration, and we have
yet to take the game up again.

All documentation for the Infocom games, including maps, hints, and
manuals, is stored on the cdrom in .pdf files used by the Acrobat
reader, which is also on the cdrom. Unless you have the room to
spare, I don't recommend trying to do what we did and copy the
documentation files onto your hard drive. They take up some 185
megs in total, and had we known that before we tried to copy the
files, I don't think we would have done it. Until some program
which can recognize fancy writing in these files, and translate the
writing into standard Ascii characters is developed or uncovered,
you'll need sighted help to view the documentation for all games.
I should also add the further caution that the acrobat program
doesn't seem to work well with most printers. It seems designed
primarily for Postscript printers. Despite several experiments,
neither my father and i, nor my good friend Adam Taylor, an
experienced user of the acrobat reader, could get the printing
options to work with our printers. If, for some reason, you think
it might be valuable to have a printed copy of a portion of a
document, or an entire file, it might be worth a try. You may have
better luck with your particular printer. I urge extreme caution,
however, as the files are quite big. The file containing the
manuals to all the games is some 433 pages long. I haven't any idea
at all how large the other files are.

As long as you can persuade a sighted friend to help you out when
you need information from the manuals, maps, or hints files, the
cdrom is an exceptionally good deal. Even if you don't have access
to the documentation, many of the games are solvable without it.
The entire zork trilogy can be solved without once referring to the
manuals. The manuals do provide quite interesting reading, and are
quite helpful in winning all of the games. Ultimately, you will
need at least some access to these files. Solutions for all infocom
games have been in circulation for a number of years now, and they
can largely replace manuals and other documentation in helping
players through hard parts. This method does have the side effect
of reducing the fun of figuring out these hard parts, however. Only
use solutions when you're really stuck. The average price of this
cdrom seems to be around $30 Canadian.

+
Game Reviews:

Dave's Gnuchess, version 30f
Reviewed by Michael Feir, Adam Taylor, and Stephen Murgaski

At long last, a completely text-based chess program has been found,
which should work on most IBM computers. A math co-processor is not
required to run it, and it uses text characters to generate a
simple display of the board. Squares are drawn by vertical bars and
dashes, and pieces are depicted using representative letters. Pawns
are represented by the letter P, knights are N, kings are K, and
so-on. Black pieces are distinguished from the white pieces by a *
character which is placed to the left of the black pieces' letters.
This means that a black pawn is represented by *p. Squares on the
board are given alphanumeric coordinates, using letters a to h for
files, and numbers 1 to 8 for ranks. (Rows are numbered and columns
are lettered, for those like myself who are not familiar with Chess
terminology.). The bottom left of the board is a1, and the top
right is h8. 

Moves can be made using algebraic and semi-algebraic formats. For
instance, to move the left white knight from its starting position
at a2 to a new position at c3, you would enter "a2c3". Help is
available from within the game by simply typing "help" when it is
your move. Hints can also be obtained by typing "hint". One of the
worst things about this program is that it fails to announce when
a player is in check.

According to the author of this version of Gnuchess, David Giunti,
the USCF rating of the program is better than 2400. It has beaten
some commercial chess machines and programs, including Chessmaster
2100. He compares its capabilities to commercial Chess programs
worth $80 US. Stephen Murgaski did some checking, and found that
the rating of Casperov, one of the best human Chess players in the
world, was 2775. As to the use of ratings, Stephen cautions that
the ratings of computer programs will fluctuate due to various
situations and circumstances. I offer the further caution here that
no comparison testing between this and any other products was made
in the course of reviewing this software. This means that the
review is decidedly biased, relying on the honesty of the author.
If anyone can perform a more thorough comparison, and write a more
fare and independent review, I would be much obliged if they would
send it my way for the Christmas edition.

All in all, the program offers its users a wide range of options.
Depth can be set from 1 ply to 29 ply. (Ply is the number of half-
moves that the program can think ahead.) You can also limit the
computer's thinking time. It can be set to beep when it is your
turn to move, or not to beep. Also, you can tell it whether or not
to use a hash table. (The hash table keeps track of all of the
calculations made by the program for various positions, so that it
doesn't have to redo them whenever a position is encountered for
which it has calculations in the table.) Various books of moves,
stored in files with a .boo extension, can be used, and books can
be edited and added to. According to the author, the program can
run in as little as 280 K. The hash table requires roughly 1280 K.
The documentation provided with this game is quite good, and
explains all of the commands and features. I had some trouble with
some of it, since I was never too familiar with Chess to begin
with. Setting the depth to 1 ply and the game level to 1, Adam and
I, both novices at Chess, were beaten in fairly short order.
Although unfamiliar with Chess, I feel fairly safe in saying that
this program should provide a fair challenge for most players. From
an options standpoint, I am quite impressed with the range of
options and levels of difficulty available. Adam is convinced that
there are better programs which are accessible to the blind, and
will search for such programs. His findings will be announced in
the next issue. this program can be found on Compuserve in the
chessforum.

The Vip611.zip package of games contains several games designed
specifically for the blind or visually impaired user. These games
include Solitaire, Twenty-one, Yahtzee, a deck of tarot cards which
comes complete with descriptions of all cards, and several more.
All of these games are very well programmed, and are well worth
obtaining. They can be found on Compuserve in the disability forum.
I have had these games for around a year now, and they have
provided me with many hours of amusement. A version of Cribbage is
also included in the package, and complete documentation is
provided.


+
Adam: The Immortal Gamer: Let The Game Begin

>From the void of nothingness between games, Adam suddenly emerges
into the captain's chair of the federation heavy cruiser NCC1701,
the USS Enterprise. Looking down from his raised command chair, he
notices the intrepid crew that all Star Trek fans have come to know
and respect. In front of him are Checkov and Sulu, their stations
located just under viewscreen. Behind Adam is the turbolift. Uhura
is located behind and to the right of the captain's chair. Adam's
science officer, Mr. Spock, is located to the right of the captain.
Noticing Adam's glance in his direction, Spock realizes that
another simulation is about to begin. He raises an eyebrow, and
stares at his new commanding officer. He turns to Uhura, and in his
typical monotone voice, says:

"Uhura, please inform the crew that a new cadet has been assigned
to use the tactical combat simulator. As of now, he is in command."

Adam is incredulous. "What? I get to command the Enterprise? Cool!
Fire all torpedoes!"

Sulu shakes his head sadly. "Damn! We got ourselves another hot-
head here."

Spock responds with a typical lack of emotion. "Sir, your order is
illogical, as the simulation has not even begun, and there are as
yet no targets for our weapons to fire on."

Adam is practically bouncing out of his seat with impatience.
"Well, begin already! what are we waiting for?"

"your orders, sir." Checkov responds dryly.

"Well, begin already!" Adam exclaims.


"The simulation has now begun. We are pitted against two Romulan
birds of prey."

As the red alert claxons begin to sound, Sulu intones: "Two Romulan
birds of prey are approaching from bearing 340, sir. They are
cloaking."

"Load all torpedo tubes with Mark7 torpedoes with 250 proximity
torpedoes. Lock all weapons on the closest ship."

"Aye, sir." Checkov responds, locking the weapons on target.

"Sulu, take us straight in on the closest vessel at cruising
speed."

"Aye, sir. We are now gaining velocity and closing on the Osprey."

"Mr. Checkov, load all probe launchers with px2 probes with time
fuses of 20 seconds and proximity fuses of 50."

"Aye, sir," Checkov responds.

"Is that all you numbskulls can say?"

All the crew responds: "No, sir."

An alert sounds on Spock's console. "Romulan ships are decloaking,
sir. They have just fired a total of four homing plasma torpedoes."

"Kill! Maim! Destroy! Er, I mean, ah, fire all torpedoes!"

Checkov calmly complies. "Torpedoes away, sir."

"The ships have just cloaked again, sir." Spock announces.

"Sulu, come to course 275, warp factor 1."

Sulu complies, and the Enterprise slows and quickly comes about to
its new heading. The torpedoes streak in towards the manoeuvring
ship.

"We have achieved a heading of 275, sir." Sulu announces.

"Go to full speed."

"Aye, sir."

As the ship quickly increases speed, Scottie's alarmed voice is
heard over the intercom. "What da ya think you're doin' to me poor
engines? They're overheating already, and we haven't even been hit
yet."

"Just hold those engines together, like you do in the series,
alright?" Adam says.

"This is just a game, sir, and I can't work any miracles, sir.
You'll have ta slow down, or they'll go critical on us."

The ship continues to race at top speed, while warning lights and
buzzers announce the overheating status of the engines. The
torpedoes continue to close with the Enterprise, although not as
quickly. In an agony of indecision, Adam wracks his brain for a
solution. At last, an idea strikes him.

"Sulu, come to heading 355, warp factor 4. We'll try and deal with
those torpedoes. Mr. Checkov, fire all phasers at the torpedoes."

The Enterprise slows and makes a sweeping turn to its new heading.
The phasers fire and destroy two of the incoming torpedoes. the
other two blast into the Enterprise's shields and cause minor
damage to the reactors and shield generators. The torpedoes fired
by the enterprise each score hits on the Osprey, puncturing her
shields and causing moderate damage to various systems. the Osprey
decloaks again and fires another torpedo at the rapidly closing
Enterprise.

"Adam to all decks. Give me a damage report." Visibly shaken, Adam
waits for the news.

"Captain, we've taken lots of casualties, sir." Bones replies.
"Let's try not to make a habit out of that, sir. I'm a doctor, not
mortician."

"Scott here, sir. I'm tryin' to fix the shields for ye. The
reactors are only damaged slightly, and the engines are a little
cooler now."

"captain, we've lost two shields, and two other shields aren't
functioning at peek efficiency."

Adam is coming to realize that he's no captain Kirk. He decides to
try and take out the Osprey. "Load all tubes with mark8 torpedoes
with 200 proximity fuses. Sulu, head straight in on the Osprey."

"Aye, sir."

the Enterprises closes in on the Osprey. Adam is too busy watching
the status of his torpedo tubes to pay attention to the incoming
torpedo fired by the Osprey. It slams into his forward shield. The
force of the impact sends Adam flying out of his chair. He lands in
a sprawl on the floor. Regaining his feet, he climbs dizzily back
into the chair. Settling back in, he notices that his tubes are all
ready to fire. "Fire all tubes!"

the torpedoes flash away as the two ships continue to close with
each other. the Osprey fires another torpedo. Undetected, the Owl
closes in from behind the Enterprise. It has remained cloaked since
it fired off its first volley. The Enterprise's torpedoes all score
direct hits on the Osprey, and the ship explodes with a thunderous
boom. Adam starts to cheer, failing to notice the torpedo closing
in on him, and completely forgetting about the Owl. The Osprey's
last torpedo crashes into the Enterprise and causes major damage.
Consoles spark and sputter all around the bridge, and sirens blare,
indicating the various catastrophes suffered by the Enterprise.
Adam must pick himself up off the floor again. "I thought we killed
the Osprey. Where did those two new torpedoes just get fired from?"

"They came from the other bird of prey, sir." Spock responds in a
completely flat voice.

"Damn it, Spock," McCoy bellows from his place near the turbolift.
"You realize that we're all about to die now."

"Indeed I do, Doctor. However, having been observing the dismal
performance of our commanding officer for the last pitiful three
minutes, I have had more time to come to terms with the situation."

"Die? We can't die! This is the Enterprise! I'm invincible!" Adam
is approaching a state of panic. "Quick! Sulu! Turn us around!
Checkov, lock all weapons on the Owl! Scottie! Do something!"

The enterprise is moving too fast to turn quickly, and slowly
curves around to  a new heading. What few weapons remain are locked
onto the Owl, and in anticipation of his captain's destructive
tendencies, Checkov fires the only working torpedo tube. "fire the
phasers! Quick!" Adam screams. Checkov complies. Two phasers are
undamaged and fire wide blasts of energy. these blasts detonate the
two incoming torpedoes and the outgoing torpedo in a massive
explosion which completely destroys the Enterprise.

Adam suddenly finds himself back in the void. A disembodied voice
calls out to him. "So, Adam, what have you learned from that
experience?"

"Well, I guess just charging in at everything isn't such a good
idea. I should have tried harder to defend my ship, instead of just
trying to destroy the others."

"Very good, Adam. You have just learned the first of many lessons.
It is always best to strike a balance between aggression and
defense. Might doesn't always make right. This lesson will aid you
in your future travels through the universe of games."

Where will Adam's adventures take him next? Find out in the next
episode of:
Adam, the Immortal Gamer

+

playing with Sighted Companions
by Michael feir

Ever since I can remember, my father and I have played various
games on computers. We started playing video games back when I was
quite young. He would attempt to tell me where to go and/or what to
shoot at before we got destroyed ourselves. I used to find the
sounds and action to be quite entertaining. As I grew older,
however, my interest waned. I wanted something to challenge my
intellect, and so did my father. We started looking for adventure
games, and have found several in recent years. By far, the best of
our recent finds has been the Star Trek, A Final Unity game. this
cdrom puts you in command of the USS Enterprise, with the crew of
the Next Generation series. You are Captain Picard. All of the cast
members of the television show lent their voices to this exciting
and involving game. The sound is quite incredible. It's almost like
the show, only you get to decide what happens. Other good games
include Shanara, Return to Zork, and the King's Quest series.

As long as a game isn't time-dependant, or completely based on
hand-eye coordination, it should be suitable for play by blind
players with sighted assistance. When discussing this with my
friend, Adam Taylor, he thought it wise to point out that it is
easy for sighted people to take their vision for granted, and
assume that the blind player knows details which he/she may in fact
not. Patience must be exercised by both the blind and sighted
players, as blind players often assume that there is more detail
than their actually is, and sighted players must explain what's
happening as best they can.

To play a game with a friend or friends is always more rewarding
than playing it alone. Ideas can be discussed, and the pride of
winning as well as the agony of losing can be shared by all. If
anyone finds games which they think are suitable for this kind of
play, please send reviews of them for inclusion in this magazine.
If I receive enough of them, I will devote a new section to reviews
of games of this kind.

+
Coming Soon:

The next issue of this magazine will be a very special one. It will
be my Christmas present to all of you. You'll find categorized
reviews of games which will include my recommendations in terms of
who these games might suit best. this list will replace the normal
review sections in the next issue. I will choose fifty of the best
games in my posession, and include them in the list of reviews.
Send any games that you think are especially good my way before
November 1, and I'll consider them for my list. Adam, the Immortal
Gamer will make two appearances, in two episodes for your
entertainment. The tutorial on playing screen-oriented games will
finally make its appearance. I would also like to include a
contest. any suggestions are most welcome. Until next time, happy
gaming!


+
Contacting Me

I can be reached in two ways. The easiest is through Compuserve. My
e-mail address is as follows:
[email protected]

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

I have recently acquired a copy of UUencode and UUdecode for dos,


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