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Audyssey;
Games Accessible to the Blind
Issue : 33
Edited by Michael Feir and Rebecca Sutton
Temporarily Edited by Alyssa Jolley

Fun, Friendship, Knowledge, Charity

+++
Welcome

Welcome to the Thirty-third 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.

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

+++
Distribution Information and Submission Policies
This magazine is published on a quarterly basis, each issue appearing
no earlier than the fifteenth of the publication month for its
quarter. All submissions to be published in an issue must be in my
possession a minimum of two days before the issue is published. I 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. Due to a lack of demand, PCS Games is no longer making Audyssey
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. I can 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 E-mail address to the subscription form is:
[email protected] mailto:Audlist-
[email protected]
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 may do so.

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 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 blank message to:
[email protected] mailto:blindgamers-
[email protected]
To post messages to the list, send them to:
[email protected] mailto:[email protected]
Should you wish to unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
[email protected] mailto:Blindgamers-
[email protected]
To change your subscription to digest mode so that you only receive
one message per day, send a blank message to:
[email protected] mailto:Blindgamers-
[email protected]
To go back to receiving individual messages, send a blank message to:
[email protected] mailto:Blindgamers-
[email protected]
There are more options at your disposal. To find out about them, send
a blank message to:
[email protected] mailto:Blindgamers-
[email protected]


Stan Bobbitt has made Audyssey Magazine available in HTML format for
easy on-
line browsing. To take advantage of this, you are invited to visit:
http://www.geocities.com/sbobbitt21
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.

Kelly Sapergia's site has unfortunately closed down for the moment.
We'll hopefully have better news in the next issue of Audyssey
regarding this. He can still be contacted via E-mail with the
recently changed address you'll find in the Contacting Us section of
Audyssey.

Another site has recently added Audyssey issues to its resources. We
welcome:
http://www.blindhelp.com
to the Audyssey community and hope that visitors to this site find
our resource to be of value to them.
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.
And finally, Darren Duff has recently placed all back issues of
Audyssey on his site at:
http://www.angelfire.com/music4/duffstuff/audyssey.html

 +++
Contents:
Welcome
Distribution Information and Submission Policies
Contents
From the Editor
Announcing AudysseyMagazine.org!
Classic Games, New Games, and Originality
News From ESP Softworks
News From ZForm
News From Danssoft
News From PCS
News From MindsEye2
Game Announcements and Reviews
Contacting Us

+++
From the Editor

Greetings everyone!

First off, on behalf of the community, I'd like to welcome Michael
and Rebecca back to the discussion list, and congratulate them on
their wedding.

I wish to apologize beforehand that after going through the archives
for the past three months, I was unable to find any material to place
in the letters section of the magazine. However, I only scanned them
and might have missed something. My own family, me included, has been
very ill, which contributed to the last-minute rush and this issue
coming out later than I had originally planned.

But on the bright side of things, there are two great reviews by Jay
Pellis that some might enjoy. Though it does require sighted
assistance, The Longest Journey (one of the games reviewed) is a
great game. The little I was able to play without assistance was very
interesting, and both the sounds and the storyline are incredible.

Michael also sent in a review of Monkey Business, and Stan Bobbitt
wrote an informative article on Monarch Business Systems, which was
wonderful since I was beginning to think that there would be no
magazine this go-round due to what little material I had received
thus far. It also appears that all can look forward to ESP's next two
releases, as well as one from Mindseye2 in the near future.

Hectic as it was editing everything that was coming into my inbox at
the last minute, it was great to see Audyssey, which I was fondly
referring to as "the pamphlet," form itself into a small, yet
reputable and informational magazine.
I would gladly volunteer to edit it again without hesitation in the
future if it was ever needed, and would like to both thank, and send
my gratitude to Michael for allowing and entrusting me with this
opportunity and experience. But... Enough about me, right?

I hope all of you find this as enjoyable to read as I did when
reading the various Articles, reviews, information, etc.  as it was
sent to me.

-Alyssa


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           Announcing AudysseyMagazine.org!
           the official Audyssey web site.

Article by Stan Bobbitt

At last, the Audyssey community has a home on the web that it can
call its
own!
For so long, the resources for such a site have been just out of our
grasp,
but no longer ... now all we need are ideas from you, the community
members,
to fill the site
with the content you want, and of course, volunteers to put that
content
together.

Back in march, Mr. Luis Defut of Monarch Business Systems
http://www.pc1source.com
came forward and offered, for free, the resources to house and
develop such
a web site.

Below is part of a message that he sent to Michael Feir concerning the
offer:

         "We have here in my office a T1 line with our own web
servers &
email servers. What I would like to do is house your site along with
FTP
and email for your domain on our system with no real size limit to
you for
free. I have taken your suggestions in several occasions on games and
I
want to give back some to the community....          Let me tell you a
little about our system. It runs on the Windows 2000 server platform
with
Front page 2000 access. Also we house our own
mail server so you would not need to keep changing your email address
since
we could give your domain its own email that can be accessed via POP3
mail
or web mail. FTP is just that, simple and easy and that would go
along with
it. We are working on migrating to an exchange server within the next
year
to add many more uses to our server and services. We are also looking
into
adding a chat service to the system, but I don't just want to have any
chat server. For chat, I want one that will work with speech software
like
JAWS, since that is what I use currently. This way We as the blind can
participate in live chat.
Also, since you are connected with many blind programmers, a
collaborative
effort on some of these things would be cool."

Following is what Michael Feir, editor of Audyssey had to say about
the
offer:

"Of course, I had some questions for him. The first was how long they
had
been in business. My experience with Campus2day has certainly given
me a
sense of caution. Happily, they've been around since 1990 and have
done
numerous web-sites. Their business deals with repairing computers and
developing sites for customers, so they are clearly deriving their
income
from sources outside the blind community and games. All in all, I
think they
would make an ideal neutral party which could offer much to the
community.

In turn, the community could potentially offer help to our host in
terms of
information. Running a small business means that there isn't always
time to
look into accessible ways of doing things. However, game developers
and
possibly other community members have done so and could provide that
information. They could also have a place to post demos and other
material
without having to worry about band width or transfer limitations. Mr.
Defut
is quite open to having such features as surveys, voting poles, etc
as long
as we can determine how to do these things accessibly. Currently, he
doesn't
know how to go about that in a universally accessible manner. What we
make
of this home would be up to us. It can be as large as we want and as
good as
our collective knowledge and willingness to pitch in can make it. No
compensation is expected. There wouldn't be any ads outside of those
we
actually might appreciate like those from game developers. All that
Mr.
Defut would possibly receive in return is ready access to the latest
info on
gaming as well as a possible tax deduction."

Luis Defut's first step was to set up a discussion forum.
This discussion forum is for discussing how best to develop and use
the
resources offered to the Audyssey community by Monarch Business
Systems.
Everyone who wishes to can post messages here for all to read. In this
manner, we can proceed with ideas on what we're after and what we can
achieve. Being a forum for the specific topic listed above, people are
expected to stick to that topic. Also, respect for other contributors
to
the
forum is a must and no personal attacks will be allowed.
To post a message to the forum go to:
http://www.pc1source.com/audyssey

His next step was in securing the domain, audysseymagazine.org.
As of the date of this announcement,          The front page for the
site
has been set up and there is an archive with current and back issues
of
Audyssey Magazine.
We have a long way to go on the site but the archive in several
different
formats are ready!
http://www.audysseymagazine.org

Ok, who is Luis Defut? and what is this Monarch Business Systems? and
what
are his motives for such a generous offer?

Luis Defut is a 35 year old          blind business owner and gamer
from
Elkton Maryland.  Just out of high school, he suffered a tragic
traffic
accident in which he lost his
sight.  Having the grit and determination to over come this tragedy,
in the
spring of 1988, he enrolled in college and received a BA in Business
and a
BS in Computer science.

In 1990, he started Monarch Business Systems, a Maryland based
company that
Builds new computer systems,
does repairs, networking, and houses the local communities Internet
access point.  After 12 years as a business, I would say that Monarch
stands
on pretty solid ground.

As far as motives?
Well, I'll let Mr. Defut answer that in his own words:

"I have taken your suggestions in several occasions on games and I
want to
give back some to the community...."

Other concerns were brought up about Mr. Defut and/or Monarch Business
System's possible motives for offering to house the audyssey web site
for
free.
Again, I think Mr. Defut sets things quite clear below:

"Hello Everyone,
         As a blind business owner and gamer I made an offer to the
community that I thought was a good one: to house the Audyssey
Magazine web
site on my companies servers at no cost to Audyssey or mike at all.
There
was no mention of my company hosting other game companies for profit,
just
an offer for them to place there demo files in the archives of the
audysseymagazine.org web site on my server. I have donated the domain
name
to this cause and the software and resources needed but haven't asked
for
anything ...

I don't do programming ...

I wouldn't know the first part in developing a game; however, I do
know the Internet
and networking
along with systems design and implementation. I enjoy the games as
much as
the rest of you out there and don't see where all the chest pounding
is
coming from. In good faith, since I have the resources to give, I
gave back
to the community. I don't want to sound off, but it seems like my step
forward has rubbed a lot of people wrong. I am not backing down or
giving
up anything, but I will state my stand again. My server is open to
those
who wish to further the audysseymagazine.org world. If developers
wish to
have a copy of there software on my server that is fine. There is no
implied charge for this, just a wish that they not hog the space. My
wife
and I have no problem working with the staff and getting the site up
to par
but we can't do it our selves. If content is sent we will put it up
but we
do not do this alone."

Well folks, there you have it.  Audyssey magazine now has an official
home
on the Internet.  Aside from the magazine archive,
it is now up to us to come up with ideas for other content.
Many things have already been suggested such as:

"a top games countdown which players could either vote for a single
favourite game or rank their favourite games"

"a message board where people could post their high scores would be a
good
idea"

"How about combining the forms with a search feature to allow people
to post
and answer questions regarding the magazine and games."

"A downloads section containing as many game demos and so-on as we
can put
on for people"

"a guide for newbies would be good"

"It would probably be good to have a section for editorials and
articles
which people could submit."

I'll close this article with a final quote from Luis which leaves us
ending
on a positive note and caps things up quite well.

"We would like your ideas to come forth so we may see about
implementing
these things on the site. Mike had said to me that it was the
readers who grow the magazine, so how `bout the readers send us some
fertilizer and lets see what we can get growing here!

So all you developers out there, keep pumping out your games and let
the so-called politics that are not there go by the way side. Do what
you do best,
and the community will grow fine on it's own!
For us gamers, we love to play games. But I don't hear a lot of
politicians
out there with any elections going on. Just lots of people with
the want to play more and better games!"

+++
Classic Games, New Games, and Originality
By Zhi Huang

 After reading an article from the last issue of Audyssey by
Didier Vanoverbeke, a lot came to my mind.  I must first thank
him for inspiring me to want to write.  With a little time, I decided
to
write an article on classic games, new games, and originality.

Some might think the above three things can be easily and simply
explained.
However, I believe that there are a few explanations of all three,
and I will
list some of them.  I will also give my point of view of how or why
they are
important in the game industry.

 According to
www.dictionary.com
a few definitions of the word `classic' include: Having lasting
significance or worth;
enduring, having historical or literary associations, Simple and
harmonious.
Although not all "classic games" are written in stone, it is pretty
unanimous that some of them include Packman, Space Invaders, the
Super Mario
Brothers, Donkey Kong, and one of the first and
perhaps even the first game created, Pong.  Due to the
historical significance of these games, manufacturers constantly try
to
remake, create sequels, and translate these games to make them
suitable in
another language.  Some will say, "Ok, it's a classic game. Who wants
to play that
now that we have new games out?"  Never the less, it seems that a
significant amount of people are still willing to play different
renditions
of them because they are historical, bring back a lot of memories, or
perhaps the latest release has just been made available in their area
or language.

During the past few years, revisions of games like Pong, Pinball,
Doom,
And Space Invaders were released for the visually impaired
community.  Although there are some who say that some of these games
for the
blind are not good, horrible, or bad games, there are still
supporters of
these games, because it brings back memories of when people played
them
with sight, or they heard of these classic games and want to check
them out
now that they have the opportunity to do so.  Therefore, individuals
like
Mr. Didier Vanoverbeke cannot say that these games are bad games
simply
Because he still plays sighted games---and just because he thinks
they are.  He can say he
doesn't like the games, but how can he say classic games which have
been
enjoyed by billions over the ages are bad games?  That's just like
saying the
Beatles, Duke Ellington, and others who are classical musical artists
stink
and are awful.  You might not like them, but how can you say that and
back it up?  Well, it's the same concept with classic games.
You do not have to like them and don't have to play them, but it
certainly doesn't mean they
are bad games.

 I know that there are people who say that members of the blind
community
shouldn't defend a game just because it is made for the blind. 
However,
this is not what I'm doing.  After all, there are plenty of sighted
games
that is still played today, so its not like blind people are the only
people playing
classic games.  For those who don't know, when you install windows,
you
have the option to install games such as hearts, minesweeper,
solitaire, free
cell, pinball, checkers, and others.  The reason for games like those
being
included?  Because the majority likes at least one of them.  In my
opinion,
many classic games for some reason or another will always have some
replayability. 

+++
News From ESP Softworks

Greetings, gamers!

You're receiving this special promotional offer for our next
scheduled game
release entitled 'Alien Outback'.  This title is scheduled to be
released
mid-June and so far everything looks like it's right on target.  This
is our
first arcade-style title and, without a doubt, it's proven to be tons
of fun
in the spirit of our previous two releases!  It won't be long before
ESP
Raceway is officially released, but this game will keep you well
occupied
until then and very well worth the price!  As a special promotional
introduction, we're offering 'Alien Outback' to our valued customer--
that's
you!--for just $24.95 plus S&H through May 26th, 2002.

Alien Outback features all of the truly high-quality sound effects you
expect from ESP releases as well as our special brand of innovation
and
unbeatable customer service bar none!  That's right--no bounced
technical
support e-mail or excruciating licensing requirements.  Once again,
ESP
Softworks delivers the best in high-quality accessible gaming
entertainment
direct to the accessible gaming community and beyond.

_Alien Outback_

Busha Bob was settling back having a Foster's with Duncan after a
safari
adventure when all of a sudden there was a commotion out by the
billabongs.
Crikey, Jolly rancher! It looks like the outback's been invaded by
alien
vermin! They can take our women and they can take our Foster's, but
they
won't be taking our bloody sheep! Throw on your waders and drop your
feet
into Busha Bob's world as he takes on alien invaders from out of this
world
and help save the outback!

Alien Outback Features:

- Over 20 levels of out-of-this-world arcade-style shoot 'em up fun!
- Many way cool, high-quality sound effects!
- Real-time score reporting--to and from the game via a dedicated
high score
server!
- Monthly contests on the AlienOutback.com website!
- Compete with your friends and foes on the high scoreboard!
- Extra bonus levels!
- The unmistakable brand of ESP humor you've come to expect in our
games!

"Who needs the Men In Black when ya got Busha Bob out in the outback?"

Alien Outback is scheduled to be released in June 2002.  The non-
promotional
retail price will be $29.95 plus $4.00 shipping/handling and ships on
CD.
Shipping and multiple title discounts apply.  See order form for
details.


+++
News From Zform

Hello Audyssey Community,

Some of you have been following the progress of ZForm since our
earliest days when we were two crazy kids in a college dorm room. 
And after five years of learning and building, I am proud to announce
to you that our first game, ZForm Poker, is now completed and
available online!

ZForm Poker is a multiplayer, online version of five-card draw poker
that you can play on your PC.  It uses sound cues and intuitive
keyboard commands for game play, making it easy to learn, fun to
play, and accessible to blind and visually impaired players. The game
also includes a slick graphical interface that is accessible for
those with low vision and attractive to sighted friends and family.

Some of ZForm Poker's other cool features include:
* Unlimited Play - Play ZForm Poker online as much as you like!
* Chat - Shoot the breeze with (or taunt smile) your friends while
you play.
* Chips - Poker wouldn't be poker without something to bet with! Each
player gets a pile of fake poker chips to bet with when they create
their account.
* Score Boards - ZForm tracks how well people are doing at our games
so that you can see whom the top players are in a variety of
categories (and see if you're one of them!).
* Community - ZForm has a vibrant online community composed of blind,
visually impaired, and fully sighted.
* Self-Voicing - ZForm Poker is self-voicing, meaning that it does
not require a screen reader in order for it to work (though it works
with many existing screen readers) 

Interested in playing ZForm Poker? You can download a 15-day FREE
trial version at:
http://games.zform.com/signup.php

Interested in learning more about ZForm?
http://zform.com

Everyone at ZForm would like to thank the editors of Audyssey and
this community for your continued support as we have grown from an
idea into a reality.

Cordially,
- Paul G. Silva, Cofounder and President, ZForm "Games with Vision"
(http://www.ZForm.com)

+++
News from DansSoft

Greetings Gamers!

Boy do we have some excellent news for you this month. DansSoft has
teamed up with www.blindsoftware.com to make one of the most
entertaining, fast-paced accessible games out there. The game is
called Troopanum...

Its complete chaos, as you attempt to shoot down enemy ships using
your laser, before they land and destroy your base. Wave after wave
of enemies infiltrate the area, but you manage to defeat them all.
Just when you think you've got the hang of it, boss ships appear, as
well as different ship types! Think you can handle ships that move
just as you are about to destroy them? Or how about those that take
multiple hits before they go down? It won't be easy!

The game can be played by all gamers, as there are three difficulty
levels to choose from. Is easy not a challenge for you? We dare you
to try insane! Think you can match up to other gamers around the
world? Post your high scores real-time from within the game to the
blindSoftware.com top ten using an active internet connection and
prove it!

The game is extremely simple to play. All sounds can be learned using
a very intuitive sound demonstration menu.

The game is completely self-voicing--no screen reader necessary! With
its amazing sound effects, music, and voice-overs, you'll wonder
where the time has gone!!! Things get even more interesting when you
obtain special items. When do you use your super laser? Do you dare
attempt to portal to the next level? Do you use your smart bombs now,
or hold off until the boss ship appears?

We have used a new technology for our sound files and our setup file!
No other company has ever done this so we are the first! Let that be
known! Our entire setup file is 5.1 MB and we have over 130 stereo
sound files in the game! so forget about downloading multiple large
files or downloading  a 20 to 30 MB setup file! You can yank this
entire game in 20 minutes using a regular dial-up modem or in seconds
using cable or dsl! How's that for a time saver! Please remember,
blindsoftware.com and myself came up with this idea! Sorry, we are a
little proud of this accomplishment! grin.

A playable demo is available! Visit
www.blindsoftware.com http://www.blindsoftware.com
for this download, as well as ordering information...

News From PCS Games

Congratulations Michael and Rebecca on your wedding!

PCS Games is completing work on our first self-voicing Windows 3D
sound game called "Packman Talks".
It uses the game creating engine from GMA games.
A Packman Talks Demo is also nearing completion, and we will keep you
posted
on its development and where the demo will be located in future
Audyssey
magazines and on the Blind Gamers list.

Phil will be at the NFB Convention in Louisville, Kentucky July 2002.
Hope to meet all the Audyssey gamers there!

       You can contact PCS Games in any format at
PCS Games
666 Orchard Street
Temperance, MI 48182
phone (734) 850-9502
E-mail Phil Vlasak [email protected]

Check out our New Web site!
www.pcsgames.net


+++
News From MindsEye2

MindsEye2 is currently working on another word game you may
enjoy when it is released. It is a hidden word puzzle or circle
the word puzzle game.

You are presented with a grid of letters and a list of words to
find among the grid of letters. For example, the grid could be 12
letters across by 12 letters tall. Many words could be hidden on
this grid of letters, and your activity is to search in all
directions to discover where the words have been hidden. Words
can go left to right, right to left, top to bottom, diagonal etc. The
words can be in any of the eight directions. Also words can
overlap each other and cross each other.

Finding hidden words is fun, and since all words to find are
given, you do not need to figure out what words are in the puzzle
using clues like in a crossword puzzle.

In our game you use the digits 1 through 9 on the numeric keypad
to move around on the grid of letters easily. When you discover
one of the words, go to the first letter of the word and press
the enter key to indicate that you have found a word. Then press
the numeric keypad key (1 through 9) to show which direction
the word continues in. If correct the word speaks and a reward
sound plays.

Use up/down arrow to review which words are left to find. Each
time you correctly find a word it is removed from the list. When
all words have been found, a reward tune plays, and the game
automatically continues to the next puzzle.

As with our other games, we plan on including a visual interface,
so sighted players can enjoy the game too. The game will also
include background music and will be self-voicing and run on
Windows 95, 98, ME, and XP. We will probably release several games
each with different size grids of letters. When the grid size is
small, such as 4 by 4 letters, only a few words can fit on the
grid. This is great for younger children since there are few
words to find in each puzzle and only a few letters to examine.
Children in first grade may be able to handle these smaller grid
puzzles.

When the grid size is very large, such as 30 by 30 letters, more
then 100 words will easily fit on the grid, and it will take much
longer to search everywhere for these words. So these would be
best for older players who really enjoy these puzzles. We may
sell several games with different grid sizes so one can start
with one and later get another which is easier or harder. Each
game will include a number of puzzles. The games with smaller
grid sizes will probably include more puzzles. I have not
decided how many puzzles to include with the games.

I thought you might find the hidden word search games
interesting and want to watch for us to release these games.
Hopefully MindsEye2 will be able to mention more about these in
the next issue of Audyssey.

If you think you would enjoy word puzzles like this and would
like to check out the user interface, then drop me a note and
when I get far enough along with the games, I may be able to let
you try a puzzle out to see what it is like.

Below is a sample circle the word puzzle with 6 words hidden in
it. The words are:

help
play
new
race
car
game

Here is the puzzle. Try to find the six words if you like.

w r r y
e m a g
n l c c
p l e h


 +++
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.


++
Announcement: Haptic Device
Contributed by Roger Myers

Editor's Note:
Roger planned to write an article on this particular product, but
never got around to doing so. However, I thought that this
information on it that he sent me after testing it might be of
interest to some of you.

I had a chance to test drive a really fascinating hardware
device. It
is the Haptic Device, a $15,000 force feedback device which
hooks up to a computer.

If there is some time, I thought of writing an article for
Audyssey about the device partly because it is so interesting
and futuristic, but also because it has ramifications for future
game development.

With it one holds something like a ballpoint pen and uses this
probe to examine virtual objects in front of him. There are
really no objects there, but with the pen, it is exactly like the
objects are present.

For example, there was a sphere which felt exactly like probing a
rubber ball. The lady helping me then changed the ball's texture
to be sandpaper, and it felt like scraping the pen over a ball
with a rough surface. Next she changed the ball to be molasses,
and its surface felt sticky. I could press on the ball with the
pen, and the pen would slowly pass through the ball.

In another program she had an empty room with a cube box in it.
I could find the walls with the pen and run the pen up the
corners of the room. I could find the box and feel all sides of
it with the pen. Also by scooting the pen under the box, I could
lift it, and it felt like a weight on the pen.

She also had a program which let one type in any math equation,
and the graph of that would be carved into a virtual wall so one
could trace the groove with the pen. With proper sounds, this all
could be quite a powerful tool for blind users.

She showed me the three dimensional tic tac toe game some one
had put together for the Haptic Device. With the pen I could
easily find the 9 cubes suspended before me. Scooting around
these I could easily find the middle nine cubes behind the first
nine cubes, and then behind those were nine more cubes,
totaling twenty-seven in all.
I could feel with the pen that each cube was cube shaped.
By pressing harder on a cube, it would suddenly change into the letter
X suspended in the same location. I could feel the lines of the
letter X. The next cube I pressed on turned into the letter O. I
could put the pen in the center of the O and also trace around
it to determine that it was an O. This continues until all
twenty-seven cubes have changed into letters. At that point the
computer announces the winner. That is right! There is a winner
because the game can be played over the Internet with another
person who is using a Haptic Device. Both players feel the new
letters on their Haptic Devices as the game progresses.

While the $15,000 price tag is high for a toy or game, the price
should be coming down over time. I would like to see what could
be done with force feed technology when combined with the Direct
X 3D sounds, music, etc. to enhance our games.


++
The Longest Journey
Developer Funcom
Available in computer software stores
Requires sighted assistance
Review by Jay Pellis

In 2000, the adventure game genre wasn't doing that well.  A drought
was
occurring, and only a trickle of games were being released.  Most of
them
never hit US shelves, and they only saw the light of day in
Europe.  However, one game, the Longest Journey, was released there
in 1999,
and after much quibbling about publishing rights by various
companies, it
finally got released in the US and Canada around the middle of
2000.  Adventure gamers rejoiced at its release, as it is one of the
best
adventure games of all time, and it has won many awards from computer
game
magazines.

*the story*

This game takes place a few years in the future, and the story tells
of the
balance of 2 worlds.  They are Stark, the world of science, and
Arcadia,
the world of magic.  You play April Ryan who is your typical college
student, trying to make it in the world as an artist.  She has a
bunch of
friends and what seems to be a normal life but soon all that will
change.  The game opens with a narrator telling the story of how the
worlds
became balanced, and this sets the scene for what the game is,
essentially
a huge flashback telling the story of the worlds.  April has been
having
nightmares recently, and in this particular one she is told to seek a
way
in to Arcadia.  She has no clue what the person who tells her this is
talking about and ignores what they say for the moment.  She soon
meets an
old man named Cortez who explains more about the worlds to her, which
slowly changes her mind about the situation.  You, as April Ryan must
stop
an evil man and his henchmen from bringing magic from Arcadia in to
the
world of Stark, thus destroying both worlds in the process.
You will explore locations such as the huge city that April lives in
and
docks by an ocean.  Once you find a way in to Arcadia, the locations
will
change to more of a fantasy setting with you exploring temples, a
marketplace, and a forest populated by mythical creatures.

*the interface*

Like most adventure games, the interface in the Longest Journey is
completely mouse driven.  As you move the mouse around the screen, a
cursor
will change color and shape to let you know you can do something. 
For
example, it may turn in to an arrow to let you know you can walk in a
certain direction or maybe it will turn in to an eye to let you know
you
can look at an object.  The left mouse button is used for all actions
such
as looking at something or taking an object.  Whenever you look at
something, April will describe it to you in great detail before
either
ignoring it or picking it up.  Objects are contained in an inventory
which
you access via the right mouse button.  You can combine items, as
well as
look at them and have April describe them.
If you click on a person to initiate a conversation, you are
presented with
a few dialog choices to choose from.  You can usually find out lots
of info
just by talking to characters, and most of the time, they will have
different things to say if you return to them after not talking to
that
particular character for a while.  Dialog is a very big part of this
game.

*the sound, music and voices*

This game gets top marks in all 3 categories.  There are various
sounds for
every location in the game to really immerse the player in the game
world.  From the hustle and bustle of traffic noise in the city, to
the
quiet sound of birds singing outside of Aprils house, to the sound of
waves
hitting the dock near the ocean, it is all here in glorious stereo.
Most if not all the music is performed by a symphony orchestra, and
it is
appropriate for every situation in the game in which it is
played.  Dramatic sweeping strings help start off the game
introduction,
while fast music can be heard during the more tense moments.  The
music is
definitely up to the standard of any film score.
To top it all off, the best part of the game is the voice acting. 
Not only
do the actors portray their character roles perfectly but as stated
before,
there is a lot of dialog in the game.  Conversations make up the bulk
of
this game.  I spent 10 minutes talking to the first character I met,
and
most of the information was background info on that particular
character.  You can have these long conversations with every
character in
the game when you first meet them if you wish.  You can find out
things
such as their history, and how they feel towards April and her quest
as
well as how they feel about other characters.

*conclusion*

This is one of those games where if you start playing it, you'll just
want
to play a little longer to see what will happen.  Like a good book,
once
you pick it up, you'll never want to put it down until it is over. 
With a
massive complex story spanning 4 cds, this is definitely a long
journey but
an interesting one all the way through.


++
Monkey Business Review
Game by ESP Softworks
Review by Michael Feir
Available commercially for $34.95 US from:
www.espsoftworks.com http://www.espsoftworks.com
Fully accessible without sighted assistance.

After much anticipation, Monkey Business has proven to be more than
worth the long wait. Packed with action and rich sound effects, it
kept me going for around three weeks of intensive play. The
experience is a completely new and refreshing one even for
experienced gamers like myself.

*Design: Overall, The game is well plotted out and paced nicely. The
first level acts as a kind of tutorial to the game. Joining your
employer in his lab, you discover that the evil Dr. Wobble has been
at work. During your stay in the lab, you must learn to use the
controls in a safe environment. There are no time limits or threats
on this level, and you are free to explore. Following the professor
into the lab is a bit tricky, and I've had occasions where it has
seemed that I should have been within the lab but was not. The
entrance is a bit narrow. After the second or third time through, the
lab becomes somewhat dull. I wouldn't have minded having more to do
in there. For instance, perhaps points could be lost if the monkey
let loose for you to catch ends up damaging equipment or knocking
things over. Something like that would not, I think, be a bad
addition for the medium or hard levels of difficulty.

Other levels I found particularly impressive were the Aztec temple,
the wild west level, and the final confrontation with Dr. Wobble. In
the temple level, you must avoid snakes, jump over pits, and duck
arrow traps among other things. These obstacles are very well thought
through sonically. I was never made to feel that extra sound was put
in for my benefit as a blind gamer. Things sounded quite natural.
When jumping over pits, I was impressed that you could hear the
bubbling of the acid they contained as if you flew over it. James
North has performed miracles with stereo sound that are not to be
missed. The rumbling of approaching boulders was another very neatly
executed touch on that level. The wild west level featured everything
from gun fights to whipping barrels. It was quite exhilarating and
fun. The saloon was especially well done with a good dose of humor.
Look around carefully in there, folks. I won't spoil some nifty
little extras he's tucked away in the saloon. The final level was
extremely well done and has the feel of a cartoon-style battle
between a hero and arch villain. You duke it out with rockets with a
bunch of robots and then Dr. Wobble himself. There is a non-violent
way to handle the robots for those clever enough to figure it out.

The only level which I don't like at all is the cliffs area. I've
never been one for mazes, and until I got help from James North, I
don't think I would have ever solved the area. There are those who
are more inclined toward mazes who doubtless found it an excellent
challenge. It was pure frustration for me though. Other than that and
my above remarks about the lab, I don't think there's much James
North could have done better with the levels. The puzzles presented
in them were fair, but I only thought so in hindsight. Nothing like
this has been done before. The temple area had me confused for a
while as to how to avoid snakes and then how to solve the puzzle in
the central chamber. The arcade feel is incredible. It was quite a
sensation to be playing the kind of game I had been wishing for since
my teenage years.

*Sound: Nothing short of splendid, the sound work throughout Monkey
Business not only enables you to suspend disbelief. It flings
skepticism aside like so much dust in the wind. Right from the
opening scene, you're drawn into the adventure. As you move around
and turn, the sound shifts in direction and volume just as it
realistically should. The atmospheric touches are designed so as not
to interfere too much with navigation. For instance, there are many
such sounds in the jungle level. Different animal noises are played,
and objects like quicksand patches give off warning sounds that seem
natural to them. The saloon has everything from bar fights to piano
music in its soundscape. However, it's all at a level which still
allows you to hear more important sounds. Overall, I'd give Monkey
Business top marks for its sound work with no reservations at all.

*Controls: Movement and navigation in Monkey Business is handled
entirely with the keyboard. The layout is good and can be mastered
without too much effort. Be aware that this is a game of some
complexity and that it pays to be familiar with all options available
to you. This is especially true in later levels where the scanning
commands are pretty much necessary to solve levels. The look-ahead
keys are very handy and should be mastered by players before they get
too far in the game. Take the time to do this in the lab and jungle
levels.

Basic movement is handled with the arrow keys. Much like Shades of
Doom, your character turns left and right as you press the left and
right arrows. The up-arrow moves you forward. The right control key
causes you to jump. Other keys allow running and sharper turning.
While this is typical for sighted gamers, it is still rare for blind
gamers and may take new players a bit of time to adjust to. However,
now that the pioneering moves have been made, I would say that
mastering Monkey Business will better prepare you for other games
likely to emerge in the near future.

*Overall Comments: To date, there has been no game which makes such
optimal use of current sound technology to draw its players into its
world. The learning curve is fairly high compared to other games for
blind people. However, this comes with the territory. Action games
such as Monkey Business take a while to master and new players should
try not to get discouraged. Effort and patience are both generously
rewarded with lavish excitement. James North has the right approach
in the mechanics of making this kind of game sound accessible and
fantastic at the same time. No corners are cut for the sake of ease
of play, and that's just how things should be. If you're having
trouble hearing the footsteps of a monkey near a raging waterfall,
that's not inaccessible. It's just real life. It's about time a game
with such values came along. Also, James has made a good game for all
ages. There is some violence such as fighting robbers in the wild
west area or shooting rockets at robots in the final level. However,
the violence all makes sense and there is nothing gratuitous about
it. For the price, Monkey Business provides excellent value currently
surpassed by no other fully accessible game. Even playing it again at
the same difficulty level is not dull as it can be in other games.
Having three levels of difficulty and ten levels to the game means
that you have excellent replay value. There is also a bonus level
which I have yet to experience. Collecting all the bonus coins seems
to be necessary and I haven't quite managed that yet. When time
permits, I'll have that motivation to return to this wacky world of
monkeys and shallow but likeable characters and give it another try.
I give this game a ten out of ten.


++
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers
Developer Sierra On-line
Available at computer software stores
Requires sighted assistance
Reviewed by Jay Pellis

Back in the early 90's, Sierra On-line and Lucasarts were the kings of
commercial adventure games.  While Lucasarts concentrated more on
creating
light-hearted humorous adventures, Sierra's games sometimes had much
darker
subject matter.  The Gabriel knight series of games created by Jane
Jensen
combines fact with fiction to create a riveting and sometimes
suspenseful
storyline that still captivates gamers even today, 8 years after the
first
game was released.
The series introduces gamers to Gabriel Knight and his assistant Grace
Nakimura.  Gabriel is a novelist and owner of a New Orleans bookstore
called Saint Georges books.  Gabriel is desperately trying to write a
novel
but his research seems to be falling flat.  However he is fascinated
by and
soon starts to investigate some murders that have been going on right
in
the New Orleans town where he lives.  His novel was going to be about
voodoo, and he soon discovers that the people who were murdered were
killed
in strange ways.  The victims hearts were removed from the bodies,
which
have the police baffled.  Gabriel suspects it is the work of a
supposed to
be mythical voodoo cult that lives in secret and is hidden in New
Orleans.  His investigations lead him from a voodoo history museum,
to a
new Orleans park in the middle of town, and even to other countries
such as
Germany.  Grace his assistant will help the investigation by running
the
shop while Gabriel is out Investigating and doing research on topics
that
Gabriel asks her to help him with.

*the interface*

This game has the typical sierra online interface of the early 90's,
which
was also displayed in Kings Quest 6 and similar games.  The right
mouse
button will cycle through icons such as look, talk, walk, and use. 
When an
icon is activated by pressing the left mouse button, either Gabriel
will
comment on something or the narrator will describe it.  The interface
is
also used to pick up items that Gabriel might need along the way, and
he
can then use items that he finds.  For example, he can show a
photograph of
a victim's body to someone to try to get information out of them.  The
interface may be a little bit better then the interface of today's
adventure games, since the look icon in particular is quite useful and
extends the game play.

*the sound, voices, and music*

As usual with an early cd based sierra adventure game, the voices are
what
make it shine.  There is a narrator that will describe practically
anything
in the game out loud, whether it is something that you are looking at
such
as a bookcase or even if it is a sign that Gabriel is reading. 
Gabriel
will also read things out loud such as books in his bookstore and even
letters he receives in the mail.  The conversations are also a new
thing
for these kind of games.  In a game like Kings Quest 6, when you
talked to
a character, you had to sit through scripted dialog.  By that I mean,
you
couldn't choose what your character would say to another character. 
In
Gabriel Knight however, you can do this.  You can ask questions or ask
about certain subjects like the voodoo religion or the murders.  This
is
done by clicking with the left mouse button on whatever topic you
want to
ask about.  The conversations with other characters are quite long,
and if
you come back to the same character later in the game, they may have
something different to say then they did the first time.  As I
mentioned
before, fact is included along with the fictional story so you may
get a
chance to learn a little bit about voodoo.  This game also includes a
cast
of Hollywood actors portraying some of the characters such as Tim
Curry
playing the role of Gabriel, and Mark Hamill plays Gabriel's police
friend
Mosely.  If you play your cards right, Mosely can be a valuable asset
to
the investigation.
The music is another thing that Sierra games does right, and this
game's
soundtrack is no exception.  It brings the New Orleans atmosphere to
life
with many good jazzy and blues sounding tracks such as a blues
version of
the Saints go Marching in that is playing when Gabriel enters a
section of
the park.  The music played in the various locations is perfect for
them,
such as the haunting music that plays when Gabriel must negotiate a
swamp
later in the game.  Almost every location has a piece of music
associated
with it.
There isn't a lot of sound in the game though.  This is typical of
older
sierra games where the music and voice acting make up the bulk of the
experience.  You may hear the occasional sound such as Gabriel
opening the
drawer of his desk to retrieve something.

*conclusion*

If you thought the 2 Broken Sword games were good mysteries, then you
will
thoroughly enjoy the first game in the 3 part Gabriel Knight series. 
It
has everything a mystery fan could ask for, investigation, a few plot
twists, and a great story that will keep you coming back just to see
what
will happen next.  The blind player will have a complete
understanding of
the story because of the many lines of dialog that are spoken and also
because of the narrator describing things.
This game can be found in the Gabriel Knight Mysteries collection. 
This
box set also includes the sequel Gabriel Knight 2: the Beast within,
as
well as a novelization of the first game written by Jane Jensen
herself.  I
highly recommend reading the novel before playing the game because
then you
will know what many of the characters are like, and you will be able
to
picture the locations of the game in your mind.  The novel is very
well
written with good characterization and descriptions of game locations.
So if you have a sighted friend or 2 who enjoys a good mystery, why
not see
if you can track down Gabriel Knight Sins of the fathers.


+++
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 Armoury
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]

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] mailto:[email protected]

Muds take a long time to become familiar with. Therefore, Maria
Dibble joins Dave Sherman in his exploration of muds. They also make
a great team to tackle interactive fiction games together. Maria can
be contacted at:
[email protected] mailto:[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] mailto:[email protected]

Brenda Green is the new co-moderator. Her efforts on behalf of the
Audyssey community are very much appreciated. She can be contacted at:
[email protected]
 


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