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Audyssey
Games Accessible to the Blind
Issue 41: second quarter, 2004
Edited by Ron Schamerhorn

Fun, Friendship, Knowledge, Charity

+++
Welcome
Welcome to the forty-first issue of Audyssey. This magazine is dedicated to
the discussion of games which, through accident or design, are accessible to
the blind either with or without sighted assistance.
 This issue has some good submissions from members of the community.  A well
written article about a well-known gamer, an upcoming contest in the
developers segment, and another developer whose project has taken a new
direction.
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:
[email protected]
I will give my home 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. 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 cd or 3.5-inch disk in a self-
addressed mailer if you want your media returned to you. 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. 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 the generous
support of Monarch, Your PC1Source LLC., Audyssey Magazine now has an
official home on the Web. All previous issues of Audyssey can be obtained
from there in several different formats. LVG makes Audyssey available in
MS-Word and PDF formats. There efforts on our behalf are very much
appreciated. Visitors may take advantage of a growing amount of content as
well as submit material. Check it out at:
www.audysseymagazine.org

Those who want to receive issues of Audyssey as they are published should
send a blank E-mail to:
[email protected]
   
The Audyssey discussion 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.  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.  There are two moderators keeping things
civil and orderly. Be certain to read the Audyssey Community Charter as all
list members are expected to follow its rules. 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]

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 our
home-page. 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.

  Darren Duff also provides a home for Audyssey.
http://www.angelfire.com/music4/duffstuff/audyssey.html
.Wwhere the issues can be read, downloaded individually or one zip file of
all issues.  Thanks Darren!

Another site has recently added Audyssey issues to its resources. We
welcome:
Note the dash in the below address.
www.blind-help.com
to the Audyssey community and hope that visitors to this site find our
resource to be of value to them.


 +++
Contents:
Welcome
Distribution Information and Submission Policies
From The Editor
Electronic Entertainment Expo
David Sherman
Ashes of Angels online
News From Game Developers
Fearless Flin Development Diary: Part I
Game Announcements and Reviews
Contacting Us

+++
From The Editor:

   Hello all of you.  To begin I would like to extend my gratitude to Mike
for beginning the magazine, and helping I'm sure many of us in discovering
the ever growing options in the realm of accessible gaming.  It goes without
saying while putting together issue 41 I've developed a deep respect for the
effort he put into this endeavour.
Since starting work putting together my premier issue of Audyssey, it's
become clear that I'm glad I didn't leave everything until the last minute.
I certainly wouldn't want to be attempting to assemble the reviews and
articles early in the same day as publication.  I've actually come up with a
good strategy or two which I'm hoping will aid me in producing the next
issue.
  Admitedly this undertaking has been quite a good experience for me.  Now
while I sit here and write up the editor comments the concept of this is
really hitting home so to say.  Not in a bad way of course but I'm more
aware now of what this means.  Here I am preparing to publish this issue
that has quite a following, it's completely different from posting to a
discussion list or similar. 
  I'm hoping everyone enjoys reading this issue.  As I have thoroughly
enjoyed  putting it together.  Do feel free to let me know if you have any
comments about Audyssey. 

+++
Electronic Entertainment Expo
Taken from the email list
Written by Richard

As some of you may know, I went to this years E3 (Electronic Entertainment
Expo) in Los Angeles. While I was there I had several talks about audiogames
and accessible game design with the major publishing houses like EA games,
LucasArts, Sony as well as several developers for mobile phone games and
smaller software houses. Since the Expo is mainly a trade show (all about
selling games) all these talks were informal.

I talked to several developers about the subject of audiogames (games
completely based on sound). Many of them thought this was a really nice idea
and never really thought about it. The people who were most enthusiastic
were the developers of mobile games (for mobile phones, that is). I know
this issue was raised a couple of weeks ago on this forum and we ourselves
(from SoundSupport) have been thinking about the possibilities ourselves for
some years already. At the E3 the most advanced mobile phone games were
presented, on regular phones, smartphones and special game phones. The main
problem, the developers told me, is size. A mobile phone game is around 100
kilobytes in size. That's not a lot. I was told that if I wanted to use
samples the technology should be a bit further (or have a look at other
mobile gaming platforms like the gameboy and the PSP, who can use more data,
2 Mb to ? Mb). However, they were quite interested, especially when I
pointed out that a telephone is a device that originally is about sound and
that people are used to listen to it. I also explained some of my research
and told them about which games exist, such as action shooters like
Troopanum, pinball games like ESP Pinball, adventures like Chillingham and
racing games like Mach1. Many were amazed and although they had a hard time
imagining what such a game would be like, several said they would visit the
audiogames.net website to have a go at some of these games.

I also raised the subject of (blind) accessible gaming where possible. The
first developer I talked to was the team of (I believe) Coresoft, that did
the digital adaption of Magic:the gathering. I know loads of people on this
list would like to have an accessible version of Magic. At the E3, Magic
Online was presented, an online multiplayer version of the original game. It
came as a big surprise to the team that blind people also played Magic. Only
one person had ever heard of a blind Magic player, who used brailled cards.
However, the team thought that making Magic Online accessible for blind
players was very hard to do. As they explained the problems they would
encounter I noticed that they hadn't really ever thought about it and the
problems they mentioned weren't even the biggest problems, I thought. One
problem, they said, was that they had to record every line of text in the
game and that would mean 1000+ recordings. They never heard of a speech
synthesizer and screen reader software and when I suggested this, they were
quite interested. But the team said that they, for now, would not consider
making Magic accessible for blind players as of yet because they had mainly
other problems to focus on.
Other developers were a bit more positive. For instance, I had a talk with
Dreamcatcher Games/The Adventure Company. They're the developer of a new
adventure called Aura (summer 2004) which is very much like Myst. This is a
very simple, mouse driven interface and features high quality sound. The
developer proudly explained to me that all the spoken text also appeared as
written text on screen. My immediate reaction was : "... so then it is
accessible for deaf players as well?" . His reaction: "...erm...yes?" . Then
I asked him about the other way around, why not add a special layer of sound
so that the visual environment (which only consisted of a pre-rendered
picture with hotspots for the mouse) would be accessible for blind gamers?
Well, he thought it was a really nice idea and actually quite simple to do.
They'd definitely would consider adding such a feature in a future adventure
game.
Some people of Sony were interested in accessibility as well. As you may or
may not know, the PS2 is a console with the most extendable hardware
like laser guns, dance mats, microphones, etc. The people I talked to had
already been thinking about creating special hardware (like special
joysticks) to make certain games (more) playable by people with motoric
disabilities. They hadn't considered adding software adjustments such as
extra sound options but thought it was a great idea as well. (I recently
recieved an email from Thomas Westin of Terraformers about his speech at the
GDC in San Jose one month earlier: Sony Online was one of the interested
parties in his roundtable conversation about game accessibility). They
didn't really think audiogames on the PS2 would go very well, although they
thought it might be something for their upcoming PSP (=playstation 2 version
of the Gameboy). Then they were thinking along the lines of an interactive
story for instance (like Chillingham).
From several developers, like the developers of Fight Club and Metroid Prime
2 (who's first version MP1 has won several game audio awards), I heard that
"their game couldn't possibly be made accessible with sound only". Most of
these of course were fast-paced action shooters. I suggested that
accessibility options could also include setting the speed of the game. But
this is something that most developers don't want to do, since they see it
as a kind of cheating and that you then run into problems like setting the
balance of the gameplay. These developers thought that making special
accessible games (like audiogames for instance) is the answer, not making
regular games accessible.

Furthermore, the E3 was incredibly visually orientated. I was deeply
disappointed that of all the games I played, I couldn't even hear the sound
of the game due to the immense noise at the E3. Only a few developers
brought headphones so that people could listen to their game as well as play
it. The rest of the noise was created by 300 games, 5000 visitors, Vin
Diesel giving a presentation on stage, trailers and advertisements on huge
screens, all in one room! A lot of cool games will come out this year, but
there was only 1 game I noticed that would be accessible for blind gamers.
It was a Playstation 2 Karaoke game in which you could sing and your voice
would be compared to the tune, scoring points if you sang in tune.

Conclusion: up untill now, almost none of the developers have thought about
accessibility in their games. Many think audiogames are a nice idea,
especially mobile phone developers. Around 50% of the developers see mostly
problems with game accessibility, while 50% also see opportunities. Several
developers think that special games, like audiogames, are the answer. No
real accessible games were presented at the E3, aside from the karaoke style
playstation 2 game (although the menu's weren't made accessible).

+++
David Sherman
July 8, 1963 - March 1, 2004
Written by David Lant

David Sherman, a long-time member of the blind gaming community, passed away
earlier this year.  He was aged 40, and had been struggling against multiple
aneurisms for many years.  His mother and sister were at his bedside.

Among his many interests, Dave was a keen musician, playing guitar and blues
harp.  He was also a keen science fiction reader and computer game player.
He attended university, to study for an engineering bachelor's degree.

I encountered Dave Sherman initially through the medium of E-mail.  The very
first occasion was on one of the first lists set up for Audyssey Magazine.
Having searched my archives, I am afraid I do not have that original contact
any more.  Evidently, my concerns for posterity did not start until 2001,
long after the list had moved to the ESP Softworks server where it enjoyed
its highest membership to date.  However, I recall those early days fondly,
and the kinds of discussion and debate we used to have.  Remember, in those
days, there were no audio games for the blind at all.  Pretty much all we
had were text based games, and all of them running in DOS.  So the kinds of
things we could discuss were much more fundamental and groundbreaking.  Even
in those halcyon days, I can recall Dave exhibiting his zany humour, as well
as his notoriously short fuse.  However, he still established himself as one
of the first generation of accessible game gurus, having particular interest
and knowledge in the area of Multi User Dungeons, or MUDs.

Over recent years, I had come to know Dave within the mudding environment
too.  From his several articles in Audyssey, many people will know of his
character called Myrthorn.  A wise, powerful, and somewhat dodgily dangerous
wizard, with a tendency for finding trouble, and leading others into it.  He
also appeared in a number of D&D role-playing sessions over chat, some of
which were chronicled in the Audyssey magazine.  David Greenwood has the
following recollection of those sessions:

"As I mentioned, David was the leader of the party.  In D&D usually
characters with the highest charisma or intelligence is made the leader, and
being a wizard, he had it all over the rest of the party in intelligence.
Most wizards like to stand apart from the serious melees since they really
don't have much in the way of hit points or armour, and Dave was no
exception. Dave usually stood well back and picked off attackers with his
crossbow and quiver of quarrels. He also had his silver dagger handy to use
against the undead. Of course, being a wizard, he always had a few spells up
his sleeve as well. As in real life, he had a tendency to occasionally throw
in his outrageous humour into the mix adding some fun to most D&D evenings."

Dave's humour was many things.  Offbeat, certainly.  Near the knuckle,
frequently.  Downright rude, often.  Bearing in mind his personal physical
condition, I often appreciated the fact that he was able to bring his humour
to bear and revive flagging topics.  One particularly funny occasion on the
GMA Games Talk list, there was a long silent period, when no-one had
anything of great moment to post.  Seeing this large gap in the posting
schedule, Dave decided he had to keep people awake, with the following post:

"Subject: all together now ...
coom bah yah
ma low erd
coom bah yah

coom bah yah
ma low erd
coom bah yah

coom bah yah
ma low erd
coom bah yah

 O o o oh low erd,
coom bah yah

(now somebody find Patrick, and get a DEC version of this together, so we
can all keep these lists from going stagnant <grin>)
-- Dave"

David Greenwood also recounted the following typical example of Sherman's
humour:

"As an aside, Dave knew that he had a good chance of dieing for at least two
years.  He always said that when he died and went to heaven, God would
probably turn out to be Curly from the Three Stooges."

Another long-time mudding companion, Kirstan Mooney, remembers Dave
Sherman's help and high drama in Legend MUD.  He was a great help in getting
the MUD client set up to work well, and helped out quite a bit with grouping
and advice.  He also, very typically, would wind Kirstan up quite
mercilessly, knowing when certain actions would irritate or frustrate her.
In this way, the friendship was often quite stormy.  But invariably it would
all smooth over, and they would be back to playing the MUD in earnest again.
He will be most definitely missed, and this is demonstrated no better than
the persistence in which Kirstan argued for, and got, a memorial plaque
placed in the OOC memorial garden on Legend MUD.

 One of the many discussion lists that I shared with Dave, was the
Raceway beta testers list.  As a flavour of the kind of humour we indulged
in there, here is Dave's very first post after I joined the team, back in
March 2002:

"Woohoo!
Ma Brit bud ...

Your overalls are in the third locker ... and don't mind the grease stains,
Lant.

Why don't ya grab that jar of wax and that buffing cloth, and get to work on
the hood.
(That damn hoser's off playin' Lightfoot on his acoustic, out in the
porta-crapper -- thought I warned him about  that!!).

We'll get to work on the engine Just as soon as that computer guy shows up.

Meanwhile, feel free to wheel that porta-crapper out on the track.

-- Pit Chief"

It was in response to this, that I began to write a very short set of
cartoon-strip type sketches involving the beta testers for Raceway.  Dave's
semi-simian Pit Masser character was joined by Sir Lant, a work-shy oafish
boy racer, Crocodile Andy, the antipodean deep thinking ex-con driver and
Fireman Ron, the. fireman.

Yet another venture he had comparatively recently embarked upon, was
becoming a builder on Aeon MUD.  Maria Dibble, the head builder and also
known to many of you as a collaborator on several of Dave's Audyssey
articles, had advertised for new builders.  I, quite coincidentally, also
applied, and Dave and I would occasionally meet up as immortals and discuss
the technical, and frequently flippant matters on the building site.  There
was a reference to Dave's character, called Satyn, in the story of Aeon on
their web site, but this doesn't seem to bee up at the moment.

http://www.aeon.tdf.ca

During my 5-month stay in Sacramento with James North, I was able to meet
Dave on two occasions.  He came up from Los Angeles, where he was living at
the time, and stayed for a week each visit.  We used to talk about various
things.  Mostly it was accessible games, as that was what we were mainly
about at that time.  He had particularly been looking forward to trying out
the Top Gun table from ESP Pinball 2, now Adora's Pinball Extreme.  I was
always very flattered by this, as I was not quite sure if my British
interpretation of the theme would go down well.  I hope, in its final
production, that table retains some of the features that Dave liked,
although things have moved on since then, and many improvements may well
have been made.  But we also had the odd musical session, in which I tried
to keep very much in the background, and listen to the two guitar players,
both of whom were far more accomplished than I.  But the thing I came to
realise was that although Dave's on-list persona was quite manic at times,
he had a serious and quite contemplative side too.

If I had to state the things that I remember most about him, it would have
to be, his humour, and without any fear of offence, his very short temper.
He never suffered fools gladly, and was not backward in expressing his
opinions of people, both publicly and privately.   Many of us remember the
times he left the Audyssey list, after a particularly heated exchange, as
well as the time one of his DND session write-ups for Audyssey started a
controversy when it was added to in the editing process.  That was the one
and only time the magazine was re-issued after publication.  It might seem
odd writing about someone being bad tempered after their passing, but I know
that Dave would not want to be remembered for anything other than the way he
was.  Funny, angry and self-confident.

Dave Sherman was there at the start.  His contributions and expertise,
especially in MUDs, will be greatly missed.  I for one, am glad I had the
chance to meet him.  Here's hoping he puts in a good word for us all in the
next great adventure.

+++
Ashes of Angels
By Darren Harris

Background story, taken directly from the game

"From the ashes of Angels, we shall rise again..."
- The Angel Prophecies, 20:14

The year is 2184. Mankind has taken to the stars. Not for survival. Nor out
of need. Simply because we could. We colonized other planets, through trial
and error. We made unbreatheable worlds into inhabitable places, where we
could thrive, and live comfortably. Then came disaster....
An alien race entered our galaxy. We approached them in peace, as was our
way. But they attacked... Leaving us no chance to defend ourselves, as we
had
become complacent. Thinking ourselves to be alone, the only race of
intelligent beings, we discarded weapons, save those that we needed to
defend ourselves
from each other. Even those were barely more than the old guns of the 21st
and 22nd centuries... And so, from this other race's greed (we never knew
there
name, never got a chance to find out), we were almost destroyed.

The year is now 2503... We have come a long way since then. Small pockets of
human life carried on somehow. The alien race, thinking us wiped out, moved
on to other galaxies, other universes, to wreak their havoc. We didn't know
where they came from, and we don't know where they went, or if they will
return.
If they do we must be ready...
We have rebuilt some of our civilization, grasped back some of our past,
taken back to the stars once again...
We are the future...
 - Prof. Tim Mackenzie, Chief Historian, Galactic Council
A browser based game of epic proportions...

Please note that this game is currently under going Beta testing, as such
some features may not work correctly, and some bugs may be found

Introduction to game

Firstly, welcome to the greatest "free and completely accessible" online
game ever devised. Ashes Of Angels is Primarily, a space trading game. You
start off in a small ship with little money, a very small engine, very
little cargo space and no real rating.

How do I make a living?

You can make a living in many ways. You can become any of the following:

A. Trader. Make some good honest cash by trading goods at a profit.
B. Smuggler. Do it the criminal way. Take on smuggling missions with the
risk of getting caught by local law enforcement. If you are caught, then you
will get a criminal status which can end up with you having a bounty on your
head.
C. Minor. Warm up that mining laser and borough deep under the surface of
planets for various goods, which you can sell.
D. Looter. Watch the notice board for people whose ships have been destroyed
then fly to those coordinates and pick up the spoils.
E. Pirate. Be a Pirate!
F. Assassin. Get paid by someone to hunt someone down and illegally kill him
or her.
G. Bounty Hunter. Pick up a Bounty Hunters license and go hunt some
Criminals for big cash rewards.


New features.

I feel that at this point, it's important to recap a little. At the end of
last year, I wrote up a review for Ashes of Angels. At that time, I
definitely gave it it's praises. But over the last few months, the game has
improved to quite a degree. Thus I felt it necessary to do yet another
review of this game, which builds on the previous review and just shows the
sorts of improvements that have been made. This article has been written
slowly over a 3 month period, tracking the new features of the game and then
as I understand these new features and see their effects, they get written
into this article. Below, is a list of features present at the first review
back in October last year.

1. Dynamic market. Based on supply and demand.
2. Many different ships to choose from ranging from small fighters to large
battleships.
3. Legal and Illegal missions. Take on missions for money.
4. The Bank. Take out loans from the bank to help get that ship you've
always wanted. Pay back the loan at a rate suited to you.
5. Where houses. Rent a where house on a planet and store all your trading
items in there.
6. Many different career paths to choose from. See above. This truly makes
the game non-linear. It's Truly open-ended.
7. The ability to mine various materials or scoop gasses from gas clouds in
space.
8. An excellent in game discussion forum where you can ask about game help,
make suggestions or have a chat.
9. Plenty of in-game help. There have been some quite extensive FAQ's
written for the game which can be found either on the main site or on the
game portal.
10. Your legal status. If you have a clean legal status, then you shouldn't
draw to much attention to yourself. At least, not attention that you didn't
want. If however you get a criminal status, you will have a bounty placed on
your head and there are plenty of bounty hunters out there looking for cash!

New features since then.

Whilst on paper, there doesn't really seem to have been many new features,
but on the other hand, considering the below features I think you would
agree that it has really opened the game up in many ways. These new features
are:

A. The Bar. This allows for financial and or cargo transfers between
players. Which inadvertently has allowed trading Corporations to come into
existence.
B. Personals Page. Advertise your own jobs and more...
C. AOA Express. This gives information with regards to the happening in the
AOA universe. Including roomers of a possible invasion by the aliens who
might want to attack us again. Which has stered up quite a bit of
conversation on the game, various players are formulating plans in order to
form a sivilian protection force in readiness to the threat of alien attack.
It also gives out various updates with reference to the market, current
mining licenses, including their costs and duration, and gas cloud
locations. As well as this, there can also be editorials. Players being
interviewed for the Express.
D. Factories. Wow, we can now build our own factories. Employ workers to
produce your product. Advertise on the Personals board. Advertise your
factory. Collect resources for your factory or get other players to sell
resources to your factory. Either arrange for players to deliver and sell
goods to your factory, or advertise the need for resources on the Personals
board. Make certain that you have enough cash in your factory safe, as this
is what pays the player for any goods sold and is also where any money goes
for any bought products.
E. Improved rating system. There have also been improvements to the scoring
and rating system. Instead of just having your normal ratings, Harmless,
Mostly Harmless, Poor, Below Average and Above Average etc, you also have a
mission rating now. So when you take on Game generated missions, depending
on whether you complete them or not, will greatly depend on whether your
rating goes up or down. In addition, your rating can be viewed by other
players thus they can see to some degree the experience you have.
F. Total players online. You can now see how many players are online at any
1 time. Whilst you Can't see "yet" who is online, it still adds a feeling
that you aren't playing alone.
G. Combat control. Don't want to get shot? Then this can solve your problem.
Play it safe and stop other human players from shooting you. All at the
click of a button. Especially good for those traders who only want to worry
about the risks they will face when trading and not what's on their
starboard bow.
H. Waypoints. Set up to 3 different destinations and you will be taken to
each in tern automatically. This is very useful if you happen to be on a
really good trading runn, or if you are in bed at night and want to do
multiple mission runs. 

Because of A, B and D, the game has really come alive. Various trading
corporations have now come into existence. This has really brought human
interaction into the game in a very large way. People who are members of one
of the various Organizations all have their jobs to do. I did belong to a
Trading Corporation called GTC. (Galactic Trading Corporation.) They are
purely interested in shipping goods and making money. I was a sales
executive. My job at that time, was to manage a depot set up on a particular
planet. I would purchase goods from that planet's market and store them.
Then a transporter would come to me and then collect the goods that I have
purchased and he would give me loads of goods to sell. Then, I would get to
keep a given percentage of the profits that is agreed upon when you take
work from any corporation and the rest of the cash is re-invested in more
goods that can be transferred to the transporter when they next return.
Below is an example of how it works. It is A goods delivered summery sent to
me, letting me know exactly what is required and what I get out of it. Note,
none of this is game created, this has all been generated by the user.

Subject: Summary of Goods delivered - Alycyone

From: Mario
          13:36 Mar 10 2504

Sales Executive: Lord Voldemort

Distribution Executive: Harag

Goods Delivered:

600 Industrial Parts @ 103 = 61,800
1700 Poly-silica @ 200 = 400,000
------
2300

Approx. Cost of goods = 461,800

Approx. Resale Value = 1,261,300

Anticipated Total Profit = 799,500

50% of profit as Sales Commission = 399,750 (yours!)

*************************************************

COLLECTED: in full payment of previous delivery (GTC share)

500 Weapons
1000 Robots
820 Hover Cars

Thank you on behalf of those now selling your goods!

*************************************************

CREDITS (Surplus Goods Also Collected):

96 Titanium @ approx. 126 = 12,096

Total Credits = 12,096

*************************************************

Total Commission (Commission + Total Credits) = 411,846

GTC Repayment (Resale Value - Total Commission) = 849,454

Repayment form (to be stocked on Alycyone for collection):

280 Robots @ approx. 648 = 181,440
500 Weapons @ approx. 1332 = 666,000
------
780

Total Cost = approx. 847,440

NOTE: Any additional Weapons, Robots or Hover Cars (in that order of
priority) you are able to stockpile, surplus to the above repayment
requirements, will
be credited to you on the next Delivery Summary. (This is not essential, it
just saves Harag time!)

STANDARD MEMO

If you have any queries please don't hesitate to ask.

Do please remember to notify me a little in advance for collection &
delivery of new stock so that a time convenient to you can be arranged with
minimum
delay.

If you also drop me a brief note each time you come online to sell,
indicating for how many hours you might be doing so, I can swiftly inform
our distributors
and other "nomadic" traders connected to the GTC, and advise them all to
avoid attempting to sell at this planet while you are active online and have
stock
to sell.

Thanks & good luck with your sales! :)

Mario.
CEO,
Galactic Trading Corporation, Inc.
Fortune City, Mars.
"Profit through Partnership."

In order to keep the members of the Corporation up to date with Corporation
news, the CEO of GTC generates a newsletter, which keeps all employees
informed of the happenings of the Corporation, and how it's doing. Below is
an example of a Corporation newsletter. It comes from the CEO of GTC. Note,
this letter is a little out of date, the insurance company no longer exists,
but it gives you a good idea as to what happens. Again, this is completely
player generated.

Galactic Trading Corporation Newsletter #3

Dear friends, colleagues & business associates.

Please forgive the impersonal tone of this letter; a copy is being sent to
everyone with whom I have regular dealings for mutual benefit --
collectively
referred to as the GTC ("Galactic Trading Corporation").

HEADLINE NEWS - TRADE FEDERATION INVITES GTC

The Trade Federation is an organization of peaceful traders and bulk
merchants that, for modest weekly dues, offers its members various benefits
and contacts.

GTC CEO Mario has recently joined the Trade Federation and an invitation has
also been extended to all others affiliated with the GTC (which means you!).

For further information and details of the Federation Charter contact Topur,
who is active within both the GTC and the TF.

CHEAPER INSURANCE FOR GTC AFFILIATES

The Insurance Company has confirmed that its rates for GTC affiliates are
only 50% of normal. If you are reading this you automatically qualify for
this
special rate and KingIan is aware of your connection to us.

Check out the range of policies available from The Insurance Company in its
Personals advert, entitled "Complete safety for you...guaranteed!"

GTC EXPANDS SOL DISTRIBUTION NETWORK

After a successful trial on Mercury the GTC has begun to "double up" on its
planetary Sales Executives, with one active during European peak times
(16:00-24:00
GMT) and one active during US/Canadian peak times (24:00-08:00 GMT).

The first planets to be allocated additional Sales Executives are those with
the most important supply requirements for the rest of the distribution
network,
such as Mercury and Pluto, although every planet is important in its own way
as they all supply at least one other.

While this means there will be occasional overlaps with two Sales Execs on
at the same time on the same planet (most likely at weekends), it should at
least
help solve our supply problems. We have at times come dangerously close to a
complete breakdown in supply, which would have the costly knock-on effects
I mentioned last newsletter in my explanation of how our system works.

We presently have vacancies for more US/Canadian (24:00-08:00 game time
period) Sales Execs in Sol, so if you fit the bill (or know someone who
does) and
are currently mining for us but wouldn't mind too much a change of scenery,
drop Me a note please and include details of your current cargo size.
Existing
GTC affiliates will be given priority before we advertise publicly to fill
any remaining vacancies.

We do not at present have any vacancies for European (16:00-24:00) Sales
Executives but feel free to put your name down for a position, in which case
you
would be awarded priority.

GTC Sales Executives usually earn a Partnership Sales Commission of between
32,000 and 45,000 credits per hourly sales, on average.

ALPHA CENTAURI MINING EXPANSION HICCUP

The GTC Corporate Executives offer their sincere apologies to all our miners
in Alpha Centauri for the hiccup in getting things moving properly.

I must stress that the fault lies not with our Director of Mining
Operations, Bjarki, but with a problem in our distribution network in Sol

For a little while at least we must concentrate on establishing Tholia as a
base of operations and getting supplies there to Bjarki. A large quantity of
cheap goods are already stockpiled at Tholia but, due to timing problems
related to our distribution network in Sol (i.e. the transporter in question
could
not remain in AC for a while as we had planned but, had to return to Sol
immediately) we have so far failed to get them to Bjarki. We aim to solve
this
problem in the next day or two.

If you are currently actively mining for us in Alpha Centauri please let
Bjarki know, and please don't stop! Instead, when you have a near-full hold
of
precious metals and/or gemstones please take them to Tholia and warehouse
them, then head out again for more.

This hiccup is only temporary; on that you have my word.

AND LAST... BUT BY NO MEANS LEAST

I am finally coming close to finishing the fairly long "GTC - What is it?"
info sheet on the various positions available within the GTC at all pilot
levels
from 120-ish cargo upwards. It explains how each level / position works and
how each pilot at that level makes his/her money through the "GTC
partnership
initiative". It also suggests which job(s) would suit you best, based on
cargo size, time zone, and the times of day and number of hours you play.

If you would like a copy of the "GTC - What is it?" info sheet when it's
finished (hopefully sometime over the next day or two), please message me
with
a subject header of "Info Sheet."

May your trades be bountiful and your credits flow smoothly!

Until next time,

Mario.
CEO,
Galactic Trading Corporation, Inc.
Fortune City, Mars.
"Profit through Partnership."

As you can see, there is quite a lot happening. But this is only 1 aspect of
the game. There are also lotteries that are player run, adverts advertising
services of bounty hunters, people advertising for work, IE being a factory
owner who needs people to work for them, people advertising their goods on
the board at special prices and other player run competitions. The latest
innovation, is for there to be a player run stock market. Where by people
buy shares in various items that can be purchased, but not at present sold.
Depending on the eventual market price for the sale of these goods, will
determine the prices that people can sell their shares at. So it's quite the
gamble.


Now, with the recent introduction of Factories, I have decided for various
reasons to come away from the GTC and have a crack of building up a trading
empire of my own. There is more to building a factory than simply placing it
there. You have to make sure that the factory is as fully resourced as it
can be. Also you need to make sure that if you can't do it, someone else
can. I like the idea of contracting work out to other players of the game.
Especially Newbies to the game, as it offers regular work for them. Having
been a newbie myself, I know how difficult and competitive it can be to make
money sometimes. So it's in the best interests of the newbie that they have
plenty of profit opportunities. Their profit is my profit. Luckily, I'm not
the only player that thinks like this. There are plenty of factories out
there.

The reason for making certain that your factory is constantly full of
resources, is because if your factory is selling it's manufactured product,
then you will need to have the factory constantly resourced. So I would put
out an advertisement on the personals board and see who responds. I would
look for someone to keep my Factory resourced and also to make certain that
someone will purchase my products as well. Which again, gives newbies the
opportunity to make some profits.

Factory management offers a very great challenge to the game, especially in
keeping in with the Competition. It's as much about selling for the right
price as it is resourcing the factory. Although I have slightly pulled away
from the GTC, I will still work with them gladly, as it is profitable for me
to do so. This is yet another aspect to the game, the ability to negotiate
deals and to guarantee that you get a good profit.

Conclusions and game web address

In addition to the above, the game universe is also getting significantly
larger. More planets have been added since then and more government types.
Some are more diplomatic, some are anarchy.
It is fare to say that there is still a way to go before the game is
complete, but still even in this current state, it is very ausum and totally
accessible. If anybody has ever had the fortune to play games such as Elite
2, then Ashes Of Angels is very similar in terms of what you can do in it.
But the fact that this game isn't a stand alone game and that it is very
much a multiplayer game shows just how alive a universe can become. And how
random it can be because you are no longer playing solely against and or
with a computer, you are playing against and with humans. So you have the
human interaction as well. It wasn't always like this however. Up until
recently, the game had a very single player feeling to it. It has been the
introduction of The Bar and the Personals board that has really allowed the
game to become something far different. It is because of these things alone
that the game has been able to offer that much more diversity. If you like a
game that offers players the opportunity to compete and or to work together
collectively for mutual benefit, then this really is the game for you.

Over all, this game is truly excellent. It also has the added bonus of being
one of these games, where by it is totally accessible with out the designer
programming and designing the game with accessibility in mind. As well as
having a developer who listens and tries to respond in a way that ensures
accessibility. "Thanks Andy." Whilst there are graphics in the game, you do
not actually miss anything by not being able to see them. In as much as, all
the information that you require in order to get the very best out of the
game, is at your fingertips and all of it is acceptable. Andy, The game
creator is now quite aware of accessibility and he does his best to change
things if they prove to be a problem for screen readers. For the most part,
the worse case of inaccessibility has been where information was displayed
in such a way that it took ages to navigate through it. It was perfectly
accessible, but it would take you a good few minutes to plow through it all,
where now it doesn't even take 10% of that time. Which is just so ironic,
because the game was never designed with any form of accessibility in mind.

The other great aspect of this game, is that you don't need to be online 24
hours a day to be able to play it. It's one of these games that is as fast
or as slow paced as you like. There are no resets, the game is never ending.
You can't currently get shot at a planet, the only thing you have to do, is
to log into the game every 30 days to keep your account active. This game is
very newbie and veteran
Friendly.
Where to go to play this game? Go to www.ashesofangels.com. The game is
totally free to play.

Happy Trading.

+++
News From Game Developers
  In this section will be the news and updates sent to me.  Each will still
have their own company newsheading but under one catagory. 

+++
News From Adora Entertainment:

Greetings Gamers,

Well, it has been a productive few months.  We've reintroduced DynaMan,
Alien Outback, and Monkey Business into the ESP product lineup.  These three
sport minor changes and bug fixes as well as new packaging when you purchase
them on CD.  DynaMan has had the most changes, with the most noteable
addition the ability to save a game in progress.  The price list for these
three games is as follows:

Alien Outback V1.9: $29.95
DynaMan V2.01: $24.95
Monkey Business V1.7: $34.95

Also note that ESP Pinball Classic's $14.95 special price has expired.  The
game, as of May 1st, is now available for $27.95.

On April 1st, we began accepting orders for replacement registration keys.
Rules apply, so please check our site for more details.  To have a
replacement key sent to you, the fee is $5.99.  You will not be charged
until your ownership of a game is varified, and you may only obtain a
replacement key once for each title you own.  This is very similar to the
policy that ESP Softworks used to employ during it's previous incarnation.

We're working very hard on our next two releases, ESP Pinball Extreme, and
ESP Raceway.  ESP Pinball Extreme will be the next game released, and is
rapidly approaching launch.  There are some fantastic things in this game
and we can't wait to offer it up to you.  Keep an eye on our web site.

ESP Raceway will be a bit longer in coming.  We ask for you to hang in there
a bit longer while we make sure that this is everything it is meant to be.
It will be the next title released by us after PBX.  We know that for some
of you this won't be enough information, and we do apologize for that.  The
last thing we want to do is promise a date and then not be able to deliver.
We're working hard though.

We have also been receiving, quite frequently, repeated phone calls through
our toll-free number when no one is available within extremely short periods
of time.  One day we received two dozen calls from one person within a
twenty minute span.  Toll-free means that we are paying for your call, and
we pay for each and every time you call us.  Please leave a message and
someone will get back to you by e-mail or telephone as quickly as possible.
This problem has forced us to implement an anti-abuse system.  Anyone who
calls excessively over a short period of time will be blocked from dialing
our toll-free number for 48 to 72 hours.  Repeated offenses may cause you to
be permanently blocked.  We hate to have to do this, but we have no choice.

For those of you expressing concerns, we'd like you to try to understand one
very crucial point.  We are, just like all the other accessible game
companies, a small operation.  We are honoring pre-orders for Raceway and
PBX at our own expense.  The proceeds from the pre-orders of course went to
the previous developer of ESP Softworks, and understandably so.  He invested
plenty of time and effort into those titles.  We will honor all pre-orders,
despite these things.  That includes providing discs to those of you who
have paid for them, etc.

We work full time on Adora Entertainment, and are extremely committed to
providing you with the best products and support possible.  Many of you have
shown tremendous support for us over the first six months of our existence,
and for that we are immeasurably greatful.

Adora Entertainment
"Even in the name you can hear the magic..."
http://www.AdoraEntertainment.com

+++
News From All inPlay

Dear All inPlay members, former members, and former free trial members,

I would like to invite you to an upcoming poker party taking place on the
All inPlay website.  The American Council of the Blind is sponsoring this
party, and they have kindly put together over $500 in cash and other prizes.
They have also asked that this event be free and open to everyone, blind,
sighted, ACB members and nonmembers, AND those with expired All inPlay
memberships. 

If you'd like to join us for the party and get a chance to play with
hundreds of people from around the world and maybe even win some great
prizes, just browse to the party home page for the full details:
http://www.allinplay.com/party

Thank you for your interest in the All inPlay community!  We hope you can
make it to the event!

Cordially,
-Paul G. Silva, Cofounder and Community Director, All inPlay "Games with
Vision" (www.AllInPlay.com)

+++
News From Bavisoft

CHILLINGHAM RELEASED

Shrouded in mystery, a series of letters invokes a fearful response from our
hero. What has happened to Lily? Why is the town so quiet?
What is the great secret of Chillingham?

As the hero, the game player is in pursuit of the secret of Chillingham and
the whereabouts of his long time friend Lily. Fear and danger are not the
only obstacles in the way of our hero. An odd sense of secrecy surrounds the
village and little help is offered except in trade. Wit and skill are our
hero's only advantages as the secret of Chillingham begins to unfold. As our
hero braves new locations he will be met with increased danger as well as
more complex problems to solve. Unless our hero's wit and skill advance, the
secret of Chillingham may never be discovered.

Featuring our brand new 4-key adventure interface, Chillingham is a perfect
blend of action, adventure, mystery and humor.

Absolutely no vision is required to play this game.
For more information visit us online at:
www.bavisoft.com

+++
News From BSC Games:

Greetings all,

Here is what is going on over at BSC as of late.

Football? Did you say you wanted a football game? Well, get ready sports
fans. a copy of BSC Football will soon be hiked to your pc ready for you to
tackle! BSC Football will contain plenty of passing, arm bending blocking,
tackling, kicking, and sticking that quarterback action! Development on BSC
Football will start mid-May so stay tuned to the BSCGames.com home page for
frequent updates on the games progress. We plan to have BSC Football ready
to roll out in 2004.

We are working on CastleQuest continuously. CastleQuest unveils a complete
3D adventure to VI gamers through the Kingdom of Nivora, home of King Tiras.
Plenty of items, quests, and encounters will keep even the most avid players
challenged and enthralled. In Castle Quest, a portal has been unveiled that
leads to a 3D world unlike anything anyone has ever heard. Currently, we are
taking voice actor auditions if you would be interested in auditioning to be
a volunteer voice actor for cq. You can read more about it at:

http://www.castle-quest.com/audition.asp

Pipe2 Blast Chamber is back in the making and we are hoping to have it roll
out by late June/early July. Blast Chamber is going to challenge the player
in all new ways; a totally new game awaits you. Borrowing a few ideas from
the old game, Pipe2: Blast Chamber greatly expands on some, stems the
shortcomings of others, and mixes them with new concepts to deliver a sequel
far removed from its roots. For frequent updates on the game, stop by the
Blast Chamber home page at:

http://www.BscGames.com/pipe2.asp

Regards,

Justin Daubenmire
President - BSC Games

+++
News from Kitchens Inc.

Hi,

    There is a new file under the free windows text to speech games link at
http://www.kitchensinc.net
File name winyaht.exe  File size 315k
Play Yahtzee Double Yahtzee or Triple Yahtzee with up to 9 players

Sincerely,
Joshua Griffith
Kitchensinc Administrator

+++
News From PCS:

Congratulations, Ron Schamerhorn and good luck in your first issue at the
helm of the good ship Audyssey.

In development, Ms. Pacman Talks
forgive me, if I repeat some of what I said in the last issue of Audyssey.
As in most on going projects, some of the features have changed and some
have been added.

Ms. Pacman Talks will be a self-voicing, sequel to my game, Pacman Talks,
which will play on Windows ME and XP systems.
In this new game, you will still travel through a labyrinth  eating dots and
earning points but  many other aspects of the game have changed, including
giving you many new tools to play with making the game more challenging.
Plus the ghosts may be faster and smarter, so you'll need all the help you
can get.

I have a female voice speaking the things Ms. Pacman would say, instead of
the squeaky male Pacman voice.
I have also changed most of the sounds and all of the music to a more
contemporary style.
Here is a list of new features planned for Ms. Pacman:
There will be new ghosts with new phrases. Throughout the maze, you will
hear thirty musical saws, that get louder as you near the ghost home.
The four ghosts will be named Nick, Peeves, Myrtle and Binns which will
probably aid you in determining the four ghost personalities.
Nick will try to help you, but beware, he also may get in your way.
Peeves will always try to bother you, and zoom after you as fast as he can.
Myrtle is attracted to you but you shouldn't get too close to her.
Binns is the smartest and will find out where you've been, but he is also
the slowest, so you should have no problem getting away from him. Although,
you  need to be careful if  he appears near you.
Plus there is a creature slithering around the labyrinth that is believed to
be some sort of monster.

The features I am working on include,
1, a new bonus level where Ms. Pacman races around a spiral for extra
points.
2, You can post your score to a top ten score board on the Internet, which
will be instantly readable.
3, The Energizer Dots can reappear two more times, but with less energy each
time they come back.
4, A couple of audio maps.
You can now have the maze described with sounds indicating where the
remaining dots are, and the locations of you, the energizer dots and bonus
object.
You can pick either the left to right, top to bottom audio map, or the ring
by ring audio map.
These maps will help you to identify where you have been and where you need
to go,  adding to your strategy in playing the game.
5, You will have multiple speeds, so you can pick between three forward
speeds, stop or one reverse speed.
6, A Panic button, so you can zoom to the safe place on the outer ring that
the ghosts don't know about.
7, A ghost shield that temporarily scares all the ghosts away from you
allowing you to avoid being trapped.
8, A Main Menu where you can play or exit the game but also, play a saved
game, check your top ten high scores, post your just played score to the
web, or hear the game sounds.
9, Several experience levels, making the game more challenging and earning
you extra points. But, be careful because when you play on a more difficult
level, the ghosts will be faster and smarter.
10, Additional save game slots so you can save the game more often.
11, Each level will have their own music and placement of hall openings,
with the ghosts starting in different places.
12, A few Cheat codes.
If you pick the easy experience level, you can play in a training mode that
keeps the ghosts from moving thus making it easier for you to learn the
pattern of the maze.
You will also get new cheats that will make the game easier to play such as,
endless life, and endless energizer dots.
I have yet to determine if these codes will be earned by gaining points, or
by typing in a secret code.
And finally,
13, beware of the monster! In other words, better avoid getting close to it
if you can. Constant Vigilance!

I will be releasing a demo of Ms. Pacman Talks after the game has gone
through beta testing so you can try out the first level yourself for free.
If you have any comments or wishes, let me know and I will consider adding
them to the game.  I swear, there are days when I really wish this game
wasn't as  addictive as it is.


For more information, visit the PCS Games web site at http//www.pcsgames.net

What will be the next game I develop?
You can find out by joining the PCS games list.
To subscribe to this discussion list, send a blank message to,
[email protected]

Our mailing address is,
PCS Games
666 Orchard Street
Temperance, Michigan 48182
phone (734) 850-9502
Call us between the hours of 9:00 A M to 9:00 P M Eastern time, Monday to
Saturday.
E-mail Phil Vlasak, [email protected]
We make games that tickle your ears.

++++++
News from Trumpet Blast Productions

Greetings gamers,
 It's been an "interesting" few months for Trumpet Blast Productions.
We announced our company's existence earlier this year, along with three
games under development. We also secured funding for audio production
equipment necessary to bring you the high quality sound you have come to
expect in accessible gaming. We did, unfortunately, lose the programmers we
had on board to work with us to more lucrative projects than audio based
entertainment. Sadly, this, coupled with some severe hardware failures,
delayed development of current titles significantly, and has forced us to
restructure our business slightly. Not to worry, Trumpet Blast Productions
still plans to bring you cutting edge accessible gaming and audio
entertainment.
 Within the next six months, Trumpet Blast Productions will finally
launch its web site on which you will find trailers and descriptions of
projects planned for development, subscription information for our email
announcement list, our company survey so you can tell us what kinds of games
you would like the most, information and downloads relating to nongaming
related projects in which Trumpet Blast Productions is involved, and much
more!
 We are always eager to hear from you. Feel free to email us with any
comments or questions at [email protected].

Sincerely,
Joshua Loya
Founder and President, Trumpet Blast Productions

+++
Fearless Flin Development Diary: Part I
By Michael Feir

What's this then? After all this talk about Enchantment's Twilight and epic
fantasy, what do I think I'm doing starting to work on an  arcade game with
no deeper meaning or sweeping philosophy? Simply put, after experiencing an
inordinate amount of writer's block over the past three months, I've decided
to learn to walk before trying to run. Although I've made some crucial
decisions for Enchantment's Twilight, I've come to realize that the epic
scope is just too hard to tackle while I'm learning how to use the engine as
well as Soundforge. I want Enchantment's Twilight to be as good as possible.
Fearless Flin, the game I've just begun designing, will serve as a sort of
combination proof of concept and practice run. After all, Enchantment's
Twilight is a combination interactive story and arcade game. Although the
game's themes and message are delivered largely through the story, the
arcade action side is equally crucial to the overall balance. It's important
that I get it right.

Fearless Flin is a name for one of those Everyman type adventurers commonly
found in vintage arcade games. I've had it kicking around my head for well
over a decade now. The original game concept is probably still out there
somewhere on a Eureka A4 disk. I used to have one of these machines and used
it during secondary school. I've forgotten most of that concept, but the
name has stuck in my head. While I've already come up with the game's
overall objective, the various elements of the game need more polish and
balancing. I'm giving myself the next two weeks to get my design document
fully hammered out. After that, I'll start working with the GMA game engine
and Soundforge to get a working version of the game. For this initial
version, I'll likely use synthetic speech. This way, I can produce the game
almost completely independently. I have to qualify that since I'm almost
certain to have questions for Dave Greenwood.

Basically, the concept of Fearless Flin is as follows: Fearless Flin is in
search of treasure. He must gather as much as possible from each arena and
build an elemental portal in order to escape to the next one before time
expires. Monsters, elemental battles, pits, traps, and magic all come into
play. The game goes on indefinitely unless Fearless Flin loses all his
lives.

In coming up with that basic description, I had a number of goals in mind as
well as some insights gained from others about what makes for a great game.
There's a nifty show on the Internet called Retro Gaming Radio which I've
been a very keen listener to for quite some time now. Shane R. Monroe has
made a number of very astute observations on why classic video games are
able to stand the test of time and what made them good games. In recent
discussions of Bubbles and Mr. Do, two of the great classics in his opinion,
Shane remarked on the importance of the opportunity for greed. In Bubbles,
players could either complete a level by going down the drain when the
bubble was large enough and the drain flashed green. However, they could
also elect to stay and try to complete the level by cleaning up the entire
sink. Treasures will continue to appear in the arena as long as time
remains. However, the player must keep in mind that the elemental portal
must be completed before time runs out. This juxtaposition can be found in
other aspects of Fearless Flin as well. Another major goal I had was to
create a game which could go on indefinitely if the player was good enough.
Each arena the player escapes to will feature tougher and smarter monsters.
The elemental portal will also require more bricks to construct. Time will
be less and less abundant. There will be ways to gain more time, but these
will require an investment in time or very quick action. Extra lives are
awarded for passing certain score thresholds which grow higher and higher
each time a bonus life is earned. However, only one bonus life is awarded at
a time even if the player scores enough points to pass more than one
threshold. It's all about making choices and dealing with their
consequences.

On that subject, another excellent resource of insight appeared some time
ago on a site called Gamasutra. The excellent article, Improving Player
Choices, discussed the nature of decisions players had to make during games.
The most satisfying decisions are ones which are informed choices where the
various options have consequences that effect the game and aren't arbitrary.
This is more clearly demonstrated in games which have more plot and story
than Fearless Flin will. However, even in video games where players must
make very rapid decisions, it is quite possible to inject dilemmas which
give players pause for thought. An example of this would be the use of the
magic ball Mr. Do carries in that strange but addictive classic arcade hit.
Mr. Do can throw this ball at his antagonists. However, once the ball is
thrown, it can roll around randomly and potentially even kill Mr. Do if the
player isn't careful about how to retrieve the ball. While Fearless Flin's
weapons with the possible exception of the bomb cannot ultimately hurt
himself, there is the potential to damage his helpers. Other choices about
whether or not to complete certain quests or leave things to be dealt with
later while grabbing more treasure now have a similar kind of resonance.

There will be companions for Fearless Flin in the game who can each help in
a unique way. However, once freed from their cages, these allies or former
prisoners become Fearless Flin's responsibility. They must survive to escape
the arena. This will result in rewards for Fearless Flin and eventually
cause more powerful helpers to be found in the cages. However, if helpers
are killed before they can escape, this will reflect badly on Fearless Flin.
Rather than helpers, the cages will contain helpless victims who will have
to be escorted to the portal once it has been completed and kept out of
harm's way until it is. Each time one of these victims is rescued, Fearless
Flin will increase his reputation which is what determines the likelihood of
helpers being in cages.

While I want the game to have that special eighties arcade feel, the
soundscape will likely reflect a more modern fantasy portrayal. Also, with
helpers and other added complexity, I'm aiming beyond what you'd typically
find in those early games. I know there's a fine line between fun and too
much complexity. I'll have to tread that pretty carefully especially given
my propensity toward complexity. At the end of the day though, I want a game
that will keep me coming back to it for one more try.                

My main concern is game play and replay value. While I'm going to make every
effort to end up with a game that is fit to be sold as my flagship game,
this game is more about proving a number of concepts required for
Enchantment's Twilight. A lot of the game elements are taken from that
design document and I should in theory be able to move them directly over
back into Enchantment's Twilight once the source code for Fearless Flin is
complete. This may also hold true for some of the sounds I end up creating.
The SFX kit sold by Sound Ideas has a whole lot of superb sound effects, but
I'll have to alter and combine some of them to get more suitable effects for
some things. For instance, I'll have to create a good swish for Fearless
Flin's sword. There aren't any sword fighting sounds in there. I'm not all
that happy with the arrow sound effects either, but they may do for the
moment.

By the time the next issue of Audyssey appears, I hope to be deep into
programming the game and creating its sounds. I might also have a better
sense of the lines of dialog I'll need spoken for the game. If I can find
volunteers who can record their lines and send them to me via E-mail, I may
decide to use human speech rather than synthetic. Also, if any music
composers would like to provide music for the game, I should have more of an
idea of what I would want at that time. Any contributions or offers to help
should be made with the understanding that I cannot offer any kind of
financial compensation. The names of all contributors will be in the game's
credits.

 +++
+++
Game Announcements and Reviews:
 Below are some of the new games available.  Though an old treasure or two
may be discussed too.  It's noteworthy that in some cases it's only an
announcement of a game, taken from the email list, and may not be a full
review,  
or an official notice from the developer.  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.

+
Chillingham

Well, I'm proud to say I have just completed Bavisoft's new game,
Chillingham, and although I'm not a member of the Audyssey list, I thought
I would take a moment to submit what is apparently the first review of the
game.

The basic story: You are exploring the village of Chillingham and its
surrounding areas in an attempt to find out what's become of your friend,
Lily, who has written you letters in distress.  There are lots of puzzles
to solve, monsters to fight, and places to explore.

I have to say, I have very mixed feelings about this game.  I was a fairly
big fan of Grizzly Gulch, although I thought it didn't live up to its
potential.  You were locked into a story without much room for deviation,
and there wasn't a lot of variety in each game.  However, Grizzly Gulch
had one thing going for it which made it (in my opinion) well worth the
$40 price, in addition to being a fairly good audiogame: the saloon.   Ah,
if I had a nickel for every time I decided I was in the mood to visit the
Silver Dollar Saloon and do some gamblin'.  I had one player reserved
mainly for money-making.  Oh, he'd occasionally visit the marshal's office
and go catch a bad guy , but mostly he was around for the
gamblin'.  Yes, this does have a point regarding Chillingham, but I'll get
to that in a second; this was just background.

First, the positives:

I loved the idea.  This game is a throwback to the text-adventure games of
the '80s, but done with audio.  Think Infocom with menus and you've got a
good idea of what to expect from this game.  If you're looking for a game
with "freedom of movement" to go where you will, as though walking through
a real environment, this is not what you will get with Chillingham, and
it really shouldn't be.  The game's a story, pure and simple, and that is
its focal point.

Also, the sounds are, in this gamer's opinion, of a higher quality than
many of those in Grizzly Gulch.  Whether it be the wind howling through
the village square and the dogs barking mournfully in the distance, or a
campfire blazing comfortingly away on a small island in the middle of a
swamp, or a spooky graveyard, the sound environments are very well-done.

Some of the puzzles are simply brilliant.  I won't give any of them away,
but suffice it to say that there are several games-within-the-game that
had me laughing harder than anything in a long time.  I may've said too
much already, so I'll move on.

Unfortunately, as with many things in this world, Chillingham is not
without its negative aspects, and I think it only fair to make the buyer
aware of them.

I'm a bit annoyed at Bavisoft's marketing Chillingham with a promise of a
"groundbreaking" interface.  It's the same interface as you got with
Grizzly Gulch.  Not that there's really anything wrong with this; it's
just a bit misleading, in my opinion.  If you liked the Gulch interface,
you'll like Chillingham's interface.  'Nuff said.

One of the major annoyances is a carry-over from Gulch.  It would be
really nice if you could interrupt a voice-clip with your arrow
keys.  I'm not talking about stopping speech with the down-arrow; I'm
referring to the fact that much of this game, given its menu interface,
has you going over the same options, over and over and over again.  It
would be such a time-saver, to say nothing of cutting back on the
frustration factor, if you could cut speech off with a press of that same
arrow key, so instead of having to listen to "inspect," "Take" "Use,"
"Talk," you could cut it off with a touch of the
arrow.  "Insp--ta--u--talk."  (You'll see what I mean when you play the
game, I'm sure.)

Also, as fun as the puzzles are, I wish there were more memorable
characters. (Maybe in the sequel?)   There are one or two in particular
who are interesting and memorable, even quotable (Don't want to say more,
lest I spoil anything), but my friends and I were often found to make fun
of Cecil the banker, or the Marshal's gravelly voice (Yeah, Marshal, way
to sit on your butt while I do your job for you!), Or even in his own way
Sherman whose your guide, ("Hey, Shermie, ya said you'd help me out some
along the  way--how 'bout helpin' me in some of these gunfights, ya lazy
.!?"),
or--perhaps most notable of all--Doug who runs the slot machines at the
Silver Dollar Saloon in Grizzly Gulch.  I realize these are two very
different games, but memorable characters make a much more lasting
impression and stick with a player long after the puzzles have faded from
memory.

Another area where the game falls a bit short of its potential is the
sounds.  As nice as those environments are, praised so highly earlier in
this review, some of the looping is needlessly obvious.  It's a little
thing, but it really distracts from the enjoyment of the game environment,
and is just plain sloppy editing.  There is also a lot less audio in the
game in terms of sound effects.  Almost everything you hear will be dialog
of the main character.

Another feature which is lacking, and which would be of *immense* help to
those of us who are less puzzle-inclined, is some sort of hint feature.  I
remember text adventure games where you scored points for everything you
did successfully  and if you got hopelessly stuck, you could ask for a
hint  with the price of a point penalty.  There are several spots in
Chillingham where you are left shaking your head in bewilderment, then
ripping your hair out with frustration.  With such an array of places and
items to tinker and toy with, it's sometimes extremely difficult to know
what you're supposed to be aiming for in terms of moving on to the next
step, or being nudged in the right direction as to how to solve a
puzzle.  Don't give me the answer, but at least a hint or a nudge would be
welcomed.  After all, those who don't want it don't have to use it but
some of us would really appreciate it.  I mean, I never would've finished
the game without help from a couple friends who had played it together,
and they had finished it only by bouncing ideas off each other. They
sometimes accidentally stumbled on the solution.  In
and of itself, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that; as I said, I'd
like the hints to be an option, not a give me.

The only other area where I felt the game lacked was
replayability.  once you've solved the puzzles and completed the game,
short of re-doing it at the harder level there really isn't much in the
way of replay value.  I realize a saloon would be dreadfully out of
context but at least a scoring system would've been nice. So that you
could try to increase your point total, or something along those lines.

I don't want to come down too hard on the game.  I did enjoy it.  It
brought me much in the way of laughter, frustration (some of which is to
be expected in a game, or what's the point of playing it?) and I eagerly
await the sequel which is said to follow, hopefully sooner than the four
years spent waiting for this game.  If you buy it expecting a game with
new and innovative interactivity and ground-breaking interface, you're
going to be disappointed.  Audiogames have come   a long way since Gulch
was released.  Although the interface is used in very new and unique
ways, it in and of itself isn't new.  I am not saying it's a
bad thing, I think it is something people should be aware of before
purchasing the game.  I fear Bavisoft may be in for the "Star Wars"
syndrome: people have been waiting so long for the release that
expectations may be higher than they ought to be, given the way audiogames
have gotten so much more sophisticated over the years.

Having said that, if you're looking for a game with cool, if sometimes
anoying, puzzles and a fun and challenging story, you'll probably like
Chillingham.

Overall Rating: 6/10.

+
Computer Simulated Fantasy Baseball League
Reviewed by James

Yet another game I've discovered that, while perhaps not intentional, is
most certainly screen-reader friendly. And, as opposed to my last review,
this one's free, period.
The game I speak of is none other than CSFBL, or the computer simulated
fantasy baseball league. You are given in this sports strategy game a
franchise through which you can create teams, recruit existing teams, and
partake in major league baseball action against other players. The games
themselves are simulated, however you, as the manager and general manager
of the team or teams (the choice is completely yours), have full control
over who bats where in your lineup, who pitches on what night, right down
to who you want to sign to a major or minor league contract. Ganes are
played, depending on the league you join, at a rate of 2, 4, or 8 games per
day, at time intervals of 12, 6 and 3 hours respectively. For those of you
who perhaps were looking for that feeling of actually being part of an
online community, CSFBL bosts a large variety of message boards, both
general and league specific, with players that will be more than happy to
help out where possible. Add to that, a mix of perhaps the most precise
statistical annalysis you could find in an online game, for those of you
who like to crunch the numbers a little. Everything in that particular game
is unique, set up so that you would be hard pressed to come across someone
with the same thing as you. Everything from the team names, which you can
fully customise, to the actual players that will very soon fill your
rosters, who's names, personal data, and statistics are randomly generated
by the game itself. So far, I've seen as many as 75 people online at once,
so popularity or lack thereof is certainly not an issue. Curious about
taking a look at yet another example of how the mainstream community is,
very slowly, narrowing the gap with their blind/low-vision counterparts. Go
to http://www.csfbl.com and read their help files, brows their message
boards, and when your curiosity is satisfied, pull up a seat, start your
own little corner of the baseball market, and I just might see your team in
the world series!

James

+
Final fantasy X
Game available in computer stores
Not playable without sighted assistance
Review by Tommaso Nonis

Final fantasy X is the tenth episode of the popular Final Fantasy series for
the play station. This episode is the first one for the ps2, and I assure
you, if you have someone sighted to play it with, don't wait to buy it.

The story
You are Tidus, star player of a sport called Blitzball in the Zanarkand Abes
team. Wile playing one match, however, something goes wrong: your body is
sucked by a terrible power called sin, and you find yourself still on your
planet Spira, but 1000 years later!
In your quest you will meet Yuna, who is along with you the main character.
She is a young lady with the power of summoning creatures called aeons. When
you arrive in Spira 1000 years later, you will join her pilgrimage, which
goal is the final summoning, the only thing that could defeat Sin.
Then there is Lulu, the black mage, Wakka, a blitzballer Auron and many
others.

The game play

To play you must move through the game areas, as you would do with sod or mb
or other blind accessible 3d games. This must be done by a friend since you
must see where you are going. But don't worry, navigation isn't too
frustrating in the game since there is an arrow pointing in the right
direction to go.
The fighting is entirely turn based. You have a menu where, for example,
there are the options attack, items (to use such as healing potions or
phoenix tails), and magic (to cast spells). Other characters may have
additional abilities such has summoning for Yuna.
The maximum number of characters that can be in a battle is 3, but if you
don't want the ones you have, you can substitute them with other ones. This
makes the game very strategic.
The aeons, summoned by Yuna, can fight with you and aid you in battle. Most
times they are the keys to success against some bosses.

Developing the characters is very different from any role playing game,
where you level up and the statistics raise automatically. Here, you have a
thing called sphere grid. It is like a monopoly grid, and each cell is
activated by using a sphere and it increases a certain stat or gives
scertain abilities.
At the end of a fight, you are given spheres and movement levels, that are
used to move your character in the grid. The disadvantage to this is that,
wile offering some strategy as to how you develop your chars, it sadly is
almost straight forward, so your characters will end up almost the same.

The sounds
What shines most about this game is the soundtrack. The pieces of music vary
a lot from one another, and fit the various scenes perfectly. Also the sound
effects do their job really well. The sounds of fighting, the footsteps, the
opened doors are all very realistic and a pleasure to listen to.
This is the first final fantasy to include voice acting. The main character,
Tidus, is acted very well but when he is too excited, sadly he sounds awful.
The others are all very well acted and also the minor characters have the
right person to act them. What is spoken is also written on the screen, and
this becomes useful if you have bought the game in another language then
English, because the acting is only in this language.

I advise you if you don't like watching cinematic scenes, this game isn't
for you. This has got a vast amount of cinema scenes that tell the story,
and form the events of the game. I like listening to them, but I also think
there are too much of them. But movie watching maniacs will certainly
welcome such information.  *grin*

All in all, this is one of the most intense role playing games I've played,
with a complex and wonderful story, glorious graphics and sounds (the
graphic thing is not my thought but a lot of reviews say it). and intense
replayability. I can't give it a full score because of some aspects where
it's a byt lacking, but an 8.5 is more than deserved.

+
Ten pin alley [Demo version]
By Kaare

During my occasional  browsing through audyssey magazine, I've noticed that
most of the game reviews are for full versions. It was then decided that I
give a demo a crack and let you know what I think.

Ten pin alley is a sound based bowling game brought to us by adora
entertainment and pcs games. This is a rework of the 1997 pcs game for dos
with coding from Josh de Lioncourt and sounds furnished by Phil Vlasak.
If this review sparks any further interest in the products try
www.pcsgames.net or www.adoraentertainment.com and get yours soon!

Requirements:
According to the instructions which I browsed through as briefly as
possible, this game requires only three things: 1) direct x 8 on your
windows based machine
2) stereo speakers or headphones
and 3) most importantly have fun!

I must say that these people did a fine job with this demo. it is sound
rich, and having been in a few bowling alleys from time to time myself no
effort is spared to make the player feel as if they are actually there. From
catcalls and heckling of the alley's spectators to the alternately sarcastic
and enthusiastic commentary of Bo Ling ball the resident television
announcer; the only thing missing is the smell of greasy food and flattening
beer.
The controls are nice, and the game is easy to dive in to. In demo mode we
are treated to 2 frames with either 1 or 2 of the practice players. Player
(A) is a male right handed, and to be politically correct and fair, player
(B) is a left handed female.

The only two available controls in demo mode are"
Let's go bowling," and "leave the alley."

Once the "let's go bowling" is selected by using the arrow keys, player
selection is next. The demo gives you a list of player A or B, and the user
can select one or both. If the space bar is pressed too quickly as the game
instructs for selection it is unclear as to whether or not the player has
been properly selected. This is if anything the only thing I've found that
hampers game play in the demo and is the only thing on my personal wish list
to ask that they fix or look in to. Once in the alley, Bo announces the
first player and provides prompts for getting started. " press the spacebar
to pick up your first ball!," and other very clear instructions make it easy
to get started without reading anything in the instructions provided.

Although getting started at the novice levels without reading the
instructions is easily done with a minimal amount of beginner's frustration
it might be a good idea for the new user to have a look at them. They are
clear, describing both this game and the real one for those never having
been to an alley, and they do this clearly. I won't give away much more
because that would spoil the experience, but the beginner may find that the
multitude of sounds is quite distracting. I've never bowled in a silent
alley myself and with the ambience of the burps phone calls being answered
and orders being offered from the cyber counter I probably won't have to for
a while.

This game would be a good introduction to someone new with computers who is
tired of the same old same old as far as word processing spreadsheets and
the never having fun aspects of there computer. A nice generally clean way
of doing things and enough ease of use with few controls to start having fun
sooner rather than later. It's of course also recommended for those who
enjoy bowling a few frames as well.    

+
Torx
A review by Darcy Burnard

 For as long as I can remember, I've been a big fan of hand-held or
table top electronic games.  Most of the ones that are released aren't
accessible.  That is, they aren't playable by blind people without sighted
assistance.  But on occasion, one comes out that we can play, and so I'm
always on the lookout for new games to try.  Recently I obtained Torx by
Hasbro, and what follows are my thoughts on the game.

 Torx is a reflex testing game very similar to bop-it.  It consists
of two controls that resemble handlebars, complete with padded hand grips
like you'd find on a bicycle.  Each control is on a hinge which allows it to
pivot to three different positions.  In addition, one of the handlebars can
be twisted in four different ways.  This means that Torx can be manipulated
in to 36 different shapes.

 When you turn the game on, Torx prompts you to select from one of
four different games.  You do this by twisting the handles, one twist for
game one, two twists for game two, and so on.

 When you select game one, Torx tells you in it's rather sinister
voice that, "You must follow my Commands"!  Then it will begin to tell you
to do things such as twist me, bend me, bend the other side, straighten me,
etc.  For each of these that you do successfully, you score one point.
After every twenty commands, you are given a Torx challenge.  When this
happens, you are given a sequence of several instructions which you must do
in the right order and without pausing.  Each Torx Challenge is more
difficult then the previous one because the number of commands in the
sequence increases.

 In game two, Torx begins by commanding you to, "Find the shape I
want to be as fast as you can."  Each time you bend or twist the toy you are
given hints like colder, warmer or hotter.  You're only allowed a certain
number of chances to find the correct position, and these chances decrease
the longer you play. 

 Games three and four are both variations on the first game.  Game
three is like the classic game of Simon Says.  You follow the commands that
Torx gives you, but only if you hear a beeping sound.  The fourth game is
intended for two or more players.  Play is much like that in game one, but
periodically you'll be instructed to Pass Torx, at which point you hand the
toy off to the next player.  When a player messes up, they are eliminated,
and play proceeds until there is a winner.

 After each game ends and you are taunted by Torx for making a
mistake, you are told your score, and if you surpassed the previous high
score for that game.  You can find out the high scores for each game by
bending one of the handle grips when power is first switched on.  Which
brings me to a feature I really like about Torx.  Unlike many similar
products, Torx is equipped with a power switch.  Most electronic games now
simply shut off on their own when a certain amount of time has elapsed.

Final Thoughts:
 As mentioned above, Torx is very similar to the Bop-it line of toys.
So if you enjoy those, you'll probably have fun with Torx as well.  My only
real criticism about the product is that it is extremely loud, and there's
no volume control.  Aside from that I would highly recommend Torx.  It's not
the type of thing you'd play for hours at a stretch, but it is nice as a
quick diversion.  This game was bought on Ebay, but apparently can be found
in toy stores.  It's only a couple of years old.

+
Warring Factions
Review by James D.

I'd like to sort of point list subscribers here to a game called Warring
Factions, which for all intents and purposes is a web-based space strategy
game, in which you develop colonies, and defenses for those colonies, in
order to further your own goals and keep other players from possibly
stopping you from reaching them. While I've only played it for a few days, I

can say this much about it. The interface itself is text-based, with its
share of graphics for the sighted, but is still extremely
screen-reader-friendly. written in PHP, it allows you to be very flexible
with the development of your empire, from the type of plannet you want to
settle people on to the type of ship you want to design, and it allows for
the opportunity for your own scientists to come up with original blueprints
for certain items. These blueprints can, then, be sold to other players, or
if you're part of a larger empire (multiple users becoming allies, for
instance), you can share those blueprints with them. People who're tired of
the traditional first-person shooters will like it simply because it's
taking them to a completely different avenue of gameplay. The first-person
shooters will probably enjoy the fact that you design your own fleets,
determining everything right down to the type of engine that will get your
ships from point A to B. Detailed battle histories are recorded for later
review if you want a detailed account of what happened in a conflict. The
game itself is turn-based, one game day the equivalent of roughly one half
hour in realtime (the admin said closer to 24 minutes). An economy report is

generated relative to the current day as it happens, and is kept always up
to date. You have also options to send messages directly to other players,
as well as a discussion forum. A 7-day free trial account is granted to
those who are interested in checking out exactly how the game functions.
Then, if you choose to continue gameplay, a one-time subscription fee is
charged, of $10 US. This will grant you a full account, and unlimited
gameplay. There is of course a catch. That is, if you don't play for 30
days, your account will be closed. If anyone wants to check it out,
http://www.war-facts.com is the game's address. Have fun! IF you have any
questions with regards to this game, feel free to email me off-list.

James
James D.
Cyber Corner Administration
http://www.cyber-corner.net
[email protected]

++++
Contacting Us

All material to be included in future issues of Audyssey should be sent to
me at the following address:
Ron Schamerhorn
1180 Dorval Dr. #303
Oakville On L6M 3G1
[905]-842-1933
[email protected]
MSN:[email protected]
no email to this address please

Luis Defute and Stann Bobbitt are in charge of the official Audyssey
homepage. They can be contacted at:
[email protected]
and
[email protected]

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

Paul Nimmo is a long-time resident of the Audyssey community who maintains a
Frequently Asked Questions or faq file for Audyssey. When it is updated, it
gets posted to a number of sites. He can be contacted at:
[email protected]


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