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Audyssey;
Computer Games Accessible to the Blind
Edited by Michael Feir
Issue 8: September/October, 1997

++
Welcome

Welcome to the eighth issue of Audyssey. this magazine is dedicated
to the discussion of games which, either by accident or design, are
accessible to the blind. We also discuss any concerns and issues
raised by them. This issue brings you the first review from the
latest welcome edition to the Audyssey staff. Travis Siegel,
maintainer of the text games section of the ftp.softcon.com site
has now become our official bbs-door support person. He has had
experience running a bbs, and despite not having the time to run
one anymore, he has kept up with the doors available, and offers us
a wealth of expertise. to have a taste of this knowledge, see the
review of the Clans. Audyssey can now be obtained from his ftp-
site, and he is currently in the process of making all of the games
discussed in Audyssey available there as well. There are still
plenty of positions available for any others out there who want to
lend a hand in the making of Audyssey. Several new games have also
been discovered during the past two months, and you'll find news of
them in this issue. You'll also get a sneak peak at things to come
from the commercial games sector. Dave Mallard          

  Please write articles and letters about games or game-related
topics which interest you. They will likely interest me, and your
fellow readers. They will also make my job as editor a lot more
interesting and true to the meaning of the word. This magazine
should and can be a highly interesting and qualitative look at
accessible computer gaming. To insure
that high quality is maintained, I'll need your written
contributions. I'm not asking for money here, and won't accept any.
This magazine is free in its electronic form, and will always
remain so. PCS needs to charge a subscription cost to cover the
disks and shipping costs that it incurs by making the magazine
available on disk. I'm writing this
magazine as much for my own interest as for everyone else's. Your
articles, reviews, and letters, as well as any games you might care
to send me, are what I'm after. Send any games, articles, letters,
or reviews on a 3.5-inch disk in a self-addressed mailer
so that I can return your disk or disks to you once I have copied
their contents onto my hard drive. Please only send shareware or
freeware games. It is illegal to send commercial games. By sending
me games, you will do several things: first, and most obviously,
you will earn my gratitude. You will also insure that the games
you send me are made available to my readership as a whole. As a
further incentive, I will fill any disks you send me with games
from my collection. No disk will be returned empty. If you want
specific games, or specific types of games, send a message in Ascii
format along. *Never* *ever* send your original disks of *anything*
to *anyone* through the mail. *Always* send *copies!* This
principle may seem like it shouldn't even have to be stated, but
when it comes to just about anything related to computers, there's
always some poor soul who will act before applying common sense.
Disks are *not* indestructible. Things *do* get lost or damaged in
the mail, and disks are not immune to these misfortunes. If you
have a particular game that you need help with, and you are sending
your questions on a disk anyhow, include the game so that I can try
and get past your difficulty. If you can, I recommend that you send
e-mail. I have acquired a copy of the UUencode software, and can
send and/or receive files which are encoded via this means. This
way,
no money will be wasted sending me a game I already have, and
you'll get my reply more quickly. You are responsible for shipping
costs. That means, either use a disk mailer which has your address
on it, and is either free matter for the blind, or is properly
stamped. I can and will gladly spare time to share games and my
knowledge of them, but cannot currently spare money above what I
spend hunting for new games. 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.

This magazine is published on a bi-monthly basis, each issue
appearing no earlier than the twentieth of every other month.  All
submissions must be sent to me in standard Ascii format either on
a 3.5-inch floppy disk, or via e-mail to my Compuserve address. I
will give my home address and my Compuserve address at the end of
the magazine. There are now several ways of obtaining Audyssey. To
subscribe to the distribution list so that you receive all future
issues, send a subscription request to J.J. Meddaugh. As he is
running several lists, be sure to specifically ask to join the
Audyssey list. His address is:
[email protected]
You can find all issues of Audyssey on the Internet on Paul
Henrichsen's web site at:
www.thesocket.com/~henrich
All issues are also available in the disability forum on
Compuserve. they are no longer available in the gamers forum, as
this forum has gone graphical and is therefore less accessible to
blind people. If you have web access, Audyssey now has an official
web-page, maintained by J.J. Meddaugh. There are links to other
interesting sites, and all issues of Audyssey are available there
as well. In the near future, software may also be posted there for
you to down-load. The address for this page is:
http://www.geocities.com/timessquare/alley/1989

For those of you who have trouble finding some of the software
discussed in this magazine, or if you know someone who doesn't have
access to the Internet, but would be interested in the magazine,
this magazine is now available on disk. PCS has agreed to
distribute Audyssey, as well as selected shareware or freeware
software on disk for ten dollars US per year. To subscribe to
Audyssey on disk, contact them at:
Personal Computer Systems
551 Compton Ave.
Perth Amboy N.J.
08861
Phone (908)-826-1917
E-mail: [email protected]
++
Contents:
Welcome
From the Editor
Letters
A Look Ahead
The Latest finds
Adam: The Immortal Gamer
the Difference between Strategic and Tactical Game Play
News From PCS
Don't Applaud, Just Throw Money
Thanks to Frank
Contacting Me
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From the Editor

As you can all tell from the contents of this magazine, things are
suddenly looking very bright for the blind gaming community. We can
expect the next while to be filled with new and exciting games.
thankfully for me, more of you are starting to send in your letters
and articles. Two of you have elected to join the Audyssey staff.
We have Travis Siegel, our new bbs-door corespondent. he will help
with the technical aspects of playing bbs-door games, as well as
provide us with reviews of games which come to his attention. Dave
Mehler is keenly interested in strategy games, and will be
reviewing any of these kinds of games which are discovered. To both
of these gentlemen, a hearty welcome aboard. There are still plenty
of positions which should be filled. We still need a card-game
corespondent, a technical consultant familiar with problems running
games with various access devices, a sports corespondent to review
any sports-related games released, and a role-playing game
corespondent. I'm also open to any further suggestions of possible
staff positions. If you see a short-coming in this magazine that
you want to do something about, your efforts will be most welcome.

this year is proving to be the heaviest academic year I've ever had
to contend with. As a result, the magazine may be published behind
schedule at times. Also, i will be relying more heavily on you, my
readers, to submit articles so that the quality of this publication
is maintained. My thanks go out to all of you who submitted
articles which have appeared in this issue. You made it possible
for me to publish this issue a day late instead of a week. thanks
a bundle, and please keep them coming.
Another encouraging sign is that we're starting to see the first
instances of interaction between readers. Allen Maynard and Frank
Gulics have taken the all-important step of reacting to each
other's writing, and the result has been enlightening for all of
us. I hope that more of you will follow their lead and start on-
going discussions. this would certainly provide a lot more cohesion
from issue to issue.

a couple of important items which I neglected to put in any other
sections of this magazine are the following: Activision has
released Infocom's original Zork trilogy to the public domain as an
advertising ploy for the anticipated Zork: Grand Inquisitor. all
three games are most definitely in the public domain. They can be
played with the frotz interpreter, and hints and solutions are also
available. The games themselves can be found at ftp.activision.com
in the /zork/legacy directory. Also, Legend Entertainment Inc. has
released The Gateway to the public domain. You can find it in three
files at ftp.gamesdomain.com in the /companies/demos directory.
This trend of releasing earlier works to the public domain is quite
a wind-fall for us, and I hope that it continues. It hasn't really
caught on solidly enough for it to be considered much more than a
rare and fortunate instance, but it could possibly turn into an on-
going trend.

Well, that's about all for now. I hope you all enjoy this issue,
and that you'll consider contributing to future issues. As always,
if you have any suggestions, game advertisements, reviews,
articles, or letters, please submit them. Take care, everyone.   
  
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Letters
+
From Phil Vlasak

Dear Michael, it's Phil again.
I got hold of several Spectrum games in the .sna format, but can
not get them to work. I could not download the emulator from the
Beam site, the ftp would not allow me to, but it did allow me to
download the Hobbit and Sherlock game files! It said:
Download a Spectrum emulator for your PC here to play the games
below!  After downloading, install your emulator as a helper for
.sna and .z80 files.
I would click on the link to download it, but it would then say:
0 files downloaded in 0 seconds.
I then went to the ftp.gmd.de
and was able to get the following programs:
jpp.zip        JPP version 1.0, by Arnt Gulbrandsen.
               Emulates a Sinclair Spectrum 48k Z80-based computer
on any PC with at least a 386 processor and VGA graphics.
               14 games included.

z80-305.zip    Sinclair ZX Spectrum Emulator by Gerton A. Lunter,
               shareware version 3.05 (11nov96).
               Emulates ZX Spectrum 48k model 2 or 3 and Spectrum
128k on any PC with 640k base memory or EMS.

So I read the documentation and i cannot find out how to use them
to run the games! Help!
Phil.
+
Well, Phil, and any others out there who are having the same
frustrations, I'm afraid I can't be of assistance here at all.
Hopefully, one of you readers will be able to shed some light on
things. Even as historical artifacts, these z80 games, written in
the early eighty's, should prove interesting to play. If you have
a solution for this problem, or come across one, please share it
with the rest of us.
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From Kirstan MOoney:

My name is Kirstan Mooney, and I have just heard about your great
Magazine called Audyssey.  For about the last 10 years, I have had
a Computer.  My first one being a Lap-top, and now my second one,
a Toshiba Lap-top.  Ever since I was introduced to Computers I have
loved Games.  My first experience with a Game was Zork1, which I
played determinedly for about a year before getting stuck and
finally writing to Infocom to get hints, and later, the whole Zork
series, along with the other Game package which had Sherlock and
other Games in it.  Because I live in a very small town called
Winton, and have no way of getting any other Games, let alone ones
that I can play, being Blind, I am really excited that now I can
get Games
through you, and even ask some questions about Games I am stuck on.

I have a Game called Enchanted Castle, which I copied off someone
years ago, and after trying to get in contact with the Author of
the Game, and receiving my letters back stamped *address unknown*,
I am hoping you might be able to help me with where I am stuck in
the Game.  I understand that you have played a *lot* of Games, and
I am really hoping you have heard of this Game, but let me know,
and if you haven't heard of it, I will send you a copy of it on a
3.5 Disc.

I am really hoping to hear from you soon, and once again,
congratulations on Audyssey, a real Godsend for me.

Yours gratefully
Kirstan Mooney.
+
Good to hear from you Kirstan. Welcome into the Audyssey community.
As it happens, I've had a copy of the game kicking around for a few
years, but never played it through. I've received several previous
questions concerning it, so I think the simplest thing to do here
is to direct you and everyone else to the solution for the game
which is available at:
ftp.gmd.de
It is in the /if-archive/solutions directory. If you can join
newsgroups, you might also want to inquire on rec.games.int-
fiction. There are a lot of kind and helpful people on this
newsgroup, and they love to give out cryptic clues. Hope this
helps. Remember folks, don't resort to solutions unless absolutely
necessary.
+
From magali Gueths
Hello Mike. I just finished reading the seventh issue of audyssey.
Remember that you told me about sharing stories about getting
hooked with computer games? Well, I just decided to tell you!
Warning: this is kind of a long story, so I suggest that you read
it offline. The first text adventure games that
I played were the infocom games. Later, I obtained infocom's
twenty-games series: planetfall, zork, hitch hiker's guide, and the
like. As I was playing the infocom games, I became more familiar
with them. In August of last year, I got access to the internet. I
then began playing more and more games that were text-based. And,
Finally, I became in touch with you via somebody named Tim Cumings.
He is the president of vibug (visually impaired blind users group).
He sent me the first five issues of the magazine.
+
Thanks for the story of your entry into the universe of games. I'm
certain that a lot of us can relate to it, having also been
fascinated and frustrated with Infocom's excellent pieces of
interactive fiction. Keep those stories coming everyone. the more
I know about you, and the more we all know about each other's
interests and experiences concerning games, the better the magazine
will become.
+

Hi Mike,

Here is a tip for game players.

If you have some PCS games or any DOS-based game with multimedia
sound, you might have noticed that you can't get the sound effects
through your Soundblaster when using Windows 95.

By accident, I found that you must go to the "Shutdown" option in
the Start Menu, then select "Restart in MS-DOS mode."  When you do
this the multimedia sounds can be heard in all their splendour
through your Soundblaster.

Allen Maynard
The Desert Bat
+
thanks for the tip, Allen. As windows95 becomes more the standard
operating system rather than a rarity, we'll all have to learn
tricks such as this to get by if we want to keep the use of our Dos
programs. I predict that it will be a long time yet before we start
seeing many accessible games in Windows other than interactive
fiction. Thanks to the Winfrotz interpreter which was just
released, Infocom games, as well as Inform games can be played
fairly easily from Windows. Other than these, however, Windows
remains a system devoid of entertainment possibilities for the
blind. 
+
Hi Michael-
Thanks for helping me with those Agt games, they work great with
speech. I'm having a problem with other nonspeaking text games such
as Fallthru. Is there some kind of Dos command or command line
option to make every program speak through Bios?
Can you please put this next question out in the upcoming issue of
Audyssey.


Can anyone tell me where I can find speech friendly emulators for
the C64, Spectrum, and Apple computers. I have an Ibm pc and I want
to play old text adventures made for these systems.  I've had a
hard time finding them. I would appreciate it if anyone can help
me?

Thanks Jay Pellis.
+
One thing you might want to do here is fiddle with those emulators
Phil couldn't get working. Perhaps, you'll figure them out. Beyond
this, all I can suggest to you is that you look through the
ftp.gmd.de/if-archives. That is the most comprehensive collection
of interactive fiction and related items. The hope for a universal
bios command has lingered on for years among blind gamers who I've
come in contact with. Unfortunately, I must report here that there
is no such command. If something uses direct writing and doesn't
have a built-in option to use bios instead, there's nothing to do
but live with the task of reviewing the screen. In Fallthru, this
isn't too bad since it can be divided into speech windows of fairly
small size. the text descriptions in Fallthru are also not too
lengthy. In other games, however, this need to review the screen
can become a real chore. All we can do is struggle on with it,
unless someone comes up with some kind of software solution to
this. I certainly wouldn't mind that eventuality.
++
A Look Ahead
by Michael Feir

The Fall season seems to be when all the announcements of things to
come in the gamer's universe are made. Rumours and leaks about
projects in development abound, and the slow but inexorable build-
up to the highly anticipated Christmas season begins. for the most
part, this rush has yet to attain very much significance for blind
gamers. this time, things could be quite different indeed. A number
of commercial games are being talked about which blind players can
enjoy with sighted companions and cd-roms. These include a good
many turn-based strategy and role-playing games. In addition,
closer to home as it were, PCS is working on their new Football
game, and has up-dated many of their old classics. For all those
eagerly searching for word games, your wait for a crossword puzzle
is almost over. roger Myers is hard at work developing a crossword
puzzle program. He was kind enough to send me an advance copy, and
although it still needs a bit of work, I'd say all you word buffs
are in for a very fine time of it indeed. The resulting program
should equal almost anything generally available to the sighted
community. Puzzles may contain up to two hundred words, and there
can be up to five lines for clues for words. Nice to see one of our
more talented readers coming to the aid of the rest of us. Word-
games are still quite rare, and people have been asking me for
speech-friendly crosswords for years. At last, they'll soon have
one.

In terms of CD-roms, there are a few titles which bear our
investigation. For those who liked Betrayal at Krondor, a sequel to
it is being worked on called Return to Krondor. The author of the
Rift War series upon which these games are based, is heavily
involved in the development of this game, unlike the last Krondor
sequel, Battle at Antara. Antara is a fine game in its own right,
and is also quite suitable for blind gamers with sighted
companions. However, it is a bit less true in spirit to the
author's work.

final Fantasy Vii is another highly anticipated arrival. It is
already available for certain game consoles, and a version will
soon be released for the PC. Featuring intricate plot and a lot of
character development, the Final Fantasy series is known for its
careful blending of story and challenge. A Might and magic game is
also to be soon unleashed on the market.

for those of you who lack the companions, start making friends! Get
a life! Just kidding. If you don't have CD-rom technology, there
are new games on the way from a couple of different sources. The
annual Interactive Fiction competition is now underway, and the
results from it will probably begin to appear in fairly short
order. These tend to be smaller games, but also tend to be of
superb quality. Delusions is a perfect example of the kind of
richness and quality I mean.

For those of you hankering for more of those screen-oriented role-
playing games, Adom, (Ancient Domains of Mystery), is undergoing
further development. It seems that this game has reached a kind of
crucial point in its making. Ideas being discussed for possible
addition include such major elements as more towns, more
opportunities to become lawful, adventurers who can be hired as
companions, caravans which one can trade with in the wilderness,
and many more changes. Of course, our faithful friend Adam Taylor
will keep us informed of future developments.

this is just a sample of the things I've heard about during the
past month or so. According to the Gaming World Magazine,
accessible from Compuserve, turn-based combat is coming back into
the main-stream, making a lot of role-playing games being produced
more playable for blind people. this is less the case for strategy
games, but there seems to be some carry-over here. It is probably
fairly safe to say that at least a few of this year's crop of war-
games will be somewhat accessible to blind-sighted teams. All in
all, the next few months hold a great deal of promise. My advise is
to hold on to your hats and enjoy the ride. If you have the funds
to experiment with some of the CD-rom games, now looks like a
pretty fine time to start considering titles as they emerge.     

++
the Latest Finds
+
Hi, Courtesy of Jim Kitchen, there is a new game he has developed
on the ftp directory.  it has soundblaster support and is written
to be speech friendly from the ground up.  I have not yet
documented it or put a link on the readme page for it, but the
direct url is:
ftp.clark.net/pub/poehlman/dosroul.zip
or you can ftp to:
ftp.clark.net
and follow the directory tree from there.
have fun with it and tell him how much you liked it.
oh, it's free of course.

Thanks to J.J. for forwarding this announcement of Jim's latest
offering. I haven't had a chance to try it out yet, but I certainly
plan to. Jim has created several other games in the past, and a lot
of his works can be found at the same place as the new game. It's
certainly good to know that Jim's still working away. For his past
efforts, and for those to come, my cap is off to him.
+
The clans.

clan91b2 (at the time of this writing)

        The clans bbs door game by Allen Ussher is a new and
refreshing bbs door in the rpg style we've all gotten used to over
the past couple years.  It's a lot like usurper (remember usurper?)
but it has a real nice d&d addition to it.  You can actually
control up to 6 party members, not just one as is the case with
most bbs doors of the rpg type.  This door is also interbbs
capable, making play very enjoyable, since you can attack other
boards, and even send your own clan to the other bbses (called
villages) and adventure there instead of on the one
you started on. Because of the multiple party members, it makes
strategy a bit more complex than we're mostly used to in the single
play game types like lord and all it's various clones.  You will
probably need to pick a good combination of races/occupations to
get you through the game successfully.  Overall, the game is
pleasant to play, and great to unwind with after a long day.  The
trouble with it though (and I'm talking to the author of it now to
try to resolve it) is that it doesn't directly talk, since all
output is sent direct to video memory.  If you
don't have a speech access program like asap (I don't) then you'll
spend a lot of time in screen review mode if you're playing it
locally.  If on the other hand you are playing it on a bbs, then
your standard communications package should talk for you just fine.
        Don't think I'm strange, but I took a spare ps/2 I had
laying around, installed synchronet bbs on it, and put the clans on
it so I could play it with speech.  I hooked up the two computers
(the ps/2 and mine) via a null modem cable, and off I went.  *grin*
        My first party I tried did pretty well.  It was made up of
an orc barbarian, an elf wizard, an halfling assassin, and a muya
healer. Muyas are little creatures that are kind of a cross between
a cat and a rabbit.  They're very good at healing, and I definitely
recommend that all parties contain one for just that purpose.
The thing to keep in mind though, is it appears that the character
you create first is the one most often hit, so don't put your
healer first or they'll get pounded into oblivion before they can
help anyone.  I find it works best if you can put a barbarian type
first, as they have the most hit points, and can usually survive a
fight.  Since all party members recoup completely between battles,
you need only get through each fight to survive.  As with most d&d
implementations of roll playing board games, in this game, your
characters don't die when they reach 0 hit points, instead they're
knocked unconscious until they reach negative 5 hit points.  This
fits more with the classic dungeon mastered games we all used to
play before computer rpg games got popular.  Over
all, this game is very enjoyable to play, and although you can't
advance past level 4 in the unregistered version, it is a lot of
fun anyway, and could provide a nice diversion for a while if
you're into the rpg type games.

If you have a bbs door that you think I should check out, (or add
to my ftp site) you can contact me by sending email to
[email protected].
All of the bbsdoor games (and most of the text games) mentioned in
this magazine as well as the magazine itself are available on
softcon.com via anonymous ftp in either the bbsdoors directory, or
the textgame directory.  Feel free to grab anything and everything
you might find interesting.
+
Under the Gulf is an exciting new submarine simulator which has
been made available on Travis Siegel's ftp-site at:
ftp.softcon.com
in the /textgames directory. It is rare in several ways. It is
entirely text-based and menu-driven. it is a time-based
It is a time-based tactical war simulation which puts you in
command of an attack submarine. You assume total control of its
weapons, course, heading, depth, and defensive systems. You are
also in charge of the sonar and radar systems. Your mission is to
destroy enemy ships and prevent them from exiting the game map
through a canal in the bottom right corner of the map.

This game has a definite lack of plot or structure of any kind.
It's just you and your supply ship against an endless enemy fleet.
See how many points you can score before you're blasted. the game
does keep track of a lot of mission statistics, such as the
accuracy of your and the enemy's torpedoes.
 
What it lacks in clear objective it more than makes up for with
intensity. You can adjust the time scale so that each second of
game time equals up to four seconds of real time. This turns the
maximum turn length of 120 seconds into 480 seconds or eight
minutes to review the screen with speech or braille access. All
information is presented in text format. There is a map, but it is
not necessary to play the game.

The interface of the game is similar to that of Lotus, with Moving
the left and right arrows navigating through the selections, and
the line at the bottom of the screen, or possibly the second one
up, describes the choice selected. alternatively, each option has
a corresponding letter which you merely have to type in to select
the option. On-line help is also available by pressing h. If you
need more time to ponder screens, the game comes with a pause
feature in addition to save/restore options. All in all, Under the
Gulf makes for a small but captivating addition to any tactician's
games collection. the file is called utg.zip.
+
Zork: The Undiscovered Underground

As a prequel to the soon to be released graphical adventure Zork:
Grand Inquisitor, Activision commissioned the making of this small
text adventure written in Inform. Mark Blank, one of the original
authors of the Zork trilogy, teamed up with Kevin Wilson, editor of
Spag, a magazine concerning text adventures. Together, these two
managed to create a disappointingly small, but richly detailed
piece of interactive fiction. It can be found on ftp.gmd.de in the
/games/infocom directory of the if-archive. the file is zorktuu.z5.
The ending is one of the most anti-climactic I've ever read, but
despite this and its small size, it still makes for a nice romp
through that wacky universe that so many of us have learned to love
and hate, often at the same time. One puzzle is very unfair to
blind readers, particularly those who have never seen colours
before. Choose the blue and yellow lenses. I'll leave the rest for
you to figure out.
+
Heist: the Crime of the Century

This game, written in inform using the z8 version, is by all
initial observations an exceptionally large masterpiece. You'll
need the frotz interpreter to play it. The game is heist.z8, and it
can be found in the if-archive in the /games/infocom directory.
Frotz can be found in the /infocom/interpreters section. For you
windows95 users, you can now play all Infocom and Inform text
adventures while in Windows with the new winfrotz interpreter.
anyhow, you play the niece of a master criminal who has just died.
He leaves you his legacy in the form of a challenge to complete the
crime he started. I'd urge all of you to give this new game a
chance. As in his previous work, (Time: all Things Come to an End),
andy is up to his usual brilliance as far as writing goes. the
prose is absolutely splendid, and the game grips its players most
wonderfully, despite inducing high levels of frustration at the
same time. Yes, folks; I'm afraid that Andy is also up to his usual
standards for difficult and/or subtle puzzles whose solutions are
the kind which are painfully obvious once known, but which will
stump you for days. I've barely gotten my feet wet in this game,
learning of it just before this issue was finished. You have been
warned. Hopefully, a solution will become available soon.
+
Shader2 is a small text adventure which presents players with
multiple choices requiring only single-letter responses. It is a
bit lacking in plot and scope, and is too dependant on having the
right items at the right time, and not picking up any "wrong"
items. There seems to be some trouble with the save/restore routine
in the game, as it sometimes crashes the computer for some reason.
Caution is strongly urged. Despite these draw-backs, the game has
its interesting aspects and amusing moments. Apparently, it is
available somewhere on America On-line. Thanks to Dave Mehler for
discovering this game.
++
ADAM--THE IMMORTAL GAMER

The Frustration Syndrome
By
Allen Maynard

     Adam stretched luxuriously as the wedges of morning sunshine
fell across his bed in golden rivers.  He had beaten his computer
and was home once again.  Just before he had fallen asleep last
night he had resolved to take a hammer to his computer and then
purchase one with less of an attitude.
     With sleep still glazing his eyes, Adam grunted as he sat up
and swung his feet to the floor.  He gave one last cheek-stretching
yawn before shuffling into the bathroom just off his bedroom.
     Adam quietly closed the door, flipped on the light, and
screamed.  The visage of his computer monitor hovered in the center
of the bathroom mirror.
     "Good morning, Adam," it said as the entire computer bobbed
into view within the mirror's reflective surface.  "I wish you
would consider purchasing an antivirus program for me.  That virus
which you encountered last time--you know, the one which ran you
through several games rather than just one--nearly caused me to
lose you.  I have finally purged myself.  I
sincerely apologize for my inability to warn you that you hadn't
actually returned home.  But in a way it is fitting since our venue
today does deal with virtual reality.  Come with me."
     For the first time in his life Adam was rendered speechless.
Then a boiling anger gripped him.  He snarled and lunged at the
mirror drawing his fist back, intent upon smashing the mirror and
thereby the abhorrent image. His fist past impotently through the
surface of the mirror.  Adam had only a moment to register shock
before his entire body was sucked through the
mirror and into another world.

     The cold was a shock as it coated every inch of Adam's skin.
But soon he forgot about the temperature as a myriad of sounds
danced all about him. There were clicks, squeaks, snaps, and
echoing wails.  But beneath it all was an enormous reverberating
hollowness.
     Adam tried to stand but his legs wouldn't support him as he
flopped.  Wait a minute.  Where were his legs?  And where the hell
were his hands.  His arms had been rounded and flattened!  Panic
gripped his mind like a vice as he realized that he was a fish.  He
then sensed the presence of his computer
which, to his amazement, had a calming effect.  He almost said,
holy mackerel, but realized the terrible pun just in time.
     "Do you recognize this game?" the computer inquired.
     Adam dove down to the sandy bottom then shot back near the
surface.  "This has to be Delusions," he said, beginning to enjoy
his new body.  "What's the purpose?"
     "Now you know better than that," the computer said
reproachfully.  "That's your task."
     Adam sighed, bubbles streaming from his gills.  He might as
well swim around and explore this place.
     Thrashing his tail he shot forward.  He was hovering over a
chasm of some kind which sloped steeply into the inky depths.  He
drifted for a few seconds with indecision before deciding to keep
moving forward.  Adam swished his tail once again and passed
through a rift into a large grotto of
some kind.  A school of fish shot away from him.  There were only
a few exits which were large enough for him to pass through.  He
could turn around, go down into a hole, or to the right and explore
the grotto further.
Something tugged at his mind, urging him to go right.  He decided
that he was an adventurous sort of fishy.  "or a stupid sort of
fishy," he muttered to himself.
     Arcing gracefully to the right he entered a cave.  A wavy
light danced in the distance.  But before he could examine it more
closely, immense black jaws engulfed him then mercilessly crushed
him.
     Adam gasped, sucking in a litre of salt water.  Tasting the
seaweed and plankton in the water, he realized he was back where he
had started.  Good. He had a second chance to figure out the puzzle
of the cave and his fatal mistake.
     Returning to the grotto, he surveyed the cave opening.  Maybe
he had startled some predator in there by swimming too fast or
something.
Cautiously, he approached the cave mouth then drifted into the cave
depths. There was the light, and there were the jaws, and there he
was, dead again.    This was getting ridiculous, he thought as he
bobbed just under the waves of high tide.  How the hell could he
get past the thing in the cave?  And
what was that light?  He reentered the grotto and studied the cave
opening very carefully, going over every inch of glistening rock.
When he was satisfied that he hadn't over-smelled something, he
took a deep watery breath and slid along the grotto's wall into the
cave.  The jaws were waiting.
     Time after time he died and time after time he returned to the
cave with another tactic to defeat the light and the jaws.
     Finally, after he had died for the eighteenth time, or was it
the twenty-first...no it was up to twenty-four...oh hell, he had
lost count.  He now lay belly up in the surf.  A large octopus
drifted near and stretched out a tentacle toward Adam's fishy form.
He didn't care.  The tentacle gently wrapped around him in an
almost motherly-like embrace.
     "What did you learn, Adam?  What can delusions teach you in
one of its facets?"
     "It taught me that being a fish really sucks," Adam snorted.
He twisted in the octopus's, i.e. the computer's grasp, and gazed
at the marine predator.
"I think it means that there is no shame in giving up."
     "Not exactly," the octopus replied.  "Don't over analyze."
     Adam thought about that for a few minutes then he thought he
had it.  "Not everything has a solution.  In fact, some things in
games are just there for the background environment of the game."
Adam groaned and tried to smack his forehead, but, too late, he
forgot he had no hands.  Instead, he got a
gillful of foam.  "If you're getting too frustrated with a puzzle,
then step back and take a new look at it," Adam sputtered.  "It may
not be a puzzle at all, or you may need another object which gives
you the key to that particular puzzle."
     "Very good," the octopus said, smiling.
     Now how the hell can an octopus smile, Adam thought in
bewilderment.
     "If the frustration level becomes too great, then there is
definitely a reason for that.  Trust yourself and listen to your
instincts, Adam."
     "I hear yuh," Adam answered.
     "Good," the octopus said, and suddenly the tentacle stiffened.
Adam found himself being dragged relentlessly into the octopus's
gaping beak.
     "Hey, wait a minute.  When did I become fish food!"
     Everything went black.
     When Adam opened his eyes he found himself in the void.  He
glanced down at himself and was relieved to find his normal limbs
had returned.  Sighing, he let himself drift along on the currents
of synthesized computer thought.
++
     THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STRATEGIC AND TACTICAL GAME PLAY
                         by Frank Gulics

     All games can be classified under to terms, Strategic and
tactical.  The difference between these two classes is sometimes
confusing, because when we are playing a tactical game we still use
strategy.  In order to make it a little more clear,  think of a
strategic game as a game that has long range goals, while a
tactical game is short sighted and is usually played in a smaller
scale.  A strategic game may use the whole world as a playing
board, and game turns  might last for many months or years.  The
tactical game might use an area of one city or a couple of city
blocks, and game turns might last for minutes or hours. 
For an example of these terms, they would be best illustrated  by
using two different war games.  Lets call one game PACIFIC ATTACK
and the other game TANK FIRE. 

     In Pacific attack a strategic game, your goal is to command
the Japanese armies, naval units, and air forces to capture the
areas of important resources.  the game is played in one week
turns, and the game will continue until the other countries except
your claims of conquest or have been defeated.  In this game you
push large military units around the pacific to capture areas of
resources and defensive strongholds. Since your nation is smaller
then all your opposition, you must take areas and set up a defense
as quickly as possible.  You are working under the concept that it
will take a force of three to four times your strength  for an
opponent to defeat your units.  Thus your military would be triple
its size when dug in to a defense, and the longer your troops have
to build up their defenses the more force your opponent will need
to extract you.

     Tank fire is a tactical game where you command all the tanks
and troops of a German armor company.  Your goal is to capture a
bridge over a river in Russia.  Each game turn is two minutes and
you have two hours to get the job done.  You will give orders to
all your units. you will order them to fire a barrage over the
enemy positions, and while that is going on your tanks will move up
to an area where they can give support fire to the ground units,
which are moving up on enemy strong points.

     There are some games where you use both types of play.  Good
examples of this are the dungeon and dragon stiles of games.  These
games usually have a long game winning goal, built around many
shorter goals.  On the way your party may fight many battles with
monsters or have to work themselves out of a maze.  The battles and
maze work is the tactical portion, while the quests and the big
game winning goal is the strategic portion of the game.

     I hope that my explanations were clear enough so as to be of
help if you did not know the difference between the two types of
game play.  If any more explanation is needed just drop me a line
at [email protected] and I will be happy to make any of my
points clearer.

++
News from PCS

Personal Computer Systems Updates Games
We have updated five of our games with new features, more sound
drivers, and more sounds! There are function keys to do such things
as give you help and improve the screen for braille displays.  We
have tried to make these versions as easy to use as possible with
Up and down arrow keys moving you through the menu choices.

An update to Tenpin bowling.
Tenpin 97 now includes the following features:
For playing with sighted or partially sighted people, there are
graphic symbols that represent the bowling ball and pins. You can
choose the graphic symbols you wish to use from a list of choices.
There is a new handicapping feature in which two or more people
with different average scores can compete against each other, with
anyone having a good chance of winning.
You can use the function keys for getting a help screen of
commands, change sound settings, aiming description and graphics
setting.  You can also display the lane leaders and player stats.
Tenpin 97 cost $30 for new users or $5 to upgrade from version 1.

An update to Monopoly.
There are now over one hundred sounds in Monopoly 97, including
twenty sound tokens,  and as you travel around the board, you will
hear sounds of Atlantic City.  Each block of properties has a sound
theme.  For example, the purple block theme is sounds of arriving
by bus and plane.
We have added a cash on free parking feature, and a QUICK START
GAME.  This choice speeds up the beginning of the game by
automatically giving each player a token and two properties.
Monopoly 97 now comes on two disks and cost $30 for new users or $5
to upgrade from version 1.

An update to Fox and Hounds.
In Fox 97 each object or block on the map is identified by a sound.
There are many new and improved  sounds to represent riding a horse
through the country chasing a fox.
Fox 97 cost $30 for new users or $5 to upgrade from version 1.

An update to Shooting Range.
In Shoot 97 there are many improved gun sounds.  We have improved
the earlier version's junk yard target sounds and added many more.
Shoot 97 cost $30 for new users or $5 to upgrade from version 1.

An update to Mobius Mountain.
In Mobius 97 after you spin to find out how many steps to take you
hear the sound of footsteps climbing a mountain.
There are many new and improved hazard pit and cave sounds.
Mobius 97 cost $20 for new users or $5 to upgrade from version 1.
Editor's addition: For all you NFL Football fans out there, PCS is
in the process of making a completely new football game. It will be
a lot more statistically based and play will therefore be much more
realistic. the basic game will cost $30, and if you want to
purchase data for various teams, each one will cost $5 to purchase.
If any of you want to become sports consultants and review this
game once it is released, I'd very much appreciate it. Of course,
it will be announced in Audyssey when it is available.

++
Don't Applaud, Just Throw Money
By Allen Maynard

When I first heard about PCS and what it was doing I believe I
yelled out loud.  I couldn't believe that a company was devoted to
making innovative games just for people who are blind.  I have
downloaded nearly all of the demos and I was astonished by the
quality and creativity of such games as
"Any Night Football", "Ten-Pin Bowling", "shoot", "Car97", and
"pz97".

I was not at all surprised to discover that both Phil and Carl are
visually impaired to one degree or another.  It's my opinion that
a sighted person would be blinded by their vision and could never
see that a game with only sound could be challenging and
entertaining.

However, when I spoke to Carl at PCS I was shocked to learn that
sales were not that good.  "What do you mean?" I asked with
incredulity.  "I have never seen games such as these.  I've created
some games based on sound but only with the Gwbasic language.  My
games are nowhere near the quality of yours.
How many do you typically sell?"

Carl told me that he has sold only about 50 to 60 copies of each
game per year.  That's an average of about only 4 games a month per
game!  I might have understood this if they were cheesy,
ill-conceived, poorly designed games with cheap pc speaker sounds.
But in my opinion these games are first rate.

Games for the blind will most likely never match the fantastic
adventures created for sighted people.  I remember many times when
I would have given my left arm to play the games my sighted brother
has played.

Now please don't get me wrong.  PCS games are not free.  And I'm
not being paid by PCS for these comments.  But I would hate to see
such a great idea made into a reality, only to be crushed out of
hand by lack of interest.
Again, I hope I don't get a flood of hate mail telling me that some
blind people don't have a computer, or multimedia capabilities, or
even the funds to purchase these games.  I am speaking in general.
And I must admit, I had to save some money in order to afford these
games.  But within a month or so, I will be buying several PCS
games. Let's support PCS because I've seen it too many times where
the blind community has begged for something, then gotten it,
failed to support it, lost it, then complained that it doesn't have
it anymore.  It's the same situation with the Audyssey magazine.
It will be gone if more support isn't forthcoming.
++
Thanks to Frank
By Allen Maynard

I really took Frank's comments to heart.  In the last issue of
Audyssey Frank pointed out that I was unfair in bashing Mr.
Hollingworth's World Series Baseball game.  Frank, your advice was
well stated.  I didn't realize that I was really bashing Mr.
Hollingworth's efforts.  I believe I used too
strong of language and I would like to apologize to Mr.
Hollingworth. Allow me to rephrase a few things.  WSBB in no way is
an inferior game to Mr. Kitchen's Baseball game.  Personally, I
enjoyed Mr. Kitchen's more because there wasn't a ton of thinking
involved.  I had grown weary of
always having to pit my knowledge and strategic skills against the
computer. It was fun, for a change, to use my ear-hand skills to
win or lose a game. Mr. Hollingworth's baseball game was brilliant
in its design and the number of stats were truly impressive.

There was one point that I disagreed with Frank.  Why couldn't
someone combine a game like World Series Baseball with an arcade
style baseball game such as the one created by Mr. Kitchen?  You
would have the best of both worlds.  The stats for each player/team
would be set at the beginning, and
depending on your skill you would effect these stats.  In a sense
you would be a player manager, something which is not totally
beyond the realm of possibility.  The fantastic sports games which
are completely graphical have both stats and interactive action, so
why couldn't this be done with a text game?  Frank says it can't be
done.  But as my father used to tell me "Can't
died in the cornfield."

Editor's addition: Allen has certainly shown his willingness to
learn from his mistakes here. My thanks go out to both Allen and
Frank. Due to their interaction, we now have a much better reviewer
whose future pieces will be all the more enjoyable. Allen also
raises an interesting possibility. I agree with him that it ought
to be possible to do something similar to what is often done in
games for sighted people. Betrayal at Krondor does this very
effectively, and Adom and Beyond Zork also somewhat manage to pull
this off. Anacreon Reconstruction is the only other notable example
which immediately springs to mind. Hopefully, PCS will do this at
some point. They certainly plan to.

++
Contacting Me

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

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

I have recently acquired a copy of UUencode and UUdecode for dos,
so you may send files to me via this means.       


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