Hi,
Yeah, taking over Raceway and Montezuma's Revenge has resulted in a lot of personal grief and misery for me. I've had my reputation marred, I've been verbally insulted, I've been called a thief, I've stayed up late trying to get this or that done, and it has just been one bad thing after another. To ice the cake, so to speak, my apartment management had us out of our apartment for four months, and unfortunately I didn't have everything with me to work on the games. As a result I've gotten the blame for that too, because people want to know why the game wasn't finished asap. However, on the bright side of this I really think I can pull a couple of good games out of the hat. No MOTA won't exactly be Montezuma's Revenge, but it still will be a side scroller, will be a treasure hunting adventure, have fire pits to jump over, avoid spike traps, lots of baddies to fight, and should at least give the person the feeling of a NES or Atari game.



Michael Feir wrote:
In my judgement, Tom has found the most fair approach in this tricky situation. It all started out because he wanted to save those of us who had waited ages for James North to finish Raceway and Montezuma's Revenge from the crushing disappointment we faced when he decided to pack it in. That attempted good deed has brought him no end of grief since. Everyone has had to compromise somewhat. We, the customers, won't be getting precisely what we originally paid for. However, Tom is going to give us a new and improved platformer so we'll at long last end up with a good one of those which is fully accessible. I've long felt that this genre would be spectacularly suited to blind people and be helpful to people just getting used to computer games as opposed to a fully 3d adventure. I'm profoundly grateful to Tom for deciding to do this. It wasn't an easy decision for him to reach and I know he has his own dreams he'd rather be working on. Although he has a lot of creative latitude now, I believe he would rather work on fully 3d games. Ultimately, I believe we'll end up with a spectacular platformer as long as we give Tom the patience and good will that he needs and deserves.

Due to this whole episode, I don't believe we'll see any developer put a game up for pre-ordering again. Too much distrust and damage was done to the whole concept for it to work in this gaming community. It can work for the sighted gaming world because the companies producing their games have the financial backing to handle things if projects go bad on them. For us, we're just too much at the mercy of the personal life circumstances of our developers. That's a sad thing because it could have helped established developers finance better assets such as sound effects and music to put in to their final products. I've just begun working on an accessible game which I believe will take me something like four years to create. I'm engaged to be married in around a year's time to a wonderful woman I've had the good fortune to find. Anticipating tougher economics after we're married, I decided to purchase royalty-free music while I still have my own source of income. That way, she's not going to have to sink any of her income into what is essentially my dream. In total, I've spent a little under $400 on the music. During my last attempt to create a game, I spent around the same on the SFX kit from Sound Ideas. That has around 20000 sounds I can legally use. Altogether then, I've spent around $800 on my dream of creating an accessible game. It helps a lot that I'm currently single and don't have other financial responsabilities. Most developers aren't in my somewhat unique circumstances. Unless I ultimately succeed in creating the game, I'll never see a dime of that investment.

What happened to Tom was a stroke of tremendous bad fortune which has had repercussions for everyone connected with accessible games. I believe that it has lowered the sense of trust and solidarity in the community as a whole. It has put everyone more on a business footing but somewhat reduced the overall feeling of community developers could once have enjoyed. This is ultimately a good thing as we'll see a lot less hopes being dashed due to developer burn-out in the future. However, new developers may find enthusiasm for their ideas somewhat more lacking. Less attempts at creation mean less successes as well as less failures. This community can't afford to lose any more game developers for any reason. Games take too long to create and we don't have that many who are known to be working on new games. That's also a sad part of the fallout from this whole episode. Developers are likely to be a lot more careful about what information they release than they were before all this happened. This means less information for Audyssey issues and less community discussion of fresh ideas that are actually being worked on. Dry spells will seem a whole lot longer due to this.

As members of this community, we likely don't have the ability to financially support new game developers other than to purchase their games once created. However, there's a whole lot that we can do to support developers who we already know about and encourage new people to take a crack at making accessible games. We can be patient and offer moral support while a developer works on a project. An encouraging email can count for a whole lot when you're slogging through the long dull aspects of creating your masterpiece. It makes such a nice change from "When's the game going to be ready?" When we see evidence that people are pirating games, we should take that evidence to the developer so they can take countermeasures. We can also be ambassadors to people about accessible games and help spread word about the games which are out there. Over the past while, I believe I've noticed a number of new members. That's a good indication that we're at last moving forward as a community. We also have at least one new developer working on a project that I know I'm going to love. A sound-based rpg is certainly going to go down my gullet nicely. It's Thanksgiving Day here in Canada. A very appropriate time to say a public "thank you" to Tom and all other developers who are working away. Games are a very powerful art form and you bring that splendidly to a group of people who otherwise would once again be stuck on the sidelines. I salute you all and hope one day to add my contribution to your own.

Michael Feir
Author of Personal Power:
How Accessible Computers Can Enhance Personal Life For Blind People
2006-2008
www.blind-planet.com/content/personal-power

A Life of Word and Sound
2003-2007
http://www.blind-planet.com/content/life-word-and-sound

Creator and former editor of Audyssey Magazine
1996-2004
Check out my blog at:
www.michaelfeir.blogspot.com


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