To the AudioQuake and Accessible Gaming communities,
The journey we have taken since the AGRIP project began in 2003 has
shown that seemingly insurmountable accessibility barriers can be
overcome; that blind people can indeed play -- and even enjoy -- 3D
action games designed originally for those with full sight; that these
games can be played co-operatively or competitively over the Internet
and that blind people can even create new levels for such games.
AudioQuake was the first mainstream shooter to be released to the
public in accessible form and has gone on to provide network play,
statistics tracking and, more recently, a level description language
for making new 3D worlds. All of the code is available for others to
learn from the techniques we've employed and adopt them for other games.
Personally for us, the developers, it has been a journey of ambition,
discovery, occasional confusion, elation, pride and solidarity with
the AG community that has taken us on travels to many countries,
allowed us to meet some amazing, determined and creative people --
both those making things with our and others' games and those
developing other games and researching to help the mainstream industry
make progress on accessibility -- and to help show the wider world
what is possible. However the real journey has been the one we've
taken as people: working on AGRIP has given us much more than just
more knowledge of the satisfaction of a job done (in fact, it will
never be done and we dearly wish to continue the work in the future,
in some capacity). It is very hard to describe how the efforts of the
community in using our software and supporting its development have
affected us; from the literally staggering abilities and determination
of some of the participants in our workshops at the ICC camp to
expressions of thanks and support on our mailing lists and at Sight
Village 2004 and 2005. The most rewarding part has been seeing people
using the game: setting up servers; making new modifications that
dramatically change the weapons or the gameplay; adding new levels and
helping other users via our community.
Unfortunately some things are not possible and one of those things is
for us to continue supporting the project. Several critical and
harrowing events in real life have had ramifications for this and
other work we have been undertaking for almost three years now.
Following the initial blows from these events we have tried many times
to solicit help to continue our work on the project, which
transitioned to soliciting help from others to continue it under our
supervision, as we realised that our situations were untenable. We've
made all of our materials available to others via recognised services
(see the development information) and we've documented as much as we
can in the time we had. We did receive offers of help and we have
received some help, but further, mainly technical, difficulties have
prevented it from coming to fruition. It seems, quite reasonably in
hindsight now, that as the sorts of technologies we're using are so
novel to the AG scene, there are always going to be problems due to
that novelty and few of even the most experienced blind developers are
able to grapple with them. We sincerely hope our contribution -- one
of many from various people and organisations -- has perhaps helped
get the ball rolling to counteract this. Perhaps we can work to
improve this in future.
For now, however, it is with the deepest regret that we must say the
doors are formally closed to us continuing to contribute to the
project. We have tried so many times over the past few years to find
funding to employ someone else to continue the work, or to a little
time here and there, to keep things going. We're sorry this didn't
work out. Now our continued occasional involvement is more damaging
than good; the project should either be picked up by someone else, or
be left as an historical record of one part of a very exciting time in
the field of accessible gaming and did our bit to push back the
boundaries of what could be done. Looking back, it might not seem
like much of an achievement; we'd like to think that's the nature of
progress! The first time we playtested a very early network-aware
version of AudioQuake and knew this was the first time a blind person
had played a mainstream deathmatch was a moment we won't forget.
As well as this, as above, will never forget the kindness and support
of our community or the memories of all of the events that our journey
led us through. We will also continue the work in spirit later in our
lives but, for now, we have to be honest about the position we are
in. To all of you: our sincerest thanks for your support, and
apologies that we could not continue our journey together.
Matthew and Sebby
P.S. One last technical note: if anyone is willing to host our stats
service and is capable of dealing with the code, please contact us.
The same applies for taking control of the project on Launchpad and
any other aspect of the development effort. To continue using the
releases of AQ that you are now using, pass the "-nomauth" command-
line option and you will still be able to play the game. I'm afraid
we don't have the necessary hardware or software to compile a new
release right now, but the above will work.
Matthew Tylee Atkinson
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