It's always fun when these threads start up. Gives us thoughtful folks something to sink our teeth into. Che and Tom have done an excellent job in illustrating why things are happening so slowly. It takes real time and effort on a scale hard to fathom by people who have never tried it themselves. However, lets consider a few points here:

1. Remember when these games we have were released. There are tipically large chunks of empty time between any two game releases. It takes ages to put a game together. This is the case even with the help of an engine that's already been made. Each game has to have enough different about it to qualify as another game. Developers actually have achieved quite a lot in the thirteen years since I began publishing Audyssey Magazine.

2. Don't throw the baby out with the bath-water. Arcade games shouldn't be thought of as less worthy acomplishments. We haven't even begun to approach the variety and scope available to sighted people. To some extent, there are problems and issues making accessible versions of arcade games. Q-bert is a case in point. It's probably ultimately possible but would be pretty hard. Sidescrollers have a whole lot to offer blind people. We really haven't seen any serious exploration of that genre despite the relative ease of translating it into accessible form. Tom's the only one even trying to complete a serious sidescroller and he'd much rather be doing something else in his heart of hearts. I for one am very thankful that he's ultimately going to deliver us a full sidescroller and hope it inspires other developers to take a crack at the genre. Other arcade games would, I think, go down tremendously well. For instance, if someone managed to create a version of Gauntlet which people could play cooperatively over the Internet, I believe they'd have a smash hit on their hands. Gauntlet was one of those games which were simple to pick up and play but had quite a lot of depth and replay value. Torent was another absolute tragedy in that it was never finished. Nolan Derelek did a superb job of finding a way to make a basic Asteroids game accessible. I was one of his testers and had hours of fun flying that ship around, blasting asteroids and grabbing power-ups. That and Montezuma's Revenge were the two most promising games I've seen die. I fervently wish people could have experienced them fully completed. All of you who are so quick to dismiss arcade games out of hand would then have some iota of experience with the potential for fun you're degrading.

3. There's the rest of life to consider. As tom and Che have pointed out, nobody is going to make an actual living doing these games. Tom has mentionned his wife so I know he has her to occupy a presumably healthy chunk of his time and effort. He may also have one or more children to help take care of. These people may very well have fulltime jobs. Dave Greenwood certainly did. Most sighted people I know come home from such jobs too tired to do much of anything other than sit and veg in front of the TV. Life takes a very real toll on people. This is true even if you're unemployed. We've seen a couple of people like James North and the folks at All inPlay take a serious stab at making a living doing accessible games. James North ultimately failed quite spectacularly even though he had produced something like five or six games. All inPlay is surviving well beyond all my very dire initial expectations for it. However, I doubt very much that anyone working there is rolling in dough. They have the advantage of also appealing to sighted players. However, all we've seen from them is card and word games.

Certainly, their approach to these has been innovative. They clearly put a lot of thought into how they make their games accessible. However, they have to appeal to the widest possible audience for their games to remain profitable and that will likely prevent them from contributing to solve the variety shortfall.

Variety, rather than actual innovation, is what is truly being sought here. Let's be clear about this. The actual complaint being sent to game developers isn't truly about their lack of innovation. What a lot of us truly seek is new experience of genres we haven't gotten a chance to play in yet. We'd all of us love it if we could get a whole raft of brave intrepid souls to jump off the cliff that very few mainstream game developers are willing to let their creative people do and produce some truly different games. The trouble with doing this is that there is no way to garantee that it will be economically worth the developer's while. Developers must either try and create a game which appeals instantly to nearly everyone, or care enough about a project to see it through for its own sake. It could very well take me ten years or more to produce the game I have in mind. I have a very good appreciation for what a powerful influence games can be to people who play them. I also am passionate about creating a game which delivers a deeper well of thoughtful fun and does so in a way which is infinitely replayable. Whether that's enough to see me through to completion of the project is anyone's guess. My creative engine has been sputtering and stalling lately.

Michael Feir
Author of Personal Power:
How Accessible Computers Can Enhance Personal Life For Blind People

A Life of Word and Sound

Creator and former editor of Audyssey Magazine
Check out my blog at:

----- Original Message ----- From: "Thomas Ward" <> To: "Che" <>; "Gamers Discussion list" <>
Sent: Friday, August 14, 2009 2:51 AM
Subject: Re: [Audyssey] The real Game Circle

Hi Che,
I know the feeling. I'm not sure why but simple and easy games appears to be what sells in the accessible games market. As many people know one of my plans will be to create a full blown 3d game engine, as in actual 3d levels with 3d objects, 3d movement, as well as 3d audio support. No sooner did i mention my plans I got various comments to the effect that anything I made using it would be "too hard" even though they never seen the final product yet. One of the things that bothered me was some people immediately tried to tell me that because they have problems with Audioquake and Technoshock they absolutely know that they couldn't play any of my games. They didn't seam to consider the fact that with Audioquake accessibility is poorly implemented, and because it is a modified version of Quake it wasn't designed from the ground up for a blind player. Accessibility is an add on, and there could be a lot more done to it to provide accessibility. Technoshock also has some accessibility issues, that make it harder than say Shades of Doom to play, and i feel accessibility could b done better in that game. I've seen what works and what doesn't and I'd use that experience plus my own blindness to work out any and all accessibility problems that might crop up. Anyway, the bottom line is now and then we see a thread like this where someone suggests coming up with something new, something different, something more mainstream, and when a developer tries to do that, come up with something truly amazing like Rail Racer, the complaints thatit is too hard come rolling in. As a developer we really can't win. No matter if we do something easy or something new and slightly challenging someone is going to complain.

Che wrote:
I agree with ya man,
I tried something different with rail racer, and I suppose it was somewhat successful, but i got lots of complaints that it was too complicated to play. folks complain if it is too easy, if it is too hard, if it takes too much practice to master, blah blah blah. just can't please all the folks all the time. next i am doing an online playable football game, driven with mouse support, custom plays, online season play against human opponents, high end sound effects, etc. . I was going to do a really involved fighting game as posted on list here, but didn't get much feedback on it, and didn't want to spend the next 18 months on something that wasn't going to sell, especially such an ambitious project. I think the folks that would have enjoyed the online fighting game would have really enjoyed it a lot, as those that play rail racer constantly do, but there just aren't enough of them out there to justify the time spent. you can check the archives for details. the project might still get done, but it will have to wait. I think the masses want simple and easy, and those kind of games seem to sell the best. troop n em sold a lot of copies, and at its core, its just a simple shoot em up. anyhow, i want a killer football game myself, so I'm gonna make one. if folks like it fine, if not, whatever, you got to go with what yer passionate about, or the results come out luke warm at best. as for other developers out there, i can't comment, they do what they do, and so far innovation hasn't been at the top of any of their lists lately from what i've seen.
We can only hope that changes soon.
This is not a money making market to spend hundreds and perhaps thousands of hours on a project and make just a few grand on it. you have to love doing it almost as a hobby , or yer in for dissapointment. I set up the card room because I love poker, and also to offset some of my dedicated server costs, and folks that have played have told me they are the best card games out there for the blind, with features not seen anywhere else. But even so, nobody is gonna make a living doing this stuff. i've seen cracked copies of most of the accessible games out there, hosted by fellow blinks. these people are total idiots, not realizing the damage they are doing to the accessible gaming market, but they don't care. i know some of them are reading this, and if you are sharing any cracked games, you should be very ashamed of yourself. in sucha small market, the damage you are doing is immense. Bottom line, if your a fellow developer working on a game now, my hat is off to you, this is a hard task without much reward or thanks, but non developers don't get that and don't seem to care either. But having said that, can't we push the envelope a little bit? Do we really need another shoot em up or arcade action game? hasn't all that been done enough by now?

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