Hi Charles,
Right. The fact of the matter is both Mac OS and Linux are two
emerging technologies for the blind, and it only seams fair to attempt
to expand the accessible games market into those two emerging markets.
True the Mac and Linux markets are smaller than the Windows market
currently, but that's not to say they should be forgotten about or
ignored completely. Fact is those two markets are growing much faster
than most peopl realize.
For example, back in early 2007 a lot of computer manufacturers as
well as customers were seriously unhappy with Windows Vista. Del went
as far as to sign a contract with Cononical, the company that produces
Ubuntu Linux, and now sells Del desktops and laptops with Ubuntu Linux
installed factory direct. You can order them from Del's website and
some of the major cities have the Del Linux laptops, netbooks, etc
available in stores as well. That move has done a lot to foward Linux
as far as the mainstream computer market goes, and to say Microsoft
was steamed is putting it mildly. Had a few more manufacturers like
HP, Compaq, Gateway, etc followed in Del's footsteps it might have
done some serious harm to the future Windows market.
Whatever the case between 2007 and 2010 the Mac PC market nearly
doubled. The Linux market also saw an increase. However, most of the
Windows users running XP still used XP and Windows Vista only grabbed
a small percentage of the Windows market. Even several of my own
relatives chose to switch to Mac OS or stuck with XP rather than go
with Vista. Point is that Microsoft shot themselves in the foot with
Vista and Windows 7 is only slowly beginning to move the XP market to
Windows 7. However, judging by some of the reactions from VI users
about Windows 7 some are just as equally unhappy with Windows 7 as
they were with Vista. Now, the mainstream and VI PC market is more
aware of alternatives than ever before, and the poor quality of Vista
etc have opened the door for customers to look elsewhere.
For us, the VI Computer market,  both operating systems have increased
in terms of accesssibility in leaps and bounds over that three year
period. Between the release of Mac OS 10.4 Tiger and Mac 10.6 Snow
Lepard I've seen the Mac Visionaries list grow in relationship to the
accessibility improvements in Voice Over and the Mac operating system
itself. Same holds true for Linux.
Back in 2007 the Linux community was pretty much made up of long time
Linux users who migrated from console based screen readers like YASR
and Speakup to the Gnome graphical desktop and Orca. However, once
Cononical made an accessibility commitment to provide access out of
the box of all Ubuntu releases the blind Linux community has grown.
The author of Vinux has actually taken Ubuntu and created his own
clone, Vinux, with a number of other accessibility features. Those two
distributions have in large part started to make some influences on
the VI Windows market and more VI computer users are at least trying
Linux even if they don't use it exclusively.
So the point I'm getting at those markets are beginning to grow along
with the mainstream markets. New access technologies for Mac and Linux
are making it possible for a VI computer user to take them serious as
an alternative to what is available for Windows. It is no longer safe
for any VI game developer, or any other software developer for that
matter, just to simply assume,"oh hum, all of my customers are running
Windows, use Jaws, have DirectSound, etc." Those assumptions no longer
necessarily hold true.
The fact of the matter is there is a small but actively growing
community of VI Mac and Linux users who have decided to stop using
Windows,Jaws, etc for various personal reasons. Speaking for myself
personally it simply was a matter of finances. Windows, to put it
bluntly, is an over priced and very expensive software option for
anyone especially the VI market. Over 80% of the blind and visually
impaired in the United States is unemployed and on some sort of
disability like SSI and SSDI. They frankly don't really have the money
to spend on high priced software which is typically the case for
anything for Windows. I know I don't have it any more.
For example, someone who has a computer from 2005 or 2006 would have
to pay quite a lot to get that system updated to the latest software
releases. They are looking at at least $199 for Windows 7 Home Premium
full retail from Best Buy aor Wal-Mart. If they want Office 2010 they
are looking at another $199 or so for the Home/Student version to $525
for Professional. Consider paying at least $300 for a Jaws SMA. If
they want to upgrade from Openbook 8 to Openbook 9 that's another
$150. That's just the common applications a VI computer user like
myself would buy, and doesn't even consider things like Soundforge,
Visual Studio Professional, etc that I actually use to create the
games like MOTA. I've come to realise we have to be slightly nuts to
pay those kinds of prices for software.
Now, I have Ubuntu Linux installed on my Compaq notebook and have
Ubuntu Linux 10.04, the Orca screen reader/magnifyer, Open Office
3.2.1, Simple Scan OCR, etc and paid exactly $0.00 for the works. The
only things I've actually purchased was a copy of Eloquence which was
like $6.00 from Oralux and a few Cepstral voices which were like $30
each from Cepstral. My over all investment cost in Linux was very very
low compared to Windows. If we assume other VI computer users choose
to migrate to Linux for the same reasons look for that market to
slowly grow as the U.S. econemy goes into the toilet.
Now, that I personally have made the commitment to begin using Linux
as my primary operating system I can sympathize with the Mac users on
this list that have made a similar commitment to their OS of choice.
It is one thing to talk about locating alternatives for your day to
applications like Firefox instead of Internet Explorer, Evolution
instead of Outlook, and quite another when you don't have any
accessible games as good as or equal to what is available for Windows.
I think several of us have been in the situation where we have our
laptop along, are sitting in a taxie, riding a bus, whatever and pop
up a quick game of Blackjack or Uno just to pass the time. Well, now
that I'm using Linux almost exclusively I'm finding my choices in
accessible games pretty much slim to none. That's something I truly
want to work on resolving, because otherwise Linux satisfies all my
other computing needs. I've got a decent office sweit, have adecent
web browser and e-mail program, Totum Movie Player is just as good as
Windows Media once all the third-party media plugins are installed,
etc. The only thing I seam to be missing out on is some games, and
that's why with beta 14 I decided to convert MOTA to my cross-platform
engine as it would take one step towards my goal of creating high
quality games for Linux but allow me to continue selling to the
Windows market as well.


On 10/10/10, Charles Rivard <woofer...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> I can certainly see why cross platform capability is important.  Heck.
> After all, logically, all it does is make the game playable to a bigger
> group of customers, and who on earth would want to do that, right?
> Actually, I think there should be more games available for other systems
> than Windows, because there just aren't enough of them around that are good
> quality, which I think MOTA will be.  I'd like to see more games able to be
> played on Pac Mates, Braille Notes, and other such devices, as well as on
> cell phones for those who want them.  If it is feasible, increase your
> customer base, and just maybe make a few bucks along the way.
> ---
> Shepherds are the best beasts!

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