Hi Jim,

Yeah, now that you mention it I do recall Window-Eyes 3.1 and earlier
had problems with the command prompt window. If you wanted to actually
run an MS Dos program with speech you had to switch over to
Vocal-Eyes, Jaws for Dos, ASAP, or some other Dos screen reader at the
time. However, now that most people don't need it current versions of
Window-Eyes such as v7.5 work fine with the Windows XP, Vista, and
Windows 7 command prompt window. I use Window-Eyes all the time with
scare, frotz, and various other dos interactive fiction interpreters
as well as various commandline compilers like MinGW and Javac. So
Window-eyes command prompt support added in version 4, I think, has
been a huge help to me. As I recall they added support about the time
Windows XP was first coming out. Unfortunately, in the main that was a
little too late since all the Dos games like Lone Wolf, Trek 99,  the
various PCS Games,your games, etc all began being rewritten for
Windows so command prompt support was just a tad bit late for
Window-eyes users.

As for recorded speech I have to agree with you. It is a lot of work
and isn't at all as flexable as using Sapi 5 directly. Unfortunately,
not everyone has high-quality Sapi compatible voices, and I seam to
recall getting a few not so happy remarks from gamers to include a
better voice with my games. Which only proves most people want
something for nothing.

On Linux the issue with using direct TTS is even more problematic. We
have Speech-Dispatcher which is something like Sapi, but unfortunately
since it is open source if you buy a brand new Del with Ubuntu 10.10
on it the only Speech-Dispatcher speech drivers you get are open
source drivers for ESpeak, Festival, and other open source speech
engines like that. They're not exactly the best quality voices out
there for Linux. Of course you can buy the Cepstral voices, AT&T
voices, Eloquence, etc for Linux which are far superior, but then you
have to go through the hastle of finding the latest Speech-Dispatcher
commercial drivers or recompile them yourself. That I.E. is the
biggest downfall Linux has to aaccessibility in my opinion. Most Linux
users won't fool with it to acquire the better TTS voices.

It is for that reason I've been thinking about writing my own custom
speech API for Linux. As part of my G3D engine it wouldn't be under
the Linux GPL license so could include up to date commercial speech
drivers for the AT&T Voices, Cepstral Voices, Eloquence, Dectalk, you
name it. When they run the package manager like dpkg it would
automatically install my custom commercial speech drivers. All the end
user would have to do is buy and install the commercial TTS engine
they want.

Which sort of brings me around to my point. If I create an RPG game as
we we were talking about earlier there is only two ways to pass along
a large amount of info to the gamer. One, we could display text
directly to the screen either via the Windows command prompt window or
via a terminal window on Mac and Linux operating systems. Two, the
other is to tap into the operating systems TTS speech API and simply
speak outloud all the necessary information. Both have advantages and
disadvantages to consider.

If we display text to the screen that makes the code extremely
portable so that the game can be recompiled for Pacmates, IPhones, and
probably any number of handheld devices as well as various types of
PCs. As someone who isn't strictly speaking a Windows-only user the
idea of making the product as portable as possible is good. Plus for
screen readers that can read a command prompt and terminal window that
gives them the ability to review the screen on demand, look up
spellings, and things like that.That is something you don't get when
shooting the text directly to Sapi. On the downside not all screen
readers handles a command prompt window exactly the same so the
process may be more manual for some than others. Plus I know from
experience one big problem is you have to be careful that the text
doesn't scroll off the screen, or wrap in the wrong place. Text
formatting errors in cases like that are nasty.

On the other hand using text to speech directly resolves some issues
but adds a few problems of its own. With Sapi it doesn't matter how
the text is formatted, weather it scrolls off screen, etc because it
is just speaking outloud what it is given to speak.  I'd say the
biggest advantage Sapi is got is that you don't need a screen reader
at all to play said game. Just start the game and it will speak
everything you want/need on demand. Unfortunately, if you want to look
up the spelling of a person, place, or thing in the game you can't.
There really is no way to really review the text word by word
character by character as you would with a screen reader. This was my
biggest complaint with Winfrotz TTS as I could never go back and
review something Sapi mangled or I wasn't sure how a certain named was
spelled. Plus API implamentation changes from platform to platform so
serious modifications are in the works to produce versions for
alternative platforms. To say nothing of the fact as Philip Bennefall
is finding out some engines like Neospeech don't always work as
expected even though you follow the Microsoft API docs to the letter.
I've never figured that one out, but it is a strange quark I've
encountered myself.

As far as Pat Benatar goes I was reading not too long ago in a music
magazine that she and Neil got into a disagreement just before Crimes
of Passion was released what the chord progression for Hit Me With
your Best Shot should be. Since Neil was the guitar gooru and author
of the song she let him keep the chord progression he wanted to use,
and that's the one that got released on the album. Since they gave an
example of Pat's suggested chord progression I got out my strat and
tried her version and liked it better. Not that the oofficial chords
are bad, but hers was probably a bit better suited to her voice.
Hmmmm...How many times does the lead singer of a band out smart her
resident guitar gooru?

Cheers!

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