[games_access] Harmonix needs our help!

d. michelle hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Sun Dec 16 00:48:43 EST 2007

Hey Mike --

>The automation of inputs sounds like an excellent idea. I think you'd

>want it generic and per-input though and be clear that it's not *just*

>the foot pedal that could be problematic. e.g. Def Leopard's Rick

>Allen could easily handle the bass pedal (and a few more), but one of

>the pads might be a pain to hit simultaneously with another one.

Yep, I was thinking about Rick Allen -- I'll have to do some surfing
to give them some links on how drummers with mobility disabilities
and amputees trick out their drum kits for their own personal
situation. That might give Rock Band another source for information
(actually...I'm wondering if we could get Rick Allen in on the
accessible drum kit? I know that the Harmonix guys know some of the
band contacts. I'm serious! How cool would that be to be able to buy
a special edition Rick Allen controller that could be reconfigured to
work with switches and so forth? For info on his custom kit:

>I've only played the original GH briefly - do these games identify the

>different players at the start of the game? Tying such settings to

>individual users/names would be nice, so that if you're taking turns

>it'd automatically reconfigure itself for each person once those

>configurations are set and keep the accounts/configurations around as

>options for future gaming sessions.

Yes, you pick your own player and name them (and then you can outfit
them with cooler clothes and instruments when you earn cash from
gigs) and it saves your progress and such. So I would think saving
accessibility configurations would be pretty easy.

>As far as hardware - if they provided a way to use a generic

>controller instead of the custom ones (e.g. use a standard gamepad

>instead of the guitar for instance, where the whammy bar became the

>joystick), and in software allowed for remapping of the generic

>controller's inputs and to the expected inputs of the custom

>controller, then that should allow people to use things like the

>QuadControl.com's controller to play, wouldn't it? Anything

>excessively hard to do with such a controller could be switched to

>"automatic mode" in the software? Making these configurations also

>per-user as above would be nice as well.

Hmm...yeah there is no way to play without a USB
controller...but...I'm wondering if one of Barrie's USB controllers
might be "tricked" to work with Rock Band -- I mean they already need
a hub to fit four instruments so one of those could be an accessible
controller...and then someone with different mobility issues might be
able to play with a hacked controller connected to five switches
(four for the drum pad and one for the pedal. I'll also introduce
them to the Quad Controller for the 360 -- they may have a "cheat" or
something that would allow someone to override an instrument
(stranger things have been put in games).

Now this discussion is kind of cool and super fun -- maybe we should
start brainstorming on a game every other week where we know we have
a friendly person in a high powered position who could make things
happen. We could advert it on forums and our blogs for more
suggestions. Mark and Barrie could help us on the blog end of things
and I can contact some other groups.

We could then present them with mini-usability reports and if they
are interested in more info/help then they can help support the
GA-SIG foundation (our soon-to-be-made-real non-profit) where we
could earmark for travel scholarships for SIG members to conferences
like the GDC where they are speakers, etc. It's a bird...It's a
plane...no...It's "SIG PROJECT PRACTICAL!!!!!"

I'm trying to set up a meeting with Alex and the Harmonix gang at GDC
so we can show them the controllers, Eelke's haptic solution for the
blind, how they are used, and discuss things further. Who doesn't
want to ROCK after all? Beethoven was deaf -- and yet it was a
rockstar back in his day. ;)

Let me see if I can get a couple kits if we sign our lives away and
promise not to resell them on ebay.

Trust me on this one -- we have already benefited from the private
generosity of Harmonix employees who dig our work. I can't say much
more but trust me -- I know.

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