[games_access] Harmonix needs our help!

hinn at uiuc.edu hinn at uiuc.edu
Sun Dec 16 03:31:37 EST 2007

Hey --

The main issue is that they cannot use the foot pedal but they can use the drum pad (the other four inputs) using the drum sticks -- they are paraplegic and not quadriplegic...although Harmonix would like to know solution ideas for quadriplegic gamers as well!

I have asked to see if we could get into the source code if we sign away our lives -- worst case he just says "no way." And that's cool. I can understand keeping the code close to the vest. Doesn't hurt to propose it though.

At the party I was at last night, it took 2-3 people without mobility disabilities to play the drum on "easy" mode. So add in any mobility disability and it's even tougher!

Another thing to think about is solo practice -- you can go through the game just playing the drum with AI players. So there is a loss of independence for paraplegic gamers who would have to get a friend to "drum" with them. So they get used to each other's cues and styles...what happens at a party when the friend might not be there and a "substitute" second person is needed. It's not absolutely critical but it can get annoying to get used to someone else who is essentially a part of your "skills" package -- after all, a lot of (most?) people practice on their own so that they can keep up with and/or beat the crap out of their fellow game players. Yeah...rockband IS about collaboration...but...when the scores came up, there was always clearly "the winner." :)

Did I mention that I think this discussion is really cool? ;)


---- Original message ----

>Date: Sun, 16 Dec 2007 00:10:01 -0800

>From: "Eelke Folmer" <eelke.folmer at gmail.com>

>Subject: Re: [games_access] Harmonix needs our help!

>To: "IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List" <games_access at igda.org>




>Interesting problem, maybe a viable strategy would be to find the

>gross or lowest denominator of the amount of interaction that a

>paraplegic could provide; e.g. if this is a one switch you obviously

>have a hard time providing five different inputs. Some amount of

>interaction has to go or be automated.


>I assume we will not be able to modify the existing source code and

>hence a solution must be found in the hardware. If you want to

>automate particular drum beats there is no way to get this information

>through a controller unless you would be using a videocamera that

>would monitor the screen to see which buttons need to be pressed.


>I propose a simple solution:


>just splitting up the drums (physically) into a part (1-5) drums that

>can be played by a paraplegic and the other part (1-5) shall be played

>by another human. You need 4 people anyway so finding a 5th should not

>be a problem. If the paraplegic is unable to drum but can only use sip

>and puff i would suggest splitting up the controller for the drums in

>a sipp and puff part and the remaining drum parts.


>Cheers Eelke


>On 15/12/2007, d. michelle hinn <hinn at uiuc.edu> wrote:



>> 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:

>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Allen_%28drummer%29



>> 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.



>> Michelle

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>Eelke Folmer Assistant Professor

>Department of CS&E/171

>University of Nevada Reno, Nevada 89557

>Game interaction design www.helpyouplay.com



>games_access mailing list

>games_access at igda.org


these are mediocre times and people are
losing hope. it's hard for many people
to believe that there are extraordinary
things inside themselves, as well as
others. i hope you can keep an open
-- "unbreakable"

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