[games_access] MMOG Topics for Terra Nova?

d. michelle hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Sun May 20 15:19:27 EDT 2007

The post I'm working on now is on exactly that! :) Mark at AbleGamers
also wants to work with us on the Great Games Experiment portal for
game reviews, basically seeing how we can port content from multiple
accessibility sites into GGE. Not sure if Mark is on this list but
I'll forward this to him just in case he's not.

>I just read this article on AbleGamers, wish I knew of them before,

>it's a great initiative.




>It says, but doesn't go into much detail, that Blizzard did the same

>thing Star Wars Galaxies did. It changed controls so they required

>more skill. Is this still the case or did they go back to the old,

>highly customizable setup?





>On 5/20/07, Barrie Ellis <barrie.ellis at oneswitch.org.uk> wrote:

>>Excellent post, Tim. I think you've covered most of it there.


>>I think it's worth posting up some information on

>>http://www.ablegamers.com/ - as they are particullarly into Massively

>>Multiplayer On-line Role Playing Games (MMORPG's). They aren't huge, but

>>they seem a good bunch.


>>Bit more on them here: http://ablegamers.com/content/view/16/66/


>>I think that the partitioning idea may be essential for some gamers where

>>they can play according to ability. I remember going to MegaZone

>>(http://www.rayleighmegazone.co.uk/index.php?page=gallery&sub=picsub) where

>>you wear a special flak jacket and carry a laser gun in a warehouse full of

>>dry ice. My friends and I were obiliterated by 'hard-core gamers'. I.e. some

>>pathetic geeky kids that probably spent all their spare time playing this

>>game. We'd have had much more fun if they'd had their seperate gaming

>>arena - and us - less-able - gamers our own. Can't see any problem at all in

>>that for MMORPGs either.


>>Anyway, my witterings done - keep chipping away. Perhaps we really do need

>>to reassure the insecure hard-core gamers with 12-year-old-boy mentality

>>that they can still keep their zen-master settings and gameplay alongside

>>others being able to play their game too.











>>----- Original Message -----

>>From: "Tim Chase" <agdev at thechases.com>

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

>>Sent: Sunday, May 20, 2007 1:36 AM

>>Subject: Re: [games_access] MMOG Topics for Terra Nova?



>>>> I have LOTS of ideas for posts but I don't think that they

>>>> will be received well by the Terra Nova crowd -- if anyone

>>>> can help me think through how to post about a particular

>>>> topic, even if it's only very narrowly related, I'd

>>>> appreciate it!


>>> In these forums (forae?) at TN and on other popular gaming

>>> boards, I repeatedly see a couple issues thrown in the face

>>> of efforts here:


>>> 1) adding accessibility features "dumbs down" the game

>>> removing the fun/challenge for the hard-core gamers;


>>> 2) equating the accomodation of all disabilities with

>>> accomodating even *some* disabilities; and


>>> 3) the difficulty of adding certain accessibility features

>>> to MMOG worlds


>>> Yes, it's hard to be all things to all people without it

>>> dominating the design of the game--an aspect that may churn

>>> the stomach of even the most socially-minded game designer.

>>> However, even small advances on any of these fronts may make

>>> significant headway for accessibility in gaming.


>>> For #1, there are repeated themes of how *certain* features

>>> added for accessibility benefit all gamers. Things like

>>> remappable controls or [CC] are often mentioned. Also, a

>>> variety of difficulty levels, though not mentioned quite as

>>> much, offer entry points for the casual gamer, but allow for

>>> deeper challenges for the "industrial-strength" gamer.


>>> Just because a game offers remappable controls doesn't mean

>>> hard-core gamers are going to be impared by it. Just

>>> because someone can turn on [CC] and play with the audio off

>>> while their wife/kids are sleeping, doesn't mean they have

>>> some advantage over other folks. And if a hard-core gamer

>> > finds the "easy" level too easy, well, that's their own dumb

>>> fault and they should crank up the difficulty.


>>> Requiring less complex controls (whether as drastic as

>>> one-switch or simply cutting back on the 20-buttons, 2

>>> D-pads, 2 analog sticks, and 6 DoF gyro controls) makes the

>>> game more accessibile not just to folks with mobility

>>> problems, but to casual gamers in general. Cell-phone games

>>> and one-switch games seem to be made for each other and for

>>> marketing to the casual gamer.


>>> With #2, I think it would be helpful to enhance our

>>> suggestions/top-10 list with annotations regarding the

>>> difficulty to implement such a feature, how it impacts game

>>> design, and how it helps reach a larger demographic (and how

>>> large that market-increase is). The idea of creating a game

>>> for the Who's _Tommy_ scares a lot of folks. When we

>>> mention the word "accessibility", folks see a

>>> black-and-white world in which a game is either

>>> inaccessibile, or the "deaf, dumb, and blind kid [that] sure

>>> plays a mean pinball" can play it. Perhaps clarifying that

>>> there's a gradient of accessibility would soften our

>>> message. While, yes, it would be great to make games that

>>> Tommy can play against the hard-core gamer where they're

>>> both on an equal footing, there's also a range of less

>>> drastic measures that game designers can incorporate that

>>> allow them to retain freedom of design while still

>>> increasing their audience.


>>> The third item is one of the hardest and something that's

>>> not been discussed quite so much on the list. A number of

>>> features for accessibility come at odds with these worlds,

>>> often because they mirror the same barriers that the real

>>> world presents. Some of the items in our top-10 are

>>> difficult if not impossible to implement in such a world:


>>> - slowing the game down like bullet-time impacts the whole

>>> world, or

>>> - giving everybody access to auto-aiming reduces the

>>> challenge for those crazy hard-core gamers, and unlevels

>>> some of the playing field

>>> - adding [CC] becomes more difficult because there's not

>>> just a pre-scripted set of lines that the audio department

>>> records, but you have live voice-chat that doesn't [CC]

>>> easily

>>> - a broad range of difficulties is hard to implement when

>>> the hard-core gamers are in the same world as those that

>>> need easier challenges


>>> Theoretically, one could use voice recognition software to

>>> do dynamic [CC] of voice-chat, but voice recognition

>>> software still has a long way to go, and sucks up a lot of

>>> processor time/power from games that may want it.


>>> I understand that some MMOGs have a partitioned world in

>>> which the newbies (and those that need the "easy" setting)

>>> can gain their footing. This is an elegant solution to the

>>> problem, that players can stay in such a world as long as

>>> they want/need, and venture into harder partitions as their

>>> skills grow or as they need more difficulty.


>>> Perhaps a way to address some of the disparity in the world

>>> is to make it publicly known which settings a person is

>>> using and perhaps partition players by assistive

>>> technologies; or reduce assistance as the player levels-up.

>>> Or newbie players in the sandbox world may have very sloppy

>>> aiming where auto-assist helps them. However, as they level

>>> up, or adventure into more challenging sectors of the

>>> universe, the auto-assist features start dialing back. This

>>> could allow a player that needs assistive features to still

>>> play, but also allow the hard-core gamers to get their fix

>>> of difficulty.


>>> Anyways, if you've read this far and haven't written me off

>>> as a loonie yet, thanks for playing the audience to my

>>> long-winded ramblings. Michelle, I don't know if any of

>>> this is helpful fodder for future postings, but it's mostly

>>> a brain-dump of my reactions to some of these myths and

>>> mis-impressions I see on such gaming boards when the topic

>>> of accessibility comes up.


>>> -tim


>>> _______________________________________________

>>> games_access mailing list

>>> games_access at igda.org

>>> http://seven.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/games_access

>> >






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