[games_access] What can consoles support?
lgraham at blitzgamesstudios.com
Mon Oct 4 08:03:04 EDT 2010
With game speed, I think it'd make more sense to have it controlled game side rather than console side. That way it could be customised on a game-by-game basis, and tweaked for gameplay/menus separately. Some games do this already, such as Super Street Fighter II Turbo (not sure if SF IV had the same) - you can choose the speed at the start of each 'Versus' fight, or in the options for the Arcade mode (so the same settings are applied for each fight). Guitar Hero also scrolls the 'notes' slower on the easier difficulty modes, and increases the speed for harder difficulties as well as increases the number of 'notes'.
However, I think this is possibly the most awkward of the things that are being asked for, both from a technical and gameplay point of view. Console manufacturers are often cutting corners to keep the price down/keep things simpler, such as Sony removing backwards compatibility from European (and the slim, IIRC) PS3s, the Kinect being downgraded, etc, it'd be hard to convince them to implement something in their machines that they'd see as being beneficial to only a relatively small fraction of consumers. Sadly I think it'd also be the hardest to 'sell' to developers too, particularly on more complex types of games due to the potential bugs it could throw up and the increased amount of testing needed. That said, I'm a designer rather than a coder, so I'm not the most knowledgeable when it comes to the technical side of things.
As Barrie said, I wonder if there's other ways of making games more accessible - for example, on Silent Hill 2 you could adjust the difficulty of the combat and puzzles separately. By lowering the combat difficulty, you'd encounter far fewer monsters (which actually made the game more terrifying in my opinion!), they would do less damage and they'd take fewer hits to be killed. But you could do that, and still ramp up the difficulty of the puzzles.
Customisable controls and TRCs:
TRC (Sony's term, Technical Requirement Checklist)
TCR (Microsoft's term, Technical Certification Requirements)
Lotcheck (Nintendo's term)
Developers are supposed to comply with them, otherwise their games fail submission and don't get published until they do. So if you can get re-mappable controls as a TRC/TCR/Lotcheck, then you'll (in theory) have every developer playing ball. ;)
Allowing for button remapping isn't a big ask, in my opinion - again, going back to the Street Fighter example (including the latest version, SF IV), you can set up your controls however you like, even to the point of setting all of your buttons to hard punch, if you so desire. A lot of first person shooters have different control layout options, the ability to invert aiming, etc. So it's definitely possible, and already practiced by some developers. We just need to encourage it to be the standard, rather than optional!
Subtitles - the difference between Valve and other developers is that they use a lot of screen space for their subtitles, whereas most just leave space for one or two lines, and normally only display one subtitle at a time. Again, it's the difference between actually planning it out at the start as a feature, and putting it in last minute! Normally priority systems work by calculating which subtitle is the most important and simply not displaying the subtitle of 'lesser' importance. I think it's a case that we need to promote games that do subtitles well (such as Valve's games), and point out games where poor/lack of subtitles make a game difficult or impossible to play.
From: games_access-bounces at igda.org [mailto:games_access-bounces at igda.org] On Behalf Of Sandra Uhling
Sent: 04 October 2010 10:20
To: 'IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List'
Subject: Re: [games_access] What can consoles support?
The console could provide a function that can be used by the game designer?
So they can decide when to use it and how?
Does this make sense?
So when we ask Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft for customizable controls,
we ask them to make it part of their TRC? So the game developer will do
What is the long version of TRC?
Subtitle and timing:
What is the best solution to avoid overlapping subtitles?
How does this priority list work?
(In Half-Life2 they just move to the top and new are added at the bottom?)
Von: games_access-bounces at igda.org [mailto:games_access-bounces at igda.org] Im
Auftrag von Barrie Ellis
Gesendet: Mittwoch, 29. September 2010 12:01
An: IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List
Betreff: Re: [games_access] What can consoles support?
Excellent post, Lynsey. Spot on re. speed controls. Couple more points...
1. Will slowing a game down make a game level tediously long to complete? It
might be very important to offer a way to reduce the length of a game
objective (as a difficulty level adjustment) alongside a speed control
2. Impossible with the likes of CPU Killer (www.cpukiller.com), it can be
beneficial to offer a way to adjust the speed of your abilities, from other
game elements that you are slowing down. You can do this to an extent in the
likes of Project Gotham Racing, by choosing a fast car for yourself, and
slow cars for your opponents. Some thought there is quite important too for
certain games. For a golf game, it would be lovely to be able to slow down
an automatic power-bar, but you wouldn't necessarily want the rest of the
game slowed down.
Of note, on the old BBC Micro 8-bit computer, there was a dongle (a "Slo-mo"
I think) that you could plug into the computer to slow it down, and most
games that would run on it. Need something a bit more advanced than that
these days, but anything would be great at this stage - especially on
consoles. Shoot1UP is the only console game I'm aware of with a way to slow
game play down.
I'd like to see a method for reconfiguring games from the dashboard on
modern day consoles. Would have to be with a profiling system, where you
could flick between a range of your preferred set-ups, or easily submit to
each individual game if they have their own system. GT5's looks good:
From: "Lynsey Graham" <lgraham at blitzgamesstudios.com>
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 4:07 PM
To: "'IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List'" <games_access at igda.org>
Subject: Re: [games_access] What can consoles support?
> Hi Sandra (warning: wall of text incoming!),
> I think that, *in theory*, console manufacturers could establish a up
> variable speed option which could be set by the user in a preferences
> menu. I'm not sure how it'd impact on hardware, but from a gameplay point
> of view the following would have to be taken into consideration:
> 1) Would it also adjust the speed of menus/front end? If it was a console
> based speed adjustment feature, it would probably work just by 'time
> stretching' the entire game, including the menus. Obviously if you start
> having different speeds for menus and gameplay, it becomes more complex
> than that.
> 2) Online gaming - a lot of thought would have to be given to how this is
> handled. For example, if you had a racing game with a player playing at
> the default speed, and another player playing at a slower speed, they
> obviously wouldn't be able to race against each other. So the online lobby
> system would have to detect what speed the player's console is set to, and
> make sure that people are only matched up with others of the same speed
> 3) Similar to above, any online leaderboards would probably have to be
> segregated into different speed categories. This would be because if you
> had two people playing the same difficulty level, one at default speed and
> one at a slower speed, people might argue that on certain types of game
> playing at the 'slower' speed would make the game easier. It's the same
> justification that Blizzard used for banning certain World of Warcraft
> addons - they don't think of the players that *need* those addons in order
> to be able to play the game, they think of the players that *might* abuse
> those addons for personal gain.
> As for user defined controls, I think that would definitely have to be
> handled on a game by game basis, as even very similar games can vary
> massively in their controls. It's a shame, because if I recall correctly
> (I could be wrong, I wasn't in the industry at the time so have heard this
> 2nd hand!) one of Sony's TRCs on the Playstation and Playstation 2 was
> that all games had to have multiple different control layouts, or one
> default layout and one customisable one. I think most developers went for
> the second option. I certainly remember spending quite a bit of time
> configuring my controls to my own personal preferences on a lot of games
> (Micro Machines V8, Timesplitters 2 for example). However, it's not the
> case for the current generation of consoles - some games feature multiple
> control types (quite a few shooters) and some games feature customisable
> controls (such as Street Fighter), but it's no longer the norm.
> Relating to your later email, subtitles are an odd issue - they're vitally
> important for people with hearing impairments and also for games that
> aren't localised audio-wise, yet are often an afterthought - not in any
> malicious way, just genuine oversights. Ideally, subtitling systems need
> to be planned out at the very start of games development, both from an art
> point of view and in conjunction with the sound system. Why?
>>From an art point of view - how often have you seen games where the
>>subtitles don't quite fit in with the UI? Sometimes people go ahead, make
>>their game, then realise when it's time to put subtitles in that they've
>>got to move their UI around to fit them in, or just try to squeeze it in
>>at the bottom.
> You have your main character muttering witty one liners as they make their
> way through the level, looking for 10 gold coins. NPCs in the background
> are chatting away. When your character collects 10 gold coins, you're
> approached by another NPC who starts talking. Mid-way through the
> conversation, there's the sound of a distant (unseen) door unlocking.
> So, given that the one liners and NPC chatter are triggered at random, and
> we don't know when the player will collect the 10th gold coin and trigger
> the story event, that means that there's the potential for at least two
> lots of dialogue to be happening at the same time (the one liners and NPC
> chatter), with a third kicking at any point. Normally from an audio
> perspective there's a priority list, in this case it would be:
> Storyline/gameplay information (highest priority)
> Incidental chatter (next on the list)
> One-liners (lowest)
> To deal with it elegantly, rather than cutting the incidental chatter off
> straight away, you could expect to have it dip in volume once the
> storyline dialogue kicks in. However, sometimes companies don't extend
> the priority system to the subtitles (because they've left it to the last
> minute), which means you can have several subtitles trying to display at
> the same time. So a lot of the time, developers limit the subtitles to
> the 'essential' dialogue - the stuff that conveys the storyline and
> important gameplay information, but not the stuff that's there to add
> 'atmosphere' - because it's less complicated, and takes less time (and can
> also cut down on localisation costs). And sometimes the subtitles don't
> match the audio because the subtitle is taken from a spreadsheet that's
> not been adjusted since before the dialogue was recorded, and doesn't take
> into account any rewording/adlibbing that the actors may have done.
> Ideally what we need is for people to start lobbying both the publishers
> and developers for better subtitling (and more options for controls). As
> I've mentioned a lot of the developers add it in to a bare minimum
> standard because it's just not seen as a day-one priority - unless you've
> got somebody on the team that actively cares about the issue, or have the
> publisher saying, "This is a requirement", it's often left until later in
> development. If you can get publishers to push for it, then there will be
> an improvement, and even more so if you can get it as a TRC/TCR in the
> submission process by the console manufacturers.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: games_access-bounces at igda.org [mailto:games_access-bounces at igda.org]
> On Behalf Of Sandra Uhling
> Sent: 28 September 2010 12:23
> To: 'IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List'
> Subject: [games_access] What can consoles support?
> Is it possible that the consoles can reduce the gamespeed of every game?
> Is it possible that consoles have a feature that support this?
> I read that for PC there are tools called "CPU killer" or something like
> When it is possible are there negative effects, e.g. on hardware?
> User defined control:
> Is it possible that the console has a menu for redefining the control?
> I am wondering how this can be made? Do you access a special console
> Menu in the game? What will happen when you leave the game? Maybe
> there are more question behind it than we thought? Do we have already
> detailed information how this could be done?
> Is it the job of the console or of the games?
> Are there other things that consoles maybe can support?
> Best regards,
> games_access mailing list
> games_access at igda.org
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