configurable options


SG Works SKS

Although it looks like a modern day bullpup, the base rifle is your everyday SKS placed into an SG Works chassis. It creates a very compact rifle that offers a bit more in the way of configuration options; being able to add optics forward grips, lasers or lights. Although most SKS models will fit, including the Chinese ones that use AK magazines, the only SKS that will not fit is the Albanian model. (GRH)


Colt Single Action Army

One of the most iconic revolvers and firearms in the world. Also popularly known as the Peacemaker and “The Gun That Won The West”. There are numerous configurations and caliber options that were available for the SAA, making it a somewhat challenging collector’s item. Although commonly used in Western themed movies and television shows, most of the video game based generation will recognize it as Revolver Ocelot’s choice of firearm in the Metal Gear series. (GRH)

Punk Girl - my first illustration on Medibang
Only one study of painting using a new program for me Medibang Paint Pro >
Well, I only used it in the process and really enjoyed this program… I think I’ll use in my process from now.

Review MediBang Paint Pro

Making a quick assessment, this program has many interesting features, though still I prefer to use for some things the Paint Tool SAI or the Photoshop.
I enjoyed the simplicity of configuring brushes, has more options than the SAI, but it’s not as complex as the PS (which is more complete, and hard!). It is a free software and has a bank of brushes very cool. Also I liked the targeted resources for those who make Comics. Well, it’s a mix of SAI with the PS which is something very interesting.
What I did not like was for example the lack of Layer Masks. In the SAI has a mask layers that I never knew how to use, but the PS I use a lot!
Another thing is the lack of blend modes directly into the brush. Something that is essential to me in my painting style.
Finally, I believe that a long time did not think a program as interesting with this. And I will use it in my process certainly!

Looking beyond Pokémon Go: Other issues in accessibility and game design (Part 2)

Part one can be found here. It covers some background on the response to Pokémon Go in disability communities and my personal experiences with gaming with a disability.

In the previous post, I claimed that the modern videogame industry would, as a whole, “fail Accessibility 101.” So, I should probably back up that assertion, right?

As I have started to navigate and explore the videogame landscape for the first time in over five years (and as a disabled person for the first time), what I have found has been primarily frustrating and discouraging. It would seem that the industry has taken very little note to the existence of disabilities. (Note: I am going to talk primarily about physical disabilities and sensory processing issues, as that is where I have personal experience. I recognize that there are other groups of disabled players who face significantly different challenges. I will let those people speak for themselves.)

Some primary issues (which shouldn’t be that hard to fix!):
1. Unnecessarily complex control schemes. If a game is about self-paced exploration in a beautiful 3-D world, it doesn’t need a control scheme that uses two pointing devices and 15 buttons. If a game is about living through a story and experiencing the consequences of your decisions, you really should be able to play it with the just a mouse. And, for goodness sake, if you are a developer working on a game that uses new eye tracking technologies, do not make me use the eye tracker, use the mouse, and use the keyboard all simultaneously! In action games, complex control schemes are probably often justified, but we don’t need them in every single game. If nothing significant would be lost by simplifying the control scheme in a game, then it really should be as simple as possible (or at least allow a control option requiring minimal inputs); simple design is often the most effective anyway (for all players!).

Simpler control schemes are easier for disabled people to use directly, and they are also easier to adapt to use with assistive technology tools. For example, in a game that requires only, say, six buttons (e.g. up, down, left, right, action one, action two), it is fairly easy for me to create eye controlled buttons or use a large low-force switches to play the game. But if I need two simultaneous pointing devices plus several buttons? Not going to happen.

2. Software that prevents interaction with assistive technology. This can vary from software that implements its own mouse and keyboard drivers and hence doesn’t accept emulated input (I’m looking at you DirectX!) to anti-cheating systems that intentionally try to detect and block any input that doesn’t come from a physical mouse or keyboard. This is the same basic problem as webpages that aren’t formatted to work with screen readers and computer applications that don’t play nice with on-screen keyboards. It uses technology to exclude specific groups of users, and it’s not okay. (I have less personal experience with this, but a similar issue arises when consoles are deliberately designed to make it difficult to interface non-standard controllers. This is usually done because the console manufacturer wants to be the sole distributor of controllers for the system, but that manufacturer usually fails to design any options for physically-disabled players, and the design of the console makes it difficult for third parties to design and market alternative disability-friendly controllers.)

3. Lack of documentation on control schemes. When I go to look up a game on Steam (a major digital distributor of PC games), the information page tells me what languages are supported, what the system requirements are to run the game, whether I can use the game on other operating systems or using Steam’s web streaming service, and even how many of my friends have the game. You know what it doesn’t tell me? What input/controls are required to play the game. Can it be played with just the mouse? Do I need four keyboard buttons, eight keyboard buttons, 25 keyboard buttons? Does it use technologies that prevent software-generated inputs? As a person who relies on assistive technology to play games, this is crucial information which determines whether or not I have any hope of making the game work for me. In my opinion, that is basic information which should be included (at least at a simple level) along with system requirements and operating system support. Often, I can’t find this information anywhere online. Not in Steam, not on the developer’s website, not on the fan wiki. I have often resorted to emailing the developer to ask for this information (which does have the added benefit of making the developer aware that disabled people are looking critically at their games), but I shouldn’t have to do that in order to get such basic information.

4. Lack of a pause button/inability to save the game during a play session. As someone with chronic pain, I have to take breaks. If I play for too long, even with my assistive technology, I will make myself feel very sick. Sometimes I can only play for 20 or 30 minutes at a time. If I can’t pause and save my game when I need to take a break, I cannot play that game. (Admittedly, this one is not that common. But a pause feature is such an easy addition that it should never happen.)

5. Lack of control configuration options. It’s very simple; in any game where the core engagement is not through action-based time-sensitive gameplay, simplified control options should be available. At the very least, a one-handed control scheme should be an option. Additionally, supporting key/button remapping is trivially easy (from a computer science perspective) and should be included in all games (action based or otherwise).

6. Lack of options for audio and video output configuration. By this, I mean that I should be able to adjust the volume of voices independently of music independently of sound effects. I should be able to turn off features like screen shake or effects like haze or smoke that covers the whole screen (when it’s being used to create atmosphere rather than conceal information). These sorts of options are very easy to implement from a computer science perspective, and they are crucially important to both people with sensory processing difficulties and people with sensory disabilities. (For example, a hard of hearing person might want to turn up the volume of voices while turning down the music and sound effects in order to make out the voices more clearly. Whereas someone with sensory processing issues might just choose to turn down the sound effects because she finds them uncomfortably loud.)

I’m sure there are hundreds of issues which I’m leaving out. I have also deliberately chosen not to talk about the harder-to-address issues surrounding physical disabilities and action-based gameplay. (It’s an important issue, but it’s also much harder to solve, and, quite frankly, I don’t have any good ideas at this point.) I have also totally failed to touch on issues of representation of disability (or lack thereof) in video games. Simply because that is a different issue that belongs in a different post.

I hope this post has been able to serve as a small introduction to disability related issues in modern video games. The videogame industry has a long way to go if we will ever reach a world where we can all play together.