Blog Post

50 Years of Text Games: 2005

 

50 years from 50 Years of Text Games: A 2021 Journey from Oregon Trail to A.I. Dungeon, by Aaron A. Reed.  

https://if50.substack.com/p/2005-shades-of-doom 

2005: Shades of Doom

 

Games and Blind Gamers

  • At the end of the 90s text games had started to die out, so the development of these games fell on individual creators. This was important for people who didn't like newer games but also for those who just didn't have the ability to play them, for example blind people.

  • Text games were able to be converted to speech in order for people with impaired vision to experience them.

  • It was becoming quite difficult for blind people to find a game that is viable for them to play. 

  • While many text games are of high quality they do not have much replayability.

  • Many new games did not use sounds that provided useful information to the player.

  • Most games that blind gamers could play were board game clones and things with basic levels of strategy.

 

David Greenwood

  • David Greenwood a blind game developer, made a game called Lone Wolf, a submarine simulator that was much more complex than other accessible games at the time.

  • Greenwood also made other strategy games that focused around Star Trek. However after working on this type of game for so long he decided that he wanted to make a first person shooter that was accessible to the blind.

  • Greenwood worked with a community of blind gamers in order to develop the game.

  • He based the game loosely around Doom, where you are stuck in a maze collecting weapons and fighting monsters.

  • The idea was that volume and direction of sounds would allow the player to fight the enemies.

  • He initially thought it would take a few months to develop but in the end it took 6 years to have the final version.

 

The game and Development

  • Microsoft DirectX allowed for sounds to be  moved in a 3d space

  • The game starts with a six minute audio cutscene. 

  • The game has over 40 commands that use almost a whole keyboard. Some identify heath, monsters distance, room dimensions and much more.

  • The game is a continuous space that takes place in real time which was not a common occurrence for games accessible to the blind.

  • Sound effects help the player identify layouts of rooms, by using echoes and the sound of wind.

  • There is an in game screen reader that identifies what's on the screen and where

  • There are many different weapon types and many different monster/enemy types

 

Conclusion

  • The game was a massive success and extremely popular in the blind gaming community for years

  • By the 2010s the mainstream gaming industry started paying more attention to blind gamers.

 

 

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