IGDA Game Accessibility Special Interest Group

GameGuard Shuts Down Disabled Gamers

Steve Spohn, game journalist @ AbleGamers.com, has done a great job on a story about how GameGuard, an anti-hacking software used by many Asian based MMO's use disabled technology used by the disabled gamers. The story has already been noticed by the makers of GameGuard, and they have contacted Steve to comment. Here is the opener, but please go read the rest of this very well thought out story.
The Protect GameGuard software is an anti-cheat program designed to stop botters and hackers from using illegal third-party programs, but the disabled community gets snagged in this poorly executed "take no prisoners" anti-cheating approach.

Botters and other nefarious individuals use these programs to automate tasks such as repeatable quests or killing mobs for money while away from their computer. Hackers use these programs to ruin the gameplay of others or boost themselves. Disabled gamers use legal third-party programs, such as on-screen keyboards, to assist in playing games that would be impossible to play otherwise.

Unfortunately, GameGuard does not care about the difference between illegal third-party programs designed to hurt a game and legal third-party programs designed to help gamers.

The Importance of Customisable Controls

Image of a reconfiguration screen for changing game play controls on a Microsoft Sidewinder Joypad.
"While it’s always beneficial when games support the four standard thumbstick configurations (Default, Southpaw [left handed], Legacy* and Legacy-Southpaw, it’s also imperative to remember that full controller customization is a necessity for some.

In fact, the implementation of completely customizable controls as a standard for console games would be helpful for many. The benefits of this would not be limited to those who prefer using the alternate styles cited above - customizable controls would be valuable for all players, including those that use the Default layout, and especially for individuals who suffer from disabilities and physical impairments. "

Taken from Alt-Controls.com. Read the rest here. From the IGDA GASIG perspective, reconfigurable controls come very high on our wish list for almost all game types.

*A Legacy control scheme relates to the "old way" of controlling first and thirdperson shooters, as it's the closest layout to what was offered in GoldenEye007 for the N64. Legacy controls are as follows: Left Stick: Move forward/backwards, turn/look left or right Right Stick: Strafe/side-step left or right, look up or down. Many thanks to Mike of Alt-Controls.com for clearing that up for me.


We Love Hideki Kamiya!

Graeme Singh recently proved that a 2D one-switch fighting game was both possible and fun with his PC title Way of the Exploding Hand 2. Watching the video above, Japan's Platinum Games seem to have proven the same for 3D fighting games on mainstream games consoles. The game in question is their pending slash-em-up Bayonetta:

"Hi all. Bayonetta Director Hideki Kamiya here. At long last, here we go! Gameplay video of Very Easy Automatic Mode (AKA Mommy Mode)! Writing a ton of words would be a disservice, so instead, check out this video. Yep. This is the power of Automatic. Automatic can be used on Easy and Very Easy difficulties, and leaves the most complex controls up to the CPU. At the controls in this video is character designer Mari Shimazaki. All she is really doing in this video is pressing a single button, the Punch button. She may occasionally be pressing Kick, but only for the Torture Attack events.

With Automatic ON, the game will do the following things for you.

1) Attacks/Jump Attacks

Of course attacks go without saying, but automatic jumps are also included. Even if an enemy is in above Bayonetta, the game will jump you up and into a perfect position, then attack. Various combos are automatically triggered, allowing you to enjoy action rich in variety.

2) Dodging

This also takes place simply by pressing the Punch button. Of course, if you are caught flat-footed the game won’t forgive you; however, as long as you get the button press timing correct, you will automatically dodge. …Of course, as you can tell by watching the video, you will probably end up defeating the enemy before there is ever a need to dodge. (LOL)

3) Warp

I don’t really know what I should call this… Immediately after you’ve defeated an enemy, you will head towards a distant enemy and automatically jump off towards them. With this ability you can take down enemies from A to Z. To complement these, even when you are in Automatic mode, you can still move and dodge under your own control as normal, if you so choose. This means you don’t have to play one handed like in the movie. You can weave in your own movement, kicks, and dodges, enjoying a battle packed with originality. You can consider Automatic mode to be a helping hand from an incredibly skilled expert in the game.

By the way, you can turn Automatic mode on and off anywhere in the game, so you can try a few different play styles I think… If you want to turn it off and get some hands on practice, you can. If you are feeling like, “This is impossible!”Then just turn on Automatic, go back, and try again. Another thing to add, and this one is important. In the easiest mode of the game, Very Easy, we have included the ability to recover your vitality in a few short moments should you take damage. So just in case you happen to run out of health, try to get some space between you and your enemies. But even if you take damage, you won’t take that much, so I don’t think you need to worry about your vitality falling to zero. (LOL)

So even if you are a hardcore user or an absolute beginner, I hope you are all looking forward to getting your hands on a controller and seeing what it feels like to dive into the tempest of violence that is Automatic Bayonetta."

So! What's stopping SEGA and NAMCO and every other developer of quality fighting games from doing something similar? This is fantastic news! Accessibility switch users can get hooked up to an Xbox 360 in a variety of ways if they haven't already.

Quote taken from the Bayoneta blog. See the original video in high resolution here. All discovered thanks to Tera Kirk's excellent blog at GameCritics.com.

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Blizzcon was a flurry of information on all of the newest upcoming titles from Blizzard. AbleGamers was there covering all the action for all of our disabled gamers across the world asking the questions you want to hear. AbleGamers own Sheryl Flynn, Mark Barlet, and Steve Spohn sat down with Chris Sigaty lead producer from Starcraft II.

After the lovely but short Sheryl was able to reach up to put the microphone on the taller than average sized Chris, we began the interview.

AbleGamers asks if the interface will continue to be point-and-click like the original Starcraft. Chris Sigaty answered yes, but there will be enhancements available through the keyboard such as grouping units together but the majority of the interface will be accessible via the mouse.

Mark asked if there be sensitivity settings for mouse speed and camera speed. Sigaty responded that many of the settings will be saved online but due to the nature of various systems being completely different, not every setting will be available and saved but many will be saved online. Even if they are not saved online, there will be sensitivity sliders in game. No word on whether there will be an editable file to increase the speed beyond the slider.

Remappable keys are incredibly important feature for all disabled gamers, yet surprisingly the current build of Starcraft II does not include configurable keys. Chris expresses that the team would very much like the ability to be put back on the list before shipping and thinks that it is highly likely to make the cut.

To read the rest click here.


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