[Post mortem of Terraformers - a 3D game for both blind and sighted, which received the Innovation in Audio Award at the Independent Games Festival way back in 2003. Read it to learn what to consider when making a 3D game accessible for blind.]
Developing a 3D game demands in itself technical innovation in many areas like 3D graphics and other media optimization, game physics, game AI and so on. Here I focus on the sound interface and how it relates to the graphic interface, since this combination is the most original aspect of Terraformers. However, the technical issues will also be discussed to some extent as they are important parts of making the game world accessible.
The game is a visual / audio hybrid playable by both sighted and sight disabled / blind. The following features describe how the 3D world is made accessible to sight disabled. Some features allow direct access to the 3D world through the use of 3D sound (i.e spatial sound), other features allow access through voice feedback. Also, all game objects are accessible in a similar way (not only the 3D world space).
The game is an adventure style game in a first person view. Your mission in short is to find out what has gone wrong on a planet where mankind is trying to survive by creating a breathable atmosphere. This process is called “terraforming”. Game features include pick up, equip and use objects to/from an inventory. You can fire different guns, unlock doors, attack/be attacked by NPCs, talk to NPCs. Other challenges include avoiding NPCs who fire short distance weapons at you and keeping the energy level in the “Powersuit” above zero.
Here I present the features of the 3D world in Terraformers, and how we have made it accessible and why the game and the game interface was designed the way it is.
Read the entire post mortem as a PDF.