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Author Topic: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought  (Read 28096 times)

zkline

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Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« on: October 28, 2014, 02:12:50 pm »

Hi All,

I'm a fan of DF stories who happens to be totally blind. This makes playing the game in its current state kind of impossible. I've posted on this topic several years previously, but this thread was understandably lost to the mists of time.

I'm writing again in hopes that some ore meaningful progress might be made this time around. One notion proposed last time involved DFTerm, which I'm given to understand is no longer being developed.

I don't mean to come off as nagging by bringing this up again. :) I just want the opportunity to play this game I've heard so much about, if at all possible, independently. I don't know what kind of access people have to the underlying game information these days, but hope the situation hasn't gotten worse. Any new insight into this sort of question would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks much,
Zack.
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My Urist Eternal

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2014, 02:25:09 pm »

I have trouble imaging how DF would work for a blind person because I don't know what sorts of solutions a blind person would consider workable. Can you describe what a workable interface might be like? How do other games resolve this? What about real-time strategy games, which seem to me most similar to DF? Is there a blind version of Starcraft, for example?

I would love to give this some thought but I would like to better understand the problem from a blind person's perspective.
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Illogical_Blox

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2014, 02:40:47 pm »

Hell, dude, well done for trying. The only way I could really think of would be by instructing another person.
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My Urist Eternal

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2014, 02:47:46 pm »

I found this website about making games blind-accessible and read through the guidelines:

http://www.blindcomputergames.com/

Basically it seemed to be saying that games should use as much text as possible and should have that text voiced. Well, DF is nothing but text, so that's really not a problem. So what about the most dead-simple, obvious solution? What if everything in the menus was voiced, and every tile in the field of play were voiced? For a sighted player, you use the 'k' key to move over tiles and there's a text display of what's on the tile. Even sighted players can't tell what's on a tile just by looking at it (at least not when they first start playing). So what if everything were voiced? And anything that pauses the game (like a goblin ambush) could be voiced as well. Would that work? It would take some getting used to but it doesn't seem *all* that different from what any DF newbie experiences. I imagine this could be very workable especially on a smaller embark.
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zkline

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2014, 02:54:52 pm »

Hi there,

Unfortunately there are few realtime strategy games to serve as demonstrations. We don't have anything quite like StarCraft. One we do have is something called SoundRTS, which is kind of like a simplified Warcraft in terms of setting, at least. See http://jlpo.free.fr/soundrts/

In my previous discussions on the topic the amount of text DF uses was definitely commented on. The look command came up as something to consider, and a project called DFHack was seen as a promising starting point. Basically, my screen reader needs to be able to tell me what's being shown to everybody else. A big problem is that the default interface for DF is SDL-based, which is totally unreadable to screen readers no matter how textual it looks.

As for playing with someone else, that's always possible, and I've had quite some fun playing some games that way, but I'd really rather play things when the mood strikes me, if possible. :)
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My Urist Eternal

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2014, 03:19:06 pm »

DFHack can already manipulate the default view and and transform and manipulate data, so I would think it would be possible to pipe the readout into a second application that could read off whatever the menus or Look/View K/V keys were showing you. I guess it would be challenging to play DF that way, but DF is pretty damn challenging anyway and not for anyone who wants to do things the easy way.

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slothen

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2014, 03:33:46 pm »

I don't know that much about how blind users interact with computers as it is.  I imagine that commands could be memorized, most seeing users have done so already.  The challenge is with display of dynamic information, and I can't imagine anything less than a refreshing braille terminal being sufficient.
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zkline

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2014, 03:46:58 pm »

Braille is one option, though not something I think is as essential as it looks. For one thing, Braille devices available to most blind people, me included, only display a small amount of info at a time. I have something which displays around 40 characters worth, give or take, and it's around $2,500.

I think the pause feature of DF will be invaluable. I happen to be using a Mac, which has a great built-in screen reader.
If I may ask, is super detailed access to information all that important most of the time? During, say, a goblin invasion or whatever it might very well be, and I suppose fortress planning is very important. I think most of that can be done while the game is paused though, letting me analyze information at leisure. Isn't a lot of the day-to-day important stuff already conveyed by announcements?
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Z1000000m

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2014, 04:04:26 pm »

Hey i remember that thread.

You're really stubborn, ill give you that.

As for if detailed acces, yes its crucial. One missed tile in a wall, one missed invader can cost you a whole fort is lost
Unless you are playing on really low fps, its easy to get sensory overload, even if you are very perceptive.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2014, 04:06:14 pm by Z1000000m »
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My Urist Eternal

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2014, 04:09:40 pm »

It sounds to me like there's way too much information here for Braille to be useful.

I play DF paused most of the time. Maybe I'm just slow, but I'm not one of those people who leaves a fortress running unattended. I pause, do stuff, unpause long enough to make sure it is working, then pause again. I would imagine you could analyze things at leisure while paused, yes. During goblin invasions it would be the same as anything else, you would scroll around with K and V and listen to whatever was on the tiles. Since each fortress starts from scratch you would have time to get familiar with the layout as you went along and you would probably have a good idea of what your fortress looks like in your head. I do a lot of my fortress planning when I'm not even at the computer, just imagining it in my head. You can control the size of your embark, so you could do a small 1x1 embark and it would be less to deal with (there is plenty to do in a 1x1 embark, especially since you can control what sorts of resources and geographical features are present in the embark). I would imagine the Mac's built in screen reader would be very helpful.
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My Urist Eternal

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2014, 04:12:13 pm »

As for if detailed acces, yes its crucial. One missed tile in a wall, one missed invader can cost you a whole fort is lost
Unless you are playing on really low fps, its easy to get sensory overload, even if you are very perceptive.

He could cap the FPS so it played slower. As for missing a tile, yeah, that goes for sighted players too. I lost a whole fort yesterday because I opened a volcano and forgot to close a floodgate. Oops. Sight didn't do me much good.
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mifki

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2014, 04:13:24 pm »

I had several posts like this http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=138754.msg5430441#msg5430441 on my thread. Unfortunately I didn't go any further with this mostly because I too don't understand very well what needs to be done.

Novel Scoops

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2014, 04:23:39 pm »

I had several posts like this http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=138754.msg5430441#msg5430441 on my thread. Unfortunately I didn't go any further with this mostly because I too don't understand very well what needs to be done.

Would it be best to run it by toady?
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zkline

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2014, 04:31:38 pm »

I hate to say it, but I don't think I can give a straightforward answer for what needs to be done. The problem is that, as far as I know, nobody has done much quite like this before. The scope of the project is pretty huge, and I think the only way we're going to get anywhere is if we are willing to experiment a little bit.
A start would be a way of accessing the interface, through a third-party program or otherwise. there's supposed to be a full text mode for Mac, but it doesn't seem to be supported in the newest releases, if it ever was. DF Term was an excellent start in that direction.
As for my being stubborn, yes, I've definitely been called that. I just don't believe that there is no solution, in most cases, if people are willing to think outside the box a little bit, so to speak. Needless to say, I'm willing to provide feedback and test any ideas anyone would care to experiment with.
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mifki

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2014, 04:46:34 pm »

I hate to say it, but I don't think I can give a straightforward answer for what needs to be done. The problem is that, as far as I know, nobody has done much quite like this before. The scope of the project is pretty huge, and I think the only way we're going to get anywhere is if we are willing to experiment a little bit.
A start would be a way of accessing the interface, through a third-party program or otherwise. there's supposed to be a full text mode for Mac, but it doesn't seem to be supported in the newest releases, if it ever was. DF Term was an excellent start in that direction.

It's technically not a problem to implement some sort of text mode on os x, to pass screen text to another app or whatever else. But I don't see how this alone will help to understand the map which isn't quite "readable".
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