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Author Topic: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought  (Read 22738 times)

Graknorke

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #30 on: October 29, 2014, 04:56:19 am »

The thing with DF though is that you need to be able to differentiate between all kinds of different materials, the difference between granite and cassiterite and galena is very important, but there's no way you could fit all of the ores and trees and bushes and such into a range of tones while still being distinguishable.
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LordUbik

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #31 on: October 29, 2014, 05:04:56 am »

Yeah, but you could have a simple tone that tells you it is metal or rock, and a voiced text that say exacly what are you lokking at when you need it.
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My Urist Eternal

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #32 on: October 29, 2014, 06:37:51 am »

Also, to avoid the "hunt that goblin cell by cell" thing, the reading program could use a reading grid that would read, lets say, a 3x3 or 5x5 grid and express the position of interesting things with a "radar" sistem using a surround sound sistem ( a good headset would be more than sufficient, or you could use a 5.1/7.1 sistem).

I was thinking that instead of having to hunt for the goblins, he could just zoom to them from the units menu. Or maybe he doesn't need to zoom at all -- he really just needs their coordinates so he can picture their location in his head. This would avoid the "grass...grass....grass..." issue.
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Button

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #33 on: October 29, 2014, 12:03:51 pm »

Does it have to be Fortress Mode? We might be able to get something that would work for Adventure Mode, modeling it after the old text-based MUD layout. "You are on grass. There is a goblin marksman 3 squares to the north. There is a goblin spearman five squares to the northeast. There is a raven 10 squares up. On your square there are limestone pebbles, Uzeth Ngoname's corpse, and 10 articles of clothing."
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zkline

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #34 on: October 29, 2014, 12:49:54 pm »

It doesn't have to be Fortress mode, I suppose, but I would hate to feel  like I was missing a lot of what makes DF unique. I think that's largely a Fortress mode thing.

Tones and other audio cues are definitely something else to consider. They might lessen the cognitive load, so to speak, or at least speed up my ability to process information. I think 80 to 90% of the work is probably getting around the SDL interface issue, and the rest is gravy.

One thing I think works in this game's favor is that it represents 3D space with a series of 2D plains. That helps a lot with conceptualization, because I can imagine, say, a hill or a  tree or whatever as being X z-levels high. This is kind of a tangent to the main point, but still at least interesting.

As for playing with other people, I haven't done it in a while, and they largely described things in broad detail and took general orders from me… "Let's dig a tunnel into that rock face," or "Construct workshops at this level," and so on. It really depends on the skill of the person describing, and their familiarity with the game. We use similar techniques to play turn-based games like Civilization. The ironic thing is that Civ is much less likely to become accessible. :)
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Dirst

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #35 on: October 29, 2014, 01:31:32 pm »

I think a set of simple sounds getting more complex with the detail level is a good start of an idea.

To start, I can tell you is what a sighted player sees, to give you an idea of what combination of solutions is needed.

By default, the primary screen in fortress mode has three vertical sections.  The leftmost is the map, the center one is the menu, and the rightmost is an overview map that is pretty much useless.  You can turn off that overview map without losing anything important.  Some additional bits of information are located around the edges of the screen including the number of idle dwarves, the current frames-per-second performance, the current z-level, and the phase of the moon.

Additional screens are all-text, though some have a vertical scroll-bar along the edge.  This should be easy to reformat with DFHack.  Some of the status screens are divided into vertical columns which might give a screen reader trouble.  Some even have "tabs" along the top, that bring up different sub-screens.  This would be more challenging to fix with DFHack, but perhaps not insurmountable.

The main screen is quite cluttered, but I am confident that DFHack could scrape all of the textual data from the game engine and report it in a friendlier format.

The problem is the map part of the main screen.  Each tile has one of 256 glyphs, one of sixteen foreground colors and one of sixteen background colors.  The tile can also be flashing, meaning it alternates with another glyph with its own colors.  The player can use hotkeys to get detailed information about a tile, but the combination of glyph and colors is supposed to tell the player what is going on.  I don't see any way of encoding 65536 possible tile images times hundreds of onscreen tiles, but some simplification seems possible without losing the underlying simulation.

The people who make graphics packs for DF routinely alter the tiles and colors used to represent things in the game.  There is no reason one could not set all unmined tiles to one specific glyph, all furniture to a different specific glyph, and so on.  Maybe have three or four glyphs for creatures, depending on how much clutter one is willing to endure.  A simple sound-based representation of that can be the first level of detail.

The foreground color can encode a second level of detail.  Among unmined tiles, one color for all soils, one color for normal sedimentary stones, one color for all gemstones, etc.

The background color can encode a third level of detail, which should probably be reserved for state information like "injured creature" or "wet stone" or "designated for digging."

A keypress can be used to interrogate a tile for additional detail, such as the game's current look command.

This map would be difficult for a sighted person to interpret, but easier to convert into sound.  I'm not sure what the current norm is in representing two-dimensional structures in sound, but I'm imaging a sonar ping from the cursor with some type of multi-channel sound system.  If you want to go all out, folks have figured out how to make the game render multiple z levels, and it's theoretically possible to make that sonar ping three-dimensional.

If we go with the sonar idea, there is no reason to limit the map to what appears on a monitor screen.  If one can interpret sonar pings out to N radius, have the game render out 2N by 2N tiles centered on the cursor.  A hotkey can be assigned to a DFHack script that reports the current cursor coordinates when the player wants to get his bearings.

All Dwarf Fortress input consists of keypresses, so it should be trivial to configure any input device to control Dwarf Fortress.  The issue is that a good number of those commands depend on the cursor position.

By the way, other than the glyph assignments and cursor coordinates script, I personally have no idea how to build any of the things I mentioned.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 01:35:23 pm by Dirst »
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zkline

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #36 on: October 29, 2014, 02:09:33 pm »

That overview is very helpful. Thanks :) I had some idea of the layout of the screen in general, but it's nice to get more information.

The way audio games in general tend to  convey information is via stereo sound. The idea is that you can judge a sound's location relative to your character by how loud or soft it is, and also what direction it's in. Sonar as a concept hasn't really been tried before, I don't think.

I just thought of a good RTS game which I didn't mention before. It's kind of DF-like, though obviously much simpler in scope. It's called Castaways, and it uses a simple 2D grid system. It does, however, have the basic DF-style named characters, job assignments, and so forth. It's also free. :)
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Dirst

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #37 on: October 29, 2014, 02:33:41 pm »

That overview is very helpful. Thanks :) I had some idea of the layout of the screen in general, but it's nice to get more information.

The way audio games in general tend to  convey information is via stereo sound. The idea is that you can judge a sound's location relative to your character by how loud or soft it is, and also what direction it's in. Sonar as a concept hasn't really been tried before, I don't think.

I just thought of a good RTS game which I didn't mention before. It's kind of DF-like, though obviously much simpler in scope. It's called Castaways, and it uses a simple 2D grid system. It does, however, have the basic DF-style named characters, job assignments, and so forth. It's also free. :)
I was thinking that the glyph can be represented by a sound, and when requested the foreground color adds a second sound, and then the background color could add a third sound.  They could either play in series or actually be on top of each other, I have no idea which would actually be helpful.  The interface issue I'm having is how on earth to represent a twenty-by-twenty grid of these things.

The representation for a marble wall would be, for example, a "w" glyph with a foreground color indicating it is composed of flux stone.  Suppose that is color 4, which typically renders as dark red.  However, our DFHack renderer reports the 4 as a distinct second sound.  To learn that it was in fact marble, you would need to inspect that tile explicitly.

Fortunately, Dwarf Fortress can be told to use two completely different colors for describing an item in text and displaying on it screen with one annoying exception of contaminated surfaces.  This means that despite drawing the marble wall in "dark red" for the player, it can actually appear white to your dwarves, who do have have favorite colors.
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zkline

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #38 on: October 29, 2014, 03:26:40 pm »

If we want to fiddle with sound-based solutions, playing in sequence is probably better. If we play over top of one another they might tend to get confused.

I just got the current version of DFHack, by the way. It doesn't really do much good right now, but it's nice to have a text console, even if I'm not really sure what if anything I can do with it at the moment. I've also tried connecting to the SSH DF server, but can't actually seem to run a game from there. :(
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mifki

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #39 on: October 29, 2014, 03:43:58 pm »

The thing with DF though is that you need to be able to differentiate between all kinds of different materials, the difference between granite and cassiterite and galena is very important, but there's no way you could fit all of the ores and trees and bushes and such into a range of tones while still being distinguishable.

That's in vanilla, but 1. we could have a simplified version, like Accelerated DF mod, maybe simpler, and 2. there could be several levels of details - first, metal sound, then additional information if requested.
And also some way of understanding current position - maybe just coordinates, maybe also with some verbal description.

rx80

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #40 on: October 29, 2014, 05:07:22 pm »

A dfhack plugin could be made that goes through the screen tiles, the way that TWBT multilayer needs to do, and tell you if anything "interesting" is on the screen, aka units, enemy, friendly, animal, etc., and then add keys to cycle cursor over each type, for example Ctrl-1 to cycle through all units on screen, Ctrl-2 for enemies, etc.

A big issue that nobody touched on so far i think is DwarfTherapist :)
« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 05:09:51 pm by rx80 »
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zkline

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #41 on: October 29, 2014, 05:11:03 pm »

A question: is that material important at the time it's mined out of the rock, or once it's been stockpiled? This is where the text and look commands can come in handy I think. DOesn't the game stop to announce that you've struck galena, or whatever?

Just wondering how necessary it is for me to know what a given tile of stone is, or more to the point how often I need to know. To an extent the frequency I need that knowledge will help dictate how it can best be conveyed.
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smakemupagus

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #42 on: October 29, 2014, 05:39:48 pm »

Playing the base game without DFHack, a normally sighted user would have to look at the stone a lot.

For example let's say you want to mine some galena (an ore of silver), which you discovered when one of your residential tunnels crossed its path.  The galena vein is this twisting feature that snakes back and forth across dozen of tiles on the map, but the player initially only sees a little bit of it where it's exposed to the tunnel.  Then you have to manually designate each tile to mine, either carefully marking one tile at a time as it's exposed, by digging some more shafts to expose it, or by brute force clearing the whole area in a big rectangle.  It's a bit of a chore, and normally would involve a lot of feedback between looking at the screen to see the newly exposed ore, monitoring your dwarves progress as they follow your orders, and using the cursor & keyboard to designate new digging jobs. 

Fortunately, in this specific case, there is a command in dfhack called "digv", that is "dig vein".  It automatically designates the entire vein for mining without disturbing the surrounding stone, simply by placing the cursor once over a tile with galena and running the script once.

Once the galena is in your stockpiles you don't actually have to look at it as much, you only need to know a few specific bits of info like: how much ore remains in the stockpiles, how many silver and lead bars you have smelted, and whether the stockpile with the galena in it is near your smelter.

mifki

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #43 on: October 29, 2014, 06:10:09 pm »

With dfhack we can do pretty much anything in terms of providing custom UI and simpler ways to do things. Like marking veins and other POIs and then providing a list to quickly jump to certain ore and so on.  I mean, again, special simplified edition of DF is better than no DF at all.

zkline

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Re: Dwarf Fortress for the BLind: Advice sought
« Reply #44 on: October 29, 2014, 06:30:24 pm »

I guess you have a point. I just hope whatever simplifications are being contemplated they won't undercut the experience too much. I don't want to feel like I'm missing a core part of what makes the game special. Lists, alternative interfaces or whatever are probably just great, it's when you think about removing material types or whatever I get wary.

For starters, is it possible to make DFHack generate a world for me? Since I can't really use the main game interface at this point it would be a good way to begin. :)
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