Dr. Bulbaceous

Bulbaceous at GEEK 2014 Margate with one-switch controls and a Trabasack.

Screen shot from the match three game Bulbaceous. Colourful balls await destruction. Two characters look on at the well that contains them.

Another popular game that we had running at GEEK 2014 in Margate was the one-switch match three game, Dr. Bulbaceous. Here's the blurb...

"Dr.B is a single button arcade puzzle game, best described as an upside down Puzzle Bobble, featuring 100 levels and an epic final boss battle".

It's one-switch playable (in the early levels - could be made two-switch accessible with JoyToKey), very polished and doesn't rush you. Hugely accessible in the early levels  and it works great as a cause and effect activity too.

£1.99 is the price which I happily paid for an Android version (PC version is probably the best for switch access) from Bulbaceous.com. Highly recommended. There's not been many PC one-switch games of this quality in a long time. Let's hope there are more soon with full access. And here's some Shaggy...

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Android Emulation and Accessible Gaming

FlappyBird from Gears 2013.

For GEEK 2014 I set up FlappyBird on a PC running the Android emulator BlueStacks with a single-switch set to left-click hovering over the Play button using a switch adapted Joypad and free software JoyToKey.

Flappy Birds by .DOT GEARS STUDIOS mashed up mid 80's Nintendo style, The Helicopter Game (SeeThru.co.uk), Williams' Joust and got the addictive balance (maybe too) right. It's seen massive popularity, cloning and has since been pulled from the iOS and Android Play stores by the owner (see happier days - bleaker days).

With a fairly meaty computer, and following BlueStacks help here, many of the Android apps on the Google Play store run well and are easy to install. Arty stuff like The Art of Glow work really nicely. From a one-switch perspective there are a slew of tap-to-play games, although most have messy interfaces. Some interesting ones include One Button Sports (great Tennis and Jet-Ski games), Vector Pinball (cool minimalist pinball), Past Memories (dark arty running game), Tower Bloxx, Jet Pack Joyride (with Barry Steakfries which reminds me a bit of Barry Shitpeas from Screenwipe) and loads more.

For anyone determined to get Flappy Birds working, and willing to run the risk of a virus, I found a version here. I used an APK installer from the Play store and sent the file to my Android devie using Gmail. At your own risk!

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Accessible Pool

Shaz playing Eye Toy Play 2 Motion Pool at GEEK 2014 in Margate.

Motion Pool in EyeToy Play 2.

Silent Running robotic pool table.

Show cased at GEEK 2014 and fighting for light most of the time was EyeToy Play 2: Pool for the Playstation 2. This old game is a hidden accessible gem. Find it via Games - Playroom - Motion-Cam - Pool. Unless light fades or you put your hand over the lens the game stays in a free-playing game of hexagonal pool.

You can move the camera nearer to you to make the game a bit easier if you have limited movement or just want to use a specific part of your body. There's an inherent game built in whereby the number of shots you take to clear the table is recorded along with the time, but you can just as well make it multi-player game of Killer or anything you like thanks to its free form nature. I love it.

Many years ago (around 1998) I used a switch adapted Atari STe with Archer Maclean's Pool to support people to play real vs. virtual games, sitting next to a real pool table. The one-switch gamer would be assisted to line up a shot (I'd continually adjust the angle through left to right around an obvious shot) waiting for them to hit their switch. After the shot was played, we'd move the balls on the real pool table to match. The opponent would take their shot on the real table with a real cue, and we'd then use the trick-shot editor to match the balls on the Atari. Always thought how cool it would be to have a Silent Running type automated system. So brilliant to see that pretty much realised in the CanAssist video of switch accessible Billiards above.

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GEEK 2014

Two-switch Wii Mario Kart, Motion Pool and One-switch Flappy Birds emulated.

EyeToy: Play2 Pool for GEEK 2014 and SpecialEffect.

Flappy Birds on Android emulator with accessibility switch and Trabasack.

Here's a sneak peek at the set-up Shaz Hossain, Cassie Sobey-Smith and myself will be show-casing for SpecialEffect at this year's Geek 2014 in Margate. Will likely vary some of it on the day but the plan at the second is...

1. Two-switch Wii Mario Kart. One switch latches the accelerator on, and the other steers left/right alternatively and launches any weapons at the same time. Will have many other games available on this set-up (inc. Drivey and Driver, Pinball, Everybody's Golf, Um Jammer Lammy, Tomena Sanner and Daytona USA).

2. Motion Pool. Eye Toy: Play 2 has a brilliant hexagonal game of Pool that you can play be moving about. The camera will be mounted on a MERU Flexi mount so it can be positioned in a variety of places.

3. Flappy Birds: The original on a big-screen, which is no longer available to download from the iOS and Android Play stores.

4. DJ mixing of video game songs showcasing that there's more to SpecialEffect than video games alone. Really looking forward to this bit especially.

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QuadStick Kickstarter and call for support for Ken Yankelevitz

The QuadStick: Image of a specialised game controller designed for use by people using their head, mouth and neck movements. Much like Ken Yankelevitz's QuadController.

As you may or may not know, accessible gaming pioneer Ken Yankelevitz is no longer building accessible controllers. I had this brief note from him in December which he said he was happy for me to share...

"I am 72 years old and have Parkinson Disease.
I am having difficulty holding the soldering iron steady enough to assemble the controllers.
If I can find someone who can help me with the soldering maybe I'll try to continue making controllers."

If anyone in the USA is in a position to do so, please do consider getting in touch. Ken is a legend as I've mentioned before on this blog and it would be great to support him considering all he's done in his life to support others. 

Meanwhile, it's fantastic to see that Ken's work will carry on whilst he's currently unable to in the form of the QuadStick Kickstarter campaign. Although a little daunting to read through the user-manual, this looks like a hugely powerful device for gamers wishing/needing to use their mouth and neck movements to play.

Read more at the QuadStick home page, Quadstick Kickstarter campign and EuroGamer. Many thanks to Techni Myoko for the tip.

QuadStick modes and control layout. LEDs display the five different standard modes, a sip/puff tube allows you to step through this back and forwards and then select.

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