There's been a lot of game accessibility news in January, here's a little of it....
Global Game Jam 2015: "Stephen Hawking can play this" diversifier. A lot of the games didn't quite get the one-switch/one-button concept, but I spotted some very likeable games in the mix. More to come on this.
Ways to further game accessibility in the industry: Game Accessibility super-advocate Ian Hamilton posts a fine reasoning for applying pressure for greater access at many angles of attack.
XCM Cross Fire Converter 3.0: Maybe the most affordable way to get some older accessible wired controllers working on Playstation 4 (including Xbox 360 joypads). I'll post when I get a chance to test with daisy-chained PS2 controllers with an additional adapter. Costs $59 (£39.71 on eBay right now).
EyeTeq from Spectral Edge: Very promising work in converting images live for colour-blind users. They are looking to license this technology for set-top boxes, and the like. I get the impression it may need refining, and the Android app didn't work properly for me first time, but imagine this working well and being part of computer operating systems. Mighty fine idea. More info at the BBC.
Tobii Dynavox PCEye Explore eye gaze camera: "Only £590" makes me raise an eye-brow, but this looks like nice eye tracking kit. I can't see this type of technology being this expensive for much longer. Hope not anyway. £5 for a cheap standard mouse. £10 for a cheap web-cam. The gap seems unfair.
Roland V-40HD Multi Format Video Mixer: Through a friend of a friend then an expert at Roland I discovered the V-40HD. This looks like it will seamlessly mix a PC image on top of a game console image. This would be amazing for linking PC eye-tracking, head-tracking and heads up displays directly into Xbox and Playstation games using a Titan One link up (and possibly the XIM4 in the future). Downside is its very expensive. Would be so good to not need this kind of technology. See the V-40HD user-manual, page 35 on Compositing Using DSK (down stream keying).
I discovered some fascinating coverage of the late 1980s Nintendo Hands-Free Controller for the NES via the RNT blog. Just for information, this device does not seem to work on the UK NES, at least not the one I tried. It does work on a recent hardware emulated NES I found.
Published by OneSwitch.org.uk Saturday, 24 January 2015 6:41 pm.
One of the earliest one-switch games I played... beat anyone (normally my brother, Mum or other school kids) to press the Pelican Crossing button. Ah, the power to stop traffic, turn the red man to a green man and make some noisy bleeping sounds. Mid 1970s one-switch gaming....
Published by OneSwitch.org.uk Saturday, 17 January 2015 11:16 am.
Above is eye-gaze control of an Xbox One, part of the research and development I'm carrying out with SpecialEffect and in OneSwitch time. Very excited to have jointly found a way for one-switch, two-switch, eye-gaze, head-trackers and other mixed methods to take control of PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. I aim to share these methods in the near future. Meanwhile here's some geekery for those interested in the technology side....
The brains of the controller is a Windows PC. If using an EyeTribe eye-tracker, you'll need a USB 3.0 port. The link-up hardware is a Titan One adapter (XIM4 may be possible in the future I'm told). Then anything you can connect as PC standard controls more or less.
The software is currently the Eye Tribe UI in mouse mode, Alt-Controller (the grid you see on the right side) sending mouse/keyboard events to GTuner MaxAim D.I. with a modification to the config file. I'm looking to pull in extra utilities which will bring a huge amount of extra power (a bit like this controller with gaming redux methods). And yes, it's a lot of hoops to jump through to make something accessible, no doubt about it. One day all this will be completely unnecessary.
The very rough video above links to a custom controller I developed at SpecialEffect for a lady who wants to play games on modern game consoles using chin movement for the left and right sticks (one at a time), three finger switches, sip/puff movement and speech.
The set-up is flexible, using a custom JoyToKey profile shifting system with the lovely Origin Instruments Breeze sip/puff device (set in joystick mode). Sip to move up a list of custom profiles, puff to move down. Press one of three Marblesoft Ultra Light switches to select a special function connected via an adapted Razer ONZA joystick on budget mounting system. This method can be adapted for various uses. I'm currently working on one-switch, eye-gaze and head-tracking methods on consoles that I hope to share soon.
Published by OneSwitch.org.uk Saturday, 10 January 2015 12:56 pm.
Published by OneSwitch.org.uk Friday, 9 January 2015 11:58 am.
Following some requests to find out if MarioKart 8 for Wii-U could be made more accessible I've some good news. The Maxgear Cross Fight adapter will allow the likes of a Razer ONZA Xbox 360 controller, a C-SID and a One Hand Controller to play this fine game.
Bad news is that gaming redux methods to reduce the controls needed are not easy: The Titan One, Cronus Max and XIM 4 won't connect. This means you can't use PC access utilities to make the game more accessible. Good news is that the brains behind the Titan One, are looking into it.
Accurate analogue low pressure controls are hard to come by for gaming. Presently, it is possible to remove and/or replace springs in some standard thumb-sticks. It's possible to use Makey Makey and the like for ultra-light digital switches and use JoyToKey to adjust the pressure incrementally. The Razer ONZA Xbox 360 joypad is perhaps the smoothest and lightest pressure off the shelf standard joypad controller. Sometimes, though these are just not light and accurate enough.
This is where the fascinating controller and game accessibility work of Graham Law at Celtic Magic looks like helping out. The videos above show some ultra light joystick and controller reduction methods. As this system is seen as a standard joystick, it should work with JoyToKey and the likes of the Titan One to open up a huge array of ways to make gaming more accessible. Exciting stuff to open up 2015 with.