Fantastic to see a PS3 being uniquely controlled by a head-tracker and symbols based control grid courtesy of the SpecialEffect GamesLab. Read my previous post The Holy Grail of Accessible Controllers? to find out why this kind of work is so important. Special Effect are making some huge strides for accessible gaming.
Mike Taylor of Excitim recently made me aware of the excellent TalkSense website run by Tony James. Just take a look at the Good Practice in Developing Switch Skills, the Switching to Communication guide and Services page to see just how valuable this resource is. I especially applaud the free symbols for switches documents. Superb stuff. Keep it up, Tony!
This is said to work with musical instruments too. I'm immediately thinking of accessible musical instruments such as The Skoog, The Magic Flute and these one-switch instruments. Play a solo then have the computer build the backing around your performance. Exciting stuff that should only get better in the future.
Link via LittleMaths Twitter feed.
The latest XFPS 4.0 takes with one hand (PS2 controller compatibility removed - boo), gives with the other (PC reconfiguration tool for remapping controls) and promises something very exciting for the future in "Magic Link". Cribbed straight from their site:
"When using with our new coming product (Magic link), the remote player can help you to pass the game level via the internet from his PC." I wonder...
Tip via ErigBurger with thanks!
The Padlocked mode is aimed to assist users who are 'press-happy' or find it hard activate a single press. The Back and Forth mode aims to give one-switch users the power to step forwards and backwards through a slideshow at will.
There are a huge range of uses for Power Point, such as controlling a photo-album, performing a story to a group, triggering music and sound effects for a show and so on. I highly recommend taking a quick peek at Pete Wells excellent sensory stories for a starting point, then moving onto the TLWMSN Blog for more. D.I.Y. is probably the best bet for a lot of users though with support. Have fun!
First and me somewhat missing the boat is Halloween Bowling where you bowl a Pumpkin to knock down ghosts. Very similar but without the spooky theme is Wiicade Bowling. Finally, and perhaps the best bet for those with slower reactions is the 70's Disco themed Disco Bowling.
None are perfect accessibility wise, and none are a huge step up from 10th Frame Bowling that I remember setting up for semi one-switch play nearly 15 years ago. One day there'll be a Wii Bowling quality game with an option for gutter bumpers and for one-switch play. One day.
SY!NSO! is a frenetic arena shoot-em-up where the aim of the game is to score as close to 9 as you can. I've managed 1 and a half so far in one-switch mode, and it was huge fun. The game has some great accessibility features, previously seen in the PC version, including: a practice mode where you are invincible, zoom options and auto-fire modes. Marvellous. You can read more over at the Daily Rodent.
The lovely thing about Xbox Live is that you can try before you buy. From this I spotted another one button playable game in Fishing Girl. This is a pleasant enough fishing game where you can cast off and reel in using a single switch. Best played with a friend nearby to assist with the occassional extra buttons needed. See XNPlay for easy to digest reviews of the huge number of indie games.
Whilst I'm on the Xbox 360, thought I'd quickly share that the Playstation to Xbox 360 joypad converter from Korea, the Xconverter 360, works very well. It still needs a wired Xbox 360 joypad attached, which in this case, becomes inactive. The main downside with this is that you won't be able to use two controllers at once for the same player as is the case with the Max Shooter for joint play.
RehaDesigns also have a cracking blog dedicated to wheelchair pride and developments, called, Wheelchair Pride. Both added to the OneSwitch Links page.
One and two-switch gamers will need a helper to set up games, but once started, all they'll need is "Z" to accellerate and optionally "X" to brake. I'm going to try e-mailing the Japanese author to see if he/she'll consider making a pure one-switch version. You never know.
Tip off via Rob Fearon via IndieGames.com
We had some fun this halloween using Switch Mixer Lite and a pressure mat outside our front door. As soon as any trick-or-treaters stood on it they'd trigger a spooky sound played LOUD. Took quite a few kids by surprise. The rough D.I.Y. list:
A PC with loudspeakers. Switch Mixer Lite. Spooky sound samples in WAV format (we used some from SuperGlobe.com). A Switch Interface. JoyToKey. A pressure sensitive mat hooked up to a 3.5mm plug or any accessibility switch.
Later I relived the 1980's with some indoor fireworks from the Glow Company which my daughter and her friends were quite impressed by. Smoky!
[EDIT] Missed Mémory Halloween too from RNT' Blog. A fun little memory picture matching game that is mouse compatible for head-tracker or eye tracker play. Next year then?!
What have been included are some really nice driver assist modes. If you enable them all and jam the right trigger on you can race using the thumb stick alone for steering. Perhaps the one-button mode they mentioned is the excellent REWIND feature that allows you to re-take a messed up manouvre.
A lot of the other modes I first saw in SEGA's Ferrari F355 Challenge have resurfaced here including auto-braking and an on-screen racing line. Unlike F355 Challenge winning races is no where near as hard. All of this alone will be reason enough to buy Forza for a lot of disabled players, and it's a great improvement on many racing games.
This said, a true one-switch mode, larger text, a more intuitive menu system, reconfigurable controls, and some Destruction Derby style tracks would have really put the icing on the cake. See the IGDA GASIG's Top 3 Accessibility Features for Driving Games for more ideas for Forza 4.