Ultra-Stik - Analogue Joystick with Switch Sockets

Ultra-Stik Analogue Joystick with Switch Interface

D.I.Y. analogue joystick. Image of the P.C.B. and wiring.

The chunky joystick above was designed for SpecialEffect originally after a request from Bill Donegan to look into the Ultimarc Ultra-Stik, hoping to make a simple and fairly affordable controller for gaming.

Turns out it works great. It's an analogue joystick with the potential for up to eight switch sockets (I've fitted four). On a PC using JoyToKey, it can be set-up to work as a mouse. I've built a profile that has the four switches set up as: LEFT-CLICK, RIGHT-CLICK, LEFT-CLICK DRAG, ADJUST MOVEMENT SPEED. You can set it up anyway you like, and with the Controller Max / Cronus Max / Cronus Device / Whatever they're calling it next, you can use it on Xbox 360, Xbox One and PS3 after a bit of tinkering.

£115 from the OneSwitch.org.uk Accessible Gaming Shop, or you can build your own accessible analogue joystick by following the DIY guide here. Works very nicely with a Trabasack Connect.

Ultra-Stik being used on an Xbox 360 thanks to CronusMax aka ControllerMax aka Cronus Device.

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Top Websites for Accessible Gaming - 2014

7-128 software have just announced the winners of their annual "Top Websites for Accessible Gaming". Hugely proud to have won my fifth year at the top of the Web Sites for Gamers who are Motion Impaired category. This will give me a boost to get on with One Switch 100 at the very least.

Huge thanks to all the people along the way who've contributed ideas, games, advice, frustrations and solutions and who've shared a passion for accessible gaming. Massive thanks to Retro Remakes for the accessible game programming competitions they ran between 2005 and 2008, the IGDA GASIG and all the people I met through that, Aleks Krotoski for putting me in touch with them in the first place, SpecialEffect and on and on. Huge respect also to all the others on the list, many of whom would be above me if you adjusted the criteria slightly. So much left to do for us all though...

Beyond the gushing, do check out 7-128's list and their brilliant work. So many great resources there.


Nintendo America Accessibility

TehcnoPlus SNES joystick

Nintendo of America used to do some great things for game accessibility. Not sure if they still do. Great anecdote from "softbanrespawn04" at Kotaku after a SpecialEffect story this month.

"When I was in 6th grade I got hit by a truck. It broke my arm, leg, hip, and skull, and blasted my thumb and my nose almost completely off my body. Thanks to modern medical science, I was fine by a year later and today you wouldn't even know it happened, but for the months while I was recovering I couldn't play any games.

My console of choice at the time was my SNES, and that's pretty hard to play when your right arm is in a cast all the way up to your shoulder and the hand's thumb is hanging on by a handful of stitches. This was before the internet, so I asked my mom to write a letter to Nintendo, asking them if they had any one-handed, left-hand controllers for the SNES, and if they did, where I could buy one. She suggested that we include a trace of my left hand so they'd know how big it was.

Two weeks later, we got a box at the front door from Nintendo. It was a flight stick that they adapted to work for the SNES. Apparently, they used my hand trace to mod the stick and add all the SNES buttons along the joystick itself in the right spots for a child's left hand.

Nintendo made a life-long fan that day."

Far more than Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo have dipped their toes into supporting disabled gamers in the past, with their NES Hands Free Controller and support for the PDG Team Xtreme accessible interfaces. Shame none of the big manufacturers of gaming hardware beyond Apple seem to be actively doing anything to take into account the needs of disabled gamers. Have groups like AbleGamers and SpecialEffect made it too easy for them to wash their hands of any responsibility I wonder?

Switch Text Adventure Games

Text from the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (30th Anniversary)

Text from the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (30th Anniversary)

Windows PC On Screen Keyboard

To mark the 30th anniversary of Infocom's The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy adventure game, the BBC have re-vamped their on-line version. This is great news for two reasons. Firstly, it's a brilliantly funny if super tough game. Secondly, it's switch accessible if using the Windows On Screen Keyboard (search on OSK then go to the Options button next to the Help key).

Playing with a single switch requires zen patience, so I highly recommend getting a BBCid and using the SAVE and RESTORE COMMANDS. This gives a taste of 1980s switch gaming at its deepest, available on a small number of computers at the time. Most common would have been an Apple II (see video below) with Adaptive Firmware Card and switch interface although there were other possibilities too.

Some other late 70s and early 80s computers had morse-code entry and/or switch scanning keyboards that could play such adventure games. I think there were Possum POSM units that could do this, but info is thin on the ground.

I found it interesting to learn that the world's first Internet multi-player on-line role-playing game was created and hosted at Essex University (I've lived in Essex all my life), which all MMORPG's can trace their roots back to.

Much more interesting still is Vine which makes creating a text adventure playable in a web-browser possible without a lot of technical know how. The games are largely switch accessible (TAB through options then RETURN to select - although some games can't be restarted that way sadly) and are point and click compatible. Additionally, text can be resized and read out with standard browser tools. Great starter advice here from Anna Anthropy and a whole slew of games at Twine Hub.

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Speech Recognition in Scotland (Burnistoun)

Love this old clip. Reflects that speech recognition is far from great for many people. I've felt pretty silly putting on American accents to get GlovePie, Xbox One and Dreamcast Seaman to work. Siri and Google speech recognition are far from perfect too. Hope we get there before too long...

Via the excellent: Burnistoun


2013: All Blogged One Switch Games

Screen shot from A Wise Choice: A laughing range of mountains is the back-drop. Hovering in the foreground in front of some lush grass and a withered tree is a floating monkey mug of tea. The text below reads, 'Well hello!... you look... Different. Well, I suppose we are all different in our own little ways, but you look.... wholly not from this world..."

One Switch Games Blogged in 2013

Global Game Jam 2013 - Including the wonderful, if buggy, "A Wise Choice" plus Escape Velocity, Cardiac Arrest, Egg Beat Old Delete Me, Luck Broken Heart and Beating My Heart.
Chicken Zen Kane - great strategy psycho robots game from Tam Toucan.
Baseball Star Wars - on-line Baseball game from SpecialBites aimed at players who don't have fast reactions.
Catch a Penny - fun money earning target reward game also from SpecialBites.
RRode - One-switch game of great skill and patience.
Silent Skies - Vectorised bombing run game that finally became available to download.
Tug The Table - One or two-player tug of war madness.
The World is in Your Hands - Hover wheelchair do good simulator plus rudely entitled OMGAF Dragon!
One Button Cardboard Arcade - Yep.
Nod - Rose Abernathy's dating simulator where all you need do is nod at the right time.
Moon Waltz - Were-wolf simulator. Nuts. Fun. Needs "R" to restart.
Cursor Click - One of the oldest ever one-switch games brought on-line.
Hug Punx - Hugging Simulator (requires 4Noah utility).
Journey and Pinball Arcade - PS3 versions made playable with one-switch.
Switch Gaming on iOS - At last! - Apple listened! Via the excellent Colin McDonnell.
One-Switch Dragon's Lair - It was there, and then it wasn't. A bit bizarre.
Mole Hammers - On-line one or two-player single mole abuse game.
One-switch Driving games - Adaptation that should work for most PS3, Xbox 360 and PC driving games.

Favourite Other Posts of 2013

Oak Air Switch (Kinect based); My Son's Not Rainman; Two-button Fighting Games; The Sensory Story Project; DIY Game Accessibility; Polibius on the Simpsons; Finger Tip Controllers (1982); 10 Years of OneSwitch; MakeyMakey on PS3 and Xbox 360; PS3 Head Tracker; A-Z RandomiserOne-Handed Controller ULTRA; Luke-Lundin and SpecialEffect; Switch Action Camera; Apple OS X gets switch improvements; HAPP sip/puff system; DIY switch pitching machine; Neil Young switch accessible model train; Xbox One accessibility; YouVIEW access boost for one-switch users; How Video Games Changed the World.

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