I am big into accessibility. It was now finally time to get started on accessibility options for Echoes of Somewhere.
What is accessibility?
The more accessible a game is, the easier it is to play by people with various disabilities. I am I luck as point and click games are naturally very accessible. But this does not mean that there are not things I could do to enable more people to play the game. So over the holidays I spent some days adding more accessibility options into my game.
Accessibility options in Echoes of Somewhere
the accessibility options can be found in the options menu of the game. I actually mostly only have accessibility options at the moment. I plan to make the game so that it will run on any hardware and graphics settings are not something the players need to worry about.
This is a given, as it is natively supported by Adventure Creator, the framework I am using. But it is an accessibility option nevertheless.
by default the subtitles in this game are timed to appear with the voice over. The player only needs to watch the scenes unfold. But for people who are maybe deaf and slow readers, this might not be the best option. This is why I added an option to freeze the subtitles. Now they only advance when the player clicks anywhere. This allows the players to read the texts on their own pace.
The UI of the game is made on my 14″ laptop. it might look ridiculous on a larger screen, or might not be legible on small devices like phones or the Steam Deck. This is why I added a text size modifier to the game. You can make the text smaller or bigger depending on your needs.
I am not scaling all of the game text, but enough for this to also double as a lightweight UI scale option.
Optional voiceovers for examine texts
Sometimes the reverse is true, some texts in the game are not spoken. Like the hotspot descriptions in the game that appear on hotspot hover on the bottom of the screen. I added functionality to support voiceovers on these texts. When you hover over these hotspots, a timer appears to the description window. Once this timer has reached its end, a voice will read the description text. This will allow illiterate people to play the game. Or people who despite cranking the text size all the way up are still unable to read it. It is a nice to have feature for other people as well. Some might prefer it this way.
I tried to make the game have as little pixel hunting as possible by making the hotspots light up when the mouse is near them. Using the hotspots is also very simple, there is only on click and the action to be performed is pre-visualised on the hotspot icon on mouseover. But someone might have trouble scanning the screen anyway with the cursor, so I added an option to toggle on all of the hotspots with the correct interaction icon at all times, making it much easier for people to think about their next steps without having to physically move at all. This also is the preferred way to visualise the hotspots on touch devices.
Item interaction hints
Another pain point for people who can not control the game as easily is testing item / hotspot interactions. So I added a toggle to highlight the hotspots on the screen that have interactions with the hovered on / selected inventory items so you do not need to manually check all of the possible cases. This also works as a gentle hint system for everyone else.
I cane up with these systems to help people enjoy the game better. But is there anything I am missing? I purposefully have not spent time adding color blind modes, as the hotspot visibility toggle I think makes it possible for people to read the screen quite easily. But what other things could I add? These options are not that complicated to create and they will make the game accessible to a broader audience, so I would rather add them than not.