Game ought to be accessible

Motivation is something that makes the human being get up from a sofa and start doing something. Or continue lying on it, but searching for inspiration, planning, planning and planning. There’s no one way to progress, but there is one common thing for all enthusiastic and motivated people that makes them move forward - inspiration. Jason Canam, the head of Household Games studio, isn't an exception. Still, he altered to have two inspirations at once, as he admitted in his interview to GamesIndustry.biz.

There were 2D arcade games of the middle 1990s such as The Simpsons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time, and The X-Men, often called brawlers, that inspired him to make his own outstanding game Way of the Passive Fist. He explained that those games with enormous animated characters acting in fantastic colorful surroundings made him a huge fan of the genre. And what attracted him even more in those particular games was that they’d existed as they were for long 30 years. This only strengthened a burning ambition to do something new. The other inspiration was EVO Moment #37, one of the most remarkable competitive gaming moments of all time, which took place at the 2004 EVO Championship

Series at the end of a game tournament between Daigo Umehara and Justin Wong. This moment is comparable to sports moments and the whole page on Wikipedia covers it. In short, that moment showed that defense may be more captivating than offense. Not only is it hard to repeat, but even imagine how skillful you should be to block an attack making 14 frame-perfect inputs as Umehara did. This idea influenced the conception of Canam’s game Way of the Passive Fist, where the emphasis was on more parrying, countering and dodging than attacking the opponent. Some people may accuse the game of bearing a remote resemblance to the fighting technic implemented earlier by Umehara, but the game is actually unique.

When you've developed the concept, it is high time to proceed to further work, taking into consideration the game accessibility problem, which is enormously important but often overlooked at the very beginning. Canon believes the game accessibility issue may concern most developers, as they are all well-intentioned. If you’d happen to ask any one of them, they would say they want as many people to play their games as possible. But when it comes to assessing the result, it ends up being unsatisfactory. So what should we do for making our game both catching and accessible for a big range of players? 

The first tip here is not to be afraid to go to greater lengths than usual. Thus, you'll ensure your game will be playable for everyone. If we have a look at Way of the Passive Fist production we’ll see how diligent Canam’s team were in their work. These guys know how to stand daunting challenges. They started their project in the summer of 2016, the same time when the charity marathon, the Summer Games Done Quick speedrunning, was being held. That was a critical moment for the game.

Canam was impressed by Clint "Halfcoordinated" Lexa, a speed runner who accomplished the indie game Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight on the insane difficulty in 31:58 minutes. It was triumphant, as he did it with one hand due to hemiplegia (paralysis of one side of the body). His words about the importance of game accessibility, the ignorance of which makes games beyond the ability of people like him, confirmed Canam in his decision to improve the system completely. Canam asked Lexa to take part in the project. His work involved assessing the game accessibility. The team had to tackle a rather complicated task. They had to adjust the system to a big range of players: with color-blind difficulties, with different physical and cognitive abilities, those with shortened or delayed reflexes. They did tremendous work and fulfilled the task. Accessibility minded at an early stage was rewarding. That’s a common fear among developers to bring anyone in the project before the vision is formed. But it would be wrong to dismiss a great advantage of being able to prevent conflicts during the production process. From above-mentioned there goes one more useful tip, particularly, to bring a consultant on board as early as possible. The result won’t make you wait for long. 

Way of the Passive Fist's focus on accessibility makes a good hook for press coverage today, but it'll soon become the standard to install accessibility options in games. There’re few developers who aim to make games for a special audience, quite the contrary, most of them want their games to become widely popular. Even a thought of someone unable to play it will be terrific for them. But what hampers them from being prudent is the lack of awareness. That's why it's so essential to socialize a lot, make an investigation before you start off and, of course, consider bringing consultants on board. Because if you do it later, it might happen that getting the feedback, you won't be able to change anything. Even if the suggestion is worth, all that you might do in the meanwhile is regretting not doing it before. Whether you aren’t ready to invite new people in a game development process, it’s your choice.

There’re plenty of resources at your disposal nowadays such as the Able Games Foundation’s website (www.includification.com). It’s a mutual work of both developers and gamers with disabilities. You may learn from practical guidelines how to make games joyful for people with mobility, hearing, vision and cognitive impairments. One more easy way to create something unique is to learn from other people's experience. Let’s wait for Way of the Passive Fist release, which is supposed to be the first months of 2018 and see how game accessibility featuresare implemented in that 2D arcade game. That might be rather inspiring.