Hello, we're Blind Sparrow Interactive and our goal is to create exceptional, life-changing game experiences
I hope that it's okay to post this here. I've been studying the AppleVis forum over the last few weeks trying to work out what is and what's not okay to post, and where a post like this would fit best.
I'm Drew. Late last year, I founded a development studio in Australia called Blind Sparrow Interactive. Our goal is to create exceptional, life-changing game experiences for blind and low vision players that can also be shared with sighted people.
Having worked for both indie and AAA games publishers for more than a decade, I'm aware that game development is a journey. It's important to start small and try to do things the right way, before attempting any kind of magnum opus or dream project. It's also important to know where your strengths lie and where you need help. I'm sighted. I knew even before I started the studio that, while I have a real heart for blind accessibility, I would need help to understand the needs and experiences of blind gamers. My first decision was to bring on a blind accessibility consultant and I shared with them my plans for the studio's first, small step.
Over the next three to four months, Blind Sparrow Interactive contracted development work out to 14 different people, seven of whom are blind or have low vision. Now, our first project is complete.
Next week, on February 28, our iOS app launches on the App Store.
The app is called Ready to Roll, and is a blind accessible RPG dice manager built from the ground up for accessibility. You can listen to our audio promo to learn more here.
With many tabletop RPGs being largely "theatres of the mind", we believe roleplay gaming is a magical way for blind and sighted people to socialise and go on exciting adventures together. But, as players know, rolling dice quickly and independently is tantamount to keeping the flow of the game going.
With Ready to Roll you can roll multiple dice and dice types quickly and efficiently. Save custom rolls and review previous rolls. Roll percentile and for advantage. Change voice over speed and type. Have individual dice rolls read out. And much more. Completely designed from the ground up for blind accessibility, enjoy easy navigation, full voice acting, and the freedom of having a set of RPG dice on hand, ready to roll when you are.
The key art for the app is a commissioned piece created by the wonderful Madeleine Beer. To hear an audio description of it, click here.
The VO you hear is by the delightful Grace King, a blind voice actor from Western Australia.
Blind Sparrow Interactive will be starting work on its next project very soon. We are always open to hear from those interested in doing some contract work across all types of development areas, from sound design to QA, voice acting to writing, and more.
You can find us on Twitter at @BlindSparrowInt. Or visit our web site, which will be getting updated later today, here.
Once again, I hope this post meets the correct criteria for creating a forum topic.
If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to ask them here. I'll do my best to answer them.
Just to reiterate, in case there is any confusion: Ready to Roll is a utility app for tabletop roleplay gaming, such as Dungeons and Dragons, and is not a game itself.
Hi. It’s great to see another game come out which is accessible. The game sounds fun, and I for one will definitely be giving it a try. Thank you so much for creating this game.
Thanks for the encouraging words. Just to manage your expectations, it's a utility for gaming, rather than a game. The app is a new approach to a dice manager for playing tabletop RPGs. If you don't play them, we hope that Ready to Roll might encourage you to give them a try.
Our next project will be a game, but we haven't announced anything regarding that, yet.
If you want to create a game that will be successfull create a football (american), baseball and so on. I can not believe that one has not been created. At this time there is no sport games that is accessible to blind people. One that uses sound and can be play against others on line be very successful I am willing to pay for that. Most games are not even worth my money.
Thanks for your suggestion. While we are based in Australia, I actually played American football (we call it gridiron here) when I was younger. From what I understand, there is a considerable amount of thought and attention given to accessibility for their Madden series. I understand it's not mobile, but given the licensing fees required for any kind of authenticity, I think you'll find it's a big studio that attempts something like this. That said, we have given some thought to a boxing game. Two player, one versus another, or one versus an AI. It may be something we look at in the future.
Thanks again for your general thoughts.
I can't wait to try it or buy it!
is it a RPG with some action!
I hope we can have more games such like it!
we have too many text adventure games and text RPG games
and this one will be have sounds and voice a acting.
I hope in the future we can havemore types of games.
like shooting games.
and the very populare Battle Royale games too!
Perhaps this thread should be posted elsewhere after all. Just to reiterate: Ready to Roll is a gaming utility, not a game. It's to assist with tabletop role play gaming.
Thanks, though, for your suggestions on other games you'd like to play.
are these games free?
This sounds great. I haven’t found a dice roller, that is both accessible, and so versitile. The ability to save multiple custom rolls will be particularly useful.
I dont think a lot of users who have responded understood that this is a utility, and not it’s own stand alone game. Maybe a quick few sentences at the bottom of the post reiterating that this is a tool for playing tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons would help.
I'm sorry if it's out of topic but when I hear the Word "tabletop", I remembered tabletop simulator and Secret Hitler. I'm so sad that secret hitler is still inaccessible. it's a very popular game amung all my friends and I'm so sad because I can't play it. I hope you or another developer WHO reads it can create an accessible version of it.
And for you, thank you for all the efforts. I will try the game as well :)
Ready to Roll will be $1.99 USD. There are no advertisements and updates will be free.
Thanks for the encouragement and the suggestion. I've added an extra sentence at the bottom of my original post to state again that it is a utility app.
The custom roll save feature came out of our rounds of QA. The majority of our testers were blind roleplay gamers, so the suggestions we received were fantastic to help make Ready to Roll better and better.
Yes, as I'm quickly learning, there are a lot of great tabletop games that just aren't very accessible. While we can't really go after existing popular games, such as Secret Hitler, due to a number of reasons, we are looking at the possibility of creating new games that might fit that criteria. Outside of the studio, I'm working on an action dice and marker game, and it's impossible for me to now create it without ensuring that it is accessible. Our work in the studio is impacting so many areas of our lives like that.
I hope you enjoy the app.
Hey Blind Adrenaline.
Thanks for the encouraging words. We haven't moved into this space without first being aware of what we need to be. We know that forum members can get pretty passionate about telling developers what they like and don't like, and that communicating those ideas in a useful way doesn't always come naturally to everyone. But we are also very mindful that we need to be open and respect the history and culture of communities such as AppleVis, and to look at the core of what people are saying when they are being critical. We will only get better by listening and striving to do better. The success - or otherwise - of Ready to Roll won't stop our studio from working on more projects and moving towards our goal of creating exceptional, life-changing gaming experiences.
That's fantastic that you have started your own audio gaming site, and that you've turned it into such a success. Can I ask which one it is? I'd love to check it out.
Thanks again for your support, Blind Adrenaline. As a studio, we really appreciate it.
I know i'll be one of the first to buy this, for the simple reason that I'm tired of rolling dice and having to have people tell me what I rolled.
Great to hear it. Responses like yours throughout the entire roleplay gaming community are why we made this. We'd love to hear your feedback once you've used it.
Thanks again for the comment.
It seems like you've got a great set up going on there. The fact that it's been running for 14 years is a real testament to what you've achieved. Well done. Did I read correctly that you have a 20k entry fee for some of the tournaments? You must have a solid business established if you're attracting players that can drop that kind of money.
Once again, congratulations.
İt sounds great! As a player of D&D, I'm very happy.
I hope at some point the app will come to windows an Mac, because personally, I'm a computer user more then phone.
And sorry for my grammar issues, English is my second language. :)
Thanks for the comment. We'll be looking at the possibility of other platforms following the iOS launch. We wanted to avoid a sim-ship situation and stay focused.
Hi Drew, I have never tried tabletop games but definitely intend to do so in light of your efforts. it sounds like quite an undertaking and thanks in advance for all you do.
Just my thoughts on some game ideas for the future - wouldn't it be great to win the Ashes? To recreate that awesome spectacle of Mitchell Johnson bowling to ben stokes at Perth or stuart broad's 8-15 at Trent Bridge? There have been one or two cricket games written, but all rather artificial and nothing resembling a Test match. From my own perspective I'd also like to try my hand at winning the Six nations or World Cup. Baseball and american football get quite a lot of attention on here - rugby and cricket less so. Don't get me wrong - I am sure there are all sorts of difficulties in the way of making blind friendly cricket or rugby games that are at the same time true to the rules of those sports. What brilliant games they would be if they were possible, though - well worth paying a pretty penny for!
I'm so excited to hear that there is another game developer company out there. I have always wanted to see an accessible cooking game that both the blind and the sighted could play and I offer this as a suggestion. Also, I wanted to offer my services as a voice actress. I can't wait to see what you come up with.
Hey Bingo Little.
Yes, Australian sports don't get much of a go in games, though there is a company in Melbourne called Big Ant who holds all the major licenses. We're still in our early days of building up the studio, so jumping into a fully realised sports simulation game isn't likely for some time.
But thanks again for the suggestion.
I would love a tool for writing text games.
There use to be one, but apparently it's no longer accessible.
What I loved about this program was you didn't need to know programming or any sort of scripting language.
All you really needed was an idea.
Take a look at http://adrift.org.uk.
If something like this was still around, I might try and push the boundries of the interactive fiction games, and try and make one openworld.
Someone tried to do one a long time ago that was like the final fantasy games, but I unfortunately ran into a bug and could no longer continue.
People like to dismiss text games because they don't have sounds, but I think if they're written well enough, and they have good mechanics, then they could be enjoyable.
I occasionally play one from time to time that a developer posts to audiogames.net, and so far that's the closest I've come to an openworld text game.
I don't think I've tried tabletop before, do the games from the fighting fantasy project count? Somehow I doubt it, besides, I think tabletop rpg's need other people to play with.
@KoolTurk do you mean something like the Adventure Games Toolkit? I remember using that in the days of MS Dos PCs and creating some adventures that people enjoyed. Back then, I had a very limited audience, but assuming I could find the time I'd love to be able to write something like that again, this time for the iPhone environment. Bereft as I am of programming skills in any remotely contemporary language I would be one of those merchants who would lap up a platform where, as you so accurately put it, all you need is an idea.
Just a quick update.
The app is now live on the iOS store!
You can find it here: https://apple.co/2EyD9Ha
A screen reader friendly user guide can be read online here: https://bit.ly/2EAsk7P
PDF version here: https://bit.ly/2VqdLt5
It would be amazing if you could all spread the word!
And, of course, if anyone has any questions or feedback, fire away.
@Bingo Little, similar, there was one called TADS, which stands for Text Adventure Development System.
I think you still needed to have limited programming skills to use that though.
What this program does is have items in menus, so you'd go to the menu, incert a room, then fill in the blanks, simply by tabbing to the right dialogue box or combo box.
I don't know what the later versions had, when I stopped using adrift you were able to incert pictures, which defeats the purpose of a text adventure, and music or sound effects.
Like all text games, you had the interpreter, for adrift's case, they just called it the runner, and of course the generator, which was used to write your text adventure.
Good times, of course, we still have text games, but I can't really get into any of them.
Either I lost interest or I simply just want to make my own.
I'm thinking of a quiditch game, where the flying would be done in a similar way to the many space muds out there.
I haven't had a chance to try it with an actual game yet, but I bought it yesterday and have started playing around with it. I can tell it'll be easy.
Question for sighted people: Can someone describe what the screen will look like when one rolls the dice? Will it look like a regular dice tray, or will it just show the numbers?
While the majority of the work on the app is in the audio, the app has visual assets and can be easily used by sighted players as well. They won't see 3D dice rolling around, but everything that is spoken is also shown visually. They'll be able to use the app as easily as you will.
If you're asking the question because you may be interested in knowing what each dice rolled, we have you covered. If you go to the Settings page and change the VO type to Individual, it will read out exactly that.
A full user guide that is screen reader friendly can be found online here: http://blindsparrowinteractive.com/readytoroll/userguide.html
Thanks, I think this answers my question. Super appreciated. So basically all text spoken by the voice will be displayed.
Hi Techluver. Kind of. The visual display will show dice rolls in a notation. For example, "2d6 + 1d10 = 12". Whereas you have choices about how the audio is spoken. If you have the VO Type set to Verbose, it will read out "You rolled 2 d 6 plus 1 d 10 for a total of 12". Have the VO Type set to Brief and it will say, "2 d 6 plus 1 d 10, total 12".
Then, of course, there is the VO Type called Individual. This is for those who need to know what each dice rolled. In visual notation it will show up like this, "2d6 + 1d10 = 12". And read out it will speak "2 d 6. 3. 2. plus 1 d 10. 7. Total 12".
I hope that explains it. Again, the user guide is a fantastic resource for getting the most out of the app.
Hello: Anyone who wants a quick and natural way of writing text games can check out this link:
This is a great app, and is available on the mac as well. You can even write text-based games with randomness built-in such as dice games and such, without coding experience.
By the way, to the Blind Spero Interactive Team: you are doing such a nice job creating this platform of accessible games. It is always with great joy and pride to the Blind community when a sighted developer steps in and wants to do this sort of thing. And plus, it's not just accessible for the Blind, but also for everyone. It's called universal design. Thanks and again and I'm sure we all appreciate this. Bravo. Yea!
Thanks for the kind words, Humberto. I hope Ready to Roll opens up new opportunities for tabletop gamers.
As for Inform 7, I've spent some time with that language. It's a strange one in that it doesn't resemble any other coding language. It's based on using English sentences to create objects and spaces and connections. It can trip you up with its attention to syntax, but it's a fun language and powerful in its simplicity. A paragraph such as "The Study is a room. In the study is an Ornate Chest. It is an openable and lockable opaque container." for example will create a room you can enter, in which you'll find a chest that you can open and lock (with a key of some sort), put things in and can't see into unless you open it.
Hopefully, I got that syntax right. It's been a little while since I used Inform 7.
Hi I have used your app before. I love it. Please continue to make more accessible content for all of us to enjoy.
Loving & enjoying this app I recommend this to my friends & they also liking it :)