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Playing Freeciv Totally BLind

Posted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 5:56 am
by CAplin
Hi ALl,

I wanted to write as I've recently decided to get back into this game, but wasn't sure of the best place to post so thought here seemed reasonable.

I'm a huge fan of strategy games who happens to be totally blind. I played Freeciv… At least fifteen years ago, probably closer to 20, or at least attempted to. Back then, my technical knowledge was not great, and screen reading software was a bit worse than it is now. I don't think I managed to make much progress.

I was recently reminded of this game again, and decided to give it a try. I downloaded the QT client because that particular graphics toolkit has a decent amount of built-in accessibility, and I was astonished to find that the tile coordinates, city data, etc. was readable for me. THis is a very rare thing gaming-wise. SOme parts, such as the city map, don't seem to be as easy to use, but the rest of the screens appear to at least provide enough information to begin exploration.

I hope that this community is open to improving the accessibility of this game, in general. I'm still at the early stages, and don't have a great way to see the map at a larger scale yet, but I'm very eager to see where we go from here.

Thanks for reading :)

Re: Playing Freeciv Totally BLind

Posted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:14 pm
by Corbeau
Wow! I'm having a difficult time even imagining how I would be able to paly the game without a full representation of the map! I didn't know it was at all possible! I'm happy that it's even partially working for someone with such disability!

(Sorry, not a programmer myself, but... this would maybe be a good material for some experimenting and research!)

Re: Playing Freeciv Totally BLind

Posted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:56 pm
by Lachu
Some people plays Freeciv via e-mail. I never had played this kind of game, so I don't know how it looks like. Which kind of information are send via e-mail?

In worst case, you could save game on each turn, unpack save game archive and read data. Save games have text format, but... I don't known it could be playable this way.

Re: Playing Freeciv Totally BLind

Posted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:59 pm
by Ignatus
Lachu wrote:Which kind of information are send via e-mail?

As I can understand from it's not really playing the game by email, just the players take turns and the e-mail informs you that your phase has just started. The experiments of actual playing by email ended in nothing useable, 2008 comment says.

Re: Playing Freeciv Totally BLind

Posted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 5:01 am
by CAplin
Some experimentation has revealed a bit more about what appears to be accessible, even if I'm not sure precisely how yet.

When I have a unit, or stack of units selected, such as my initial workers, I can see a bunch of terrain info, including two sets of coordinates, though I'm a little unclear on the difference between them. When I build a city I can see a bunch of info on how the city uses resources, including surplus gold, food, etc.

What I'm missing at the moment is a way to move my cursor and see the same sort of tile information for unoccupied land. The original civilization games had the "v," key which allowed this, and it's possible a similar equivalent exists for Freeciv and I'm simply unaware of it.

I don't currently have a way to designate specific squares to be worked by citizens, as far as I can tell, because the city map is not exposed to my screen reader. I feel like I'm on the verge of a somewhat playable game if we can get some of the kinks I mention ironed out.

SOmething else which would be useful would be a movement log of sorts, so I could tell what was happening, if only within my sight range. At the moment i have no way to know whether an enemy unit is close by, as far as I'm aware.

THese are just a few random ideas I'm spitballing here, but I hope they're useful to someone. :)

Re: Playing Freeciv Totally BLind

Posted: Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:00 am
by louis94
Wow! That's truly awesome from Qt because I don't think the client was designed with accessibility in mind.

If you middle click on a tile you get some infomartion about it, like what terrain it is and so on. Hopefully your screen reader reads the tooltip.

For info, how do you usually navigate maps? It's quite important to get the big picture, and I can't imagine going through all the tiles every turn...

Re: Playing Freeciv Totally BLind

Posted: Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:05 am
by CAplin
I'm not middle clicking on anything to get the info, it already seems to be exposed to the software somehow. I'm not sure how, as I don't know anything about developing for QT.

I don't have a great way to deal with maps at the moment, and suspect this is one area where we'll need to experiment a bit. A way to reliably know what's on a given tile is a good start. There are audio games which let you use a separate cursor to do map exploration, and have shortcuts for moving from unit to unit, which works reasonably well.

Re: Playing Freeciv Totally BLind

Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:45 pm
by Ignatus
Don't know if it can help the case, but I develop a fork with extended Lua API that allows doing most comands and checks via either menu or command line and Lua console. My client is copatible with standard 2.6 servers and has a pair of special compatibilitiies with Longturn servers. The console works only on Gtk clients.