In which I am less useful than I’d like

Recently I got this email:

My name is (redacted) and I’m totally blind. I am a bit fan of interactive fictions and I have just downloaded Pytho’s mask. I have started it but I’m not exactly sure who I need to talk too or what I should be talking to them about. Do you know if there is a solution for this game or if poss could you send me one please?

I don’t have a walkthrough for Pytho’s Mask, and my suspicion is that (a) none exists and (b) it is more or less impossible to run it with a screenreader because of the way the conversation options are displayed in the status bar. (It does have both a z-machine and a Glulx version, but either way, the options go in their own window.)

If I’m wrong about either, though — that is, if you happen to know of a walkthrough, or you’ve successfully played this on a screenreader — I’d love to hear about it so I can pass on the answer. (I’d just sit down and make said walkthrough myself, but I probably won’t have time to do that for a few days.)

Edited to add: “A few days” has worked out to a long time, but I’ve now finished and posted said walkthrough.

7 thoughts on “In which I am less useful than I’d like”

  1. I got email from (probably) the same person, asking about Dreamhold. I searched around, and found that David Welbourn wrote one.

    But we seem to lost the convention that all IF games have walkthroughs on the Archive. I’m not sure if that’s a big problem, but it’s happened.

    It’s worth promoting the idea of “accessibility” mode for all IF games, where there’s one window and all important information is streamed to it. But I’m not sure whether that should be handled at the game level or the terp level.

  2. Hey em,

    Pythos Mask is an excellent example of how FyreVM and Channel IO could make a difference. I know the game wildly predates any notion of Channel IO and it’s not my point to say it should be rewritten. My point is that your blind e-mailer could be more easily accomodated with a new interpreter, specifically designed for text readers. With Channel IO, the conversations would be channeled. A standard interpreter could be designed to display them as you did in the current version, but also as in-line conversation menus. It’s just a matter of deciding where the conversation channel data goes in the UI.

    I was working with Jayson Smith on ifMUD and was able to create a windows console application that allowed him to play one of Textfyre’s games with his own screen reader. This took about a day as I recall, but I never released it (to my shame).

    There are many audiences and types of hardware nowadays and being able to adapt the content based on those changing aspects seems ideal to me. By tying the content to an exact style of output is no different than creating a program that only Mac users can use or only Windows users can use.

    Anyway. I just thought Pytho’s Mask was a perfect example of the benefits of using FyreVM and Channel IO.

      1. Maybe it does come across as a press release. It’s not my intention.

        I’m trying educate people that using Glk is fine if you’re only concerned about one style of user experience, like say, Mac, Windows, or Linux desktops/laptops. I personally think we need to evolve past Glk and Pytho’s Mask is an example of a tightly-coupled IF game. The user experience is married to the conent.

        But the hardware world and the types of audiences have fragmented and being adaptable to both is important. Using Glk can’t possibly meet all of those demands.

        In the IF world, we need to consider both the type of user and the device they plan to use to play our games. By doing this, we can deliver a higher quality experience that’s intuitive and friendly.

      2. Seriously? Perhaps the comment is self-promoting, but as it has to do with the (related) issue of accessibility, I would hardly call it spam.

  3. Late reply, I guess. I’ve tried searching for a walkthrough, too (I am also a little stuck) and I haven’t been able to find one. If I find one I’ll post a link it here for anyone else that may have questions, but I share your suspicions that there isn’t one.

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