Steven D Podcast Episode 15: Bob the Blind Man Gets a Taste of the Real World

Meet Blind Bob. Well, he prefers Bob, but we just won’t tell him that I called him that. 😀

In today’s episode, I play two games wherein our little friend Bob tries some rather interesting ways of getting around. First he takes a nice, not so peaceful little stroll through the world of Blinded Guide, a funny little game made by L-Works. Without so much as a cane or a guide dog, Blind Bob decides to first walk, then gradually speed up to a full on run, through a sidewalk littered with lethal obstacles. And I, equally blind, get the pleasure of guiding our adventurous little friend!

And then as if that wasn’t enough, Bobby decided to go and drive a car for whatever reason, and use it to plow down some cones. I’m sure you can guess that this is not the careless joyride he was looking for, but I doubt you can guess why. Let’s just say that the people in Oriol Gomez’s Danger on the wheel, *really* value their traffic cones – and knocking them down can and will have dire consequences.

Yeah. I bet you can already see what’s coming before even checking this episode out. Too bad Bob didn’t.

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Meet Blind Bob. Well, he prefers Bob, but we just won’t tell him that I called him that. 😀

In today’s episode, I play two games wherein our little friend Bob tries some rather interesting ways of getting around. First he takes a nice, not so peaceful little stroll through the world of Blinded Guide, a funny little game made by L-Works. Without so much as a cane or a guide dog, Blind Bob decides to first walk, then gradually speed up to a full on run, through a sidewalk littered with lethal obstacles. And I, equally blind, get the pleasure of guiding our adventurous little friend!

And then as if that wasn’t enough, Bobby decided to go and drive a car for whatever reason, and use it to plow down some cones. I’m sure you can guess that this is not the careless joyride he was looking for, but I doubt you can guess why. Let’s just say that the people in Oriol Gomez’s Danger on the wheel, really value their traffic cones – and knocking them down can and will have dire consequences.

Yeah. I bet you can already see what’s coming before even checking this episode out. Too bad Bob didn’t.

A Successful Tournament


Hey guys,
Steve here.

I went through with it this time. I told you guys I’d be back to this blogging thing and… here I am 5 days later. Five long days, might I add, which were filled with stressful travel, painful but fun Goal Ball, and now school, I guess.

My first ever out of state Goal Ball tournament was a thrilling experience to say the least. As you may recall, last week I was both excited and nervous about it; the excitement was justified, the nervousness not so much. Out of all four games my team and I played, we won four.

Of course, there were nerves involved, two of the games we won by only three points, and most nerve racking of them all, the last game in which we played for Gold, we won by only one point. The game that I neglected to mention, we won twelve to four.

Despite Goal Ball being a bit of a pain in the butt… and the chest and the arms and the legs and the stomach… you get the picture, I really enjoy playing it and hope to go to another one of those tournaments again soon. But please, for the sake of my sanity, can we just get there without the airports? I think those were more stressful than the tournament itself.

That aside, life has resumed as normal. We returned to Texas yesterday afternoon, welcomed by dreary skies and the pattering of a dismal rainfall, a perfect match for the feelings provoked by the prospect of another daunting set of consecutive school days. Lucky for me, my week will only last three days. On Thursday, I’m traveling to the Texas School for the Blind for a weekend long program that familiarizes the blind with city travel. That’s right, city travel, no airports this time. Anyways, I’ll be there from Thursday until Sunday. I’m pretty excited about this one, because with it being based on city travel, I’ll basically be exploring the city of Austin for a few days, and from what I can gather it’s quite large, and there are numerous things to do there.

In the mean time, while I’m living the good old normal life for a few short days, I’ll get some work done on my projects. Also, if Danny and I can get some technical issues sorted out, we might be able to record a podcast. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of those, but just as I have this blog I plan to go back to that at some point; if not this week, then perhaps when I’m not so busy.

That concludes tonight’s post. Depending on how much I get done code wise, I’ll give a progress update on my games when I blog next week. I probably won’t be posting until Sunday or Monday, because not much is likely to happen in the next three days.

Thanks for reading,
Type you later,
Steve.

A Lot of Coding and A Lost Friend


Hey guys,
Steve here.

Tonight, I bring to you all some very sad news. Unfortunately, me and Nevaeh are not, friends. I tried to talk to her again the other day, but instead of replying, all she did was look at Danny’s I Pad, which he was using to Skype with me. Oh well, so be it. For all she knows, my name is Meow, I’m from the great state of Meow, I’m meow years old, and my ultimate goal in life is to meow. You can’t really blame her for never wanting to talk to me again, because judging by that conversation I’m quite a big loser. (LOL)

On the contrary, I actually have quite a bit to talk about, all of that being productive, well not really if my ultimate goal in life is actually to meow. But as it turns out, school is going along well this year, especially my Digital Interactive Media class, which is surprising since I was really scared at the beginning of the school year when I found out what the class actually was. I’m not talking about Business Information Management, the class I’m referring to is a massively visual class, where it’s barely the fourth week of school and Adobe Photo Shop is being used already. Fortunately, the teacher is allowing me to use that time to work on S Quad Racing, and setting deadlines for things, a plus since I now have another person motivating me to get things done. Anyway, he asked that I finish the regular racing mode, and I’ll be pretty well darned if I don’t. Maybe opponents won’t be perfectly matched with players, but he asked me to complete the racing mode, and he’s the only person pushing me to go forward, and I’m not letting him down. I have a lot of people who are proud, but he’s the first that is pressing me to get things done in a certain amount of time, and that’s what I’ll have to deal with in the professional workforce. And when telling him about the game, he especially got pumped about the Aggressive mode, and I will provide that to him by the time I leave his class in 8 months if it means halting progress on all the other aspects of the game until it’s complete.

Aside from that, the day after my last post, I finally broke down and employed a beta team for S Quad Racing, due to frustration at having to find and fix bugs on my own, bugs I thought were fixed already. I felt bad for them for having to test such a primitive product with so many bugs, but thanks to them I’ve been doing all the coding and fixing, and letting them test for the bugs for me to fix. This has definitely been a great help to me, because it lifts one of the most annoying jobs of being a developer off my shoulders, and results in me not having to sweep over sections of the game I thought I’d already tested through and through.
For one thing, today I solved all the crashing issues known to S Quad Racing, and also made it impossible for anyone working on a track to lose their work due to closing the application or it crashing. When I say I solved them all, I don’t literally mean I came up with a magic formula that made everything work 100% as I envisioned, however, rather than crashing, the program will simply log the error, notify the player, and save their progress. So, while I’m off coding a new feature, or doing something else entirely, the program will be logging vital errors, allowing me to pop over to that section of the code and fix what needs fixing, though my testers will still need to report bugs that don’t halt program execution to me.
Another plus side to this, is that now I’ll definitely be able to record the audio demo, without having to worry about the program hanging on me like it did in my last attempts. So, and I say this with the finality of a slamming solid stone door, there will be an audio demo by Saturday!

On a final note, I once again decided to revisit BGT, and am surprisingly grasping the subject matter fast, and more completely than ever. My main reason for doing so is a complex game idea I have, one that I’ll save for another post. For now, though, I am signing off, and will more than likely going to bed here shortly.

Thanks for reading,
type you later,
Steve.

S Quad Racing: Gears, Track Building, and A Bit of Rewriting


Hey guys,
Steve here.

Despite what the absence of an audio demo that “should’ve” been released nearly a month ago might seem to imply, I have not neglected, or in fact been lying, about the current status of S Quad Racing. While there has been days when I haven’t worked on the game, (maybe even too many), I’m happy to report that development is still underway.

First of all, I’ve begun to rewrite and organize parts of my code. While the initial reason for doing such was to make the code a bit more readable, upon further inspection of what I previously had and after a bit of brainstorming on the gears system I discovered that my code was unintentionally designed so that any major changes, I.E. the implementation of things such as vehicles, gears, surface types, and other structured objects was out of the question, due to the way I’d programmed most of the game in its early stages in an effort to create a simple environment in which I could get a little taste of what I wanted S Quad Racing to ultimately be.
Now, though, the game has become more complex, grounds for a bit of a rewrite.
The following is a list of reasons I couldn’t possibly produce that audio demo, at least not tonight and maybe not even tomorrow:

  • I ended up organizing the code into separate files, and if I compile now I am bound to get some errors due to procedures not being declared and such and will likely have to make adjustments accordingly.
  • I’ve added a lot of new code that hasn’t been tested yet due to my not having finished making adjustments to the code.
  • I found a new bug. If you add a turn, and then strengthen or weaken it by adding another turn with greater or lesser severity right after it without first having a straight section, the game will not announce the name of the turn due to a bit of code I added without thinking, again, about the future. However, this one should be easy to fix.

    With all that said, there is good news to report. The above mentioned new code deals a lot with the gearing system, and I’m happy to report that I found and coded a solution that will work for this!
    In addition, I came up with a new idea to manage speed, and have implemented it as a result. This new way is not only future proof, but way more practical in terms of balance, as it basically tells the game how to handle each and every individual speed that a car can travel, without me ever having to touch it again. While you are unlikely to notice much of a difference when the new demo is released, the gears and ability to select different vehicles are bound to catch your attention.

    That concludes tonight’s post. Once all the code is sorted out I’ll likely be releasing two audio demos; one being on the track builder only, the second demonstrating the new gears system and ability to race with different vehicles.

    Thanks for reading,
    type you later,
    Steve.

  • Monday’s Musings 12: Is the world of accessible technology going backward, for computers anyway?


    Hey guys,
    Steve here.

    Warning: If you aren’t in any way intrested in technology, don’t read this post. But I have some thoughts on it that I need to get out… so… I thought I might as well post this.
    This particular subject has been bugging me since I was first introduced to Google, and it intensified once I got into using Windows 8. What I am here to muse about, as the title says, is the world of accessible technology.
    You’ve seen a similar post from me before, however that one was me wondering why it has to cost so much. While on the subject of that, I recently found out about an accessible Twitter client, that someone is celling for $15. Crazy, huh?
    Anyway, getting back on topic, let me elaborate a little bit. A while back, in 2009, google’s gMail was accessible right out of the box. However, through the recent years, it has come to a point blind users who wish to use it must first search for the “basic html” link, activate it, so they can get a basic accessible view. That is only one example. In fact, google in general has been slowly getting less screen reader friendly. Google sights, youtube, and google docs are just three things from google that have accessibility issues. Although youtube is fairly usable, some buttons and graphics are not clearly labeled, so it’s definitely not a site I would recommend to a blind person just starting out with computers. As for google sites and docs, the two products, as of the last time I tried to use them, are practically unusable if you are using a screen reader.
    Google is not the only problem here. Let’s take Microsoft Windows, another product I use daily, for example. Windows XP, a version of the Windows operating system that is so old it will no longer be supported as of April 8, was the most basic, accessible verson I’ve used. Windows 7, released in 2009 or 2010, was pretty much just as accessible. However, Windows 8 introduced a whole new layout, one that I am so unhappy with, I will probably install classic shell, an application that will give windows 8 the feel of windows XP or 7. Why you ask? Well let’s just say this. The menues, and even task manager application, are laid out in a grid. The task manager, I’ll admit, is quite useful, and I like the way they did it. But the start menu… well not so much.
    The reason, I think, has to do with the increasing popularity of GUI (graphical user interface). I think, that with new technology available, Microsoft, like most other software companies, google included, is trying to make their software more appealing to sighted users. And although Microsoft has worked hard on a narrator application that is better than it has been before, the overall look and feel of windows 8 is still hard to get used to. And to top it off, what is google doing? Even edmodo, a social media platform used by schools, what is that doing to make it more accessible?
    Just to let you know, I’m not ticked off or anything. I believe that these companies lay out their software this way for a reason. And if I really want something accessible like that, maybe one day someware far down the road I’ll program it. And besides, to end this post on a good note, I can feel better knowing that there are people out there developing software for us. As long as there are people like that out there, I can believe that we are heading toward a future with more accessware, a future in which I will be included.

    Thanks for reading,
    type you later,
    Steve.

    Monday’s Musings 9: Accessible technoligy: Why must it cost extra?


    Hey guys,
    Steve here.

    When a sited person gets a computer, they automatically get to use it. There’s no extra software or hardware required for them, just a screen, and they are ready to go. It works the same for programs–every program can work well for sited users, but is that true for the blind?
    For us blind people, we need extra software to operate our computers. Unfortunately, quite a bit of that software costs money. For example: did you know that for windows, NVDA is the only free screen reader? I believe that has changed in windows 8, with Microsoft’s narrator becoming a lot more usable. But that’s not my point–things such as Jaws, and window eyes, two screen readers on the market, cost anywhere from $800 to $1300. Sounds like a lot, huh?
    I am thankful that I have NVDA, and I guess that settles the expensive screen readers issue, however I wouldn’t be writing this post if screen readers were the only expensive thing out there for blind users. Let’s take braille displays and braille notes (a type of computer meant for blind users) for example. A Braille display, or small device that prints whatever is written on screen into braille so a blind user can read it, costs upwards of $3000! And the screen of a computer comes built in? No one pays extra for that… now do they? And look at the braille note! That costs I think like $5000 or something! Why so much? Why must blind people pay to have technology life easier for them?
    I’m not done. This Skype client that I use, the main thing that got me musing about this topic, proves my point exactly. So you know how Skype is free? Well this blind friendly Skype client is free to use, but gives you ads every 30 minutes, which I must say are very obtrusive and annoying. How can you stop the ads? by purchasing and using the screen reader, window eyes, which was made by that same company. How ridiculous is that?
    With all that being said, I know how hard these people work to make things easier and more accessible for us blind folks… but why must it cost so much money for us users to purchase that software and hardware? my motto is “Blindness is not a disability, but a characteristic, and it should be treated that way.” So if a sited person gets a screen for their computer or other devices, and a program that is easy to use for them at no extra cost, Then for goodness sake, shouldn’t a blind person get the same thing, and at no extra cost?

    Thanks for reading,
    type you later,
    Steve.