Unity Accessibility Plugin – Update 10 – A First Game

A few weekends ago I did my own personal Game Jam. The plugin is in a good place and I wanted to give it a test run.
If you have no idea what I am talking about, I recommend quickly reading the first post on this project and then come back. You can find it here.

A woman sits deeply focused at her desk, typing at her computer.

My One-Person Game Jam

I started at 7 pm, got some sugar (aka chocolate!) and some caffeine in me – and shortly after midnight I had a game up and running. It would have been sooner, but my dogs insisted that I feed them and then even demanded a walk around the neighborhood. What can I say – puppy eyes are my big weakness.

The result is an accessible Match 3 game.
Yes, you read correctly – another Match 3 game. This is a technology test, so stop moaning!

Screenshot of the puzzle game, showing a grid of different colored gems.

The world really needed another Match 3 game, didn’t it?

The game is quite simplistic without a deep story line. Or any story line, really. I wanted to test the plugin, so going for something simplistic made the most sense – and I didn’t have time for more anyway.

The plugin isn’t fully complete yet, there are a dozen small issues, and just as many missing features. Most importantly, many of the special gestures don’t work yet, like “Read From Top” or “Go Back”. But still, this is a first live action test for the plugin and I am a little excited about that!

Go check it out!

If anyone wants to see the plugin in action in its current state, please give it a go. And if you try it out, I would be grateful if you gave me your feedback. I’m not talking about a review (although I won’t stop you), I mean feedback about the navigation, the controls and the overall accessibility of everything. Just post it into a comment here or write me an email: mika@metalpopgames.com

Banner for Blindie Match Puzzle Game showing a few of the gems and the subtitle 'a fully accessible puzzle game'.

If VoiceOver or TalkBack are detected to be active, accessibility will turn on automatically. But you can turn the accessibility mode on or off with the button in the main menu.

The game is available on Android and iOS. Here are the links:

Blindie Match for iOS – (Update: Speech rate and voice issues are fixed now)

Blindie Match for Android

Note to sighted players:
If you have never before used a phone with VoiceOver or TalkBack enabled, the navigation might be a tad confusing – at least if you choose to turn on the accessibility mode. Sighted people tend to intuitively swipe into the direction that they want the UI focus to move, for example down to get to the next button in a list. This is not how screen readers work – since that wouldn’t make much sense for non-sighted people. Try swiping left and right instead, and double tap to press a button.

Why are there graphics? 

That’s a valid question.
Both the accessibility plugin’s code and actually blind players couldn’t care less whether there are beautifully animated, hand-drawn images bouncing around, or whether I just show you a blank screen. In fact, that is what I did at first.

Here is how the game actually looked that night after my game jam. Next to it is a screenshot of how it looks now.

The left picture shows the game's main menu with a light gray background and rectangular white buttons. The right picture shows the main menu with a strong purple background, and colorful round buttons in different sizes.

The game’s title was shortened from Blindie Match 3 to just Blindie Match

I spent a week cleaning up the code and adding in some minimal level of polish. The point of this plugin is not just to enable developers to make games specifically targeted at blind or sight-impaired players. It is equally supposed to give them a chance to make their regular, graphics-based games accessible. I don’t want to send the wrong message by making the first game I release with this plugin something that looks like it is actively uninviting sighted players.

Yes, I’m still a crappy artist

As you might know, I have no sense for colors or graphical design, and I can’t draw well. I’ve written about it before in a previous post. It’s OK, I like to believe I make up for my lack of skills in the graphics department by being really good at coding instead. So if you are wondering how I made the game look pretty, the answer is: I cheated. I bought a pre-made set of Match 3 graphics online. Luckily we live in an indie developer heaven, where you can buy what you can’t create yourself for very reasonable prices.

7 thoughts on “Unity Accessibility Plugin – Update 10 – A First Game

  1. Hey,
    @first you did some awesome work.
    We invented a non-gaming app in Unity and want to continue our work with it. But at the moment we are stuck in the problem of the accessibility. When will the plugin be in the store, we are interested in it! Can you give me a contact mail?

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  2. Here are my notes:
    – synth is not my synth. I have my VO set just the way I like it and I really don’t like when someone changes my synth.
    – there is a little lag when swiping and sometimes it doesn’t catch my swipe or tap.
    – When I open up instructions, speech should read without me needing to swipe
    – Instructions need to be repeated more. I forget the key commands to repeat instructions. Either that or instructions need to be on the pause screen. Duplication of instructions is always better.
    – I can’t swipe my finger around the screen to move quicker through the board
    – Every so often the app will crash and I will be taken to another screen on my phone, mostly the settings screen. It is random and I don’t notice why it happens. Just while playing the game.
    The game crashed 4 times while I was playing and I did 3 rounds.

    Otherwise, it looks great! I still can’t figure out why there is a comment of matching several different colors after I match 3 in a row.

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    • Thank you a BUNCH for taking the time to play test the game, Brandon! This is the kind of feedback I am hoping for.

      I added all your notes to my backlog, you make some really good points.
      Regarding the crashes: Did you notice any patterns to them, anything common about when they seem to occur?

      The different TTS voice has been mentioned by a few others as well, and I’m currently looking into it – but it is turning out to be trickier than expected, since I need to consider localization and that the app might not be in the same language as the user’s device. It’s on my backlog though.

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      • I could not find any reason for the crash. It shouldn’t be a problem if the app is not in the language of Voice Over. VO will often switch and if it doesn’t, then we are used to it because many screen reader users hate when your voice changes language halfway through the page. So just make sure your app is correctly configured for the user’s language or just English and leave it at that. If I want my synth in another language I can change it a lot more effectively than anyone else. But I often read other languages in my English synth. I can’t really say what it is like having my synth other than to say I listen to my synth more than anything else in the world and make sure I have it on as many devices as possible. It is like a qwerty keyboard. I can type on other configurations, but it makes me uncomfortable and much slower. So when ever possible, use the synth I have with my settings. There should be an option like TOLK has that will allow you to just send to the active synth.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have received feedback from a small number of people by now, and the TTS voice (both the voice and the rate of speech) is actually one of the most mentioned issues.
        Funnily enough, while one would expect there to be an easy way to just use the VoiceOver voice, this is in fact nearly impossible. There seems to be no way to get to the VoiceOver speech settings and read out the voice and speech rate. The best I can explain it is that VoiceOver is essentially a separate application. And naturally you cannot access the settings of a different application from within a completely different app.

        Having said that, I did a little digging and found that I might be able to piggyback off of the actual VoiceOver directly. I will have to spend some time checking how viable of an option that is. But if this would work, I would love that solution, because it comes with another huge upside: VoiceOver also supports Braille devices!

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    • Hi Brandon,
      just wanted to let you now that I recently updated the game with some fixes.
      The latest version now uses the VoiceOver voice and speech rate in the menus. Inside the game it uses whatever voice is set in the system settings under General-Accessibility-Speech-Voices. The speech rate can be adjusted inside the game settings itself (found at the end of the main menu)

      Like

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