Infocom feelies and documentation for screen readers (Up: Ballyhoo)

OK. Providing a walkthrough for the chase does work after all! That can be included, then. I should probably preface documents with a warning that walkthroughs will be necessary at certain points, just as a heads up.

Diving into this tagging situation: can you link me a walkthrough that works for you? Hopefully it is a site-by-site thing as opposed to a WIN vs Apple issue.

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This IFDB review of The Lurking Horror has a bunch of functioning spoiler tags :relaxed:

I don’t know if this has been solved, but this is a neat idea, to provide an only text virtual map that gives the directions to navigate from point A to B, to C to each interesting point in the grid map. But of course, this would only work if the grid map is predefined, and it is not procedurally randomly generated each time. So those grids are fixed?

Also, you said that that grid map is completely inaccessible, so I wonder if gamers in the visually impaired community could play traditional roguelikes.

Those do seem fine with JAWS and NVDA. However, IFDB doesn’t seem to be constructed–structurally–for our purposes. I don’t know much about the platform, honestly, but I don’t see any general-puprose pages for text.

I haven’t spent much time at IFDB (other than reading and writing a few reviews), IF Wiki may be a better place for general text, but I’m not sure that they spoiler tag stuff.

I initially would have wanted to explore the z-code Invisiclues format (it would work well for this structure), but my reader apps handle these files poorly–if at all.

I have read that some persons can play such games, and I know that there have been some academic studies. At the same time, I have had conversations with screen reader users who feel it is not adequate to present ASCII maps as content that anyone can access.

I am not speaking on behalf of Morningstar, of course, who can speak to their own experience.

Also, just as a general comment, with Cutthroats completed, we have 24 games to go. So, I will continue to work on other materials while possibilities are investigated for Seastalker. I will reexamine the AMFVW copy protection transcription, since I have heard there are issues.

Unfortunately, I think there may be problems with the Lost Treasures release, so I may need to get my hands on a code wheel. We’ll see.

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I don’t remember off-hand if there are issues with the AMFV copy protection table in the Lost Treasures manual. I definitely saw one in the Starcross manual though, where the Lost Treasures list Theta for UM08 as 110 instead of 210. (It’s also missing the coordinates for Mars, which you don’t really need.)

I guess the safest way to recreate the AMFV copy protection table would be to use the code in the SECURITY-CHECK routine as reference. Here’s a quick-and-dirty (and not well tested) conversion to C. Making it format the result nicely is left as an exercise for the reader:

#include <stdio.h>

int main() {
	const char *colors[] = {
		"WHITE",      "DARK GREEN",  "DARK BLUE",  "PINK",
		"ORANGE",     "PURPLE",      "TAN",        "AQUA",
		"BLACK",      "DARK GRAY",   "BROWN",      "RED"

	const int outer_numbers[] = {
		12, 66, 73, 36, 90, 41, 19, 48, 62, 92, 55, 23, 84, 99, 57, 20,
		78, 67, 51, 88, 17, 31, 70, 39, 96, 25, 81, 83, 47, 54, 13, 43

	const int inner_numbers[] = {
		89, 61, 50, 18, 29, 82, 46, 77, 27, 68, 22, 95, 40, 58, 15, 86,
		28, 33, 94, 11, 64, 98, 34, 49, 60, 16, 85, 52, 37, 53, 93, 91

	int i, j;

	for (i = 0; i < sizeof(colors) / sizeof(colors[0]); i++) {
		for (j = 0; j < sizeof(inner_numbers) / sizeof(inner_numbers[0]); j++) {
			printf("%-15s %d -> %d\n",
				outer_numbers[(2 * i + j) % 32]);

	return 0;

Another idea, @Morningstar

What about printing a braille map on paper for the whole ASCII map?

Of course, not every visual-impaired person is blind, and not all v-i persons have access to a braille printer. But maybe in that way a user can play the game while having a physical pawn over the braille map and move according to the on-screen action.

@kamineko is it possible to have a dump of the wall map on a text file? Maybe that is already done?

This is not something I can undertake presently. My goal is to transcribe 24 more games that can be utilized by everyone.

So, while a project for braille printing of maps sounds like a very worthwhile thing, I cannot research it at this time. I have no experience with the technology, and there are many games to evaluate and transcribe. That is my focus.

If you would like to pursue this further, you can find an image of the map here.

It is definitely possible to create a tactile representation of a traditional printed map, but it requires specialized equipment—both software and hardware—which costs a lot of money. The ASCII graphics, on the other hand, would be a completely different can of worms. As I understand it, “graphics” here refers to pictures that have been put together using characters of printed text that have been arranged in specific ways. The issue is that when these characters are translated into Braille, 99% of the time they look absolutely nothing like their print counterparts.

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The coordinates for Mars are (250, 120, 012) for whatever it’s worth :grinning:.

I’ll try to get Sorcerer transcribed by next week. I’ll do the grey box version since I think that its infotater (copy protection feelie) is more interesting in text format.


Yeah, no problem, I was just throwing ideas at the technical problem being discussed. Don’t mind me. Keep up the good work!

This project is very exciting!


This turned out to be quite useful. Thanks!

E: I found four inaccurate values in the IDP txt file

Small Update: The AMFV document at IDP has been updated with four corrected values.

Now. A question for readers and lurkers.

I was asked if I had been arranging to store these files at the IF Archive. I had not. This was begun as a continuation or completion of an IDP initiative.

Since I was asked, though, I asked Gunther. Gunther does not mind if we store/copy/mirror any of the project’s files, no matter the category. In fact, he offered to ZIP the whole site for me.

Question for persons interested (expressed or otherwise) in seeing IDP files copied to IFDB: I welcome your thoughts (leadership) on what ought to be stored there, data organization, etc. I’m happy to fill out forms, etc. if the nature of my request can be clarified. I don’t have any experience interfacing with IF Archive directly, as I am neck-deep in an Infocom project (2.5 Edit: 3 projects, technically)

PS: Gunther has been fantastic. Supportive and responsive. Great to work with.


Update. The Sorcerer document is up at IDP. I haven’t decided what to work on next.

There are a couple of open items:

  1. Storage in locales other than IDP. I think that’s a good idea, but it got me thinking about preservation of Infocom materials in general. I made a thread about it, but I don’t see a lot of action there. Just wanted to ask the question before I forget about it.
  2. Speaking of forgetting things… I haven’t forgotten about the Seastalker Infocards situation. To me, this is a bigger question of whether data can be served to screen readers in an Invisiclues-type format. As far as I know, there currently is no standard way to do this. Plain text walkthroughs work, of course, but the Invisiclues “drip feed” approach is valued for a reason. Since I already have one philosophical-type thread open, I’ll wait until that blows over before making a thread about this.

Hi all. Short update.

Some of you have likely seen this thread, where I bring up the question of hidden text options for screen readers (this issue arose during a discussion of Seastalker’s Infocards). There have been some constructive replies. I hope we can find an approach that works. My only ask is that the information be hosted on an IFTF site for backups and continuity.

Unless there is a specific request, I believe I will do Infidel next. If you follow Gold Machine at all, you know that I believe that the feelies are a crucial part of the game’s experience. This is especially true for Infidel. Like Mike Berlyn said, “the package elements on some games are as important as the game itself.”

If you have suggestions or questions, please let me know.

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I found one teeny tiny typo in the Starcross plaintext.

These phenomena resulted from the Big Bang, and are extremely rare; there is approximately on 5mm-diameter hole found per year.

Nice work overall.

Thanks. I’ll get that updated.

Well, that took longer than I wanted, but Infidel is finally up! I haven’t decided what to do next, but will take suggestions.

My thread about Seastalker’s infocards didn’t really move things forward. IFWiki was mentioned as a possible host, but it doesn’t presently support spoiler tags. I haven’t spent much time there, so it would be a new space to enter/investigate/etc. A bug report was opened for the problem with spoiler-tagging and screen readers here on the forum. That’s good whether it helps with this specific effort or not.

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Sorry about the long hiatus. My transcription of the box and enclosed materials for Ballyhoo have been uploaded to the IDP.

Next up: Deadline. There isn’t copy protection for Deadline, but it’s a lovely package that deserves a transcription.


I can’t speak to quality or completeness, but it looks like an, er, independent volunteer software re-distributor did text files for Leather Goddesses of Phobos, Trinity, and Moonmist, preserved as a Rhode Island Apple Group floppy on the Internet Archive.