There was one instance where Voiceover interpreted the first item in an 11-item menu as “item 3 of 13”
Ouch, which game?
It seems likely that there will be situations where this function mistakes something else for a menu and breaks the game, so there should probably be a toggle to turn it off.
when refocusing on the primary game window, Voiceover always begins reading from the very top of the text scroll back
Yes, this was the first thing that annoyed me when I tried using VoiceOver with interactive fiction, so it is kind of a major defeat that it still happens.
In Spatterlight 0.6b and earlier, there was an extra “accessibility element” that covered the actual text view and only spoke the text that was visible, that you had to navigate past to get to the real text view behind it, but once you got in there, it would still speak from the very beginning just like now. I thought it was inelegant to have two elements representing the same text (along with a third for the scroll view), and that the “top” element kept getting in the way, so I removed it. Perhaps I should just put it back.
I spent a lot of time implementing a separate input field, which meant that I could set the main text view to “static navigable text”, which (most of the time) does not start reading from the very top. But again, that introduced an extra element that kept getting in the way, and also caused a number of other glitches.
For a long time, the final update of this VoiceOver overhaul was supposed to be the introduction of this separate input field, perhaps released along with a separate version without it, so that testers could compare the two and say which one was the best. But then I myself compared playing a game with an input field to playing without it, and the latter was so much less annoying, so I just ran with that.
Perhaps the input field can still be salvaged. I’ll see if I can compile a version with it for you to try out.
EDIT: I did. Try it out if you are curious. Note that I added another version without the input text field as well, just to make sure that the codebases were the same for easy comparison.
I realize I actually have not dealt with many games that make use of strange or complicated layout features. Are there any titles in particular that I might try experimenting with? I suppose there’s always Bureaucracy
Three games that I tested with were A Colder Light, Dead Cities, and My Angel. All of them Jon Ingold games! The first two use hyperlinks for input, and the third uses input in the status bar (although it has a more screen reader friendly standard mode.) A Colder Light is meant to be played in a web browser, but that does not work very well with VoiceOver, at least it did not when I tried it in Safari.
I actually considered making the Bureaucracy intro form accessible, and now that you mentioned it I’ll have to at least give it a try.
Your fourth point sounds like an easy fix. What is a quick way to get a negative score in Zork?