Would a game where you survive a nuclear blast by hiding in your prepper neighbor’s underground bunker, and you find a radio connected to an AM Morse-Code Transmitter interest anyone? It’s basically a single button game done as a mobile game. You can send morse code messages by tapping the button, there’s a manual you can access that teaches the basics, and you can choose what message to send out from a list of options and then you have to translate that into morse code.
If you get the code right, you get a response which your character can play back on the old school tapedeck attached to the radio as well as write it down as dashes and lines on a notepad. Every time you identify a letter or word correctly, the player character writes it down under the symbols on the in-game notepad. Once you have the whole message, your character comments on it and then you can choose a variety of ways to respond. There would be several people to talk to and a greater narrative would reveal itself as the game progressed.
I was thinking the manual you could swipe through the pages on your phone. The same button that controlled the morse code would let you jump from symbol group to symbol group on the notepad with a press. Pressing and holding would cause a letter wheel to spin and you would let it go to stop it on the letter you think it is. The game would be long enough, that players would gain very basic morse code proficiency just by finishing it.
I’d be interested. I’ve thought for a long time that learning morse would be fun, and a game would be a good motivator. Would it just be english letters or include morse code specific abbreviations and prosigns?
I was thinking I’d start with very simple letter substitution stuff. Like, your first message would be literally SOS. As things became more complex, more symbols, words, and abbreviations would be added in.
One of the bigger problems I have is figuring out how to make it more friendly to folks with low or no vision. I can have a version of the app that reads the manual outloud, allows a button press anywhere on screen, but I haven’t figured out how players would translate the morse code. Given the audio nature of morse code, it’d be a travesty to limit such a game to only sighted players, but I’m still trying to figure out how best to address that. (I’m open to suggestions, btw.)
Not specifically, but I’m open to the idea. Was more a shameless attempt to cross-pollinate between the old radio enthusiast communities and IF communities. That’s also why releasing it as free mobile game would be an important feature, otherwise it remains fairly niched in IF land. (Like, actually free, btw. No ads or transactions.) I was thinking about linking back to some IF resources, like, say the IFDB, where the game would have a desktop version as well as a walkthrough if needed. Y’all may have noticed how many of my dastardly schemes involve promoting cross-pollination by this point.
Pink, On the coding for blind/visually impaired, I think that all is needed is two sound effects, one for the “dit” and one for “dah”, with due care that the SFX playing don’t conflict with screenreaders
(of course, is theoretical coding concept: for obvious reasons (I’m deaf,remember ?) I never coded audio routines because debugging is basically out of question for me…)
Noted, thank you. How would a visually impaired player provide their input for what a received morse code message means? Specifically on a mobile game; keyboard entry is an obvious workaround for a desktop version.
I had some thoughts here as well. In the version meant for those without vision impairment, I was thinking it could also be deaf friendly. The commentary from the protagonist could be subtitled, and I was thinking about adding a little light to both the transmitter and receiver. It would flash short and long both ways. Also, the 80s-ish tapedeck for playback would have one of these old-school graphical equalizers:
Which would also show the short and long pulses while adding wonderfully to the atmosphere.
That’s a valid point. Noted. Something that occurs to me is that an important part of the setup is that the protagonist is not the prepper. In fact, the intro would show them as simply tolerant of their prepper neighbor’s obvious paranoia. However, due to happenstance, the protagonist finds themself alone in the neighbor’s bunker, completely unfamiliar with the equipment and morse code, their phone bricked by the EMP. Thus, the protagonist is learning along with the player.
I did morse code during my military service 30 years back. Can’t say I remember much, but maybe it is hidden somewhere in the brain and just needs a little spark.
Onr thing I remember is that it was much easier to send/recieve in high speed with coded messages. Messages in plain language distraced the brain when you listen to the beeps while simultaneously can’t stop readng the text.
First off, the concept is really cool. Of course, I don’t know the exact scenarios you envision, but my biggest concern is not having enough synonyms programmed in.
If I have to create coded messages, it’ll require a bit of effort. If I know what the message must convey and I’m now playing guess the verb/noun (like the pitfalls of most parser games), I’ll stop playing. It would be too much of an exercise in patience for me.
Edit: I may have misunderstood the scenarios. Once people started talking about preppers, I thought of a game where you are communicating with other preppers and sending messages back and forth. Maybe it’s not going to be like that?
Let’s say the game starts you with SOS. You figure out how to send that, and you get a response:
AUTHENTICATE OSCAR LIMA
“The hell does that mean!?” -Protagonist
From here, you are given a list of potential responses like a normal dialogue tree. Whichever response you choose, you must then tap that message out in morse code to send it. There’s no guessing verb/nouns, no synonym needed. This is not a parser.
Integrating morse code successfully is hard enough that even a limited parser is a layer of abstraction too far.
True. and the use of groups of five letters in coded message trasmission is another thing whose render easy the s/r of coded messages. (the most critical thing: a single mistake in send or receive render garbled all the text after the mistake…)
Having played my fair share of both accessible and not-so-accessible mobile games, here are a couple of things to consider. Disclaimer: all of this is coming from the perspective of an iOS/Voiceover user, I’ve never owned an Android phone and am therefore not qualified to discuss the Talkback ecosystem.
The standard procedure for activating an on-screen element while Voiceover is enabled is a rapid double-tap gesture. I’m not sure whether your “one button” scenario here literally means there will only be one button on the screen which players use to enter the Morse Code messages, but it’s worth noting that Voiceover will most definitely interfere with basic touch mechanics: e.g. the ability to perform short and long presses to produce dots and dashes. Theoretically players could disable Voiceover every time they punched in a message, but there are probably more ideal ways to handle this situation.
I definitely think incorporating sound effects here is the way to go, both for sending and receiving messages. Voiceover rattling off a rapid-fire series of dots and dashes can very quickly devolve in to gibberish for even the most advanced user. Having the ability to play back a message before sending it out would also be helpful. And of course, while players are learning Morse Code via the manual, being able to hear what any given character sounds like when transmitted.
Getting Voiceover to read a spinning letter wheel might be challenging; maybe screenreader users could select from a popup dialog box or picker menu instead?