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Audyssey; Games Accessible to the Blind
Issue 44: second quarter, 2005
Edited by Ron Schamerhorn

Fun, Friendship, Knowledge, Charity

Welcome to the forty-fourth issue of Audyssey. This magazine is dedicated to the discussion of games which, through accident or design, are accessible to the blind either with or without sighted assistance.
  In this issue we have a few new game announcements, reviews of some great games, and some very thought provoking articles submitted by our readers.  Including the latest Dungeons & Dragons reference guide.
Note: This magazine uses plus-signs as navigation markers. Three plus-signs are placed above any articles or sections. Within these sections, two plus-signs denote the start of a new sub-section. Smaller divisions are marked by a single plus-sign. This allows people to use their search capabilities to go quickly to the next division they are interested in. For instance, the "Letters" section is preceded by three plus-signs. Each letter within it has two plus-signs before it. Answers to letters have a single plus-sign before them.

From The Editor
Winfrotz TTS
Phil's Funnies
Dungeons & Dragons update
Accessibility Crusade
News From Game Developers
Fearless Flin Development Diary: Part IV
Game Announcements and Reviews
Contacting Us
Distribution Information and Submission Policies

From The Editor:

Welcome readers to the 44th edition of the Audyssey magazine!  Overall I'm pleased with the end result for the second quarter of 2005.  Though as always I encourage you to write an article, review of a game for inclusion in the next issue coming out the later part of August.
  The two big things I'll mention here to wet a readers appetite are I'm planning a new section for the next publication.  The idea came to me during a discussion with a friend about Audyssey and what could be done to expand the scope and content.  One of us, and I don't recall which, blurted out an thought.  After a moments pondering it flashed light a light bulb.  I said to myself "Self" [and I knew it was me cause I recognized the voice] "That's a kicker of a concept!"  So I hope you will be anticipating the new section that's upcoming!
  Also I've recently been contacted regarding gaming from someone in Montreal.  I'm hoping to see if there would be a chance at reprinting whatever results from the conversation for the mag.
  With that said I hope #44 is as good a read to all of you as it was for me to put together!  Apollogies for the tardiness of this, yesterday life got in the way.  Play on!

  The below comes from the gamers list.  At times it's high traffic, and other times it's quiet.  Like many lists it depends on new games, or a really good point brought up by one of the list members.  If you wish to join send a blank email to


  Now on with some of the more interesting list content.

Dear listers,

A couple months past, I wrote to all of you about a disturbing event I witnessed on one of squidsoft's muds--specifically, Galaxy Web, Stellar Epoch. At the time, some of you thought I was making a big deal of nothing, while others sided with the offending player, stating that it wasn't the fault of the blind that they could not spell. For those of you who agreed with me, stating that blind people, just as sighted people, should learn to spell, thank you.
I only wish that I weren't writing this post.  Call me overdramatic if you will, but I think the below example you are about to read cements my point quite thoroughly. It serves as a testament to what
a handful of players can do to the rest of us--especially players who use their blindness as a crutch.

The following is a help file taken from another of Squidsoft's muds. It appears on Star Conquest. Please note that I do not find the commands discussed below to be a bad idea; I support them, in fact. What bothers me, however, are the spellings, the frequent use of the words visually impaired, and most importantly, the final paragraph.

help sight

Help on: Sight-commands

In recent months, a large number of visually impaired players have joined Star Conquest, and in order to make the game more comfortable and accessible for them, we have added a few very helpful commands that many other players may also find extremely useful.

SIGHT (S I G H T): The SIGHT command has actually been a part of the game for a couple of years. Basically this command removes the 'visual' element from starmaps, screening out a lot of the gibberish that serves only to annoy and distract visually impaired players while their screen readers frantically recite dozens of dashes. It also does things like remove all but the ships you have keys to from the TRANSPORT menu in garages so that screen readers aren't scrambling to recite five million ship names. Most recently, this command also adjusts damage reports in starships to only list the damaged components, eliminating unnecessary extra spam. Overall, this is a very handy command.

BRIEF (B R I E F): The BRIEF command makes it so that when you're walking around, room descriptions will not be displayed unless you specifically request to see it by using the LOOK command.

FOCUS (F O C U S): The FOCUS command is a combat command which allows you to focus on a single ship during combat instead of
getting a huge list of ships to sort through. You'll be given a list of ships to choose from, and your weapons room will focus on that ship until you either use the FOCUS command again, or until the ship has been destroyed.

QUIET (Q U I E T): Finally, the QUIET command, though not specifically intended for blind players, is very helpful in cutting out starship spam. This command will only work in the starship you're currently in, and only in the control room. The starship will stay in quiet mode until you change it.

We hope these commands are helpful to our visually impaired players. We ask that our other players be understanding. If you come across a player who spells things very oddly, it's likely not their fault as they can't see the letters and can only hear how the words sound. Helping them in private with spelling can be very beneficial to everyone, as long as you do it nicely.

I would appreciate hearing everyone's thoughts on this matter.

This never went to the list as I typically like to think through a response instead of just immediately mailing one back.
  I don't in any way feel that just because I'm blind is an excuse for bad spelling.  This isn't to say some blind people aren't bad at spelling, but it's a broad brush statement used in the above.  In some way yes I do find it badly worded, I'm by no means a perfect speller but do attempt to correct errors whenever possible.

The discussions about text adventures popping up now and then took me back about 20 years when I first started to get interested in tads. I quickly bring to mind stuff like vampire, Supernova, etc. If it wasn't for computer games, I probably wouldn't be in the computer programming business today, and TADS
were probably the first really accessible games out there,
which I gobbled up after I went completely blind.

Well, I decided to write some scripts for jaws to help with winfrots, and probably a lot of other tads as well.
Why? yes, I assume a lot of people would think it unnecessary, but I can't stand the MS SAPI voices, so I wanted jaws to work without having to run around with the jaws cursor the whole time.

The scripts are simple to use and understand, so anyone can add to it for there own enjoyment.  All I'd like is that such changes are communicated back to me, just for interest sake.

The only tedious part is that whoever wants it, might have to copy the scripts into the appropriate filenames because there's such a lot of versions of interpreters out there that I'm not prepared to cater for all of them.
I've tested it with the winfrots TTS version, because I assume a couple of people got that in light of the past couple of emails.
I also tested one or two other winfrots versions, as well as with a executable TTS called ftf.exe, or First Things First, and another compiled tads game called wormhole.
It works just fine, providing you tweak the idle sensitivity for the compiled games to help jaws perform without hanging the whole PC.

How does it work, or what does it do?
Simple, I used ctrl+1 to ctrl+4 to read the last, second last, third last and fourth last reaction. If you need more, it's simple, just look at the code and add the appropriate scripts.
This means you type a command, press enter, and use ctrl+1 to review what was the result, ctrl+2 to see the previous result, etc.
Ctrl+0 reads the entire game window.

To get it to work, you must learn jaws in which window the information will appear because it's not always possible for jaws to find the pc cursor in these games.
You do this by moving your jaws cursor onto any word in the game window and pressing f12. You only need to do this once per interpreter for it's saved in an ini file.

You can email me to send it to you.

If you need help, I'll offer limited support, but I can't become too involved in my private time.

With that said, it's simple, and any one with some experience in writing jaws scripts would be able to help themselves.

Kind regards,
Matthys Terblanche

 Winfrotz and TTS

Hi Folks,
This new release skipped me by last month,
I put the link to the downloads page below if you want to find it quicker.  Scott Dillman's WinFrotz-TTS download site.
WinFrotzTTS 2002 1.5.1
This is an updated release that contains bug fixes.
This version's interface is incompatible with the previous version's saved games.
Version: 1.5.1
File size: 1.42 MB
Added on: April 6, 2005

He has also included,
WinFrotzTTS 2002 Source Code
Source code for version 1.5.1 if anyone wants to make changes or compile it.
It needs better docs and more cleanup.
Version: 1.5.1
File size: 8.77 MB
Added on: April 6, 2005
Here is the link to the page,

Phil's Funnies

Games We'd like to play

Viagra Falls
Blue Pill Bob was settling back having a Foster's with Donna after a sweaty adventure in the bedroom when all of a sudden there was a commotion out by the billabongs. Crikey, Jolly rancher! It looks like the Bedroom's been invaded by irresistible Las Vegas show girls! They can take our women and they can take our Foster's, but they won't be taking our Viagra !

Throw on your condoms and drop your pants into Blue Pill Bob's universe as he takes those magic pills to help save his reputation in the bedroom!

Other Features
A new twist on the arcade classic Space Invaders with that signature Pfizer flair!
Over 41 levels of out of this world, Las Vegas-style shoot it again fun!
Nine types of falling Viagra pills which descend in different ways and
present a variety of challenges.
Bonus power-up items such as champagne, sexy lingerie,
vibrators, massage oil, and more!
Special explosive bonus level, when you've taken too much!
"Who needs Men In Black when ya got Blue Pill Bob in the bedroom?"

 Editors comment here, Phil is a long time member and game developer.  At times on the list he will write something humourous like the above.  After getting several laughs I now intend to include this section when possible. 

 Dungeons and Dragons System Reference Document:
By Phil Vlasak
We have started to use the Dungeons and Dragons version 3.5 set of rules known as the System Reference Document for our D and D sessions Sunday Nights.
The System Reference Document (SRD) is a comprehensive toolbox consisting of rules, races, classes, feats, skills, various systems, spells, magic items  and monsters compatible with the d20 System version of Dungeons & Dragons and various other role-playing games from Wizards of the Coast.
So you ask, what's missing from the SRD compared to the core D&D rulebooks?
Mostly the "flavor" elements. There are no named gods, none of the spells have significant Non-Player Character names, there's no mention of Greyhawk, etc. There are no rules for character creation, for advancing characters in level, calculating experience, or anything else related to the topics forbidden by the
d20 System Trademark Guide.

For more frequently asked questions, go to,

The version 3.5 System Reference Document is at,

You can also download all the 86 parts zipped up:

For info and the latest transcript, visit my D and D page:


Accessibility Crusade
By Jason Symes

  The Good News

For the past two decades or so, blind and visually impaired people have
been demanding better access to computers. Companies like Gw Micro, Freedom  Scientific, A Squared, and the Linux Speak-Up Project have pushed the  envelope, and we now enjoy greater and greater access. Even software  manufacturers like Microsoft, Red Hat, Real Networks, and so many more have  taken the hint and begun to make their software more and more accessible to  screen reader or screen magnifier users.

The last four or five years, these companies and advocacy groups like the  National Federation for the Blind, American Council for the Blind, Iowa  Department for the Blind, and more--that I'm probably not aware of, have  all been pushing for greater Internet accessibility. Companies like  MacroMedia, Microsoft, Netscape, and America On Line have taken notice,  making web browsers and other web-connected software more accessible. Even  web masters have started to take note of our special needs when building  their sites, though you still find a large minority of pages that still  need plenty of work. But it's getting better, and more and more awareness  has called attention to our needs and desires.

The Bad News

What screen reader manufacturers, advocacy groups, and us blind people seem  to not realize, is there's still a large segment of the computer software  industry that still fails to meet even the broadest definition of  accessibility. It seems nobody's willing to call attention to this problem,  so here I am to draw the spot-light to this issue. I'm speaking, of course,  of the gaming software industry.

Some of you are probably blowing smoke threw your ears because of that last  sentence, but bare with me as I explain. Companies like GMA Games,  Bavisoft, and BSC Games--amongst others--have put out fine games, but this  has only papered over the inequity. Can you develop your own missions for  Tank Commander, for example? Does Hunter have an Internet multi-player  feature? And can you play against sighted people on Galaxy Ranger on equal  terms? The answer to all three is no.

The Solution

There is a solution to this problem, and it's called the free market. Our  economy is based upon the twin pillars of supply and demand. We demand a  specific product with the features we want or need, and the producer keeps  just enough supply on hand to keep us coming back, but the free market has  broken down somewhere along the way with gaming software manufacturers.  Either we're not making enough noise demanding their products, or their not  supplying them.

But in either case, the way to bring about this change is fairly simple. If  enough blind or low-vision people bombard these companies with e-mails,  phone calls, or snail mail letters, they'll finally get the message that  there's a completely untapped market clambering for their products, if only  they'd make a few software changes. They could make millions more bucks  just including some sort of blind player's mode in their games.

And unlike GMA, BSC, and all the other companies already providing games to  us, companies like Microsoft, Sega, and NovaLogic have man power. Where  GMA, BSC, or others have only a programmer or two working on any given  project, NovaLogic, for example, would have dozens upon dozens working on a  project. They have the resources to make more complex games, multi-player  games, and to modify their games for us.

NovaLogic, As An Example

I've been lucky enough to observe several NovaLogic
(http://www.novalogic.com) games in the Delta Force series. A sighted
friend of mine has become a beta tester for NovaLogic, and he's let me
hover over his shoulder and listen to game sessions. I'm impressed by what  I hear, and dismayed by what I don't. NovaLogic includes two of the three  qualities I said should be included in a blind-friendly game, except the  last: equal accessibility so blind and sighted people can play fairly  against one another.

Off-Line Features

Generally, each Delta Force game comes with several maps that the
single-player can run threw, and each map can include several types of
terrane; mountains, plains, ravines, forest, lakes and rivers, and so on.  Weather plays an important role in how the player moves and fights,  including fog, tropical storms, night fighting, or perfect, sunny skies.  The objectives of each mapped mission vary, from something as easy as  capturing bases of operations (what NovaLogic refers to as spawn points),  to hunting and killing specific enemy targets (terrorist leaders and such),  destroying computer or rocket equipment, and just a host of other  possibilities.

NovaLogic supplies many different types of vehicles for your use or enemy  use, including armored personnel carriers, tanks, jeeps, boats,
helicopters, motorcycles, dune buggies, or good old foot travel. You're
supplied from a war chest located at each captured spawn point or at a home  base, providing you with more ammo for your weapons, change to one of  several different weapons--including several types of sniper rifles,  several automatic assault rifles, grenade and mortar launchers, stinger and  Javelin missile launchers, or you can fetch a parachute to jump out of a  helo or off a building. Your enemy is similarly equipped. And if you should  get nailed in crossfire and die, you can return to life at any spawn point  you've captured (NovaLogic calls it re-spawning).

You play with computerized friendlies and enemies. You can give verbal
orders to your friendlies to open fire, be quiet, call for medic, and just  tons more.

On-Line Gaming

If the off-line stuff sounds fun, it' gets better! When a player connects  to NovaLogic's NovaWorld servers, you're given a whole list of missions  they created, and, more interesting, that other players created. You can  play in three different style of on-line game: you can play with other  on-line people around the world against computer opponents, you can play  with and against other on-line player teams, or each on-line player is an  enemy to all the other on-line players in a free-for-all.

The terrane, objectives, weather, enemy and friendly vehicles, and all the  other off-line features can be included by the map maker into each map, or  customized to create a whole world of unique fighting. NovaLogic built in a  text chat client, so you can communicate with other players, and a voice  chat client is also available in some maps. You can be invited to join  on-line teams, and if you join, you can be given access to maps not  available to everybody else. NovaLogic keeps track of experience points and  kill counts, and will give medals and other forms of recognition to expert  players.

The Crusade

If my description of NovaLogic's games makes your adrenaline begin to pump,  then take my advice. Contact NovaLogic's technical support by e-mail at


and tell them that you'd like to play their games.
Remember the friend I said was a beta team member? He's going to help out  too by sending in a suggestion that they make their games accessible to the  blind.

And if you're wondering, "You're telling us about this, but you're probably  just sitting there doing nothing, right?" Nope, I e-mailed NovaLogic myself  last week, and I'm pleased to say they got back to me yesterday. In their  message, they said they would "pass it along to their developers for  consideration," which is frankly more than I even expected. I was expecting  either no response at all, or them to tell me that they'd have no clue how  to include such a feature as a blind player's mode. But my beta tester  friend tells me that NovaLogic loves taking on challenging tasks, and what  would be more challenging, and rewarding, than opening up a new market of  new (and eager) players that simply need a few special adjustments.

My Vision

My vision of a blind player's mode in NovaLogic's games would look
something like this: when I pop in the cd to install a NovaLogic game, I'd  be given the choice for a standard, graphical install, or a blind player  mode install. Microsoft's Text To Speech could be incorporated to read the  spawn point capture flashes, read the text chat window, and assist the  blind user when trying to switch weapons at the war chest. The weapon's  scopes could be modified in blind player mode to act something similar to  those Tank Commander uses, since left to right and elevation are critical  when using sniper rifles and other real-world weapons. An of course,  there'd have to be some way where the binoculars can give audio feedback on  object locations on the battle field, but GA, ESP, and other blind gaming  companies have developed different methods to accomplish this, so it  wouldn't be that difficult.

And please, if you have a friend that might be interested in games like
this, pass along this article. I'll make this article available on my web  site for viewing, and I'll pass any updates to Audyssey as soon as I  receive any. Visit my web site for more on this at

http://showcase.netins.net/web/jsymes. Good luck, and happy gaming!

Jason Symes
Visit my web site at:
for nifty freeware apps and games that are screen reader accessible,   my thought and link of the day.

Dungeons & Dragons
In the Gladiator Arena
by Phil Vlasak

This version 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons adventure is in the public Gamer's room on  Audio-Tips, Sunday night at nine o'clock Eastern time.
Audio-Tips is at:


Introduction to role-playing games

When you play a role-playing game you create a unique fictional character that lives in the imaginations of you and the other players.  The Dungeon Master (DM) controls the monsters and people that live in the fantasy world while you and your companions face dangers and explore mysteries that the DM has set before you.  Together you create a unique interactive story.  It's like writing a fantasy novel together where the characters have lives of their own.  The story is shaped as you role-play your character's ambitions, personalities and actions.

The game takes place in your imaginations.  Like actors, players usually speak as if they were their characters.  This is called 'Speaking in Character'.  All questions pertaining to the rules are handled in your own voice. This is called being 'Out of Character'.
The DM strives to role-play the various creatures and people you encounter in the world.  The ability to immerse yourself into your character and imagine the fantasy world is the key to skillful role-playing.  At first, not everyone is good at acting in character.  Most people are afraid to speak in front of groups!  The more you stay "in-character" the more you will encourage others playing the game to role-play.  In a battle scene, when it comes to your turn to act, you could say to the DM, "I attack the goblin on the left with my sword," and just roll the attack die to see if you hit.  "I hit the goblin."  That kind of play is not encouraged because you are not acting out the scenes.  In true role-playing the DM turns to you and says what is Balac doing, and you respond, "With my battle axe raised above my head, I charge into the melee screaming the name of the god of
retribution, Cuthbert!  After rolling the die and scoring a hit you might follow up with, "And I bury my mighty axe deep into that smelly goblin's hide."  You roll a high number on your damage die and say, "With my gods favor, I smash that damned beast for 8 points of damage!"  The other players may cheer in
delight as the DM says that the vile goblin hits the dust.

The more you practice role-playing your character, the better you will
become and the more exciting the game will be.

This story contains graphic descriptions of violence. It therefore may not be suitable for younger readers.

List of characters:

Dungeon Master: Jamie.
Adadin, male elf ranger, Played by: Scott,
Balac, male dwarf fighter, Played by: Phil,
Chalcedony, female Half-Elf Cleric, Played by: John,
Fredorix, male human Sorcerer, Played by: David,
Greer, male human fighter, Played by: Randy,
Jerum, male human fighter, Played by: Michelle,
Shellana, female human bard, Played by: Shelley,
Vanadin, male elf rogue, Played by: Vincent.

With a short trumpet fanfare the crowd is hushed at the anticipation of the great games.
A thick cloud of smoke  fills the floor of the arena, and  when it rises, eight metal cages with humanoids appear, followed by ten cages containing strange glowing beasts.

All the cages rise from the floor and started an elaborate procession
around the circumference of the arena allowing the spectators to get a
closer look at the combatants.
Still in their cages, the humanoids rise and in unison as in a trance, speak the gladiators solemn oath, "I will endure to be burned, to be bound, to be beaten, and to be bitten by the beasts
The combatants wake up and find themselves on a large flat surface
surrounded by bleachers. It is similar to a gladiator arena, and each, at this point, is in a cage, placed around the edges of the flat area.
The arena surface is about the size of a football field, 110 yards by 60 yards, with several stone walls put up inside the area.
As they shake themselves and wake up, they hear the loud cheers of the crowd.  There are thousands of people packing the bleachers.
A loud booming voice comes out from the air, "Welcome to the Great Games!  We are hear to watch these bestiarii do combat with the evil creatures of this land. Come forth, my, pets!"

At that command, the doors on the eight cages open up by themselves.
Then  the ten cages containing beasts open up around the edges of the arena.  Various beasts come out, some Monstrous spiders, giant centipedes, and large wolf  like creatures.
  The voice says, "Let the games begin!"
Multitudes from all walks of life squint to see the spectacle below. Half of the stadium is sheltered from the sun by giant flags and tarps. Those that aren't wealthy enough to sit on the shaded side hide from the sun under large hats or simply sit and endure the heat. All are there for one reason, and that is to watch men and women, humans, elves and dwarves fight to the death for their enjoyment. Life was harsh in the Realm. Death came
swift and often. The gladiator  arena provided an escape from that reality where the people became spectators to death rather than participants.

Looking at the creatures closer, they are evenly distributed, among wolves spiders, and centipedes.
 The humanoid combatants  are spread apart about ten to twenty yards from each other.
The creatures are not charging but looking around, one spider in Shellana's direction,
and one centipede has locked gazes with Balac
The rest are roaming about having not spotted each other yet.
Being a Dwarf fighter, Balac  looks around trying to find another dwarf or human or elf in armor.
Seeing none, Balac  spits on the ground in discussed.
Shellana  thinks to herself I know I wanted to be part of the show, but... this isn't, quite, what I was expecting.
She tries to put her cage between herself and the spider that is eyeing her with its four pair of eyes.. As she heads around the back of her cage she runs into an invisible barrier.
When she tries to pick up her cage she finds it very heavy. The spider is now 20 yards away from her and is quickly moving in her direction.

Round one:

Balac checks his battle axe strapped to his back and unhooks his shield, and then pulls his throwing axe from his belt loop.
Shellana  looks around at the crowd then checks to see if she has her
Morningstar, a mace like weapon with deadly spikes.
Fredorix  shakes his head trying to clear it.
Chalcedony  thinks she will cast her magic weapon spell first, as it will add an enhancement bonus on her attacks and to the damage it will cause. Vanadin  checks his rapier in its scabbard, then his quiver for arrows.  Adadin quickly determines the situation and draws some conclusions in his mind.  he remembers he was standing next to his brother Vanadin   in the town so he looks for him here.
Vanadin  is at the far north end so the nearest creature is  about 30 yards away.
Jerum  appears very agitated and moves towards the nearest spider.
He can't wait to smash the creepy, crawly critters.
Adadin still looking around for his brother,
sees him about 60 yards away drawing his bow.
Vanadin  picking out an arrow is waiting to see how this pans out before running into melee.
Shellana  is thinking of what spell to use.  Fredorix  is thinking of doing mage armor.  He will be looking around for someone with a little bit of metal on. that might be good to work behind and to  work with.
Balac  curses in dwarven, "Ahgyoumuthapantywastsofabunchoftallones."
He  is staring at the large centipede that is heading towards him and is about 20 yards away, almost within the range of his throwing axe.
He slides his smaller axe into his better arm and raises it for throwing.  The  centipede's  body is plated with a chitinous shell and it moves with a slight undulating motion.
Just at the moment he is about to throw the axe, , the centipede vanishes. Balac  yells out a dwarven curse, "Whatdablamincruddidthatshitfacedbuggo?"
Shellana  examines her attacker, a giant spider Its round harry body lifted up seven feet above the ground on eight spindly legs.

and it also disappears.
Chalcedony  is trying to make sense out of what is going on.
Her cage was within twenty yards of where Shellana's cage is.
So Chalcedony  was able to see the spider vanish but not the centipede.
Chalcedony  glances over in Shellana's direction and notes that she is human but she is in the mist of casting a spell so will wait to move.
Adadin  is 60 yards away from the east side of the arena.
There is a wolf who is 30 yards away,
and a centipede about 10 yards away from it.
Neither are looking in his direction.  Since no creature has spotted Adadin  he pulls out his bow. He sees his brother 60 yards away,
and behind the two creatures is a short section of wall.  Adadin continues to draw his bow and readies an arrow.  Jerum  judges the distance to the nearest spider.  He  is on the south end and one is a good 30 yards off to the left. Jerum  readies a sling and fires a ball at it. but its cold gaise distracts his aim and
he misses.

Shellana  is thinking of using a grease spell but wonders if it will make an invisible creature visible but does not know.
Adadin takes a steady aim and lets fly an arrow from his  longbow. The arrow hits the centipede between sections of its shell causing the insect to jump back.
The wounded centipede while retreating, uses its cause fear ability on
Adadin to deter pursuit.  Adadin begins to run in fear in the opposite direction of the centipede and towards his cage.
Shellana  is trying to decide where to place the grease spell since the
spider disappeared 20 yards away from her.
She is planning to place it 35 feet from her but doesn't know the area it will spread.  Then she remembers that it only spreads in a ten foot square and she wonders if that is the right thing to do.
She backs up to put the barrier behind her and the cage on a side so the invisible spider cant get behind her, then she pulls out her Morningstar.  One of the wolves has locked on to Vanadin  and is headed in his direction.  It ends up about 10 yards away from him.
Vanadin  takes his bow shot at it, but misses.
 Fredorix  wants to move towards someone with muscle and also do a mage
armor spell.  There are many creatures roaming and he wants to concentrate on doing a spell too. He does see Balac  about 30 yards away from him so he realizes that he could move to Balac  this round but could not cast his spell too. Fredorix  knows that being rather defenseless he wants to just move and forgoes his spell.
Balac is pissed because the creature attacking him disappeared. He could still try to hit the invisible creature but he would only have a fifty percent chance of doing so.
The centipede was 60 feet away when it vanished and his axe could only be thrown 50 feet.
Balac  notices the rather tall human moving in next to him. about 50 yards away he sees an elf within 10 yards of a wolf.
Since the centipede was moving slowly towards him before it vanished, Balac turns to the human to make sure he is friendly and examines what weapons if any he is holding.
The human is garbed in a robe so Balac  guesses he is a wizard of some kind. Balac  says, "Arg, it looks like you do magic, ah, why don't you make those damn beasts appear. That stinking bug disappeared and now I can't attack it!
I can't hit what I can't see."
Fredorix  replies "Yes, I don't quite have that ability, but ah, I think I could be of some help."
Let me stick with you, I'll be right behind your right shoulder and between the two of us I think  we can do some good here."
Balac  turns back to examine the dirt to see if he can detect the advancing footprints of the invisible beast.
he notices that the surface of the arena is a thin covering of dirt on
stone.  Balac  examines the dirt for centipede footprints but does not see any. He stands next to the human with his throwing axe in his right hand and his shield in his left, and takes a defensive posture.
Chalcedony  looks to Shellana  20 yards to her left, and saw the spider
disappear in front of her.
Looking around , she sees a wolf 20 yards off to the right, and there is a wall that sections Chalcedony  and Shellana  with the two beasts from the rest of the arena.
Chalcedony   stays in place and casts magic weapon. That's her domain spell for the day and she knows it should last a long time.  In a flash she is holding a glowing sword.
Chalcedony   is fuming inside wondering what the purpose of all this is. But she's not going to attempt to communicate with anybody as yet because she does not know if the person next to her is friend or foe.
Or for that matter if the wolf is friend or foe.
Looking behind her she only sees the crowd.
She doesn't know about the invisible barrier yet.
Chalcedony  decides that she is better off staying put. She hopes that there isn't anything to attack her from behind at this moment, but she will be prepared if anything should pop out in front of her.
Shellana  sees another woman about 20 yards to her right,
with another wolf but she does not see any signs of the invisible spider that was heading towards her.
Shellana  takes up a defensive posture, looking around and trying to be as alert as possible for any noises and she has her Morningstar at the ready. The wolf near Chalcedony  suddenly runs towards her and gets within 20 feet.  Another beast comes from behind a wall in front of Adadin and gets within 20 yards of him.
Also a centipede comes around a wall and gets with 10 yards of Balac  and Fredorix

Round two:

Chalcedony  now with a glowing weapon in her hand, looks around at the
barriers that surround her and Shellana .
They are not completely enclosed, there is room on either end of the wall.  The wall stretches about 45 yards north to south,
Shellana  noticed the weapon glow in the woman's hand next to her.
At the edge of her vision Chalcedony  can see an elf with a creature closing in on him. And can also see a spider scuttling in on a male human.  Adadin uses his will to try to break the fear.
The fear is broken but he spends this round recovering.  Balac Denied by his target becoming invisible, makes loud dwarven cursing
and threats of denial of dwarven rights.
Jerum  has a spider near him so he moves towards the arachnid, swings his great axe with both hands, up and cleaves the entire under side of the giant creature's abdomen.
The spider's guts splat to the ground as it is killed.
The wolf near Vanadin  attacks him.
Vanadin  knows that if he wants to, he can do an attack of opportunity on the wolf with the bow in his hands used as a club.
But he would not have time to fire an arrow with the bow.
So he  decides to dodge out of the way.
The wolf lunges at Vanadin  and misses him.
Vanadin  thinks of dropping his bow and pulling out a sap. but realizes he has time for a point blank shot
The centipede rushing around the wall at Balac and Fredorix    attacks them.  Fredorix  swings and misses.
Balac  concentrating on the other bug also misses.
Balac  curses the gods again for his lost chance of trying to hit the
creature at a distance  with his throwing axe which would have surely hit the huge beast.
The centipede lunges out  piercing Balac's arm with its mandibles.
Vanadin  does a point blank bow shot at the wolf but the arrow flies over the animal's head.
Balac  switches the weapon in his hand and swings at the centipede with his battle axe and slices into its shell causing a whitish goo to ooze out. Fredorix  casts mage armor and his body glows briefly.
Chalcedony  sees the wolf 20 feet off to the right. Her magic sword is out and it is approaching so she will hold her action to allow the wolf to get closer.
Shellana  doesn't know where the invisible spider is so she swings the
Morningstar in front of her, back and forth, to get a rise out of the crowd.  The centipede near Adadin attacks him but misses.
The wolf attacking Chalcedony  gets within her range and she swings hastily, missing as the beast jumps back out of harms way.
The wolf leaps at Chalcedony  who dives to the right and gets raked by the animals claws.
As she spins away she swings her sword and slices into the hindquarters of the beast causing it to howl in pain.

Round three:

Adadin having run in fear and bumped into the invisible wall, turns his back to it and has spent the last round collecting his wits.
He puts his bow away and pulls out his Scimitar and short sword.
He sees a spider and centipede advancing on him and takes a defensive stance to get an attack of opportunity on the closest one.
One will be within range this round,
and he could get 1 attack on,
The other is just outside his melee range.

A centipede appears next to Balac
Since it was off to the side and he was concentrating on the other bug, he could not get an attack of opportunity on it.
The centipede snaps at him getting its pincers under his armor leaving a red dripping gash on his arm.
The invisible spider suddenly appears clicking its pincers excitedly  and attacks Shellana and since she has her back to the barrier she gets an attack of opportunity on it.
  Shellana is thrown back by its sudden appearance and fumbles and drops her weapon. So she can't attack this round.
The spider snaps down on her head with its fangs but comes away with only an ear.  Greer did not come out of his cage for the first two rounds, because he was trying to figure out what he was doing there.
He is at the far south end of the field. Closest to him are a dwarf fighter and another human that looks like a wizard type about 30 yards away.  They are fighting two centipedes. Further away about 60 yards he sees a single elf fighting two more creatures.
One looks like a centipede and the other a wolf. Further away, a half elf has a wolf on her,  and a woman has a spider attacking her another 30 yards away. Greer will draw his long sword and charge at the centipede nearest him.  As he gets close, it suddenly swings its head towards him and takes a chunk out of his free hand. Greer, with a lightning fast move, takes a big
 overhead swing and slices the insect in two. The parts head in different directions for a few seconds leaving a trail of blood until they fall over and lay still.
The wolf attacking  Vanadin almost trips over its own foot but recovers.  Vanadin attacks the wolf with his rapier and hits it, slicing off its ear.

Adadin gets an attack of opportunity with his Scimitar  on the spider
attacking him.  He takes a big swing and hits the arachnid in the side slicing into its thorax.

The spider tries to bite Adadin but misses.
Balac lifts his battle axe high over his head and brings it down on the body of the centipede.
Its sharp blade slices off several of its legs along with part of its body, and they twitch sporadically in the dirt for a few moments.
Adadin swings two weapons at the same time, with his Scimitar  missing but hitting the spider with the short sword. The spider is holding on to life but looks in very bad shape.
Fredorix casts a sleeping spell on the centipede, but the spell fizzles and the insect is rejuvenated.
Chalcedony swings her magic sword at the wolf but misses. Seeing her open for attack, it jumps and bites deep, taking a large chunk out of her arm. The centipede seeing Adadin attack the spider next to it, curls around and
 just barely bites him.

Round four:

Adadin has a wounded spider and centipede next to him so he attacks both beasts with his two blades.
His scimitar  missed the most wounded spider, but his short sword thrusts deep into  the centipede.
The great bug flips over on its side and writhes a moment until it curls up and dies.
Adadin raises his weapons to the sky and cheers at his success.
Vanadin says "When you've quit mucking around, you can help your brother!"  The centipede on Balac attacks him and two of its    mandibles chomp into the dwarves' leg.
Balac yells out in pain, "Youstinkingpiecof slimyshit!"
The spider rips open Shellana's flesh with its razor-sharp pincers  and
bites her with its fangs  filled with a poisonous toxin  that now spreads through her system instantly weakening her and slowing her actions.  She screams out in pain and frustration. Thinking quickly, she could put her Morningstar away and do a flare spell to blind the beast.  If it is successful she plans to get away from the spider but since she is in the corner of her cage and the barrier she could not get away without it attacking her again if it can see her.
Greer surveys the area and with 2 attacking the centipede in front of him he looks for someone else to help. A male elf is battling a spider 30 yards away from him so Greer charges the spider , but when he gets close, The arachnid  sinks its fangs into   Greer  injecting poison into his system.  He slashes deep into the abdomen and thorax turning the spider to a pile of goo at his feet.
He can already feel his arms and legs get numb.
Jerum goes over to the elf to help him with the wolf. It is directly in
front of Vanadin But he knows when the human moves into the attack, he could then move to its side feet and gain flanking status.
Jerum swings his great axe and chops the wolf's spine in two, killing it.  At this point there are 5 beasts left alive but only Greer knows this. Vanadin looks around for his brother Adadin and moves towards him. Balac spins towards the centipede, whips his battle axe around and cleaves its head in half,
creating another pile of bug goo.
Shellana does a flair spell on the spider, but the spell fizzles.
Chalcedony attacks the wolf, and her blade comes with inches of its head.
The wolf attacking Chalcedony jumps back falls flat on its face and bites its tongue.
Chalcedony knows there is a woman off to her left about 20 yards being
attacked by a spider. and a male human 25 yards off to her right who has moved behind a wall. Chalcedony moves to her right to the edge of the wall away from the prone
wolf that is struggling to get up.
Looking around the wall, she sees a male fighter standing over a pile of goo. Chalcedony turns back to face her wolf opponent, and will be preparing to cast a spell next round.

Round five:

Adadin has a hulking human fighter next to him and his brother is almost by him.
Adadin turns to his brother and says "Hey, it's about time you got over
here, you goofy character! What did you do, stop to see if you could pick somebody's pocket?"
Vanadin replies, "You'd be the one with jokes! you're the younger brother, you should have come to my aid."
Adadin says, "I was about to take out this ugly beast here, but this fellow just appeared and did the job for me.
He turned the beast into a puddle of mush."
Fredorix standing next to Balac and two dead centipedes, thinks that if the fighter wasn't near he could have backed into the cage closed the door and cast his spells from the safety of the cage.
Shellana and Greer,  now poisoned  both feel their arms and legs stiffen up and become less responsive.
The spider on Shellana seeing its victim slow down, bites deep into her
shoulder but its fangs are out of poison.
Greer can barely move at this point, so he will toddle off to the north.
Adadin tells his brother to follow that fighter and moves  towards the north also.  Vanadin does follow Adadin north.
He sees a half elf woman just coming around the wall about 15 yards away.
Greer, recognizing Chalcedony goes up to her and says, "Hi!"
Chalcedony replies "Vhell, zo, you are here as vell? Aah, I have zis von in hand!,
take care of zat udder von."
Balac looks down at two dead centipedes and then looks for something else to smash.

There is nothing but a wall 20 yards away so he starts to move in that
direction. Balac turns to Fredorix and says "Come on ya big spellcaster, lets see what's on da other side of dat wall!"
Chalcedony commands the wolf to flee.  It immediately starts running in the opposite direction, but when retreating, it uses its cause fear ability to deter pursuit, and unleashes a
blast of fear in the entire 30 foot area.
Adadin, Greer, Chalcedony, Jerum and Vanadin are in that area.
Four of them start running in fear.
Greer runs back in the opposite direction.
Adadin runs due north and bangs into the invisible wall.
Vanadin runs east.
Chalcedony runs south along the wall.
Jerum is not affected and spots a centipede 25 yards away.
Shellana is now very weak and can hardly move
so she looks for somewhere to hide.
Shellana tries another flair spell and this time blinds the spider. Then she slowly crawls into the cage and shuts the door behind her.
The wolf is still fleeing around the outside edge of the arena.

Round six:

Adadin is still panicked.
Chalcedony is also afraid.
Greer is still  scared.
The spider that was attacking Shellana is blind and is trying to scuttle away .
Jerum runs towards the centipede and attacks it but swings and misses.

Vanadin manages to come out of  the fear spell but needs the rest of the round to recover.
Balac gets to the north side of the wall and sees a male human battering a centipede. He yells, "Aha you dirty rotten son of a bug!"
and charges towards the centipede swinging his battle axe over his head.  The centipede startled, missed its attack of opportunity.
Balac chops off the rear third of the large insect with one mighty swing, but the front two thirds of the beast is still alive.
The centipede turns from Jerum and attacks Balac with its mandibles coated in a  very toxic substance. They bite down hard on his body giving Balac a massive dose of poison.
Shellana does a grease spell but her concentration is not good enough
because of the poison in her
and the spell fizzles.
Chalcedony fails to stop the fear and keeps running and so does the wolf.

Round seven:

Adadin is still shaking in fear.
Greer is now recovering from the fear spell.
Jerum attacks what is left of the centipede and kills it, thus freeing its mandibles  from Balac's body.
Vanadin has recovered from the fear spell,  but there are no live creatures around him.
He heads towards his brother who is in the corner still afraid.
Balac says Thanks for killing that bug, it really got me that last time. It must be poisonous cause I'm not feeling too good. Balac tries to move his arms and legs but they are  paralyzed
Chalcedony finally stops running coming out of the fear spell.
Shellana casts a grease spell but the spider saves and does not get trapped  in it.
And the wolf is still running around the edge of the arena.

Round eight:

The blind spider scuttling around does not step into the grease.
Adadin is still afraid, but since his brother is slapping him he comes out of the spell.

Adadin to Vanadin, "Thanks, it gets annoying being scared all the time." The scared wolf runs into Greer
They both see each other at the same time so no attacks of opportunity.
Greer swings wildly at the wolf but misses high. The wolf jumps at his arm but can only bite off a finger.
Jerum looks around but sees nothing so he moves to the end of the wall to look for more creatures.
As he turns the corner, a creature swipes at his back but misses.
Vanadin  heads towards Greer and the wolf to get a sneak attack next round.
Chalcedony looks around, and is in the north east corner of the arena.
Greer is fighting a wolf with another person but she sees a human fighting another wolf about 60 yards away.
Chalcedony charges there and attacks the wolf
with her magically enhanced  sword.
It slices deeply into the side of the beast which turns its head and tries to bite the thing sticking into it.
As she pulls her sword out a gush of thick red blood pours out of the wound.  Chalcedony to the human, "Who are you, and vye are you here?"
Jerum says, "Defending myself from this lutacris scene. And Jerum is the name." Chalcedony, "Zo, are we being punished, or somezing?"
Jerum "I don't know more than you, I'm afraid."
Chalcedony, "I am, Chalcedony deBalise."
Jerum "You, talk, way, too, much!"
With a sneer, Chalcedony says "For you, perhaps."
Shellana starts to sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" with projection to draw
attention to herself using her bard fascination spell but the spider is not affected by it because it cannot see her.
The wolf on Jerum leaps up at him and bites deep into his arm, then rakes both its front paws down his chest leaving his armor in shreds.

the wolf on Greer lunges at him and its fangs slice through the stout
fighter's armor, ripping deeply into his legs

Round nine:

Greer and Vanadin are on one wolf.
Chalcedony and Jerum on another.
and Shellana is trying to get someone to attack her spider.
Adadin hears Vanadin singing and charges her way.
When he turns the corner he sees a spider nearer a woman in a cage and is charmed by her spell.
Greer, enraged at being bitten, swings his long sword at the beast biting his leg and decapitates the wolf. The headless body of the beast wavers abit with blood gushing from the grievous wound before it comes crashing to the ground.
Vanadin charges towards the music also.
He mutters, "Damn this brother of mine, he's always getting into messes!" Jerum, with his armor ripped to shreds, whips his great axe around and chops the last wolf in two.
When the wolf is killed Chalcedony briefly sees an image that she
recognizes. For a second, inside a noxious black cloud, the wolf turns into a two foot tall humanoid with leathery, bat-like wings, a barbed tail, and sharp, twisted horns. Its skin was a dark red and its horns and jagged teeth were a gleaming white.
The image fades quickly and turns back to the body of the dead wolf.
Chalcedony looks at it a moment and blinks a couple of times, "Zat is an evil creature to be sure! Zome vun ist playing games wit us!"
And, I, don't mean, just, eenn zis, arena.
Jerum what are you talking about now?
Chalcedony Zee volf it vas, did you not zee?
It vas a quasit. oh, excusie me, you probably do not know vat a quasit  is. It is a zmall annoying creature, from ze lower plainz. Zay are fiends zat are often zummoned as a Familiar vor evil wizards."
Jerum replies, "You, too, are a small annoying creature!"
Chalcedony I zee zat you have no appreciation for zees things. I will find zome one who does.
Perhaps one of zose fellows over zare."
She gestures in the direction of Greer and walks away.
Jerum looks up into the empty sky, as sighs, "Women!"
Chalcedony mutters "I don't know vie I try, zay have heads made of rocks, ze whole lot of zem."

Round ten:

Vanadin and Adadin both see the grease around the spider and avoid it.
as they  come up Adadin says "Hey lets do a flanking attack here."
Adadin runs up and swings his Scimitar  and three of the spider's legs are chopped off. It keels over sideways with its remaining five legs kicking into the air.
Vanadin flanks an attack on the spider and takes a precise swing with his rapier,
and the struggling spider's head is neatly sliced off. A jet of warm goo shoots out of it covering his brother, Adadin.
Vanadin  wiping the spider blood off his rapier  says, "You see, my brother, that's, how it's done."
As the last beast is slain a great roar comes from the crowd.
Smoke rises from the bloodstained dirt as the sun beats down upon the now quiet arena.
A loud booming voice says, "Ah, my pets, you have proved victorious."
I am proud. You may venture forth from this point and shall we meet
Vanadin interrupts the voice shouting, "Pets!" I do not see you bestowing gifts upon us if we were truly your pets!
Shellana Nor do I see any recovery from our damages. I did not agree to such treatment.
Loud voice: ah such demanding pets.
Ah, I suppose, after a chant, a glimmering field of magical energy washes over the arena and all the eight are restored to full health.
will that suffice? are you happy now?
Chalcedony mutters to herself, Zat is ze way of zings. Zee poor and
defenseless are zee playzings of the rich and powerful.
When vil zese people learn zat zis is zee way of life?
Adadin I think we deserve more than just are recovery.
How about a little compensation for all our pain and suffering you've put us through?
Loud voice: ah but my bestiarii, the experience of fighting these fiends should have been all the treasure you require!
what more is needed?
Vanadin If I was an entertainer, which we were, hired by you, we would be paid!
Shellana I most definitely agree! I am not your pet. I have suffered for your enjoyment and so have these other here for your gain.
Adadin Yes, you are getting gold from all these spectators, so I think you should share that wealth to some extent with us.
Loud voice: Ah, so be it then, annoying pets.
I shall remember your insolence the next time we meet.
A thick blanket of smoke covers the arena and before each combatant is a pile of 50 gold.
After they pick it up a blinding light flashes and they are all returned from where they came.

The end.

News from Developers

News from Adora Entertainment

Greetings gamers,

The moment you have all been waiting for has finally arrived!

Adora Entertainment and its ESP Softworks division are pleased to
announce that ESP Pinball Xtreme will be released in June 2005, to be
followed shortly thereafter by the ESP Pinball Xtreme Table Creator,
which will allow you to build your own custom Pinball tables.

We know that you've all been awaiting this title for quite some time,
and we are confident it will meet and surpass your expectations.  We
ask that, once the game has been officially released, you have just a
little more patience with us, as we send out all the registration
keys for pre-ordered copies.  If your e-mail address has changed
since you pre-ordered the game, please contact us at
to notify us of the change.  Please send
as much information as you can about your order.  Note that, for
security reasons, any old registration keys sent out by the previous
incarnation of ESP Softworks will not unlock the game.  You will need
to await your new key.

ESP Pinball Xtreme will include six new pinball tables including
Alien Invasion, Home Run, Sudwerks, Topgun, and others.  A trailer
can currently be heard at our web site, just look at the news for
April 26th.

Check out our web site at
for up to the moment news on this and other releases.

Also, as an added feature of our web site, we've implemented some
news feeds from the BBC, related to topics our customers might find
of interest.  Entertainment headlines from the BBC can be found on
our front page below company news, and a link in that section takes
you to our BBC News page where you can read headlines in other news
categories.  We hope you find this helpful and entertaining.

Again, thank you for your support and we look forward to many
exciting releases in the very near future.

Adora Entertainment
"Even in the name you can hear the magic..."

News from Alchemy Game Studios

Subject: [news] Montezuma's Revenge -- June 3rd

Dear Customers,

> Please note that the downloadable release of Montezuma's Revenge has been
> pushed back until Friday, June 3rd.  Compact Discs will be mailed at some point between now and then.  We appreciate your continued patience and look forward to e-mailing the download link at that time.


Alchemy Game Studios

News from DanZGames

Hi all,

A new, ninor updated version of Chainlink has been posted on
www.danZGames.com. Unregistered users can try the game again in demo mode,  so you have another chance to get hooked on all the new puzzles. It is not a  required update, but head to the website if you'd like to get in on the new  features.

Progress on our online strategy game is going well. I am currently very busy  with compiler construction work, which is fun, but necessarily limits  development time.

Prior to the online game being released, you should expect an update to
Super Deekout to incorporate some new game elements that have been requested  by many customers. I've been given ideas on how the gamer can go about  trying to kill the robot (perhaps for mega points--after which he  regenerates himself, of course.. *g*), other possible offensive and  defensive weapons, and so on.


News From Malinche

Hello, Adventurer !!!

The First Mile News

Malinche is proud to announce the official launch of The First Mile on June 1st.

Screen shots of the game as well as my designer's journal can be accessed at


The game packaging is almost complete. I am proud to announce that one of the "feelies" included in the Folio Edition will be an actual working compass! I am staring at a large box of them and let me tell you, they are pretty sweet. What a cool gadget!

Pre-orders for The First Mile will be accepted shortly.

New to Interactive Fiction? Help is on the way!

I am re-starting my free online workshops starting THIS SATURDAY
May 7th. Join me in Malinche's own chat room for an hour of Q&A, how-tos, tips, hints and other insights to help you get the most from your Malinche adventures. To access our chat room visit


and select the link for chat room.  Make sure Java is installed in your
browser and I'll see you there.

The Malinche Forums - Where You Can Journey Further
Malinche customers have exclusive, members-only access to the
Malinche Forums at


Unlock the secrets
to my games, read exclusive behind-the-scenes insights and even some
personal moments that are not revealed anywhere else. You can talk to
other Malinche customers bulletin-board style, share your own experiences in my games or just have some fun. Sorry, but registered customers of Malinche games only.

This will be a short newsletter.  I must get back to work on The
First Mile.

We're on Beta4A now and Release Candidate 1 should be released by
the weekend.

Howard A. Sherman

News From Kitchens Inc


I have put a new trivia file up on my site.  File name wintgf4.exe.  The file can be found on the free windows text to speech games page just below the trivia game engine file.    The file is an astronaut trivia file.

Released my free windows text to speech football game.
It will be found on the free windows text to speech page on my website


Jim's NFL football
Pick your team and play an entire season hopefully making it to and winning the super bowl game.
Also includes my Brain

News from PCS

Sarah and the Castle of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is under
development and is very close to being released.

Sarah is the lead character in the book, Labyrinth, by A.C.H. Smith which became a Jim Henson movie in 1986. -Little did she
know however, that when the film ended, her journey, certainly did not!  Now excited by a chance to explore a fantasy castle inspired by JK Rowling, Sarah   is starring in a new game from
PCS, Sarah and the Castle of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

We now have an opportunity to  peek in on Sarah, who heard about the castle on a shopping trip to Diagon Alley. Since it is summer, she knows there will not be the rush of students through the corridors, but she has heard so much about this magic castle,
she still wants to explore it. Maybe she can even find the
magical objects reported to be somewhere inside.

Nearing the castle. She walks up a flight of stone steps and stands in front of the huge, oak front door waiting for the Keeper of the Keys to open it.

Little does Sarah know of the onslaught that is soon to begin.

She admits, "To tell you the truth, I'm a little bit nervous, and a bit
queasy." She sighs, "After all, it's my first visit to this magical castle!  Lets see, I'll give this door a good thump right here. Oh my, it moved!"  The door seemed to open of its own accord.

As Sarah  starts out, she finds herself near a special safe
place. What is it? A good old fashioned broom cupboard right next to the front door! She is comforted by the rumor that every floor of the castle has a similar place to hide.

She quickly discovers that a mischievous poltergeist named Peeves, must have picked the pockets of the students leaving for the
summer holidays and sprinkled money and magical objects through the
corridors of the castle.

When Sarah hears something coming closer, she doesn't know  if it is  a
tribe of particularly vicious mountain trolls, or the claws of a monstrous three-headed dog.

. She moves slowly from the broom cupboard, heels clicking on the floor
across the entrance hall, toward the great hall, where she hears some far away voices. She was concentrating. Each deliberate step took her nearer to her purpose. Her hands were open, and held slightly in front of her. An eerie sound rose and fell in volume like coming from thirty musical saws.

She found the Great hall empty now, so she continued down a marble staircase to the dungeon level.  The corridors were wind-swept for the caretaker had probably opened the windows to air the school
out.  Sarah found a protective charm was placed on them to prevent insects from getting in, but also people from getting out.

"Oh goody! lots of coins to pick up!" she exclaimed when looking down the corridor. She examined several of the classrooms but found most of the doors locked.  Sarah  glanced nervously over her shoulder when she herd a thrum thrum sound, having the feeling she was being followed. Sarah  felt a creeping chill behind her that could mean only one thing, DANGER! She spun around to look back and something dreadful was gliding along the corridor toward her. It was a creature that made a terrible, rattling noise as it sucked on the surrounding air. It possessed a terrifyingly dangerous kiss, and she knew no one had ever survived a direct confrontation. It swept silently toward her, drawing a deep, rattling breath. Sarah turned and ran
away from it back to the front door.

A horrible wave of cold swept over her when Sarah found that the door would not open, so she ducked into the nearby broom cupboard. Her stomach turned over as it came  closer. She knew her mother's wand contained four spells to defend her against it,
but they were not as powerful as the ones she hope to get here.
She could say, "Expecto Patronum" and the creature would be chased away, but she knew it would come back soon. She hoped she
would not be detected here, hiding in the broom cupboard. She could hear the dementor's putrid, death-cold breath sounds
getting louder and louder, until it stopped and began to move away.

After a moment she became aware that her T-shirt was sticking to her, she was drenched in sweat. Now she knew for certain that in
the broom cupboard, She would be free to spy on the ghosts and other scary creatures that slither and slide through the corridors of the castle.

When the danger had passed she said "Talk about having a tough time! I only heard that thing at the last moment. I bet Peeves was the one who let me in and he probably locked the front door to keep me inside."

She took a deep breath and hit the save button.

After exploring the dungeon level she discovered several magical objects, one of them being a bit of old parchment. She remembered someone telling her about things like this and spoke the magic phrase that revealed its secrets to her. It was a copy of the Marauder's map of the school.  After studying the audio map, she found it somewhat easier to cruise through the castle picking up spells, magical objects  and coins and avoiding creatures. All of a sudden it was 4 hours later.

When the game was over, she said, "I think this is totally cool !
At the beginning, I didn't have a clue what was going on! I
couldn't tell what horror would be lurking around the next corner! So I ran back to that safe place to catch my breath."

Phil suggested that she learn all the hot keys designed to make her life easier.

When asked what she could use in the new game, Sarah exclaimed, "Oh,  my, just don't get me started!" She thought of a long list of desirable
equipment but had a hard time  deciding which to ask for first.

"Well, it would be super if I could have a way to quickly move to that safe place." Sarah suggested.

"Done!" answered Phil, "I will let you apparate  to there."

In the middle of describing the items, she paused, "It's the same all over," said Sarah  with a troubled tone. "Old characters like me are counting for less everywhere--all of this would have been such a help in Jareth, the Goblin King's realm, where I had nothing but my wits to start with, Would you really give me all these things?"

"You do count with me," said Phil, his nostrils flaring. "You got them all!"

To answer Sarah's requests, Phil has added many items to aid her.  You will be able to find and use wands that increase her powers, a two-way mirror, Extendible Ears, two different racing brooms, a Time Turner Necklace   , and an invisibility cloak. With all
that, Sarah won't have to go through the corridors of the castle unprotected.

"Holy cow!"  When you're down to your last bit of magical energy, you'll find a whole other world of suspense you never knew existed. But with only a little bit of energy left, you can still explore the castle if you have enough courage and tenacity." says
the feisty game role model.

She is invigorated by the new challenges in this game. "Actually, It takes great skill and patience to get through each hour."

In commenting during the development of the game, one of Sarah's biggest concerns was improving access to knowledge about the Magic castle. "Having the same information about my surroundings
as the ghosts and other creatures, is critical." Sarah explained. "Finally, with the Marauder's audio maps, I can walk down a corridor and know which way to go and where the sneaky ghosts are." The sunny tempered super hero said. "Seldom do I select a
path without first checking my control panel." In the original book Sarah had little or no control over the Labyrinth, and in
the castle beyond the Goblin City. In the book, Sarah had
thirteen hours to find her half brother and bring him back. In this new
game, Sarah will also have thirteen hours and thirteen challenges, to
accomplish before she can succeed.

" There's so much that Phil added to this game to make the world inside the CPU an equal opportunity place for us." noted Sarah.

Like her adventures in the Jim Henson film,
Castle of Witchcraft and Wizardry transports Sarah  into a world of
corridors and secret passageways. she travels through the castle searching for magical items, fighting creepy  creatures knowing at any minute, disaster may strike. Although Sarah  admits to frequent thoughts of slowing down, that would be contrary to her nature: Sarah
says, "I've never been satisfied being on the outside looking in. I have to be on the inside, participating."

So, take a trip to the Castle of Witchcraft and Wizardry and pay a visit to the ghost's Deathday party in the dungeon, pop into the Great hall for a chat with the sometimes helpful Nick; go out for a spot of spelunking in the chamber of secrets, gasp in awe at the speed of the golden snitch, pick up plenty of coins and spells, get ready to hide from the malevolent Dementors, but
always remember - the basilisk may not be what it seems!

If you wish to join the beta team for this game contact,
and I will get back to you if you are selected.
You can hear an audio snap shot from the game, a howler that Sarah will get from her father, at,


You can find out what is in store at PCS Games by joining the PCS games
list. To subscribe to this discussion list, send a blank message to,


My mailing address is,
PCS Games
666 Orchard Street
Temperance, Michigan 48182
phone (734) 850-9502
Call me between the hours of 9:00 A M to 9:00 P M Eastern time, Monday to Saturday.
E-mail Phil Vlasak,
We make games that tickle your ears.

News from Spoonbill Software

You are receiving this email because you have previously requested Blind-gamers Cribbage. Spoonbill Software is pleased to announce the release of another
accessible card game, Blind-gamers Free Cell Solitaire, or BG Free Cell for short. This has been designed to be really easy to use, unlike other so-called
accessible offerings you may have encountered in the past. It has been thoroughly tested and approved by a panel of blind people and is guaranteed to provide
you with hours of enjoyment.

You may also be pleased to know that three more accessible solitaire games are in the mill, and all operate using the same techniques as BG Free Cell. So once you have become familiar with the operation of BG Free Cell, you will be able to enjoy these other offerings almost immediately they are available.

If you would like a copy of BG Free Cell Solitaire, please reply to this email requesting a copy. If you would like to try the other accessible solitaire games as they become available, please feel free to ask and I will put you on the reservation list. This will ensure that, as soon as each becomes available, you will automatically be sent a copy.

 The other three accessible solitaire games are:

BG Klondike Solitaire - also known in England as Canfield Solitaire. This is an accessible version of the Solitaire which comes with Windows.

BG Scorpion Solitaire

BG Penguin Solitaire - similar in nature to Free Cell but with a twist.

> Thank you for your past interest in my Blind-gamers series. You can read more by visiting the Spoonbill Software website. Don't forget to visit the Newsletter page as well as the Blind-gamers page.


Click here to visit Spoonbill Software's Newsletter page.


Click here to visit Spoonbill Software's Blind-gamers page.

Ian Humphreys
Spoonbill Software
Albany, Western Australia


News from USA Games

Hello listers,

The sTFC Alfa 4.5 upgrade is now available from the USA Games site.
this upgrade fixes several known bugs in STFC Alfa 4.0 as well as adds some new sound effects.

What's New

1. All ships in long range scans are now numbered.
2. Long range scans have a greater distance for scanning.
3. New phaser, docking, and other effects.
4. New starmap area and sector arangement.
5. Some older hot keys have returned such as f1 through f4 for firing

You may download the file stfc-4.5.exe file from:



Simply, download stfc-4.5.exe from the USA Games site. Press enter on the stfc-4.5.exe file. You will be prompted continue. Press enter on ok, and your c:\\program files\\final conflict
directory will be updated with the latest files.
To make sure install was successful start Final Conflict from your start menu, and you should here a startup message with the version Alfa 4.5.

* An update*

Recently, two critical bugs were discovered in the late STFC 4.5 which USA Games is currently working on resolving. We are aware of these bugs, and will be releasing a patch on Tuesday which will hopefully resolve both problems.
The first bug is a result of a missing TTS file. When sensors are down the game will crash because it attempts to load the speech file it needs and when it fails the game crashes. This is a result of an oversite of including this file with the upgrade. I'll be including it in 4.5.1 do on Tuesday .

The second, is a result of the first bug. when the game crashes and you are asked to continue the game continues to crash, because it has lost the object and is unable to recreate it. I will fix this error as well.
As soon as the Mamorial Day holidays are over I will work on getting the 4.5.1 upgrade out to you which will fix some of the critical issues you are having. Stay tuned for a notice that the upgrade has been posted.

Thank you, and please be patient.

Fearless Flin Developer Diary: Part IV

By Michael Feir

When I started thinking about Fearless Flin as a complete game, one of my primary goals for it was that it should have that classic arcade game feel.  Thanks to a gift from my parents, I'm back on track in that department. For my last birthday, I was given a large thick book about the history of classic video games covering developments from the very beginning to the present. The book is called:

The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon--The Story Behind the Craze That Touched Our Lives and Changed the World (1ST) by Steven L. Kent,

ISBN: 0761536434

The author is Steven L. Kent. He does a splendid job of showing what made those early games so special. He also gives a lot of useful insights into the thinking behind these games and the people who made and marketed them. Due to the book's size, I had a lot of difficulty scanning it. In order to do that, we ultimately had to wreck the book removing its pages from the cover and binding. Scanning the piles of pages while keeping them mainly in order proved to be quite a time-consuming task. I have yet to read through the book. However, I read a lot as I scanned it. The insights I gained through this process have caused me to re-think a lot of the more complex elements of my game. As a result, I'm trimming a lot of elements out and changing the game design into a more streamlined version. The book's six
hundred and twenty-four pages doubtless have plenty more lessons to teach me and I plan to do a thorough reading soon. Any developers interested in the history of video games or computer games in general would be well advised to obtain copies.

I initially planned on having a number of special enemies associated with various game states and locations. These special foes such as Death, the magma beast, and others would require the player to kill them in various complex ways making use of companions and special items. However, in the process of trying to come up with all of these things, I realized that the game really didn't need them. The basic five enemies I had come up with would be quite adequate with the four elementals filling the roles of special enemies. This is because the goblins, trolls, ghosts, feeders and dragons I had originally planned on have very different abilities and behaviors. There's enough diversity there to keep things interesting and provide incentive for taking care of and learning to make effective use of companions.

Combat was also simplified as I realized I didn't need all the various
special attacks I had in mind. Combat, after all, was just one aspect of Fearless Flin's adventures. Fearless Flin will have access to three weapons during normal circumstances and may acquire two special weapons. His companions will have different weapons they can use. This increases their importance in dealing with enemies while the player uses Fearless Flin himself for other tasks.

The games which made a lasting impact didn't necessarily have a whole lot of elements or complex controls. They had to be easy to learn how to play but hard to master. Reading about all the notable early games made me realize how overly complex I was making things. In an effort to focus on companions and ways of making them useful, I was throwing everything else out of kilter. My approach as I re-design things is consequently a lot more simplified. Throwing away so much work is painful and frustrating but I'm convinced that the end result will be a far better balanced game. Progress isn't nearly so hampered by bouts of writer's block as it once was. I should have a better and final design document done by the end of the summer. While
I'm working on that, I'll continue to sift through my sound effects library looking for more sounds I can use as they are without having to do too much editing. I began work in that area as I had planned to before we came to the conclusion that we'd have to wreck the book in order to make it readable.  Originally, I had hoped that either the publisher could provide an electronic copy or an organization could translate it. I have a better copy than I dreaded being stuck with but it's far from perfect. At least three pages are out of order and there are doubtless plenty of other small errors. Still, it'll serve as an excellent reference and fountain of insights about what make games fun and the like. Finding and editing the sounds I'll need
looks like it's a far larger task than I had first suspected, but that seems to be the case with every aspect of this first venture into accessible game development. I hope I can keep up a respectable pace during the next few months.

Michael Feir
Creator and former Editor of Audyssey Magazine

Game Announcements and Reviews:
 Below are some of the new games available.  Though an old treasure or

two may be discussed too.  It's noteworthy that in some cases it's only

an announcement of a game, taken from the email list, and may not be a

full review,    or an official notice from the developer.  Reviews of games will not  appear in any particular order. The only exception to this will be when  we have more than one review for a game. In this case, reviews will be  placed consecutively so that it is easier to compare them.
Hi Folks,
A free on-line game of twenty questions is at,
It is totally accessible for the blind.
You think of an item and then the computer asks you 20 to 30 questions about it.
If it guesses correctly in 20 questions or less it wins.
I played it four times and only won one of the four games.
Thanks to ,
Dean Martineau
Top Dot Enterprises
2219 Rucker Ave #204
Everett WA 98201
(425) 876-4406


This is just a quick note to say that Version 1.20 of Giftanum is now
available. Check it out!


The Giftanum V 1.20 to 1.21 patch is now available. The patch includes the Winsock OCX, and the file paths issue fix.


Jason SW, Founder/admin, XLStudios, SI.

Pipe 2: Blast Chamber
Reviewed by Lukas Hosnedl
available from BSC Games

Basic description

Dear Agent Smith:
Two weeks ago, the mafia kingpin Moochiani hit up mayor Jackson of San Diego for one million dollars. He told the Mayor if he didn't get the money in 1 week, he would destroy the city's water system and blow up the main water plant. As you probably guessed, Jackson declined the one million but offered Moochiani a nice prison threat.

To say the least, Moochiani was outraged. His gang destroyed the city's water system. Not only that, Moochiani's gang planted a bomb in the main water treatment plant directly below the red dragon carryout. Moochiani claims that if Mayor Jackson hands over the million, he'll disarm the bomb. Jackson is being stubborn and won't hand over the money. Now we have people's lives at stake because of the bomb.

This is where you come into play. Get ready to go to California. Your flight leaves the siesta keys at 9 AM and will arrive in San Diego at 2 PM. Once you land, you're going undercover as a city maintenance worker and are going to go underground and start fixing the water system and search for the bomb and disable it. Once you enter the underground-dismantled water system, intelligence tells us that Moochiani's bomb will automatically begin a 60-minute countdown until it detonates.

So, you have 60 minutes to fix the water pipes, deactivate the bomb, and get this city back under control. If you accomplish this for us Smith, we'll consider promoting you and giving you a raise.

Good luck,
Chief Executive Officer 

So, this is the very beginning of Pipe 2 Blast Chamber, Justin Daubenmire's BSC Games newest release  that is here to stay and bring you never ending excitement and enjoyment like you've never experienced before. The all new Blast Chamber is approximately 55 MB. You better prepare for an absolutely awesome and cool journey that'll completely blow ya away.

It's simply self-explanatory and tells you in short what is waiting for you in this new game that's full of unexpected surprises and hidden challenging situations. Providing three levels of difficulty (easy, normal and insane) and having 15 intense action packed levels and two new bonus rounds, with level 15 being the bomb disable level, it has truly high replay value and so you will be returning back to it again and again. You will be dealing with a whole bunch of all new reworked enemies, which require certain special items to kill and three different types of levels. One of which involves a completely new manner of game play found only in Pipe 2 Blast Chamber, throughout the 14 normal levels which makes each game unique. You can never know what exactly is waiting ahead of you, especially on higher levels and harder difficulties when things get a lot faster, more intense, and exciting. Everything is generated randomly.

Pipe 2 Blast Chamber costs 34.95 USD and can be downloaded from
The setup file has approximately 55 megabites. If you install the product and try to play without registering your own copy, you can try the game in demo mode for ten days after which it will expire.  However, if you are a previous Pipe customer, you can purchase Pipe 2 at a 50% discount for only 17.95 US. The trial demo mode allows you to play the first 4 levels plus the first bonus round on easy difficulty,
You can also try out the practice round which lets you fit up to 15 pipes so you can practice the all new concept of finding, hammering and twisting them without fear of being killed all of a sudden.

Everything. The entire game.
It was completely rewritten from the beginning, a completely new game. It no longer has the sounds installed in a compressed format so no unpacking is needed after installation, just install and enjoy. It has avesome new sounds and background music (mostly rock) that perfectly fits to the rest of the game. Now pay attention please, because the music was recorded by real lead musicians in a profesional sound studio. The first ever audiogame that has such kind of music in it, at least that I know about! The "screen" and some character voiceovers were done by Tom Randal of BSC technical support team and the rest of the character voices are by Justin Daubenmire himself. *smile*
The "view top ten scores" menu option now keeps track of your personal best scores for each of the three difficulties and Pipe 2 now also maintains the statistics file to show you in detail how well or badly you did in each of your games.
BC also has joystick and gamepad support and you can use almost any of them to play it. If you have seen the joystick utilities for other BSC titles, you'll probably notice that the utility has been improved in Pipe 2.
There are three different types of levels in BC: regular pipe levels, electricity pipe levels, and sidescrolling steam levels. They are randomly generated throughout the game so you can never know which level will come next. Each of these three types of levels has its own background theme. In both kinds of pipe levels you will be fixing the pipe water system but it's not gonna be that easy. You will have to deal with poisonous spiders attempting to bite you. You will come across rats annoying you that will give you even more trouble, trying to chew holes in pipes you have already repaired. If you are not able to whip them off the pipe using a wrench in time, they'll break the pipe and you will not have the opportunity to repair it, and it'll take some of your so hardly earned points away. From time to time, one of Moochiani's thugs will attack you with his gun so you need to be faster and either blast away with your gun or punch him with your fists. But you must be really quick: If there are too many challenges at once and your too slow, gurgle, the flowing pipe water will drown you.

Stairs might occasionally appear on a normal pipe level or an electricity level that you may either accept or decline,
toolboxes will appear that you must unlock to obtain a special item Which can be either bug spray, a flashlight, more wrenches or more ammo. You must crack the correct combination on the padlock in order to get into the toolbox, again, within a certain time limit.

 Oh no, my got, please help me, an electricity level comes! What should I do? You should watch out for the electricity and avoid it when sliding over to the next pipe if possible. Simply wait till it sounds in a different spot than you're currently at.

 However, the sidescrolling levels are something absolutely different.  They are a 2dimensional environment where you're standing at one end and your task is to get to the other where the door out of the level is located. You can only move left or right (backwards or forwards) and jump, but it'll be very tough, just to let you know.
On your way you will encounter many obstacles that you must avoid
and trashcans that you can, but don't have to.  They may contain  special items such as a construction hat, welding kits to weld pipes
extra points, extra time added to the bomb's timer, or nothing at all. but it takes a few seconds to search a trashcan.

As for the obstacles, there are jets of steam and bolts of electricity that come on and off in a certain pattern and are stationary which you must time so that you'll be running under them at the time when they are off. There are also sewer lits, that you must jump over when you feel that you are close enough.  At last, there are barels bouncing towards you that you have to jump over.

Starting the game

After activating the program, you'll hear the really cool starting theme (which you may skip by pressing control if you want, just like the quit theme) and the main menu will appear after that. You can use the up and down arrows (or tab and shift-tab if you prefer) to cycle through the available options, and enter or space bar to select one. The following choices are available:
1. Start game:
This item starts a new game,
You can select which difficulty you want and the game will then begin
2. Practice round:
3. Program settings:
Here, you can toggle the various (three) game options on or off as if you would be selecting a normal main menu item.
4. View top ten scores:
Here you can browse through your local best 10 scores ever obtained for all three difficulties separately.
5. Post your score to BSC Games:
The name says it all. This will post the score for your last finished game and if it was high enough to make the top ten score charts (viewable from the BSC Games website), you will be told your position.
6. Learn game sounds:
If you select this option, a list of the most important and common sounds you'll encounter throughout the game will appear that you can browse with the arrow keys as usual while each sound will be identified to you, of course. :-)
7. Test speaker orientation:
It's strongly recommended that you select this before first starting the game. It will identify your left and right speakers.
8. Quit game:
You'll get the ending theme that can be also skipped with the ctrl key.

Pipe levels

Before the new level starts, you'll be told which kind of level it is (it's useful when you have background music off since each level has its own theme so after a while you can easily know which level comes next due to the music), either pipe level, electricity level, or sidescroller. In case of a pipe or electricity level the number of pipes in your toolbox, number of hammer hits required to fit a pipe and number of pipes required to fit the current level will also be spoken. If it's not level 1 then your current score will be also announced. After that you'll start to hear the water flowing 

twisting the water valve. You're using the arrows for this purpose, too. At the first pipe of a level it's randomly generated at which arrow it will start so you must first guess until you find the right one.  Once you have found the correct one it continues in a clockwise pattern. So, if it was for example the right arrow, you'll gota press the down arrow after hammering the second pipe in order to twist the valve properly. Then left arrow, up arrow, right, down, left again, up, etc. But remember that if you forget which arrow was next in the line and press a wrong one, the water will speed up.
that I was already talking about. First, let's start off with those annoying spiders that I like the less.
They can appear at any moment and then you have only a few seconds to react properly and crush it with your foot before it has the time to bite you to death. In fact, spiders are a game of memory. When you hear the spider sound you must press a key between F1 and F6 in order to kill it. If it was your first spider then F1 is the right one, and then it ascends until F6. So, when the second spider comes, you hafta press F2, F3 at the third one in order, and so on. Once you've killed the sixth spider, the counter is reset back to F1 as if it was your first spider. However, on insane difficulty it's reversed, so it goes from F6 back to F1. So, F6 is at the first spider, F5 at the second one, etc. If you hit a wrong key, boom, you're dead. :-)
Seems easy? Well, but what if you haven't had a spider for 2 or 3 levels? You concentrated on so so many other things that when a next one finally appeared, you weren't able to remember which one it was. So you press F5 in the last second, cause you have nothing to loose. You'd either die due to time running out or due to your bad memory, or get the spider. And yes, you've died, cause you should have pressed F6 instead. Each time you're killed by a spider, the spider counter resets back to 1 but it won't if you are killed differently. And also remember that each time you're killed, 10 minutes is taken off the bomb's timer.
As for the rats, they can appear anywhere, either on the left or on the right, and again, you have only so many seconds to whip it off the pipe with a wrench. If you can't do it or if you have no wrenches left  it'll chew a hole in a pipe that you've already fixed. So, as soon as a rat appears, select wrench and target it with the left and right arrow keys depending on its position in your stereo field of hearing, and when you get the rat is targeted sound, press control to whip the wrench. If you missfired, you can still try a second time but now you have less time to accomplish it, naturally. And, even more naturally, all other things in the game keep going on, so the pipe water might possibly drown you if you aren't careful and fast enough.
At last, a Moochiani's thug may appear on the screen at any moment, yeling somethin' at you as he targets you with his gun. So, act quickly! You gotta be faster than he is and get him with your own gun or with your fists. Select the gun and shoot him with the control key. On easy, a thug takes only one bullet, but on higher difficulties it'll take more shots to kill a thug. Once you kill a thug (you'll hear him scream in pain and his dead body fallin' on the ground nicely .
If you are too slow, bang, he will shoot you. And you have ten less minutes to complete your mission.
But you can also punch thugs out with your fists. As killingg with your fists gives you more points. If you want to do that, don't select the gun. Instead, it's enough to press both controls rapidly until he's dead.
When a toolbox appears, everything is temporarily paused and you are now here to do only one thing: crack the combination on the padlock in order to get into the toolbox. *smile*
Again, you have only so much time to do this. Usually you have four digits arranged randomly, and you must re-arrange them correctly. You use the left and right arrows to cycle through the numbers. If you want to swap two numbers, press control on one, move over to the one that you want to swap it with, and press control again. To help you determine whether a digit is placed correctly or not, you get a tiny click when listing through the numbers on every number that's already placed correctly.  If you are successful, you'll hear the toolbox opening (really nice sound by the way) and you will be told which special item you were given. If you're not lucky, then you'll hear yourself saying "darnit!" and you will return to normal game play with no special item. :-)
Now, finally, about the special items. :-)
You have only 4 kinds of special items that you can select from. They are the gun, wrenches, bug sprays and flashlights. If you want to use a welding kit that you've found in a trashcan on a sidescroller level, you press w and the current pipe will be fit automatically.

Electricity levels

They're the same as normal pipe levels, except the electricity. I've already described the concept. You don't have to care about the electricity until you hear a sort of "uh" sound meaning your next move is under electricity, be careful , wait until it's in a different place than the flowing water sounds, and twist the valve. Note that you would only get killed at the moment of twisting the valve.
If you hear the electricity sound, you know its from the same place, you should wait till it moves over. It isn't reliable to wait until it turns off only since it can stay there for a little while even after that. This would happen only on higher levels, and then on higher difficulties. Once again, everything else that was described in the "Pipe levels" chapter is kept here too.


The only things I haven't mentioned yet are that you press c to use a construction hat and hold down the up arrow to get into a trashcan. It'll count down from 3 or 2 on easy (more on higher difficulties) and then you will hear what you have found.

Bonus rounds

After levels 4 and 8 you'll get a thug shoot off bonus round. In this bonus round you shoot thugs with your gun until one shoots you. Your gun has unlimited ammo and is always ready to fire,and the round never counts against you. You can get extra time (10 minutes) if you shoot 7 thugs on easy, 8 on normal, and 10 on insane. At the beginning of the bonus round, you'll hear your gun clicking which tells you that you're positioned in the center of the screen. A thug may appear either ahead of you or to the left or right. You target him with the arrow keys, and when your gun clicks at the same place where he is, he is targeted. Then, you shoot him with the control key. But watch out: The more thugs you shoot, the more shots they take to kill. Thug 1 you have to shoot once, thug 2 twice, the next one three times, etc. If you shoot in the wrong place or are too slow, the thug will get you. So you will be killed even if you use more shots than you needed. Because although you've killed the current thug, the next shot counts as if you were shooting on the next thug. Also, as time goes and you get further, in the round, thugs appear faster than the previous one and you also have less time to react. :-)

Disabling the bomb

Well, you're really good! You've done it, you've gotten to the bomb. Now you have to disable it. This is done by arranging the numbers from lowest to highest, from left to right. You move over the digits and swap them in the same manner as with the toolbox. That means that you use left and right arrows to browse through the randomly arranged numbers and swap one with another by pressing control on one digit and then pressing it once again on the one that you want to swap it with. How much time do you have to do it? Well, as much as remains on the clock. If you can't do it in time, you will hear the bomb explosion sound.   I must tell you honestly that, although you do not like this one of course cause it means that you lost, it sounds really cool. I like  how it sounds, and not when and why it sounds. 

The cheat codes

There are over 14 cheats in Blast Chamber. Once you play normal difficulty and get the score of 2.5 million points or more, a file named "game_cheats.txt" will be generated in your game folder that contains all of them. They can do various things like, for example, turn off the pipe water, destroy electricity on the electricity levels, start the game with a load of special items, destroy the closest barel or sewer lit on a sidescrolling level, create stairs anywhere on a pipe or electricity level, cause you to have only one pipe. Pipes that require only one hammer hit, etc. However, they can also do things to make the game more challenging, like make all levels sidescrollers, cause thugs to have to be hit a lot more before they die, or make you to have to hammer pipes many more times than usual. )
They're simply cool!

Some spoilers, hints and tricks

This chapter is here just for pure fun. It includes some of my most favourite strategies I use in the game, so anyone who wants can take advantage of them. However, anyone who doesn't want to should skip this since I'll be spoiling quite a couple of things in the game here. Smile

To help you remember which spider was next in the line, I use a strategy that Sherry Gomez from the BSC Game talk list revealed in public.  Once you kill your first spider, you sing (or say) to yourself: "One little, one little, one little darling."
Sherry said that one particular song inspired her to think of this idea but I cannot remember which one she was refering to off the top of my head. Sorry folks. smile.
When you get your second one, you'll sing or say "Two little, two little, two little darlings.", and so on. You should always repeat this to yourself several times, best at the transition between levels (this is my addition to Sherry's strategy). At least this is what I do and it helps me. Smiles

Thugs on higher difficulties

Mostly, I kill thugs with my fists if possible because it gives me more points than if I would have shot them. So this is what I do on insane: Because it takes 3 shots to kill them instead of 1, it's naturally also a lot harder to kill them with fists. You have to be really fast and press both control keys rapidly.
After you killed the thug, your controls would immediately start acting as the hammer once again. So I always press the left control with my hand as rapidly as I can, and do the pipe shuffle at the same time with the right hand. Before I get the thug, I have already found the correct pipe so I can start using both controls again.

Faster hammering

I also use both controls to hammer pipes when it takes greater hits to fit a pipe.

Search Party
No sight needed
Reviewed by ron Schamerhorn

A Word Search Puzzle consists of a grid of letters, in which certain words are hidden. The words may or may not be related, and it is the puzzle-solvers job to go through the grid, locating all of these words. I've met many puzzle enthusiasts who spend more time than they wish to admit trying to solve these. I can personally recall my elementary school and high school teachers throwing these at us in order to learn certain words, and to have some fun while we're at it.

Search Party is a rediculously feature-packed program for dealing with word searches. The game comes with several word lists to get you started, but you can easily edit these or create new ones. Once you have a word list you want to use, you can go ahead and create a puzzle with these words hidden in it. Choose exactly how big (or small) you want your puzzle to be, as well as if you want to allow horizontal, vertical, or diagonal placement of words. Solve the puzzle with spoken speech on your PC, save it to a text file, print it on your printer, or braille a hardcopy to take with you on that one hour ride to school tomorrow!

To start off with I'll say I haven't played the game in full mode yet.  However the demo is adequit to give a player enough of an idea of the gameplay, and if it is something they would wish to purchase.
  The various options which are available could lead to a heap of fun with this game.  Finding words vertically, or horizontally is one thing but diagonally certainly ups the challenge presented to a person. 
  I feel I gave the game a fair run through, though I haven't fully investigated fully the aspects I'm able to change.  Typically I left the game in the default settings as to grid, the directions of the words and so on.  For the most part I was able to find the words on the list, but confess a few of them totally baffled me!
  The demo I played limits a person to the choice of about 10 word lists, and the first five words of that particular list.  As I mentioned, it's enough to wet your appetite if word games are something you enjoy.  I can imagine the full game must be extremely adictive!
  As an example of one of the listcontents in demo mode, if you choose "Animal".  The five words you are given are monkey, dog, cat, lion, and goat.  They aren't large words, but I didn't find them all while playing this puzzle.
  Overall I'd say Dan has done a great job at bringing a fun & entertaining word game to the community.  Now that I've seriously played it for this review it's definitely on the list of games to acquire.  A great way to spend some time, and as an educational benefit spelling too!
  Great job!  The one thing I'd like to see is a keystroke to inform a player where they are located on the grid.  A minor point for certain but I thought it worth the mention.  Thumbs up, An easy 8 of 10 for Search Party.

Tekken 4
Developer: namco
Requires almost no sighted assistance
Available for sony playstation 2
Review by Tommaso Nonis

After the immense success of Tekken Tag tournament, which was one of sony playstation 2's launch titles, Namco released, in 2002, the fourth episode of the main tekken fighting series, namely tekken 4. For all the tekken players on this community, I have good news.  A lot of the all time favourite characters are in this one, like Ehiachi and Kazuya Mishima, Paul Phoenix, Jin Kazama, Nina Williams, etc. Plus there are three new fighters in the line up: Craig Marduk, a wale tudo fighter, Steve Fox, a boxer, and Christie Monteiro, a girl who fights exactly like Eddie Gordo of tekken 3 (in fact he was her teacher, the story says.)
As a good boxer, Steve Fox uses the kick buttons on the control pad to dodge rather than kicking. He is my personal fav, because his punches are fast and he's easy to use.

The gameplay

Well, like any other fighting game, the buttons on the ps2 controller do different things such as punching and kicking, dodging, parrying etc.
The game plays much like tekken 3, except now there are interactive arenas. For example your opponent can break statues, hide under phone boots, etc, guys, don't fear at this statement, with no sight the game is still playable! You will certainly like placing your opponent against a wall and then pounding him to death. There is also a special throw this time around, that will slightly push your opponent so that you can be free if you are on a wall. This can often determine who wins the fight.

There are a lot of play modes as well, and if you can have a sighted dude to read you the menu, learning them is an easy task. There is story mode, which pits you against 8 fighters according to your character's story. At the beginning of this mode, there's a voice that speaks the background of that character, and the reason why he chose to enter the fourth iron fist tournament.
Then there's arcade, that basically is story mode with no story, team battle, which lets you choose a team of fighters and deal with an opposing team of fighters, survival, in which you have to defeat as many enemies as you can before your health runs out. Only one byt of health is returned to you in this mode, tekken force, a final fight stile mode in which you go through four levels beating up enemies. I would like to spend a few more words to comment on this mode: it's god, but it's pretty unbalanced as well. I mean, with some characters is simply too hard, but by simply using Steve's simple 4 hit combo I was able to clear the game after only a few attempts.
Then there is practice mode, in which you can practice your fighting skills, gallery mode, that lets you view the endings of the characters you have finished the game with, and there are the options.

The sound

Well, talking about music, this game doesn't do it absolutely right like the other tekkens. Some of the tunes are good, but for example the theme of the laboratory shouldn't be allowed to exist in the first place. Let's not even talk about the theme when you are fighting with a lot of people around you. Whoever composed that song should be beaten up with a good 10 hit combo in the face.
The sound effects, instead, are excellent. You can hear the punches, kicks and groans clearly, they make you really feel the pain that the fighters are taking.
The announcer is great, the best one in the series. You just have to listen to his cool voice.
And did I forget, the characters talk in this one. At the beginning and at the end of each match you will hear the characters saying something like,"time to die!" or "Come on!".

Overall, this game is a very good fighter, especially if you play it with friends. You will be entertained for hours, especially having to unlock all the secret characters by beating the game numerous times. At the end it gets a 8, the bad tunes there are just keep it from getting a 10.
So if you like fighting games, go get this one!

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