About 4 months ago, one of the great testers from down under – Australia – suggested that I contact other developers of Windows-based accessible games, and work with them so their games can be played on the iPhone and iPad.
I contacted several: some were excited, some were rude and dismissive. I struck up a good conversation with the engineers at RS Games, and we talked for several weeks about customer expectations and experience, how our business models differed, and how we would approach the project. Once we reached a verbal agreement, they sent me the programming code for their web client, and I proceeded to re-write it, so it would work on iOS.
For those of you who don’t know about RS Games, they’ve created about 19 multi-player games, including Monopoly, Uno, Yahtzee and Farkle. Their games run on a game server, so people all over the world connect to the RS game server using the RS game client on Windows or the Mac, and play with each other. They have been building games for over 5 years, so their games are quite popular and impressive.
Our joint project would let people participate in these online multiplayer games directly from their iPhone or iPad.
Most of the technical conversion was straight forward; the challenge was coming with how the game should behave if you didn’t have a keyboard. RS Games are designed for rapid audio play with a keyboard. On both Windows and the Mac, you use the keyboard to control the game, including the arrow keys and the function keys. Without a keyboard, the game just wasn’t playable.
We came up with sensible iPhone gestures, based on the pattern that I’ve set out with the Blindfold Games. For example, instead of using the arrow keys to cycle through a list of options (such as which game you want to play), you swipe up and down.
Once that was done, I mentioned the game to several testers, and they strongly felt that the game needed to use the keyboard as well. Since many visually impaired people use an braille display, the game needed to work the same way on the iPhone with a braille display as it works on Windows and the Mac, with a braille display.
Most of that was easy; we had to make a few changes, since the F1 to F9 keys have other meanings when connected to an iPhone or iPad, so we changed those to pressing the CONTROL key while tapping a key from 1 to 9.
The games were released about two weeks ago, and we’re getting great feedback.