Blindfold Playing with Pitch

When translating from a video game to an audio game, there aren’t a lot of options to present all the information you need to play the game.

audio mixer console

A game can make different types of sounds, or can tell you what’s going on, or when you wear headphones, can position the sound somewhere between your ears.

For most games, having more than about 6 or 7 sounds is excessive and makes the game too complex.  In a fast-paced game,  sounds can only be one-quarter to one-half second long;  playing several sounds at once is too confusing.

Speaking phrases, like the score, or the cards you are holding in your hand, is easy, but most phrases take 2 to 5 seconds to speak.  That’s fine for slow games, but too long for action games.

Giving you auditory positioning information via headphones, as in Blindfold Pong, Blindfold Racer and Blindfold Hopper, is useful, but most people don’t like to play games with headphones or earbuds.

As I was creating a baseball game, I needed a way indicate how far the ball was from your bat, so you could hit the ball just as it got to your bat.  I started experimenting with modifying pitch of a sound.  As the ball traveled from the pitcher to you, the pitch of the ball sound got higher and higher.

I tried different ball sounds: simple notes (like A flat), a rattling sound, and a ball rolling on a table sound.  None of them sounded convincing as the pitch changed.  I tried some “dual tone multi frequency” sounds – the same as you hear on a phone – and concluded that the tone for digit nine sounded good at slow, medium and fast pitch.

I was even able to layer other sounds – high frequency beeps – on top of the varying pitch ball sound, to tell you when the ball was coming close to your bat, when it was in the right spot to swing, and when it had traveled past your bat.

I’ll use the pitch method for some other games I’m building, including a variation of Flappy Bird.  More about both baseball game and the flappy bird game in another blog.

To download the baseball game called Blindfold Home Run Derby, tap here:




Blind And Beyond Sponsorship

We just started sponsoring the Blind and Beyond Radio Show: a show for people interested in learning about the world of the visually impaired, as well as the delights and challenges of how they live successful and productive lives.  They talk to people from all over the world as they share their life experiences.

The show is on every Sunday from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern Time on WOKB 1680 AM radio
in Orlando, Florida and can be heard on the web at   You can listen on the Victor Reader Stream through the internet radio, or on your smart phone via the TuneIn Radio App. Or call 518-712-0057 and listen to the show live right from your phone without using any app.

Here’s a quick audio clip from the show:


Or tap here:



Blindfold Clues

After creating a Blindfold version of Monopoly, requests starting pouring in for other board games.  People wanted board games such as Life, Scrabble, Risk, Sorry, Trouble, and Clue. I remember playing Clue when I was a kid, so I tackled that one first.

profile of sherlock holmes shadow

Clue, originally called Cluedo, is a murder mystery game for three to six players, devised by Anthony Pratt from Birmingham, England.  The object of the game is to determine who murdered the game’s victim, where the crime took place, and which weapon was used. Each player assumes the role of one of the six suspects, and attempts to deduce the correct answer by strategically moving around a game board representing the rooms of a mansion and collecting clues about the circumstances of the murder from the other players.

To play the game, you spin the dice, then move your token on game board.  Most rooms are separated from each other by about 4 to 10 spots.  When you land in a room, you can accuse the killer by specifying the killer’s name, room and the weapon.  If you are correct, you win; if you are wrong, you lose the game.  If you decide not to accuse, then you can make an suggestion based on the room you are in.  For example, if you are in the kitchen, you can suggest that it was Mr. Green in the kitchen with a knife.  If any player has proof your suggestion is wrong, they’ll show it to you.  Using that information, you collect clues until you know all about the murder.

Clue can get quite complex, so I had to simplify several features for Blindfold Clues.  Firstly, instead of spinning dice to determine your move, at the start of your turn, you are can move to any room that’s connected you the room you’re in.  Not only does that speed up the game, it makes it much more fun.

Blindfold Clues gives you several ways to keep track of clues, so you don’t need to remember everything.  There’s a clues screen that lets you record notes to yourself, such as the suspicions you have.  Each time you learn another clue, you have some suggestions you want to test out in the future, you can record them in that screen.

There’s a second screen that lets you indicate which card – murderer, weapon or room – has been proved true, false or is still unknown.  And for those who want to make the game easy, there’s a third screen that records each of the suggestions in the game, and their outcomes.

You can change your opponent’s skill from beginner to average to good to expert.  As your skills improve, you compete with better players.  The average game lasts about a half-hour.

You can download the game here:




Blindfold Words From Words

After building the word game Blindfold Unscramble, I starting hearing from people who wanted more games based on letter scrambling.  Blindfold Unscramble is a simple game: it scrambles the letters in a word, and you have to unscramble it.  Hence the word “blindfold” might be scrambled as “fdidbolnl”.

word cubes

This lead to a game called Blindfold Words From Words: given a word, how many words can you create from those letters.  For example,  if the master word is “blindfold”, you can create the words including blind, fold, bind, old, find, oil, foil, din, and so on.  You get 3 points for a 3 letter word, 4 points for a 4 letter word, and so on.

Prior to starting the game, it tells you how many possible words can be created.  This was an easy game to build, but it I couldn’t figure out a good way to determine all possible words.

One way to solve this problem is to build each word from the available letters in the master word and then checking that the word exists can take a long time.  With the master word “blindfold”, which has 9 letters, to find all of the 3 letter words, you need to test 9 times 9 time 9 combinations, or 729 combinations.   To find all of the 4 letter words, you need to test about 7,000 combinations.  To find all of the 5 letter words, you need to test abut 60,000 combinations.  To find all of the 6 letter words, you need to test 531,000 combinations.  As you can see, the choices go up exponentially as the word gets longer.  Looking for all 9 letter combinations would analyze 400 million possibilities.

A faster way to solve this is to check every word in the dictionary, and see if it can be built from the letters in the master word.  The Blindfold Words From Words dictionary contains about 80,000 words.  That means that only 80,000 possibilities need be tested regardless of the length of the initial word.  It takes only a few seconds for the average iPhone to process that many words.

To make it even faster, ignores words from the dictionary that do not contain the letters in the master word.  For example, since the word “blindfold” does not contain letters such as “c”, “g”, “q” and “z”, all words with those letters are ignored.  That reduced the time to find all words to about one tenth of a second.

Over the months since the game was released, I’ve added several options to make game play faster.  You can review your words alphabetically, or in the order you found them, and at the end of the game, you can see either all the words, or just the words you’ve found, or just the words that you couldn’t find.  Like the other Blindfold Word Games, it’s fun, fast paced, and helps you improve your vocabulary.

To download Blindfold Words From Words, click here:

Blindfold Games in GLASS

Theresa Rice of the Georgia Libraries for Statewide Accessible Services (GLASS) contacted me a few weeks ago to include Blindfold Games in their newsletter.


As she told me, “I have Blindfold Games installed on our iPad to show to children’s medical services and physical rehab units. I also visit all manner of support groups and Blindfold Games are a great little ‘something extra’ I can provide. Thanks again for Blindfold Games and best of luck going forward with your work.”

Here’s the excerpt from the newsletter;

A visit to Apple’s App Store will bring up multiple titles from Blindfold Games. Their audio-based games are created for players with visual impairments but fun for anyone. The wizard behind the company is Marty Schultz.

In 2014, Schultz taught programming to middle school youngsters, all eager to recreate hugely popular games. But he didn’t see the point of doing what had been done before. That’s when inspiration struck. Games for players who are blind presented a new approach to game design, accessing an eager yet underserved demographic.

Voila! Blindfold Racer was born.

“I don’t think it’s simply that the games exist and are accessible that makes the games popular,” says Schultz. “It’s that the testers, who are all visually impaired, as well as the fans, tell me how game(s) should be enhanced, and I listen.”

The game count — which includes everything from Blindfold Euchre to Blindfold Air Hockey to Blindfold Feud (think Family Feud) — is 50+ and growing. Download any of the games for free in the App Store.

To get a list of Blindfold Games, visit here:

For more info on GLASS, visit here: