Thursday, September 18, 2014

Usability Concerns (Coloratura)

Main post on Coloratura.

One of the things that I'm always concerned about with regards to game design is making sure that the game is accessible to as many people as possible. I really enjoyed writing Coloratura's focus on this intense visual experience, but with allusions to text-based colors that required no actual ability to distinguish color or even see. In fact, I played this to my advantage with infrared and ultraviolet. But, I feel like the text representation of a visual experience also gave the player an opportunity to mentally engage in world-building more: after all, what does an infrared funneling aura look like? I could conjure an image, and so could you, but I'm not sure they'd be the same. I delighted giving auras physically ambiguous descriptions, allowing players to fill them in with their imagination, focus on the emotions behind the colors and the shapes.

Usually, the colors and the descriptions were designed to create an otherworldly, off-kilter feeling for the protagonist towards the physical world. I wanted to create the feeling of 'impossible geometry', when describing real things and people. Towards that goal, I ended up using a lot of nonsensical or fabricated words. However, I realized that made-up words do not translate well into other languages, and so I created a switch - Translation Friendly Mode - that would replace those words or phrases with roughly equivalent real words. I realize however, that I also did things like verb nouns and noun verbs, which also makes for a tricky translation. If I had had more time, I would have liked to have made Translation Friendly Mode replace entire sentences. It was always a stretch goal, and while I'm sad I didn't make it, I hope that it makes people think about these kind of issues in the future. For Coloratura, I'm also a little bit alright with the translation getting a bit garbled in the process. I think that might have been more accurate towards how the Aqueosity sees things anyway.

Finally, I had created and included a map to aid with navigation, but obviously this was not accessible to visually-impaired players. I made sure to include a text-based description of the map both in the game proper and in the comments section of the .jpg file of the map itself. I also included a text description of the cover art in that file as well.

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