English: Interlude – Nychta; A non-visual game

As some of you may be aware, PlayPlay was started as a family project. The thought behind it was that we want to play games together, but me and my wife is blind while the kids are not. Ergo, we started our own little game studio.

But this morning I got the news about Nychta – a little web minigame from GG Undroid Games. Nychta is a non-graphical game, where you try to find your way out of a labyrinth, using your hearing and keeping track of where you have gone before.

So is this The Game We Have Been Looking For?

Well, not exactly, and I will tell you why soon. But first I want to tell you about what the developers get right!

The music is wonderful! It sets the tone perfectly for the game. Seriously – A+! The second thing that is good is that it is run directly in the browser. I don’t have to download anything. I don’t have to have a subscription to anything. And this is great. And, thirdly, it is free to play. (Which is why you should pay for the Ko-Fi. Seriously, guys. Games with non visual gameplay are far between. Actually so far that this developer thought s/he was first with the idea).

But a few, purely technical, things detract from the experience, for me as a blind player. First – the game does not run on mobile browsers. Secondly – it does not run on text based browsers. Which is kind of dumb, since it does use graphics. The third technical problem is the keyboard mapping. It uses the cursor keys, which is logical. But. The cursor keys are used in many screen readers, to jump between different elements of a web page.

(For those of you who are not blind – many of us use CLI, such as DOS or Bash and browsers like lynx or w3m (so to test if a website work for blind people – simply run it in one of those and check for yourself what our experience is). This is so that assistive tech such as screen readers and Braille displays work better. For productivity, this suits a lot of us just fine.

And a lot of us use an iPhone with the Safari browser and the VoiceOver setting turned on. It is a GREAT user experience, when surfing the web. Superior to most other, I’d say.)

This, however is not a great problem. People who really want to play the game will adjust. And the problems are not new. Blind gamers are just sighing and adjusting. I know that the game is made in Unity and my guess is that it exports to the web in such a format. OK, fine! But could any of the above three problems be solved, I guess the studio would get more casual, blind players. This is also why I hesitate to call it a ”game for blind people”, but rather ”a non visual game”.

So – is this The Game That Saves The Summer for us as a family?

Not quite. The game is simple enough. But maybe too simple. I would like some sort of progress tracker, like points, or a timer, or at least an indication on which level you’re on. I think that it would make the game more of a competition or communal challenge.

Or – you could add a slow monster roaming the maze, that you’d have to escape, and have a ”survival mode”.

The sound effects are a little ”meh”, and especially since this is a game based on hearing / listening. Should the sounds be something like a real cane ticking and a real ”ouff” when bumping into things, the effects would better suit the mood of the score. These sound effects are more ”Pac-Man, but with sad music”, which is too bad for a game that is robust and fun to play.

I realize this might come off as a real axe job of a review. It’s certainly not meant that way! Instead, I want to thank GG Undroid Games for a simple (not easy) game without graphics. I would love to play a ”Nychta 2” with more ambient sounds and with more competetive gameplay. Because – even having started to think about the non visual gaming experience is worthy of credit. It gives me hope for the future.

I like this little game. I have fun playing it. And you should try it too!

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