Seeking Feedback on Timecrest: The Door
I'm a developer for the game Timecrest for iOS, a choose-your-own-adventure style interactive fiction RPG. We received an email from a voiceover user named Brad who told us that our game was 95% accessible and gave us information on this forum on how to make our game better accessible for voiceover users.
When we came over to check the forum, we were humbled that Timecrest was recommended by users here, and embarrassed that the game was not 100% accessible to voiceover users, and have to admit that we're very new to developing accessible software.
We're investigating what we can do to improve the game and I've personally been trying to play our game fully in voiceover to better understand the experience.
I wanted to post here to gather your feedback as well. Please tell us what we can do to improve your experience playing the game, so we can integrate it into our improvements for you.
Here's a link to the game: https://itunes.apple.com/za/app/timecrest-the-door/id1027546326?mt=8&uo…
This is brad, the person who emailed you about the game.
I'd recommend the following:
1. Make sure you test your app with voiceover. I understand the voice can be a little annoying for those who are not used to it. It is possible to change the voice and if you're interested in that, please reply here and I'll try to explain how to do that.
2. Make sure all buttons have labels that are understandable. Here are some examples of buttons that are quite confusing. There's a button which I asume is the back button, (It's on the left side of the screen as far as I know,) which has a less than sign. there are two blue plus buttons. (I know that they are buttons for buying things like gems in the game.) I only know this because I double tapped on them and read the screen that came up. So please make sure all the buttons in your apps have labels that are easy to understand.
3. I'm not sure if this suggestion would be helpful or not, but I think a tone that indicates when Ash has stopped writing would be good. That way, we can read the text and would not have to flick back and forth wondering when the next piece of text will appear.
I'm having no problems with the app with Voiceover. I wish there were more than 2 options at a time though and the character you're helping does get some getting used to. Maybe an option to pause music would help in reading the messages.
After playing the game for a while, I have some suggesttions. First, perhaps send text to voiceover saying, for example, (character) is writing a message. This text will be spoken and show in braille through Voiceover. Next, add a slider control to change the volume of the music. I personally would love to play the game with speech, or braille if the next item is done well, but also have the music in the background. Next, perhaps have the choice just made, near the top of the screen, then directly below it, the output that (character) sends. I've not gotten far enough to know if Ash is the only communicable NPC, so (character) it is, lol. Also, if you wanna wade into shifty waters, you could create a custom "rotor" menu for voiceover. The "rotor," accessed by twisting two fingers on the screen, is how voiceover users access different options, such as reading the currently focused element by character, word, or to change voiceover options. In iOS10, Apple has allowed developers to make new rotor menus. you could, for example, make one to move directly to the output, by the user swiping down, think pressing down arrow on the keyboard. Then, with another swipe down, the user could move directly to the list of choices. I realize that iOS10 will not be out for months, but that's just another option. One more that I can think of is to automatically have Voiceover read, by sending text to it, the output after the user makes a choice. Once done, voiceover could then be moved to the choices section. The problem with that, though, is that reading messages sent directly to voiceover is often a pain for braille users, the longer the message is. So, I'd probably just stick to the regular user interface, and only send text to Voiceover itself if (character) is writing, or when something else very important happens. Sending things to voiceover is almost like a large bright message popping up on the screen, obscuring everything else, but lasting ... 1.5 seconds as the default in braille settings, lol. So use that sparingly. For an example, try using the messages app with voiceover. the "butty is typing," "message received, (message text)," are examples of what is fine for text sent to voiceover. Thanks for reading this rambling mess, I hope it helps somewhat, and isn't too confusing.
Make the map accessible for voiceover.
for example make the description of the map or places.
@Cowbunny first, I'd like to commend and express my thanks on you taking interest in trying to make your game fully accessible to VoiceOver users.
I haven't really tried the game yet so don't have any feedback, but I'll fix that soon!
Thank you again for taking steps to make your game accessible, we can never have enough developers like you!
I just started playing the game a few days ago. As far as buttons are concerned, as a previous poster indicated, they should be more appropriately labeled. The only other thing that I find a minor annoyance is having to do a single finger swipe back and forth waiting for the next piece of the message from Ash to appear. Otherwise, I like the game.
I also want to add my appreciation to you the developer for caring about the visually impaired community. Hopefully you have more games in the works. Can't wait.
While true that some buttons are slightly weirdly labeled, it isn't too hard to figure out what most of them are meant to do, except for the back button and the buttons to buy gold and time cristalls. The only thing that I find makes the app hard to use is the music volume, which drowns out voiceover even when voiceover is at the maximum volume setting.
Double tap the less-than button, then double tap the settings icon button. Now swipe right until you find music. The switch button will be on, so just double tap the switch button to toggle the music off.
I second/third ensuring the Back button and the buttons to buy gold/time crystals are more clearly labelled.
Also some sort of text next to the count of gold/time crystals to indicate what they are - currently you just hear numbers read out. After playing for a little while I was able to figure out what these numbers meant, though it'd be helpful for the future.
As far as the music is concerned, I had to have my sighted husband help me in turning it off - I had a hard time finding the Settings and opening it to find the switch to turn off the music. I can't recall the exact issue I had with Settings - perhaps it didn't show up properly as actionable? It has been a few days and I haven't gone back to Settings since I got the music turned off.
Also - is it possible to ensure that Voice Over only focuses on the 'buy gold' or 'buy time crystal' windows when they are open? I seem to recall that the rest of the stuff underneath it could still be read, so it added to the confusion initially on what the unlabelled buttons did. I think this also happens on the "Relationships" tab when double tapping on a name of one of the characters to read a bio, etc.
These can all be worked around and the game is very fun - just need to fix a few rough edges to make it even better to play. :)
First of all, I love this game. I think that the only accessibility bugs are the back button, the plus buttons for time crystals, and the maps. The rest of the app seems to be fully accessibility.
I not only use voice over, but I also use the inverted colors. Is it possible to include a toggle for the background color? As I often have the colors inverted the background becomes too bright in the game for me as does Siri when I use her. Think I need to go leave a message for Apple.
Elsewise, I have been enjoying the game so far. So besides that toggle in the buttons everything else does seem pretty good. I have not made it to any maps yet though. It is excellent to see a developer actively interested in our opinions and viewpoints. Great job! Think of the flood of excellent ratings you should get.
We really appreciate all of the feedback here and the enthusiasm for the game. We're looking to improve the descriptions of the buttons mentioned in the next patch as a quick fix.
Beyond that we're doing further research into improving the following things based on your feedback:
1. Better indication when Ash is speaking and typing and when a new message has come in.
2. Lowered music volume if voiceover is on.
3. Easier to access settings menu.
4. Descriptive map.
5. Bugs around voiceover describing elements that are hidden behind dialogs.
6. Investigations around rotor features in iOS 10.
7. Investigations around brightness in inverted mode. This one may be challenging given how it's been made. Even Siri appears to have this issue. But we'll at least take a look at how hard it is.
To be clear, I don't want to make any promises about future features and improvements we might deliver, and we may not be able to do all of the things I've mentioned above. But I want to be transparent with you about what we're investigating so that you all might gently push us in the right direction if we're chasing something that isn't important, or helping us prioritize improvements that are important to you.
The above improvements we make would potentially be in a larger patch that might take us some time to do, but just know we've already planned out a future patch specifically dedicated to improvements for blind and low-vision users.
Another question I want to ask you. What apps or games would you consider hallmarks of design for blind and low-vision users? As part of my research, I want to try out some of the best designed apps and games so that I know what an excellent experience feels like, and know what the quality bar is to reach.
Thanks again for all of your help, and please be patient as we learn more about how to serve you better.
Turf Wars has a very accessible map experience.
I also extremely enjoy Celtic Tribes (and Lords and Knights - same developer). They also have map functionality that is accessible, as well as very easy/intuitive navigation and movement between windows. They are also great examples of bridging between a good visual experience and a non-visual one, as well.
I'll have to brainstorm on other games that may be good examples, though those 2 jumped out at me as they have map features.
I just wanted to say that I've been playing the game on Apple Watch, and so far haven't encountered any accessibility issues at all.
It is slightly tedious to move to the different tabs by using the page picker feature, and it would be good if this could be done using the standard two finger swipe left ande right. If that is supposed to work, I haven't managed to get it to work yet.
I also appreciate the ability to jump into the game from the notifications that appear. I played The martian, which is a very similar process,, and this one is definitely an improvement on that.
I was going to suggest having VoiceOver automatically speak the responses from the characters, but hadn't appreciated the impact this would have on braille users, so I can live without that. Or perhaps, make that a toggled feature, so that braille users can turn it off? A bit like the auto-scroll option in the Apple Watch version.
Thanks for your interest and an entertaining game.
King of dragon pass comes to mind as another game that is fully accessible and having a map. Although, have you considered just describing the map textually? I haven't reached the map so sorry if that doesn't work(.
Also may I suggest just throwing in an option to adjust music volume at least for now, so we can still use the app without missing out on the music?
I love this game!I haven't gotten notifications even when I turned them on.
Do not care to much having to wait for the main character to complete a task. I started it yesterday and still going. Also voiceover does not read well what he saids.
You will only get notified unless it saevers you haven't come back to the game for a while, like a few hours or a couple of minutes, that is when you get notified.
We've submitted an update to Apple with a few improvements for VoiceOver users on iPhone and iPad. It should be approved within the next week and I'll post here again once it is available.
Here is what we've changed:
- Improved the descriptions of many buttons and labels in the UI, adding accessibility labels and accessibility hints.
- Fixed bugs where timers would be read incorrectly. For example, "3 minutes 4 seconds" will now be correctly read, where before VoiceOver would say "3 meters fours".
- Fixed an issue where VoiceOver would confusingly read inaccessible text behind dialogs.
- If VoiceOver is enabled, the music volume is reduced by 75% so that VoiceOver is easier to hear.
- Added a sound effect indicating when a new message has been received, so you don't have to keep swiping back and forth to check if Ash has said something new.
There are still a lot of pain points in the game, like purchasing items in the merchant or accessing item descriptions, and the entire map system. Our next patch after this one will be fully dedicated to VoiceOver improvements.
Thanks again for all of your support, and keep giving us your feedback.
If you would like to pause the music so it doesn't disturb you playing the game click on the messages tab wich is the first tab on the screen. Then to the top left of the screen there will be a button wich is the back button that says less than. Click it, then swipe right till you hear settings icon btn. Click on settings, then swipe right until you hear music: on. Double tab music on, then you should hear music off. Then the music should not play during your gameplay.
Wow! This will be a nice change as many places in Voiceover useage on the iPhone we see meters instead of minutes. Thanks for such attention to a small detail.
I really like the game so far. I have a suggestion. Can VoiceOver read the characters message automatically?
We've released the update with the changes that should improve some of the quality of life issues for voiceOver users.
Please go to the app store and get the update.
Please keep posting your feedback here, as we are working on a large VoiceOver focused update next.
One of the things we want to improve is the message receving experience.
I gotta say, the new update is pretty awesome. Thanks allot.
The update is great!! I do have a suggestion the days when you get paid and can get a new transporter thing it would make sence if they ran off of Ash's time since these are things in his world. Just a thought.
I don't think that my music player is working properly. When I buy a song it doesn't play
And, is your other app accessible to? If it is, I would really like to try it
Our other app, Chairman Cow, is unfortunately not very accessible and I cannot recommend it for the users here.
It is a virtual pet game where you take care of a graphical pet, and most of the game is centered around those animations.
The storyline is a graphical comic strip which is not very accessible as well.
Unfortunately the basic gameplay design does not lend itself toward accessibility, which we now realize was a poor design choice.
We are committed to improving accessibility in Timecrest, so I hope you understand us focusing our efforts there.
I love how the buttons are properly labeled and everything to where I am is understandable. I have one question though. I have a few time crystals and I try to exchange the gold to get more but nothing was happening. I don't know if I have to use out the crystals then exchange. someone clarify. thanks a lot.
You have it backwards you can trade 50 time crystals for 150 gold.
but when I tapped on it nothing was happening I only had a few crystals remaining and I wanted to get more. So may I have to wait till all is finished and then I might be able to trade the gold for the crystals.
I haven't gotten that far in Timecrest, fated connections. So is Tmecrest: the Door a sequel in an update added on?
Also, where did you come up with the idea of tweeting to characters?
Will Ash be the only one who actually sends me messages? I'm just curious, I'm only on Chapter 3, so I might not know.
The door can be unlocked after part 1. In the next part you will start receiving mysterious messages. They are quite creepy.
Thank you for playing Timecrest, Ornella Jagdeo.
The Gold Exchange dialog is a little confusing because we haven't reworked it for better accessibility yet. We will improve this dialog in a future patch. It allows you to trade fifty Time Crystals to gain one hundred fifty gold. It does not let you exchange the other way, you cannot trade gold to gain Time Crystals.
In the meantime, you can exchange Time Crystals for gold with the following steps:
1. Near the top of the screen in the center, there is a Gold Exchange button. Use this to open the Gold Exchange dialog.
2. There are two numbers side by side in the center of the dialog. These are the Time Crystals and Gold labels. The number to the left is the number of Time Crystals you currently have. The number to the right is the amount of gold you have.
3. You can exchange fifty Time Crystals for one hundred fifty gold.
4. To perform the exchange, use the Exchange button in the bottom right of the dialog.
5. Each time you use it, VoiceOver will say "Exchange". You can use the Time Crystals and Gold labels in the center of the screen to see the change each time you exchange.
6. Make sure you have enough Time Crystals. Right now, it will confusingly say "Exchange" when tapping the button, even if you have less than fifty Time Crystals left. Make sure you have at least fifty Time Crystals to perform the exchange.
Please tell me if my instructions were confusing. I used VoiceOver with screen curtain to write these steps, so hopefully my instructions work for you.
Again, this is one of the many areas we will improve accessibility in a future patch. Thank you for your patience.
Timecrest 1: Fated Connections was released last year and contained chapters one through five.
We released Timecrest 2: The Door as an update to Timecrest 1 in June, adding chapters six through ten.
If you have started playing after June, you will find chapter five transitions seamlessly into chapter six.
So yes, Timecrest 2 was an update to Timecrest 1.
In future, we plan to release more story as free updates. So if there is a Timecrest 3, it will be an update to this app, just like Timecrest 2 was an update.
When writing the story, we really fell in love with our characters. Even for side characters that only have a few scenes, we developed involved backstories and know their ambitions, fears and challenges.
We added the Twitter interaction with the characters as a way to reveal a bit more of their personalities, and we thought it was a fun way for our players to get deeper involved with the story.
We're trying to innovate in interactive fiction, and directly talking to the characters on Twitter is another way to interact with the fiction.
As for if Ash is the only one who sends messages, I won't answer this question as I want to avoid spoiling the story for you.
Thanks for the explanation about the gold and the crystals.
Thanks for making it clearer now. I can't wait to progress more once my wait timer is over.
I'm even more excited to play more.
Anyone know what a muffy is? Is it like a monkey or something else?
A muffie is a small creature of Alyncia that could easily be mistaken for a cute ball of fluff.
To compare to a creature of our world, they're almost like fluffy bunnies. The fur covers their eyes, so they run into a lot of things, like rocks and trees, since they have trouble seeing.
Imagine cute balls of fur running around in the forest, slamming into things.
What are the physical differences between humans and Alyncians (aka skin color, hair color, body build etc). If it doesn't spoil the story, what do Riley, Roger, Elise, and A.C. Look like? And Ash.
Thanks for the description! I too would like to know what the characters look like. Also how old is Ash supposed to be?
Was Ash meant to be male or female? It's kinda hard to tell, sounds like a girl name to me, also kinda sounds like a boy name.
Ash is male I agree that it sounds like a girls name but he is male. I do not want to say anything that will spoil this, but as you play on you will see.
Thanks Jeff, that was helpful. I'm on Chapter 7 right now but I won't give away any quotes that are in the chapter.
Also, I think someone did mension the creepy messages, yes those do actually freak me out. It is so weird and spooky. And they aren't from Ash, that's even more spooky. Well, we all gotta keep playing to find out.
And my Timecrest demo, it was finished, but I forgot a few things, so I will have to redo the tutorial, it should be done by Sunday or Saturday for sure.
Ash is meant to be whatever you imagine, which could either be male or female, and we avoid using gender specific pronouns with Ash. There are scenes that are written ambiguously so that they may have very different meanings depending on if you imagine male or female.
Think of it as part of the interactive fiction. The story is subtly different just by imagining Ash differently.
Cool! Because I usually imagine Ash as a girl.
Anyway, I want to ask you guys a question, directed towards the developers of this game.
Is it possible to make a chat feature in the game where you can interact with the characters in the game, like to keep you busy? For instance, if Ash were busy doing something, you can talk to the other characters in the game, like the ones you know so far and then as you progress through the game you can start talking with other characters? These characters I mean Riley Valdor, Elise, Roger, A.C. and the others.
Also, could we have an option to keep our favorite music in the music player running in the background? Because I really like Ash's music, peaceful and relaxing and I always wanted to hear it in the background when I'm reading, writing, and other stuff.
Thanks! And please keep the Timecrest stories coming. This game is too addicting to be deleted.
Mitchell, we are looking to add some descriptions of the characters in the next update. When we have them written, I can post here with the descriptions.
AudioGamerTunmi, I thank you for your feedback. I can't really promise any new features in the future, but we will consider any suggestions people make.
In playing through the game, we found a lot of words mispronounced, especially words specific to the magical world of Alyncia.
For example, Chronos is pronounced more like cro nose. The plural of mage is mages, which should be pronounced more like mayjes. Aion should be pronounced more like eye on. And so on.
We are considering adding a feature where you can toggle between a “Voiceover” and a “Braille” mode. Essentially, if you choose voiceover mode, we will change the spelling of words to be pronounced closer to intention, but they will spelled incorrectly if you read out each letter. For example, the word mages would be spelled M A Y J E S instead of M A G E S for pronunciation.
In the Braille mode, we will use the original, proper spellings, intended if you want to know how things are spelled or if you are using a braille display. Essentially, the way you are currently playing the game today would be renamed Braille mode.
I wanted to ask if this would be a useful or unwanted feature. I am told that in accessibility developer best practices, pronunciation is considered a bug with the iOS VoiceOver reader and we should not try to assist. But it bothers us that so much of our story is mispronounced, and this feature could improve the experience.
Please tell us if we should pursue this feature or not. Thanks so much for your support and thank you for playing Timecrest.
I'm fine how it is now but will be alright either way. It’s interesting that Chronos sounds differently but I think I will forever compare him to Cronus from Greek mythology as their names sound similar to me.
I like that idea, because I often wonder how things are supposed to be pronounced in the game