Blind Mahjong - A new game for the blind and visually impaired

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iOS and iPadOS Gaming

Hi all,

I would like to introduce a new game to the community. If you are interested in traditional Chinese Mahjong, try an iOS app titled Blind Mahjong. One player can play the game offline. Up to four players can play online. It is for all ages. Enjoy this relaxing game with your family and friends!

This app is developed for the blind and by the blind. VoiceOver is fully supported. If you like it, please help add it to AppleVis's accessible app list.

Title: Blind Mahjong (If your App Store language is Chinese, also try searching "星光麻将", which is its Chinese name.)
Requirements: iOS or iPad OS 13.0 and up, iPad and iPhone
Price: One month free trial; then either a monthly subscription (99 cents) or a yearly subscription ($9.99) is needed.

Thank Country music fan for posting this link to the app: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/blind-mahjong/id1574002764

This app is currently not available in the App Store of mainland China due to their game restrictions.

For a demo of how to use this app, visit https://youtu.be/FT-H5rczRnQ

Shorter demos can also be found in the YouTube channel of BVIPlayers: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgnb1_7vgSQbHGR0__wUw4A

Thanks.

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Comments

Submitted by Tristan Bowen on Saturday, November 13, 2021

This game takes some understanding of the rules before you start playing. Once you understand the rules however, you will have fun.

Hey Ming,

You may try searching "星光麻将" if your App Store language is Chinese. Also, just in case, this app is currently not available to the App Store in mainland China due to their game restrictions. Stores in any other countries or areas will work.

Thanks.

Submitted by Zack on Sunday, November 14, 2021

Hi there,

I've always been curious about Mahjong, and am very happy to have an accessible version to try. That being said, I have a couple questions.

1) When I'm trying to claim a pong, or indeed any other meld, I am not sure how to proceed. I try to double tap on the identical tiles but doing so doesn't seem to do anything. The most I can seem to do is double tap and hold on a tile, at which point I'm told the claim is illegal and must be canceled.
2) Are there any plans to streamline the UI with VoiceOVer? It seems to me that the discard and other actions could benefit from using VoiceOVer actions in the rotor, just because double tap and hold is a bit of an odd UI choice for VO accessibility.
3) I've read about other bonus tiles, such as flowers and seasons. Are these implemented in the game, or if not are you planning to do so eventually?

Thanks for the work on this. It's a lot of fun so far.

1. If another player discards a tile, say 3 bamboo, and you have two 3 bamboo, you can claim a pung. Here are the steps:
a. Press the Pung button to make the claim.
b. After the app tells you to show your tiles, double tap and hold on one of your two 3 bamboo tiles to reveal it to everybody. That gesture is for VoiceOver users. Sighted player need to long press instead.
c. Do the same thing to your second 3 bamboo tile to reveal it as well.
d. If you incidentally reveals a wrong tile, say 4 character, the app will send out that alert telling you to cancel the claim. Then, after the cancellation, you can claim and try again if you do have two 3 bamboo tiles.
e. The app will tell you to discard a tile after you reveal two tiles. Use the same double tap and hold gesture to discard a tile.

The steps are the same when claiming chows and kongs.

2. I'll definitely consider that. I actually struggled a bit when choosing the double tap and hold gesture. Glad to use something easier.

3. Those bonus tiles are not included in this app and I currently don't plan to include them. There are many different versions of Mahjong and lots of differences are related to the inclusion and use of those bonus tiles. This Blind Mahjong is based on the national standard rules used in China, which I guess can be seen as the common denominator of many local variations.

Thanks again for the questions!

Submitted by Eleni Christodoulou on Sunday, November 14, 2021

Hi. The game is fun and addictive! However, I'd love to be able to change the timer settings, since I rely completely on voice over, and time runs really fast. I don't know if I missed something, but I can't find any kind of timer settings menu.

Hi,
Thanks for answering :) I do have one more question I just remembered if you don't mind. When the game ends, VoiceOver says something like, "Marry won on self-draw. You got 4 points." The "you," in this should refer to her, or perhaps they if you want to remain gender neutral. You implies the human player scored those points, which isn't how it works :) So more a small bug report than a question, I guess.

It really is a nice game so far. I hope I'll be able to play against humans sometime.

Submitted by Joe on Sunday, November 14, 2021

In reply to by Eleni Christodoulou

Hey Eleni,

I will consider adding a timer setting. That is currently not included. I solely rely on VoiceOver myself so I do understand your thought.

Thanks!

Submitted by Eleni Christodoulou on Sunday, November 14, 2021

In reply to by Joe

Thanks very much. By the way, all the game sounds are amazing!
Eleni

Submitted by Zack on Sunday, November 14, 2021

Hi there,

One of my concerns with this game is that it will be hard to find opponents to play, unless you’re lucky enough to live with people who are open to playing locally. I worry a bit that the game will be primarily played against the AI.

I guess that it might be a bit premature to worry, since I have yet to win a game, but I do wonder about long-term longevity.

Submitted by Joe on Tuesday, November 16, 2021

In reply to by Zack

I know. I was unable to play Mahjong after I became blind simply because there was no accessible way to do that. At least partially for this same reason, there are very few blind folks who understand how to play the game. But given that Mahjong is still very popular even today among sighted people (at least in China), I believe that some of the blind folks will love it if given an accessible tool and some time.

See if you would like to play with your family or friends. This app can be used by sighted people as well and subscriptions can be shared with family members. Get good at it if you are interested and maybe one day you can beat me - smiling

Submitted by Zack on Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Hi there,

I just had some additional feedback in terms of the game UI. It would be useful to have a way to look at the documentation during a game. Currently, the only way to do that is to leave the game in progress. That could be rather annoying if I just wanted to check a particular rule.

Is there a difference between stopping a game and quitting the game? I'm not sure why there are two buttons with very similar function. Is it intended that the game be played live, in real-time? I wonder if an asynchronous setup, where you get push notifications whenever it's your turn, might make it a little more likely to find opponents because players don't have to be around at the same time.

I also had some questions about the development process. Was the game written in SwiftUI? If so, how was that experience?

Hey Zack,

I just sent out an update to fix an issue in screen orientation (now version 1.1). It also includes a change on the winning message. Thanks again for bringing that up.

It will take a while for new players to get familiar with the rules of Chinese Mahjong. But after that, they won't need to check the rules again. The playing screen is already busy. So I did not put anything there linking to the rules.

The Quit button allows you to quit playing with the current group and all scores will be removed as well. The Stop button allows you to stop the current game. But you still remain on the playing screen, the same group are still there, scores are still there, and you can simply restart another game.

I think the nature of the Mahjong game lends itself well to the real time multi-player model rather than a turn-based model. For example, after someone discards a tile, who gets that tile needs to be determined in real time (e.g., pungs take priority over chows, and somebody can win with that tile, etc.).

And SwiftUI is not used in this app.

Thanks.

Submitted by Chrystal on Sunday, November 21, 2021

Hi. So, I've read the rules, and I'm trying to play with the bots, but I don't quite understand. How do I grab a tyle that another player discards? Also, do you have to make your pung etc, while that timer is going? I'm also still not clear on what the difference between a chow, a pung, and a kong is. I think one of them is 3 of the same thing, Another is 3 things in sequence, but besides pairs, I'm not sure what the other combination needs to be.

Submitted by Zack on Sunday, November 21, 2021

In reply to by Chrystal

Hi,

I'll try to explain things a bit. A chow is three of the same suit in sequence, like 3 character, 4 character, 5 character. A kong is three of the same tile, 3 character, 3 character, 3 character. Finally, a pung is all four of the same tile: 3 character, 3 character, 3 character, 3 character.

In order to claim a discard, you need to do so before the timer runs out. Also, A peculiarity of the rules is that you can only chow from the player to your left I believe. You can kong or pung from anyone.

To claim a tile, tap
on the claim you want to use, and then long press on the other tiles that make up the claim, this will be from two to three tiles. You never claim pairs, as far as I know those only arise from tile drawing.

I hope this clarifies things a bit. If somethings still confusing, I’m happy to try and explain further.

Hey. Thanks for that. I now understand what the chow, pung and kongs are. What I still don't get, is how to grab a discarded tyle if you want it, and how to make a claim. I thought it was when you had the requisite amount of tyles in your own hand, but you're saying it's based on what the others get rid of too? I really wish there was a podcast of someone playing this with the bots. That would be cool.

Submitted by Chrystal on Monday, November 22, 2021

Ok, I think it's coming together for me. If I'm understanding correctly, when someone discards a tyle, that's when you make a claim if you can. Is it possible to grab a discarded tyle to add to your existing hand though? That's where I'm still having trouble.

As far as I know, the only time you can ever pick up a discard is if you are completing a chow/pung/kong. That's why you'll often see many turns go by with no one claiming anything, either because they don't have any valid ones in the first place or they don't want to give information away to the opponent. YOu'll notice that if you try to pick up a tile and you don't have a valid claim, the game won't let you.

Submitted by Chrystal on Monday, November 22, 2021

Is there any way that I can arrange the tyles in my hand by suit, or value or anything? If not, I think there should be. It'd make it much easier to make quicker decisions about what to do, and what to discard.

Submitted by Zack on Monday, November 22, 2021

In reply to by Chrystal

Hi,

Yes, you can do this. If you double-tap on a tile, and then double tap next to where you want it to move, it will be relocated there. You can do this anytime, whether its your turn or not, though I recommend waiting until your turn because you might not have enough time otherwise.

Submitted by Chrystal on Monday, November 22, 2021

In reply to by Zack

Hey Zack. Well, i had some success with that, but it won't let me rearrange the tyles on the right hand end of the rack. I'm trying to better arrange some dot ones I've got, but it's being temperamental. It just won't let me move certain tyles anywhere. Is this a bug, by design, or me.

Hi,

I'm not the developer, but I wonder if you're trying to arrange some of your already exposed sets. As far as I know that's impossible, as the game handles those in a special way. If you're just having trouble with the tiles on the right side in general, that's another issue and is possibly a bug.

It could've been the whole exposed set thing. I had a sequence of dot tyles, and it didn't like me trying to mess with that arrangement.

Submitted by Zack on Monday, November 22, 2021

In reply to by Chrystal

What I mean by exposed sets are just the sets you reveal to everyone when you make a claim. Those are basically unchangeable for the rest of the game. Note that if you have, say, a pung of 3 characters and want to turn it into a kong, you can't do that, because the set is fixed once you claim the discard. That's one advantage to making "hidden," sets, which you don't reveal to other people, though that also seems to require quite a bit of luck.

Submitted by Chrystal on Monday, November 22, 2021

What about the directional and colour tyles? Is the idea just to get kongs or pungs with those, as I can't see how they can be chowed.

Submitted by Ashleigh Piccinino on Monday, November 22, 2021

Hello,
I thought all three or four tiles had to be shown for the exposure to work. plus, VoiceOver, as least for me, doesn't seem to want to keep my position/say what's revealed or not. Also, how can you reveal two or more tiles, with two or more fingers? I have a measely iPhone 8+ that's pretty old--in its 8+ status, that is. for me, the tiles are all down at the bottom of my screen, and I mainly use a Braille display for navigating around. by the app moving my tiles, I can have part of a chow made up, and when I try claiming the third thing to complete it, a tile will be said, then nothing, and the other tile making up my supposed claim. I double-tap and hold on the first tile/VoiceOver doesn't say it's revealed or not. I then double-tap and hold on the second of these tiles and "Illeagal tile, please cancel this claim," is spoken. please pleas help me with this/fixing to delete the game if not correctly understanding this. Yes, I also think there should be a way to have the instructions coppied to the clipboard--can't do this, though. then, you can have em in notes and the game open at the same time. Also, what is the blank space right after skip? What do text and chat mean? In other words, I've got a whole Mahjong board's load of questions here, so pick your favorite and do something with it ... preferrably answering it/all the rest.
Thank you,
Ashleigh Piccinino

Submitted by Chrystal on Monday, November 22, 2021

Is there any limit on how many chows for example, you can have in your hand? If you had 14 tyles for instance, could you have 4 chows and a pair?

Submitted by Joe on Tuesday, November 23, 2021

In reply to by Chrystal

Hi Chrystal,

After you claim to chow, pung, or kong, you need to show your tiles to other players. You do that by show the tiles one by one, just like you discard a tile (double tap and hold on a tile). Of course, for chow and pung, you only need to show two tiles because the tile discarded by another player is already shown. For kongs, you need to show three tiles for exposed kongs or four tiles for concealed kongs (refer to the Chinese Mahjong section in the how to play guide for the terms).

The just discard or shown tiles will be placed in the middle of the screen, slightly above the row of your own tiles. Move your finger tip to that area and you can hear the tiles.

All the shown tiles of your chows, pungs, and kongs will eventually be moved off from the shown tile area and be placed to the right side of your tiles. They can't be changed for the rest of the game. That is to prevent players from using those tiles to form other sequences. One exception is that, if you get a pung sequence and later you self-draw the same tile again, in that case you can used the already shown pung sequence together with the newly drawn tile to form a kong.

You are correct that the tiles of East, South, West, North, Red, Green, and White can only form pung and kong sequences. Only the dot, character, and bamboo tiles can form chow sequences.

There is no limit on how many chows, pungs, or kongs that you can make in a game. As long as you get four sequences and one pair, you win.

Let me know if you have more questions. I'm sure that you will get familiar with the rules if you play more.

Hi Ashleigh,

You need to show two or three tiles after you make a claim of chow, pung, or kong, unless you win the game by making that claim. For example, if somebody just discarded a Three Dot tile and you happen to have two Three Dot tiles, you can press the Pung button to make a pung claim. Of course you need to do that quickly, within that waiting period.

Then, the game will ask you to show your tiles. In this case, because the just discarded Three Dot tile is already shown in the shown area (please see my response to Chrystal for where the shown area is), you only need to show your own two Three Dot tiles to the group. You show them one by one, just use the double tap and hold gesture. Right after you finish showing the tiles, the game will ask you to discard a tile. After you discard a tile, the three tile pung sequence will be removed from the shown tile area and will be placed to the right end of your own tiles (see my response to Chrystal).

If you claim for a concealed kong, you will need to return four tiles. You will return three tiles if that is a exposed kong. Check the Chinese Mahjong section of the how to use guide for the terms.

When you show those two, three, or four tiles one by one after making a claim, the game will remove them from the row of your own tiles and add them to the shown tile area. That is what I said to show the tiles to the group. You will only hear a short sound. The app won't speak out the tiles and say whether it is revealed. After the tiles have been moved down to the right side of your tiles, you can put your finger tip on them and hear "revealed." That means that those tiles can't be changed/used for the rest of the game. There is an exception, please see my response to Chrystal.

Although you can use a braille display to operate the app because all the buttons, labels, and views are standard elements and are clearly labelled, I strongly recommend you to use your fingers to physically locate and press the buttons and tiles. Because of the complex layout of the playing screen, using a display to nevigate from left to right and from top to bottom will make the screen very hard to understand.

Hope this helps. Thanks for you interest in trying this game.

Submitted by Joe on Saturday, November 27, 2021

Version 1.2 of Blind Mahjong includes the following three new features:

* Added a Wait button that allows you to pause playing during a game. One example of its use is to pause the playing at the very beginning of a game to get an opportunity to sort your tiles.

* Added a Help button to the playing screen that allows you to check the how-to-use guide without quitting a game. This button is only available when playing locally against computer players.

* Added more detailed information to the quick start section of the how-to-play guide to help new players get started with the game.

Please consider updating your app. Thanks.