Dead Space 2 To Install Disability Access

By John Walker on February 8th, 2011 at 11:41 am.

This is definitely okay.

A patch will soon be arriving for Dead Space 2 to make it more accessible to disabled players. It’s perhaps not something most of us think about, but for a number of players it’s essential that they be able to freely map controls if they’re going to be able to play. And Dead Space 2 currently doesn’t allow you to set moving forward to the mouse. This meant that gareth170 on the Overclockers forum couldn’t play the game. And of course he’s not the only one – his post, linked with an ongoing campaign by quadriplegic comic Chuck Bittner, and has seen a huge response of support for the matter, and ultimately the announcement from Visceral that they’ll be patching the game accordingly.

It’s one of those matters that seems ridiculous to be an issue in the first place. It’s always mystifying when developers don’t allow complete freedom of binding keys in their games, as if we’d somehow become dizzy with power were we able to choose exactly the settings we’d prefer. In fact, I shouted in frustration at Dead Space 2 myself when I discovered it was ignorant of buttons 4 and 5 on my mouse. Apparently Visceral’s office mice were all made in 1998.

This is the point that Bittner has been making for a while now, observing that this benefits all players of all physical abilities. It’s clearly a larger concern on consoles, where games so frequently come with only a couple of ridiculous pre-set configurations for no fathomable reason. But it obviously affects PC players too, especially as everyone likely has their own quirks and preferences for the multitude of controls at our disposal.

Gareth Garratt’s post brought the subject into the headlines, when he discovered that he’d not be able to enjoy Dead Space 2 because it, for whatever reason, did not allow the mapping of ‘forward’ to the mouse. And since Gareth controls games with his chin, this was kind of essential. In case the idea of controlling a first person shooter with just your jaw is hard to imagine, here he is playing Fallout: New Vegas:

And here’s Bittner playing Gran Turismo 5 with full custom remapping on the controller, and showing why you should never use music with a man talking as your backing track to a narrated video.

So the good news is, after Gareth’s post leading lots more people to the ongoing petition of Bittner’s, Visceral Australia (they behind the PC port) have reported they’ll be adding in the option to remap controls onto the mouse in a forthcoming patch.

Hopefully the patch will also stop corpses from getting stuck on my legs, make the save machines activate on the first time I click on them, and occasionally let the time slowing thing actually fire when I press the button.

__________________

« | »

, , .

49 Comments »

  1. SquareWheel says:

    Excellent to hear.

    • Jonathan says:

      Not if you’re deaf!

      .

      .

      I’ll get my coat.

    • Shatners Bassoon says:

      It was inhuman of me to laugh as much as I did at that. Good thing there were no deaf people around to hear me or I would of felt bad.

    • cjlr says:

      “… no deaf people around to hear me…”

      I see what you did there.

    • sinister agent says:

      It’s always mystifying when developers don’t allow complete freedom of binding keys in their games, as if we’d somehow become dizzy with power were we able to choose exactly the settings we’d prefer.

      Glad you said this. It’s made doubly absurd when you consider that pretty much every game I ever played on the spectrum allowed – and in fact made pretty much compulsory – the total remapping of keys (good old QAOP-Space). It can’t be that difficult.

      Of course, it’s easy for me to be smug, when there are surely lots of other issues that make games harder or unplayable for people with other issues, and devs must have enough on their minds as it is. But still, something this basic really should have become the industry standard well over a decade ago.

  2. subedii says:

    In fact, I shouted in frustration at Dead Space 2 myself when I discovered it was ignorant of buttons 4 and 5 on my mouse. Apparently Visceral’s office mice were all made in 1998.

    I hate this so much. A lot of Unreal Engine 3 games for some reason seem to recognise MB4 but not MB5, literally counting them as the same button. Really bizarre.

    It was also really weird when FEAR 2 didn’t recognise MB4 and 5 when FEAR 1 did. Using them for melee and grenade keys made my life a lot easier.

  3. My2CENTS says:

    What a perfect PR, i don’t want to sound like a bastard but why do you think they even considered patch for PC?

    • John Walker says:

      What a strangely pointless way to be cynical.

      Of course ignoring the campaign would have been bad PR, but agreeing to fix it can hardly be considered to be a cynical move! They were releasing a patch anyway, you realise?

    • Veeskers says:

      quote:
      “I’d like to say I’m very proud of the people on the Dead Space 2 team for coming in today and jumping on the fix first thing. Working with such a talented and compassionate group of people is incredible and makes me proud to be a part of the Dead Space 2 team, Visceral Games, and Electronic Arts.”

      The spokespeople certainly do relish the PR opportunity and their own magnaminity… in adding this innovative feature to the game.

    • Wilson says:

      @My2CENTS – You could argue that’s the only reason anyone does anything. Why bother being nice to people unless they have something you want, even if it’s only their affection? That would be hugely cynical. Surely it doesn’t matter why they did it? Either they wanted to do it because they’re nice, or they thought it would be good PR. Who cares? This is still behaviour we want to encourage, hence praise. I don’t think there’s any real point in trying to second guess motivations for something like this. It’s relevant to look at motivation rather than just the actions in some cases, but I don’t think this is one of them.

    • Arathain says:

      In more general terms: people’s intentions are in their heads, and thus unknowable. We judge them by their words and actions, because all else is speculative.

      Corollary: when dealing with other people I have a guiding philosophy. No person ever did anything for just one reason.

  4. Ravenger says:

    The headline should really be “Dead Space 2 to install basic PC control binding functionality”.

    I had to hack the control file in the original Dead Space just so I could use the arrow keys for movement!

    For some reason they decided to lock off a large part of the keyboard, and not let you use the arrow keys amongst others. Being left-handed that’s a huge problem for me as I’ve been using arrow keys since the days of Doom. The annoying thing is the game is fully capable of using the arrow keys, but the interface deliberately prevents you from binding them.

    I’ve not played Dead Space 2, but it sounds like they’ve made the same mistake again, despite the many complaints about controls in the first one.

    At least now something’s being done about it, though it’s a pity they probably won’t go back and fix the first game too, which never had a patch released for it.

  5. mashakos says:

    FINALLY!

    I am one of those affected. Had to write a friggin’ glovepie script to play the first game.

    That is why I hate consoles, to play console 3rd person shooters I would need to buy an overpriced custom controller that I personally don’t like, just because controls cannot be remapped in 99.99% of all console games.

    The only exception I’m aware of is Wipeout, which is why it is my opinion that Wipeout is the best series of all time on any console that has ever existed :)

  6. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I’ve been thinking really hard on how to get something like this going for a while, the games industry needs to get organised in this way to guarantee a minimum level of compatibility for people with wider ranging needs than the developers naturally envision.

    • Rei Onryou says:

      Some sort of Game Developers Bible.

      1. All keys should be remappable.
      2. If plugging in a controller, auto-update the prompts to recognise it.
      3. Invert mouse option.
      4. UI designed for PC.
      5. Colour blind settings.

      Come on, let’s keep this going…

    • Jonathan says:

      Probably about the eighteenth time I’ve linked it on RPS: http://www.ablegamers.com/

    • Urael says:

      How hard can it actually be for developers to provide total controller customisation for their PC games, as a bare minimum? Key-binding should be as easy as ABC – done in-game through a handy menu. If you can get a controller to work perfectly comfortably in Windows then can’t the game give you the very simple option to customise those as well?

      That way we wouldn’t even NEED to campaign for disabled and/or less physically adept players. If you could rebind keys to your heart’s content on a ZX bloody Spectrum you should have at least that capability on modern consoletoy or PC. Instead we seem to be going backwards which is just plain retarded.

      @Rei Onryou:

      “If plugging in a controller, auto-update the prompts to recognise it.”

      How about the ability to choose which prompts we see? I had to unplug my Xbox pad from the PC when playing Dead Space with mouse and Keyboard because all the on-screen hints had defaulted to the pad that I didn’t want to use.

    • adonf says:

      @Rei Onryou:

      - Direction arrow can be used instead of WASD without any remapping (for left-handed players)
      - WASD must be read at the key code level and not at the character code level (for non-QWERTY keyboards)

  7. Initialised says:

    Nice, but why don’t they just play on a PC where custom re-mapping is pretty much universal.

    [quote=Urael]Instead we seem to be going backwards which is just plain retarded.[/quote]

    Pun intended?

  8. Lewie Procter says:

    On the console side of things, I’m amazed that Microsoft and Sony don’t allow for absolute controller customisation at a firmware level. Seems like it would be absolutely worth doing from a cost/benefit angle. Even if there had to be a disclaimer saying that some on screen instructions wouldn’t be accurate.

    • Cooper says:

      You are right. This would be incredibly easy, and can already be done with various hacks.

      But in the desire to provide a controlled, common (and, they would argue, therefore consistent, stable and better) experience to consumers denies both freedom and accessibility.

      This is all part of the design philosophy that suggests that all the design expertise (which is not cheap) must be worth something, and, of course, game and console designers know more about how consumers should use their product for the best experience. Which is a deeply patronising take on the situation.

      But, then again, gamers have a wonderfully large sense of entitlement. Best not feed it

  9. WMain00 says:

    Is it me or is that a terrible screenshot?

  10. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I feel discussions like this need to focus on accessibility. Remapping the keys for someone who’d like to be able to use the game differently is not the same same as disability access. Allowing keys to be remapped is one tiny step towards making your game accessible.

    • adonf says:

      What about left-handed players ? It’s not a disability but apart from this the situation is the same because games are made for the majority are not suited to us

    • Ravenger says:

      As a left hander there have only been a few games that have given me problems, but the original Dead Space was one of them due to its limited control binds.

      In the days of demos (remember them?) if I found a game wouldn’t let me map the arrow keys I immediately uninstalled it and crossed it off my ‘to buy’ list.

      10% of people are left handed, but the gaming market tends to ignore us. Look how hard it is to get hold of decent left-handed gaming mice. I finally managed to get one last year – A Razer DeathAdder Left-Handed edition, and it wasn’t cheap.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      Being left handed has nothing to do with your ability to learn to use wasd controls, I’m left handed and and have never had handedness related problems with any game ever made, i have however had problems with devices & controllers.

      While i don’t think left handed people need remappable controls i do think they are entitled to want them, but that their wants pale in comparison to the needs of of people with no limbs or some other disability.

    • Ravenger says:

      Being left handed isn’t a disability, but that doesn’t make it any easier to use items that have been designed for exclusive right handed use, no matter if it’s a pair of scissors, a computer game, or a chequebook. To use things in a right handed way would take months, even years of practice because I’d be essentially have to re-wire my brain at a fairly fundamental level. It’s well known that forcing left-handers to use their right hand at a young age can cause stammering and other issues.

      But that’s not really the issue here. The issue here is needless restrictions of control customisation that mean that anyone who doesn’t use the default control method as specified by the dev team will have problems playing the game. If the control system is fully configurable we all win, and nobody loses out.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      on a side note: weirdly the way I’ve learned to use scissors means i can use right handed scissors in my left hand, but if i try to use right/left handed scissors in my right hand or left handed scissors in my left hand i end up just mashing the paper i was trying to cut into a mess.

    • Flint says:

      This is a bit of a derail of sorts, but when did the widespread use of WASD even enter the game-o-sphere? I’ve been playing with games on PC for all my life ever since the beginning of the 90s and it always seemed to be the standard with controlling that arrow keys were for movement and WASD was reserved for the second player if it was a 2-player game. I didn’t even realise until about three years ago that WASD seemed to be some sort of common standard.

      I’m a leftie myself but use the mouse with my right hand, yet I’ve always used the right side of the keyboard for any keyboard stuff. It just always seemed to be that way, until all of a sudden WASD became the default keymappingin games almost like someone had flicked an on/off switch.

  11. speedwaystar says:

    *headspin* so they’re releasing a patch to make it easier for players whose limbs have been lopped off to lop the limbs off enemies? @_@

  12. Wulf says:

    Amazing, Visceral.

    This makes me happy, because as a disabled person myself I’m aware that not many people actually give a shit that you’re there, you want to play games, but sometimes it can be very hard to do so because you’re just not ‘up to spec’ considering the next healthy person. It can, frankly, be one of the most frustrating things. And I’ve disregarded buying hundreds of games due to this.

    It’s also interesting how people see something that’s a blessing to some people as an annoyance. Now I’m going to use an example for this but I won’t cite actual Nexus modders here because they are awesome people, they’re honestly some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and if you ask most of the people modding around there to take into consideration one’s own disability. They will. But most players find the interface of Bethesda games annoying, and they rant about how it should be ‘better’ on the PC. ‘Better’ meaning smaller and more fit for them.

    Not once have I encountered a Bethesda game player outside of the Nexus who’s actually capable of realising that that large interface is actually a boon to some people, and that that’s the only thing that even allows them to play the game in the first place. The DarN mod is actually too indistinguishable for me and I’d never be able to or want to use it. Some players think that the DarN mod should be the default on the PC, but I don’t because that means I’d have to bring out Windows Magnifier every time I stop to open the PipBoy. Or I’d have to pester someone to help me make an accessibility mod (I’m horrible with UI code).

    One of the things on my ToDo list currently is to see whether I can get the Magicka devs to tell me how to fiddle with the font sizes in their game via the XML files it comes with. The demo is amazing, but I’m not going to be buying it if I can’t read the ongoing storyline, which is packed with humour that I like from the snippets that I am able to catch. Maybe they’ll help me? Maybe they won’t give a shit. It’s hard to say in instances like this. It’s easy to make excuses as to why disabled people aren’t worth the time developing for when they could be making patches/content.

    But if any devs are out there, listening, here are things to consider when developing your game. Especially if it’s PC native and not a console port:

    - Scalable UI size.
    - Font sizes for UI elements such as quest/mission dialogues*.
    - Full audio prompting for all sound effects in the game (captioning).
    - Full control remapping for every control in the game.

    * – (Almost forgot this.) This can be done in a simple raw text file or a commented XML file. I don’t mind screwing around with code and settings in files so long as I can figure out what does what. I don’t need flashy in-game settings for this, I don’t know if anyone does, so long as the options are there, and clearly laid out.

    If you consider these things then disabled people will love you. If you don’t then a lot of them will overlook your game as something that they can’t play. There are a lot of us out there who will never be able to enjoy a lot of the games that people put together because they’re so inaccessible. I’ve gotten to the point where I accept that my sight has gotten too bad for most strategy games these days. But RPGs are still very accessible when they’re done right. And Bethesda games for all their sins are done right.

    This is an incredible thing for a mainstream developer to think of. Most really couldn’t care. But with more indie and PC focused efforts, there’s not really a reason to not think about this. Some days I’m almost tempted to start an initiative, a site which advertises games which are as fully friendly to disabled people as they can be, a site that encourages gaming news sites to write an article about this topic and to get in touch with developers to ask them exactly why they think that accessibility isn’t important.

    This isn’t a form of accessibility that’s useful to me. Not slightly. BUT… being disabled means that I can easily walk in another person’s shoes. I can see and understand their need, I’m empathic to it, and I would compel developers to do whatever is necessary to make a game as accessible to a broad a range of people as possible. If there’s something I haven’t mentioned in the list above then please feel free to mention it, because if I ever do decide to get the ball rolling on that initiative, it’ll be helpful to know.

    Most gamers and most developers forget that not all people are equal, and not all people are healthy, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to play games too.

    • Urthman says:

      Great post, Wulf.

      And if you think PC’s are bad…there were some PS3 games that are literally unplayable by almost anyone on a standard def TV because the fonts are so small they’re illegible.

      I can just imagine you meeting the guy on the Played podcast (which I’m only listening to get my post-Idle-Thumbs Chris Remo fix) who used to rant about this and saying, “Welcome to my world.”

  13. Tei says:

    Is nice.

    But theres some irony on a consoley game getting more accesibility. Most of the consoley games don’t even let you rebind the keys to use some mouse button, or change the fov.

  14. Duffin says:

    I love how the media are so quick to jump on the ‘negatives’ of gaming but I’ve never read anything about gaming being so accessible to people with very severe disabilties. Makes me pretty chuffed to see this guy can play all those games, I hope that doesn’t sound condescending.

    • Wulf says:

      Not even slightly.

      I just wish that this kind of attitude toward accessibility concerns was more common, not less. As I said above, not everyone is perfectly healthy, and it’s nice to see developers enabling those who are less healthy to play their games. It’s not condescending to say that you’re happy to see that happening, because as a disabled person I’m always happy to see that happen. (As I said above.)

      In fact, to be honest, I find your attitude is rare. I wish it were more common. Not everyone can actually understand that no two people are equal, and not everyone can understand how important accessibility concerns are, and how much of a difference it can make to someone if they’re permitted to play a developer’s game thanks to the inclusion of accessibility tools.

    • Duffin says:

      Well I don’t have a disability (other than being short sighted which I’m convinced gaming has CAUSED!) but from my perspective it’s relevant to me because I know how much I personally love computer games. Imagining not being able to personally play because of something as easily solved as font size or key binding is ludicrous. Games by their very nature lend themselves to being accessible to all people, and there are very few mediums that are, so it seems just insane for some developers not to put in that tiny extra bit of effort to make sure that everyone can play.

  15. MadTinkerer says:

    In other news, VVVVVV doesn’t let you play on a controller. This is mildly annoying to me as pretty much every other platform game on the PC lets you play with a console-style controller, and it would feel much more natural if I could tell Captain Viridian to go left and right with my left thumb and flip with my right thumb.

    It’s not an issue with flash platformers, because they’re short, but VVVVVV is a wonderful epic game that requires awesome reflexes to get all the Shiny Trinkets, reflexes that are programmed into my thumbs, not my middle three fingers.

    Maybe I should send an email.

    • Reddin says:

      There should be a program called joy2key in the install directory of the game, with a configuration file for the 360 controller.

  16. Navagon says:

    But will Dead Space without awful controls still be Dead Space?

  17. Urthman says:

    So sad that this is what it takes to get game companies to finally support the most brain-dead obvious simple functionality to their games.

    So glad that this guy makes the case so clear and obvious and right. Bobby Kotick himself couldn’t watch that video without saying, “Hey, guys? Maybe we should support this in our games?”

    And what a feel-good, Games-Are-Awesome video that is in general. Wanna see a quadriplegic win a fist fight? It can happen through The Magic of Video Games!

  18. oceanclub says:

    Just a note to anything Logitech mouse users out there – if you don’t know about it already, check out the handy unofficial UberOptions addon for SetPoint:

    http://uberoptions.net/

    It allows you to customise all your buttons on a per-game basis. Weirdly, I’ve found that the thumb buttons are more responsive if I (a) map a game control to a keyboard key, then (b) use UberOptions to map that key to a mouse button, than if I directly define the game control to a thumb mouse button in-game. This sounds completely counter-intutitive, but go figure.

    P.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      It won’t work with my version of setpoint (5.0 for G9), but I boomark this for future use. For now, if I can’t do something with Logitech apps, I rely on AutoHotkey, which probably allows you to define about anything (mouse and keys), but can be quite awkward. For gamepad customization I use PinnacleGameProfiler, this one is paid, unfortunately.

  19. pupsikaso says:

    Man, that guy is AMAZING! I never figured someone is able to actually play like that!
    And what a great business opportunity, too! Someone HAS to make a controller specifically for disabled people that can’t use their limbs.

  20. Bonedwarf says:

    Some excellent comments here. Proud of you lot.

    My “disability” (and some seem to class it as one, I never have) is colour blindness. I have a rare form of it and some games, I just can’t play. For example in Bejeweled, I can’t tell the difference, colour wise, between two of the gems, meaning I’m playing with shape analysis, and this slows me down and makes it frustrating to play as quite often in the heat of… Erm… Battle, I get confused by the colours.

    Games quite often use shades of green and red etc… That I just can’t perceive, and when there’s 16.8 million colours out there, it’s just a lazy palette selection. Audiosurf really screws me over too, but thankfully you can change the colours in that. (Though sadly I make the game look bloody ugly if I make the colours very distinct enough to play properly.)

    I also have issues with stuff like NDS and GBA because from the battery light I can’t tell how much power is left. It goes red when the power is low. Or so I’ve heard. Light always looks the bloody same to me. Can’t tell when my Kindle is fully charged either without unhooking it and turning it on to check the battery icon on the screen. (When charging from the computer that icon is, inexplicably, not on screen).

    Worst example I remember was in Championship Manager 01, where the Man of the Match was highlighted by making his name a slightly different shade of white. This made it impossible for us colour blind folk to tell who won it. To their credit Sports Interactive did fix this in a patch.

    As a gamer though there are times in various games where I can’t tell colours and it hamstrings me severely, gets me killed, leads to having to start over etc… when all the dev needs to do is ask around. And really, for most mainstream developers, statistically there HAS to be at least one colourblind person involved in the production.

    • DarioSamo says:

      Regarding Bejeweled, I haven’t checked, but are you sure there are no options for color blind people? Peggle had that, and being PopCap its developer, I’d have guessed their other games to include the same options.

  21. Bonedwarf says:

    Not that I’ve seen. The Facebook version certainly doesn’t. I should double check my iPod version. (Bought it for the wife I should point out. *goes back to playing Crysis*)

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>