Blind Gamer Completes Abe’s Exoddus

By Jim Rossignol on February 22nd, 2011 at 12:28 pm.

I couldn't complete it with my eyes /><br />Those crazy kids at <a href=Edge Online highlight the story of blind engineering student, Terry Garrett, who managed to complete the PC version Abe’s Exoddus using just audio-cues and the quick-save function. There’s a video of Terry talking about his achievement, and playing the game, embedded below. He explains how he uses the various audio cues, such as stepping, running into a wall, falling, and so on, to navigate the levels and ultimately complete the game. It’s an astonishing feat of aural exploration and imagination.

(And if ever there was a testament to the value of a PC gamer’s quicksave function, this is it.)

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38 Comments »

  1. AndrewC says:

    The Oddworld games have the bestest sound. They are also have ruthlessly bastard hard punishing old school design. Poor bastard.

  2. Firkragg says:

    There is a quicksave function for this game!? /facepalms self

    • AndrewC says:

      Only Exoddus, as far as I can tell.

    • karry says:

      There kinda is, but its rather useless, or should i say, harmful. The game generally saves every 3 screens, and while you can manually force it to save on the particular screen – there are plenty situations where that would put you between rock and a hard place. Autosave is generally preferrable.

  3. Bilbo says:

    Fantastic achievement, really tough game even with the use of one’s eyes. I hope some developers take a look at this and start to think more about accessibility options in their games – the fact that games are still sometimes shipped without subtitles shames us all.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      That. Even though I don’t need to use subtitles, I’ll use them if they’re available and make a habit of checking if a game has them.

  4. vrekman64 says:

    this guy is a hero.

    • karry says:

      More like an idiot. There are periods in life where you have all the time in the world, childhood and old age. The period of you being a student, more so an ENGINEERING student, is not one of those periods. Can you imagine how much time that guy wasted on perfecting his blind gaming spree, instead of studying ?

    • Springy says:

      @karry:

      The owner of such a comment calling this guy an idiot brings me no end of amusement.

    • Nick says:

      I know, he could have been spending all that time reading.

    • skurmedel says:

      If you have a look at YouTube there are other videos about him. I would say he studies pretty hard, he might be the first blind to take a degree in mechanical engineering in the US. And he’s aiming for a PhD… so he’s not exactly lying on his back.

    • Henke says:

      @karry:

      Studying all the time doesn’t sound healthy. You gotta relax and do something else sometime, you’ll have a burnout otherwise.

    • Bassism says:

      Yeah, when you’re pursuing an advanced degree at school, the last thing you want to do is study 24/7.
      Most of the people I went to school with enjoy gaming to some extent. It’s a great way to relieve stress.

      It’s also worth noting that this guy is almost a black belt. That’s an incredible achievement, even for somebody who can see their opponent.

      I think it’s at least a little bit naive to assume that all he does is waste his time by sitting around and falling off edges over and over. From the sounds of it, this is something he’s been working on for many years, and is an incredible achievement in addition to all the other things he’s done with his life.

    • Sleepymatt says:

      … of course he must be an idiot… because there are obviously no real-world applications for his development of very finely tuned hearing and incredible spatial awareness through sound, not to mention developing his memory to a degree that he can play a bastard hard game through from start to finish? And that isn’t even allowing for the fact that we all probably play more games than we should, if we wanted to be maximally efficient automatons…

      Learn to think before you type Karry.

  5. DrazharLn says:

    I’ve thought a little on making computer games for the blind before. It’s really inspiring and interesting to me that a game as complex as this is playable by the blind.

    • Curvespace says:

      Ditto. Been thinking about it for a few years. To see this is nothing short of an inspiration… :)

      I’ve got so much respect for that guy.

    • anonymousity says:

      Quite a few blind people play muds.

  6. Robert says:

    Great achievement, though I do not like this guy.

    “games where you need some actual intelligence to play.”

    No matter the psychological base for this, completely unnecessary to be this condescending towards games he does not like.

    • donmilliken says:

      Now, now, completing a game while stupid must be considered at least as much of an achievement as playing while blind. I used to own a 360 and can only imagine that some of the people I encountered online have trouble not fouling themselves on a regular basis, let alone picking up a controller and hitting the proper sequence of buttons.

  7. donmilliken says:

    I don’t understand what a blind gamer gets out of playing video games (I don’t say that to be insulting, I honestly don’t understand. I’d like to though and certainly hearing this gamer’s story in his own words helps me to.) but I am certainly pleased to note that blind people can and do play games and derive some level of satisfaction from the endeavor.

    If nothing else, it certainly it puts the constant debates and complaints about graphics into perspective . . .

    • djbriandamage says:

      I was going to pose a similar question. A “video game” is visual by definition, so it’s not really intended primarily to appeal to blind persons.

      But what an opportunity this reveals!! I can just imagine a developer like Gaijin (of the Bit.Trip series) doing a game played entirely with one’s eyes closed. As a DJ I’d welcome the opportunity to sharpen my aural spatial awareness.

    • Curvespace says:

      The same reason anyone else does it – it’s a challenge and therefore inherently rewarding.

    • wu wei says:

      The visuals simply represent an underlying model of the game, they’re not the game in and of itself… If a player is able to construct a reasonable mental facsimile of that model using only audible cues that’s an amazing testament to both his ability to assemble sense of the world without visual data, as well as to the amazing production values provided by Oddworld Inhabitants..

    • Thants says:

      There’s Papa Sangre which is a sound only game. I haven’t played it since it’s iPhone only, but it seems interesting.

  8. Colthor says:

    Psst, the alt text is glitchy – I think you missed a double-quote.

  9. ZenArcade says:

    This is really brilliant stuff, good to hear that someone who’s done a lot of soul-searching came out the other side feeling okay and actually kind of proud of themselves. Never played the Abe’s Odyssey games but just from watching other people play it I know i’d be rubbish at it. Respect this guy.

  10. Kakrafoon says:

    I have a friend who is blind as well, but we usually team up when we’re playing pc games – I do the aiming with the mouse, he is in charge of movement, special abilities and of course the shooting. I also have to describe the environment, the enemies and tell him when to fire. I guess my friend could play 2D platformers as well, but he wouldn’t like them very much.
    This weekend, we’ll be playing Dead Space (1), which is just perfect for our purposes: The sound design is brilliant, the action and the player character move at a measured pace. Playing the newer, faster shooters – like Call of Duty #umphteenth or, Mork beware, Bulletstorm – is waaay beyond our coordination efforts because of their pace and the required quick reflexes.
    Fallout (3 and New Vegas) is also brilliant, but necessitates lots of fiddling in the Pip-Boy, which is kinda boring for him since I have to do it with the mouse.
    If we’re not dissecting Necromorphs or other creatures in older shooters like Half-Life (1 and 2), we also like strategy games – for some reason, Stronghold, Stronghold Crusader and the Total War series are very high on our list. Unfortunately, since they all come with a mouse interface (as is fitting for strategy games), he can only act as advisor. The only thing he insists on doing himself there is pressing the “behead prisoners”-button in Medieval: TW. He sure does like the sound that makes….

    • Groove says:

      re:prisoner murder

      I loved that button.

      Beating an especially annoying enemy I’d hammer the button while capturing them. Constant stabbing and screaming. Good times.

  11. WJonathan says:

    Holy crap, I couldn’t finish the game with two good eyes.

  12. Fumarole says:

    Cheers to this fellow. To those bothered by this achievement, have you no soul?

    • donmilliken says:

      I only see one negative reaction so far. Judgung by the comment I don’t think the dude lacks a soul so much as maturity.

      Anyway, as has been pointed out elsewhere this is an interesting story not just for the achievement, which is considerable, but because it points out the importance of sound design in games, something us sighted folks don’t often think to much about and have the luxury not to.

      It raising some interesting ideas and possibilities for games based entirely around sound, though to pull something like that off would take some absolutely stellar sound design, not to mention a decent set of headphones or surround speakers.

      The possibilities are tantalizing. Imagine a game any could play with their eyes closed.

  13. Hoaxfish says:

    I think it’s a nice lesson in accessibility (i.e. design that accommodates disabled users)… It’s pretty hard to notice that Abe’s Exoddus has anything to “help” people like this to play, but someone who is can realise it.

    There are plenty of websites, games, etc, which simply don’t take into account any of this, and basically assume their audience is fully sighted, fully hearing, etc. There are even laws (at least the UK) which attempt to impose this sort of thing on government websites… which still fail to do so. those same websites are becoming more vital for various things like tax returns, and communication in general, etc.

    Stuff like subtitles (for hard of hearing), colour+shapes (for colour-blindness), speech/text-to-speech support (for blindness), are relatively easy to implement. Most companies have a hard time remembering to include re-mappable controls, which even the most able players find useful (and it can go some way to help left-handed players)

    • donmilliken says:

      Absolutely. For example it amazes me with how many games are fully voiced these days that I occasionally come across one with no subtitles! I have slight hearing loss and can sometimes have a little trouble making out what is being said in a game, especially since need to keep the volume down when I play at night to avoid disturbing the neighbors, so when a game doesn’t have subtitles it pisses me off. I can only imagine how it makes a deaf person feel when developers leave out something so basic and seemingly simple to integrate.

  14. Jahkaivah says:

    Funny how the game involves rescuing blind Mudokon slaves from a mine.

  15. Wulf says:

    Oh my.

    As a disabled person myself, and since my waning sight is one of my concerns (atrophied optic nerves that look like bits of string, hooray!), I can only applaud this and share my absolute awe, astonishment, and respect for the gamer responsible.

    Respect to him and RPS for running this story. This was unexpected.

    /applause

  16. Lazaruso says:

    Oh come now. RPS isn’t just about eating kittens and clubbing baby seals.

    • Wulf says:

      You’re British, aren’t you? Insensitive, classically lacking tact, unobservant and dismissive of the details as they’re unimportant to you and the point you want to make, which is often preening and self-important. :p

      No, I didn’t at all even imply that. What I was saying is that this isn’t a normal gaming news story, so they didn’t have to cover it. There are plenty of tales like this out there, this isn’t the only one, but it was nice to see this one covered by RPS. It may be outside of their normal demographic’s field of interest, and the lack of comments is likely indicative of that, but I think it’s amazing.

      I’m just happy they’re choosing to bring things like this, which aren’t specifically gaming news/opinion articles, to the attention of the public. Which is something that they don’t have to do.

      (What’s funny is that when I make comments like that, others think I’m not British, but oh, I am. I am. That’s why I know first hand how they can be, and I say this as a disabled Brit.)