Accessibility in video games, and designing for them

This is not a recent video (at least it was more than a year ago), but I was very fascinated to watch someone with vision impairment (as the result of cancer) playing a fighting game by listening to the sound effects. Actually, his name is Sven but probably better known as Blind Warrior Sven by his followers on social media.

If you are interested you can watch the relevant parts of the interview of Sven (but you should watch how he plays against a very accomplished opponent first) where he explains how he learnt to play from sound.

He explains that the most difficult part of learning how to play is when there are certain moves that the opponent makes where the sound is indistinguishable, which means that he is required to make a guess (hopefully an educated one) about what the opponent is doing and responding to it.

This has made me to think about accessibility issues when designing for games, and whether these elements are taken into account to ensure that people with specific ‘disabilities’ or physical impairments are still able to play and enjoy the game if they choose to do so.

Some of the points I have considered include:

  • Making events perceivable in visual, audio and tactile forms
  • Making response or input speed to events equal in visual, audio or tactile
  • Creating distinct or unique signatures in visual, audio and tactile events

What other examples have you seen and applied in PC, console and mobile games?

UPDATE: Microsoft has developed and shared some guidelines that help improve accessibility in game design

Designing an algorithm: arrange rectangles of varying sizes, in a pre-defined order, into an approximate box

– List of rectangles (height x width).
– Maximum width and height of result.

Arrange the rectangles, without changing the order of the list, to be as close to a square as possible. The items should go top down, left to right. If all items can’t fit within the width and height result, then ignore the max width.

Example 1: A list of squares: 1, 2, 3, 4, would be arranged as:

1 3 2 4 

Example 2: A list of squares, except #2 is a rectangle with twice the height:

1 3 2 4 2 5 

Example 3: A list of squares, except #2 is a rectangle with twice the width:

1   4 2 2 5 3   6 

Obviously the real applications are not that neat, and shouldn’t be expected to form perfect final results, just get as close as reasonably possible. Performance is not critical, but it can’t be terrible as this will be run every frame (so brute forcing is too much). “Reasonably close” results that capture the spirit are fine – if a human couldn’t immediately spot an improvement to be made it’s adequate.

Any thoughts are appreciated.

Best practices for designing layouts of highly configurable/customizable web applications

As the title says, I’m looking for best practices or guidelines on how to design highly configurable web applications.

We’re currently doing a complete redesign of our HR application and there isn’t a single screen without discussion about the issue of configurations possibilities. Customers love that they can tailor our platform to their needs; in fact it’s one of our main selling points. But how can you ensure an aesthetically pleasing layout when you don’t know the number of buttons that will be displayed, or how many options will be available. Or how complex the search masks will be…you get the idea.

Examples for configuration possibilites are:

  • QuickActions (one button per action)
  • QuickFilters (checkboxes that activate a set of filters tailored to your needs)
  • labels and images
  • visibility of certain functions or contents
  • etc.

Our current strategy is to make sure that the default configuration looks and feels good and we even validate our designs through user testing. However, since the possibilities of configuration are nearly endless, we can’t possibly test for all cases. We try to take extremes or corner cases into account but for “badly” or overly configured pages, we can’t ensure that the layout will still be alright.

Are there any best practices or design guidelines about how to ensure a minimum amount of usability and aesthetic? How are you coping with that kind of “fuzzyness” in your layout? Any experiences or ressources are highly appreciated!

Is Figma or Photoshop better for designing mobile apps and handing them off to development?

I’m a UI designer in a large organization. I’m using Figma to design an app and need to hand off the design to the developers, who are used to receiving Photoshop files and do not know Figma. I’m trying to push for Figma but want to know if developers can get what they need to build the app from Figma, or if I absolutely need to transfer everything into Photoshop and hand it off to them that way.

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How to handle grid system and layout at different breakpoints when designing wireframes / mockups?

So I’ve researched this question and I’ve alluded to an answer, however I’d like some more input. As a developer whenever designing a website I could just code as I go and set breakpoints whenever something doesn’t fit. However switching over to UI design I’m facing the issue of compiling the proper screen sizes / mockups to hand over to developers. Since there is essentially no way to determine breakpoints for every screen when purely designing mockups what exactly is best practice here in this situation?

It would seem the best case is to make designs in a few predetermined screen sizes such as a mobile size / tablet / laptop / and large desktop. Since these layouts cover MOST of the ground, do devs usually just tweak the design a small bit when something doesn’t fit?

Designing a stat block for a 5e Hieracosphinx

The Hieracosphinx is a lesser Sphinx that does not have an official stat block for 5e, as via Christopher Perkins’ Twitter. However, I would like to use this monster in a desert setting with Level 6 characters, for which the more powerful Gynosphinx (CR 11) and Androsphinx (CR 17) are out of question for being too powerful and not evil. In 3e, which I’m not at all familiar with, the Hieracosphinx had a CR of 5 apparently, see here, but I have no idea if I could translate the stats 1 to 1 into 5.

Another idea that I had was scaling up a Griffon (CR 2), giving it the Gynosphinx’s Claw Multiattack, a bit more HP and a few spells from the spell list.

So, what approach should I take here? I have never designed a monster from scratch before, only adding or subtracting 1 or 2 things from existing monsters sometimes.