Baking accessibility into game development
With Responsive Spatial Audio, game developers can tag 3D objects with descriptive text, and the experience captures these tags and spatial coordinates to help players navigate. As players traverse through the game world and encounter tagged objects and designated points of interest, they are guided by audio cues via a built-in, text-to-speech API. An accessible FPS controller presents relevant descriptions at the right time by monitoring player movement, scanning their surroundings for metadata, and cuing spatial audio guidance for objects in the frame of view.
Key features to provide a more accessible experience
Responsive Spatial Audio offers a number of features that make prioritizing accessibility easy.
Accessible FPS Controller Convey object descriptions within the player’s frame of view via audio cues and adjust the viewing frustum length and arc
Annotate Game Objects Tag and manage objects with descriptive text—tag once and descriptions appear everywhere the object does
Vantage Point Objects Add and manage vantage points, or invisible doorframe-like points of interests that convey a whole view (as opposed to objects within the viewing frustum). Present different descriptions based on the direction the player is facing
Accessible Navigation Aid player navigation with a suite of interaction tools including:
Guide players to a selected object via a navigation agent with an orientation and spatial beacon
Add a script to guide players to nearby vantage points with auditory beeps
Enable bump noises with custom sounds, that will play spatial audio upon collision, intelligently based on the orientation of the player
Change background audio based on the location of the player
Indicate the global north and south of the game with spatial sound
Inventory UI Leverage an optional in-box inventory UI to easily manage a library of game objects
One step closer to seamless, accessible development
We sat down with Brannon Zahand and Evelyn Thomas, each Senior Program Managers in Accessibility R&D who champion accessibility in the gaming space, to hear their reflections on the project. “The idea that I can drag and drop this into a game, with very little work to implement it, is a game changer for the industry” shared Brannon. Evelyn attended GDC 2019 to talk to developers about best practices in accessibility, highlighting the project at a conference talk and Microsoft’s accessibility booth.
“The idea that I can drag and drop this into a game, with very little work to implement it, is a game changer for the industry.”