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Blog two: Start! Last time we left our valiant devs, they had just received production funding for The Vale. Now that we had the money, we needed to flesh out our ideas for our all-audio Adventure game.
Two years ago when we started The Vale, there wasn’t this explosion of accessibility in both indie and mainstream gaming. You had some colourblind and key binding accessibility, and surely a few standouts that I’m not mentioning, but aside from that the only place to get accessible content for the BLV community was in audio games. Just because there weren’t many accessible games in the marketplace that did not mean that there wasn’t a demand for them. For years, many hobbyists, community members, and a small handful of developers have dedicated themselves to crafting audio games - games that allowed those in the BLV community to have similar experiences to mainstream gamers.
Most of these games attempted to take gameplay experiences and translate them in an accessible fashion. For example, Swamp is a multiplayer shooter that is blind accessible and can be played as an all audio game. Swamp has explorable environments, narration, a complex action set, and is by and large and very fleshed out game. The design choices in Swamp were immediately a little jarring to me, but not without good reason.
Hey there internet,
Thanks for clicking your way over to the FSG blog. We’ve been pretty silent for the last few months while we’ve been hard at work on our all audio adventure game, The Vale, so it’s about time for an update. Our team has had a number of great milestones this year, I almost don’t know where to begin. But first, let’s catch up those of you who might be here for the first time.
I’m Jamie, the producer of Falling Squirrel. A Niagara-region indie developer from Ontario, Canada. Falling Squirrel consists of a number of experienced industry vets as well talented newcomers to the games industry. Having worked together on a number of projects in the past, company director David Evans gathered a team with a plan to make his dream game. With an extensive background in Film, TV, and games, Dave always talked about making a project that explored the boundaries of narrative presentation using only audio. Finally, with Falling Squirrel formed and funding granted for a concept, we were on our way to making this dream a reality with The Vale. Little did we know at the time, but we were about to enter a world completely unknown to us - the world of Audio Games.
While we did not directly intend to make a game specifically for the blind and low vision community, we were blown away by how many people want more audio games. As soon as we started developing The Vale we started devouring up all the audio games we could - Swamp, Blind Legend, Papa Sangre, and more. We started working with the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) to plan focus tests and added former CNIB senior technology advisor and Senior Accessibility Technology Specialist at Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), Martin Courcelles to our team. With help from Innovate Niagara, the OMDC, a ton of neighbouring developers and studios, we turned our concept into reality and were granted funding for the full production of The Vale.
Stay tuned for our next blog post, we'll catch you up on the current year and fill you in more on the current state of The Vale