Last Saturday indie publisher Whitethorn Games showed off their upcoming titles in their Winter Showcase. A segment of the Whitethorn Games’ showcase is dedicated to the accessibility of current and upcoming titles. Usability & Accessibility Specialist Britt Dye talks us through the accessibility of releases and updates from the past year and upcoming titles.
Releases and accessibility updates in 2022
The look back at 2022 mentions the visual novel Princes Farmer, which has different playstyles to choose from. It also allows for single stick gameplay and a choice between holds or presses for different actions. Both flashing effects and vibration can be disabled. Text effects, colors, and styles are adjustable, while the selected dialogue option can be indicated by color or arrows.
The beekeeping simulator APICO incorporates accessible design by using high contrast text and inventory slots. The automation that is part of the gameplay can limit the amount of player input needed. An update released in November allows for difficulty adjustments by disabling RNG (randomly generated) elements.
Another game that has seen an update in 2022 was Wytchwood, which now allows players to toggle button holds and turn off portrait movements. Button prompt sizes are larger and UI scaling is available as well. Beasts of Maravilla Island was updated with a plain text overlay to make reading the journal easier. It also includes brightness and contrast sliders. Last in the list of games from 2022 is Lake, which now includes key remapping.
Accessibility in upcoming releases
After this, Britt moved onto four new releases coming in 2023 starting with The Forest Cathedral, a 3D visual novel with 2D platforming elements played on in-game terminals. Players can adjust the difficulty of the platforming at any time by toggling float mode which gives players more time to think and react. A no spikes mode removes spikey death traps. Players are also able to disable screen static effects from these terminals. A high contrast sans-serif font improves readability of subtitles and journal text. Additionally an alternative font for in-game text is available. Remapping is possible for most actions.
Next up, a game that has players explore a mythical island: Mythwrecked. The game features remapping for most actions, and an option to toggle sprinting. The radar function that helps you find the island’s secrets gives feedback through visual indicators, sound, and haptic feedback. Text bubbles are available in light and dark modes, while there is an option to auto-play dialogue with a speed setting and scroll toggle. Non-dialogue captions are optional, and disabling vibration and camera shake is also possible.
The exploration puzzle game Botany Manor was next, and features high contrast highlighting for interactable objects and clues. Reading clues such as a written postcard is made easier by including a plain text overlay. Sprinting can also be toggled.
Last of the games in the segment was Magical Delicacy, a platformer with a non-punishing approach to platforming. For improved visibility players can turn on platform and character highlights, and high contrast platforms. Desaturating the background is possible to further improve the visibility, and QTE events are optional. For improved readability there is a choice of fonts for the in-game text and UI scaling is also available.
To conclude the accessibility segment, Britt reinforces Whitethorn Games’ commitment to work with their partner studios to include more accessibly designed features and options. The dedication is great to see and we are looking forward to more updates!