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THE 2006 DONATIONCODER.COM ACCESSIBILITY GAME PROGRAMMING CONTEST RESULTS

Congratulations!

First off, our sincere congratulations to all the winners! Accessibility presents a huge challenge to a game designer, and we had quite an amazing diversity of genres from the finalists, and innovation in so many different areas -- from storyline/writing to game play variety. There is a lot of room for improvement here, and the authors may have discovered that making an accessible game is harder than it sounds, especially for programmers who have never considered the issue of accessibility. But the spirit and creativity behind each of the games was wonderful and the IGDA Game Accessibility SIG will be happy to work with any of the authors who are interested in taking their games to the next level and making them even more accessible. - Michelle Hinn, Chair of the IGDA's Game Accessibility SIG.

About The Prizes

First of all we have to say a huge thank you to the sponsors of this unusual contest. There are many excellent game development websites, and we appreciate that the sponsors of this contest were willing to support the non-traditional focus of this contest and bring a little light to the issue of accessible gaming. Keeping with the spirit of this contest we asked each of the entrants to rate their preferred prizes and we tried extremely hard to find a way to get everyone who entered something they would be happy with - we hope that we've succeeded in that. We've highlighted one game as the top contest winner, and then presented the rest of the collection in no particular order.

Download and Try For Yourself!

On behalf of the authors we invite you to download and play these games. If you enjoy them, please consider making a small donation to the authors to support their continued development! Your donations make a difference.

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Branston and the Lost Machine

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Hanan Finnerty isn't even in college yet, but his entry to the contest was chosen as our overall favorite and top prize winner.

His "Branston and the Lost Machine" Flash game is so packed with style and personality and fun that it's bursting out of every scene.

Although the drawings in the game don't have a professional polish, they are funny and clever and compelling, and as we played the game we found ourselves laughing and constantly surprised by new things.  Not satisfied to stick with one control scheme, in Branston you actually switch at different points between dramatically different control schemes.  The creature riding levels are inspried and not to be missed.

We dare you to try to play this game without smiling.

Now that's not to say it's perfect - not by a long shot.  It's not a completely finished game, and it's not a polished or professional experience, but it's so damn impressive in terms of vision and ambition that it captured our heart immediately and never let it go.  We can't wait to see what the author will come up with in the future..

Because of all this, "Branston and the Lost Machine" was our choice of best overall entry.  Congratulations Hanan, we think you have a real future in the game development world.

Play the online flash game: Here.


Herder

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Herder is a zen experience as much as it is a challenging game.   We hesitate to spoil it for you by explaining it too much.  Basically you hold the key to change the orientation of the snake's rotation, and encircle the bubbles using the snake to make them disappear.

In order to eliminate the floating bubbles, which is the objective of the game, you need to have the correct orientation and the snake's color should match the bubble's color.  It really is a unique and fun experience.

Download: Herder.

You'll find two other simpler games by the same author in the comment thread for this entry.


SpaceHopper

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Don't be deceived by the simple graphics in SpaceHopper - it's actually a challenging, fun, and very clever game.

The basic control scheme is similar to some of the other switch games, an autonomously rotating directional indicator is locked using the switch key.  But SpaceHopper adds another element in that you then change to a different control scheme where a power-bar regulates the strength of your "hop", and then hold the key to bounce.

It's actually a surprisingly effective way to control a character in a platformer.  Trying to coordinate your actions in a real time world of enemies is difficult but feels natural and fun.

The game was created using  GameMaker and loads level files that can be modified using a rudimentary level editor - so clearly this game has room for growth.  Very cool stuff.

Download: Here.


Zombies Ate My Peoples

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Ethan Levy's Zombies Ate My Peoples is a switch-game inspired by the Tower Defence flash game.

Endless hordes of the dead are rising up from the ground with an unquenchable thirst for brains.  They are coming for your town and will not stop until they’ve eaten all your peoples!  Build towers and upgrade them to protect your peoples from this unspeakable horror.

It's one of the most elegant examples of how to make a switch game from an existing game, and in some ways the conversion to a switch game in this case has the possibility of adding to the game in reducing the open-endedness of the original.

It's worth noting that Zombies Ate My Peoples is the second game submitted to the contest that was created with the GameMaker system, which we would have contacted about donating prizes for this contest except that their game creation tool is such a great bargain already at $20 that there just didn't seem like a point!  If you want to get your feet wet trying to build a game, GameMaker is worth a look!

You use your switch key to advance through your tower positions, and then double press to select and modify.  This same scheme of advance and modify works smoothly throughout that game to great effect.  A further meta level control is available by holding the key for a longer period to trigger some discrete events.  A clever visual feedback bar indicates the current operation.  One of the more satisfying control schemes we saw in the contest.

Personal note: As a huge fan of the tower defense game genre - I was ecstatic to see this entry.  I only wish that some more effort had gone into playtesting it and balancing the game dynamics - it seems to me the game is too easy until it hits a certain threshold and then instantly becomes impossibly hard.  With a little more work this game could be incredibly fun - mouser.

Download: Here


Wakerider

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Wakerider is a very professionally finished Flash game by Alan Rawkins (website) with a serious learning curve and some fast and furious game play.

It's a racing game where you steer a boat through a series of checkpoints in a certain amount of time.  And you'll need some sharp reflexes to master it.

Control is via an automated directional indicator that rotates constantly - you hold the switch key to lock the direction and steer the boat in the locked direction.

As if controlling the fast boat wasn't hard enough, you are towing a wakeboarder who is trying to do tricks. You need to be wary of his balance; if it depletes, he falls and you lose time, but if he stays up and lands tricks, you win bonus time.

There is a series of levels and unlockable boats and boards in the game that increase the challenge and speed as you go along.  It's a serious challenge.

Play the online FLASH game: Here.


Asteroids of Orion

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Asteroids of Orion is an inventive take on the classic asteroids game.

The control scheme is quite unusual.  Rather than pressing a key to change direction, or to select a directional heading from an autonomously rotating direction indicator, here your switch key releases a "mine" - which explodes when the key is released.

The mines serve dual purposes.  In addition to destroying the asteroids, if the mines explode close to you they will propel you.  The novel control scheme adds a lot to the game and, like WakeRider, means there is a real learning curve to the game and a real challenge ahead of you.  Really well done.

Built using the Torque Game Builder trial version.

Download:  Here.


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