Monday, November 23, 2015

Help Us Find CC-Licensed Music for Steno Hero!

First, some more pictures from the latest build of Steno Hero:

I've played the demo, it's completely amazing, and it's so close to being done, I can almost taste it!! We'll be releasing the demo with only three songs, but we need to come up with a larger list of songs for the full version of the game, and we're hoping the Open Steno Project community can help us out with that. The songs need to have lyrics and need to have a license allowing commercial use. We've got a few likely candidates, but the more suggestions we can get, the more variety the game will have, so please send us links to all your favorite CC-licensed songs! Any tempo is fine, since we'll want a mixture of difficulty settings, from very slow to very fast. Since we want Steno Arcade to be kid-friendly (gotta hook 'em on steno while they're young!) we're hoping to avoid lots of cussing, so if your songs have any questionable material, bleeped or silenced versions are preferred.

Even if you can't think of any songs, please continue to help spread the word about Steno Arcade! We're counting down to what's shaping up to be a pretty amazing launch.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ultimate Hacking Keyboard Now Has a Trackball

Wow, I'd been holding off on pledging for an Ultimate Hacking Keyboard, which I first posted about last month, because if I'm gonna get a backup steno machine to carry in my work bag, I was thinking it should be the Stenosaurus. But now that the UHK is gonna be both a split keyboard and have a trackball, I'm sorely tempted. Honestly, the only thing holding me back is the staggered key layout, which looks like it might be somewhat uncomfortable, compared to the Stenosaurus's evenly aligned rows. Plus the Stenosaurus will have lighter key actuation. On the other hand, the UHK is likely to be more lightweight overall and easier to fit in my bag. Man, this is a tough one. Anyway, I thought y'all should know about it!

Monday, November 9, 2015 is live!

Just a quick update: is now an actual site that exists, and you can enter your name and email address there if you want to be added to our mailing list for when the crowdfunding campaign launches. More teasers and details and art assets coming soon!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

New From Steno Arcade: Logo and GIFs!

So I posted the Steno Hero logo when I announced the project, but we've got a logo for the overall game suite as well!

Plus we've got some more art from Steno Hero to show you! A sample of the characters you'll see cheering you on in the audience, plus our initial player character (who not coincidentally looks a lot like Jonathan Coulton, the perpetual geek-favorite songwriter):

And some animations of individual concertgoers getting their groove on:

More coming soon!

Stenodict: A New Steno Dictionary Repository

Ted, our intrepid lead developer, has outdone himself yet again. He decided that there needed to be a centralized hub for stenographers to share specialized dictionaries, and took it upon himself to make it happen.

Stenodict is a Github-based dictionary repository, which currently includes the movement/editing dictionary I posted about recently, as well as a command line dictionary and a markdown commands dictionary. Soon to come will be my Vim captioning commands dictionary, which I submitted to Ted this morning, and Ted's world-famous emoji dictionary, featuring 250 mnemonically stenotypable emoji strokes! If you have a dictionary that you think other people might find useful, please don't be shy about submitting it, even if it's only a few entries long, like Ted's unicode arrows dictionary. The more specialized dictionaries we can collect and document, the better!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Announcing: Steno Arcade!!!


If you've been following The Open Steno Project for a while, you know that one of my long-held dreams has been to develop a steno tutorial arcade game suite to teach and drill steno fundamentals in an immersive, addictive, responsive, and interactive way. Over the last five years, I've been accepting donations and selling merch, all of which has been set aside to fund development for the game suite.

I'm happy to announce that almost all of that money has now been spent! Way back in July, I was contacted by Adriane Kuzminski, a Twitter friend of mine, who works on interactive sound design and accessibility. She got wind of the project and put me in touch with the people from For All To Play, a studio established to develop accessible video games. It turned out to be a perfect match.

Since then, For All To Play and I have been working on a plan to make this game suite a reality. The suite will now be called Steno Arcade, a fantastic title that warms the cockles of my retro little Eighties Kid heart. They also agreed to work at seriously discounted rates to develop a playable demo for the first Steno Arcade game, which will be used to drum up enthusiasm for a crowdfunding campaign to help develop the rest of the games. We've sketched out names and general game designs for all of the games, and I'm intensely excited about all of them, but we all agreed that the playable demo should go to the most impressively badass-looking steno game yet envisioned: Steno Hero! It's like all your favorite rhythm games, but instead of mashing buttons to vaguely emulate a simplified version of the music, you're hitting steno chords to precisely and accurately produce each one of the lyrics! It's like singing karaoke with your fingers!

Back in 2012, some people at PyGotham and I hacked up a very rough sketch of what Steno Hero could be, but it never really went anywhere... Until now. The For All To Play guys have leapt into the creation of this game headfirst, and I couldn't be more thrilled. I'm going to be updating the blog with more teasers and details (and art and animated GIFs and maybe even video) over the course of the next few weeks so that enthusiasm for the crowdfunding campaign will be at a fever pitch by the time we launch, but let me just tell you: I've already played the all-but-completed demo for this game, and it absolutely knocks my socks off. I can't wait to show you more!

The demo is being developed with the Godot open source game engine, and the source of both the demo and the other finished games will be released as soon as they're completed. All the finished games will be 100% screen reader compatible (though unfortunately the demo probably won't be), and we've got steno-savvy blind playtesters standing by to help make sure there will be no accessibility barriers in these games. As I've said before, the blind and low vision community might well turn out to be stenography's secret weapon, and Steno Arcade is a huge part of my plan to reach out to users of screen readers in an attempt to lure them into the steno fold. I can't tell you how amazing this whole process has been so far, and I can't wait to watch it all come together over the next few weeks and months. Until then, stay tuned! Many more updates soon to come!