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!


The Pod-tainment :Pll Up said...

This is absolutely amazing.. Can't wait to play it myself.. This will be practice made fun!!!!

Unknown said...

Well done! Keep up the good work. You will be making history. This field hasn't seen something fresh and revolutionary in a long time.

Unknown said...

wow.... Wow... WOW!! This is so great. This is the making of history indeed. The world is ready for a better input system and you are making it happen Mirabai.

MUST ... BEGIN ... STENO .... NOW!!!

Mirabai Knight said...

You know I never would have been bitten by the open source bug if it hadn't been for you, big brother! You're ultimately responsible for all of this! :'D

Unknown said...

Great work y'all! I hope the game will be easy enough for even the very beginners to have fun with. I need to re-install plover on my new win 10 laptop, and order the keyboard to prep for your first rollout, right?
Best of luck as you move closer to rollout day! Mary in Sacramento

Mirabai Knight said...

The playable demo that will come out at the same time as the crowdfunding campaign will mostly be for advanced users, but the other games will start at the beginning of steno theory and go up in difficulty from there. If we can get enough funding, we'll hopefully be able to plan an entire game-based curriculum, from absolute beginner through to advanced intermediate stenographer!

You don't necessarily need to buy a keyboard if you have a steno machine that's compatible with Plover! What machine do you have?

Unknown said...

This is intriguing! I am anxious to play!!

Mirabai Knight said...

You can play the four-song demo right now!

Mirabai Knight said...

Just an update for anyone subscribed to this posts: http://stenoarcade.com is live and crowdfunding NOW!

Bryanne said...

It's a really cool idea. What would be really neat if it were possible for someone to use songs of their choosing and attach them to the game somehow, and port in their own lyrics. I think that would help for people to choose songs that they enjoy. I'm an... advanced beginner? I try to use songs that I know and are at a slow enough tempo where I can not make as many mistakes, to break away from the monotony of restarting an audio file that I'm required to transcribe. It's fun when I can finally hit that chorus.

I still downloaded the demo, and I wish I would have known about this before the campaign closed so I could have thrown in some support. It's an awesome idea!

Mirabai Knight said...

Yes, the ability to choose any song in your music library was our first stretch goal. Unfortunately we didn't quite make it while the campaign was running, but I might try to get additional donations, which might combine with the current Plover donation/merch sales pool to produce enough money for the team to build in that feature. Fingers crossed!

Feel free to donate here, if you're so inclined, and many thanks!