Toby Accessibility Mod

Note: This is not one of our projects, but I wanted to share this all the same.

Alando1 over at the ZDoom Forums has made a mod called Toby Accessibility Mod which aims to offer accessibility options and features for people who are blind.

Inspired by Toby Ott, a blind gamer featured in the Gaming Through New Eyes documentary, ZDoom Forums user Alando1, has been working on making a mod that incorporates some neat features – like a dropoff detection system (to detect if you’re approaching a ledge that’ll cause you to dive off a cliff head first), as well as incorporating Jarewills’s health and ammo readouts and an audio feedback compass script. The health and ammo readouts works based on an ammo’s percentages, and the dropoff detection emits a high pitched beep when close to an edge with a significant dropoff. The thread has videos that demonstrate it. Most of these commands are accessed by keys on the keyboard.

There’s a few other things I noticed in the videos – there’s audible footsteps in time with the player’s movement, detection when colliding with walls or objects. The mappack seems to also have positional ambient noises to help navigate the player. The compass uses pre-recorded cardinal directions (even diagonal ones) to indicate what direction the player is facing. There’s a few other things, such as indications if enemies, health, armor, and ammo are nearby. There also seems to be unique pickup sounds for each item class. There’s also audio indicators for if a door is locked and requires a key. There’s also another neat feature I really like – if a switch or interactive panel is in front of you, it will emit a sound for that as well. These all have unique sounds that make it very clear what is going on. This is just a few of the things implemented. If you or someone you know has trouble seeing – no matter the degree, this might help make playing Doom a much better experience.

A ton of effort went into this project, and it shows. I appreciate this, as someone who is dating a blind person.

As an aside, Jenna and I have discussed how such accessibility would be implemented in GZDoom, given a recent heated topic on the ZDoom Forums, and she said there’s many approaches – all with their pros and cons. I hope technology and modding – or replacement/augmented vision technology – gets to the point Jenna and people like her can enjoy her hobby again.

Accessibility mods are something I really like to see – especially in an engine where accessibility is hard to integrate. Doom was unfortunately never designed with visually impaired people in mind – even colorblindness is something that hasn’t been addressed easily, either by mods or engine-side. It’s not an easy task to integrate accessibility into a visual, tactile experience, but It’s nice to see something that works within the framework of the engine to make it as accessible as possible.

The only thing it seems to lack which I think would be good, is audio cues on what GZDoom menu element is being highlighted and what menu is currently active. With ZScript it’s certainly possible, however menus are admittedly my weakest point in coding with ZScript so I could offer little advice except to say it’s in the realm of possibility.

Also some people have reported improvements can be made to the dropoff detection.

However, I have faith this person, or another contributor, can figure it out.

That said, if you need something like this – load it with your copy of GZDoom. It includes a mappack as well. If you just need the mappack or the accessibility project standalone, you can get that too.

Check out Toby Accessibility Mod below!