The Barbarian Bard

Tales and Musings by Michael A. Espinoza

Archive for the tag “Blind Man Gaming”

Blind Man Gaming – Balance and Variation (audio transcript)

Below, you will find a full text transcript of all the spoken dialog in my latest episode of Blind Man Gaming.

Me (deeper voice): Coming to you live from an oil rig somewhere in international waters, it’s that one blind guy who plays Mortal Kombat almost as good as those other blind guys: Michael Espinoza!

Me (normal voice): Hey everybody, it’s Michael, with Blind Man Gaming once again. So as many of you may have heard, there is now a balance patch out for MKXL. Um, and I want to have a look at how that balance patch impacts my gameplay. Now, there were some rumors that Mileena would no longer be able to combo off Ball Roll. Uh, turns out that totally wasn’t true, so… that’s not an issue we’re even going to worry about. But uh yeah, I still want to see how things, you know, shake out. So let’s try, uh, Mileena versus Takeda. I have a hard time fighting him, so this should be… amusing I guess. But yeah, let’s see how the balance patch will affect my game play.

Takeda: I can read your thoughts.

Mileena: I am not of Earthrealm, you cannot.

Takeda (smug): I knew you were going to say that.

Me: Let’s do this! [later, after multiple stab attack] I tried to do a combo off Ball Roll and it didn’t work, but I think that was honestly just a coincidence. [after successful combo] Okay, yeah! Yeah, you can still combo off Ball Roll. [round one ends] Okay, still comboing off Ball Roll; that’s refreshing. [takes a few hits from Takeda] Oh crap.

Mileena (flirtatious, before pouncing on Takeda): I saw you staring…

Me: I don’t know Mileena, I don’t think you saw him staring. I don’t think he’s that into you. [after the final blow] Well, that was easy. [performs Fatality] Okay, you know what actually, the part that disturbed me about that was not uh, was not what she did. It was the fucking noise he made before she did it. Like, I don’t know if that, y’all caught that, but he makes this weird fucking noise like right before he dies. She is about to kill him and he just makes this weird “huuunh” noise, and it’s like, I don’t know if that was supposed to be sexual. I don’t know, I don’t know. Anyway, I’m going to try actually a variant Mileena and see how that pans out. I’ve never really done much with variants. And yeah, let’s do a um… I meant to go left and click random, but I didn’t. So let’s do a Mileena versus Mileena fight. To be honest, those are really rough for me, um, because I can’t hear which one is me and which one is the opponent in these uh, mirror matches. But let’s see how this pans out.

Mileena: Sister.

Other Mileena: I am Mileena.

Mileena: Not while I live.

Me (after leaping attack): Oh that, that was cool! Oh crap, I don’t have Low Sai anymore. That’s like my one thing. It’s like the one thing that keeps me alive. No! Oh I suck so hard at this! Oh God, stop Tele-Kicking me! [gets in a hit] Yeah! [gets hit] Jesus. [does extended leaping neck-bite] Oh shit, you can extend that. Okay. Cool cool. Okay I can live with that, that’s at least something. [gets hit, near the round’s end] No, bad Mileena. [amused] That’d be an interesting idea for a sitcom; like, multiple Mileenas. You know, and like, Shao Kahn tries to raise a whole bunch of Mileenas. Clones. And it’s like uh “Two and a Half Men,” but it’s like “Two and a Half… Screwed Up Clones of Kitana.”

Mileena (as she beats on her other self): Sorry, darling.

Me (still rambling): I’d watch that. That seems like it would be a good show. [Mileena and Mileena try to zone each other] Oh! A conflict of zoning!

Mileena (ecstatic; before leaping neck-bite): So much blood!

Me: Oh, I like that move. That’s a good one. [uses X-Ray attack] There we go. [back to rambling] But yeah, a multiple Mileena sitcom, where Shao Kahn has to put up with all their antics. [prepares Fatality] Wouldn’t that be awesome? I’d watch the shit out of that. [does Fatality]

Me (in deep voice): Now Mileena, don’t devour your sister’s entr- (normal voice) Never mind, you know what, never mind. That, that ship sailed. Fuck. Bad parenting! Bad parenting. [pause] Well, that was fun. Okay, so the balance patch has not completely screwed me up, though I still suck kind of at fighting, you know, myself. Um, now just for irony’s sake, let’s have some fun, let’s try a new character. I think I’m going to try uh… [clicks Kenshi] Yeah, Kenshi. Because, you know, blind swordsman. And I am also blind, that’s a thing. Uh, who should I have him fight? Oh let’s do… [clicks Cassie] Yeah, that’ll work. The blind playing the blind, let’s see how that works out for everybody. Mostly me, though. I barely know any of Kenshi’s moves, I feel like this is going to be kind of embarrassing. But just in case it’s not!

Kenshi: Cassie.

Cassie: Ready, Kenshi sir.

Kenshi: We’ll find out, won’t we.

Me: Ooh, confident. [gets hit] Don’t… Rude. Don’t you know not to hit a blind man while he’s trying to cut you in half? [manages a combo] Oh, that’s kind of cool. [gets hit repeatedly] Bad Cassie. [totally whiffs an attempted attack] Oh fuck. [gets it right] That’s what it is. [gets hit repeatedly] You stop that right now! [after round one] Okay, so I’m pretty clumsy with Kenshi, but not too bad. It’s passable. [immediately gets attacked] Ow! [does combo] Alright! [takes damage] Ouch! [almost manages combo] Yeah! Damn it! Don’t do that. I think there’s a move that reflects projectiles. I want to be able to do that. [loses round 2] Damn it!!! Ah man, I’m screwing around too much. I’m just not even. I’m trying to get that one move, and I keep screwing around instead of actually hurting her. That is my bad. [knocks Cassie away] Alright, there we go. Yeah! [gets hit hard] Ouch. Stop hurting the poor innocent blind man. Damn it. Wow, this is a slow fight. [is killed by Brutality; is angry] GOD DAMN IT! Okay, so I suck as Kenshi. Okay, note to self: I suck as Kenshi. You know what, no, I’m going to try that again. I will not accept this failure. You guys get to witness a rematch, because now you got to see me lose horribly, and that was embarrassing.

Kenshi: A word of advice?

Cassie: Okay, but you never listen.

Kenshi: I meant… never mind.

Me (attacking in earnest: Oh it’s on now, Cassie. There we go.

Cassie (coyly after striking a painful blow): You got a thing for punishment?

Me: Well yes Cassie, but that has nothing to do with what’s going on here. [uses X-ray attack] There we go! Yeah! That’s what happens when you mess with blind people. Any and all blind people have the ability to do that, just so you know. All blind people can do that, ask Helen Keller.

Kenshi (victorious after round 1): Two minds, one blade.

Me: Yeah, that was a real miracle worker. [knocks Cassie away] There we go. [does it again, after a decent amount of damage has been dealt] There we go! [gets knocked down] No!

Kenshi: Fear my blade.

Me (gets a Brutality, is excited): Oh!!! And the retaliation! Yeah! Okay, so I kind of only moderately suck as Kenshi. Note to self: get better with Kenshi. Alright, well thank y’all for watching, um, Like, share, subscribe, comment, send me happy thoughts, uh tell me I’m awesome. Alright, well thank you guys very much and I will see y’all next time on Blind Man Gaming.

—–

And as always, if you enjoyed this post, I encourage you to check out my novel, Bla
des of Cairndale
.

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Testing My Might Against the Gate of Disability

A lot of you may be wondering why, of all things, I love Mortal Kombat so much. An equally large number of you probably wish there was a Chrome extension that blocked every post by me containing the terms Mortal Kombat, Carly Rae Jepsen, or heavy metal. No luck for y’all, but I’m happy to address the former question.

Why, you might ask, would an aspiring writer and a fan of complex, compelling plotlines in books, films, and games, be drawn to the maelstrom of gore that is Mortal Kombat? That question has many answers. First is that I must admit, my eyesight is getting worse. Not abruptly so, but I realize it the more I game, and the less I’m able to do so. RPGs and other games with complex menus, maps, and the like, become less and less feasible for me as years go by. I return to games I adored in my childhood, and find myself failing at things that my younger self would have never missed. I can’t describe how unexpectedly painful it is for me to miss a basic jump sequence in Spyro the Dragon, when I used to move over every world in that game with total precision. I know it’s just a game, but the loss of ability it portends is something I struggle with.

Enter, Mortal Kombat. It is not a simple game, and it is far from an easy game, but it is a sonically rich game. The sounds of feet scuffing ground, of deflected punches, and of blades on flesh, all in stereo, all trackable by my keen sense of hearing. In MK, I have found a place where my lack of sight does not too horribly disadvantage me. I’d likely do better against my sighted friends if I could see, but the fact that I can still handle a fight and come away with dignity in tact is heartening in a way I can’t describe. It makes me feel like gaming isn’t closed off to me. This isn’t Skyrim, where my extensive knowledge of lore and gameplay mechanics all amounts to aimless wandering because I can’t see a quest marker. Nor is it Tomb Raider, where my love of the plot simply cannot keep Lara from plummeting to her bloody demise. This is a game where, if I concentrate with all my might, I can keep up with my sighted peers. I may not always come out on top, but I never come away disgraced.

People talk about GamerGate, the frustratingly named-stop adding “gate” to every controversy and then coming up with an explanation later-conspiracy whereby male gamers actively strive to lock women out of the world of gaming. I do not doubt this malevolent conspiracy, nor am I targeted by it, being a male gamer myself. But there is a gate that effects me all the same. Not one maliciously erected, nor one held in place by the entirety of a single gender, but one inadvertently constructed by an industry that is, by design, for the sighted. Because visuals are an undeniable component to video gaming, I cannot expect this gate to be broken or surmounted en masse. Audio games exist, but they are ill-funded, and even more hit or miss than indie video games. I may not suffer from a gatekeeping conspiracy, but there is a wall between me and a subculture I love; a wall that grows higher as years go by. So, when I find a game like Mortal Kombat, that lets me struggle against that gate, that allows me to jam my foot in the door and refuse to be shut out, I cannot help but be overwhelmed and enraptured by the chance it offers me to throw all my might against the barrier that would otherwise cut me off from a world that I’ve embraced since childhood.

As for the lore of the Mortal Kombat world, it is true that you won’t find novels of expanded content, or prolific in-game text crawls that lay out a Tolkien-esque story of mind altering magnitude. However, that is not the type of game Mortal Kombat is, and such a lore system would feel tacked on, at best. That said, the series is possessed of a surprisingly rich narrative, brought to life by a diverse cast of characters with unique traits far beyond their move sets. And the openness of the lore is in fact one of the game’s greatest strengths. How will the fates of the various realms be decided? Will balance ever be attainable so long as they remain autonomous? On a more individual level: will Kung Jin’s sexuality be accepted by his teammates and his native culture? And what of the relationship between Takeda and Jacqui? There are numerous branches of interpersonal relationships and grand cosmic struggles to unravel, and I cannot fully express how joyous an occasion it is to find such a game, and to know I can actively participate in its community, and in the gameplay itself.

If you enjoyed this post, you might consider subscribing to my YouTube channel, where you will find videos of my experiences with video games and other such exciting things. You can also purchase my eBook Blades of Cairndale, for your reading pleasure.

Blind Man Gaming – Incubation and Indigestion (MKX, Audio Transcript)

As many of you know, I’ve taken up the process of making Let’s Play videos, in support of accessibility in gaming. In that spirit, here is a full audio-to-text transcript of my latest video, located here, for anyone who needs or wants to read the printed text in lieu of the audio dialog.

* * *

Me: Hello everybody. Welcome to another episode of Blind Man Gaming.

[The menu makes a sharp clicking sound as the winning faction screen pops up.]

Announcer: Brotherhood of Shadow wins.

Me (mildly surprised): Oooh, I guess we won a uh, uh, what do they call those? A faction war?

[Various clicks as I pass through screens and into the main menu.]

Me (rambling): That’s cool. I totally didn’t contribute to that at all. Um… but I will take credit for it. (focused again) Anyway, uh… so yeah, havin’ a good day so far. Hope everyone else is, too. Except I burned the roof of my mouth on a hotdog.

[I click on Mileena. She growls and her sai make a sharp blade sound.]

Announcer: Mileena.

Me: So now I’m kind of pissed off and I wanna take it out on somebody.

[The selector clicks rapidly as it scrolls to a random fighter.]

Me: And that somebody is…

Announcer: D’Vorah.

Me: D’Vorah! Oh how perfect, because of, you know, the whole Mileena, D’Vorah thing. Spoilers. Anyway, uh yeah, so I burned my mouth on a hotdog, and I’m all grumpy now, so I’m going to hurt D’Vorah, because it will make me feel better.

[As the fight begins, D’Vorah speaks up. Her voice sounds oddly distorted, as if speaking through a fan.]

D’Vorah: You know not when to quit.

Mileena: I will never give up my fight! [brandishes sai]

D’Vorah: Your lack of judgment led you here.

Announcer: Round one… Fight.

Me (calm): Oh it’s on, D’Vorah. Nobody criticizes my lack of judgment.

[Mileena’s sai sound with painful, fleshy stabs as she rapidly strikes the insectoid D’Vorah. The two fighters trade blows with audible striking sounds as attacks connect or are blocked.]

Me (pleased after landing an aerial combo): Ooh, that was cool! [after the round ends] Well, that was a relatively easy fight.

Mileena (lustful or very hungry): Delicious!

Announcer: Round two… Fight!

Me: I would agree to disagree with that, Mileena. I don’t think anything about this was delicious.

[D’Vorah makes more pronounced, high-pitched grunts of exertion as she dominates the fight.]

Me (as Mileena is beaten savagely): Oh! D’Vorah’s pissed now.

[D’Vorah’s projectile attacks sound slimy and foul, like retching phlegm. She blocks most of Mileena’s attacks, thus muffling the sound of Mileena’s strikes. Mileena screams.]

Me: Ouch.

[Mileena lands a basic combo and laughs quietly. D’Vorah retaliates with a barrage of attacks that have squishy or stinging insectoid sound effects.]

Me: Jeez. [after the round ends] God damn it! Okay, that came back out of nowhere. That was like…

D’Vorah (smug): I will end you.

Announcer (impatient or unamused): Final round, fight.

Me: That… talk about a comeback.

[The two trade blows, screaming and grunting with effort and pain. A shimmering sound is heard as Mileena is thrown away by D’Vorah burning two levels of her meter to disrupt a combo.]

Me: How rude, D’Vorah. [lands a few hits against her] There we go. [gets hit] Jeez.

[D’Vorah lands multiple hits.]

D’Vorah (assertive): You will incubate my young.

Me (shocked, horrified): Jesus Christ, did she just say, “You will incubate my young?”

Announcer: Finish her.

[Mileena deals an ordinary attack as a killing blow.]

Me: Okay, that distracted me. I couldn’t even do a Fatality, because that was-

Announcer: Mileena wins. [a new screen appears] Assassin battle.

Me (excited): Oh shit! An assassin battle! Let’s hope I do better in that. But seriously, did D’Vorah just say, “You will incubate my young”? What the fuck?! [more horrified] Seriously, what the fuck?! That’s so unpleasant!

[The next fight begins, facing off against Ferra/Torr. Ferra speaks up, in a perpetually mocking, childish voice.]

Ferra: Big teeth! Nasty!

[Torr roars.]

Mileena (low, menacing): I will sharpen them on your bones.

Me (annoyed at Ferra): Oh God, I hate this-

Ferra: She wants play, Torr.

Announcer: Round one… Fight!

Me: I hate this creature, so much.

[Torr grunts and Ferra snarls as the combatants engage each other. Torr’s movements are deep, slow, and rumbling. Ferra lands an attack and shrieks victoriously.]

Me: Damn it! I keep screwing up that… [trails off] I think my hands are just naturally slower for some reason. [the mic audio cuts in and out a bit] Because I’m having serious issues pulling off combos. Like, combos I’m normally pretty comfortable with.

Mileena (victorious): I will drink your fetid blood.

Announcer: Round two… Fight!

[The combatants trade a flurry of attacks; Mileena’s are sharp and stabby, Ferra/Torr’s are heavy and rumbling. Mileena lands the final blow.]

Announcer: Finish him!

Me: Okay, now let’s get a Fatality.

[A short, five note minor-key ascension plays on strings to signal the beginning of the Fatality. Mileena attacks Torr, who grunts as Mileena let’s out a victory snarl.]

Me (happy): There we go!

[Torr screams horribly, which fades to a pitiful groan as Mileena tears into him. Fleshy ripping, gnashing, and slurping sounds fill the air as she feeds on Torr.]

Me: I feel bad for the uh-

Announcer: Mileena wins. Fatality.

Me: -the larger portion of Ferra/Torr. I guess that’s Torr? Because he’s just kind of following Ferra’s…

Announcer: Assassin defeated!

Me (distracted): Alright, assassin defeated. (refocuses) Anyway, he’s just kind of following Ferra’s commands, you know? It’s not like he actually wanted to start, you know, some shit. He was just doing what he was told. That’s kind of messed up. And yet he’s the only one who gets, you know, Fatalitied. Why don’t we eat Torr? Errrr, Ferra. She was the one who started it. She was the one who insulted Mileena’s teeth. And then, you know…

[I select Mileena from the character screen.]

Announcer: Mileena.

Me (continues): Got Torr to fight on her behalf, so I mean…

[The random selector clicks about quickly before settling.]

Announcer: Sonya Blade!

Me: Oh, this is a good fight! Okay, cool. I still have a bit of rage about burning my mouth on a hotdog, so let’s uh, let’s do another fight. [pauses to gather thoughts] But yeah, that’s just, it’s not fair that Ferra/Torr, you know, Torr is the only one who really gets hurt significantly.

[The fight begins.]

Mileena (disdainful): Earthrealm witch!

Sonya (bored, dry): I wish. I’d make you vanish.

Mileena: Exactly what I will do to you.

Announcer: Round one… Fight.

[The combatants close. Sonya blocks at first, but and is able to counter Mileena’s onslaught.]

Me: Ouch.

[Mileena attacks more aggressively, making heavy use of her sai.]

Me: Huh. That was brutal.

[The two trade hand-to-hand blows. Mileena misses a combo.]

Me (slightly annoyed): Oh.

[The round ends in Mileena’s favor.]

Me: Well, this is at least going better than that D’Vorah fight. That was embarrassing, that second round.

Announcer: Round two… Fight.

[Mileena lands several successive hits.]

Me: Alright!

[The two battle fiercely, but Mileena dominates the round.]

Announcer: Finish her!

Me (angry that I struck a killing blow prematurely): Oh God damn it! I totally-

Announcer: Mileena wins.

Me: -screwed that up. I could’ve totally gotten in uh, gotten in a Fatality there. Let’s try one more fight. I think that’ll take off my uh, my fury. My burnt mouth fury.

[I select Mileena again.]

Announcer: Mileena.

Me: Let’s see, who does the machine want us to fight next?

[The random selector clicks rapidly, slows, and settles.]

Announcer: Alien.

Me (dismayed): Oh God, oh man, I hate fighting Alien. [mic audio flickers in and out] My best friend always plays as Alien, kicks my ass, and it’s demoralizing as shit, and maybe I can beat the computer. Let’s find out.

[There is silence before the fight begins. Alien growls low in its throat.]

Mileena: Face the might of Outworld.

Announcer: Round one… Fight.

[Alien screeches and shrieks as it battles Mileena. She lands several stabs.]

Mileena (confident and condescending): Run along now!

[The pair close again, and Alien deals a multi-hit attack.]

Me: Ow. That’s the move my friend loves to do on me, like constantly. He’s so good at constantly getting that particular move in.

[Alien screeches as it loses the round after a barrage of attacks.]

Mileena: You’re so much fun.

[Alien growls.]

Me: Mileena and Alien should get into a “who can bite things better” contest.

Announcer: Round two… Fight.

Me: I feel like that’d be an interesting fight. They both seem like they’d be really good at, you know, chewing on things.

[Mileena aggressively assails Alien with her sai.]

Me: Can’t you see them both just, you know, noming on things? Like to see who can chew stuff up more effectively? I feel like Alien would cheat and use his little second mouth.

Announcer: Finish him!

Me (arrogant): Oh what up, I win!! Okay, let’s see… [I fumble with buttons] Do do do do do…

[The Fatality sound plays as Mileena attacks.]

Me: Here we go, I remembered it.

[Alien lets out a dying screech and Mileena grunts with effort as she rips away its head. She crunches down on it like someone taking loud, echoing bites from an especially crispy apple.]

Me: Oooh, Mileena, I feel like that’s a really bad idea. Aliens have, you know, acid blood. Don’t do what you’re… Uh never mind, it’s too late.

Announcer: Mileena wins. Fatality!

Me: Yeah, she wins for now, but I mean the real winner in this fight is indigestion, ’cause… acid blood. You know that’s gonna hurt. Anyway, I’ll catch y’all later. Thanks for tuning in to Blind Man Gaming. Uh, Like, comment, subscribe, share, um, think happy thoughts, all that good stuff, and I will catch y’all later.

Blind Man Gaming

Hail readers,
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved playing games; from childhood bouts of imaginative play to digital, immersive stories of enthralling characters and events. In fact, it was the video game series “Legacy of Kain,” that inspired me to first become a writer. One might wonder how a blind man goes about the visual processes of video games. That question, along with others, is something I hope to address in my new YouTube series: Blind Man Gaming. In this series, you will see me playing some of my favorite games, discussing my process for doing so, and engaging in what I hope to be amusing dialog with my pixelated protagonists. In this video, for instance, you can observe my use of stereo audio to play Mortal Kombat X. I’ll be compiling videos from the same games into playlists
like this
, for easy viewing purposes. So, if you want to see a blind man take on the visual world of gaming, please consider subscribing to my channel, and I promise I will make that decision as worthwhile, entertaining, and amusing as I possibly can.

—–

And as always, if you enjoyed this post, I encourage you to check out my novel, Bla
des of Cairndale
.

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