Gaming and Disability Boot Camp 2018: Making Forza More Inclusive and Accessible

Gaming and Disability Boot Camp 2018: Making Forza More Inclusive and Accessible


>>Thanks, first,
thanks everybody. I’m Bill Giese, Creative Director on Forza and
Motorsport Seven, this is John Knowles, he was the Design Director
on the Forza Horizon series. Again, thanks for
coming out again, I appreciate you guys
taking the time. Before we start though, I did want to thank
one person specifically, Cherry, where’s Cherry?
Oh, she’s back there.>>Do I need to go back there?>>No, it’s fine you
can go, I’m going to talk nicely about you,
so it’s better when you. We turn tended in
inclusive design sprint, I think about a month ago
and it was incredibly insightful to have SMEs
like Cherry there, to give their, again,
their insight, their stories, and we learned a hell of a lot that we
took back to the team. So, cool. So, what this is going to be is more a postmortem, more of like happy accidents, how we fell backwards
into accessibility and inclusiveness because we were trying to build a game
for more broader players. The way we determined it at the time was kids
and elderly people, it was more about dexterity
than anything else. Is anyone here not familiar with Forza? Several unfamiliar? Yeah, I don’t have to
use the spiel and it still so self-serving when we’re talking about our own game. Okay. So, cool. Let
me talk about it. So, looking back about 18 years, to better understand where we are today were going to
take a look back. The racing industry
at the beginning of 2000 was very different
than it is today. You had things like the Fast and Furious had just started, those types of street
racing games were really popular outside of that. You had arcade
inspired games like Crazy Taxi, Mario Kart. It was a very different, different time for racing. There was a growing community of players that wanted something more realistic, authentic,
simulation-like, and they really wanted to
test out their skills, and they found that failure was a metric
for challenge for them. Now, again, this is a time
when arcade games where, you guys remember those arcade
games actually paid money, those games are still being
translated over to console and so the design of
those games was very different. All arcade game is designed to literally
take quarters from you. So, a lot of those design mentalities
were carried over to early racing titles. You didn’t have
simple navigation assists, you didn’t have
interface overlays and made things easier, you didn’t have the ability
to even restart a race, these console games
you couldn’t restart, you essentially were expected
to succeed or start over. So, racing games were hard, all of them are
really really hard, and they were revered
in their difficulty and how they punish players. In 2003, Jack Black, he spent over 400 hours playing a PGR2 Project
Gotham Racing 2, and he got all the
platinum metals, and platinum in that game
was brutally hard. I think there’s like
one or two people in the studios that
could get that. When he beat it he
took this picture. This is I think he was on the set of King Kong, and again, this is before the Internet
and anything else. Literally, this was
a mail that was received, and when we got it
we were so excited, like this was a badge of honor. We pass it around
the studio or like, “Yes, we did it. This game’s hard,
aren’t we great?” But you have to
understand before you had any community,
any websites, YouTube, you had the development
team that was making it, and you had pretty much
traditional media reviewers that would talk about your game. So, it was kind of
this self-serving cycle of what a game should be
and how fun is determined. Back then, it meant it was hard and punishing
and that was success. So, again, during this time this internal team
developed in Turn 10 and we were set off to create flagship
simulation racing game. It was a charter to
target to Gran Turismo which at the time
outside of Mario Kart was the predominant king of
racing games. Guess what? We wanted to make
the most realistic racing game we could based on all the other stuff that is out in
the market at the time. Halfway through
development, we sat down, we get to play
the first playable build, and as we started
to pull over it, we looked at all this hard
work that we had done based on the other titles that are out there in the marketplace. No assist, simulation physics, we didn’t penalize
the player credits when they would smash their car, even dented, we take
money from the player. So, we done it, we made
it great simulation game. It was hard. Outside of our
core group within our studio, no one is having
a good time with it. Again, this was before
usability, public datas. So, we had to look
in ourselves and go, “What the hell did we do wrong?” So, we’re finding again
that while our game was accurate and simulation-like, it was just brutal to anyone who doesn’t race cars professionally. So, at that time, we started to look at competitive titles
as you normally do. We started looking
at other games, one of those games is MotoGP 2. While it’s not car racing
it was considered to be at the time the definitive
bike racing game. One of the things they added was this this arrow at
the very top of the screen, and it had this little
thing glow red, where it generally tell
you when to slow down. As we started to look at this,
were like, “Wait a minute, do we have something
in our games, in our back-end debug tools
that does this?” So, we have something in
our game called Drivatar, the technology we built
were, essentially, as you’re driving we
have AI algorithm that captures all your inputs, your steering, your breaking, and then it generates
that to basically recreate you out into the wild. We have all these overlays that essentially would do things like, when you should slow down,
when you should break, where you’re apex
is needs to be hit. So, we swapped out that debug UI with some arrows
and we color them based on, again, standard traffic lights. Green is go, yellow is slow down, red is you really
need to slow down. However, our system
was real time, so if you slow down too much, it tell you to get
back on the gas, and this was huge for us. The system was easy
to understand. Started to teach players were breaking zones around the track. Again, this is a way to help
us play our game better. Quickly became that
we need to do more. As reviews hit, it
became pretty clear, we were able to lead
some new players dip their toes into
simulation racing. Jump ahead a little bit
to Forza and Motorsport 3 as continuing our franchise into
an E-rated title. We knew that we
were still missing the more casual player. The original Wii was
a huge title at the time, I’m sure everyone had,
in this room had one. So, while most of our releases only had that suggested line
that you saw before, for Forza 3 we also added rewind. So, with rewind, essentially, if you make a mistake or
at any time you want to, you press a button and it’ll begin or rewind
for a few seconds. There were unlimited
of player or we didn’t penalize players
for using them, and again, not only that, we borrowed another piece of Drivatar tech when it came
to an auto brake system. So, the game would essentially
just break for you. So, all you really had
to do is steer and gas and that was
a big win for us. I’m sure you guys have
talked a lot about it today. This was a step for us and also going
against the grain of our core community as well because when they hear
stuff like this they immediately think you’re making a game for babies,
this isn’t for me. Over the years, as we start to remove these layers of
assists that we’ve normally done but let players
choose what they want. Anytime we announced a new game
up to release there’s all this speculation about
how it’s going to be ruined based on these new
assists that we’ve add. But then when they get in
their hands they quickly see it’s stuff that they
can choose how to play. Another thing we tried
once and only once was at the very
beginning of the game letting players choose, essentially who they
are as a driver, casual, regular or
a serious player. Obviously this was
fraught with, again, base assumptions for
us telling players, hey as a casual player you
want all the assists on, as a serious player
you want everything off and it caused obviously
a couple problems. First and foremost,
people do not know how to identify themselves in
such a general way. We would get people
plant choosing serious and going
your game is too hard. We’re like, wow why don’t
you turn the assist? They’re like, no
I’m a good racer. You’re like, okay, gosh. So we’re not doing
a good enough job educating you but we’re just assuming
you want everything off. So after Forza Motorsport 3, a group of us went off
and started to incubate on the Kinect technology. That was really fun
for us because it was a new way for us
to figure out how can we get more players
to interact with our title that are probably they think even a controller
which is basic to us is too complicated
and of course we looked at things for
our core players like head tracking so when
you’re driving and you look into a turn that works. We even just assumed building a Kinect experience is
like the real world, so we tried motions
with H pattern shifts and e-break things and it was a nightmare,
it didn’t work, it was no fun, but whenever you ask somebody
hey pretend like you’re driving a car the first thing
they do is they put their hands 10 and two. So while we already had an auto brake system
into the game, we added auto accelerate. So essentially all the player essentially had to do was steer. The game would break and it
would accelerate for them. At the same time because some
of our cars we wanted to keep the integrity of these cars that go 180 miles an hour, we added a steering assist. So if you got too far off, it was kind of like
bumper bowling, it kind of keep you in
the track as best as possible. Again, we were just developing
this just for the Kinect, but as we then started to
develop a full title in Forza in full game we included this steering
assists for all players. So it wasn’t just the
Kinect experience, this was something
that everybody got. It was awesome when
we started to- didn’t realize that we were
helping a group of players. It wasn’t- Again, these are happy accidents
from us and so when we started to win some of
these awards it became incredibly clear
that there’s there’s a market out there and there’s people that
want to be able to experience your game that
normally can’t and we’ve got a long ways to go,
us meaning Forza. Our arrival to Windows 10 after we shipped for its Motorsport
6 we did a PC port. This is our first
time going to PC. We predominantly been
a console title, and it was eye-opening
for us to kind of see the peripherals the PC players
were trying to use. We just assumed again
you’re going to use Xbox controller or Microsoft approved wheels but
the majority of players we found were actually playing
PlayStation wheels. They were playing
these weird peripherals that they’d hacked together
in order to get to work. It was like okay, great. Moving forward, if we want to be able to hit other regions
and more players, we need to have
an open system with our USB. So as we started development
of Forza Motorsport 7, we wanted to open up that
USBs to support to not only the fan requested wheels
for the hardcore guys, but whatever device you enjoyed. This included things like
the dual shock which was pretty sacrilegious about two
years ago to say that to go to Phil Spencer and say hey we’re going to be
supporting day and date with Dualshock on
our new game on PC. The rationale behind it was it’s a very specific
controller for a very specific audience. But for us it helps us get into places we can’t
normally get like Japan. Xbox isn’t a big deal in Japan, PlayStation obviously
is and so is PC. So being able to
play your content on PC with a
controller device that they like was huge for us and
then we kind of went nuts. We just started plugging
anything we had laying around and
this is absolutely true I’ve played the game with a Guitar Hero guitar
and a DDR pad and it was it was interesting for us because they were
just stupid tests. I never expect anybody to play with a Guitar Hero guitar although you look
awesome when you do it but being able to map whatever buttons
you want to be able to say hey you know the old NES
controller what if he had to play Forza with just the
the D pad and two buttons, what are the things
you would want to do. It helped the team kind of go, okay gosh what are the other things that we need
to do to be able to empower players once we release play
with the devices that they want and this laid
the groundwork for us for some of the work John’s going to talk about
a little bit about the adaptive controller. We’re super excited
about that and some of the opportunities
that affords. With that I’m going to have
John take over and talk a little bit more
about inclusivity.>>All right. Thank you, Bill. Okay, let me adjust my window. I got more notes than Bill. Okay. So, as Bill
mentioned we kind of stumbled into a lot of things designing a game
for hardcore racer. When I started it
turned 10 in 2010. I was on Forza 4 with Bill and working on some of those things
and it was really cool. But soon thereafter we
started up another group and we enlisted the help
of Playground Games in Lexington Spock who
are the developers of the Forza Horizon Series
and they came up with a new title where they
brought characters to Forza. In Forza the car is
always the star but in Horizon it began to share
the stage with humans, because we needed
some authenticity to lend to this fictional
Horizon festival that’s full of cars
and music and people. So, we got people everywhere and the player took on the role of a rookie driver seeking
to become champion of the Horizon festival,
very light narrative. Your character didn’t talk but was featured
in cinematics with various other characters
who guide you along your quest which was
kind of fun and new. But the first game featured young silent Caucasian
male character to be the driver’s avatar in
all the cinematics and gameplay. While not intentional this
is a form of exclusion. Especially when
the character is so malleable he’s got no back story, he’s got nothing to say
and yet we didn’t give the player any agency in
the character’s appearance. So with the next title we thought well we’ll try to do a little bit better but we didn’t really. In Horizon 2 we had
a diverse cast of characters male and
female all around you and cinematics but the one
who represented the player was still
a generic white guy. We took great pains
to use first-person, POV and cinematics
and things like that to not really
draw attention to it but every time you swing
the camera around admire your car take a picture or post your stuff online or
watch the replay or got to the ending when he’s holding the trophy up, “I’m
the champion”. There he is, generic white guy
and we got called out. Again, as you can
see, a game that seems to celebrate
diversity everywhere else; locations, cars,
things you can do. It’s odd that
the avatar representing the player themselves
would be overlooked. Duh! So we knew we wanted
to do something about it in the next game and while we
didn’t have the scope and the schedule which you hear that word a lot and if
you’re in game development, we don’t have a scoop
and if you’re a designer like me you’re
like we’ll make it. We didn’t also have time to do the robust character
customization that we originally planned for Horizon 3 where you could change
your skin tone, your eyes, your hair color,
everything like that. All that stuff’s first thing
you get cut in scoping. But we absolutely
knew we had to do something so we turned
to our friends in UR and they reached out to the community and they conducted a poll and this
was not just Forza fans it’s broader gamers people who like racing games in general. We wanted to see what
do you think about character customization
in a racing game. So respondents
reported that someone important to customize
their character in a racing game wouldn’t necessarily impact
their purchase decision, but those who felt it was
important said choosing a character that is like me is the most important to them, and that really true with us and what did that
mean specifically? It really means that they want to choose gender and
skin color most of all. Gender and ethnicity
specifically. The other things you could
say well hair colors and hairstyle seems to be just
as important as skin color. If you looked at
all the deep questionnaires, no, those two on the left
where the most important. Great, we could
actually tackle that. So, is this the right slide? Yes. The initial experience
of Forza Horizon 3 provided diverse selection of characters for the
player to choose from, giving the player agency in
not only what the character would look like but
also what the game would call them by in voiceover, in menus and whatnot. Ultimately this is a step in making our series more inclusive. Next I’ll play a clip from
a popular YouTuber who had just completed the initial
driving experience and arrived at
the festival in Australia. This is really a high point, they just got to drive three
exciting cars on the beach, through the jungles,
chasing a helicopter. You know they’re filled
with anticipation for the rest of the game and it’s also a point where we can
either keep them on that high or we can really
disappoint them, so we had to be really careful
about what we did next. Hopefully you’ll have audio here.>>Horizon festival. Well, that’s definitely got me pumped
to play this game. I actually think you can make a character in this game or at least like pick
some fully defined characters. Yes, you can. You’ve never been up
able to do this before, you’re always just
like a random dude. So I think we need somebody-
okay here’s the options. I usually try and pick some in this game that looks like me, but I’m kind of feeling
this pink-haired girl or I’m kind of feeling her. Which do we reckon? I’m going to go pink-haired girl, she’s also got necklaces
that I kind of tend to wear. Your character can be changed. That’s cool. We’re
going to pick her.>>Okay, and what
should I call you?>>Please have Clare. These games never ever had
Clare, never ever ever. Please just this
once. They have it. It’s spelt wrong but
they have Clare. So I get this in comments a lot, I do not have an I in my name. It’s like the Irish way of
spelling it but never mind. Like at least we still
got Clare in there.>>Yay. So big win. Big win for making Clare happy and lots of other
players who found a character that
may not have looked exactly like them but gave them some agency and
some choice and finding a name that the character
would call you by. One of my daughters did not
find her name in the game. She was not pleased. I will not make
that mistake again. We did also have
lots of nicknames. In case you couldn’t
find your name, we can’t have every name
in the world but not yet, maybe through the Cloud
and AI we can. Anyway, the point is giving people some agency
makes them feel really good about continuing to play this game that they just bought, they’re
excited about. So, we didn’t know
any of this and neither did Playground,
sorry Chris, I put your picture up there
without your permission, I think, but I’m trying
to make a point here. We didn’t know any of this
and neither did Playground but Clare happens to be a very popular YouTuber
and she just recently married one of
the most popular YouTubers in the world Ali A. Between the two of them, they had like 20 million followers or something like that. When they’re delighted about our games and there are
20 million viewers, many of them kids and women and people who aren’t the typical
hardcore forte player, might think, “Maybe
that’s a game for me.” So, we want to delight
these broadcasts. So, there fans are delighted
and they player our games. We should strive to
get more reactions like this from these types of broadcasters but also from accessibility advocates like
Chris, like site schemer. People who maybe
can’t play our games fully yet because of barriers
we haven’t removed yet. So, we’re removing
inclusively barriers, we’re working on
some accessibility stuff, we have a lot of work to go but it’s really imperative that
we remove as many barriers as we can so that everyone who’s out there tubing or streaming or on mixer is talking about how awesome for it is to play. So, covering a little bit
of it the inclusive part, I want to get into the sort
of the nuts and bolts of accessibility which
I know a lot of you have been
talking about today. First, you have to figure
out, where are you? How are we doing? After shipping Horizon 2, we asked our test team to
see how we would rate, Tara mentioned
something like this, if there were some sort of
compliance test against the the guidelines posted at
gameaccessibilityguidelines.com. So, easy enough, our testing went up
there and they looked at all the various forms of accessibility that are
grouped into mobility, cognitive, vision,
hearing, speech, general accessibility et cetera
and then the basic ones, the ones that are
easy to implement we should all do these. Advanced and intermediate which are harder, take more work. The testing came back
and said here you go. Here’s everything we
could think of without really reaching out to accessibility advocates or disable gamers
anything like that. This is really just a bunch
of game developers and testers sitting around and thinking, how are we doing? So, at a high level, our compliance as it were was pretty much
as you’d expect. We’re pretty good at
hitting the basic stuff, got some work to do in
the intermediate stuff, and we really weren’t
doing much at all in the advanced areas. But if you look
deeper per category, it was pretty clear that
hearing and vision were two areas where we were
doing pretty badly. So, we knew that sitting out on the next game we’d have to do some bit of work. I should say specifically, hearing suffered in
the intermediate levels and our vision accessibility
was more an advanced stuff. So, we’re already doing
things that don’t normally just come to mind
or we knew we needed to. So, as Bill mentioned, the driving line that
was green, yellow, red, that was great, unless you were
a green-red color blind. You couldn’t really
see it at all. So, Bill and his team
changed it to blue in Forza Motorsport 5. I don’t think we’ve made
a Horizon 5 yet and that’s great and it also kind
of took the line out of the weird neon world that it was in and made it blend
naturally with the world. We made the game better. We dropped the ball
on Horizon 2 which shipped a year later with
the green line again. God, some of this stuff happens
when you have two teams sharing code and tech
across a big ocean. You’ve managed to share a lot of stuff and some stuff slips through the cracks
and I must have sent Bill in email at some
point saying, “Hey, why do you guys turn the line
blue?”, and he said, “Oh, that was for color blindness.”, and I was like, “Oh, why didn’t we do that?” We also have a game which is an open world game with
thousands of icons and things to do and everything has got its own color and halfway through development of Horizon 2
about this time a year, so you’re getting near
the end you got a few months to go before we really
have to lock it down. I hadn’t into the controller do a co-worker of mine and he’s
planned it and he’s like, “Where do I go next?”, and I said, “What do you
mean. Looks at your map.” He looks at the map, “I
don’t know where to go.” I said, “Look at the
big red circle dude.” He looks at me, he says, “Dude, I can’t see
a big red circle.”, because our big red circles
on a giant map of realistic browns and greens
and dark reds and everything. It’s just like what are we doing. So, we tried to hurry up and scramble and change
some of our map icons, making sure that reds
were replaced with pinks, and greens were replaced with neon greens or blues
or things like that, and we kind of did okay when Horizon 2 came out to take some of those boxes
but for Horizon 3, we made it a priority
to attack the game from the beginning with
this problem in mind. So, creating bespoke UI or colorblind mode which
also Tara talked about was way out of
scope for engineering. Engineers are
totally over tasked, UI teams are totally over
tasked, what do we do? Playgrounds’ designers and
artists sat down and said, “Well, maybe there’s
something we can do without tech support.” So, they just looked
at all the icons they add and did a pass to make sure that
we weren’t relying on just color for any of them. We use outlines, animations, flashes, you name it, and they all got smartphone apps that emulated multiple types of colorblindness
not just red green and tried to make sure that
as much as they could do it, the entire game,
it’s UI, the maps, everything would be
visible by people with multiple types of
colorblindness, which is great. We think we can even
do more in the future. We’ve got some really
cool ideas about how to go deeper to keep ticking
those advanced boxes, maybe do some high-contrast, maybe someday Silas comeback
and play Forza which he mentioned that the game
accessibility conference. How we’d like to do that and he gave us some really neat ideas. We didn’t use to
imagine that but now, how can somebody who is totally cyclists play a Forza game? Maybe if we, as Tara said, identify that as a problem
and think about it, we can solve it. Okay. You’ve also heard
this a lot today I’m sure. Try playing your entire game without sound, just turn it off. On our own initiative,
we had our tests lead do that and he
generated a long list of things that he simply
did not understand. He didn’t know how
to play the game. We got a lot of these pretty late in development in Horizon 2. We really couldn’t
do much about it. So, we identified these
as blocking bugs. They’re no longer nifty, nice to have features
that would be nice to have for people who couldn’t
hear as well as us maybe. It meant people literally
cannot play the game. That changed how we
think about things. Subtitles and captions aren’t the only solution for
hearing impaired players, but it’s a huge huge part of it. It’s not as sexy
or innovative new accessibility technology, but I’m going to spend
some time talking about it because I’ve seen
teams tackle this. I have been part of
tackling this over and over again for nearly 30 years
that I’ve been making games. It astounds me that we
don’t have a solution, a standard across the industry that we can all just plug in to and not worry about it but it is work that
we have to do. They seem easy right? Somebody’s talking just put some words in the bottom
of the screen. No problem. The film
and TV industry had been doing this for decades. Why can’t we? Well,
as you guys know, games are very different than linear media like
films and television. We don’t know how the player’s
going to play the game. There’s all kinds of heads-up
displays and sound engines, and bespoke rendering engines and all kinds of things that just make it life so difficult if you’re trying to set
out to do subtitles. It’s up to developers to choose the support for subtitling
that best suits their game. I should add that even if there
was an industry standard, I think developers should
still be able to choose what subtitle system is
best for their game. Some movies do this too. They do subtitling different than just putting it at
the bottom of the screen. So we ended up rolling
our own home-grown solution. Microsoft narrator is
a great step forward in player-player communication,
in menu navigation, but it’s just not working
for capturing people shouting as they’re jumping
a car across your highways, you’re driving a 200 miles an hour through the trees
and the forests while radio DJ is talking to you and all this other
stuff is going on. You really had to go all
over again and there was nothing in our engine, in motorsport or Horizon that would do that
for us, either. Typically, we’d
pause the game up, up and say, here’s your instructions and then
we’ll let you play again. Well, we wanted a system that didn’t interrupt
the flow of gameplay. We had to start
from scratch again. You do this by
prioritizing the work. We had several main
characters to speak. We want players to
understand them easily. Without interrupting the action, we have a lot of HUD going on. As I said, you’re
driving 200 miles an hour through a forest. So, we need to add
a glance clarity. So, we also needed a deliberate approach to reduce the impact on
content creators. The engineering team decided
to tackle the work of making automated system
which is important. So, Playground ended up making a new subtitle system that provided automatic text wrapping. We’re just actually get broken up and push
to the next line. I think we did two lines
deep automatic timing based on the length
of the voice file, automatic scrolling. Each character use
an animated unique color an icon to go with their name. All of these things
helped to make you just glance at
what’s going on and what do you know when you’re
playing the game and you can hear things normally, it makes the game clear to play. Because as I said, there’s all this stuff going on, all these engines
screaming at you, all these horns honking and
you hear somebody talking, and if you can just glance at
the corner of your eye and see words to go with
what you’re hearing, it makes it better,
better for everybody. Reminds me of a staff I heard at the accessibility conference, Ubisoft I guess
had done a poll of their Assassin’s Creed
players and found that 60 percent of their players prefer to play with subtitles on. So, everybody plays the game
benefits from this work. There’s so much more to do. Even with all the work
we’ve done to improve subtitling in Forza Horizon 3, we have so much more to do. We still don’t subtitle
all spoken dialogue, like radio DJs carry on some
banter while you’re driving. You don’t see captions for
what music is playing, what the lyrics to
the music are or the sound of fireworks going off in the sky or
something like that. There’s a lot more custom work
that we’d have to do. But again, it’s about
prioritization. The things that blocked you
from completing the game, were the first things
to tackle and then we move down the list. I guess lastly on
the subject of subtitles, until there’s
a standard solution, it really is on us to deliver this for
all of our players. Using Horizon 3 is an example, it’s easy to see how
it can be daunting for development teams to tackle these kinds of
accessibility features. It’s easy and understand
how sometimes they don’t survive scoping compared to gameplay features
like Auction House or some other thing that may be
in our minds took priority. But there’s a big
important difference in how we’re thinking
about these things. We are willing to cut features that we think a lot of
players would think are cool, so that we can make our game
playable part more players. Yeah. So, taking years of work, we did to broaden our players
via driving assists in Forza Motorsport
in Horizon series. The more open USB platform, we can now merge them with
the adaptive controller. This is really exciting stuff. I don’t know how people are going to play the game with this. You can plug-in
all kinds of things. I’ve done it with several things myself, it’s pretty cool. It just unlocks more
opportunities, more accessibility. This is Sam in running
playing Horizon 3 with just a foot pedal
and a thumb stick. This device will be proudly
shown amongst its peripheral, it’s one of my favorite words to pronounce in the microphone, peripheral peers at E3. We’re excited by the
possibilities with this device, but also the possibilities
that co-pilot and mixer, and controller sharing over mixer might lead in
terms of accessibility. What happens if
this controller is mixed with mixer and co-pilot, then
controller sharing. I don’t know that I’ve
seen examples of that yet, but it kind of blows my mind to think what people
might be able to do. So, there’s still a lot of
work ahead and it’s not easy. Everybody in here who makes games knows that making games
is really really hard. Former Lucas Arts
colleague of mine, some of you may have heard
of named Tim Schafer, often said that games are fantasy fulfillment to his team and to everybody to inspire them, is absolutely right, but
it’s really really hard. Why? Making software that
actually works is really hard. Ask anybody in Windows or Google, or Apple, who makes
software, it’s hard. Making entertainment that
actually entertains is hard. Ask anybody in show business. We all go see lots
of movies and watch lots TV shows that
don’t entertain us, but a lot people worked
really hard on them. Making software that works
and entertains is really hard because you’re putting together people that don’t
normally go together, super-technical engineers with [inaudible] creative-types
and designers. They have to work
together to do all of these stuff and then you
have this challenge. Making software that works and entertains everyone is well, what do you do? So, this is where
inclusive design and accessible design
come into play. Removing barriers to play
for players of all ages, backgrounds skill, and physical or mental abilities
is the holy grail. How do you approach that
challenge? Where do you begin? First, everyone on your team needs to have empathy
for players of all backgrounds and ability. If they don’t teach
them, inform them. Keep them part of
this discussion. But the same kind of
dedication you put into making games fun into making
your game accessible. Everybody’s got the skills
and the talent. Like Tara said, “We’re
all problem solvers, make it a problem that
you need to solve.” Some people on your team will have more passion
for accessibility. It’s totally natural. Find out who they are and
empower them to effect change, to make your game more
accessible, to motivate the team, to run a sprint that tackles one or two accessibility
problems so you can see what it’s like
to make improvements. There’s also help out there, everybody knows, the Game
Accessibility Guidelines, Inclusivity, Enable MS, there’s lots of lots
of places to go. Taking it all in at once can be daunting or overwhelming
for development teams. You can’t do it all at once, but you can make
meaningful progress. You need both passion
and patience and a long view of where you
want your series to go, not just the current
game you’re working on, a franchise over years. Then, how do you know what
to tackle and in what order? I mentioned this a couple times. But you need to make
accessibility a priority. As game developers, one of
the most powerful tools we have is effective privatization
and design scoping. I turned 10 in a Playground,
this happens all the time. We turn hundred cool ideas. I’ve always got cool ideas, like, we have a thousand
of my breakfast. You got to turn
a hundred ideas into 10 features you can actually
ship, and ship well. We do this every
time we make a game. I think Bill generated
a list of 200 features, from brainstorms in 44 that we all took back to our desks
and sat down and thought, “Well, I’ll take 20, you take 30, and I think we shipped somewhere between seven and 10 of them.” There’s a natural part
of game development, and if you get really good at it, you do things really well. You take the things
that you can do well when you only
do those things. That’s no different a Playground. They’ll spend
two to three months, coming up with
the concept for the game. All the great things they can do, a world that’s three times bigger than the one
we’re going to ship, and then we spend twice that
time honing that design, scoping and scoping and scoping, before we ever actually
start production, I mean, there’s prototyping
and stuff going on, but, we’re not going to
build anything until the whole team is in alignment
with what we can build. So, priority is generally
handled in two ways. There’s priority and severity. Best way to think of the two is priorities is the order in
which you got to do the work, severity is the impact
to the customer. These are intertwined, but
you have to understand severity before you can
assign an effective priority, and there’s lots of
different areas; performance, graphics,
gameplay, all these things. But kind of generally things get bucketed into three features; got to do it, really
should do it, it’d be nice if we could do it. That’s kind of crude, I mean, we have much deeper and more granular ways of prioritization. Prioritizing things
but our brains kind of bucket things into those three. So when you have thousands of items in your features backlog, or your bug database, where does is
accessibility fit in? In the old days, they’d just be battling with
cool gameplay features, like the auction house, right? Or, some character
customization thing, not anymore for us. What if lack of accessibility where severity one blocking bug, just like a game crash? That changes your perspective. To us, accessibility is gameplay, you have to make your game as accessible to
as many players as possible which we’ve always
been trying to do; age, gender, ability. You have to think
of accessibility as a critical component of gameplay, a requirement for the
featured actually work. We made a lot of progress over the years but we’re at point now where we don’t think
of an accessibility features a thing to prioritizing its gameplay features anymore. We think of barriers to accessibility as
high severity blocking bugs. There are priorities of
course within those. Like I said, we don’t
subtitle everything yet, but we will at some point. We had to get the hard stuff
out of the way, the stuff that blocks
a player from proceeding. That’s where this
comes into play. If it’s so overwhelming, just start with one problem
to solve or two. Start with an
accessibility sprint in your pre-production schedule. Pick a thing you know
you need to work on, and you’ll find great ideas
and passion from the team to help guide the efforts
and prioritize the work. So, sorry for all that rambling, but in Horizon 3, we set out not only
to make the game more inclusive with
character selection, we also set out to make
it more accessible, primarily in two areas
vision and hearing, specifically colorblindness
and subtitling, the two things we
thought we could do something about this
time around effectively, and we know there’s so
much more we can do. Both of those things took
a fair amount of work. We embrace that work
now as part of our normal game
development process. It’s important to
step forward and that’s what we must and
can continue to do, is keep moving forward. So that’s a lot to think about, planning early and
empathetically, you’re going to delight players. Thank you all for having us, and if there any questions, then I would be happy
to answer them for you.>>You got the other
microphone around here?>>Sorry, I got it right here.>>There we go. I’ll
take that for questions, and yeah, who’s got
the first one? Over here.>>So you guys did a good job explaining how you’re able
to use multiple controllers, sewing up even like
the Nintendo controller is a great example of taking your complex control
scheme and really boiling it down to
the true essence of what’s necessary to play. So, in the experience that
I’ve run into in the AT space, if you have just like, “I
can’t use my right hand. Just move it to
another body part” , like copilot and some of
those other things are are good places where you
can address that. But, for people that have limited capabilities
and therefore they can’t push more than say
two buttons or one button, they still want to
be able to have a satisfying game
experience and clearly, you’ve gone down that road. Do you have any
recommendations for other games where like
fighting games or other things where they can consider what limited button input
style experiences look like?>>Yeah. Honestly, you’ve probably heard all day options,
options, options, right? The more options you
have, the better, and then being able not
just to have toggles, but ranges of things, and turning things that
normally button presses, you hear a lot about QTE’s
into single button presses. I know God of War just did that. I think it’s again,
just on that back-end, and it’s a mentality thing more than anything else because, everyone assumes you’re
breaking the game, you’re making the game
dumb by doing this, if you can just get past that, you’ll be surprised
how many people out of, not just disability,
life stage, right? You’ve got players that
are older, we’ve got, I’m like fun of
our Studio Manager, he’s older in his life stage, and he doesn’t have a lot of time for games but
he loves gaming, and so he just wants to
experience the content, he just wants to see
the narrative, right? So, the accessibility
tools that are built, they empower everybody. But anyway, honestly,
it’s options, options, options more than anything else.>>Other questions?>>So you mentioned
it’s important to make everyone empathetic
for all players, what’s been successful for you at your studio to help
get that to everybody?>>I said it at
the beginning I think doing a design sprint with
someone like Cherry, having them our team
kind of walk through essentially how
they play content, what’s the type of games
they enjoy and why. We do extensive VI to look
at our core customers, the experiences they like, and when you talk to
some of these SMEs, it’s very similar to some of
the stuff that they want. So, like anything, when you
walk a mile in a man’s shoes, you can really be more
empathetic to it. So, that was the first thing
we’ve done and then essentially,
ever since then, we’ve been doing
internal road shows, within our studio specifically, talking about obviously
the work that we’ve done, the groundwork that
we have but how much more we have to go,
and like I said, I can’t stress it enough, getting people in that have that experience
that you don’t, it changes something from
sympathy to empathy.>>Any other
questions? All right. Thank you guys again.
I appreciate it.

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2 thoughts on “Gaming and Disability Boot Camp 2018: Making Forza More Inclusive and Accessible”

  • Don't you think calling a character a generic white guy is kind of racist?
    and that might also exclude your main audience.

  • Great talk, it’s fascinating to hear about the way accessibility changed over time within the Forza series. It’s great that they’re looking into having a customizable character that really makes their games stand out, since I don’t know any other racing game that has that. Also being able to remap keys is an important accessibility feature that every game should implement, I’m definitely looking forward to the new Forza game now!