For most, bringing an idea for a Halo multiplayer map to life is only a few button presses away, thanks to the in-game map editor, Forge. It's more complicated for SightlessKombat, a blind player whose ability to play games is dependent on leveraging sounds cues. So when SightlessKombat wondered if it was possible to build a multiplayer Halo map specifically for playing blind, he looked for help—and found it.
If you're scratching your head at how SightlessKombat manages to play games, this piece from Eurogamer, outlining how he became a high-ranking player of Killer Instinct, might help. There's also this video of SightlessKombat explaining his technique:
(The reason the videos in this story are not properly embedded is because embedding is disabled on SightlessKombat's channel. Apologies.)
SightlessKombat was originally drawn to Halo because a friend wouldn't stop talking about how "spectacular" the games were. The problem was that the most "spectacular" parts were events he couldn't fully comprehend. Everything he knows about Halo comes from what he can hear, but this isn't exclusive to the shots of bullets, lasers, and grenades in the game, either. It's also about the optional books about Halo.
"This insight into the Halo universe allows, as a gamer with absolutely no sight," he told me, "for a series of cross-references to be gradually built up, including combining with images created by the gamer in question from their own ideation."
Over time, he was able to build a larger understanding of Halo that aided his play. You can even watch him play through full-on Halo 5 campaign missions.
While playing a co-op campaign with a friend, SightlessKombat was explaining what it's like to play without visual input. Eventually, they got to chatting about his map idea.
His map pitch was simple: one-on-one and free from obstruction, environmentally and other players. The minimalism could, in theory, make it possible for players to track one another through sound. It would also be possible for sighted players to close their eyes and simulate being blind, which would give people like SightlessKombat a wider pool to compete against. Sound objects, above and below the map, would give a point of reference for players, beyond their ability to pick up on noisy footsteps.
In a few hours, with one person building the map and SightlessKombat providing feedback, they had a prototype. Other players helped test it by pretending to be blind.
Here's what it looks like:
His partner eventually became busy, though, and without someone to implement his ideas, the map languished. Luckily, after reaching out to the Forge community, several came forward, anxious to help SightlessKombat make progress on his unique map.
"The response, though very small-scale, was very much a positive one," he said.
Here's where they are now:
Work continues, as the team works through some of the limitations of Forge. Neither Forge nor Halo was explicitly designed for accessibility. Still, SightlessKombat is hopeful for the kinds of entertainment the map might provide.
"If players, streamers etc watch the gameplay back in theatre [mode]," he said, "they can hopefully laugh at their near misses, enjoy the entertainment at scoring a well-timed hit on an enemy, or even just allow their new found understanding of audio to show through analysis of what cues played when in a sequence of events."
You can find more videos of SightlessKombat playing games on his YouTube channel.
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