Author Topic: How doable are these graphics tweaks to make FSO playable by a legally blind guy  (Read 423 times)

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Offline jg18

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How doable are these graphics tweaks to make FSO playable by a legally blind guy
Hey guys!

Yup, I'm still around :D and yup, my vision is still super ****ty :blah:

I still have a full field of view, but the world is still very blurry. At least, it's not as blurry as it used to be, when the blindness first hit back in 2014.

I just tried playing FS2 with the latest MediaVPs. I got through the tutorial missions and started "Surrender, Belisarius!"

Amazingly, I was able to kill a couple enemy fighters, but it's really hard to recognize the ships from the background and tell the different ships apart.


I think the game would be a lot more playable with these graphics tweaks. How hard are these to do? Any of them would help.

- Disable the nebula/planet backgrounds. A plain starfield would be amazing. Solved!
- As much as possible, make friendly indicators blue and hostile indicators red. Red/green can be a bit hard for me to tell apart these days. Solved
- Maximize the contrast between ships and the background. Solved!
- Maximize contrast between friendly ships and hostile ships. One idea is to give friendly ships a heavy blue tint and hostile ships a heavy red tint.
- Either disable suns or make them way less bright Partially solved, still working on this
- Larger HUD gauges, especially the reticle and its indicators, say 1.5x or even 2x? Solved

Btw, I'm using the numpad to fly. I never got the hang of the mouse, even back when I could see, and sadly I had to give away my CH Flightstick years ago.

Also, which launcher flags are the best to enable? Are the defaults good enough, or should I change anything?

It's so weird to be a noob again, having no idea how to configure the game, even after all those years of working on wxL. I don't even remember the controls anymore and have to learn everything from scratch.

Thanks a ton!

P.S. The adrenaline rush of chasing a fighter again was incredible. I'd forgotten how much I missed it.

EDIT: Clarifications/corrections.

EDIT 2: I'm hoping that at least some of these tweaks can be done by config. If some are doable by patches that wouldn't be much work for a graphics coder, I'm happy to apply patches to FSO master and make custom builds for me to use. Any help would be amazing.

EDIT 3: Update list.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2020, 02:01:03 pm by jg18 »

 

Offline Iain Baker

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Re: How doable are these graphics tweaks to make FSO playable by a legally blind guy
Hi there. I'm not sure if we have 'met' before (in so far as anyone 'meets' anyone on an online forum  :p). I'm Iain 'Sessile_Nomad' Baker, the unofficial 'Social Media Guy' / unpaid HLP shill  :lol:

I'm also a freelance video games journalist with a keen interest in advocacy and accessibility. I have an article regarding accessibility in games in the works which I hope to get finished in the next few weeks. It would be great to hear your experiences if you are happy to share (anonymously of course if you so wish.)

I'm not aware of FSO having accessibility options like the ones you describe (guys, if I'm missing something please let me know) but it is something we should consider introducing if the FSO engine permits (again, guys, any idea if this is possible?)

Based on the settings which I know are available now you could try the following:

UNcheck the 'disable emissive lighting from ships' button as this will make the ships brighter and easier to spot against a starfiled.

UNcheck the 'Enable FXAA anti-aliasing. button, since FXAA works by slightly blurring everything to hid jaggies. Turning it off will make the image slightly sharper.

Disabling light shafts might help in some situations

Disabling shadows might help slightly too


There may be a way of increasing the size of the HUD elements since I notice the HUDs on different campaigns are sometimes different sizes / resolutions but i'm not sure how (Guys, any suggestions?)

NB - the images below shows the difference emissive lighting from ships makes. The one on the bottom is with emissive light on. Would this help?
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Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: How doable are these graphics tweaks to make FSO playable by a legally blind guy
- Get rid of the nebula/planet backgrounds. They're nice to look at but too distracting. A plain back starfield would be amazing.

Nebulas and Planets are handled on a per mission basis, as is the skybox/starfield. A plain black starfield is possible with the number of background stars, which is handled on per mission basis as well, be set to 0 and no other skybox set.

Nebulas and Planets are drawn from the entries in Stars.tbl overriding the files it references might be a solution that doesn't require editing every mission.

- Either get rid of suns or make them way less bright

The properties of the background Suns are governed by Stars.tbl as well.

- As much as possible, make friendly indicators blue and hostile indicators red. Red/green can be a bit hard to tell apart these days.

Iff_defs.tbl lets you tweak the default colours for different IFF groups as an RGB value. These defaults can be overriden in mission by a SEXP and would have to be adjusted on case by case basis then.
"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

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Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: How doable are these graphics tweaks to make FSO playable by a legally blind guy
There may be a way of increasing the size of the HUD elements since I notice the HUDs on different campaigns are sometimes different sizes / resolutions but i'm not sure how (Guys, any suggestions?)

HUD elements are configured via Hud_gauges.tbl, which also sets a base resolution for the HUD used as well as the font size used (via Fonts.tbl).
"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

==================

"I am Curiosity, and I've always wondered what would become of you, here at the end of the world." - The Guide/The Curious Other, Othercide

"As you sought to steal a kingdom for yourself, so must you do again, a thousand times over. For a theft, a true theft, must be practiced to be earned." - The terms of Nyrissa's curse, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

"...because they are not Dragons."

 

Offline Iain Baker

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Re: How doable are these graphics tweaks to make FSO playable by a legally blind guy
Cheers guys, I knew I could count on you  :yes:
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Offline jg18

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Re: How doable are these graphics tweaks to make FSO playable by a legally blind guy
Thanks, guys!  :yes:

Hi there. I'm not sure if we have 'met' before (in so far as anyone 'meets' anyone on an online forum  :p). I'm Iain 'Sessile_Nomad' Baker, the unofficial 'Social Media Guy' / unpaid HLP shill  :lol:
Hey! Yes, I've seen your work before.

For those who don't know me, the contributions I made when I was active:
- Major overhaul of wxLauncher, the SCP's first cross-platform launcher that was the the predecessor to Knossos
- Enhanced in-mission sound
- Linux release of Diaspora R1
- Some Knossos improvements, like implementing the sorting menu, adding network settings, and eliminating the delay that used to happen when you switch tabs

I'm also a freelance video games journalist with a keen interest in advocacy and accessibility. I have an article regarding accessibility in games in the works which I hope to get finished in the next few weeks. It would be great to hear your experiences if you are happy to share (anonymously of course if you so wish.)
Sounds very interesting! Let's talk out of band. PM me to start that conversation. :)

I'm not aware of FSO having accessibility options like the ones you describe (guys, if I'm missing something please let me know) but it is something we should consider introducing if the FSO engine permits (again, guys, any idea if this is possible?)
Some accessibility features in FSO would be cool, but not sure if there's enough demand to justify the coder time and added code complexity. But as you and 0rph3u5 show, a lot of things can be tweaked via simple config changes or table extensions. It might be worth considering having an accessibility mod that makes these kinds of changes easy to apply. Then again, in the nearly 20 years since the SCP started, AFAIK I'm the first "customer" for this stuff, so I dunno.

Based on the settings which I know are available now you could try the following:

*snip*
Thanks! I'll try those.

NB - the images below shows the difference emissive lighting from ships makes. The one on the bottom is with emissive light on. Would this help?
Yes, that would definitely help. Thanks again!

@0rph3u5: Thanks so much for the detailed info about relevant tables. If at least some of these changes could be done via custom tables, that would be fantastic.

I was originally thinking that some changes would be via code hacks via patches, which I would then apply to FSO builds that I make myself for my own use, but a data-driven approach using tables would be much cleaner. I'll look into the FS wiki pages you linked to and see if I can figure out how to create my own table extensions that I can apply to override the default tables.

 

Offline jg18

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Re: How doable are these graphics tweaks to make FSO playable by a legally blind guy
I think I got most of these working.

I added files to data/effects for the neb*/dneb*/planet*/sunglow*.pcx files. They're the same size as the original ones, but completely black. Ships are now much easier to see. The files were easy to make with GIMP.

I also added to data/tables an iff_defs.tbl that's a copy of the original but with the Color for Friendly changed to blue.

I also added these two files to data/tables. Unsure if the team colors help, since I Haven't yet examined the ships closely enough to tell if it has an effect.

Root_fs2-hdg.tbm:

Code: [Select]
$Scale Gauges: Yes

#Gauge Config
 $Base: (1280, 960)
 $Min: (1280, 960)
$Gauges:
 +Hostile Triangle:
   Triangle Base: 15.0
   Triangle Height: 20.0
   Radius: 240
  +Target Triangle:
   Triangle Base: 15.0
   Triangle Height: 25.0
   Radius: 240
$End Gauges
#End

Root_fs2-clr.tbm:

Code: [Select]
#Team Colors

$Team Name: Friendly
$Team Stripe Color: (0, 0, 255)
$Team Base Color: (0, 0, 255)

$Team Name: Hostile
$Team Stripe Color: (255, 0, 0)
$Team Base Color: (255, 0, 0)

#End

I also made the config changes that Iain suggested, and those seem to help, too.

Playing on a 1920x1080 monitor on Windows 10.

I wonder if I can use these same tricks for mods. I guess I don't need to worry about it until I can get through FS2. So far, I've played through "Slaying Ravana" on Medium, but we'll see if I can get through some harder missions like intercepting bombers/bombs.

Thanks again! It's so exciting to be able to play FS2 again, after I was so sure that I'd never play again after I lost my vision in 2014. :D

 

Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: How doable are these graphics tweaks to make FSO playable by a legally blind guy
I don't know if it helps, but you can add particle effects to bombs. It won't change hitboxes but it can make them more visible:
https://wiki.hard-light.net/index.php/Weapons.tbl#.24Pspew:

if you set "+Vel:" to 1.0 the particle effect should be right on the bomb and stay there until its lifetime is up.
"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

==================

"I am Curiosity, and I've always wondered what would become of you, here at the end of the world." - The Guide/The Curious Other, Othercide

"As you sought to steal a kingdom for yourself, so must you do again, a thousand times over. For a theft, a true theft, must be practiced to be earned." - The terms of Nyrissa's curse, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

"...because they are not Dragons."

 
Re: How doable are these graphics tweaks to make FSO playable by a legally blind guy
Hm. A question for SCP devs, would it be hard to add some flag that would disable the rendering of backgrounds, nebulae and suns (replacing them with just clean starfield.pof because retail stars are horrible)?
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Re: How doable are these graphics tweaks to make FSO playable by a legally blind guy
Reminder that alternate lighting settings exist for the command line.
Try
-emissive_light (modern FSO builds disable emissive light by default, so you have to re-enable it)
-ambient_factor 255
note that if you're using Knossos, you may have to set this for each mod as last time I used it, individual mod settings override global settings.

Also grats on getting some vision back. I was under the impression that once it goes bad, it stays bad indefinitely with no hope for improvement.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2020, 08:49:28 am by -Joshua- »

 

Offline jg18

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Re: How doable are these graphics tweaks to make FSO playable by a legally blind guy
Thanks, guys!

@0rph3u5: The particle effects for bombs sounds really useful, will definitely give that a try.

Hm. A question for SCP devs, would it be hard to add some flag that would disable the rendering of backgrounds, nebulae and suns (replacing them with just clean starfield.pof because retail stars are horrible)?
Even if it wouldn't be too hard to do, since such a feature might not be useful enough to be worth adding to the engine, I'd be happy if it could be done as a patch/hack that I'd then apply locally to builds I make myself for my own use. A change to make friendly and hostile ships super easy to tell apart would be especially useful.

@Joshua: Yup, I figured there were lighting settings that could also help. Iain mentioned -emissive-light, but I thought there might be more.

Also grats on getting some vision back. I was under the impression that once it goes bad, it stays bad indefinitely with no hope for improvement.
Thanks! The prognosis depends completely on which condition caused the vision loss. LHON is generally stable, but it can have some improvement, if you're lucky.

 
Re: How doable are these graphics tweaks to make FSO playable by a legally blind guy
I was very sad when I read your posts several years back.  I'm glad that you are back, and I'm very glad to hear that you haven't been left completely blind!

I'm afraid I'm useless on the graphics tweaks you are looking for, but I just wanted to pop in and say I'm glad to see you are still around and kicking!
"Any idiot can face a crisis; it is this day to day living that wears you out." – Anton Chekhov

 

Offline Mongoose

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Re: How doable are these graphics tweaks to make FSO playable by a legally blind guy
You could probably do something like Windmills did for friendly/hostile ships and just saturate the whole model with a single color.  I'm not sure how it pulled that off though.

 
Re: How doable are these graphics tweaks to make FSO playable by a legally blind guy
You could probably do something like Windmills did for friendly/hostile ships and just saturate the whole model with a single color.  I'm not sure how it pulled that off though.

manually replacing the textures I'm afraid.

 

Offline jg18

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Re: How doable are these graphics tweaks to make FSO playable by a legally blind guy
@perihelion: Thanks!

@Mongoose/Joshua: I thought I once saw screenshots where ships were heavily tinted red (Or was it blue?). I think it might have been a code bug, but as they say, the line between bug and feature can be blurry (no pun intended). :) So maybe something like that could work for me as a local-only patch.

@0rph3u5: I tried adding a weapons.tbl extension. Based on a little testing, it does seem to help (thanks!) but I wonder if I can choose values that would make it work even better? The values I picked are wild guesses.

Here's what I came up with for a new file "Root_fs2-wep.tbm":

Code: [Select]
#Secondary Weapons
$Name:     Cyclops
$Pspew:
  +Index:  0
  +Type:   Default
  +Count:  5
  +Time:   250
  +Vel:    1.0
  +Radius: 5.0
  +Life:   3.0
  +Scale:  1.0

; $Name:     Cyclops#short
; TODO - do I need a section for this? Or only for regular Cyclops?

#End

My remaining vision is sensitive to motion and to flashing lights, which is a big reason why timed-action games like FS2 are playable, so a bit of extra of either/both of those could help.

Thanks!