THE STORY

 

Spoken Games was born from an idea inspired by my uncle, Eugene. He so enjoyed playing video games on his computer after his retirement. But due to macular degeneration, this became very difficult when he couldn't see the computer screen anymore. I realized many others were also limited in the same way. Computer programming has been a main part of my life for over 30 years. So the idea of writing games for the latest generation of tablets, smartphones and computers seemed natural. 

After spending the past several years learning and trying to understand objective-c, I decided to write a slot machine game that would not require using any visuals but would provide all the game information in a verbal (spoken) manner. Spoken Slots was born from slot machine descriptions, payoffs, and background math explained on several websites. 

As programming progressed I tried to listen to the testers comments. This resulted in adding three features which can optionally be turned on through the game settings. The first is the option to save the game score between sessions. The second is the option to spin the reels by tilting the device. And the third is to optionally select to use voice recognition. It is hoped that these features will bring added enjoyment to those who find this app entertaining. 

Future plans are to design and write additional casino and other games that will also feature spoken interaction between the user and the game. Blackjack, poker, and other games that can reasonably be written with only verbal and physical (tilt, shake, and swipe) gestures. 

 

Game Features

 

The game screen (the entire device screen) is divided into four equal buttons. Normal play proceeds by tapping one of the four buttons to perform a game operation (Help, Bet, Spin or Score/Balance).The game features three main options. Each option can be changed in the device (ipad, ipod, or iphone) game settings. Green indicates the feature is ON. The default settings are Save Game is ON, Tilt-to-Spin is OFF, and Voice Recognition is OFF. The voice recognition feature can also be turned on or off by triple-tapping the screen with two fingers. The tilt-to-spin feature can also be turned on and off by double-tapping the screen with two fingers.The Save Game feature will save your balance from game to game. Your balance is monitored by the game and when you reach a zero balance, the game will give you one-hundred dollars ($100) so that you can continue playing.The Tilt-to-Spin feature makes it possible to spin the reels by tilting your device forward and returning it to an upright position.

 

The idea is to simulate a handle pull and give the user something physical to do when playing the game. You must go to the settings to turn this feature ON.The Voice Recognition feature gives the user the option to speak one of the game commands (Bet, Spin, Help, Score, or Balance). The user should not rush his/her commands. Although the recognition software is very good at recognizing words it ocassionally will pick up stray sounds from the surroundings. Therefore it is best to use this feature in a quiet environment.The game also awards bonus spins (ie,spins that do not require a bet) in a random manner. You must bet the first time before spinning. If you don't the game will remind you. Bets can be from one to five dollars and are set by repeatedly pressing the BET button in the lower left corner of the screen.Additional features include the ability, after the first time, to stop the speaking of the instructions by tapping the HELP button a second time. The game also turns off the Auto Lock feature and reenables it after the game enters the background or is stopped.

 

Acknowledgements


I would like to thank several people who were inspirational and instrumental in the completion of this project. First, my wife, Marianna, for her encouragement, ideas, and help in testing and finding bugs that plagued the early development. Next, my children, Jon and Doreen, who were so helpful with their insight, knowledge, and time. But most of all, my uncle, Eugene for the inspiration he gave me to seek a way to make computer games fun again for everyone. 

I could not have completed this work without the patient help of Halle Winkler, the developer of OpenEars. OpenEars (http://www.politepix.com/openears/) is a shared-source iOS framework for iPhone voice recognition and speech synthesis (TTS). I also want to thank Michael Shackleford, the author of the website, http://www.wizardofodds.com. This website provided much of the background and underlying math for this app. Several other sites (listed below) contributed sounds and clipart that were used in the app. 

http://openclipart.org
http://freesound.org
http://www.freesfx.co.uk

I used so many other websites, books, pdfs, YouTube videos, the Apple Developers site, and others to educate myself in all facets of IOS programming and also several photos. I want to credit each one properly so if I have omitted any site or persons I do apologize but thank you for the information, education and support. I have been blessed by you all.

 

Beta Testing

 

I feel beta testing is the best way to insure the quality of our apps. In order to test an app, it is uploaded to Test Flight and since I was a member of the AppleVis community it seemed best to seek beta testers within this community. After publishing a forum request for beta testers, I received an overwhelming response and signed up over 15 beta testers. Most were very eager to help and provide feedback. The fifteen or so people who helped beta test were an integral part of our team. They used the app and reported bugs, suggestions and ideas for improvement. Their work was invaluable to the current state of the Catch 52 app.

 

I would like to give a special thanks to Sarah Haake, Joseph Weakland, Curtis Jackson, Kat Yat Li, Adam Campfield, and Nafisah Anif. They helped work on some of the stubborn bugs and improve the overall accessibility of the Catch 52 app.

 

 

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