Colourblindness – a rant

For some reason recently, I have seen a number of posts aimed at web developers, pointing them to sites that will show them how a colourblind ( colour deficient if you prefer ) person will see their site. Now, let me let you into a little secret, it’s not about how I see your site; we don’t after all know how I will see your site compared to how you can see your site. We can only guess by use of algorithms that simulate the theory of how colourblind people are affected. We can’t even guaranty how two people with ‘normal’ colour vision see your site. I’m probably not coming to your site because it looks pretty.

The real issue is, how does a colourblind person experiences your site. And by experience all I mean is the functionality of it. I’ve lived with colourblindness for 43 years. I get by. The world is not a miserable looking place for me, devoid of pretty colours, it’s one where every now and then, someone has used colour to help someone else make a decision, and sometimes, their choice of colour stops me from being able to make that decision.

So imagine this… 10% of males are red-green colourblind ( other types of colourblindness are available). What two colours do you imagine might be bad to use together in order to allow a male to make a decision? Now if your site, or app makes the following statement, “press the green button to exit” you’ve failed the colourblind test. If you happen to have a red AND a green button, you need a slap to boot.

For the record, I drive, and I can happily use the red, green, amber traffic lights. The reason? I can see their position and I can tell the difference of when they are on or off. If you are using lights, and they are red and green, that’s a problem. I can’t play laser tag by the way. I can’t tell when a single LED is trying to tell me that something is wrong unless the state is on/off or on/flashing – not green, red, amber.

If you have a colour legend for a graph or diagram, I’m going to be in trouble unless you’be managed to find enough different colours to represent each of the elements. Not shades of green. Not reds and green. Let’s say I even manage to distinguish the colours on the diagram, by the time I look across the page to look at the legend, I will not be able to associate the colours on the legend to the colour I just looked at unless you have used light blue and dark red.

I present to you the London Tube map, I struggle to use it. But one small change would make the map work for me; it’s not changing the colours, it’s adding the name of the line, either at the end of the line, or on the line somewhere. Then I could just trace my finger along the line until I find the name I need to know. It will take me longer than you to work it out, but I don’t mind, I can live with that. I’m just happy that I can now use it to find my way around.

We don’t generally direct people to a building, give them wheelchairs and say, experience how someone in a wheelchair will experience your building. We generally know that if you have steps, or high things that need pressing, or thin paths and doors etc, your building is not wheelchair friendly.

So let’s not focus on what I see, but on how I use your site. If you can avoid using colour as a decision process, then do, if you can supplement it with something else that isn’t a coloor, that will help. That way you won’t need to overly worry about your choice of colours, and I won’t either.

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It’s been a while…

I haven’t spent much time on my personal blog lately. Mostly I’ve been writing on The Lords of Midnight Blog.

I’ve managed to release two games in the last 18 months, something I need to be mindful of. I have to remind myself that that is no small feat in itself, even if the financial rewards don’t back it up, the personal satisfaction does. Although, it can become quite frustrating when you are a single developer and in direct contact with your customers. Every negative comment cuts like a knife. Every problem is amplified. I find myself rushing around trying to release fixes and updates.

I’m also working about four different contracts. That can be difficult when you are juggling your time. I spend a lot of time with my laptop in hotel lobbies, bars, and restaurants, so much of my evenings are filled with work and not pleasure.

When both worlds collide you get a perfect storm, and I end up mentally exhausted and lost.

If I was writing a Novel or a Film, I would say it is difficult to find the scenes that drive the plot forward, but some of them do in an ever so small way. Maybe I just have to question the plot. I miss the family terribly. And even though I know that I wouldn’t spend that much more time with them if I was at home, their social lives being what they are, and me still being busy, but still, that fleeting amount of contact makes a big difference.

As I transition away from The Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge, I am trying to move over to working on my Novel, The Lily Wood Trail. I spent some time working on it  last night, and realised that my writing is now so rusty that I think I might need to get a Tetanus jab. I’ve committed myself to getting a first draft written by the end of the year so I need to get myself up to speed very quickly. It could just be that if it’s tedious to write, then it is likely boring to read…

It’s also difficult to not think about new game ideas, but I really must try hard to park them. I have Timbles to finish first…

 

 

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The Moonstar hovered bright and clear in a deep dark sky

Upon the forest hung a sparkling frost. The air was cold and thick. If a twig snapped it would crackle for miles around but only the muted whisper of the trees could be heard. Above, the Moonstar hovered bright and clear in a deep dark sky. The Moon itself was not even a sliver, just a deeper darkness blotting out the glistening haze of the Roads of Light.

As he watched, his fears seemed to drift away as though they were just brief clouds that had enshrouded him and were now passing into the far, far distance. The skulkrin edged forwards into the glade. He felt a beautiful, glowing glory shiver through him. He was completely bewildered; never, not even as a young skulkling, had he been happy like this. Unaccountably, he felt good and kind and gentle.

c_midwinterhTwelve months ago tonight I received a Direct message on Twitter from Fergus McNeill that came very much out of the blue. Four words that shook my foundations. It succinctly asked, “Did Mike Singleton Die?”

I hadn’t spoken with Mike for about a week. The last words he’d said to me were, “Ok, I am going out for my morning coffee now, so I will be in touch later, with the alpha tower…. nearly done, just the twiddly bits round the foliage.”

It wasn’t unusual for us to not speak for many days after being apparently in mid sentence. During Mike’s recovery he might go for a number of days without being able to sit at a computer. So, obviously I never thought any think of it. He’d been getting better. He seemed to have turned a corner, as was making great strides forward with his health.

After receiving the tweet from Ferg, I immediately sent a text message to Mike and then later one to his son Jules. I waited a while before sending the text to Jules because obviously how do you approach such a subject.

I did a search online a found a piece posted by Wibby on Giant Bomb announcing his death. I didn’t know who Wibby was and so didn’t know how accurate his information could be. While I waited for news from either Mike pronouncing the news of his death to be premature, or his family, I found myself locked numbly at my desk. The minutes slowly ticked by. Almost desperately, I sent a Skype message to Mike that read, “Mike, please tell me you’re there…”

I wrote a post, ‘This parting has come too soon’ as I found myself reflecting, yet lost in the unknown. The text grabbed from The Lords of Midnight Novella, very much resonated with how I was feeling at that moment.

I was getting messages by email, twitter, and phone, asking me the same question that Ferg had posed a few hours earlier. The minutes turned into hours before I had confirmation. Wibby wrote the following comment…

I am in tears….. I just looked in my gaming cupboard and I actually have Mike’s own copy of Lords of Midnight sat there that he gave me, I opened it up and it has his Bachelor of Science degree in it from years ago when he was in university as a young adult.

I will be passing them back to his kids… also spoke to one of his sons tonight and we are taking his ashes to our local for a last pint….

Wibby turned out to be Bruce Butterfield who I knew, knew Mike, and knew Mike’s family. Therefore, my worst fears were confirmed.

I tried to go to bed at Midnight, but didn’t sleep. I finally gave up and dragged myself out of bed and down to my study and started to write the bog post ‘Night has fallen…’ I found myself just pouring words onto the electronic page.

The following few days were crazy. I spoke with Bruce, and Mike’s son Jules. And I watched the internet explode with an outpouring of love for Mike.

Mike Singleton - 1951 – 2012
A genius, taken well before his time.

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Are we there yet…?

lordsofmidnight_avatarI should be working, but today has been a nice day, and I’ve been a little distracted. I’m at the end of week 5 for Timbles, and on the whole, everything is coming along fine with that.

However, I can’t help myself but think about the last 7 months. During that time I have managed to release The Lords of Midnight for iOS ( iPad, iPhone, iPod touch ), Android, Blackberry Playbook, Blackberry Z10, Mac OSX, Microsoft Windows, and Kindle Fire. I find it odd, that I often berate myself for not having brought all the versions to market as quickly as I had intended, however I need to remind myself that there is only me for the majority of the time, and support from Jure for the graphics, and I am only working on it part time.

With the release today of the Windows version, I feel close to wrapping up this little chapter that started… well it’s hard to say when it started. 30 years ago with the release of the original game, 24 years ago with my work on the DOS version, 14 years ago with my Windows version, 5 years ago with the opening of the Apple App Store and approaching Mike about releasing it for iOS, 2 Years ago when Mike finally said yes, or 9 months ago upon his death.

On Monday I intend to try and build a beta Windows 8 Phone version that will allow me to get a Windows 8 Phone through a Microsoft/Marmalade promo programme. This is how I approached the Blackberry versions. With full acceptance from Microsoft after that, the Windows 8 Phone version should be available in their store later this year. Not before the end of August I suspect, mainly because I have a 3 week holiday coming up. Once that is done, I don’t think I will be looking at any other platforms, although I must admit, I would love to see it on a console in some fashion…

There is still a lot I would like to do with LoM, but that will have to wait. I intend to push out a couple of updates this year, there are some new features for the mobile versions, and no doubt some bugs in the desktop versions. But my main focus will be Doomdark’s Revenge now. Only after that is released can I really take stock of the games and come up with some major grand plan. I would like to release one major update every year, and I do have the ideas that would fit into that category.

The last seven months have been more hectic than I imagined, the next seven months I suspect will be much more so. I must remember to take more time to think…

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Timbles – Week 4

icon_android_1024The fourth week rolls by…
I was actually pretty concerned this week, it’s been a bad week for development. I lost both Tuesday and Wednesday to company admin. In particular, I had to process my accounts. The end of June was the end of my VAT qtr, and that needs to be submitted by the end of July. I also needed to calculate the royalties that I need to pay for The Lords of Midnight. What had become apparent was that I didn’t really have a good fix on how much of my company money, in the company bank account, still belonged to the company. Now that’s not normally an issue for me, I’m only usually 3 months away from processing my accounts, and I don’t spend money based on the balance of my business account, but having given up my major income stream, I really needed to resolve the issue. The last thing I want to do is to think I have more money available to me than I do. So, as hateful as processing my accounts was, it was a necessary evil. However, the positives still don’t make me feel any better about the two days of development I lost. It was also my wedding anniversary on Tuesday, and Victoria’s birthday on Thursday. I took Victoria out for lunch on Thursday, so that was another half day given up.

IMG_1457With that background to put the week in context, I have actually ended it positively. At the end of last week I set myself the goal of having the game running on an actual iPad. For a while I was thinking that I was going to miss my own milestone. But, it all came good in the end.
I development on the missing bits of code that I needed to have the game running properly on a device. The game now goes into a menu, you select to play. You can return to an in-game menu to exit out, or just resume back to the game. And the game returns to the menu when it has finished.
I went through the process required by Apple to create all my certificates and profiles needed to get this new project on a device. I built all the assets needed to cover all the different iOS devices, and created icons and launch screens.

A couple of test deployments while I shook out some issues with placement of assets and inclusion of correct files during the build process, and Timbles is running on my iPad. There are issues with it running on the iPhone but that is just about the screen size. A day or so next week should resolve that. And the rest of the week will be about polishing a few things, and in principal I should have a fully operational game mode by the end of next week.

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