Making Elder Scrolls IV Accessible
April 9, 2006 3:22 PM   Subscribe

GamesFilter: Can this gamer with a physical disability play Elder Scrolls IV?

Although I don't play as many games as I used to, I'm really interested in checking this game out However, I'd like to know if I can play the game with my adaptive computer equipment. To operate the mouse, I use a device called a HeadMaster. I was thinking I could run the game in a window and enter keyboard commands with my on-screen keyboard. Any thoughts on whether this will work? Will I have any trouble switching between the game window and the on-screen keyboard?

I'm also interested in whether this will work for World of Warcraft. Thanks for your time.
posted by wintermute2_0 to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
I'm thinking you might have a problem with the combat system in Oblivion. Have you had much luck playing any first-person shooters? Because the combat in Oblivion works basically like that.

Other than that, you'd probably be ok, but the combat is a huge and essential part of the game.
posted by CrayDrygu at 3:49 PM on April 9, 2006

I've had difficulty getting an on-screen keyboard work on a few games I've tried, especially when movement is mouse-based.
posted by luftmensch at 3:57 PM on April 9, 2006

I'm not sure about Elder Scrolls, I haven't played it at all, but I do know a thing or two about WoW. I know it can be played in windowed mode, allowing other apps to run over or under it (assuming your computer will handle WoW and other programs simultaneously).

Also, WoW is very adaptable to user-created interfaces and macros. The only downside to the custom UI's are that occasionally after a content patch, the UI's must be tweaked to accommodate code changes (generally made to prevent hacking). Your best bet would be to contact Blizzard through their technical support area..

their email -
and phone - 1 (949) 955-1382

If you get a response indicating they can't assist you because you're not a current subscriber to the game, or for any other reason, feel free to send me an email and I'd be glad to help in any way. efalk21 -at- hotmail dot com

Personally I prefer WoW over the 'solo' rpg games, the social aspect can be quite entertaining.
posted by efalk at 3:59 PM on April 9, 2006

I just loaded up WoW in windowed mode on my Tablet PC, and was able to use the default on-screen keyboard with the game, no problem at all. I don't have Oblivion installed on that computer, but both games respond indentically on my main PC when in windowed mode.

Obviously not a specific answer, but some information for the pile. If you'd like to try these games out with your hardware before commiting to them, I think it's perfectly legal for a friend to lend you the disks, so long as they uninstall their copy while you test things. Got any likely sources of the disks? I'll lend you mine...
posted by chudmonkey at 5:21 PM on April 9, 2006

Oblivion required pretty hefty system requirements. The onscreen keyboard may be a problem.

As for actual gameplay, mouse movements aren't too bad. However, it involves a lot of simultaneous keyboard + mouse movements and clicking. Hotkeys and actions are also keyboard-heavy (ie., 'c' for cast, 'space' to interact, '1-8' are hotkeys to switch different spells. Also, combat frequently involves holding down the right mouse button and attacks with a bow typically requires holding down the left mouse button.

However, everything's paused when you bring up the in-game menu so you can also take your time selecting certain actions.

Come to think of it, TES4 downplays the importance of the mouse compared to TES3 or TES2, possibly a design constraint of releasing it both on console (gamepad only) and PC.

Combat is somewhat important, but you can always adjust the difficulty down or use various debug commands to make combat less important. You could also possibly mod (with the included construction set) game "rules" for combat and optimize it for your input aparatus.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 5:33 PM on April 9, 2006

Oblivion is a great game. I hope this works out for you. Just know that at least 50% of the game is like a first person shooter, and requires some twitchy-reflex kind of action. I don't have a physical disability, but I still stink at this aspect of the game. :)

Good luck.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 6:13 PM on April 9, 2006

Upon reflection, the combat in Oblivion is a lot less twitchy than most first person games.

Sure, you can do the running-around-clickfest combat style, but the game mechanics actually encourages more deliberate behavior; running around decreases fatigue and thus your damage is a lot lower. The weapon & shield combo or 'block, strike, retreat, heavy attack' style' really encourages patience and positioning.

Sometimes your opponant is really defensive - someone who is successfully blocked by a shield is 'stunned' for a second or so hence you don't want to keep pounding on the shield- so you cast a 'touch' spell. "Burden" for instance, which weighs down the target so they can't run after you. Retreat a few steps and stick a few arrows into 'em (arrows actually stick where they strike; sometime's it's a little unrealistic but it's a neat effect).

Again, entering the interface completely pauses the game so there's no need to frantically hit several keys to change weapons, drink a potion, select a different spell, &c.

Oblivion is a great game, I hope that you can run it with your input devices well enough to be enjoyable. =)
posted by PurplePorpoise at 7:36 PM on April 9, 2006

As far as combat goes, if you made a character that was more stealth-based/ranged-weapon/magic-wielding, you might be just fine.

The sword-and-shield-type combat is pretty fast and furious, but as PurplePorpoise mentioned, you can use blocking to control the pace to some extent, if you have good enough gear and/or repair skill to keep your shield in good nick. I thnk jeff-o-matic overestimates the twitchiness of the game as a whole, though 50% might be right in terms of when you get into combat of some kind.

There's just so much of the game, and gameplay is so adaptable/emergent/free in the game world, that you could definitely have fun with it, if you could get the onscreen keyboard to work. You could just hang in the game world and try and raise your non-combat skills (and have fun doing it) or choose non-combat quests until you're an ubermage or something, before you ever do venture into the dungeons for some buttkickery....

I feel so geeked out talking about this, but as a computer gamer from the late 70's, Oblivion's got to be in my top 5 games ever.

The tech might be a problem, though. I'm not sure (at work at the moment) that Oblivion will run in a window, and even on my very grunty home PC, it does not like ALT-TABing, for example, one little bit. Surmount that hurdle, though, and I think you'd be good to go.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:13 AM on April 10, 2006

Hey, if worst comes to worst, and you're playing Oblivion on PC, you can always cheat. There might be other console commands to help set up the interface in a beneficial way, as well.
posted by blenderfish at 1:16 AM on April 10, 2006

It may be because I'm playing a pretty scrappy character, but I'm not too sure Oblivion could be played via an onscreen keyboard. There are many times when I'm trying to hit multiple buttons at once (I'm on the 360). Picking locks (tickle/lock), power attacks (direction/button), and dodging (jump+block) could be tricky. Plus being able to call up my inventory when things go sideways and I need 50 bajillion potions quickly is a must for me.

This would limit your character type, for sure. A 'stand back and nuke'm with magic/summoning' character may work pretty well for you.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:20 AM on April 10, 2006

Thanks for all of your helpful advice. I think I'll pass on Oblivion for now because the interface seems a little too cumbersome for me. I do a lot better with overhead-perspective games like Neverwinter Nights (wish they would hurry up with the sequel). But World of Warcraft looks more promising. I might have to give that a spin once I finish Freedom Force 2.

Somebody needs to invent a neural interface chip so I can play all these games I'm currently missing out on.
posted by wintermute2_0 at 9:09 AM on April 10, 2006

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