Posts In: Food Truck Simulation
Hi there, thanks for stopping by. This post is about some of the improvements we made to Business Heroes to make it more accessible to players with visual disabilities. Statistics show that about 8% of all men (1 in 12 men) and about 0.5% of all women (1 in 200 women) suffer from color vision deficiency. To put that in perspective, that’s about 300 million people living with colour blindness.
Adding the number of people living with other types of vision impairments to that number made us realize something critical. We had to take accessibility concerns very seriously in developing ‘Business Heroes: Food Truck Simulation.’ We spoke a little about this here, but we thought to provide more details in this post.
We wish we could tell you that we designed Business Heroes to be more accessible from the start. But we didn’t. If not for the contributions and feedback we received from Redditors and other community members, we probably would have missed the accessibility issues in the UI until it was too late.
Anyone with low vision or even someone just trying to play complex strategy games on a smaller pc screen will attest to the difficulty of seeing some game elements. Like in the first version of our UI shown above, these games are particularly notorious for having smaller buttons and text because of the sheer amount of information usually presented to the player. Although Business Heroes is a business strategy game with many embedded data, we still wanted players with vision-related challenges to have an enjoyable experience playing the game.
So, when the community alerted us to the problems with the initial colours, sizes, and contrasts we had used in the UI, we knew we had to make Business Heroes more accessible. Fixing the accessibility issues eventually led to redesigning the entire UI. While this added an additional year to our development, we are pleased with our decision. We are optimistic that choosing to implement the following design decisions would enable far more players enjoy the game better.
Larger Buttons and Text Sizes:
We started off by redesigning the button and text size to also work for players with impaired vision. We redesigned the UI layout to create more space for larger buttons, and we moved several components to a new window entirely.
Making the text size work for everyone was a particularly tough nut to crack. We had to consider the impact language translation would have on the interface text and spacing. That’s because we will be releasing the game in several languages. While we could not implement a solution that worked for all the text, we were able to allow players enlarge 90% of the game text to 24 points.
We also stuck with a font choice and text contrast design scheme that made all the information in the UI and environment easy to read.
UI Colour Switcher and Icon Contrast:
For players with colour vision deficiency, we implemented a design option that accommodates their unique needs and works for everyone else. Players can switch the UI colour from yellow to dark blue depending on their visibility requirements.
We also needed to reduce the potential effect of the UI looking crowded due to too many colours. To do this, we kept inactive icons at 50% opacity by default. You can see their full colour when you place your mouse on them. We also included a function that allows you increase or decrease icon opacity as much as you like. This also has the added advantage of improving the contrast scheme of the UI.
Plus, we also applied shapes to the different player colours to distinguish players and their competition. This way, players would not have to rely solely on colour to differentiate between other players.
Game Music Controls
One way we tried to cater to players with hearing symptoms is to give players control of the music volume in the game. We separated the music sound from the gameplay sound. Players can turn it down or turn it off completely.
Finally, we also implemented a detailed tooltip and business guide feature. This is to make the game easier for non-gamers, new gamers, and teenagers in general. To prevent players from feeling overwhelmed with the UI, we included clear and concise explanations. All the player has to do is mouse over it and viola!
Many young people might be seeing the business terms and concepts in the game for the first time. We included a business guide that provides deeper insights into the meaning of the concepts and business terms used. This way, players will never have to wonder about any aspect of the game while implementing their business strategy.
We sincerely hope you enjoyed reading this as much as we enjoyed sharing it. We’d love to read your thoughts, so don’t hesitate to share. Thanks!
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5 November 2020
Why We Are Making a Food Truck Business Game
A Game Studio’s Approach to Tackling World Problems
Most games are birthed by an idea. We, however, started making our food truck business game to solve three global problems. They are income inequality, unemployment, and access to education. How do you attempt to tackle these global issues when all you have is a team of average joes? Where do you even begin?
For us, we began with what we loved, video games. That’s how Visionaries was born. But first, let’s discuss the problems of income inequality, unemployment, and access to education.
The link between income inequality, unemployment, and access to education is complex. Research reveals mixed results on which type of education is most suitable for improving gainful employment and reducing inequality. But one thing stands out though. To reduce income inequality and unemployment, we, unquestionably, need to democratize access to quality education. A 2019 Oxfam paper written by Jo Walker and co. makes a compelling case for this. The paper is titled The power of education to fight inequality.
Armed with this observation, we broke our goal into three parts:
- Core Idea: What sort of education is required to create jobs and reduce income inequality?
- Delivery Method: How could we help deliver it?
- Channel: If we could, how could we package it so that people would consume it?
The answer to the first question was straightforward: practical business education and specialized skills training. We decided to focus on delivering business education.
For the answer to the other two questions, we turned to video games. Why? There are now more than 2.5 billion gamers worldwide, consequently taking care of the method of delivery. If we embedded business concepts in an entertaining video game, we could distribute it to millions of people globally.
Now, how to do that successfully?
In his 2003 publication, James Gee explained how game environments enable players to learn. What games have to teach us about learning and literacy shows that well-designed games allow players to advance on different paths, and at different rates. This happens in response to each player’s interests and abilities while fostering just-in-time learning.
Another 2007 study by Nick Yee and Jeremy Bailenson went further to demonstrate how people’s behavior in virtual gaming environments influence their behavior in real life. Known as The Proteus Effect, this phenomenon undoubtedly has therapeutic applications in behavioral change, phobia desensitization, and personal empowerment.
For our plan to work, we certainly needed to utilize the Proteus Effect. We needed to create games that will entertain and inspire future players to start successful real-life businesses. The best game genre for this, in our opinion, would be Simulation Games.
Consequently, we decided to create a business simulation game series called Business Heroes. Designed to stir up entrepreneurship, the series will entertain and expose players to practical business management principles. Subsequently, we hope that this will ultimately empower them to become “business heroes.”
The first Business Heroes simulation game we are releasing is a food truck business. Now on Steam, Business Heroes: Food Truck Simulation is a single & multiplayer, food truck strategy game. It is designed to provide players with the knowledge and confidence required to manage a small business.
The game’s goal is for players to start and grow a successful food truck business. Not only must players make business decisions based on weather, economic conditions, and customer preference, the will also have to handle unexpected occurrences, and stock cost/availability. All the while, players receive valuable business lessons delivered by Master Lee, the in-game business mentor.
To increase realism for players, we are simulating a few things. The game simulates weather patterns, currency, and pricing based on the capital city in which the player chooses to start.
We have a Kick-starter campaign planned before the early access release. We are working feverishly to make it a success, although we know there are no guarantees.
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At Visionaries, our goal is to empower, entertain, and educate the world, starting with a food truck business game. Hopefully, we will simultaneously reduce global income inequality, unemployment, and access to education.