[guispeak] good news for blind pc gamers:

  • From: "david poehlman" <david.poehlman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "GUISPEAK List" <guispeak@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 14 Nov 2004 11:47:42 -0500

I'm posting this as a good will gesture to those who love playing games on
their pcs and also to the author who has worked mighty hard to bring this
level of accessibility for the blind to pc games.

Please send any questions to the author as indicated below and if it is felt
that this topic should not be discussed on the list beyond the initial
announcement, please follow that lead.

Jonnie Apple Seed

WinFrotzTTS 2002 by W. Scott Dillman <sdillman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> is
an extension of David Kinders great Inform interpreter 'WinFrots 2002'.
The main goal of WinFrtozTTS was to design an interface that was easy to
use for the visual impaired gamer and to allow gameplay without the use
of a screen reader by leveraging Microsoft's SAPI 5.1 speech API. The
application  is freely available on my website for download along with a
package of close to 300 games from the Interactive Fiction Archive. This
last version took a lot of hard work and testing, and still needs some
improvement in areas. WinFrotzTTS was developed in my spare time and is
a bit lean on good documentation. I advise anyone interested to stop by
the forum links listed below on contribute to the enhancements request
list and general conversation. The site will also run polls now and
again to see which new features are most needed. I encourage everyone
interested to stop by and make their voices heard.

I have also briefly tested text-to-speech additions to 'Scare' which is
another interpreter that runs Adrift text adventures which there seems
to be a fair number of, and a modification to the Level9 interpreter
mostly just for nostalgia sake.

Please direct all questions about WinFrtozTTS to me at

Here are the important links:

Main website:


Main download page:


Deep link to the WinFrotzTTS download:


Deep link to the IF Archive game pack download:


Link to the forums for discussion:


Below is a list of features and a brief introduction to how the
application works.

Game loading:

When the app is started it will search a directory for games, the
default is the directory where WinFrotzTTS is installed. You will
probably never have to change this so when the app starts just hit
return when it asks you to pick a directory to scan. After the app has
scanned the directories looking for games it will present you with a
list by telling you how many games it has found. At this point you can
use the up and down arrow keys to move through the list of games and it
will read the titles aloud. You can also hit the first letter of a title
and it will skip to that letter in the list, the list is sorted
alphabetically, so you would hit the letter z and it would skip ahead in
the list to Zork 1 most likely. The arrow keys work well for the short
list of Infocom games, but I have 326 games installed and it is easier
to jump ahead to a letter if I know the game I want to play.

After finding the game you want just hit return and it will load up.

You can hit 'escape' to dismiss this dialog. If you click cancel the
standard file dialog is presented. Games loaded using the standard
dialog are not guaranteed to work with the extra text to speech
functionality, so be warned. It will also ask you to type the title of
the game so it can be added to the supported list of games. If this is a
game you plan to play often it is a good idea to put the game in a
folder under the main WinFrotZTTS application so it is found on every

Game saving:

When you type save the app will tell you to type some text. This text is
used to create a file name in the same directory that the current game
is running from. Text entered in the dialog is spoken aloud as well as
deleted characters. It also handles file overwriting. You can always hit
'escape' to dismiss the dialog.

Game restoring:

When you type 'restore' the same kind of dialog for game loading comes
up. The app tells you it is going to search a certain directory for
saved games. You simply hit return and the app scans the directory for
saved games. It then presents you with a list of save game titles and
the name of the game that they were saved from, and you can use the up
and down arrow keys again to find the saved game you want and hit enter
to load it.

You can also delete a game by highlighting a game and hitting the delete
key. The app will then confirm your deletion by asking you to hit 'Y' or

The app will tell you whether it was successful or not.

Command line speech:

Most speech in the game can be interrupted. For example when the app is
telling you which directory it wants to scan you can just hit return
instead of sitting through the whole speech. When the game list comes up
you can browse from game to game with the arrow keys, as soon as you
move to the next game in the list, the previous game title read aloud is
cut off. This is all done to save time and cut out a lot of repetitious

This also works on the command line in the game.. For instance when you
continue to move into the same room in the game and the app reads the
description over and over again. Simply hitting the space bar will clear
the speech. You can also use the up and down arrow keys on the command
line of the game to scroll through commands you have already entered and
it will read them aloud. Don't worry about extra spaces before and after
words, the game just ignores them so use spaces to verify what you have
typed even if it is just one word. When backspace is used the deleted
character is read aloud.

Read again:

Sometimes you want to hear a room description read again and not waste a
turn to hear it. This can be done by hitting CTRL R which will read the
last bit of text saved since the last command typed.

Word list spelling:

Many times, games use words that are not easy to spell or are not really
words at all. Some thing like Frobozz. You would not know how many 'z's
are in the word. To help with this you can hit CTRL Z after a room
description, and a word list will be presented to you. Using the up and
down arrow keys you can move from word to word or use a character to
skip to a word in the alphabetic list and the word will be spoken aloud.
If you hit 'space bar' the word is spelled out loud. If you hit 'enter'
while on a word, the dialog is closed and the word is added to the
command line so you don't have to type it. If you know you are going to
use the word a lot, you can hit 'insert' and the word will be added to a
scratch list that I will describe later. You can always hit escape to
dismiss the dialog.

Scratch list:

Sometimes you want to save typing or keep track of certain word. By
using the 'insert' key in the word list, words can be added to the
scratch list. hit CTRL X to bring up the list. This list can be
navigated just like the word list. Arrow keys move between entries (
spoken aloud ), characters move to words alphabetically, 'enter' adds
the word to the command line, and 'space bar' spells the entry. The only
difference is that 'delete' removes the entry from the list. The nice
thing about the scratch list is that it is saved between WinFrotzTTS
uses, so the next time you play it is still there.

Input processing:

Text entered on the interpreter command line is processed and words are
read aloud after a space is entered. Since the interpreter ignores
spaces, before and after words it can be used to verify input or stop
speech. This can be useful if you are in and out of the same room over
and over again and don't want to sit through the same boring
description; just hitting space will clear the speech buffer. Hitting
the 'delete' key will read the last deleted character out loud. Using
the up and down arrow keys will cycle though the command history and
read aloud the commands. Hitting enter on the command line will read the
whole entry aloud before the interpreter's response.


I have added an setting in the options dialog to disable speech is
application dialogs for people with screen readers. As well as fixed the
voice selection dropdown.


Speech voices can be chosen by hitting CTRL+Y. This is the standard
speech list dialog used throughout WinFrozTTS. You can use insert to
hear a voice and then hit enter to select it.

Code update:

I have updated the codebase to David Kinder's 'Windows Frotz 2002 1.05'.

Games support:

In order to be able to have the interpreter recognize games despite
their filenames, and since serial numbers don't seem to be a constant. I
devised a fingerprinting system that identifies games. These numbers are
read in from a simple XML file at interpreter startup and associates a
file fingerprint with a game title. This makes it easier to add new
games to the supported list and remove games that don't work and not
have to make a new release. I will probably be making the tool for
creating entries for this file available for people who want to add
games to the list. At this time I have 328 games in the supported list.

A caching system keeps this from bogging down application loading. You
way see a performance hit the first time the application is loaded and
games are parsed.

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