One of the more widespread issues gamers may run into is colorblindness. While a little foresight can help work around those problems with relative ease, the developer still has to remember to take those extra steps. Luckily the Diablo III team seems to be on top of the issue:
Boyarsky: “One of the things we really pay attention to is something that people don’t usually think of as a [disability] issue – there are a lot of people who are colorblind. And we really take that into account, but I know a lot of developers don’t even think about it. I used to have a partner who was almost completely colorblind, and we have a guy on Diablo III who is very colorblind. So we really take that into account, and we really make sure that things have distinctive shapes, and the colors aren’t too close together, you know? No, ‘Oh, this is this orange and that is that orange’, you know? We try to make sure people can really differentiate that stuff without having to stop and think about it.”
Adams: “I feel we’ve really paid attention to it a lot from the beginning. I remember serious discussions about how we were gonna change stuff. And we have our guy on the team who would tell us ‘I can’t tell the difference between these two things.’ So we had immediate feedback because he plays the game all the time… As we develop monsters too, not only are the backgrounds awesome, but we wanna make sure that the monsters are differentiated well on the screen. So they’re completely different. They pop from the screen, there’s not this sort of blending together of multiple layers of the one same color palate. We try to make stuff really pop.”
Visuals aren’t the only thing they keep on top of. Blizzard is very good about providing for gamers with hearing trouble as well:
Boyarsky: “We have subtitles on everything, for the main story quest stuff we have the UI that will come up so you can see it even if you have the sound on, we have the chat window [which displays a lot of relevant game information], we have the subtitle function…”
With sight and hearing covered, there is one other branch of disability that the development team puts serious focus into: mobility. Along with single-handed players, this can be one of the harder demographics to take into account. Their solution? Make the User Interface (UI) as simple as possible without sacrificing gameplay:
Adams: “What we’ve really tried to do with the control scheme and the UI is to keep it not to any specific group of players, but to players in general, to keep those controls really simple. At its heart, Diablo is a game we want anyone to be able to sit down and start clicking and play. And to that end, we’ve spent a lot of time making sure there aren’t these multiple, dozen key things you have to do to do anything in the game. It’s very simple in its control scheme. The depth comes from how the skills and those things function within the game and how you can change them.
Boyarsky: “That was one of our big challenges this time. It seemed like in Diablo II and Lord of Destruction, you’d find your one or two skills and you’d have your right and left mouse button. Of course the hard-core users would have all these key combinations, but for your normal user it was almost a one-button game. We wanted everyone to have more depth, but we wanted to keep the [simple functionality]. So now maybe you’ll have one hand over here hitting the numbers, and you’ll have your other hand clicking just one mouse button. So we wanted to add depth but we wanted to keep that simplicity. I’d love to say it was because we were thinking about the gamers’ abilities, but it was more that that’s the heart of Diablo. It’s this really visceral, really fast action game, and we just wanted to keep it very simple and still have the depth in there. So that was something we worked a long time on.”
Once again, the development team at Blizzard inadvertently touches on one of the most important things to remember when designing a game with includification measures in place – when a game is more playable for people with more severe challenges, that means it is more playable for everyone else too. Accessibility only adds to the user experience – it never takes away.