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September 10, 2020

8 Min Read

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Immortals Fenyx Rising – Designing A Mythic Adventure for Accessibility

When you first begin Immortals Fenyx Rising, you will be presented with several options to customize the experience. These options represent continued support from Ubisoft to make its games increasingly accessible – and for the teams at Ubisoft Quebec and Ubisoft Kyiv, highlighting these options before the game gets started is an important step. “We have subtitle options and other things that are traditionally offered, but we also made a concerted effort to include more features, like target lock-on, camera follow, and five difficulty levels for people that need them,” says Jonathan Bedard, director of user experience at Ubisoft Quebec. “Subtitle sizes and other things could become a barrier to starting the game, and you could end up facing an obstacle that could be avoided. The idea here is to open up the game earlier so people can enjoy it from the start and jump right in.” Read on for more details on the customization options featured in Immortals Fenyx Rising, and for more insight from Bedard on the team’s goals.

FIRST-TIME USER EXPERIENCE FLOW

The first-time user experience flow is presented to the player before they start playing in order to reduce accessibility barriers as early as possible. This includes basic options like image calibration and language options, but it also brings to the forefront some of the other customization features in the game, including colorblind settings and input actions.

“Posing these options as early as possible allows us to surface them and make our players aware,” says Bedard. “Some people are actively looking for those options, others might not even be aware they exist, so this is a way to solve for both.”

CONTROLS

“For controls, we try to work iteratively, so everything that we create in terms of options, like extensive controller remapping, was brought over from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey,” says Bedard. “Also, typical options like being able to change from press-to-hold to toggle are things we’ve done previously, but we also look for new options and ways to improve, like being able to make Fenyx move forward automatically. This makes our controls even more flexible which can improve both motor and cognitive experiences like fatigue, pain, or multitasking.”

“Another new thing is active-input devices,” Bedard adds. “This facilitates the use of multiple devices at the same time, which allows for far more options and ways for players to enjoy our game.”

  • Extensive Controller Remapping – Allows almost complete remapping of controllers on PC and consoles, including multiple options for inverting the X- and Y-axis, in different contexts. However, LS and RS movements cannot be swapped. (Motor, Cognitive)
  • Auto-Movement – This option allows players to make the character advance automatically in the direction the player is facing, on foot or on horseback. (Motor)
  • Aim Assist – We offer three levels of assistance for aiming: Full, Partial, and Off. (Motor, Cognitive, Vision)
  • Target Lock-On – Players can put a lock on specific enemies, which in turn facilitates the targeting of those enemies for abilities or combat. (Motor, Cognitive, Vision)
  • Camera Follow – The camera follow option allows players to either make the camera move by itself, so it is always behind the player at a fixed distance, or stick in place and require manual input to rotate. (Motor, Cognitive, Vision)
  • Toggle options – We offer several options to change inputs from hold to toggles, including Crouch, Walk, Aim, Long Jumping, Apollo’s Arrows, and Herakles’ Strength (Motor)
  • Active Input Device – Allows the use of multiple input devices at the same time. For example, a player could use a mouse in one hand and use a controller in the other hand to customize their controls even more. (Motor, Cognitive)

HUD & UI

“We’ve introduced two significant features in Immortals Fenyx Rising, one being colorblind settings that offer a number of settings to enhance certain tones and colors that enable players to better distinguish between different elements,” says Bedard. “The other is menu narration, along with a number of customization options. We're hopeful this will reduce barriers player may experience with reading, and this is something we want to continue building upon.”

  • HUD Customization – The HUD is composed of multiple layers of visual feedback, such as damage numbers, enemy health bars, objective text, and more, so we offer two ways for players to personalize their experience. First we offer presets of Default (everything enabled), Light (minimal key information), and Disabled (everything off). In addition, players can turn most modules on or off individually. (Cognitive, Vision, Hearing)
  • Colorblind Settings – We added three settings (Red Enhanced, Green Enhanced and Blue Enhanced) that alter the game visuals to better distinguish colors. It affects only the UI layers. Effect intensity can be adjusted from 1-100%. (Vision, Cognitive)
  • Menu Narration – We offer a Menu Narration option for most menu contexts. Notable exception is the HUD. Pacing, volume, and male/female voices can be adjusted on all platforms except Nintendo Switch. (Vision, Cognitive)

AUDIO

“It's important to realize that all of the options we offer are for everyone, and audio is no exception. For example, subtitles aren’t only there for those who may have difficulty hearing. In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, about 95% of all players kept subtitles on throughout their gameplay experience,” says Bedard. “As a result of this learning, we have subtitles turned on by default. We’ve also gone a bit further to improve cognitive accessibility by adding things like puzzle captions that display the outcomes of things like levers and switches when they are used in certain contexts to help players understand what happened and where.”

  • Sound – Volume sliders for music, sound FX, and voices. (Hearing, Cognitive, Vision)
  • Subtitles – Subtitles are available and ON by default. We have two sizes; Regular and Larger. Regular is the default. Speaker names are also available and ON by default. It shows who is speaking whenever the speaker changes. Furthermore, we can enable a black background behind subtitles to give better contrast. (Hearing, Cognitive, Vision)
  • Puzzle Captions – An option to enable Puzzle Captions is available. It displays stimuli from the environment in specific contexts (Rifts/Puzzles) as well as their origin/direction. (Hearing, Cognitive)

[UN][News] Immortals Fenyx Rising – 6 Things You Need To Know - Harpy 960x540

GAMEPLAY

“As we create a game, part of the designer’s job is to balance the game out, so we have a default experience in terms of difficulty. We've also made sure to be able to modify that and fine tune it to individual experiences – up to five different level difficulties,” Bedard says. “We've thought about the difficulty settings in such a way, from the beginning, so no matter what level players choose, these options provide an experience true to the team’s vision for the game.”

  • Difficulty Levels – Each difficulty level comes with preset rules that affect the overall experience. Some gameplay parameters are affected only by this, such as enemy difficulty, fall damage, Health and Stamina regeneration, and the difficulty of time-based challenges. Difficulty also affects the Puzzle Assistance settings, but those can be changed independently afterward (see below). (Motor, Hearing, Cognitive, Vision)
  • Puzzle Assistance – Four options are available to make the puzzle solutions easier to figure out or more easily attainable. One solution indicates the origin of a puzzle interaction trigger. It is located on the edges of the HUD as a directional feedback. The other three are dedicated to certain puzzle types and give visual helpers to resolve the puzzles. (Hearing, Cognitive, Vision)
  • Onboarding – The game’s introduction features a scripted flow where the player will learn all the basics (combat, traversal, puzzles). This is accompanied with short, straight-to-the-point tutorials, as well as the tutorial panels when more details are needed (such as images and longer descriptions). (Motor, Hearing, Cognitive, Vision)
  • Tutorial Menus – Tutorials are available at all times in the Tutorial menus. (Cognitive, Vision)
  • Gameplay Reminders – Some reminders prompt actions like upgrading your character when enough upgrade materials have been collected, or resetting a puzzle when it cannot be completed due to a player action. (Cognitive, Vision)
  • Controls Reminders – We have a dedicated module to display available inputs in certain contexts (swimming, gliding, climbing, etc.) as reminders to the player. (Cognitive, Vision)

Immortals Fenyx Rising launches December 3 on Stadia, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC including UPLAY+. The game will also be available on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. For, more check out the official site or our ongoing coverage,

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