Visually impaired player guide

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This article is a work in progress!

This guide is intended to help players who are visually impaired, especially those who use a text-to-speech screen reading program like Freedom Scientific's JAWS, connect to Gemstone IV and be successful in learning its various quirks. Currently only Simutronics' Web FE is slightly accessible to the blind, though it does not provide the easiest experience overall. It is, however, possible to connect to the game using third-party fully-accessible MUD clients like GMA Games' VIP MUD, which is covered in this guide.

Connecting to the Game

NOTE: These steps work best when you already have a character created on your account. When creating a new character slot, you may be automatically routed to the Web FE initially. Do not be alarmed if this happens - the Web FE should be accessible enough to allow you to create your character. When your character leaves the character manager and enters the world at large, you can be free to close the Web FE and re-login in using this method to connect through VIP MUD.

Recommended Browser: Mozilla Firefox

  • Visit play.net/gs4, enter your login credentials and hit the 'GO PLAY' button. You will be logged in and redirected to the character selection page.
  • Select the radio button that corresponds to the character you want to play.
  • Select the radio button next to Storm Front in the section for front ends. If you do not see a Front End selection, you may have to find some clickable text that says something like 'Other Ways to Connect' and hit the enter key on it to expand this list. (NOTE: Do not install Storm Front or any of the other software suggested here.)
  • Hit the 'Go Play' button.
  • You should receive a dialog asking you to Open or Save a file with a '.sal' ending. It is usually named after the character you are trying to log in. Prompt this file to open in Notepad, Wordpad or any Word processor. (NOTE: Firefox is recommended due to the prompting of this file opening always happening using this browser and IE is less than reliable.)
  • Find the host and port information in this file that you will need to create a profile for Gemstone IV on your mud client. They are listed after 'GAMEHOST=' and 'GAMEPORT='.
  • Move to the bottom of the '.sal' file and find the entry with the prefix 'KEY='. This is your login key. Select all these characters that appear after 'KEY=', except the equals sign, and copy it to your clipboard.
  • Prompt your MUD client to connect to the host/port for Gemstone IV found above. You should see some text including the word 'MODE' and the client will then appear to hang, as it is waiting for your input.
  • Paste the login key you copied from the '.sal' file into your client and hit 'enter' to send it to the MUD. The client will still appear to hang, but this is normal - it is waiting for one more piece of information, which is a line indicating what client you are using.
  • Type'>/FE:JAVA' and hit enter. You should now be connected to the game and be receiving the login scroll.
  • NOTE: If you receive an 'invalid login key' message, you may have copied the login key from the '.sal' file incorrectly. Ensure you don't have any errant whitespace characters and have copied all characters /except/ for the 'KEY=' at the beginning. If you still get this message, you can attempt to logout of the website completely using 'Full Logout' and try again after re-logging in, as there may have been an error on the server's end.

Skills and Training

If you've already started to play and have begun to gain experience, you'll begin to notice messages telling you that you've earned training points. These are great for spending on skills, though part of the message can be confusing to a player who is visually impaired and connecting through a third-party accessible client. The message mentions the GOALS verb, which will not work when using a third-party client due to the fact attempts to launch a web-based Skills Manager. A third-party client will not know how to properly launch this manager and the command will appear to hang.

Skills, however, can successfully be trained completely in-game using the CHECK IN command at any local inn. You can use DIR Inn to get directions to the nearest Inn that will allow you to CHECK IN. Be sure to find the "Front Desk" room within the inn, as this is the room where you can use the CHECK IN verb. Follow the numbered prompts to 'Adjust Skill Goals', which will open a 2-column layout of skills available to train in. The amount of training points you have is listed at the bottom, along with a helpful list of commands and examples on how to raise or lower skills.

The 2-column layout of this in-game Skills Manager is a bit clunky to get used to when using a screen reader, unfortunately, due to the contents of the first column needing to be read before you can hear the contents of the second column. The numbers corresponding to the skills never change, however, and it can be easy enough to keep a separate document listing which skills you need to train in each level and their corresponding numbers - before long, you'll have them memorized.

Here's a bit of help to orient you to the 2-column layout. I like to think of each column being divided into 3 sections, so technically an uneven grid of 6 sections.

  • First column, top: Armor/Shield and Weapon Types
  • First column, middle: Complimentary Physical Skills, such as Combat Maneuvers and Dodging
  • First column, bottom: Tertiary Helper Skills like Climbing, Lockpicking and First Aid
  • Second column, top: Generic Magical Skills like Spell Aiming, Magic Item Use and Mana Control
  • Second column, top middle: Spell Circles/Spell Research
  • Second column, middle and bottom: Lores, separated into sections