Originally published September 9, 2022.
The third and final part of the accessibility saga focuses on effects, and the disabling thereof.
If there are two things Soundless relies on a lot to convey action and violence, it’s definitely flashing and full-screen shaking. The visual novel is intentionally meant to mimic older games created in more limited engines. There’s no such thing as smoothly sliding sprites along the screen or zooming in—such effects are not permitted by the aesthetic rules.
This unfortunately also makes it painful or even dangerous to look at for some people.
Turning off screenshake effects
In Final Verse, you are given the choice to disable the effects that shake the screen. Once this option is enabled, the effects will either no longer appear or be replaced with a different effect. Very simple!
For the most part, implementing this was a walk in the park, if a bit tedious. Every time an effect that shook the screen showed up, I simply had to put in an if statement that only let that effect show if the player allows it. Sometimes, it had to be replaced, either with an abrupt switch to the next displayable, or with a dissolve, or with a flash. However, those flash replacements and any other flash effects won’t show up if you’ve enabled…
This one took a while.
Photosensitive mode does quite a few things. Not only does it get rid of any flashing, but it also dims or slows down moments where there are a lot of images appearing on the screen one after another, and it changes any moments where repetitive text rapidly fills up the screen. Any one of these things can trigger migraines or, even worse, a seizure, so they were dealt with with as much scrutiny as one developer can offer. I’m confident that I’ve stamped out all the parts that were really bad. Sometimes I wonder if what I did to certain parts was maybe overkill, LOL.
The solutions were vast, from just disabling a little flash, to making a whole new layer that introduces a black “dim” overlay on top of certain parts, to completely replacing the parts where text quickly fills up the screen with something different (and shorter) whenever photosensitive mode is on.
This is my first time ever doing anything with photosensitivity, and I am just one person who can only get volunteers for beta testing. The consequences of missing something can be serious. So, if after the release, you notice something that might be bad news that isn’t modified adequately in photosensitive mode, please contact milk+ visual at firstname.lastname@example.org immediately!!
That concludes this issue. Next issue gets into the making of the opening sequence!