HEre’s a list of accessibility issues I’m encountering as a totally blind player, in no particular order. Some of these impact keyboard users too, or anyone who plays without a mouse. The mobile UI is better, though not as good as it could be. I am an accessibility tester by trade and willing to go into more technical detail if that would be helpful.
Many controls are custom-coded. Checkboxes in particular annoy me because they do not properly expose their state to the screen reader. It’s impossible for me to tell whether a checkbox is checked, I have to guess. A keyboard user can’t tab to and interact with the checkbox in the ordinary way at all, as far as I can tell.
There is no way to move cargo without drag and drop, which is very annoying and unintuitive even on mobile. I can move cargo about 40% of the time, if I’m lucky, on my phone. The desktop UI is closer to 0%.
Many things are presented purely as icons, or percentage bars, without any other context. These are difficult to impossible to read with a screen reader.
The entire tile UI is impossible to use on desktop. I can’t reliably determine where one tile ends and another begins, let alone arrange them in a way to make my experience easier. The mobile UI is a lot better about this, fortunately.
A pure keyboard user would struggle a lot with this game. There is a lot that simply can’t be done without a mouse, as far as I know. Even clicking on the very basic game elements or activating buffers requires one.
These are general issues and trends I’ve noticed. I can go into more depth if it would help, but a lot of the problems are endemic to the way the UI is currently presented. It’s possible to fix many of them by adding accessible information to some of the controls, but others require a bit more thought.
I hope some of these can be addressed soon, as the experience is currently rather tedious, particularly on desktop.
Some more details about the cargo problem in particular…
As a screen reader user I struggle with the cargo UI on both desktop and mobile, though it’s arguably worse on the former.
It’s impossible to reliably route my mouse to the draggable area. It’s a little hard to understand the internals because of obfuscation, but the screen reader doesn’t see the draggable content as any different from anything else on the page.
On mobile, I can sometimes (30% or so of the time if I’m lucky), happen to select just the right area on screen to move. If I’m not lucky, nothing will happen. I sometimes can go 20 times without triggering the transfer UI, which is profoundly frustrating. THis is possibly because of a combination of small target size and the mobile screen reader not recognizing the precise place I’ve put my finger. I’m speculating because I don’t know what events are firing when I (attempt to) drag on the mobile UI.
Assuming I manage to sart the drag process, the transfer UI is confusing. I want to refuel a ship but can’t figure out how to switch my destination from the warehouse at the CX to my ship’s fuel tanks. I believe this is a simple case of lacking accessible role information, so I have no idea what to tap on to make the desired change. I’ve ran into similar issues with other places in the UI, but this is particularly frustrating.
A solution that would vastly improve the user experience for me and many other people would be a UI which let me type numbers to specify cargo transfer amounts. A form could be provided which listed the hold contents and let me move goods freely without need for the mouse. THis would help not only the blind, but users who depend on a keyboard or other technology which makes dragging impractical.
For the moment, until I’m able to refuel my ships, it’s impossible to enjoy the game. If nothing else, the tedium of trying the same action twenty or thirty times to no effect is demoralizing in the extreme.
It might come to no surprise to you that we have little experience with accessibility. That doesn’t mean that it has to stay that way. Over the weekend I started reading more about accessibility and I think there are quite a few things that can be improved without spending too much time. Some will take major effort to get right though, especially the tile layout in the desktop version.
If I am not mistaken the drag and drop process of moving inventory is the most pressing issue at the moment, right? Improving the inventory transfer is already on our immediate development roadmap, so it makes sense to start there.
I will get in touch on how to test the changes, because right now I have no idea how to do that
Thanks so much for getting back to me. Yes, without a doubt the inventory issue is the most pressing at the moment. Most other screens are at least something I can deal with. If I can help in any way please let me know, as I’m quite familiar with the relevant accessibility standards and the like.