Dev Chat: Failbetter Games on accessibility in Sunless Skies

Tobias Cook talks text sizes and reading.

While AAA giants Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo making forward leaps in video game accessibility, I wanted to learn more about how indie developers are approaching the subject. When there are so many areas to consider, one needs to ask where the best place to start is.

Tobias Cook, artist at Failbetter Games, spoke to me earlier this year about how Sunless Skies was optimised to be as accessible as possible to gamers:

“We do as much as we feasibly can. One thing we decided on was that given this was the type of game that involves a lot of reading, we wanted to make sure it was comfortable for as many people as possible.”

“We revamped the UI late in development, and we made sure we offered two different text sizes which impacted many places of the interface as we wanted to do it everywhere. Something we heard from accessibility groups was that text difference needed to be meaningful, so in some contexts the large text size might still be quite small. This resulted in our large text sizes actually being quite substantial, which enabled as many people as possible that may have difficulties with sight to play the game comfortably.”

“In terms of other aspects of the UI, a lot of it isn’t too demanding. We don’t have any problems with colour and accessibility for colour blind people. We also have options for adjusting the transparency on the UI, as that can be another thing people may have trouble with. It was a matter of finding the most significant aspects of the game that could pose problems for people, and we focused on that. We found that there are probably a million things you can potentially do, but only a certain number of things you can do practically.”

Kate reviewed Sunless Skies earlier this year and called it “lovingly crafted that even the darkest of places shine”. Thanks to the strong following the game has, it’s still going strong many months after its release.

Check out Sunless Skies on Steam and GOG.