Mech Skeleton / Heavy Kick Games
Though he plays them often, Hayden Else says he's not much good at video games.
Being clinically and legally blind, he says he's especially hopeless with anything that involves detailed user interfaces or confusing morasses of characters. Else has lived with Optic nerve hypoplasia since birth. He can see with one eye, just not very well.
"I'm no good at sports either," he jokes. "When I play games, sometimes I'll miss something that everyone else can see, something super obvious." Despite his visual impairment he enjoys shooter games, especially the Halo series. "The colors, the reds and the blues, make it easier to follow," he says.
Elise recently released his first game under his Heavy Kick Games label. Mech Skeleton is a first-person shooter for HTC Vive. It's a simple game that he wrote for himself and for anyone who just likes shooting games. "I really like sci-fi and robots," says the 37-year-old radio announcer. "Despite the sight thing, I just wanted to make a game for everyone."
Apart from some experimental mobile projects, Mech Skeleton is the first game for the Sydney, Australia-based developer. He created it in Unity in his spare time, after trying VR. "The first day I played VR, I went out and ordered a Vive and a new graphics card," he recalls.
The game suits his own preferences. The robot enemies are very large, brightly colored and they make a lot of noise coming. There's no fiddly UI.
During development, his fully-sighted brother helped out. "He looked at the game and said there were some distance issues which I hadn't noticed. He said they were really obvious, but I had no idea, so we fixed them.”
Since word got out about his new game, he's been contacted by some players who are partially or fully blind. He says he's learned a lot about game design from talking to them. "Some of these guys play just from what they hear. It's made me even more aware of how important audio is to playing a game."
Mech Skeleton is available now priced at $4.99.