Screen readers

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Arcane Fortune is partially accessible with screen readers, although work is ongoing to make it more so--some of which have been added in v0.3.0. Aside from the guide on this page, there is also a thread on with additional discussion about the game that you might find useful. Much of what's been implemented so far is from suggestions there -- thanks to everyone that has provided feedback and help.

Anyway, you probably want to run the version of the game with the "_screenreader" text in the name, for example, See below for more notes depending on your operating system.

General tips and terminal size requirements[edit]

Note that the game is most tested on a setup which includes 213 columns and 58 lines. If your terminal size is smaller than that, some text in the game can be cutoff or wrap around the screen. I recommend playing the game with at least 181 columns of display, although more is better.

Occasionally it is needed to review the color attributes of text printed in the game (particularly in the technology tree). However, most of the game does not require knowing the color of printed text. I may come up with a better way to show the tech tree in the future as I know this is not incredibly ideal. Speakup (for Linux) has the ability to announce color attributes.

Platform and screen reader-specific notes[edit]


Currently, I'm told, the best screen readers for terminals are found on Linux (and OS X).

I have personally tried out Speakup and have found it to work much better than Orca. Aside from Speakup, I have also heard Fenrir be recommended, however, I have not personally tried it.


On Windows, NVDA has some known limitations that make playing the game more difficult. JAWS apparently has features that can make it easier, if you have access to that program.

NVDA's braille output seems reasonable and, as I improve the placement of the text cursor throughout the game, you may eventually be able to play the game using that output alone. Unfortunately, however, the audio that it speaks doesn't always match what it presents in its braille output.

Launching the game on Windows[edit]

The game can be run in cmd.exe, however, the size of the console needs to be increased for the game to display property. Here is how to do that:

  1. Open cmd.exe
  2. Right click the top of the window and choose "Properties".
  3. Set the font size to 7x12 in the Font tab, then set the window size and height in the "Layout" tab to 181 for the width and 76 for the height. The exact amount doesn't matter too much, but much less than those amounts can cause the game to crash. You can't change these preferences once the game is launched.
  4. "cd" into the directory where you downloaded and unzipped the game.
  5. "cd" into the "game" subdirectory.
  6. Run "arcane_fortune_windows_pdcurses.exe screen_reader_mode"

Useful keyboard shortcuts in the game[edit]

Normally the game will place your text cursor on the map. And you can move around with the arrow keys or the keys w, a, s, and d. Additional text about the land your text cursor is on is shown at the bottom of the screen. If you've selected a unit that you can assign actions to, those actions will be also listed at the bottom of the screen.

You can move the text cursor to text at the bottom of the screen by pressing "B" (that is, hold shift then press the letter "b"). Doing so will move you to the first text entry and you can "tab" through the text entries by pressing "." and "," to go forward and backward respectively. An easy way to remember those keys is that they are the same keys for the greater than and less than sign, except you don't have to press shift. Press escape to exit tabbing through the text and the text cursor will be brought back to the map.

There is additional game-wide information, like the day and year in the game, your budget, and other information on the far right side of your screen. Similar to tabbing through the bottom text of the screen, you can press "R" (that is, shift and then press "r") to begin this tabbing mode. Similar to tabbing though the text at the bottom of the screen, "." and "," go forward and backward through the text. It is in this mode that you can increment game time (for example by pressing "n" or shift "n" depending on if you have unmoved units or not -- pressing "@" will cause all units to finish their actions, provided that they all have actions to perform). You exit this tabbing mode by pressing escape.

The menu is at the top of the screen and you can press "m" to activate it. Arrow keys will move you through the options and your text cursor will be placed at the selected item. Keyboard shortcuts for each item in the menu are indicated in square brackets. Escape exits the menu.

Using the tech and doctrine trees[edit]

The tech and doctrine trees are accessible from the menu under the View submenu. The primary use of the tech tree is to select which tech your empire researches and the primary use of the doctrine tree is to summarize the extent to which your empire has followers for each of the doctrine types.

The UI and layout are similar for both the tech and doctrine trees. When viewing either tree, only one entry will be shown at a time. To change which item on the tree is selected, use your arrow keys. The tree is oriented horizontally, with the roots being oriented to the left and the leaves being oriented to the right.

Let's walk through an example of how to navigate the doctrine tree. When you first pull up the doctrine tree from the menu, you will be automatically viewing the "Undefined doctrine" -- this is the parent of all other doctrines. Press the right arrow key once. Doing so moves you to the level of the Undefined doctrine's children. At this point your screen should be showing information on the Animism doctrine. Press the down arrow and your screen will show info on the Shamanism doctrine which is also another child of the Undefined doctrine. Press the up arrow key and you'll again be back on the Animism doctrine.

Let's explore the Shaminism branch. Once you've gotten it displayed on your screen press the right arrow to be shown one of its children: Zhoism. Similar to before, press the down arrow and you'll see another child doctrine: "Children of the Light".

Press the left arrow and you'll be brought back to the parent: Shaminism. Unlike the Shaminism branch, not every doctrine has more than one child.

The tech tree works identically. Except that instead of every branch stemming from one entry (the Undefined doctrine), there are multiple techs that are on the far left of the tree with no other dependencies.

The other difference with the tech tree is that you can toggle whether or not your empire researches a given tech by pressing enter while it's selected (that is, when it is being shown on the screen).

Final notes on keyboard shortcuts[edit]

This concludes the screen-reader specific keyboard shortcuts you should know. The game can be played entirely via the keyboard, and you can find more general information about playing the game in the getting started guide.

Customizing the keyboard shortcuts[edit]

The keys you use to tab through text or enter the tabbing modes can be changed by altering the text file game/config/keyboard.txt. Nearly all keys can be configured, not just the screen reader-specific keys. If you make changes, be careful to not assign keys already used for other actions, or if you do, update the other keys so nothing clashes.

Final notes[edit]

If you have problems or further suggestions about making the game more accessible, don't hesitate to reach out to me on the Arcane Fortune forums. I also occasionally check the thread on too.