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Print at Jun 19, 2019 9:53:28 PM

Posted by Messa77 at Aug 26, 2010 5:46:50 AM
Re: Pirates with Disabilities
I will apologize now for the length of this post. After nearly two years off and on of struggling with this game, I have quite a bit to say. I don't expect everyone to read the entire post, but I hope new players with disabilities like mine will find this helpful.

I have mixed connective tissue disease and neuropathy that, among other things, affect my finger joints and the sensitivity in my fingers. Arthritis may be most commonly associated with the elderly but can affect people of any age. My arthritis problems started at fifteen. I certainly wouldn't want my pirates to be singled out in any way, even though my disabilities do affect gameplay. Keyboard intensive puzzles (like swordfighting) can become painful, and I struggle with the control of my mouse at times. I certainly don't envy those like the pirate who spawned this thread who must rely on assistive devices like a mouthstick to puzzle, but I would certainly be happy to hire anyone with the dedication to master puzzles well enough to produce "Fine" duty ratings with such a device.

On the tips and tricks front, I offer the following general suggestions to new players with disabilities.

1. Use the navy. Yes, I know pillaging is more fun, and that people are always looking for a chance to head out on a special trip like the SMH, CI, and the new (as of this post) HS. For those of us with disabilities affecting gameplay, the navy can be a very important part of getting good enough at the puzzle to be able to perform at a reasonable skill level. Further, it is a good way to explore the different puzzles and try different techniques without getting yelled at by the officer in charge of a pillage for underperforming. Getting the experience level up by doing a lot of missions can help get you aboard ships. I am usually not picky when I run pillages (my bnav isn't good enough for me to be), but I know several officers who do look at the experience factor, not just the skill. Also, getting up to "respected" can mean a lot, even if a disability means you're not likely to ever see grand-master, much less ultimate. If you can get yourself to "respected" in at least two duty puzzles, you're much more likely to get jobbed. When starting out, look for greeter pillages.

2. Explore the rest of this handy tips and tricks forum, and consult the YPPEdia entries for each puzzle. Although many tips are geared toward normal pirates and may require some adjustments, many of the puzzles already have tips and tricks listed for different puzzling methods. Whether you do better with a keyboard or a mouse (or mouse-like assistive device), someone has probably already listed helpful tips. It may require some searching, but good tips are available. I finally learned to gun well enough to support solo sloop/cutter trading (before swabbies could gun) by finding a technique that combines keyboard and mouse use. I usually favor the mouse for as much as possible, but after reading some tips, I found that some of the combined keyboard/mouse techniques both improved my puzzle play and reduced the stress on my joints. You can save yourself a lot of time and energy if you check out the strategies others have devised and adapt them to suit your particular limitations.

3. If you have a disability that limits which puzzles you are able to do, please tell the officer in charge, preferably when you are first jobbed. Many do this for reasons as simple as working on a laptop and preferring puzzles that are easier with a keyboard. Don't be shy about it if you can't do a particular puzzle. Further, if you need to swap periodically because of something like carpal tunnel syndrome limiting your ability to do long sessions with repetitive movements, say so. Generally speaking, I've found PP players to be accommodating to others' needs, as long as the person is polite about it. You don't necessarily have to go into detail about your personal disabilities on every pillage you go on, but being straightforward about your needs is helpful to your fellow pirates. Don't ignore an order to change puzzles. That can get you planked. On a small ship, just tell the officer in charge over the vessel chat that you can't do the puzzle you were ordered to do. On a larger ship, a tell to the commanding officer is probably better, especially if you want the officer in charge, but not the whole ship, to know you have a disability. If you don't want to share your reason, be prepared for a cooler reception. Most pirates have a favorite puzzle, but sometimes a ship needs people to do something other than their favorite. Some officers will take a statement that you only bilge (or whatever) to be uncooperative. At the very least, make it clear that you can't do something, not that you won't, even if you're more comfortable not mentioning a disability.

4. Try the crafting puzzles. On my bad days when I can't work fast enough to be very good at any duty puzzles, I sometimes enjoy crafting. With the exception of distilling, speed is not a factor in crafting puzzles. I love them enough to have opened my own stalls and started building a trading empire. I do miss the social aspects on my bad days, but I can still enjoy the puzzles, no matter how slowly I'm moving of what medications I had to take.

5. Each ocean has a personality, as do each flag and crew. I would strongly encourage pirates with disabilities to explore the different oceans, flags, and crews to find a fit. There are crews geared toward every playing style out there if you look long enough. For example, if you're getting overwhelmed on a busy ocean, try Malachite. Because it is the smallest of the English-speaking oceans, it can be easier to advance since skill rankings are relative. Many notice board pillages are geared towards easy battles. Pillages hunting easy to average brigands and/or barbarians will often take anyone available, even if you're just "able". The bravery badge activities are somewhat more limited because it is harder to fill a large ship, and small CIs tend to be either done by small groups within a crew or with hearties, making it harder for lower-skilled pirates, with or without disabilities.

6. When you find an accommodating officer, ask them to be your hearty and consider joining the crew. Especially on bigger oceans, having good officers as hearties will help you glance through the jobbing lists and find the ones most likely to hire you.

7. Most of the keys used for puzzles are customizable through the options menu. If you find a particular set difficult, you can set them to whatever you prefer. Also, the function keys are chat shortcuts you can customize. If you can only do one puzzle on the ship and type slowly, setting a function key to text explaining that you can only do that puzzle will save you time and energy, for example.


And for those like me with arthritis and/or limited movement in the hands, I give the following information about the shipboard puzzles.

*Start out with bilging or rigging, especially if keyboard use is difficult.

*Sailing, duty navigation, and swordfighting require the use of the keyboard. Carpentry, gunning, and rumble are difficult (but not impossible) without a mouse.

*Bilging requires only the ability to move the cursor and to click (or press a key) to swap pieces. Either the mouse or the keyboard arrow keys and spacebar/enter may be used.

*Rigging is drag-and-drop, which may be harder for some people, but I find it much less stressful on the joints than the fast-moving and key-intensive sailing puzzle. For keyboard only directions, see the YPPedia entry on Rigging.

*Carpentry can be done either solely with a wheeled mouse, with a combination of mouse and keyboard, or with just the keyboard. Personally, I find the combination of mouse and keyboard easiest. I use the mouse to select pieces and position them but the keyboard to mirror swap (Z key) and rotate (X and C keys) because I struggle with the wheel control when my fingers are swollen. Also, if you miss-click slightly in positioning as I am prone to doing when my hands hurt or shake, it is worth noting that you can pick up and adjust a piece immediately after placing. Just click the piece you just misplaced and adjust it slightly in position, rotation, or mirroring. I think the limit is one square in any direction from the first placement, and you can only adjust once. For keyboard only directions, see the YPPedia entry on Carpentry.

*Sailing is generally done with the arrow keys and spacebar. It may be easier for with extremely limited hand use, those who rely on a stick to push keys or are otherwise limited in the use of the mouse. The pieces do move rather quickly, which can be difficult on more crowded boards, so that may be a limiting factor for some.

*A pirate does not have to master both rigging and sailing. The two puzzles serve the same purpose aboard the ship, so pirates who struggle significantly with one or the other are best served by mastering just one. For those who struggle with repetitive motion, the fact that sailing and rigging serve the same purpose can be a benefit aboard ship. When I have nerve pain in my hands, I sometimes like taking a sailing/rigging station and periodically switch which puzzle I'm doing to ease the repetitive motion strain. For longer puzzling sessions (especially SMH, CI, HS, flotillas, blockades), the ability to switch puzzles without having to find someone willing to swap stations can be useful.

*Gunning is the puzzle where the officer in charge is most likely to demand a certain minimum stat. It is not a puzzle a new pirate is likely to be asked to do. I personally find using a mouse to position the arrows and the keyboard to set the direction of the arrow easiest, but one can gun with just a mouse or just a keyboard. This is definitely a puzzle where it is good to read tips and tricks, no matter what your limitations are. If you struggle to get "proficient" stats in the other puzzles (especially if doing puzzles quickly is a major issue), it probably isn't worth spending time on this puzzle.

*Duty navigation is a keyboard puzzle, but it uses just direction keys and spacebar. This is another advanced puzzle and not one a new player will be asked to do. For those who want to become officers and run pillages or trade, this is a necessary puzzle. The duty navigation score increases the chances you'll get the enemy brigands and/or barbarians you are hunting for in a pillage and decreases the chances you'll be attacked when trading or evading. Memorizing league points so you aren't limited by the charts available requires the ability to achieve rating of at least "Fine". Mastering this puzzle allows solo trading in a sloop or cutter, since the swabbies can now do all the other duty puzzles (except battle navigation, in the event you are attacked).

*Battle navigation is a puzzle that is generally done by mouse and is nearly always the responsibility of the officer in charge. The turns are relatively short, but the puzzle is a mental challenge more than a speed one in most cases. It can be an advantage to set moves quickly, especially against human opponents, but it isn't absolutely necessary.

*Swordfighting is the puzzle for battling brigands and in SMH and HS, as well as most PVP. It can also be a parlor game. It is usually a keyboard puzzle, and speed is a major factor in doing the puzzle well. Worthy of note is that selecting one's opponent by keyboard can be done with the A and S keys (up and down, respectively) or with the [ and ] keys.

*Rumble is the puzzle for battle barbarians and in CI, as well as for certain PVP battles in which the stronger nav score team was hunting barbarians but not brigands. It can also be a parlor game. The mouse is generally used to aim, and the right and left mouse buttons to fire from the right or left side, respectively. To use the keyboard, the arrow keys can be used to aim, and the Z znd X keys to fire from the left and right sides, respectively. In multiplayer, I believe the A and S or [ and ] keys select opponents, as in swordfight.


Anyone who want to discuss arthritis-related game issues or needs some help getting started is welcome to send me a private message or to talk to me in game.

I hope this helps.

--Messa of Malachite


P.S. To game designers/OMs, although most pirates with disabilities would prefer not to be singled out, it might be useful to those with severe disabilities to be able to retain greenie status for greeter pillages. Perhaps this could be done by petition, and the pirate's name would not necessarily have to stay green so that only the greeters would know that a pirate has special status. I know there aren't a lot of greeter pillages, especially on Malachite, but I do think there is a good case to be made for allowing pirates with disabilities limiting gameplay to be automatically included on greeter pillages and to get the full pay a greenie would if their abilities effectively make them permanent greenies.

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