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Introduction

Yellowbonnet is the first game in Valiant Galaxy Associates’ series of minigames. The game is mini both in scope (the map is a 7 by 7 grid) and in time expenditure (the game averages half an hour to play). In these minigames we will not only explore the exciting frontiers of our Valiant Galaxy setting, but we will also explore frontiers in other times. Yellowbonnet is a trip into the Wild West of Earth’s past.

Yellowbonnet is a small town. You arrive on the stagecoach with a little money, a need for work, and a yearning for excitement. The game is completely self-voicing. You do not have to position your weapons in certain positions to fire. The menu-driven nature of the game makes it easy for those with limited keyboarding skills. The object of the game is to complete all available jobs in the least amount of moves and time. You can choose from three starting characters. These are not difficulty levels in the traditional sense of the word: each character has certain advantages and disadvantages.

Welcome to Yellowbonnet, and good luck.

System Requirements

Yellowbonnet should work on any Microsoft Windows computer that runs Windows XP or later. There are no graphics, and the game is self-voicing. The game does require an active internet connection, though you do not have to have a browser open to play.

Guidedog Games

Guidedog games (click here) is a revolutionary new service for connecting game developers to visually impaired game players. As more developers use the site, more and more games will be centrally located, and the visually impaired gaming community will have a service equivalent to Steam for sighted players. The service is operated by Dennis Towne who also operates the online mud Alter Aeon. The account system on Guidedog is fast and easy to set up, and the encryption used for account and credit card information is the same utilized by Alter Aeon.

To set up an account, click on the above link, or go to the site with your browser. Click on new account. The site will prompt you for an email address. This email address is necessary for account creation, and is used by Guidedog in confirming the account's registration as well as in providing receipts. Once the email address is entered, you are prompted to pick a user name. Once this is done, the site sends you a confirmation email. Open your email and find the message from Guidedog. If you do not have one, wait a minute or two, and try again. If there still isn't one, try your spam or junk folders just to be sure. Open the message and select the provided link. This will allow you to set your password. You are now ready to buy games and play games using the Guidedog service.

You can browse the games lists on Guidedog by genre, company, etc. Once you have picked a game, you can add that game to your shopping cart. The site prompts you for your credit card information and some personal billing information. Once all your info is added, the site processes your transaction and sends a digital receipt to your email account that is associated with your Guidedog account. It's that easy.

In the case of this and future Valiant Galaxy titles, a Guidedog account is required to play. You have to be logged in, and connected to the internet to play. Our games automatically open the log in screen for you, so you do not have to connect from a browser. When you open the game, the game prompts you to switch window focus to the Guidedog window and log in. Once this is done, the game continues operating as normal.

Main Menu

The main menu has six options. These are:

Most of these are self explanatory.

Start Game

: After you click the start game option, you are taken to a menu that asks for your choice of character type. You can select from tinhorn, new hand, or tough hombre. For more information about the advantages and disadvantages of each, see introduction above. After you pick your character type, you are prompted for a name. Your name can be anything you want with spaces. Once you are done entering your name, the game will check that you like the name the game thinks you entered. Note that with some sapi voices, not all names sound correctly when pronounced with sapi. To answer yes just scroll downward with your arrow. You will have the options no which takes you back to the edit box to re-enter your name and yes which will allow you to continue. Finally the game will tell you your character is male. The yes and no menu here works exactly like the previous one. If you wish to change your gender to female, just click yes.

Open Help File

This opens this documentation file. This file is also accessible from inside the game by hitting f1.

Settings Menu

Settings contains thirteen options. They are set to a default level that seems optimal for game play. You are free to change these and the game will save your preferences online in your Guidedog account (except for SAPI settings which only save to your local hard disk do to different computers not having the same SAPI voices). By saving the settings to Guidedog, the game's settings are available on any computer you log into Guidedog from. Further, if you are not connected to Guidedog, all settings will be loaded from the local hard disk (assuming they were previously saved on this computer). When you are finished adjusting settings, closing the menu as normal with escape or with the return to main menu item will save your changes. You will experience a delay in closing the settings menu if you have changed many settings from their default options as these need to be synchronized with the account server. In this way though, logging into this account again on any computer will have Yellowbonnet reflect those settings there too except obviously the ones that do not get stored online. The options are:

Set environmental sound volume can be changed upward or downward with the right and left arrow respectively. Examples of these noises are background sounds in the blacksmith's smithy, the stables, the saloon, etc. These sounds can also be controlled from inside the game with the f2 and f3 keys.

Voice over volume is set with left and right arrow. It controls the volume of the game's voice.

Speech File Cue Before End Delay: This setting controls how little pause occurs between speech recordings in the game. This is achieved by starting the next speech recording some time before the currently playing one has finished. The value is litterally how many milliseconds before the end of the currently playing speech file the next one is started. Making it longer causes the recorded speech files to be closer together, and up to a certain point will yield more natural recorded speech. Turning this up too high may introduce enough overlap that it becomes difficult to understand. Making this shorter allows more pause between each chunk of recorded speech, and some may find this easier to understand though we feel it's less natural if set too low. The default value is 80.

Announce Menu Indexes: This tells the game whether to announce items in menu with a number to help understand where the currently selected menu item is, for example, Status 1 of 8.

Pause Before Announcing Menu Indexes: The game tells you where in the menus you are at the end of each item. This is called the menu index. So for instance, on the main menu, start game is followed by the announcement 1 of 8. This merely enables or disables a pause between the item and the menu index.

Announce coordinates can be toggled with the left and right arrow between announcing both the X or horizontal axis and the Y or vertical axis, and announcing only the one axis that is changed when the player moves.

Disable keyboard hook allows a user to disengage the keyboard hook that intercepts input. Doing this might be to the user's advantage if their screen reader is asleep, or their screen reader does not intercept incoming keystrokes. Disengaging this hook may make the game unplayable by users using a screen reader, such as Jaws, which intercepts keystrokes before it reaches the game. You can re-engage the hook with the f8 keystroke. If you are unsure of this option, we recommend leaving it enabled.

SAPI Speaks Messages Not Available in Recorded Speech: If this is enabled, the game uses SAPI to announce any information that is not pre-recorded. Otherwise, the game spells out such information with recorded speech. It may be selected using the left and right arrows. This setting is not stored in your online account, because no two machines are likely to contain the exact same set of SAPI voices.

SAPI Voice: This item selects which installed SAPI voice to use for SAPI announcements. Again, you can use the left and right arrow to select the voice. This setting is not stored in your online account, because no two machines are likely to contain the exact same set of SAPI voices.

SAPI Volume: This adjusts the volume of SAPI speech. Left and right arrows will change the volume level. This setting is not stored in your online account, because no two machines are likely to contain the exact same set of SAPI voices.

SAPI Rate: This changes the rate at which SAPI announces information. Left and right arrow will change the pitch down and up respectively. This setting is not stored in your online account, because no two machines are likely to contain the exact same set of SAPI voices.

SAPI Pitch: This changes the pitch of the SAPI voice. Left and right arrow will change this pitch control. This setting is not stored in your online account, because no two machines are likely to contain the exact same set of SAPI voices.

Return to Main Menu: This returns you to the main menu of the game.

High Scores Menu

: This menu gives a list of the current top ten high scores, the date they were achieved, and the time of the game during that day. In addition, the high scores menu contains a reset option that allows you to reset all high scores to 0. This menu is also available from the Game Over menu.

Activation

When this choice is highlighted in the main menu it displays the game’s activation status—either activated or not activated. If your copy is not activated, then you will be able to play the demo mode, but no more. To activate the game, you must have a Guidedog Games account and be connected to the internet so that Guidedog can verify your activation.

Demo Mode

In demo mode, Yellowbonnet allows the player character to move ten times. After this limit, the game will prompt you to log in to your Guidedog account or purchase the game.

Character Statistics

Each character in Yellowbonnet has seven statistics:

These scores are generated between 5 and 20. In Yellowbonnet depending on which type of character you select, you receive a set of stats that are always the same based on that selection. In other future games, stats might be determined randomly.

Game Play

Yellowbonnet uses two modes: map mode and menu mode. In map mode, the player may explore the map or move his or her character around the map. To interact with characters or places, he or she must enter menu mode by pressing the enter key. If you hold down the enter key, you can access the status menu.

The Map

Yellowbonnet is set up on a 7 by 7 grid. There are two north and south streets: Hill Street to the west or left of the map, and Silver Street to the east or right of the map. Three east and west streets cross these. The northernmost is Church Street. The middle one is Main Street. The southernmost is Academy Street. The town square is in the exact center of the map, and this is where you begin your adventures in Yellowbonnet.

Map Mode

To navigate the map, you can use the arrow keys. This will allow you to explore the map. To actually move your character, merely hold the shift key down and then use the arrows. You can walk along any of the streets freely. If you enter a building, you cannot exit the building except by going onto a street square. When the cursor is over your character, you will hear a footstep. You can also use the H key to return to your character's current position. C will show coordinates of your current location.

Interaction Menu

The Interaction menu has multiple options. The menu reacts to the character's situation, so not all options are available at all times. For instance, if a townsperson does not have items to buy or sell, those options do not appear. The options are:

Each of the options are discussed below:

Look Around

This option allows the player to see a description of the street or building they are in. It also allows the player to see the description of any character in the room they are in. This text is the same as that given later in this documentation file.

Talk

This option will open up conversation with the character in the room with you. This can give you random information, assign you a job, or complete a job. In some cases, most notably when a particular townsperson is the target of an active job, and also can give a job, it is necessary to talk to them multiple times. The first time the player is given a new job, the second time, the player completes the active job, and a third time gets random information.

Fight

This allows the character to engage in combat with a character in the room with them. A fight ends when either the opponent or the player are dead or have run away. Fight can also complete some jobs.

Buy Goods

This option allows the character to purchase goods or services. The blacksmith, general store owner, barber, saloon keeper, and doctor all have items for sale.

Sell Goods

This allows the character to sell items to the blacksmith or general store keeper. This is a good source of extra money.

Search

This allows the character to search and retrieve items that might be of interest. Most items are found in buildings, but some items might have been dropped in the streets. With the new hand and tough hombre settings especially, multiple search attempts might be necessary to find some items. Items can give the character boosts to statistics, a means of obtaining more money by selling, or better weapons. In some rooms, you will receive a message suggesting searching. This means that there is something to find. Besides using this option from the menu, you can search in map mode by pressing the letter s.

Status

Status menu displays the player's statistics, current cash, number of jobs completed, number of moves, and similar game information of interest. The inventory submenu shows you what you are carrying.

Combat Menu

This menu has three options: fight, run for it, and status.

Fight works exactly as above under the interaction menu.

Run for it attempts to flee from the opponent.

Status operates exactly as with interaction menu.

Hot Keys

The following hot keys are available from inside the game:

Jobs

At the beginning of every game in Yellowbonnet, six characters have jobs they need done. To win the game you must complete all six jobs. Each character when spoken to will give information, often revealing who has work, or will give you a job. Most jobs are simple and merely require going to the proper place and talking to the character there. Some involve fighting a character. You can track how many jobs you have completed in the status menu, or by hitting the j key.

Hazards

At the beginning of each game of Yellowbonnet, the game populates the streets. Each game will contain six visible people on the street. Identifying what that person might be like requires the character’s perception and savvy. Once identified a threat can either be dealt with head on, or you can choose to try and avoid it by taking a different path to your objective. However, besides the visible people on the street there are hazards that appear as you move through empty squares. These mobile hazards include vicious dogs, snakes, and drunken townspeople. Points are awarded for successfully defeating hazards.

Objects in Yellowbonnet

Yellowbonnet contains two classes of items: decoration items and weapon items. Weapon items are meant to be used by the player in combat; decoration items are meant to be sold for extra cash. The player's most damaging weapon in terms of raw damage output, is always wielded first. Thus, in the following discussions weapons from category 4 are used before category 3 and so forth. A brief discussion of each type follows.

Weapon items can be classed roughly into four groups:

  1. Punch: This is the weakest weapon in game, however, the character comes equipped with it from the beginning. A high strength score might add to punch damage.
  2. The broken bottle, the razor, the knife, and the brass knuckles are marginally better than punching. A high strength adds to melee damage with these weapons.
  3. The scalpel, night stick, and hammer are all the most superior melee weapons. A high strength contributes to their damage.
  4. Deringer and revolver are both pistols which use both the reflexes of the character as well as a good eye to hit targets. Their damage is distributed over a wider range than the melee weapons, but they can potentially do more damage in a single hit.

Decoration items fall into roughly three categories: cheap items, mid-range items, and premium items.

  1. Cheap items include the leather pouch, the lace handkerchief, the bit of chain, a pack of pins, an Eastern newspaper, a horse shoe, a package of cookies, a slate and some chalk, a dime novel, a clasp knife, and a lady's fan.
  2. Mid-range items include the axe head, the pocket watch, the Bible, the fancy book, a lady's parasol, a fancy pen, a fancy lariat, and a silver belt buckle.
  3. Premium items include the set of fine glasses and the set of gold cufflinks.

Cheap items are worth 1-3 dollars, mid-range items are worth 4-7 dollars, and premium items are worth more. Finding items adds to the character's score.

Tips and Tricks

1. Talk to everyone you meet. You can learn a lot about the town, including who has jobs for you.

2. Search everywhere you go. The items you find will be a source of income, statistics boosts, or give you better weapons. In addition, found items contribute to your overall score. Items can be sold at the general store or at the blacksmith's. Money will allow you to buy other items.

3. The saloon keeper’s whiskey, the barber’s haircuts, and some items you find in the town can boost your courage which makes it less likely that combatants will remain to fight. The doctor’s medicine and surgery can restore your health.

4. Try to use the most efficient means of moving across the map. Remember you can always leave a building to any adjoining street square. You do not have to go back out the way you came in.

5. Try to avoid people in the street you can’t identify until you must go through their square. They might be hostile.

6. Get a weapon as soon as you can. Some places to search or buy weapons include the sheriff's office, the general store, and the blacksmith. There are others scattered around the map as well. In this regard, note that the clasp knife is an old name for the common lock bladed pocket knife. It is not a weapon any better than your fist.

7. In combat keep a close eye on your health. If it drops to 6 or less it's a good time to run. You can restore health through the doctor's surgery or the doctor's medicine. Healing is costly though.

8. Learn the most common hot keys you'll need and use them liberally. The most important are a for ammunition, l for health, m for current money, and s for search.

Trouble Shooting

The following issues are known problems encountered during beta testing. We apologize that they could not all be addressed, but Windows went through several major iterations during the development of this project and presented some unique challenges. None of the following were impossible to get around however.
  1. There are issues with Windows XP and some screenreaders. Sometimes when a player closes Yellowbonnet after a game, then relaunches it, the game does not realize that the user is still logged in. A work around is to close both Guidedog and Yellowbonnet and reopen both again. So far, in beta testing, this completely fixed the problem.
  2. Issues have been reported with anti-virus programs interfering with Yellowbonnet or with the Guidedog client.
  3. Some oddities have been reported with certain Sapi voices. If the game is not responding as expected with SAPI then try downloading additional SAPI voices.
  4. It is recommended to leave your screenreader operating while playing the game.
  5. Windows 7 users of Jaws have reported game play being bogged down by Jaws reading extraneous text. The easiest solution is to put Jaws to sleep for the Yellowbonnet application.

Brief History of Yellowbonnet

1852 First settlers arrive in the area.

1861 Stage coach begins running to Yellowbonnet.

1866 Town attacked by the Lakota Sioux.

1874 Yellowbonnet gets a post office.

1879 Yellowbonnet’s bank opens.

1880 The church and schoolhouse are both built in this year.

1885 Current year.

The Characters

Big Joe Keene: Big Joe Keene is a broad man, about 5’8, with dirty blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. He is lazy, violent, and as folk say “bound to hang.”

Brother Ferris: Brother Ferris is the parson, though he doesn’t preach any specific denomination, just reads the good book and tells the folk how they should live. He’s 5’8, bald, and now in his sixties. He’s a good man, and he once faced down a crowd of drunken cowboys that were going to lynch a chinaman.

Deputy Frank Ketchum: Frank Ketchum came into Yellowbonnet about 13 years back. He fought a gunfight with one of Black Jack Rivers’ outlaw band to save a farmer, and Sheriff Green hired him on the spot. He’s 6’2, muscular, and fast on his feet. He has red hair, and green eyes. Folks talk about how Penelope Witherspoon the schoolteacher pines after him.

Doc Van Buren: The doctor arrived in Yellowbonnet in the 1860s after the war. He fought for the Confederates, and he was looking to get away from Reconstruction. He’s a might too fond of his medicinal whiskey, some folk say, but he’s the only doctor the town has. He is 5’5, has gray hair, and is portly.

Gregory Holdon: Gregory Holdon is the only one of the original settlers that is now left besides Wanda, his wife. He came to Yellowbonnet in 1855 with a wagonload of goods, and has stayed ever since. He is the main source of new items in town, and it is said, will buy something from anyone no questions asked if he can find a buyer. This has caused quite a few altercations with Sheriff Green and the judge. Gregory is 6’4, very skinny, and has white hair. He is near seventy now.

Hank Darby: Hank is a wandering hand that is relatively new in the area. He’s worked for a few outlying ranches and farms, and he’s done some odd jobs around town. Many suspect he might have been a road agent in his past life, or a gunfighter, but there’s no proof of either. Hank is 5’7, has blue eyes and dark brown hair, and is perhaps 35.

John Mallet: John Mallet came to Yellowbonnet in the 1860s. He's become a solid part of the town. He does excellent work, and is known as a square dealer far and wide. He is 6'4, very strong, and has dark brown hair and a long beard.

Judge Hiram Knots: Judge Knots came to Yellowbonnet in 1870. He is an old man, with piercing green eyes and white hair. He is known as hang 'em up Knots for his strict approach to outlawry in his jurisdiction.

Max Silver: Silver came to Yellowbonnet in 1868. He quietly bought up land, made loans, and then established the bank. He's lost his fortune the rumor runs twice before this and he's determined to make good this time. He's bought up most of the eastern portion of Yellowbonnet and owns several pieces of land outside of town. He is in his fifties, 6'0, has iron gray hair and wears spectacles.

Mortimer Underhill: Underhill came to yellowbonnet in 1866 after his brother died in the last throse of the Civil War. He is quiet, taciturn, but known as an avid reader. He keeps to himself. He is 5'9, wiry, and has black hair and soft brown eyes.

Penelope Witherspoon: Miss Witherspoon came to Yellowbonnet in 1882 when the old school teacher retired. She is young, pretty, and very well spoken of. She reads a great deal, attends church, and has a huge crush on Deputy Frank Ketchum. Penelope is 5'4, has long blonde hair, and deep blue eyes.

Phillip Wagner: Wagner came to yellowbonnet in 1864 to avoid the northern draft during the war. He set up the livery stable and has prospered. He is 5'5, has dirty blonde hair, and blue eyes.

Sheriff Howard Green: Green is the seventh sheriff in Yellowbonnet. He owned a ranch outside of town, and was asked to sheriff after his predecessor was killed in a gunfight. Sheriff Green, in conjunction with Brother Ferris, has worked to shut down saloons, and to clean up Yellowbonnet. People generally like and respect him, but he's a hard man. He is 6'2, has brown hair, and brown eyes.

Tall Tom Talbot: Tall Tom came to Yellowbonnet in 1872. He has bought out, killed, or run out all of his remaining competition, and avoids being run out himself by being a large contributor to both the church and the community fund that pays the sheriff. Tom is an operator, and most people don't like him. He is 6'8, has red hair, and green eyes. He is a muscular man, and many fear him.

Timothy Horner: Horner arrived in Yellowbonnet in 1864. He opened the hotel, and he has prospered well enough. He is close friends with Max Silver, and many suspect the two of conspiring to own the area. Horner is 5'8, has white hair and a salt and pepper beard. He is well-built and not afraid of a physical confrontation, but he avoids them if possible.

Wanda Holdon: Wanda is now in her 70s. She is the wife of Gregory Holdon, and when the old post master died, she took over. Some people look ascanse at having a woman as postmaster, but others say, some what nastily, but truly, that Wanda wanted the job so she could stick her nose further into other people's business. However, she's done a good job, and most folks are content to let her go on. She's 5'6 has white hair and limps from an arrow wound she took in the Sioux attack of 1866.

Willie McCormick: Willie's an Irishman who came to Yellowbonnet in 1870. He worked on the railroads, and he's farmed. However, he's been happy, and more prosperous, as a barber. He's 5'5, has red brown hair, and hazel eyes.

Credits

Primary coding was done by Aaron Spears. Aaron also provides the voice of Valiant Galaxy Associates. Primary creative design was done by Jeremy Brown. In the case of Yellowbonnet and future titles in this series, Aaron Spears provides a great deal of the content design.

Valiant Galaxy Associates would like to thank the following people:

First and foremost, Philip Bennefall, creator of BGT (Blastbay Game Toolkit). This powerful scripting language is what makes the Valiant Galaxy come alive. Philip kindly made changes we needed to his latest version of BGT available at Blastbay Studio.

Dennis "Dentin" Towne, creator of the mud Alter Aeon, for his advice and coding expertise. A lot of this would have looked quite different without his input. He also kindly put GuideDog games at our disposal.

Mike Tiboda from 2MB Solutions for his help with the sounds for Yellowbonnet.

Last, but not least, we wish to thank our beta testers:

Our beta test team was asked to test on a very short schedule, and came through with flying colors. They survived the mysterious number 9 issue, the continuing attacks of not so domestic fauna, nonaccessibility of key menu items, frustration with the search function, and all the errors that coders are prone to. We are eternally grateful for your help and criticisms: Yellowbonnet is much better thanks to your help.

In addition, we'd like to thank the kind folks of the audiogames.net forums who gave us incredible feedback, both about the GuideDog Games purchasing experience and the game itself. This update would not be available without all of your input.