Xbox LIVE Indie Games
Sort Discussions: Previous Discussion Next Discussion
Page 1 of 1 (7 posts)

Xact audio tool(s)

Last post 8/31/2008 5:01 PM by CDarklock. 6 replies.
  • 3/19/2008 2:28 PM

    Xact audio tool(s)

    Hi, I am blind and play audio games that other blind people create. For those who don't know what blind is, it is when your eyes do not work and you have no sight and you cannot read print. Blind people either use computers with synthetic speech running windows xp, vista, mac, linux, and or use braille displays and speech together. Ok now to my question. Myself, and my friend Thomas Ward tward at sign usagames dot us and my email which is jkenn337 at sign gmail dot com... I am spelling the emails out that way they get posted to the forum. Ok the XNA game studio is accessible to us using jaws from freedom scientific and window-eyes from gwmicro . Just google those companies and you will come up with their websites. Ok here's the problem to all you developers out there. the Xact audio tools are not accessible. We tried or Thomas tried using the set file creation and the powerful c++ like jaws scripting language to customise the controls in the xact audio tools that do not speak. But so far we had no luck. or he had no luck. He tried reclassing controls in the screen readers, I didn't try that yet. But he had no luck. Can you please make the xact audio tools accessible to screen readers? What you need to do is either make the controls standard microsoft controls, or you need to write code so the controls can expose themselves through Microsoft active accessibility and I-accessible2. Then the screen reader will be able to recognise them. Please email myself or thomas or both of us on this topic. I look forward to hearing from one of the developers out there and I hope this forum can be googled so the rest of the world knows that blind people want to play games as well. I look forward to your replies.


    Josh Kennedy


    Information on current xact audio accessibility has been provided by thomas Ward. Also Thomas informed me that in XNA game studio you need to put all of your .wav files and sounds into a sound bank using xact audio which we currently cannot use. Please somehow expose this information so screen readers can recognise the controls.

  • 3/19/2008 3:48 PM In reply to

    Re: Xact audio tool(s)

    Hi Josh, I'm sorry to hear you are having trouble using the XACT tool.

    What might be a better solution for you is to use the new SoundEffect and Song API that we are adding for our v3 release. This is not based on the XACT tool, so you can just add .wav, .mp3, or .wma files directly to Visual Studio, then load and play them from your C# game code.

    This API will be officially shipping in v3 (available this fall) but if you want to experiment with it before then, a subset of the new functionality will be included in our Zune CTP release (precise date tbd: you can watch the team blog on for the announcement when this is available).
  • 8/30/2008 6:12 PM In reply to

    Re: Xact audio tool(s)




    I own a games company BSC Games and create audio games for the blind. I am trying v3 of XNA studio to see if it is a viable development tool for my company. I came across this post googeling and wanted to offer some very easy suggestions for increasing accessibility in the XACT tool to make it useful for me and other audio game developers. They would not take allot of time to put in place.


    One thing that would be helpful is being able to right click a wav file in the wav  bank and selecting "add to sound bank". The sound bank option could have a sub menu listing all the sound banks we currently have - where we want to place the wav file. This way we'd not have to use the mouse to drag/drop wavs from the wav bank to the sound bank. You could also add this to the wav bank menu item on the menu bar.


    Three other keystrokes would be helpful: ctrl+b moves focus to the sound bank form, ctrl+w moves focus to the wav bank form, and ctrl+l moves to the main tree control for selecting items - wav bank, sound bank, and the other main items in the tree. I.E sort of like solution explorer.


    Also having the ability to tab through all controls on any form which it looks like is in place in v3 but am not sure if there are items I am not able to tab onto. If you could get these few items in version 3 we should be able to use the xact tool perfectly fine.


    A blissful feature would be to have the ability to use copy/paste commands in the list boxes between the wav bank and sound bank forms. That is, if I'm on the wav list in my wav bank, for example on gun.wav, I can press ctrl+c while on the gun.wav item in the list and then press, for example, ctrl+b to jump to the sound bank form and tab to the list box of sounds there and press ctrl+v to paste in the sound from the sound bank. This would give us an accessible way of drag/dropping wav files from the wav bank to the sound bank.


    Also, being able to use ctrl+a to select all wav files in the list in the wav bank and then going to the sound bank and pressing ctrl+v to paste them all over would be helpful too. I noticed there is a select all option in the wav bank list of wav files already so just adding ctrl+v to the sound bank list is all that is necessary.


    I must admit, I am MCAD and program professionally as a MS .net developer. I would think that these feature requests could be put in place pretty easily. May I ask that you please do this for us blind game developers so we can efficiently use the XNA studio as a viable dev platform?


    So to recap, the few features that we'd need to increase accessibility are:


    1. r-c wav file in wav bank list with sub menu item sound bank listing all sound banks we want to send the wav file to

    2. ctrl+b - move focus to the sound bank form

    3. ctrl+w move focus to the wav bank form

    4. ctrl+l move focus to main tree (solution explorer)

    5. ability to tab through all controls on any form in the tool

    6. ability to ctrl+c/or ctrl+a the list of wav files in wav bank and then ctrl+v the sounds into the sound bank list of sounds



    points 2 through 5 would take me roughly 15 minutes to put in place.


    point 1 would take me 30 minutes.


    point 6 would take me 30 minutes.


    So these  enhancements would take me roughly 1:15 to 1:30 to put in place as a .net programmer. Point 1 could be completely skipped if we had copy/paste keystrokes from the wav bank to the sound bank.



    Hopefully you guys can please do this for us so we can use the tool.



    Thanks if you can help! 

  • 8/31/2008 3:51 AM In reply to

    Re: Xact audio tool(s)

    Have you tried editing the XAP project file directly in Visual Studio? I'm not sure whether that's documented or supported, but the format is pretty straightforward.

    The XACT interface is not just a pain to use for the visually impaired, it's virtually impossible. There are many activities that simply cannot be done without drag and drop - while I can create a new sound bank, create a new sound in it, insert a new track for that sound, and create the "Play Wave" event entirely from the keyboard... there is simply no way to specify what wave file should be played. Likewise, while I can create a new cue from the keyboard, there's no way to put anything into that cue.

    However! If I open the XAP file directly and search for the new sound I've created, I can add the "Wave Entry" block by hand; then I can do likewise with the "Sound Entry" block for the cue. The resulting XAP project file builds perfectly working XNA audio files that work just like XACT-created projects. This may be a good near-term solution for you in the absence of XACT interface changes.

    As an aside, I'm prototyping a game for people with sensory impairments - blind, deaf, and autistic spectrum disorders - and would very much like it if you could shoot me an email at so we can talk shop.

  • 8/31/2008 11:48 AM In reply to

    Re: Xact audio tool(s)

    Thanks CDarklock for the post. does the XAP project file let you adjust all properties of sounds as well such as 3d positioning and 3d associated parameters? I.E all interface features/options are persisted to the project file? If it does, then this may be a viable option to use. Maybe if I could get my hands on a XAP project file from someone on the boards here that has all interface supported features illistrated in it. I'd need to see all supported interface features outlined in the project file so I could study it and create my own in vs 2008 or even notepad for that matter. I could then use it to construct my own xact project files. If anyone has a pretty involved/fully completedXAP file using v3 of the xact tool in vs 2008 I'd love to have the oppertunity to look at it and study it. Can you please .zip it and email it to me at Also, CDarklock - sure I'll sen you an email and we can talk shop *grin*. Thanks to anyone who can help!
  • 8/31/2008 1:00 PM In reply to

    Re: Xact audio tool(s)

    all, as a way to raise better awareness of accessibility issues in xact, I have started a new post with a more meaningful subject line. Please consider posting any thoughts/ideas to this thread:

    thanks to everyone for any thoughts or help!

  • 8/31/2008 5:01 PM In reply to

    Re: Xact audio tool(s)

    does the XAP project file let you adjust all properties of sounds as well such as 3d positioning and 3d associated parameters? I.E all interface features/options are persisted to the project file?

    The XACT tool itself is only an interface for producing XAP files. Once the XAP file is produced, it contains all information necessary to construct the audio project.

    I'm not working in VS 2008 yet - waiting for the full XNA 3 release, because I'm targeting the XBox platform - but I can put one together for you in XACT 2. Would that help, at least? In XNA 3, you have the added Song and SoundEffect functionality that may be even easier for you to use.

Page 1 of 1 (7 posts) Previous Discussion Next Discussion