Sea of Thieves | Motor Accessibility Video

Show Transcript

In this video we’re going to look at some of the settings available in the menus of Sea of Thieves, which can be used to improve the motor accessibility for some players.

Sea of Thieves is a first-person adventure game where you can sail the seas and play as a pirate, either solo or part of a multiplayer crew.

It was first released on Xbox in 2018 by the developers, RARE. They have added additional accessibility settings in updates following the initial release.

These features can be found in the settings menu of the newly released PlayStation 5 version of the game.

They are also available in the current versions of the Xbox and Microsoft Windows version of the game.

We will be focussing on using a controller on PlayStation 5 – either the DualSense, the PlayStation 5 Access controller or an alternative controller.

However, the same settings can be found in the game on Xbox and Windows and the controls that we mention will use the equivalent controls on those platforms.

Keyboard and Mouse Menu

Playing on PlayStation 5, Xbox or Windows, you have the option of playing with a controller or mouse and keyboard.

You could also use both simultaneously.

The input prompts will change back and forth between controller and mouse and keyboard, depending on the last input used.

At the top of the Settings menu, is a list of the Keyboard and Mouse inputs, which are organised by the contextual inputs in the game.

Such as when in a rowboat or using a harpoon.

The different in-game actions can be remapped on mouse and keyboard by selecting the action and then selecting the input you’d like to use.

Controller Menu

Below the Keyboard & Mouse inputs in the Settings menu, are the Controller inputs.

You can view the default controls for each action in the game, which, again, are organised by context.

Here, you can also remap each action to another face button, D-Pad input, bumper or trigger.

However, you cannot map an action to a stick direction, Touchpad button, Touchpad swipe, Options or Share.

This enables you to use inputs that are easier to access more often and use those that are more difficult, less often.

As the actions are remappable by context, you can use the same input for different actions within different contexts.

However, this is only if the actions are mutually exclusive and you can never use those actions at the same time.

Being able to remap them by context means that, potentially, you could reduce the overall number of buttons required.

This can be done by remapping a smaller number of inputs to control more actions within different contexts of the game.

For example, if pressing the Left and Right Trigger repeatedly when rowing is difficult, it could be remapped to two other buttons that are not used within this context or any other similar context.

So, here, we’ve remapped the Cross and Square button to act as the left and right oar when rowing.

Now, we no longer need to use the triggers to row.

You could also remove the use of the Right Trigger entirely, by changing the other actions mapped to this.

For instance, when using a Harpoon or for Primary Use of items in your inventory.

In these cases, since remapping to Right Stick Click would not affect other actions.

Auto Move

There is an unmapped optional action when using a controller for ‘Auto Move’.

The action can be mapped to an available button or trigger input on the controller.

When the input is used, you will move forwards. This is until the input is pressed again or the ‘move backwards’ input is momentarily used.

This removes the need to hold an input for the duration of walking, such as holding the Left Stick Up by default.

For instance, here, we have mapped the input to Up on the D-Pad, so you shall continue walking until we press Up on the D-Pad again.

If you wanted to use an accessibility switch for the input you’ve chosen, remap one of the 3.5mm ports on the Access controller, to the input you’ve chosen in the game.

For example, remapping Up on the D-Pad using an accessibility switch to plug that in as D-Pad up for Auto Move in the game.

Radial Menus

There is also an unbound action that can be used to navigate the Radial menu using a single input by cycling through either clockwise or anti-clockwise.

This can be used instead of the default stick input.

So, for example, if we mapped Clockwise to D-Pad Up in the Radial menu, D-Pad Up would navigate through the options, rather than using the default Stick option.

Input Menu

In the input menu, you can find options to invert the X and Y axis’, on both controller and the mouse.

You can also adjust the mouse sensitivity and controller sensitivity.

The sensitivity options are divided by context, which means that you can change the sensitivity options depending on whether you are using a Blunderbuss or a Flintlock weapon.

In this menu, you can also adjust the response curve and the deadzones when using a joystick on a controller.

Below these are some more stick options under the ‘Sticks’ sub-category.

Stick Bindings

The ‘Stick Bindings’ option is ‘Off’ by default which means that the Left Stick moves the character and Right Stick is used to look and aim.

There is a setting to ‘Swap Sticks’, which means that the Right Stick will be used to move the character and the Left Stick will then be used to look and aim.

You can also choose to use just one stick, rather than two. This will combine both movement and turning to one joystick.

For example, with this setting set to ‘Use Left Stick Only’, moving the Left Stick Up and Down will move the character forwards and backwards.

However, pushing Left or Right will turn the character rather than strafe.

However, you can also choose to ‘Use Right Stick Only’ if you wish to use the Right Stick instead.

As an example, you could use the single stick on the PlayStation 5 Access controller and have that remapped for both movement and looking.

Two Access controllers can be paired to give you an extra joystick and additional buttons.

You can also connect compatible joysticks and switches into the switch ports on the Access controller.

A DualSense can be paired alongside an Access controller to enable two people or the same person to use both controllers at the same time, as both player one.

Single Stick Camera Mode

When in use, the ‘Single Stick Camera Mode’ option means that when the assigned input is used, you can freely look up, down, left and right, using the single stick.

This is useful when you need to look or aim beyond your usual field of view. The default input for this is usually the Left Trigger.

This setting is ‘Hold’ by default. So, here, we are using the ‘Use Left Stick Only’ stick binding to move forward, backwards, left and right.

However, when I hold Left Trigger, I am able to use that same stick to look in all directions.

When I have a weapon in my hands, I’ll be able to freely aim in all directions, too.

When using the single stick mode, the character will stop moving when free-looking and aiming.

You can also choose to ‘Toggle’ this input rather than ‘Hold’

In this case, you’d press the Left Trigger once to enter ‘Single Stick Camera Mode’ and then press the left trigger again to exit.

Enable Aim Assist

‘Enable Aim Assist’ is ‘On’ by default which makes it easier to hit targets when using a controller.

You can turn off or alter the strength of the different aspects of Aim Assist

Or, you can turn off Aim Assist entirely.

Gameplay Menu

Reduce Hold to Interact

By default, certain actions, such as lowering the anchor, repairing the hull, or loading a cannon, require the player to press an input for a duration until the action is complete.

This duration can last between half a second and three seconds, which for some players, might be difficult to sustain.

Turning the ‘Reduce Hold to Interact’ setting ‘On’ allows players to complete these actions with only an initial press of the input.

So, using this setting here to load a cannon, we briefly press the Triangle input once, and do not need to hold the input whilst the animation completes.

Again, here we are repairing the hull by holding a plank in front of the hole and then pressing Right Trigger to start repairing it.

We then wait for the action to complete before moving on to fix the next one.

Reduce Hold to Use Item

Some actions require a long continuous hold for various amounts of time, depending on the context.

When turned ‘On’, the ‘Reduce Hold to Use Item’ setting enables players to toggle through item actions with a press, rather than a hold.

To stop the action, the player will press the input again.

For example, this applies to aiming a weapon, playing an instrument or raising a lantern.

Here, we press the Right Trigger input once to raise the telescope to our eye and, when we are done, we press the Right Trigger input again to lower.

Auto Centre Camera

The ‘Auto Centre Camera’ option automatically returns the camera to the horizon after a specified delay.

This reduces the amount that the player needs to manually move the camera with their assigned input.

This can reduce the use of a second stick or how much input is required when using a single stick option.

When ‘On’, it will auto centre the camera to the horizon after an adjustable set of time.

By default, this is 3.0 seconds.

You can change this with the ‘Auto Centre Delay’ slider.

Using the ‘Auto Centre Speed’ option, you can adjust the speed at which the camera auto centres.

Automatically Float in Water

Under the ‘Miscellaneous’ sub-category, you can turn on the setting to ‘Automatically float in water’. This compliments the single stick option.

Using this means that when you are in the water, you automatically float on the surface.

This means that you will not need to use look up or down actions to enable you to swim back to the surface.

However, when using this option, you will not be able to swim under the surface of the water.

HUD Menu Toggle Radial Menus

With the ‘Toggle Radial Menus’ option ‘On’, players are able to press the Left Bumper to open the radial menu, rather than the default setting which is holding the input throughout the duration of the player choosing and selecting the item.

Pressing the input once more after highlighting it, will confirm the selection and close the menu.

Sticky Radial Items

The ‘Sticky Radial Items’ option is ‘On’ by default.

This allows players to choose an item in the radial menu by pointing the stick in a certain direction.

They can release it before selecting an item, rather than holding it in that direction until they release the Left Bumper input.

If you select to turn this option ‘Off’, you will need to hold the stick in the direction of the item until you use Left Bumper to confirm the selection.

Fixed Position for Interact Prompts

This means you do not need to look directly at the interactable item to see what prompts are required for it.

These prompts appear onscreen to tell the player what input is required to interact with certain objects.

For example, loading a cannon or raising the anchor.

The button prompt for the interaction will appear in a central viewpoint, when the player is within reach of using the item.

To try out any of the settings we have shown, you can use any of the game modes.

It may be that setting sail in ‘Safer Seas’ gives you more time and freedom to try these settings.

This is because there are no players, outside the players invited on your own ship.

I hope this video has been useful in introducing the some of the options and settings in Sea of Thieves, which may improve motor accessibility for some players.

For more information on features like these in other games, or alternative controllers, please see SpecialEffect’s GameAccess site.

For game developers interested in more examples of how developers have improved the motor accessibility of their games, [the] SpecialEffect DevKit is our free developer resource.

Over seven main topics, the DevKit covers many of the motor accessibility features we look for when looking at how accessible a game may be for some players.

For instance, the ‘Reduce Hold to Interact’ option in Sea of Thieves can be found in module 3.4, which is under the Input Interactions topic, alongside other examples of how developers have overcome the need for ‘Set Duration Holds ‘in games.

The ‘Auto Centre Camera’ option in Sea of Thieves can be found in module 7.4 under the Simplification topic of the DevKit, alongside other examples of how developers have used ‘Automatic Analog Actions’ to improve the accessibility of their games.

To explore the SpecialEffect DevKit yourself, please visit specialeffectdevkit.info

In this video SpecialEffect OT, Nomi, takes a look at the settings found within each menu in Sea of Thieves [PEGI 12], that could be used to improve the motor accessibility of the game for some players.

Sea of Thieves is a first-person adventure game in which players sail the seas as pirates, playing either solo or as part of a multiplayer crew. It was first released on Xbox in 2018 and the developers, RARE, have added additional accessibility features in updates to the game following its initial release.

These features can be found in the settings menus in the newly released PlayStation 5 version of the game, as well as the current versions of the game on Xbox One, Xbox Series consoles and Microsoft Windows.

In the video, we focus on playing using a game controller on PlayStation 5, whether using a standard DualSense controller, a PlayStation 5 Access controller or an alternative controller. However, the same settings can be found in the same menus on the other platforms it is available on, and the controls we mention will be the equivalent inputs on the controllers used on these platforms, too.

Timestamps:

0:00 | Introduction

0:59 | Keyboard and Mouse Menu

1:43 | Controller Menu
             Auto Move (3:27)
             Radial Menus (4:29)

4:57 | Input Menu
             Sensitivity, Deadzones etc (5:00)
             Stick Bindings incl. Left/Right Stick Only Options (5:37)
             Single Stick Camera Mode (6:55)
             Enable Aim Assist (7:58)

8:18 | Gameplay Menu
             Reduce Hold to Interact (8:20)
             Auto Centre Camera (9:48)
             Automatically Float in Water (10:51)

11:16 | HUD Menu
              Toggle Radial Menus (11:19)
              Sticky Radial Items (11:43)
              Fixed Position for Interact Prompts (12:20)

12:48 | Safer Seas

13:06 | Outro

13:23 | SpecialEffect DevKit (Game Developer Resource)

The information in this video is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publishing (April 2024).


Developer Resource:

SpecialEffect DevKit logo

For more video examples of how developers have improved the motor accessibility of their games, please visit https://specialeffectdevkit.info/

Over seven main topics, the DevKit covers many of the motor accessibility options we look for when assessing how accessible a game might be to some players. 

For instance, the ‘Reduce Hold to Interact’ option in Sea of Thieves can be found in module 3.4, which is under the Input Interactions topic, alongside other examples of how developers have overcome the need for ‘Set Duration Holds’ in games. 

The ‘Auto Centre Camera’ option in Sea of Thieves can be found in module 7.4 under the Simplification topic of the DevKit, alongside other example of how developers have used ‘Automatic Analog Actions’ to improve the accessibility of their games. 

To explore the SpecialEffect DevKit yourself, please visit specialeffectdevkit.info 


Video by Tom Williams

Music credits: Skygaze: Healthy Noise, Dougy: Trail Off, Shuhandz: Deliverance and Lalinea: Harpstrings and Chill Gymnopédie No.1