What if somebody combined one of those typing tutor programs you used back in school with Guitar Hero? Luckily developers Open Steno Project and For All To Play are here to answer that very, very specific question. They’re also here to remind us that Crowd Supply still exists as well.
Steno Arcade is a game about teaching you how to type, specifically on a stenography machine. It’s composed of four arcade games, one of which is Steno Hero, which is already available on Steam. It’s free to play, meaning free to download and play, not the modern sense of it being full of microtransactions. It’s also open source, meaning if you’ve got the know-how you’re free to edit the game to your heart’s content.
Steno Hero is the first of the four games on offer, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a musical game where you have to type out the lyrics as they come up in the song. Now obviously, this being a crowdfunded indie game, there aren’t any big name songs or artists here. If you show up expecting Baby Metal and Chrvches then you’re going to be disappointed.
Instead, you’re getting four musicians: Johnathan Coulton, Dan O’Connor, Josh Woodward, and Hungry Lucy. All that’s available currently though is Johnathan Coulton. I had a quick go of it, and without turning this article into a review, I found it to be much more difficult than I expected. It’s definitely something intended for someone who’s already good at typing and wants to improve, and can handle the stress.
The other games will be aimed more at beginners and intermediate typists and stenographers. What are those other games? Your guess is as good as mine, because only Steno Hero is even mentioned. There’s currently no word on whether or not the developers are planning on revealing the others as the campaign goes on, or if those games even exist yet because so much emphasis is placed on Steno Hero.
It’s a lot to ask of potential backers to only show ¼ of a game, especially at these backer tiers. The tiers jump from $5 straight to $35, then again from $55 all the way to $250, especially since that $250 tier only gets your likeness in the game. Even that’s not very enticing because of the heavily minimalized 8-bit graphics.
What is more enticing though is that there’ll be a screen reader option for the blind. However the developers recommend you have a stenography machine to play the game – as it is a stenography tutor before a typing one. You can play with a keyboard, but it seems only QWERTY keyboards are compatible.
It’s hard to judge the quality of Steno Arcade because there isn’t enough on offer. Again, only ¼ of the game is currently being shown and the other ¾ isn’t even mentioned. Judging by the wording in the pitch video, it sounds like each game is being developed one at a time with Steno Hero being the first (odd considering it’s also the hardest of the four), and that the other three just don’t exist yet. That’s all well and good, that’s what the crowdfunding is for, but backers need to be informed what to expect from those other games. We need to hear concepts, tell us your plans, share some concept art, give us a release schedule, anything other than completely ignoring those other games is fine. Yet that’s exactly what happened.
Maybe what you get from Steno Hero will be enough. It’s certainly seems to be of a high quality, but that’s not much of an indication of how good the other three will be. It’s certainly not having any trouble finding an audience. Steno Arcade has already raised $3,470 of its $7,500 goal and there’s still over a month to go.
If Open Steno Project or For All To Play show any of the remaining games, of if any new songs are added to Steno Hero we’ll be sure to let you know. Until then I’m going to go listen to Babymetal unironically.