Terry Garrett is a 23 year old mechanical engineering student from Colorado Springs. He has beaten Abe’s Exoddus multiple times and can play through the game near-flawlessly. Why is that impressive? Well he did using only the game’s sound effects, the occasional tip from his brother and a unique trial and error method he honed to perfection. Terry Garrett is completely blind. Here he is in a past interview talking about his studies and aspirations to work for NASA.
Note: If you came here to see Terry’s gameplay footage, just skip to the bottom of this story…
Mr Garrett contacted Oddworld only a few months ago to tell us about his achievement, and we were so blown away, we asked him if he’d be kind enough to let us interview him, and feature his frankly incredible gameplay footage within.
1. Terry, can you please tell us about yourself? Age, profession, that sort of thing?
My name is Terry Garrett and I am currently 23-years-old. I was born in raised in Fort Lupton Colorado and currently live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
I attend the University of Colorado at Colorado springs where I am in the 2nd half of my fifth year of my mechanical engineering degree with a minor in Aerospace Engineering. With my degree I want to be a designer / integration / testing engineer within the mechanical field.
I don’t want to sit in front of a computer all day making cute pictures for design work, I mostly want to be in the shop, building, testing, making stuff happen and getting my hands dirty. I currently work at the University in a prototype shop called Mind Studios where we outsource to clients outside the university to build initial and proof of concept prototypes.
It has given me the experience an engineer needs including rapid prototyping, computer numerical control machining and computer programming/micro controller circuit development.
2. Any other things aside from games that particularly rock yer boat? Favorite bands? That sort of thing?
When I’m not playing games, I participate in Karate usually three times a week. I am currently a advanced adult brown belt in the Universal Kempo karate system. I am about 1.5 years away from testing for my student black belt.
I also enjoy playing a little guitar (nothing special) collecting swords (and yes I do own a master sword ). Also before my body starting hurting to much I did advanced workout programs including P90X and Insanity both from Beachbody.com. I still workout, but not as hard as I use too.
3. What compelled you to try the Abe games out?
My brother got Abe’s Oddysee when it first came out for the PC, and when I heard the talking "hello, follow me" I got interested. At that time I had just become blind and didn’t have the developed hearing I use for game play I do now.
He had me sit in front and try and figure it out, but it was a no mans land to me. All I could hear was his steps and no other clues, even though there was some at that time, I just didn’t know what to do.
It wasn’t until my brother got Abe’s Exoddus for the PlayStation that I really sat down and tried to figure it out. By that time I had a better idea what side scrolling and the navigation of the game meant so I was able actually to progress through the game.
4. What games do you typically enjoy?
A game where I shoot you before you shoot me doesn’t interest me at all. It has to have a time line, and some hard actual puzzles to solve (require some actual intelligence to pass). Such games other than Abe’s Oddysee and Abe’s Exoddus that fall into this category are such games as Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Metal Gear Solid, and the Mario series, however, not all these games contain the sound design that enable me to play.
5. If comfortable, can you please describe the kind of blindness you currently have.
I started eye surgeries on my eyes at 3 months old and had several different eye problems that the doctors could not explained how they happened, but they did require me to have more and more surgeries to help me keep at least a little bit of my sight.
Finally my eyes had enough and I lost my left eye when I was 5 and my right eye when I was 10 to the build up of scar tissue. it was at first hard to deal with the fact that I was totally blind, but thanks to family and great friends, I got through the hard times, and am now honored to call myself a blind person.
I wouldn’t be doing some of the great things I can do today if it hadn’t been for my blindness. and one great thing about finally going blind was, no more eye doctor visits and eye surgeries, which is always a bonus.
6. What kind of process do you use to play games all the way through?
After finding out they are either 2D scrollers or 3D worlds I first have a sighted person describe the menus to me, so I can get the game started on my own. Then I go to the internet and seek a walkthrough (especially for 3d games). If it becomes to difficult, I will also watch walk through videos on youtube.
However, I did not need a walk through or video walk through for Abe. When I start playing I track sound landmarks (foot steps, objects, sound of running or pushing against walls). After this, I start exploring to see what does what. Always looking for land mark sounds to get my orientation down (sound of water, sound of footsteps changing from grass to dirt).
Finally, I have a great sense of the minds eye. Once I know what is in an area and how they are laid out, I can make a real time picture of what is going on in front of me just through sound. even in 3D. If this is hard to picture I know, I can’t explain it better than that.
7. What can you tell us about the process you used to solve Abe’s Oddysee? Your playthrough video is rather impressive.
First the movement of Abe himself is critical. He has a set number of footsteps per screen (running or walking). He makes a sound when he steps, sneaks, runs into a wall, pushes on a wall, hops, or pulls up on a ledge or just jumps up in place.
When I start each screen, it was to listen to see if I could hear a chat orb, a Slig, a mine, or a buddy to save, which always make noise. There are even sounds to tell you that there is a Slig in the next screen over, so not to just run in like an idiot.
When I need to find a lever or door to go in, or ledge to pull up on, I go step by step, pushing either control or ‘up’ in each spot until I find it. Then I remember the number of steps to find that ledge again. Sometimes, this is in the same room as Sligs or other things that kill me, which makes the save state so useful.
I can try the same screen as many times as I want until I get it, without having to do a whole section over again. Also, the sound is vital for other parts. chant orbs make a humming sound so I can tell they are there, the blinking bombs are better done by sound anyway so I am a master at those.
The creatures make noises, the spirit lock shakes and makes noise, and (most excellently) the motion detection beams even make noise when they touch you, which in a lot of games they don’t worry about, but I am so glad you guys did.
Finally; the music. I know when the music gets scary and ominous, something bad is near me. As soon as the big drum-beats and dramatic music start, I know I am either going to die, or I better get my butt moving before I die. Even when I am invisible, the music changes after I lose the invisibility so I know I am not invisible anymore.
8. In the video, you mention the red and green lights for the bombs. Do you get occasional help for particularly mysterious sections?
My brother told me that the bombs flash red and green, but you can totally do it by sound. It’s a low pitch for when it is red, and a high pitch for when it is green. Every bomb has a rhythm of beeps, and if you can pick up on it, you can press it as soon as you hear the high beep of the green.
9. How long roughly do you think it took you to play through Abe’s Exoddus the first time around?
With trying to figure out the puzzles and everything…I would say about a month (lol).
10. What kind of equipment do you have at home for your gamesplaying needs?
The biggest thing is good computer speakers. They not only have to produce good sound, but they must be in stereo. At home I have a chair where I duct-taped speakers to the arms exactly the same distance from me so they form a stereo sound environment while sitting in the chair.
This is vital for 3D games and makes listening for key sounds a lot easier. Also Abe’s Exoddus has an ‘anywhere’ save state built in, but for other games such as Zelda, I use an emulator (don’t worry I do own the original copy for the game cube) which basically acts exactly like the save state in Abe’s Exoddus. If only if more games had this feature…
I do require a pair of eyes every now and again to read text or to explain a cut-scene that might not make sense. Especially Zelda where the main character Link, does not talk at all. But Abe talks a lot.
Terry; you’re a legend.
For those who wish to gaze upon Terry’s warrior-like gameplay skills, take a peak at this 8 minute video…
At the end of it, I attempted to recreate the kind of experience Terry might have, and well… I just didn’t have the chops for it.
Terry; we don’t have a reward we deem amazing enough to give you, but we hope that goodies from Lorne, Sherry and the odd family will at least satiate you.