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Jakareh

Online Multiplayer Real Time Trivia Game--Can You Help Out a Trivia Geek?

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Greetings, Let me confess right from the start that I am a bit, or perhaps even more than a bit, of a trivia geek. As such, since I first got on the 'Net back in 1995 I have been looking for cool trivia games to play, but much to my dismay I haven't been able to find any, or at least not any that didn't quickly go stale by incessantly using the same content (i.e. repeating the same questions over and over). Also, most everything that is out there, besides the problems of having stale content, is really amateurish (e.g. not real time and with an HTML form for an interface). Just check out what the first hit on Google for "trivia games" is and you'll see what I'm talking about. So, inspired by my desire to enjoy some good trivia, I myself set out to create an exciting game, or even family of games, and offer to all the millions out there who watch TV quiz shows and think, "I bet I could beat those chumps," a chance to prove their trivia mettle whenever they feel like it, perhaps winning some cool prizes (like iPhones, cruises, perhaps cash) while doing it. What I envision is something along the lines of an online Trivial Pursuit (though one where every player answers every question), with new multiplayer matches starting maybe every 20 minutes, eventually 24 hours a day. The problem has been that I don't know how to go about making my idea a reality. Assuming I do the work myself, I don't know what I need to learn. Gamedev.net advocates C/C++, but given that this would be an online only game and that trivia games are inherently simple compared to FPSs or RPGs, I question whether that's the right choice. Elsewhere Flash and a combination of PHP and AJAX have been suggested, but I am not sure about them either. Another question is whether the application should be A) an executable file, to be installed in the user's system, and that communicates with the server in order to pass questions and answers back and forth and to keep a synchronized time, since this will be a real-time game, or B) something that is strictly an online application, with no download required by the user. What is more secure and efficient, and what has greater capabilities? I'd be very grateful for advice from any knowledgeable person who is kind enough to give it.

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Original post by Jakareh
Also, most everything that is out there, besides the problems of having stale content, is really amateurish (e.g. not real time and with an HTML form for an interface). Just check out what the first hit on Google for "trivia games" is and you'll see what I'm talking about.

May I ask what you mean by real-time in this context? Aren't these type of games always turn based, almost by definition?
Quote:
What I envision is something along the lines of an online Trivial Pursuit (though one where every player answers every question), with new multiplayer matches starting maybe every 20 minutes, eventually 24 hours a day.

Like a match making lobby?
Quote:
Gamedev.net advocates C/C++

I don't represent the entire community, but I'd hope that GameDev doesn't recommend any technology in general, but rather advocates using the right tool for the job.
Quote:
Elsewhere Flash and a combination of PHP and AJAX have been suggested, but I am not sure about them either.

I don't know enough about the project and its requirements, but this sounds like a feasible choice. What are your objections?
Quote:
Another question is whether the application should be A) an executable file, to be installed in the user's system, and that communicates with the server in order to pass questions and answers back and forth and to keep a synchronized time, since this will be a real-time game, or B) something that is strictly an online application, with no download required by the user. What is more secure and efficient, and what has greater capabilities?

I assume by B you mean a web application?

I'd say that security or efficiency aren't strictly properties of technology or method of distribution, but rather the results of implementation. Both are things to keep in mind while designing and developing an application, regardless the chosen platform.

Option A might give you some more flexibility on the client side. You might have more access to the client's resources (hard disk, GPU, network), but it also comes with more responsibility. You will have to account for differences in system configuration and capabilities. Option B you are more limited and abstract view of the client, but might make development, distribution and maintenance (important in a games that heavily depend on fresh content ever so often) a bit easier.

I'd suggest to make a clear description of the game with all its requirements first. Then take a look at the financial and human resources you have at your disposal. Based on that, it will be easier to chose a technology that is most fitting.

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I like quiz4fun. You can go head to head against anyone you want, play in teams, play in a league and all kinds of stuff which I don't know of. Although I play in the earlier swedish version which has ~200000 questions vs. ~12500 in the english one and more features.

Which is important! For that reason I'd say browser-based is better because this kind of game critically depend on having lots of people playing. Therefore it's important to have a low barrier to entry. Like just coming across a website and let them anonymously log in using their facebook accounts. That's a low barrier to entry.

I'm also curious what you mean by realtime. As Wan said, Trivial Pursuit is quite turn-based.

EDIT: Just to clarify, low barrier to entry is important if you rely on your users to create the quizes, which is what quiz4fun does. Maybe you'll do it differently.

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Chat bots are a good example of real time trivia. Basically first person to type gets the point, if it times out depending on the bot it'll start to fill in the blanks or just go to the next question.

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Gamedev.net advocates C/C++

as the language used by the majority of programming teams in creating console and packaged-product games. Not for everything and everybody every time.
You have to use the language/environment suitable to your platform.

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Original post by Jakareh
Also, most everything that is out there, besides the problems of having stale content, is really amateurish (e.g. not real time and with an HTML form for an interface). Just check out what the first hit on Google for "trivia games" is and you'll see what I'm talking about.

May I ask what you mean by real-time in this context? Aren't these type of games always turn based, almost by definition?
Quote:
What I envision is something along the lines of an online Trivial Pursuit (though one where every player answers every question), with new multiplayer matches starting maybe every 20 minutes, eventually 24 hours a day.

Like a match making lobby?
Quote:
Gamedev.net advocates C/C++

I don't represent the entire community, but I'd hope that GameDev doesn't recommend any technology in general, but rather advocates using the right tool for the job.
Quote:
Elsewhere Flash and a combination of PHP and AJAX have been suggested, but I am not sure about them either.

I don't know enough about the project and its requirements, but this sounds like a feasible choice. What are your objections?
Quote:
Another question is whether the application should be A) an executable file, to be installed in the user's system, and that communicates with the server in order to pass questions and answers back and forth and to keep a synchronized time, since this will be a real-time game, or B) something that is strictly an online application, with no download required by the user. What is more secure and efficient, and what has greater capabilities?

I assume by B you mean a web application?

I'd say that security or efficiency aren't strictly properties of technology or method of distribution, but rather the results of implementation. Both are things to keep in mind while designing and developing an application, regardless the chosen platform.

Option A might give you some more flexibility on the client side. You might have more access to the client's resources (hard disk, GPU, network), but it also comes with more responsibility. You will have to account for differences in system configuration and capabilities. Option B you are more limited and abstract view of the client, but might make development, distribution and maintenance (important in a games that heavily depend on fresh content ever so often) a bit easier.

I'd suggest to make a clear description of the game with all its requirements first. Then take a look at the financial and human resources you have at your disposal. Based on that, it will be easier to chose a technology that is most fitting.


First of all, thank you for your response.

What I envision is something where once a question is presented, all the players will have the opportunity to respond within an allotted time (generally around 15 seconds). Sometimes faster responses will be rewarded with more points, at other times all correct responses within the time limit will receive the same number of points. So, in principle, the game will not be turn-based. I only mentioned Trivial Pursuit to indicate the level of complexity of the project and I should have explained that better.

At least initially, there would not be a match-making lobby because there would only be one match at any given time, but later that's a possibility, perhaps for premium subscribers or for games with a certain theme, e.g. World Cup, Super Bowl or the Oscars, or to allow levels of difficulty.

As far as GameDev.net recommending a particular technology, I didn't mean to imply there is any bias. It's just that I haven't been able to find a document that explains what tool might be best for different kinds of projects. As to Flash, PHP and AJAX, I don't have any objections. Rather, I'm unable to judge if they are indeed the right tool. Whether they are or not is exactly the advice I'm seeking; I'm concerned to throw myself into learning something, only to find out later that my idea can't be implemented using that technology, or that another technology offered a much easier way, with a less steep learning curve.

In choosing between options A or B mentioned above, I supposed B would be better as long as it is possible to implement the project strictly as server-side Web application.

The basic idea for the game consists of about 15 timed multiple-choice questions drawn from a database, with short advertisements inserted between the questions and longer ones between matches. The last question might allow the player to wager whatever amounts he or she desires. The players would have the option of registering, in which case they would choose a user ID, would appear in a rankings tables, could build a profile, and would be eligible for prizes. By the nature of the project, graphics would tend to be on the simple side, at least compared to any type of action game. I have a strong preference for including sound, in the form of sound effects and music, but that will not be a priority initially.

By the way, if I have confused anyone by using incorrect terminology, I apologize. I'm definitely in a learning process here.

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