Saturday, August 09, 2008

Encarta: upgrade to get less?

Microsoft Encarta gives you less when you upgrade.
Year # articles # pictures # sound clips #animations
2005 68,000 25,000 2,800 400
2006 68,000 25,000 2,500 300
2007 66,000 26,000 3,000 300
2008 60,000 25,000 3,800 800 (incl. activities)
2009 62,000 ? ? ?

In using Student 2006 and Student 2009, less encyclopedic content is evident everywhere. The number of articles has been reduced by 6000. The number of media in articles were reduced. The video of the Return of Hong Kong was replaced by a picture, and the picture was listed under the video section. Excerpts from Chinese philosophical texts were removed. The number of virtual tours were reduced by half. The book summaries no longer have a list by title option. And the list can go on.

In the old days, when the storage capacity of the delivery media is a limiting factor (e.g. a CD holds 600M), some features are scaled back to make room for new features. An example was the removal of "collages" in Encarta. But in the modern era of high capacity DVDs, and when there is more than a gigabyte of space left on a DVD, it makes much less sense to reduce multimedia and article counts. In releases of Encarta from 2005 to 2008, there is always something that is reduced. Remaining space on the delivery medium certainly cannot be a factor.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

trivia game gameplay

Here are some thoughts about making a generic trivia game.

- individual or team play
- playable with 2 players?
- trivia as central feature or sidekick
- knowledge vs strategy vs luck to win

Here are some common rules in trivia games

- Each player answers a fixed number of questions. The most correct answers wins.
- Each player answers a question in turn. The first to reach the winning square or scoring configuration wins.
- Each players rolls and selects a category question to answer, until they get one wrong. Some squares give category credits. The first to get all category credits and answer final question wins.
- Each player in turn chooses an answer from multiple choice question. Other players predict and wager N squares. Right/wrong predictions moves wager player ahead/back N squares. First to get the last square wins.
- Each player in turn asks other_team/other_team_member/own_leader a question. A right answer moves other/other/own team ahead. A wrong answer moves own/own/other team ahead, and nothing/swap teams with member/become own team's leader. After a team reaches final square, leader who answers a question correctly wins.

Some of my ideas

- A player can answer up to three questions or until a wrong answer, which ever comes first. A correct answers moves ahead one square. Nothing happens for a wrong answer on Q1. On the optional Q2,Q3 right answer is +1, wrong answer puts you back to the original square (i.e. you lose all your gains). This also scales up to more than three questions.

- Some gameplay should involve special squares on the board.

- Instead of categories, have six classes of cards. Move around an interesting board to land each of six special squares to earn token.
- Or have different Achievements to get, such as getting 2-in-a-row, open question and be minority who knows answer

Dark trivial forces rising

Dave and Devon discuss some recent observation in the ongoing battle to get good trivia games at thrift stores.

Devon: I don't see the "big corporate store" really as a friendly force based on some of our recent purchases.

Dave: I fully agree. They appear to have some system to price games based on condition, so that a poorer looking box of TP1 can go for $2 while a newer looking one will be $3. But that is definitely not applied consistently. We've seen and bought games with missing pieces that is going at the regular price.

Devon: And sometimes the missing parts are vital to play. For example, one game Outburst requires using a clear red filter to be able to see the answers. That piece was missing from the game, thus making gameplay impossible. That clearly should have been a criteria to classifiy the game as broken.

Dave: We also seen a set of pentominoes with a piece missing, going for regular price. I feel sorry for whoever bought that thinking it might be complete.

Devon: Yet our competitors doesn't seem rattled by this. They've been on a frenzy lately.

Dave: They picked up all three of the generation TP's (The 1980's, Pop Culture, and DVD edition), all three of the TP1's, Simpons Battle of the Sexes and both Outburst Jr's within a few days.

Devon: Either there are many people with a sudden interest in trivia games, or someone is flipping these for a profit.

Dave: If it is a profit-monger, why didn't they get the SNL and Cheers trivia games as well? Or first getting the TP Millennium edition for $10. Or not getting the other games such as IQ 2000 or Who wants to be a millionaires?

Devon: This pattern of contradictions shows the sign of multiple hunters at work, each with their own agenda.

Dave: A greedy source and multiple rivals... this might be happening everywhere. Game makers should be paying attention.