I built a text-based trivia game.
September 6, 2019 7:29 AM   Subscribe

I built a text-based trivia game.
Having taken an 18-month diploma in web programming and not wanting to lose the skills I learned, I decided to create a text-based trivia game on the web. It also somewhat harkens back to the text-based BBS games of yore, which I grew up on. This week, I launched River of Kurn in an alpha state. It's totally playable, though winning conditions haven't yet been implemented. I'd love it if you'd take a look. (Note: not particularly mobile friendly at the moment, but that's coming soon(tm).)

There are just over 1200 trivia questions so far, spanning only a few categories, so adding more questions is on the horizon as well. At least 100 more questions every two weeks is currently planned, as well as overall question review to see which questions might be too easy or too difficult. (I do realize that I could probably snag a bunch of questions from an open-source project or something, but I'd rather write them myself, as I'm a bit of a trivia nerd.)

Even more helpful would be to play for a few days in a row to help test out the automated maintenance routines and such, but even just completing the introductory phase would be lovely for me to compile more data.

Constructive feedback on this alpha version is absolutely welcome -- either on the linked forum, through the contact us form or here. (There's a list of known issues on the forum.)

Thank you so much! :)
Role: Programmer
posted by juliebug (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

This is pretty interesting
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:21 PM on September 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

It seems unnecessary to require a strong password for this...
posted by exceptinsects at 1:31 PM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

It seems unnecessary to require a strong password for this...

Anything built as a project for someone who is learning web programming should be built as closely as possible to the way a production application would be built. So, a real one might not work exactly like that, but I like the live strength checking, that's pretty neat compared to a lot of what I built at that stage of learning web development.

I haven't actually poked at it too much yet but I will try to remember to tonight.
posted by Sequence at 1:42 PM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seems like fun and it's nicely done, but in the first 10 questions I've hit 2 on Doctor Who (about which I know nothing but am happy to guess) and 2 about Ice Hockey (about which I know less than Doctor Who and wouldn't even be able to name a team).

Obviously I'm not expecting to get every question right, but if this uneven spread of topics repeats itself over the next few questions, I'm going to lose interest fairly fast. I will persevere though!
posted by jontyjago at 7:43 AM on September 10, 2019

So, I've started playing "The Green Game" -- I don't know what the difference between green and blue is, but I picked one at random. I read through the text, which I thought said I would be tested with three questions, but I answered five or so incredibly easy questions and then got hit with "In what year did Sophie B. Hawkins release her debut album, with her hit single Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover?" which is in a completely different realm from the other questions I was asked in terms of difficulty.

And now I'm stuck. I don't know the answer to that, and there doesn't seem to be a path for I don't know. (I tried typing "I don't know", that didn't change anything.) I tried going back to the main page (which, incidentally, did not seem to know I was already logged in until I hit log in again) and starting again, but after clicking through all the text bits again, I ended up back at the same question.

Am I supposed to google the trivia I don't know? Because that would be bad and wrong.

I found the trivia questions -- even that one which was very hard -- to be on the basic side. There's nothing in them that would allow you to think your way into the answer if you don't instantly know it when you read the question. I posted a thread recently with advice from some professional trivia writers on how to write good trivia questions, which might have some useful information no how to make the questions themselves more engaging.

I really like the idea of a trivia game, where answering trivia questions is part of how you advance through the game so I'm excited to see this improve from where it is.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:52 AM on September 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

I googled the Sophie B Hawkins question and went a little further in the game. Those questions are definitely too difficult about specific media properties to be used in a general interest application.

It would also be helpful if the game accepted more / fuzzier answers. I put LBJ for Lyndon Johnson and got it wrong, which is probably predictable, but I put Star Fleet Medical instead of Starfleet Medical and got that wrong, too. And then there were questions that required me to be able to spell alien names from Star Trek series, so that even where I knew the answer (Jadzia Dax) I didn't know how to spell it (I put Jadzeea, I think).

Now I've run out of energy and food, so I think maybe I've reached the unprogrammed end states.

I realize I sound super critical here, and I don't mean to be. I am just excited about the idea, and wish it was more complete and ready to go.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:11 AM on September 13, 2019

FWIW I typed "I don't know" and that worked to get me past the question. I think there ought to be a clear "I don't know/skip this question" button, since testing seems to be focused on determining what questions work and what questions don't work.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:43 PM on September 13, 2019

you can just leave it blank and press enter to skip the question.
posted by exceptinsects at 1:11 PM on September 16, 2019

I'm in the green game with zero energy, fish, and food, and I seem to be stuck in a loop of going to sleep and then being kicked to the main menu. I think I'll give the blue game a shot--and, despite trying to avoid this same fate, it happened again.
posted by box at 9:41 AM on September 21, 2019

I think you get more energy as time passes in the real world.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:03 AM on September 22, 2019

Hey folks,

Wow, sorry for not checking in here more often! Thanks so much for your feedback!

Regarding passwords, I definitely wanted good passwords because that's what I was taught. Whether it's a silly little trivia game or your Metafilter account shouldn't really matter, IMHO. It'll accept a "good" password for strength, so it doesn't need a super strong one, but abc123 is just not going to cut it. :)

jontyjago - I do have a limited number of categories at this time, though as I add more categories, I'll be able to add in a check to not ask a question from the same category back to back (or within the last, say, five questions). If it helps, I know absolutely nothing about Doctor Who, having gotten some questions from a friend of mine. ;)

jacquilynne - Thanks so much for trying things out and for the feedback! No, you're not supposed to have to google anything and I agree that the fifth question is out of place. It's a throwback to one of the old BBS era games that inspired this whole project, so I'll find a better place for that.

Also, it was initially three questions, not five, so thanks for pointing that out! Fixing that for the next release. :)

Thanks also for the link to your trivia-writing thread! I'll certainly take a look at it.

Regarding the functionality in terms of energy, you do regenerate energy overnight. Overnight is currently during maintenance which happens at midnight eastern. (This will change to 3am ET when the time change happens.) During maintenance, a lot of checks are performed to see how much energy you should be granted for the next game day. :)

Mr.Encyclopedia & exceptinsects - For the intro questions, they work differently than the questions once you're in the actual game. Not knowing a question in the real game portion means that you simply don't advance despite expending energy. In the intro, there's no energy being expended and you're not going anywhere. Instead, you're trying to convince the water nymphs you're worthy of going on the journey. These are supposed to be more general-knowledge questions and yes, that fifth question is out of place.

I do have some ideas as to skipping questions without penalty going forward, once you're in the actual game, but that's something that I'll roll out later on.

box - Yep, you'll run out of energy at some point during the day, that's intended. If you come back the next day, you'll see that you have a new value for energy, based on your actions from the day before. :)


Thanks again to everyone who's tested this out so far! It's really appreciated. :)
posted by juliebug at 4:20 PM on October 5, 2019

I think this is my favourite trivia question ever:

What is the capital of Vatican City?
posted by jacquilynne at 6:58 AM on October 24, 2019

Just wanted to note that the most commonly used page is 'paddle', so that is what comes up when I type "river" in my browser location bar, which is how I usually get to sites I use over and over again. But if I actually select the 'paddle' page, the site fails quite inelegantly. Rather than sending me to a game or even a 404 page, I just get some scripting errors.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:14 PM on November 18, 2019

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