Tag Archives: Interrupting Cow Trivia

A Cure for Fat Fingers

Interrupting Cow Trivia, a fun new trivia game that you can play online with your friends, is now in open public beta. Based on your feedback from our first MULTIPLAYER TEST-A-THONS last week, we’ve made some very big changes to the way you play the game.

Here’s the feedback we keyed in on, based on what you wrote on our survey:

  • The game is too punishing. It stinks to type in the correct answer milliseconds too slowly. (one player described this as suffering a “headshot” the moment he entered the game. Well-put!)
  • Most 10-player games ended with 3 players on the scoreboard, and everyone else with zero points. That’s no fun!
  • You should be able to accomplish something in the game even if you’re not the fastest typist.

Cow hooves

Seriously – how am i supposed to type with THESE THINGS? (Photo used with permission of BarnP)

Ch-ch-changes

So since this is a fun game and not grade eight gym class, we took your suggestions and made some changes. Here are the Rules of Play for the next iteration of Interrupting Cow Trivia:

How to Play

  • You’ll see a hint and up to three clues fill the screen.
  • After the clues are finished, the letters in the answer start to fill in.
  • When you know the answer, type it into the blue box and press the ENTER key.

Answer Order

  • Everyone has a chance to answer. As your opponents answer, green checkmarks appear beside their player names.
  • When all players have answered, or the question times out, we’ll give the Streak to the player who answered first.
  • All players earn points according to how quickly they answered.

Scoring

  • All questions are worth 1000 points.
  • The longer the question stays on the screen, the fewer points it’s worth.
  • The first player to correctly answer a question gets the Streak – a multiplier that boosts a question’s point value.
  • The Streaker’s multiplier increases with every question he answers first.
  • Any player can break the Streak and become the Streaker by answering first.

BIG thanks to Squize at Gaming Your Way for specifically suggesting these changes, and to all our other testers who suggested similar tweaks. We’ll try these rules out in our next multiplayer test. If they’re great, we’ll keep ‘em! If they suck, we’ll chuck ‘em!

Everybody Wins!

Everybody Wins!

Er … that should say “gamers”, not “children”. Sorry.

Our next scheduled multiplayer beta test, “Everybody Wins!”, is on Thursday January 14 2010. We’ll do two tests:

  • Everybody Wins! at 4:00 PM EST
  • Everybody Wins! at 8:00 PM EST

If you’ve played the game before, we’d LOVE to hear what you think of the new rules. If you have a friend who’s never played, here’s a fact: WE ADORE VIRGINS. Invite that special someone along to play with you.

The doors open at 4PM and 8PM sharp at InterruptingCowTrivia.com. See you in the game!

Moo.


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What’s Wrong With This Picture?

PROTIP (and something i didn’t realize until now): soliciting directed feedback from people gives you far, FAR more useful advice than asking for any old feedback.

BAD:

Q: What do you think of my dress?

A: You should be wearing a pantsuit.
A: It doesn’t make your ass look as fat as that other dress.
A: Let’s talk about your shoes instead. They’re terrible.
A: Get an entirely different dress. That shade of blue makes me think of the Korean War.

GOOD:

Q: How would you tailor this dress to make it fit my body better?

A: i’d take it in at the waist slightly.
A: Needs to be tighter at the waist – perhaps lower the neckline.
A: I think it fits pretty well.
A: A bit loose around the middle. Maybe shorten the sleeves.

Ah, this – THIS feedback is the stuff of my dreams. i’ve had a rough road this week with catastrophically bad news at the office, and a steaming pile of terrible feedback from certain game developers who should know better (but of course i’m not talking about you, dear reader). No one was having fun in the game alone, so we rounded everyone up and scheduled two play times for Interrupting Cow Trivia. Everyone popped in, the test ran for an hour, and we locked up the game again. Then we asked players to fill out a short survey. The difference in the quality of feedback was like night and day.

Or rather, it was like the difference between getting shot in the gonads with a crossbow at night, and day.

Lobbying for Change

One mystery that remains to be solved is the feedback we’ve received about the game’s lobby. We may not have asked enough directed questions about this, but general consensus is that the lobby UI stinks. Without more pointed constructive criticism, i don’t know how to address this.

So let’s tackle it together! Here’s a shot of the Lobby that players saw in our recent playtests:

Interrupting Cow Trivia Lobby

Pretty UI, or wretched hive of scum and villainy?

Interrupting Cow Trivia Lobby Annotated

Here’s a list of the things you can do here:

  1. The “down” arrow next to “High Scores” expands that box. Player scores are listed there, along with your ranking (if you’re logged in).
  2. The blue arrows scroll the High Scores list.
  3. Filter the list by Friends, Foes, Members, Guests, etc. by using the drop-down.
  4. Click on any player name to see the Profile Pop-up (as long as the player is a member)
  5. Roll over the tables to see the table name and category.
  6. Click the “PLAY” button beneath any table to join a game.
  7. Click on a table to get the Table Details Pop-Up, which tells you who’s playing at the table and what the table settings are.
  8. Click to see a list of who’s online.
  9. Click to start your own table.
  10. Click to refresh the table list.
  11. The blue arrows scroll the table list.
  12. Click to return to the Game Options screen.

It Was Fine Until People Had to Use It

Here’s a summary of feedback:

  1. Many players suggested we build a High Scores feature. This, despite the “High Scores” label in a 22-point font at the top of the screen, with a sparkly pink udder crown next to it.
  2. Some players sat at this screen and waited, expecting something to happen. They did not know that action was required on their part to join a game.
  3. Some players did not recognize the large circles under the heading “Tables” as tables where games were taking place. The metaphor was, perhaps, unfamiliar.
  4. The three icons went unnoticed.
  5. A few players came to this screen in private beta when no one else was playing, and concluded that the game could not be played solo. They complained that they should be able to play by themselves. (i admit, this one mystified me … just join a table if you want to play. Doesn’t matter how many other players are online.)
  6. Generally, enough players came to this screen and were confused as to what they were supposed to do.

During the private beta, we thought the problem was that the screen contained too much text, so we tightened it up in a number of places, and changed some textual buttons to icons with text pop-ups to remove visual clutter. Here’s a before and after comparison:

Interrupting Cow Trivia Lobby Before and After

She’s lost 20 pounds on the ThatMakesMoreSense Diet!

We’re Giving Her All She’s Got, Cap’n

Apparently, based on our more helpful feedback in the multiplayer tests, we haven’t done enough. Can you help us play detective and figure out why this Lobby screen causes people so much grief, and make specific suggestions to improve it?

One idea we have already is to actually add text – a call to action that tells the player something like “CHOOSE A TABLE AND CLICK ‘PLAY’”. Something like that.

Idea #2: kill the “tables waiting” text, because it’s not that useful.
Idea #3: redesign the arrow buttons
Idea #4: Put the category in the middle of the table, instead of the word “waiting”. Perhaps players wait at this screen because they see the word “waiting” everywhere?

Is there anything we’re missing?

You Should See the Other Guy

To digress, it amazes me that we’ve had so many complaints about the lobby. For your amusement, please take a quick look at the game selection screens for these competing trivia products:

FunTrivia.com

ConQUIZtador

Chaos Trivia

Wizard Trivia

And before you ask, no – i didn’t go scouring the Internatz for the worst interfaces i could find. These games enjoy the top slots on a Google search for “multiplayer trivia”.

… but not for long. ;)

Moo.


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ICT MULTIPLAYER TEST-A-THONS

The wait is over! This Thursday, Interrupting Cow Trivia goes into open public beta. Open public means YOU, dear reader. You’ll finally be able to experience what a select few have only enjoyed in private, with the door locked and the blinds drawn.

And since the game is a thousand per cent more fun with other players, we’re scheduling two MULTIPLAYER PLAYTEST-A-THONS:

  • Thursday January 7th 4:00 PM EST
  • Thursday January 7th 8:00 PM EST

That’s tomorrow!! Unless you’re reading this at some point in the future, in which case, YOU MISSED IT! What’s the future like, space man? Don’t you wish they’d invent a time machine so that you can go back and play in one of the MULTIPLAYER PLAYTEST-A-THONS?? … What’s that? They already have?? Wel, then! See you tomorrow!

What’s New?

If you’ve been following our Designer Diary for Interrupting Cow Trivia, you know that we’ve lined up some amazing background artwork for the game. Tomorrow, you’ll see the full monty. The game is fully skinned with a fabulous 50′s look. There’s new content, new features, and a new cow. Here’s a run-down of what you’ll see at 4PM or 8PM tomorrow:

New Cow!

As endearingly brain-damaged as our old cow was, we’ve put her out to pasture. Our new cow has been specially formulated to appeal to Japanese pre-teen girls and gay men over 40, which we count as a win/win. Plus, she wears ROLLERSKATES!

New Interrupting Cow

New Trivia!

A number of testers have complained that our current content is too difficult. To these whiny bitches, we humbly recommend nutting up. There’s plenty of pasture in Farmville to let your brain slowly go to mush. To the rest of you smart cookies who were BORN to school sucka MCs at trivia, we offer these awesome new question packs:

  • Movies – Actors We give you the genre, year, and three actors. You tell us what movie they starred in.
  • TV – Actors Same deal as Movies, but the screen is smaller and the actors make less money and usually die tragically.
  • TV – Characters Given three character names, can you name the TV show they were in?
  • Music – Lyrics We’ll give you a band name and the lyrics to a famous song. What’s the song called?
  • Wordplay – Idioms This one sounds like it’s for nerds, but it’s fast and easy and super-fun. Finish the popular phrases:

    Too many cooks ***** *** *****.
    A stitch in time ***** ****.
    Crazy like * ***.
    Mad as * ******.
    Two heads *** ****** **** ***.

New Features!

Get a load of our lobby, where you can check out high scores and join games. You can create a custom table with the trivia YOU want to play. Your XP bar is now front and center, so you can keep a better eye on how you’re levelling. And, as before, you can click any player’s name to see his or her stats, and add that player to your Friends or Foes lists.

DID YOU TOTALLY KNOW? Your Friends and Foes lists persist across the Untold Entertainment message boards. HOTSAUCE!

Join the Herd. Follow the Cow.

We’ve created a special Twitter account for the game, and are working on some great Twitter features for you Twits to enjoy. Follow @ICTrivia for reminders about when the MULTIPLAYER TEST-A-THONS are starting, and the cow will keep you in the loop. and hook you up with the link.

See you all tomorrow at 4PM or 8PM EST!

Moo.


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ICT MOO-I

Now that the beautiful backgrounds are drawn and the launch features are almost complete for Interrupting Cow Trivia, we’re finally turning our attentions to the game’s visuals. If you played the ICT alpha, you would have found a fully-functional game with no graphics. This is the story of how we got from there to here, and the decisions that informed the look of the game.

A Different Kind of “M” for Mature

Through early play-testing, i realized that young people don’t like trivia. Trivia’s no fun when you don’t know any of the answers. And the younger you are, the less likely you are to know stuff. Based more on a hunch than actual market research, we decided that our target audience was this guy:

Cliff Clavin

Well y’see there Normy …

Cliff Clavin is male, middle-aged, a baby boomer, and thinks he knows a lot of stuff about stuff. Cliff is our power-user – the guy who’s going to discover Interrupting Cow Trivia and burn through all of the content in a day.

Here’s another type of customer we suspect will be interested in the game:

Pub

Mom and Dad’s money well-spent.

These are college-aged smarty-pantses who play weekly trivia at the pub, but can’t always afford the six-dollar beers and the time away from the dorm.

Design by Hunch

Put that all together, and we came up with the idea to stage Interrupting Cow Trivia at a restaurant, to re-create that social pub feel. Specifically, it’s a 50′s-style diner, in a nod to the baby boomers. And not a grungy, dilapidated diner like something out of Fallout or Bioshock. It’s a shiny, sparkly 50′s diner in its heyday. We hope that the theme will make older players feel welcomed and comfortable, while younger players will dig it as a retro curiosity.

So a 50′s-style diner needs a 50′s-style User Interface (UI … or “MOO-I”, as it says in the title of this post, because we’re under contract to include at least one awful cow pun in every ICT Designer Diary entry). We carefully studied menu designs from retro 50′s diners, and put this together in our first attempt:

Interrupting Cow Trivia Original UI

Bleh.

We actually started to build the game with this look – there are vestiges of it in the current alpha version. But after completing the painted backgrounds of the game’s diner, we realized that we needed to ratchet the visuals up a few notches. We took some cues from the A&W chain of retro burger joints, and various other sources. Here’s a taste of how it’s coming along:

Interrupting Cow Trivia updated UI

This has the right amount of “pop”, both visually and stylistically. Expect the beta version of ICT to be packed with fun, bubbly 50′s UI that’ll make players want to stay in the game longer, and will encourage players to buy an ICT Diners Club Card for some groovy perks.

Moo.


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First Look: The Interrupting Cow Trivia Diner

Last week, we unveiled the background artwork for Interrupting Cow Trivia, our fun online trivia game that you can play live with your friends. This was the first time we’d revealed the game’s retro 50′s diner theme.

This week, we’d like to show you another shot of the game. This is the background for the game selection screen, where you can choose to play a Multiplayer Game, Challenge a Friend, or tackle your awaiting Challenges. We pan down to this shot from the game’s logo, a big neon sign flickering against a starry backdrop.

Interrupting Cow Trivia Exterior Shot

Down in the old Texas town of El Paso …

The cool blue hue and lonely atmosphere of this shot deliberately juxtapose the warm, bright and busy interior of the diner. The party is clearly inside, after you click the “Multiplayer” button.

Next week, we’d like to show you the game’s 50′s-riffic user interface design, which you’ll definitely recognize if a) you’re over 60 yrs old or b) you’ve ever bought pants at Old Navy.

If you haven’t played Interrupting Cow Trivia lately – or ever! – be sure to give it a shot while we’re still in alpha. We’ll be rolling out advertising along with these newfangled graphics, so take a moment to enjoy the game for free without ads.

Moo.


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