Monthly Archives: February 2012

Get the latest version of Trivially… version 1.2!

The latest version of Trivially – v1.2 – is now available in the Apple App Store!

If you go to the App Store to check it out – and there’s really no reason you wouldn’t want to, frankly – this is what you’ll see listed there as new or changed with this release… with some added details:

  • “UI improvements: Decreased answer reveal time to 3 seconds and simpler help text”

With previous versions, after players had rung in with their guesses, the correct answer was shown for 5 seconds. We’ve heard from a number of folks that 3 seconds would do just fine, keeping the game moving along. Thanks for the feedback!

(Note: we’re also thinking about adding this option: as a question is displayed, the first player to ring in with the correct answer would win that round, unlike the current game play where all of the players with the correct answer are awarded a point… thoughts? Let us know what you think…)

  • “In-app purchase improvements: fixed problem with apparently-but-not-really disappearing purchases after app restart”
If you’ve ever written or used software before – and who hasn’t, really? – you know that sometimes, there are bugs, even inside modern trivia apps. In this case, as described in an earlier post, there was a situation where if you purchased one of our excellent trivia packs, it would appear that the purchase didn’t “stick” under certain circumstances. Of course, the purchased item was always available, but it appeared at times to not be there. We were able to reduce the possibility of this happening via a subsequent over-the-air instant trivia update, so that it affected fewer players. But with this version, 1.2, it’s been fixed for good. Please accept our apologies if you ran into this…
  • “Improved UI while a purchase is in progress”
More user feedback: if you made the excellent decision to buy one of our many trivia packs, thank you! But some folks felt that the UI was a little confusing: when you pressed the button to buy a trivia pack, all of the buy buttons dimmed, not just the one you were purchasing. As much as we’d like for you all to buy ALL of our excellent trivia packs, we don’t want to confuse you into thinking that that’s what you had done. We’d be happy if you bought them one pack at a time. Thanks for the feedback!
  • “Improvements to recovery after certain kinds of network problems during purchase”

Sometimes it seems that writing product software is all about handing the edge cases. And in this case, we found a few situations where the user experience, after certain kinds of network failures, wasn’t as good as we’d like it to be. We don’t want users to  worry about problems where, say, if you decide to purchase trivia pack (always an excellent move, by the way) and either the transaction with the Apple App Store, or the download of the content, fails for some reason. A modern connected app such as Trivially always has lots of code to deal with this situations, including things like asynchronous “watchdog” timers which fire in case network requests go unanswered.

As always: thanks for your support. Go check it out, have fun, and maybe even learn a thing or two!

Bloomberg post: CrowdGame, the iPad in a Post-PC future, and ex-Microsoft Evangelists

Take a moment to read a short post on Bloomberg’s new tech blog, reporting on a discussion CrowdGame’s Steve Cellini had with Dina Bass.
During the excellent discussion with Dina, we covered a lot of ground. Dina’s main interest was in trying to connect any dots that would help explain why developers – especially former developer advocates from Microsoft – are so strongly attracted to Apple’s mobile platform. There are a lot of reasons for this, which have been more than adequately covered elsewhere.
In this post, however, I’d like to muse about on the uniqueness of the iPad in particular and why CrowdGame found themselves building apps for the iPad.
An important aspect of the realization process for CrowdGame has been just how capable and powerful the iPad is. For example: we’ve run tests with a modified version of CrowdGame Trivially (in a special, soundproofed room, with ambulances standing by) where 50 simulated users connect to the app and play the game, with pretty good response times… on a 1st gen (single core) iPad.
Combine that kind of cpu horsepower with pretty good graphics, a reasonably-sized screen, and excellent battery life and connectivity options, and it’s easy to see why the iPad is exhibit #1 for the “post PC” era – an alternative to the PC that no one realized they even needed.
Add in a huge user base that’s been educated on how to learn about and purchase apps and related content.
To keep things interesting, provide a default browser that does a pretty good job rendering the latest HTML and CSS, giving developers who want to avoid the App Store an increasingly viable option for delivering app-like cross-platform experiences.
I’m not saying that the iPad is the only place for CrowdGame apps, but it wasn’t a bad place to start. Trivially is an interesting proof of concept for the CrowdGame technology because it’s an app whose screens are a mix of native graphics and web pages, and because the app serves up customized, dynamic web pages to as many as 11 simultaneous players.
We took this approach because we assume that sometime down the road we’ll find ourselves with alternate configurations for other tablets, smart phones, or web sites, for scenarios involving hundreds of “players”, mixed WAN/cell coverage environments, etc… we can dial-in the level of required performance or behavior along the HTML-to-native app spectrum as needed… you want an app, with some HTML on the side, or vice-versa?
With the third-generation iPad apparently just around the corner, and perhaps a another turn of the Apple TV crank posed to also happen this year, developers are definitely going to be busy in 2012.

GeekWire covers CrowdGame, and the CrowdGame Vision

GeekWire is a Seattle area tech news site with pretty broad coverage of anything “tech” in Seattle. They’ve quickly established a reputation here for their high-quality coverage and engagement in the Seattle startup community. I’ve found it worthwhile to follow their frequent posts and tweets throughout the day.

Today I had the pleasure of meeting with GeekWire’s John Cook for a quick discussion of Trivially and the larger vision behind CrowdGame Technology.

You can read John’s article here: “Pub trivia with a tech twist? CrowdGame’s iPad app connects many players at once

John did a good job of describing the app itself, and possible scenarios – such as facilitating a pub quiz night (to judge from the response to Trivially to date, this does seem like a popular scenario).

We also brainstormed about how, using a feature currently in development, anyone could create custom trivia questions; for example, GeekWire could create a custom contest for its events, such as the recent (and very popular) GeekWire Game Night.

I joked to John that we’d be open to creating custom quizzes for Weddings, Bar Mitvahs, and funerals, but we do believe there is an opportunity to make it easy to author interactive quizzes, tests, or surveys, for amusement, education, or business.

I wouldn’t say, however, that we started out with the intention of transforming pub quiz night. Rather, the founding idea was inspired by these realizations:

  • Everyone is carrying around in their pockets a super-Wii controller, in the form of a smartphone
  • We all are increasingly within range of smart and connected displays of all kinds – in public places (Mall, Airport, Sports Bar), where we work or learn or otherwise meet (conferences, conference rooms, schools), and in our homes (smart TVs, Apple TV and its future incarnations, AirPlay devices, etc)
CrowdGame represents a vision and a technology to enable real time interaction between groups of people and their devices and displays, whether for fun and entertainment (such as Trivially), education, social networking, or business. We started with a trivia app because we had to start somewhere in order to learn how to build the CrowdGame Technology that can make this happen. We figured that if it’s easy enough for 11 trivia players to use, that would be a good start. It’s taken a year, but the current version of Trivially represents the state of that technology: responsive, reliable, easy for users, and highly-scalable.
We’re now looking for the next place to apply the technology… should it be another game – but this time with more ambitious performance requirements? – or a learning app, or a business app? Let us know if you have an idea about what should come next…! 🙂

“These things happen”… an instant trivia update for an in-app purchase issue

Hi folks – if you’ve tried the new CrowdGame Trivially… thank you! And if not… what are you waiting for? Install it on your iPad – it’s free! Here’s a handy link to the Apple App Store.

In the few hours since Trivially has been available, we’ve noticed a slight problem with purchased trivia packs: the purchase and download works just fine, but you may notice that if you shut down the app and restart it, it appears as if your content wasn’t purchased. Of course, that’s not the case: If you touch “buy” again, the App Store notices that you’ve already purchased it and it’s downloaded again, for free, and you can play it again. But that’s not convenient!

So we just published a trivia update, which should alleviate this problem. You’ll have to take one simple step, though!

On the Trivially “Start Game” page, you’ll notice a message scrolling along on the bottom: “Touch here for an important (and instant) trivia update!”.

Touch the screen there and the update will down load and install within seconds. Then, the next time you purchase (or “repurchase”) a topic pack, it’ll stay “purchased”.

Sorry for the hassle! This is trivia update is quick and easy to install, but we’ll also push an update to the App within a day or so.

In the meantime… have fun!



The new version of CrowdGame Trivially is now available! Try it out on your iPad!

You can download it – it’s free – from the Apple App Store here.

This app replaces the existing Trivially Console and Trivially Remote apps, which we’ll be removing from the App Store shortly.

You’ll need an iPad to play. If you also want to play with your friends, they’ll each need an iOS 4.2 device on the same WiFi network as the iPad.

Give it a spin! Have fun, and drop a line to let us know how you like it.