Category Archives: News

Crowdgame Trivially 2.3 – Name your Avatar! New Features for Custom Trivia contests!!

We’ve learned a lot since launching Trivially nearly 20 months ago, and I don’t just mean all of those trivia facts (since we still test our apps by hand, the old-fashioned way).

But when we hear from customers – what they like about the game, what features they wish we’d add – that’s when we learn the most.

If you talk to to enough customers, patterns emerge. They might use different language or terms, but you start to see common threads, which, if you’re lucky, you can distill down into common threads and maybe even implement.

By far, the most common request we’ve heard to date is this: “Can I name my Avatar?”. It’s often the first request we hear, when we show Trivially to someone for the first time. And, no, it’s not just the kids who want this.

So now, for Trivially 2.3, we bring you the ability to name your Avatar. Instead of being stuck with the built-in names, each player starts out as “Player 1”, “Player 2”, etc., as displayed on your remote – i.e., on the web page you see when you join a game by visiting joincg.com.

 

To change the name of your Avatar, just tap the Avatar, enter your name, and then tap “OK”. That’s it. Your new name is instantly visible on the Trivially app running on the iPad, for everyone to see. You can change your name as often as you’d like. (We can see how this feature might lead to some in-game trash talking.)

 

 

Here’s a screenshot of a full CrowdGame house of players, each with their own names. Don’t they look happy!? 

One more note: If you’re playing directly on the iPad, you’ll always be known as “Console”. Sorry 🙂

 

Progressive Scoring

Speaking of trash talking, we’ve added another often-requested feature: Progressive Scoring. What this means is that the more quickly you answer with a correct answer, the more points you’re awarded. If you answer correctly within the first three seconds, you’re awarded three points. Answer correctly within the first six seconds for two points. Answer correctly after that, for a single point.

 

The number of points you’ve scored is displayed on your remote, and on the iPad when the correct answer is revealed.

If you’ve turned on “First Correct Answer Wins” (on the Start Page), then the first person who answers correctly within the first three seconds not only wins three points, but ends the round for everyone else.

So it can get pretty competitive pretty quickly!

Features for Custom Trivia Contests

Trivially 2.3 also contains a number of important features designed to enhance the experience when you’re running a contest using your own questions and answers, via the Custom Trivia Pack feature. We know that if you’re running a contest multiple times, you’ll need some or all of these features to keep things moving smoothly:

Reset Usage Count

When you tap the “Reset” button for a Content Pack, Trivially resets back to zero its count of how often each question in that Pack has been used.

This means that you can be assured that the next time you play that Content Pack, your players will see a randomized sample of the entire Content Pack, not just the ones that hadn’t been seen (lately).

This is useful when playing the same Custom Trivia contest repeatedly with different audiences. But note that it works for any Content Pack, not just Content Trivia Packs. So if you find that you’ve run through all of “Geography for Mapmakers”, tap “Reset” and see how well you do the second time around…

“Play All”

This new option, on the Start Page, Allows you to play the specific number of the questions in your Custom Trivia Pack, beyond the 5, 10, or 20 question options. This means that if your Custom Trivia Pack has say, 27 questions, you can use this option to play all of them in one go.

Note that there’s a limit of 50 questions with this option, to ensure optimal performance.

“Finish Game”

This option is available while game play is in progress. When a question or correct answer is being displayed, you can tap the Pause button (in the top-right corner of the screen) or tap the countdown clock in the center of the screen. This pauses the game and displays the game play options show here:

  • Continue Game: un-pause the game and continue with the current question / answer.
  • Finish Game: end the current round of questions and display the Scoreboard page, showing scores for all players.
  • Restart Game: end the current round of questions and go immediately to the Start Game page. You won’t see the Scoreboard.
The “Finish Game” option can be helpful if you’re playing in a ground towards a specific score; as soon as a player reaches that score, you can finish the game and display the Scoreboard.
Support for more browsers and PCs
In the months since we first released Trivially, we’ve watched – with some hope – as various other browsers have caught up with the specific feature (WebSockets) that makes Trivially work so well when players join the app running on the iPad.
With this release, we’ve added a few more “officially supported” browsers to the mix. Here’s the official list:
  • Safari
  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • IE10

You can enjoy Trivially by firing up the latest versions of any of these browsers, on iOS, MacOS, Windows, and Ubuntu, and visiting joincg.com. You can follow the instructions there to join the game that’s running on an iPad on the same Wifi network as your browser.

Trivially may work on other browsers – let us know what you know, and we’ll gradually expand the list of “officially supported” browsers.

THANKS!

As always, we’ve really enjoyed talking to you about these features, and then coaxing the many, many lines of tiny characters to organize themselves correctly to make it all work. We hope you enjoy this new release! Drop a line and let us know! Tell us what to build next!

Trivially on the Big Screen

An idea that’s always captivated us as we built Trivially is the idea that the iPad and its ilk can double as an awesome mini-game console when connected to large external monitor.

You can see this for yourself if you have an iPad 2 or later device, using either of two methods: direct connect via video cable, or via AirPlay.

To direct connect: use a Apple-approved VGA or DVI video cable adapter, such as this one or this one, for the older 30-pin iPad, or if you have a Lightning-equipped iPad, this one or this one. The composite video cable adapter is not recommended. This approach requires an iPad 2 or later device.

When you connect your iPad to an external display this way, everything on the iPad screen will be mirrored onto the external display. Trivially’s sound effects will still only come from the iPad, so if you’d like big sound to go along with that big picture, connect a stereo cable between your iPad and your TV or sound system.

Alternately, you can use Apple’s AirPlay system, for the “no wires” approach, if you have an iPad 2 or later device and an Apple TV. Follow Apple’s instructions, here, for mirroring your iPad’s display to the Apple TV device… it’s easier than it looks. Then, just fire up Trivially as usual… the screen and sound will be duplicated to your big screen and sound system. Note that in this case, you may want to lower the volume on your iPad.

Trivially’s gorgeous hand-drawn high-resolution graphics really jump out at you on the big screen, as do the sound effects, some of which are also “hand-crafted”.

Give it a shot, and send us photos of your party!

 

 

CrowdGame Trivially 2.2.1 – A huge release!

Trivially 2.2.1, released just a few days ago, introduces these features:

  • Create your own Custom Trivia Pack, featuring your own questions and answers! Liven up your next birthday party, anniversary, training event, class, or just for the fun of it. Requires in-app purchase.
  • Introducing new, for-purchase content packs, including the first in a series from a pub trivia master, and a “Learn Mandarin” language training series.
  • Upgraded and tuned-up graphics, screens, and gameplay, including support for iPad 3 Retina displays, and “First Correct Answer Wins” option.
  • Players can now connect to the game with Safari, Chrome, or FireFox browsers on PC or Mac, or IE10 on Windows 8, as well as with iOS devices.

The Custom Trivia Pack feature is an idea we’ve had for a while… ever since the first version of Trivially shipped in July, 2011, we’ve been asked to make it possible for players to create their own contests. “We love your built-in and for-purchase content – don’t get us wrong”, they’d say… “but we really have some great ideas for own contests, because we have a special event X coming up and we want to do something new and different”… where X is:

  • A oil spill response training class in Alaska
  • A youth club gathering
  • A teacher quizzing students on recent history topics
  • A trivia contest at a company morale event
  • A reception at a wedding of two game-loving folks
  • A fun addition to a company fund-raiser
  • Trivia pub night event in several cities around the world

So, have at it. Visit this page to learn more about how it works. Once you’ve created your own contest, it’s easy to share it with friends, groups, etc, as a URL, via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Here are some of my favorite ideas for creating a Custom Trivia Pack:

  • Zoe, your 8 year old is having a birthday party with her friends. Create a “When Zoe Was a Baby” trivia pack for the occasion, with questions and answers that her friends will have fun guessing over.
  • It’s election season. Put together a contest that shows your command of the political landscape. Have your buddies over for a Presidential Debate party, with Trivially as the warm-up.
  • Are you a teacher? Use Trivially in your classroom to make learning (more) fun. Invite your students to make their own contests, for play with their classmates.
  • Need to educate or train your colleagues at your company on a new procedure, process, or get some new hires up to speed in a hurry? Create a Custom Trivial pack and score points with the boss.
Of course, all of these scenarios benefit from AirPlay: use Trivially on an iPad 2 (or later) and AirPlay the screen to an Apple TV connection to a large screen. Trivially’s graphics really shine, and it instantly attracts your attention. It’s a lot of fun.

We’re also excited about the three new content packs that were created just for Trivially:

  • Learn Mandarin #1: Match characters to pinyin (Easy) (US$.99). Match a Mandarin character with its correct pinyin. #1 in a series of contests designed to help the aspiring student master the reading of Mandarin! 祝你好運!
  • Learn Mandarin #2: Match characters to pinyin (Medium) (US$.99). Match a 2 character Mandarin phrase with the correct pinyin. #2 in a series of contests designed to help the aspiring student master the reading of Mandarin! 祝你好運!

And, introducing trivia from Tommy:

  • Tommy’s Curious Quiz #1 (US$.99): Original trivia for people who know too much! First in a series from Seattle pub quiz refugee Tommy Williams. Rated 9+ for questionable taste.

Please show your support for our budding trivia authors… each is only $.99. Buy all three!

Finally, you’ll also see a number of important improvements to the game:

  • Upgraded and tuned-up graphics for iPad 3’s Retina display
  • Many improvements, performance enhancements, and “defect removals” (bug fixes)
  • A much-requested feature: the “First Correct Answer Wins” option. With this option turned on, the first player who rings in with the correct answer wins that round.

Give it a try! If you like it, please rate us in the App Store. And please let us know what you think – we love feedback, and ideas for what features to add next.

Help us build and test the next version of Trivially! Interested in user-created contests??

Well, if you want to help code, that would be great!!

But we’re also looking for:

– Ideas for new features you can’t live without

– Feedback on current features that you think could be improved

– Notions on new content packs you’d like to see added for instant purchase and download

Regarding a particular new feature: we’ve heard from a few folks that it would be really excellent to be able to create your own contests, for play on your iPad or to share with friends for play on their iPads. So we’ve been cooking up this feature a bit. We’re not sure exactly what final shape the feature will take or how it’ll be monetized (if at all), so we’d like some feedback.

We think that it’s about ready for testing (by more than our staff monkeys, that is).  So if you’re interested in trying out an early version of “user created contests”, please drop us a line (support@crowdgame.com, or use this form). We’d love to hear from you!

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.

Making the transition from Trivially V1 to Trivially V2

This post is for those proud owners of Trivially V1 Console and Remote, which have been available in the Apple App Store since 6/30/2011 (just over 7 months now).

First, thanks for supporting CrowdGame by installing Trivially Console & Remote. I hope that you’ve enjoyed the apps! We learned a lot from your feedback and hope that you’ll find the next version – which, with any luck, will be available soon – to be a significant improvement. Thanks again!

We expect the “new” version of Trivially to be available shortly. An important thing to know about this new version is that it has significant new features and capabilities as compared to the “old” version you’ve been using… so much so that it’s been submitted to the Apple App Store as a completely new app. We felt that this was the best approach for existing users of the “old” app.

This means that you’ll be able to keep the “old” version of Trivially Console installed alongside the “new” version of Trivially, on your iPad. Here are some of the important operational differences between the two versions:

  • Players interact with the “new” and “old” versions of the app in different ways. With the “old” version, players use the “Trivially Remote” app installed on their iOS devices to interact with the “Trivially Console” app installed on their iPad. With the “new” version, only one app – “Trivially” – is needed (installed on the iPad); players interact with it via mobile web pages viewed on their iOS devices. We think that players will find it easier and faster to just browse to “joincg.com” to join a game, as compared to installing a new app. (This means that the “new” version requires all devices to be on the same WiFi network.)
  • The “new” version has a “free to play” or “freemium” model… As with the “old” version, the “new” version is free. However, the “new” app comes loaded with tons of free trivia content in 6 different trivia packs in 5 categories, but also offers loads more trivia questions in via additional trivia packs, available for convenient and instant in-app purchase. We plan to continually expand the range, depth, and topic areas of the trivia made available via in-app purchases.
  • The “new” version supports “Direct Play”: install “Trivially” on your iPad and you can instantly start playing directly on the iPad… no need to use a separate device. This is handy for when you just want to get in a contest or two by yourself.

There are many other changes, as I’m sure you’ll notice when you try it out, but as players of the first version, these are the bigger things you’ll want to have in mind.

UPDATE, 2/2/2012: Once the new version is available, it’s likely that the apps associated with the “old” version – Trivially Console and Trivially Remote – will be removed from the App Store so that we can focus on the new app moving forward.

Thanks again for your support!