Raph Koster used MMO design to help revitalize a bar trivia game

You might know Raph Koster from his MMO legacy as a designer on Ultima Online or Star Wars Galaxies, or perhaps from his current role on the Crowfall team. But what about Buzzfeed Trivia?

Polygon has a fascinating read on how Koster was brought in to update a bar trivia game after it had started to decline in popularity. After playing and observing the game, he noted that players weren’t able to get better at trivia games, unlike an increase in skill that comes with playing a lot of, say, League of Legends. So he said that he needed to change it up so that everyone could feel useful: “We needed to give the players who weren’t necessarily great at trivia several ways to be good at the game, without necessarily being great at trivia.”

Koster’s redesigned version, Jackpot Trivia, allowed players to select topics within their field of knowledge and to use tokens as a resource to bet or skip on certain questions. The new version has been played by up to 15% more than the old in the venues where it’s being introduced.

“Even though bar games have been around forever, there’s something uniquely now about the idea of a networked bar game that you’re playing that’s massively multiplayer, but you’re effectively playing right next to your nachos,” Koster said.

Source: Polygon
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8 Comments on "Raph Koster used MMO design to help revitalize a bar trivia game"

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CthulhuDawg
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CthulhuDawg

Nachos and games…go on.

Captain Electric
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Captain Electric

Shaigh NebHatesYou  That’s both correct, and incorrect. For thousands of years, most time-tested games have required skill. Successful players sought to improve their strategies or tactics, not simply to increase their odds of winning by playing more often. Many games in the current era, particularly those enjoyed via networks, are designed to reward player loyalty to games (and the networks they’re played on) as much as, if not more than, player skill. Common traits in modern game design reflect this. The answer why is obvious. Repeat customers are more numerous, and thus a more profitable avenue, than skilled players. And people who own the networks on which the games are played want to make money, after all–even more so than they’d want to design great games. Great game designers hate this, but most of them come around (everybody has a price). Now a generation of gamers has grown up with games that reward loyalty over skill; but who’s going to complain? You can’t simply grind, or spend a little coin, to get to the end game in Chess, can you?

Shaigh
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Shaigh

NebHatesYou The point he is making is that games should be designed so that you can improve by playing them instead of being locked by what you know before you play the game, and that is a basic thing about game design.

Its the reason why games like guitar hero became so popular, while it certainly helps to have basic knowledge of a guitar and a sense of rhythm your improvement comes from playing the game instead of learning to play a guitar.

Muspel
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Muspel

NebHatesYou Yeah, god knows I feel like a night at the bar is wasted if me and my friends don’t spend at least three hours wiping during our trivia progression raid.

skoryy
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skoryy

I played Buzztime quite a bit back in the day, I don’t think any of the local BW3 carry it anymore. :(

Koolthulu
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Koolthulu

NebHatesYou And to think people used to play games to have fun. Now if you aren’t spending every second agonizing over your epeen, you might as well quit.

NebHatesYou
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NebHatesYou

‘We want people to be good at the game without being ‘good’ at the game’

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Game design these days is just silly sometimes.

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