Welcome to this weeks edition of the XBLIG Spotlight, a re-occurring segment on Clearance Bin Review where we put the focus on Xbox Live Indie Games and the developer’s that make them. This week I talk to Fun Infused Game’s Kris Steele about their game Trivia or Die, a trivia game where the loser taste more than just defeat and humiliation; they die (hence the name, get it?). Check out the trailer below, follows by a brief Q&A and my take on Trivia or Die; you’ll even get a chance to win something for your time. Add Trivia or Die to your download queue!
First, tell the readers a bit about yourself, who you are and how/why you decided to start getting involved in making games?
I’m a computer programmer by day, game developer by night. I’ve always enjoyed playing video games and even at a young age I would draw out video games with pencil and paper. It seems only natural that someday I would end up making video games for real.
Tell us about Fun Infused Games, your history as a game developer, previous efforts, etc.
Fun Infused Games has been developing games for the Xbox Live Indie Games platform since 2009. We have released four games on the service to date and have another few in development. We focus primarily on creating exciting, fun games reminiscent of the classic games we grew up playing, though we do branch out of that comfort zone at times with games like Trivia or Die. All our games have a certain level of humor and quirkiness that makes them unique.
In your own words, describe “Trivia or Die”.
Trivia or Die is a classic trivia game with a few twists. Wrong answers yield insults from the host and ultimately at the end of the game, the losing players are killed. The game play is much faster than most trivia games which often force you to sit and wait while players celebrate between questions, allowing you to spend more time answering trivia questions and less time watching.
If you had to pick one specific game or series to describe as your inspiration for Trivia or Die, what would it be?
I used to go to a bar every Tuesday for trivia night. The questions were fast paced and interesting (even when you didn’t know the answer). I wanted to recreate this experience, but with more insults and death and fewer hangovers.
How did you decide what trivia questions to use and how much of your development time was spent fact checking?
Many of our questions were taken from the vast library at www.quiz-zone.co.uk. Others were interesting facts that I found browsing online or just things I knew already. There was not a ton of fact checking done because as you know, anything that you find online must be true.
Trivia or Die was obviously planned and released for XBLIG, but have you in the past, or do you currently have plans to work in any other platform? What made you decide to develop Trivia or Die for XBLIG?
The big reason for Trivia or Die on XBLIG was familiarity with the service. In the future it is very likely you will see our games on other platforms, namely PC and mobile phones.
How long did you spend developing Trivia or Die? Can you explain, roughly, how the development process worked for you? What tools and programs did you work with?
It was a pretty solid two months of work, though we did much of the work early on, then didn’t work on the game for several months, and then finally finished it up. We used Visual Studio for the coding (as most all Xbox Live Indie Games do), Adobe Photoshop for creating the game’s visuals, and Audacity for recording the voices.
I have a very informal development process. I have a basic idea for the game, jot down detailed lists of each task that needs to be accomplished, and then run through those lists picking off issues I feel like working on or adding new issues as they arise.
If you had to pick one thing that you would improve or simply do differently in regards to ToD’s development what would it be?
I should have setup an Xbox in my office. When testing the game and positioning Avatars, I spent far too much time starting the game in my office, walking to the living room to check on the TV, and then going back to the office. I thought the effort of getting another Xbox setup wouldn’t pay off initially but midway into development I realized I was wrong. I figured at this point I was almost done so it wouldn’t be worth the effort to setup but I was wrong again.
Many gamers dream of starting to make their own games, and it is obviously easier than ever for them to do so. What advice would you give someone hoping to make the jump from gamer to designer?
Stop dreaming and make it happen! If you want to program, frameworks like XNA make it easier than ever to get started. Or you can use more graphical programs like Unity3D. Get your feet wet, try things out, and don’t be afraid to ask questions along the way.
Have you found the XBLIG process to be a particularly easy or difficult one?
The process of release a game is pretty easy. Submit the game and wait for about 10 peer reviews. Making the game itself though is much more work.
XBLIG have had a mixed result so far, what is one aspect/idea/change you think would better solidify the platform as a contender in the gaming industry? What one thing do you think would improve the service as a whole, from designer to consumer?
Many developers these days seem to be struggling to make a reasonable profit on larger releases for Xbox Live Indie Games. If XBLIG is to be a relevant platform in the game industry, it needs to be able to attract and keep good developers. Microsoft needs to help to get more eyes onto the service. They could use the current Xbox dashboard to feature specific games or promote the entire channel. And adding features like Achievements, Leaderboards, and Kinect support would also go a long way towards building a larger customer base which would make development for the platform much more attractive.
From the consumer standpoint, I think featuring the Top Rated games upfront would be better than the current policy of initially displaying New Releases. Gamers too often perceive a low quality of games on the service because the first screen they are shown on XBLIG is often full of low quality games. Entice the gamer with the best the service has to offer and they will be much more impressed with what is there and much more likely to dig deeper for additional titles.
What is in the cards for Fun Infused after Trivia or Die? Are you planning a sequel? If so, what aspects would you most likely improve, add or maybe even remove altogether?
We’re working on a couple platformer games right now. One is a bit like Castlevania but done in chalk while the other is a more traditional Mario-style platformer where you are stuck in a volcano and have to get out. Follow @FunInfused on Twitter for the most up to date information on our upcoming releases or check out our website http://www.funinfused.com
I do believe we will do a Trivia or Die sequel at some point. It will likely be genre specific, for instance it might be all movie questions or all sports questions. We will definitely try and polish up the game a bit better and work on making the insults more interesting and less repetitive. We may add a few new wrinkles too like prizes you can collect or categories you can turn on or off.
This edition of the XBLIG Spotlight features Trivia or Die by Fun Infused.A simple trivia/quiz game with an equally simple twist; the losers plummet to their deaths.Does this party game keep us guessing, or will you embrace the death dealt to you? Read on.
Trivia or Die is really a pretty simple, and straightforward game; you and 3 other players (or computer controlled bots) face off in a series of trivia questions.You get points for answering correctly, slightly more points for answering quickly and mocked for answering incorrectly.At the end of the game, which you can edit how many questions you would liked asked, the winner will dance while the losers fall to their deaths. The game is fast paced with an upbeat atmosphere fitting for a party game.
Aesthetically the game doesn’t break any boundaries, but isn’t lacking either.You play as your avatar against the other player’s avatars (or one’s made by the game), and the animations are for the most part solid (if not a little repetitive).The “studio” where the quiz show takes place matches the look and feel of the avatars well and the music sets the tone for a good time with friends.There are audio issues, namely with the mildly offensive Asian host’s insults.The recording quality is simply not to par or has been overly edited or had its’ bit rate lowered to make for a smaller file size.Whatever the root cause, the insults feel a little cheap and I was very glad ultimately that Fun Infused had the foresight to give you the option of turning them off.
In fact the game gives you quite a bit of options for such a simple game.The least of which include being able to determine how many questions you will have per game, as well as options for computer difficulty, being able to turn off the host’s commentary, and so on.While the game is lacking in the ability to narrow or define categories for the trivia questions, you certainly have the option to play how you want otherwise.Speaking of the trivia questions, after having played several rounds I had yet to see a repeat question, meaning of course that the developers at least went to the trouble of adding a significant amount of trivia to the game.(A relatively easy, but time consuming feat that many indie developers would have likely took a short-cut on)Minus the ability to limit categories I was quite pleased with what I had available.
Beyond that the game should almost be reviewed in two different ways:Single player and multiplayer, as the experiences are noticeably different. Single player is certainly a fun time, a great little distraction from whatever game you have sunk 20+ hours in and need a break from.And in this regard I really see this game thriving, being at its best on a mobile device, namely Windows Phone 7.You may not find yourself booting up Trivia or Die often on your Xbox just to kill time, but I could definitely see myself playing a match while waiting for the bus, sitting in a waiting room, etc.Additionally the bot difficulty levels are very well done.You will loose a couple of matches on the default setting, and more than a couple on the higher ones.They certainly provide a challenge when you don’t have friends to play with.
Multiplayer though is clearly where this game shines and in its’ true element at.It is basically 1 vs. 100 on a much, much, much smaller scale.You and three friends killing time and likely insulting each other after each question to show your dominance over them in knowledge of random trivia.Content wise this is going to be a game you are likely going to play with a group of adults as most of the trivia I encountered would be beyond a lot of kids, but then that fits into the overall feeling of a bar trivia game that is presented here.
That really is at the heart of it what Trivia or Die feels most like.If you’ve ever sat in a bar or restaurant and played trivia on a Tuesday night and wished you could do this against your friends (instead of on the same team) in the comfort of your own home, Trivia or Die gives you that ability for the low, low price of only 80 Microsoft Points.The game will not wow you with impressive graphics or unique game play, but what is there is very solid and more importantly fun to play.The game is certainly at its best when a shared experience with friends, but still a fun distraction when on your own.While I’m still convinced the game would be best suited on a mobile device, it is not out of place on XBLIG.I would even go so far as to say that if you have friends/roommates/family who ever to play this with on a somewhat regular basis you will definitely be getting your money worth out of Trivia or Die.If you are a largely solitary gamer (or rarely play with friends who are sitting on the couch next to you), Trivia or Die is bound to get a little repetitive very quickly, and it may also remind you of your lack of friends and no one likes that. That is unless you just really love trivia games in general. In short, it is a great party game, but like most party games suffers when experienced solo.
Final Rating: 6.5/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360 – XBLIG
Approximate Time to Completion: N/A a game can take only minutes, but no real “end” to speak of.
Gamer Score Earned: N/A
Price Bought at: N/A – Review copy furnished by Fun Infused
Current Price: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)
Recommend Purchase Price: It literally can’t get cheaper.
I guess I lied.It does get cheaper; you could win a copy of the game from us!Fun Infused has been kind enough to give us 3 codes to give out to you, yes you with the funny hat.This week’s contest will be fairly simple with the normal 2 forms of entry.
First Entry: Comment on this XBLIG Spotlight with some random trivia (not a question, actual random facts!). That’s it! Can’t think of anything or simply don’t know any random trivia? Sure is a good thing you’re already on the internet isn’t it? (IF you are REALLY stuck, check out this site HERE)
If you enter via twitter make sure to include your twitter name in your comment below.
Contest will go until Wednesday at 6pm CST. A pool of all eligible entries will then be randomly selected from and the winners will be notified. CBR reserves the right to disqualify any entry we feel either violated the rules or spirit of the contest, including attempts at duplicate entries. Winner selected with no twitter name provided will be notified by email and have 24 hours to respond, if they do not respond within 24 hours they will be disqualified form the contest.