Tips on Making a Killer Game: Interview with the Creators of Trivia Crack
The world of mobile development is filled with the ingenuity of coders from all over the globe. In their quest to contribute to what is already out there, sometimes you can come across something so unusual and unique that it takes the world by storm. It happened with Angry Birds, Pokemon Go, Temple Run, Trivia Crack and even with Flappy Bird . All these brought something completely out of the ordinary to the mobile landscape as we know it today, creating new paradigms and spawning thousands of clones.
The question is, how do the creators of these ground breaking titles do it? Or more importantly, how can I do something like that? To answer these and many other questions, we had a talk with the company responsible for one of these games.
Etermax is an Argentina-based company and it’s the creator of Trivia Crack (among other offerings), a quiz game where you challenge friends and strangers to determine who knows more about all sorts of subjects. This game was the most downloaded game in the world shortly after it was released in 2013, and has been downloaded over 250 million times ever since. Because at the time there was nothing quite like it, the game became an instant sensation — and with players from tens of countries joining in the fun, the platform grew at an unprecedented rate. As time went by, the developers started adding more unique features as other similar games started surfacing. These additions allowed the game to sit at the top for quite some time.
Since we wanted to know exactly what Etermax did to appeal to so many people for such a long time, we decided to ask them!
Q: Thank you very much for taking the time to enlighten us into the world of Trivia Crack. What is your name and your role in the company?
A: Hi! glad to be here :). My name is Martin Dominguez and my role is the Chief Infrastructure Officer in Etermax. I take care of the Infrastructure issues for the company along with the developers.
Q: For those people out there who may not be aware of what Trivia Crack is, would you mind talking a little bit about the game?
A: Trivia Crack is a quiz game the involves competing with your friends and other players from around the world in various subjects. You can also suggest your own questions to the game, translate questions into another language or rate other users’ suggested questions. You can even complete unique card series with gems that you obtain by answering questions correctly or buying them through the shop.
Q: How did you/the company come up with the idea for the game? What was the inspiration behind it?
A: We love to make games that ignite a person’s competitive fire. In Argentina we have a whole culture of trivia games (quiz shows, etc) ,so we grew up with that. For us, it was a natural choice.
Q: How many users/players did the game originally have? (for the first year)
A: The game started slowly until we added the question factory feature, which gave the users the ability to create their own material for the game. We reached a million daily active users near the end of the year, and the growth from that was massive, ultimately allowing us to reach 25 million daily active users.
Q: What kind of bugs or problems were most common in the earlier versions of the game?
A: When the game started growing rapidly, we had to get rid of some features in the dashboard due to performance problems (nothing vital, just a friends list). We didn’t have any major bugs on the client side, but on the infrastructure side we had to formulate a plan in order to get the architecture working for the huge user base.
Q: Did you/your company expect the sustained growth in its user base?
A: We expected growth, of course, but not at this level. We had the first wave of users from Latin America and when the numbers started to normalize we thought “ok, so that’s it”. Then America and Europe started playing, blowing all of our expectations out of the water.
Q: Piggy backing on the previous question, what is the current player base world wide?
A: We have a lot of users playing trivia crack, not as much as the peak, but still a couple million, with our main player base stationed in the U.S.
Q: How do you upkeep such a massive online platform? What kind of services do you use?
A: We use Amazon Web Services, and if this happened 10 years ago we probably would have crashed from the traffic of the first million users. We needed servers, fast, and without the elasticity of cloud computing the process would have taken more time than we could have afforded to wait to be operative.
Q: In your opinion, what was one of the most crucial factors (from a designer’s/engineer’s perspective) that made the impact which launched the game into stardom?
A: Definitely, the question factory. It gave our users control over the content and that was the game changer that allowed us to enter markets where we didn’t have the manpower or cultural insight to create the right content ourselves.
Q: One of the most important factors for most gamers out there is developer support. In other words, players do not want to feel like they are stranded in a deserted island when they try to report a bug. Do you/your team keep in touch with your user base? How often and by what means?
A: Yes! We do our best to answer all of our users, in any way that they try to reach us. It’s hard work, but we have a whole team dedicated to this task.
Q: Describe one thing that you believe will continue to make the game popular in the foreseeable future.
A: A commitment to progression. If the user feels “stuck in a moment” without any foreseeable signs of an update, they will just quit. We think the users want new experiences every time they open the game and we intend to give those to them.
Q: There are obviously millions of games, many of them even similar to what Trivia Crack has to offer. What do you believe set your game apart from the rest?
A: I think the most successful feature that we offer is the ability for the user to provide their own content. That and a good geographical localization of the users, who helped us to expand the market into countries where we didn’t even know the language, culture, etc.
Q: What advice do you have for starting programmers trying to create the next “Trivia Crack” (popularity wise)?
A: Don’t be afraid to use things (technologies, methodologies) in a different way than everyone else. Try to give your users the capacity to create their own experience and you’ll have a winner on your hands.
Q: Anything exciting planned (that you can freely reveal) for next major revisions?
A: We have a couple of exciting releases for Pictionary (our newest game) and a few others during the year involving experiences in real time.
So, there you have it! If you are willing to move into game development and would love to put out the next king of games, take this sage advise to heart and code away!
(We would like to thank Noah Sandberg and Martin Dominguez for their time and willingness to share their experiences with us. From all of us at the XDA Portal, we wish you all the best of luck!)