GamePress Interviews Ken Jennings and Richard Garfield on Half Truth

Ken Jennings and Richard Garfield on Half Truth
  • Ken Jennings and Richard Garfield are teaming up with Studio 71 and Nighthawk Games to create the trivia board game: Half Truth

  • Half Truth is now being funded through Kickstarter, where it will end on Thursday, September 19 2019 at 11:00 PM CDT

Overview

I recently got the opportunity to interview 74-time winning Jeopardy! Champion Ken Jennings (Twitter: @KenJennings) and Magic: the Gathering creator Richard Garfield about their collaboration with Studio 71 and Nighthawk Games to create a new trivia board game they just announced on Kickstarter, Half Truth.

half truth promotional image featuring Richard Garfield, Ken Jennings, and Studio 71. The image reads: Half Truth, a party game that makes you feel smart. pre-order on Kickstarter

Artwork for Half Truth was done by celebrated game box designer, Ian O’Toole (Twitter: @ianotooletweets Instagram: ianotooledesign).

Best known for winning Jeopardy! 74 times consecutively in 2004, Ken Jenning has also authored several books including BrainiacMaphead and most recently, Planet Funny.

Ph.D. mathematics professor and Magic: the Gathering creator, Richard Garfield, has designed over 20 different board and card games, such as Star Wars: The Card Game, King of Tokyo, and most recently prior to Half Truth, KeyForge.

What is Half Truth?

Richard Garfield

So the game itself is a trivia game, so the players will be answering questions, and every question is one in which there's six answers given, and three of the answers are correct, and three are incorrect. And so players are tasked with finding at least one correct answer.

[...]

Since there's three correct answers, you can go for all three, and you'll get some bonus points [...] But if you get a single one incorrect, you don't get anything. 

[laughs] Wow, that sounds like a bit of a minefield, if getting one incorrect answer ruins your score!

Richard Garfield

[...] [Relative] to other trivia games, it's much more accessible in the sense that even if you know nothing, you get most of the reward half the time if you just take the guess, and you can usually increase your chances if you can eliminate any of the incorrect answers, or use what you do know to help steer you towards something that's a little more likely to be correct.

Ken Jennings

The virtue of this is that [a trivia] Know-It-All type player will still have an edge on the game [...] But really, just giving most of the points for being able to pick out this one right answer really levels the playing because it's a game for everyone. 

The first time Richard and I played in his house, I actually lost the second game, and I thought, "I love this, about this trivia game--it's a party game!", like this doesn't kill the party. Really, anyone can win any given game.

Yeah, it kinda sounds like the Trivia-Heads out there might maybe be a little bit too confident, will overbet and if they get a wrong answer, then their score will be wiped, and the people who are maybe a little bit more cautious about their answers, because they are not as experienced with trivia might have an edge in that sense, just by being you know, more careful with how many bets they place.

Ken Jennings

That totally happened to me! "I'm Ken Jennings, I bet I can get three of these right!". And sometimes I did, but sometimes, I didn't! [laughs]

an image featuring the Half Truth game Box on the top left, a stack of the cards on the top right, and the game board at the bottom

Richard Garfield

[...] [The] first inkling of this game was when I read Ken's book, Brainiac, that really got me to think about trivia in a way which I hadn't thought about it in the past, that I realized that it could be much more egalitarian than I thought, and that it could be more broadly appealing than I had grown to think it was. And so, that inspired me to start working on this game. When I had the framework, I contacted Ken and that was the start.

Has the game gone through any major changes over the years as y'all developed the concept?

Richard Garfield

The framework hasn't changed much. At the very beginning, there was a point where the questions were, instead of being three correct and three incorrect, there was only one correct, sort of more traditional, but that wasn't as satisfying as having three correct and three incorrect. But after the general mechanics were nailed down, most of the changes within addition of questions, and also development of our sensibility and what style fit this sort of game the best.

Ken Jennings, did you come up with most of the trivia questions and answers? Or was it largely a group effort?

Ken Jennings

It was a group effort. I edited the entire question set, because I have very kind of strict and lofty ideas about trivia aesthetics. I wrote a book called Brainiac right after I was on Jeopardy!. It's kind of about my ideas of trivia. And when Richard contacted me about this game, the first thing he said was, "I love your book, Brainiac, it made me want to work on a trivia game with you.", which I thought was super flattering. 

So everybody was writing questions, but I had kind of a distribution in mind, you know, how it should be ecumenical. There shouldn't be more movies and books, there shouldn't be more history than hip-hop, you know, it to be everything. And I probably I wrote a few hundred of them myself and maybe wrote half the box myself. 

Richard Garfield

I think that's about right. But he not only wrote about half the questions, he really helped guide us as to what made a good question and what we should avoid, and so his fingerprints are all over even the ones he didn't write.

[...]

 [They're] in all sorts of areas. One of our goals was to make it so that there's something there for everybody. [...] It'll have movies, songs, history, books, you know, you name it.

Ken Jennings

We wanted to make sure that even kind of little weird niches of geekdom--cause you know, everybody's a geek now--so we wanted to make sure there's a card for everybody, like if you're really into baking, there's a card about desserts. If you're really into trains, there's a card about that. If you're really into reality shows there's the card about Jersey Shore. So, you know, no matter what you're a weirdly expert geek about, I think your card is in the box.

Richard Garfield

[...] And in addition to that, this format allowed us to create some questions which really defy categorization. For example, there's a question on which of these are real Japanese sodas. You know, somebody who's visited Japan and paid attention to the sodas will certainly have an advantage there--they may recognize some--but if you haven't, then you're playing this completely different game where you're trying to guess what would be a good Japanese soda name, and is that actually one of the names that's there.

3 example cards arranged horizontally. from left to right, First card: Is a word that was once protected as a trademark (Source consumerist.com). Answer options: elevator, gasoline, aspirin, toothpaste, trampoline, videotape. Second card: Was a Monopoly piece retired in the fifties (Source: wikipedia.com). Answer options: rocking horse, iron, cane, lantern, purse, shoe with spats. Third card: Is a state with no national parks (Source: nps.gov). Answer options: Tennesee, Ohio, Oklahoma, New York, Wisconsin,

The Game Maker and the Game Winner

Richard Garfield, were there times when you tried to make cards and questions that would actually stump Ken? And if so, did you succeed?

Richard Garfield

Well, absolutely. I think on both accounts. But what I wanted to make sure was that there were some questions there that somebody with the wide and unpredictable knowledge that somebody like Ken has, that there'd still be something they hadn't thought about or something curveball. So, you know, these questions like the Japanese sodas or discontinued cereals, things like that, are in that category.

Ken Jennings

I remember the first time we played, there is a category about animals with blue tongues. And the curveball for me was one of the answers was the Blue Tongued Skink. And I was like, "I bet that's a trick! I bet the Blue Tongued Skink does not have a blue tongue." I did not go with that answer. It turns out, the Blue Tongued Skink totally has a blue tongue.

[laughs]

Ken Jennings

[laughs] So turns out, I'm pretty easily fooled!

Richard Garfield

That was one of my wife Koni's questions and yeah, that was pretty evil. That got me too.

Yeah, that sounds like a mean trick! [laughs]

Richard Garfield

She also did one of my favorite questions which was, 'which of these are genuine mushrooms?'. And so, there were three mushrooms there and then three things which kinda sounded like mushrooms, but one of them...I was pretty sure was a Magic card. And then afterwards, I got it correct--it turned out, all three of the bad answers were Magic cards. And so, if you knew Magic well which, I should, but I apparently don't,

Ken Jennings

[laughs]

Richard Garfield

--you would have an edge on this question.

Advice for New Game Designers

[What] advice would you give for people who want to make their own game be it tabletop or online?

Richard Garfield

Well, I certainly advise people to play as many games as they can. Because learning what's out there, and learning what people like about games that you don't necessarily like, will have you become a better designer. 

And as far as testing it to see if your game is good, getting it in front of as broad an audience as possible is great. If you only put it in front of your friends or your family, there's a good chance, you'll get an inflated idea of what it is. It's a pitfall, which game designers often fall into they have this idea of how a game should be played and they play it that way, and they teach their friends to play it that way and then everybody says it's a great game when they play, but then when it gets into the hands of a stranger, they start playing it in some other way. And the game is not at all fun in that way. And so, a broad group of playtesters is very important. 

Technology and the Future of Tabletop Gaming

Richard Garfield

[Technology] is really affecting games quite a bit and, in a great way, they're sort of cross-pollinating. I think that they both feed into each other quite a lot, because people who really like digital games will often move into paper games and vice versa, and so the ideas and loves of both groups are cross-fertilizing. 

You won't...I don't believe you'll ever see face-to-face games disappear, because this aspect of playing around the table and being in the same room in this world, which is so often where our contacts with people are so often moderated by electronic devices and distance, is very special. And so, regular board games are a great way for people to socialize in real life.

Right, there's just a certain level of connection you can't get from even just video conferencing with people. If you're all playing a game together.

Ken Jennings

There's really no substitute for the communal thing of doing it in person and actually having the tactile physical object in front of you. 

[...]

As a writer, I'm kind of afraid that publishing is going to go away any day because ebooks are just so much more convenient in every way, and people love books and it's not just old people. Like, adoption of ebooks is not super high among millennials either like many of them, it turns out, think the old way was perfectly fine. 

And hopefully, that's what happens with board games as well. I guess it turns out, it's such a killer app as it is that you know, there's no digital version that can improve on every aspect.

A Lot to Look Forward to

Are there versions of [Half Truth] like a normal or hard mode?

Ken Jennings

[quietly] I do. 

Not right now, we've talked about expansion packs. I mean, the fun thing about doing this in a Kickstarter--we need to start building a community for the game immediately while it's still at the presses, and have people tell us, 'hey, there should be a kid's version of this. Hey, how come there's not a Disney version? How come there's not a 90s version?' You know, and kind of built the game that way. Right now, the genius of Richard's framework for the game is that whether the question is like something bizarre, like weird French, soda pops or whether it's, you know, something kind of right down the trivia plate, you know--U.S. presidents or something, you know, presidential middle names or something like that, it plays pretty well, for everyone and then the next card is going to be something different with different curveballs. So you know, you never know what you're going to get. And the main thing I want is for it to play really well as as a party game. You know, there's nothing worse than a trivia game that has lots of long pauses while somebody tries to think of the capital of Romania or, you know, you do finally get a question you know and it wasn't your turn, so you don't get the answer it...you know, we wanted a trivia game that didn't make people feel dumb, and I think that's not too much to ask for.

Richard Garfield

We'll certainly be guided by what the community is after, but--more questions in general is good--but as Ken mentioned, the special areas that people are interested in also, I could imagine ones that are specialized in movies, or books, or sports could, you know, could be something that would find an audience, and we'd like to serve those audiences. 

Ken Jennings

[...] one of the privileged access tiers [on Kickstarter] is going to be for people to be able to contribute their own question to the game for, you know, for a future expansion pack. So people will be credited in the game with their own trivia questions if they want to support at that level.

Do either of you have plans for more games in the future? And will any of those games be collaborative like this one was?

Richard Garfield

Oh I've got plans for lots of games, and would love to work with Ken on the future if a project make sense.

Ken Jennings

I'm working on a new book; I'm a full time writer. I don't think I have a game in the pipeline right now. But yeah, hopefully more variants of Half Truth to come both, digital and analog.

Awesome. Yeah, Richard, can you give us any hints about what you're thinking about working on in the future then, since you've got some plans?

Richard Garfield

Well...right now my brain is pretty filled with Half Truth. But, I'm always tinkering with new card and board game ideas. One of my games that was released last year in particular, Keyforge, has made me think a lot about the concepts that were there. And that is the as far as I know, the first unique deck game. Everybody can't mix-or-match the cards. And so, the possibilities that sort of play and produces is pretty exciting to somebody like me.

Kickstarter and Studio 71

Richard, back in the 2012 interview you did with opinionatedgamers.com, you expressed a weariness with using Kickstarter for crowdfunding a game. What changed between then and now for you?

Richard Garfield

Oh I'm still wary.

[laughs]

Ken Jennings

[laughs]

Richard Garfield

But with good partners who have experience, like Studio 71, that can help assuage much of my wariness. I don't remember that interview in particular, but I have had bad Kickstarter experiences where Kickstarter is amazing, because it gets, the community started ahead of time, and that's part of what a game is--the community was built around it--and it also gets games that a publisher wouldn't have done 10 years ago. It gives them a platform to get out there. 

The flip-side of that is, you sometimes get games published that really needed that professional look to it, and the lack of the publisher is missed. By having Studio 71, they help with the positive aspects of that. And the fact that I have a lot of experience with games and have been working with a lot of people who can verify that the rules are written in a cohesive manner and that the game works independent to the fact that we're doing it on our own, helps a lot also.

[...]

[Working] with Studio 71, they've moderated a lot of the back and forth between us and our graphic designer and the way that he is envisioning or proposing that we make the look and feel of the game, and working with us in ways to create community benefits during the time of the Kickstarter drive, so that we can both provide something for the community, and use what they're after, to drive the next stage of the creation of the game.

Ken Jennings

Yeah, their record of success with games like The Binding of Isaac on Kickstarter has really been helpful and encouraging to me for whom Kickstarter is just some unknown frontier. And, you know, it's been really helpful to have like, their expertise at every step being like, "No no no trust us, this will really work. That doesn't work, but this does."

[Do] either of you have any final words you want to say about the game or anything that you're also currently working on?

Richard Garfield

Well, I think I said what I want to say on the game, I think that people will find it broadly appealing, and I'm hoping that people check it out.

Ken Jennings  

I am @KenJennings on Twitter and I invite people to take all their--I know trivia people are very detail oriented and pedantic, and I want to encourage them to send me all their quibbles and complaints about ambiguity, is there possible mistakes in the game, I just want to see those all, all the time.

Interview Transcript

Alright, tell me about Half Truth the game. 

Richard Garfield  

So the game itself is a trivia game, so the players will be answering questions, and every question is one in which there's six answers given, and three of the answers are correct, and three are incorrect. And so players are tasked with finding at least one correct answer.

Cool. Yeah, I heard it was going to be kind of like betting on the correct answers and the incorrect answers, how many bets does each player get?

Richard Garfield  

Since there's three correct answers, you can go for all three, and you'll get some bonus points for getting all three. But if you get a single one incorrect, you don't get anything. And so oftentimes, if you're not certain about your second or third answer, you can do just fine by betting on just one.

[laughs] Wow, that sounds like a bit of a minefield, if getting one incorrect answer ruins your score!

Richard Garfield  

To that question, that is true. But relative to other trivia games, it's much more accessible in the sense that even if you know nothing, you get most of the reward half the time if you just take the guess, and you can usually increase your chances if you can eliminate any of the incorrect answers, or use what you do know to help steer you towards something that's a little more likely to be correct. 

Ken Jennings  

The virtue of this is that, you know, a trivia Know-It-All type player will still have an edge on the game--it's a game of skill. But really just giving most of the points for being able to pick out this one right answer really levels the playing because it's a game for everyone. The first time Richard and I played in his house, I actually lost the second game, and I thought, "I love this, about this trivia game--it's a party game!", like this doesn't kill the party. Really, anyone can win any given game.

 Yeah, it kinda sounds like the Trivia-Heads out there might maybe be a little bit too confident, will overbet and if they get a wrong answer, then their score will be wiped, and the people who are maybe a little bit more cautious about their answers, because they are not as experienced with trivia might have an edge in that sense, just by being you know, more careful with how many bets they place.

Ken Jennings  

That totally happened to me! "I'm Ken Jennings, I bet I can get three of these right!". And sometimes I did, but sometimes, I didn't! [laughs]

[laughs] So, are the questions going to be mostly pop-culture centric, or will there be several categories to choose from each round?

Richard Garfield  

You won't be choosing your categories, they're given to you; you flip up a question, and that's what it is. And they're in all sorts of areas. One of our goals was to make it so that there's something there for everybody. So the questions are in a really wide range of topics. It'll have movies, songs, history, books, you know, you name it.

Ken Jennings  

We wanted to make sure that even kind of little weird niches of geekdom--cause you know, everybody's a geek now, so we wanted to make sure there's a card for everybody, like if you're really into baking, there's a card about desserts. If you're really into trains, there's a card about that. If you're really into reality shows there's the card about Jersey Shore. So you know, no matter what you're a weirdly expert geek about, I think your card is in the box. 

Nice!

Richard Garfield  

And in addition to that, this format allowed us to create some questions which really defy categorization. For example, there's a question on, which of these are real Japanese sodas. You know, somebody who's visited Japan and paid attention to the sodas will certainly have an advantage there--they may recognize some--but if you haven't, then you're playing this completely different game where you're trying to guess what would be a good Japanese soda name, and is that actually one of the names that's there.

I can think of a drink that has a very interesting name. It's not technically soda, but while I was in Japan, it was one of my favorites because it was kind of like Gatorade, except for some reason, a little salty. But the name it has makes you think it would be like one of the given wrong answers.

Richard Garfield  

[laughs] Yes. That one is actually a pretty tough one because the names are already so outrageous.

Yeah. So Ken Jennings, did you come up with most of the trivia questions and answers? Or was it largely a group effort?

Ken Jennings  

It was a group effort. I edited the entire question set, because I have very kind of strict and lofty ideas about trivia aesthetics. I wrote a book called Brainiac right after I was on Jeopardy!. It's kind of about my ideas of trivia. And when Richard contacted me about this game, the first thing he said was, "I love your book, Brainiac, it made me want to work on a trivia game with you.", which I thought was super flattering. So everybody was writing questions, but I had kind of a distribution in mind, you know, how it should be ecumenical. There shouldn't be more movies and books, there shouldn't be more history than hip-hop, you know, it to be everything. And I probably I wrote a few hundred of them myself and maybe wrote half the box myself. 

Richard Garfield  

I think that's about right. But he not only wrote about half the questions, he really helped guide us as to what made a good question and what we should avoid, and so his fingerprints are all over even the ones he didn't write.

That actually kind of brings this to one of my other questions, which was: the earliest mentioned that I could find of either one of you talking about a trivia game that you were working on, goes way back to 2012. So this sounds like it's been a passion project years in the making.

Richard Garfield  

That is true. It came into being the first...the first inkling of this game was when I read Ken's book, Brainiac, that really got me to think about trivia in a way which I hadn't thought about it in the past, that I realized that it could be much more egalitarian than I thought, and that it could be more broadly appealing than I had grown to think it was. And so, that inspired me to start working on this game. When I had the framework, I contacted Ken and that was the start.

Has the game gone through any major changes over the years as y'all developed the concept?

Richard Garfield  

The framework hasn't changed much. At the very beginning, there was a point where the questions were instead of being three correct and three incorrect, there was only one correct, sort of more traditional, but that wasn't as satisfying as having three correct and three incorrect. But after the general mechanics were nailed down, most of the changes within addition of questions, and also development of our sensibility and what style fit this sort of game the best.

Right, now, Richard Garfield, were there times when you tried to make cards and questions that would actually stump Ken? And if so, did you succeed?

Richard Garfield  

Well, absolutely. I think on both accounts. But what I wanted to make sure was that there were some questions there that somebody with the wide and unpredictable knowledge that somebody like Ken has, that there'd still be something they hadn't thought about or something curveball. So, you know, these questions like the Japanese sodas or discontinued cereals, things like that, are in that category. 

Ken Jennings  

I remember the first time we played, there is a category about animals with blue tongues. And the curveball for me was one of the answers was the Blue Tongued Skink. And I was like, "I bet that's a trick! I bet the Blue Tongued Skink does not have a blue tongue." I did not go with that answer. It turns out, the Blue Tongued Skink totally has a blue tongue.

[laughs]

Ken Jennings  

[laughs] So turns out, I'm pretty easily fooled!

Richard Garfield  

That was one of my wife Koni's questions and yeah, that was pretty evil. That got me too.

Yeah, that sounds like a mean trick! [laughs]

Richard Garfield  

She also did one of my favorite questions which was, 'which of these are genuine mushrooms?'. And so, there were three mushrooms there and then three things which kinda sounded like mushrooms, but one of them...I was pretty sure was a Magic card. And then afterwards, I got it correct--it turned out, all three of the bad answers were Magic cards. And so, if you knew Magic well which, I should, but I apparently don't, 

Ken Jennings  

[laughs]

Richard Garfield  

--you would have an edge on this question.

Wow! So y'all mentioned that this was a game that hardcore trivia fans but also people who weren't so familiar with trivia knowledge would be able to win and have fun with. But is there a difficulty scaling for groups that want that hardcore trivia?

Ken Jennings  

Is the question, 'Is it hard to serve all  audiences at once'?

Are there versions of the game like a normal or hard mode?

Ken Jennings  

[quietly] I do. Not right now, we've talked about expansion packs. I mean, the fun thing about doing this in a Kickstarter--we need to start building a community for the game immediately while it's still at the presses, and have people tell us, 'hey, there should be a kid's version of this. Hey, how come there's not a Disney version? How come there's not a 90s version?' You know, and kind of built the game that way. Right now, the genius of Richard's framework for the game is that whether the question is like something bizarre, like weird French, soda pops or whether it's, you know, something kind of right down the trivia plate, you know--U.S. presidents or something, you know, presidential middle names or something like that, it plays pretty well, for everyone and then the next card is going to be something different with different curveballs. So you know, you never know what you're going to get. And the main thing I want is for it to play really well as as a party game. You know, there's nothing worse than a trivia game that has lots of long pauses while somebody tries to think of the capital of Romania or, you know, you do finally get a question you know and it wasn't your turn, so you don't get the answer it...you know, we wanted a trivia game that didn't make people feel dumb, and I think that's not too much to ask for.

Oh yeah! And actually, one of my later questions was going to be about expansion packs, so I'm glad that we have even more to look forward to in the future.

Richard Garfield  

We'll certainly be guided by what the community is after, but--more questions in general is good--but as Ken mentioned, the special areas that people are interested in also, I could imagine ones that are specialized in movies, or books, or sports could, you know, could be something that would find an audience, and we'd like to serve those audiences. 

Ken Jennings  

Studio 71 can confirm this, but I think, during the Kickstarter, one of the privileged access tiers is going to be for people to be able to contribute their own question to the game for, you know, for a future expansion pack. So people will be credited in the game with their own trivia questions if they want to support at that level.

Anna  

Yeah, I will double-check on that, but that does sound right to me.

Cool! So Richard, back in the 2012 interview you did with opinionatedgamers.com, you expressed a weariness with using Kickstarter for crowdfunding a game. What changed between then and now for you?

Richard Garfield  

Oh I'm still wary. 

[laughs]

Ken Jennings  

[laughs]

Richard Garfield  

But with good partners who have experience, like Studio 71, that can help assuage much of my wariness. I don't remember that interview in particular, but I have had bad Kickstarter experiences where Kickstarter is amazing, because it gets, the community started ahead of time, and that's part of what a game is--the community was built around it--and it also gets games that a publisher wouldn't have done 10 years ago. It gives them a platform to get out there. The flip-side of that is, you sometimes get games published that really needed that professional look to it, and the lack of the publisher is missed. By having Studio 71, they help with the positive aspects of that. And the fact that I have a lot of experience with games and have been working with a lot of people who can verify that the rules are written in a cohesive manner and that the game works independent to the fact that we're doing it on our own, helps a lot also.

Oh, definitely. So the wariness came more from 'Can the Kickstarter individual deliver?', not from 'Will this actually get attention on, you know, a crowdfunding platform?'

Richard Garfield  

Yeah. Again, I don't remember in particular what was going on. I've always been cautious of crowdfunding, doesn't mean that I don't think it has a possibility of you know what to do with it, and caution is not the same as disdain. 

Right. So, will be game be a physical card game or digital? Or are there plans for both?

Richard Garfield  

Right now, it's a board game with the trivia on cards. But, you know, eventually, I'm hoping that there will be a digital version, but that's not this first release.

Gotcha. Um, let's see...y'all giving great answers and they end up, like, answering a lot of the other stuff that I put together! [laughs]

Ken Jennings  

[laughs]

You're too good at this! Do either of you have plans for more games in the future? And will any of those games be collaborative like this one was?

Richard Garfield  

Oh I've got plans for lots of games, and would love to work with Ken on the future if a project make sense.

Ken Jennings  

I'm working on a new book; I'm a full time writer. I don't think I have a game in the pipeline right now. But yeah, hopefully more variants of Half Truth to come both, digital and analog.

Awesome. Yeah, Richard, can you give us any hints about what you're thinking about working on in the future then, since you've got some plans?

Richard Garfield  

Well...right now my brain is pretty filled with Half Truth. But, I'm always tinkering with new card and board game ideas. One of my games that was released last year in particular, KeyForge, has made me think a lot about the concepts that were there. And that is the as far as I know, the first unique deck game. Everybody can't mix-or-match the cards. And so, the possibilities that sort of play and produces is pretty exciting to somebody like me.

Oh, yeah, like that sounds really fun. I used to play Magic, way more in high school, but I still pick up my decks every so often. So the idea of basically having to follow a specific deck and seeing what you can do with that, even though it doesn't change game-to-game. That sounds really interesting and, like, challenging in a fun way.

Richard Garfield  

And I think there's a lot more possibility for games along on those lines. So I'm thinking about those possibilities.

Ken, I actually have a question from my colleague, Brian Schwarz, would you say this game would help train the mental trivia muscles for Jeopardy! hopefuls?

Ken Jennings  

Is Schwarz hoping to be on Jeopardy!?

Probably [laughs] he also asked if you could send his wife his shirt, but I decided to not include that in the first bit of the question.

Ken Jennings  

[laughs] 'Here's a list of people I work with, and here's the size of check they would like, Ken.' Uh, I think...you know, there's a lot of things you can can do the prep for Jeopardy!, honestly. But I think because my trivia aesthetic was so strongly inspired by Jeopardy! as a kid--like, I would run over every day to watch Jeopardy!. I was just old enough for the show, even though I was like 10 years old--and I really liked how each clue was kind of a tight little--it was short! It was like a haiku, but it was also like a puzzle or a riddle--it was full of red herring and hints, and maybe some misdirection or pun. And I just loved all that. And as a result, I've always liked trivia questions that have some of those elements of puzzle solving and deduction, and maybe lateral outside-the-box thinking that you don't always see in dollar trivia games. So, I really tried to inject a lot of that into Half Truth. And yeah, maybe this trains your brain to see that, Final Jeopardy! connection that wins the game for you, I think Schwarz should--

Richard Garfield  

[laughs]

Ken Jennings  

--he should be playing Half Truth full-time.

[laughs] Oh yeah! 

Ken Jennings  

[laughs]

So this question is for both of you. But since Richard definitely has more experience on the game making side of things, what advice would you give for people who want to make their own game be it tabletop or online?

Richard Garfield  

Well, I certainly advise people to play as many games as they can. Because learning what's out there, and learning what people like about games that you don't necessarily like, will have you become a better designer. And as far as testing it to see if your game is good, getting it in front of as broad an audience as possible is great. If you only put it in front of your friends or your family, there's a good chance, you'll get an inflated idea of what it is. It's a pitfall, which game designers often fall into they have this idea of how a game should be played and they play it that way, and they teach their friends to play it that way and then everybody says it's a great game when they play, but then when it gets into the hands of a stranger, they start playing it in some other way. And the game is not at all fun in that way. And so, a broad group of playtesters is very important. 

Oh, definitely. That's kind of one of the things that's kept me from trying to DM a D&D game of my own, just because I'm terrified of putting a lot of work into something and then my party deciding to go West instead of East or something like that.

Richard Garfield  

There's a risk with that game, you want to give them as much freedom as possible, because that's a lot of the fun in the game. But if you give them a lot of freedom, they won't necessarily do what you want them to do.

Yeah. How do either of you see technology affecting traditional tabletop games in the next decade? Because even though tabletop is still really popular--and has actually kind of gotten a resurgence, as a lot of influencers turn more attention to it--do you think that, you know, technology will kind of change that direction and that trend?

Richard Garfield  

So, yeah, technology is really affecting games quite a bit and, in a great way, they're sort of cross-pollinating. I think that they both feed into each other quite a lot, because people who really like digital games will often move into paper games and vice versa, and so the ideas and loves of both groups are cross-fertilizing. You won't...I don't believe you'll ever see face-to-face games disappear, because this aspect of playing around the table and being in the same room in this world, which is so often where our contacts with people are so often moderated by electronic devices and distance, is very special. And so, regular board games, are a great way for people to socialize in real life.

Right, there's just a certain level of connection you can't get from even just video conferencing with people. If you're all playing a game together.

Ken Jennings  

There's really no substitute for the communal thing of doing it in person and actually having the tactile physical object in front of you. 

Yeah.

Ken Jennings  

As a writer, I'm kind of afraid that publishing is going to go away any day because ebooks are just so much more convenient in every way, and people love books and it's not just old people. Like, adoption of ebooks is not super high among millennials either like many of them, it turns out, think the old way was perfectly fine. And hopefully, that's what happens with board games as well. I guess it turns out, it's such a killer app as it is that you know, there's no digital version that can improve on every aspect.

Exactly. So do either of you have any final words you want to say about the game or anything that you're also currently working on? Or where we can find you on social media? 

Richard Garfield  

Well, I think I said what I want to say on the game, I think that people will find it broadly appealing, and I'm hoping that people check it out.

Ken Jennings  

I am @KenJennings on Twitter and I invite people to take all their--I know trivia people are very detail-oriented and pedantic, and I want to encourage them to send me all their quibbles and complaints about ambiguity, is there  possible mistakes in the game, I just want to see those all, all the time.

Anna  

This is Anna from Studio 71 popping in real fast, could you guys quickly touch on kind of what your process with Studio 71 has been creating the game thus far, I know they kind of helped you through the Kickstarter process, but if there's anything on there, that would be great.

Richard Garfield  

Sure. Yeah, working with Studio 71, they've moderated a lot of the back and forth between us and our graphic designer and the way that he is envisioning or proposing that we make the look and feel of the game, and working with us in ways to create community benefits during the time of the Kickstarter drive, so that we can both provide something for the community, and use what they're after, to drive the next stage of the creation of the game.

Ken Jennings  

Yeah, their record of success with games like The Binding of Isaac on Kickstarter has really been helpful and encouraging to me for whom Kickstarter is just some unknown frontier. And, you know, it's been really helpful to have like, their expertise at every step being like, "No no no trust us, this will really work. That doesn't work, but this does."

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