You are awful, but I like you

By | May 27, 2019

Regular readers may remember that I’m in a sort of work crunch period at the moment, in real life I work for one of the UK’s top universities (it’s Cambridge) and during the exam period, as it is, we’re open a bit later so I go full throttle on overtime (because I live in a flat, in Cambridge) so I don’t really have much time to explore gameshow stuff. The good news is that there’s only three weeks left and I get my life back, and so I’ll have a bit more time to dedicate to The Bar.

One of the things we do to pass the time is app based quizzing in between the moments when we have customers to serve. The Tenable app is pretty much perfect for this – no time pressure so we can put it down if we have to deal with something, well pitched questions, and a reveal that’s still quite exciting even without the real stakes. We’ve also got some mileage out of the Millionaire app from all the way back in 2013, even if it suffers from very dated questions.

If you know of any more apps that fit the bill then do let me know in the comments. We might see if Pointless works under the circumstances playing against AI.

However there’s a more recent Who Wants to be a Millionaire? app come out, based loosely on the US version. And I hate it. But I also can’t stop playing it.

It is very much the epitome of money grabbing, but in a way yet manages to be insidious but aggressive.

In each game you play against an “opponent” (i.e. it’s someone’s picture and probably an AI). You answer questions and go up the money ladder but, and here’s the exciting twist, you can’t cash out until your opponent makes a mistake. At that point you’re free to cash out whenever. The actual “dollar” value of the questions is largely irrelevant, but to make your coins back, which is the payment of entry, you’ve got to make it to at least question ten. Whatsmore, beating your opponent nets you a bonus box, filled with lifelines and experts and suchlike, but go a few questions further and you can upgrade that to a better box, with more lifelines and experts and suchlike. It very much encourages you to play on – bonuses are yours to keep regardless but coins are always on the line (you can only “drop” as far as your opponent got).

Pretty good. The questions are fair, they rarely get more than £16k/£32k level really. You have a limited selection of lifelines, you earn more by opening boxes. Mildly addictive stuff.

How do you open a box? You start a timer with various amounts of hours on it depending on how good the box is. Oh you can’t be bothered to wait? Well there’s a speedy-option! Use jewels to unlock the box early. Want to use a lifeline but don’t have any in stock? Jewels! Want to ask an expert, but you haven’t waited the requisite eight hours? Jewels! Got an answer wrong and would like another go? Lots of jewels! Want to upgrade a box? A stupid amount of jewels! How stingy is it in giving jewels out? Incredibly! So far, so standard pay-to-play. But it really is very stingy in terms of what it gives out compared to what you need to do anything worthwhile.

Viewers, I’ve spent money. Not much, £4 total, and it doesn’t go far. And if you want to play but run out of coins, every four hours you get a FREE MYSTERY BOX with not-quite-enough coins to play a game at the top level you’re at and a lifeline.

You get a question wrong on the Jeopardy app, say, you still get to play out the rest of the game. You get one of the early questions wrong here, you’ve blown four hours effectively. It’s effectively virtual jeopardy, but it’s jeopardy all the same, you’re begging for your opponent to go wrong when you get into the big money, and even when you “win” it’s surprisingly nervewracking pushing onwards. In the last week I’ve found myself deliberately working out the best times to play for maximum advantage later on. It’s ingenious and horrible, be careful before downloading.

7 thoughts on “You are awful, but I like you

  1. Brandon

    Almost everything about that Millionaire game sounds awful, but it does have a couple of clever ideas. The mechanic of your safety net being set at wherever your opponent slipped up is quite a clever idea.

    No need to apologise for the lack of content recently, this is probably the longest post on here for quite some time.

  2. Mathew Palmieri

    I dont play “paraticic” money leeches like that anymore (lets just say 300 dollars were wasting in candy crush when i started college) i rather play ACTUAL games than get scammed with skinner box mechanics.
    The main thing this time around is that the US syndicated version of WWTBAM was finally axed 4 days ago. not surpring really, cosidering the show in its final state was a mere droplet in water compared to its original self. hope after a while stellify media will reboot it here….

    1. Brandon

      I’m surprised they didn’t do anything special for the 20th anniversary. Or maybe there was supposed to be in August, but they hadn’t taped it when the cancellation announcement was made.

  3. Brig Bother Post author

    We had a great deal of fun playing Perfection this evening by the way, even if we had to specifically pause everysooften.

  4. James

    A few more details about Schlag den Star (15th June)

    Celebs – Christoph Kramer (footballer from Borussia Mönchengladbach) and Felix Neureuther (former world champion skier). I thought the date might be a clue towards some kind of active sportsman/woman taking part. Should be a good watch.

    Music guests – Bryan Adams and Sarah Connor (not the one from Terminator)

  5. CeleTheRef

    Yet another old program is seeing a revival in Italy: “La sai l’ultima?” (“you know the latest?”) is a popular joke telling contest that ran from 1992 to 2002 with a failed brief return in 2008.

    Promo with comedian Ezio Greggio, the new host.

  6. Brandon

    On the subject of Millionaire, the Dutch version has come back and it’s quite good. The set,l ogo design and some of the graphics feel like a slightly cheaper version of the current UK versions, and Robert ten Brink is back hosting again. The money tree is the UK one halved apart from the million obviously, but that now applies to the amounts before €500 too. It uses a mixture of Covalo and Strachan stuff for the music, and Fastest Finger First (the brilliantly named Vliegensvlugge Vragge, fast-paced question) is back


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