Just the FAQs: Risky Business

Welcome to the world of Risky Business, where every day is dangerous! This short document will introduce you to the basics of the Risky Business trivia games, especially on StarLink and DALnet, where your local games administrator is Eingang.

A Brief Description of the Game

Risky Business is a high-speed trivia question and answer game where up to 20 people can challenge other players on their knowledge of people, places, events, and things. Unlike many organised games, Risky Business can be played at any time of the day or night against people from all over the world. This is accomplished through the magic of the Internet Relay Chat. If you do not know about the IRC and how to use it, please consult the primer which will explain how to connect, where to obtain clients, and how to navigate and communicate on the IRC.

The Risky Business games are organized into 4 different games. Risky Business (#riskybus), hosted by the gregarious and friendly ReneeBot, is a general, anything goes trivia game. #musicrb/#musictrivia, with MzBot as your host, caters to lovers of music -- any kind. #poprb/#poptrivia, with XallaBot, is tailored for the Generation X crowd, with questions about music, television, food, and books. Finally, for those tired of the easy stuff in the other trivia games, #einstein, with host EinsBot, offers players more of a rigourous academic approach to trivia, with literature, geography, history, and science. All told the games incorporate about 1400 categories, with over 57,000 questions.

A game is composed of six categories of five questions each. The questions are worth 400, 500, 600, 700, and 800 points respectively. The game host provides a question for players to answer. The first player to correctly answer the question increments his/her score by the point value of the question. An example of typical question and answer exchange appears below, where ReneeBot is the gameshow host and Eingang is a player.

<ReneeBot>Question 27 of 30:Jackie Robinson began his professional 
+relationship with this minor league team.
<Eingang>Renee, Grog 

A player answers a question by saying "[NickName], <answer>." The nickname for the bots are as follows: Renee (#riskybus), Mz (#musicrb), Xalla (#poprb), and Eins (#einstein). For example, Renee, <answer>, where <answer> is the answer to the question. Hereafter, the host will be referred to as "Reneebot". Insert the correct name for your variant of Risky Business.

Along with the normal questions, there are also two special questions during the game. These appear randomly during the course of the game and are awarded to the user with the last correct question answered. Thus, if "grog" was the correct answer for Question 27 above and Question 28 is one of these special questions, then Eingang has the opportunity to answer question 28 alone. Eingang also has the opportunity to bet either all accumulated points or, if Eingang's score is below the point value of the question, the point value of the question. Betting is accomplished by saying "ReneeBot, wager". ReneeBot will then ask you how much to wager and you can say "ReneeBot, x", where x is the amount of your bet. If Eingang answers the question correctly then the betted amount is added to his/her score. If Eingang incorrectly answers the question, the amount of the bet is subtracted from his/her score.

In addition to betting as described above, Risky Business offers players the option of trying to steal points away from another player. This is accomplished by saying "ReneeBot, steal x", where x is the name of another player. You can steal up to the amount that the other person actually has. The 'bot will ask you how much you want to steal and you can say "ReneeBot, x", where x is the amount you want to try to steal. Both players then must /msg the 'bot with their answers. Scores are modified according to the following table:

  Answer:Thief    Victim  Score Changes:Thief  Victim
         Right    Right                  1/2X    1/2X
         Right    Wrong                   +X      -X
         Wrong    Right                   -X     +2X
         Wrong    Wrong                   -X      0
Where X is the amount that the Thief tried to steal.

After 30 questions (6 categories of 5 questions each), any players who have a positive score greater than 0 are allowed to participate in "Final Terrible Trouble." A Final Terrific Trouble question is randomly selected and the players have 70 seconds to message the bot (/msg Reneebot x) with the amount of their bets. A player can only bet as much as s/he has. After the bets have been received, the final question is displayed and the players have 50 seconds to message their answers to the 'bot.

If there is a tie for first place, the game goes into "Overtime Terrible Trouble." In Overtime Terrible Trouble, a special category is used. All questions in this special category have a non-decimal numeric answer. The player closest to the correct answer will win the points. If the tie cannot be resolved in 3 overtime rounds, nobody wins the game.

The trivia bots have a personality, influenced by the particular quirks and eccentricities of Eingang. The original personality was designed for ReneeBot, but even EinsBot shares in it now. Try asking the bots about poetry, songs, Eingang, chocolate, or Switzerland. Most of the trivia bots, incidentally, are female and love to gossip.

Where Can I Play?

Eingang runs the games on StarLink and on DALnet. The following table gives you the channel names and server names for the various trivia games.

  Network     Server                       Game                 Channel
  DALnet      viking.dal.net               General Trivia       #riskybus
                                           Music Trivia         #musictrivia
                                           Pop Culture Trivia   #poptrivia

  EFnet                                    General Trivia       #riskybus

  StarLink    denver.co.us.starlink.org    General Trivia       #riskybus
                                           Music Trivia         #musicrb
                                           Pop Culture Trivia   #poprb
                                           Academic Trivia      #einstein

 Undernet     us.undernet.org              General Trivia       #riskybus

ReneeBot Commands/Game Commands

A number of commands can be issued by players to ReneeBot. The only real commands which should be issued on the channel to ReneeBot are "Renee, we give up" , "Renee, ungive.", or "Renee, show hint". The first of these will cause Reneebot to cease accepting answers for the current question after 10 seconds have elapsed or another player also issues the "we give up" command. This command should be used with caution and only after ensuring that the remainder of the channel is ready to give up.

The following list of commands should be sent via a private message to Reneebot. This can be done by typing /msg ReneeBot cmd, (or whatever the name of the robot for the variant of Risky Business being played) where cmd is one of the following:

* we give up
    Causes the bot to display the answer to the question in 7
    seconds unless someone guesses the answer or gives the
    "ungive" command.  If two different players issue the
    "we give up" command, the question answer is displayed 

* ungive If someone gives up too quickly, issuing this command will give the players a little extra time in which to submit an answer. This command can only be issued once per question and "we give up" commands after an "ungive" command will have no effect.

* show question Messages you the current question.

* show categories Messages you the list of categories for the current game, plus indicates what category is currently being played.

* show hint If available, displays a hint for the current question. First hint is usually the number of letters and words in the answer. 2nd hint, if available, shows you some letters in the answer. Each call reduces point value of question by half. Make sure to ask before you use this! * show scores Displays the current points accumulated by the players for the current game.

* show top wins Will send you the list of the 10 players with the greatest number of wins.

* show top scores Will send you the list of the 10 players with the greatest number of points in a single game.

* note [comment] This can be used to inform the game administrator of bugs in the categories. Please be sure to include the category name in your comment. These comments are saved to a file. This command can only be used by messaging the 'bot whereas the above commands will also work on the channel.

* reset question Sometimes Renee forgets that somebody has answered a question and she doesn't want to properly continue. This will force her to go on.

Channel Operators

Channel operators are users entrusted to maintain order on the channel as well as correct errors and notify the administration in the event of errors or mishaps. If you are not on the bot op list and think that you qualify, contact the appropriate game administrator.

We cannot stress the importance of operators behaving appropriately. With so many games running, it is impossible for the game administrators to monitor all the channels all the time. As such, we rely on the operators to enforce the rules, particularly the rules regarding language and conduct on the channel. The games are designed to be family-friendly. If you are an operator or would like to be an operator, please be sure that you are also committed to this.

If you think someone is abusing their operator privileges or perhaps using them to cheat, please feel free to contact the appropriate game administrator with details of the problem.

For more information on becoming an operator, consult the How To Become a Channel Operator guide or the full version of this FAQ

Channel Rules (For Everyone)

Thousands of people have played our games, from countries all around the world, at many different times of the day and the night. In order to make sure that everyone has a good time, we have formulated the following rules which lay out guidelines for proper behaviour from all the users of our game channels. With so many games running, it is impossible to monitor all the channels all the time. Therefore, we rely on the operators to enforce the rules, particularly the rules regarding language and conduct on the channel. The games are designed to be family-friendly, which means we do have restrictions on language and content, for the comfort and enjoyment of all.

Channel operators are users entrusted to maintain order on the channel as well as to correct errors and notify the administration in the event of errors or mishaps. If you think someone is abusing their operator privileges or perhaps using them to cheat, please feel free to contact Eingang with details of the problem.

  1. Treat everyone, including the bot, with respect. Be polite, obey the rules and contribute in a positive way to the atmosphere of the channel.

  2. No profanity/no vulgarity. We recognize that, at times, the game can be extremely frustrating. We would like to suggest that you make use of the following fun and clean expletives to express your displeasure: Krunk! Aaaargh! Ack! Wok?! Eep! Krunkola!

  3. The official language of all the game channels is English. Unless the game category calls for something in a foreign language (in trivia or Chaos), all conversation on the channel and answers submitted to the bot should be English.

  4. Don't bother to complain about all the American categories. Most of the categories were written by Americans at the beginning. Try writing your own category instead.

  5. The game bots are programs, albeit programs with some degree of sophistication. The game bots have no idea of what is really right and what is really wrong. All they can go by is what was programmed into them by the category writer. Therefore, when the bot claims that the answer is "Aplpe" instead of "Apple," there is not much point in abusing the bot about it. Use the /note command to report the error instead of complaining.

  6. Do not idle for more than a half hour or so on the game channels.

  7. Use of scripts with answers in them and/or using multiple logons or accounts to play the games is considered cheating. Players caught cheating will be permently banned from the games.

  8. Nuking, spamming, or auto-dccing files to players upon join is strictly prohibited. Users engaging in these activities will be banned.

  9. In the trivia games, there are moments when it is inappropriate to reveal the answer to a question, especially during the final round and during a steal. Please pay close attention to the status of the game before typing your answer.

  10. In the trivia games, it is possible to say "we give up" and have the 'bot go on to the next questions. The 'bots all ignore repeated "we give up" commands from the same user for the same question; so only say it once. Secondly, it is better to have a concensus on the channel before giving up; try asking if it is OK to give up before issuing the command.

For a complete list of rules, please check our Acceptable Use Policy

About the Authors

The Risky Business games were developed by the team of Mach and Eingang. Mach was a Ph.D. student in computer science at the University of California at Davis. He is now working for Intel in Portland, Oregon. Eingang is a Ph.D. student in computer science at the University of Sussex, in Brighton, England. She works with her husband at their Web design firm.

Mach's e-mail address is kenrick@acm.org. Eingang's e-mail address is eingang@eingang.org. The mailing address for categories is categories@eingang.org or use the online submission form at http://games.eingang.org/Information/rbsub.html


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Michelle A. Hoyle
Just the FAQs: Risky Business, Last modified: November 25, 2002