The Background of PsychOUT!

      This program is the result of three influences. First, I needed to teach myself how to program using Visual Basic. Second, I've always wanted some "review tool" in the classroom that students would find engaging and useful. Third, the first version of PsychOUT!, while pretty successful, still had certain limitations. (Most of which I've fixed for this second version of the game.)

      The code for the first PsychOUT! game was not pretty, but it turned out a game that was playable, if not elegant or feature-friendly. Below is a list of the features (F) and upgrades (U) to this version of PsychOUT! and a few goals (G) I may try to implement in a version 3 iteration if I get next summer off:

  1. Team names can be selected.
  1. Which team gets to start can be determined by the user.
  1. The use of PsychOUT! trials can be optional (thus making this a simple Q&A game).
  1. The number of PsychOUT! trials per round can be set anywhere from 0 (none) to 25 (all), or, they can be completely disabled (that is, no random ones allowed and the "anytime" PsychOUT! buttons on the main game board are also disabled).
  1. It is now possible to make the random PsychOUT! trials "visible" to players (PsychOUT! questions will be indicated by pink point-amount buttons on the game board).
  1. Questions and answers are easy to modify by simply typing them into a (formatted) text file. This allows the program to be used for virtually any topic.
  1. The MC can now award partial points (25, 50, or 75 percent of the question value). The only exception to this is when the opposing team gets to steal - they only get to steal half of the points (see below).
  1. Now, when time is up and no suitable answer has been given, the game can be played so that the opposing team can steal some of the points (only 50 percent of the value of the question). (The game doesn't have to be played this way; the MC can just ignore the "steal" opportunity.)
  1. Points for each question are pre-assigned (there are default values) but point values to questions can be "edited" BEFORE GAME PLAY by changing the values in the popoints.txt file.
  1. Sounds are enabled (theme music I use is Intermission from a Monty Python film or Nitro by Dick Dale) and users can supply their own themes by creating theme1.wav and theme2.wav files in their PsychOUT! subdirectory. (Music can be disabled at the setup screen but it will stop regardless once game-play begins.)
  1. User (MC) can select question sets for every column and level played.
  1. Number of rounds (1 to 3) played can be determined up-front. Based on my experience, I would estimate that you can probably play the entire three rounds in a somewhat fast-paced and lively 50-minute game without PsychOUT! trials. If you play with PsychOUT! trials, then you shouldn't plan on more than two rounds.
  1. Random PsychOUT! trials are determined in such a way that questions at the bottom of the screen (presumably higher-point or more difficult questions) are more likely to be selected than those toward the top of the screen (presumably lower-point or easier questions).
  1. The game can now be played at any of four screen resolutions: 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024, and 1400x1050. Any other resolution will exit the program with a "resolution incompatible" warning. (If you receive this warning, see if you can adjust your screen resolution by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting PROPERTIES, then the SETTINGS tab. There should be a slider bar to allow you to adjust your screen resolution.)
  1. If the MC makes a scoring mistake (hits the wrong decision button, etc.), or, if the MC wants to "handicap" a team, it is now possible to simply type the desired (updated, corrected, etc.) score into a team's score box (when it is active).
  1. Questions and Answers are automatically scaled to fit the displays (but the more text, the smaller the font).
  1. I haven't yet allowed the same auto-scaling flexibility for column/category headers on the main game board.
  1. I want to figure out a way that users could display a picture file either as part of a question or answer (or both).
  1. I think it would be easier to allow question point-amounts to be edited on-line and Q&A files to be selected in toto rather than piecemeal as it is (maybe toggle between the two: default vs. advanced options).

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