Lost in Venice – Progress Report I

In the last two weeks, our project has been moving forward smoothly according to the project calendar. We have been collecting information, designed data structure and built a database for our quiz game, Lost in Venice. Additionally, we have modified the scheme for designing routes based on the information that we found. Instead of starting to design the user interface from the ninth week, we have already built an initial prototype of the game interface.

Designing data structure

The information of all the historical sites is stored in a table in the MySQL database that we build.

The table has 11 fields, namely: id, name, latitude, longitude, QEasy (an easy question ), QNormal (a normal question), QHard (a hard question), AEasy (the answer for the easy question), ANormal (the answer for the normal question), AHard (the answer for the hard question) and info (general information). Figure 1 has shown the structure of the database.

Structure of the database
Figure 1. Structure of the database

The latitude and longitude are used to precisely locate the corresponding site in Google Maps and Google Street View that are connected with our quiz game. On one hand, designing questions with three levels of difficulty increases the number of routes with different combinations of questions; on the other hand, the difficulty of questions along the route will then improve progressively, which prevents players from the frustration of not being able to answer difficult questions at the beginning . The field info consists of general information and some interesting facts about the corresponding historical site. The general information of a site will be provided to the players after they answer the questions about the site, which may increase the players’ knowledge and interest in Venice.

The information of all of the fields except questions and answers is available on the Internet and can be easily collected. One of the most time-consuming tasks for us would be to design the questions and their answers, which requires us to learn a lot about these historic sites.

Collecting Information

Our initial plan is to collect 200 historic sites in Venice to build the database for our quiz game. However, during our search for the well-known historic sites in Venice, we have only found 129 of them, which is less than what we expected. Therefore, we modified our scheme for designing routes accordingly, the detail of which will be mentioned after.

We have written a short program to automatically extract the list of names of well-known sites in Venice from TripAdvisor, a travel website that provides tourism-related content. However, we also manually removed from the name list the sites that are not historical. From TripAdvisor, we can also obtain the information about the popularity of each site, which we will base on to adjust the difficulty of the quiz questions.

Modifying the scheme

Since we have only found half of the expected number of historical sites, we faced the challenge of keeping our game interesting even with lower diversity of places. We decided to deal with it by increasing the number of questions assigned to each historical site. Before, each site had only one difficulty, but now all of them have 3 questions with different difficulties. Therefore the new game scheme looks as follows – at the start of the game the person should choose the difficulty (easy, normal or hard) and then for each difficulty we randomly sample 10 places from set of 129 sites. The game will be based on the chosen 10 places. By using this approach we not only deal with problem of lack of historical sites, but also keep the user interested in game, because it enables him to get non-repetitive unique information from every launch.

The initial prototype

In the meantime, we were exploring the usage of Google Maps and Google Street View API in our quiz game. By following several tutorials we created a fully functional local prototype of our future site. To show our progress, we decided to learn how to build a website from the scratch. The link to our website prototype is http://lostinvenice.16mb.com. The interface of our the game is shown in Figure 2.

Initial prototype of the quiz game
Figure 2. Initial prototype of the quiz game

Future Work

The next weeks we will mainly concentrate on question designing. We will start from questions with normal difficulty. And then seeing the efforts that the designing process requires, we will decide whether we need other difficulties. The minor goal is to continue to learn the new web-design features and improve our website prototype.