Antic Trivia Machine
Challenge yourself with our questions, or challenge friends with yours!
By Marc Lombardo
Antic Trivia Machine is easy to operate and easy to reprogram, but it may not be easy to win. This BASIC program for one to four players runs on 8-bit Atari computers with at least 48K memory and disk drive.
These days, trivia games have even penetrated the arcades. The little coin-op trivia machines present fun, challenging, colorful games--at a quarter a pop. On some coin-op units, that gives you a whole four questions, with maybe a single bonus question thrown in if you're really good.
Now you can bring the trivia challenge to your Atari and test your useless knowledge with the Antic Trivia Machine. This simple BASIC program lets up to four players play at once. A time limit adds to the challenge. The multiple-choice questions are picked at random, so it can take several games to see all the questions. The questions included in the program aren't the hardest in the world, but this article explains how you can easily go into the listing and add your own.
Type in TRIVIA.BAS, Listing 1, check it with TYPO II, and be sure to save a copy to disk before you run it. (Warning: The questions have not been encrypted so you will see all the questions and answers as you type them in.)
When you first RUN the program, a title screen appears while a little tune plays. At the prompt, press any key to continue with the game. You will be asked to enter the number of players, and then each player's name.
As the game itself begins, the first player's name will appear at the top of the screen. Then, one category out of six is chosen, and finally the question itself. Each question has three possible answers listed. Press the letter next to the answer of your choice.
You get 100 points for each correct answer. The goal is to get 500 points before your opponents do. However, to make the game fair, the computer will ignore the score until each player has played each round. If two players tie at 500 points, the game will continue until one player is ahead at the end of a round.
If you get tired of the questions, or just want to add more, you can easily enter your own. (Make sure you have a backup copy of the original, just in case!) The questions are entered in the form of BASIC DATA statements, which you can see at the end of the program listing. If you're familiar with BASIC, the format should be self-evident.
But even if you're not used to working with BASIC, the changes needed are easy to make. The easiest way to start modifying the program is RUN it, then press the [BREAK] key when the program asks for the number of players. Type LIST and then press [RETURN], and the program listing will scroll up your screen. Press [CONTROL]  to stop and restart the listing. You can LIST a single line by number, or a series of lines by entering the first and last line numbers, separated by a comma as in: LIST 10,100.
Each DATA statement begins with a line number followed immediately by the word DATA. The information in the DATA statement must come in the following order:
1000 DATA CATEGORY,QUESTION, CHOICE A,CHOICE B,CHOICE C,ANSWER
A sample statement could be:
2000 DATA 3,What is the world's tallest building?,Sears Tower,Empire State Building, Earl's Doughnut Shop,A
The category is indicated by a single number, and the answer by a single letter. The questions and answers may use uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, spaces. They CANNOT include commas, which are used to separate the data items. If you do put a comma in your question by accident, and try to play the game, you'll find that your question now ends at the comma, and the rest of the question appears as choice A.
The categories at present are 1, Animals; 2, Games and Sports; 3, General; 4, Storybooks and Fairy tales; 5, Heroes and Villains; 6, TV and Cartoons. You can change the categories to anything you like by changing their names in lines 230 and 360.
Whenever you change a line in the program, check to make sure it's correct and press [RETURN] while the cursor is still on that line. This enters the changes into memory. If you just use the [CONTROL] [ARROW] keys to move the cursor to a new line, your changes will be lost. Use [CONTROL] [INSERT] to add new lines--just be sure to start each new line with a new line number.
When you've finished changing and adding questions, simply SAVE the file to a new disk by typing SAVE "D:TRIVIA.BAS". You can make several different versions of the program, each with different questions, just by SAVEing each version with a different name: "D:TRIVIA2.BAS", "D:TRIVIA3.BAS", and so on.
Marc Lombardo is from Ralston, Nebraska. This is his first appearance in Antic.