How Otaku Millionaire Hot Seat Became a Hit at Anime Festival Wichita?

I read the Greggo’s Games Show blog article, Why I created “Strikeout,” and why not every TV game show works as a live event, and agree that some shows like Family Feud would be hard to do. I also saw why Greggo would not do Who Wants to be a Millionaire? as well. I’m here to tell you how I took the Millionaire Idea and adapt it to Anime Festival Wichita and was successful for three years as of this writing.

Problems with just adapting from the United States format.

First, I just want to show what the problems that I faced when I wanted to adapt Millionaire to the live event level. I saw a person that was doing this great on YouTube. I give him the credit for making the original United States format very well. The problems with the original United States format is:

  • You need to write 15 questions per game. The reasoning for this is that you want to have multiple games during the panel time.
  • Panel Time length needs to be at least 90 minutes or more. This is that you can get in at least three or four good games. (Disclaimer: I have talk with Greggo on Skype on this topic because I was going to design a game show that took more than an hour long and he said it would be a bad idea. Audience Retention rates at Anime Conventions are around an hour long.)
  • The time to answer the questions is Contestants have the time of the world to answer the question.
  • Only one player plays at a time. This can be boring if you are in the audience and you know the answer.

With these four main problems making a Millionaire that would work will be difficult.

Possible Solutions to solve the four problems.

The Panel Time Length and Time to answer the questions

Even with these problems that I’m facing, I still wanted to do a Millionaire Panel at Anime Festival Wichita. The first question that I need to answer would be, “How to do a Millionaire Panel in just an hour long?”. There were two possible solutions.

  1. Doing it like a rollover This choice has the major three problems still showing up plus I may have only had one game on the panel. This choice would make people leave. (Hint: I have this problem in my first year doing panels, it was my second game show of the day, anyway that’s another post on another site.)
  2. Put a time limit on the question. This choice puts pressure on the contestant; however, this choice did solve the panel time length problem. This is the solution that the U.S. did in Seasons 7-9 including the 10th Anniversary Special Episodes on ABC.

With the factors, I chose the second solution to solve the Panel Time Length. With this choice, I also solved the question answering problem.

Number of Questions and the Contestant Problem

With the time problem sorted out, the only thing that stands between me and a successful Millionaire Panel at Anime Festival Wichita would be the number of questions. One of the options was to do like Farkle, a Greggo’s Game Show Original, and limit the number of questions asked in an episode. While that was good, I found a Millionaire Format that did it better.

The solution that fixes all four problems

I saw on a YouTube Channel that the Australia have a format of Millionaire that would fit into a small anime convention like Anime Festival Wichita. Just search on YouTube “Millionaire Hot Seat” and you will see the videos that I saw. The Australian format has six players playing at once, but one is in the hot seat at a time. The format is fifteen questions, all fifteen are asked in an episode but there a few times that only fourteen have been asked. The Australian format had a perfect time limit format. The time limits that I use are the same as the Australia version: 15 seconds for the first five questions, 30 seconds for the second five questions, and 45 seconds for the last five questions. The Australian format has a top prize of $1,000,000. When I saw this format, I decided that this was the format I needed to do. So, I built a customize Visual Basic App that will be the envy of anime conventions.

The Mods that I did to my Software

One of the things that I liked about Greggo Game Shows Games is that the cash based games are all in Yen, the Japanese Currency. That was one of the details that I put in. I kept the money tree values, which are showed as this:

Australian Otaku
$1,000,000 ¥ 1,000,000
$ 250,000 ¥ 250,000
$ 100,000 ¥ 100,000
$ 50,000 ¥ 50,000
$ 20,000 ¥ 20,000
$ 10,000 ¥ 10,000
$ 6,000 ¥ 6,000
$ 4,000 ¥ 4,000
$ 2,500 ¥ 2,500
$ 1,500 ¥ 1,500
$ 1,000 ¥ 1,000
$ 500 ¥ 500
$ 300 ¥ 300
$ 200 ¥ 200
$ 100 ¥ 100

Notes: Italics are the possible winnings and bold are the milestones.

The Australian version removed the question 10 milestone and I am in the faith of keeping the game shows like they were air in on TV so I don’t have a question 10 milestone on my Millionaire.

Lifelines (2015)

With the question format, all set away, I watch the Australian version to see what lifelines do they used. They used only one. I used one lifeline as well for my first episode outing. The lifeline is called the pass. The pass is simple it moves the answering the question to the next person down the line and puts the person that uses the lifeline to the end of the line; however, the next person must answer the question or that player will be out.

Incorrect Answers

Unlike in the United States version, where if you get a question wrong, you get a reduce value, if you get a question wrong in the Australian version, one of the three things will happen:

  1. You are out of the game and the top prize value drops down one level (In the first two episodes, I had the top prize go down to ¥100,000. In episode 3, I had the top prize go down to ¥10,000.)
  2. The last contestant gets nothing. (This has not happened before.)
  3. The contestant in the hot seat misses the final question and gets ¥1,000. (This has happened in all the current Otaku Millionaire Hot Seat episodes.)

Final Question

Also in the Australian version, the contestant that is in the hot seat when the final question is asked is the only one that can win anything. This format I like because it reminds me of Press Your Luck where passing is a part of a player’s strategy that decides who gets the final question.

Name of the Panel

Even when I was planning all of this, I found that the name Hot Seat is what the name implies being under the pressure. Also, since it was going to Anime Conventions, I figure out what name would work. I thought just anime but I might want to add some manga questions in. I also wanted to add a non-Japan based question in the game in some episodes. So, I decided to name the game Who Wants to be a Otaku Millionaire? Hot Seat or could be easily remembered as Otaku Millionaire Hot Seat.

Applying, Approval, and What I Learned at AFW 11

After I thought of the format, I applied the panel to Anime Festival Wichita for 2015 and it got approved. I was the first panel in their tea room on Friday Night. I had that episode here.

The panel went over well, but there were video problems after question 10 of the game and the last five questions were not recorded. The problem with my video was that I was using an SD camera with an SD Card and the Camera stop.

There were also game based problems I notice as well. On question 12, player 5 decided to use his pass lifeline. This was not the best result for me and it was a bad move on player 5 (which will not be named to protect the identities). One of the things that players should never do in the Millionaire Hot Seat, both mine, and the Australian versions, is to use your pass lifeline on the final five questions. That resulted in the player 4 who had a long shot of winning to come back into the game at player 5’s expense. One of the secrets is that once the ¥10,000 question is answer correctly, then the last player in the line is either out of luck or on the bubble because there are very few questions that they can have a shot at answering.

Changes I Made In between Version 2 (2015) and Version 3 (2016)

Every time I present the game at Anime Festival Wichita, I debut the software that goes with that panel. Changes needed to be made on the system would be to add new lifelines so that the players could get more help. I introduced two new lifelines into the game that would go on at certain points in the game.

The first is ask the audience. Ask the Audience is just asking the Audience that was in the panel room by a show of hands. (Hint: I set up the panel so that the contestants can’t see the audience and put the camera in front of them so that no one can pull a Charles Ingram.) This is one of the two team lifelines I introduced in Anime Festival Wichita 12. But contestants must beware because once they decide to use this lifeline, they must answer the question. This is enabled at question 11 and can be used in the rest of the game.

The second is 50:50. Fifty-Fifty is just what the named implies. It takes away two incorrect answers and leaves the correct answer and the incorrect answer on the software screen that the contest sees. The elimination of incorrect answers is random as the host has no idea what two answers will be showed. This is the second of the two team lifelines I introduced in Anime Festival Wichita 12. This is enabled at question 15 only. Same rules of answering the question apply as well. If the player has the lifeline, Ask the Audience, left, the player can still use that lifeline as well.

Unlike the Pass lifeline, which is a player lifeline, the new lifelines are Team Lifelines. Team Lifelines are limited to one per team. (A team is the number of players remaining.) Also, I do not tell the players that they should not use their pass lifeline. Lifeline usage is a part of a player strategy.

The 2016 Panel

With all the upgrades, I decided on applying to get onto a panel. I tried one Anime Convention before Anime Festival Wichita, but they turn me down. So, I apply again to Anime Festival Wichita and got approved again. I was the Saturday Night Panel in the First Floor Combat Room. The room was up to a good crowd. There were some problems in the room setup (the only outlets are hidden in the back, so I had to run an extension cord from the back of the room to the front, and I had to keep my second computer (computer that gives me the answers when the player says, “Final Answer”) in the back of the room.). Little Beard, the panel director at Anime Festival Wichita, has told me that starting with AFW 13, panels with projectors will be upstairs at the site.

The Questions

I use a format of just 15 questions in the game. For the first two episodes, questions are loaded into the software’s source code as part of the usage. The first five questions I generally allowed western comic stuff in there as well as manga and anime. This is to get the feel of the contents. The next nine questions I wrote are anime based questions. Question 6 in a regular format is usually a Guest Question (I set it up this way in case things go real south.). Question 11 or Question 12 is a licensing question. One of the Level 3 Questions (Questions 11-14) is an episode length question and I stay clear of current airing anime on this question to get the question more to a correct answer setting. One of the Level 3 Questions is a Foreign Language question. Sometimes, there will be a censorship question in Level 3. Level 3 Questions are designed as time suckers as people who don’t know the answer will use up at least 30 seconds to answer the question. Level 4 Questions (Question 15) are my favorite to design because I allowed myself a freedom of creation of the question. Question 15 is called the Money Question because that question decides what the player can win.

Changes I Made In between Version 3 (2016) and Version 4 (2017)

I did a major rewrite for Anime Festival Wichita 13 that decided to make the software open source under the MIT License. This means other people can use the software to create their game non-commercial, and that I could offer commercial licenses to certain entertainment holders.

For version 4 of the game, I added some more excited things like a more entertaining money tree, a new lifeline, and make the windows of the game 720p so that the game questions can be displayed. I also made the question files text files so that the questions can be fed in without having to do a major rebuild.

The lifeline I introduced was called “Double Dip”. Double Dip is a player lifeline and gives the player in the Hot Seat two shots of answering the question.  Double Dip cannot be earned if there is one player left before question 6. Double Dip is a player lifeline. Double Dip can be used once per player.

The 2017 Panels

I did try to do two episodes of Otkau Millionaire Hot Seat at Anime Festival Wichita 13, but had to scrap one because of a technical problem that I found on my end of the software that I need to fix fast. I coded the software at the con. I finish compiling and installing the new version in time for the second panel tomorrow.

The second Otaku Millionaire Hot Seat Panel went off well software wise. I learn that I need to recode so that the correct player names are displaying.

This was the first panel that not all 15 questions had been used.

The Package a Player Needs

Players are selected from the audience before the game. This game has no tryout element because all the questions are multiple choice. The knowledge that a player should have comes from a quote that David Briggs, one of the UK Millionaire Co-Creators, said: “You need to know a little about a lot not a lot about a little.”. This quote is what I focus my questions on Otaku Millionaire Hot Seat on.

Final Thoughts

My final thoughts are that I produced a Millionaire game that is more fun with even more drama as well. The drama that the player may win. The drama that the player may miss the question, this come in handy for the big value questions. Sorry for my personal wish, but one of my best wishes as a Game Show Host is to see someone win the ¥1,000,000 on the fifteenth and final question. I’m now going to settle for now just having someone get the fifteenth and final question correctly.