[Kickstarter Spotlight] Interview: Richard Garfield & Ken Jennings – Creators of the New Trivia Card Game HALF TRUTH

When the most recognized names/faces in
card games and trivia unite, the result is…

Welcome to another edition of PopCultHQ’s Kickstarter Spotlight! Today, we put the spotlight on an incredible game currently being crowdfunded by quite possibly the most dynamic duo since Batman & Robin.

Richard Garfield, an accomplished Ph.D. mathematics professor, is known to most for being the creator and designer for the collectible card game which became the benchmark for CCGs and revolutionized the industry, Magic: The Gathering. Partnered with him in this venture is Ken Jennings, noted author and trivia guru, Jennings name instantly became synonymous with his extensive knowledge of fun facts through his record-setting 74-game winning streak on Jeopardy!

Along with production assistance from Studio71 and Nighthawk Gaming, the two brilliant minds have created the ultimate party or get-together game; it’s fun-filled, very affordable, and everyone gets to play! PLUS, the campaign, which launched on Wednesday, August 21st, was COMPLETELY FUNDED in just under three hours! This is DEFINITELY a must-have game that is going to be played throughout households this holiday season.

Half Truth is a party game for all ages and people, created by legendary game designer Richard Garfield and 74-time Jeopardy winner Ken Jennings. With art by well-known artist Ian O’Toole, the game comes with 500 trivia question cards and each card has a category on it, like “Animals with blue tongues.” There are six possible answers, three right and three wrong, and players have to place bets on answers they believe are correct. Players are usually surprised by how well they do. We’re all smarter than we think. 

The game has been evolving for the past 13 years! For the creators, it has been a process of writing questions, playtesting them and figuring out how the scoring works best. By the looks of it, this baby is packed with potential (fun), polished up real nice, and ready to change your impression of what friendly/family gaming can be!



PopCultHQ had the true privilege in interviewing both Richard and Ken to discuss their new project. So sit back and enjoy our chat with the legendary Magic: The Gathering creator and legendary Jeopardy! champion as we discuss all things Half Truth, now LIVE on Kickstarter!

PopCultHQ Interviews:
Richard Garfield & Ken Jennings
of Half Truth

PopCultHQ: So I have the privilege in sitting down with Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic: The Gathering. A card game which practically everyone has heard of. I mean, my mother knows Magic: The Gathering. Welcome, Richard!

Richard Garfield: Hi!

PopCultHQ: We also have Ken Jennings with us. You’ve had to be living under a rock recently to not have heard his name mentioned. And 74 times, was it Ken, that you won on Jeopardy!?

Ken Jennings: Yeah, 74 straight wins.

PopCultHQ: Yeah, yeah. You’ve been a great sport about it, even when that run was recently in a bit of jeopardy (yeah, I went there).

So you guys have come together and created this new trivia card game which, on the surface, is incredibly impressive. You have the genius behind the juggernaut that is Magic: The Gathering, as well as the renowned trivia wizard who blew away his competition with his extensive knowledge. It seems like a no-brainer for a trivia card game to be put together by the two of you. But how did you come to partner for this project? How did Half Truth come to life?

Garfield: Well, ten years ago I read Brainiac, which is a book by Ken, and it made me really reconsider what I thought about trivia and trivia games. He conveyed to me a love of trivia and helped me see trivia as an art form. It inspired me to try and make a game to really bring out those characteristics. A couple years later, I contacted Ken and invited him to work with me in getting the questions together and be a part of the game.

PopCultHQ: That’s awesome!

Jennings: And it was very exciting for me to get that email, by the way. First of all, it’s Richard Garfield of all people. You know, gaming legend! Then he said he liked my book, which is always nice to hear. Then he said, “I liked it so much I want you to make a trivia game with me.” It was fantastic. It was like getting called up to the major leagues. 

PopCultHQ: That’s incredible. And you guys have partnered up with Studio 71 for this campaign, recognized for their success in the crowdfunding gaming world. What appealed to you the most about Studio 71 that led you to partner with the company for your new game Half Truth?

Garfield: Well, I have very little experience with crowdfunding. Most of my games have been done through more traditional publishers. But this idea of getting the community to be a part of the game as it’s made, and help us direct where it’s going to go, and begin playing among themselves before the game is even out there was very exciting. They had shown their expertise with The Binding of Isaac game and others. It’s been terrific to work with them.

PopCultHQ: Wonderful. So let’s talk about the campaign. One of the great things about crowdfunding is that backers get the sense of feeling like they are a part of the project, part of its launch and its release. It can also make for great exposure through backers’ social media shares and getting the word out. What was it that made you bring this game to Kickstarter rather than other methods, ones you might be more familiar with? Was this something Studio 71 proposed? Or was this something you had already planned in taking your game in that direction?

Garfield: I certainly tried to work with regular publishers, because that’s what I am familiar with. But in the last few years, with the success of these crowdfunded games, it made me think it would be better to have that community-building as part of the initial push for the game. Once that realization happened, Studio 71 became a natural choice.

PopCultHQ: Gotcha, that makes sense.

Jennings: I think this game is a really good fit for crowdfunding because Richard and I are known quantities, so it’s going to be fun to interact with people all month during the Kickstarter campaign. And also just the fact that it’s a trivia game. We want to get feedback from people on what kind of trivia they like. Are people going to be asking us for expansion packs about movies or sports or the 90’s or video games or Harry Potter? We want to hear what people who like the game want to see their trivia about.

PopCultHQ: Sure, sure. In kind of the way that Trivial Pursuit expanded. Basically with a starter set, then reaching out with various genres people found appealing. So yeah, here in 2019, there’s definitely a lot more with which we can build on.

So what can you tell us about the game itself? Perhaps about the dynamics or mechanics. Just what is Half Truth?

Garfield: There was a few things I was after with this design. I wanted to make sure that everybody played every question. And I wanted to make sure that nobody was without a chance on a question. So that led to this idea of having each question being multiple choice: three true answers and three false answers. That way, even if you guess, you’ve got a 50% chance of getting it right. Ideally, among the answers, you have some you feel better about and some you might even be able to eliminate to increase your odds. Or perhaps you know one of the answers. You can affect…your odds can certainly get better. But yeah, each question has six answers, three correct and three incorrect, hence the name Half Truth.

PopCultHQ: Gotcha. 

Jennings: The genius of Richard’s architecture here is that it’s not a game that has those times where you wait for someone else to try and think of the capital of Romania, or immediately feel like you’re not a factor because the question is about boxing and you know nothing about boxing. The answers are all there in front of you. Everybody can play every question. And as a result, this is the rare trivia game where people will actually feel smart while they play. And surprise themselves with how much they know and how well they do. There’s nothing worse than playing a trivia game that makes you feel dumb for an hour.

PopCultHQ: (laughing) Very true! 

Garfield: Because half the answers are correct, your chances, even at the worst of times, are pretty good. Some of the very early drafts of the game were more traditional trivia questions, where there was one correct answer out of six. But having an evening of one in six shots is not nearly as fun as ones where every question you feel you can answer. 

PopCultHQ: Definitely.

Jennings: We wanted a party game that didn’t kill the party.

PopCultHQ: (laughing) Yeah, nothing’s worse than a party killer. That’s awesome. And you guys have tapped Ian O’Toole, well-known Australian graphic designer, illustrator, and game box designer, to spearhead the artwork for your game. What ultimately was the deciding factor for Ian being your guy for Half Truth?

Garfield: Well, Studio 71 put us in contact with him.

PopCultHQ: Okay, cool.

Garfield: It’s always terrific having someone who knows their way around game graphics, because it’s important that the graphics don’t interfere with the game. So somebody who has done that…it’s good to have an expert at that. 

Jennings: And that’s the thing about games now is that they’re kind of beautiful objects that you can sit around and appreciate. Game players are not just competitors, they’re kinda like…it’s an aesthetic process, almost. Every design we’ve got back from Ian looked great. It’s like, “Here’s three options!” and they all look incredible.

PopCultHQ: That’s wonderful. I can’t wait to see some of the art.  So the campaign is thirty days, correct?

Garfield: We wanted thirty days.

Jennings: Yes, thirty days. We want to get the game out in time for the holidays, for your holiday gift-giving pleasure. 

PopCultHQ: So a quick turnaround. Backers aren’t going to have to wait until 2020 to get their rewards?

Jennings: No, after a full decade of development on this game, we are ready to get it out there!

PopCultHQ: You are ready! Right on! What kind of rewards or exclusives will you have that backers will have the opportunity to snag by supporting the crowdfund?

Jennings: Studio 71 has done a great job at the kind of things that were a success for them. Special or deluxe versions of the game, we’ll be unlocking different stretch goals, as the campaign proceeds [there’ll be] new content, and play along with questions from the game that Richard and I will be announcing online. It’s going to be fun.

PopCultHQ: Will there be any incentives to where you’ll miss out on exclusive Kickstarter-only rewards if you don’t back this campaign?

Jennings: Do you remember the latest list, Richard? I know we’ve talked back-and-forth on a lot of ideas. You know, people get to contribute one of their own questions to the game, a special version of the game. I can’t remember where we’ve landed on a lot of these.

Garfield: There’s been a lot of ideas bandied around. Certainly one of my favorites was participants being able to contribute questions to the game, with credit of course, which would actually be published. And signed copies of the game, of course. And upgraded components and things like that.

PopCultHQ: That’s fantastic. So what pitch would you make as to why someone should check out Half Truth? Who is it going to appeal to? ANd why should they back your campaign? Of course other than the brilliance of the two of you uniting? I mean, when I heard you guys coming together for this game, it’s like Jobs and Wozniak coming together (background laughter). Other than that, why should people come check out Half Truth?

Garfield: Certainly, if you have any love for trivia, I think you’ll want to see what we’ve done to make this trivia experience as fun as possible. And if you don’t have any love of trivia, and if you think back on it and your reasons for it are the things I talked about earlier, such as sitting around an entire evening and one question comes up that you know the answer to and weren’t even asked that question (that sort of thing), then you might still want to check it out. Or read Brainiac. (Ken laughing) Maybe you will be converted.

Jennings: It’s a conversion tool for trivia agnostics. If you’re on the fence…

PopCultHQ: Ha! I love it! So any last parting thoughts or anything you wanted to make sure you got out there?

Jennings: It’s been a delight working with Richard. This is my first working experience and I’m working with Richard Garfield! Hard to do better than that. One of the best things ever for me is that I get to play games with Richard now, which is a lot of fun. And I think that ‘fun’ is apparent to anyone who plays Half Truth.

PopCultHQ: I can imagine it was probably quite surreal.

Jennings: It really was. It was kind of a thing were like, “Is somebody pranking me?”

PopCultHQ: I hear ya! Well, it’s definitely an honor and a privilege to sit down and talk with both of you. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedules

Garfield: Thanks for having us!

A very special thanks to both Richard and Ken for speaking with us at PopCultHQ about their game. We can’t wait to play it with the family this holiday season! And an extra thanks goes out to Jeremy Bonds of MotivPR for reaching out and making this interview a possibility. Still in awe we got the opportunity to speak with both of these legends. Check out Half Truth, follow the game online on Facebook and Instagram, and join the 3,700+ backers who are making this the must-have game of the 2019 holiday season!

Be sure to check out the Half Truth game on Kickstarter
and get in on this overwhelmingly successful campaign!

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