The Making of How Did You Know?

David K. Israel

Many of you hardcore HDYK? gamers have asked for a post like this in the past. So, finally, I'm going to let you all in on the behind-the-scenes formula for creating our monthly, week-long trivia hunt. Oh, and for the HDYK virgins out there, we're launching another hunt next Tuesday, June 29th!! Be sure to stay in the loop by becoming a Fan over on our Facebook page.

First: Josh and I decide if the week's challenges will have an over-arching theme, like we did last Halloween, or if we just want to stick to daily themes. Usually it's the latter, so then we figure out our four themes (the fifth day is usually theme-less, as it feeds off the previous four days).

Second: Once we have our themes, we figure out a rough idea of what Day 5 will look like. Will we be using Mapquest and ask you to plug in coordinates that will take you to a secret place on Earth? Will we be using a math formula, asking you to plug in numbers that, when solved, lead you to our final question? Will we do the old "Mad-Libs" style Day 5 where you have to insert answers that form a sentence that asks the final question?

Third: After we decide what format the Day 5 question will be in, we sometimes construct that question and start working backwards, or we just keep the general idea of that question in mind, knowing where we'll have to wind up.

Fourth: At this point we then divvy up the work load. Josh usually takes 2 days and I take the other 2. The most important thing at this juncture is to make sure we aren't overlapping on themes.

Fifth: As soon as we have some daily challenges created, we e-mail them to each other for a simple test. Is this too hard? Is it too hard for Day 1? Is it too hard for Day 2, Level 1? etc. We also look for typos and errors. As many of you know, we sometimes miss them, which makes for all kinds of crazy trouble. When that happens, we get on the HDYK Batphone and work frantically to fix the mistake as fast as we can.

Sixth: Once we have a day's worth of puzzles, I start coding the pages. Because each page feeds into the next, I need to make sure they're all coded correctly or else the answer you input won't call the subsequent page and you'll get that annoying ZONK even though you answered correctly. I try to do the coding in a very quiet, dark room, as not to be distracted. The slightest typo screws up everything.

Seventh: Once the pages are coded, I upload the files and the supporting files (e.g. puzzle images, mp3s, etc.) to our server and send them over to Josh for one final round of proofing.

Eighth: Now I create the actual post on the blog that links over to Level 1 and set it to go live at noon on the last Tuesday of the month. The only other thing to do after that, is make sure I either announce the go-live on our Facebook page, or, now, using Tweetdeck's scheduler, set up a Status Update on our Wall that coincides with the post being published.

Ninth: Last, we select random winners using . Each e-mail that comes in is assigned a number based on its position in the queue. The first e-mail is number 1, the second, number 2, etc. The first-place winner(s), of course, is just the first person with all the correct answers. And the daily winners are either the first person to comment, or a random comment we select off the appropriate Neaotrama post.

Tenth: We announce the winners!