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I have a quiz game with my 4 friends. We've had 3 seasons so far. One season consists of 5 games (every player organizes one). Each game must have a total of 20 points that a player can earn. There are no rules regarding how many questions a game must consist of but the ideal range is 15-25. Season's winner is the player with the most wins. If there's a draw the player who has more points wins.

Sometimes it is quite clear who is going to win the season after the 4th game because he/she has at least 2 wins and leads with around 10 points.

Ideally the winner of the season would emerge after the results of the 5th game are in. Is there any ideas we could implement to make the winner emerge as late as possible and this way make the game more interesting?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this a multiplayer game you play over the internet, or a local co-op type of game where "screen hacking" (looking at another player's portion of the split screen display) might be a factor? \$\endgroup\$ – user1430 Jan 6 '18 at 16:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is local game. We get together and play. We are close friends and all kinds of cheating can be ruled out. \$\endgroup\$ – Harry Jan 6 '18 at 19:25
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There are two main strategies you can use here:

Negative Feedback Loops

These are "rubber banding" mechanics that give players who are lagging an advantage to help them catch up, or slow the progress for players who are already ahead. This reduces the impact of an early lead, and helps keep players in the running right up to the end. Items in Mario Kart are a good example of this.

In a quiz game this could include things like:

  • getting a wrong answer deducts a percentage of the player's score (impacting high-score players more aggressively)

  • giving trailing players a bonus question to answer, or a bonus guess if nobody gets the right answer in a round, or a follow-up question based on the previous (more scoring opportunities for players who need a hand)

  • if nobody answers a question, one of the players currently in the lead is forced to answer (so an early lead is a liability for penalties)

  • a "steal" mechanic that lets a player with a right answer choose who to steal some points from (players will disproportionately pick the leader). You Don't Know Jack's "screw" mechanic that lets players force an opponent to answer functions similarly.

Escalating Stakes

The other major strategy is to make later rounds more valuable than early rounds. So while an early lead is good, players who are left behind aren't out of the running - a few wins late in the game can turn the tables, even against an opponent with a strong lead.

You'll often see this done in the form of questions worth progressively more points (see Jeopardy with its player-controlled progression down the columns n the board), a "second half" round of questions that score double, or a final question / minigame like YDKJ's Jack Attack with much higher scoring potential than any previous round.

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