I had no idea that the reality show Survivor was still on the air, but it’s entering its 36th season so people must still like it — and Outpost Games is betting that human drama alongside some island shenanigans will make a good video game experience too. Today, the studio launched its multiplayer survival title SOS on Steam Early Access.
Sixteen players are stranded on the island La Cuna and have 30 minutes to find a relic as well as ensure they’re one of only three contestants who are allowed to leave victorious. They’re armed with weapons like guns and axes, which will come in handy since they’ll have to fight off competing players as well as strange creatures that seem to populate the island. And crucially, they have walkie-talkies, because no person is an island even if they’re on one.
Outpost’s team has previously worked for companies like Electronic Arts, YouTube, and Twitch, and it shows. SOS is calculated to appeal to broadcasters on livestreaming platforms, pitting the players’ personalities against one another and hinging on alliances, betrayals, and rivalries. Voice chat is an integral part of the game, as players will have to scheme together against opponents and coordinate to execute plans.
Broadcasters will no doubt give SOS a try, since it gives them a chance to entertain their audiences. And Snoop Dogg has already shown off the game to nearly 80,000 concurrent viewers. However, Outpost’s creative director Ian Milham says that the team has worked out a set of gameplay mechanics that will appeal to a wide variety of players.
“[The biggest challenge was] having the courage to go all in with our vision that everybody can be a performer and that an audience fundamentally changes a game’s experience,” said Milham in an email to GamesBeat. “Real people are unpredictable, so it’s taken many iterations to come to a set of mechanics that we think will inspire people and bring out their best performances.”
The social aspect of SOS is its core, and Outpost is using its Hero.tv platform to offer some features to folks who are watching as well. The site enables people to watch livestreams that are happening on Twitch or YouTube. However, viewers who watch the broadcast on Hero.tv will have access to different functions, such as voting on the next move or reacting to what’s happening with emojis that appear on the bottom of the streamer’s screen.
With any community-based game, toxicity can become an issue. Milham says that the Outpost team has created a code of conduct that aims to keep this kind of behavior in check. It’s also created moderation tools, and when a player reports misbehavior, the game captures video for the team to review.
“SOS is built to promote success based not only on excelling at the game, but creating great moments along the way. Villainy can be great, but straight toxicity is boring,” said Milham. “We take the enforcement of our Code of Conduct very seriously.”