Twitch Plays Pokémon broadens how we think about what is and how to play a video game. We’re now seeing other developers build on this, mixing streams, games, and community in a way to create new experiences. Outpost Games does this with battle royale in SOS, where viewers can vote on what players get boosts and other goodies. And another example of this is Death’s Door: Aftermath, a role-playing game that taps into Microsoft’s Mixer streaming tech and community.
Shiny Shoe is the indie studio behind this social game where viewers can influence what happens by voting on in-match actions as well as what new content the studio should work on. It takes place in a postapocalytpic setting, and as the adventure unfolds, you watch as encounters and situations play out. A live Dungeon Master also appears — one of the players/viewers — and this individual also influences what happens in the game.
The choices begin with one of the most crucial for any RPG: the character.
“Death’s Door: Aftermath is structured as a rougelike. At the start of every ‘run,’ viewers choose various options to create the shared player avatar for that run. Viewers first choose a character class and then from a suite of traits which have positive and negative consequences in gameplay. It’s important that viewers pay attention to this information as it affects optimal decision making during the run,” Shiny Shoe CEO Mark Cooke said over email.
The first game (Death’s Door) had more than 2 million views and peaked at 4,500 concurrent viewers. Aftermath is an Mixer exclusive now based on this success, Cooke said, streaming to Xbox One, PC, and mobile. It’s free, but it sell subscriptions ($6 a month), which provides access to subscriber-only votes, emoticons, and a Discord channel. It also take donations, as with other streamers. And ad revenue.
Viewers interact with Aftermath through a set of buttons in the Mixer stream interface. This is how they vote, and Cooke said it ranges from two to six options depending on the situation onscreen. “Death’s Door: Aftermath is designed to have player’s making decisions on a cadence of approximately one every 10-20 seconds. We strive to make every decision meaningful,” he said.
Aftermath then brings in a more tabletop-like experience with its “Dynamic Dungeon Master.”
“It’s a way for a human to inject content into the game live, as if they are acting as a classical Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master. We used it to dynamically adjust the difficulty, surprise players with unexpected encounters, and make jokes like poking fun at trolls in chat. In the original game only the development team could act as the Dungeon Master,” Cooke said. Now Shiny Shoe is opening this up to “trusted” viewers and other people it partners with.
As part of my question about how players control things beyond voting, Cooke noted how he views player chat and the evolution of Death’s Door after launch.
“One of the biggest surprises for me when building a community-played RPG was how important viewer chat is to the experience. It seems obvious, in retrospect, but a huge part of actively participating in the game is talking to the other viewers about game strategy. In the original Death’s Door, players went beyond our prescribed game goals and invented their own objectives, pushing the boundaries of the game systems we created.”
Death’s Door: Aftermath also offers subscribers special emotes and other benefits.