Facebook’s Instant Game platform is getting an interesting new addition this week. Today developer Pipeworks Software and streaming company Genvid announced Rival Peak. It’s a live simulation game with a unique twist: players act as interactive viewers of a 12-week long reality show where AI contestants battle to be the last one standing.
According to a press release sent to Gamasutra, viewers help determine the fate of the AI contestants by interacting with them via their phones or computers and drive decisions that will help or hurt them in the competition. The show will debut on December 2nd at 6PM PT.
If that pitch is a bit hard to wrap your head around, the developers of Rival Peak have a helpful metaphor: “think The Hunger Games meets The Sims,” they explained in an explainer to Gamasutra.
The environment that these AI characters are trying to survive in (a lonely, treacherous mountain) will be broadcast out to players on a livestream 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
After guiding the contestants toward victory (or disaster), players are then able to participate in voting that will decide which characters stay on the show and which are eliminated. Star Trek and Eureka actor Wil Wheaton has been drafted to host a weekly commentary show that adds a flair of the dramatic to the game’s proceedings.
Developers might be interested to know that there’s some fascinating tech and narrative work going on under the hood. Former Telltale Games creative director Stephan Bugaj (The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead Season 2, Tales from the Borderlands) and a team of other Telltale veterans are contributing to a metanarrative that players can uncover that explains the origins of this competition and offers narrative rewards for viewers to uncover.
Elsewhere, the AI driving Rival Peak’s characters is driven by an engine called FORNAP (First Order Regressive Numerical Action Planner), that takes an array of character goals and uses that to drive the AI inhabitants around the mountain. These behaviors include obvious survival goals like searching for food and water, but also more abstract social challenges like flirting, protecting their friends, and more.
Considering that two of 2020’s biggest games have included the procedurally-generated shenanigans of Paradox’s Crusader Kings III and The Game Band’s Blaseball, the appetite for procedurally-generated narrative adventures seems to be growing. Now the Rival Peak developers have their chance to see if the genre can find a more mainstream audience.