As this year's Evo began to reach its crescendo over the weekend of July 28, we debuted out new fighting game, Omen of Sorrow. Partnering with streaming specialist Genvid Technologies, and running directly on Twitch, our PlayStation 4 console exclusive title featured a series of interactive elements that allowed Twitch viewers to get involved in the action.
Users and casters were incredibly enthusiastic both about our game and the new technologies therein, and I wanted to give a little more insight on how we did what we did.
Who are AOne Games and what is Omen of Sorrow?
AOne Games is based in Santiago, Chile, and was established a few years ago by a team of fighting game fanatics wanting to create a game that was compelling and new - and one that they could be proud to call their own. The studio is now 30-people strong, who are getting ready to release Omen of Sorrow and already working on the next title.
As for the game itself, Omen of Sorrow is to be released on November 6th. It is a classic 2D, four-button fighting game, with Unreal Engine 4-powered graphics, a cast of 12 characters inspired by classical horror, fantasy and mythology, and a battle system designed from the ground up to leverage player skill, rather than stats or random chance. This allows for deep combat mechanics that favor movement and spacing over tight execution to provide an engaging experience for pros and newcomers alike.
Why make interactive streams?
We've been thinking a long time about the viewer experience for our games. Fighting games have a core community that love to both play and also watch the skills of other great players. We were searching for solutions that would differentiate us from the pack when it came to streams, and that would also engage the fighting game community.
We first saw Genvid Technology in action at MIGS 2017 and were excited by the possibility of their SDK, which enables for interactivity live on Twitch and YouTube. The technology offers all sorts of new engagement and monetization models across livestreams - particularly the ones aiming at the eSports crowd. In particular, we were interested in pushing the envelope on live statistics, new features for casters, and since we're a new game, accessibility. The Genvid SDK makes this extremely easy. We could let viewers see player inputs, hurtbox, winning probabilities, even cheer for players in real time.
What was development like?
This summer was tough. We began working on the Genvid integration while in the midst of our gold candidate submission, and it was a risky proposition to integrate new code into our game just as most of our engineering capabilities were tied up in a multitude of TRC-related (Sony's certification system) tasks.
But that's the beauty of Genvid's interactive streams... it only took a few afternoons from two of our engineers to do the integration. I am a marketing director who hadn't written a single line of code in two years (since the prehistoric times of ES5), and I was tasked with developing the front end... with seamless results. The technology was stable, reliable, intuitive and easy to integrate.
How did viewers react?
EVO was a success on multiple fronts. Thanks to our booth, tournament and livestreams the fighting game community showed a genuine interest in the game and we had some very fun moments - particularly when people at the booth realized that the interactive stream on the demo station that they could touch and change was actually a Twitch stream of the fights being held on the stage.
The Twitch experience was so seamless it took a moment's pause to dawn on fighting game fans about what they were experiencing and the possibilities that this opened up. Usually it happened when they turned off the in-game HUD and they didn't see the HUD turn off on stage... and when that happened their minds were blown.
We also used the Genvid's demo station to play instant replays for people watching the tournament stream, and spectators on the comments asked if that is something that only the casters had access to... it became apparent to viewers that being able to see the player inputs and hurtboxes would allow them to analyse competitive matches with an unprecedented level of detail.
What come next?
We were so impressed by the possibilities of interactive streaming that it's changed the trajectory of our studio. In fact, what we are doing with Omen of Sorrow just scratches the surface of the possibilities of what can be done with the technology, and our next project will consider interactive streaming from the ground up to allow unprecedented interaction possibilities, blurring the frontier between player and spectator.
For more information on Genvid's technologies. Click here.