I came across this one just a little while ago, and thought it appropriate to share for two reasons. A) It’s a modern take on the game show concept, which I kinda have a soft spot for having grown up with The Amazing Race, and b) It’s a video game that involves permadeath, which these days doesn’t sound all that original anymore, until you combine these two points together.

uc_action_comp_final_1024_oudb27I’m talking about Upsilon Circuit, an upcoming game show concept currently running an Indiegogo campaign (more on that later) which takes the form of an online action RPG that only eight people can play at one time. Viewed by a live streamed audience, these eight players must solve puzzles and avoid death in order to win, but if they fail it’s game over. Forever.

Video games and game shows seems like an obvious marriage. Both involve the concept of playing to win, the prizes can be great (especially in the growth of e-sports) and the audience participation can be loud, exciting and at times tense. Upsilon Circuit aims to push said viewer participation to a more Hunger Games style of involvement, where people can vote on who to help through power-ups, when monsters may appear or send in items that might be of benefit certain characters (be they good or bad).

The point of the show? It’s constantly evolving. No one player will solve all the puzzles in one run, so every time a new ‘episode’ begins, the next lot of eight players will have to figure out the next steps towards success on their own, while the audience will do their best to assist where they can. Everything that happens in the game will supposedly be permanent, so if one player unlocks a new part of a world, the next lot of players to begin a game will be able to move forward and past that moment. Enemies, too, will stay dead, though how far the game will go in that regard is still a little up in the air. I’d like to think that there’s a bevy of bad guys waiting in the wings, each one tougher than the last.

Upsilon Circuit has just started its Indiegogo campaign and aims to raise awareness, not just funds, in order to succeed. As developers Robot Loves Kitty and Execution Labs state, “This is not a campaign to raise money: we’re doing this to gather enthusiastic people for upcoming live tests of the game. Upsilon Circuit’s unique nature creates lots of questions, and a group of passionate players is the perfect way to answer them!

Donating to the cause will put you into a pool of test players, along with a few extra perks for taking part. You’ll get early access to the game, but only when you’re chosen to play with seven other people. If you reach the top 10 by the end of the testing phase, you might just get a guaranteed place in the tournament proper. There’s a month to go in the campaign, with each ‘test’ ticket going for $5, though you don’t need to donate in order to be in the audience once the game is ready to go.

It’s not clear just yet how the process of audience participation will work, or how players can join in once the game goes live in full, but many of those questions will no doubt be answered during the testing phase beginning later this year.

Check out some early test footage of the game in action below, taken from the PAX show floor a few years ago. Bare in mind, the gameplay itself is only part of the experience, and I’m certainly going to keep an eye on Upsilon Circuit’s progress. You can too by following them on Twitter.


Mark Isaacson is the Editor of PN2. Go say hi @Mark_D_Isaacson

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