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Twitch Decides Your Fate: Choice Chamber

I wonder if they intentionally made the entire world's background rare glitch Pokemon Missingno

I’d be a bit unsettled by the notion of random Internet denizens deciding my every action and footfall if they didn’t sort of already do that anyway. I mean, my job only exists because of the web’s ravenous hordes, so I’m basically a puppet for their whims. That said, Choice Chamber sees Twitch chatters taking on a bit of a different role than they did in genre (?) pioneer Twitch Plays Pokemon. The idea here is that one person controls a side-scrolling platformer character, and everybody else decides, well, pretty much everything. Levels formations, level themes, enemies, helpful minions, weapons, power-ups, how high the player can jump, etc, etc, etc. Soundodger developer Studio Bean has taken the experiment in crowd control/cacophony to Kickstarter.

The streamer in question was a bit, er… yeah, but you get the idea. The audience makes tons of micro-decisions that add up to very different experiences on a player-by-player basis. Here’s the gist:

“Choice Chamber is designed to be played while being streamed live to Twitch.tv. As you stream the game on your channel, anyone watching can participate in the game simply by typing in the chat box. A series of polls  ask viewers to vote on certain aspects that alter the game’s progression in real time, or viewers can trigger special events, friendly helpers, and even attack the boss themselves. Chatters can band together to help out the main player in getting far in the game, or they can work against the player and create a devilish challenge.”

“Right now, the prototype allows for voting upon the player’s weapons, abilities, special maneuvers, all variations of powerups – both physical and elemental, enemy load outs, and terrain formations including claustrophobia and lava hazards. It’s a good start, but there’s tons more that will be added to the game.”

Choice Chamber also scales for different audience sizes, so in theory you don’t have to be some hot shot streamlord whose audience has its own gravitational pull to have fun. Granted, only time will tell how well it scales, but it’s good to hear that is very much a priority. You can even play alone with friends if you want, as chat functions still work sans a broadcast. Lastly, if Twitch makes you twitch, there will also be an offline mode where the game makes its own choices. I hope it does not choose to murder me with a loose computer cord or, worse, break my heart.

Studio Bean is hoping to have Choice Chamber out at the end of this year pending Kickstarter success. It’s nearly halfway to its $30,000 goal, but time is a fickle, ever-trickling thing.

There’s big potential in this idea, though I would say its appeal seems variable based on what “level” you plan to participate at. The challenge, I think, lies in designing a game that’s equally engaging for players and audience participants. The latter aspect turned the Internet into a beautiful, screaming Katamari for a brief period of time in Twitch Plays Pokemon, but that initial fervor died down quickly. Really, though, TPP was a happy accident. The timing, the audience, the particular game it focused on – all of it. So what happens when somebody tries to design that sort of system from the ground-up? It seems we’ll (hopefully) find out soon.

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Nathan Grayson

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