Jul 24, 2018 - By Brian

Scavengers’ Spectator Interactions extension makes all viewers players

There are tons of ways to use Twitch extensions to get more involved than ever with your audience or favorite streamer. But the work done by Scavengers Studio goes to show how immersive extensions can really be now that game developers are starting to put streaming and social gameplay at the forefront of their game design.

Scavengers Studio was formed by a number of industry veterans eager to build a game around the idea that both playing and streaming games should be a social experience. That very philosophy is what powers the Montreal-based team’s debut game, Darwin Project, and what led the studio to develop an extension that gives viewers a way to directly influence the action as it unfolds live on stream.

“Our creative vision is that viewers should be just as involved in the game experience as the players,” said Simon Darveau, Creative Director at Scavengers Studio. “We believe that by merging a video game with a streaming platform, we can create a new generation of interaction that has the potential to redefine entertainment.”

Darwin Project is a fresh spin on the increasingly competitive Battle Royale genre. In it, 10 players duke it out in an ever-shrinking arena, putting their skills to the test all in a bid to be the last person standing. Meanwhile, an all-seeing 11th player assumes the role of Show Director and takes charge of keeping the combatants on their toes, using their powers to dish out game-altering abilities and, sometimes, sudden obstacles.

That alone makes Darwin Project an exciting game to both play and watch, but Scavengers has taken that social gameplay one step further by creating an extension that meshes seamlessly with the core Darwin Project experience, giving viewers on Twitch an actual say in how each match unfolds.

Right now, Twitch viewers that pick up the Spectator Interaction Extension can pop into a stream for Darwin Project and, when it comes time for the Show Director to make a decision, vote on which players or zones will be the target of those different abilities. For Scavengers, that system really allows them to create a sense of unity between viewers and Twitch streamers by giving the audience the power to turn the tide of a battle, helping or hindering other players along the way.

“So far, the response is overwhelmingly positive. There is a huge wow factor associated with seeing the vote interface appear for the first time, and it’s pretty great at hyping the chat. But more importantly, we’ve seen a sort of social meta game organically emerge in some streamer-focused matches,” Darveau said. “This is just the beginning. We’re thinking about ways to push this feature much further to take viewers even deeper into the game experience.”

With the power placed directly in the hands of viewers, _Darwin Projec_t streamers are many times at the mercy of their audience, for better or worse, but always in a way that makes for a more engaging and all-around entertaining stream. This was the case in the clip below where Darwin Project players Forsen and Sodapoppin try to talk the audience into strategically starting a Manhunt on another player, only for the viewers to cast their votes and launch the bounty on Forsen himself.

On the surface_,_ the Spectator Interaction Extension works to add an overlay to the stream window, much like many other HTML5-based extensions on Twitch. Scavengers wanted viewers to feel like they were directly involved in the action as it unfolds, and the look of the extension itself speaks to those efforts. The team used CSS to create a sleek overlay that blends right in to the UI of Darwin Project itself, while being sure to make it accessible to as many Twitch viewers as possible by designing an interface that adapts to different devices and stream window sizes. Behind the scenes, Scavengers has created a C#-powered way for streamers running Darwin Project to link up to Twitch itself, creating a bridge between the two.

“We developed the back-end in C#, Asp.net core. It is directly connected to the database of player profiles and ensures a secured connection with the game server,” said Michaël Catanzariti, Online Architect at Scavengers. “Each streamer connects to Twitch in-game, and when a Show Director launches a vote, the server sends the Twitch identity of all streamers in the match to the back-end. The vote interface is then displayed for each viewer, and once completed, the vote results follow the same route in reverse to make their way in game in the form of a Nuke, Heal, Manhunt, etc.”

That process means that viewers are able to jump right into a Darwin Project stream on Twitch and cast their votes, with no actual setup required on the viewer’s side.

As the developer of both Darwin Project and its Spectator Interaction Extension, the Scavengers team has a unique perspective about the steps game and extension developers alike need take when building social gameplay and some of the unique challenges they’ll need to keep in mind as well.

“I think that for something like our Spectator Interactions to really make sense, the whole game needs to be designed from the ground up around it. One of the main challenges right now is to make players and viewers understand why it makes sense for viewers to interact. There is a lot of R&D needed, and development agility is essential,” Darveau said. “But if you are as excited as I am by this idea, go all in! There is a real opportunity here to redefine the future of entertainment.”

The Darwin Project Spectator Experience is available now in your extension manager. For more on The Darwin Project, check out Scavengers’ official site.

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