That’s what first sprang to mind when I read about Amazon Gaming Studio's latest project, product that screams “The Hunger Games”. For anyone unaware, I’m a big fan of the series. The film adaptations were fine; the books vastly superior. While the series never quite explored the darker side of the games - tiptoeing lightly around taboo topics - its premise remains fantastic. Perhaps my love of the Hunger Games stems from having read The Running Man as a child; dystopian futures scratches a certain itch for me.
It’s with interest, then, that Amazon Gaming Studios should present Crucible, a game that for all intents and purposes is The Hunger Games wrapped in a new skin. Officially it’s described as:
...a battle to the last survivor on a hostile alien world. Players choose and customize heroes, making alliances and betraying allies on their path to victory. An additional player heightens the drama by triggering events, live-streaming the battles, and interacting with viewers.
Undeniably that’s a concept incredibly similar to The Hunger Games and for all intents and purposes, the Heroes represent the Tributes and the additional player the Gamemaker. We know absolutely nothing about Crucible (and none of this is a criticism) but at the same time, that one paragraph has me incredibly excited about the premise, because it has so much potential.
Part of why The Hunger Games is so morbidly appealing is because it not only has an aspect of voyeurism and “Big Brother”, but because there’s direct manipulation that’s intended to cause an extreme response. When there’s fear, irrationality, opportunity and every other emotion in between, there’s entertainment. Part of what makes watching competitive sports is because of the unexpected and for all intents and purposes, Crucible not only intends to have this and then some.
My hope for Crucible is that players are spawned onto a huge map that is filled with resources and creatures. By default everyone is an enemy to each other, but through encountering each other (similarly to Day-Z) you can form alliances; irrespective of how tenuous they may be. From here, it’s about whittling down the opposition through combat or surviving what the “additional player” has to offer.
For their role, I’d love for the external party to have a huge array of tools at their fingertips so they can directly manipulate play. Whether it’s setting traps, altering the weather, causing catastrophes or simply reducing supplies. They should, as Gamemakers do in The Hunger Games, be able to warp the style of play to their own tastes and that of the viewing audience. Imagine the interaction on Twitch when viewers are wildly voting for a certain type of trap or action, before seeing in play out. Want an avalanche when the star player is resting up? Sure. Need to send down supplies for the underdog? Not a problem. Want to thin the crowd as the game is progressing too slowly? Send in some mutant creatures.
The possibilities for pure entertainment are endless and as long as the core gameplay is solid, so that people actually want to play its Heroes and not just the additional player, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be worth playing and watching. As someone who rarely watches Twitch (I don’t see the point in watching someone play a game I could be playing) Crucible could prove to be the first that changes my mind. If it combines the excitement of every day sports, the manipulation of The Hunger Games and the gameplay speed of Gigantic, it could be something very special.
What are your hopes for Crucible? Do you think it bears similarities to The Hunger Games? Do you think it has greater Twitch potential than other games? What scope do you want from it? Let me know.