Remember the Twitch Plays Pokémon series of streams, where the viewing audience controlled the in-game actions of the player character? The massive amount of interest generated by that and similar streams has led to audience participation types of games emerging as a new game genre, such as Choice Chamber. I.C.U. - The Interactive Horror Game Show is one of the games in this emerging genre focusing around the "interactive streaming experience."
I.C.U. - The Interactive Horror Game Show is the first title from project leads Keenan Mosimann (better known as the Twitch streamer and YouTuber Criken), and Garv Manocha, with game audio production studio Hexany Audio doing I.C.U.'s sounds and music. According to information provided by Mosimann in an announcement video on his YouTube channel, I.C.U. is a project that's been in development for the past year and a half while he studied game designing at the University of Southern California. The primary focus of Mosimann's Kickstarter is to include the backers in the developmental direction of the game, while also proving that the game can succeed in order to produce future content for it.
Mosimann describes I.C.U. as a multiplayer streamer-focused game set in an interactive game show, where the player streaming is the "contestant" of that game show and their stream viewers are the in-game audience. Armed with only a flashlight, the streamer must make their way through the level to three safe-house "shacks," while avoiding the levels monsters and the various interferences of the viewers. By reacting to and interacting with the streamer as they make their way through the level, the viewers earn I.C.U. Coins, which they can spend on various "trick" effects, such as shoving the streamer in a certain direction, glitching the streamers screen, or reactions to in-game moments. Additionally, the more the audience reacts to scary in-game moments, the stronger the game responds.
Each shack also has the viewers vote on a level modifier that remains in effect until either the level is cleared or the streamer is killed. Level modifiers include shrinking the streamers size or making the streamer see the world through a drunkards eyes.
Rankings are assigned to the streaming player based on not only their own performance in the level, but on how well their viewers spend their I.C.U. Coins on trick effects.
I.C.U. will be developed episodically, with each episode containing unique levels, monsters, and level modifiers. This is done primarily for a few reasons. While project lead Mosimann has worked on small student projects previously, this is his first major undertaking in the games industry. The I.C.U. development team is also quite small, and while this allows them to better address and incorporate player feedback, it also means that they'll have to continually produce enticing content for their players. Additionally, the game can only be played by streamers; there is no offline play or the ability to create a private server for non-streamers, which limits the available pool of people who can play I.C.U. The risks the development team faces in producing I.C.U. are in making sure it delivers not only on the initial episode seen in the Kickstarter but in every subsequent episode.
Rewards are pretty simple in the smaller tiers, with the $5 pledge tier allowing you to watch developmental streams, $15 giving you digital wallpapers and an exclusive Bronze Kickstarter Viewer Badge, and $25 getting you a digital copy of I.C.U.
Other rewards include the Curious Collector tier; for $35 you get everything from the lower tiers, as well as a digital concept art book and an OST of the first level of the game. Tiers increase in price and content until the extremely limited $5,000 Puppet Master pledge tier, which gives you access to exclusive reactions, tricks, a poster, a physical concept art book, stickers, and the ability to design an in-game advertisement and trick effect.
I.C.U. - The Interactive Horror Game Show met its base goal of $50,000 within eight hours of going live on Kickstarter and has since met two of its stretch goals, adding on level objective and lore, live contestant leaderboards, a flashlight training room, monster selection showcase, fully-animated character dialogue, persistent host commentary, unique responses to audience inputs, and varying emotions based on performance. The next stretch goal for the Kickstarter is the $100,000 "Audience Minigames" goal, which adds an audience vs streamer finale, performance-based web games, and live community level effects. The Kickstarter will be open until October 31, 2016, so there is plenty of time for I.C.U. to reach that stretch goal and more.
Personally, I think that I.C.U. – The Interactive Horror Game Show is a very interesting game. I love horror games, and I think the genre I.C.U. is developing in is one with a lot of potential for growth.
Do you find a game designed around streaming an interesting endeavor? Do the rewards for this project make it one worth backing? Let us know in the comment section below.