The premiere of UPN’s vidgame-inspired series “Game Over” Wednesday night marks the first-ever release of a full-scale videogame concurrent with a TV series on which it’s based.
Vidgame, offered for free download on UPN’s Web site, goes far beyond most promotional Web games. It follows Raquel Smashenburn, mother on the CGI-animated show, in her day job as a Lara Croft-like treasure hunter. Six-level game features dialogue from Lucy Liu, who voices the character on the show, and includes first- and third-person shooting sequences and online play capabilities.
Game also comes with tools for machinimation, a process that allows users to save animated sequences created within a vidgame. Players can have characters from the game interact in pre-created environments and save their animations. If the series gets a pickup beyond its initial six-episode order, producers are hoping to use fan-created machinimations in the show.
“We’re creating a new type of entertainment where people can watch the show, play the game and make their own scenes as one experience,” exec producer David Goetsch said of his goals for the project. “I’ve wanted to merge the worlds of TV and videogames for years and it’s finally happening.”
Game was created by Fountainhead Entertainment, one of the top production companies in the fast growing machinimation space. CEO Katherine Anna Kang used the engine behind the hit Quake vidgames to create the “Game Over” game in just three weeks and hopes to make additional games based on the series’ race-car driving father and Shaolin monk neighbors if it gets picked up.
Promotional online games have traditionally been produced cheaply since they’re used solely for marketing purposes. UPN and Carsey-Werner-Mandabach, which is producing the skein, created a more advanced game, with quality about halfway between simple online games and $50 console games, in part by signing up Netflix-like vidgame rental service GameFly as a sponsor. Company, which is also running its first network spots on “Game Over,” integrated its brand into the game and also hid free memberships throughout it for players to find.
Because both UPN and GameFly want to promote their brands through the game, users are encouraged to spread it, as well as “Game Over” machinimations, through peer-to-peer networks.