Jul 21, 2016 - By Kai Boyd

Stream First, Fight Next: A Superfight Story

It’s like Fight Club with cards, mics, and Twitch — use your mouth instead of fists! It’s actually nothing like Fight Club.

A guest post from developer Pipeworks Studio in collaboration with 505 Games.

My name is Amor Estandian, and I am the lead designer of Superfight digital! I’m here to offer insight on how to make a game with Twitch in mind and to discuss what it took to make Superfight an experience built to bring Twitch communities closer together.

What’s Superfight?

Superfight is a ludicrous video game based on the card game of the same name (bless you, Darin Ross). We wanted players who love the Superfight card game to be able to pick it up any time with friends online. We’re not attempting to replace the card game, but to provide a unique experience as an online game.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Make Fighters — Players use cards to create a fighter. Abraham Lincoln? A manatee perhaps?

  2. Argue! Players debate (yell at each other) who wins, “Lincoln’s penguin army would overwhelm the bionic manatee!”

  3. Vote! Other players in-game and on Twitch vote on who wins. Convince your voters! This is where the real magic happens. “I can’t believe 72% voted for the manatee.”

That’s it! Simple, right? It’ll feel that way in game, but making Superfight had substantial considerations.

How do you take a game that centers on a verbal argument into a video game? The idea seemed weird and unintuitive, but we knew we wanted to capture and preserve that same feeling of arguing with your friends. Let’s look at what our Design Director Hal Milton wrote when we first pitched it:

SUPERFIGHT Is Made Of People There isn’t an algorithm in the world that can solve for, “Who could win between Captain Picard with Badger Claws and an Eating Disorder versus Captain Kirk with Bubblegum Skin and Pronounced Narcolepsy?” This is a good thing, as Superfight is a game for Humans to play together, not infernal machines.

I agreed completely, but what if we used microphones and webcams to help us with this? I watch Twitch regularly — playing Superfight for viewers over the internet seemed like the obvious solution. In a short time, we built a prototype that let people vote on Twitch and Twitter while watching a live game of Superfight played with physical cards. If we could pull that off, we thought, the other pieces should fall in to place.

What’s Stream First?

Superfight is a Stream First game — a game designed with live streaming at its core. Superfight is built with three groups in mind. Let’s talk about PVB (Players, Viewers, & Broadcasters):

· Player — You’re playing Superfight with your friends. It’s fun.

· Viewer — People watching Superfight on Twitch. You may be part of a Broadcaster’s community. You’re watching AND you’re engaging the game alongside the players.

· Broadcaster — You’re streaming Superfight live. You’re a player too, but now you’re involving your viewers and community.

To make a Stream First game, you have to stream it, which is why we immediately approached Twitch streamers for their help. We listened to them play, and watched them interact with each other and their audiences. We observed and asked questions. Players, Viewers, and Broadcasters all had input, and depending on what happened during the game, all three groups had a different perspective.

Your Twitch Identity

As a Viewer and a Broadcaster, your Twitch identity is important. In order for the game to broadcast to your channel, detect votes, and count votes — players must link Superfight to their Twitch account. Your Twitch identity helps Superfight track all the interactions you have with the game. Once you start Superfight, remember to link your Twitch ID!

Playing the Game, but… Not IN the Game

One of the fun things about Superfight is that you’re earning rewards while watching on Twitch. Here’s how it works: Each time you vote, you earn Experience Points and cards. These votes are tracked and when you eventually log in to Superfight using your Twitch account we reward you with all of the Experience Points and cards you’ve accrued. Vote on games during your lunch break at work, and get rewards when you log in at home!

Not just useful for feedback, these broadcasts were also playtests. We paid close attention to everyone involved, and balanced our game and feedback to assist all players. Remember those rewards viewers got for voting on streams? They’ve been earning them since our Alpha, when we began streaming the game weekly. Players receive rewards for their time spent watching our test Streams when they finally open Superfight.

Where Do We Go From Here?

You can pick up Superfight TODAY — you can find it on Steam. It’s been a long road since we first prototyped the game and now we’re launching. There have been a lot of lessons learned and many more to come. We set out to make Superfight an experience unlike most online games. Gameplay centered around verbal arguments with a live audience seems like a scary thing. However after spending so much time with broadcasters, their communities, and Twitch, I’ve found that Superfight is well on its way to bringing players, viewers, and broadcasters even closer together.

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