The Pitch: You may have heard of "the game you can only play once" or the game that features "perma-permadeath" - it has caused much uproar and speculation across the internet. At SxSW Gaming, we talked to Calvin Goble of Robot Loves Kitty - along with "show host" Ronnie Raygun - and got the scoop.
Current Status: Aiming for an alpha next month
Upsilon Circuit is at its core an action RPG played by two teams of four players. The catch is that there's just one server - only eight people can be playing Upsilon Circuit at any one given time. If a player dies, that's it, they're out - permanently. Adding another wrinkle is that there is also the possibility for teammates to hurt or even kill each other, so there may be some warranted suspicion every time a new player joins.
Beyond the 8 people active in the game world, other people can participate as part of the audience. They're watching the game as a "show" and interacting with it, influencing the outcome by providing assistance or hinderance. Sound familiar? It's similar in ways both to The Hunger Games and audience-interactive "games" like Twitch Plays Pokemon.
Calvin told us that it would be possible to buy (using real-world money in some cases, and currency earned by participation in others) monsters to attack the players they don't like, or bonus items to aid the journey of ones they do. This method of monetization would imply that players play for free, but that's not something I confirmed while at the booth.
New players are chosen randomly from the audience, but Calvin told us that more active fans of the show were more likely to get picked. If you're chosen to play, you'll need to set aside a couple of hours every night to take part in the show. Calvin said they'd be understanding if, say, you had a family emergency, but if you just don't want to play they're likely to cut you from the show.
Upsilon Circuit is still not quite ready for primetime, but the plan is to do an alpha release in about a month. If all goes well, the game will be broken up into seasons, with teams competing to reach some over-arching goal within the game. I asked Calvin if there would be incentives to playing - a prize for the winning team, perhaps. He was cagey about the subject, so we'll just have to wait and see...
Bottom Line: An imaginative experiment for the Twitch era, Upsilon Circuit is a game as much about watching as it is about playing.