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The Walking Dead: Last Mile debuts today as a free game on Facebook Gaming as the next installment in The Walking Dead franchise.
The live-action show hosts include Yvette Nicole Brown and Felicia Day. Brown will kick off the game at 4 p.m. Pacific time today as the latest MILE, or massively interactive live event, from Skybound and Genvid. It’s a game that is played by spectators who create characters and make choices for them as the simulated world unfolds. The story unfolds over four months in a series of interactive live streams where the story is driven by the fans.
“It is the next big installment in The Walking Dead franchise where the story is driven by the fans,” said Jacob Navok, CEO of Genvid, in a press briefing. “You influence a constantly evolving coastal Alaskan community through an Instant Game with story content available daily, and live interactive streams hosted by Yvette Nicole Brown and Felicia Day.”
The title is a Facebook Instant Game that introduces new story content daily that fans can view and help make crucial decisions to ultimately shape the official The Walking Dead universe. Genvid is the publisher, Skybound and Terrible Posture Games did the story and characters, Pipeworks developed the game, and Cyber Group did the animations.
The story begins today when Brown will host the first weekly interactive live stream that sets the stage and explains the implications that fan choices have on the characters. The Instant Game, which uses a combination of HTML5 and video, will launch in open beta today, featuring new story content and minigames to play every day. You can play it on mobile devices or the PC. It requires no installation.
“It’s an authentic Walking Dead experience. It’s all via the guidance of Robert Kirkman and built in the spirit and philosophies and ethos that that he has distilled for us through 193 issues of The Walking Dead, and so many other games and stories,” said Shawn Kittelsen, vice president of creative development at Skybound Entertainment, in a press briefing. “That means that all of the things that fans come to expect from The Walking Dead, including characters who face morally complex situations, emotionally charged stories, and stories that are grounded in the realistic and relatable needs of everyday survival. And the implications of human threats more so than monstrous, or Walker threats being a major presence.”
Genvid has pioneered the MILEs concept, which uses cloud gaming to stream interactive game imagery to millions of people. They can vote to shape the narrative.
“Since the very beginning I have been a huge fan of The Walking Dead and it’s an absolute thrill to be involved in this new interactive experience The Walking Dead: Last Mile,” said Brown, in a statement. “I’m sure I’m not the only one who has wanted to reach into the TWD world every now and then to help or hinder the main characters at key turning points – now, we’ll all finally get that chance.”
Previously, Genvid used its technology to create Rival Peak, a Survivor style show in the wilderness, and Pac-Man Community, where spectators and players could interact and users could create their own Pac-Man levels. Pac-Man Community generated plays from more than seven million people and tens of thousands of levels created. And Rival Peak saw more than 100 million minutes of video watched. Genvid also licenses its software development kit to other media and tech companies.
“Gaming is a huge part of my life and career, so I’m thrilled to host an interactive livestream event that will create an innovative, one-of-a-kind experience for The Walking Dead fans and gamers. Very excited to see what pushing the limits of interactive storytelling can accomplish,” said Day, in a statement.
Facebook paid Genvid to get an exclusive on the game.
“We’re very excited to allow for people to play with these interactive streams and everything that you will see in terms of gameplay today is taking place over a live stream,” Navok said. “I don’t mean cloud gaming like Stadia. We don’t have an individual stream for you. Think of it like Twitch Plays Pokemon, where we’re all watching a series of broadcasts and are able to impact and effect that. And the great thing is because it’s lightweight video, it works everywhere, which is to say it’ll work in Mexico on an Android device. Works in India. It’s going to work on PCs, work on iPhones, wherever.”
Player progress will carry over from open beta. Ultimately, fans will decide the fate of the inhabitants of Prosper Landing, a remote, coastal Alaskan village that had been spared most of the walker apocalypse, until now.
Along the way, Brown and Day will host regular livestreams highlighting the big moments that propel the narrative forward, discussing the story with special guests, and revealing key decisions made by the audience in the Instant Game.
Kittelson said the story will be impacted by the audience, who will vote and begin to change the outcomes.
“We don’t know which characters will live, which characters will die,” he said. “And whatever the audience decides at the the end of this experience. That is the canon and not just for this experience because it’s only running once as a live event. But that is what the canon will be going forward.”
Every day is different and you don’t have a rewind button. In the broadcasts, Brown and Day will talk about the decisions the audience made and the significance of them.
“Together the livestreams and instant game deliver a kind of uniquely social form of storytelling,” Navok said.
Kittelson said no one knows what happened in Alaska in the apocalypse of The Walking Dead. In the fictional coastal town, the inhabitants embrace Alaskan Native cultural additions around survival, sustainability, and using the land properly. Some survivors want to go back to the way things were when fuel and heat was abundant. A gas stabilization plant near Glacier Point gives the people access to fuel, but they are facing a harsh winter, hordes of Walkers, and bandits.
One of the leaders is Captain Barnett, a former Coast Guard captain and commercial fisherman who is the leader of the village faction. The village faction is the group that has chosen to stay in the village in an attempt to live on subsistence. But not everyone in the village agrees and so people advocate different paths to follow. The Glacier Point facility across the bay also has its own leader. The plant has technically inclined people who try to get the plant fired up. But the plant isn’t as comfortable to live as the village. While they don’t have food or comfort, they do have fuel.
“This experience cannot be created without the community,” said Navok. “It’s a hugely complex and experimental thing that we are trying to accomplish here. And that means that we’re going to need as much community input as possible.”
Each day has mini games such as a generator puzzle, which you have to solve to earn influencer points.
Your performance on puzzles will affect the stamina of survivors who are fighting Walkers. You start with pistols but can unlock better weapons over time.
You start by creating your own survivor, modifying the character as you wish with a character creator tool. You can participate in a variety of activities, like fishing, shooting Walkers, repairing, and otherwise contributing to life. The characters are their own selves, and you are not playing the characters. But they will survive or not based on your decisions. Your survivor has to earn influence points, which allow you to bid. Those points are allotted based on your engagement. The game has no microtransactions.
“We want people to participate a lot and be able to generate enough points to make decisions,” Navok said. “You can also send your survivor on assignments and you can cameo inside the stream itself.”
But if your character dies, you will have to create a new character. Every day, you get about 15 minutes worth of new content inside of the experience. You’ll be able to watch the latest story clips, catch up on what happened, and catch new fish.
The more you participate, the more you impact the story and the canon. You are free to make decisions that benefit either side as you wish. You will get to see both sides of a story.
The open beta takes place starting today and Act One debuts on August 22. And it will run to a finale in November.
Established in 2010, Skybound is a multiplatform content company that engages with creators and their intellectual properties to create cool stuff and deliver one-of-a-kind experiences to fans. It was founded by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman. This project has been in the works for two years.