Skybound Entertainment’s The Walking Dead is launching a new kind of adventure in a new location, Alaska, and built using a new medium that mashes up Animal Crossing, Survivor, community-building, interactive control, and of course lots of zombies.
The Walking Dead: Last Mile debuts today in open beta on Facebook, but will officially begin a four-month run of daily live content updates there in about a month, on Aug. 22. Last Mile is a so-called Massive Interactive Live Event (MILE for short), Genvid Entertainment’s relatively new social gaming platform.
The game experience will also be supported by a weekly Facebook Watch live stream hosted by Yvette Nicole Brown (Community) and Felicia Day (The Guild, Supernatural) that also begins today.
Genvid had its first hit MILE last year on Facebook called Rival Peak, which attracted millions of players over its lengthy run despite being an original intellectual property without the reach of a big franchise such as The Walking Dead. More recently, Genvid launched a MILE based on the Pac-Man games.
Last Mile represents another, um, lurch forward in the MILE format, taking the Walking Dead franchise to an Alaskan village called Prosper Landing, said Shawn Kittleson, Skybound’s vice president of creative development.
“This is a remote coastal town that is fairly isolated relative to some of the other communities that we’ve seen in Walking Dead,” Kittleson said. “And that means that initially, they fared better than most places did when the dead rose and the world fell apart. But unfortunately, they have a lot of threads to deal with that go beyond walkers, including the weather itself and the scarcity of certain resources.”
Part of the Last Mile’s narrative conceit is that there is both a village and, across a bay, a gas stabilization plant whose supporting community is trying a different approach to sustainability, and are in conflict with the more traditionalist approach of the villagers.
Participants in either group can undertake missions outside the communities to gather resources and fight zombies, where players can choose a variety of tasks and roles for their customized characters, from tasks like fishing and farming, a la Animal Crossing, Kittleson said.
Using the “influence points” players accumulate by completing those tasks, they can bid to interact in various ways with a number of named characters, including taking part in walk-on cameos in daily interactive comic content content that’s posted on the platform. The named characters’ actions and, ultimately, their survival depend on the collective decisions of the MILE’s players, said Genvid CEO and co-founder Jacob Navok.
Unlike a traditional game, where a player might spend hours at a time playing, Last Mile is designed to need only about 15 minutes a day, but the more daily checkins, the more options and opportunities the game will provide.
“There are a limited number of cameos available,” said Navok. “And also the bids never repeat. So you really do want to log in every single day, and be able to participate on it.”
As the experience unfolds, it can branch into an increasing number of narrative story lines over the four months, depending on participants’ decisions, Kittleson said. Content built around the eventual chosen story lines will be posted daily and discussed in the weekly show. Kittleson said. Skybound assembled a large writing room to create a wide range of content covering the potential outcomes going forward.
“You will always see the outcomes of every bid, you’ll always see the the outcomes of the story,” Kittleson said. “And it’s really important that we make sure that you can explore both sides, because you may come into the experience thinking that you’re more of a village person and find out that you’re more of a plant person. And those are the kinds of conversations that we’re looking for the community to have.”