Social game startup Seismic Games makes its debut today with CelebrityMe, a social RPG designed to let players live out their fantasies of fame and fortune.
CelebrityMe starts with the player’s character arriving at a Hollywood premiere for their latest big movie. After posing for paparazzi photos and signing autographs, the character is interviewed on their meteoric rise to fame. The game then flashes back to the character’s arrival at Venice Beach and the player then begins the climb from obscurity to red carpet success.
Players perform “tasks” to earn fame, which serves as a stand-in for experience points and allows users to gain access to “gigs” and to level up. Tasks are handed out by celebrity advisors, each of whom are parodies of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, George Clooney and Simon Cowell. Each advisor represents a different type of fame, including music, acting and reality television. Tasks are generally simple, and often require players to visit a specific location and click on an object to perform an action.
Gigs, on the other hand, are complicated mini-quests found around the Venice beachfront. Unlocked by achieving different fame levels, gigs can be anything from participating in musical jam sessions to acting in TV shows or even attending parties. When a gig starts, players have to make sure their character is dressed properly for the occasion — part of succeeding comes from meeting a style point requirement, which is accomplished by wearing different pieces of clothing. After the player picks an outfit they must then choose which of their in-game friends will be their co-stars or dates for the gig. Depending on the gig, different friends will give the player varying bonuses towards successfully completing the challenge. Finally, players select a performance modifier via a semi-randomized minigame such as three-card monte; if the player isn’t happy with their modifier, the game provides a “do over” option, but the player must pay with the game’s hard currency, “glitz.” Glitz can also be used to buy special clothing with maximum style points or high-level friends to appear at gigs.
After completing a gig, players are rewarded with a mini-movie that shows off their performance and the follow-up reviews from critics. All the choices made factor in to a final grade, which then awards experience points that build up the player’s fame level. Players can also bribe critics for good reviews using glitz.
The game’s viral channels include standard options like inviting friends to gigs and sharing game updates, and players can also post the game’s mini-movies to their Timeline.
According to Seismic Games chief creative officer Eric Gewirtz, the closest parallel to CelebrityMe is the EA’s the Sims Social. He tells us that his company’s game is different enough that it won’t compete for the same players, since The Sims Social is focused on controlling the everyday life of a character and CelebrityMe is designed to tap into players’ fantasies of grandeur while still remaining easy to get into. All of these factors have created an addictive game, with an average the beta testing play session lasting about hour, claims Gewirtz. “That’s really exciting for us,” he says, “because this isn’t designed to be a bite-sized game where you do something and then check back in in eight hours.”
Seismic Games is backed by $2 million in Series A funding from DFJ Frontier. CelebrityMe is currently live on Facebook, and Seismic Games is also planning to bring the game to mobile at a later date, though details on the mobile version haven’t been revealed yet.