An in-development, massively multiplayer online role-playing game based on the hip hop music lifestyle, Platinum Life, just landed its first big-name collaborator: T.I.
"Most hip hop games are about thug life," says Anthony Castoro, co-founder and chief creative officer for developer Heatwave Interactive. "We wanted to do something that is positive about hip hop and is broader."
In the Platinum Life world, players will attempt to work their way up from a budding artist selling mix tapes on the street. "You choose an icon like T.I. and his manager is going to say, 'Look, we heard about you and that you are a really good performer. If you get enough cred, we will let you open up for T.I., if you are in New York maybe at Madison Square Garden.'" Castoro continues, "so you have all these missions to do to get that credibility. You can do rap battles. You can go record albums. You can do all these different activities," he says. "And then you go and do the big performance. So a lot of this game is about doing performances in venues kind of like 'instances' in an MMO."
In a bigger performance with a crowd, your character must command the stage properly. "Different things happen during the song that you need to try and take advantage of," says Castoro, who has had previous stints at Electronic Arts and Sony Online. "When the spotlight comes on, if you are not in the spotlight then you don't get the bonus of being in the spotlight and doing your ability. And your ability has an effect on the crowd. If you are a rapper, you are actually doing direct damage to the crowd. You can actually select parts of the crowd to try to get their energy up and to try to get them more excited. The more successfully you are at that, the more money and fame you get at the end of the performance."
Person versus person combat has a musical twist compared to traditional MMOs. "You have energy and juice and you try to work the other person's stat bar down just like you would in regular combat," Castoro says. "But instead of kicking him in the head, you can do a 'shout out', you can do a 'cut break', you can do a 'Yo Mama joke'. There's a bunch of different abilities you have based on what class you chose."
The RPG game is currently in development for PC and consoel systems and Castro expects it to be completed in three years (that will allow for full involvement by T.I., who is currently serving a one-year prison term for gun charges).
But launching later this year is a Platinum Life social networking game. "The concepts are the same. It's about performing. It's about creating a character," Castoro says. "T.I. is going to be in it and we are going to be announcing several other artists who are going to be in it, and some partnerships with record labels. It will be a mobile game. So the (intellectual property) is really going to take off in Q4 of this year, culminating in the big online game about three years out."
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