The Smokin’ Aces promotion that NBC Universal has been running in the virtual world of Second Life this week under its new VirtualNBC initiative sounds like it’s been a great success — or at least has made NBC pretty happy. Produced by the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog), the promotion takes the form of an in-world game in which players compete to assassinate each other, and to bump off the big target, Buddy Israel. The game resembles an online game called The Ship, which works largely the same way. NBC has signed up more than 1,000 players since it went live January 17, 3pointD hears, and players have really gotten into the game, finding creative ways to kill each other and even hacking the scripted objects that make up the game. After all, there’s a L$1 million bounty at stake, to be awarded today. The movie opens tonight, and Smokin’ Aces director Joe Carnahan will do a live Q&A in Second Life at 10:00am SL time (1:00pm Eastern) in the Orientation Room at the Smokin’ Aces »Nomad Hotel«.
The game sounds like great fun. (I was a big fan of The Ship when it came out, so it’s no surprise I’d like the idea of the Smokin’ Aces game.) I’ve seen the television trailer for Smokin’ Aces, and I have to say that it’s the mere idea of the SL game that has done more to make me want to see the movie itself, despite the fact that I haven’t played it. Of course, the TV commercial reaches far more people than Second Life; the problem still remains of pushing SL out to a large number of people. But those involved with the game feel it was a great success. Check out the YouTube clip above, which mixes SL machinima with clips from the film. It seems clear to me that SL can bring you closer to something like an action movie than a TV commercial ever could.
One of my favorite things about the game is the emergent gameplay that’s arisen in the course of it. (That’s one of my favorite things about any multiplayer game, though.) At one point, I hear, a couple of players found ways to hack the bullets in their weapons to make them more accurate. The Sheep had to patch out that exploit before it unbalanced the results. Players have also found creative ways to more securely kill each other, shooting across the borders of sims and firing from within no-kill zones where they are immune from damage, or bumping their targets out of safe areas before popping them off.
Today will also see the appearance in SL of the avatarized Buddy “Aces” Israel himself, the main target for all the assassins, who’s worth a truckload of points in the game, should someone manage to actually kill him. You can still sign up for the game at the »Nomad Hotel«. If nothing else, it’s worth seeing one of the most creative promotions that’s hit Second Life yet.