Hyper Rabbit Power Go! (Hyper RPG!) is a new Redmond, Wash.-based Twitch channel debuting today, which will live stream shows about gamers, video games role-playing games and board games, along with behind-the-scenes game development details, with a special focus on the gaming companies from the Pacific Northwest.
The CEO of Hyper RPG! is Zac Eubank, the former showrunner of Geek & Sundry, a popular Twitch channel dedicated to geek culture with more than 14,000 subscribers. Eubank is working with Jordan Weisman, the co-founder and CEO of Harebrained Schemes, the Kirkland, Wash.-based video game design company sponsoring Hyper RPG!
To date, HareBrained Schemes has successfully launched four games through KickStarter — BattleTech (a turn-based video game), Shadowrun Returns (a role-playing video game), Golem Arcana (a digitally-enhanced board game involving miniatures) and Shadowrun: Hong Kong (another RPG video game in the ShadowRun universe). Hyper RPG! will showcase games from HareBrained Schemes, including previews of the not-yet-released Necropolis, but will also broadcast shows that feature other game developers and gamers in the Seattle area.
On the decision to name the company Hyper RPG!, Eubank said it was meant to underscore the relationship between Hyper RPG! and Harebrained Schemes by continuing the lagomorphic theme. But it also was meant to invoke the ’80s, which Eubank believes appeal to the wide audience that Hyper RPG! hopes to attract.
“We wanted to please some of the fans of Harebrained Schemes from older generations as well as talk to the new and younger fans on Twitch,” Eubank said in a phone interview. “So we picked a name that had an ’80s feel — Hyper RPG! captures the nostalgia of the older generation for the ’80s and the re-discovery of that fun, over-the-top 80s aesthetic by the younger generation.”
Hyper RPG! will launch today, Feb. 26, at noon Pacific with a 48-hour CharityStream benefiting the HALO Foundation, which supports orphanages across the world. The launch will feature the first play-through of Necropolis, a multi-player video game from Harebrained Schemes; a tabletop BattleTech Grudge Match between Harebrained Schemes and Catalyst Game Labs; live music, special guests, and giveaways.
Regular programming will begin Monday, Feb. 29 at 1 p.m. Pacific.
Twitch is a live-streaming video platform owned by Twitch Interactive, a subsidiary of Amazon. Most Twitch channels — Eubank estimated 98 percent — feature normal people with webcams, streaming themselves playing video games. In contrast, Hyper RPG! will offer shows with more production value.
“There is a very small percentage of us treating [Twitch] like a new form of media entertainment,” Eubank said. “[At Hyper RPG!] we’re working with Black Magic Design and using high-end HD cameras, live switching, and multi-room sets to create a unique look and experience for our viewers.”
The Hyper RPG! studios are designed like a space ship, featuring the captain’s quarters where the daily news show and podcast are recorded, the holo deck with a green screen for individual streamers, the control deck with equipment and servers, and the hangar bay with space for 5-6 streamers to stand.
“The studio sticks with our ’80s aesthetic,” Eubank said. “It’s everything you remember from MechWarrior and BattleStar Galactica — rustic, beat-down metal — mixed with neon lights. I call it ‘new wave retro.'”
But what makes Hyper RPG! stand out most from existing Twitch channels, Eubank said, is not its fancy equipment or spaceship studio. In the world of Twitch, content isn’t as important as the community that’s fostered around a particular streamer or game, he said. People don’t mind if streamers aren’t delivering professional-looking shows, so long as they feel a connection to other like-minded individuals through the channel. So Hyper RPG! has invested in unique interactive content to engage and immerse its viewers in their shows, Eubank said.
“Twitch is, at its heart, a community-building platform,” Eubank explained. “We wanted to create content that would offer interactive entertainment to bring our viewers into the studio with us. For instance, if we’re broadcasting a game, we could have viewers in our chatroom tell us what moves to make or where to go, so they’re invested in the game and playing along with us.”
One of Hyper RPG!’s regularly scheduled interactive programs is “Shadowrun: Corporate Sins.” The show asks audience members join one of ten corporations fighting one another for world domination. Each corporation schemes within its own private chatroom and gains influence before contacting the dungeon master to send out Shadowrunners to attack rivals.
“We hired NERDprov, an improv group, to play our [Shadow]runners,” Eubank said. “Audience members hire these on-screen players to attack other chatrooms. Everyone watching will have a direct stake in the game. They’re creating the story as much as we’re telling it.”