ZavaStars is something like the first TV MMO. It’s a TV game show in which the contestants are avatars created by the viewers at home, trained and ready with their fingers on the buzzers just like any real-life game show contestant.
Viewers log on when the TV show starts and answer the questions posed in the show through their avatars. The avatar with the best performance on the night is the winner, or ZavaStar, and is invited – in its virtual form – on to the show to chat with the – real-life – host. This unique mix of live TV and games playing has a social side to it as well.
Avatars can communicate among themselves and invite their friends to join in, comparing scores and taking part in the ZavaStars virtual community.
ZavaStars has been created by the development studio Virdual, which began its life under name 3D2+ in 2007. 3D2+ created KidNet, a virtual universe designed for children, and the Linus & Boom Club, a universe adapted from the cartoon Linus & Boom, which was broadcast in France on France 3 and CanalJ. Both these titles used ShiVa3D for its easy platform portability, so when development started in 2009 on ZavaStars, it was an easy decision for the Virdual team to make to turn to ShiVa3D’s proven technology once more.
ZavaStars was the first program to be developed using 3DXmedia, Virdual’s bespoke 3D production platform. Throughout its development, the 15-strong studio team were in frequent communications with Stonetrip, especially in relation to integrating the 3D graphics in the TV broadcast system. Virdual also needed to make use of ShiVa3D’s multiplayer server, with up to 100,000 viewers potentially playing ZavaStars at the same time.
Virdual found that they were able to work exclusively with ShiVa3D’s features in the development of ZavaStars. “Back in 2007 we chose ShiVa3D for its ability to port easily to all platforms and for its flexibility,” says Stephane Gaultier of Virdual. “We’ve never seen any reason to change that decision. Without any doubt, ShiVa3D is an engine to recommend.”
Virdual is particularly pleased that with ZavaStars it believes it has proved it is possible to create a multimedia game around a TV show: while ZavaStars works as a classic game show for the traditional audience, the web-savvy viewers can watch and participate in the show using the web at the same time. The studio has created a demo to demonstrate how the live-action TV show works in correlation with its viewers playing on the Internet, and is currently in discussions with TV production companies to produce the game show for real. Full details of ZavaStars can be found on the Virdual website.