Arts and Entertainment => Video Games => Topic started by: Superman on March 24, 2010, 17:39:29 PM

Title: SpyParty (PC)
Post by: Superman on March 24, 2010, 17:39:29 PM
Jesus, I need this game.

Quote from: Wired
At last year’s Game Developers Conference, designer Chris Hecker unveiled a prototype of a new game called SpyParty.

This year, he let me play it.

SpyParty is like nothing else I’ve ever played. It’s an asymmetrical multiplayer game: One player mingles among computer-controlled party guests, attempting to perform sly feats of espionage. The other player watches the action from afar through the sight of a sniper rifle, hoping to pick out the human spy from a roomful of robots, then assassinate him.

Chris Hecker is one of the liveliest, most outspoken personalities in the games industry. His yearly “rants” at GDC are the can’t-miss moments of the show. This year, he railed against developers not finishing their game designs. In 2007, he made waves when he called the just-released Wii a “piece of shit.”

Until 2009, Hecker worked at Maxis creating Spore. Now, following Electronic Arts layoffs, he’s a one-man game development team. Showing me and a friend SpyParty at his hotel room at the W, Hecker talked a mile a minute about his new project, which is still in the early prototype stage of development.

“Games are still in the Wild West, design-wise,” he said a followup e-mail. “We really don’t know what we’re doing yet. In movies, sometime around 1900 somebody realized, ‘Hey, we could actually move the camera around while the scene is being filmed,’ and that was a revelation.”

“We’re having those moments in game design these days, and will be for the next 10 or 20 years, and that’s incredibly exciting to be involved with as a creative person.”

I needed to bring a friend, he’d told me, because the game’s learning curve is so steep. Experienced players can easily trounce newbies.

Hecker sat us down in a corner, where two laptops with Xbox 360 controllers hummed silently.

SpyParty begins with the spy player, who first selects his character. The player can chose to slip into a handful of different character models: a guy in a tux, women in a variety of dresses, a rotund chap in a top hat.

The mind game starts immediately, because even on this character-selection screen, the spy is trying to outwit his opponent: Which character do they suspect I’d pick?

The spy player has to complete four tasks to win the game: Plant a bug on the ambassador at the party, make contact with a double agent, move a book from one shelf to another and swap a statue for a different one.

Each of these actions has a “tell,” a giveaway that the sniper can pick up on if he is paying attention. In the case of the physical actions, it’s a quick character animation. For the double agent bit, it’s a secret code phrase — somebody will say the words “banana bread.” (Hecker says this is what he was having as a snack when he recorded the audio.)

The sniper player needs only to watch and listen, but within the limitations of his faraway vantage point. From afar, the sniper can see the entire party, in the windowed corner of an apartment building. He can see everyone mingle, chat and stroll around the room. But he’s too far away to make out the subtle “tells” that can help identify the target. Zooming in with the rifle scope narrows the view, but lets him see what the guests are doing.

My first try as the sniper was easy: All I had to do was watch for the one player that didn’t act like a computer-controlled bot. The first time I caught my friend correcting his movements in mid-stride, I knew I had my target.

Later moments behind the trigger weren’t so easy, once the spy had figured out how to pretend to be artificial intelligence. I wasted more than a few bullets on wild guesses and longshots. SpyParty gets hard.

Hecker says that his former boss, Sims creator Will Wright, didn’t get caught up in analysis paralysis. He just picked a target, fired, and said “Let’s go again.”

The concept for SpyParty has been kicking around in Hecker’s head since 2005, inspired by an Indie Game Jam entry called Dueling Machine. That game took place in a teeming city where one player hunted another with a single bullet.

“It was awesome and tense, and I loved the idea of hiding in plain sight and only having one bullet,” said Hecker.

After proving my incompetence as an assassin, I switched into the spy role. It is harrowing. You know you’re being watched. To further heighten the suspense, you can see the sniper’s laser sight as it sweeps across the room, eyeballing potential targets.

When the laser focuses on you, the tension is intense. And the relief, when the beam swings away, is powerful. But if you’re playing in the same room as your opponent, you can’t sigh or show relief, or you’ll reveal your hand. Hecker says he’s seen players fake button presses to fool opponents.

SpyParty won’t be released to the public for another couple of years. Hecker wants to cook up more scenarios and design a matchmaking system to make sure players of similar experience are paired up online.

He’s looking to change the game’s basic art into something more stylized, better capturing the ’60s spy flicks that inspired his game.

Hecker, now outside the confines of a big game studio, loves the freedom.

“I can make exactly the game I want to make, exactly the way I want it,” he said. “Being indie converts all game-development problems you might find at a normal studio, like politics, team structure, selling your ideas and the like, into a single simple question: ‘Can I afford to eat long enough to make this game?’”
Title: Re: SpyParty
Post by: daddy on March 25, 2010, 09:34:35 AM
Wow, that is a fantastic idea.  I would like to play both SpyParty and Dueling Machine.    It reminds me of when games had really good stealth missions built in, like Goldeneye and Spiderman.  I fucking loved doing that.  I'd rarely keep playing once stealth had been blown. 
Title: Re: SpyParty
Post by: Poopyhead pianoman ♫ on March 26, 2010, 12:58:27 PM
Mm, that's some cool shit. The title actually conjured up Spy vs. Spy for me.

This is unique. And I love his comments about freedom. It's nice to know there are still people out there developing games using their imagination.
Title: Re: SpyParty
Post by: Superman on November 18, 2011, 09:02:42 AM
There's a paid beta coming out soon. Sort of the same model Minecarft uses.
Title: Re: SpyParty
Post by: Poopyhead pianoman ♫ on November 19, 2011, 19:43:39 PM
Interesting.  I feel guilty, though.  I've been buying games and had no time to play anything.
Title: Re: Re: SpyParty
Post by: Superman on November 20, 2011, 03:40:10 AM
Yeah. I love watching games come out, but I rarely buy anything. If I ever do have time to play, I have plenty I've already spent money on.
Title: Re: SpyParty
Post by: Superman on August 29, 2012, 05:30:08 AM
I got my beta invite in the mail just now.
Title: Re: Re: SpyParty
Post by: Superman on August 29, 2012, 12:43:15 PM
Wow. It is a really challenging game. Both roles feel impossible while you're in them. You don't appreciate how hard the other side is until you switch.
Title: Re: SpyParty
Post by: Poopyhead pianoman ♫ on August 30, 2012, 09:37:57 AM
I swear I signed up for an invite.
Title: Re: SpyParty
Post by: Superman on October 27, 2012, 04:44:57 AM
He just added a bunch of new levels and revamped a lot of the interface stuff. It's starting to feel more like a real game.

The difficulty is still really, really high. I like that it's not your typical game.