A Hurried Welcome!

Well, this site is going public a little ahead of schedule, but I will try to make the best of it!

This is the website for SpyParty, a very different multiplayer espionage game in development by me, Chris Hecker, and due for release at some point in the future when it’s awesome.  It’s currently a very raw prototype with temporary artwork, temporary UI, and temporary code, but there is unique and interesting gameplay already, so I’m optimistic it will attain awesomeness before the heat death of the universe.

You can read some early press coverage of a public demo of the game on the About page, and I will post more details soon (when I dig myself out from under all the the GDC submissions).  If you want to keep abreast of SpyParty development, subscribe to the RSS Feed, and I will also get an announcement mailing list started soon.

At a high level, the game is about giving you less of this:

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…while giving you more of this:

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In the meantime, here’s a screenshot of the prototype:

screenshot1

35 Comments

  1. Chris Hecker says:

    Hey look, it’s a test comment. What an awesome game this is going to be! Yay SpyParty!

  2. L. Zoel says:

    looks pretty neat. I’ll be sure to follow this. Sorry to hear you’re not going to be working on Spore anymore. Loved the asymmetry patch.

  3. checker says:

    Thanks! Yeah, asymmetry was fun to get working. Dan Moskowitz, Dave Culyba, and I had a great time working out the kinks, and players have made some cool stuff. I’m going to update my Spore Liner Notes page (http://chrishecker.com/My_Liner_Notes_for_Spore) at some point with asym screenshots and commentary.

  4. Marcus says:

    Interesting.

  5. Boinked says:

    Will we still be allowed to ski jump away from explosions?

    ;)

  6. checker says:

    Yes, if you can find an explosion in the game, you can ski jump away from it!

  7. Hey Chris – welcome to no-lifeline-indiehood! Sorry to hear about the layoffs – been in a similar spot in the past. I enjoyed SpyParty at GDC, and I’m looking forward to more. Best wishes with development.

  8. srdela says:

    I’m optimistic. You mentioned “multiplayer”. Are multiple people going to try and snipe the spy? Or is one person playing the spy and the other trying to figure out who he is and kill him. Or is that just a very small part of the gameplay.

    In a way this reminds me of The Ship. Try to find out who your killer is at the same time trying to kill your own victim.

    Anyway, this sounds fantastic thus far, and I don’t mean to be mean (too many “mean”‘s), but it does look like it will be more fun than Spore. Yeah, that game didn’t really do it for me. Nothing personal.

    Also, if you need a writer I’m more than happy to help at no charge (unless you make some good money from this). I’ve only worked on short films, but that’s just because that’s all my resources allow me to do. This would certainly be nice to have in a portfolio as well as I’m just happy to support the indie gaming scene anyway I can.

  9. checker says:

    Thanks, I’m optimistic too! :)

    > multiplayer

    There are going to be a bunch of different game modes, but the first that’s being implemented is two players, where one is the spy, and one is the sniper. The spy is trying to accomplish missions like “bug the ambassador” while not being detected, while the sniper is trying to figure out which person is the spy using observation and various tools. One thing that’s cool is that it’s completely asymmetric, meaning the game is really a different experience for both players. Then there are crazier game modes I’ll talk about later!

  10. I feel sure it must be “Spy Party” and not “SpyParty.” Bond never attended a SpyParty! Well, maybe Pierce Brosnan’s did.

  11. bobmeier says:

    The concept of this game sounds really interesting, im looking forward to find more about this game.
    Sad to hear that you had to leave Maxis, but on the other hand, its nice to see talented people like you making Indie games!

  12. checker says:

    Thanks for the kind words! Now, you and two hundred thousand of your best friends just have to buy the game when it’s ready. :)

  13. Matthias Haan says:

    I’m especially curious as to how you deal with the problem that players are usually very easy to tell apart from NPCs. If there is only one other player, and you know it’s the enemy, taking the shot seems like a no-brainer :-)
    But maybe that’s just part of the challenge for the spy, trying to blend in with the unwashed masses ;-)

    • checker says:

      Actually, that was one of the interesting big discoveries from the initial prototype. Like you, a bunch of other game developers to whom I told the idea (including Will Wright :) thought it was going to be way too easy to tell the spy from the NPCs, so I was really afraid the whole thing wouldn’t work. But it turns out it’s incredibly difficult to tell, especially for beginners. There’s so much visual information flooding at you as the sniper, you’ve got to be really careful where you focus your attention. In fact, attention becomes a resource in the game. I’m really relieved it turned out this way, because it’s a great place to be, design-wise. It’s easy to give the sniper cool tools that will make his job easier, but it’d be much harder to make his job more difficult without it feeling broken. So yes, blending in but still accomplishing goals is the challenge for the spy, and figuring out who’s blending in is the challenge for the sniper.

  14. Minorkos says:

    Dude, your game idea is awesome. I’ve been thinking what it would be like to play Hitman in multiplayer, where you’re the Hitman actually TRYING to fit in with the folks.

    You sir, have got yourself a purchase. (As soon as one is available.)

  15. venn177 says:

    Will this be at all like The Ship?

    • checker says:

      > Will this be at all like The Ship?

      I actually haven’t played The Ship yet! It was on my list, but enough people have mentioned it since I went public with this that it’s now at the top of my list. I’ve heard there aren’t many players online these days, though. I hope that’s not true, since I want to play!

      So, take this with a grain of salt until I play it next week, but from talking to people and reading about it, it sounds like The Ship is kind of like the old college game Assassin, but with weapons and stuff. I think SpyParty is different because of the asymmetry between the two sides and the “social mores” aspect of the spy’s performance. The spy isn’t also trying to kill the sniper, and the sniper isn’t trying to blend into the party, and I think that makes for a pretty different game dynamic. I’ll know more when I actually play it! :)

  16. Amos Dudley says:

    Totally Spies, Totally Party?

    Come on, you must have seen that coming.

  17. Gravity says:

    Sounds awesome. I’ll be keeping an RSS eye on the blog =D

  18. sirsims says:

    I love the concept of the game!
    And I actually still play “The Ship”. I hope that more people play “SpyParty” and “The Ship 2” / “Hollywood Muder Party” ! Because “The Ship” was one of the best games ever – but the people didn’t notice that!

  19. party spy says:

    This is Exactly what i’ve been looking for! Keep up the good work.

  20. srdela says:

    You can probably arrange some people here to play The Ship with you for research. I was heavy into the community for a long time. Just do us a favor and don’t add something like Deathmatch. Personally, I think that was the last nail on The Ship’s coffin.

    Also, any word on what engine you’re considering? Or are you gonna make one of your own? I hope you release this on Steam as that is the only way I buy PC games now. I’ve bought a couple retail and have regretted it since. And if you use the Steam Community feature there’s less chance of pirating. As games that use that (Killing Floor, Empire Total War) have huge limitations when it comes to multiplayer if you get them illegally. I know a couple of cheap friends that came by to play games at a LAN party, but they couldn’t even play them through LAN.

    What’s funny is that they managed to get L4D working, but that’s just because you can do almost anything through the console on Source engine. So as much as I love that engine and think it would be perfect for this game, maybe you should go with an alternative. It will also filter out most “The Ship” comparisons.

  21. checker says:

    > You can probably arrange some people here to play The Ship with you for research.

    Hey, that’s a great idea! I’ll do a post about that in the next couple of weeks and set a date/time.

    I’m trying to even imagine what “deathmatch” would be in the context of this game design. The spy blindly shooting out the window of the party, hoping to hit the sniper on the building across the street? :)

    > Also, any word on what engine you’re considering? Or are you gonna make one of your own?

    It’s currently my own. Well, actually, it’s currently the Indie Game Jam engine, which is basically my prototyping library that I’ve used for years on everything I do (including on Spore prototypes!), plus Cal3D, an old kind of junky open source animation library that I’ve modified a bunch. I may move SpyParty to a more production quality engine in the future, or keep rolling along with this codebase, not sure yet. The most important thing right now is to figure out the game mechanics, improving the graphics can wait until the gameplay is awesome.

  22. rware says:

    I think Maxis made a rather big mistake letting you go, sir. But hey, their loss.

    Good luck with the game, looks like an excellent idea.

  23. washaa says:

    This sounds excellent, be sure to update the blog often!

  24. Chaos says:

    Hey, do you have Garrysmod? I’ve never played “The Ship” but this reminds me of a Garrysmod Gamemode, that you have to play! If you’re going to play The Ship for research, you should try this!

    You’re all terrorists, and you’re on a team, to do nothing really. But, thats not the point.

    Trouble in Terrorist Town
    A few of you are labeled “Traitor” and only fellow traitors know who you are. Everyone else is labeled “Innocent” And innocents no NOT know who the traitors are. The traitors goal is to kill all the innocents, without getting shot. Of corse an innocent can board up a room, and not trust anyone, and wait for the traitor to kill everyone but him. Then its obvious who he is. Or, you could try to blend in to the crowd, and treat everyone suspiciously. Or even trust a friend, and hope you don’t get stabbed in the back. Innocents win by killing all the traitors, theres about one traitor for every 5-6 people. If you suspecrt somebody, you may want to shoot him, and check the body to see if its a traitor or not. If you kill too many people, thinking they’re traitors, you’ll look like a traitor to everyone else. You have to be carefull.

    Anyways, enough about that, this game sounds amazing! Is there any kind of early beta that anyone can get their hands on? ;>

  25. checker says:

    > Trouble in Terrorist Town

    Interesting description, I’ll put it on the list to check out, thanks!

    > Is there any kind of early beta that anyone can get their hands on?

    Beta is a long long way off. :) On the other hand, I’ll probably do some pre-pre-alpha testing at some point this year, and will recruit people for that for testing all the net code.

  26. Chaos says:

    > Yeah, its really cool, all about deception, and gut instint.

    > How would I go about getting myself on the pre-pre-alpha list?
    I mean, I’d play the game how it is now, if you’d let me. ;)

  27. alm says:

    I would be happy to help with any testing you need, this game sounds right up my alley!

  28. viviann Napp says:

    Very cool idea. And a welcome alternative to the violent games that are out there. I would very much enjoy participating in pre-pre-alpha testing.

  29. Brennan says:

    Sounds awesome man. Very much looking forward to this.

  30. MaxMoss says:

    I was HUMINT in the (former) DDR from 79-82. The Americans, British (BRIXMIS) and French (FMLM) has 90% “Fun” and 10% Terror.

    However, the last person murdered in the Cold War was Arthur Nicholson, Jr. of USMLM. Killed today in 1986 and buried in Arlington Cemetary in Washington, D.C. next to the great boxer, Joe Lewis.

    Art was killed while he was out of the vehicle at a Soviet Tank Regiment to see if they were “home”. A Spetznaz sniper, dressed in black at the edge of a forest, shot him twice. He said to his “Tour NCO,” “Jessie, I’ve been shot.” Further Tank Guards in regarualt black-tab uniforms stopped the NCO from rendering First Aid, aiming their AKs at him even as the NCO pointed at his Red Cross marked kit and pointing at Art. He was threatened with pointed weapons…

    Arthur was subsequently stripped nude and was not given any aid by Soviet personnel.

    2 1/2 hrs later, the Commander-in-Chief, Group of Soviet Forces Germany, landed in his personal VIP HIP-C helicopter. He approached the NCO, still in the diplomatically-protected vehicle. While he did not speak Russian, he was extremely fluent in German. His aid said “The Comrade General wishes to know why you killed your officer.” RIP, Major Nicholson.

    Spy Games can be fun and they can also be Dead Fun. Violence aside, I do indeed which you well and, if you would like me to alpha/beta your game, I would enjoy it as well.

    As an aside, if anyone visits the usmlm.org website: click on vehicles. I’m the guy in the field of grazing cows. Sometimes it’s wise to “Hide in the Open.” I was well-trained by the SAS in Kent, btw. I have always loved your country, MI5/MI6 and your brave soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Sincerely,

    — Me

  31. Aegeus says:

    A spy movie only has ski-jumping away from explosions (or similar setpieces) once everything has gone wrong and the spy’s been spotted, or as a way to have a final showdown with the bad guy.

    The former option is out of the question, since the spy is dead as soon as he’s been exposed. But it would be really cool if the spy could mingle his way from building to building and backstab the sniper or something. Maybe an alternative mode, where the sniper is watching a busy street, trying to spot the spy as he weaves through the crowd to the sniper’s building.

    • checker says:

      A lot of “spy movies” seem to start with the ski jumping these days, and skip the “spotted” part.  :)  But yes, I know what you’re saying.  For SpyParty, I’m mostly focusing on the first part, since that’s the part that’s neglected in games and modern spy films.  There are some ideas simmering on the backburner about interactions between the Sniper and the Spy, but they’re for exploring after I nail the core mechanic 100%!

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