GDC 2010: SpyParty Press Extravaganza

Wow, so the week after the Game Developers Conference was kind of  simultaneously crazy and great for SpyParty!  As I posted previously, I did a ton of playtests at the conference with developers, and I got a lot of great feedback on the game.

I also playtested it with a few folks from the game press, and they were nice enough to write up their experiences on their various news sites.  And then those articles got picked up by other sites, and things went a little nuts.  I was on airplanes for half of one of the days, ssh’ing in from my phone on the tarmac to try to keep my server running!

Let’s see, in the order the stories were posted:

  • AVC at GDC ’10: Spy party! by John Teti on The Onion AV Club
    “I don’t want to beat around the bush here; this game is awesome in too many ways to describe here.”
  • GDC 2010: Enjoyed and Annoyed by Evan Narcisse on Time Magazine’s Techland Blog
    “Even in its pre-natal form, Spy Party does a great job of creating a new kind of multiplayer psychological tension. It’s something that wasn’t even on my GDC agenda, yet it wound up rocking my world.”
  • Why you need to be excited about SpyParty by Anthony Burch on Destructoid
    “There has never been a videogame like SpyParty. … SpyParty is as cerebral and personal experience as I’ve ever had with a multiplayer game. … Despite being two years away from completion, the early version I saw still remains one of the most subtle, enjoyable, and surprisingly playful multiplayer games I’ve yet played.”
  • Innovative SpyParty Is Ultimate Mind Game by Gus Mastrapa on Wired’s Game|Life
    “SpyParty is like nothing else I’ve ever played. … When the laser focuses on you, the tension is intense. And the relief, when the beam swings away, is powerful.”
  • I Know That You Know That I Know What You  Know by Chris Dahlen on Edge Online
    “Both players are tense with the joy of knowing or not knowing or thinking they know what’s about to happen.”
  • The Next Smart Video Game Only Lets You Kill Once by Stephen Totilo on Kotaku and Gizmodo
    “Part of what is so exciting about Spy Party is the stuff that happens around the game. Hecker has seen the game trigger strong emotional responses. I even felt it… guilt of all things. I’ve killed thousands — millions? — of enemy characters and even some friendly characters in video games with none of the pangs of consequence. I shot one innocent partygoer in Spy Party after tracking them for a few minutes, after being sure they were Chris Hecker’s avatar and up to no good, and then, as they lay dead on the floor I realized I was wrong. I felt bad.”
  • You Only Shoot Once: SpyParty by Kieron Gillen on Rock, Paper, Shotgun
    Kieron couldn’t make it to GDC this year, but he wrote up his thoughts on the game from reading the other articles!
    “Pure battle of wits stuff here, and seems totally fascinating. It’s a couple of years away, at least in part due to a major general aesthetic upgrade, but we’ll be watching it. Closely. Trying to work out if it’s a spy.”

In the middle of all this, Gus’ Wired piece hit the front page of reddit, and Anthony’s Destructoid story hit the front page of the games section of stumbleupon, both of which generated a ton more traffic to the articles and the SpyParty blog.  Stephen’s piece generated 300 comments on Kotaku and Gizmodo, a Fark comment thread, and as of this writing it’s on the top of the stubleupon games section with Anthony’s piece on the same page!

Then a bunch of other people started writing articles about the game, with titles like Finally, a TRUE Spy Game!, and commenting about the game on forums and on Twitter.  It broke out of the video game industry in a few places, like this article on a poker blog:  Innovative Video Game Concept Should Appeal to Poker Players.  It even snuck its way into articles about other games, like Brandon Boyer’s article about Jason Rohrer’s Sleep Is Death; the “banana bread” comment in that story happened because Jason thought Brandon had already played SpyParty, and the current tell for the Contact Double Agent mission uses the codeword “banana bread”!

To state the obvious, I am over the moon with all of this coverage.  The comments by fans on the big gaming blogs are really encouraging, and people seem to love the game concept and want me to get it done as fast as possible.

I took some screenshots to send to the various journalists, and I’ve assembled a page of images, which is also accessible at the top of the blog.  I’ll add any media to that page in the future.

I also took a bunch of pictures of the press guys playing each other…

Evan Narcisse (techland.com) plays Sniper, Gus Mastrapa (wired.com) plays Spy, and John Teti (avclub.com) looks on.

Jamin Brophy-Warren (killscreenmagazine.com) concentrates.

I love this picture of Jamin Brophy-Warren (killscreenmagazine.com) playing sniper...the slow shutter speed caught the game in mid zoom.

Chris Dahlen (edge-online.co.uk) and Daniel Benmergui (ludomancy.com) look on while Ryan Kuo (espermansion.com) plays Spy.

The masters battle. Daniel Benmergui (ludomancy.com) and John Teti (avclub.com) both had playtested before, so they had a more advanced game. Sadly, I can't remember who won!

Unfortunately, I didn’t remember to take any pictures of Stephen Totilo playing, because I was busy losing my own game to him, as he discusses in his story!  Oh, and Anthony’s in the pictures of the developer playtests.

5 Comments

  1. jordy says:

    haha, yeah you struck gold, I think this simple concept will really appeal to alot of people. Sounds really great, now I’m gonna take my time to read trough all these articles and enjoying it. I hope all this press gave you an additional boost to your production speed :).

  2. Doug Sharp says:

    I’m proud of you, Checker! Can’t wait to play it.

  3. deconst says:

    Ahh, now you need merchandise with “Code Word: Banana Bread” on it, now that it’s broken out of the game and into the real world. Congratulations!

  4. jamin says:

    I felt like Elmer Fudd. Be very very quiet….

  5. Hiya Tran says:

    Congrats on the game going main stream, I hope you guys make it big. It is great to hear stories of people proud of their work, it shows it in the game.

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