PAX, Day 3, ZOMG

I’m so exhausted I’m not going to do much more than post pictures tonight, and I’ll write up more about PAX Day 3 tomorrow, but in addition to having a line of people Reading The Fine Manual, let me say that the SpyParty “PAX Experts” Tournament was so mind blowingly amazing I can’t even describe it. Well, I can probably describe it, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.  Watching some people come back multiple times, getting better and better each time, and then having them all play each other at the end was incredible.  Some of the games were so close and so tense that the players were grasping their chests after the round was over.

Thanks to Robin Hunicke for taking some of these shots!


  1. jordy says:

    All I can say is… can’t wait till tomorrow..!! Also, not sure, but on some of the photo’s it seems like Monaco has almost no line, or atleast that most the crowd was gathered around SpyParty, is that correct? Not to demean Andy’s game, cause I read in some write-ups that that game too was quite amazing, but it just goes to show how really extraordinary SpyParty is!

    • Ron says:

      Actually, I always saw someone on the couch playing. It didn’t lack appeal in any way. However, if you look further in the background, you’ll notice some booths had almost no-one there, e.g. SHANK. (It had a great art directional and was marginally fun, but nothing amazing.)

    • jordy says:

      Cool, I didn’t expect Monaco to be empty, it’s just, when you look at these photo’s (I realize they’re one sided o_O^^) it seems like SpyParty was the major focus of there booth, but in any case I’m happy for both of them.

    • Mike says:

      Jordy: I think it’s a bit deceiving because of the way the games were played. Monaco takes less than half as long (SpyParty is 7 minutes plus setup and training), and seats twice the players. There was less of a line because people could play quickly.

    • checker says:

      The booth was pretty much always full. There were longer lines/waits for SpyParty, but as Mike says, it eats 4 players at a time with no need for a giant manual, so it’s hard to compare. The whole thing was great for all of us (Jonathan Blow’s The Witness was our secret guest:

      I took a bunch of photos of Monaco as well, and Andy had been posting them on

  2. anonwins says:

    omg there is a monster-ghost in photo #13.

    ps. i cant wait for the game to be published

  3. Squishy says:

    Hey Chris, I don’t know if you saw this yet but Destructoid just gave you a little write up:

    • checker says:

      Cool, thanks. I’m going to try to collect all the PAX writeups once they all trickle in. And after I sleep.

  4. KDubs says:

    Hey, Chris! Thanks for the great time playing in the tournament! I can’t believe how that last round went down. I’m going to be sure to keep that signed Fine Manual around to show off to my friends. Days later my wife and I were still discussing how things went in the tournament! You’ve got a great game concept here. I can’t wait to see it finished!

    ~Kenny aka KDubs

    • checker says:

      Hey, thanks for coming by!  I’m still going to post all the tourney pictures and whatnot, I just got snowed under by the Game Developers Conference Board meeting this weekend (I thought it was next), so it might be next week before it’s up.  I thought I could chill out this week.  :)

    • KDubs says:

      No rest for the weary! Good luck!

  5. Slappy says:

    Very cool to see myself in some of these pictures.

    I can see myself pondering a question, so I guess I’ll ask it here (and hopefully you haven’t addressed this so many times you’re sick of it), do you put a lot of energy into trying to make the spy and sniper roles to be balanced in their ratio of wins? Obviously the best way to play a set of matches is an even number of games where you switch off roles, but because that is so obvious, do you mind if the sniper wins, say, 60% of the time?

    Or has this not even been a problem ever, and it’s always been nearly 50-50?

    • checker says:

      Yeah, I spend a fair amount of energy making sure the roles are balanced.  I haven’t run the numbers on the PAX games yet due to all these festivals and conferences, but I’ll be interested to see how it shakes out.  We detected a bit of a Sniper-bias as PAX wore on, and the theory (suggested first by somebody in line) is that waiting in line is good Sniper practice, while you have to hold the controller for Spy practice.  We tried to correct for this on the last day by not helping the new Snipers as much, and we’ll see what the data says.

      But yes, I’m constantly adjusting things that seem off balance for one side or another, and I expect I will be for the entire development, since doing player-skill games is a delicate tuning problem.

    • Slappy says:

      Hmmm, the line theory makes quite a bit of sense. However, while that probably is true, I definitely was caught off guard at my own paranoia as soon as I took over the sniper role, I did not anticipate how narrow my focus was going to have to be (as sometimes while in the line, I’d catch an obvious tell and wonder, how did he miss that? But when I was actually playing, I had to focus on the statues, or the windows, or the bookcase, even though all 3 sometimes may be in view), it was quite surprising.

      Also, I had one more question, although it’s more of a comment I suppose. The simplified graphics and movement seemed to work out for the game, the AI moved around sort of rigidly, but this actually masked some of the spy’s mistakes in getting into conversations, going up to a bookcase, etc. I’m guessing that you have no idea what the graphics and animations will one day look like, but I’m curious to see how better graphics (more detailed, or perhaps more subtle tells as well) will change the way you have to move through a room.

      Anyways, I’m extremely excited, and now I have to go do my best to forget about this game or it’ll drive me crazy waiting (though I am keeping an eye on your exhibition schedule to see if you land anywhere nearby).

  6. Slappy says:

    Also, the monaco booth was quite lively at times, the pictures are also deceiving because there are some while a tournament is in progress. I enjoyed both games very much, and there were both very engaging. Although, and I swear this is not just sucking up, Spy Party was, by far, the funnest thing I played at PAX, and I played Civ 5 there(and I’m a Civ maniac).

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