Come See+Play SpyParty at UC Berkeley On Wednesday

This week—Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011, at 6pm, to be precise—I’ll be giving a short lecture on SpyParty and indie game development at UC Berkeley, and then we’ll do a playtest until they kick us out of the building.  Speaking of the building, it’s Room 202 in South Hall.1  The lecture is free and is open to the public.

This is part of the Design Futures talk series, and I was invited by Elizabeth Goodman in the Halcyon Days pre-GDC+PAX East.  She was nice enough to remind me that’d agreed to speak after I woke up last week.

I’m going to try something a little different for this lecture:  I’m going to have two volunteers play SpyParty at the beginning of the talk, with one of the laptops projected onto the screen (yes, the audience will need to keep quiet), and have the audience spectate as Spy and as Sniper.  I think this will be more interesting than me babbling about the game to describe it over static slides.  I also think this will work better than a similar thing I’ve tried during previous lectures, which is me playing Spy against the entire audience as Sniper.  That’s fun, but it kind of degenerates into everybody yelling at the poor sap holding the controller.  Plus, I always win. 2

It’ll look something like this:

Two people play SpyParty at the Joystiq PAX East breakfast, while others read the fine manual, and still others scrounge for free stuff on stage. Photo credit: Ben Gilbert, I think.

As for the lecture, since the talks in this series tend to be about capital-d Design, as opposed to games and game design, I’ll probably focus on my short and long term aesthetic goals for the game, the constraints and challenges it faces, how it fits into the indie segment that some of us are calling the Golden Age of Indie Games, and other high level things like that.  I will most likely not be showing code samples.

After the lecture we’ll do Q&A, and then people can playtest.  I will bring copies of the manual, although reading it online beforehand will let you jump the line, if there is one!


  1. I find it kind of awesome that the official page for South Hall at The UC Berkeley School of Information doesn’t actually have a map to South Hall, just its history and some nice pictures, so I had to look it up on Google Maps! []
  2. It’s not clear if I always win because I wrote the game and I’m an awesome Spy, or if I always win because everybody arguing about who I might be usually takes long enough for me to complete the missions. I have, so far, been unimpressed by the Wisdom of Crowds, at least when it comes to sniping me. :) []

7 Comments

  1. Mark says:

    Whenever you mention the game being played on a screen, it makes me wonder if it would be possible to play a SpyParty-like game on a single screen… The “spy” would choose a character with a hidden button press, and both the sniper and spy would see the same view. This would, of course, subtract many of the game’s features, such as any information that only one player is given, and things like highlights and lowlights wouldn’t exactly make sense.

    • checker says:

      Yeah, I’ve tried pondering this before, and it seems really hard, especially on maps where the Sniper can’t see the whole level at the same time.  I also occasionally ponder a hotseat mode…

  2. You’re going to record this and put it up on the intarwebs for our edification, right? :)

  3. Barry Coxwell says:

    This is looking better and better all the time! I look forward to playing it someday, perhaps this summer at PAX West? Oh, and if you need booth volunteers there, I would be glad to help in any capacity needed when and if that happens. I’ll keep reading as it gets closer so I can send you a proper request though.

    What you have accomplished so far is nothing short of amazing!

    Fingers crossed, Thanks!

  4. ManaTree says:

    Oh hell yes! As a now-fan-of-yours since you announced SpyParty and a student at Berkeley, I CANNOT WAIT. Holy crap.

    Amazing!

  5. Dan Turner says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’m sitting here waiting for your lecture to start… .

    As a grad student at the I School, I’ll say that the map thing is a bit complex, and political with regards to reusing Central Control data, and the whole UC Berkeley big web o’ information really could use a redesign. We threaten almost every year, but initiatives get stalled. Design meets the problem of buy-in.

    Looking forward to this!

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