The First Early-Access Beta Invite Is Away

A 11:47:53 pm, February 15th, 2012, the first SpyParty Early-Access Beta invitation was sent across the internet.  I was typing into a laptop at my dining room table in Oakland, California.  I typed the necessary commands into an ssh window, which was connected to a server in Texas.  A perl script generated an invitation email which landed in Sunnyvale, Calfornia, in search of Jonathan Blow.  Finally, Jonathan checked his email by clicking a button on his laptop, which was sitting on my dining room table, right next to mine.

He registered, and my PayPal account went from $0.00 to $14.26 and he was able to login to the private beta website!


And then the bug reports started.  The login page didn’t restrict the case of the username.  There was no link to the beta homepage page in the email.  I forgot to upload a working build of the game before sending the invite.  The server’s auto-detection of new builds was broken.  And then, to cap it all off, PayPal decided to reverse the charge and put the payment on hold.  I didn’t even have my $14.26 anymore!

Oh well, that’s what shipping software is all about, and I expected at least this many problems.  The important thing is that I can now say The SpyParty Beta Has Started!

I live tweeted the whole thing from the @spyparty account:

Okay, I am switching my php from the paypal sandbox to the live paypal servers…
Feb 15, 10:58pm

PayPal balance: $0.00 USD
Feb 15, 11:03pm

This first invite is going to @Jonathan_Blow, who (hopefully) won’t mind if my paypal script accidentally charges him $15000 instead of $15.
Feb 15, 11:22pm

I said I’d try to start invites before 11111 beta signups, and I’m at 11101, so I’m going to make it. Also, @spyparty is at 3995 followers!
Feb 15, 11:29pm

I am sending the invite to @Jonathan_Blow…hopefully it will work…
Feb 15, 11:47pm

Invite away…he is sitting right next to me, so hopefully the email can make it that far…
Feb 15, 11:48pm

He’s in. Forgot to upload the latest build, oops. Plus a login bug…
Feb 15, 11:53pm

PayPal balance: $14.26 USD
Feb 15, 11:56pm

And, PayPal reversed the charges and has them under investigation. LOL Give me my $14.26 back!
Feb 16, 12:07am

Status: Being Reviewed By PayPal … they are really earning their $0.74 on this one…
Feb 16, 12:25am

Why the hell isn’t the lobbyserver finding the updated build on s3?!? That code used to work…sigh. Current new bug count: 8
Feb 16, 12:38am

I guess I need to handle reversed charges with a temp ban…currently @Jonathan_Blow has a valid beta account and I don’t have his $14.26…
Feb 16, 12:39am

I can understand Minecraft's $600k setting off some flags, but $15?!


  1. Ron says:

    Congratulations! Break out the champagne! 

  2. Mikolaj says:

    Congratulations on this glorious milestone day!

    Unfortunately only now I noticed I haven’t signed up for the beta yet, despite following the Spy Party development almost since the beginning.
    Oh bummer.

    • checker says:

      Well, if it makes you feel any better, you were the 11111st confirmed signup. Maybe I’ll bump you up based on that alone! :)

  3. Tom says:

    Awesome news, can’t wait for my invitation!

  4. Joseph says:

    Congrats! I hope this thing grows fast and big!

  5. Quirken says:

    This is all kind of fantastic. It’s great reading about all the unseen (but not unexpected) stuff coming up. Congrats on beating the 11111 estimate!

    Any idea what Paypal’s issue is? I believe they hold payment on digital sales (probably not once you’ve done X many), but still…

    • checker says:

      I think it was a combination of my first sale had no address and Jonathan used an old credit card that was attached to his account or something.  Who knows?

  6. Paul McG says:

    Weeee… Can’t wait for this. As we got closer, each small update to the last post was a little thrill! xD

    I hope PayPal doesn’t become too much of a hassle as more people sign up.


    Now I just need to find that $15.00 that I have lying around. I need to be ready.

  8. Cycophuk says:

    This is excellent news. Been following the progress on Facebook for a while and it’s been fun watching it get to this point. Looking forward to getting the beta invite.

  9. Squishy says:

    Hello again Chris. It is good to have an update after what seems like AGES :)

    Sorry to hear about your PayPal problems. It is stuff like this that stops me from using them any more (even if it means keeping me out of cool stuff like this beta) so I hope it is sorted soon.

    I look forward to hearing how the beta works out for everyone.

  10. Lucas says:

    Awesome! Great to see stuff starting to get off the ground!

    Also, if I may offer my advice, drop Paypal, NOW. Over the past few years, the number of horror stories from indy developers and personal businesses has shot up.

    Best switch now when you’ve only got $15.00 on the line instead of $15000.00 or more. :(

  11. Matt Robson says:

    Liking the 11111 sign ups! Is there a way we can check where we are in the line?!

  12. Dylan says:

    Congratulations Jonathan Blow!

  13. Robbie says:

    Congrats!! Hopefully i’ll be able to get in the beta some time to try this out. I love seeing games that do something completely different. Good luck with everything

  14. Mark Foster says:

    I’ve heard bad things about Paypal when it comes to selling games. For example they froze a few hundred (?) dollars from Notch at some point.

  15. Christopher Lefevre says:

    Hopefully the Paypal woes are cleared up quickly, and were related more to Jonathan rather than you’re setup with Paypal.

    Patiently awaiting the invite. Hoping to see you again at PAX East, maybe with beta skills under my belt this time.

  16. jordy says:

    YEEESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Opened e-mail, no invite, but that was to be expected after months of harassment.. Anyhow, hope you don’t into any trouble and scale this beta up quickly!! So Jonathan doesn’t have to play on his own..

  17. jason says:

    Congrats! And there’s PayPal being shady again lol

  18. Congrats, Chris!!  Woo Hoo!

    I’ll wait patiently for my beta invite, but just know that I cannot WAIT to review this for… our readers are going to LOVE it.  BTW, any suggestions on some good Mac screen video capture software?  I’d love to include some game time in the review.  

    Best of luck with the beta!


  19. geeknik says:

    Use instead. Transactions below $10 are free, everything else costs $0.25. No shady crap gets pulled either.

  20. Wessel Stoop says:

    *holds a one-man Spyparty-party* Great! Good luck, Chris! I had a great time reading about your progress the last few months, and I’m really excited about all the reading (and eventually, playing) that will come :-).

  21. Jaqenn says:

    Is there a way to discover my position in the signup queue?

    • checker says:

      Nope, but one person estimated their position by looking at the graph I posted the week after I opened signups!

  22. James says:

    When can someone who signed up between the 1st – 2000th person expect an invite?

    • checker says:

      Not sure yet. It’s going to move slowly for the first couple weeks as I fix the glaringly obvious (in hindsight) bugs. Then it will speed up for a few hundred or maybe a thousand invites, then it will move slowly again for a bit as my server melts and I get it scalable and start running multiple servers.

    • jordy says:

      It sends cold chills at the back of my spine when you talk of “couple weeks”..

  23. Chris, I’ve gotten a new credit card # since signing up… will my beta invite get kicked out if the old # is run and rejected?  Anyway to update the CC# without losing my spot in the queue?

    • checker says:

      You only entered an email address, no credit card info, so if your email is the same, you’re fine.  If it’s changed, send mail to support ‘at’

  24. The Mark Lindemulder says:

    Quick question. Will the 707s get their invites before May? And once we get the invite can we change the email associated with the account? I ask this because the email I used to sign up will be deactivated in May.


    The Mark Lindemulder

    • checker says:

      If you want to change your email you can do it now, just send mail to support ‘at’ and I’ll take care of it. I certainly hope all the 707s are out by May…yikes. Of course, I’ve been somewhat wrong about dates before, or so I’ve heard.

    • Quirken says:

      Wrong about date? You said “Before 11111 signups” and were right on the mark. I’d say you have a pretty good track record so far :)

    • jordy says:

      I can’t remember you being wrong really.. oh.. well, there was this one time that.. AHH nevermind BETA is OUT!!! All if forgotten!

  25. Tom Bui says:

    I have my CC ready and am waiting for my email.

  26. Jaqenn says:

    Last comment I made I told the website to email me thread updates, and now every time I glance over my inbox I see a new message with the subject “SpyParty blah blah Early-Access Beta Invite blah blah” and FREAK OUT.

    And then I realize that the subject really says “[SpyParty – A Spy Game About Subtle Behavior] New Comment On: The First Early-Access Beta Invite Is Away”‏

    I like you guys, but I have to unfollow the thread. It’s for my health.

    • Wessel Stoop says:

      I just did exactly the same thing for exactly the same reason ;-).

    • Quirken says:

      I like getting these emails. It typically means Checker/Chris is still alive, as he has a freakishly fast response time on here.

    • jordy says:

      My sanity is deteriorating as well.. I’m getting really excited about this blog-post that’s coming up..
      Also got so bored I started to play Go..

    • checker says:

      Go is a much better game than SpyParty will ever be, so you made the right choice!

    • jordy says:

      I doubt it! :p If I may ask, what rank are you?

    • checker says:

      I’m terrible, like 17 kyu. I got good enough to see how deep the chasm was, and realized if I didn’t stop I’d get lost, so I stopped. :) I don’t play Texas Hold Em for the same reason. If you like Go and/or Poker and game design, you should watch this:

    • jordy says:

      Thanks, nice lecture. Go, is indeed a horrible game for perfectionists, because most likely you will always play a sub-optimal move, and in that 1 in a million chance you do play the optimal move, you will never know..
      Even-though Go will always be more elegant/simple and deeper in terms of options then SpyParty, I do believe if you can capture that feeling and idea of a battle between the minds in a deceptive way, that SpyParty will fit right into that line of Poker and Go.
      “A game cannot be hyped, only under-deliver”, so Goodluck!

  27. Nocturna says:

    Congratulations! It’s about time :)

  28. Curran says:

    Hell Yeah!

    Can’t wait to get in game :D

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