More Playtests, More Tasks

Last Thursday we did a small playtest, the second so far in the Early-Access Beta!  This time it was Rachel, Lauren, Ian, and me, and we played and chatted (and restarted after crashes) for a little over 3 hours.

As it should, the playtest generated a ton of tasks, but this time I actually fixed a bunch of them before I got around to posting this, so here is the pre-struck-through punch list!  It seems much more satisfying this way, if only all my task lists were already mostly done before I posted them…

  • coming out of settings menu doesn’t eat the final up and it performs action
  • what is invert-y’s key? – was shift-y, made ctrl-y
  • notify new chats if pageupped
    • /ring bell when message comes in if in background?
  • display match or lobby [channel] on /say and /emote
  • escape should clear timestamps on all chats if displayed
  • floating briefcase
  • change white chat help to darker
  • stop echoing command on /say /emote /whisper
    • also do /reply and /retell local emulation
  • chat help on sniper machine adjust up like chat line for portraits
  • gameid sync is because server sends, then get request to change, which clears game
    • include gameid in request?
    • this is because of the clearing of the gameid in ClearGame
    • the server gameid comes in before the be_role packet, which toasts it
    • uh, undo previous CurrentGameID.Zero() change at least, still see sync issues?
  • if page up, then escape, new chats don’t show up, and new chats disappear
    • need to reset paging on escape?
  • suspected double agent on rollover but no triangles?
  • assert IsChatAllowed(), File: .\spyparty.cpp, Line: 5565
    • when I chatted when cancelling invite
  • go back on selection screens
  • enter focus for chat?
    • or just use it for chat and fuck it for menus
    • fine, make it /say
  • enter on empty chat should close
  • crash dump!
    • pigo says: i hit play again, and when i selected the sniper it crashed right away
    • i’m in results, he e2mm, hit sniper, i hit no, he hits sniper again
  • no confirm on end match in match menu
  • just do SpyWins & SniperWins for lobby stats
  • some whipsers getting eaten
  • tolower username in game

2012-02-29 16:16:25 – I don’t think whispers were actually being eaten, I think it was /say in matches, which now describe which [channel] they’re talking to.  I think.

Of course, there are still some tasks left on the previous list, not to mention the list before that, but this is forward progress.

The funniest issue from this playtest came from chatting in the lobby.  I use Counter-Strike keys for chat, so ‘y’ is public chat, and ‘u’ is whisper.1  Lauren and Ian are big World of Warcraft players, so they would constantly hit ‘enter’ to chat, which when you’re in the lobby would start a match with somebody. About the third or fourth time one of them ended up playing a game in the middle of a chat conversation, I acquiesced and made ‘enter’ a synonym for /say just like ‘y’, and made ‘space’ the key for selecting menu items.2


When you’re working on software, you get a feeling when you approach a local maximum, meaning a point where you’ve got the thing working pretty well given its current overall state.  This is always a long way from the global maximum3 but it means the game is pretty robust and does all the things it’s trying to do at this point in time reasonably well.  The current SpyParty builds need a bit more testing before they’re really at that local maximum, but I feel like they’re getting close.  The builds feel like this towards the end of PAX, after I’ve shaved off the rough edges found from 20 hours of playtesting.

This means I seem to be on schedule for the near-term beta rollout plan, which is nice.  I gave the “invite-some-fans-in-before-GDC” idea mentioned in that post a little more thought and I realized I was completely insane to even think about that…I have no time to fix or support anything during GDC,4 so everybody’s going to have to wait until the week of the 12th for more invites to go out.  Sorry!

Of course, with numerical optimization, moving off a local maximum means things get worse for a while until you find another maxima, and that’s true with software as well.  My plan is to simply bring you all along for that ride in the short term.  Once there are enough people in the beta who complain about me breaking stuff all the time, I will probably allow people to opt-in to the more bleeding edge builds, and keep them running on a separate server.  This is a pretty common thing to do to minimize pain during open betas, but it reduces your pain by increasing mine, so I hope I can put it off as long a possible.5

And no, I still haven’t gotten my first $14.26 from PayPal.

  1. really team-chat in C-S, but whisper is the closest I have to that. []
  2. mouse click works as well, obviously. []
  3. if such a thing even exists for works of art and entertainment! []
  4. or even sleep, sadly. []
  5. especially since my server deployment team is me. []


  1. jordy says:

    Great to hear things are going along well. But 12th of March.. OOUUCCccchh!! Also like the modern-style to-do list a lot! Keep it up.

  2. Phil says:

    >dat sisyphus
    Mmmm, classy.

    I wasn’t expecting beta-invites before GDC, I’ve learnt how things go around here! I don’t actually have a functioning windows OS anymore so that’s my own todo list before I receive my invite… I’m an ubuntu user and I was wondering what the likelihood of SpyParty being compatible with WINE? Even if it is I need to get my sound to work on wine programs… eh, it can wait a few weeks.

    • checker says:

      I don’t have a linux desktop right now, so I can’t test wine, but I’ll be interested to hear!

  3. @Haze2k1 says:

    My doctor prescribed me medication to help with my patience.

    • jordy says:

      Give me some of those! I have to remind myself never to get so excited again by a game until I’m able to play it..

  4. Wessel Stoop says:

    As a Minecraft player I’m used to ‘t’ to talk, but I won’t complain ;-).

  5. Nocturna says:

    Alright! Finally this bumpy road has seemed to smooth out, and it’s leading us to paradise. :)

    • checker says:

      I dunno, I’d still bring a four-wheel-drive vehicle, some good hiking boots, and provisions.

    • keith says:

      Can girls come too? lol. Don’t forget the tents and smores!!!

  6. jordy says:

    This list is pretty close to being finished!!!

    • checker says:

      I wonder if it would be cool or just depressing if I could magically see the entire rest of the todo list before I finish the game. There was a guy at Microsoft back in the 90s who said, “There is a ship date, we just don’t know enough to know what it is. Our job is to learn enough to discover what that ship date is.” I like that attitude! :)

    • keith says:

      I think it would definitely be a magically depressing list of awesome. It would be depressing because of the sheer size. And maybe because its all layed out in front of you. I too think part of the joy is discovering stuff! But it’d be awesome because it’ll never grow. It’ll only get smaller.

      However, taking that a step further, its kind of interesting to think about. Id assume that all the features and stuff that you thought was tried. So they either made the list or didn’t but does that go for every feature currently imagined? Would it be safe to say then you should never think about adding features once you’ve seen the list? That in itself causes problems so we’ll ignore it.

      Not to mention if you already have the list, it sort of defeats the purpose of the beta testing. Everything would already be balanced and bug free. Would be neat for us to see everything put in piece by piece though.

      So I guess whatever you do, if you see a man in a hooded robe holding a scroll that says to-do, don’t take it! Its a trap!

  7. jordy says:

    Set sail to Codi Incognita!! And don’t you forget to pick up these stranded strangers, in the desolate desert of desperation, and who seem to want jump board, around the capital island-group.

    Also goodluck at GDC!

  8. Nocturna says:

    things seem to be moving so quickly when we can read what’s being accomplished; I like the list!

  9. keith says:

    6 more strikethroughs for a published todo list to be done!! Even though I suspect almost all, if not all, have already been fixed.

    • checker says:

      I checked off the ones that have been done, but a couple of those are hard, like “go back on selection screens” and not worth it right now, probably.

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