The Welcome Post and Tutorial Video From the Beta Forums

This is the Welcome post for the SpyParty Early-Access Beta forums, including the tutorial video I recorded last night, which will hopefully help the complete newbs I’m about to invite in from getting frustrated (and shot).

Welcome to the SpyParty Early-Access Beta!

This welcome post is going to be a living document, which is to say I’m probably going to accidentally leave out 97% of the information that should be in here. I’m going to edit it constantly, hopefully trending eventually towards leaving out only 95% of the information that should be in here!

When you figure out something I should have put in this post, you should reply to it and I’ll slowly merge the additional information into the post itself.

Getting Started

If you’re reading this, then you registered and logged into the beta website correctly, so the next thing you should do is download and install SpyParty! On your beta homepage you should find a Download Latest SpyParty Setup link. If you click that, you will get a download for the latest version of the SpyParty installer. Sadly, some newer versions of Google’s Chrome browser are claiming the file is malicious, which I really don’t appreciate, but I’m trying to work it out with them.

After you run this installer, you should have your copy of SpyParty installed, along with the PDF of the manual and the README.txt file. You should read those first before playing. Yes, I know, reading about games is boring and playing games is more fun, but SpyParty is a very different kind of game—so your previous game experience will not carry over very well—and it’s very early in development. It has a lot of rough edges and very little online help. So, please read those documents and this post before trying to play, or else I’m worried you’ll get really frustrated and not have a very good time, and that would make me sad. Trust me, you’ll have a much better time if you read the documentation!

After you’ve read the available docs, you should launch the game and go into Practice mode, and then Practice Spy. This mode has no opponent, and you’re not playing online, so you can take your time and figure out how to accomplish all the missions.

Here is a tutorial video I recorded going through Practice Spy, Practice Sniper, and Preview Spy Missions. It’s 15 minutes of me babbling, as if I’m giving you an in-person tutorial at a conference or playtest, and it assumes you’ve read the manual and README.txt. If you want to see the Sniper laser, you probably have to englarge it up to see the full 720p resolution, but even then it’s hard to see with the video compression artifacts.

YouTube Preview Image

You should make sure you can complete each mission in Practice Spy mode, including the variants on the missions (like Bugging the Ambassador while in a conversation and while walking, or Transferring the Microfilm both inside and outside the book), and do them within the time limit for the map. If you can do this, you have a good chance of winning your first game playing as Spy (against another newbie, of course!).

You should also do a round of Practice Sniper, getting comfortable with the controls, including how to shoot when the time comes. If you’re new to the game, I would not bother learning highlighting and lowlighting suspects yet, but just concentrate on being aware of who is doing what, looking for suspicious behavior, remembering which statues are in place, and the like.

You can also check out the Preview Missions option in the Practice Menu. This mode will allow you to see all the Spy tells looping forever, so you know what to look for as the Sniper.

Playing Online

When you finally do go on line to play, you should try to play people at your same skill level. There is no matchmaking or ranking yet, so you’ll have to look at the number of games played in the lobby stats to know who to play. If you have to play somebody way more experienced than you, make sure you ask them to mentor you during play, let you know what you’re doing wrong, and what you should be looking for. There are also a lot of ways of handicapping different skill levels, which I can talk about in a different thread.

Also, since the beta is still in its early days, there are not a lot of people with active accounts yet, so the lobby is most likely going to be empty if you just randomly log in. You should use the forums to make dates to play with others if you can’t get a pick-up game going, or use the newly created Steam group to find other matches.

You can also leave SpyParty running in the background in the lobby if you want. The default is to beep when a chat comes in and the game is running in the background, so this will notify you if somebody shows up while you’re waiting. Some of the other early beta testers use this technique!

At some point soon, we’ll start regular playtests at regular times. I need to figure out the best time for this, and I’ll probably run a poll here in the forums.

Learning to Play

Beginners should play the Beginner Ballroom map, with its 4 pre-selected missions (Bug Ambassador, Transfer Microfilm, Steal Statue, and Contact Double Agent). You should alternate between Spy and Sniper roles while playing this map. 

After 20 games or more of Beginner Ballroom, the Sniper should start winning more than half the games. When this starts happening, the Spy should feel like it’s becoming impossible to get all the missions done with the Sniper’s laser on you constantly. You’re now ready to switch from the Beginner Ballroom to the Ballroom. This is the same room and number of partygoers, but the missions are opened up for selection, and you can start playing the “subset” game types. The Spy should choose “Pick 3 of 4 Missions” in the Choose Game Type menu, and then make the same 4 missions available as you played in the Beginner Ballroom (meaning, uncheck Inspect Statues and Seduce Target), but then only choose 3 of them on the Choose 3 Missions menu. 

The Sniper knows which 4 missions are available, but not which 3 are active for the Spy. This subsetting means the Sniper can no longer camp one of the missions, knowing the Spy will eventually have to attempt it, and instead has to weigh the risks in devoting too much attention to a mission the Spy might not even have picked! Now things are starting to get interesting! Of course the Spy wouldn’t have picked the Transfer Microfilm mission, it’s really hard! But, wait, maybe the Spy knows the Sniper will think that, so it becomes the right mission to pick?! This is known as yomi in game design, and it’s awesome.

Once you’ve played the subset game types a bunch, you can feel free to move on to the other maps and the other missions. By now, you’re ready to help other new beta testers learn how to play!

Talking about SpyParty

You are welcome to talk about SpyParty as much as you want in public. You can record videos and post them to youtube, post on your blog, or twitter, or facebook about it, comment about it on gaming blogs, or mention it and your beta testing experiences where ever you like. 

I’m even totally comfortable with you talking about it if you don’t like it, but at least post a link here or send it to support at spyparty.com so I can take a look at your criticisms and learn from them.

These beta forums are private right now so there’s a place where all the beta testers can hang out with each other, report bugs, and know that everybody else they’re talking to has access to the game, but they don’t mean you can’t talk about the game and your experiences on the internet at large (of course, don’t repost anything from the private beta forum without the permission of the author, that’s just good netiquette!). 

Indie games need all the help they can get with word-of-mouth, so feel free to talk it up everywhere!

Thanks for joining,
Chris

83 Comments

  1. Mike says:

    Just seeing this makes me go SQUEE!

  2. Josh Taylor says:

    It was so good getting to see the game in action for an extended period of time. I didn’t think I could be any more pumped to play it. Seriously can’t wait.

  3. Corey says:

    I know have something to watch until I get my invite!

  4. Micvic says:

    This made my day

  5. Quirken says:

    Looking good!

  6. Adam says:

    Well this will show me for going on vacation

    • AVB says:

      Of course this happens just when my school work starts picking up.

    • keith says:

      Talk about bittersweet. It’s Monday, been waiting for the spyparty invite forever, get up, check twitter, see that people have been invited, check e-mail, HURRAH! Excitement overcomes you.

      You glance at the clock and realize you have to work in 30 minutes. Arrggghhh.

      I hope that never happens to anyone.

      Its okay though, summer is almost here for you yes?

    • AVB says:

      Well my school is on the quarter system so I get out first week of June. So unfortunately no. I would really like a beta invite, but now I am worried I will get hooked.

  7. Ben says:

    This looks great. I’ll watch as many videos of this game as you’re willing to make. Very cool. Can’t wait to try. Keep up the fantastic work.

  8. You just made me so happy! Some good gameplay footage to feast my eyes on :D

    Now I can’t wait to be let into the beta. I’m going to guess I’m probably 4,000th in line though.

  9. checker says:

    Hah, seeing Jordy’s first login and “hi, first game for me” chat to the other person in the lobby was worth all the work!  :)

    • Jordy says:

      You just made me the happiest men on earth :D. Well worth the wait, I’d do it all over again.. :S. Thanks a lot!! Now you just wait, because in no time I’ll have my laser-sight on you :p

    • Quirken says:

      I have a sudden, irresistible urge to sell all my techie belongings and become a florist. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?

    • Quirken says:

      On a related note, roughly how many people did you invite? On a scale of “a few” to “oh god I hope I don’t drown in bug reports” :)

    • Jordy says:

      I read 18 somewhere, believe it was on twitter. Probably couple of random, I know the place you’re at.. don’t lose all hope, one day! :p

    • checker says:

      I meant to do 18, but probably ended up doing 23 or so.

    • keith says:

      Last week you did like 3 or 6 or something and I couldn’t help but think to myself “now that’s not 20-50!” I guess you finally breached that number. Well done. Mark it down for the milestone.

      Also, as far as your scale goes, I would imagine its probably just a few while treading the water of bug reports.

  10. Michael Perrone says:

    Probably not the right place for this, but I jut thought of a very high-level issue.

    I assume that eventually, spy’s are going to get a feel for how far to the right and to the left from the spy laser the spy can see, and they will act accordingly (as in wait for them to be looking away before doing a spy-ish thing).

    I’ve noticed from other games that if one has a wider monitor, they can see further. If this is true for the sniper, then this could screw with the spy’s expectation of what the sniper can see, and give an advantage to players with wide-screens.

    Not sure if this is worth dealing with but there it is!

  11. Amagineer says:

    So, does this mean that the invites have started going out then? :D Also, is there an up-to-date consolidated to-do list?

  12. The Mark Lindemulder says:

    Well, looks like I’m not in quite yet. By the way, would changing my email have reset my place in line? I was in the 707s so I really don’t want to loose my place. I’m super excited and want to play as soon as possible.

    The Mark Lindemulder

    • checker says:

      Changing your email won’t lose your place in line, no worries.  Send mail to support at spyparty.com.

    • The Mark Lindemulder says:

      Thank you for getting back to me. I had changed the email several months ago. I just got a sudden fear that it may have mess up something. I’m glad to see that isn’t the case. I’ll be eagerly checking my email everyday until I’m in. Looking forward to it.

      The Mark Lindemulder

  13. Devin says:

    This is my first time actually seeing the game in action. I am more ready to play this game than I have ever been.

    That moment in the tutorial where the NPC walked in front of your tell was interesting, because it shows how strategies for the game can be very situational. I guess that sort of goes along with the idea of staying cool under pressure when you’ve made a mistake, too. It’s all about adapting to the situation.

    That will make it so cool when you add some of the stuff you’ve mentioned in talks where the sniper can affect the party, because it gives the sniper a chance to trip up the spy and test how well they can really adapt.

    I can’t even talk about this anymore without getting too excited. I can’t wait for my invitation.

  14. Quirken says:

    Does ‘talking about SpyParty’ include letting friends play on your computer? Or should we draw the line short of that?

    On a related note, I tried launching the client twice (it let me), but it only let me log in once =P As intended, I’m sure. But a bit disappointing.

    • checker says:

      Sure, you can let friends play on your computer, no problem.  Of course, they’ll mess up your stats.  :)

      And yeah, one login per account right now.

    • Quirken says:

      It will teach me to cope =P With most games, I never enable stats tracking because “I want to practice first.”

      In any case, getting my friends to get SpyParty when it goes public is more important than my score-ego. Especially with beta wipes! I can’t wait to do LAN parties.

  15. Wessel says:

    I’m happy to say I allREADY READ THIS AT THE BETA FORUMS! Woohoo! I’m in! I’m a total noob, so the first thing I’m going to do is find out how to play, but after that I’ll do some screenshots and stuff for everyone still waiting. And great video, Chris! As I said, I’ve never played the game, but I was able to follow everything at once :-).

  16. lamzor says:

    hi. i got registration email while back, saying
    “Hi lamzor,
    The good news is you’re near the front of the line for the SpyParty
    Early-Access Beta! Out of over 8,000 registrations, you’re somewhere in
    the first 707.”
    i have confirmed it and got also the confirmation email. are you still inviting people from the first 707? can i expect invite any time soon? if i remember correct i registred pretty early(even from the first 707 people). thx for reply.

  17. UsF says:

    Is it possible to change my registration e-mail or use another e-mail for the purchase than the one I made the signup with?

    Also awaiting this with anticipation, waited really long. :)

  18. EmotedLlama says:

    Just want to add my two cents on terminology: in my experience, “noob” or “n00b” is used more to refer to those who refuse to learn to play a game, are bad at it, expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter, etc., whereas “newb” is for those new to a game and thus inexperienced.

  19. Phil says:

    This blog post makes me really happy. Since the first batch of invites were to people you knew personally or met at conventions etc it didn’t ‘feel’ like the beta had started. Now that genuine strangers are playing SpyParty I’m starting to get excited all over again!

    I would love to see some player-created youtube videos showcasing games, info, nuances, that kind of thing. That’s all up to the people lucky enough to get in and generous enough to tear themselves away from playing the game to upload some footage.

  20. Dylan says:

    As good as I imagined it could be, I think better even. I remember seeing the first article about this two years ago. Since then whenever I list, “games I’m waiting for and known can’t possibly be bad,” this is on that list. Sadly I signed up for the beta fairly late, but I’m sure I can wait a bit longer. 

  21. stan m.d. says:

    Oh man, yes please! I could watch this video all night, haha! Can’t wait!

  22. Collin Hausman says:

    How many invites were sent out for this first batch? How frequently will you be distributing them? Is each batch of invites a random distribution or in a set order, such as time donated or total donated?

    • checker says:

      I meant to do 18 (6 each from the blog, twitter, and facebook), but I ended up doing probably 24 or so by the time I was done. This time it was just based on how active the person had been on those channels, but I’m not going to do that anymore, now I’m finally going to start in sign up order (with some randomization into the depths of the list to give the late sign uppers hope :).  Also, I’d never do it based on total donated or anything, because I don’t want money to be first thing in people’s minds when they think of SpyParty.  Same reason I didn’t tell people I was going to send invites to the most active people first…I didn’t want people posting just to get an invite, I wanted them posting because they had something interesting to say!  :)

    • Collin Hausman says:

      So we’re looking at 20 or so invites sent out per week, or every two weeks? It’s going to take a while to get to past the 1000 you already have in the queue!

    • checker says:

      First, there are almost 12000 in the queue.  Second, if you extrapolate from my current rate the universe will cool to zero kelvin before I get to the whole list.  I expect to increase my rate soon.  :)

    • Collin Hausman says:

      Lastly, why “invitations”? I mean, yeah every party needs a guest list, but is there a server-side implementation that needs to be accounted for? What problems would arise out of releasing the game out to everybody at once?

    • checker says:

      Yeah, I’m no where near ready on the server side to open it up.  I need to slowly bring people in until I have the backend scalable.

      Trust me, I would much prefer to let everybody in at once. I hate the “exclusive” thing, it makes a few people feel special and alienates everybody else. That’s why I’m going to do it almost completely by signup order for the majority of the beta.

    • LASTLY lastly, will there be an option for those with the cash and investment available to host their own servers to increase the availability and reduce the latency for other people playing?

      I ask a lot of questions! :S

    • You’ll see with games such as Team Fortress 2 and Killing Floor on Steam that they can host a dedicated server under the tools section. Many companies also enable players to host a server through their service for a monthly fee. 

    • checker says:

      I haven’t figured all that out yet, but I’m assuming yes, there will be dedicated servers available in the future.

      I should put that in the FAQ.

      Oh wait, I’m dumb. Or smart. Or am dumb and was smart.

      http://www.spyparty.com/faq/#Will+there+be+LAN+support%3F%C2%A0+Can+I+run+my+own+dedicated+server%3F

  23. What is an “Action Test”? I am watching Dragaku’s latest video and the opponent said he timed “banana bread” perfectly with the action test?

  24. Did you develop the font face for the title of SpyParty? Why that font?

    • checker says:

      Nope, but it’s called Agency FB, which I think is awesome!

    • I really dig it, I think it works! You may need to credit the author though, might be lawsuit material cause you’re making money off the game which uses that font. Fonts like Baskerville and Gill Sans are about $900 online! :S 

      At what point do you get to pick a username in the game? Is it changeable later on? 

      The reason I ask is because when I purchased Minecraft while it was in alpha, I had to pick a username at the time I purchased it. I can’t change that username and that’s the one everyone sees when I play online. On a membership like Steam, however, you have an account username that you use to access your library, and you are free to change the name other people see. 

    • Quirken says:

      Right now, you pick a username and a “name people see” when you register for the beta. As to checker’s final plans, I imagine he separated them intentionally so you could do stuff like that.

  25. Amy says:

    Naw, I didnt get an invite :(

  26. Mike says:

    I plan to have a night of vidja games with friends when I get invited in so I can show them what I’ve been simmering in excitement for since I first read Stephen Totilo’s article on this game back in 2010. I don’t care if they mess up my stats.

    …well, maybe I do a little. (But then if I’m bad at the game I can blame my lousy record on them!)

  27. Ryan says:

    I just checked my email,  i signed up for the beta 334 days ago… So pumped for my invite. I remember reading an article to find out about it.  I hope i was the first.

  28. Nocturna says:

    Ughh still waiting for my invite. The sad thing is I cycled through about three different email addresses and I have to check all three just to find out if I got an invite. Totally worth it though!

  29. FletcherAlias says:

    I think I’m becoming addicted to watching SpyParty Youtube videos. I’ve never in my life seen a game with this level of meta gameplay between players. I’m not sure if this is the product of hard work or sheer genius, but the results speak for themselves. To date, I’ve recommended this game to several of my friends, all without ever playing it. Well done, sir.

  30. Chris says:

    Thanks for the spyparty tip Keith!

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