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.
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.
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.
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,