SpyParty Beta Fan Fiction

So, uh, I have been a little busy lately.  I know it’s surprising, but the Early-Access Beta has lots of bugs, needs lots of tuning, and the (slowly) growing community needs lots of questions answered and lots of design decisions explained.1

I haven’t processed all the numbers yet, but some super simple database queries indicate I’ve sent something like 762 invitations, 357 people have registered,2 and 246 people have greater than zero seconds of game time.

These early-early-access people have managed to create a really wonderful community already.  As I’ve said before, the main reason I’m not just inviting all 13047 of you3 into the beta right now is the game’s lobby server and backend technology is not scalable yet, so everything would just melt.  However, there’s a secondary reason, and it may be even more important in the long run: growing a healthy community is a difficult and delicate thing to do, and a good community is incredibly important, especially for a game as different as SpyParty. Because there’s no in-game support yet for mentoring, or ranking, or cheat protection, or replays, or tutorials, or any of the important stuff that tries to keep player-skill game communities on the interenet from hating each other instantly, I’m counting on the beta testers themselves to be good people, help newbies, and teach each other to play better.  They are doing a fantastic job, exceeding even my very high expectations.  But, like growing a company, it’s important to introduce new people into the culture slowly so as not to overwhelm it. As the beta progresses, I will be posting lots of stuff from the private beta forums, including strategy guides, data analysis, opinions about tuning and balancing, and all that serious stuff.

This post is a little different.

Beta tester zerotka (otherwise known as Keith here on the blog and facebook) has been called the Jane Goodall of SpyParty, because he studies the NPCs4 and then writes about their behavior, sometimes uncovering serious bugs in my code in the process.  However, because he stares at the party so long…well, better to use his own words:

zerotka:  I had recently decided to go into practice mode and watch how the AI partied. I decided to start off with watching the waiter and how party members would react after getting a drink. I was hoping to find some tells so i spent quite a bit of time with it. I think after about the 10th or so game, i had to write a short-story-like-thingy. I had shared it with a couple other testers and they thought i should post it on the forums. I was hesitant at first, but alas, here i am.


Toby
The other day I had taken a few minutes and watched the waiter, Toby. 
I watched him from outside the ballroom.
He walked about, person to person, and offered drinks.
The guests had no respect for Toby in anyway.
The more i watched, the more overwhelmed with sadness i had become.

He would approach a guest and extend out his tray
And politely wait….
He received no form of acknowledgement. 
They all simply ignored him.

If they happened to be thirsty, they’d turn around,
grab a drink from the tray and immediately return to the conversation.
Not a “Thanks”, Not a, “How’s your day”,
Nothing. 

Sometimes, a guest would turn around to grab a drink
but when they saw it was Toby they would return to the conversation.
After i saw that, i..
..i lost control of myself.
“Don’t let them do that to you Toby!” I had screamed.
He was completely invisible to them.
They would even run into him!

Several minutes of constant disrespect had drained the life out him.
He began to believe what everyone was doing to him–He believed he was a robot, an AI.
If i had enough bullets, I’d shoot every one of those jerks for you Toby!
But i only had one bullet.
And even if i had enough to kill all of them, more would spawn to replace them.
A tear had formed in my eye.

I had grabbed my sniper and centered Toby in the sights.
He had walked toward the window and stared at me.
I could tell by his blank expression 
that his life had somehow spiraled out of control
And he knew there was only one way out of it.
I switched the safety off. 
I’m sorry Toby.

The tear had fallen down my cheek and onto the ground.
The glasses on the tray had crashed to the floor,
Guests had screamed and cowered in fear. 

Even though the spy had gotten away
I still felt like it was a small victory.

I hope in digital heaven, they serve you alcohol.


The real ending was actually me during the 11th game and shooting the first person who refused a drink from Toby.

 This thread, as you might expect, blossomed. 

sirlaitier: Here’s a haiku:

Security Guard
Can’t be bothered to squat down
Stands over the dead

zerotka:

I think Chris Hecker
Just forgot to put knee caps
On the character

 A few builds later, I snuck a little something into the game…it took a few days for people to notice.

Before and after fanfic inspiration!

The thread continued…

quirken:

♫Who’s the spy?
Oh sniper, don’t shoot me
Don’t shoot me no more
Oh, sniper don’t shoot me
Don’t shoot me no more

Who’s the spy?
Yeah

Oh, I don’t know why you shot me
I gave you no clue, but you didn’t care
So what is right and what is wrong
Gimme a sign♫

 

hunter4hire:

Memoirs of Virginia Vulpes
I’m not a rich person, and I don’t associate myself with them.
but when my best fried Girta, told me she has tickets to a grand opera, I couldn’t refuse.
When the day finally came, I put on my best. My orange Sunday dress.

We arrived at the theater late, and the opera was about to start!
how exciting, that it was, but not as exciting as the Intermission.
Guests flooded the veranda balcony for cocktails and cigars.
we walked through big french doors, and took a fresh breath in.
there were fine sculptures and a charming bartender, handing out 
cocktails and brandy.

Girta and I started chatting about the opera, and a few guests
have joined our conversation. That’s when I noticed something strange.
This young gentlemen seemed to have grabbed another gentleman’s high knee!
What was stranger, is that he didn’t react to it! Later I found he was an Ambassador of some foreign country.
Girta saw it too, and we just looked at each other puzzled, and we both knew, something odd was going on.

I strolled over to one of the bookcases, while Girta was fraternizing with a young fellow. 
I could see she was already infatuated with the young man. 
I was surprised to the amazing book collection, but then I saw that gentleman from before!
he was a few not a foot away from me, as he was looking at a golden statue of some sort of bird.
I tried not to stare, when he gave me a wink! and pulled out a similar looking statue from beneath his coat!
he quickly swapped the two, and whispered to me, “If you tell anyone, I will kill you.”
I stood there in shock clutching “Sun Tsu’s Art of War” in my hand.
my heart started to beat fast.
I took a deep breath and turned around. I saw Girta coming towards me, I couldn’t wait to tell her what happened, when suddenly a sharp quick sound of a muffled gun fired! 

I could swear the following few seconds lasted many minutes.

Girta… she took one step forward, and fell to her knees.
as she fell to the floor, her blood has started to spill..

Dear God…

My friend..

My best friend..

Who would hurt such an innocent woman!?
People started to scream as I saw that nasty man who has stolen the statue, flee inside.

The next day, I packed a few baggs.
I swore to myself and to Girta.. may she rest in peace.. that I would find that man.
and kill him, for I am certain it was him.

It was my fault…

He was aiming for me…

If I hadn’t gone to the opera, I would have never spot that man, doing his dirty deed.
oh Girta… I’m so… so… sorry.

I’m off to find your killer. I don’t know how I will find him.

But I must.

This is my last entry.

Then it started bleeding into other threads, like the one where people were discussing whether the Sniper should have a personification in the world outside the window, instead of just being a disembodied laser.

quirken: The sniper should be the silhouette of the banana suit guy that dances to the PB&J Time song. A bit of a quick mock-up for you all to enjoy. Obviously, the banana is not to scale.

And the inevitable response…

moomanibe:  ….The artist in me would not let me ignore this.

I’m sorry.

And a subtle reference back in the original thread…

zerotka: My quick rendition of what families feel like when the darn sniper misses the spy.

Make sure you click to read the article.

Okay, back to trying to figure out why the lobbyserver is leaking 130kb when it times out dead clients.


  1. or irrationally defended []
  2. which is 47%, and is very close to my most optimistic estimates of 50%, and I haven’t even sent retries for these mails yet! []
  3. as of this post []
  4. buxx immediately said “NPCs in the Mist” when this idea went around the lobby []

30 Comments

  1. Adam says:

    So you’ll send my invite if I promise to be on my best behavior? :D

  2. Ah! There are those figures I was wondering about. Also, the sniper being the banana guy is very funny.

    • keith says:

      I too was looking for those figures. I was actually quite surprised by them.

      And again, I agree, bananananaa sniper is amazing.

      Thanks for the update! Keep up the good work.

  3. Quirken says:

    Awesome :) I’ve been waiting for my 30 seconds of internet glory :)

    Might I suggest moving “My quick rendition of what families feel like when the darn sniper misses the spy” + the pic down so that the joke in the article will make sense?

  4. Rune says:

    I’ve now been staring at that picture of the waiter and the ambassador for quite some time and I gotta ask: what did you sneak in? I feel a bit stupid that I don’t get it.

    On another note – I can see from your tweets, that there’s only “24 hours” of beta sign-ups until I’m up for an invitation. But alas, your beta statistics shows that TONS of people signed up in those 24 hours, so perhaps I shouldn’t allow myself to get excited.

    But I am!!!

    • Phil says:

      The waiter has been given the name Toby. You need to improve your observational skills, and I have just the game that’ll help you. It’s still in beta though, and it’s pretty tough to get an invite.

      Love the blog post. Very good point about gaming communities. Also regarding blog post frequency, if fewer blog posts means more time spent working on server stuff and bugs then I wouldn’t want it any other way.

    • Rune says:

      Touché, Phil, touché.

      I walked right into that, didn’t I? But actually, I never knew that the waiter wasn’t called Toby the entire time – he’s been “Toby The Waiter” in all the gameplay videos I’ve seen. You know, I love the fact that the little community already seems tightly knit (albeit seen from the outside). Just makes me even more anxious to join it.

      Also, I love the banana. I never thought about the sniper’s appearance before, and now I’ll never get that banana out of my head. Good luck with checking the watch to add time without bursting into laughter because you see a giant banana outside.

    • checker says:

      Yeah, I realized there’s no way to know that’s what changed, so I’ll add a before-after pic.

      Fixed!

  5. Stu says:

    After seeing those stats I checked my email only to find the original 707 re-confirmation email was caught in my spam folder! D’oh!

  6. James says:

    Haha, those were great. Thanks for posting them so us non-betaers could see them too.
    I’d been looking for hunter4hire’s story after he mentioned it in one of his videos (this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpuohiZH0fQ).

  7. gabriel says:

    wow cool, I’m one of the elite few 111 who have registered but not played!  Just too busy of late, but I’m quite happy to support you =)

  8. Andrew says:

    I would play the beta so hard if I got it, I think its funny that some 200-ish people are missing out! 

  9. LowTierSteve says:

    I check SpyParty.com almost daily now for updates like this. Fan fiction? This is amazing. I cannot wait to play this game with such a cool community. Banana Sniper is a little ridiculous, but it should definitely be DLC or something. The sniper doesn’t have a voice, right? So it could be the Chiquita Banana woman? This could be an epic reveal like the first time you find out Samus is a girl, or that Maggie shot Mr. Smithers.

  10. SignPainter says:

    Hmmm…How long do you usually wait in bewteen one batch? And is ther and estimate to how long this first 13000 people will be invited?

    • checker says:

      I usually wait anywhere from a couple days to a week.  I don’t know when I’m going to have the whole thing scalable enough to bring all the people in, though.  A couple months?  I’m terrible at estimating.

  11. Where in hell is the forum?! I could have sworn these blogs were, “the forums” because comments were stretching miles long, but I don’t know what to think anymore! Is it some members-exclusive club or something?

    • checker says:

      Yeah, there’s a forum for people in the beta test.  I’ll eventually open it up, but for now, it’s good to have a place where the people playing the game can chat amongst themselves.

  12. Will says:

    Any way for me to check which of my e-mail addresses I used to sign up? It’s been quite some time now, and I forgot the one I used so… The way it is currently, every time I see that you sent invites out, I have to check three different ones and experience anticipation and then disappointment for each of them when the invite isn’t there. It’d make me slightly less of a nervous wreck if I knew which one I need to keep checking. =P

  13. Jason says:

    I got in today! Already have received numerous tips. Very helpful community so far, and love the game. Can’t wait to see how it develops further.

    • checker says:

      Awesome, I’m so glad the community is developing so well.  Hopefully people will stay helpful as it scales up. Of course, as you learn, you need to return the favor by mentoring the next batch of newbs.  :)

  14. Simon says:

    You know what would be awesome? if #SpyParty emailed you to let you know where in the Beta invite list you are so you know relatively when you will get your invite… want to play so bad.

  15. Amy says:

    I’m still waiting for my invite :’( 
    And i’m with Simon. I’ve been registered for quiiite a while :/

  16. Bas says:

    Hi Chris!

    Still looking forward to this game, and I’ve also signed up for the beta for a while now. That’s okay though, I can wait. What would be awesome though is a newer list of things left to do, so I can dream about playing SP with every item crossed off. Any chance you can post a new one?

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