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.
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”,
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:
Can’t be bothered to squat down
Stands over the dead
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.
The thread continued…
♫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?
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♫
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..
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.
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.
Okay, back to trying to figure out why the lobbyserver is leaking 130kb when it times out dead clients.