That Yoda Quote About Opening Betas and the PAX West 2012 Guest Indie

Do or do not...there is no open beta yet.

My plan seemed like a good one at the time I made it:  get the lobby server backend scalable, use the remaining 12595 uninvited people1 to test that scalability, and then open up the beta, all before PAX West 2012.  Then, when people played SpyParty at little old booth #3002, instead of telling them they had to sign up to get in line, I could just tell them to go home and start playing immediately!

Alas, it turns out I ended up more on the try side of Yoda’s quote than the do side of the quote.  I still think it’s a good plan, I’ll just have search-and-replace “PAX West 2012” with some other upcoming event2  in the Official Plan Documents™. 3

As the clock started ticking down, I started scrambling and contemplating worse and worse hacks to make my deadline, until I finally took a step back and realized I had way more to lose by screwing up the open beta launch (and potentially the wonderful community that’s developed in the beta so far) than I had to gain by opening it up before PAX.  Plus, given how close to the wire I was getting, I would have been busy on the show floor in the booth without internet while something terrible could have been happening with my server.  Trust me, I want to open it up, but I want to do it right, and it looks like that’s going to take a little more time.

So, the new plan is to finish up the rooms support I’ve been working on, and invite bunch of new folks in over the weekend to test it, but then hold off on more invites until I get back from PAX.  Then, when I’m back and slept, I will try to open up the beta.

And, since I never like to keep things simple, I think as consolation to myself I will try to add a new map and mission to the game for PAX.  The new map is going to be called Courtyard, and it’s a patio area surrounded by shrubs, with a small plant right in the middle with some statues around it.  The Sniper can move in a loop the entire way around the map, but the plant in the middle obscures at least one of the statues at any given time.  The new mission was actually suggested by beta tester monaters, and it’s a really great idea:  Toby carries around an item on his tray, and you can chose to take it as your Spy move when taking a drink.  The Sniper needs to notice the item is gone, and then backtrack to who took a drink recently.  It’s simple, but rich with potential.

Storyteller, the Special Guest Indie

When I was thinking about this post, I realized I have had or been a guest indie game every PAX.  First, in 2010, we had Jonathan Blow’s The Witness in our booth.  Then, I was the guest in Firehose’s booth at PAX East.  Last year, I had Marc ten Bosch’s Miegakure (and almost AirMech) as the guest indie in the SpyParty booth. 

This year, continuing in that tradition, I am hosting Daniel Benmergui’s Storyteller Saturday and Sunday mornings, 10am – 11am, booth #3002.  This is the same great little corner booth I had last year.

Storyteller delights me as a player and as a designer, and I can’t wait to see where Daniel takes the game, and how the PAX folks react to it!  Daniel will be hanging around the SpyParty booth all weekend if you miss the 10-11am playtest slots and want to talk to him about his awesome game.

See you soon!


  1. The current beta signup scorecard so far:  19340 hit submit on the beta signup, 17114 confirmed, 4705 invited, 1842 joined. []
  2. maybe “IndieCade 2012”? []
  3. Hint: there are no official plan documents. []


  1. War says:

    Take your time. I can’t wait to get into the beta but I plan to broadcast a few games over my stream and I would hate for something to happen and turn a few people away from this great game. Best to get it right the first time, especially when it counts.

    Just don’t keep me waiting for my invite too long xD

  2. Infernalis says:

    “Then, when I’m back and slept, I will try to open up the beta.”

    This one line made my day. While I would love to support this game and the work you’re doing I seem to be having some difficulty shoving my money through the screen. Hopefully, opening the beta will help fix that. :p

  3. Keith says:

    “…and realized I had way more to lose by screwing up the open beta launch…”

    This is exactly why i choose to support you. I can name a recent game who had a lot of potential but with a forced release caused it to lose a huge part of their community. Now, the game has everything fixed everything as promised, but their community is basically back to the die hard fans. So close, and yet so far away.

    Keep running on valve time for the love of god! Waiting more sucks, but not as much as something that doesn’t work.

    Keep up the good work.

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