What topiary should I put on top of the new Courtyard map?

The true purpose of this post is to test the new CAPTCHA system I installed, after getting sick of reCAPTCHA letting in 40 spam comments a day.1 So, if you’ve never commented on the blog before, please chime in below so I can test that it works.  If you have commented before, then you shouldn’t notice anything different and shouldn’t see the CAPTCHA.  Edit: it looks like the new CAPTCHA works fine, thanks everybody!

The ostensible purpose of this post is to brainstorm what topiary shape should go on top of the center pillar in the new experimental Courtyard map, pictured here:

Radial pseudo-symmetry, not good for getting your bearings.

I will talk more about the design of this map in the future, but for now I will just say it’s really hard for the Sniper.  The radial pseudo-symmetry is not good for memorizing the statues…you can’t really get your bearings, and I’ve made it so the Sniper can just keep going around in circles so there’s no feeling of beginning or end.  One playtester at PAX got unlucky and all three statues were the Maltese Falcon, and he said he just kept going around in circles trying to see a different statue shape!

So, I figure I’d put a topiary animal or something on top of the pillar.  It can’t have radial symmetry, so a Christmas Tree or whatever is right out.  I thought a banana might be funny, but it might lead to, uh, perception problems.  So, any ideas? 

  1. I think it was cracked a couple weeks back, or the bad guys have really good OCR algorithms. []


  1. Amy says:

    HELLO :D I’ve only ever played one game and it went terribly!

  2. CP Jones says:

    Definitely a raptor!

  3. Sam M. says:

    A sad Charlie Brown Christmas tree, all askew and dying.

  4. Amy says:

    Oh, and I think you should put giraffe topiaries :)

  5. SidGarcia says:

    Man, what a dull math problem.

    Anyways, how about a cactus as topiary?

  6. Bogger says:

    Go for a water feature, I say. A fountain would be nice.

  7. A swan. It’s classic, elegant and non-radial.

  8. chris says:

    dull math problem is a problem. :/

  9. crypted says:


  10. BL00DW0LF says:

    Dead set on this idea? What about a painting or clock or something on one of the walls? (they look curved, so I guess that may be a problem. For the topiaries though, you’ll have to sort through my serious and joke ideas, written as I get them because I’m tired and going to bed soon! Maybe a margarita glass (with the toothpick/olive as the break in radial symmetry), to keep with current alcoholism theme. Or a super tall one of Toby!!!!! Or go into some more spy tropes like a nice sports car, playing cards (or card suits?), poker chips?.

    Something else I like, a swan: http://geek-news.mtv.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/archer.png
    because, Archer.

    Unrelated, I know, but you also eventually need a level with a giant fish tank.

  11. Shade says:

    Falcon with a snake in its clutches? Eagle? Some bird with open wings would be cool.

    You could also change the bushes / plants at the borders to have different shapes, as long as they’re not too tall/wide so as to obstruct view.

  12. staphix says:

    Swan is a good, idea. Keeping up with this dinner party gaff you could make it an ice sculpture.
    Or a Lion.
    Cause Lions are bitching.

    • Curly says:

      I don’t know why, but a lion’s the first thing I thought of as well, and it does seem appropriate. Bond-villainish. Elegant and powerful, like the partygoers.

  13. Wok says:

    A videocamera.

    Is Waldo copyrighted? If not, he could hide there.

  14. intangir says:

    Gargoyle a la Demon’s Crest.

  15. Patrick says:

    A T-Rex, shark, or flexing bicep.

  16. PriceChilde says:

    I was paranoid a few days ago that I hadn’t registered properly for the beta.
    Thankfully I just checked my archives and found two emails from noreply@spyparty.com, the second titled “Thank you for confirming your SpyParty Early-Access Beta sign up!” so I’m pretty sure things are ok…?

    Immortalise yourself in SpyParty ‘lore’ with a topiary/statue/something of yourself, hands on hips and looking smug! I’m sure there’d be some fun backstory that could be put in there about the reason for the specific party…

    Also, your captcha works.

  17. Christiaan says:

    I tried to comment before on another post but it looks like my comment got lost in moderation or spam-filtered, though I’m not seeing a capthcha now? I am confused.

  18. TobiTo says:

    Hey. Captcha works nicely.

    What´s about you and your Yoda-Quote?

    greetings Me

  19. Salith says:

    By jove… Mathtcha

  20. Fede says:

    What about a cat, a squirrel or a marmot?

  21. rahul says:

    Ice sculpture of a giraffe

  22. Matthew says:

    After seeing the new character art, a part of me wanted to watch Clue: The Movie for inspiration. :D

    I think a statue of Venus (modeled after the pose in The Birth of Venus) would be nice. Maybe a topiary lion modeled after the New York public library lions. 

  23. Esuark06 says:

    I really like the idea of a pterodactyl hanging from the ceiling, or maybe mounted on top since this is outside. Sometimes you see that in old movies where some rich, obviously-powerful man has one hanging in his den or library. And it’s always dusty. Either that or a giant, gold rose head. (Sidenote: With the new textures are there going to be reflections? I know this could really screw gameplay up, but I imagined a giant reflective globe on top where you could get a fish-eye view of the party.)

  24. FuzzYspo0N says:

    Gargoyles? Maybe a creature from spore… Maybe a bust of checker… 

    You could also go for less explicit markers, like Ivy draping over the edges with some gaps and variation to give you a sense of position. Or perhaps even a floor marker around the base of the doorways that is subtle and learnt.

    • Infernalis says:

      ^^ This. Unless you’re trying to confuse the sniper as much as possible adding subtle differences in the “accessories” of the room seems in order. Although since you don’t even have textures down yet that might be asking to much.

      My vote is for a marble statue of yourself in some dramatic pose, no need to be modest or anything.

  25. Jamin Grey says:

    What captcha system did you go with?


    For that level, it actually looks like it might be rather easy for a sniper. Not as easy as Ballroom, but much easier than Veranda.
    You ought to cram alot of guests in that map, otherwise it’d be too easy, in my opinion.


    Top of the statue suggestion:
     – A wolf howling (facing north) (a reference to Markus Wolf, recognized as probably the greatest spy master who ever lived – even by his enemies (the CIA, who tried to recruit him after East Berlin fell))

  26. Pandadan says:

    Ooh, I love the idea of an ice sculpture. You could environment-map it up all sexy-like.

    Lion, giraffe, or swan all sound pretty good. Or a generalissimo.

  27. Eric says:

    In an homage to Maxis, I think you should have a llama topiary.

  28. PriceChilde says:

    Second comment… and the captcha is still there… were you expecting cookies to prevent it showing up/being required? I don’t have any stored. (Though my cookie settings are non-standard)

    • checker says:

      I’d approved your first comment, so you don’t get moderated now. If you don’t run with cookies (I don’t either on most sites), you’ll have to fill out your info each time, though.

    • PriceChilde says:

      Confirming I’m filling in details each time. I’ve not got any cookies from you and firefox isn’t prompting me to accept anything. (Though I might just have messed up its cookie settings entirely)

      Confused as to how the second comment appeared instantly but the 3rd (below) with a different email address took a while…

      Either way, you’re happy with it so I guess I’ll leave it alone :-)

  29. PriceChilde says:

    Just to rub it in… my 2nd comment above was displayed instantly which I don’t think was the case with the 1st? I’m filling in the captcha and am using a different email this time to see if its still automatic…

  30. Sean says:

    Zork II topiary: “There is a dragon, a unicorn, a great serpent, a huge misshapen dog, and several human figures.”

  31. Joe says:

    How did they get up there? I assume a helicopter. So, a helicopter landing pad should be on top. It’s so obvious!

  32. Pauzle says:

    How about Cerberus? Each of its three heads facing one of the statue’s directions, and each with a different expression (happy, angry, confused, for instance).

  33. Graham says:

    Klein bottle. Or a Tesseract. Yeah, make it a tesseract, with each view azimuth a different projection in time!

  34. ghosttie says:

    A lama riding a manatee riding a tiger riding a shark

  35. mar109us says:

    A statue of the person or game, whatever that inspired you to make this game. 

  36. amit says:

    a courtyard-y sculpture, like a lion roaring or some kind of animal doing a pose. i really hope there won’t be a party in the courtyard!

  37. Ethan says:

    I think an elephant standing on its hind legs, possibly holding up a ball with his trunk, would look good. Or, maybe instead of topiary you could have a giant bust of the ‘owner’ of the courtyard.

  38. Wessel says:

    A bust of Alan Turing.

  39. Dan Forever says:

    How about a statue of one of the characters (NPC or player picked at random) in the current game? Like say, it’s their house and they’re actually really vain and narcissistic?

  40. Jeremy says:

    I was thinking of a Renaissance sculpture with a few missing body parts to make it look like an antique a rich person would put in their fancy parties

  41. Gavin says:

    A loaf of banana bread!

  42. James1221 says:

    Perhaps a Chinese dragon or snake or something. That way it could kind of curl around and a distinct part of it(head, middle, tail) could be above each of the statues.

    Any plans on when you’ll be letting the current beta testers take a shot at this map?


  43. Ashiataka says:

    I like the look of this map. It’s always seemed like the sniper has the advantage of being able to see everything at the same time.

  44. Ian says:

    Got to be a dinosaur!  T-Rex in a rampant pose.

  45. Quirken says:

    What about texturing the pillar itself so that the different sides are different colors? (Or make it a fresco :) )

    • Quirken says:

      On that note, you could turn the pillar into bookshelves to really make it hard for the sniper :P

  46. A very clean and minimalist look. Maybe Greco-Roman courtyard.

  47. Kinch says:

    Palm Trees and wicker chairs.

    See ‘Our Man in Havana’ or ‘The Tailor of Panama’

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