Update on the New Art, and SpyParty at XOXO in Portland

The new art is finally nearing release to beta testers, so if you want to check it out yourself as soon as I post the build, sign up for the beta!  I’ll post more details here when I release it, and of course I’ll stream the release notes on twitch.tv/spyparty and then post them on the SpyParty YouTube channel. Again, a reminder: it’s more of a tech demo than a playable map right now, it’ll be a while before the new art can replace the old art for real competitive play.

I fully intended on having the art released right after PAX, but I underestimated how much stuff I had agreed to do in September, so here we are.

The new artwork is working pretty well on a wide range of machines. For the PAX booth and the Omegathon, I only had to get it working reliably on Intel HD 4000 graphics, but now I need to try to make it work on everything. Dealing with different hardware and software configurations is the only real downside to doing PC games compared to the more closed platforms, but it is a significant downside. Here you can see a bunch of machines I’ve been using for testing, what year they’re from, and what graphics chip they have:

I try to keep a bunch of old machines running for testing, and I owe huge thanks to Ben Kutcher from Intel for always hooking me up, and to Jonathan Blow from The Witness for keeping me in constant supply of his discarded old machines. Especially for a multiplayer indie game, making sure you run on older machines is vitally important because you don’t want to limit your audience any more than you absolutely have to. I also try to develop on slightly old machines, because I think it keeps you honest as a programmer. It’s easy to get lazy if you always develop on a monster machine.

You can see the new map and characters work pretty well on most of the machines in the video, most at playable framerates even before optimization. The two exceptions are the Sony VAIO from way back in 2006, that has an Intel GMA 945 graphics chip in it,1 and the ThinkPad T500 from 2009. The latter is actually fast for a few minutes and then slows down, so I think there’s some kind of memory leak in the driver or something. I need to investigate more, because that hardware should run it fine.2

I also briefly tested on MacOS using Wineskin, and the new art loads correctly, but it won’t draw the new level on the machine I tested. I’m not actually sure how to debug this other than commenting out stuff and hoping it starts working, but I’m crossing my fingers that it’s something simple I can find. Hopefully, once I release the build, MacOS beta testers can give me some feedback on which machines work, if any. I really need to get a Mac at some point…stealing my girlfriend’s machine after she goes to sleep is not a very robust testing methodology.

Loading correctly is actually half the battle, and usually when things go wrong, they go wrong during load. So, I’ve put in some code that will detect if it’s the first time you’ve loaded the new art, and if so, it’ll keep track of whether it crashes during load. If it does, the next time you run it will prompt you for whether you want to skip loading the new art, or try again. The last remaining thing I need to do is make it so if you have loaded the new art and you try to play a game against somebody who skipped loading it, you can both still play the old art levels correctly and it fails reasonably gracefully if you try to play a new art level. This shouldn’t take long to get working. Famous last words.


Last week I was invited by Andy Baio to bring SpyParty to the XOXO Festival Arcade in Portland, Oregon. Andy’s been a fan of the game for a while, and they had a great selection of experimental indie games this year at the festival. I had to return early so I missed the lectures over the weekend, but I believe they put videos online, and the Arcade was fun! As usual, I took pictures!


  1. a chip that’s pretty much universally reviled by graphics programers, but I will try hard to make it playable on this old machine! []
  2. and, in fact, you can see the slower T400 runs the game well…sigh. []


  1. Quirken says:

    Looks great Checker! The characters are all so distinct now. I think this might actually make Sniper playable for me :) We’ll see!

  2. Musicist says:

    Is it just me or they don’t seem so “HD” and “warm” as they looked on (for example) this screenshot?

    • checker says:

      Yeah, that’s what the big “very early work in progress” text on the screen in the video is about…those concept images took hours to render and composite, it’s going to take a while before we can get the lighting models working in real-time.  This is just the first release of many. That’s the upside (and downside) of an Early-Access Beta, you get to see how the sausage is made. That’s appealing to some players, and unappealing to others!

    • Musicist says:

      Yes, just asking. Great update anyway, keep it up ^^

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