Despite my best intentions to do it “right after PAX“, I finally released the new artwork into the wild this week! Yes, if you are already a beta tester, just run SpyParty and connect to the lobby and you’ll get the update automatically, and if you’re not a beta tester, and want to check out the slick new look for yourself, head over and sign up for the Early-Access Open Beta right now!
I spent yesterday cutting a trailer to show off the fancy new characters and level:
That video spends a bunch of time ogling the new characters in their environment so you can get a feel for the quality of the models and animations in the game. I’m really happy with how they’re looking, and they’re going to get even better looking in the future: you can still see animation pops, interpenetration, and various oddnesses, and the lighting model is not even close to final, especially on the environment. Still, it’s a huge step! Poor Security Agent Damon…
As you can see in the video, I put the new artwork in alongside the old art in a new map named Modern. The old art is going to be around for a long time because it’s where all the tuning and balancing effort has gone over the years, so you fans of nostalgia will have plenty of quality time with it.
The new art isn’t very playable yet, since we only have the five characters so far, and only a subset of all the animations even for those. John is working away furiously on getting statues and books and drinks and briefcases and everything else supported by the new folks, and then he’ll move on to do the next batch of characters. It will be a while before the new art is tournament worthy.
I don’t want to spend much time on the gameplay for the new art until we have a critical mass of characters to make it a real competition-worthy level, but I did realize people would want to play on the new map with the new art because it’s shiny, so I made a few gameplay modifications and spent a bit of effort getting it working as a game. First, I added the option to only enable a single mission on the map, so you can do “Known 1″ or “Any 1 of 3″ game types. Since there are only five characters, it turns this map into a bit of a Balcony-lite, which is fun. Second, based on playtesting it on stream the other night, I made the Ambassador unknown to the Sniper. So, combining these, you can do “Known 1 Bug Ambassador”, where the Spy tries to get away with bugging when the Sniper knows he or she is going to do it, but the Sniper doesn’t know which character is the Ambassador!
It’s a little silly, but it’s fun and it actually elucidated a few interesting things for me about the design going forward, including how nice the game looks from the Sniper viewpoint without the triangles on people’s heads, and also how interesting it is to try to deduce characters from their behavior. The Ambassador has a “personal space violation” mechanic that triggers if somebody stands too close, and watching for that kind of behavior is very much in line with the design aesthetics I’m going for with SpyParty. You can even pretend you’re the Ambassador by bailing out when somebody stands too close to you for too long!