New Redwoods Venue Live!

There’s a new venue available this week, and the Sniper is going to have a work a harder than usual to find the Spy. You can play Redwoods right now, and there’s even a tiny two-day tournament this weekend open to everybody. More details on the tournament below at the bottom of this post!

It has been so long since I made a blog post that I’m not even sure if this is going to work. It all started with a botched server move and, well, here we are, a year and seven months later. Instead of spending time recounting all the stuff that’s happened with SpyParty in the past year, I’m going to pretend I’ve been updating regularly and just talk about the latest build, and I’ll recap stuff in a later post.

The Forest & The Trees

Redwoods is the third venue exploring different kinds of view occlusion. I’ll talk more about the overarching experiment in another post, but for now, we have the Spy partying in a house on the hillside somewhere north of San Francisco. This venue was inspired by a hike I took on Mt. Tamalpais above Mill Valley, California. Here are some of the reference pictures I took.

With Redwoods, I wanted to explore “static occlusion,” meaning the trees aren’t moving around (like a shark might) and they’re in the same place every game (unlike a shoji screen), but there are a lot of them. Here are some views from the Spy and Sniper perspectives.

I originally tested the venue at PAX 2019, and then did a semi-private beta release to PAX helpers to do the final tuning this fall. I added a bunch of trees, a conversation circle, and cleaned up some of the pathing chokepoints.

Originally I assumed the venue would be Spy-biased, since the Sniper has to move around to see everything. The trees are carefully placed to avoid any positions on the Sniper’s path being “too good.” However, after playing, several players brought up the point that the Spy—at least in these early days—can’t really tell what the Sniper can see from any particular vantage point, and also has to look around to see where the Sniper might be out there in the forest. So maybe it’ll end up being Sniper-biased? We shall see how it evolves.

Inspect Yourself

The other interesting new mechanic on this venue is when your Spy is standing at the small bookshelves in the front, you can inspect the neighboring statues. This currently seems like a small Spy buff, but time will tell.

Redwoods Weekend Tournament

When new venues are released, the community obviously gets excited to play them and find strategies,1 and recently players have been organizing weekend “Venue Tournaments” for each one, under the theory that a competitive tournament is the best way to figure out how a venue really plays.

The tournament is over now, but here’s a “slowcast” of some of the games. slappydavis and warningtrack do an in-depth analysis of a random selection of games from the first day of the tournament, pausing, rewinding, and meandering slowly through the trees.

Well, the Redwoods Rumpus Tournament is tomorrow, Saturday, November 9th, at 3pm US Eastern time. These weekend tournaments don’t require signups, so just show up in the lobby at 3pm (or maybe a few minutes before) and you’re in. Usually the organizer will make a lobby room that’ll be obvious when you log in. There’s a round-robin stage on Saturday, and then a top-4 finals bracket on Sunday. I wrote a script to help with tracking the round-robin stage, since it got a little hectic the first couple times, so you just play your games, and then check the discord for updates of the rankings and who you still need to play.

Oh, which reminds me, the active community tends to hang out on the discord, which is a fun place to chat with other SpyParty players, find a match, and just hang out with cool people in a healthy and supportive community. You can join here:

  1. and of course bugs [] to Steam Account Linking Enabled

Okay, I’ve got to Steam account linking working, so if you bought SpyParty on or plan to buy it here1 you can now get it in your Steam library! Sorry this wasn’t ready for launch, but the truth is you won’t notice much of a difference at all, since everybody is in the same lobby and it’ll hopefully pick up all your settings and your login info and replays and stuff.

Oh, I should probably mention here on the blog that we shipped on Steam and you can now buy the game there, since I just realized I have been so snowed under with support that I haven’t actually posted about this. More on that later when I’ve actually processed this momentous occasion.

Anyway, Steam account linking…here’s how you do it:

Log into your SpyParty beta homepage and look in the top left corner for this fancy new internet website link:

Ignore my awful stats please, I tend to play people who are way better than me! Which is a lot of the community now, but anyway…

Click that link, and follow the instructions on the forms. You’ll need to make sure your email is up-to-date because I’ll need to send you a confirmation code, and then you’ll be sent to log into your Steam account, and poof! SpyParty will show up in your Steam library. There are no codes involved, just pure magic.

If you have alts, you’ll only be able to link one of them to your Steam account, but don’t worry, you’ll be able to log into all of your alts from your Steam version.

In fact, the Steam version will just use your existing account credentials, so you should be able to install it with Steam and run it and not see any difference at all.

Are there differences? Very few…

Advantages of running the Steam version:

  • everybody loves having their games in one place, so now it’s in your Steam library
  • the updates will download less data for most updates right now,2 so if you’re on a very slow internet connection or using metered data when you update, Steam might be better
  • you’ll accumulate Steam stats for playtime and stuff, but you’ll also accumulate the more accurate and granular SpyParty stats like usual too
  • you’ll show up in Steam’s list of who’s playing SpyParty
  • Steam overlay, which is nice but also a mixed bag because the default shift-tab overrides its usage in the game for replay camera cycling and UI tabbing

Advantages of running the version:

  • you’ll get updates faster, when they hit, because Steam won’t let apps start downloads in the background, whereas I do, so when an update hits the server, you’ll get it immediately while for Steam you’ll have to exit SpyParty and wait for Steam to figure out there’s an update, and during that time you won’t be able to log into the lobby
  • you can install the version anywhere you want, it’s just a directory of files

But really, you can just install them both and they’ll interoperate. Oh, and once you link the accounts you’ll be able to post in the Steam SpyParty Discussions groups, regardless of which version you actually run. Plus you’ll be able to write a review and all that good stuff.

Report any bugs you find in the beta forums, and happy downloading!

Oh, and yes, I will try to get Steam to account linking soon so Steam players can participate in the private beta forums. But first I will fix the problem with Steam persona names not being used in the library, that’s my next priority!

Eventually friends list support, and who knows what else, but for now I’m just trying to get the big things fixed and then get back to matchmaking. I have a lot of support mail and posts to go through still, sorry for the delay on that!

  1. I do get a bit more money if you buy it here, but don’t worry if you’d rather buy it on Steam that’s totally fine too! []
  2. Technical explanation: I don’t support delta encoding for updates yet, but Steam does. []

SpyParty on Steam April 12 + Six New Maps Up Now!

You may have heard by now since I am super late writing this blog post, and it is in fact true: SpyParty is coming to Steam Early Access on April 12th, 2018. That’s next week at the time I’m calmly typing this with absolutely no stress or anxiety and with my todo list completely finished. HA!


And that’s not all! There are actually three big pieces of news in this post:

  1. The aforementioned Steam Early Access release date of April 12th, 2018!
  2. The six (6!?!) amazing new venues that are available now in the latest build!
  3. You have until the Steam launch to get it at the current $15 price on, because we’re raising it then!


We’ll talk about each of those in order…

Steam Early Access

I put the SpyParty Steam page up last November, with the admittedly slightly trollish release date of Soon™, but now we have a real date, and that date is Thursday, April 12th, 2018, also known as next Thursday. I’m excited, but also terrified of what’s going to happen!

I think the game is basically ready. I need to finish up matchmaking, which I’ll write about more later, but early testing shows is going to be super cool and actually relieve a little bit of the stress of playing, at least the part that involves going to the lobby and inviting another human and chatting. Even though we have an incredible community, sometimes you just want to dip in and play a few quick games!

I did a bunch of press for the announcement that hit this week, and when doing the interviews, I had to think about the game with a fresh eye and explain it from scratch, and there is just an incredible amount of stuff in there, not only a deeply competitive multiplayer game that supports thousands of hours of gameplay, an incredible community, a completely interactive fully voiced tutorial, a fancy professional user interface, a replay and spectation system that’s better than most AAA games, 20+ incredible bespoke animated characters, tons of different game modes, an active competitive scene with tournaments and leagues organized by the players and cast on the SpyParty twitch channel, and lots of plans to make it even better.

The press always came in with a “what’s been taking so long?” type question and left completely blown away by how much stuff is in this game. I’m really proud of how it’s coming out, and it’s time to go on Steam and increase the accessibility. My biggest fear is the increased scale will harm the amazing community we’ve made, but I’m optimistic that it will be okay. The players are right now making a schedule for who is going to help answer questions and guide new players on launch day. They’re simply the best community a game developer could ever want, it’s incredibly humbling and I’m so grateful for them!

Six Beautiful New Party Venues, Bringing Us to Ten Total

As the announcement trailer at the top of the post shows, we’ve also dropped six new venues in the latest build, bringing the total number of new art maps to ten! In fact, this batch of maps completes the conversion of all the classic old art maps,1 so each one now has a new art counterpart, plus we’ve added a completely new gameplay area!

Each of the venues explores a different part of the game design space, so some have static occlusion and the Sniper has to move around to see the whole map, some have dynamic occlusion where guests are blocking certain views, etc.

These amazing environments were done by John Cimino, the long-time SpyParty artist, and Reika Yoshino, who you first heard about with the Veranda update. Reika was with us for a year and now works at Thatgamecompany.


As is our tradition, here’s an before/after slider widget you can drag around for the new Balcony:


Balcony was my original attempt to make an “arcade mode SpyParty” by making a small map with few guests, but that backfired and it became one of the toughest, most subtle, and most competitive maps in the game because the Sniper could see the entire map at all times without moving.2 The architecture style is based on a “Pre-War” building in Chelsea in NYC.


Now an arty outdoor sculptural homage to Alan Turing, Courtyard explores what happens when you let the Sniper circle the entire map looking inward, but block their view by a giant statue of a famous computer scientist.


The Sniper has to keep moving, and the Spy has a pretty good idea what the Sniper can see at any given moment. Reika also pushed hard on the theatrical lighting in this map, like you would if you were having a cocktail party at your mansion on the outskirts of London.

Its come a long way since it was originally conceived and playtested.


This map is the game design opposite of Courtyard.


In Library the Sniper is in the center, and the party is around the outside. The Sniper can only see about 1/3 of the map at a time, but they can rotate their view a lot faster than the Spy can move, which makes for interesting “mission baiting” situations, like pretending you’re looking at someone at statues on the left side of the map, and then swinging over to the right side to catch a bug attempt on the Ambassador. The original old art map was called Panopticon, and was actually a player-suggested idea, but since we only did 3/5ths of a panopticon, John made it into a library. However, it’s a prison reform library, so Jeremy Bentham and other prison reform theorists get busts in the new version.


This venue is a SOHO art gallery in NYC, narrow and deep, with everything visible to the Sniper if it wasn’t for those pesky guests getting in the way.


Gallery explores dynamic occlusion by the guests, where the guests in front can block multiple mission sites for the Sniper, to the Spy’s advantage. There is currently a lively discussion in the private beta forums about whether Mr. S is unbalanced on this map because of his short stature. This map also is a good example of our timeless style…there’s a Vespa, and an old cab, but also a minivan, and what year is this anyway?


Modern, one of the original new environment art concepts we hastily turned into a playable map years ago so we could have somewhere for the new characters to stand,3 but it wasn’t very playable. Now we’ve updated it to the latest iteration of the environment art style, and we also have enough characters so we opened the whole thing up!


Because Moderne has never been playtested before, there is lots of discussion about its balance and strengths and weaknesses for the Sniper and the Spy in the private beta forums. It’ll probably see a few quick iterations in the near future.


John has outdone himself this time.


Terrace is a replacement for the Double Modern map, which was always kind of a hack to get more characters into Modern. I was just going to kill it, but then the players added it into the SpyParty Competitive League map selection pool, which kind of legitimized it, but I think we’re going to make some changes and evolve it a bit. It’s obviously based on the Greek Islands of Santorini and Mykonos with their hillside tumbles of houses and hotels.

Bonus Shots of the Other Four Venues


This is the original SpyParty map, prettied up with a Baroque architecture style, but keeping the competitive details, like plenty of dynamic occlusion from the guests blocking statues and bookshelves, and the slightly annoying camera angle to keep the Sniper sweating the guest list.



One of the first new art maps, High-rise is a fancy condo based loosely on an overpriced one in San Francisco we found online. It has a lot of nooks and crannies and many more statues than it has any right to at its square footage.



Sherlock Holmes got his own pub in London, so I decided Irene Adler deserved her own as well. Pub has a bartender instead of a waiter, which radically changes the Purloin the Guestlist mission, and it has an inside and outside, and a lot of places to bug relatively unseen if you can get the Ambassador to walk by.



Veranda was Reika’s first map, and she got it ready for testing just in time for PAX!


Veranda was our first map to explore the idea of the Sniper not being able to see the whole map at one time, since it’s a horseshoe shape. Snipers settled on a local maxima location that requires only a little movement back and forth to see most of the map, and some rules of thumb about memorizing which guests go out of sight, but there’s still a lot of occlusion and a lot of guests and it’s a popular competitive map.

New Pricing on Steam Launch

SpyParty is currently USD$15 on the front page, and has been since the Early-Access Beta started 5 or 6 years ago. Saying the game has come a long way since then is a slight understatement, to the point where the beta players started a thread in the private beta forums saying the game was underpriced and that I should raise it. They play a lot of video games, so I listened to them. I wasn’t using any kind of science when I set the price at $15 back then, I just thought Counter-Strike was awesome and it cost $15, and other big “triple-A indie” games were $15 too, so that’s what I made it. Since then not only has the game evolved graphically an incredible amount as you see in those venues above, but also the design is way deeper than I even hoped it was going to be, with the top players now having around 20000 games played and 1000 hours of game time.4 The game has also taken a lot longer than I thought it would, and cost a lot more money too. So, those three things, the players telling me it is underpriced, the game providing way more depth and playtime than it did when I started, and the cost of the game being higher than I thought, and a few other considerations convinced me to raise the price to USD$24.99 when it does on Steam.

But, I want people who have followed the game for a long time but not bought it yet to have a chance to get it at the current $15 price, so instead of just raising it on the 12th, I’m announcing it now and giving fence-sitters a last chance. I know a lot of people don’t like to buy games off Steam, and a lot of people are uncomfortable with PayPal or are simply unable to use it in their country, but for those of you who are just waiting to wait, the time to decide is now!

One complicating factor for people in other countries is Steam’s regional pricing. I will support regional pricing on Steam, whereas the PayPal system doesn’t support it, so it’s possible $24.99 is actually cheaper in your local currency once regional pricing is in effect than the full $15 is right now. In other words, even though I’m raising the price, it might be cheaper for you to buy it on Steam for “$24.99” than it is to buy it on for $15. You’ll have to figure that out, but to help here is a table with what the Steam backend tells me the regional prices will be for you, so refer to this and make your decision!

USD $24.99 GB Pounds £19.49 Euros €22.99
Russian Rubles pуб.465 Brazilian Reals R$47.49 Japanese Yen ¥2,570
Indonesian Rupiah Rp119,999 Malaysian Ringgit RM44.00 Philippine Peso P549.95
Singapore Dollar S$22.00 Thai Baht ฿319.00 Vietnamese Dong ₫219,998
Korean Won ₩26,000 Turkish Lira TL40.00 Ukrainian Hryvnia ₴329
Mexican Peso Mex$233.99 Canadian Dollar CDN$28.99 Australian Dollar A$29.95
New Zealand Dollar NZ$30.99 Norwegian Krone kr176.00 Polish zloty zł89.99
Swiss Francs CHF25.00 Chinese Yuan ¥80 Indian Rupee ₹569
Chilean Peso CLP$9,500 Peruvian Sol S/.45.00 Colombian Peso COL$33,500
South African Rand R150.00 Hong Kong Dollar HK$109.00 Taiwanese Dollar NT$378
Saudi Arabian Riyal SR39.95 Emirati Dirham AED66.00 Argentine Peso ARS$279.99
Israeli New Shekel ₪92.95 Kazakhstani Tenge ₸3,300 Kuwaiti Dinar KD4.25
Qatari Rial QR49.99 Costa Rican Colon ₡10,500 Uruguayan Peso $U529

It looks like there are a few multi-country regions that get additional discounts too, but it wasn’t clear to me how to display them or what they’d be, but if you live in one of these countries, maybe look at other games that are USD$24.99 on Steam and that have regional pricing enabled and see what they are locally: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, & Ukraine. Please don’t hold me to this list, since I don’t know if Steam changes this dynamically or what, but it should give you a ballpark and help you make your decision.

If you have any questions, ask below!

  1. and I’ve quarantined the old art maps in their own quickplay group, I can’t remove them or the grognards will kill me []
  2. well, the Sniper moves to get a better view of Ambassador bug attempts sometimes []
  3. mixing old and new art in maps felt really weird []
  4. I measure game time as the time actually playing, so 1000 hours at about 3 minutes a pop, whereas Steam measures game time as the executable running, even if you went to lunch or fell asleep, so a SpyParty 1000 hours is many thousands of hours of Steam game time. []

The New SpyParty Tutorial!

After years in Early-Access Beta, with nothing but a four-page manual to help you learn how to play, SpyParty finally has a fully interactive tutorial!

I’m pretty proud of how it came out. The tutorial uses a mix of text and voice narration,1 and it tries to get as close as possible to how we train people in-person at PAX, which has worked well for years.

It walks you through the basic movement mechanics of Sniper and Spy, and then teaches each of the four beginner missions (Bug Ambassador, Contact Double Agent, Swap Statue, and Seduce Target), first from the Spy side and then from the Sniper side, and then has you put it all together into a full Spy game and Sniper game. There are a number of small challenges in there to (hopefully) keep it interesting.

It’s really long and in-depth and it still only scratches the surface of the game, and it actually prompted me to add a Beginner Mode to the game to limit the complexity that had to be taught (and learned),2 but we playtested it a bit at PAX and it successfully taught people how to play the game, and I’ve improved it a lot since then, so I’m pretty happy with it so far. It needs more work, but I think it’ll help people learn how to play.

I did a live stream of a tutorial playthrough with commentary about design decisions made during its development and I’ve uploaded the video to the SpyParty YouTube channel:


I’m very interested in watching people play through the tutorial for the first time to see how well (or poorly) it works, so if you get the game and are going to do the tutorial, stream it or upload a video to YouTube and send me a note on Twitter or Facebook or link it here in the comments!

Late Release Notes

I also finally did the long-overdue release notes for the previous set of builds, which involved a ton of changes. You can see them in the private Beta forums, but here’s a silly screenshot of the announcements post to show you how long the notes are…


  1. at the urging of my game designer friend Zach Gage []
  2. interestingly, Beginner Mode is pretty close to the original SpyParty from the start of development before I started iterating on the design to go as deep as possible []

We now have a Steam Page!

It’s happening! SpyParty now has a Steam Store Coming Soon Page! No news yet on the exact date we’ll launch into Steam Early-Access, but we’re planning for early next year and working hard to hit that part of the calendar.

You can, of course, buy the game now if you don’t want to wait!

Oh, and it’s in the FAQ, but to reiterate: unless Valve pulls a 180 degree turn and radically changes all their policies in the next few months, which is incredibly unlikely, you will get the game on Steam when it’s ready for testing (probably before it’s actually for sale since I’ll need a bunch of help testing). So, if you want to practice and be a part of the excellent community before all the Steam people come in, join up now!

We also recut the trailer with new music and shots from more levels, and it came out really well, so check that out: