Indie game news, reviews, previews and everything else concerning indie game development.

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Spy Party Priced for Early-Access Beta

Spy Party developer Chris Hecker has revealed a two semi-tier pricing for his indie superstar title. For $15, players can have early access to the Spy Party Beta. Chris provided his rationale for the pricing: “$15 has become the de facto price point for AAA Indie Games, and it’s almost certainly what I’ll price the final game at on the various platforms, assuming XBLA, PSN, and Steam are still operating when I ship in 100 years.”

The latter part of that statement should indicate where Chris is in terms of shipping a final product. However, thanks to the beta, eager fans don’t have to wait until that hyperbolic centennial milestone.  When Spy Party does release, beta purchasers will get it for free on PC.  Chris is pretty confident he’ll be able to give out a key for activating it on Steam or another digital distribution platform.  ”If/when I end up doing a MacOS port, you can have that version too as part of the deal, in case you’d rather play there.”

Fans have also offered to pay much more than $15, to whom Chris has been happy to oblige. For $50 or more, fans can get the same beta access AND their name in the credits. In wanting to keep Spy Party a player-skill game, Chris has shied away from rewarding those higher donors with ”badges or stars next to their name in the game or in the forums, or any exclusive gadgets in the game, or a special plaid jacket, or a fancy hat.”

Want to get caught up on the player versus player phenomenon? Check out DIY’s earlier Spy Party coverage.


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SpyParty Early-Access Beta Sign Up Starts Now

SpyParty‘s psychologically intense espionage gameplay has finally reached a point that developer Chris Hecker is comfortable to share with the general public. For those of you just joining the wonderful world of indie games, please check out DIY’s in-depth coverage of this new genre-defining destined hit.

To that effect,  SpyParty now has a sign up for early access to beta testing. The developer needs the game to be in people’s hands for longer than brief convention intervals to be able to “balance and tune the game to the intense player-skill depth I’m striving for.” Chris Hecker will do so by “using real data and feedback from a large number of players over a long period of time.”

The current plan is that beta access will cost $15.  The blog states that “this will let you play the beta as much as you want as I update it over SpyParty’s development, and also get you a copy of the finished game when it’s released on PC.” Given how successful SpyParty has been at seducing the general media and gamers, this beta price isn’t probably far off from what its actual price may be. If anything, $15 for SpyParty is probably a deal!

The sign up page is here


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PAX East: Chris Hecker on Spy Party’s Public Expo, Realism [mini-view]

Spy Party never ceases to create a long line of intense onlookers. DIY, and every other indie site, has been drooling over and covering Spy Party from Chris Hecker for a good while. PAX East presented me the opportunity to meet Chris and talk a little bit about the game. He felt the large lines were bittersweet. The attention was great for him, but it also meant most people are not getting to the advanced content he was working on. However, that didn’t sway some people from coming back to see the new maps.

DIYGamer: So how are things progressing with Spy Party this year?

Chris: “Well, it was an IGF finalist, so that meant it was going to be on the show floor. So, I decided I’m going to put a bunch of stuff in and trying to get it done for GDC. I got it mostly done. I fixed a bunch of bugs between GDC and PAX.

“It’s not really a good show floor game, actually. There’s a four-page manual. It’s a really depth-based game. So it’s great that people play the game, but it sucks people can’t play the game the way it’s meant to be played. You know, two hours in, you’re still learning stuff.

“It’s really important to me that everything is fine-tuned right now, because I’m doing that depth-first thing. And I can make it accessible later. I’m lucky in that most of the stuff I do actually plays ok for beginners, too. It’s a little confusing still, but that’s why the first map has only four missions.”

“Not many people do these deep player-skill games these days. It’s much more about avatar skill, grind your guy up. It’s hard to test these things. You need someone who’s been playing for 10+ hours.”

What are your thoughts on the IGF outcome?

“It’s a fun show. It was great to have it on the show floor. Two girls and three guys ran the booth the whole time for me. I thought I would lose to Minecraft, and I lost to Minecraft. So that’s pretty much expected.”

Are you shopping around for publishers?

“Not exactly. The best strategy for me is to make the game so freaking awesome that they all come begging me to put it on their platforms. But if you show it too early [to publishers]… that’s part of the reason I show the game a lot and talk to press a lot. It’s never too early to start building awareness of the game. The kind of press and exposure I want is this: people come up and play the game and are like ‘that was totally awesome. Let me go tell my friends.’ There was no line yesterday.”

Were there any people that asked about the graphics?

”I got a couple people telling me that I have to keep the graphics. The graphics are ugly. But they have a certain charm, I guess. Eventually it will be really polished. The Incredibles is a big influence… really stylized, not trying for realism. Realism is a total trap. Even with 200 people you can’t really do realism. But I want to make it timeless. You wanna envoke that 60s Casino Royale kind of thing, but not be 60s.”

************

I was happy to babysit Chris’s laptop for him to do another interview. The interview clocked at about 8 minutes, which lasted the duration of one round. Eight minutes sounds pretty intense to be locked in a battle with one person, meticulously watching his or her every move. And the fans keep coming back for more. Spy Party is definitely onto gaming gold.

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How SpyParty Changed My Perspective on Competitive Gaming

SpyParty001

PVP. Versus. Competitive. All of these are words that I don’t particularly look for when looking to pick up a new game. As somebody who was raised on NES RPGs and games like Contra, I’ve always been more inclined to pick up a cooperative game as opposed to a competitive multiplayer title like Call of Duty, just as an example. SpyParty, by indie developer Chris Hecker, may have just changed my entire perspective on competitive gaming.

At this stage in development you’ve probably at least heard of SpyParty. It was a huge hit at last year’s PAX Prime and was nominated for the Seumas McNally grand prize at last night’s IGF award ceremony. Still, if you’re not clear on what the game is allow me to explain it a little bit:

SpyParty is a two player, competitive game where one player plays as a spy and another as a sniper. The objectives vary depending on the level, but essentially the spy must complete a series of tasks without being too obvious and the sniper must stop the spy from completing said objectives. spyparty_indie_links

To create a better sense of “cloak and dagger” type gameplay, the game doesn’t tell the sniper when a certain task is completed. Instead the game will send out hints that the object was recently completed. For example, one of the objectives in the game I played was to converse with a double agent. The keyword for the conversation was “Banana Bread.” So at some point during the game, should the spy attempt to complete this part of the mission, you’ll hear out loud a voice say “Banana Bread.” From there the sniper knows that one of the people in the conversation is attempting to complete that mission. Of course, there’s usually a couple of conversations going on with multiple people in each so it’s not a direct giveaway, but it helps cull the prospective targets.

It’s an interesting system that really speaks to me. Most multiplayer games these days are so focused on the simple mechanic of: shoot him, get points, die, respawn, repeat. Nothing about it really requires you to use your brain, to think about what you’re doing, or to assess the consequences of making an incorrect kill (you lose in SpyParty if you shoot the wrong person). SpyParty requires all these things and is a better, more methodical pvp experience because of it.

The game is still heavy in development so we probably won’t be seeing the game get a release anytime in the near future. Still, with a game this unique and of this quality I’m willing to wait for Chris Hecker to perfect this masterpiece and give me a competitive game that I can really enjoy.

By the way, don’t get too attached to the current art work. If Chris Hecker is to be believed, it’s all temporary. He’s working on the core mechanics and plans to create better art in the future prior to release.

[SpyParty]


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Spy Party Seduce Target Mode Detailed

spyparty_seduction

Chris Hecker has revealed the new Seduce Target Mission for his upcoming one-on-one espionage title Spy Party. The mission is one of several new items the developer is putting together for GDC next month.

While it’s still being tweaked, in the playtest version of seduce target mode spies must get into a conversation and flirt with a target three times without being detected by the sniper.  The latest playtest Hecker ran produced some interesting results for both the new mode and new maps that he provides metrics for.

The dev plans on adding one more mission to what’s currently been revealed for the latest build to show off alongside the game competing for IGF’s grand prize. He also mentions that he moved to this mode after deciding to put the Poison Drink Mission on the back-burner, so that’s another playmode we could see down the road.

Spy Party is still very much in development (the balancing must be painstaking), but we’re hoping to have something to play at some point this year.

[Spy Party]


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Two New Spy Party Maps Revealed

Spy_Party

Chris Hecker has peeled the curtain back on a pair of new maps in development for his highly anticipated 2-player espionage title Spy Party. Let us discuss said maps.

The first area “Balcony” (pictured above) may very well end up a living hell for the spy. The space is very small and only holds 7-8 people total, making it a cinch for the sniper to keep an eye on all the characters at the event. This makes the task of either placing a bug on the ambassador or contacting the double agent for the spy incredibly difficult to pull off undetected.

veranda-side

The “Veranda” map is quite a reversal, offering the spy a wide area with 22 characters to blend in with. Plants, bookshelves and statues are spread throughout and several conversations are constantly taking place. Additionally, the sniper can never view the entire level from a single position, so their eagle eye will have to stay quite active to pick up on the spy’s movements/actions.

Both should be good additions to the much more balanced ballroom map we’ve seen the game demonstrated on prior to these new reveals. Now if only Hecker would reveal when we could get our hands on the darn thing.

[Spy Party]


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Indies Can’t be the Only Creative Ones

creativeOver on Gamasutra they have an interesting article about the creative power of the indie games industry over the mainstream industry. In a response to a follow-up question to Chris Hecker’s keynote address at the Montreal International Game Summit, Chris lays out that the mainstream industry must not rely on the indie developers to be the driving creative force within the industry.

It’s a good read and one that makes a lot of sense. After all, when you have a game like Modern Warfare 2 that sells 5 million copies in a single day your bound to get a much higher penetration rate within society. That game, in effect, is dictating the creative force of video gaming culture. While indie games like World of Goo — truly a creative powerhouse and a game that almost every single man, woman, and child in the gaming community can get behind — will probably never, in it’s entire lifetime, reach even a million people. Therefor the media, and society in general, will look at games like Call of Duty and use that as it’s base for creativity and cultural relavence.