There's a spy running loose in Chris Hecker's asymmetrical multiplayer game Spy Party. That's part of the point, of course - the clue is in the name. This spy, however, has swapped out the crude art style of the game's beta with some lovely, well animated characters and environments. We should probably order the sniper to hold fire until he's finished sprucing up the rest of the game.
Spy Party has been teasing us with its tantalizing asymmetrical hunter/prey gameplay for a long, long time. Last September we called it one of the brightest ideas in indie gaming, and at that point it had been in development since 2009.
Spy Party is a tense two-player showdown between a spy at a party and a sniper peering in with a laser sight some distance away. The spy must accomplish a series of tasks without the sniper suspecting anything. It's just as nerve-wracking for the sniper. If they hit an innocent partygoer, it's game over.
A blog post on the Spy Party site dissects a particularly skillful performance from a spy who frames an NPC in a red dress by timing his actions perfectly with hers. "It’s a risky gambit," says Spy Party creator Chris Hecker, "because you can waste a lot of valuable time trying to frame somebody, and it’s very hard to recover when you’re running low on time." Patience, timing, and a bit of luck all combine to set up the perfect crime.
The Spy Party team has doubled in size. Designer Chris Hecker has been joined by former Maxis colleague John Cimino, an animator tasked with overhauling Spy Party's low-fi visuals. Joystiq have the first images of the new characters, and they look pretty swish.
Spy Party casts one player as a sniper on the voyeuristic end of a high-powered scope. The other player acts as a spy in a party half a kilometre away. The undercover player must mingle with guests and complete secret tasks without alerting the sniper peering in through the windows. The sniper gets one shot. If they're wrong, they lose. It's remarkably tense.
Chris Hecker is the man behind the wonderfully tense sniper vs. spy game, Spy Party. He's been talking to Wired's Andy Robinson about his concerns that the game industry is in danger of falling into a "cultural ghetto" akin to insular world of comic books.
"There's a small group of people in the game industry that think games have the potential to be the preeminent art and entertainment form of the 21st century," he said. "The way film was to the 20th century -- and that wasn't because film was better than painting or literature but still it became the one big forms that spoke to society and had a huge impact."
A new post on the Spy Party blog, spotted by VG247, outlines a two-tier pricing plan for indie spy vs. sniper game, Spy Party. You can pay $15 for the beta version and get early access to both the game and private beta forums that will help players organise games together. The beta version will be regularly updated, and will be upgraded to a full release when Spy Party eventually comes out.
If you really love Spy Party, and want to support its development using the power of money, you can opt to pay what you want above $50. The $50+ version will be no different to the standard $15 version, but those who pay extra will feature in the credits when the full game comes out. Also, you'll get the warm, fuzzy rush of generosity. You can sign up for both tiers of the beta on the Spy Party site. Don't know what Spy Party is? Let me explain.