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.
Great ideas are exhilarating. When we have them, we turn them over and over in our heads like glassmakers folding molten silica, shaping our glowing gems. They stick to us. But then comes something agonizing: actually realizing them. Doubt and fear creep in. What if it doesn't work? Experimentation is risk.
Brave independent game developers have the freedom to take that risk, and we love when they do. After witnessing a magnificent indie showing earlier this month at PAX Prime, we gathered a list of the boldest new ideas being crafted by indie studios. Some of these games were new to us only weeks ago, while others have been forming for a while, but they're all built on ideas we're excited to talk about.
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.
Just look at Hawken. If ever there was a game that undermined the notion of what an independently developed project can achieve, it’s Adhesive Games’ mech shooter. Every bone in my body tells me a small studio should not be able to pull off such a gorgeous, robot-stomping shooter, but there it is, megabots hanging in the air, spitting rockets at each other across maps that look like they’ve come out of Epic or Valve.
But I’m getting used to indie games surprising me: freedom to create without interference from the men in suits is the reason their developers go into this murky, unfunded realm, trading security for the chance to follow their own path. Every developer in this list has taken the opportunity to make exactly what they want to make, using that freedom to create some startlingly original games that simply wouldn’t be made if they had a deadline to hit and had to justify every decision.
These games only exist because someone passionately wanted to bring them into the world, and it really, really shows.
Graham, Tom, Craig and Rich convene to discuss the future of indie. We've played a bunch of interesting games coming out in the next year that may not be on your radar yet, and should be. Under discussion: repulsive goo-splasher Confetti Carnival, bumbling clone orgy The Swapper, slapstick swordfighting deathmatcher Nidhogg, nerve-fraying mind war Spy Party, four-dimensional puzzle garden Miegakure, and rope-carrying-parrot simulator Rope Racket.
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To help explain what we're talking about a bit, Nidhogg creator Messhof was kind enough to let us post a video of Graham and I playing it. It's embedded below.
Tim, Tom and Craig unite to talk about what Tim thinks of Diablo 3 now that he's played it, what the best class is, and how the multiplayer works. We also share our greivances with Black Ops, how Inception would make a good game, and why Spy Party is so terrifying to play.
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