SpyParty’s sharper, apart from drawing up lots of cool art for people’s streams and tournaments, also does a semi-regular podcast called “The AfterParty” (which needs to exist if only for the name). He just posted an episode where he and I discuss how successfully communities are built, a topic with particular relevance to SpyParty. Enjoy:
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What is SpyParty?
SpyParty is a spy game about human behavior, performance, perception, and deception. While most espionage games have you spend your time shooting stuff, blowing stuff up, and driving fast, SpyParty has you hide in plain sight, deceive your opponent, and detect subtle behavioral tells to achieve your objectives.
Unlike the suave and confident spies you might find in films or books, most spies in spy games are more like super powered commandos--more Rambo than James Bond. By contrast, SpyParty is a new and quite different game about the more interesting and deeper aspects of being a spy.
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It’s the seemly solid motto of Drawnonward, SpyParty’s most experienced player. At a whopping 15,000 games and 500+ hours of gametime, he is perhaps the best at the game. His nightly streams give you a great glimpse into how he thinks, plays and acts.
But the greatest part is that motto… is his losing motto. It encapsulates the entire spirit of the “elite” of SpyParty: They want to lose.
SpyParty has no tutorial, so it’s currently packed with an extensive readme and information pamphlet that’s almost flat out required to read to play the game. It’s a complex set of rules and suggestions, and that’s only for the first 50 games. After that, you’ll start getting into learning about the final frontier of the game — the dreaded human.
This is where the Elite shine. Humans may seem random, but deal with them enough, and you’ll see patterns. Some are common (pathing!) and some are not so common (more pathing!), some are easy to see (animation cutting) and some are not so easy (stalk flirting), and some is just downright silly (dancing!)
The Elite know them through and through. Things you may not even be aware were mistakes will reward you with a present going faster than the speed of sound. Even smaller mistakes will get you highlighted or draw attention to yourself.
Then you lose. Then they tell you what you did wrong. Then, hopefully, you’ll win.
It’s perhaps the strangest thing. There are no secrets in SpyParty. Even if a bug crops up during a beta update that makes it easy to find out who is the human, it’ll be patched the next day thanks to a user submitted bug report. Personal or “working” strategies will usually be explained one on one after a match, but the more common ones will can be found in videos, podcasts, and so much more.
Why do the Elite want to lose? Perhaps they’re crazy in some way (500+ hours I mean how insane do you need to be?) Perhaps they want to see the world burn? Perhaps… they just want to play the game?
SpyParty works best when the two players are of equal skill. You can’t expect anything out of them. They know what you know, and you know what they know, so what you know they’ll know to try won’t know, so you’ll know to know to look out for things that they don’t know… or something like that. Perhaps what the Elite want most is to return to that “randomness” that all players start out in. They want to lose so it’s so much more fulfilling when they win.
The first order of business after launching the site was to squash bugs and start filling the database up with replays, and as we tweeted out on Friday we quickly doubled the number of total replays at launch, to 1,700. Yay.
But with great numbers of replays comes great need for organization. I think Aquaman’s assistant said that. So naturally, the next order of business was making them sortable and searchable. You can sort replays by Spy, Sniper, date uploaded, or date played, and you can sort sets by most of those criteria, was well as games played.
Searching is simple at the moment: you can specify a Spy and/or Sniper, and each field will offer autocompletion suggestions from a list of all the Spies and Snipers currently in the database.
And just to nexusify (whatever, it should be a word) these two things, we’ll be adding sorting to search results, as well as expanding search capabilities before too long. And pagination, as the pages get a little on the unwieldy side.
You can also expect another batch of replays uploaded soon, these ones largely from the 2014 Summer Cup. And going forward we’ll be tagging a lot of these reviews with the match results, to help identify them. Thanks to all the participants who gave their permission.