I Spy An Open Beta For Spy Party

You can't snipe me! The world needs my giant hands to rescue especially large kittens from trees.

Like most people, I remember the day I first started lusting after Spy Party. It was long before the lengthy, fairly exclusive closed beta, new look, and (I’m pretty sure) my own birth, but I’ll never forget it. But now – finally, mercifully, joyously – anybody can play. Me, you, an especially deceptive Toucan – whoever. All you need is $15 and the steely resolve of an unreadable machine who’s never even contemplated death, let alone feared it.

Just go here, chip in $15 via PayPal, and that’s it: you’re in the multiplayer pretend-to-be-an-NPC-or-die espionage-er’s open beta. You can play Spy Party. You are complete. Here’s what unfalteringly dedicated creator Chris Hecker had to say about it:

“I will eventually write something really awesome about all the cool stuff I have planned for the game this year like more maps and missions, spectation and replays, and more, and how friendly and helpful the community is for new players, and even the plan for getting the new artwork in, but right now, I’m about to collapse from exhaustion, so you get this slightly lame paragraph of meta instead.”

Those things do sound very neat, though! The ability to spectate will be especially nice, given that Spy Party can be absolutely brutal to those who don’t know its ruthlessly specific dimples and curves. For now, though, it’s absolutely worth trying out, as it’s one of the more uniquely dastardly, brilliantly sophisticated multiplayer experiences to come along in the past few years. So go! Do it now! Run, don’t walk!

You’re easier to spot that way.


  1. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Chris Hecker even sounds like a spy name.

    • The Random One says:

      “The name’s Hecker. Chris Hecker.”

      Nope. Not seeing it. Let me try to push it a tad further:

      “I’ll have a Coke. Zero, not Diet.”


  2. BooleanBob says:

    This game seems to have been in development for ages. I wonder how many times it has won the IGF.

  3. Grey Poupon says:

    If you have to pay to get in, isn’t it a closed beta? As you have to be invited in, sort of.

    • profaniti says:

      Huh? You don’t need to be invited, anyone can invite themselves, with their money.

      Have I missed what you are trying to say?

      • Teovald says:

        Some open betas are free, in particular for mmos, but in that case it is more a PR move that a ‘real’ beta.

        • profaniti says:

          Yeah, but I would say charging money does not make it a ‘closed’ beta, as anyone can access it, right?

          Thanks for confirming I am not going silly. : )

          • S Jay says:

            Nope, open as in “anyone can join (if they pay)”.

            Closed beta (which the game was until a couple of days ago) is:
            – You subscribe
            – Sometime in the future you receive an invite (which you might or not pay anyway to get access after you get the invite)

  4. MOKKA says:

    May I politely point towards an old and dusty thread I put up on the forum?

    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    I’m still hoping to get some people together to play this game, since I haven’t touched it since I got into the closed beta.

  5. jonfitt says:

    I’m wary of paying for a beta for a game which may well be a one trick pony that’s unplayable after a month due to its absolute reliance on multiplayer.

    I think the pay-up-front model is the wrong choice for indie multiplayer games. Multiplayer games need a constant background of people playing for you to be able to get a game when you want. I think for indie games that aren’t minecraft fundamentally you can only achieve that by expanding your audience as much as possible through some form of reduced payment. That could be f2p, or maybe even launch in a humble bundle.

    It’s not a panacea, look at Tribes, but it’s got to be better than this comparatively huge barrier to entry.

    • S Jay says:

      Before open beta there was always people to play, so I imagine this will only increase.

    • frightlever says:

      You mean like “Bloody Good Time”?

      link to store.steampowered.com

      Which is pretty much dead, though… let’s be honest most MP games don’t last all that long, do they?

      I watched some Let’s Play videos about Spy Party and it’s not for me. I am curious what the attraction is.

      Wasn’t “The Ship”, from the BGT developers, also somewhat like this?

      • mineshaft says:

        Disclaimer, I really like this game. This game is deep, like heads-up poker.

        As a spy, you play mind games with your opponent. You are tasked to do spy missions, but you need not necessarily do them to win. You just need to get the Sniper to shoot the wrong person.

        One example from a game yesterday. At the beginning of game time, your character, like everyone else in the room, is under control of the computer. My guy did three things in a row that looked pointless: visited a window, visited another different window, then went into a conversation by himself. It would be impossible to do any missions in these locations, so I was concerned that my character would look like he was deliberately avoiding attention. So I left it on AI control for a full minute.

        Meanwhile, the sniper started getting antsy. Was I doing missions that he just wasn’t observing? So he started seeing things. I’m over in a conversation grabbing drinks and laying low. Finally he can’t take it anymore, and shoots an innocent AI.

        After the game you see the log of significant actions on both sides, whenever the spy hits a button or the sniper flags someone. We read the log together and had a good laugh.

        That’s only one of many possible scenarios with the same setup. I played many times with the same guy and each one was pretty unique.

        The tension is great on both sides. The temptation to move, or take a drink, or just do anything, is great when the sniper has his laser sight trained on you. On the flipside, the sniper has a lot to look at, and most of it is noise. If the spy completes all missions, the game ends early, so the sniper has a strong incentive to find the spy early. I had a game where I’d figured out the spy, and had him in my sights, then he moved. Two seconds later he won because all his missions were complete.

        Lots of people in the lobby have thousands of matches under their belt (each match about three minutes). So the game does seem to have a lot of staying power.

        • S Jay says:

          Poker is a brilliant definition. And that is exactly the feeling: tension and deception.

          Of course this game might not be for everyone, but I really really like it. It is the game I always come back to.

        • frightlever says:

          I appreciate you taking the time to explain and you’ve done a good job of conveying your enthusiasm.

          What happens if I joined a game and as the spy just started running in circles? Or immediately killed the first guest that fell under my scope? I’m curious how the game handles a really bad player or one who’s only motivation is mischief. I’m also kinda curious how the game will deal longterm with players simply becoming really good at acting like an AI., or where the actual interest lies in doing so.

          Is there a good Youtube Lets Play you’d recommend to show this tension? The ones I’ve looked at didn’t really get that across, though it’s probably a difficult thing to convey, perhaps impossible. And of course what we find tense varies wildly.

          What’s the anti-cheating technology like? Have they any way to detect if a player is using a bot?

      • S Jay says:

        About “Bloody Good Time” comparison (I don’t even know the game, but): SpyParty has a steady community of players for years now. I log in once a month and usually find a game in 1-5 minutes if I am willing to play anyone. I can’t think of a good reason why after years of closed beta, the numbers would be reduced after open beta.

        Still, might be not your kind of game, point taken.

    • gerafin says:

      I would just like to add that since you can play this game with just 2 people, it’s hard to compare to any other multiplayer game. Buying two copies for $30 is totally worth it to rope friends into games while hanging out, and it’ll be much easier to find someone to play with online. I can see this game existing well into the future without a ‘community’. Even during super early beta, when there were only a few people playing, there were guys in lobby almost 24/7.

  6. S Jay says:

    It is really a brilliant game. Great that it takes around 3 minutes per game, so you can fit a game or two in between real work.

  7. AshEnke says:

    I played an old version a few months ago, it was quite fun.
    Were the new graphics integrated in the game ?

    • S Jay says:

      Not yet. :/

      • AshEnke says:

        I’m glad I preordered it, and I’m looking forward to playing it, but it’s one these games that I’ll play when they’ll finally release instead of installing every single update.

  8. Husa says:

    Had to register for this, even though I’ve been a lurker for ages and love RPS. And yes, this is a mindless rant. Nice way to start as a commenter :D

    “Just go here, chip in $15 via PayPal, and that’s it: you’re in the multiplayer pretend-to-be-an-NPC-or-die espionage-er’s _”open”_ beta.”

    Since when has an open beta meant that it’s payware? I totally understand that you can buy your way into a closed beta, but it’s frustrating when developers claim that they are now in open beta and it’s not really open for everyone. And yes, it would be stupid to give all content if that were the case.

    • HothMonster says:

      It’s open in the sense that you couldn’t even buy your way into the closed beta. You signed up and if you were selected for beta you could then buy the game and get into the beta. Now you just have to want in and be willing to pre-purchase.

      Now everyone on the list is allowed to make their purchase and get in.

      A more apt description would be “pre-purchase now available for spy party, beta access included”

      But it is the full game in it’s current state, it’s up 99% of the time, and he is actually gathering data to make the game better and testing systems. I think AAA studios have tainted the words open beta with their “limited-time-accessible-demos of finished product” that they pass off as betas.

      Closed=invite only
      Open=opt in
      I propose a new term Ajar-Beta=opt in with stipulations

  9. Chubzdoomer says:

    I have to laugh at anyone who pays to beta test a game. Bad move on the developers’ behalf.

    • HothMonster says:

      Well you are paying for the game not the beta. It’s a pre-order with beta access. Your opinion on the purchasers may or may not waver based on that info.

      But it’s a fun game, a new idea and Checker is one hell of a nice guy. He didn’t have the money to devote this much time without some support and he has had way more people on the sign up list then he could let in until now so it would appear to be a good move on his part.

    • Lanfranc says:

      I have to laugh at anyone not willing to cough up $15 to play this amazing game right now.

      • frightlever says:

        You must be a regular barrel of laughs every time you leave your basement.

    • colossalstrikepackage says:

      This point might have more impact if said developer was rolling around in cash. From what I understand said developer is not. I’d be surprised if there isn’t a demo once the full version s released. So maybe wait until then?