SpyParty sneaks into Steam Early Access next week

The fascinating 1v1 sniper vs. spy game SpyParty will enter Steam Early Access on April 12th, creator Chris Hecker has announced, bringing it to a a wider audience after years of coveted betas and its own early access scheme. SpyParty players have developed devious tricks of deception and detection over these years, so I’ll be fascinated to see what happens as fumbling newbies arrive, myself included. I’m Maxwell Smart and everyone else is Agent 99. You’re Vasily Zaytsev and I’m one of those goons who can’t even hit the A Team van driving straight towards them.

SpyParty pits one spy against one sniper. The spy is at a party surrounded by unwitting NPCs, who provide vital cover as the spy goes about conducting espionage. Spies have several objectives to complete–bugging conversations, seducing targets, swapping objects, and other such spy business–while the sniper simply needs to kill the spy. Watching from a distant point, the sniper has one single shot to stop the spy. All of which leads to the spy trying to act like an NPC, picking moments carefully and faking out the sniper, while the gunman watches for tells.

To get a sense of the game’s trickery, read Hecker’s analysis of one “perfect” round way back in 2012. And this was six years ago – who knows how clever people are now? I intend to find out by collecting holes in my face.

SpyParty is coming to Steam Early Access on April 12th. The planned Mac version is on hold due to “a few technical snags” but Hecker plans to revisit it after the Early Access launch.

Oh, and for people already spying, six new maps hit the game on Monday, as shown in the new trailer below. The game really has become quite pretty since its early days, thanks to the work of artist John Cimino. Dearest Pip talked with Hecker about its character designs a few years back.

13 Comments

  1. caff says:

    Oh brilliant! Looking forward to this.

  2. Massenstein says:

    I’ve been really, really longing for a multiplayer experience like this – a battle of small-scale planning and decisions instead of twitchy mouse movement or huge armies.

    AssCreed: Brotherhood had a really nice concept that for the most part also worked magnificently, and I just can’t understand why more people haven’t tried doing something similar. I guess The Ship sort of tried but it fell apart for other reasons. Between asscreed, the ship and spy party, are there any other games utilizing this kind of multiplayer stealth skullduggery?

    • beawereofthedog says:

      There’s a kind of a spiritual sequel to The Ship being made by the same devs. Actually it has been recently covered on RPS.

      Link to RPS article

      • poliovaccine says:

        Thanks for linking that, I’d had that in mind but had forgotten it, and couldn’t even remember enough about The Ship to Google it effectively (I was thinking it had been called Spy Ship). The Ship is another rare multiplayer idea I’m actually super into, but I missed the… train… on that one, so to speak – so when I originally saw that RPS writeup about there being a spiritual successor to it, I had high hopes off the bat. For some reason, these sorts of concepts always make me weirdly optimistic.

        I think I just like the idea of deceit and disguise way better for multiplayer than shootyfaced action, judging by the fact that some of the only multiplayer I’ve done in years has been the MP hacking games in the first Watch Dogs (and I think the other 6% of the times is pretty well covered by Rainbow Six Vegas 2). I feel like videogame Hide and Seek is ultimately just more fun and interesting than videogame Rock Fight, in so many words.

        • Kitsunin says:

          Hide and Seek is actually a game. I’d say is the reason it’s more fun to me. IRL sports are a very different beast to games. Yet video games assume we all either want po-faced paintball or MMA (or just to watch a movie). Never tag, hide-and-seek, or other types of games which are fun because they’re fun. Not because they’re a test of skill, but because it’s a fun activity which involves interacting with other people.

          It’s why Trouble in Terrorist Town and Town of Salem have been all-time favorite games for me. I even loved The Ship and Bloody Good Time despite their major shortcomings. But there are just so few like that.

          • poliovaccine says:

            “Hide and Seek is actually a game.” That’s an extremely good point.

    • Toboshi says:

      Chris Hecker actually has a list of a bunch of these games on the SpyParty developer blog. It might be worth a look. link to spyparty.com

    • Zorgulon says:

      I’m another one who fondly remembers the multiplayer in AC:Brotherhood – specifically the always sadly less popular ruleset (Wanted?) that got rid of the gadgets and relied purely on being able to mimic NPCs while tracking your target. I felt the poison, morph and other such abilities encouraged too much running around compared with the careful stalking that I found so engaging.

      I’ve been lowkey interested in Spy Party for years now, glad it’s finally (almost) out.

  3. poliovaccine says:

    Gwuhhh, how have I never heard of this before? This is so far up my alley it can’t get back down again!

    Also, I briefly confused “Chris Hecker” with “Tim Hecker” (of Ravedeath 1972) and for a minute there I was super impressed at the guy’s eclecticism and wondered why they didn’t mention that whole branch of his career, haha.. then I realized they are two different guys, which is probably how their style got so eclectic (harr)..

  4. Gomer_Pyle says:

    A Get Smart reference on RPS? I never thought I’d see that here!

    • poliovaccine says:

      That stuck out to me too haha, though thinking about it, really RPS is the first and only place I’d expect to even potentially see a Get Smart reference. If anything, I’m surprised it didn’t already happen at any point during RPS’s passionate love affair with Invisible, Inc..!

      Cus I mean, when the Treehouse collectively get into a game, they write about it/pray to its Mecca like five times a day, haha. See: Plunkballs, Spy the Slayer, Dead Ceoulls, etc, for some recent examples. Others are shorter-lived flings, though no less rich in passionium iodide – like Subnauteers, Astronautica, and Nearby: Auto-tomato, remember those? Btw, apologies for any misspellings. English is my first language.

  5. TheAngriestHobo says:

    From the “Perfect Game of SpyParty” article:

    Go has always been my favorite game, what I would consider the most beautiful game designed by humankind. When I first started designing SpyParty, my goal was to aim for Go, with its crystaline precision, its complete lack of randomness that would—I believed at the time—dilute the player-skill aspects of a game.

    I find that last bit really cool, as a design philosophy. While I’m not a huge multiplayer gamer, I can’t help but admire someone who makes an effort to design a videogame as a medium for pure human-on-human intellectual competition in the vein of chess or Go (side note: it’s kinda weird that “Go” is capitalized, but “chess” isn’t).

    • gmx0 says:

      Well, maybe it has to do with the language, Go isn’t the English word “go”, but a Japanese term “Igo”. Chess comes from french meaning “check”. It still doesn’t really say why it is differently capitalized, but may offer clues why.