[VP Rewind is a quick look back at the important events of the past week or two that should have been on Venus Patrol had it actually been alive.]
I’m not sure why it should have surprised me as much as it did: it’s just, I suppose, that we’ve spent so long — years now — staring at those dot-eyed mannequins that I was starting to think of it as an aesthetic.
In either case, Chris Hecker has revealed the final character designs for his upcoming 1-on-1 reverse-Turing mindgame SpyParty, and the results are fantastic. A nod, says Hecker, to classic illustration in every sense of its relative timelessness, the new designs (by artist John Cimino) convey a strong sense of individual character and an overall aristocratic flavor without dipping into overly-broad spy fiction.
It’ll still be some time off, Hecker admits, before the characters make it into the ongoing open beta (that I, like, somehow still am not a part of), so get your last good ganders at those dot-eyed dollar-store dolls before they’re gone forever. [via SpyParty]
The most bittersweet news that dropped during my recent SF getaway (and has gone too long unmentioned here on the site) was an announcement that Spore developer Maxis had laid off over 20 members of its staff — most notably, technology lead Chris Hecker, responsible for heading up the game’s complex solutions for reliably animating an infinite variety of user-generated creatures (via a tool, as I talked about in my 2006 Edge Magazine feature on the game, appropriately called SPASM).
Hecker’s clearly not bitter, as he cheerily blogged that his post-launch efforts had “generated lots of goodwill but no revenue, which tends to be a problem when you’re expensive and the economy is down”, and it may turn out to be a fruitful misfortune, with Hecker also revealing that he’s now turned all his attention to the pursuit of the indie, starting with SpyParty.
Described as an “asymmetric multiplayer espionage game about subtle behavior and deception”, and actually first revealed at this year’s GDC Experimental Gameplay Sessions that I’m now and forever kicking myself for missing, SpyParty intends to do precisely what more games need to do: forgo games as big budget thrill-rides and focus instead on the richness of subtle interaction.
Here’s the quick gist, scrobbled together from the various GDC reports: one player plays as a spy, who needs to accomplish a series of espionagical tasks amongst a field of AI controlled party-goers (say, planting wires/bugs on ambassadors). Another player plays as a sniper, who needs to single- and take out the spy as quickly as possible, with only the tiny ‘tells’ of a real human acting suspiciously to guide them — a game using the cool/international intrigue 60s type spy as its inspiration, over the stunt-jumpin’, big exploding 90s-00s style Bond we’ve been handed more recently.
You can follow Hecker’s new indie course via his SpyParty blog, and look forward to more concrete information coming soon.