At a Glance: Chris Hecker
Chris Hecker focuses on solving hard problems at the intersection of gameplay, aesthetics, and technology. He is an outspoken advocate for pushing the current boundaries of design and interactivity, in the hope that games will eventually reach their full potential as a medium. To this end he helped organize the Indie Game Jam, the Experimental Gameplay Workshop, and The Depth Jam, and his work on Spore centered on using proceduralism and artificial intelligence to enhance player creativity and agency. Chris has been on the advisory board for the Game Developers Conference for many years and is a regular speaker at the GDC, Siggraph, and other conferences. A frequent contributor to Game Developer magazine, Chris was the technical columnist for the magazine for two years and the Editor-at-Large for three, and was on the editorial board of the computer graphics research publication, The Journal of Graphics Tools. He has worked at both ends of the development spectrum, as a one-man indie game developer with his company definition six, inc. and on a hundred-person team at Maxis/Electronic Arts. His professional goal is to help games become the preeminent art and entertainment form of the 21st century. His current project is SpyParty, an indie game about subtle human behavior and deception.
He’s one of the most fun people we know.
SpyParty is a tense competitive spy game set at a high society party. It's about subtle behavior, perception, and deception, instead of guns, car chases, and explosions. One player is the Spy, trying to accomplish missions while blending into the crowd. The other player is the Sniper, who has one bullet with which to find and terminate the Spy!
SpyParty is in Early-Access Beta right now, which means you can buy and play the game immediately, you'll get all the updates during development, and then you'll get the final version when it ships. The beta community is friendly and welcomes new players, and there's a private beta forum where players share strategies.
Play on: Windows and MacOS
Why do you make games?
Well, sometimes big decisions like this are hard to put into words, and are a mix of subconscious and conscious motivations. The conscious decision part revolves around the idea that completely new art forms only come along very infrequently, maybe every few hundred years, and so the opportunity to be a part of shaping how games evolve is incredibly exciting...it's like playing around with film in 1905: nobody knows where it will take us. But more important is the less verbalizable subconscious aspect, which has something to do with interactivity--the thing that's fundamentally different about games compared to other art and entertainment forms--really appealing to me at a personal and aesthetic level. The idea of making systems that respond to players interacting with them is magic in a way that the passive art forms can't touch. I went to art school for college and thought I was going to be a painter, actually, but fell in love with games and interactivity.
Why should people play SpyParty?
Well, the thing I'm proudest about in the design of SpyParty is how it's an intense and deep competitive game, but it's core gameplay is about human behavior instead of shooting and moving and blowing stuff up. So, SpyParty explores subtle aspects of performance and deception, and at the same time it's a great and exciting skill-based game that people stream on Twitch. The second thing I'm proud of is the community, and how supportive and non-toxic and involved in helping people learn it is, even though the game is a deep player-skill multiplayer competitive online game, which is usually a recipe for toxicity. The players at the top of my leaderboard have played over 400 hours of actual gameplay time, 3 minutes at a time (not just time with the executable launched, which is how Steam calculates hours played). The game is very deep. If you're looking for value for your dollar, it's hard to beat that for $15! That said, the game is still very beta and changes a lot, so if you like to see how games are developed and be a part of the community influencing the game's direction, by all means join, but if you like a more polished and finished experience, you might want to wait a bit.
What element of game design do you hold above all others?
For me, competitive depth is the most important goal for SpyParty's design. I will talk about this more in the full interview, but I regularly sacrifice accessibility for newbies to make the game deeper and more competitive. I want SpyParty to be considered among the top competitive games of our time, at least in its design, so I hope it can eventually stand along side Counter-Strike, Starcraft, Street Fighter, and games like those in terms of its depth and re-playability. If I'm really going out on a limb, I'd even say I'm shooting for Poker, Chess, and Go levels of depth, but man, those are some of humanity's most beautiful game designs. I'll be happy if I get even close to the depth of any of the games listed in this paragraph.
Giveaway: SpyParty Early-Access Beta: http://n4g.com/user/blogpos...
Interview with Chris Hecker, Part One: http://n4g.com/user/blogpos...
Interview with Chris Hecker, Part Two: http://n4g.com/user/blogpos...
SpyParty: A Game in Which I Kill My Husband: http://n4g.com/user/blogpos...
Day 9 | Chris Hecker