31 Great Independent Developers in one month.

At a Glance: Chris Hecker

IndieMonth | 506d ago
User blog

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.

Today’s Stories:
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

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BiggCMan  +   506d ago
I'm tellin you, Indies are really where the creativity is these days. It's hilarious and awesome!
randomass171  +   506d ago
Some AAAs out there have it as well, but I agree that indies are full to the brim with freedom of creativity.
Hector535  +   506d ago
Yeah and they have so much freedom, i love indies :)
MrxDeath  +   506d ago
this looks great , it's like the ship , but this is awesome !
oasdada  +   506d ago
interesting... migt give it a try
SpeedDemon  +   506d ago
Looks good, I'll probably try it when the finished version comes out.
Caffo01   506d ago | Spam
beepbopadoobop  +   506d ago
ohh this looks so coooool!
dictionary  +   506d ago
They see me spying, they hating
eckleberg  +   506d ago
Its disappointing to see the lack of influence big developers are taking from innovation in indie gaming - they really have become the only place to find true innovation in gaming
randomass171  +   505d ago
What we need is for more indie games to get the kind of success and exposure a lot of AAA games get. If that happens more often, AAA developers will be pushed to be more creative.
checker  +   505d ago
I think there is influence, it's just slow to happen, both due to how long it takes to make an AAA game, and also how conservative they have to be because the budgets are so big.
randomass171  +   505d ago
And yet indie devs like yourself are coming up with much more varied ideas on much smaller budgets. I don't doubt that AAA games cost a lot of money and manpower, but a lot of the unique and creative juices are really flowing out of guys like yourself right now, and you guys don't get the luxury of multi-million dollar budgets that big publishers get. :)
#9.2.1 (Edited 505d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(0) | Report
LukeFair  +   506d ago
Very very interesting concept!
Mokastro  +   506d ago
Omg, This is like a game of bluff. Very intrigued
gaffyh  +   506d ago
This game is still in beta, remember hearing about It YEARS ago!
checker  +   505d ago
It needs to be perfect! :)
dota2champion  +   505d ago
It's also a Early-Access Beta too. According to valve, developers don't have to finish the game.
randomass171  +   505d ago
I read about it on Destructoid a couple of years ago. Never thought I'd hear of it again with updated visuals. And boy am I happy to be wrong!
Priestwithgun  +   506d ago
Creativeity=indies nowadays,cool
Derekvinyard13  +   505d ago
Dam 400 hours of gameplay 3 min at a time
Disagree  +   505d ago
my kind of game
rambi80  +   505d ago
I can totally see this becoming a good drinking game to play with friends
Cat  +   505d ago
Oh man, I don't think I could function as a Sniper after a few!
rambi80  +   505d ago
thats what makes it a good drinking game. lol
TreFord  +   505d ago
I love indies keep them coming
gobluesamg  +   505d ago
This game looks intense.
Cat  +   505d ago
It is. I love watching people play at cons like PAX, everyone in line/crowd is watching, quiet, and then the cheers/groans when the match is won are awesome.
randomass171  +   505d ago
That sounds incredibly fun. Makes me hope they implement the other mulitplayer modes ASAP. :D
HalifaxNick  +   505d ago
Looks like fun!
mydyingparadiselost  +   505d ago
This is something most AAA releases couldn't touch in terms of creativity.
Carib  +   505d ago
Looks like something I might like...
Virtua_Awesome  +   505d ago
Looks like a very interesting game. I wonder though, since players and CPUs move differently (CPU players generally have set paths, etc.), how are players playing as the spy not just found out right away? Guess I should look up more footage and see how players play it.
Cat  +   505d ago
You'll have to try it :) You have to move smoothly, and imitate the behavior of the character and the NPCs. The basic stuff - moving - is pretty straightforward. Then you have to get good at interacting with the other NPCs, and then pulling off the missions without giving a tell. After that you get into the high-level behavioral stuff - like why isn't Mr. G drinking?
Virtua_Awesome  +   505d ago
I see! Thanks for explaining it. I was just watching some more gameplay as well, and I can see how players could imitate the NPCs pretty well. SpyParty looks like it has so much depth, and mastering it must take a lot of practice. :) I'm thinking it would be a blast with friends!
jpepsi24  +   505d ago
i wanna play this to
coolbeans  +   505d ago
This is another one I haven't heard of until now. Like Virtua mentioned, it seems tough to imagine players can blend into the CPU crowd very well.

In any case, the concept sounds awesome. Sounds like something similar to that sniper section in an older Hitman game.
Cat  +   505d ago
That you haven't heard of it til now feels like a personal failure. I've let you down, beans. You should have been in the beta years ago.
coolbeans  +   505d ago
Well...like I just mentioned in the review just moments ago, the whole paid early access gaming has never been my thing for a number of reasons.

Maybe it's been brought up on here before and it's escaped my memory.
checker  +   505d ago
I'm always glad to hear about people who haven't heard about SpyParty yet...it means I haven't exhausted the population of the world even though it's been in development since the Pleistocene.
grashopper  +   505d ago
Yea the thing that worries me in these types of games is just people playing it "wrong". I was in a AC beta and it seemed most people just didn't care to be stealthy and blend and just ran around like crazies. This looks harder to play "wrong" but I'm still hesitant on games where certain play styles are expected.
MYDEATH21  +   505d ago
The old models remind me of the old psone games =)
WillGuitarGuy  +   505d ago
This game has changed a good amount from how it originally started. I remember watching Youtubers like GassyMexican playing this way back. The updated visuals should take the game a step further.
Darklurkr23  +   505d ago
If that video is ANYTHING like the final build this game is in trouble
Pillsbury  +   505d ago
looks interesting.
MightyNoX  +   505d ago
Forgot about this game. I grew up on Cluedo so I'll be sure to check this one out.
MasterofMagnetism  +   505d ago
Another interesting looking indie title.
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