SpyParty opts for an illustrative style inspired by The Incredibles.
SpyParty, an indie title currently under development by Spore programmer Chris Hecker, is an "asymmetric multiplayer espionage game" in which a lone sniper must pick out a spy from a crowded cocktail party. The title's been in development for a couple of years, and Hecker has now revealed a new art direction for the game, as well as a new character artist: former fellow Maxis employee John Cimino.
By the time it's done, the game will have a cast of between twenty and thirty characters, each sporting Cimino's "illustrative" style. Hecker cites The Incredibles as his main inspiration for the art direction, largely due to the ambiguity of the film's time period. "It could be the 50's, it could be today, it could be the future," Hecker said in a blog post. "I want a similar vibe for SpyParty." One particular game mechanic revolves around the character checking his or her watch, and Hecker plans to incorporate some characters with pocket watches, some with mobile phones, and some with wrist watches without any of them seeming out of place.
The pair worked together a few years back on EA/Maxis' evolution simulator Spore. Cimino turned down a lucrative position at Zynga to join Hecker in September of last year, and has been working on the project in secret ever since. As it turned out, this was probably a smart move for Cimino, as it came prior to Zynga's ill-fated jump into the stock market. On the subject, Hecker told Joystiq: "I was glad he decided that pre-Zynga-IPO because it was clear that he cared about the game. The game was key, the opportunity to really stretch his wings on all of these characters. But now, in retrospect, it was also the right decision financially."
The game has been in beta for a short while now, and a large number of players have become attached to the placeholder characters already present. In order to "show respect" to the beta characters, Hecker plans to completely retire them and introduce new names. He also revealed that if there was any danger of harming the subtle nature of the game with the new style, he wouldn't hesitate to axe it. "Gameplay is by far the top priority," he said. "If for whatever mystical reason I can't change the art at all without totally fucking up the gameplay, I will ship the current art." He doesn't feel that should be necessary, though, and believes that "we can make a beautiful game both design-wise and visually."