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Video Game / SpyParty

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Banana Bread.
Become the NPC.

SpyParty is an Asymmetric Multiplayer 1v1 game made by Chris Hecker (Checker). One player plays as the Spy, the only human partygoer in a fancy cocktail party full of AI characters. The Spy has a limited amount of time to covertly accomplish a set of missions at the party. The other player is a Sniper with only one bullet, who is watching the party and must identify the Spy player from the many AI characters.

The game has been in development since 2009, with a long time in open beta, which has now been graduated to Steam Early Access on the 12th of April 2018.


This game provides examples of:

  • Ambiguous Time Period: The game deliberately blends together a wide range of fashion and architectural styles from the early 20th century to the present day, with the goal of paying homage to all eras of Spy Fiction while also giving each character a unique look.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: The sniper's laser can be seen by the spy when it's close, yet nobody else at the party notices this. This is to make sure the spy has the best chance of blending in, and knows where the sniper is at all times. (The popular fan explanation is that the spy is wearing fancy contacts that lets them see outside the visible spectrum.)
  • Art Shift: The game's art assets began as crude figures with basic animations for gameplay testing, but are slowly being replaced with beautiful "new art" characters and locations. Both new art and old art levels are in the game, leading to drastic art style shifts when changing between the two.
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  • Asymmetric Multiplayer: The Spy and the Sniper play completely differently, though players traditionally alternate roles from game to game.
  • Black-Tie Infiltration: The game's setting is that of an upper-class cocktail party, with each character dressed for the occasion.
  • Blending-In Stealth Gameplay: One player is a spy at an upper-class party, who must carry out different tasks (planting bugs, stealing documents, talking to other agents, etc.) while the other is a sniper who must identify the spy and kill him. The twist is that all the other NPCs milling around make it hard to identify which one is the spy, and perform movements that look almost exactly like the spy's, so the sniper has to be very certain he doesn't pull a Murder by Mistake. It's even possible to let the AI take over the spy's movements, so the latter Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing when the sniper shoots the wrong person.
  • Bloodless Carnage: The Sniper's target simply falls down when shot, signaling the end of the game.
  • Bluff the Eavesdropper: The Spy can utter the code phrase "Banana Bread" even when not in a conversation with a Double Agent, hoping to throw the Sniper off their trail.
  • Butt-Monkey: Certain characters have a reputation for always being the Spy among communities, causing that character to be shot even when that character has done nothing suspicious.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: The "new art" characters are wildly varied among many different axes, including age, ability, ethnicity, and religion. According to Word of God, the only axis the game does not explore is economic class, as all the characters must be a part of high society to fit the theme of the game.
  • Colourful Theme Naming: The Fan Nicknames for the characters are often based on that character's clothing color or pattern, particularly for old art characters.
    • Examples include Orange Dress, Blue Danger, and Plaid Jacket.
  • Context-Sensitive Button: The Spy has two action buttons, where one performs a normal action (such as taking a drink from the waiter), and the other performs a special "Spy" action (such as taking a drink and simultaneously purloining the guest list).
  • Crosshair Aware: The spy sees the sniper's laser sight, giving them an idea of the general area where they might be looking. (In reality, snipers don't use visible lasers specifically to avert this trope.)
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Because of how the game's mechanics work, a sniper might put a bullet through someone's head for actions that would be completely innocuous in real life, like taking a long time to read a book, mentioning a particular food item, coughing, or even standing around doing nothing.
  • Distinctive Appearances: The new art characters are designed to be easily distinguishable from each other, with different silhouettes, clothing colors, and heights. Every character even has entirely custom animations!
  • Double Agent: One of the AI characters is the double agent, and additional characters may be marked as suspected double angents to the Sniper. One of the possible missions for the Spy is to utter the code phrase "Banana Bread" while in a conversation with the double agent.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: The Queen has a dog in her purse. To prevent the Sniper from being able to Shoot the Dog, Checker made the dog hide in the purse whenever the Sniper's laser comes near.
  • Expy:
    • Arnold Woods-Nicklaus for golfer Arnold Palmer
    • Brimsworth Buckswaggle III for Rich Uncle Pennybags from Monopoly
    • The Danger Brothers for John Shaft
    • Jim Bondo and Mr. A for James Bond
    • Mr. D for Morgan Freeman
    • John Revolta for John Travolta
    • Ms. J for Queen Elizabeth II
    • Mr. C for President William Howard Taft
  • The Generalissimo: The old art character Generalissimo Ritzini is about as stereotypical an example as you can get. His new art replacement, Mr. G, avoids this by being based on a US military general instead.
  • Genre-Busting: SpyParty is a game about trying to pass off as an AI and trying to differentiate the player from the AI.
  • Guide Dang It!: Originally, the game came with a manual that was required reading to play the game, as the game is relatively complex. Even then, many missions could be very confusing when starting out. There is now an in-game tutorial, partially averting this trope, although it is nowhere near comprehensive.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Spy must complete all their missions under the ever-watchful eye of the Sniper, hidden only by the fact that they are among five to twenty other possible suspects and the Spy's actions are very similar to AI actions unless observed very carefully.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: Two of the new art characters, Dr. M and Dr. N, are twins who's only visible difference is that N wears jewelry (earrings, a tie clip and a ring) while M doesn't. Though even with those, it's seen as better if one is high/lowlighted to avoid having to look for details whenever one of them does something, even if there's no reason to mark one of them.
  • Imminent Danger Clue: The Spy's death is always preceded by the Sniper's laser coming to rest over their head or body.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug: The bug for the "Bug the Ambassador" mission is invisible, but the animation the Spy must complete to plant the bug can be very noticeable when viewed from the right angle.
  • Infraction Distraction: The Spy can engineer a distraction to occupy the Sniper's attention as the Spy completes a hard tell mission. This frequently takes the form of uttering the code phrase "Banana Bread" and immediately afterwards swapping a statue or purloining the guest list.
  • Instant-Win Condition: The game ends immediately when the Sniper takes their shot. If the Spy is shot, the Sniper wins. If a civilian is shot, the Spy wins.
  • Laser Sight: The Sniper emits a visible laser in the center of their view, allowing the Spy to know what parts of the map the Sniper may be focusing on.
  • Meta Game: High-level SpyParty play has a great deal of metagaming, where each player knows the other's player's tendencies in each role and tries to take advantage of those tendencies. Of course, each player knows that the other player knows their tendencies and tries to subvert the other's player's expectations.
  • Mistaken for Spies: Occurs whenever the Sniper shoots a civilian thinking that character was the Spy. A common tactic at high levels of play is to cause a particular civilian to seem suspicious, hoping to prompt a bad shot.
  • Nerves of Steel: Both Sniper and Spy play requires a great deal of focus under stress.
  • Obstructive Foreground: Many maps feature certain obstructions that prevent the Sniper from getting a clear view of the whole map at once. "Aquarium" features a shark that periodically swims in front of the Sniper, which the Spy can exploit to hide their actions; simultaneously a Spy that hides behind the shark a bit too often is only drawing extra suspicion to themselves.
  • One-Letter Name: The official names of the "new art" characters are some variation on "Mr. A" and "Ms. H." Checker did this on purpose so that the community would generate Fan Nicknames, which will eventually be incorporated into the game itself.
  • Only Six Faces: The "old art" characters are mostly Palette Swaps of a small number of character models. Averted entirely with the new art characters.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The code phrase to contact the double agent is "Banana Bread" because the game developer was eating banana bread when he was trying to think of a code phrase to use.
  • Red Herring Mole: The Spy can try to make one of the other partygoers seem to be the Spy, hoping to induce a bad shot by the Sniper.
  • Refuge in Audacity: This can be an effective tactic; many Snipers spend so much time looking for tiny details that they don't notice the Spy transferring microfilm or bugging the ambassador while looking directly at the Sniper.
    • The Spy can give themselves more time to complete missions by walking up to a window (facing the Sniper head-on) and checking their watch. This is often interpreted as taunting the Sniper.
    • The Gallery map has a rather narrow and deep layout, with most of the action happening in the back part of the room. This causes many snipers to zoom in to see the activity there better. Some spies take advantage of this tendency by doing blatantly obvious actions on the sidewalk right in front of the sniper.
  • Rewarding Inactivity: One common strategy is for the Spy to lay low for a while by remaining idle in a conversation or remaining in a part of the map where they cannot complete missions, hoping to shed suspicion.
  • Spot the Imposter: The premise of the game is that the Sniper must identify the Spy, who on the surface looks like any other partygoer.
  • Spy Speak: To complete the "Contact Double Agent" mission, the Spy must utter the code phrase "Banana Bread" while in a conversation with the Double Agent. The in-game meaning of "Banana Bread" is anyone's guess, although the game's developer says in the tutorial that he chose it because he was eating banana bread when he was trying to think of what code phrase to use.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: The "old art" characters look particularly nondescript, but one of them is the Spy and must be identified before they finish their missions.
  • Timed Mission: The Spy has a limited amount of time to complete the required number of missions. If time runs out, the Sniper automatically wins.
    • However, if the Spy completes their missions, the Sniper gets ten seconds to identify and shoot the Spy. If the Sniper does not shoot the Spy in that time, then the Spy wins. Not only that, but the Sniper gets no indication that this ten-second timer has begun.
  • Tree Cover: The Sniper on the map "Panopticon" appears to be hidden inside a giant tree in the center of the map.
  • Twincest: When the "Seduce Target" Mission is active, one of the partygoers is a "Seduction Target" who the Spy must flirt with multiple times throughout the party. Two of the new art characters are identical twins, and one can be the Spy and the other the seduction target.
  • Vocal Dissonance: The "Banana Bread" codeword will always be spoken in a deep, male voice regardless of who the spy actually is.
  • We Need a Distraction: The Spy can use one mission to cover up another, like uttering the code phrase "Banana Bread" just before purloining the guest list.


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