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Spymaster has a problem. It’s dull.

Friday, Spymaster debuted on Twitter.  At this point in time, according to bit.ly, nearly 200,000 people have signed up.  Spymaster is turning into Twitter’s first viral social game.  I saw my first invite yesterday morning.  Happily, I haven’t been deluged as some folks have.  However, the application is very chatty, as many folks have complained.  More on that later.

The game is pretty simple.  Sign up, and join either the US, British, or Russian intelligence services.  Recruit some friends as fellow spymasters. Then start accumulating money and experience by performing tasks – assassinate an ambassador, or coerce a mafia boss.  As you gain money and experience, you’re able to use those to buy better weapons, and become a better assassin.  And for grins, you can kill your fellow players.

Spymaster has two problems.  The first is, as I mentioned before, that it’s very chatty.  Even using the default and quite restrained notification settings, it still fills your twitter stream with messages from #spymaster.  Several of my Twitter followers thought that my account had been taken over by spammers.  I quickly discovered how to change the notifications settings, turning off all #spymaster notifications.  Although Spymaster’s creators have said that they’re trying to be responsible about how much notification goes into the stream, Twitter still has a problem in that other application developers may not be as considerate. 

Spymaster’s bigger problem is that it’s actually somewhat dull.  Game play is regulated by how much energy and health you have.  Each task consumes energy, which regenerates at a rate of 25 energy points every 5 minutes.  Play consists of pushing buttons labelled either buy, sell, perform task, or select target repeatedly until such time as your energy hits zero, and then taking a break until your energy fully regenerates.  Currently, with 153 energy points, my play consists of 5 minutes of button pressing, followed by a 30 minute break. 

Spymaster could be made more interesting by speeding up the regeneration cycle, increasing the types of items available at the black market, and allowing more information about opponents to be acquired.   Right now, however, it’s an interesting experiment in viral propagation with unrealized potential. 

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Eston May 31, 2009, 6:29 pm

    Thanks for providing constructive criticism. We're working on a lot of stuff; do remember that although Spymaster did kind of blow up out of nowhere, we are literally only three weeks into the development cycle and on our first shot at having ever built an online game. I'm sure the team and I still have a lot more to learn about compelling gameplay, and at the end of the day it's going to be the players that help shape its future.

  • Jonathan Greene May 31, 2009, 8:36 pm

    It is totally boring … I was just wondering how to extract myself from the limited gameplay I’ve done and even how to filter the tweets. It kind of reminds me of Eve in that its visually nice, but the real-time nature of things is just way to boring. At least the missions in Eve are interesting. This is a like lame game of Risk.

  • Alec May 31, 2009, 9:36 pm

    They haven’t got a resign function, but if you go to http://twitter.com/account/connections you can revoke the twitter OAuth setting for spymaster. that will disconnect you.

  • Alec June 1, 2009, 5:33 am

    Good luck Eston.

    I’m at level 9, right now, and looking at button pushing my way to level 10 with the same tasks from level 7 because there are no unlocks between 7 and 10. The only thing that has me continuing is curiosity about the level 10 tasks and armament.

  • Peter Hohng June 8, 2009, 4:21 pm

    Hey guys. I’ve realized that in this grim economy, telecom business has been thriving more than ever. At least the company I’m working at does. Anyways, to make the long story short, my company is a telecom provider. We definitely liquidate phone parts and provide internet and phone services. Right now, we are in dire need of more equipment in our warehouse. So, if you have huge inventory of old or out of service phone, phone system or networking gears that you really want to get rid of, or know someone that does, please contact me and I will pay you top dollar for your items. We can definitely negotiate on the pricing. You can reach me by calling me at my direct line 714 351 0901 or just email me at peterhohng1@hotmail.com
    Thank you

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