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“SpyParty” Aims at Psychological Espionage

“SpyParty” Aims at Psychological Espionage  (photo)

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Chris Hecker wants you to act fake. More precisely, he wants you to act artificial.

“Spy Party”–the in-development title he’s programming all by his lonesome–pits two players against each other on either side of a nerve-racking cat-and-mouse dynamic. One player controls a sniper who views the titular party through the scope of a high-powered rifle. The other player takes on the role of the spy, milling about in a gathering filled computer-controlled partygoers. The spy must fulfill several objectives like bugging an ambassador or planting microfilm under a time limit and the sniper needs to take out the spy before all the objectives get done.

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[An early look at “SpyParty.” All art is placeholder and reflects a work-in-progress.]

The twist is that the sniper never knows who the spy is, while the spy can always see the blood-red dot of the rifle’s targeting laser. One player always knows he’s being hunted and the other can always see his prey, if only inadvertently. The result is a delicious tension that quickly becomes addictive. Most intriguingly, the best strategy the spy player can use is to look like one of the AI-controlled party people. How long one stays in a conversation, admires a piece of sculpture or walks back and forth across the room could all tip off the sniper as to who the spy is. However, the partygoers are programmed to act “human” too and the limited animation set makes the difference between person-controlled and computer-controlled characters tough to spot. Essentially, the spy player must act like an artificial intelligence that itself is designed to look like people. It’s a head-turning conceptual axis that can lead to the sniper putting a bullet in the head of an innocent debutante.

11292010_Checker-gdc10.jpgHecker’s an alumnus of EA, having specifically worked on the much-heralded “Spore.” Since he’s working all by himself, Hecker estimates that “SpyParty” is a good two years away from completion. He has, however, been doing a barnstorming tour of playtesting, where he instructs folks on the basics of the game’s mechanics and lets them play each other. “SpyParty” was a smash hit at this year’s PAX fanfest and the San Francisco programmer recently brought the game to NYU’s Game Center for students to play. It got a great reception there but watching players puzzle out the game manual and the actual play experience reminded me of Hecker’s talk at IndieCade in October. The subject of the talk was how single-player modes introduce the game mechanics Many already consider “SpyParty” a success even at this rough, early stage so why even do single-player? It’s an important consideration for a game being made by one guy. In the video that follows, he delves into what a game like “SpyParty”–which is primarily ordered as a multiplayer experience–stands to gain from a single-player component. Be warned, though: Hecker’s an hyper-intelligent fast-talker. There’s no shame in admitting that some of his presentation will go over your head. “SpyParty”–whenever it comes out–won’t.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…