If you pay any attention to my Twitter posts every week, you may have noticed over the last couple of weeks, or will next week, some strange level gaining in Twitter for a game called Spymaster. Spymaster is probably the first real game that is based around Twitter. Well, at least it’s supposed to be at least. You take on a role of a spy and do spy-like deeds. Again, you are supposed to be at least. Realistically neither of these things really turns out to be true.
The game itself is fairly droll. You complete tasks for experience and money, you use the money to buy equipment to give yourself better ability to finish the tasks. And getting the experience allows you to unlock new equipment and tasks that you can do to continue on the rest. They basically took the worst MMO quests and made them the main stay. Except, you don’t go anywhere to kill 5 rats. You click button, the mission either fails or it is completed and you do it again until you level. Once you level, you buy more stuff and go and complete the next quest on the list which gives slightly more xp and slightly more money.
There are a couple change ups to the game to keep interest going I suppose. You can purchase safe houses which will in turn give you money back, kind of like a savings bond or something. There are three degrees of risk which I’m not entirely sure what that means, I suppose every now and then a high risk safe house won’t pay you, and usually a low risk one does. I never notice though, took a few days just to realize that it was paying out. Another thing you can do is put your money into a swiss bank account which makes it safe from other players taking it at a 10% fee.
That brings me to the only thing that makes the game even remotely interesting, and that is the assassination attempts. You can go and find someone that you don’t like in twitter that is also playing the game and attempt to assassinate them. This will steal some of their money, equipment and give you experience if you are successful. If you are not, you are the one that loses money and equipment, not them.
How does Twitter factor into this?
Now the obvious question becomes, what does this have to do with Twitter? Not much really. Twitter does play a factor. The number of followers you have gives you more base spies in your game. The number of twitter friends that you have that also play Spymaster gives you spymasters as allies. Yay. These spies and spymasters will help you defend when someone tries to assassinate you. The more you have the more protected you are.
The second thing they do is that you need more spymasters in order to better tasks. For awhile, I was stuck at 7 spymasters which unlocked a level 12 task. As you can imagine once you get to 15 and 16, the experience that you are getting from that level 12 quest slows down dramatically. Even worse, at a certain point that task will go away because you’ll only have the latest four tasks unlocked at any given time. So theoretically, if you don’t have many friends who play the game, you will get stuck at a very low level. At that point, the only real option left to gain levels is to start trying to assassinate people which with so few spies and spymasters means that you aren’t likely going to win those fights often. All this is really going to do is reject anyone who is honestly trying to get in the game which really means this is bad game design.
Where are the Spies?
The other question, is what does any of this have anything to do with spies? Not much really. I mean, yeah spies will kill each other from time to time, but spying really is more about info gathering and I don’t really get a sense of that being the case here. Furthermore, everyone can kill everyone. Even though that you have British, Russian, and American spies, you constantly have British vs. British assassinations and what not. They could have made a nice system here but they chose not to and went all out.
Really the game itself isn’t much of a game, and seems like a vain attempt at trying to make a game out of twitter even though the game has little to do with twitter. The reliance on friends in twitter to do quests almost seems as a realization by the designers that they had nothing and needed to tack SOMETHING onto twitter. What this game really shows how to do well I think is how to use advertising on twitter in a game, or really anything for that matter. The whole reason I have so many spymaster messages on my twitter account was done because you get money bonuses for having more types of announcements, and I only chose half of what you could do! This game is actually doing something I was talking about for real MMOs a month or two ago, except there really isn’t a game here. And you know what happened? A whole boat load of people (myself included) got interested in it. Imagine what a real game could do.