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Bad Guy Spy

Evolving ideas for an espionage game loosely inspired by the old game Syndicate.

Version 1 (Syndicrap)

The original concept called for a cheap knockoff of the PC game Syndicate. Spies run around a city trying to shoot each other in a deathmatch-style competition.


The city streets are a literal grid with no variety. The roads are plain beige. The buildings are plain white, not even textured.

Since the city may be of infinite size, there is an arrow pointing in the direction of the nearest enemy spy.


The characters are all cartoonish spies who generally look bad at spying as they are wearing conspicuous trenchcoats, constantly looking over their shoulders, etc. Others are drawn to resemble specific fictional spies like James Bond, Carmen Sandiego, etc. Characters are randomly assigned to the player whenever a player spawns.

Emphasis is on the characters' cartoonishness. The sprites are drawn larger so you can see their emotions. When some of them die, they slide back into a tombstone.

There are no NPCs.


Weapons are dropped randomly throughout the game.

  • Pistol: Everyone begins with one. Can be dual-wielded.
  • Magnum: A more powerful pistol.
  • Uzi: Rapid rate of fire. Can be dual-wielded.
  • Sniper Rifle: Best accuracy, but low rate of fire.
  • Tommy Gun: Best net combination of damage, accuracy, and rate of fire.
  • Rocket Launcher: BOOM. Area-effect, single-use.
  • Bombs: Drop and run away. Invisible to other players until just before they explode.

Characters have different sprites depending on what weapon they are carrying. Many of them will amusingly try to hide the rocket launcher under their trenchcoats. A character carrying a bomb will appear to other players as if they are carrying a pistol.

All weapons other than the pistol are dropped if a new weapon is picked up.

Rotation (pi/s) Damage Fire rate (n/s) Fire effect Range (m) Accuracy Ammo cap. Reload time (s)
Pistol 1 20 1 1 bullet 25 poor 8 4
Magnum 1 50 2/3 1 bullet 25 poor 6 8
Uzi 1/1.5 20 1 3 bullets 25 poor 18 4
Sniper Rifle 1/2 30 1/3 1 bullet 100 good 4 4
Tommy Gun 1/2 20 4 1 bullet 25 poor 25 6
Rocket Launcher 1/4 bomb 1/2 1 bomb 100 poor 1 8

Version 2

The rewritten Bad Guy Spy concept with a few augmented reality concepts.

The city is dropped. You have a flat map. Player locations on the map are relative to their physical locations.

Point your handheld at another player and your spy will start shooting with whatever weapon is equipped, reducing the opponent's HP until they lose and respawn. Accuracy is based on both the weapon accuracy and on the player's accuracy in pointing the device, with the in-game weapon accuracy being the more important factor. You only have to point near the target, and being accurate can give you a bonus.

You will automatically reload if you stand still and do not move the device too much.

The game will create bonuses at random distances from the player, and it has no way of knowing what is there in real life. The game should instruct the player to ignore bonuses that appear in an area that the player cannot get to or that is dangerous. The game's splash screen will have a “Watch where you are going!” warning to reduce legal liability. The game can get nearby street lines from Google Earth and intentionally avoid placing bonuses within them.

For safety's sake, bonuses should be spawned within polygons representing the historical boundaries of player movements. The initial boundary can be formed from the players' starting positions if there are three or more players. Since so many data points will be taken, history will need to be intermittently filtered. Any data point within a meter of two other data points can be removed from the history. The remaining data points can be used to form an edge. Filtering can take place every five seconds.


The game should encourage sneaky behaviour to add to the sense of being a spy and to discourages players from dropping the phone while running around.

Allow players to switch between active and inactive modes. Inactive players cannot use weapons but do not broadcast their existence. The program runs in listening mode only. Switching modes will take a few seconds.

Add a “spy detector” item which takes several seconds to run, requires a 2+ second cooldown, and sends a notice to all players that they are being scanned.

Add a “poison” syringe weapon which only works within a meter of the target, instantly kills, and only works on targets in inactive mode.

Game integrity

If each phone is a server, all comms are broadcast, and there are only two players, who decides if a shot strikes the target? The shooter? The potential victim? Either case would benefit from lying. Similarly, who decides when a player is dead? Who decides when a player has collected a bonus?

See also: Decentralized Security

Single authority model

What if the authoritative system is compromised?

  • Players could have the ability to switch authoritative servers.
  • A system could be blacklisted for hacking.

Net agreement model

Decisions could be made and decided by mutual agreement of all local systems. This fails if there are fewer than three local systems, or if the majority of systems are compromised, or if it is possible to spoof the messages of other clients or the existence of additional clients.

Version 3

Greatly simplify. Concentrate on Augmented Reality. Drop everything else.


Everyone has all items at all times, so there is no longer the issue of sending kids running into the highway.

Usable items / commands include:

Spy Radar

Gives you a radar screen with the relative positions of other nearby people playing the game. Announces your presence to anyone in the area who is playing.

Knife / Poison

Activated by a button press. Kills a spy near you if you are facing one. Briefly announces your presence to anyone playing.


Activated by shouting “Bang” into the speaker. Gives you a chance of killing anyone downrange. Announces your presence to anyone playing. I have a vision of children running aound a playground chasing each other while yelling “bang” into their cellphones.

Drop Box

Drop an item with a “secret message” from the player. The player must stand relatively still for a number of seconds. It's like geocaching without doing anything IRL.

Drop Box problems

Problems with the drop box idea:

  1. The “secret message” will be abused by advertisers.
  2. Scoring can be abused; limit to one a day?
  3. Should dropping a box earn a point if it is found or if it is not found?
  4. Should boxes be “meant” for a person or group, and scored if found by the right group or not found

Drop Box Retriever

Search for a Drop Box. Retrieve a hidden item placed by another player. If you can decode the message, you can save a copy and choose to destroy the Drop Box.

TODO: Decoding techniques. Allow plugins for different crypto systems?


Every spy gets to use one per day. Kills everyone in, say, 10m of the explosion when it goes off.

The bomb will be detected by any spy who gets within, say, 1/4 of the explosion radius.

Bomb dismantling kit

Push a button. The bomb is removed from the game. You gain a point.

Game integrity

The game will run off a centralized network. There should be fewer problems that way.

bad_guy_spy.txt · Last modified: 2013/11/30 16:22 by deltatango