Hidden in Plain Sight

It’s still Thursday if you just woke up from a coma that you fell into on a Thursday.  Or possibly a Wednesday if you think you just went to sleep for the night.

It’s taken me a while to get onto the Hidden in Plain Sight bandwagon.  This can be attributed to the fact that I have no friends.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I do have a limited number of chums and pals, but the problem is getting them to play an XBLIG with me.  Perhaps it has to do with my sales pitch.  This usually consists of someone asking me what I think about XBLIGs, followed by me barely squeaking out “they’re alright.”   Not exactly the most ringing endorsement, unless you know me.  I can barely speak up when my clothes are on fire, so declaring something to be “alright” vocally might as well be myself writing the name of the game on a piece of paper and then dry humping it.  You know, the way Dave Voyles does when describing Mega Man.

Local four-player is hard for me to put together.  At least when it comes to XBLIGs.  After months of waiting, I decided to resort of bribery.  Thus, I took three interns at my office, promised them time off of work and pizza in exchange for playing a game with me.  And wow, that didn’t sound so pitifully sad when I actually did it.

But really, three people who aren’t exactly buddies with me or with each-other seems like the perfect fit for a party game.  I mean, if people can’t bond through video games, what the fuck can they bond through?  Well, besides war, nuclear holocaust, and intense sexual lust.  Having said that, you should have seen the looks on their faces when I told them the game we would be playing was an Xbox Live Indie Game.  They didn’t know what that was, and all three guys do own Xbox 360s.  I explained to them that it was a home-brew, made by a couple of novice game developers, and it costs $1 to purchase.  I swear to God you could see them mentally calculating whether signing up for this was really better than spending the day filing papers.

Their worries were for not.  We had a grand ole’ time playing Hidden in Plain Sight.  Well, we did when we played the first of five modes on it.  It was called Ninja Party.  You’re placed in a room with dozens of identical ninjas, with each player randomly being assigned to one.  The first you have to do is figure out which one you are.  Doing this requires a level of smoothness that a couple of the thickies working for me couldn’t grasp.  They would start by spinning their control sticks around, making it obvious which ones they were.  Stanford education at work, folks.  There’s two ways to win.  First is murder all other players.  Thanks to the spinning morons, I found this to be the easiest method.  Alternatively, the first player to touch all five statues in any order wins the round.  Once the interns figured out that spinning was not the best idea, I moved onto touching the statues to gain victory.  At first, the interns smacked everything that moved, giving up their position and typically thinning their ranks out while I made a bee line from statue to statue.  I soon noticed that the NPC ninjas did not change directions while they were moving.  They walked in a straight line, paused, and then walked someplace else.  The interns never caught on to this, and I used it to my advantage in the coming games.

We forgot about the smoke bombs until several rounds in. My theory is this has to do with living in California, where a person can't smoke in their own office in a building that they own. Let freedom ring.

The second mode is called Catch a Thief, and without sounding too much like I’m bragging, I was a fucking Goddess at this one.  The interns, not so much.  In this mode, one or more players takes the role of a sniper, while everyone else has to play as thieves that walk over coins.  Because their ability to pretend to be NPCs was lacking, I could take them 3 on 1 and win every time if I was the sniper.  You only get three bullets, but all I had to do was keep a close eye on the way they walked.  A straight line is hard to maintain, and even the slightest curvature of it was enough proof for me to go Lee Harvey Oswald on their asses.  However, unlike the previous game, there really doesn’t feel like there’s a point to this one.  The thieves have to collect coins.  The snipers have to shoot the thieves.  However, the sniper can only get three points, while the thieves can rack up a bunch of coins.  So how do you decide who wins?  And more importantly, why doesn’t the score carry over?  Why doesn’t the game have a method of automatically cycling the various combinations of teams so that you can find out who an overall winner is?  I mean, it would have been me regardless, but some people care about that stuff.

The third mode is Knights vs Ninjas.  It’s like Ninja Party mode, only this time it’s a team game of defend the VIP.  We played 2-v-2.  The knights have to protect the royal family.  The ninjas have to commit regicide.  That is to say, they have to kill the royal family, not people named Reggie.  We all found this mode to be pretty boring.  Anyone the knights strike down remain dead, while anyone the ninjas strike down are only temporarily stunned.  Games of this devolved into the two knights letting two members of the family die and protecting just one.  They won every time.  Boring.

Mode four is Death Race.  This is sort of like the Game of Statues (that’s Red-Light, Green-Light for you east-coasters or so I’m told, or maybe not because Brian grew up in California and says that’s what they called it too.  Whatever.  Statues are more culturally enlightened), where players have to race to a finish line without giving up the fact that they are not an NPC.  In this mode, you hold the A button down to walk and the Y button down to run.  While doing this, you have a cross-hair with a single bullet that you can use to gun down any player you think is a real player.  I had a lot of fun with this, but the interns got hung up on Ninja Party and wanted to go back to it.  We didn’t even get to the final game, Assassin, because nobody wanted to play it.

I can say that we played Ninja Party for two thirty-minute spurts and had a really good time doing it.  I’ve never really played anything like it, or Hidden in Plain Sight on a whole.  This is exactly the type of original idea I started Indie Gamer Chick for.  I do wish there was some kind of ongoing scoring system, but otherwise the game is good enough to be properly stolen by a major studio any time now.  It is local-multiplayer only, which is a pretty big strike against it.  Not everyone is a party animal.  I did fit in well with the interns and I had a good time.  Mostly because I won every game of Ninja Party except one, which an accounting major named Gavin stole from me.  Coincidentally, Gavin just spun cleaning the bathrooms on the job wheel for Monday, which should be fun following my planned Sunday dinner of bean burritos and cabbage.

Hidden in Plain Sight was developed by Adam Spragg Games

80 Microsoft Points don’t actually have a job wheel or make interns clean the toilets at work, so you can start breathing again, Gavin in the making of this review.

<— What the fuck is with that box art, Adam?

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17 Responses to Hidden in Plain Sight

  1. Jason says:

    This is a great game, it is one of the games must played when I have mates round.

    Would be good to see online play in the next version though.

    Jase

    • Adman says:

      Thanks for the nice comment, Jason.

      I considered online multiplayer, but in the end, vetoed it. The reason was mainly that I just didn’t think the game would have the same fun feel if played against an invisible, anonymous ghost. Or, I could just be talking myself out of the amount of work it would be to add online play. Either way, it’s probably not going to happen.

      Over the last 5 months, this game has sold about 1500 copies. What are the chances that any of those people are playing at the same time as you? Probably pretty slim. It’s not like Call of Duty or something, where there’s always thousands of players online at any given moment, ready for a game.

      How many XBLIGs have successful online multiplay, I wonder? I mean, aside from the four or five Minecraft type games?

      • Argamae says:

        You got a point there, Adman. But don’t forget that not all people playing multiplayer are looking for random players all over the world. Rather, I would invite specific XBL-friends for a game which I could not just call over to my place to sit around the TV (which, admittedly would be more fun). And I got quite a few of those. So, in my opinion, online multiplayer is always a valid option.

  2. BrunoB says:

    Have you tried Assassin’s Creed multiplayer? the concept is quite similar to this game

  3. Adman says:

    Hey Kairi! I really appreciate you taking the time for this review.

    A few responses and followups, if I may.

    This game is multiplayer only. That was really a huge decision, as I knew it limited the number of people who could play it. The idea target audience, I think, is basically a frat-house or college dorm. Lots of rowdy bodies available at all hours for a game (hopefully with booze involved).

    Gameplay: It’s funny how you described the players playing Ninja Party. I don’t think players are used to being subtle (hence the spinning around, and playing the game like a straight-up death match). The intention was for players to try to use subtlety and guile to win the game.

    The first iteration of Ninja Party didn’t include the statues and alternate path to victory. The games stagnated, because players would just kind of wander around without any goals, until someone got bored and smacked someone else, trying to instigate something. The statues fixed that problem nicely, I thought.

    I’m fascinated by your Knights vs. Ninja’s analysis, because in my group of friends, the Ninjas are the heavy favorites. I don’t know if you noticed, but the Ninjas are faster than the Knights, which was supposed to balance out the game a bit.

    As far as score-keeping, I think you have a valid complaint with that one, and other people have made the same comment. With the games of Catch a Thief and Assassin, I really didn’t have any idea how to declare a “winner” of each round. If the Thieves stole 10 coins before being killed, who won? I didn’t know. So I figured I’d just let people make their own house rules, rather than enforcing some arbitrary scoring. But, granted, for multi-round games like Ninja Party and KvN and Death Race, it probably would have been nice to add in a cumulative running score. I wonder if it’s worth the effort at this point.

    The box art was done by a friend of mine, who was living in London at the time and had never seen the game. This review (and the comments) explain it in more detail:

    http://gear-fish.com/?reviews=hidden-in-plain-sight

    Anyways, I’m glad you didn’t hate it, even if it might not be right in your wheelhouse. Thanks!

  4. Dave Voyles says:

    Hey Adman,

    I recently entered the What Would Molydeux game jam in NYC, and our title was similar to yours. Granted, I haven’t had a chance to play yours, but I’ve heard quite a bit before hand.

    http://davidvoyles.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/betraille-part-deux-is-available-on-indiecity-underground-now/

    • Adman says:

      Yeah, looks pretty similar, and very cool. I like the style a lot.

      Ninja Party was pretty much a straight rip of a web game called “Puji”, with my own addition (the statues). The change might not sound like much, but I found really enhances the depth of the game.

      Give HIPS a chance, if you can. I took the “blend in with NPCs” motif and tried to use it in a number of different ways.

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  12. alvinchimp says:

    BUT THE ASSASIN MODE IS THE BEST!!!

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