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iSpy with my little eye...
A fun new way to explore your city

iSpy The Best Profile Pictures

We made the decision a while back that players should snap their profile picture within the app instead of uploading one from their phone or computer. Some people don't like this, but we think it makes the profile pictures feel much more real and entertaining. Knowing that each player shared this similar experience of snapping their pic within the app, we asked: Who's playing iSpy? What kind of trends are we seeing in profile pics? Who's got the best iSpy profile picture?

Make sure to vote and recommend other iSpy profile pictures in the comments

This month we'll highlight profile pics that fall into the following three categories:

  1. Most Creative
  2. Japanese
  3. Biggest Baller
Tip! Click the pictures to see them larger

Most Creative


Amazing photo! Is this for real? Yes.

It's true, Mulvaney is a machine.

His true identity remains a mystery. But he's still the only player in the world with this iPhone case.

The #1 iSpy player in the state of Vermont where competition gets ugly.

Japanese Characters

In Japan, crazy characters rule when it comes to profile pics.

Biggest Baller

Why do I have a feeling this might be the most popular category ever? So who will it be? Who's the biggest iSpy baller of all (based on their profile pic)?

So we're thinking each month we'll highlight our favorite profile pics on this blog for the community to see and vote for their favorites. Let us know in the comments who wins for each category. Not on the list but think you should be? Post a link to your profile in the comments to be considered for next month. Don't know how to change your profile pic?

By: Greg G. on Jan 14, 2010

The Evolution Of Verification & Today's Big Changes

In the oldschool version of "I spy with my little eye..." (you know, the one kids play) one player spies an object and then verifies the opposing player's guesses. When we decided to recreate "iSpy" for the mobile social generation we asked ourselves, "Why not allow the entire community to participate in verifying?". We figured crowdsourcing the verification process would allow solutions to get verified faster and more accurately. Boy were we right!

Before there was verifying

When we first built and tested the verification system, we would test it out by submitting fake solutions to fake games and then make tweaks. Verifying wasn't all that fun, but we needed it for the game to work. We thought, "Why would people do this?". As an added incentive we decided to award BP's for verifying.

Verifying in the beta

The beta was the first time we realized that verifying was more than just necessary, it was fun! Verifying with real content felt kind of like "spying" on other players. This helped players understand the game better because they could see how others were using the system. There were always games to verify, and most player's visited the verify screen regularly.

Verifying yesterday

We realized the problem when iSpy reached it's first 1,000 players. Turns out, player's enjoyed verifying so much that they were rapidly clearing the verify queue. It was a race to earn BP's for verifying, and most of the time there were none left. That's because once a solution reaches a certain threshold, XP's get awarded to the solver (or not) and we would pull their solution from the verify queue. We were getting exactly what we needed (everything was getting verified efficiently), but the community was left wanting more.

Verifying today

So as of today we have launched some major changes to the verify system and upgraded the website with some fun new features.
  1. Every player gets to verify every solution ever submitted
  2. BP's are no longer awarded for verifying
  3. When verifying on the website, you can see both the creator and player's profile pic and link to their profile
  4. When verifying on the website, we provide a link to the game you are verifying
So you no longer need to race to the verify screen. You can visit whenever you like, and there will always be tons of solutions to spy on. Now you can use verifying to browse for cool games and interesting players since we provide links to both. The removal of BP's for verifying makes the points much more meaningful because they are harder to earn. To those lucky players who earned BP's for verifying in the past, you get to keep all the points you've earned. Consider it our gift to you for pointing out this much needed improvement.

Verifying in the future

The excitement around verifying has us thinking about it in a whole new way. We have some really cool verify features in the pipeline and we can only imagine what the evolution of the verify system will lead to. One thing is for certain, we are still tracking everyone's verifies, and I'm sure that data will eventualy come in handy for something (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). So let us know what you think of the changes and keep those verifies coming.
By: Greg G. on Jan 08, 2010

How we turn "Fuzzy" location data into good iSpy games

Its been an exciting month watching the number of games and players grow. While I'm normally against making changes to the live system, it's very clear for the data-bat(tm) Greg is beating over the head with, that some games are pretending to be in places their not. Turns out the culprit is the iPhone's GPS accuracy, or lack there of. The quality of the location data is important to the game playability. The last thing we want is for players running around trying to solve games that do not exist. So far the only person this has happened to is Mulvaney (but thats ok, he has enough points already =] ).

Bad accuracy is not bad data, but it can be

Now, I'm not one for posting big blog updates, but this one seems to be more in my camp then Greg's. During our beta we had a lot of good examples of good and bad games, but not a lot of games having bad or inaccurate data. For example, we have games that are "bad" like game 9370 that to my best guess was created on a moving train. (Yes, this game is inactive, something we hope to enable for all players soon.) While we have had a few "bad accuracy" games 8850, 8814 (Go thedroog!!!) that seem just a little off, cause I doubt they are building the Walmarts on the freeway now, are they? So, we have been racking our brains trying to figure this out. (Well, I have been just waving Greg off saying "bad data in, bad data out...") With all the new games everyone has been creating we have started to see some interesting patterns.

Controlling how fuzziness effects difficulty

While we are all created equal, it seems our (i)phones, or more like our reception, is not. I'm not totally sure of all of the issues, but it seem some people take a bit longer to get their position then others. To give you an idea, the average player's gps accuracy is off by about 17~47 meters after only running the app a short while. Since the goal is to find the object in question, this is fine. Well better then fine, it was too good, back at the start we had to develop a means to "fuzzy" the location of the object, make it harder to find, this is where we get difficulty from. We decided to make "fuzzy" rings that the object would be hidden in. So these ranks of difficulty 1 - 5 became the backbone of the game system. "1" being a game less them 0.03 miles in radius, "2" 0.06 miles, "3" 0.105 miles, "4" 0.20 miles, and "5" 0.311 miles. Before you ask "How did you choose those numbers?", I will just cut you off and say [business-term]. If you don't buy that reason, talk to Greg. Back to my point, it seems that several players have started to get a bit farther off then 47 meters. O' say 5000+ meters!!! but these are clearly connection issues... right, RIGHT... Wrong, maybe?

Bad accuracy should not effect playability

It seems that between real GPS, cell tower triangulation, and IKnowWhereYourIPAddressIs(tm) madness some things get "confused". We have seen good games get created, that were very far away from their reported positions. Most of them are under 500 meters away, but many range between 47 meters and 500 meters. So as of Tuesday(5th), we are going to help fuzzy the fuzzyness. If a game is to "fuzzy" for the difficulty you selected, we will bump it up till it works. Unless your like game 9370, games created where accuracy is over 500 meters will get bumped right out of the system. So if you pull out your phone and try to make a quick game (before your GPS has enough time to accurately pinpoint you) you're a lot more likely to make a good game. For those of you that are "HEY, I WANTED THAT GAME TO BE A DIFFICULTY 1 !!!!one", just wait a bit, the longer the app is running the better your position data is.

...Anyway, grnb77 you just happened to make your game right as I was sneaking in code to test for games with REALLY bad accuracy. So you have the first official game to be ejected by the system for being "bad", thanks, gratz, and great timing!!!

The picture looks to be something in Japanese, if anyone wants to translate this post or that text in that picture please add it to the comments.

Thanks to grnb77 for his game and also to anyone that wishes to translate.

-Ian "Your Friendly Data Overlord" M.
By: Ian M. on Jan 06, 2010

iSpy Gets International Improvements

As I mentioned in our previous post, we have always viewed iSpy as a global game (it is Real World Gaming after all...). We launched iSpy in the US to get the ball rolling while we worked on dialing in the system for international play, turns out the US iTunes App Store is available globally (oooops). Imagine the panic and excitement when we saw iSpy games popping up in 20+ countries on the first day!

Since launch, we have been working around the clock to improve the quality of international play. Today's exciting changes bring iSpy much closer to our goal of providing a seamless global experience.

Creating/Playing Games Internationally

While the interface might still be in English, iSpy games can now be created in any language. Localized versions are in the works, but don't let the English interface stop you from creating games in any language you'd like. We have already seen some great games popping up in other countries:

International Ranking

Our goal is to rank every iSpy player locally, regionally and nationally. For example, I am ranked in San Francisco (local), California (regional) and the US (national). When we first launched, this was only available to players in the US, but now everyone gets ranked. Unfortunately the level of granularity varies by location so some players may get all three, while others may only be ranked by country. Visit the Rank Page to see the community's rankings on a local, regional and national level.
By: Greg G. on Dec 23, 2009

iSpy Goes Global! A Little Ahead Of Schedule.

One crazy unexpected delight after launching is that half of all iSpy players are from outside the US! We always viewed iSpy as a global game and we are SO excited to see that becoming a reality. Unfortunately, our system isn't quittteeee ready for international players yet =) International players might notice a couple issues while we get things straightened out:
  1. We can't figure out your location
  2. Since we don't know where you are, we can't rank you
  3. We only support English characters
But don't let our problems get in the way! If you are an international player, please create and play as many iSpy games as you can! Once we figure out how to rank international players and support other languages everything will work perfectly. All the points you earn will be carried over and we will allow you to update your games in the language of your choice. We are working hard to make sure iSpy works as intended no matter where you are on this tiny world of ours. We will be sure to let you know localization is up and running.
By: Greg G. on Dec 18, 2009

iSpy Launched In The US iTunes App Store

After over a year of development iSpy has officially launched in the US iTunes App Store! We are absolutely BLOWN AWAY by how many people magically stumbled on the app and have started playing iSpy games in only the first two days! There are already 200+ players in 26 states/territories in the US and abroad who have created 300+ iSpy games.

A special thanks to everyone who helped us get to this exciting milestones. We couldn't have done it without you.
By: Greg G. on Dec 18, 2009

Tips For Creating The Best iSpy Games

Creating lots of well crafted, fun and creative games is the key to being a successful Spy. Here are a few tips to help you earn maximum P's and create great iSpy games.

Location, Location, Location

The more people who play your game the more P's you earn! Try creating games near places people congregate.
TIP! Creating games near college campuses, tourist attractions, parks, shopping malls etc.

The Object Of The Game

Essentially, any object could be a potential iSpy game. But the best games are built around things people never knew existed or things they've walked by 100 times but never noticed.
TIP! Some good objects for games include: landmarks, monuments, signs, statues, artwork etc.

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Plays

The picture is the center of your game. It shows up in the list and attracts players to learn more about your game.
TIP! Get as close as you can and fill the whole picture with the object of your game. The less background noise the better.

Game Difficulty

The best iSpy games fall somewhere between being too easy and too difficult to solve. You want your players to look around, but you dont want them to give up and move on. The higher the difficulty, the larger your game's radius will be.
TIP! If the object of your game is large or really easy to find, consider setting the difficulty to 4 or 5 so the game spans a larger area. If the object is tiny or well hidden, set the difficulty to 1 or 2.

Describing Your Game

When you create a game you complete the phrase "iSpy with my little eye..."
TIP! Also use this area to give clues or recommend things nearby

Make Sure!

Last but not least, here are a few extra tips to ensure maximum fun!
TIP! Make sure the object of your game is in a public location so anyone can play.
TIP! Make sure the object of your game is not going anywhere. If you suspect your game might not be around forever, set the game to have an end date.


Here are a few examples of good games. Have some tips of your own or questions about creating games? Please share below!
By: Greg G. on Oct 08, 2009

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