It’s A Steal: Monaco Gets Free Level Editor

By Nathan Grayson on July 4th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

What do you think of Monaco? Jim thought it was entirely delightful, and he was tickled neon pink (and neon every other color) by its roguish charms. This bit of his opinion rainbow, especially, is pertinent: “I particularly like The Hacker because he shows off what teeming systems the levels present. While anyone can hack a computer terminal, The Hacker can use plug sockets to send ‘viruses’ spinning around the level infrastructure. This allows you to disable alarmed doors, security cameras, and so on, but it also gives you an idea of how much there is going on in any single building. It’s a beautiful thing to see buzzing around you. It adds more life to a game that already feels fresh and awake and busy.”

Basically, the levels are brilliantly intricate webs of life, interconnected circulatory systems that you must slice and dice piece-by-piece. But now dismantling is only one side of the coin, because Pocketwatch has released The Mole’s Workshop, a free set of level editing tools with Steam Workshop integration.

It all looks quite simple, but then, placing random loot because you can and because you should are two very different things. Having the ability to make a level doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be good. Just go back in time and ask seven-year-old me to show you his gigantic collection of custom Warcraft II, er, “levels” if you want to see what I mean.

Fortunately, Steam Workshop support means that you’ll have plenty of options to choose from, a few of which I imagine will be quite sublime. So then, who plans on trying their hand at creating a thieving paradise of their very own? Me, I might give it a go, though I anticipate being supremely confused by the lack of two-headed ogres and orcs.

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24 Comments »

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  1. Gurrah says:

    That’s very good news indeed, but the the later levels are tough as it is, I believe the modders will make us ball up in a corner and cry.

    • Njordsk says:

      Portal-like yeah.

    • Gnoupi says:

      That’s usually the problem with level-editors and user-made levels.
      Most people will make crazily hard levels, for which you need to follow a perfect path to pass it. See levels in Super Meat Boy, or Portal for example.

      I think it’s actually harder to make a level which is pleasant and interesting, instead of a “I wanna be the guy” kind of experience.

      • StenL says:

        I think its because a lot of people, me included, consider user levels to be what you play after beating the original game, and you expect the difficulty to stay comparable or even increase after that

      • Mctittles says:

        As someone who has played a crap ton of portal user made levels I can tell you that the difficulty is pretty varied. From super easy to mind numbing difficult. I wouldn’t say the hardest levels bubble to the top either, as people seem to be voting on the mid tier puzzley levels and you have to dig deep to find a really hard challenge. Lots of good ones though!

  2. sirdavies says:

    Tried it out yesterday. It’s almost as hard as the actual game. I’m sure some people who are more skilled than me will make great levels though :P

  3. pakoito says:

    Biggest disappointment of the year so far.

    • Xocrates says:

      I wouldn’t necessarily call it a disappointment, but I’ll admit it’s not a game I’ve managed to “get”.

      I can see it being fun in multiplayer (which I haven’t been able to try), but in single player it doesn’t quite work as either a stealth game or as an arcade game.

    • CmdrCrunchy says:

      Care to explain that one instead of just slapping down a ‘I hate this’ and waiting for people like me to take the bait?

      Find 3 people to play it with, and have some of the most ludicrous fun you’ve ever had. Even better when slightly sozzled.

      Or play it alone for a tough, tactical, but still rewarding game.

      This game just creates stories for you to laugh and chat about by the truckload and I cant recommend it enough.

      • stkaye says:

        I need to give multiplayer a try. Maybe I’m just crap, but I do find the single-player extremely difficult.

    • Skull says:

      I too, would also want to know why you found it disappointing? I didn’t follow the game during development and wasn’t expecting much, nor did I get what he developer was promising beyond a co-op heist setting.

      I bought the game due to my current budget only really allowing indie or heavily discounted games and was very surprised. I am a big fan of hard games and I found this really hit the mark in regards to difficulty. The co-op was implemented perfectly and by that I mean not just that it is fun, but also a perfect party game where I can have some mates over, we can plug in our Xbox controllers and all play together. Not many PC games allow that and the only other one I can think of is Rayman: Origins, which is also amazing.

      Maybe you are playing alone? I find enjoyment from the game by doing so but I know I get off on a challenge more than others. With pubs? It is hit and miss if you get into a team that knows what they are doing, thankfully this is a game were screwing up is fun.

      I think this is a game that is designed to be played with mates over a few cans when it comes down to it though. I hope you get the opportunity to experience that soon and that should change your perception of the game.

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      Oozo says:

      Can’t speak for somebody else, but as somebody who had a fair amount of problems with the game himself, I can tell you the following:

      “Monaco” is maybe the sole case of a game I simply did not get, and not for a lack of trying. (Played it single- and multiplayer.) Not only this, but I am simply unable to get what other people see in it. That’s not supposed to be an attempt to troll, though. I absolutely wouldn’t put it out of the question that the fault is entirely on me.

      For me, one big problem was that I found it extremely difficult to read the maps, their layout, and the systems. For example, I often find myself unable to comprehend swiftly enough if a room, or parts of it, is supposed to be on a higher level until I get there and realize that what I thought was a normal floor is, in fact, a balcony. Same for the alarms, cameras, the radius of alertness of the guards, the difference between guards and civilians, and so on. I guess that you can get used to it, eventually, but after having played something like “Mark of The Ninja”, it feels… a bit off, somehow.

      It’s especially troubling because I’m not sure the game actually went for what I conceive to be an opaque design. It’s not a pure stealth-game, so those things are maybe less crucial to it. That said, there ARE clear short-coming in other areas that are hard to overlook, like the completely unintuitive user menu-structure, or the less-than-optimal UI in general. So I’m not sure if Schatz is maybe simply a bit lacking in skills of visual communication. It’s pretty, for sure, but it’s not always useful.

      As I said, maybe that’s just me. The fact that nobody else seems to be all too critical implies it. (Even though most people I played it with had trouble getting a grip on the game in the first minutes or even hours, with matches often resulting in more chaos than was welcome.)

      However, being in that particular spot, I got a bit sensitive for other things where the design seems to be a bit… off. For example the Lookout, who is a weird character, design-wise, in that he is pretty much essential for the team but serves, in theory, the game best when he just hides in a corner passively. Those small things all just added up, so that in the end, even after multiple hours, I could not say that I had had much fun with the game, except for some all too rare moments where everything seemed to work according to Schatz’s plan, that is when chaos and hilarity ensued and a player pretty much single-handedly saved the day. I thought that it was an ok game at best, but not more. (Even those chaotic moments are something that, say, Magica, does a lot better IMHO.)

      So, to sum it up: I did not get that game, and I’m ready to aknowledge that the fault is on me, for the game does something to my perception and brain no other game before or afterwards could: It puzzles me beyond fun. That said, I do think that the game is not as polished as it could or even should be, above else in the way it communicates vital (and less vital) information.

      Your milage will, I guess, vary.

      • sirdavies says:

        It’s definitely not an easy game or a game that is easy to get into, that’s for sure, but if you give it a fair chance (and yes, that’s a couple of hours) once you “get it”, you can read the map and UI really easily, and then is when the actual challenge starts. When you play with other people who also “get it” it’s one of the best multiplayer games I’ve ever played. Of course this barrier of entry will be prohibitive for some players, but not all games have to be as straightforward as Mark of the ninja to be enjoyable. I personally found that game to be quite bland; it lacked character, variety and challenge. So yeah, different strokes for different folks I guess.

      • AndySchatz says:

        HOW DARE YOU NOT LIKE MY GAME.

        permanently blacklisted.

    • Zaraf says:

      I played in single-player only for some reasons, and enjoyed it very much that way, cleaned up all levels in both stories.
      I think people might get used easier to the sometimes confusing design of the game in SP. A lot of people try the MP first and quickly get disapointed because they don’t understand what’s happening when other player trigger alarms or get caught, plus it may be difficult at first to make differences between other players and NPC.
      So it may be a good idea to finish several levels in SP first before switching to multiplayer.

    • pakoito says:

      To explain myself a bit, I have followed development and bugged Andy since day one. I think Andy already hated me before the Alpha was there :P Anyway, when the game was delivered I bought and played through the whole first act in single and multiplayer, and half of the second act on MP. Steam says it’s been five hours total.

      The game doesn’t scratch any of my itches. It’s not a stealth game and is not that good as an arcade highscore entertainment. The levels are designed for a purpose I still cannot fathom, probably hit and run, but it definitely lacks the flow of Hotline Miami.

      Compared to other indies it has generated little press buzz, and hasn’t been on Steam Top Sellers or Stats Top100 (~ >1000 players) since a week after release.

      The combination of all this factors for such a hyped game with several years in the spotlight makes me feel it fell short and thus, a disappointment.

      • pakoito says:

        Or the fact that the first news about the game post-release, no other than a map editor, just generated 21 comments (22 now) and nobody bothered looking back to the thread to see anyone’s response.

      • AndySchatz says:

        That’s actually not true. Monaco hit #1 on Steam top sellers 9 days after launch. It remained in the top 100 for about 7 weeks. With the release of the level editor it’s back in the top 100. (peaking in the 40s)

  4. Kynrael says:

    I’ve been meddling with the editor to understand how things work in it, and I think I’ve got a pretty good grasp of it now :)

    I’ll probably do a bank heist idea I have !

  5. stkaye says:

    Someone should recreate the levels from all three Thief games on this.

  6. Vinraith says:

    This seems like a good place to ask a couple of questions with respect to this game:

    1) How does this play with two people?

    2) To what degree is enjoyment of the game dependent on caring about high scores? I’ve never been one for score chasing.

    • Skull says:

      1) I have played mainly with just one friend and found it preferable if anything. This could be because we can get on mics and discuss tactics and work more as a team. I don’t really have more that one friend though and I imagine if you can find three friends to chat with at once then that would be the superior option.

      2) Don’t worry about high scores at all, I don’t even look at them and I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I do find a compulsive need to collect every single bit of loot in the level, but that is just me. I don’t care about doing it fast at all which is really what the score boards come down too.

      • Vinraith says:

        No, actually I totally understand compulsive item collection, and if anything my usual gaming chum is even more compulsive than I am. OK, this sounds like it will probably work for us after all, thanks for the information!