IGF Factor 2010: Monaco

Part of you wants to be upset with Pocketwatch Games. Why haven’t they given us 2009’s Unknown Pleasure Venture Dinosauria yet? That part is soon quashed when you see what Andy Schatz is working on. Monaco is a four-player co-op stealth game that’s been shortlisted for both the Design and the Seumas McNally Grand Prize. Minimalist graphics. Exciting theme. Stealth. This one has RPS written all over it. Our interview with Andy, and footage of Monaco follows…

RPS: Firstly, a brief intro to those who may not know you. Who are you? What’s your background? Why get into games? Why get into indie games?

Andy Schatz: I’d like to say it’s because my father beat me, but really I just like making games. I’ve been making games since I was 7. I’m 31 now. I worked in the AAA world from 1998-2004 and got sick of political corporate bullshit and working for managers and publishers that didn’t know how to design games but insisted on trying.

But it’s entirely possible that I make games because I’m repressing memories of viscous beatings that I drowned in frantic sessions of Decathlon. Boy could I wiggle that joystick!

RPS: And… the game. Tell us about it. What was its origins? What are you trying to do with it? What are you most pleased about it? What nags?

Andy Schatz: Monaco is a 4-player cooperative thief game. It’s shown from a top-down perspective, so it’s kind of like Gauntlet crossed with Hitman.

The style of Monaco is inspired by the classic crime caper movies, in particular, heist movies like Heat and Rififi. I’ve always liked the idea of teams of brilliant people doing naughty things. The original Mission Impossible TV show was one of my favorites when I was a kid.

It’s actually amazing to me that no one has made this game before. I mean, all the elements exist in other formats, and it’s clearly a theme that has commercial potential. And with the recent success of cooperative games, Monaco was just screaming to be made.

RPS: What’s your feelings on the IGF this year. Pleased to be nominated? Have particular love, bemusement or hate for any of the other entries? Is there anything you think is missing?

Andy Schatz: I know Tommy from Team Meat pretty well, and the more I learn about him, the less I like. He’s really kind of a dick. Count me as one person who will not be buying Super Meat Boy, especially since it’s such a ripoff of Passage. I think it’s important for people of high moral caliber to confront people that are just plain dicks. And don’t even get me started on Edmund. Next time I see him I’m gonna ask for the 5 dollars I sent for his surgery back.

Other than that, I think all the games in the IGF are fantastic. I’m particularly excited to try out that 4-d puzzle game with the unpronounceable name. And every year the student entries nearly outshine the main finalists, so I’m really excited to give them a go at the IGF pavilion.

RPS: How do you feel about the indie scene generally this year? People have been relatively downbeat about 2009, after 2008 being so obviously incendiary. What are the themes, in your eyes? What are people missing?

Andy Schatz: The themes, as they seem to be every year, are that indie games are too expensive, too cheap, too artsy, too unoriginal, and it’s mostly Tale of Tales’ fault.

Indie games are about to have a banner year… the console platforms have matured, the PC is very much a viable platform (thanks Steam, Facebook, and Kongregate!). The gold rush on the iPhone is over, thank god. We’ve got a ton of mature, viable platforms, we still have the attention of the press, and the community of indies is stronger than ever.

It used to be that you could sum up the state of the indie scene in a fairly succinct way, but these days there’s just too much going on, the games, developers, and platforms are too diverse to encapsulate it all. The pioneering days are past us… we’ve got a healthy, vibrant, self-sustaining ecosystem.

RPS: And how does the future look for you? What are you working on now and the foreseeable future.

Andy Schatz: The future is so bright, I have to wear shades. Seriously, future, stop that shit, you’re hurting my eyes. I’m trying to work on Monaco for the next 10 months or so and if you blind me, a lot of people, 143 to be exact, will be very upset. If you have a problem with that, why don’t you go whine about it on the Monaco facebook page. That’s what it’s there for, ya know?

RPS: Thanks for your time.

You can follow Monaco’s development at Pocketwatch Games’ site. And we should have a preview of Monaco next week, assuming Jim and John can hook up for a caper.


  1. tomeoftom says:

    Andy Schatz responded brilliantly to every question. A great read!

    Monaco itself has me salivating all over the place.

    Edit: That said, the Super Meat Boy thing is pretty jarring.. I wonder what beef (sorry) he has with Tommy/Edmund.

    • Sam says:

      I am thinking the Super Meat Boy thing is an attempt at humour – Super Meat Boy isn’t anything like a rip-off of Passage, for a start.

      Difficult to tell on the Internet, I know.

    • tomeoftom says:

      Oh, wow, this is really embarrassing. How did I not see he was joking? HOW?
      He had been joking (successfully) in basically every other section of the interview, Edmund McMillen from interviews seems like quite a nice fellow, and personal attacks like that are totally non-kosher.
      I apologise for my utter idiocy! If this sounds sarcastic, then that’s communicative failure #2, because I had previously prided myself upon rarely misreading internet conversation tone. I am honestly ashamed.

    • Sonic Goo says:

      It’s not that embarrassing. My reaction was, as they say on the internets:
      link to images.encyclopediadramatica.com
      I think he just got the tone slightly wrong.

  2. MadMatty says:

    Haha why not looks a bit fun

  3. Duncs says:

    ‘The future is so bright, I have to wear shades. Seriously, future, stop that shit, you’re hurting my eyes’ Is the best quote I’ve heard this year. I think I love this guy. Oh yeah the game sounds cool aswell.

  4. milko says:

    viscous beatings always make me imagine a frightening golden syrup monster. Or molasses! This game looks great also.

  5. Wulf says:

    This is why I like interviews. I really hadn’t expected anyone from the development house behind the Venture games to be quite so entertaining and to have such an advanced understanding of good humour. The Venture games were brilliant, but hardly the sort of thing designed to make one laugh a lot. Monaco on the other hand seems to be just that, and if that humour proceeds throughout then it’ll be all the better for it.

    Not to mention that I love the look of Monaco for being both visually a Roguelike and for being something just a little bit different.

  6. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Thieves will be schatz! (sorry)

  7. Web Cole says:

    What a delightful fellow :)

  8. Duck says:

    When I saw this:

    “And don’t even get me started on Edmund. Next time I see him I’m gonna ask for the 5 dollars I sent for his surgery back.”

    I spit out my coffee all over my keyboard. Thanks, RPS, for making me get a new keyboard!

  9. salejemaster says:

    go go monaco!

  10. EthZee says:

    Looks pretty fun. But the music! Ah! Danse Macabre!

    (the theme music from Jonathan Creek)

    • Stu says:

      Watching the trailer wasn’t enough to shift the song that had already lodged itself in my head when I saw the game’s name.

    • Kommissar Nicko says:

      Danse Macabre.

      I was taken back.

  11. Krikey! says:

    As to remarks on Edmund, from my understanding over at TIGSource, he’s been the source of several hurtful remarks on other indie devs, or something like that. I don’t quite know the details, but I do know that many were up in arms when Derek Yu posted about Edmund’s surgery – and most of the anger stemmed from claims that he didn’t deserve it, no less since it was a minor surgery.

    Again, I don’t really know the details, but to my understanding, he’d made a notorious name for himself in the community.

    And back to the article: great read, and Andy is a very forthright character, which earns my respect.

  12. Heliocentric says:

    The man who made “c*nt” offends people? Who’da thought.

  13. Andy says:

    It’s really nothing like that. I just don’t like the look of his ugly mug. And Tommy ate my dog. And then tried to pretend it didn’t happen by trying to pull a Mrs. Doubtfire in a labrador retreiver costume.

  14. Tommunism says:

    @Krikey! When Derek posted about Ed’s surgery, the developers weren’t up in arms, it was the trolls on the front page who Edmund does in fact make fun of. Tigsource front page has the nastiest, most hateful commenters ever…which is odd for a community driven site, they hate on everything. These are the same people that said stuff like “Good I hope he dies”. These people are not developers, they are worthless internet assholes…who says that when someone is in the hospital? Trolls don’t respect him, but they don’t respect anyone so their opinions are moot.

    As far as the feud between Team Meat and Andy…well that’s 100% totally real. Don’t listen to what Andy says. Also it was a german shepherd costume and that dog was a few days from death anyway.


    • Andy says:

      “Also it was a german shepherd costume and that dog was a few days from death anyway.” Which was particularly stupid since my dog was a shih tzu.

      Plus you’re a little short to be posing as a German Shepherd, don’t you think?

  15. Tommunism says:

    I’m 6 feet of all that is man. You’re only a little taller than Danny DeVito.

  16. Krikey! says:

    Looks like I need to get my sarcasm detector fixed asap.

  17. tomeoftom says:

    Funniest indie dev conversation ever.

  18. Muzman says:

    So this is kinda They Stole A Million meets, I dunno, Xcom? (Xcom may already meet They Stole A Million, I forget) and in real time. Coo-ol.
    And we need more of the indy games scene being like The Hills but with nerds (probably better there’s no lounging by the pool in bikinis though)

  19. byblack says: