After first garnering attention for its wins at the 2010 Independent Games Festival, Pocketwatch Games has given its crown jewel now known as Monaco: What's Yours is Mine roughly three years of polish. The long-awaited top-down cooperative heist game is finally set to release in April, and company founder Andy Schatz tells us the thrill is in the heist.
"I derive my game design inspirations from non-gaming things that I'm passionate about," Schatz said. "I like to take those things, break them down into their constituent parts, figure out how their systems work, and then figure out how a player might be able to interact with them. With Monaco I started with heist movies, a genre that I'm a big fan of, and childhood games of hide and seek. I tried to emulate the emotional arc of a heist movie, the character tropes, and the visual styles."
Those heist movie tropes can be seen in the game's eight classes--Locksmith, Hacker, Lookout, Cleaner, Mole, Gentleman, Pickpocket, and Redhead. If the cast looks like something out of Ocean's 11, that's because they're intentional homages to those types of films. "The original four classes all interacted with a specific type of environmental object," said Schatz. "When I expanded to eight classes, I drew most of the inspiration from heist movie tropes. The Mole, the Gentleman, the Pickpocket, and the Redhead all were based upon a vision of who the character was rather than what the character could do."
Anyone that has ever seen a heist movie knows that something always goes wrong. Monaco won't be any different, as Schatz points out that players will inevitably get caught, making it unlike a traditional stealth game. In this case, the thrill is in the chase. "Since the player doesn't have an expectation of ghosting it, I think the experience of being caught and chased is more exhilarating than frustrating," said Schatz.
Schatz also got the chance to work with Grammy-nominated Journey composer Austin Wintory, on Monaco's soundtrack. It's a collaboration that Schatz says stemmed from recommendations with his friends at thatgamecompany and also from his own love for Wintory's work. "Austin is the most enthusiastic person I've ever worked with," Schatz added. "The piano score is really unlike anything you will have heard in other games. Every level has its own unique ragtime score with dynamic layers and a huge amount of responsiveness to game events."
While the core design for Monaco remains the same as it was three years ago, today's Monaco looks grander and more polished. Schatz said the main additions include online play and a vector-based line-of-sight that's friendlier to four-player co-op. Monaco will be coming to Xbox LIVE Arcade, but PC players that want to get a look at the prototype that captured so many imaginations can get instant access to the original 2010 IGF-winning prototype by pre-ordering from Monaco's official site.