In October 2009 I began work on Monaco, a game that I had designed years prior while working for a AAA game company. A mere 15 weeks later it won the Grand Prize and Excellence in Design at the IGF.

As I expanded the game, I was introduced by friends at thatgamecompany to the composer of fl0w and Journey, Austin Wintory, who was nominated for a Grammy earlier this year. Austin began creating an epic ragtime dynamic piano score for Monaco.

Monaco came out on Steam two weeks ago, grossing well over $1 million, and is available on XBLA today. We're here so that you can AUA about AAA development, indie development, the IGF, Journey, the Grammys, Monaco, and of course, Rampart.

Steam Download

Xbox Store page

Purchase the Soundtrack (Austin takes home 100% of rev from the OST, support him!)

Ask us anything!

Comments: 259 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

x70x16 karma

Hey Andy! I'm a huge fan of Monaco. You probably don't remember me but back at GDC 2010 I stopped and talked with you for a while at your IGF booth. I was still in college at the time looking for advice as to whether I should try to get a job at some big AAA developer making games or if I should attempt to create my own indie games.

Your advice was to just start making games. And that's exactly what I did. I really look at that day as a huge turning point in my outlook on my career and now, after several smaller game releases, I'm now working on a game called Lacuna Passage. It's a Mars exploration game and it would mean the world to me if you could check it out and give me some feedback.

Congrats on all your success with Monaco! It's brought me a lot of enjoyment.

NoRepro14 karma

Awesome! You should email me so it stays on my radar until the Monaco hubbub slows down and I'd be happy to chat with you about it. Congrats on finding the inspiration and follow through, and I'm honored to have inspired you! ([email protected])

Moncole7 karma

Do you have any plans for your next game? Even if I am not a fan of co-op I want to buy Monaco because its fun.

NoRepro10 karma

We do but Rampart.

NoRepro11 karma

Just kidding :) I've got an idea for a good console RTS (or at least simple-controls RTS) that is as strategically as deep as the competitive RTSs that is burning a hole in my skull right now. But I'm not gonna start actually developing until Monaco truly slows down. Once I move on I prob won't want to come back! And we've got the editor, expansions, perhaps more ports to get to first!

area7 karma

What mechanic or feature did you most want to get into the game, but weren't able to implement for some reason?

NoRepro17 karma

Cops and Robbers and Thief vs Thief. We wanted to add two additional competitive game modes to the game. We got them to playable, but we discovered that for both modes the balance didn't really work within the existing levels. We were going to have to build entirely new content tailored to them in order to make them feel at the same level of quality.

There are some itneresting challenges with both that we never fully figured out: in thief vs thief, players could go to different floors and were trying to collect the most coins before getting the trophy and escaping first. But we found that the thief that got out in front early just sucked up all the coins, which reinforced his advantage. So we itnroduced colored coins: coins that could only be picked up by you. But in the end we felt like there really wasn't enough interaction between players for it to feel fun.

With Cops vs Robbers, the problem was more that in adding a cop to any level, in the early levels it was too easy for the thieves to win and in the later levels, it was almost impossible for the players to win. When it worked, though, it was incredibly fun! I'm still hoping to add this mode at some point.

wedsxcrfv5 karma

You should release those as DLC!

NoRepro7 karma

I hope we can with the CvR one!

mastastealth7 karma

Andy: Out of all your beta testers, who is your favorite?

NoRepro10 karma

Crosbot

NoRepro17 karma

wait. Favorite or least favorite?

NoRepro7 karma

id say my favorite is the guy who's done all that art. Can't remember his name.

PainfulAC6 karma

Austin— I love all of the music from you that I've heard, going from Journey's soundtrack, to a reorchestration of the Sherlock Holmes movie theme! Keep up the good work!

Andy— I'd really like to play Monaco, but I'm on a Mac. Any hints on when that version will be out? :)

NoRepro4 karma

EmptyClip is working on the Mac port. Best estimate is beta in late May, but just like with PC and xobx, it's done when it's done :)

accessgranter6 karma

Who is your favourite playable character?

AWintory10 karma

I personally seem to love playing as the Pickpocket. Sorta like the carriers in StarCraft. :) I apparently like having minions. Strange that I basically never hire assistants...

NoRepro8 karma

I am also partial to the pickpocket, all things being equal. I just like listening to hector, he's so cute :)

After that I enjoy the Cleaner (though I think he needs a buff) and probably the lookout.

CubeSoldier2 karma

Cleaner doesn't need to be buffed. He is overly useful on any Level and a allrounder while the Hacker only has some Levels where he could use his full potential.

NoRepro3 karma

It's true, hacker's levels are more limited, but he is absolutely required on a few (palace in particular, really tough without a hacker)

Bayakoo1 karma

Why do you think he needs a buff? Granted I am no expert in the game, but Cleaners seems strong to me, specially if you have lookout in your team.

NoRepro5 karma

Cleaner is great in the first half of the game, but in the later game there's such a high density of guards that knocking out dudes becomes a liability (since it bumps aggro of everyone within LOS)

TehSuckerer1 karma

That's the reason I like to play the hacker. Why content yourself with one minion if you can have half a dozen?

NoRepro3 karma

PP is a Hunter class, Hacker is Warlock!

tehmerms6 karma

How much do you personally take home, as an indie developer, after that $1M in sales?

NoRepro21 karma

Part of that $1.2M is from direct sales and part is from Steam. We make 95% from direct sales, after taxes are taken out (so more like 92% of the sale price). 200K of that gross is from preorders, which were discounted by 10%. After I pay off indiefund (I borrowed 100K from them, and I have to give them 10% as part of our deal) Pocketwatch is left with around 600-700K. Most people that worked on the game were paid with revenue shares, so other ppl take home a piece of that pie, and then taxes will be 35-40%. So, in the end, I'm far from rich, but certainly will be paid back for development and will have enough to make another game!

RaveofRavendale4 karma

Hi Andy,

are there any secret areas or passages hidden away in the game that no-one has found yet? I'm guessing that with the mole's ability to dig, you could potentially have buried areas within the levels that are invisible until you burrow towards them.

NoRepro11 karma

Also, most people don't realize that in the pickpocket's story, there are secret passages hidden all over EVERY level that any character can access. Try pushing on suspiciously thin areas of wall!

NoRepro3 karma

We don't have any way to tell what people have found, but from the screenshots I've seen, there's TONS that hasn't been found. Hint: Find any large area of wall and start digging :)

popslut4 karma

Hi guys, are you planning other versions of Monaco? Wii U? Ouya?

NoRepro7 karma

Ouno. :) You'd be surprised at how CPU and GPU intensive Monaco is. It wouldn't work on the Ouya unfortunately.

I would LOVE to port to Vita and PS4, but it will depend on how our Xbox launch goes!

too_much_minecraft2 karma

Why PS4 and not PS3? Just because of the time you expect it would take to port?

NoRepro5 karma

PS3 is starting to wind down, and sales are a little weak on PSN right now. I love the idea of PS4 and I hope it kicks ass, Sony has been doing some amazing things lately!

ntide4 karma

Freakin' dogs, man!

NoRepro2 karma

It's always the freakin dogs, those bastards. Not as bad as the cats tho :)

robotictoast4 karma

Austin: what gear and software did you use to record the soundtrack?

Andy: If I see you at the Anchorman 2 casting tomorrow I'll try and be super awkward.

Monaco is rad, great job all around!

NoRepro2 karma

can't wait. stay classy!

ROFLKing3 karma

What heist books/movies/stories inspired you to create Monaco? Is there any Easter Eggs that pay tribute to them? Thanks!

NoRepro3 karma

I'm gonna have Andy Nguyen jump on and answer this one! He's got all sorts of unnoticed easter eggs in the game :)

RedPandaGamer3 karma

Love the game! Played the Beta since December really glad to see it finally out! My question to both of you is, What is your favorite heist movie?

NoRepro8 karma

My favs are:

Confidence (can you guess the visual inspiration for Monaco?)

Out of Sight

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Stander

The Bank Job

AWintory4 karma

I know it seems cliche but honestly my answer to this is OCEANS 11. The reason is that most heist films build their tension around things going horribly wrong, and that's a film that has almost no tension. Basically everything goes right, and they just sorta cruise through it. And I find that hilarious and charming, all the way up to the Debussy grand finale at the Bellagio fountain.

NoRepro5 karma

Austin is wrong. Oceans 11 sucks.

ImRonaldBurgundy2 karma

Hey guys, huge fan of the game. Andy, I was just wondering if you had any other ideas for thieves that were left on the cutting room floor?

EDIT: Also I feel the need to add that the Redhead is a blast to play.

NoRepro3 karma

Awesome! Yes, The Gentleman used to be a hypnotist, The Lookout used to the the Prowler (parkour expert) the Mole used to be The Muscle, The Pickpocket used to be The Rat (could rat out teammates to save himself). The redhead had a taser or a pistol at one point. The pickpocket started out as dwarf twins instead of a man with a monkey. :)

mal90002 karma

What is the best Poop Joke you've ever heard?

NoRepro2 karma

Wish I had one. I will share that everyone in this office is pretty much diamond league when it comes to pooping.

mosaic_school2 karma

The game looks, really fun. Unfortunately, I seems not to work with Wine - at least not out-of-the-box. Can you guys give an update on the estimated Linux release date?

NoRepro6 karma

Others actually have had success with wine, lemme look up the link. Here it is

We do plan for a native Linux release, but we haven't started working on it yet. First up is the level editor and the mac port!

spd122 karma

How did the idea for the name FREEDOM SPOON come about? While he's not my favorite character to play, such silliness like that makes Mole my favorite character to talk about and quote.

NoRepro2 karma

Writing the narrative was really fun but also really difficult for me. Creative writing is like a muscle, if you don't exercise it often, you get out of shape. But when it starts to flow, it's tends to come out quickly, almost like I'm drunk. I feel like my best writing is slightly malformed and oddly silly. Hopefully I'll have more opportunities to write in the future, I feel like those 5 or 6 moments of pure silliness in the story are something that I'd love to explore a lot more of!

NealBeforeZ0d2 karma

Hey Andy! What are you going to do with some much needed downtime?

NoRepro6 karma

Work half days and go to the beach a lot. I grew up in San Diego so I like to spend a lot of time in the water. If sales keep up I'd love to take my wife to Paris, she deserves a minorly extravagant getaway :)

Nallenbot2 karma

What's the best one line description of Monaco you've read so far?

AWintory2 karma

Speaking only for the music, my favorite was the headline of this article: http://kotaku.com/the-wonderful-rare-sloppiness-of-the-monaco-soundtrack-498904470

NoRepro2 karma

Oh the rockpapershotgun one is amazing. It almost feels dishonest repeating it, but hey, they said it! "This is one of the most important independent games this year, and might well end up being one of the best-loved games of the decade."

But honestly, for the most part, I care more about hearing from fans. It's really nice to hear press say good things, but they aren't the audience. The audince is whatever percentage of the gaming public that realyl clicks with the game. And when they click, they tend to really click.

carambola-slice1 karma

Oh my gosh! I love Monaco! My boyfriend and I play every night!

Austin: What did you have at your disposal to create the music? How large of a band? What was your inspiration behind the scores? Did you get to see the levels you wrote music for?

Andy: Did you have a lot of inspirational material to keep you going while doing development? For example, watch a lot of thief-themed movies a la Ocean's Eleven, or Tower Heist? Or was it just a "BOOM--This is it, I'm going to make it and it'll be amazing!"

Also, wanted to recommend this Korean/Japanese/Chinese movie called The Thieves that involves the characters all backstabbing each other if you haven't seen it already =)

NoRepro2 karma

I have watched pretty much every heist movie ever made. They are all on netflix streaming. But I haven't seen The Thieves! Another to add to my list :)

I do love heist movies in general. They are typically about very smart, talented people that live outside mainstream... just like me and my jr. high nerdy friends. heist movies are easy to relate to for geeks I think

friedjumboshrimp1 karma

Schatz? Sounds like something Al Roker would do in his pants at the White House.

NoRepro2 karma

hahahahahashutup

SpeedyDesiato1 karma

At GDC, Andy, who was your favourite CA and why?

NoRepro1 karma

hahahah you are a stealthy one since I don't know who you are by your handle. Can I say all of them? PAX and GDC have always been amazing, and you guys are the best trade show consigliaris evar!

EDIT: I originally read this as a PAX CA, but I love the GDC CAs too!

TerkRockerfeller1 karma

What AAA game studio? :O

NoRepro2 karma

I worked for TKO Studios, we mostly did work for EA. Goldeneye: Rogue Agent, Medal of Honor: Breakthrough and Pacific Assault. Before that I was at Presto Studios and worked on a game called Whacked!

TraviTheRabbi1 karma

Where did the sound effect come from for the "revive" action? It's hilarious; it sounds like you're furiously trying to shove all of the player's innards back into their body.

I wanted to say that it's amazing to play a co-op game that can be just as much (if not more) fun when things go sideways. It reminded me of the good times I had with friends playing 4-player N+ on one screen. It's very evident that a ton of thought and effort was put into Monaco.

Also, wow to Austin. I listen to the Journey OST on at lest a weekly basis, and this was a major shift in theme, and you guys did an amazing job with it. Loved your answer about Mozart's Lacrimosa - I sang tenor in high school and Requiem was by far my favorite concert. Music in games can really bring out a person's emotions in an interactive way that can't really be matched by anything else.

Take care and keep up the great work!

NoRepro3 karma

The revive sound effect is hands squishing pumpkin guts :)

So glad you've enjoyed it so far!

TehSuckerer1 karma

Did you know that "Schatz" means "treasure" in german? I thought you might enjoy that one.

NoRepro1 karma

I sure did know that! My grandparents were Austrian farmers near Graz, grew up on adjacent farms, but never met each other until they both moved to the states just before the great depression. Met in New Jersey and got married!

MutantSquid1 karma

I was looking forward to playing this on XBLA but just found out there isn't online matchmaking. Also, there isn't a demo available. I believe I read both of those are available with Steam. Is that correct, and any reason these don't exist for XBLA?

NoRepro3 karma

There is online matchmaking! Just hit start on the level select screen. There will be a demo, Microsoft screwed the pooch on that one and is working to fix :(

CainCC1 karma

[deleted]

NoRepro1 karma

In my first implementation we had diff boards for 2, 3, and 4 players. But I think separating out the community too much has its downsides. If the game had millions of active players I think that would make sense, but for launch we wanted to consolidate.

zilo901 karma

Andy, I've been keeping up with Monaco since it won the IGF back in 2010. Back then I didn't really realize that a single person could make an awesome game and the fact that Monaco would also have online multiplayer blew my mind. It really pushed me to pick up programming so I could create my own games instead of just being some dude with ideas for games. I had got a chance to meet you at GDC 2012 and saw that the super nice guy in his videos was super nice in real life too. What surprises me is your memory, you really care about all of the Monaco fans and can remember us every time. I can't wait to see what you and Andy Nguyen come up with next. I hope one day I can be a badass game designer like you or get the opportunity to work with you. Thank you for making an incredible game and showing me that anyone can make a great game if they just dedicate themselves towards it. Also shout out to AWintory Monaco's music is great. Please come out with a rap album ;)

NoRepro1 karma

Hahha that's amazing. Thanks!

Did you see that there's a bit of rap on the bonus album from MegaRan? Check it out! http://austinwintory.bandcamp.com/track/stick-em-2

BenjaminoFre1 karma

Andy, favorite track from the OST and did either of you play Dark Souls, and if so how did you think it was?

NoRepro1 karma

I recently played through about the first half of Demon's Souls, and lvoed it. But then I took a break and was too intimidated to come back to it. I'm super excited for DS2 though. :) Feels like an old school exploration game.

NoRepro1 karma

OH and my fav track is the Red Carpet (the discoteque), Foreign Affairs (the embassy) and The Bank track, can't remember the name! And of course the final track from Identity blows me away.

BenjaminoFre1 karma

False Teeth master race

NoRepro1 karma

False teeth level is such a bitch, he hate me.

PeteTheIceman1 karma

As an AI-student myself, I would be interested in what kind of study/education you did. Did you already do an education in programming and how did it come to being a full-time Indie dev?

Also: did you implement the AI for Monaco yourself and what techniques did you use?

Thanks for making this great game. It has been a while that I had so much fun playing a game!

NoRepro1 karma

I got a BA in Computer Science and Fine Arts from Amherst College, class of 2000. My compsci stuff largely centered on AI! My first AI-related job was making the bot AI in an Xbox game called Whacked! (I also did the online UI for that game, the first XBL game ever!)

I did implement the AI in Moanco. It's a pretty simple and nasty state machine, but in a game like this I actually think a simple and readable AI is better than a nuanced one -- the player needs to be able to predict the responses to his movements.

SirSlax1 karma

Would you have any specific suggestions to an indie dev about how to get word out about his or her title if one starts with no connections at all?

NoRepro1 karma

I think the best thing you can do is make an AWESOME, unique game, and just start talking about it. Enter festivals, blog about it, ask for feedback from devs you respect; if you don't make yourself visible you won't find your audience.

SpeedyDesiato1 karma

Genuine question: this year's GDC was my first, and it was amazing. Having a chance to meet a bunch of the people I'd only read about was an incredible experience. Who is your favourite game designer, and what was it like when you first met them?

NoRepro1 karma

oh wow, that's a good question. Well I think that Will Wright takes on the most enormous challenges of any designer out there, and isn't afraid to fail. So I think I admire him most. And while I've met a TON of famous designers, I've never actually met him.

A few years ago I random decided that my celebrity nemesis was Sandra Bullock and my game industry nemesis was Cliff Bleszinski. But then I ended up meeting him while hosting the IGF awards (and he was hosting choice) and as it turns out he's too awesome to have a fake, invented (but deep and burning) hatred of. I'm gonna have to pick a new game industry nemesis. :)

Pro_Ice1 karma

Hi! Thanks for the game, it's really amazing and totally worth the wait. And Austin's music is really a perfect fit, without it Monaco wouldn't've been the same.

As for the question... what was the hardest level for you to create and balance? And are you planning any DLC besides level creator, like new "Stories" or more PvP?

P.S. Andy, I've sent you this before on Twitter, so in case you missed it: I've fully translated the release trailer into russian. ;]

Cheers!

NoRepro1 karma

Ah, I saw that and I forgot to retweet it! That is so cool :)

I'll have to ask Andy Nguyen about the levels, he should be in pretty soon.

xFyreStorm1 karma

Any words of wisdom to people, like myself, just embarking on their first, real, development endeavor? :) And also, what was the hardest part in making Monaco a reality?

NoRepro1 karma

I think the hardest thing had to be the fact that we didn't know which platforms we would launch on until about a year ago. We spent a lot of time spinning our wheels on unnecessary stuff because of that.

Beyond that, I suffered from quite a bit of stress right before launch! Our XBLA launch got delayed, and my body shut down and I got shingles a couple weeks ago. My wife had cancer a year and a half ago and had some nasty scalp surgery that involved a long, painful recovery. Those sorts of things take their toll when you feel like you need to keep rowing the boat or you'll sink.

TehSuckerer1 karma

Possible spoiler warning:

I managed to clean out Identity. It was a great way to end the game, daring me to rob the police station instead of escaping! Very true to the monaco spirit.

The fact that the four remaining characters had the abilities of the other ones (except the mole), does that imply that the pickpocket is in fact the gentleman, and there were only ever four thieves to begin with?

Also, why couldn't you let us use the tunnel ability in the final level, it would have made the entry a lot easier.

NoRepro3 karma

haha, did you find the secret passage through the cell? That's the "correct" way to enter. As for the other stuff, what makes you think the PP's story is any more reliable than the smith's story?

TehSuckerer1 karma

I did not... I just made a cop open the door for me and then ran like hell.

As for the unreliable narrator: in contrast to the rest of the game, what happens in Identity is not a story told to the inspector. So at least this much should be taken to be the truth?

NoRepro2 karma

ill leave that as a question to the reader (and perhaps dlc?) ;)

curveball601 karma

I was speaking with some friends about some games that we could all buy and play together. We were sick and tired of minecraft and wanted something new. One friend mentioned your game and it seemed interesting. Basically what I'm asking for you to give me some decent reasons to spend my money on your game.

NoRepro2 karma

Will you believe RockPaperShotgun when they say "This is one of the most important independent games this year, and might well end up being one of the best-loved games of the decade."?

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/04/24/wot-i-think-monaco/

Alteffor1 karma

Hey Andy! I don't really have a question, I've been around Monaco since the beta and have been playing through the game and loving it so far.

What I really want to say is my best friend who has never really been into gaming tried your game after me bugging him for a while, and now he asks me to play it because of its simple to use controls, with crazy fun, hectic gameplay and he absolutely loves it. We've had a blast playing it together. Thanks for that :)

NoRepro2 karma

Wow that's awesome!!! We have had a lot of success with non-gamers and ex-gamers, probably because of the open-endedness and simplicity of controls.

LunaVGN1 karma

Did you think "Monaco" would become such a great hit at the begining of development?

NoRepro3 karma

Of course not! The original design was actually a AAA design back from 2003 though, and that version I thought had a chance to be huge. But when I first started working on it as an indie, it was just a fun little side project. I NEVER could have predicted the current success. I was genuinely shocked to be nominated for an IGF award, let alone win two of them!

AWintory2 karma

For what it's worth, I believed in the game instantly because I believed in Andy. I think that thinking needs to govern all professional decisions. I was, more or less, not paid to score this game but from one chat with Andy I knew he was the sort of person that I get creative inspiration from, simply from having him in my life. I can't put a price on that (sorry this is a bit gushy - don't read this Andy).

So I was willing to roll the dice on the game, but not because the game was awesome (it was. It is.) but because the human beings making it were awesome (Andy Schatz, but also Andy Nguyen, Adam DeGrandis, etc)

NoRepro5 karma

my wife just yelled from the other room that "austin is such a labrador"

Rokeden1 karma

I just want to say congratulations on a fantastic game that has brought me and my friends many hours of entertainment, keep up the great work and I look forward to the level editor to increase the content available to last for years!

NoRepro1 karma

Thanks! Can't wait to get it out there. Working on steam workshop now!

KasterTroy01 karma

I know you are working on a level editor for PC, but is there going to be one for Xbox360?

NoRepro1 karma

We are planning to release the editor in an alph or beta-ish state, which we can't really do on the xbox. I don't know if we'll ever polish it up enough so that it doesn't have any of the rough edges or loose ends that would make it through xbox cert. So my honest answer is, I doubt we'll ship the editor on xbox. If we sell enough units to convince Majesco to let us do mission pack DLC, then I would love to do that.

mtfikhan1 karma

If someone wants to get into game design, where should they start?

NoRepro2 karma

By making games! Make board games, make little games on your own. I programmed my first game when I was 7. Anyone with access to a computer can do it!

BlinksTale1 karma

Hello Andy, great job at the IGF awards! (again!) And congrats on releasing Monaco.

I seem to recall an interesting development cycle for this game. If memory serves, it started as an XNA title, then got completely rewritten in C++ for a deal with Sony, but now it's back to an XBox Live title?

Wikipedia is currently lacking a History section on Monaco (video game), could you share some knowledge on the development of the game?

NoRepro2 karma

Sure! It started out as XNA -- I actually started with the RPG starter kit since it was tile based -- but then the game was turned down for a first-party deal with Microsoft. So we started talking to Sony about a PSN release, which forced us to port to C++. But then the hacking scandal hit and I got cold feet, and we met up with Majesco who offered to distribute the game on XBLA, and allowing us to self-publish on all other platforms. So we kept on with the port, because we hoped to continue to port to other platforms in the future (and the performance gains helped too). Empty Clip Studios is continuing to work on the ports to other platforms like Mac. I'm hoping we sell well enough on the xbox to make Vita/PS4 make sense!

lordbeef1 karma

I think having Monaco never really use buttons other than the triggers(on an xbox control anyway) was a brilliant and bold move. It has made the game accessible to some people that otherwise would have shied away due to complicated controls. How did you end up deciding on this design and was it difficult to avoid the temptation of adding activated abilities that required a button press?

NoRepro2 karma

There have been times when we definitely could have used an extra button. The PvP mode used a pistol, which was your default weapon if you had no ammo, and it was usable with the shoulder button. When the gentleman was a hypnotist we kinda needed a button to cancel hypnosis. But I agree, the game is much better without and it was really fun to design within that constraint. That kind of minimalism is definitely something I'd like to continue to explore, esp if we end up doing an RTS next!

TheTurboFD1 karma

Did Monaco meet or exceed your sales expectation?

NoRepro2 karma

Exceed! My gut told me we'd gross 1.5 million lifetime, but it looks like we'll pull that off in the first month. Looking more like we'll gross more like 3-5 million lifetime. Of course my expecations when I STARTED the project were that I would make about 60K on it :)