When players first tried out Monaco, the neon-colored heist game by Pocketwatch Games, their feedback was at odds with some of the game's fundamental rules. In a talk today at the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco, level designer Andy Nguyen illustrated how the developer listened to players without compromising Pocketwatch's vision for a new spin on stealth. To the uninformed observer, it might even appear as if Monaco simply plugged its ears and shook criticism off.
Monaco was thrust into the hands of 400 beta testers, some of whom felt obstructed by the strict line-of-sight vision granted to the game's would-be burglars. They wanted to see the whole map, not just what was in front of them, and plan the heist looking from the top down. "When i think about that, it reminds me of the idea of traditional stealth, and what traditional stealth means to people," Nguyen said, drawing a comparison to another breakout hit in the stealth genre, Mark of the Ninja. Unlike that game, however, Monaco wasn't positioned as a game about observation and flawless execution of the plan. Like a heist film, the goal was to foster frantic escapes, improvisation and exciting moments-gone-wrong.