Monaco Won! – And Why I Voted for It

March 13th, 2010, IGF
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IGF 2010

One of the biggest indie events every year is the Independent Games Festival at the game developer conference in San Francisco. It’s a competition that awards cash prizes to a number of outstanding indie games. Many of these games are still work in progress, hoping to gain some attention and maybe distribution deals. Monaco by Pocketwatch Games is one of these games, and it happened to grab both the awards for best game design and the Seumas Grand Prize.

Monaco is a 4-player cooperative stealth game taking place in… uuh… Monaco. You choose one of four characters (eight characters are planned), each with its own special abilities and skills and attempt to steal money and other stuff from various locations. These locations (banks, casinos, yachts, etc) are protected by alarms and armed guards, which makes things a bit tricky. This is Monaco’s IGF trailer:

Now, as I’ve written earlier, I was one of the judges who were evaluating the games for the awards. I was very pleased to see that Monaco won, since I had voted for it in the final round. There are two reasons for this,

First, Monaco feels like what indie is all about, at least for me. It’s the kind of game that can’t be produced with multi-million dollars. It’s too risky. Weirder games, such as Scribblenauts, seem to be exclusive to portable devices and usually don’t have multiplayer. Also big budget games need big budget content, and I can’t imagine what Monaco would play like if it was, for example, in 3D.

Secondly, Monaco is a really fun game, at least when you play it with a friend or two (as it was intended). The cooperative element works very well. Shutting down an alarm or opening a door will help everybody, and players are able to revive those that have fallen. It’s especially exciting when only one player is left alive, trying to dodge guards and revive the others. I like this sense of giving everybody in the team the chance to be a hero. And even if you should fail you get a sense of progress because the map will remain revealed when you start over. It’s like, “alright that didn’t go so well, but now I know how we should do it!”

These things put together: originality, good design, and pure entertainment, made it easy for me to pick Monaco for the IGF grand prize. Of course, there were like 160 judges voting, so I’m not alone.

/jeb

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