During the Game Developers Conference this week, Monaco level designer Andy Nguyen discussed how the developers struck a balance between their original vision for the game and what their beta testers suggested.
Nguyen discussed how many testers took issue with some of Monaco’s deliberate departures from stealth game traditions. Rather than abandon their vision, Pocketwatch Games decided to essentially change how they described the game, to testers, players and later, the press.
“We told them it’s not a stealth game, and why we thought it was fun despite not being a stealth game,” Nguyen said.
Many of the early players’ perceived issues came from comparisons with a “classic” stealth game framework that Monaco was specifically designed to break out of.
Nguyen said that some testers didn’t like the line-of-sight mechanic, preferring the ability to see the whole map in order to plan out their heist. But, he said, players aren’t meant to flawlessly move through these environments; much of the fun comes from the heist movie thrill of getting caught halfway through and having to reconsider the plan on the fly. As a compromise, the developers added the Lookout character, who can detect guards outside line-of-sight, without ruining the desired effect.
Another core element of the game that wasn’t popular at first was the guards’ AI, which doesn’t follow predictable patrol routes. Rather than completely changing the system, the designers retooled it and offered players some counter-attacks, like tranquiliser guns.