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A Journey to Monaco: Andy Schatz Looks Back
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A Journey to Monaco: Andy Schatz Looks Back

April 18, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next

For the Fund of It

2011 saw Monaco receive more than just a new team member -- the game also bagged itself a monetary backing from the Indie Fund project.

"For me, it was insurance, and the ability to work with a bunch of people that I really respect," notes Schatz.

"Indie Fund is essentially a no-risk loan. It's like a soft pillow. You still have to pay it back -- you have to wash the damn pillow -- but at the same time, you know it's okay at that point."

This funding helped take the pressure off, and allowed Schatz to take his time. "I never felt desperate on Monaco," he adds. "I would have without them. I would have been making decisions based on nothing to do with the game. I certainly wouldn't have taken until 2013."

Of course, there can be downsides to taking your time. Some developers have said that taking longer than expected to complete development on a title led to them questioning the content late into the project. Schatz himself found that certain elements he had planned for from the beginning simply wouldn't work with his final vision.

"In particular, the cops versus robbers mode, a PvP mode that was like thief versus thief -- we built those, and there were design issues with them," he says. "We felt like we would need to rebuild the content itself in order to make those game modes work.

"It's interesting, because it really made me sympathize with a guy like Peter Molyneux, who talks about his games in the way that he imagines they'll be like when they're done. If you're talking about a game in development, it's very difficult not to talk about them as you imagine them to be. You really should talk about them as they are, and not as you imagine them to be."

Schatz discussed his cops and robbers mode with plenty of people, and had most of it implemented in the game, but in the end it all had to be removed.

"We wanted it to be a mode in the existing levels, where one player was the cop," he adds. "But we found that if you added a cop to the earlier levels, if people knew what they were doing, it was super easy to finish those levels, and the cop had no chance. Then if you added a cop to the later levels, it became essentially impossible."

Hence, to make it work, Schatz would have had to build an entirely different set of levels to support the mode -- you know, just in case the three and a half years of waiting wasn't enough for you. As we know now, he opted to leave this out, although he tells me that he's left the potential to build it in later.

Terrible News

During Monaco's development, Schatz's life up to this point had been filled with porting, designing, and tough decisions. But his life became even more difficult for entirely different reasons, when his wife discovered that she had cancer around a year and a half ago.

"She was denied insurance due to pre-existing conditions, and ended up getting on Obamacare," he explains. "Then two weeks later she discovered that she had tumors on her scalp. So that led to..."

Schatz trails off, gathering his thoughts for a moment. "I got married in June 2010, just three months after the IGF. So you know, there's all sorts of things in life...

"I don't know if the tumultuousness of my life over the last three years has slowed down development," he continues, after a short while. "I really have no idea as to how it changed development. Aside from getting married, I did take some time off. But I really do feel like I'm... in a marathon or a bike race or something, they tell you to pedal or sprint through the finish line, and I kinda feel like at this point, I'm going to have to learn how to stop walking, because I'm so trained to put one foot in front of the other."

Transitioning from the life he's led for the past few years, back into perhaps a more regular existence, is something that Schatz is keen to experience.

"Hopefully I'll manage to become a normal person again who has hobbies and interests outside of my work," he says. "Because for three years I've been held up doing nothing except work. It has started to take its toll. I used to have a much easier time being inspired to write. Writing the narrative for Monaco was something I really believed in, and believed that I could do well. But it was probably the biggest decision struggle that I had throughout the entire course of the whole thing.

"At this point, I feel like the words are sort of locked inside me," he adds. "They're in some past life that was creative, and that went to museums, and that played ultimate frisbee, and that sort of thing."

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next

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