It’s not always easy to going against the grain, especially when wanting to make significant changes within a culture. This, however, didn’t stop Pocketwatch Games from making a statement with Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine. Andy Schatz recently wrote a special editorial to Kotaku about why they chose to take the game in the co-op route instead of just going a generic multiplayer one.
“When I first pitched Monaco to a big publisher, it was rejected because “games that require co-op don’t sell well.” And perhaps this is why online games are so often fraught with uncooperative communities,“ was one of the first great points Schatz made about the current trends in the gaming community; obnoxious online multiplayer behaviors. Using Monaco as their own platform for change, they attempted to put their dent in this long-standing trend of online gaming. The best way to promote cooperation in players, instead of the “lone wolf” tendencies most modern multiplayer games, was encourage teamwork through forced cooperation mechanics:
There is a big difference between co-op games that require cooperation vs. games that simply reward it. A game like Team Fortress 2 rewards cooperation but doesn’t require it. If your teammates care more about teabagging than stealing the briefcase, that’s their prerogative and you have no choice but to ignore them or find a new server.
If a player wants to ignore the fact that they are on a team, they can essentially play in a go-it-alone style. Deathmatch trumps Team Deathmatch. This attitude tends to be contagious, too — once the cooperative social fabric starts to break down, it’s hard to build back up.
But in Monaco, the game requires that all four players pile into the same staircase in order to progress, every sixty seconds or so. And when a player dies, the group can’t progress until someone has gone back to heal their teammate. This forced cooperation both reminds players that they are working towards a common purpose, and probably wards off the players that simply don’t like cooperating.
Despite some criticism for their decision, they knew that their co-op mechanics were the best way to make Monaco a solid contender in the long-run with gamers. They eventually knew they found the perfect combination of elements that accentuate co-op play in a very short time into development and release:
Building a co-op game is really not all that different from designing a commenting system for a blog. How do you allow people maximum freedom while maintaining a level of maturity and collaboration that is often missing from anonymous internet cesspools? In Monaco’s case, it came down to demographic targeting, required cooperation, and intimacy.
Reading about the developers inside influences and dedication to co-op gaming trends makes us respect all the more. To Andy and Pocketwatch Games, we salute you in your fight to make co-op a prime experience for both online and local gaming! Be sure to read the rest of the article here and grab the XBLA version of Monaco (finally) on May 10th.