Latest News

Monaco Sells Over a MILLION Copies! Happy Heistings!

Comments 1 week ago

WOW!  Monaco’s candle is still burning!  Even over a year old, the game continues to sell.  

Today we hit a huge milestone, Monaco has sold over a million copies!

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We’ve also been blessed with an awesome community that continues to show their love and support for the game.  Here are some recent fan art pictures.

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Freeedom spooooon!

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So cool.

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Gorgeous!

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Theth ith that you?

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That’s one bad ass Hacker.

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Final Four.

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The crew.

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Need a light?

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Whatya lookin’ at?

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Yep, it’s true. 

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I’m glad someone noticed the Shark with a Laser Beam.

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Poor Lookout…

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Don’t try this at home.

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Such a wonderful group of fans for Monaco.  We are already seeing the same great community build in LEADtoFIRE as we add people into our Alpha every week.  Our dedicated fans play the game everyday and help us make LEADtoFIRE even better.

If you want a chance into the Alpha, join us on our Twitch where we stream every Thursday at 1:00 PM PDT/4:00 PM EDT.

www.twitch.tv/PWGtwitch

LEADtoFIRE will be at PAX PRIME 2014 at the Indie MEGABOOTH! Win a PS4!!

Comments 1 month ago

Come visit us at the Indie MEGABOOTH to play LEADtoFIRE and Pay What You Want at our sweet Merchandise Store!!!

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WAIT?!?! What’s that you see? WIN A PS4 only at Booth #762 just for playing LEADtoFIRE!

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And what’s a PAX without some SWEET SWAG!

Grab these buttons!

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While you’re at it, check out this poster at the store!

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Oh! And we will be selling Monaco merchandise there too! 

Here’s what we have!

The Locksmith Shirt!

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The Lookout Shirt!

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Monaco Collector’s Edition! Comes with signature cards, collectible character cards and more!image

How much you say? PAY WHAT YOU WANT! As in, pay whatever the @#$% you want!

See you at PAX!

LEADtoFIRE is Pocketwatch’s next game, previously called [ARMADA]

Comments 1 month ago

A couple weeks ago, we gave you a sneak peek at the story from our upcoming game, and today we are proud to announce the official title of the project we have been temporarily calling [ARMADA].

Our next game is LEADtoFIRE, an Arcade RTS from the creators of Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine.

To celebrate, here is a look at the official logo:

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And here’s inside look at the development of our logo and branding.  Our goal was to design a logo that is simple and easy to read, as well as provide a glimpse into the world you are about to enter.

We tossed the idea around of bullets being made from lead, but ultimately decided that bullets were better suited for a shooter and LEADtoFIRE is a real-time strategy game.

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Instead of fighting with guns, the main character leads his army with a flag, so we wanted to try some logos with flags as their unique graphical element.  Fire is also a powerful symbol in our world, so we tried some ideas with that too.

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We decided to de-emphasize the importance of a graphical element and emphasize the style of typography instead.  The goal was to have a simple and unique font that people could associate with LEADtoFIRE.

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The super stylized fonts felt too busy, so we cut it back, and ended up with the logo we have today!

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Comments 1 month ago Jerome Jacinto’s [ARMADA] poster timelapse

Jerome Jacinto’s [ARMADA] poster timelapse

New [ARMADA] promotional poster from Jerome Jacinto!

Comments 1 month ago

We stumbled upon an amazing artist on DeviantArt whose digital paintings of animals blew us away.  His name is Jerome Jacinto and we were lucky enough to grab him to do promotional art for [ARMADA].

Here’s a look at his development process for this amazing poster, and you can definitely look forward to seeing more work from him in the future.  Now let’s check out his development process.

It all starts with a mock up composition.

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Do you know about the golden ratio?  It’s mesmerizing…

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Jerome then lines out the characters to bring these animals to life!

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Let’s do a color experiment!  Remember, the colors set the tone.

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Jerome begins coloring, it looks good, but we ain’t done yet!

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And here are the finishing touches, the devil’s in the details.

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AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You will even have a chance to get this poster for yourself.  More details on that soon!

Rats Will Eat Their Own - A Preview of [ARMADA] Lore

Comments 2 months ago

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Fall, 56th day

Quartermaster reports the following stores missing:

  • 12 Cans figs
  • 3 Cans pig hearts
  • Sack of feathers
  • 2 Bundles kindling
  • 1 Blanket

Spirits in the 12th Rattus are low.  Bellafide’s maxim may soon be put to the test.  Generals continue to report that the 9th Corvidae has been dispatched, but my rats are starting to lose faith.

Fall, 61st day

Scouts returned from the Warrens.  Old Guard troops were seen marching North, towards the enemy.

Today was a good day, and we dipped deeper into our dwindling rations over an unruly fire.

Katrina had too much cider, she’ll be whipped when she’s sober enough to care.  The Animal’s Army doesn’t easily conform to military discipline.  We are angels, survivors: We are bred to breed, built to live, even if the process can be messy.  Katrina will survive too.

 

Fall, 81st day

Dispatch reports that the 9th Corvidae intercepted a pork delivery headed to the northern front.  “A Win for the Great Animal’s Army” they called it. Meanwhile, the 12th Rattus chews on fig root.  I doubt we’ll see any of that pork, or the crows for that matter.  Too fat to fly, I suspect.

Quartermaster reports that we’ve one week of rations left.

Katrina is recovering.  Tomorrow we march.

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Fall, 89th day

We took a westerly route around the Warrens, along the ridge abutting the Grey Sea.  We expect to see Bellafide’s troops tonight.  They fly their colors brightly.  They aren’t likely to smell our approach, what with the wind whipping up from the valley.

We’ve been told they are turtled in a valley beyond this one.  If our intelligence is correct, the members of PMC Lacertilia won’t survive till dawn.  My rats are hungry.

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Fall, 90th day

A bloody victory, but the spoils were ruined.  The lizards were accompanied by an attachment of skunks.

The 12th Rattus did what we do best.  We scrabbled down the hill, careful not to kick up the loose shale.  We had only enough cloaks for half the troops, the other half closed their eyes to prevent glare from the moonlight giving away our position.  The lizards were in a metabolic stupor on account of the morose Northern daylight, and so nine lizards fell to the knife before any woke to sound the alarm.

But the alarm did sound, and minutes later we heard the rattle of cannisters.  The tell-tale black and white fled towards the Warrens, leaving their reptilian allies to choke.  I lost four rats to the ‘mustard’.

Worse, the meat is spoiled.  Not a single corpse was untouched by those damned skunks.  Decisions will have to be made.

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Winter, 2nd day

“The Culling” was barbaric, the church famously corrupt.  Not once did the Pontiffs select one of their own to be sent to the ‘Shoppes.  And so when Bellafide rose up against the Pontiffs, we all followed.  

Then the clergy went into hiding and Bellafide rose to power on the slogan “Have Faith in Freedom”.  But when we starved, did she replace The Culling?  No.  She left us to fend for ourselves, and so the aristocracy became fat on the meat of my brothers.  “Pigs will eat pigs, and rats will eat their own,” she said.  What she really meant was that the strong will eat the weak, and the rich will eat the poor.

Not us.  That is not the way of the Animal’s Army.

We are all hungry.  Tonight we vote.

 

Winter, 3rd day

Quartermaster reports that we have food to last 3 weeks: flanks, leg, offal are all in prime condition, back meat was ruined and was discarded.  Today we march with full bellies.

Katrina will be missed.

 

Controller conundrums, the many evolutions of [ARMADA]’s controls

Comments 2 months ago

A love of the Real Time Strategy genre but a hatred of sitting at a desk is [ARMADA]’s raison d’être.  We wanted to build an intense RTS that felt native to the couch, and ideal on a controller.

Finding the ideal gamepad-RTS control scheme is like wandering in the desert.  A control scheme that seems to work perfectly on paper is most likely nothing more than a mirage.  Some little piece of that ‘perfect’ control scheme just doesn’t work, or feels inferior to mouse-keyboard, and you can’t know these things until the control scheme is fully implemented.

Here’s a quick overview with what we have explored, and where we are now (Hint: we’ve finally found the oasis!)

Version 1 - Follow the Leader

Controllers lend themselves to directional movement, rather than absolute positional information.  That’s why most console games feature a single player character, and generally try to avoid menu movement.

[ARMADA] accommodates for this by featuring a player character and a bunch of minions who follow him around.  The player executes his strategy at a strategic level through player movement, but at a tactical level, your minions are AI-controlled.

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So… in the first version of the game, minions would simply follow the player around.  Unfortunately, this meant that the player couldn’t leave his army to defend his base while he went off to scout the enemy.

Version 2 - Rally Flag

So… what if the player could toggle between having his army follow him and telling them to guard a location?  For this experiment, we tried making it while holding Right Trigger, the army would follow you, and then when you released it, you would plant a flag in that location and your army would rally to the flag.

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Go here my minions!

Ahhh… the satisfaction of a one button design.

There was one wrinkle with this control scheme: What do minions do while they are travelling to the flag?  Sometimes the player wants to control the tactical behavior of their units in movement.  In Starcraft, the possible behaviors are:

  • MOVE: Move to a location, ignoring all enemies along the way
  • ATTACK: Move to a specific enemy, and attack them, ignoring all other units along the way
  • ATTACK MOVE: Move to a location, but stop and attack if you encounter an enemy along the way.

[ARMADA] is very much a game of managing imperfect information. You will rarely enter a conflict knowing the exact outcome of that battle, so if a fight turns for the worst, it is best to flee and fight another day.  This was only possible with command that tells units to MOVE and not attack under any circumstances.

Version 2.5 - Move and Attack Move

So we implemented these behaviors.

We had two triggers, LT for MOVE to this location and RT for ATTACK MOVE to this location.

[ARMADA] now allowed you to either attack or flee.

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RUN AWAYYY!!!!

This even enabled skilled players to kite melee units with ranged units.

Though satisfied with the general movement, we found ourselves wanting to explore more specific types of movement.  We wanted to issue attack orders at a distance. But we couldn’t do it, so what do we do?

Version 3 - Positional Unit Movement

Well we had a controller feature left unused, the Right Analog Stick.  So could we use it for something, perhaps for targeting? Why not!

Imagine that you could use the Right Stick to offset your Rally Flag some set distance away from your character.  Then you use RT to place the flag.  We had a dual stick shooter-like control scheme.  It was fast, easy, responsive, our favorite iteration yet!  This even allowed us to implement focus fire for taking down high-value targets!

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Move here my friends!

We were totally satisfied with this control scheme, and it seemed to be the one we were going to settle on, until…

That Damn Mouse

Redesigning a mouse-keyboard-centric genre for the controller was hard enough.  Now that we had a control-scheme that we were satisfied with, we realized that we were going to have to work backwards and design a mouse-keyboard control scheme that emulated our controller implementation!  After all, we expect the PC to be [ARMADA]’s launch platform.

So now we had to design a game made for the controller based on a genre defined by keyboard/mouse back into a game that could use the keyboard/mouse even though the game is designed without the keyboard/mouse controls it was based on.  Ya, it’s nonsense.

So, then we had an idea, based on Monaco actually.

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He never saw it coming…

Version 4 - Vector Unit Movement

So keyboard/mouse messed up everything, sorta, I mean we had a great positional targeting system.  So let’s think about it, a mouse moves a cursor in positional space on your screen, so a mouse SHOULD work, right?  So what happened?

We didn’t want one control scheme to have an advantage over the other, so to keep the things fair, we had to LIMIT the functionality of the mouse.  This means the mouse would have to be restricted by a circular boundary in the game, ultimately making the mouse feel like a gimp, crappier version of what it’s supposed to be.

But in Monaco, we had a vector targeting system, and here’s how it worked.

You point, you shoot, and it hits something.  Perhaps [ARMADA] could be the same way.  You point a vector and you deploy your units in a direction.

So vector unit movement was the name of the game, but many questions arose.  Where do the units go? Do they travel from the reference point of the player character?  What if the player character moves, or they move the Right Analog stick?  Do units travel in a line until they hit a wall?  What if you want to move past a wall, or up a hill? What about fog of war? What if units weren’t near you?

There were just too many problems, so we reverted back to a tried and true method, because for now, simpler is just better.

Current Version - Soooo Not Final

We rolled back to a one button movement system, but this time include both MOVE and ATTACK MOVE onto a single trigger.  RT to MOVE to me.  Release RT and ATTACK MOVE to this position.

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Move with me!

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Attack here!

It’s easy to pick up and play, even for people who haven’t played an RTS before.

So that’s it, that’s where we stand.  The game feels native to the controller, and rather than feeling inferior to the mouse-keyboard, it simply feels like a unique, comfortable, fun-to-interact-with plaything.

There are a number of other questions we have yet to answer: Can we find a way to focus fire on high-value targets? Can we control sub-groups so that we can perform flanking maneuvers or targeted strikes with stealth/flying units?  As always, more exploration lies ahead…

Two games or one? Tightening the focus on armies, not heroes

Comments 3 months ago

[ARMADA] development progress has been really satisfying so far.  We are implementing designs and features at such a high velocity that we can’t help but be excited to see what’s next.  Morale is through the roof.

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That’s not to say that the core design is fully implemented.  There was a major feature that we had kept on the back burner because we couldn’t figure out the specifics of the mechanical design.

That feature is Hero Abilities.

(I did an hour long explanation of the problem, and our ORIGINAL proposed solution, on twitch)

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As a reminder, [ARMADA] is an RTS that you can comfortably play on a controller.  That means no unit selection, no orders, no “simulated mouse cursor”.  Armies in [ARMADA] are autonomous and controlled indirectly by a player-controlled hero.

From the beginning, we always envisioned the hero not just as an army-control device, but also as a unit himself, generally playing support roles like healers and spellcasters in Starcraft.  We wanted to avoid the feeling that the player hero was just a shitty mouse cursor.

If we had already solved the basic “RTS on a gamepad” problem, Hero Abilities were going to be the final piece in the game design puzzle that made [ARMADA] even MORE fun to play, MORE accessible than a game like Starcraft.

Let the hero shoot!  Let them jump!  Let them stealth!  Maybe go fishing!  How about yoga?  It’ll be awesome!

When we finally tried to implement our Hero Ability design, we kept going around in circles.  Ultimately we decided we were working too much.  Time to take a day off to clear our game-design muddled heads.  It was worth it.

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The extra time helped us think about the game we want to make.  Hero abilities made the game FEEL more like a MOBA than an RTS.  But we’re not making a MOBA.  We’re not making a dungeon crawler or a dual stick shooter.  We’re making an RTS.

The last thing we want is to make a hybrid, a mash-up, of two genres.  Most of the time hybrid games just end up being mediocre at two things.

So let’s make an RTS, just an RTS, and let’s make it great!

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So what if there was no hero?  Or at least, what if the “hero” unit was not of a different class than the other units on the field?  What if the player could promote any unit in the field to be the commander?

HMMMMMM……

This solves a number of design problems for us:

1) Hero Abilities are baked in to Commander selection

Rather than adding upgradable Hero Abilities (as we had planned), the player can get the same variety of experience simply by assuming control over his various different unit classes.  Want to control a flying hero? Assume control over a flying creature.  Want to sneak into the enemy base?  Assume control over a stealth unit.

2) Split forces and unit control

We’ve struggled with how to allow the player to control only a small subset of their forces so they could, for instance, lead just your stealthed units into the enemy base while leaving your main force at home.  Now that you have control over a standard class of unit, we can accomplish single-class unit control with one additional button.  This also allows us to have split-army attacks.

3) FEELS more like an RTS

RTS games are about armies, not heroes.  Making the player hero simply be another unit on the field allows us to put the thematic focus on the group rather than the individual.  Large scale battles can be the forefront of the strategic experience.

We don’t know how far this rabbit hole will lead, but it’s a really interesting angle to explore for our game.  Look forward to our demonstration matches on at www.twitch.tv/PWGtwitch to see how it turns out!

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[ARMADA] Mini-tournament, highlight match between Andy Schatz vs Larmere

Comments 3 months ago

We did a stream recently on our Twitch channel at www.twitch.tv/PWGtwitch which resulted in an amazing match between Andy Schatz and community member Laremere.

The stream began as a demonstration match between two alpha testers, but quickly turned into a tournament when Laremere jumped into chat and challenged Andy Schatz to a fight.  The winner of that battle would then face off with the previous champion to see who would reign supreme.

The match turned out to be an intense and unpredictable one with commentary provided by Andy Nguyen.  I can’t begin to describe how exciting it is that our pre-alpha version of [ARMADA] is already a fun and competitive experience.

All the art, units, structures, and design are works in progress, so nothing is final.  We still have a long ways to go, and we hope to talk about our future art direction soon.

Check out the whole highlighted series here, and look forward to future competitive matches of [ARMADA] on our Twitch channel.

Monaco turns One today - Get the IGF-winning prototype for FREE!

Comments 4 months ago

On April 24th, 2013, Monaco came out on Steam.  To celebrate, we’re giving away the IGF-winning version from 2010… for free.

(Renamed Monte Carlo to avoid confusion with the final game)

http://www.mediafire.com/download/cadx1c16qd8o797/MonteCarlo.zip

Below is a look back at the 3.5 years of development and some of our favorite moments with fans, post release:

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One year later then game’s visuals had improved(?) incrementally…

And then in May of 2011, Andy Nguyen joined the team, designing levels, doing QA, running our community, and helping with the core game design:

Various PAX conventions provided us with deadlines and precious moments to interact with fans:

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Two days before launch, on April 22, we had to delay the XBLA version.

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And finally on April 24, 2013…

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It came out!  A few days later… #1 on Steam!

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Reviews were stellar:

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We even got our own strip on Penny Arcade!

Plenty of other great (and… well… not so great) fan art came rolling in.  We loved it all. :)

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There was even cosplay!

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Nearly a million copies sold later, we’re pretty proud to say, what’s ours is yours, and what’s yours is mine.

Guys and gals… no matter what you hear about indie game development… no matter how many people tell you it’s hard, and it’s heartbreaking…

GAME DEVELOPMENT IS FUN.

-Andy Schatz

@andyschatz