Sneaky Bastards

Trade Secrets: Andy Schatz

Our stealth interview series continues with Pocketwatch Games’ Andy Schatz, developer of top-down heist game Monaco.

[one_third]Our stealth interview series continues with Pocketwatch Games’ Andy Schatz, developer of top-down heist game Monaco.[/one_third]

 


Pocketwatch Games
Developer:
Andy Schatz (Founder)
Game: Monaco
Due: 2012
www.monacoismine.com

 

Andy Schatz isn’t looking to make a stealth game; rather, stealth was simply a natural fit for the multiplayer heist mechanics of Monaco – a game about breaking in, taking all and leaving nothing. Here, we talk to the founder of Pocketwatch Games about his ideas for potential avenues stealth gameplay could explore.


Sneaky Bastards: What is it that attracts you to stealth gameplay?

Schatz: Hide and Seek. There is no modern game that has given me the same thrill as outsmarting a friend while hiding behind mom’s flower bushes in the backyard. Or when we trained my dog to track scents and so we had to learn to run in circles and in erratic directions in order to confuse the trail. I’ve always tried to take inspiration for my games from non-games… I think that in general it’s best to not allow game designs to be too inbred.


Why do you think stealth games fell out of popularity?

Did they? I guess I haven’t been paying attention. I feel like tons of games have a stealth option, like Skyrim and Uncharted. Although I have to admit that it always feels out of place in those games, in terms of pacing. I suspect it’s not that they fell out of popularity but more that their market share didn’t grow as fast as some other genres.


What are your thoughts on stealth gameplay being included as one possible path or playstyle, as opposed to the main focus of a game?

It often feels out of place. In many games where it’s an option, the risk/reward is out of balance with the rest of the gameplay. For instance, in the Uncharted series, stealth is incredibly useful, but it’s take five times as long and if you screw up, you have blown your cover for good. In some of the RPGs which offer “stealth” gameplay, sneaking past your enemies means you don’t get the XP and loot for killing them. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with the concept of having stealth as an option, but I have yet to see a game really get it right.


I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with the concept of having stealth as an option, but I have yet to see a game really get it right.


What would a way forward for stealth gameplay be?

The evolution of game design doesn’t happen linearly. It’s a branching path. There is no “forward” and “backward” in game design. My particular philosophy, which doesn’t apply to everyone, is that I like to try to design games around non-game systems. I take inspiration from movies, playground games, nature, etc, and then try to understand the mechanics that drive those systems. Then I use gaming tropes to try to build those systems into something that is accessible to gamers.

I’m not sure I can describe what kind of stealth games I’d like to see in the future, because I think the important thing about so-called stealth games is generally a genre-less concept: the thrill of outsmarting your pursuers and the fear of being caught. This basic concept runs across many genres. Any game that can viscerally evoke these emotions is one that I’m interesting in playing!


Thanks, Andy! Read more stealth interviews at the Trade Secrets hub, and return tomorrow for a conversation with Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s Game Director, Jean-Francois Dugas.

1 thought on “Trade Secrets: Andy Schatz

  1. \”the thrill of outsmarting your pursuers\”

    This is what is most often lacking from games that allow stealth as a side option. Skyrim was a pretty good example of a game that simply included stealth without including any real stealth play. Do you outsmart your enemy by crouching and having a high enough stealth level? Not really. It just never feels like you\’re being clever.

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