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The Curious Case of Monaco, the IGF, and IndieFund

RobinGale Jan 13th, 2016 (edited) 2,503 Never
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  1. The Curious Case of Monaco, the IGF, and IndieFund.
  2. 01.13.16 ~boogiepoprobin
  3. (Credits: The video comes courtesy of Jimmy McCunty. Thank you Jimmy. The Matthew Wegner judging claim was heard either through word of mouth or through Indie-fensible. I can't remember which as I had originally heard it over a year ago, but I found verification from his own website. I did watch Indie-fensible over a year ago, but I have not refered to it since then. I do remember that Fish's connection to IndieFund was presented there, so I've linked to that)
  4.  
  5. Summary: In the 2010 IGF competition, three judges and both IGF co-chairs had financial ties or interests with IndieFund. Two as investors, one as the co-chair to the IGF who was an investor, one as the co-chair who had recieved funds from the other co-chair and one who recieved funds from IndieFund investors the year prior. Monaco, at the same time, was "probably" funded by IndieFund before the IGF winners were announced (and probably while judging was still going on). Monaco won the Seumas McNally Grand Prize which was worth $20,000 and the Excellence in Design award which was worth $3,000.
  6.  
  7. Based on tweets between Matthew Wegner and Andy Schatz, the deal could have been made on Febuary 09, 2010. Two days shy of the finalist judging period deadline. If the video is accurate though, funding began much earlier than that (3 and a half years from Apr 25, 2013) which would put it ALL THE WAY to the very beginning of the 2010 competition in late October of 2009.
  8.  
  9. **********************
  10.  
  11. 1. 2010 IGF competition
  12. 2. Video interview with Schatz
  13. 3. Tweets
  14. 4. Evidence IndieFund existed at the beginning of IGF 2010
  15. 5. Evidence for undisclosed unnamed titles funded on or before March 02nd
  16. 6. Evidence Monaco was the first game funded by IndieFund
  17. 7. Indiefund's total investment amount was $100k
  18. 8. Details on the total games funded "so far" at various times (Supporting all unnamed titles eventually being named)
  19. 9. Details on Monaco's development history in 2010
  20. 10. Evidence Monaco was probably chosen for "further discussion" during the judging period (At least)
  21. 11. People who were judges or co-chairs for IGF 2010 who could have had ties to IndieFund
  22. 12. Andy Schatz discussing the Indie clique
  23. 13. Edmund McMillen's account of IGF 2010
  24. 14. Edmund McMillen's comments regarding the judging conditions in 2009
  25.  
  26.  
  27. 1. 2010 IGF competition:
  28. Monaco won two awards in the 2010 IGF competition. The Seumas McNally Grand Prize ($20,000) and Excellence in Design award ($3,000). https://archive.is/xVSaP
  29. IGF 2010 Submissions deadline was November 01st, 2009: https://archive.is/DZDgC#selection-1413.0-1417.47
  30. IGF 2010 Finalist judging period was between January 11, 2010 to Febuary 11, 2010: https://archive.is/qB5Js#selection-1599.1-1599.146
  31. IGF Nominating and Judging committees are listed to be between 100 and 200 people. https://archive.is/qB5Js (Most of the judges are unknown. There is no judge list for 2010.)
  32.  
  33.  
  34. 2. Video interview with Schatz:
  35. Andy Schatz Interview: Monaco Discussion and Gameplay! (April 25th, 2013)
  36. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hYzBDmjtz0 (https://archive.is/XfQTO) (archive.is/8Wc8E)
  37. (07:30) "KY: So Monaco was one of the first games funded through IndieFund, correct? Schatz: I think it was the first one they signed officially. KY: Okay, so like they had others in mind but Monaco was the first." [This provides more solid evidence it was in fact the first one officially signed. If Ron Carmel's entry of IndieFund being created in Oct 09 is correct, this would place it right at that point with the below entry.]
  38. (09:34) "Schatz: I took a total of $100,000 from them over the past three and a half years and they're all really good game developers so I could lean on them for advice."  [If the period of support is accurate, that would put the start of support at around late October to early November of 2009.
  39.     Vocaroo from (07:30 - 09:40): http://vocaroo.com/i/s1o6uVbIYS6d
  40.  
  41.  
  42. 3. Tweets:
  43. 02.09.10: (@mwegner) Indie-to-indie business dealings rock! Idea to deal in half a day. <3 @andyschatz https://archive.is/jnsRE [IF this is referring to the IndieFund deal being finalized, this WOULD put it before judging was concluded.]
  44. 02.22.10: (@andyschatz) Watching in remotely to a Monaco playtest with @phil_fish, @mwegner, @steveswink and another friendly flashbanger whose name i cant remember https://archive.is/nNEAr [Phil Fish was a recipient of the proto-IndieFund of which Wegner was a part of, Wegner was a founding member of IndieFund. Steve Swink was the other co-chair and also former Flashbang Studios right before the 2010 competition began.]
  45.  
  46.  
  47. 4. Evidence IndieFund existed at the beginning of IGF 2010:
  48. IndieFund founding is listed as October 2009 on Ron Carmel's LinkedIn: https://archive.is/sIIqF#selection-321.0-323.29
  49.  
  50.  
  51. 5. Evidence for undisclosed unnamed titles funded on or before March 02nd:
  52. "Currently, the Fund is investing in a few undisclosed indie titles, which happened “through word of mouth within the indie community”. Eventually, though, there will be a way for developers to submit their games. You can find out more about Indie Fund in this Gamasutra Q&A with Ron Carmel of 2D Boy." March 03, 2010 ~tigsource via Derek Yu (https://archive.is/vpdSw)
  53.  
  54. In an interview on Gamasutra on March 2nd, 2010 regarding IndieFund Ron Carmel states that "Actual funding has already begun" and that "Indie Fund has already backed unnamed independant game projects, and will be announcing the name of them soon." (https://archive.is/KsBwE) This probably places the funding a week before the winners would be announced (and possibly earlier) on March 9th to 13th. (https://archive.is/EFUcI)
  55.  
  56.  
  57. 6. Evidence Monaco was the first game funded by IndieFund:
  58. (Note that the statement "Monaco is the first game we funded via Indie Fund" does not refer to it being the first game that was funded "and" released. That's disproven with the announcement on the Indie Fund website regarding Q.U.B.E. (Q.U.B.E is the first Indie Fund game to be released) https://archive.is/s81Ek [This provides more evidence that Monaco "was" one of the unnamed independant game projects mentioned on March 2nd, 2010.]
  59.  
  60. "Monaco is the first game we funded via Indie Fund" (https://archive.is/6ei1N).
  61.  
  62. "Monaco's financial backing is coming from the Indie Fund, and the game was actually the first project selected by the outfit. It received $100,000 which it will pay back with revenue from game sales." Jan 29th, 2013 ~gameindustrybiz via Rachel Weber (https://archive.is/obTcX)  [A few notes, this validates that it is the first "chosen" chronologically. Thus validating that it is most likely the first of the undisclosed projects from the March 2nd-3rd, 2010 coverage.]
  63.  
  64. 04.24.13: (@Jonathan_Blow) Monaco, one of the first games that was backed by Indie Fund, is now live on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/113020/  Congrats, Andy! (https://archive.is/0Mp6g)
  65.  
  66.  
  67. 7. Indiefund's total investment amount was $100k:
  68. The funding amount for Monaco was $100k. This is confirmed from a tweet Andy Schatz made on April 20th, 2013. https://archive.is/PstU3
  69.  
  70.  
  71. 8. Details on the total games funded "so far" at various times:
  72. "Below is the list of games Indie Fund has funded so far:" From the "games" webpage on IndieFund on Mar 24, 2011. "So Far" indicating that these are the only titles IndieFund had backed at the time. The titles listed are Monaco, Shadow Physics and Q.U.B.E. (https://archive.is/OEHeu)
  73.  
  74. Additionally, the earliest example specifically mentioning it is from March 2011 where Monaco, Shadow Physics and Q.U.B.E are showcased as "games Indie Fund has funded so far". https://archive.is/OEHeu (This references the January 25, 2011 announcement "We are happy to announce that we are currently funding three teams, two of which will likely release their games this year!" https://archive.is/EWrLy
  75.  
  76. [Once again, the prior statements about "already" funding unnamed projects brings into question if the funding took place after the submission process on July 06, 2010 or earlier as one of the unnamed projects considering it was the "First game we funded via Indie Fund" https://archive.is/mKeeG]
  77.  
  78. In "The Swapper Recoups In Less Than Two Days" announcement on the IndieFund website at June 07, 2013 IndieFund reveals a "report card" on the investments they've made. IndieFund lists Shadow Physics as "cancelled" among other games funded by IndieFund. The inclusion of Shadow Physics suggests this is a complete list of "all" investments so far at that time, this further supports the conclusion that Monaco was the first unnamed title that was already recieving financial support by IndieFund by March 02, 2010. https://archive.is/WrumX
  79.  
  80.  
  81. 9. Details on Monaco's development history in 2010:
  82. Right after IGF 2010, Andy Schatz pitched Monaco to Microsoft. They rejected it, but he convinced them to consider a repitch. "Microsoft agreed, and Schatz got to work, adding enhancements like a vector-based lighting system and four more character classes. That process lasted a year, and Schatz survived thanks to a "no-risk loan" from indiefund, the group that funded recent indie smashes Antichamber and Qube. Unfortunately, Schatz's 2011 meeting with Microsoft turned out the same." ~Polygon via Sam Machkovech - Apr 18, 2013 (https://archive.is/84u3E#selection-1793.0-1805.73)
  83.  
  84. "I pitched Monaco to Microsoft Game Studios to be published by them right after the IGF, and they turned it down," he says. "I told them they were crazy and asked them to let me repitch, and they said 'Well, we don't normally let people repitch, but given how early this is, and given that it's all programmer art, sure, go ahead and repitch it." ~Gamasutra via Mike Rose (https://archive.is/gtQs2#selection-451.0-455.329)
  85.  
  86. "Schatz, whose Monaco is a recipient of Indie Fund, said that the "fits and starts" schedule of Monaco would have "given leverage" to a traditional partner (one who could have held him accountable for missing milestones, presumably), but didn't affect his relationship with Indie Fund. Those "fits and starts" came from his ongoing process of looking for console deals." ~endgadget via JC Fletcher 03.02.11 (https://archive.is/xlL14#selection-2087.1-2099.267)
  87.  
  88.  
  89. 10. Evidence Monaco was probably chosen for "further discussion" during the judging period:
  90. From the IndieFund application page on July 07, 2010: "If your submission piques our interest you will hear back from one of the Indie Fund partners within a month (but hopefully much sooner) and we can take it from there. We will look at every submission and we will do our best to get back to everyone who contacts us, but we can’t guarantee it. If a month has gone by and you haven’t heard back, please forgive us, we’re all working on our own games and are managing Indie Fund in our spare time, which sometimes requires us to be a bit spartan with time management. You may always resubmit your game if there has been significant progress since your previous submission and you’d like us to take another look." https://archive.is/tm6jj#selection-387.0-387.658
  91.  
  92. [This suggests that it took about a month to be considered for further contact after submission]
  93.  
  94. From "Q.U.B.E. Recoups Investment Within 4 Days of Steam Release" on the IndieFund website at Jan 16, 2012: "Toxic originally pitched Q.U.B.E. to us in late August of 2010 with an estimated budget of $42k. We approved the game for funding about 2 months later.
  95.  
  96. Back then we had a two stage approval system. We would first vote on whether to continue investigating the project, and then collected budget and schedule information for a final vote the following month. Since we only have one call per month, the approval process took too long. We’ve since changed this to a single vote system where we vote whether to fund a game on the first partner call after they were submitted. That means a typical turnaround time of up to a month instead of up to 2 months." https://archive.is/3XQd#selection-89.0-93.499
  97.  
  98. [This suggests that the likely period of consideration from March 02nd, 2010 is January 02nd - which would coincide with the finalist judging period of January 11th to Febuary 11th. This also provides a strict cut-off of August 2010 to when support for Monaco could have began because Monaco was the "first" IndieFund game chosen, which further supports it being one of the unnamed titles.]
  99.  
  100.  
  101. 11. People who were judges or co-chairs for IGF 2010 who could have had ties to IndieFund:
  102. In two news postings on the IGF website, several judges are announced. These judges are Kellee Santiago, Ron Carmel and Phil Fish. (https://archive.is/yuSE3#selection-813.171-821.1) (https://archive.is/UqSUz#selection-891.61-891.94)
  103.  
  104. Kellee Santiago, Ron Carmel and Matthew Wegner are founding investors for IndieFund. (https://archive.is/KviF1) (https://archive.is/moINu#selection-919.213-919.314 - This also shows Wegner was co-chair during this period). Phil Fish, also has financial ties to IndieFund (Indie-Fensible series - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ON-oL4Mlks&index=2&list=PLkq5lqVabDjzWHB4E30T2W76Yhd_O5R2l) (https://archive.is/H83pm#selection-293.0-293.141)
  105.     Ron Carmel's angel.co page showing he invested in Polytron. https://archive.is/jkATu
  106.     Jonathan Blow's angel.co page showing he invested in Polytron. https://archive.is/WB6Vm
  107.     These were both on Jan 07th, 2012. That was probably just the date they were entered, not when they invested.
  108.     (2D boy's founding is entered as Jan 08, 2012 which corroborates this, as it was founded much earlier. https://archive.is/surGE)
  109.  
  110. The other co-chair, Steve Swink had been a part of Flashbang Studios (Matthew Wegner's company) until late 2009 close to when the 2010 IGF began. Steve Swink recieved seed funding and incubatation office space from Flashbang Studios. (https://archive.is/mlaTb#selection-1235.1-1239.75).
  111.  
  112. Matthew Wegner, co-chair to the IGF, also built the judging system it uses:
  113. "My time allocation shifts month-to-month, of course, but there now are a lot of competing elements besides straight-up game development.  Surprisingly, I find some of these distractions really satisfying!  “Web development” encompasses my contract work–I built the proposals/sessions backend for GDC, and the entry/judging system for IGF." From Matthew Wegner's blog. https://archive.is/KABta#selection-261.138-261.339 (https://archive.is/E7jOL) (https://archive.is/8BFtr - IGF judging tool developed by Flashbang Studios)
  114.  
  115.  
  116. 12. Andy Schatz discussing the Indie Clique:
  117.     "Sean: You're obviously getting the word out there. Talk to me about the support you get from other developers. For people that are on the outside looking in, the indie community can look a bit like a weird Masonic society. So, is there an secret indie handshake that I can learn to get in on more of this?
  118.  
  119.     Andy: Yeah, some of that secret society stuff exists, and I will not talk about it. But no, there's definitely a behind-the-scenes cabal of indie game developers. We don't collude in some sort of negative business fashion, but we definitely support each other and give a lot of advice to each other -- on game design, on art, business decisions, things like that. We all know that we're navigating difficult waters, and the more power that each individual indie discovers, the more successful we all will be. Because it opens up markets for us and just bringing this stuff to light is a good thing for all of us. It's a good thing for the game industry in general. It's a good thing for the distributors, for the publishers, it's just -- what's good for the game industry is going to be good for everyone, right?" An extended interview with Monaco's Andy Schatz - Destructoid - October 08, 2010. (https://archive.is/ORrOH#selection-1917.0-1933.807)
  120.  
  121.  
  122. 13. Edmund McMillen's account of IGF 2010:
  123. And for good measure, there is this quote by Ed McMillen, of Super Meat Boy. Super Meat Boy competed with Monaco in 2010. (http://hawpcast.podbean.com/e/keepin-it-real-with-edmund-mcmillen-and-tommy-refenes/)
  124.  
  125. "...nobody's actually going by these rules that are set in place, they're just going by their own personal rule set, where they think, you know, that – there's arguments that are literally, “hey, this person needs help! And I think letting them win will help!” They directly say, “this game is better than this other game BUT, this game needs some help. Let's make them win.” It's just like, oh my God, there's so much wrong with that.
  126.  
  127.     It's just so fucked up because, not only does it fuck up the winner, it fucks up the loser! It's a horrible thing, it's just like – if we're at this point now, why even enter a game if you've released it and it's done well? Don't enter it! You're not gonna win! Because whatever agenda they choose is gonna choose your fate.
  128.  
  129.     It pains me to have Phil Fish directly tell me that – he straight up just told us that, “I was one of the many people that voted against Super Meat Boy because I knew you guys were going to be fine.”
  130.  
  131.     Tommy: Yeah, that was great, right after we lost, Brian Crecente coming up to us and saying, “oh you guys didn't really need it.” I'm like, “wow my sugar's 330 right now and I have $200 in the bank.”
  132.  
  133.  
  134. 14. Edmund McMillen's comments regarding the judging conditions in 2009:
  135.  
  136. [These quotes are presented to show that it's possible for a handful of judges to push through a game, and that the large "pool" of judges doesn't necesssarily mean that all or even most are judging.]
  137.  
  138. "if the way the judging was setup in a more democratic way then, the argument that if your game isnt as good as pixel junk eden then it shouldn't get in would be more valid.
  139.  
  140. but the fact is the games that got in are only the opinions of 2-6 people and not a combined score of all, or even a majority of judges. I think the only real valid issue with every bitch and moan people have about the igf can be traced back to the fact that their judging system is extremely and obviously flawed.
  141.  
  142. when only a few people are judging a game often times your running into very polarized opinions and personal taste of the people involved.
  143.  
  144. if you have 3 people judging your turn based strategy game, and 2 of those judges arnt fans of that genre.. then your fucked. Judging something by its average score is only valid when its a consensus of all involved.
  145.  
  146. now i realize that having 200+ games and only 20 judges working on them is a big reach.. but it doesn't mean keeping the way its setup now is the best.. because its very obviously not." TIGSource (https://archive.is/o0nm5#selection-1217.0-1233.184)
  147.  
  148. "what is the actual judging process for the igf, exactly?:
  149. now i havent been a judge for a year or so, so forgive me if some of my details are a bit off but this is the jist of what goes on.
  150. currently each judge will judge 10 games that are pre selected for them. each judge has to play each game they are selected for and give them a score from 0-100 for Audio, Graphics, Design, Tech, Innovation and Over all. all the scores are added up and they pick the top 5 games that scored the highest for each section.
  151. Judges can judge more games but dont have to, from what i hear most dont judge more then 15.
  152. so the way it stands with 10 games to judge and 20 judges and over 200+ games submitted, at the very least your game can be judged by 2 people.. but from what i hear there is an average of about 3-5 judges per game when it was all said and done.
  153. its pretty easy to see where the flaws are here." TIGSource (https://archive.is/q7sRz#selection-1217.0-1237.48)
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