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Monaco developer announces Armada, an RTS designed for gamepads

"We're gonna be the first to do it right."

Monaco: What's Yours is Mine developer Pocketwatch Games has announced its next project as Armada [codename], a "great gamepad-RTS."

But wait, don't real-time strategy games always suck with a gamepad, you ask? Pocketwatch founder Andy Schatz will be the first to acknowledge that, but this hasn't stopped the developer from plunging forth on this quest anyway.

"With apologies to those devs who have tried, no one has ever made an RTS that played well on a dual analog gamepad," Schatz said in Armada's announcement on Pocketwatch's blog. "We're gonna be the first to do it right."

Schatz was adamant that the game should "feel - emotionally and intellectually - like you are playing a traditional RTS like SC2" and that "all mechanics must be equally fun on dual analog as they are on keyboard/mouse."

Don't worry, the game won't look like this. Work hasn't even begun on Armada's art.

To streamline the genre for a gamepad, Armada will put players in control of a "Champion" capable of building structures, leading troops, scouting and fighting. Your units, however, will be autonomous, but have different behaviours based on their class. This way you won't have to micromanage everyone all the time and will have a more direct role in the action.

Schatz further clarified why he went this route in an interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun. "The gamepad is built for controlling characters, but less good for micro-managing units in an RTS," he explained. "So what we've done is create a character, in a similar way to a MOBA, but the strategies and behaviours of the game world are definitely those you would be familiar with from an RTS: you are building factories that pump out units, and you are taking advantage of their particular intelligence in your strategy."

Ultimately, Schatz is looking to make the genre more accessible. "With Monaco, we took an old school genre (stealth), we simplified the controls, and then we built an incredibly complex game that could be played at high and low skill levels alike," Schatz said in his Armada reveal. "I want to do the same with the RTS genre."

Armada is being developed with both competitive and co-operative play in mind, though Schatz noted that he's only a month into development. He has absolutely no idea when it will come out as he said he started Monaco thinking it would take six months and just be a small XBLIG game, but then he got carried away and turned it into the popular indie wonder its become after a three-year dev cycle. Armada could well end up following the same trajectory, but it's really too soon to say. The developer confirmed to RPS that he's planning to put Armada on Steam Early Access "as soon we have a build that is playable."