Mona Lisa, the mischievous art heist and forgery game in development by Northern Irish game developers Italic Pig, delivered a grand slam to win the Very Big Indie Pitch in London last week.
Thirty-seven indie game companies participated in this year’s Very Big Indie Pitch (VBIP), arguably the highlight of the PocketGamer Connects conference last week in London. Each participant has no more than three minutes to showcase his or her game to a staggered panel of 15 judges, composed of industry veterans, journalists, enthusiasts and evangelists.
Italic Pig served up a game and pitch so grand, that it “made history”, said Dean Noakes, Indie Evangelist and one of the judges. It was the first time in the seven years the VBIP has been running that all judges agreed unanimously that a single game, Mona Lisa, was the clear winner.
“I couldn’t believe it when they announced Mona as the winner,” says Kevin Beimers, Founder of Italic Pig and Creator/Director of Mona Lisa. “Actually, yeah, I could totally believe it; it’s a fantastic game if I may say so myself. I’ve been working on it for a year and I’m still not tired of it.”
Mona Lisa is an artistic new adventure in development that combines stealth-platforming with speed-painting. Mona Lisa steals masterpieces from 16th century strongholds using the gadgets of Da Vinci to get in and out. When Mona locates her target painting, she quickly speed-paints a slapdash forgery of the masterpiece mid-heist to leave behind in the frame to fool the guards. The better the forgery, the easier the escape.
“In reality it’s much more complex and creative than the words ‘speed painting’ gives credit for,“ reported Emily Sowden from Steel Media (PocketGamer) after the event. One of the other Steel Media judges, Sam Simmons, thought that Mona Lisa delivered “an ingenious combination of platforming and speed painting with a solid narrative to drive us forward”.
Upon winning the event, Italic Pig was awarded an Amazon Kindle Fire HD10 for game development, a certificate worth $4000 of Steel Media’s promotional services, and an engraved VBIP Baseball Bat (which proved very inconvenient at airport security).
Next up for Italic Pig is the opportunity to hone their pitching skills further as they participate in Games London’s Pitch Bootcamp and Games Finance where they will be seeking additional finance to bring Mona Lisa to release.
In 2015, Mona Lisa was awarded a sizeable grant from the Creative Europe Media Subprogramme for the development of narrative-led video games, which was matched by an equally sizeable investment from Northern Ireland Screen.
Italic Pig specialises in character-driven adventures of the irreverently epic variety. Their debut game – Schrödinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark – is a quantum physics action-adventure game for Xbox One, PS4 and Steam that has been nominated for several writing and industry awards, including Best Game Script from the Writers’ Guilds of both Great Britain and Ireland. Mona Lisa recently won Best Casual Game at Game Connection Europe, and has since been marked as “one to look out for”.