But is it Art?

Thanks to a €122,500 award from Creative Europe’s MEDIA sub-programme, Northern Irish game development studio Italic Pig is about to embark on their second epic adventure. First they took on quantum physics. This time, they’re taking on the Renaissance.


One year ago saw the release of Schrödinger’s Cat And The Raiders Of The Lost Quark, a quantum physics themed action adventure game. Schrödinger’s Cat was published by Team17 (creators of Worms, and 2015 Publishing Hero from Develop Industry Excellence Awards), originally released on Steam for Windows, Mac & Linux, and has since become the first Northern Irish game to be released to Xbox One and PS4. Earlier this year, the game was nominated for Best Writing In A Video Game by the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and the Writers’ Guild of Ireland.


Since then, Italic Pig’s director Kevin Beimers has been working with a number of indie game studios on story, dialogue and character development, all the while secretly working on a pitch for his next passion project, entitled Mona Lisa.


“Mona Lisa is one of the most identifiable faces in the world, and yet there’s so much mystery surrounding who she is. Out of all of Leonardo Da Vinci’s talents – painting, sculpting, engineering, inventing – what is it about Mona Lisa that makes her Da Vinci’s greatest work?” muses Kevin, creator/writer of the Mona Lisa project.


“And then I thought: what if the painting isn’t his greatest creation, but the girl herself?

In the game, you will play as Mona Lisa, who happens to be a Renaissance robot. Far from a clunky bundle of ropes and flywheels, she’s a marvel of engineering perfection, the culmination of all of Da Vinci’s talents, truly his greatest work. She also happens to be Renaissance Europe’s greatest art thief, breaking into 16th century strongholds to heist paintings from the other great masters.


“I’m aiming for an over-the-top mashup of Dan Brown, Terry Pratchett and pre-steampunk,” adds Kevin. “Hey, nobody ever got anywhere by thinking medium, right?”


The recognition received from previous projects and an intriguing concept pitch put Italic Pig in good standing as the studio to watch for narrative-driven video games, which is exactly what Creative Europe’s Media sub-programme aims to support.


“We were delighted to give Italic Pig advice and support with their application, and are very pleased that their application to Creative Europe was successful, making them the first video games company in Northern Ireland to receive funding from Creative Europe. Funding for the development of video games is a new addition to Creative Europe’s MEDIA sub-programme, which supports the European audio-visual sector,” from Agnieszka Moody, Director, Creative Europe Desk UK.


Northern Ireland Screen is also on board with Mona Lisa. With a long and illustrious reputation for helping Northern Irish entertainment studios get their big ideas off the ground, Northern Ireland Screen has approved match funding toward the Mona Lisa project.


Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, said; “We are delighted to be working with Italic Pig on such an exciting, engaging and unique concept. Italic Pig is a prominent member of an emerging group of interactive content creator developers based in Northern Ireland. Expectations for this project to succeed in the market place are extremely high and we are keen to support Kevin and his team at Italic Pig throughout the development process. We are also greatly appreciative of the funds that the Creative Europe MEDIA Award provides and extremely proud that key Northern Ireland talent can access this strand of funding.”


With the funds promised from Creative Europe and Northern Ireland Screen, Italic Pig aims to spend all of next year in development on Mona Lisa with a release in early 2017, using as much local talent as possible.


“There’s such a passionate games industry in Northern Ireland with great stories to tell, and with help from sources like Creative Europe and Northern Ireland Screen we’re getting a chance to tell them in a big way.”

Ross Morrison