N Arcade: Special Edition

27 Sep / by: M&R / 36 comments / tags :

The extended blog silence (3 months?! that may be a record, even for us. Here’s hoping we never break it!) should not be taken as a sign of inactivity, but rather intense activity leaving (sadly) no time to blog. A quick recap:


When we left off in June we were porting the simulation code (we started with the most important part, the player movement and collision).


July was spent porting all of the entities. Actually, it was more or less rewriting all of the entities from scratch, since the existing code was a useless, hacktastic mess. The end result is that the various stupid little misbehaviours in the original have now been removed: floorguards can be placed on any flat floor (i.e halftiles are fine), drones can be placed freely instead of only in the center of a grid cell, and (most excitingly) if you have tons of drones on a level they don’t drift out of sync with each other. There were so many many bugs in the original code…we’ve learned so much since then. No doubt in this rewrite we’ll create a new generation of bugs πŸ™‚


August was spent “porting” (again, read: rewriting) all of the game and player logic (i.e being crushed, falling to your death, running out of time, collecting gold, etc.) and the ragdoll. This last item is still not perfect — the original has more “bounce” and is generally a lot more hilarious to watch, and the current ragdoll limbs have a disturbing propensity for crawling across the floor after being exploded — but it will do in a pinch, until we have some time to tweak it.


The first two weeks of September were spent integrating all of the graphics and sound; this was surprisingly easy thanks to the magic of .swc files, we had assumed it would be a nightmare since we had only ever worked with “pure code” actionscript 3 and never had to involve assets made in Flash.


(Hilarious note: the only way we can “remember” any of this stuff is by reviewing our work logs; memories of the summer are just a blur of work (plus attending many game-related events — there have been so many exciting things going on in Toronto lately!), but the logs show exactly what we were doing each day, which is super-useful in cases like this where you’re blogging retroactively about 3 months in the past!)


Which brings us abruptly to the present: these past two weeks were spent testing out all of our hard work by applying it to the very first exciting incarnation of the new “N v2” codebase: N Arcade

In retrospect the title of this post probably gave that surprise away. Oh well!

For all of you in and around Toronto, N Arcade will be unveiled (with fanfare, undoubtedly) at Nuit Blanche, which takes place October 2 from 6:57pm until sunrise. Specifically, it’ll be located in the atrium of the TIFF Bell Lightbox, as part of The Arcadian Renaissance, another great event brought to you by the Hand Eye Society.

The fantastic and multi-talented Jph Wacheski was tasked with building all of the cabinets for the Arcadian Renaissance, and he did an amazing job — here are some pics:

Anyway, if you’re in the Toronto area, come check it out if you can!


So What’s New?
It turns out that rewriting N really paid off — even if it did take twice as long as writing the original. Most of the work in making N Arcade was getting all of the menus/game logic/etc. stuff (and fixing a few bugs), figuring out Adobe Air (necessary after we noticed a last minute disaster: that when you run the flashplayer in fullscreen it HALVES the framerate.. WTF?!?!), and it was really amazing to have a nice self-contained game simulation that could just be easily dropped into the app framework and used.

Getting this project done was a totally awesome — albeit incredibly stressful, tiring and frenetic — experience. What’s even more exciting is that the v2 code is flexible enough to allow e.g new types of tiles or whatever sorts of similar changes we might want to experiment with.


Tragically, we didn’t have time to make any new levels, so this first iteration of N Arcade has three sets of 64 levels (“hard”, “harder”, “hardest”, haha), which are made of slightly modified levels specially chosen from all existing versions of N/N+. We tried to choose mostly easy levels, since the cabinet will be in a public place and is likely to be approached by many n00bs — and we don’t want any of them to get too frustrated/enraged.

Having said that, it is N, and it is an arcade game, so failing should be more or less expected if you’re not, you know, hardcore; if any of you N fans stop by the Bell Lightbox during Nuit Blanche, you will be more or less guaranteed a spot at the top of the highscores list. Extra cred!


We also played around with the rules a bit to make it more of a “quarter eater”: your timebar doesn’t reset when you die (it just keeps going down), and gold only turns into bonus time when you reach the exit. This was just an experiment to try and keep the flow of the game quick — the problem with regular old N in an arcade setting is that most players only stop playing N when they give up or get stuck on a level, which means that they often spend several minutes, if not hours, trying to beat the same level. This is not ideal when there is a potential lineup of people waiting to play!

Possibly the most intriguing part of the rewriting process was including support for an exciting feature which was vital to N Arcade: multiplayer! Maybe the two joysticks in the above pics kind of gave that away? πŸ™‚

Before anyone gets too excited, this is strictly local multiplayer: no networking is involved. Still, it’s quite fun, and yet another feature that would have been impossible to add to the old code-base without massive headaches. N Arcade is setup for two-player co-op, but we have some other ideas for things to try in N v2.0.


So, now that we’ve finished frantically working on N Arcade, we get to begin frantically preparing for a trip to Tokyo — we’re leaving tomorrow! This will hopefully be as inspiring and energizing as the previous trip. Sadly Jon won’t be there this time, but our friend Jason “6955” DeGroot‘s there. (N trivia: the level name “Below The Groot” is a reference to both a classic DOS game (and the book of the same name) and Jason!) (N trivia #2: we have not actually used that name in a published level yet, but it’s in the queue)

We’ll be taking a 1-month break from N-related development to work on various small research projects, and then we’ll return to getting N v2.0 finished. Huzzah! And from there, who knows what the future will bring πŸ˜‰

comments ( 36 )

  • W00T!!! Have fun in Tokyo! and I Would Love to play this the INSTANT it comes out, so let me know when the beta starts. Love you guys!

  • You guys are amazing. I wish I was in Canada to play this.

    Hypothetically, how many pennies would I have to save in order to buy one of these cabinets?

  • Thanks! That version is probably going to be specific to the arcade cabinet, so unless you’re in the Toronto area you might not see it πŸ™

    Although apparently this year Fantastic Fest had a set of indie arcade cabinets, so conceivably this one might be part of some future event somewhere.

  • @Maximo: we actually hadn’t thought about this! Sponsoring the cabinet for Nuit Blanche cost $1000, which all went to parts and (lots of) labour. Given the immense weight and bulk, you would possibly be better off sourcing/building one yourself, locally.

    We don’t want to distribute N Arcade publicly, but if someone was going to build a cabinet for it, I’m sure we could work something out to get a version to them.

    Actually this is a really interesting idea, which makes us think that the current version is a bit primitive — for instance it’s hardcoded to run only the built-in levels, but you might want to have it run your own set of levels.

    Also, perhaps Jph would be willing to make someone a cabinet — you could write and ask how much this would cost? It’s a lot of work, and we’re not sure if he has time, and also shipping would possibly be insane… but this idea of boutique cabinets is something we hadn’t considered that could be really cool!

    We’re hoping that we can make some other little games for it too.

  • that sounds like loads of fun! looking forward to seeing the results

  • I’m really happy that you have included local multiplayer. I hope it will make it to the final version of the game (along with gamepad support, preferably). (For me, it’s probably the most attractive feature of N+ and, in a way, Xbox 360 itself.)
    Some advices for multiplayer design from the point of view of a player:
    – Minimalize the time a player has to wait for the other players, typically when she dies or finishes a level. I suppose this can be done easily in the arcade version by returning the player to the starting point of the level when she dies and letting all the players lose control simultaneously after the time runs out. This sounds like a possibly good system (for softcore play), perhaps it could be included in the full version (as a mode). Another possibility is making all the remaining players die when one dies, perhaps with forcing them all to complete the level together.
    – The more simultaneous players the game supports, the better. Some modes could extend the number of players by including hot seat option (like in Micro Machines V3) but that’s not very important.
    – Support (perhaps with a disclaimer) all the maps in multiplayer (e. g. all the maps from the old N), not just those specifically designed for multiplayer. Ideally in all the modes.
    – The players should be able to physically interact. (I guess that’s obvious.) For example, I like the idea of mutual “wall”-jumping off another player.

  • amazing amazing amazing

    Also, there are waaaaaaaay too many buttons on that arcade!

  • This is exciting!
    I “only” live 4 or 5 hours away from toronto. Too bad I’ll miss it…

  • The fact that i’m serriously contemplating spending $1000 on a game I can play for free should say something about what you guys have done to my life…

    I’ll look and see what, and more importantly when, I could afford something like this and contact you guys. Thanks for considering!

  • I think you should be able to build a cabinet with a computer/monitor in it for considerably less than $1000.. i guess it depends on whether you have the space/tools to refurbish the cabinet yourself though πŸ™‚

    I don’t know, I hate to be a “buzz kill” but I feel like that’s a LOT of money, I don’t know if it would be worth it just for a slightly different version of N!! I’m worried about the epic buyer’s remorse that might ensue. But thanks for being so excited, it’s definitely a wonderful feeling! We just don’t want to disappoint you.

    If you’ve got an old PC+monitor lying around, some tools/handyness, and can find an old arcade cabinet, probably you could DIY for pretty cheap.

    Anyway when we get back we’ll take some video to show the community, which will hopefully give you a better idea of what the game’s all about.

  • […] metablog: N Arcade: Special Edition “These past two weeks were spent testing out all of our hard work by applying it to the very first exciting incarnation of the new ‘N v2′ codebase: N Arcade.” […]

  • Hello, M&R.
    I just though you might be interested in watching N video I made, it’s on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwrkTEaTXk4 .
    There might be tricks you didn’t even know are possible in N. Hope you enjoy it.
    Oh and thx for N and for work you put into 2.0

  • Congratulations on finishing the port! I hope you two have fun in Japan. May your trip be inspiring and wonderful.

  • After playing N at the lightbox last night I’m wondering where you plan on permanently placing it as I am ready to sink so many quarters into that thing. N plays so much better with a joystick, the precision I was able to get blew me away.

  • I just got back from Toronto, and stumbled upon N Arcade at about 5 in the morning. I actually had no idea you guys were from Toronto, and was very surprised to see a new N there, as I have been a big fan of the original and the Xbox live version.

    I’m sad to say I missed meeting the two of you at Nuit Blanche, but I really enjoyed the game. Some stranger and I ended up finishing the hard setting in one sitting, and when I checked we were top of the leaderboard, so that was fun. Co-op was great, and it was surprisingly easy to coordinate our attacks on the levels.

    Great job, guys. I’m very impressed.

  • /Fantastic/ fantastic stuff. Can hardly wait.

  • Awesome! We’re sad that we missed Nuit Blanche but it’s great that it seems to have gone well.

    We don’t know where the cabinet will be going — we had planned on bringing it back to the office so we could make some little games for it, but we’re not getting back to Toronto until the end of the month so until then it may be at the Lightbox (or our friends at Capy might take it for us).

    ETA: it is still at the Lightbox — you may be able to ask staff to let you play it!

    All the cabinets may be making appearances at events and establishments in the future, so we’ll definitely keep you posted on the location of ours…hmm, maybe we’ll make a little map or something to help.

  • Hey guys, loving the progress on the new game, but I have one issue! (Gasp!)

    I don’t like the name, N 2.0. I’ve waited 5 years for v1.5, and N 2.0 sounds like a completely different game altogether.
    Pwease pwease pwease pwease pwease don’t name it N 2.0!
    I’m not alone either…

    23:54:01 I’ve waited for 1.5 for years, as have quite a lot of people
    23:54:06 I’d rather have 1.5 than 2.0
    23:54:11 2.0 makes it sound like a different game
    23:54:11 Me too.
    23:54:16 Yeah.
    23:54:18 I’d rather 1.5 too
    23:54:20 Like N+

    Also, there is a bug in v1.4b you may not be aware of which I discovered only a few months back: If you place a floor guard within one of the outer wall tiles the game crashes! I don’t know if you’ll be able to fix that, but I’m sure you’re capable πŸ˜‰

    Anyhow, keep up the good work guys!

  • (I’m late to the party)

    I went and played N Arcade on Hardest and part of the way through my friend left and a stranger took over and we continued to have fun and then I had to leave but I swear I would’ve got a high score if I’d’ve stayed until the end >:

    Every time I’ve played N multiplayer has been pretty fantastic so I’m looking forward to this stuff (actually I’ve been looking forward to it forever, but… even more so now).

  • Frankly, I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on that cabinet. Sadly, even if it was for sale (or more likely auctioned), I’d never be able to afford it -and- the shipping to get it down here (Florida).

  • I wonder how much it would cost to get one of these in my home…

  • I think v2.0 is actually better than v1.5 – It’s a completely new codebase so it makes a lot more sense for it to up the major revision number.

    Looks awesome either way πŸ˜€

  • Woah, hold on, there is a F***ing 1.5 out? Tell me how to get it. Tell me soon… unless you want to get me pissed… and you don’t want me to get pissed…So TELL ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Hi I’m new to this blog.

    After the Club Penguin (Disney) non-affiliated blog Greenrockz.com ended (and then became a ‘spammy’ search engine), I decided to find other blogs [beside the fact that CP (club penguin) blog was at ‘teh internets’.]

    Instead [of going there,] I decided to go here… a few months late.

    Anyways, about the guy(s) that hate the idea of having v2.0 instead of 1.5……


    I definetly like the idea. It [sorta] refs the episode numbers (with the 1st ep being ep 00.)

    May the N be with Us all — otherworld99

  • p.s: I could’ve lived in Toronto [Canada,] but I can’t. ‘Cos I live in the US of A!

    (to be specific, Virginia.)

    May the N be with Us all — otherworld99

  • @Geti: I agree with ya. πŸ˜‰

  • Hello,

    How was Tokyo? Can we have a concept drawing of a yeti?

    Your fanbase

    (You’re nearing 5 posts per year again! πŸ˜› )

  • Darn it this takes too long! Post. Darn it post!!!

  • Not trying to sound like an ass, but you’re a few weeks away from passing your last silent period!

  • Send us a Yeti or a Robot… or I send the zombies.

  • ohai. Christmas is right around the corner. A post would be swell.

  • I think y’all are going to break the record again

  • Yo guys, you’re getting pretty close to “breaking it”. πŸ˜›

  • Broken xD

    On other topic: Please clean the leaderboards, delete the hacked scores, or choose a moderator of them, please!

  • (3 months?! that may be a record, even for us. Here’s hoping we never break it!)

    You just did -.-

  • You guys BETTER have something to show for this! Rargh!

Leave a reply