By M&R | November 3, 2014
For those of you curious about the current status of N++, we thought that it might be a good idea to quickly review what we’ve done, what we’re doing, and what remains to be done.
(Let’s just get this out of the way first: we’re still not ready to announce a release date! This game will be done when it’s done, and hopefully this post will explain why it needs to be that way. But we’re almost there!)
We’ve been busy! The “simulation” or core part of the game has been mostly done for a while — it feels great, you can play levels, Race and Co-op rules work etc. We’re finally past that point in any creative project where you’re worried it’s not going to work out after all and you’ve made a terrible decision and wasted so much time There’s still a lot of polish left (adjusting some of the new enemies, adding some fx, the ragdoll needs tweaking, the UI needs improving, etc.) but it’s solid, and we’ve really enjoyed showing it several times over the past year as we continue to refine it.
Most of the colour schemes are in, but they all need some tweaking/polish, and we also need to make a few more new ones before we’re done. They may look quite simple, but each set requires specifying and balancing 100+ different colours! That’s something that happens a lot with N++: it appears simple, but it’s incredibly complex under the hood. After we nail down the colours, we need to check every screen of UI and every object in the game, on several monitors and make sure they look right; this is taking a lot more time than we have anticipated.
We currently have enough levels made (well over 1000), BUT we’re hoping to do at least one more month of full-time level design because we’re so much better at making levels now than when we started (about 3 years ago!). We got a lot of inspiration for levels recently in Tokyo, and another month of new levels means a better range of levels to choose from when we arrange them (which will take another 2-4 weeks — arranging them means playing through each level several times, and playing through the entire set a few times as well — again, seems simple, but is not), so that’s the plan.
The menus are mostly done; they all function but most of the animations/transitions are missing (and then everything needs some testing+tweaking to make sure the UI is useable).
We’re finalizing the editor at the moment: it has basic functions but is missing a lot of UI (which we’re working on) and some additional functionality.
The database backend is a huge can of worms, and is also currently in development; we want to make sure that this works really well, and it’s taking a while because of how many different things we’re doing with user-made levels/episodes, highscores, stats, etc. Also, we want to make sure that it’s fast and responsive and can scale, so that when the game launches we don’t have a Sim City-style catastrophe (or a crazy bill from Amazon).
(Quick note: If we had just made N++ a stand-alone game without any of the user-made levels/sharing stuff, it would have been done a long time ago! However, we think that that would have been a mistake, since user-made levels are such a big part of what makes the game really fun and interesting.)
There are also a lot of small loose ends that need to be finalized — trophies, funlockables ™, a final pass on the sound effects, bux-fixing etc. etc. etc.
Finally, we have some publishing left to do (eg localization into several languages and lots of little things) and a lot of marketing work — we have a ton of cool things in the pipeline and can’t wait to show you more!
…Which is part of what makes this so tricky for us. We’re trying hard not to panic or rush — the game has been in a “mostly done” state for several months now and we’re all very eager to release it (actually it’s getting pretty stressful; this project has gone on for a year longer than we had planned!), however our top priority is making sure that we can never make a better version of this game, which means it’s important that we don’t start cutting corners at this point. We’ve been down that road and it sucks — we know N++ needs those corners. No one wants this to be done as much as we do, but we need to do it right so we never have to do it again
In the oft quoted and always true words of Shigeru Miyamoto, “a delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”
On the whole, the game is turning out to be exactly what we had hoped it could be, however it’s taken much longer than we anticipated. Sorry about the delay, but we really think you’ll agree it’ll have been worth it.
The good news is that it’s definitely only a matter of months now; the bad news is that it’s “months” rather than “month”.
Don’t forget, we’re posting a look at some of the new stuff over on tumblr — hopefully that tides you over for now. EDIT: we’re adding poster designs to our shop over on Society6 and will be re-opening the Etsy shop soon so you can buy stickers and stationery and maybe some tshirts.
Some exciting news: in order to test the online functionality, we’re looking into doing some sort of beta test in the near future. Stay tuned!
And also, we entered N++ in the 2015 IGF. Can you believe it was ten long years ago that N was in the IGF (we didn’t enter N+) — a lot has changed, in the world, the industry and in the N series! We think it will be interesting to see how N++ fares.
That’s it for now, but keep an eye on this space