Yes, it’s happening: N++ is well on its way to PS4. We’ve been working on it since late 2012, so it’s nice to finally be able to talk about it!
However, before we talk about the future, lets rewind to the past a little.
For those of you not familiar with the backstory: almost 10 years ago, we made a game called N (if you haven’t tried it, you can play it here. it’s free!), a physics-based action-puzzle platformer starring a ninja. Like all first projects, it was a bit rough around the edges, but it was fun, and we were excited about it, and thanks to encouraging emails from a few people who really liked it, we kept working on it. We kept developing and polishing it, and gradually, over a period of 1-2 years, N managed to find an audience (despite still being a little rough around the edges).
One of the people who liked it worked at Microsoft, and managed to convince other people there that it would be a good fit for the then-new XBLA platform (thanks Ross Erickson!). So, with a lot of help from Slick Entertainment, we made N+ in 2008.
Amazingly, people seemed to like it -– not everyone, of course, because we all have different tastes, but many more people than we had ever anticipated! It still makes us immensely glad to watch people on youtube enjoying N+, particularly when they get really frustrated/angry… it warms our slightly sadistic hearts
Since then, we’ve been getting emails from people who want to play N+ on their PS3/PC/etc.; we’ve never properly explained to those disappointed fans why we didn’t release N+ on other platforms for them.
There are several reasons behind this, but most importantly it was because after N+, we were really burnt out — there were a few bumps in the development process (as it was our first commercial game), and as a result we ended up having to scramble to make about 1000 levels over the summer of 2007, which was a really intense experience.
(Initially we were only supposed to be working on the XBLA version, which meant about 500 levels (in addition to all the “producing” stuff like art-/sound-direction and constant playtesting/feedback to get the feel right); however, we weren’t really happy with the levels being made by the developer of the DS/PSP versions, so we decided that we would have to take matters into our own hands in order to prevent people from being disappointed.)
We survived, and N+ turned out well, but the experience left us ready for a break from all things N-related for the foreseeable future.
One of the most persistent fans we met was Nick Suttner; we would run into him at least once a year at conferences, and he would always ask us whether we would ever consider making a version of N for PlayStation. We always told him that we would absolutely be happy to, as soon as we were ready, but that we didn’t know when that would be, or if we would ever feel ready to try and top N+.
Then, gradually, we found ourselves making levels again, for fun — it’s sort of a hobby for us, an often relaxing and enjoyable creative challenge.
We also made an arcade version of N for the Torontrons, which got us thinking about different rules and modes of play.
We realized that there was a bit of guilt eating away at us, and that we had to deliver the final update to N we had promised years ago, before N+, but had become too burnt-out to face.
So, earlier this year, we finished N v2.0, an update to the original N.
One of the things we wanted to add to N v2.0 was integrated level-sharing – after all, what’s the point of a built-in level editor if you can’t easily share your levels with other players? This was one of the big disappointments for us with N+: Nick from Slick had devised a clever way to share levels globally via leaderboards, and it was working great, until Microsoft pulled the plug at the last minute for legal reasons. (To be fair, they had always warned us that they couldn’t guarantee it would be allowed, but it was still really disappointing.)
We also spent a few months helping do some rough/concept level design for our friend Jon’s game Sound Shapes (being in Toronto is pretty awesome, mostly because of all the great people you’re surrounded by); sharing user-made levels is a huge part of that game, and it was exciting to us to see that Sony was really going for it rather than being scared of the legal ramifications of a few penis-shaped levels.
We were also talking with our friend Shawn (who had just finished making Dyad, and who incidentally went to highschool with Jon! It’s crazy here in Toronto!!), who was experimenting with some anti-aliased vector graphics that looked cool and were exactly what we wanted to do in N++. In addition to being an amazing programmer, Shawn is also a curmudgeon who hates most games; yet he likes N! We thought that this boded well for future collaborations.
So over the years, we’ve been excited about the whole N series, humbled by it, bored of it, intrigued by it and now we’ve come back around to being excited about it again, and the point is, there were all sorts of ideas and threads coming together in our lives, so that the next time Nick Suttner asked us about working with Sony (maybe the fourth or fifth time total – he can be very persistent!), we realized that we were eager to take all the loose ends and things we never got a chance to do, and make one final version of N, with the goal of making the definitive version which we ourselves would want to play over all other versions: N++.
By this time, Nick had worked his way up the ladder to the point where he was involved with Sony’s Pub Fund program, of which we had heard great things from other local friends like Shawn and Drinkbox (who made Guacamelee). Pub Fund is amazing – not only is it even further confirmation that the people we’re working with at Sony really believe in us and our project, but beyond that it gives us the freedom to pull out all the stops and take the time to be sure that N++ will be the absolute best thing it can be.
We’ve been redesigning the game modes, playing around with new ideas and further refining the classic core that made N fun ten long years ago — and finally smoothing out some of those rough edges.
Our intent is that N++ delivers the solid, distilled, fast-paced platforming you expect from the series, with a few new touches and a ton of love and attention to detail; we’re trying to make something that feels familiar but is profoundly better than ever. There is so much more to say, and we’ll have many more details for you soon.
In the meantime, check out this teaser on PS.com to get a taste of where we’re going with this: http://blog.us.playstation.com/2013/08/20/ninja-platformer-n-dashes-to-ps4/
Also here’s a general article about a lot of the great games coming to PlayStation http://blog.us.playstation.com/2013/08/20/gamescom-indie-avalanche-n-volume-hotline-miami-2/
So there you have it, a brief history of N, and the humble beginnings of what will hopefully soon become your favourite game and ours: N++