N++ Development Update

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.

Finally, we’ll be at the PlayStation Experience in December. We even made it into the official video! If you’re in the area, drop by and say hi, and check out N++ (and SO MANY other amazing games)!

That’s it for now, but keep an eye on this space :)

Special Recognition

By M&R | October 10, 2014

We are incredibly honoured to announce that N++ was given the Special Recognition award at IndieCade 2014! EDIT: check out photos of the award.

We are surprised and elated — it’s incredibly gratifying for N++ to be recognized like this. Thank you so much to IndieCade, to the judges, to fans of the series, and to everyone who helped make N++ possible (especially Shawn McGrath); we’re really happy that there are people other than us that believe in what we’re doing :)

We’re especially proud that this award recognizes our game as a creative work, and not just well-designed entertainment; we’ve always believed that games are an important medium, and that approaching them as games — as something new and different, without relying on traditions from literature or film — is necessary in order to fully realize their true power and potential. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that we’re not alone in this belief, and moreover, that N++ can be seen as an example of this. That is a huge, huge honour.

This also comes at a great time, as 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of Metanet Software’s official incorporation, and a decade since N was initially made. That’s a lot of history!

Happy Metanet Software 10th anniversary!

Happy 10th Anniversary Metanet Software!

Receiving this award from IndieCade specifically also means a great deal to us. In 2006, N won the Audience Award for Best Game at Slamdance, a predecessor of IndieCade. It was an overwhelmingly surprising and positive moment in our lives, and impacted a lot, including the way we felt about N being a “real” game. It helped us understand that making games was potentially something we could try to actually pursue as a career, since at the time we were still working random day jobs and working on games in the evenings and weekends.

So in a sense, N++ receiving this award means we’ve come full circle, and we have an opportunity to appreciate what it means now — and how we’ve grown and changed over the past ten years.

Way back in 2004, we threw a lot of caution to the wind — we started Metanet Software on a whim and released our first game for free! Although much of our initial confidence can perhaps be attributed to youthful arrogance, and although we’re only now recovering from the imposter syndrome brought on by N’s success and plummeting self esteem due to the failure of Robotology, we’ve managed to pull through a lot over the years. The hardest part has been keeping everything in perspective, and finding the motivation to continue even when it seems there’s no reason to.

We’ve learned a ton, both emotionally and technically over the years. We stopped taking risks for a while (because it’s tougher when you have something to lose), which was detrimental (this line of work is all about risk) but we’re getting to a point where we have enough information to take calculated risks. We started working on N++ hoping to make the best version of the game there could possibly be, but as we’ve continued working on it our vision of what exactly that is has grown immensely. We want to devote all our time and energy to it, and have found new avenues to explore even though we thought we had already previously envisioned everything the N world had to offer. It’s exciting. We’re starting to gain back some belief in our skills because of how well we feel N++ is turning out, and we’re more able to understand why we feel that way and what contributions our own actions and talents and personalities are having.

We’re more fully fleshed out people now than we were when we met. Granted, with more scars and fears and many mistakes made, but we also have a lot more experience and a lot that we can be proud of as well. In many ways, N++ embodies and reflects these ten complex years, and it’s both surprising and heart-warming that others can see value in that too. Whatever happens, we will continue to take some risks, make mistakes, and overall to keep trying.

We make the games we do because some ideas speak to us, and we like to experiment and be creative — it’s a path fraught with peril that frequently doesn’t work out well. Suffice it to say, we’ve had many tough times and now recognize just how lucky we are to be able to do what we love — and even though it’s incredibly difficult, to love what we do.

We have had such a great amount of luck over the years, and have met so many people along the way who believe in us and enjoy what we do — and also who inspire us to keep learning and to keep trying. Whatever success we have had, we could not have gotten to this place without the support and love of our friends, family and fans. Thank you, everyone — here’s to another ten years.

N++ PAX Tournament Footage

By M&R | September 9, 2014

There were a few technical hitches, but the tournament we held at PAX last week was pretty great! Our 8 finalists were playing for these fantastic prizes: https://twitter.com/metanetsoftware/status/506107991977103361/photo/1

We’ve uploaded video capture of the final day (quarter-, semi-, and final-finals) if you’d like to check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXdETgJODdw

Unfortunately we couldn’t record the crowd/etc., so we just added our own (sometimes quite silly) commentary over the captured game footage.

The good news is that everyone seemed to really like the new revamped Race mode; we’re excited to run more tournaments in the future.

Our current plan is to nail down deathmatch mode this week, then spend the rest of September and October finalizing all of the semi-complete tasks (making race/deathmatch levels, making easier co-op levels, finishing new entity behaviours, prototyping final vfx, etc) as well as getting the server/cloud/back-end stuff up and running.

Then we’ll only have tons of testing and polishing left! :)

Tournaments++

By M&R | August 13, 2014

Good news, N++ fans! We’re ready to debut the new and improved Race Mode and we’re going do it at PAX (August 29-September 1), in the Indie Megabooth. Come check it out, and say hi!

You might remember Race Mode from N+ on XBLA — it was a great party game that where you could play against your friends and enemies. And sometimes some of them would switch over from friends to enemies in the process ;)

Well it’s back, and it’s better than ever, with a bunch of fancy new modifications. We’ve changed the rules completely so it’s more exciting, more competitive, and fits better within the N++ world. You’ll need to employ your entire bag of ninja tricks as you collect gold and strategically speed towards the exit against up to 4 other people.

Plus (plus), we added a few new fun surprises as well. Seriously, we can’t wait for you all to try it.

Even better news: we’re rolling out the first Contesque (n., a delightful term we coined for a “contest-esque event”) for N++. We’ll be holding a tournament at PAX and giving away awesome prizes!

It’ll be a three day tournament, two days of qualifiers and then one thrilling battle for the top spot. And you’ll want to be in that top spot — we’re giving away something fantastic! Plus (plus) a copy of N++ when it’s out, of course.

Finalists will also get a beautiful new limited edition N++ t-shirt specially designed just for this tournament, and the distinct pleasure of being one of the best N++ players in the world.

————————————- The details:
Spots are limited in this tournament, so if you’ll be at PAX and you know you’d like to be in the tournament, email us at metanet AT metanetsoftware DOT com, subject line: “N++ PAX Tournament sign-ups”. We’ll add your name to a list, and will email you details. You must play in a qualifier on one of the first two days (Friday and Saturday). If you win in your qualifier, we’ll need you to come back on Sunday for the finals. Please make sure you can commit to this before you sign up! If you aren’t sure or have any questions, email us for more details.

(You can also sign up at our booth during PAX.)

Each day’s tournament should last about an hour (each round will be 15 action-packed minutes or less), and we expect the finals to last about an hour as well. So get excited, and get ready, ’cause it’s going to be awesome.

If this goes well, we’re hoping to hold other tournaments in other cities; in fact, there will be an N++ tournament at Fantastic Fest! We don’t know much about it yet but there should be more details soon — we’ll let you know as soon as we do. Keep an eye on this blog for updates on more ways you can play N++!

————————————-

Segue! The elephant in the room is, of course, the release date.

We still haven’t announced a release date, but we’re getting close to determining when it will be. We’re really sorry to keep you all waiting, but we promise you it will be worth it. This game is coming together beautifully, and although that’s taking longer than we thought it would, we are so pleased with where it’s going. We know you will be too.

While you wait, don’t forget to check out our tumblr, where we’ve been posting gifs of gameplay, and twitter, where we’re trying to decide what to call a plurality of evil ninjas. We’ve gotten some great suggestions so far — our favourites are a slip (by @EltonsKuns), an intrigue (by @henryfaber), a silence (by @nsuttner), a whisper (by @j00zt1n) a disturbance (by @andrewtraviss) and a stealth (by @zusty). Very atmospheric! If you have a suggestion, please post it in the comments!

N++ @ E3 2014

By M&R | June 6, 2014

You may have noticed that Sony posted this today over on the Playstation Blog: http://blog.us.playstation.com/2014/06/05/playstation-at-e3-2014-livestream-details-booth-game-list/

Yes, we can finally announce that N++ will be playable at E3! There are a few more surprises with respect to that that we’re really excited about, but we’re not sure we can talk about them yet — we will definitely post some pictures next week. Stay tuned!

E3 is sure to be a swirling cacophony of over-the-top excess, but there will some interesting games and loads of interesting people, so we’re looking forward to it. We’re going to try to spend some time playing games at the Indiecade booth and there are a few other games we’re looking forward to hearing more about.

We’ll be showing N++ among 70+ other stellar games at the Sony booth, and more generally among hundreds at the expo. Although it’s likely N++ will get lost among the bigger, flashier titles, we’re hoping that lots of people will come and play N++, and that it stays with them longer than the sound and fury of E3! The experience we’re trying to build with N++ is one that compels players to try just one more time — hopefully that stickiness will come in handy at a show like this one.

Development on N++ is going really well right now — we’re excited about just about every aspect, and are getting impatient about it not being done yet! So our job right now is to tie up the loose ends and make sure we’re excited about every single thing. Right now we’re finishing up the graphics, dance animations, UI and general look and feel, and are finalizing the sound, and then it’s on to the editor, highscores and level sharing. We have a lot to do on the various game modes, but we should be thoroughly testing that in the next few weeks. There’s a fair amount left to do, and a ton left to polish, but we’re definitely getting close to the finish line, and that feels great. Hopefully we’ll have more news and a more concrete look at the release date for you soon. Until then, keep an eye on our tumblr for some behind-the-scenes details: http://metanetsoftware.tumblr.com/ and follow our twitter account for press and news updates: @metanetsoftware

Play N++ This Weekend!!!* (*if you’re in Toronto)

By M&R | May 8, 2014

We interrupt our regularly scheduled lack of blog posts to announce that this Saturday (May 10th), we will be showing N++ at Bit Bazaar, so if you’re in Toronto you should come and check it out!

Bit Bazaar is a cool game/craft fair that is part of TCAF, and there will be a ton of cool stuff to check out (and, apparently, eat!) there. We will be selling some of the gorgeous N++ stationary that we’ve been posting about on tumblr, a gorgeous limited edition poster, and we have a bunch of free stickers, moo cards, and buttons to give away too. Stop by and say hi!

We’re really excited to see what people think of the current build of N++; it’s not done yet, but it’s getting there. Since our last blog post, we’ve been working on:

  • Colours: one of the most fun new aspects of N++ is that you can change colour schemes. Our previous demo (which we showed at Bit Summit and GDC) only had about 4 different sets of colours; the current demo has about 10.

  • Levels: our current level count has passed 1000! (It’s currently 1016) This will probably change as we edit things, and we’ll continue to make levels until the game is out (and beyond, for stuff like the weekly challenges and DLC) — we’re still learning how to best use all of the new entities, and it’s been really rewarding to see our level designs get better and better and better and better. Our current demo only shows about 500 of the levels — we didn’t want people to feel too overwhelmed, and also we’d like to save some surprises for the full version ;)

  • Menus: the UI in N++ has been one of the most complex and time-consuming tasks… menus are hard! However, as Sportsfriends has recently shown, when you take care to make your menus special, it can really elevate the whole game. The current demo has a streamlined, minimal UI — we thought that a single screen would be more fun in a demo context than having to traverse a bunch of different menu screens — but the full version will have some pretty intricate and beautifully-animating UI.

  • Multiplayer: Race and Deathmatch modes are being implemented and refined/iterated; we’re pretty excited about how they’ve turned out, we hope that Race especially will be worthy of serious competitive play. Of course there will be lots of options, so you can turn it into a silly party-game frenzy if you prefer :)

  • Animation: the animations in the demo version are semi-placeholder — they look fine, however they’re not quite smooth enough, and all of the silly victory dances are missing. The dances in N++ are going to be even more awesome than ever before, because our friend Colin Mancer — who worked on Sound Shapes — is helping us make them. If you’ve ever wanted to see a ninja doing The Worm, N++ will be right up your alley!

We’ve also attended to the dozens of other things that small teams have to take care of: press releases, promo images, localization, etc. Basically, we’ve been busy… and we’re not quite done yet.

In the next few months we’ll have plenty more to show, including some new videos, and plenty more details to talk about, so stay tuned!

ps. New N bugfix build is coming very soon, stay tuned for that as well!

N++ on the move

By M&R | February 28, 2014

Hello again! We have good news for all you N++ fans out there — your patience is finally starting to be rewarded. We’re at a point where we can start to unveil N++ to the world, which is exciting. The game is pulling together, and it’s looking and feeling really great.

Wish you could play it too? Well good news! We have an early demo that shows off the new graphics, colours, enemies and a few other things. There’s still plenty more to come, but if you’re chomping at the bit, this will help tide you over until the final release.

If you’re in Kyoto, Japan, March 7-9, come and visit us at BitSummit. (We’ll have some super special limited edition N++ merch available too!)

If you’re in San Francisco March 17-21, you can play the game at Sony’s booth at GDC. We’d love to hear what you think!

(Also: if you’re a journalist and you’d like to play a demo privately at BitSummit or GDC, or you’d like to do an interview, please email us at metanet AT metanetsoftware DOT com.)

 

In the meantime, let’s take a look at the game in-progress. For those of you who have no idea what this N++ thing is all about, take a look at this post over on the PlayStation blog: http://blog.us.playstation.com/2014/02/28/what-is-n-an-intro-to-the-ps4-action-platformer/

We’ve just updated the N++ website with some early screenshots.

One of our goals with N++ is to ensure the game looks beautiful and intriguing in screenshots, and (as evidenced by previous blog posts) we’ve put a lot of thought and effort into the graphics.

As players of N and N+ know, screenshots haven’t always done the game justice — the magic really happens when the ninja is in motion. For N++ we really wanted to try to express some of that magic in the stills as well. Good news: it’s working!

We still have lots of tweaks to make, and plenty of things to add to the graphics, but these screenshots are a proof of concept: the minimalist art style perfectly suits N++, and the colour schemes are looking gorgeous. And the effects! In motion they really come to life, but even static they look stunning.

Speaking of which, keep an eye on the N++ tumblr, ’cause we’re going to be posting a handful of animated gifs of some of the effects.

For 4 whole seconds of N++ gameplay footage, you can also check out this brand new N++ Gameplay Teaser Trailer: http://vimeo.com/selfawareproductions/gameplayteaser Not enough for you? Don’t worry, there will be plenty more gameplay footage forthcoming!

We have to say, N++ feels like butter, if butter somehow ran at 60fps. It’s so smooth, so precise — controlling the ninja feels absolutely fantastic. You just fly through the air, nimbly darting around levels, deftly manipulating speed and momentum and making it look easy. It’s glorious. And very addictive! We’re starting to spend more and more time playing, even after hours. The new entities are awesome — you are going to love them. We’ll have more detail on them soon.

So what’s next? Well, there’s still a lot to do — what we have in the demo build is the foundation, the core of this game. There are several more layers to add before it’s finished and polished, but we’re very happy with how N++ is coming together. You’ve got a little more waiting to do, but we think you’ll be glad when it’s done — this game is going to rock.

Happy New Year!

By M&R | January 1, 2014

Happy New Year! It’s going to be an exciting one. But first, let’s look back on 2013 a bit.

 

2013 was a remarkably busy year for us, right out of the gate. We’d spent most of 2012 finalizing N v2.0, and 2013 started with a bang.

Let’s look at that launch video one more time:
Oh Yeah

 

There were quite a few important updates in N v2.0, including new levels, a smoother feel, and a whole new way to make and share levels. We were ecstatic to get that update out, especially since we’d been planning it since 2005! After a year of concerted effort, we finally got it done, with the help of Golden Gear Games; speaking of which, we’re happy to report that Golden Gear is gearing up (hah) to get a bugfix release out soon.

 

The big news of 2013 was, of course, that we’re working on N++, which will be the last and best version of the whole series.

We spent most of the year planning and prototyping, plus developing and working with our dream-team to figure out how best to make this game shine. The impact of the new graphics is already apparent, and we really can’t wait to show you more.

Things with N++ are progressing slowly, but surely — we’ve corrected our course a few times over 2013, and that has led to a few changes in what we’re planning for the game. As a result, a few aspects of N++ are taking longer than we anticipated, but we’re extremely confident the wait will be worth it.

We’ll be able to show you more really soon, and in the meantime, keep an eye on the N++ tumblr for some in-development images and other behind-the-scenes goodies.

 

We are being careful not to overpromise and create false hope, but rest assured, we’re doing our best to give this game the best life it could possibly have.

One thing we do know for certain is that N++ for PS4 is coming first; if the response to the PS4 version is good, we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to release N++ on other platforms. The good news is, you can help! In the next few months, we’ll be releasing lots of screenshots and videos to whet your appetite and show why we’re so excited about this game; if you see something you like, spreading the word will make it a lot easier for us to convince platform-holders to give us a shot :)

 

What’s in store for us in 2014? Only time will tell. But each new year brings with it an opportunity for all of us humans to better ourselves, our lives, and the lives of those around us. Let’s make this world more beautiful than it already is. Let’s support each other, create, and celebrate each others creations.

This year we’re hoping that the future of games is brighter than ever. There are so many developers making games right now, so many people creating unreasonably fun experiences and enticing worlds, building ingenious puzzles and using games to express who they are. There is so much to say, and so many ways to say it, and especially considering the multitude of creative expressions the last year brought, we can’t wait to see what the next has in store.

 

Until next time, we wish you all well, and thanks for your continued support — it means a lot to us. To an ambitious and exciting 2014!

PS4, Progress

By M&R | November 14, 2013

Hello again! We’re still hard at work on N++. Here’s what we’ve been up to in the past month or so.

We’ve moved from in-progress designs and prototyping to finalizing graphics, animations and effects, plus all the UI. When all that is in the game, we can finally get screenshots and start really seeing how the game is coming together. We’ll also be testing a lot, so should have a good sense of how everything feels and works together.

Though we still have a lot of work ahead of us, we’re finally able to get a bit of a sense of how much we’ve done, which is motivating, and soothing. We should have some exciting things to show you at the end of this month!

So the PS4 is launching tomorrow! Unfortunately, N++ will not be available at launch, but when it is available, it will be part of a fantastic lineup.

Those of you living in NYC might be attending what sounds like a pretty cool party: http://blog.us.playstation.com/2013/11/13/nyc-new-ps4s-on-sale-just-for-you/ If so, keep an eye out some N++ art on the Standard Hotel building, and take pictures!

We’ll be back soon with more updates, but in the meantime, we’ll be posting concept art, photos and other fun stuff on the Metanet Software / N++ tumblr: http://metanetsoftware.tumblr.com/ Check it out!

The (Concept) Art of N++

By M&R | September 18, 2013

 

House-on-the-Castle-Mountainside-by-Fran-Silvestre-Arquitectos-00(www.archiscene.net)

 

Welcome to the first post dedicated to an aspect of N++! We’ll try to do more of these on different stages of development whenever we can find the time — things have been pretty crazy around here as we try to get this game to come together. Right now we’re working on finalizing the art style, and we wanted to give you a bit of insight into how we’re approaching it and how it’s going.

Because (as you may have heard) this will be the best — and the last — iteration in the N series, we’ll be trying our hardest to execute the aesthetic that we’ve always intended for the game, and to really nail it this time.

 

minimalism(modernsculpture.blogspot.com )

 

Where are we trying to go with N++’s graphics? The first thing you have to know is how much we love minimalism. Minimalism is an art or design style “where the work is set out to expose the essence or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts.

Minimalism can be found in any design or style in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimalism)

 

myopiamuse.blogspot.com

 

Minimalism has influenced Metanet’s style in many ways — it’s the principle governing both the art style and the game design behind N, and of course N++ as well. We want to highlight the feel of the controls and the experience of playing the game, and a great way to do that is to have the graphics be subtle, simple, and in the background. This is where minimalism shines. As an aesthetic, it supports the gameplay without stealing the spotlight.

Although minimalism may seem trivial to execute, there’s a real challenge in deciding what to keep and what to cull, defining a world by using only a few elements creatively, and perfecting that balance, taking a game’s graphics from a set of disconnected objects to parts of a complete, designed world. It’s a thoughtful, detailed process. In short, simple is not necessarily easy.

 

donnakaranfall2012

 

Our favourite designs generally have clean, strong lines, visual balance, shades of neutral colours (possibly with punches of brighter colour) and strong, blocky, solid shapes.

But minimalism is more than just the sum of its parts, and it resonates with both of us in an interesting way. To look at a beautiful design makes us feel relaxed, happy and complete – it’s a powerful, palpable feeling that pervades brain and heart and guts, as if your whole body is utterly content. It’s a really good feeling!

 

6045306809_908c43e7e8_b1-650x975(designyoutrust.com0

 

Minimalism is simple, elegant, and beautiful, and a good match for N. But in N and N+, we feel we were unable to really refine it and capture that elegance — N and N+’s graphics are fine, but they feel slightly off. They never quite gave us that utterly content, complete feeling. So for N++, we’re trying to make that happen.

 

patterns(minimalistwoman.com)

 

We’ve been collecting books on design, graphic art, architecture, techniques and programming for over ten years now, and have created a pretty amazing design library in Metanet’s office; some of the influences we’re working with for N++ are pulled from our favourite books. We’re taking the opportunity to work with one of our favourite graphic artists, MASA, in order to really define and refine that style. We wanted to work with an expert, someone who can take our vision and make it powerful, punchy, unified, timeless, beautiful and fresh.

 

minimalism-color-red-green-pink-orange-creative-colours(photoinpixel.com)

 

The graphics will in part be an homage to Wipeout 3, because it was one of the first games whose graphics stood out and really made us understand the wealth of possibilities there are for game graphics. We remember vividly the first time we played Wipeout 3 on PS1 waaaaay back when we were in University. Watching the intro sequence was mind-blowing! We immediately reset the PlayStation and watched it again. The menus were crisp, organized, subtle and stylish. The in-game UI was easy to understand and elegant. The icons and power-ups were masterfully simple. And the prototype tracks — oh, the prototype tracks. The graphics for those perfectly epitomize minimalism and are, in our eyes, very beautiful. That’s the feeling we want to capture in N++.

 

Wipeout3

 

If we could summarize the direction we want the graphics for N++ to take, it would be this: An evolution, similar to the evolution of Mario’s graphics from SMB3 to Super Mario World. In those games, the characters are well-defined, and the transition from one game to the next retains the historical connection between them so entities are recognizable but upgraded with details and a fresh look.

 

object_refinement

 

We think the N++ concept art teaser trailer is a pretty great introduction to what we’re going for. Check it out!

N++ Concept Art Teaser Trailer

Again, this is concept art only! But it should give you a taste of what you can expect from N++. The graphics may change as development continues and we refine the style, but we’ve carefully crafted this little video to capture the mood, tone, and feel we’re trying to create for N++. Wondering who made that bouncy, flute-y track you hear? Yep, it was none other than our own Raigan Burns! You can hear more of his work here.

 

n++_logo_tiny

 

So there you have it. There’s a lot of ground to cover, but we feel like we’re on the right track. Thanks for reading! We’ll be back as soon as we can with more N++ news.