..and somehow it’s August already! Keeping this blog from collecting too much dust is becoming increasingly difficult lately, due to some unforeseen circumstances, however we’ll do our best — we have so much more to give!
This past month has been a bit hectic.. the original plan for N+ on DS/PSP was that we would only “consult” about level design, leaving us enough time to make all the levels for the XBLA version as well as getting something Robotology-related ready for the Independent Games Festival in October.
(Aside: it may seem like we’re working on a single game called “N+”, but in reality it’s two separate projects: one that we’re in charge of (XBLA), and one that Atari’s in charge of (DS/PSP), with us providing “direction”).
Sadly, the original plan was flawed in that it contained the implicit assumption that just anyone could make N levels that were as good as ours. “As good as” seems arrogant — the quality of our levels is subjective, but regardless we definitely have a distinct style/aesthetic which we think is an important part of N. Aside from matters of taste, we’ve also got years of experience, so we know what works and what doesn’t…
To cut a long story short (for once ;p), we realized that the only way to make sure that the DS/PSP version of N+ would be just as good as the XBLA version was to make the levels ourselves, which is what we’ve been doing for the past few weeks. We’ve actually been coming up with a lot of new/weird ideas too — it’s amazing how much room for creativity and invention there is in the level design for a simple tile-based 2D game. After 4 years we’re still finding new tricks and concepts to play with. Crazy! Why anyone would jump to 3D when there’s still so much to figure out in 2D is beyond us 😉
Anyway, the titular “best of times” good news is that we’ll be making single-player levels for all versions of the game; we’re actually doing all the levels for the XBLA version (single- and multi-player), while for DS/PSP we might not have time to make all of the multi-player maps — but since we’ve never made multi-player maps before, it doesn’t seem like as much of an issue.
Sadly, the blurst of times is that as a result of all this level-making, Robotology has been languishing of late… aside from the odd day or two of tinkering we haven’t done any real work on it in the past month, as we’ve been too busy with these damn levels — in total, across all versions there should be over 1000!!
As a result it looks very unlikely that we’ll be able to get something ready for the IGF deadline — this is itself another best/blurst scenario as it means we’ll (hopefully) be able to judge games for a third year, which is always very exciting/rewarding/inspirational. Still, it’s very demoralizing and spirit-crushing to have to sit idly by when we have so much energy and motivation to put into Robotology. However, we really want to avoid having N+ be a blemish on our immortal souls, so we made the agonizing decision to put the new game on hold for a bit, yet again.
By mid-September all of our milestones will have been completed and we’ll be able to return to Robotology in full force; currently it’s little more than a collection of design/graphics mockups, gameplay prototypes, and one bitchingly awesome simulator. We still need to do a lot of work in many areas, especially AI and animation (which are usually intertwined anyway). Damn it, writing this just makes us want to work on it all the more!! CURSE YOU, DELICIOUS N+!!!
In the meantime we’ll do our best to keep this blog going with more “development backstory” posts — now that we’ve finished covering the history leading up to our physics system we can get to the really good part: the simulator itself (which is fanatically awesome-tastic if we do say so ourselves).
But that will have to wait for next time… there are still more levels to be made!
Are the SUBLIME levels still going to be included in each release?
yes, i guess we should have specified that.. the ~50 per-platform SUBLiME maps make our job slightly less daunting 🙂
Man, delayed again.
Oh, well. It will still be just as good when it finally comes.
There’s still so much in N to give me my metanet fix, as well!
Can we get another demo of Robotology, or does it compile into something useful?
gah, sorry to whoever just posted a comment.. i accidentally marked your comment as “spam” (about 99% of comments we get are spam, to the point where i’ve become conditioned to hit the “spam” button instinctively even when i can see it’s not spam).
we do have some more robotology-related stuff to post, but it won’t be for a week or so..
Have you decided yet whether n+ is going to be a free Xbox Live Arcade-game or not?
N+ is definitely not going to be free — AFAIK you can’t release a 0-points XBLA game. N will continue to be updated though, and free.
wait… does that mean N will be gaining some of the features of N+
(PLEEAAASE be multiplayer…)
i don’t think multiplayer will happen while we’re still in Flash sadly.. we do have a huge list of improvements for N v1.5 though.
Will you be offering up the levels in a format that can be played on PC as well?
I know you released versions of ned for each console, so you could at least post the levels on numa.
possibly in the future, but not for a while — it would be at least after the next revision of N, which will hopefully include some features which make loading different-sized maps easier.
have you heard of Adobe AIR? I’m waiting until final release, but there’s an available beta that promises to extend flash, possibly reaching to multiplayer capabilities
the problem with multiplayer is more due to how the game works — we’d have to rewrite the whole thing! also the collision is pretty slow/costly. but we’re totally excited about apollo/AIR.
Have you ever thought about releasing n+, or n for the wii, as a download? Or is that just too much nintendo for you?
at some point we’d like to do a WiiWare game, however the XBLA contract has an exclusivity stipulation, so it would be a year or two at the soonest before N+ would be on Wii..
more likely we’d try to make a new game specifically for WiiWare, which we may try to do at some point in the next year or two. we have a couple ideas that involve mouse-pointer-like interfaces.. but right now that’s in the far future, sooo many deadlines in the next couple months!!
I think that for Wii the Robotology features that you guys had mentioned in the forums such as the hook. Plus by then there may be a new console out that may make your job even easier. Can’t ait for Robotology and then I also can’t wait for N+ for the Xbox 360 which is the main reason why I got one other than for 360.
“Why anyone would jump to 3D when there’s still so much to figure out in 2D is beyond us”
“the XBLA contract has an exclusivity stipulation, so it would be a year or two at the soonest before N+ would be on Wii..”
of course that means ps3 as well.
i hope that you still do release n+ for ps3 one day… or maybe an entirely new game!
as for a game you could make for the wii you could do that skipping rope game i mentioned in the previous thread. :p but i know thats probably not your style. thats okay.. a wii game would be cool though!
to be honest.. im SOOOOO glad you guys are working on some of the levels for the psp version. when i realised you weren’t initially making the levels for the psp version my heart literally sank.
i count this as very good news. robotology isnt going anywhere, but if n+ isnt as good as n when i buy it for psp… its going straight to the bargain bins.
Nice to see the project is progressing nicely. I know it takes ages to make even one level, so making a thousand just seems like a daunting task. You were up to making the hundreds in the first N, though, so I think you’ll do just fine with the “quality over quantity” thing.
If the physics demos are any indication of what’s getting done, I’d say it’s good.
Until next time,