Seriously, where did the time go? It seemed like 2019 flew by…
It was a busy year for us, full of big milestones and big changes. Metanet Software celebrated our 15th anniversary this year (details in this blog post), a landmark achievement in a tumultuous industry. We did a long retrospective in that linked blog post, which you should definitely check out, if only for the at-times-hilarious gallery of photos from then till now 😉 It was also the 15th anniversary of the first versions of N, which you can find out more detail about here: http://www.thewayoftheninja.org/n_history.html Although we can’t believe it’s been 15 years already, we’re looking forward to (at least) 15 more!
Because of the success we had showing it at BitSummit many years ago, we think the Japanese market will appreciate a game like N++ — getting it there was a huge goal that we are so elated to have finally accomplished. And so far, it’s going well! We need to spread the word more, but it’s so exciting to see people in Japan streaming our game! 😀 Thank you to Blitworks, Tatham, Kahori and especially 8-4, who did the excellent localization work, and who are such good people in general. There was some amazing coverage in Famitsu, as well, which was a lifelong dream come true for us. That we have been able to do so much of what we set out to with N++ is just awesome, and we are super happy to have made it this far!
The other big news is that we made some huge and difficult decisions, and embarked on a brand new adventure in 2019, deciding to leave Toronto (the city we love and have lived in for our entire adult lives) for another: Montreal. Toronto is a wonderful city that was becoming too expensive for us to live and work in, and having finally finished the bulk of the work on N++, it was a good time for a change. Montreal is a vibrant city rich in the arts, and we think it will be very inspiring. Plus we can probably get a lot done during the long, cold winters 😉
The move was very time-consuming and quite stressful, as is leaving our home province, friends and family (we do have many friends here in Montreal as well, since there is also a thriving video game scene here), so that took a lot of our time and energy. But we are excited about the new experiences, opportunities, and spaces we’re moving into, and we’re determined to make this one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Here are some photos of our new office — we’re still unpacking and setting up a little, but we’ve got the design library assembled, new really cool light hung, conference table at the ready and desks and computers set up. Incidentally, before we left Toronto, we cut down our book collection a little, but during the move we learned we still have a literal tonne of books (2,000+ lbs total) in our design library! Wow! that was a surprise. We’re so proud of our design library though, so it was well worth the effort — these books are such fantastic sources of inspiration, hand-picked from all over the world! <3
Back to the world of N++: We have to give huge congratulations to our 7 (!!!) 100%-ers, you are all incredible players and we honestly didn’t think anyone would EVER 100% the game (which is why we put that line in the trailer, haha — you win, everyone! We’ve never been happier to be wrong 😀 ), and yet here we are with 7 people having accomplished that gargantuan task, and with several others currently in a battle to complete the last few challenges! The average time for 100% completion was about 1000 hours — we are awed that some players have achieved this. It’s amazing, and humbling, and we are so thrilled that you enjoy N++ so much. With heartfelt sincerity, thank you all for playing.
To all those trying to reach this goal — please let us know when you do, either on the discord or by email! We have mailed out signed, hand-printed certificates (see this blog post for details) to the first 7, and we will send out one to you as well, whenever you get there. Good luck!
And now for an N++ news lightning round!
For those of you who have been asking, we’ve put a few copies of the Super Rare physical edition of N++ on Switch up for sale in our Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/metanet
Paolo Gazola (@Gazo1a on twitter and instagram) made some pretty awesome fan art!
BanjoDave sent us this image of the multitude of levels he’s created this year — WOW! that’s prolific! and stylish! 😉
We’ve been Featuring levels made and curated by the N++ community in the game and showing them off over on tumblr, so check them out if you’re interested in what the best and brightest have to offer — from the Main Menu of any version of N++, just go to Browse, and choose the “Featured” tab.
And finally, the N++ community has been documenting their completion timeline for the game, so feast your eyes and also be sure to join that discord if you have info to share:
In other news, we’ve started a new tradition, currently in its second year: Raigan is once again acting as “Santa Paus” to give away 25 copies of Michael Brough’s underrated gem, Cinco Paus! Keep an eye on Raigan’s twitter on December 25th if you want a copy of this excellently designed strategy/puzzle game.
So what’s next for us, you may be wondering?
We have a few things in the pipeline, and a few more up our sleeves — we’re still not quite ready to announce anything yet, but we are so excited to prepare things to show you in 2020.
Having said that, we are aware that making games is pretty frivolous. It’s so hard to write these posts, trying to be optimistic and forward-looking about what we do, when the world is more and more a dumpster fire of hate and destruction and apathy. Thinking about what we can actually do about that is constantly on our minds, and the only thing we know for sure is that we all have to keep fighting for what we believe in and for the future we want to see, and to keep holding on to hope. Please be kind to each other and figure out what and how you can give back — we are all in this together. Except for the fascists. Fuck them.
Happy Holidays, all, we hope your lives are warm and full of love. Let’s work to make 2020 a huge improvement on 2019!
Our little company is 15 years old this year and we could not be more proud. Actually, technically, we’ve been around even longer: We founded Metanet Software in 2001, shortly after we met, when we discovered that we both loved games and wanted to take a chance and make them. We incorporated Metanet officially in 2004, though, so we’re going with that date 😉 A lot has changed in the past decade-and-a-half — 15 years is a long time! So Happy 15th Anniversary, Metanet Software Inc! <3 Please indulge us as we take a long, LONG, loving look back.
As you know, dear readers, Metanet Software is composed of Mare Sheppard and Raigan Burns, and part of why we’ve been able to stick around for so long is because we are multi-disciplined, creative and resourceful, and a great team. We met in 1998 in Java Programming 101 at University of Toronto, where we both were taking a variety of classes including Film, Visual Art, Philosophy, Sociology and of course, Computer Science. Back when we got started, there was no such thing as a game design course of study, and although we learned on forums and around the internet that there were other small teams and individuals making games, “Indie” wasn’t a term yet. We were filled with idealism, youthful arrogance and the exuberance that comes along with the ignition of passion, and we forged ahead, not knowing exactly what we wanted to do, but knowing that there were things we wanted to play that didn’t exist yet — and that we would have to make them ourselves.
We started by making interactive art and game projects for courses we were taking — the art department at U of T was far more open to games than the computer science department back then — and began voraciously reading papers on programming which featured algorithms that interested us; playing every game we could get our hands on (especially shareware and freeware); and thinking about what makes up the creative work around us, and how we responded to it. Our process is collaborative and iterative, and is built on having a dialogue together. We each do half of everything, and we pass things back and forth and iterate, merging our individual strengths into a powerhouse team.
Eventually, we combined some of the little experiments we’d been working on into N, which was released in 2004 and to this date has been played over 30 million times (probably many more; it’s hard to keep track). Equally inspired by great classic platformers and contemporary freeware (please check the credits page of the original version for a comprehensive list of inspirations (we really wish more games had similar liner-notes-style credits — shout out to Twinfold!)), N resembles a classic arcade platformer, but has a modern twist that feels like nothing made before or since. At the time, N was radical in its design — for example, these days walljumping is ubiquitous, but it used to be quite rare, invariably stiff and de-emphasized.
N replaced tedious ladders with a parkour-inspired acrobatic means of vertical movement that felt as fluid and expressive as horizontal platforming, emphasized inertia and gravity to create a palpable sense of physics-based acceleration and movement, added sub-pixel simulation and rendering to make this movement feel surreally smooth, and wrapped it all in a novel post-arcade “1 hit point/infinite lives/instant respawn” loop of tragedy, comedy, and catharsis. And also a lot of silly level names! People loved it, and we were amazed and excited.
The inclusion of a level editor attracted an enthusiastic community who constantly breathed new life into the framework by inventing new mapping concepts such as DDA (Don’t Do Anything: maps where the ninja reaches the exit automatically via Rube-Goldberg-style contraptions) and KRA (Keep Rocket Alive — self-explanatory, instead of evading them as usual you need to lead them such that they don’t run into the walls). We were overjoyed to see people taking what we’d made and running with it, so to speak 😉
Our company motto is: Backward-looking, Forward-thinking. We refresh classic designs, styles, and genres we love, using a modern perspective towards things like gamefeel, controls, etc. N is the perfect example of this, since it has its roots in old-school platformers, but also has some new ideas that made it distinctive and fresh, and set it apart from its predecessors. We’re so glad that people liked what we created — it’s surprising and gratifying and awesome. Of course, because of its popularity, N has been a tough act to follow: the other games we worked on afterward didn’t feel as good or come together as well as N had, and (having extremely high standards) we didn’t want to release something less than stellar — this has been a constant source of stress for us.
So in between other projects over the years, we kept coming back to N. With the help of people who believed in us and what we wanted to do, like Warren Currell, Ross Ericson, Nick Waanders and Tavit Geudelekian, we were able to take our little game to new heights and new audiences with N+ (2008), and improve the original using the many lessons we’d learned, with Nv2.0 (2013).
If there’s one consistent thing over the past 15 years, it’s that we are always striving to correct our mistakes, and to learn from them. In this post, we’re glossing over a lot of very dark times, when we became utterly burned out with the series and making games in general, sure our failures meant we could never make anything interesting ever again, and scared to test that. We were close to ruin in every sense. Instead, here we are focusing on the positive: we found the strength to face our fears by creating one more addition to the series, making the game we’d wanted to make back in 2004 but didn’t have the skill, knowledge or maturity to: N++ (NPLUSPLUS) (2015). And then of course we perfected it with the Ultimate Edition update in 2017.
Although its development brought us to the lowest lows of our lives, in many ways, making N++ also saved us, and has allowed us to finally move forward. We’re so happy with N++, and you can see and feel that joy in N++’s explosion of colour, music, level design and the many new ideas that fit so well, they feel like they have been there the whole time — like the toggle mines, tense and delightful Race Mode, incredibly fun Co-operative mode, and entire deep layer of secrets hidden in plain sight.
N++ started out on PS4, but over a handful of years, with a handful of really excellent people like Tatham Johnson, Aaron Melcher, Kahlief Adams, the incredible team at Blitworks, Nick Wolfe and Stan Wiechers, we’ve been able to port it to Steam (Mac, PC and Linux), Xbox One, Kartridge, and Nintendo Switch, which is where in our opinion, it feels the best. Actually, we have reached the 1-year anniversary of N++ on Switch, one of our proudest achievements as lifelong Nintendo fans!
If you haven’t yet, you have to got to try N++: Buy it for your fave platform using the links at the top right: http://nplusplus.org/
We also made a ton of exuberant, stylish and beautiful merch to support the game, and if you want to buy some, please check out our Etsy shop! Anyway long story short, with N++, we finally feel we’ve done the N series justice, and now we’re ready for new adventures.
When we started making games, even though it is the most intensely difficult thing we have ever done, we instantly knew that this was the right thing for us. We’re interested in music, art, geometry, programming, problem solving and design, and creating our own small team has let us indulge all of those interests and figure out how to weave them in to various projects, and also to discover so many more things we’re excited about.
Of course, although it’s very freeing and creatively satisfying, working for our own company has a lot of difficult challenges as well — running a business is tough, and takes away from our creative time, and we only recently began to force ourselves to take actual time off (even just evenings and weekends), which is part of why we are still dealing with the harsh physical and mental stress involved in what we do.
There’s also an emotional toll; in a sense, our games are expressions of our personalities, and it’s really difficult to not let them define us, and to not take criticism of them to heart. We’ve gotten better at this over time, but our work still has a huge effect on our personal lives; it’s hard not to take stress home when everything is so tightly intertwined. It’s been a roller-coaster, to say the least — full of surprises, excited success, uncertainty and devastating heartbreak, but honestly, we still wouldn’t trade it for anything.
We’ve met so many amazing people in the game industry over the years who have contributed so much to our story — we wouldn’t be where we are today without people like Mathew Kumar, Nathan and Kris from Capy, Jess Mak, Jim Munroe, Kim Gibson, Sam Roberts, Nick Suttner, Alex Austin, the Hand Eye Society and Toronto games community in general, and so many more people who have been such great friends and have given us such excellent feedback and advice over the years. And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the support of Ontario Creates (previously the OMDC) — we would not be here without them.
We’ve made many personal friends too, too many to name — thank you! We love all of you. We appreciate your support when times have been tough and your joy when things have been great. Along with family, these are the people that have really kept us going, and we appreciate the hell out of them.
by Edmund McMillen
By Harvey James
By Harvey James
We learned about game design by thinking, playing, and doing. We learned by trial and error, and by planning, executing and iterating. We have been very lucky over the years (luck and good timing are major factors in any success) — but it took a long time for us to acknowledge ourselves as skilled and talented developers who are not JUST lucky. Part of the reason we are where we are is because we are motivated to learn and no longer afraid to make mistakes — we’ve made many over the years, and have gained so much insight from them. There’s lots more to learn!
As we look back on the past 15 years (which to be honest have flown by, despite how much has happened in them!), we’re realizing how different we are now, and just how much we’ve grown and evolved over the years. But we’ve tried our best to be friendly and accessible, and to help and support other small developers as much as possible, and make games with integrity and heart — and whatever the future brings, that will always remain constant.
Here are some of our favourite moments from the past 15 years:
When we knew we were getting somewhere. The first inkling that something was up came in 2005 when at a party, the drummer of a band who was friends of a friend randomly and excitedly called us over to the computer to see some game he thought we’d really like — and it turned out to be N!
And when articles in major or local press like this one from 2008 were printed, we got calls from family and friends saying “I read about you in the newspaper!!!” Those moments were pretty fantastic.
The icing on the cake was that time that we visited 8bit Cafe in Tokyo, one of our favourite places in the world, and the owner was wearing an N+ t-shirt. He said it was his favourite shirt. It was SO cool! 🙂
Loki’s N+ tattoo holds a special place in our hearts:
And last year (2018), it brought a tear to our eyes to hear a ballad to N performed by our friend Ste at a Marioke event in London — seeing the little game that we made up alongside Grand Theft Auto and other mainstream fare made us realize that it was A Real Video Game.
When we got an office. seen here in 2006 in prototypical form, and here in 2011 when we started to rent a dedicated space and filled it with our fabulous design library. It gives us space to collaborate, helps us separate our work and personal lives, and is an inspiring place to be. We are so lucky to have found a space that makes us feel motivated and excited about working, even when we’re up against really difficult problems. This space has seen some good times and some terrible times, and through it all it is bright and open and colourful, which has helped get us through those tough moments.
Metanet’s Design library (circa 2015)
The awesome N community. Without the support and encouragement of our fans, we never would have made it so far. From the first few emails in 2004 where random strangers let us know they liked our game (and made a few feature requests), to facing off against expert European players in online (via Parsec) Race matches last year, we’ve always felt proud to attract such an enthusiastic, dedicated, and creative group of people. Watching N++ streams on Twitch, and seeing players on Discord digging into the hardest challenges in the game, has been immensely gratifying for us.
Similarly, Recognition from peers and the industry! Of course we don’t do what we do for awards or fame or whatever, but it sure is nice to know that you’re not the only one who thinks what you have created is relevant and/or awesome.
N: 2005 IGF Audience Award N: 2006 Slamdance Audience Award for Best Game N+: 2008 Pop Vox People’s Choice Award for Best Game N++: 2015 Canada Videogame Awards Fans’ Choice for Best Canadian-made Game N++: 2014 IndieCade Special Recognition Award
Here are a few of our favourite articles on our games — the ones where when we read them, we thought “YES, they really get it!”:
“N is a game that you feel, a game about flying, about always adding velocity, about never, ever, stopping, and wondering how to get to that bunch of gold that seems impossible to grab.” -Alex Wiltshire for Rock Paper Shotgun
“In an industry of perpetual reinvention, N++ has a sense of timelessness to it. By treating the game as a relatively fixed object, it feels substantially more intimate, a system whose simplicity makes it possible to read a little more into the pathos of the person playing.” -Michael Thomsen for Forbes
“N++ is almost balletic. When you nail a stage you’re rewarded with a flowing, almost sensual experience – pulling off a tricky run always feeling like an achievement.” -Dan Naylor for God is a Geek
“I’ve played plenty of crazy-difficult platformers that reduced my hands to arthritic claws and my vocabulary to four-letter soliloquies. Battletoads. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. Super Mario Sunshine. N++ trumps them all. It’s the Demon’s Souls of platformers multiplied by Sisyphus’s rock wrapped inside one of the torture traps from Saw.” -Matt Peckham for Wired
“N seems like a companion piece to the design the creators live within, their office, their city, their preferred schools of architecture. When I exited, facing west, looking at the CN Tower and the bank buildings that created a sharp profile as the setting sun turned them into shadows, I easily imagined how a ninja could bound over it all.” -Zack Kotzer for Vice
Visiting Tokyo. We’ve been extremely lucky to have been able to visit Tokyo every couple of years for Tokyo Game Show and it’s always incredibly inspiring. We get so many ideas on these trips — not only about how to solve problems or what to work on next, but about how to make what we do more rich. We learn so much about culture, people, graphic design, symbolism and who we are, and that shines through in our games and our work.
Fave noodle soup
Love this style
Mare’s fave memory: “It’s a really tough call, but I would have to say Motion++. Motion++ is an “ad campaign” I created for N++ to express what the game feels like to play, what it feels like to be a ninja: graceful, swift and acrobatic. It was a collaboration between me, Gabe Toth (a photographer friend who has a studio in the same building as Metanet), and several dancer friends that I met when I started to take ballet a few years ago.
This idea came about because dance was totally new to me, I had never done it before in my life, and as I started to learn the language a little bit, I was amazed at how dancers can express complex emotions and narrative through motion and rhythm and time. It started to change the way I think, and I was inspired to try to express how I felt about N++ using that medium.
Motion++ was also a reaction to typical video game advertising and the objectification of women — I believe that you can’t wait for the world to change, you have to step up and create what you want to see, and I want to change the way we talk about and think about games, as well as who games are for, and who they are by. I wanted to see more beautiful, powerful women depicted positively in the games media, and thoughtful, evocative, artistic marketing for games from a woman’s perspective. So this was my response to to what had come before, and my counterpoint.
So, there were a lot of feelings and ideas that became very important to me over the development of my work, and myself, and I finally understood where they fit, and how to express them.
I think it’s interesting that Motion++ could not have happened when we released N; all of these thoughts, inspirations, confidence, people and style had to come together at this specific moment to create this project. It’s the culmination of a lot of things, a little machine built from many moving parts.
That fascinates me — every game we each make work we create is a snapshot of who we are at a given moment, and what we believe in. I’m very proud of how this project turned out, and what it says about us.”
Raigan’s fave memory: “When we invented the secret layers of N++.
Ever since playing Super Mario World and discovering its multitude of hidden-in-plain-sight secrets, I’ve always wanted to continue that tradition: creating something exciting for players to discover organically as they play the game, which completely transforms their previous assumptions and understandings of what’s happening in each level.
If — as the Arcane Kids claim — “the purpose of gameplay is to hide secrets”, then surely the most magical type of secrets are those which emerge directly from the gameplay itself: adding an entirely new dimension to the existing mechanics, enriching and expanding the game world in a way which changes the context of every element, instead of just slapping on some arbitrary Konami-codes and calling those “secrets”.
I had always assumed that I would have to wait until our next game(s) before we could properly pay homage to SMW, but in early 2015 when we were designing the achievements for N++ we were suddenly struck by a crazy idea: what if, instead of being one-offs (the achievements were originally individual challenges such as “beat level X without collecting gold”, “beat level Y after touching every toggle mine”), we systematized things so that every single one of the 2000+ solo levels had its own specially-designed secret challenges?
Much like when we first conceived of the monumental size of the game itself, the decision to add secret challenges to every solo level was both completely irresistible and tremendously daunting: we already had a full schedule for the remaining months of development, which meant we had to spend evenings and weekends poring over the levels and revising them as we developed ideas for hiding secret challenges in each one.
This process of revising and re-mixing the existing levels (in order to add secret challenges) also gave rise to a second layer of secrets: hidden secret levels — much harder, weirder, and more baroque than anything seen in the regular game — which are unlocked as you discover and complete the secret challenges in the main game. Again, a very direct inspiration can be found in SMW’s Special Zone: we were incredibly excited when we realized we had managed to synthesize the magic we found in that game, not just as a chance to pay tribute to a masterpiece, but also because the result was that N++ felt very special in a way that it hadn’t before — now we had a way to challenge players who had already spent thousands of hours perfecting their ninja skills, and make the game feel fresh for even the most stalwart veteran.”
If you’d like to get a sense of how intense and bizarre the secrets in N++ can get, here’s a great primer by Eric Weiss: The Secret World of N++. Also, two members of the community (@systeminspired on Twitter, and @Chebyshevrolet#9069 on Discord) have made a really awesome project you must check out: a comprehensive index of video clips showing every secret of every level!
N++ Video Library
Let’s close out this post by taking a look at Mare and Raigan over the years — from 1998 when we met, all the way to 2019! There are some photos of our first time in Tokyo, from launch parties and awards ceremonies, from trips to GDC, Berlin, Tokyo, and Milan, and from get-togethers with friends. So many memories!
Aw 😀 So much has changed since those early days. You can see a few more lines on our faces than there used to be, but whatever was thrown at us, we’ve made our way through — and we’re still smiling.
So what does the future hold? A lot! We’re so proud of what we’ve accomplished and there’s so much more we’re excited about doing. Generally, we want to keep exploring ideas that are funny, stylish, intriguing, and that inject modernity into classic themes. For the next while our plan is to work on many small experiments (maybe including some non-game ideas as well), and also develop one or two of our bigger existing prototypes further. We’ll revisit Robotology and Office Yeti, too. We’re bursting with ideas, and we might show some in-progress experiments here, or make some more tutorials along the way, so keep an eye on this blog.
Making games is really hard to do, and we want to be sure we do things well, which takes time — so we’re going to keep making little experiments and developing small ideas until we hit on something we really want to keep playing, and to finish 😉 That’s the best way we know how to make games, and to feel confident that you might like them too — we promise that once we’ve got something we love, you’ll be the first to know!
Thanks for coming along for the ride, everyone — here’s to another 15 years 😀
hi everyone! Wow, we made it — 2018 is almost over.
The big news this year: we celebrated the launch of N++ on Nintendo Switch back in May, thanks to the incredible team at Blitworks. Since then, the game has been enjoyed by a whole new audience, and it’s been so gratifying to see that.
It’s not too late to grab a physical edition copy with a manual designed by yours truly! It’s a really special package we think you’ll love, and you can get it from Super Rare.
So aside from N++ related stuff, what else did we get up to this year?
We did a lot of traveling this year, to meet with friends and colleagues for future projects, to explore cities (our greatest source of inspiration) and enjoy life, and mainly, to soak up lots of fresh ideas as we think about what is next for Metanet Software.
We’ve also been teaching part of a Game Design masters program in Milan, which has been an interesting challenge. It’s quite different from what we’re used to doing, and has really made us think about the process of designing and developing games. It has been incredibly inspirational, and even though we’re the ones teaching, we’ve also learned a lot as part of the process!
And we’ve been prototyping — we’re still not sure what we want to make next, but we’re so excited to continue to figure that out. We’re playing around with small concepts and thinking about what feels great to play, what is most intriguing and interesting, and what excites us the most. We currently have no idea what we’ll go forward with — but that’s ok. Our plan is to figure that out in 2019. We’ll let you know as soon as we’ve got something to share — hopefully you’ll be as excited as we are!
Until then, thanks for playing our games and for coming along for the ride. We think the future is going to be bright.
Happy Holidays, everyone!
We wish you all the best 🙂
You asked for it, and it’s finally here: N++ is now available on Nintendo Switch!! YEAH!
Thank you so much to everyone who has supported and encouraged us along the way; it’s been a long and winding road, but we made it thanks to your help and enthusiasm!
Special thanks to Blitworks for making this port happen — we couldn’t have done it without all their hard work!
We’re really excited for N++ on Switch — the bite-sized popcorn-style play is a perfect fit for gaming-on-the-go, and the virtually endless co-operative and competitive local multiplayer campaigns are the perfect use of those two Joy-Cons. We think that it’s a beautiful combination of hardware and software. 🙂
When we first began planning N++ back in 2012, we knew it was going to be a big project — but we never could have anticipated that we would still be working on it 6 years later! There are a few things left to wrap up — the Linux port is almost ready for release, and we’re going to be rolling out non-English versions later this year — but launching on Switch feels like an important milestone as we near the end of this epic journey. We hope that you have an equally rewarding and epic experience playing it. 🙂
The moment that a lot of you have been waiting for is finally here: we are so, so proud and happy to announce that N++ is coming to Nintendo Switch!
We partnered with Blitworks to make this happen, and we’ve all been working tirelessly on this since last year. We gotta tell you, it’s great! Fans and new players alike: you are going to love it. N++ feels great on the Switch, it is absolutely the perfect platform for the platforming perfection that is N++.
How long will you have to wait to experience the thrills of local multiplayer on the Joy-Cons, or to take your Solo campaign on the road? Why not check out the announcement trailer for an answer to that question:
YEAH! May 24th, 2018!
That means you’ve got until then to spread the word and get hype. You’ll be able to add N++ to your Switch wishlist on May 17th, 2018, when the eShop pages go live in Europe, Australia and North America.
Thanks for your support, fam, we couldn’t have gotten to this point without you. To celebrate, keep an eye on our twitter for some giveaways stuffed full of merch, and on our Etsy for the debut of a brand new, limited-edition poster. We hope you’re as excited as we are about N++ on the Nintendo Switch! Wooooooooo! 😀
Ho ho ho! Or whatever your favourite holiday mascot says. 😀
We’ve been working tirelessly all year adding to N++ and making it even better, and have we got gifts for you!
First of all, Aaron and Nick are working on the PS4 Ultimate Edition patch as we speak. So we’ll get that into cert as soon as we can and are hoping to have it to you by the end of the year, though that relies in part on Sony’s holiday hours. (UPDATE: The Ultimate Edition is now out on PS4! Hooray! 😀 Here are some details and some insight into our design process over on the PS Blog: https://blog.us.playstation.com/2018/01/11/how-metanet-built-the-4000-levels-included-in-n-ultimate-edition/). Aaron’s also working on an update for Xbox One which will fix the stuttering and the sound issues a handful of you have been having.
Linux is on the way after that, so the six of you who have been itching to play it will finally be sated 😉 jk, we love you Linux fans!
The Steam build just got a big update from Tatham, who has fixed a ton of small issues and has made the whole thing run even more beautifully. There will be another exciting update in the next little while with a few new fun things as well, so look out for that early in the new year.
There are a few other tidbits of news in the works we wish we could tell you about right now, but they’ll have to wait. Anyway get ready to be excited 😀 We’ve been working hard behind the scenes on N++, as well as a few other things.
Let’s be honest, 2017 was not the best. It’s been dismal around the world, full of tragedies and political horrors. It’s been a stressful and difficult year for all of us, which for us has certainly impacted our goal to get N++ to more platforms and to increase the audience for this beautiful game (and our other goals), but we did succeed, launching the Ultimate Edition in March and bringing N++ to Xbox One, and to a brand new audience, in October.
N++ was also voted one of the top 250 Hidden Gems on Steam: http://steam250.com/hidden_gems.html, which is such an honour. That’s such an awesome validation that this game we’ve spent a decade refining really is awesome. We love that people find it exhilarating and beautiful, and even that it’s still one of those ‘best kept secrets’ — it means that there are people who haven’t heard of it yet, but who will love it when they do, and those moments are so special.
Hopefully those accolades will help introduce more players to the game, and inspire them to give it a try. Next year, we’re hoping to tie up all the last remaining loose ends of N++ so we can move towards some other goals and start exploring a few new ideas. To start out the year, we’re going to head off to Italy where Mare will be teaching part of a Game Design Masters program:
I've been so busy I forgot to announce I'll be teaching part of this Game Design Masters program next year in Milan! https://t.co/lzhyBxfDVF I'm extremely excited! 🙂
We’re looking forward to living in a different city for a couple of months, seeing new architecture and art, having interesting conversations and discussions, and soaking up all that inspiration. What an exciting adventure! We’re interested to see where it will lead, and what future projects that may contribute to.
And so we say goodbye to 2017 and look towards the future. The best gift you could give to us, gentle readers, is to help us spread the word about N++ far and wide. Let’s make it much less of a Hidden Gem in 2018! Why not invite people over and show them Solo, Co-op, Race, or whatever it was that drew you to the series in the first place. Hold a Race tournament in your local esports bar or with a meetup group. Make a video about what you love in N++, or help us convince one of those big streamers to check it out. We know some of you have been doing this already, and we really appreciate it! Please keep it up — every little bit helps <3
Let’s round out this post with one big thank you to all the players. We’re so, so glad that N++ has resonated with so many of you, and we hope to be able to make more games you might enjoy in future! We’re looking forward with optimism to 2018, and all the beautiful opportunities it might bring. It’s gotta be better than 2017 😀
Happy Holidays everyone!
All the best,
from Mare and Raigan
As you can no doubt see, we are incredibly excited to announce that N++ is available for Xbox One RIGHT NOW! It’s out! The time has finally come! The Ultimate Edition is launching on Xbox One, so you’ll get all 4340 hand-crafted, devious levels and all the headbands and secrets you could ever need.
N+ fans, you will love what has changed in N++, the thrilling parkour platforming action you loved 7 years ago is now bigger, better and more beautiful. Enjoy the carefully redesigned local Co-op and Race (competitive) MP and bask in the glory of the new Hardcore mode!
N++ is over 5x as big as N+ was, and comes to you crammed full of colour, music and every level your heart could desire — plus the ability to make your own and share them with players all over the world! And all for the low low price of only $14.99 USD. A serious bargain. What are you waiting for! Go buy it!
YEAH! We made it! It’s been a long journey but we are through cert and ready to release N++ for Xbox One. The dream really IS real, and you’ll be able to play it in just under two short weeks.
You are going to love it, Xbox One players — it takes everything that rocked about N+ and brings it to the next level. 4340 levels of incredible, hand-crafted and finely tuned levels across a gigantic Solo campaign (and brand new Hardcore Mode if that’s too easy for you), intense eSports-ready local competitive multiplayer and ingenious local co-operative multiplayer that will have you and your friends alternately praising and cursing each other for months. Or years! This game is so huge you could be playing it for a very long time — but with 100+ glorious colour schemes and a blistering 63-song soundtrack, it won’t ever get boring! 🙂
We are so thrilled that Xbox One players will finally get their chance to see what all the fuss is about. Get ready to have your minds blown! Start the countdown!
And a little news for PS4 and Linux players: we haven’t forgotten about you! We’re going to be finishing these version shortly and will have them out by the end of the year. Hooray!
Yes, your prayers have been answered N+ fans, N++ is coming to Xbox One!
We are so excited to finally be able to announce this news! We’ve been trying really hard to make it happen from the start — it’s been a long journey getting to this point, and it’s not quite over yet, but we’re aiming for a summer 2017 release. We know how much players on Xbox360 enjoyed N+, and we think you all are REALLY going to love N++ 😀 It’s almost time!
We’ll keep you posted on all the details as we get closer to launch. Exciting! 😀
ps that gorgeous art above is by the incredibly talented Federico Leandro Rodriguez.
Now that Ultimate Edition is out, it’s a great time to dig into the design and development of the new Hardcore game mode. Let’s go!
Wait a Second, N++ Gets HARDER?!
Well, yes — but don’t let that scare you! It’s really just the next level of ninja skill. Hardcore mode differs from the regular Solo mode in one pretty fundamental way: your time isn’t reset when you die. This means that, unlike in Solo mode, you can’t take as many attempts as you like trying to perfect your route — every death costs you. So, the pressure is always on, and the game becomes more about performing as well as possible under that tension, and recovering from mistakes rather than endlessly grinding out a frame-perfect run.
Hardcore Stories are like super-episodes, where a run is 25 levels long (as opposed to 5 levels for a regular Solo episode), with no breaks. This really lets you see the Solo levels in a new light, since your priorities shift when you play in Hardcore Mode. We want N++ to be a game that you can play a little bit each day for a lifetime, and adding this new layer gives you lots of new options in terms of the type of challenge you’re after.
A Brief History of Less Time
This game mode actually originates way back in 2010, when we made a special version of N (“N Arcade”) for the Torontron indie arcade cabinets (which were commissioned by the Hand Eye Society as part of the annual Nuit Blanche festival).
Our goal then was to make N a more arcade-like experience — N was originally designed as an attempt to present a “modern” sort of action game that eschewed the awkwardness of limited lives/continues which console platformers had (for no good reason) inherited from the arcades, but we were intrigued by the idea of bridging the gap a little further.
After some iteration and experimentation, eventually we discovered the keys:
1. not resetting the timer on death, and
2. drastically increasing the length of each set of levels (we forget exactly, but each set of levels in N Arcade was maybe 32 or 64 levels long).
This instantly made N feel a lot more like an arcade game, in that it became a “quarter-muncher” type of experience: death was inevitable, and the challenge was to make it as far as possible before you got a game over. Focusing on surviving and trying to progress through a marathon of levels, rather than perfecting each run, really changed the feel of the game — and made it even more stressful and intense.
We had always remembered N Arcade fondly, and when we were planning N++ we knew we wanted to include it. In fact, for a while we even considered making Hardcore the main singleplayer game mode! Eventually we realized that this would probably be a mistake, as it made what was already a pretty hard game even more challenging — and since one of our goals for N++ was to make it more accessible to more players, this would not be ideal. Also, Solo was a better fit for the “iterating towards perfection” theme that we’d noticed gradually emerging during development and really enjoyed.
Over the course of making N++, for a variety of reasons, we ended up having to cut Hardcore mode from the game completely. This was pretty disappointing for us, because we loved how different Hardcore and Solo felt — we thought that they complimented each other perfectly, like two sides of a coin that felt really great in your hand. So when we were planning the Ultimate Edition, we knew we had to make sure that Hardcore made the cut this time.
The Design Decisions Behind N++’s Most Daunting Challenges
Given that the Solo levels were already laid out in columns of 25, it seemed natural to use these as a single set of levels for each Hardcore “Story”, as it provided a slightly softened challenge compared to N Arcade’s longer sets — this way it’s less likely that your story ends in a disappointing Game Over, and maybe you’ll still have enough juice to try another.
Hardcore is speedrun-inspired, in that avoiding death is of the utmost importance. It’s not quite a pure speedrun mode, since collecting gold still contributes to your score — the level design in N++ is such that we didn’t want to ignore gold or else all our existing levels would be a bit lifeless — but we do think it captures that speedrunning feeling of taking on a marathon challenge where constant vigilance and perfection is required. We’re really hoping Hardcore mode appeals to speedrunners, because we love watching them play!
One of the issues with highscore competitions in Solo N++ is that there are an overwhelming number of different levels — almost too many to keep track of. Hardcore mode streamlines this a bit, providing a smaller set of leaderboards which are each more competitive and dynamic, so the battles for 0th in Hardcore will truly be epic!
We also really liked that Hardcore mode forces you to think more about the gold: often it’s simply not worth the risk of death, and you really need to weigh your options and play strategically. Of course, you can’t just skip gold completely or you’ll eventually run out of time — especially when you reach the harder levels near the end of the run where you’re bound to die a few times. This sets up a nice interplay of risk/reward which re-introduces the concept of a time limit you really need to care about — in contrast with the typical N++ Solo episode where the time limit is quite generous.
Finally, we think that Hardcore represents a true test of your ninja-controlling skills: it’s no longer enough to be able to eventually pull off that amazing maneuver — you have to be able to do it the first time, every time. Consistency throughout your run is of paramount importance — you can no longer suicide if something doesn’t work out the way you intended and try it all over again. So it’s quite the test of patience, dedication and determination — things all great ninjas share.
The Ultimate Addition
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed that little deep-dive into the design of Hardcore Mode and are excited to get your hands dirty!
Our favourite part of making N++ has been the opportunity to refresh the series’ tried-and-true game design (which has remained consistent since 2004!) with new twists that don’t feel gimmicky or played out — Hardcore Mode feels like it could have been there the whole time, and like it takes the solid Solo gameplay to the next level.
We really can’t wait to see the competition that Hardcore brings out in the community. Keep us posted, and good luck! 🙂