Archive:

  1. 20 Years

    5 Comments

    2004…can you believe that was 20 years ago?! It was a pretty big year for us, as it was the year we incorporated Metanet Software Inc. (we founded the company in 2001 (as mentioned in previous posts like this one* which you should really stop and read right now, it goes over the whole history) but only “got serious” about it in 2004** πŸ˜‰ ), and also released N v1.0, the very first version of N.

    Yes, it’s the 20th anniversary of N and Metanet. Time sure flies! To celebrate this momentous occasion, we are creating some cool N merch — currently you can find this awesome t-shirt and tote bag in our Etsy shop, but we will be adding N Anniversary keychains and stickers, and a cool Metanet pin when they are ready. This will probably be around the end of this month, and we’ll post about that on twitter, Bluesky and the Discord, and will update this blog post.

    Quick notes:
    *If you haven’t already read it, that previous post is pretty great — it details our history and musings on game development in a way that still resonates strongly with us today (plus it has loads of pictures!), so seriously, do go read it. πŸ˜‰ https://www.metanetsoftware.com/2019/happy-15th-metanet-software-inc

    **we actually incorporated the company because we thought it would be hilarious for university students to also be President and VP of a corporation…it was a very different time! Also, we learned that corporate taxes are no joke, so it really wasn’t all that funny. πŸ˜‰ Anyway it turns out it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made, as it allowed us to meet so many inspiring people worldwide, and gave us the opportunity to focus on creating and working on things that we care about, so it all worked out in the end. πŸ™‚

    ————————————————————————————-

    And since the post for the 15th anniversary gave such a good summary of the past 15 years, we’ll just do a quick recap of the past 5. What’s changed, in the past 5 years? Well, we moved from our home city, Toronto, to a new one, Montreal. Sometimes you can tell yourself it’s not a big deal, it’s just moving cities within the same country…it’s not really. Lots of big changes, but most of them positive — and we have the space and flexibility we need to work on lots of creative projects, so that’s been wonderful.

    Why don’t we retell the story of N for posterity! <3 So we (Raigan and Mare) met in a Computer Science course at the University of Toronto in 1998, where we were learning about terribly boring software programming but hit it off more or less instantly because of our shared love of games. We both had a number of other interests, such as art, music, and film, and we both loved playing and talking about games, so it was pretty natural to start to combine those interests -- fueled by a terrifically inspiring freeware and shareware game development scene that we'd discovered across the burgeoning internet.

    As opposed to what was happening in the mainstream videogames industry of the mid-90s (where videogames were becoming increasingly complex and being made by large, well-funded teams) the late 90s/early 2000s saw smaller teams, pairs, and individuals connecting with increasingly-accessible languages and tools to make games of their own, on their own. As we learned more in and outside of school, and read academic papers about realtime physics simulation (and other interesting subjects), discovered Macromedia Flash, and played lots and lots of games, we also started to experiment with programming some of those physics concepts in 2D, developing a set of collision and simulation systems that would underpin many more experiments, dubbed the NinjaEngine.


    In 2004, a Flash web game contest was announced in conjunction with the Flash in the Can conference, which provided an excellent deadline to get something together. And get something together we did — N v1.02. N lost the contest to Starsky and Hutch Pinball, but that did make sense as N wasn’t really a web-playable game — the physics and collision were too much for browsers to run at the time, so it really only worked as a downloadable game. Either way, many lessons were learned — among them that although the game didn’t seem to be what people were looking for visually, it was surprisingly fun, and addictive, and the friends that we’d sent it to sent back lots of enthusiastic feedback. So we pressed on, adding entities, fixing bugs, designing levels, and figuring out more about what the game could be. We infused it with who we were, and made subtle statements about how we felt about the world and the world of game development, in the game design, levels and graphic design. It became more than just a project; it became something we loved. We released it to forums around the internet and got even more feedback and enthusiasm, and so we continued developing and eventually released v1.4, the version that made such a splash that it won the Fans Choice Award for Best Game at the IGF in 2005 and the 2006 Slamdance Audience Award for Best Game.


    That was a shock, and a jolt of incredible validation. We were floored. We never would have thought that our little platformer with an even littler ninja could have resonated with so many people, and become an actual thing, a real game like the ones we grew up playing. The stories poured in from people who loved it, hated it, enjoyed making levels in the N-ed[itor] by themselves and with their children, played it in school on USB sticks, excitedly showed it to their friends, and laughed about the ninja’s ragdoll deaths. Lots of people found it incredibly difficult and frustrating — N is a polarizing game, and seemed to evoke a fairly strong reaction in players. People kept sharing it and it kept finding new fans, who created amazing spaces online to connect with each other, like dedicated forums, and NUMA, the N User Map Archive, and other shared online spaces that inspired the community to grow even more.


    We made N+ for XBLA and DS/PSP in 2008 (a story for another time), and returned to N to officially update it for the web in 2013, releasing v2.0. In its lifetime, N has amassed a mostly uncountable number of players — we once had some stats on the number of downloads from our old website which have since been lost to time; the web version found on Kongregate shows over 30 million plays. In short, it’s more well-known than we ever thought possible, and when we made N++ in 2015 and showed it at E3 and PAX, it was awesome to hear so many people say “Oh my god! I remember this game! I played it as a kid!”. It’s a fond memory, and one we’re proud of.


    Over the years we have had many ups and downs and opportunities and failures and successes and regrets, but also so many of those fond memories, so many connections with fans and friends from all over the world, and we appreciate them very, very much. We know we have been very lucky, and we feel that every day. We never could have predicted it, but N means a lot to a lot of people, and we want to keep that memory alive for as long as we possibly can. Seeing this Reddit thread pop up today really drove home for us how lucky we’ve been to make something that other people consider special — we both grew up slacking off playing games in computer class, and to make a game that the next generation used to play while similarly slacking off makes us unbelievably honoured and proud! <3

    And so, dear readers, that’s the story of N (abbreviated version). Thank you so much for finding the game and for playing it, for sharing it and for letting us know what you think. You rock! Of course the story is not over, the N expanded universe continues to grow in the + versions of the games (have you played N++ yet? You really should! Check it out here, click the links in the top right corner to get it on your fave platform: https://nplusplus.org/) and perhaps even more behind the scenes. N contains multitudes. We’ll just say this: the future is bright. πŸ˜‰





    Happy 20th Anniversary to N, and to Metanet Software Inc.
    Here’s to 20++!

    ps want to share your stories and memories with us personally? We’d love to hear them! Please leave a comment below, join the N++ Discord or email us at metanetATmetanetsoftwareDOTcom!


  2. 2023 – Year of the Map Pack

    5 Comments

    Well it’s that time again, time for the yearly check in from all of us here at Metanet Software, to let you know what we’re up to and how things are going. It’s been a pretty good year, finally — it feels like the past few have been pretty heavy, but this time things seem hopeful and full of joy again.

    We don’t have any big news for you yet, but at this point there are quite a few irons in quite a few fires that we’re excited about, and we hope to have more news for you soonish (ok maybe we say that every year, but it’s always true! And maybe more so this time around).

    In N++ news, 2023 was the year of the map pack — maybe the most exciting thing that’s ever happened in the world of N++ level-making! We’re really happy to see user-made tabs becoming a thing in the N++ community, because they allow level makers to develop ideas beyond individual levels, into episode sequencing and even secret challenges: these extra layers can be really fun to play around in, so it’s nice that finally everyone can give it a try.

    The most ambitious map pack thus far is the Community Tab Project: a collection of more than 800 brand-new maps made by the community, over 3 long years. This is a really impressive and ambitious undertaking — massive kudos to everyone who worked so hard to put this together. Plus, the trailer by abho is so cool:

    CTP is only one of several packs which have been released this year — here are trailers for some of the rest:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8YPHChhrps
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB3tOUQONn0
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDVEZcYVBHI
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBYbXm9Svos
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBO–gKWX8I
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL7Oy1kGXMU
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eNpPHPXt1A
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7sp9BTXB0A
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moF7yXAun34
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwL75aZaEY8
    (Sadly the super-intriguing Hax Pack doesn’t have a trailer! But one of our favourite N++ streamers — a community member who’s helped develop tools such as those which enable map packs to exist — did a few streams you could check out to get a taste: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSvT7B8yjSM)

    It’s really impressive to see the range and depth of level ideas being explored in these map packs, and we definitely recommend that any N++ fans on Steam check them out!

    You can find out more and join the community over on discord — where there are regular map-making contests that are Featured in N++ and over on tumblr as well.

    Not only that, there were 8 new 100%-ers in 2023, which is so impressive. That brings the total to a mind-blowing 40 players, from 15 different countries! You are all legends. Thanks for proving us wrong again and again and again, about anyone 100%-ing N++ πŸ˜‰

    More huge news: you might have heard of Lemmino on youtube (their channel is pretty popular, with well-researched and intriguing documentary videos that have attracted over 5M subs), well did you know that he made an ARG based partially on N++! Check this out, it’s incredible: https://www.lemmi.no/p/my-latest-puzzle
    THANK YOU Lemmino, you are so awesome — Mare has been a fan of your channel for a while and was delighted to learn about this!

    Fan Art Roundup!
    Some of this year’s 100%ers, γ‚ˆγ—γŠ and か぀぀, also made some fan art! It’s super fun:

    by γ‚ˆγ—γŠ

    A deathball unexpectedly hitting a ninja squarely in the back

    fanart by か぀぀ (Katsutsu)

    Thanks to you both! We love it.

    And finally, a new tournament has been announced — a sequel to 2021’s amazing PN++W event (an archive of which is available here if you missed it: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1191504447).

    Here’s a message from organizer bigblargh:
    Hey ninjas, it’s your 2nd or 3rd favorite N++ streamer, bigblargh! As you may have heard, I’m planning on running PN++W2, the second (ever) N++ Race Mode tournament in Portland, Oregon. Like the previous event, I want to challenge competitors with brand new community crafted maps. So, I’m assembling a team to make 1v1 race maps and playtest! If you’re interested in developing/testing maps, or playing in the tournament IRL, swing by my discord where we’re planning things.
    https://discord.gg/PGGX9jvj

    I’d like to choose the date after the holidays once we’ve sobered up from all the cookies & milk. I’m shooting for either February or March depending on how much time the mapmakers need. When the date is set I’ll let everyone know how to register.

    Happy solstice and all that! Thank you to all the players who keep this awesome game alive. Here’s to another year of N++!
    -bigblargh, No Big Deal Gaming

    (If you have your own fan art to submit, or have other N-series-related news you’d like us to include in blog posts like this, you can do so on the discord or by emailing metanetATmetanetsoftware DOT com )

    What else is new with us? We’ve been missing our beautiful departed friends Dr. Doom and Megatron, but have also been enjoying life with three new corporate fat-cats Peach, Pepper and Parsley, who have been helping us prototype up a storm. It’s a long and arduous process, so we’re taking our time with it, but we can’t wait to share more details about that soon — so far we have some pretty cool 2D platforming experiments, an exploration-focused ARPG, a deck-building RPG card game, and even a 1v1 fighting game, none of which are quite fun yet.. but they *might* be eventually! That’s the hope, and we continue working endlessly towards that goal. πŸ˜‰

    To all of you out there, Happy Holidays! Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones — and thanks for reading these posts, playing our games and keeping in touch. We’re so glad the N++ community is so vibrant and friendly, in a world that isn’t always. Thanks for being you.

    Until next time,
    Mare and Raigan


  3. Happy Valentine’s Day 2023

    1 Comment

    If you’re reading this blog post, you probably already know that we’re fans of Valentine’s Day — and if not, now you do! πŸ˜‰ We generally like to use this holiday to let our fans know we appreciate them, by making and giving out Valentines either in physical or digital form.

    This year we haven’t had time to make any new “V-Day” crafts, because we’ve had our hands full (literally) with three new corporate fat-kittens!

    They’re 6 months old, all sisters from the same litter — which we found thanks to the wonderful Montreal Animal Rescue Network. We really miss Dr Doom and Megatron, and we decided it was a good time to bring more cats into our lives. We’ll have to see what sorts of games they would like to help us design πŸ˜‰

    This is (Princess) Peach:

    Peach

    Peach


    Peach’s nose is shaped like a little heart! She loves to be petted and is always purring. She is very bold and unafraid to stride in and take whatever she wants, and is extremely good at chasing and catching things. Although she’s not the best at jumping, she doesn’t give up, and her excellent upper body strength means she can just pull herself up the rest of the way.

    This is Pepper (P.I.):

    Pepper

    Pepper


    Pepper is bright and full of energy. She is very tall and has very long limbs, plus a super sleek coat. She’s extremely stylish! She’s always figuring out how things work and solving mysteries of eg where and when food comes from, and where all the cat toys have gone. She has cute curled ears and a positive and optimistic outlook on life.

    This is (Professor) Parsley:

    Parsley

    Parsley


    Parsley is very chill and calm, unlike her energetic sisters, though she still does enjoy playing a lot. Her coat is very fluffy and soft, and as you can see she has cute curled ears like Pepper. She loves to follow us around and help out with whatever we’re doing. She’s very encouraging!

    It was impossible to top Dr Doom’s and Megatron’s names, so we went in another direction πŸ˜‰ They’re all very cute and are injecting a lot of joy and chaos into our lives, which is fun. If you want to see more, check them out on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/peachpepperparsley/

    In other news, we’re still working away on prototyping, most recently we’ve been working on a fighting game that has yet to come together, but we feel like the concept (“make a fighting game as different as possible from the Street Fighter template”) has a lot of potential. We’ll see how that goes!

    This month the featured N++ levels showcase the winners of the Monthly Mapping Contest, plus one has a Valentine’s Day theme! Check them out on our Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/metanetsoftware/709257731502112768/happy-valentines-day-its-a-new-year-and-a-new

    So that’s it! thanks again for playing our games and reading this silly blog, we are hoping to have lots more to show and talk about soonish. We’ll keep you posted!


  4. 2022, we won’t miss you.

    4 Comments

    We had such high hopes for 2022, but things didn’t exactly pan out as well as we’d have liked. We’re still here! That’s something anyway. πŸ™‚

    This year we worked on 4 different prototypes; there’s nothing to show/announce yet, but hopefully that will change soon. There’s an ARPG, a platformer, a fighting game, and an office cryptid simulation. πŸ˜‰

    You might remember that we sent out some cute Valentines earlier this year: https://www.metanetsoftware.com/2022/happy-valentines-day-3 That was fun.

    Mare has been getting back into visual art, and is selling her Japan-inspired watercolours on Etsy (and at a few local festivals IRL).

    We spent the summer soaking up inspiration and seeing a lot of friends we haven’t seen in a while, which was nice. Looking forward to more of that in 2023. The fall was disappointing, which we’ll get to.

    In N++ news, this year has seen an incredible increase in the number of players reaching 100%: there were an amazing *11* people who beat N++ in 2022 (up from 7 in 2021), bringing the current all-time total to 32. This is pretty astounding considering we originally didn’t expect anyone to reach 100%! We couldn’t be happier to be so, so wrong πŸ˜€

    In fact, there were so many completions this year that we had to do another print run of certificates! (We mail a hand-printed certificate of achievement to anyone brave enough to reach 100% — for those of you who are on this path, post on the discord and/or email us so we can check out your stats, as well as get your mailing address)

    Huge congrats to all of those players, and thanks to our Discord community for helping them with tips, routes, and emotional support. πŸ™‚

    It looks like the pace isn’t going to relent anytime soon either, since there are already several people nearing 100% completion: good luck to you all! We are so awed by your drive and skill.

    Excitingly, we’ve noticed that Challenge Enthusiasts have found out about N++, including the streamer nashinashi who (as we write this) is on their 50th day of N++, and is on track to become Japan’s first 100%er (maybe by about day 100?).

    Quick fact! There are now over 5 million episode scores in the database: wow!

    N++ Racing League: Raigan’s been playing a lot of N++ Race Mode on Twitch this year, against members of the Discord community; previous streams are archived here for your enjoyment: https://www.twitch.tv/metanet_software/videos?filter=all&sort=time

    Want to play? Sign up on the Multiplayer channel of our Discord server — it’s via Steam Remote Play, so there’s a bit of lag, but depending on where you are (and how good your internet connection is), it’s quite playable! πŸ˜‰

    We also added some new merch to Metanet’s Etsy shop:


    Black and white acrylic ninja keychains: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1350726473/n-nplusplus-ninja-acrylic-keychain


    Colourful N++ washi tape: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1350688021/n-washi-tape-limited-edition-minimalist


    and Dr Doom and Megatron memorial stationery: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1336709576/dr-doom-and-megatron-mini-notecards-and

    Unfortunately 2022 turned out to be a pretty sad year overall — we lost both of our beautiful corporate fatcats. First Megatron, who was 17, on October 28, and then Dr Doom, who was 19, just a couple weeks later on November 15. It’s been pretty rough, but we are slowly recovering.

     

    If you have a cat who has developed kidney disease, we heartily recommend Tanya’s Feline CKD site and forums: https://felinecrf.org/ — it’s incredibly informative, reassuring and calming, all of which have helped us a great deal over the years and especially at the end, as things got a little more complicated with Dr Doom’s condition. We also recommend the Feline Diabetes site and message board, which was extremely helpful as we learned how to give insulin and not panic. In the past few years we’ve learned a lot about how to administer cat medicines and do various other procedures — we were so happy to have been able to help these wonderful cats to live long and happy lives. We just wish they could have been around a bit longer (or, hey, if we’re wishing, infinitely!). It’s so hard not seeing them every day, and not being able to enjoy their beautiful company. We miss them terribly. This is what you sign up for when you decide to get a pet, but it is never easy. All we can do is try to remember that we did the best we could to give both Dr Doom and Megatron the best lives possible, and that we loved and cherished them immensely, and hope that they felt that love until the end.

    It’s very likely we will adopt more cats someday, when we’ve healed a little more — as our website says, “Behind every great company, there is an adorable fluffy creature that fuels its creative process”. We absolutely believe that! πŸ™‚ But what should we name them? If you have any thoughts, feel free to let us know.

    About getting in touch, at the moment we’re still on twitter @metanetsoftware, where we post about people (including us!) playing N++ on twitch, merch and other announcements, and if it’s still around, that’s where we’ll post about new projects you can check out. We also have an account on Mastodon (@Metanetsoftware@mastodon.social) we will start posting on, and have signed up for Post and cohost as well to cover all the bases.

    The official N++ Discord is a great place to hang out and chat: https://discord.com/invite/nplusplus, the community over on reddit is great as well, and we do still have a facebook page if you’re into that. Finally, you can always email us at metanetAT metanetsoftwareDOT com.

    And so, with that, we say goodbye to 2022. We hope your holidays are excellent and wish each of you all the best. Here’s to a 2023 that is surprising, inspiring and full of intrigue. We are looking forward to it.


  5. Happy Valentine’s Day <3

    8 Comments

    Happy Valentine’s Day! If you’re a familiar with us, you might know we are fans of Valentine’s Day. Why? Well here’s what we said about them way back in 2011:

    We are always looking for ways to give back, or to tell people about how awesome we think they are, and how much we appreciate who they are and what they do. Making valentines is a fun and unusual way to do this, which is right up our alley.

    Yep, it’s still true! So this year we have another Valentine’s Day gift for you. But before we get to that, how about a quick news roundup?

    • We are still at work fixing small bugs in N++, in fact a recent patch just went out on Steam, hooray! There should be a few more patches coming soon as well on the other platforms.
    • Did you know, 23 players have 100%’d N++!?! If you know N++, you know this is pretty incredible. We are absolutely in awe of the skill of these players. Huge congratulations to all of you! And a reminder to those of you who are trying to achieve that incredibly impressive feat — don’t forget, when you do this, we will send you a hand-printed certificate! Post on the Discord to verify and we will get in touch.
    • We are featuring some incredible community-made levels over on our Tumblr and in the game, under the Featured tab in the “Browse” Main Menu option. If you want to submit your own, get in touch with the curation team on the Discord!
    • We’re going to be on the Eggplant podcast in February, talking about one of our fave games, Super Mario World, so be sure to check that out if you are interested. It’s a great podcast, so you might want to check it out anyway!



    And now for the Valentine’s Day part of this post — we’ve made some new physical Valentines and we think they’re super cute! These are handmade by Mare, and feature some beautiful papers in various shades, as well as some of our new Ninja stickers (which you can get here, from our Etsy shop! https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1103523794/n-nplusplus-new-stickers-pack-white-and)

    Each is a little different, and features a little abstract snapshot of an N++ level in a variety of stylish colours, and of course some hearts. Click the thumbnails for larger versions:

    If you would like one, reply to this blog post or to our tweet about it, until 10am Eastern Time on February 15th. We will throw your name in a bowl and will DM or email you if your name is pulled, so you can give us a mailing address, and then we’ll sign one and send it out to you.

    As always, to all of you out there who read this blog and play our games, you rock! Thanks for being you.


  6. 2021 is finally done!

    Leave a Comment

    Well, every year we keep wishing things will get better, and this year is no different. 2021 was not a great year, but with the bar that low, we are really hoping 2022 will surpass it easily, haha. ;D

    It’s been a long and unpredictable year, again due to the pandemic. We recovered a bit from the shock and have been steadily feeling more creative as we adapt to the new normal. We’re still getting to know our new home city, and are discovering things about it that we love, so that’s helpful. And we’ve been busy prototyping some new game ideas that we’re starting to get intrigued by — we don’t have anything to share just yet, but we’re optimistic.

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////  
    In N++ news:

    We made a bunch of new merch this year, from oft-requested stuff like new t-shirt designs, to more unusual and awesome stuff like little gold cubes and giant gold pillows. Thanks so much to everyone who answered our survey and gave feedback and suggestions for merch ideas! We’re really happy with how it all turned out! πŸ™‚


    In the gallery of photos above, you can see:
    New stickers, including ninjas, mines and gold, so you can build your own N++ scene: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1103523794/n-nplusplus-new-stickers-pack-white-and

    A gorgeous level poster (which you can have signed): https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1117471269/n-nplusplus-limited-edition-poster
    For all you thirsty ninjas, the “I love gold” pack including an exclusive gold button: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/210741846/i-love-gold-10-pieces-of-n-nplusplus
    Tiny and incredibly cute Gold cubes, by the piece: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1117482027/n-nplusplus-gold-cubes-handmade-tiny

    The aforementioned and amazing Gold pillow: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1133516813/gold-nplusplus-n-18×18-premium-pillow

    A beautiful white gold minimalist keyring (the first 6 sold out fast, so we’ve added some new options!): https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1054405096/n-nplusplus-keychain-acrylic-laser-cut
    A charming stationery set including magnets, pushpins and paper clips: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1068459141/n-nplusplus-stationery-set-paper-clips

    *** Most of these things were created with the help of Dean at Utopia Creates, who is amazing. If you need anything printed, we highly, highly recommend him! ***

    And here are the exciting new tshirts, printed-on-demand by Printful and Printbest:
    All: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/metanet?section_id=17568595

    Ninja and Gold US/Can: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1099870550/n-nplusplus-ninja-and-gold-logo-tshirt
    Ninja and Gold worldwide: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1108228146/n-nplusplus-ninja-and-gold-tshirt-short
    Ninja and Gold women’s cut worldwide: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1108234100/n-nplusplus-ninja-and-gold-womens-short

    Racing League US/Can: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1099874950/n-nplusplus-racing-league-official
    Racing League worldwide: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/1104992304/official-racing-league-tshirt-n

    As always, every order from our shop includes some extra stickers plus a hand-written thank you note. Thanks for your support, everyone! ❤️

     
    2021 wasn’t all bad — it saw the first ever N++ Invitational Tournament, PN++W (Pacific North-West), which you can watch here in all its glory: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1191504447

    This was a really exciting event, with players from both coasts of the USA converging on Portland to see who has the most dynamic ninja skills — and the nerves to perform under pressure.

    Big thanks to bigblargh for conceiving, organizing, and running the event. It was incredible to watch, and we’re hopeful that once the pandemic settles down a bit, there will be more local tournaments happening around the globe.

    Spoilers, XandoToaster won! Congrats!

    We made and tested a whole bunch of devious new Race Mode levels for this tournament, which was pretty fun! As is typical after we ship a game, we were pretty burned out on making levels for a few years, so it was really nice to get back to it without that crushing feeling, and to be able to enjoy the process again and be excited by new ideas. Such a great feeling, and it was especially awesome to be able to watch the reactions of players as they grappled with the fruits of our labour. πŸ™‚

    Here are some of our favourite new level names:

    • Scrambled Legs
    • Trolled-school
    • Leg-salad Sandwich
    • Nope-ing Mechanism
    • Various Nefarious Areas
    • Missile Dismissal
    • Suddenly Befuddling Subtleties

     

    Thanks also to our awesome Discord community, who continue to be a source of inspiration — it’s great seeing people able to play the multiplayer modes via Parsec or Steam Remote Play, and exploring the secret challenges together (shhh!).

    So far an incredible 21 players have completely 100%’d the game, which is astounding considering we didn’t think anyone would be able (or willing) to perform such a heroic feat. You each are absolutely amazing. Kudos to everyone who is collecting gold and enjoying their journey. ❤️ Don’t forget, if you have 100%’d the game, post on the Discord and send us your mailing address so we can send you a handmade certificate!

    Got some N/N+/N++ related news to share? Let us know on Twitter, we’d love to hear it, and retweet!

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////  


    In other news, our beautiful and constant friend and corporate fat-cat, Dr Doom, has not been feeling very well of late. She has been with us for almost the entire history of our company, and is roughly 18 years old — just a few months older than the first version of N! During the past 4 years she developed diabetes, which was in remission for a while but which is recently more on-and-off, and then she developed kidney disease, as most older cats apparently do. She is in the later stages now, but we are hoping she will stay a little longer with us.

    If there has been one good thing about this pandemic, it is that we’ve had more time to spend with her — she is soft and sweet, and a wonderful companion, who loves treats with a passion. The multitude of medicines and procedures for her that we’ve had to go through together were made much easier by her clear joy about eating treats. She has a quiet meow and a very loud purr, and we love her an immense amount. Our other wonderful cat employee, Megatron, also has kidney disease and is a year or two younger than Dr D. She has a very loud meow (sometimes shockingly so! πŸ˜‰ ) and a quiet purr, so the two cats complement each other well. Megatron has also been a great kitty friend to us, and we are constantly amazed by the great quality of life these little animals give to us. So we hope they’re both around for a long while yet! ❤️

     
    That’s all we’ve got for this year — thanks again everyone, for your support and for continuing to be interested in playing our games. We hope to have more for you soonish! We hope you all stay safe and healthy, have the happiest of holidays and are in for a fantastic 2022. Until next time!


  7. Hindsight

    6 Comments

    What a year, huh? It started out with so much potential and promise — we moved to a new city that we were excited to explore and get to know, we had gotten cracking on a new prototyping framework that we were looking forward to experimenting with and filling up with new ideas, and we’d started to feel ready to think about what kind of future we want to work towards.

    And then it all kinda went to hell.

    It’s been a really tough year, hasn’t it. We lost a lot of momentum because of the pandemic — the mental strain and heightened anxiety really threw us. We found it hard to concentrate and harder to be creative and a lot of things just fell flat. We STILL don’t know Montreal well, and we haven’t seen friends or family much at all this year (offline, anyway). Also our corporate fat cats are getting old, and they’ve had some health troubles this year which we’ve found really upsetting. They’ve been a part of the company from the start, and confronting the inevitable reality that we will lose them, maybe soon, is heartbreaking on top of it all.

    However, all is not lost. We’re safe and well, and so are our families and friends. We’ve adapted to the pandemic and are feeling a little less strained now. We don’t have anything to show yet, of what we’re working on, but we’re optimistic about making more progress next year. We’re starting to feel creative again. Trump’s out as president and there’s a little opportunity to reshape the future. And the cats are doing ok for now. So that’s all great! 2020 felt like a bit of a failure, but it taught us a lot about what we really need and what we want to do. And whatever else happens, it’ll be one we’ll never forget πŸ˜‰

    But Metanet, you may be asking, are you going to update us on N++?! We are absolutely delighted to let you know that an incredible 14 (!!!) people have 100%-ed the game! That’s double the number from last year!! At this rate, in 30 years everyone on earth will have beaten it!!! πŸ˜‰

    You are all amazing, awesomely skilled players and again, we honestly didn’t think anyone would EVER 100% the game, and yet here we are with 14 intrepid people having accomplished that frankly appalling task, and we know many others are currently still working on the last few challenges. We remain absolutely in awe. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you all for playing, and for being so inspiring.

    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 14, and we will send out one to you as well, whenever you get there. Good luck!

    What’s been especially rewarding is seeing the community grow via Discord and get further into the secrets hidden in the game. Several of the earlier 100%-ers have been helping everyone else complete the co-op levels (via Parsec or Steam Remote Play) — shout out to Kostucha for helping 6+ people achieve 100%. There have also been a few Race-mode streams between the best players in the world, which was awesome to see.

    Last but not least, we’ve also seen a big uptick in speedrunning N++ — which is no easy feat! https://www.speedrun.com/nplusplus/
    SimVYo has, in the span of a year, managed to completely dominate the Solo leaderboard, with some really impressive runs.

    And now for some bite-sized news:

    • RIP Flash :/ we will mourn its loss for a long time. But, we were so happy to have been able to use it to make games, and to be part of such a thrilling time in indie game history. PC Gamer recently wrote this article on difficult Flash games, and identified the modern lineage of platformers as “N-likes”! https://www.pcgamer.com/flash-games/ We were floored. What an incredible honour to have our work recognized in this way!

    • N will continue to be playable in downloadable form, and we’ll keep the servers running for as long as we possibly can, so don’t worry about that. It’s also available as part of BlueMaxima’s Flashpoint Archive and you can find other ways to play here:

      We’ll do our best to make sure it continues to be available somehow, but don’t forget, N++ is N, plus plus, and it’s got your back.

    • 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 β€œFeatured” tab.

    • Two of the most infamously hard user levels were finally beaten in 2020, after tens of thousands of attempts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3Bp0DASoZg https://www.twitch.tv/videos/804988433

    • Another incredible feat was Seitaro’s amazing sub-10-hour Platinum Trophy speedrun on PS4!

    • We hope to have some new things to put in our Etsy shop next year: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/metanet So keep an eye out!

    • And finally, 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 (Eastern time zone) if you want a copy of this excellently designed strategy/puzzle game.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

    So what’s next? Well, we’re still not sure, to be honest. But we know we have a lot more ideas we want to explore and things to try, and we think you’ll like them. We’re still not quite ready to announce anything, but we are so excited to prepare things to show you in 2021. We are looking to the future with optimism and motivation, and we can’t wait to make 2021 much better than this year.

    Happy Holidays, all, we hope that you too have discovered what things and people mean the most to you and that you can hold them closer next year. Good luck out there, please stay safe. See you again soon!

    cheers,
    M&R

    ps do you have N++-related news or info that might be of interest to the community you’d like us to consider putting in future blog posts? Email us and we’ll take a look!


  8. 2019, we hardly knew ye

    3 Comments

    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 πŸ˜‰ It was also the 15th anniversary of the first versions of N, which you can find out more detail about here: https://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!

    The big news this year is that N++ is finally out in Japan!!! γ‚„γ£γŸ!
    Grab it on Nintendo Switch
    and PlayStation

    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! πŸ˜€ 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 πŸ˜‰

    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 πŸ˜€ ), 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! πŸ˜‰

    • 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 β€œFeatured” 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!


  9. Happy 15th, Metanet Software Inc!

    18 Comments

    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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ˜‰

    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    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: https://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.

    If you want to read more about our journey from N to N++, check out these detailed histories: https://www.gamecareerguide.com/features/1313/to_nfinity_and_.php?page=1

    and https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/MareSheppard/20160826/279968/JOURNEY_OF_4_THOUSAND_5_HUNDRED_DAYS.php

    and of course https://www.theverge.com/2015/4/17/8434019/n-plus-plus-playstation-4

    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    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.

    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:

      ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    1. 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.

    2. 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! πŸ™‚

      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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

      Want to join the community? Here are the discord and subreddit.

    5. 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

    6. 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.

      ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    7. Mare’s fave memory: “It’s a really tough call, but I would have to say Motion++.

      Motion++ is an β€œad 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.”

    8. 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 πŸ˜€ 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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ˜€


  10. 2018 Year in Review

    2 Comments

    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 πŸ™‚