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In this interview, N creators Raigan Burns and Mare Sheppard of developer Metanet - and Nick Waanders, president of Slick Entertainment, which handled the conversion to Xbox Live Arcade, chat honestly about the trials and tribulations of birthing the title.
N+, the popular ninja Flash game recently released in enhanced form onto XBLA, has been somewhat of a hit with hardcore gamers - but the trio explain in this piece how the process of getting it onto Microsoft's service was fraught with difficulty.
The sometimes disruptive creators also discuss how showcasing the game in its early stages
allowed them to tweak it before release. Gamasutra caught up with them
shortly before the postmortem of the game was conducted at GDC's Independent Games Summit.
Having just seen you guys discuss the process in the postmortem - was the process of getting N onto the Xbox 360 all right, or a bit painful?
Raigan Burns: Extremely painful. (laughs) No, it was good until the end part.
Nick Waanders: Basically, the way we worked is that Mare and Raigan gave me the source code for the Flash version, and a lot of concept drawings of how it needed to look. Not necessarily game drawings, but more style ideas, like, "Okay, we want this kind of style." That's kind of cool, because it's kind of what I like, so I was like, "All right, that's cool. I like that."
From that, I created a C# complete version of the game, where you could run around, and the only reason to do that was to very quickly figure out what the game was about and how it worked, and also because it had to run at 60 frames a second, and not 40 frames a second.
There were some variables that were not really getting across, and we wanted to get as close to the Flash version as possible before we started pouring the C++ concrete basically. That worked pretty well.
After that, we focused on getting multiplayer to work, and getting all the rules and regulations you have to meet from Microsoft to work. That actually took quite a lot of time.
Also because we were two programmers for a while and then it was just me after that, the end phase was quite hectic, because there's a lot of bugs coming in, especially if you have four-player multiplayer, which we do have, and you have 250 single-player levels that they have to test every single time they do a test pass. Word up to VMC. That's pretty hardcore.
NW: But in the end,
it was actually relatively smooth, I think, except for the last bit.
RB: We sort of wondered if it would ever come our way.
NW: Yeah. I think the reason was because there were a lot of modes in there, and a lot of slightly different code paths, and that's kind of what broke us up in the end a little bit. It was hard to make sure all of the dialogs were popping up properly, and that's where a lot of the bugs came from.
Was there a lot of waiting around? That's what I've heard from some other people. I don't know if it's gotten smoother since then.
RB: We've been waiting a month and a half.
Mare Sheppard: Since it's been through cert, yeah.
NW: Yeah, that has been a bit of a wait.