Hey everyone! Sorry for the delay — we’ve been pretty busy trying to get some N++ updates and bugfixes out the door for you all to enjoy, but we have hit a few unexpected snags, so these will take a bit more time.
In the meantime, we are really excited to share with you some of the levels players have been making –there’s just so much creativity and ingenuity on display! For example, people are using the enemies and objects in the game in completely different ways than we intended, and the results are just fantastic. We’ll try to go into detail on what we love about these levels, but to really understand you’ll have to play them yourself.
Seriously, check out these examples, then go play (and don’t stop here — there are some really amazing things in the N++ database, and this post barely scratches the surface!), and you may want to make some of your own!
Ride the Lightning
This level is closer to the “house style” of N++ than any of the others; it has a relatively short and easy path to basic victory, but if you want to get a high score collecting all the gold, you’re in for a much more intense challenge.
One thing we’ve learned over the course of our ten years of level design experience is that different combinations of enemies produce different results, and the “Deathball + Gauss Turret” theme of this level is a really interesting mix.
Deathballs are dynamic force causing you to keep moving, while turrets are static and their line-of-sight/firing rules mean that moving towards them is very dangerous.
So as you play, you end up having to juggle two completely different sorts of behaviours in your mind at once, while also attempting to navigate the staple platforms/mines/gold that form the basis of the level. The tiles in particular are deceptively challenging, because the steep angle really limits your maneuverability. This all makes the payoff, when you successfully beat the level, so much more rewarding.
Also, the aesthetic composition of this level is terrific: the spaces and shapes are both visually pleasing and interesting, and play really nicely.
Round N Round DDA
DDA is short for “Don’t Do Anything”, a type of level that was invented and perfected by the community in N and N+, and has reached new heights in N++ thanks to the new objects and enemies. They take hours to construct and tweak to perfection – we have huge respect for the dedication these level designers have.
The basic premise is in the name: you just sit back watch the level play itself, Rube Goldberg-style, without needing to provide any input.
These levels are incredibly thrilling and intricate, as it seems like the ninja couldn’t possibly survive! Watching the twists and turns as the level plays out is exhilarating, and a refreshingly unique change of pace from normal N++ gameplay.
While there are a range of different flavours of DDA, the “rocket chasing the player through the whole level” is a staple of the genre.
In this particular level, however, the classic formula receives a new twist: for much of the level, the ninja is chasing the rocket!
We had never seen this done before! It demonstrates a profound mastery of the rocket AI, and is truly an incredible accomplishment.
This level demonstrates a common feature of user-made levels: they tend to be a lot longer and more involved than the built-in levels, perhaps because they are meant to be played individually (rather than in Episodes (sets of 5) like the ones we at Metanet make).
That change in context might seem small, but it has a profound influence on level design: if you want players to have a varied and dynamic experience, you have to do it all in just one screen.
The strategy adopted in this level is to partition the space into 5 horizontal layers, each with its own distinct theme, feel, challenge, and difficulty level.
In essence, there are 5 small levels packed into one!
The focal point is the middle section, which contains an ingenious Shove-Thwump puzzle/trap: by pushing them out of your way as you move to the right, you set up a deadly pattern than you must then weave through to progress.
The contrast between each section is really interesting too, from the cramped and claustrophobic top layer to the breezy, open jumps of the second-from-bottom layer. This keeps the level feeling fresh, even though it’s so lengthy.
This translates into a really fun, though quite challenging, level you won’t regret playing.
This level is interesting in that it combines several different ideas together in one.
To start with, it’s a “picturesque” level, where the author has arranged the tiles and objects to portray a scene — in this case, a bridge in ruin.
It’s also an incredibly challenging level, requiring both expert momentum control and jump-timing, as well as featuring a super-sneaky Bounceblock-glitching exploit – thankfully you only need to attempt that part if you want to collect all the gold.
Unlike most of the built-in levels, this level has only a single, very precise solution: it’s definitely a puzzle/riddle for expert players.
It may look simple, but building sufficient momentum to escape the bottom section is far from trivial. When you finally nail that jump, it feels really freeing and awesome. Give it a try and see for yourself!
Finally, it contains a really interesting and unique feature: an “N” logo/graphic built from tiles, functioning as the signature of the author (Nahoj). That’s just cool.
Someone had to…
It would be easy to dismiss this level as pure novelty: recreating game A within game B is a fun challenge, but rarely leads to a level that’s fun to play.
However, in this case, what appears to simply be a visual recreation of Pac-Man actually ends up to be a functional approximation of Pac-Man’s gameplay too!
It’s not just an homage, it’s a terrifically thrilling level in its own right.
Victory requires expertly manipulating the AI, directing the Deathballs around the level and avoiding being trapped by them.
While the cramped paths are somewhat awkward to navigate – we at Metanet try to avoid 1-tile-wide hallways for this reason – here, this only adds to the excitement, as the pressure of slowly-creeping-closer enemies means that you usually only get a single chance at each jump.
This level really impressed us, and underlined the necessity of never judging a level without playing it first ;)
So there you have it, a quick introduction to a handful of the really creative things people are making in N++. Why not give it a try yourself?
NOTE: if you do use the level editor, **especially if you use the PS4’s save/resume features, please do not save more than one “in-progress” level at a time**; otherwise your save progress will be corrupted. This is a bug that our programmer is currently still working on. Thank you for your patience until it’s resolved (which will be in our first update).