Dear Metanet: N++ userlevel browsing vs. NUMA

Discussion about mapping and userlevels.
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Yet Another Harshad
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Postby KlanKaos » 2016.11.23 (21:50)

So I'm loving N++ so far, after AGDing basically all of the N++ levels (only a couple episodes to go!) - the game is smooth as hell, looks great, and your levels are really fun. But I can't help feeling like it's lacking pretty badly compared to 1.4 in one of the most important ways - it's missing NUMA.

NUMA was the best part of the original game. Besides the forums/IRC, the community revolved around posting levels, getting feedback and ratings on them, sharing demos on them, discussing them in the comments section, etc. When I found this game, it was the first time I'd ever seen such an awesome, fun, friendly and helpful community online, and it hooked me hard. I posted tons of maps to NUMA, I collaborated with people, I made mappacks, I posted on the forums, I chatted in IRC. I was obsessed, and NUMA was (almost) entirely to blame.

This game is missing that, and it's sad. Without its insanely dedicated mapping community, this game would never have survived as long or as well as it has, and this latest development for PC N players is a huge step backwards in that regard. I totally get that you guys want to let people do all their userlevel stuff within the game rather than using an external website, especially with players on PS4, but there are a few features that I think are really, really necessary if you want to foster the kind of mapmaking community you had around 1.4.

In no specific order:
- Comments on maps! Seriously, this is huge. Right now there's basically no way to get feedback on maps at all besides number of ++s which is badly inadequate.
- Ratings on maps - maybe not as important as comments, but I really want to be able to get a better sense of how good a map is. ++s don't really tell you much besides 'a few people sorta thought this was good'.
- Demos on maps - I loved being able to post a run in the comments on NUMA and compete with other people for speedruns/highscores on featured maps. It encourages people to play each others' maps which is awesome.
- User profiles - being able to play through all of an author's maps if you really liked them was also key in building a community of people who knew each others' work, and as far as I can tell you can't search by author on the current N++ userlevel search. Also, it was awesome to be able to highlight some of your best/favourite work in your profile - I found tons of good maps and authors that way.
- Actual features - I want to know why a map was featured, and by who! Reading reviews of featured maps was a really cool way to find maps that you would really like, or to figure out what other people thought made a map truly amazing.
- Tags - as far as I can tell you can't add tags to maps/search by tag, which was huge for discoverability. I liked being able to do things like tag a mappack with the name of the pack, so people could search that tag and get only the mappack, or just things as simple as searching for genres of maps.

Maybe there are a few more things that would be really useful, but I think that gets the core of it well. I really want this game's mapping community to be as awesome or awesomer than 1.4 in its heyday, but I don't think the game really supports it right now. Hopefully it can someday :)

And thanks again for another awesome N game :D :D :D
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Tetris
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Postby ncr » 2016.11.24 (14:35)

Sounds like N++ is going to go down the same way as Super Mario Maker did: game is introduced with minimal level-sharing features; all the terrible levels get pushed to the top while the good levels just sink down to hell; expanded level-sharing capabilities only get introduced after the developers make a ginormous profit and everyone hates the game. Is there any reason the userlevels weren't just built into the Steam Workshop aside from "UI isn't sleek enough" and "downvotes are illegal"?

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Postby Destiny » 2017.01.05 (00:28)

I think that there are lots of really great features about the N++ map sharing, but I do agree with the points that you listed out above. Discord helps to fill some of the gaps to an extent but it's not the NUMA experience.

Just to highlight some of the things that are actually better in N++ compared to NUMA though:

Guaranteed sharing functionality.
Leaderboards for every user map.
Friends function - you can browse maps made by your friends on Steam.
Can submit and browse within the game client.

That said, ultimately the overall experience is a lot less immersive than what NUMA provided to v1.4. I would definitely love to see a return of a NUMA for N++.

Let's think for a moment what M+R would have to do in order to accomplish this.

There are, from what I can see, two options. Option one is to do the whole thing within the game client, and the second is to create an external website just like NUMA was.

In order to implement full NUMA functionality into the N++ client would be a huge undertaking. And as it is within the game client, I don't think that Metanet would want to outsource the project to anybody else. It would take months of work, and they would get very little out of it (besides community praise and longevity). They might get a few more sales than otherwise but not enough to justify the amount of time it would take them. On top of this, Metanet are game programmers. Programming something as huge as NUMA into the N++ client would (likely) be tedious and dull work for them, when they could be trying to bring a new game to life instead.

So then, option 2: Create an external website. This is something that could be outsourced to a web design/dev company. It wouldn't be cheap, but hey maybe they made enough money from N++ to cover the costs. I haven't got an inkling what their budget for something like this would look like, but once again we have to consider that it wouldn't be increasing their revenue in any noticable way even once it's complete. Additionally, some client-side programming would still be required to get the map data onto the web.

Ultimately both options aren't cost effective, which is a shame because it would be an amazing addition to the game.
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Postby KlanKaos » 2017.01.05 (06:55)

Destiny wrote:Let's think for a moment what M+R would have to do in order to accomplish this.

There are, from what I can see, two options. Option one is to do the whole thing within the game client, and the second is to create an external website just like NUMA was.

In order to implement full NUMA functionality into the N++ client would be a huge undertaking. And as it is within the game client, I don't think that Metanet would want to outsource the project to anybody else. It would take months of work, and they would get very little out of it (besides community praise and longevity). They might get a few more sales than otherwise but not enough to justify the amount of time it would take them. On top of this, Metanet are game programmers. Programming something as huge as NUMA into the N++ client would (likely) be tedious and dull work for them, when they could be trying to bring a new game to life instead.

So then, option 2: Create an external website. This is something that could be outsourced to a web design/dev company. It wouldn't be cheap, but hey maybe they made enough money from N++ to cover the costs. I haven't got an inkling what their budget for something like this would look like, but once again we have to consider that it wouldn't be increasing their revenue in any noticable way even once it's complete. Additionally, some client-side programming would still be required to get the map data onto the web.

Ultimately both options aren't cost effective, which is a shame because it would be an amazing addition to the game.


I agree with you, and I think that's the ultimate point - it's really challenging for Metanet to implement these things and possibly (probably?) not cost-effective, which is too bad. The only compromise I've thought of so far with any merit is Metanet providing an API via which we could gather some minimal level data - enough to get an image/thumbnail when a new level is submitted, basically. Then we'd have enough information to integrate N++ userlevels into NUMA itself, which would maybe be even better (we'd get everything I talked about plus you could see an author's 1.4 levels as well). And it looks like the NUMA code is up on Github these days :D if need be I would love to integrate N++ with NUMA given the necessary data.
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