Mare Sheppard, half of two-person development team Metanet Software, has unveiled an unprecedented art project around the upcoming release of Metanet’s long-anticipated N++: A photography series of dancers wielding vivid scarves designed in the image of the game.
Although it’s a sort of “campaign” for N++, the expressive goals of the project, calledMotion++, are higher, Sheppard tells us. “I want to convey the influence of dance and movement and art in my platformer, and show how Raigan [Burns, her collaborator at Metanet] and I really see N++, to abstractly demonstrate some of the characteristics and depth this game has. I am trying to show instead of tell, and in an unexpected way.”
For Sheppard, Motion++—a gallery of striking images that communicate the spirit of the upcoming game, where players can even buy one the fashion scarves depicted (starting at a very reasonable $35)—is more than marketing, but an assertion of her values into a space that’s often constrained by insular commercial aesthetics.
“I am trying to be the change I want to see in the world and in the game industry, in everything I do: I want the future to be diverse, abstract and creative, influenced and inspired by a wide and surprising range of things,” she says. “I want games to be a vibrant, layered reflection of time and place and personality, made possible by a variety of people and collaborations. I want people to see the beauty of games with much more depth — I want to help expand what games are and what they can be, who they speak to, and what they say. And how they say it! I hope this project is even one small step towards that future.”
Although Motion++ was inspired by fashion editorial, ballet and the diversity of beauty and bodies, it’s fundamentally an expression of how Sheppard and Burns feel about their game and the experience of playing it.
It seems impossible to believe the first release of Metanet Sotftware’s N was in 2004. The simple but impossibly-elegant free game became widely loved and often-imitated over the years, culminating in 2008’s N+ release on Xbox Live Arcade and other platforms. Metanet’s “definitive and final” N++ will release on PS4 in the near future.