Ninjah

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Download

Ninjah for Windows – 33.7MB

Ninjah for Linux (.deb) – 33.5MB

Ninjah of OSX (zipped .app) – 33.8MB

Info

Get from A to B as quickly as possible with the help of your ninja rope and ninja jetpack. However, there is a snag. You may only come in to contact with blocks the same colour as Ninjah, else it’s POP and you have to start again. To help combat this, you can change colour by bumping in to the corresponding checkered blocks. Good luck!

Ninjah is a remake (what a lot of people would call a HD REMAKE….) of the 2007 freeware version of Ninjah which I also made. It was originally released on Xbox 360 via XBLIG for 80 MS Points (where it is still available if that floats your boat) followed by a standalone release for PC as well as via Desura and the Ubuntu Software Centre for between $0.99 and $2.99. It is now available for free.

Media

The original Xbox trailer:

PC Playthrough:

Screenshots:

System Requirements

PC

  • Display capable of 1280×720*
  • A mouse! (trust me, don’t bother trying with a touchpad!)
  • CPU: Intel Core Duo processor L7400(1.5GHz)
  • Memory: 512mb

Linux

  • Display capable of 1280×720*
  • A mouse! (trust me, don’t bother trying with a touchpad!)
  • CPU: Intel Core Duo processor L7400(1.5GHz)
  • Memory: 512mb

* – Ninjah is made for 1280×720 but will always try to scale to the nearest possible resolution. On my Thinkpad the game runs at 1024×768 and there is some minor graphical tearing, however it is at a smooth 60fps still.

History and other stuff

I originally started attempting to make a game on the Xbox using the XNA toolset at some point in 2009. I was just happy to get something that I had seen compile on my PC running on my actual Xbox 360. I found using XNA and C# incredibly difficult and fiddly to start with and soon gave up. I had become used to PHP’s lenient type definitions and couldn’t understand why C# was so “pedantic” about everything.

I cringe at this notion now and my opinion was born from ignorance and ignorance alone! However, it wasn’t until Blitz Research released Monkey (in 2010?) that I managed to start getting things going through XNA. Monkey translates a set code structure to many languages including HTML5, Flash, Android, iPhone and Xbox, obviously it was the latter I was interested in. I decided to revisit Ninjah because I thought dual stick controls suited it nicely.

Monkey handled all of the “pedantic” stuff (eugh, I hate myself a bit) for me and I was able to program games in a manner that felt more natural for me.  However it wasn’t without it’s problems. The Xbox hates garbage and if you create any garbage it’s a problem.

It became very clear that the code Monkey generated created a horrendous amount of garbage. Any sort of string operation caused garbage, drawing some text on screen? Garbage. Drawing ANYTHING on screen? Garbage! It was quite disheartening at this stage because I couldn’t make a game that couldn’t draw anything on screen… I knew it was something that would need fixing and luckily Mark managed it.

That’s not to say I didn’t have to jump through way more hoops than I had anticipated to actually get the game on the Xbox. I had to convert all in game text into a set of images, because there was no efficient system available to draw text… I don’t think this has changed. I actually wrote quite a bit about using Monkey for an Xbox game as well as a follow up post when Monkey was significantly updated.

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After one false start (relating to regional based decimal issues) Ninjah was published on the Xbox Indie Games Market and I was very very happy :) It was the most “professional” thing I’ve ever done in relation to game making. I really enjoyed the process of finding suitable music and making sure I had the right licenses to use everything and I especially enjoyed seeing that people were actually playing it. Finding out that the Signed In Podcast had featured it was unreal. Listening to the episode in question was a lot of fun and it was certainly one of my most enjoyable commutes to work, so thanks to those guys (and I whole heartedly recommend you listen to their podcast, even if you’re not fussed by Xbox games).

Sales wise I was over the moon as well. I know it shouldn’t be about the money, but waking up after the first night sales to see that around 800 copies had been purchased over night was amazing, the money I got from Ninjah really made a difference to me and in retrospect I don’t know what I would’ve done without it (it went straight towards furnishing and painting our first house). For a while I was addicted to seeing how many more sales had happened. Each and every day I would check. As soon as Ninjah disappeared from the “new releases” page, sales pretty much dried up, but that said, 2 years since it was first released, Ninjah is still selling on the Xbox every day :)

I decided to fix Ninjah up a bit and release it for the PC as well. A target for Monkey had been added which let you build BlitzMAX games (the tool I used for Pogo Fred and Ninjah 2007). I added mouse support and slightly tarted things up a bit and soon released it through my own site for $0.99. I enjoyed the process of creating my own “shop” but ultimately the PC port wasn’t a financial success. I’ve sold a few copies but we are talking 20-30 instead of thousands for the Xbox.

If I am completely honest I am disappointed in how well the PC version sold. I guess I thought “WOW if it sold this well on the Xbox through a closed and ultimately difficult to find store, it will do GREAT on the PC!” which is naive. I by no means thought “this game is great, why aren’t people buying it?” but again, I think the Xbox success carried me away a bit.

In an email exchange with Simon at Pixel Prospector, someone who had always been supportive of the 2007 version (something I am forever thankful for), he suggested that the price of $0.99 was too low and people would dismiss it. I felt uncomfortable charging more at the time and while I can’t say “well clearly THIS is why Ninjah didn’t sell”, it may very well have been a factor.

I hadn’t anticipated writing quite so much, so sorry for carrying on!

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