Get to Know a GameDev: Raigan Burns

Metanet Software

Raigan Burns is half of the game dev core at Metanet Software, known for their hyper fun platformer game N++.

Having studied computer science as well as philosophy, film and a lot of video games, Raigan’s background seems ideal for creating something memorable. And it’s let him and his partner Mare Sheppard create an indie game with a massive fan following, that’s been growing since almost 2004.

Although he hates Twitter, Raigan kindly answered our email questions about his growth as a game dev, studio history, and philosophical musings about the state of video games. Enjoy!

So what would be your unofficial title, if you were describing your role in gaming?
Developer/co-conspirator? We both sort of do a bit of everything. 🙂

What did you do before you worked in the game industry? How did you break into the industry?
I worked at the usual assortment of student jobs. I broke into the industry by helping to make N while I was supposed to be doing database programming at my then-job 😉

How did you meet your partner, Mare at Metanet?
[We] were both attending University of Toronto. Among many other things, [I] was taking philosophy, film and computer science, and we met in first year in Java 101. We spent a lot of time downloading games from Home Of The Underdogs, playing together or recommending our favourites to each other. There were some that stood out: Soldat, Puchiwara, and Zone Runner were exceptionally fun and inspiring, and you can see the echoes of these in N.

N++

Were there any events you feel contributed to your ‘growth’ as indie devs?

We are both founding members of the Hand Eye Society, which was definitely helpful in being able to meet more developers, talk about what we’re working on and expand the idea of what making games means. [Also] TOJam, which really contributed a lot to the creativity and community in Toronto’s game development scene.

What game has had the greatest emotional impact on you? Why?
This is really hard to answer! I find the experience of uncovering secrets — true secrets that are woven into the game world, not “Konami code” type meaningless stuff — really powerful. Super Mario World and Hyper Light Drifter are two games off the top of my head that really gave me a powerful sense of reward and discovery. Also the Souls series always packs a punch — the experience of losing 60k souls because you accidentally fell off the edge of the world is definitely emotional.

Doom was the first time I felt terrified by a game. Spelunky, DoomRL, and Shiren have also provoked some strong emotions. I guess in general roguelike-style games are really good at making people grapple with loss and grief. I definitely respond to *games* themselves rather than narrative grafted into games (which IMO is almost always arbitrary garbage which is gets in the way of the actual game part).

What are your current projects? What’s your favourite past project?
Our current projects are N++ and a secret prototype we’ve just started. I think N++ is probably my favourite past project; it was an incredibly difficult process, but in the end we succeeded at taking the ideas gestating in N/N+ and finding their final form.

 

N++ bas been really well received; how does it feel – does it put pressure on your new project?
We’re so proud of N++. It’s so cool to see people playing it. Really makes all the hardships you endure as a game developer worthwhile.

About your other games, Robotology and Office Yeti… Are these games (going to be) available anywhere?Hopefully! Now that we feel confident we’ve finally nailed it, and we’re able to move on from the N series, we hope to return to some of our earlier ideas as well as experiment with new small projects as we figure out what’s next.

Other than indie games, what has been a big inspiration for your ‘creative’ drive?
Our creative process is generally pretty thoughtful, and slow and we try to take a lot of time to let things wash over us — sometimes the best way to spark a new idea is just to pore over books in the library all day.

Do you have any questions that you’d like us to ask you?
This is really interesting! Great idea 🙂 I can’t actually think of any questions though. I mean, I can, but they’re all rhetorical ones I can’t really answer, like “Why have games shifted from being about more or less pure abstract game design and the joy of play (Pac-Man, Tetris) to being joy-less, play-less semi-interactive vehicles for narrative Hollywood-type experiences?” 😉

Why, indeed. We love a good rhetorical question 🙂


Do you know someone in the gaming or game development community with a unique perspective, interesting project or creative take on the industry? We’d like to talk to them!
Let us know who we should feature next: corina@gamedevcafe.com

 

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  • On November 18, 2016