So, earlier today, our good friend over at MTV, Russ Frushtick, downloaded SMB off partnernet and gave it a whirl. He was playing through, collecting bandaids, and suddenly he was presented with a message that said: “You have Unlocked Teh Internets”. Puzzled, alarmed and probably sitting in a pool of his own excitement induced urine, Russ tried it out and became suspicious to the point of saying out loud “Wait….are they….wait…holy shit they are!!!!”. We gave him a few quotes and some information which can be seen here
, but we want to go into some detail now about this mysterious chapter exclusive to the Xbox.
The short explanation is that Teh Internets is a specific chapter for Xbox 360 that takes advantage of Title Managed Storage (TMS) through the Xbox LIVE service that allows us to add new chapters whenever we feel like it to the game. Pretty awesome, but the best part is that it is absolutely 100% FREE. In a world where it costs $2 to unlock content in a game that you’ve already purchased it is nice to have the power to totally say “fuck you” to that system and go our own way. As we upload content there are no micro transactions to play new chapters and we can basically do whatever we want with these chapters and it costs you, our adoring fans, nothing. We love you.
Each internets chapter contains 20 levels and can be tailored to allow all characters to play them, or lock in a specific character allowing us to create levels that only certain characters can defeat using their special abilities. When Super Meat Boy launches October 20th on XBLA, one Internets chapter will be up called “Butcher Boy”. In Butcher Boy you control 8Bit Meat Boy as he traverses 20 retro themed levels that take previous mechanics in the game (fans, moving platforms, etc) and expands upon them with entirely new levels that introduce new concepts.
There are no official dates set for each new Internets chapter, but here is the current development list.
1. The Butcher Boy, 8bit themed Meat Boy chapter (uploaded 10.20.2010)
2. The Sewers of Dross, an entire chapter specifically for Gish (Q4 2010)
3. Meat Boy, 8bit themed Meat Boy chapter based around the flash prototype (Q4 2010)
4. Debug World, uses the editor in different ways to make insane levels (Q1 2011)
5: ??? (Q1 2011)
Now, as I’ve said above, this is an Xbox 360 Exclusive feature. Before we all start to bitch and moan about this, know that in order for the game to come out on XBLA, we had to offer something exclusive and this was the best and coolest option for us. Also, quite frankly, Title Managed Storage on Xbox LIVE took all of the difficult parts of getting this system up and running out of my hands. It literally took me a week to implement the Internets Chapter fully, that’s a huge deal for what it is.
Originally we wanted level sharing between platforms. We wanted PC users to be able to play their levels on Xbox, and we wanted the Xbox and Wii versions to have an editor, but this simply wasn’t in the cards. Platform holders have extremely strict rules over user generated content, plus they offer no easy way to do it. In order for us to do something like this we would have to maintain and pay for our own servers. We are a poor two man team, we don't have the money or the time to do this. But, a cool thing about Teh Internets is, we can still sort of make this happen. The PC and Mac versions of the game will have a level editor at some point. My personal goal is to get the Editor out no more than 6 months after the PC version ships. I want it to be good and easy to use. One of the things we are planning on doing is a “Best of User Made Levels” pack for the Internets where Ed and I pick out our favorite user made levels and put them in the Internets.
So yea, that’s the deal. We are super excited about it and we hope you all are as well! Now here’s a little FAQ we put together:
Q: How long will you support the internets?
A: For as long as we get new level ideas and/or people send in levels once the level editor is up.
Q: Is the internets chapter part of the story?
A: No, its a bonus feature that has nothing to do with the story of the game.
Q: Will the internets levels be playable on the pc?
A: Once the level editor is out all user made chapters and bonus levels released there after will be avalible for download free of charge.
Q: Has Microsoft expressed an opinion on you apparently sidestepping their rules/regulations on how to introduce new content?
A: We were worried about this but, no. we slipped through a loop hole of awesome. In the end they actually welcomed it because they want developers to do anything and everything with their service that makes them stand out. No one has ever done anything like this in the history of XBLA as far as we (and our people at MS) know and it’s seriously the most awesome use of it ever.
Q: Why dont the PC, Mac and Wii versions feature the internets chapter?
A: The Internets was part of our "exclusive online content" deal with MS. quite literally, if we didn't have this kind of exclusive content we wouldn't have the deal we have now which means no SMB on XBLA which would make us very sad. Originally this "exclusive online content" was going to be online versus mode, but that turned out to not actually be fun, and felt like we were just tacking on online content because the contract told us to.
In the end we came up with the internets feature because we felt like it fit the game better, keep the game alive and would eventually feature user made content.
Q: What do the PC, Mac and Wii versions get if the Xbla version gets this free content?
A: As mentioned above the PC and Mac versions will both get a full level editor, once we make it user friendly.
We are currently working on the Wii version and seeing what we can do, we tried our best to get Reggie to let us use him as an unlockable character but quickly got turned down.. :(. In the end i think wii users will be very happy with their version, but we cant/shouldn't really talk about it till we are 100% sure what we can offer.
Q: Will the xbox version eventually feature a level editor?
A: No, there are legal issues making it nearly impossible for a two man indie team to release unregulated user made content online without a large active team approving each level. Not only that, but it would require us to purchase and maintain our own private servers, which would have to be up to specs with Microsoft’s rules about server configurations, which…oddly….are expensive…
So that about wraps it up. Oh...one last thing. The game is done and going through certification now...I cried when I uploaded the build. More on that later!