War Ender

Welcome to the official website for the upcoming video game War Ender, created by Lance Talbert. Join the Outsider Resistance Movement and combat those who threaten The City's prosperity!

For the Completionists

What's in it for those who want to 100% War Ender?

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Since revamping the bonus levels in the game recently, there's been a question I had been trying to answer for a long time...what happens when you 100% War Ender? I put off answering this question for a long time because, quite frankly, I didn't find it very important. But as we get closer and closer to having all the game's levels in, it's a question I keep coming back to. To recap what's happened in the last couple weeks, War Ender has a playable final boss that can be fought from beginning to end. I've also created two more of the game's bonus levels and even created a Facebook page for the game (I know, the horror!).

This means that the game just needs an ending after you defeat the final boss and one last bonus level put into place. I'm working on those things as we speak. But going back to the original question, what happens when you do everything you can? What's the game's reward for clearing all the main levels, destroying the checkpoints, and clearing the four bonus levels? Well, the answer to that question lies in bonus level 5, the final bonus level the player can unlock.

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To prove that you really are all that, War Ender has one last challenge for you when you do everything else in the game. I won't go into any details at all, but your final challenge in War Ender, should you choose to accept it, comes in the form of an extra boss fight. Now of course, I'm not going to reveal any details about how this boss works here, as I'd like players to discover that for themselves. But I do hope that many feel it is a worthy final battle by the time they reach that point. Anyone that can reach this battle and win is permitted to call themselves a true master of War Ender.

It won't be much longer now before it'll be time to start laying down a general time for when the game is coming out. I've been saying in the summer for a while now but I won't make any concrete announcements until two things happen. First, all the game's levels must be in place. Second, I'll take time to figure out what time will be best to release this in. Once I know that and have the levels ready, I'll start giving out more info. When release day does come, I wish all the completionists out there luck in accomplishing everything War Ender has on offer. It'll be quite a ride, for sure.

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Of course, this extra battle is already going through development. As I said earlier, I just need to put together an ending and finish creating this extra boss. By the time the next dev blog rolls around (feels like I say that a lot lately), there really isn't any reason why I can't be here telling you that the game's levels are all in. From there it will be a matter of playing through the game multiple times, getting it as polished as possible, and then...release! It'll be an exciting time indeed!

A couple blogs ago I mentioned that War Ender was getting revamped bonus levels. This extra boss fight is something that came as a result of going through the bonus levels and giving them a makeover. The feedback I've received throughout this process has been awesome and I hope this can act as one of the ways that I say 'thank you' to you. It pains me that I can't show anything off, but I do look forward to the day when players will be able to experience it for themselves.

 

Until next time!

-Lance T.

How I Make A Level

The ins and outs of making War Ender's levels, revealed!

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I don't have much of an update to give you kind folks about War Ender's current status other than that the game's final boss is nearing completion. And while I'd love to ramble on and on about the process of creating it, I must hold myself back from doing that since, as I say frequently, I don't want to spoil my own game. Believe me when I say that's rather difficult to do. So instead, I decided to take this moment to give you a behind the scenes look at War Ender and show off how I go about making the levels in the game. The only areas where the following methods don't apply as much is in the bosses and the bonus levels. Otherwise, the way I make levels can be seen in each level of the game.

For the entirety of War Ender's development, I've split the level making process into three phases. The first phase is level structure, followed by enemy placement, and then decoration. Level structure is easily the most involved of the three phases for one pretty obvious reason; EVERYTHING else in the level revolves around the way a level is built. Simply put, if you don't make specific spaces for enemies like the rocket turrets or even the basic robot enemies that just walk around, the level will most likely fall apart. I've often spent a few hours just making the structure of a level before even beginning to place enemies. And even after placing enemies I often find myself going back and changing sections at least a little.

 Though finished now, this was the beginning of one of War Ender's later levels. Not one enemy has been placed at this point, and won't be for some time.

Though finished now, this was the beginning of one of War Ender's later levels. Not one enemy has been placed at this point, and won't be for some time.

Throughout building a level (and this applies to all phases) I do building in sections. I divide these sections up by checkpoint placement, meaning that in all regular levels there are four sections. Once I feel a section is complete, I will playtest the level up to that point. During the level structure phase, this means making every jump and utilizing every platform, all in the effort to make sure from a platforming perspective the level plays nice and has a good flow to it. On top of all this, if a level is meant to introduce a new element such as disappearing floors or torches, I will also be making sure the level properly shows you the mechanic in different ways to make sure you understand it. Once I am satisfied with the level structure's current state, I move on to placing enemies throughout the level, again in sections at a time.

Enemy placement is the phase I probably have the most fun with in any given level. If the level structure is a food dish, then the enemies make up the bulk of the spices. Like with new level elements, if a level I'm making introduces any new enemies I make sure to allow the player a moment to get introduced to the new enemy in question. Level 2-1, for example, introduces the Obsessor enemy and thus spends the bulk of the level getting you familiar with that enemy. From there, whether it be in that level or a later one, you get shown different ways that the new enemy can work with the other enemy types to make deadly scenarios for the player. Beyond that, it's simply a matter of setting up the enemies in a way that compliments the level design. Rocket turrets could be placed above you on floating platforms while moving turrets swarm in from the side to attack with basic robots serving as basically meat shields. This is before objects like torches or mines are placed.

 Level 2-1 in a very early form. This was before mechanics like dodging were in place!

Level 2-1 in a very early form. This was before mechanics like dodging were in place!

Like level structure, enemies are placed per section, and I playtest the level after each section of enemy placement. The final phase, decoration, doesn't have that same amount of playtesting though. Of course, why should it? This phase simply makes the level more visually interesting. There isn't a whole lot to talk about here, as there's no need to balance anything on a mechanical level. Different levels require different decoration, of course. It would be rather strange to see clouds inside a factory, but that's about as involved as it gets.

Bonus levels and boss levels, as mentioned before, don't necessarily follow this development pattern to a tee. Levels like these, as mentioned in last week's dev blog, take a very specific idea in War Ender and essentially runs away with that idea. It'd probably be more appropriate to consider them experimental levels more than anything. The revamped first bonus level, for example, takes the idea of taking the War Ender mechanics to the streets of The City. Another one may have the entire level be made of disappearing floor, demanding the player be in constant movement. These bonus levels follow a more loose design idea.

 Rough sketch of the Wall of Lasers boss layout.

Rough sketch of the Wall of Lasers boss layout.

Boss levels are even more different, as the focus isn't so much on the level design as it is on the boss character itself. Now, this doesn't mean there's some thought put into how the level looks and how it works with the boss in question, but it's lower on the priorities list. In the above photo I've shown off a sketch of the game's first boss and the layout of said boss. During this part of War Ender you're tasked with taking down a defense system simply named the Wall of Lasers. Between platforming moments you're tasked with taking down these cores that allow the system to work. The sketch doesn't show it but there's also regular enemies that try to stop you as well as defense systems within the core sections.

One of the other rules of making bosses is that none of them should feel like another boss. So the second boss has virtually nothing in common with the first boss or any of the others for that matter. Same goes for the third, fourth, and final bosses. At most, they may share a few projectiles and that's about it. But even then, the way a boss may use that projectile might be radically different from another boss's.

 First core section of Wall of Lasers boss.

First core section of Wall of Lasers boss.

Hopefully you enjoyed this little behind the scenes look at War Ender development. It's always fun for me to geek out a bit and show off the technical and design sides of what's happening in the game. Aside from not having a whole lot to talk about this time around as far as progress is concerned, I also thought it would be good to talk level design now since it won't be much longer before I have no more levels to make. Oh yeah, you read that right. Between the last boss and a handful of bonus levels left to make, War Ender's content is so close to complete I can almost taste it. Can't wait to share that moment with you, but until then...

 

Toodles!

-Lance T.

Revamped Bonus Levels

If you're gonna be rewarded with a bonus level, it should be pretty neat.

 The game's first bonus level, redone.

The game's first bonus level, redone.

A couple weeks ago I received an email from someone who downloaded the demo and gave War Ender a whirl. Now, for this blog I'll just leave him as anonymous as I'm unsure how he would feel about using his actual name here. This nice fellow and I had a nice email conversation about War Ender, where it is currently, and where it could be improved. There were all sorts of things, from bugs he found to gameplay improvement suggestions. He was even so helpful he included a video of him playing to help me see where he was having issues.

Jump ahead a few emails, he told me he had gone through the game's hard mode (where you destroy checkpoints) and even unlocked the bonus level within the demo. This was quite an opportunity for me, as I have personally seen very few people try the game's hard mode and bonus level and almost no one commenting on it. So I asked him what he thought of the process of unlocking levels as well as the bonus level itself. He told me destroying checkpoints to activate hard mode and begin the bonus level was pretty neat (yay!) but when he unlocked the bonus level, he was underwhelmed. It's a good thing he was honest enough to tell me he wasn't too impressed by them, or else I wouldn't be writing this blog.

 Streets of rage

Streets of rage

As you can see above, I took the time to rework the bonus levels. I spent almost an entire week asking myself "how can the bonus levels be more rewarding and interesting?" I eventually settled on this: make each bonus level something totally unique from the rest of the game. It wasn't easy getting to that decision, in all honesty. It would imply redoing all the bonus levels currently made and completely rethinking how they play. They couldn't just be regular levels without checkpoints.

The bonus levels already offered additional War Ender lore, but not everyone's going to be interested in that. On top of this, the game has no collectibles to speak of. It's a simple game, after all, so it would be a little overambitious for me to try and come up with something like the trophies from Smash Bros. or similar items. I believe making completely unique levels is what will sell the bonus levels to players and will make them want to try the game on hard mode to see what's inside. Now of course, not all bonus levels will simply take place on the streets. Another idea I had for one was placing the player on a moving object that they must stay on for the whole level, dodging enemy attacks as they go along. I could name off all the bonus level ideas, but...well, I can't give away all the game's secrets!

 The old one looks like it could be any level. The new bonus level is unique.

The old one looks like it could be any level. The new bonus level is unique.

Making these newer bonus levels shouldn't be any more difficult than making regular levels. In fact, if anything, they'll be easier as each bonus level will revolve around a central idea or mechanic rather than having to accommodate every item in the game thus far. In regular levels, as the player progresses and the game gets harder, the levels have to change to allow more interesting levels. With bonus levels I don't have to think about that so much, instead focusing on a very specific idea. In the case of the first bonus level, that idea was taking War Ender's gameplay to the streets. Most of the game takes place inside buildings or on rooftops, but the game's first unlockable bonus level experiments with the game's capabilities and presents a street level.

Could the ideas presented in the bonus levels work in any level? Probably not. There's a very limited number of things I can do with a street level. Making bonus levels is now a double edged sword as the ideas in these levels can't really be explored in the main game, but it's that uniqueness that I hope will drive players to unlock them. Nonetheless, it'll serve as an interesting level design experiment for me personally. While the concepts and ideas tried out in War Ender's bonus levels may not be so applicable to the main game, perhaps in the future the ideas could be applied elsewhere...

 Turrets mounted on cars. This city is prepared for anything!

Turrets mounted on cars. This city is prepared for anything!

Now we come to the most important question; when do you get to try it? I am counting on updating the demo next week. There's no exact date planned at the time of this writing, but you can follow my Twitter for the exact moment that the demo is updated. In addition between now and April there will be some updates made to this website, so be on the lookout for those as well. And maybe by the next dev blog I'll have an important update about War Ender's campaign. Maybe...

 

Until next time!

-Lance T.

It's Getting Harder to Talk About New Stuff Without Spoilers...

...and that's cool.

 WIP of one of War Ender's later levels.

WIP of one of War Ender's later levels.

What's that title all about? Well, if you go to my Twitter account and check out my tweets between this dev blog and the last, you'll notice I've posted little in the ways of updates. There's a simple explanation for this, and the title is that explanation. I'd prefer to keep the final moments of War Ender as much of a surprise as possible. After all, as I frequently say around here, I can't go completely spoiling my own game now, can I?

But hang on..."keep the final moments of War Ender as much of a surprise as possible." Does this mean that the game is nearing completion? Well, as far content goes, that is indeed the case. I have begun work on War Ender's final chapter. The game's most challenging battles, including the epic final boss I have planned, will be contained in this chapter. It's truly an exciting time for the game.

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As I said though, I'd rather not spoil it. So how does one talk about development when there's a lot of spoiler heavy things to talk about in comparison to non spoiler items? That's hard to say. I can always talk about tweaks made to levels and bosses, and of course I can tease what is being worked on. There's always the occasional event I may be at, showing off War Ender and talking to others, so I can discuss my time at those events and even share what people thought as they played.

Hopefully, after finishing the game's final chapter I can devote more time on things I can more freely talk about, but right now I'm a bit trapped on what I can and cannot discuss. Still, in light of the news that the game's content is nearly in place, I'd like to at least share the road map I have in mind between now and release. It will be an interesting time between now and release day, so I feel I should give you an idea of what to expect. Starting off, I'll be taking time finishing up the game's content. This includes making the final chapter's levels, the final boss, and any remaining bonus levels that need to be made. I should also have the game's soundtrack completed as well as most if not all sound effects in the game. Of course, by the time the final boss is finished I should have every art asset in place for the game as well.

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Once the game's content is in place, that should initiate War Ender's beta phase. I will absolutely keep you posted on when this begins, but for now let's talk what the beta phase will include. Basically, I want to avoid releasing a broken game, so I will use the beta phase primarily to fix as many bugs as discovered. This will also be the time for any last minute tweaks to some mechanics. Such tweaks may include anything related to the player, enemy behavior modifications, and difficulty fixes.

This process should continue right up until the game's release. I'm not giving any dates right now, but I do think it's safe to say that a Spring release date is not going to happen. As of this blog's publish we'll be in March, which would mean there's only a few weeks until many AAA games start hitting stores. Frankly, I'd rather not try to compete with them, so I can at least tell you it will be sometime this Summer when the game should be released. A more specific date will be given when the time is right.

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I believe that's as good of a place as any to wrap up. If all goes well the game's remaining levels should be in by next dev blog, with MAYBE the only major thing left after that being the final boss. Making that battle will certainly be a doozy, but I want it to be worth it. So that's the basic rundown of what the next few months of War Ender look like. With that out of the way, thank you for your time and have a great one!

 

Buh bye!

-Lance T.

Creating the Music of War Ender

Let's get musical!

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I've touched on the musical inspirations for War Ender early on but I've never taken the time to fully explain my process for creating the music for the game. To recap, the primary inspiration for War Ender's music comes from Doom 2016. The head banging, in your face soundtrack of the game lends itself well to War Ender. Like Doom (or at least this was the goal), I tried to make the game very in your face and cathartic. Though Red isn't blasting away demons from Hell, he gets into his own intense battles against The Outsiders. Were you to ask him, Red may tell you The Outsiders are demons.

Throughout development I've worked hard to make the soundtrack reflect that. There's some tracks from the game that can be heard on this very website if you go to the media page. These will give you an idea of what the music is like if you're not familiar with it already. So how does one go about making music like this? Well, I can only speak for myself, but I generally find that the first thing one must do to make music is to listen to music. Lots and lots of music. Before constructing War Ender's soundtrack, I was listening to a lot of the Doom soundtrack, new and old alike.

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After listening to much music I would eventually sit down to start writing. Before beginning any project I tend to get a selection of instruments that I'm sure (or at least very confident) will be in almost every track of a game. In War Ender's case, this included electric and bass guitars, some drums, and some bleeps and bloops to top it off with. Once I had these sounds together I would begin experimenting. I'd start with the guitar sounds, since they'll be playing the melodies of the various tracks. Once I had something basic together I'd begin adding in some additional sounds, then adjusting the melody as these new sounds are added.

This experimentation would continue for a while longer until I eventually came up with the game's first track, Urban Destruction. Once finished I marinated on the music for a while, allowing a few days to pass before listening to it again and seeing if it worked with the game. As you can now see, I believe it does, and as a result it stays. The rest of the game's music has continued to develop a similar style to Urban Destruction and each other. The end result is a cohesive musical score that lends itself well to War Ender's themes and emotions.

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Not all the game's music is meant to be a head banger though. The intro scene played at the beginning of the game uses music to set the mood more than it does invigorate the player. Again on the media page, the Truth of the Matter track is a quieter piece, played in a level that does not have as much action occurring. Similarly, there's a track near the end of the game that is also considerably different, but not so much because of a lack of action. Rather, it sets the feeling that you're approaching the end of the game and you're about to enter the final battle. As a result, it needs to be more dramatic.

Boss themes are especially fun to make. You can listen to an example boss theme by, once again, going to the media page and listening to the Wall of Lasers theme. Each boss theme needs to set a particular tone, and that tone will vary from boss to boss. For Wall of Lasers, it gives off the idea of being chased. In the battle against RAWM, it must set the tone one would expect for fighting a giant robot. Not only that, but I like to pretend as though the boss, Red, or both characters are talking to each other during the battle. Some of the boss themes make this more obvious than others. I want to give off the sense that the boss character and Red are smack talking each other during the battle. The battle against the Cyborg Soldier I feel is the best example of this. But alas, I cannot show off everything.

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I felt inspired to right this after writing my last music track during the previous week. With its completion there's only a few more pieces of music to write (about three actually) before War Ender's OST is complete. And of those music pieces, two of them are boss themes. In the last dev blog I talked about War Ender being over halfway complete. Between the last dev blog and now that's changed considerably, and the short list of music to write exemplifies this. I am currently working on yet another boss (unfortunately I'm at the point where I can't really show off this stuff, lest I spoil my own game) and have been fixing various bugs found within War Ender. I look forward to reporting where the game is at in the next couple of weeks.

 

Until next time!

-Lance T.