War Ender

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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 peace of The City!

A Change in Development

A shift in development is incoming.

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War Ender Store Links:

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/884070/War_Ender/

Itch.io: https://prof-smash.itch.io/war-ender

GameJolt: https://gamejolt.com/games/war-ender/355809

Don’t be alarmed by the title! Things are continuing to move along well. In fact, I’ll be documenting some recent changes here in a moment. But first, allow me to inform you what’s coming for the next several months. I’m off to college, studying programming. I won’t get too into the details of why, and I’m certainly not about to preach at you about why you should or should not do like I did. Ultimately, I’m doing it for some personal benefit in my work life. So while it’s not necessarily being done for game development reasons (though I’m reasonably certain that aspect of life will see some improvements thanks to a few of these classes), it will certainly affect it.

Impressions is far along enough that we shouldn’t see any drastic delays with the game. Not that it really mattered since we’re going with a “it’s done when it’s done” approach. Still, now that I’m juggling maintaining good grades on top of everything else, we’ll inevitably see development slow down at least a little bit. This will affect “Future” more than it will Impressions in the end, and possibly any later games made after Impressions. Of course, since school has only just started we might not see this slowdown right away. I’m still getting a feel for everything. I appreciate the understanding at this time. If all goes well, we’ll hardly feel the bump in the road.

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Now, let’s change topics and talk about progress. Specifically, Impressions progress. I’ve been conducting a lot of research this past month, looking at other news shows and even a couple movies to get an idea of how to better present the news show theme. Two things made themselves quickly apparent - a news ticker and a real time social media response ticker. The social media item was a little less frequent, but the news ticker was everywhere in some form or another. The most traditional form is the scrolling version, so I opted for that. As you can see in the gif above, I haven’t even made any content in the boxes, just some placeholder text. This next month will see me filling all that in, making it functionally complete.

This was all created in an attempt to do two things - first, to help the player better understand the world they are living in. Impressions doesn’t take place in the same earth you and I know, so I’ll need to put forth some extra effort to make sure players understand the world better. These mechanics will better assist in conveying information to the player, that information being lore and the world’s current responses to your actions. Not to mention of course that Stream 47A’s news show wouldn’t really feel complete without these items.

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Another new overall mechanic is a general time limit on the game. Dialogue now operates on a time limit, which might seem word. This is for two reasons (this blog has really been the rule of two), the first being immersion. A news show needs to be constantly moving, like a play in some ways. As a result, it would seem weird that the player can just wait around as long as it likes. But this also opens up a second perk to the time limit. If you’ve ever watched any of these news shows you may notice that the people around the table seem to enjoy shouting contests. It’s not uncommon for people to start talking over each other in the hopes that their opinion gets heard instead of somebody else’s. Before, Impressions had never really achieved, at least not to the extent that I wanted. Now that dialogue bubbles can simply disappear and move on to the next bit of dialogue at the game’s leisure, this feeling of two characters trying to talk over each other is now much better communicated.

A more obvious time limit is placed on the player to make choices. You can see this in action in the gif above. The light blue bar begins to deplete as the time to make a decision begins, and if it runs out the game will default to a certain choice, that choice typically being the neutral option. I’m trying to communicate a message here, one that says “if you don’t speak, someone will do the talking for you.” And you may not always one hundred percent agree with the person (or in this case, machine) speaking on your behalf. It also further enforces the idea of a news show that has to progress. Real news shows cannot stall if they can help it, and the news show in Impressions is no different. Plus, I’ll admit, it will be a little fun watching people squirm as they try to decide which option to choose while a time limit depletes.

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So that’s where we currently stand. Things are still moving along nicely but thanks to starting college development of games may begin to slow down a little. Thankfully, a lot of the work I’ve done for school so far has all been in class with very little homework to be done. Doubt it will stay that way, but for right now I’m operating with more game dev time than I expected. For this month, I’m intending to put some content in the news ticker and what I call the “Active Public Response” system. In addition, more headway will be made in the writing cleanup work. Most of this month’s time was spent in research so I haven’t made a lot of progress in that area. However, what progress has been made I’ve been really happy with. The dialogue and story is already feeling a lot better than it did before. Hopefully next month I’ll be coming back with a happy report saying that the writing cleanup is at least 50% complete. Otherwise, I may just dissect another level in War Ender. We’ll see what happens…

Until next time!

-Lance T.

War Ender Store Links:

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/884070/War_Ender/

Itch.io: https://prof-smash.itch.io/war-ender

GameJolt: https://gamejolt.com/games/war-ender/355809

Impressions and "Future" Progress

Things are moving along nicely.

impressions alpha image.jpg

War Ender Store Links:

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/884070/War_Ender/

Itch.io: https://prof-smash.itch.io/war-ender

GameJolt: https://gamejolt.com/games/war-ender/355809

I think it’s about time we took another look at my other works and see where things are at. Given some recent developments, it seems only natural to let you all know what is happening behind the scenes. In short, things have been proceeding swimmingly for both Impressions and the game after. With Impressions, I’ll give a brief rundown of where the game is at and what all is left from here. As for the big game, which I’ll refer to as “Future” from here on out, I have another small teaser and update for that too.

Let’s start with Impressions, as that will be the focus of today’s dev blog. This game is now completely playable from beginning to end. This means the player can begin playing in Day 1 of the game and go all the way through the end, complete with an ending and even a brief timeline of events at the end. There are three endings in Impressions, all three of which relating to how you speak about the aliens during the different in-game days. However, the exact path to your ending and even some of the details of the game’s ending can be changed depending on various actions throughout Impressions.

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Speaking of various actions, the news and response section that’s started every day in the game has been given some updates. The content of the news can now be scrolled through, allowing much more text and photos to be fit into this portion. This will interpret to being able to more clearly see how what you say in the game will affect those watching. For instance, in the above gif the news section’s second paragraph changed in response to the player saying they had no idea what the future would contain post-alien contact. And it’s not just the news that changes either. Public response also responds to the player’s words, and they can be spicy - a bit like the internet we know and love now, no? This player apparently responded negatively towards the aliens as evidenced by two people claiming their pessimistic talk will contribute to humanity’s downfall. Yikes…

Those are just a couple of the outcomes for acting a certain way. There are many more ways this opening into Day 2 could change. For instance, what if the player had said a bright future was on the way? Well, the news would certainly change to reflect that, but you’d almost certainly have someone responding to the player claiming they’re spreading false hope. Or instead you can get someone who will back you up on those claims and think your mindset is exactly what’s needed right now. There’s multiple ways this single screen can change. In fact, according to my code, there appear to be twenty four individual things you can say that can affect what you see on this screen for this day. And that’s not even including whether the player was positive, neutral, or negative about the events of the day.

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I guess the question now is what’s left with Impressions? The game is playable from beginning to end and is presently accounting the various things the player can see. Well, for starters, the game will need to be dressed up a bit more. Programmer art isn’t going to cut it after all, so once the game’s art is ready it will be inserted into the game. Hopefully I’ve done my part and made it so that when it comes time to get the finished artwork in the game it will be a snap. Of course, a game isn’t complete without music and sound effects either. For now, I’m holding out on making music as I want the game’s soundtrack to compliment the finished artwork as best as it can. That’s certainly one major difference between Impressions and War Ender. War Ender’s soundtrack was made to enhance its gameplay, whereas Impression’s soundtrack should compliment its atmosphere.

Perhaps less obvious to the casual observer is the need to polish up the game’s story. I’ve been intentionally quiet on the events of the game’s story as it will be the focus of the game and I want players to experience it without knowing too much about what will happen beforehand. But one thing I can certainly say is while the game’s story I find to be engaging and interesting, it also could use some work. Some issues include repetitive discussion and not enough “oomph” in the character dialogue. It needs to read like it’s coming from an entertainment news show, and currently Impressions could do more to get that feeling across. Writing cleanup and polish will be the focus of this next month and perhaps even the month after. Once that’s done, we will only need to make the game presentable and then it should be ready to release. I can’t give any release times now, as I’ve been taking the “it’s done when it’s done” approach, but things have been moving along well enough.

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What do you say we shift gears and talk about “Future?” This game has also seen a lot of improvements. In fact, it could be argued it’s seen even more than Impressions, though that might just be because “Future’s” progression is much more obvious. The screenshot I’ve attached above is the map of one of the areas you’ll be visiting during your time playing “Future.” You might be reminded of a 2D Castlevania or Metroid when looking at this map. Though, if you recall the last teaser image I put up a while back, the game is obviously not 2D. It is a 3D game with a map layout that, if I so desired, could easily transition into a 2D game. I’m sure you’ve also taken notice of the various markings throughout the map. The room numbers (ex: A4) are primarily for my internal use. It’s how I keep track of which room is what in the game. The yellow text indicates certain objects in the room, such as save points and health regeneration. Finally, the brackets represent the level select area.

“Future” is definitely far from done, but to give you an idea of where things currently stand I just finished putting together the second boss character. It’s of course more of a placeholder but functionally does the things I’d want the actual boss to do. The above map is also completely playable, albeit in a very early form. There are items to be found and enemies to take on. I’ve also gotten the structure of another area together - I just need to make the actual map document for it and populate it with things to do. A third area has also started undergoing creation, though its map is still in the “design phase.” No actual level has been made for it in-game yet.

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There’s plenty of other things that I could talk about with “Future” as well, such as the game (so far) being able to save all important player data such as items found and how much of the map has been exposed. Several enemy types were devised and implemented, though they will undoubtedly see plenty of changes. Various UI additions and changes, bug fixes, and a whole lot more. Like Impressions, “Future” has been moving along very well all things considered. However, unlike Impressions, it’s still got a long road ahead of it. I look forward to telling you more about both games when the time comes.

Until then!

-Lance T.

War Ender Store Links:

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/884070/War_Ender/

Itch.io: https://prof-smash.itch.io/war-ender

GameJolt: https://gamejolt.com/games/war-ender/355809

Design of War Ender - Boss 1: The Wall of Lasers

Let’s get ready to rumble!

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War Ender Store Links:

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/884070/War_Ender/

Itch.io: https://prof-smash.itch.io/war-ender

GameJolt: https://gamejolt.com/games/war-ender/355809

We made it, folks. The first boss level of War Ender is upon us. By this point the player will have learned the basics of the game. In addition they will have been introduced to the bulk of the enemies they will come across for the duration of the game. Now it’s time to put all that they’ve learned to the test, using the age-old game mechanic known as the boss battle. The entire first chapter of the game has been dedicated to getting the player excited and revved up for the adventure to come. This level is essentially the climax to that build up.

Things start off a little unusual for War Ender. There’s an ominous music track playing with Red standing in an empty room. Move forward a little and somebody speaks, saying that Red will make for an excellent test subject. Step a little further, and there it is! The Wall of Lasers, quickly closing the space between itself and the player. You’re introduced to the boss through two black bars, with dramatic lightning effects and text stating “Red VS Wall of Lasers.” Fun fact: when this was first put together I was very, very giddy.

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All bosses later on would use this style of introduction, letting the player know that the enemy has now brought out the big guns. Wall of Lasers is different from other bosses though, both in presentation and in the fact that you’re not really fighting anything so much as evading something. It’s a totally different dynamic to the bosses that will come later. Okay, even saying you’re not fighting anything is a stretch, as there are the laser cores that make the Wall of Lasers operate. The point is, it’s a different sort of battle and one of the more unique levels in the entire game.

But back to the battle at hand. Sparks are flying, the camera is shaking, the building is being destroyed, and it’s time to run. There’s a general sense of chaos to the level, and I for one enjoy it. This is also one of only two bosses to incorporate regular enemies into the battle. These enemies can also be destroyed the laser wall if you allow it. Oh, the thins The Outsiders will do to defeat Red, am I right? The level begins similarly to the game’s first level, where all you must do is cross a simple gap. The first enemy you encounter is the Shooter, but beyond that things start to take a turn. Turrets and mines begin to appear as well as a Shielded Flamethrower enemy. But in total there’s only a few enemies and it’s simple enough to get to the first core.

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Here is where the more traditional part of the boss begins. Your goal now is to destroy the core that powers the Wall of Lasers in order to progress. The Outsiders planned for someone making it to the cores and set up a defense system to keep their foes out. Four turrets move along the walls, firing bullets as you take down the laser core. I also placed two platforms to get the player on equal height with the core, eliminating the need to jump constantly to get hits in. One thing I could have improved is making it more obvious what the target is. There were multiple times when watching others play that I’d realize people playing the game would jump straight into the core, only to die instantly and wonder what happened. I tried adding the lighting bolts and the boss’s health bar to let the player know that the core is dangerous and is the target, but it seems to have only done so much. Thankfully people are smart and quickly figure out what to do, but it would seem there’s more I could have done.

Getting past the first core leads to the player’s first checkpoint. In addition, the same person talking to you before will comment on your progress, though at this point they still believe they have the upper hand. The second section has even fewer enemies, being more of a platforming challenge with an emphasis on disappearing platforms. There’s a couple rocket turrets standing the way but that’s all the enemies here. For those doing a destroyed checkpoint run there’s a health box lying in this section for players to pick up. Then we get to the second core and, aside from some slightly different geometry, it’s the same song and dance as before.

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The third section is my personal favorite part of the level and is another area I’m quite proud of. It’s nothing you’ve never seen before, but it’s always nice to have. After defeating a few enemies the player is greeted with a health box, but to get it they’ll have to take time to go down the structure to get it followed by climbing back up and jumping over the gap to progress. What we have here is an example of risk vs reward, a common element in games. Level 1-3 had a similar idea in its second section, with a health box surrounded by mines. Here, the risk vs the reward is much more obvious. Once again, for those doing a destroyed checkpoint run they’ll probably want this. After all, the whole point is to risk progress in exchange for 100% completion. Players playing the level normally may not see the need for this health box as their health was just refilled by the checkpoint. Unless, of course, they take a ton of hits from the enemies earlier.

Upon entering the third core the player is given a little mix up. There’s now a smaller laser in the core room, placed on top of the floating platform. Two things happen from placing this one object - first, the player now has to account for an object to their side as well the bullets coming from above and below. Second, this smaller laser can block player bullets, meaning that the player must move around occasionally to get their hits in. This is arguably the hardest of the three core rooms, though there aren’t as many turrets as before to deal with.

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One last gauntlet remains, mixing both platforming and combat into a majestic dance of death. You probably know what to expect at this point. Just before the last core room is a health box and a turret. The turret is interesting to me in that it asks players to either have one less hit point by running into it, saving precious seconds of the laser wall coming in. Or they can instead shoot it down and take no hits but risk the laser wall defeating them instead. What the player will do is up to them and their current situation. In the final core room we have almost the same room as before, but noticeably shorter, with an extra turret, and the small laser being on the roof.

The small laser could have honestly been moved to the platform and nothing would have been lost, but I think I kept it because I liked the differentiation. In addition, the room is shorter and that’s to limit the player’s options. Before they could easily jump or the small laser (though that wasn’t advisable) or the bullets. In this more cramped space they are relying more on dodging now. But, the core itself as the same as the other three. Destroy it, then move on to the level’s end. The building is collapsing, explosions are everywhere. Basically, it’s time to leave. But Red won’t quite make it out in time, as the building will give way beneath his feet and he will find himself underground.

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This final photo I placed above is the original sketch of the boss level. Wall of Lasers stayed very true to the original document, with only a few differences. For instance, disappearing floors were present much earlier in the level (though the document does show I crossed that out) and some structures were given increased height or additional platforms. The core rooms were also not sketched out in any detail, which meant I sort of made those up as I went along. Every core room was changed from the early version to the final product. For instance, the final core room was supposed to have two small lasers for the player to focus on. The reason that was changed was because two small lasers hitting each other created some interesting problems. Two of the core rooms were also going to have turrets on the sides as well as on the top and bottom but that created a little too much chaos for the first boss.

Thus concludes the design of the first chapter of War Ender, but there’s plenty more levels to dissect. In addition, I can assure you that there will be some updates on both of my next games in the August dev blog. That’s right, this time I can guarantee it instead of continually saying “probably.” I should mention that neither game will be getting any sort of release date there, just to be clear. Instead it will be an update on where things are at with the two projects. Finally, as of this writing the summer sale is going on with War Ender at a 75% discount. It’s a great time to jump into the game and experience the levels I’ve been talking about for yourself.

Until next time!

-Lance T.

War Ender Store Links:

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/884070/War_Ender/

Itch.io: https://prof-smash.itch.io/war-ender

GameJolt: https://gamejolt.com/games/war-ender/355809

Design of War Ender - Level 1-3

One last battleground before the first boss.

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War Ender Store Links:

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/884070/War_Ender/

Itch.io: https://prof-smash.itch.io/war-ender

GameJolt: https://gamejolt.com/games/war-ender/355809

Welcome back to another Design of War Ender blog, where we go through the various levels and talk about how each one was made. So far we’ve looked at the tutorial and Levels 1-1 and 1-2. At this point the player is now getting pretty familiar with the mechanics of the game and has been introduced to a number of enemies. This has all been done to prepare the player for everything beyond chapter 1, and Level 1-3 is no different. The player is taken back out to the roof tops to learn about disappearing floors and two new enemy types.

Tying back a bit into my previous design blog, I wish I had moved the introduction of some of these enemies around. Level 1-3 brings enemies that require the dodge mechanic be used but no level up to this point had really done anything with it. However, the silver lining is that the average player would get to 1-3 by the time the tutorial is still fresh in their minds, so players would often pick up on what to do very quickly. But I suppose I should start with the first thing the player sees…what are those gray tiles?

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As if laser bullets, mines, grenades, and bottomless pits weren’t problematic enough, now Red has to deal with the floor disappearing beneath his feet! But it’s not all bad news. It at least takes a little time for the floor to disappear, giving the player plenty of time to react. First I make a long stretch of disappearing tiles with no enemies to show the player what these are. Then, after defeating a simple turret, the player is presented with disappearing floors in a slightly different way. They’ll need to hop up onto the higher floors then onto the yellow building to progress. This is where I try to demonstrate the timing required to navigate these floors safely. In case you make a mistake, there’s more disappearing floors underneath you to help you out. Just don’t stand on them too long.

Less hand holding happens from here, and now the player must jump across a chasm using nothing but the disappearing floors. In addition, when they reach the end they’ll have to fight off a few enemies. This is also a good time to show off how the player can use these disappearing floors to assist with combat, if for only a brief period of time. The floors maintain a fairly safe distance from the turrets, allowing players to shoot at them from across the building if they so choose. Finally, before reaching the checkpoint, the player must use both disappearing floors and the jump pads to clear the first section.

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As you might have gathered, the theme of this level is the destructible floors. But one straight level of dealing with those may be a bit overkill, so some new enemies are tossed into the mix. Meet the pyro (not that one), an enemy that shoots walls of fire in your direction. The only way to spare the hit points is to dodge past his walls of fire, teaching the player that dodging will become vital as the game progresses. There’s a helpful health pickup in case you take a couple hits or destroyed the first checkpoint. Just be aware of the mines underneath. Yeah, nothing comes easy in this world.

One pit of enemies later (which are avoidable if you platform well enough), you meet another new enemy. The “Shielded Flame Enemy” is a personal favorite enemy of mine, asking you to dodge past him and shoot his back to get rid of him. The shield will block damage from Red’s weapon and the flamethrower he wields makes it unsafe to jump over him. By this point, the player should start to get a firm grasp of dodging and how it works. There’s one more area after this where you must run across disappearing floors while dodging flame walls to get to the next checkpoint, completing the dodging training.

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The rest of the level is comprised of testing your knowledge of all the game’s mechanics so far. Every enemy is here, and the various environmental objects like fall through platforms and disappearing floors are present and accounted for. They all get used in different ways as the level goes on. For instance, two rocket turrets assist a pyro while standing over disappearing floors, requiring either quick movement or destroying the enemies. Near the end, another pit of enemies is present, once again asking you navigate upward using the disappearing floors. Falling will result in a brief fight, unless of course you wish to get rid of the enemies ahead of time.

While there are still some new things to show such as new enemy types, this is a good place to practice what you know as you approach the end of the first chapter. Wall of Lasers, the first boss, will also be accommodating this practice but the focus is primarily on the boss itself in that level. I should also mention that this level houses one of my favorite parts of the game. It’s incredibly small and only lasts a moment, but shortly after reaching the final checkpoint there’s an area where four jump pads are lined up in a row. The player only needs to jump once, hold the direction, and land on the first jump pad to practically be carried over to the final building to overcome.

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Admittedly, the third level does not have quite as much going on as the previous two levels. While there are certainly some new things to look at, a lot of the level is previous mechanics being used in new ways. This of course could not have been possible without the first two levels coming before it. Even after the first chapter, many of the levels will at least have a lot of new things going for it, even if that new thing is just a unique level layout. Unique level layouts of course lead to new ways to use enemies and mechanics to entertain the player. War Ender’s third level instead works to get you comfortable with the game so that the rest of the journey can be enjoyed.

Things are going to start getting very interesting from here on, as next time we’ll look at the game’s first boss and the challenges that came with putting it together. From there, levels begin to get more unique geometry and settings along with some new enemies and hazards. But I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself. In the meantime, I may have some new updates for Impressions by the time the next dev blog goes live. That game is getting very close to being playable from beginning to end. Hopefully I’ll have more to tell before long.

Until next time!

-Lance T.

War Ender Store Links:

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/884070/War_Ender/

Itch.io: https://prof-smash.itch.io/war-ender

GameJolt: https://gamejolt.com/games/war-ender/355809

Design of War Ender - Level 1-2

Hop aboard my train of thought as we dissect Level 1-2.

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War Ender Store Links:

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/884070/War_Ender/

Itch.io: https://prof-smash.itch.io/war-ender

GameJolt: https://gamejolt.com/games/war-ender/355809

My goodness, it’s been a while since we’ve focuses specifically on War Ender, hasn’t it? Well, I don’t have a lot of new things to show off with any of my upcoming projects. A lot of what I’ve done with those involve smaller updates that couldn’t really fill a dev blog. Thus it seemed like a good idea to dive back into War Ender’s design and walk you through the philosophy of one of its levels. Today we’re going to examine Level 1-2 and look at how it introduced various ideas into the War Ender gameplay.

For starters, I have a fun little nickname for this level. I call it “the big list of enemies” level as one of its key aspects is revealing several of the enemies you’ll encounter for the rest of the game. And this is where I begin with a self critique of my level. I really wish I hadn’t thrown as many new enemies in here as I did. When originally creating the level the idea was to show off as much gameplay within a few levels as possible. This was at a time when I was still trying to get War Ender a booth at a games festival. In many ways, I was still working to make that good first impression I was talking about the last time I went deep into War Ender’s design.

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If you’ve followed this blog closely, you’ll know that booth was never acquired, at least not at the festival I was looking to attend at the time. Still, I didn’t really change the fact that this level throws too many new enemies at you. In total, there are four new enemy types to combat. This is more than the first level introduces! This would have been fine if

A) there were a lot more enemy types in the game, or

B) the setting wasn’t so drastically different from the previous level

But neither of those things happened, and therefore 1-2 remains a level that I still think throws too much at the player too early.

All that said, I feel 1-2 succeeds in many other areas. Let’s start with the aforementioned setting. The player has gone from being out on building tops to inside a factory. Obviously the level rules and geometry is going to be fairly different, and to hammer that fact home I present the player right from the start with a simple task…go down. Fall through the platform and face the enemies below. Now there’s something you can’t do outside! The whole first section is like this. It presents very few enemies and gives examples of what an indoor level is like. On top of this, the game is now showing that story can be delivered mid-level too, as an enemy exclaims to his buddies that you, the player, are here and they need to get out of there fast. Just a small reminder that the enemies fear you.

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After this is when the new enemies start appearing, and they come quick. You’re first introduced to a turret that zooms forward from the screen and starts shooting. Thankfully, they’re at least less resilient as the regular turrets. Still, this will show the player that enemies can pop in from the sides at any moment. Right above them are the infamous rocket turrets. I placed these enemies above platforms so that the player has time to see what they do. These turrets shoot rockets that will home in on your position, requiring you to either destroy the turrets quickly or move around the rockets.

The player is shown a quick demonstration of the power rocket turrets have with other enemies. A few robots from the first level are wandering the platform above with a rocket turret behind them. This is one of the more basic interactions that the rocket turret can have with other enemies. Next up are the mines, spread along the ground waiting for you to jump on them. You’ll hopefully notice the blinking lights before you jump down to where they are. If not…well, you can guess what will happen. Either way, the player is taught that traps can be placed by their enemies. Fortunately, you can shoot these mines before going down to where they are. Enough mines are placed so that players will most likely accidentally shoot the mines, destroying them. This is War Ender’s way of saying “don’t worry, you’ve still got the advantage.”

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At last, you’re introduced to one more enemy - the grenade enemy type. They toss grenades at you in an arc, requiring careful approach in order to defeat them. They’re first shown off three in a row, straight in a line, to show the player what they do. Immediately after this they’re interacting with two turret enemies. You’ll also notice that the roof is awfully low here, subtly telling the player that attempting to jump over the enemies will most likely reward them with a grenade to the legs.

With the new enemies introduced, the rest of the level is dedicated to tossing level design and enemies, both new and old, at you in ways you hadn’t seen previously. For example, one area requires you to shoot some mines in order to make an area to stand on. In another, you have a grenade enemies threatening to hit from across and below a platform along with a moving turret discouraging mindless jumping. And after that, you get to the final part of this level. Brace yourself for an onslaught of enemies like you’ve never seen before!

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It starts off simple. A couple of turrets, some shooters, nothing you’ve never seen before. Then all of a sudden you’re greeted with a pit full of enemies. How in the world do you get through all of that? In truth, at the time of making the level I wasn’t sure myself. I almost cut this part out but a friend told me he thought it an interesting segment. He compared it to lava pits in other platforms and said this enemy pit is far more interesting. Due to that compliment, I ended up keeping it in. And I’m glad I did too. Most players were well acquainted with the shoot-float mechanic by this point, so they would intuitively figure out to simply shoot-float past them, picking them off as they navigate the platforms. A health pack is found in this area to allow them some room for error.

In case you don’t want to simply glide over them, the option is available to take the pit head on and vanquish all enemies. To this day I find it rather cathartic to do. To a newcomer it certainly won’t be easy, but the feeling of satisfaction after doing it is immense. This simply would not have worked anywhere else in the level. It had to happen immediately after getting a checkpoint, learning the enemy types, and sharpening your skill with the game’s mechanics. Remove any of those three things and this segment could have been not fun very quickly.

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Regardless of whether you fly over them or defeat them all, you’ve made it past the second level of the game. Cyrus stands there at the end informing you of where The Outsiders are going and thus the stage is set for the third level. As a fun little bonus this is one of two levels where you can reach the top of the flagpole, Super Mario style. You certainly don’t have to, but doing so will change Cyrus’s dialogue a bit with him asking you to come down from there. A fun little easter egg exclusive to this level that simply came about because I had a floating platform near the end that had no other purpose. Sure I could have just deleted it, but where’s the fun in that?

In an effort to continue wowing the player, War Ender’s second level throws a lot at you. And while individually I think the game handles these introductions fine, it would have been better to save a few of these new things for later levels. In an alternate timeline there’s another version of this game that primarily focuses on showing the player indoor level design and, at most, two new enemy types. But that’s not the level I created. Still, it seems to have worked out because I noticed that by the time someone finishes this level War Ender typically has gotten its hooks into them. At this point the player must now brace for a couple more new enemies and a new environment object. But that level’s dissection is for another time.

Later!

-Lance T.

War Ender Store Links:

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/884070/War_Ender/

Itch.io: https://prof-smash.itch.io/war-ender

GameJolt: https://gamejolt.com/games/war-ender/355809