War Ender

Available now!

STEAM

ITCH.IO

GAME JOLT

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!

September Update

August has come and gone.

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Welcome to War Ender's first monthly dev blog! I plan to treat these similarly to the Beta Reports from before. I'll talk about already released updates and then move on to discuss what's coming in the future, whether it be for War Ender or something else entirely. So without further ado, let's get started! Beginning with War Ender's patch notes, we have...

  • Removed a rocket turret from level 1-2.
  • Changed the color of the rubber bullets in the Tutorial
  • Fixed a bug where the player could hide behind the laser wall in Wall of Lasers.
  • Fixed a bug where the "fade sprites" could appear after death.
  • Fixed some resolution issues
  • Fixed camera bugs involving RAWM.
  • Took care of some game breaking bugs that would appear in RAWM level.
  • Found and fixed a save game issue that was present in chapter 2.
  • Fixed tiling issues seen in all levels that took place in Cycorp.
  • Adjusted a moving platform in 3-1.
  • Adjusted position of first checkpoint in 3-1.
  • Fixed bug where dodging could still get you hurt.
  • Repositioned some enemies in 3-2.
  • Fixed bug where player would not die after camera moves past them in 3-3.
  • Made some edits to third part of 3-3.
  • Fixed a bug with Cyborg Soldier and his laser attack.

On top of that, the following has been added to War Ender as well as on the Steam version of the game.

  • Wall of Lasers now makes it more obvious that the laser cores are to be shot.
  • Game demo is now available for download on Steam.
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Never tell me I don't keep busy. And there's still more to come! Now we come to the part where I talk about War Ender's future. Now you may be wondering "hey, this is a simple indie platformer. What more could you do with it?" Oh, let me tell you! I'm looking to add new levels and modes to War Ender post-release. How many of each is something I've not settled on yet, but there are plans. Right now, it's almost certain that you'll get a few more additional levels for War Ender. You see, I have a decent number of levels that were scrapped at the end. Some of them were bonus levels before the revamp I gave those, others were something else entirely.

I figure why not release them as additional content? And what's more, I'm just going to give you these levels for free! You read that right. All owners of War Ender will have access to these extra levels from the moment they are released. Now, when is that release coming? ...I don't know. But I do plan to begin working on these levels and getting them into the game this month. And they're not the only thing I have in store for you...

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I also mentioned new modes. There's a few ideas I have in mind, but for right now I'm looking into implementing a "single life challenge" into War Ender. Basically, you'll play through the whole game with only a single life to get through it all. This is not including the bonus levels or any extra levels the game will receive. Sounds incredibly tough but I promise it's doable. It's not much, but I believe it will give diehard fans a reason to continue playing and mastering the game. And of course if you don't want to bother with it, that's totally okay too. It can exist as an option for players.

A release date for such a game mode is even more unpredictable than the extra levels. It could take some time. So I won't give any estimates for it for the time being. But it's something to look forward to in the meantime. As mentioned before, there are other game mode ideas too but I'll talk about those if I do decide to create them. There's quite a bit of potential that exists for War Ender in the future, and I look forward to showing off more as that future unfolds.

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Beyond War Ender, I'm currently working on two new games. Well, sort of. Only one of them has entered active development. Hopefully I can start teasing it more later this month. The other project is still in its research phase. I'm currently going over a lot of material to learn the ins and outs of the games I'm drawing inspiration from with this next major project. And even after I start working on it more, it could be a while before I begin to show anything off.

Hopefully by the next dev blog I'll be able to show off more of my smaller project currently in the works. Right now, most of the mechanics are in. I'm primarily working on creating the branching storylines. Oh yes, this game will have dialogue options and multiple endings and that sort of thing. It's one of the more story driven games I've ever made, which is unusual for me. Usually my games are more mechanically focused. But you know what they say...there's a first time for everything.

So with all that said, I hope you continue to enjoy War Ender! See you in October!

 

-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

Upcoming visit to MOGameCon + Changes to this Dev Blog

The game is out. So what have I been up to?

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I've found myself in an odd position after War Ender was released. I sort of knew that it would happen, but it still feels odd all the same. Working on a project for a year and a half and releasing it to the world does this to you. What am I talking about? Well, I'm in a state of mind where I want to start other projects and don't really know how to begin.

This isn't unusual, and as I said I expected. I haven't done much with development of any kind since the game's release because I've been trying to play catch-up with some other things going on in the background. All that said, I'm still tossing around some game ideas in the back of my mind and am looking forward to translating that onto paper and eventually code. As a result of all this, this will be a shorter dev blog, but I think it's a good place to share a couple announcements.

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For starters, I'll be appearing at MOGameCon on August 4th. As of this writing, that's two days away. I haven't talked about it much as I was still getting some things confirmed and figured out, but I think it's about time I said something about it. The day before I'll also be visiting the St. Louis Science Center for another one of its First Friday events. So I'm gonna be all over Saint Louis this weekend. So if you want a chance to chat with the War Ender dev or try the game, these will be the places to do it! MOGameCon info can be found here: https://www.mogamecon.com/

Since we're on the topic of getting War Ender out and about, I think it would be nice to continue to demo the game IF it's possible. Of course I'll keep you updated on those things, but I believe it would be nice to continue demoing the game where possible to help the word get out more and to continue building my own audience. And speaking of building audiences, that's partly what these dev blogs are for. I should probably talk about a change coming to them.

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After this dev blog that you're currently reading goes live, dev blogs will now be arriving on a monthly basis instead of bi-weekly. Why? Well, as War Ender is now done there really isn't much to talk about. And I don't know how soon I'll be able to start showing off new projects, so for my sake and yours the dev blogs will start being created monthly. It helps you because I don't want to waste time on dev blogs that don't actually tell you anything, and it helps me as I don't have to struggle to come up with things to write about.

I wish I had more to share with you right now, but as I'm catching up with some life stuff I haven't given myself much time to do anything development related. But by September, when the next dev blog goes live, I may start to have a little more to share about what I'm working on, specifically with the smaller project that I teased in the last dev blog. I do hope you drop by and check it out when it arrives. But until then, I hope you continue to enjoy War Ender. And tell your friends about it. All of them.

 

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

War Ender is Available Now!

How exciting!

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War Ender is out now on Steam, Itch.io, and Game Jolt! First, allow me to post some 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

 

How exciting! A game I had been working on for over a year can finally be in player's hands. To celebrate the game's release, I thought I'd take a little time to recount the journey as well as give some shout outs to some people that helped out. Finally, we'll round this off with that I'm looking to do in the future. So without further delay, let's start with the story of War Ender's development.

Once upon a time, in late 2016, something needed to change. I had just gotten out of a rough development cycle, and was frankly feeling a little down. The game I had been working on was canned, which is always an unfortunate end to a project. It was a shame too, because I felt it was a really neat project with some cool ideas in it. But after all that, I began to question my game development career up to that point. With every new project, I'd always try to outdo myself in terms of complexity of the project. But after this last game, I felt that maybe it was time to take a step back (or two) and do something simpler. Thus, I started making a platformer.

 At one time, this was literally the planned game.

At one time, this was literally the planned game.

I wasn't content with just making another platformer though, so I decided to add some shooting elements to the game. Next thing you know, I have a basic game starring a red square that can jump and shoot. So naturally, I started making a few basic enemies. One enemy that could shoot, and another that would just walk around. After that, I started thinking about how to make this game with platforming mechanics have, well, platforming elements. I wanted to try and do something different...but what?

"Hm" I said. "How about he floats in the air by firing down?" It was a dumb sounding idea, but at the same time I wasn't making this game with the intent to be smart. At this time, it was still just a small side project that I'd probably put out for free or something. I didn't actually expect to make characters, worlds, and an entire story. But reality had different plans for me. One day, I hear about an upcoming convention happening near me. I decided to take a stab at it and submit what was currently called Action Square to the convention people. So I made some more enemies, a few more levels, and sent my little game to the curators.

 The rocket turrets kept their original design. Though it would be heavily improved, this was an early version of Level 1-2.

The rocket turrets kept their original design. Though it would be heavily improved, this was an early version of Level 1-2.

Unsurprisingly, it didn't make the cut. It was pointed out to me that it's hard to get interested in a game with a square as the main character. Only Thomas was Alone can do that. So, that's when the idea came to make Red an actual human and not a literal square. So, I gave him along with the other enemies a bit of a redesign. Suddenly, there were humans populating this world I inhabited. And the moment that happened was when I thought "you know...maybe I should see this project more realized." That was about the moment when Action Square would be moved from a small side project I did for the heck of it to a full commercial release. The first one I had ever done, in fact. Oh, and obviously it was no longer called Action Square. It was renamed to War Ender.

And so began the full development of War Ender. It's honestly hard for me to recount what happened and when up until a certain point...the website's launch. You see, I knew I had to get a website together for a game that I was going to sell. But that wasn't the only reason that I was putting together a website. I was going to off to a convention soon. This would be the first time that I had ever put together a booth (I bet it showed). So next thing you know I'm making business cards, a website, and working hard to get the game to a presentable state.

 Notice there's only two UI elements? The dodge mechanic had not yet been implemented.

Notice there's only two UI elements? The dodge mechanic had not yet been implemented.

The convention went well and the website started seeing more traffic. Now it was time to start working on the game's story and make the remaining levels. Life carried on this way, with the occasional trip to the St. Louis Science Center to help to promote the game. Now and then I'd add a new element to the game, whether it be a brand new enemy type or an entire mechanic. It was during this time that the idea to allow the player to do a dodge was implemented, adding to the complexity of the game.

Truth is, there's not a whole lot of major moments in the game's development beyond that, at least until the beta. Bonus levels did get a major overhaul, the soundtrack would see its completion, and much more. When War Ender began its beta phase, that's when things went from interesting to borderline insane. And I mean that in a good way. The game is very different from how it looked just a few months ago, right down to the art.

 Level 1-2, showing off talking characters. The level itself would still go through many changes before becoming what it is in the game.

Level 1-2, showing off talking characters. The level itself would still go through many changes before becoming what it is in the game.

I didn't get many beta testers, but the ones I did get were all amazing and brought something very important to the table. I'll be dedicating a section of this blog to them, so let's wrap up the development story and get to their shout outs. It was thanks to the beta testers that War Ender got drastically improved and, if you can believe, easier to maintain. Next thing you know, the story was being delivered differently, controls were being reworked, and the dodge mechanic would get an upgrade. It's thanks to the beta testers that all my favorite parts of the game are presented the way they are.

Finally, I got an artist to join on board. It just so happened to be my brother-in-law. I had no idea he did pixel art, so when he came to me and asked if I was interested in having him on board, I thought "yes, absolutely." Next thing you know I'm getting images showing me the improvements to the visuals that were coming. I'd pass this along to one of the beta testers (who happened to be an artist herself) and she'd give advice on how else to approach the game's look. The original plan was to completely overhaul the game's visuals, but due to some real world things happening in the background, it didn't quite happen as planned. But hey, we got what we could and the game looks a lot better for it.

 Level 1-2 might be the most changed level in the entire game. O_O

Level 1-2 might be the most changed level in the entire game. O_O

The final moments of development happened really fast, but thankfully with no major hiccups. There were certainly some...interesting bugs (fire for some reason stopped working the way it normally would), but nothing completely game breaking happened. Finally, on July the 26th, 2018...I woke up. I headed over to the computer and opened up all the different store pages. My wife, Katy, came along to join in on the launching fun. And then...the game was out.

And as of this writing, it has been out for a little over 24 hours now. I already posted the store links above, and of course I would highly encourage you to give the game a look. But now, it's time to take a moment and personally thank a few people. Obviously, I have to give a shoutout to Katy, my lovely wife, who not only playtested the game but was also great morale support. Everybody needs to thank her, for it's thanks to her that War Ender has the level balance that it has. Trust me, this game was much harder before her playtesting...

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Another shoutout goes to Wesley, the man behind the game's improved visuals. He came in very last minute, and I both thank him for his courage and of course his lovely work. Next up are the beta testers, who each contributed something to the game. I already mentioned Katy, so now we move on to my good friend Harsh Gupta, responsible for helping me get War Ender's story together (it was a bit messy for a while...). Harsh can be found here. A thank you to Jenny Gibbons, who helped give art input when the artist initially came on board as well as feedback on control layouts. Having good control layouts is pretty important for a game like this, so her feedback was extremely helpful. She actually just put out a game herself, which I will link right here. Go give it a look.

Then there's Matt Schelsky, the man responsible for the input that would improve the game's dodge mechanic. I met him along with the rest of the Daemon Club crew at the Gamer Grace Convention in Illinois. You can find him here. And of course, though I may not know their names, I must give a shoutout to everyone who played an early build of the game and gave input, whether it was at a convention or through e-mail.

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So here we are...game is out, it's done...where do we go from here? Well, let's start with War Ender itself. If Wesley chooses to, we can still work on the game's art and get it to look even more beautiful. Aside from that, I don't know how much updating War Ender will get beyond bug fixes and the like. It might be dependent on a few different things. I haven't quite decided yet, but I'm sure you'll learn one way or another. As for this website and dev blog? Though the website itself may not get much in the way of updates, I intend to maintain this dev blog for a little while longer. I have no clue what I'll write about, but it could become a space to share what's coming up in the future.

But what about beyond War Ender? Well, I have a few ideas. I've been inspired by none other than Mike Bithell himself lately with how he's handled his last couple of games. Make some small titles and release them has been the general gist of what he's been doing lately. I've taken a fondness to that idea, so I may try something similar. Obviously, he has a much larger following and can do stuff like that more easily. Of course I'd try to get the new games I make in front of people when ready.

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This isn't to say I'm done with large projects. Far from it. I just think it would be good for me to work on smaller games that take a short amount of time to make. In between those I intend to work on a larger project that I suspect will outdo War Ender in a number of ways. The ambition is much higher this time, but I think I can pull it off. I won't say much about any of the projects for a while, but I will go ahead and say this. The big project is intended to be an FPS, and the first small project will be about aliens. I won't say anymore about them until they begin to be presentable.

With these new games, a new website will more than likely be made. I intend to have a central hub for all my works. When I will put this site together remains a mystery. And with that, I think that about wraps everything up. I did say in my last dev blog that this would be a bonus and you'd still get another dev blog next week. I still have no clue what I'll write about, but I'll come up with something. I may have to adjust how frequently I post here after that, but we'll cross that bridge when it comes. Until then, don't forget to check out War Ender at the links above, and do tell your friends and frenemies about the game. I'd really appreciate it!

 

Until next time!

-Lance T.

The Last Week

I'm already feeling all sappy, how will I feel on release day?

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It has certainly been a journey for myself and War Ender. As I write this, we are only one week away from War Ender being released to the world. To say that I am excited would be the biggest understatement ever uttered by a human being. I am hyped. Incredibly nervous as well, but hyped nonetheless. I think it's safe to say that this game's release will be a defining moment in not just my career, but in my entire life.

Of course, "defining moment" could mean a few different things. For starters, War Ender could totally flop. I acknowledge that in this current gaming climate, with Steam getting hundreds of games in a given month and it being incredibly difficult to get noticed, that the act of flopping could be a reality. But then there's the other side of the coin, where the game does well and everything is great! Maybe there's a third side (somehow), where the game exceeds expectations? Perhaps so. But I know I should keep my expectations reasonable.

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Speaking of reasonable expectations, looking at how things are going right now I feel confident saying that War Ender is going to be alright. Since launching the game's Steam page the website has been doing well. The Steam page in question, according to the info I have, has gotten a pretty decent amount of attention. In fact, I was a little surprised by how much it had gotten in just the first day alone. With so many games coming out on Steam, I thought it was incredible that the game was being seen as much as it was!

But I can hear the realist in me. "That doesn't mean that many people will buy it, or even think it looks cool." You're right, realistic side of me. But I'm willing to bet many people saw the game and thought it looked great. And I feel this way because the game has already been wishlisted by people, and I've even had a handful of people on Twitter tell me, publicly and privately, that they're looking forward to the release. I know I should keep expectations in check but I really feel good about all this right now.

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I think it helps that the game has undergone a vast number of improvements in a short amount of time. Since announcing the release date some new particle effects have been added to the game to give more feedback to the player. In addition, I've added an effect where the edges of the screen will darken as the player gets low on health, and other little things. For instance, the VS text that shows before bosses has gotten flashier. It could just be me but I feel like screenshots are now more interesting thanks to the additional effects that have been added to the game. Robots being shattered and electrical sparks flying everywhere makes for a more exciting image. And of course, I also have some new art in place, improving the game's visuals even further, thanks to the artist who came on board.

I suppose I should take a moment to address said art, as for a while I made it sound like there was going to be a visual overhaul. This was the plan, but some things happened in the background that has prevented a complete overhaul as expected. However, we've done what we can to improve the look of the game for the time being. A lovely looking sky complete with a background accompanies city levels. Factory levels have been given more atmosphere thanks to some lighting and new objects, among other things. As of right now there are still plans to get everything else upgraded, but I'll address this further in a later dev blog.

Looking back, I think this became a dev blog talking almost endlessly about how great this game is going to be rather than talking what's new. But simultaneously, considering that the game is just a few short days away from being released, I feel a blog like this was needed. And in my humble opinion, perhaps even earned. I'm very proud of what this project has become. What started off as a small, non-important side project has turned into the most important, and indeed most fun, game I've ever made.

I've heard tales of developers totally losing their minds in the final days of a game's development. I've heard of all kinds of crazy things happening during the final moments. I'm totally expecting something along those lines to happen, but I also think I'm pretty well prepared for whatever happens. But of course, only time will tell what will happen. We'll just have to wait and see...

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Before I sign off, I feel I should once again mention War Ender on Steam, which you can view here. I highly encourage you to wishlist the game. Doing so will let you know the moment the game is released and available for purchase. In addition, I recently overhauled the media page for this here website and would encourage you to give it a look. There's lots of updated screenshots and a new trailer to view. Finally, on July 27th, the day after War Ender is released, I'll be doing an bonus dev blog celebrating War Ender's release. During this dev blog I'll be taking a moment to personally give shout outs to people who contributed to the project, whether in the form of feedback or in actual assets. I'll also be taking a look back at the overall journey of War Ender, and maybe even give you a sneak peek at what's coming beyond War Ender's release day.

So yeah, a bonus dev blog just for you. I do it because I love you, you know. And then you'll probably get another dev blog the week after that, though I confess that I currently have no idea what I'll be writing about. And provided nothing has happened or will happen, I may be showing up at a gaming convention soon. More on that later though. Until then...

 

Wishlist this game!

-Lance T.

Beta Report #4 (Release Date Announcement!)

Oh boy!

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Here we are again with another one of my beta reports. But this one is different...this one has some big news in it. And if you see the title, you know exactly what's coming. But first, let's get the usual stuff out of the way. After all, it also says 'Beta Report' in the title, and I do enjoy sharing progress reports with you fine folk. Let's see what the last two weeks have given us!

Since the last dev blog, 66 items were completed. Most of these items were small additions to help "juice" the game. If you're unfamiliar with that term, "juicing" refers to making a game feel more alive. What exactly this entails can vary from game to game, but in general it can refer to making the UI more interesting to interact (for example, maybe the current option increases in size when selected) or adding some small things to gameplay (like a screen shake). It's an important and somewhat under-discussed topic in video game development.

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In the example above, one addition I made to bring the game to life was to add a shatter effect on mechanical enemies. In the past, they would just disappear after being shot and some sparks would appear. For larger enemies, explosions would also appear at the place where they were shot. For the larger enemies with explosions, one could argue that this is okay. Btu for the robot enemies I needed something more. So I thought blowing the robots to pieces would be fun.

And fun it was! I still get a kick out of watching them shatter as Red shoots them down. The added sparks as the pieces fall is a nice touch as well, if I do say so myself. I've applied a similar effect to all mechanical enemies. This means turrets and helicopters all get the shatter treatment! This works well with War Ender's somewhat silly tone, as the whole game is about having fun with via ridiculous scenarios. Remember, this is the same game where you can float in the air by shooting down.

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You might have heard people say to "ham it up" before. Maybe you've done theater and a director told you that you need to ham up your part a bit. Why do I mention this? Well, in keeping with the idea that the enemy shatter effect was in place to both "juice" the game and reinforce its personality, I made another addition. I always felt that boss fights should be big deals in games, and one of my favorite ways that games do this is by using UI and camera tricks to make them seem like a big deal.

Of course, this idea felt perfect for War Ender, a game that knows it's a kind of goofy and yet takes itself at least a little seriously. Having the borderline cheesy black bars appear on the top and bottom and give a VS message is the perfect way to "ham up" the boss fights in the game and make them seem like much bigger deals. Because, well, they're bosses. They need to be bigger deals in any way they can. The result of this train of thought is in the GIF above. And frankly, I don't think I'm done with it. I think it'd be nice to have it do something more. Maybe a lightning effect or some scowling faces on there would be good. Or both.

And those are just a couple things I've been doing. I've also been adding some sounds where needed, improving the look of the title screen, and of course doing the usual bug fixes and gameplay tweaks. Looking through my dev log, I'm surprised at how many new things I've added. Sure, they're all small things, but the little things are important too. On top of those, I've finally finished writing the entire lore book for the game, which will be a fun read for those who like diving deep into a game world.

Right. I suppose I've kept you waiting long enough. You want to know a release date, don't you? Well, provided nothing crazy happens (don't jinx it), I'm pleased to report that War Ender now has a planned release date of July 26th, 2018. Yes, that's this year in case you forgot what year it is. And yes, that's this month. So you better plan ahead and set aside some time to play the game that weekend. Tell your boss you're sick that day or something

Of course I keep talking about the game's upcoming new art, and that will of course be present come release day. In fact, I'm hoping you can start seeing that very soon. Of course I'll update the website to reflect that when the time comes, so stay tuned. One day you might just swing by and suddenly things look spruced up. In addition, look out for the Steam page that should be coming soon. And on top of all that, I plan to update the game's demo at least once before the game comes out. Maybe even twice depending on how I handle it. Of course, I'm excited and I hope you are too.

 

Hype intensifies!

-Lance T.