War Ender

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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!

A Good First Impression

What does the first level do to get you excited for the adventure ahead?

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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

First impressions are very important to any game. They can win over a player or make someone drop the game forever. So how do I go about creating the first few levels? For some, these may be the only levels anyone ever plays if they aren’t impressed. To create a good first play session, a little setup is required. Today, I’m going to show you how I went about creating the game’s first level and how I believe it serves their purpose.

Let’s begin with the setup. Every time you boot the game, a short cutscene plays. Of course, you have the option to skip this cutscene if you so choose, but I would encourage players to at least sit through it once. Why? This opening gives a lot of context as to why you, the player, are doing what you are doing. In War Ender’s case, it’s a very simple premise. It’s a revenge story. It’s about an angry guy in a coat who wishes to avenge his dead friends. As soon as he learns who committed the crime, he goes after them.

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Thus ends the story setup, but we’re not quite finished. There’s also the tutorial, which introduces the players to the game’s mechanics. Thankfully, because of the player character’s limited range of abilities, this is the only tutorial they have to go through. After a few minutes they are introduced to all the player character’s abilities and examples of where to use them. Now with all this in mind, they can jump into the action that awaits within The City.

And yet, just before the game begins proper, they get one more little story tidbit. Once again, they can skip this, but I think it helps put a player in the right mindset for the first level. Something is going wrong, and you’re the one who’s going to fix it. Now the game begins. But at first, there aren’t many enemies. In fact, there’s no enemies at all at first. I want to allow the player a little time to adjust to the physics of the world before they start getting into firefights.

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Once that’s done, enemies appear. But they’re pretty basic, All they do is walk back and forth endlessly until you shoot it or you run into it. Almost immediately after that, another enemy type appears. What does he do? He fires a single bullet every couple of seconds. Just in case you took some early hits (and first timers most likely will take damage), there’s a health box that restores three of your health points, which will most likely get you to the first checkpoint.

At that point, I’ve seen players do one of two things. They might walk right into it, like any other checkpoint. Here they see that their health gets fully restored and they now come back here if they die in the next section. However, I’ve seen some players instinctively shoot the checkpoint. Then of course it shatters and they realize what they’ve done. It’s actually kind of funny to watch. But it also teaches an important lesson: you can destroy the checkpoints. Later on they may notice that clearing a level and destroying these checkpoints in the process leads them to additional content such as more lore for the Lore Book and entire bonus levels.

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The level continues. This is now where concepts presented in the tutorial come back to test the player. In fact, the immediate structure of this section is reminiscent of the early part of the tutorial, is it not? There’s a few enemies to shoot, straight in a line, followed by a wall. They need to run and jump to progress. Next, another section from the tutorial has made its way into level 1. Shoot floating is given a proper case scenario, once involving enemies and another involving a large gap. You must shoot-float in order to make it past the gap. As for the enemies, it is recommended that you shoot-float but it is not required.

Not long after this, another checkpoint arrives. Beyond this checkpoint, the geometry begins to get a little more complicated and a whole new enemy type arrives. The stationary turret enters the fray, and it takes five shots to destroy. It fires the same bullet as the basic shooter enemy from before, but at a much faster rate. Learn this enemy and you’ve effectively learned the entire level. At this point, the remainder of Level 1-1 exists to test your knowledge of the game so far.

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Is there anything I would have done different with the first level? There is one item: I wish I had incorporated something involving the dodge mechanic. Of course the player is shown this ability in the tutorial and can use it anytime, but there’s no scenario where they are forced to use it. At the time, I think I wanted to avoid overloading the player with too many things to think about. I wanted to keep the first level to the bare essential: movement, shooting, jumping, and shoot-floating. Those four things form the bulk of War Ender, and I wanted to make sure players understood this. But I probably could have found a way to remind players of dodging.

Beyond that, I think the game’s first level does its job wonderfully. Of course, I might be a little biased. But I do believe it eases players into the world before them, showing bits of the game at a time before it all comes together near the end in a simple test of knowledge. Get past the first level, and you get to the second. In this second level, the level structure changes and there’s more new enemy types to discover. But we’ll have to dissect that level another day. As mentioned in a previous dev blog, I’m going to spend a lot of time going over elements of War Ender I’ve not touched on before, and that includes many of the first levels. I’d also like to take a deep dive into the different bosses and look at how they came to be. But this is all in due time. And besides that, some days I’ll have some important info about my next project.

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Speaking of future projects, I suppose I can give you a little update on those. They are coming along nicely for the moment. The smaller project is getting close to having 50% of its basic content coded in. I think it will soon be time to start properly getting some art and music together for the game. Being a game based around narrative choices, it will also soon be time to work on how those choices affect your story. There’s one area that I know can affect the story in a major way, but there’s lots of potential for smaller decisions to change the game in small ways. We’re talking as small as a sentence changing based on something you said a few minutes ago.

Also, with it being 2019 by the time this goes up, I could maybe give you an idea of when you might start to see more info about these projects. The aforementioned small project is intended to be released this year. Preferably sooner rather than later, but at the same time you never want to rush something. Ideally, the game would release in Spring. Though I don’t know if you should actually count on that. The bigger game is still a long ways away, but I’m thinking about putting some early prototype images together for your viewing pleasure. I’d do the same with the small project, but it didn’t exactly stay in the prototype stage for long and there’s not much to show. And I’d personally rather not show it off too early, given the scope of the game. Look forward to a great 2019! I know I will.

Until next time!

-Lance T.

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

Unleash the Extra Levels!

Free new content for War Ender has been released!

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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

A week and a half ago (as of this writing), War Ender got an update. This update, coinciding with the Autumn Sale, is the biggest update for War Ender. Readers of recent dev blogs will most likely know that I’m referring to the three extra levels given out for free. It took a whole computer getting those levels released and I hope players enjoy them. There’s one level, Extra Level 3, that I particularly want to discuss today, but first let’s do a quick recap of what the first two extra levels were all about.

Extra Level 1 places players in what was originally meant to be the first bonus level of the game. In fact, both Extra Level 1 and 2 are scrapped levels from the original game. The reason for Extra Level 1’s removal was pretty simple. Bonus levels needed something a little more special, and what I came up with didn’t incorporate any of the mechanics of the original level, which was just a harder War Ender level to begin with. Extra Level 2 has a similar backstory but with an extra chapter. I debated with myself on whether Extra Level 2 would be a regular level or a bonus level. In the end, it was neither. Thankfully, both of these levels were given new life in the form of Extra Levels. It’s always nice to see old ideas come back to your projects.

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With the recap out of the way, let’s bring our attention to Extra Level 3. While I certainly didn’t hide its existence, I refrained from talking too much about it, let alone show it. Extra Level 3 was what I will refer to as a “pitch level” which in my head means that it was a level used to demonstrate various concepts for War Ender, or Action Square as it was originally called. In this case, the level showed off basic platforming, how the main character would behave, and what sort of obstacles would be present on the player’s adventure. At this point in time, only a handful of enemy types were created. Not only that, but the shoot-float mechanic was completely different.

Enemies in the level included Basic Enemies (the robots), Shooters, Grenade Enemies, Turrets, and Rocket Turrets. As you can see, many of the basic enemy types you’ll see throughout War Ender got their start in this pitch level, with the remaining enemy types coming much later. As for the shoot-float mechanic, it also got its start in this level. Originally it wasn’t so much a shoot-float as it was a shoot-”slow down my descent". That doesn’t have nearly as good of a ring to it, and it was wildly inconsistent. Sometimes your descent would be slowed by a lot, and other times it wouldn’t change anything. So the decision was made to change the mechanic to what you see today.

The beginning of Extra Level 3

The beginning of Extra Level 3

All these differences between then and now don’t stop there. The dodge mechanic wasn’t even a thought in my mind. Various enemies didn’t exist, and many of the platforming mechanics were not present. If you play through Extra Level 3, you’ll notice there are only buildings and “jump through platforms” present throughout the level. There are no moving platforms, jumppads, or torches. Yet another area where Extra Level 3 shows its age. Another detail I left in was the building colors. While some additional decor was added to the level, I intentionally kept all the buildings a brown color.

It seems like an element of the level that should be updated. After all, seeing the same brown color on every building grows tiring, does it not? As crazy as it sounds, I didn’t add building colors until later in development. But it would have been simple to change the colors, right? Yes, that is correct. However, it was important to me to retain a sort of “old” feeling in this level. This would include keeping an older aesthetic for the level as well. The only real changes to the visuals of Extra Level 3 come from added decor (namely the fire escapes and doors), and the background. To keep in sync with the rest of the War Ender world, I explicitly mention in the opening text for this level that this battle takes place in “an old part of The City.”

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One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that all three levels have the option to use or destroy all the checkpoints, just like any other level in the game. However, destroying the checkpoints in the extra levels do not contribute to the Lore Book and do not help you unlock any of the bonus levels. The option to clear any of the levels without checkpoints is purely there for bragging rights. That was another thing about these levels that was fairly important to me. I wanted to make sure that anyone can jump in and enjoy them however they choose. Thus, I made sure that the levels could be chosen from the main menu right from the start, regardless of your in-game progress.

As for what the future holds now? Well, at this point I’m starting to shift gears. I’ve talked before about two projects I am currently working on, and as usual I am unable to show them off right now. But with these extra levels released, I am planning on moving most of my attention to those two projects. I don’t know when I’ll be able to show them off proper, but I’m hoping it will be sooner rather than later. In the meantime I’ll find some interesting things from War Ender’s to talk about that I may not have touched on much before.

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Being the December dev blog, I don’t believe you’ll hear from me in this space before the new year comes. I mean, there’s always the chance another freak accident could happen like what occurred in October with my dead computer, but I’d prefer nothing like that occur. So knowing this, I bid you a lovely holiday, whatever that may be for you. See you next year! Keep on gaming.

Until next time!

-Lance T.

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

One Computer Later...

Now that we’re back on track…

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War Ender store links:

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

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

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

So, uh…I’ll be real with everyone. There hasn’t been a whole lot of progress on virtually anything game development related. Not an exciting way to start this dev blog, I know, but it’s not completely starved for content (I think). To start, there were a couple updates made to War Ender’s Level 4-3. Of all the levels in the game, that one has always been a bit of a beast to get properly balanced, as evident by the fact that I just rolled out a patch to better balance said level.

The changes made to 4-3 are fairly simple. It was all about removing a handful of unnecessary objects and enemies, especially in the first part of the level. Excess torches were removed and the Grenade Enemies near the top of the first section received subtle position changes. Near a health pack additional torches were scrapped as well as some Turret Enemies and a Pyro was removed near the end of the level. Level 4-3 should now be much more fair and doable, but I’ll continue keeping an eye on how players handle this level.

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This certainly won’t be the last level to get such balance updates. There are plans to do some tweaking to the game’s first boss as well, and I’ll be reevaluating various other levels to see if the game could be balanced further. I’m certain there will be something that can be tweaked, as there usually is. I expect some levels from chapter 3 and on are almost certainly going to receive some kind of balance update. But that’s just something we’ll have to see about ourselves…

As far as bonus levels are concerned, those are now back to where they were before my previous computer died. If you’re not aware of what happened, the short version is my hard drive recently failed and I had to recreate much of my work with the extra levels. You can read more about that here if you wish. I’ve since gotten a new computer and, as I mentioned, am now back on track. But it still did delay the original release of the extra levels. On top of that I’ve also been busy getting my other game projects back to where they need to be. One of them (the small one) is back on track as well. The larger project is almost back to the state it was in before the great hard drive failure.

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I was hoping to talk more about my other projects soon, specifically the smaller one. But if I haven’t yet made it obvious, that’s going to be delayed as well since the hard drive failure set me back. But it did get me thinking about what I’ll do when I need to start dedicating attention completely towards this small project. I’ve talked before about the future of this website, and the plan hasn’t really changed. What’s that plan you ask? I suppose I’ve never really said…

Eventually new games will see their release, and I really fail to see why I would try to maintain several different websites for individual games when I could just have a single website that acts as a central hub for everything Infinite Level. So one day, in a far off future, this website will be no more. However, it’s going to take a while before we see that day. Not to mention the fact that most everything you see on this website will be migrated to the new website anyway. So I wouldn’t think of this website closing so much as it will eventually be moved. But like I said, that’s way off in the future. I wouldn’t think too hard on it right now.

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I don’t know how I did it but I managed to make a full dev blog even though there was next to nothing in the way of major updates. Maybe I should consider a career in writing? …nah, I like making games more. But don’t misunderstand me, I do enjoy writing about this stuff. If all goes according to plan (and it better), then by the time the next dev blog goes live in December we’ll have seen the release of War Ender’s first three extra levels. I won’t give an exact date for those extra levels, but I absolutely want to make those levels available this month.

Until next time!

-Lance T

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War Ender store links:

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

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

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

Update on the Extra Levels

So a thing happened…

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“But I thought you said you’d post dev blogs on a monthly basis” I hear you say. Well, I usually would. However, today we must make an exception. There’s been an unexpected occurrence that will more than likely delay War Ender’s extra levels. I was originally hoping that the extra levels would be released sometime in October, but now I honestly can’t say for sure if that will happen or not. So how did this occur?

I tweeted out that my computer had recently been giving me problems. None of my attempts at repairing the machine had worked, so I took it to a shop to get looked at. The results were…unfortunate. It would appear that it was the cause of a hard drive failure. And what’s worse, there was no way to get the data off the hard drive. So I ended up losing a lot of stuff.

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This wouldn’t be the first time something like this has happened to me, and as a result I have thankfully learned to make backups. So don’t worry, it’s not like all of War Ender’s files have just disappeared. However, this did occur while I was still working on Extra Level 3. The first two extra levels had already been prepared. Thankfully, my last War Ender backup was made very recently and thus had little lost. The main item lost with my hard drive was the third extra level. I had finished retooling the level and, if I remember correctly, was finalizing enemy placement.

Once I have an operational computer to work on again (I’m writing this using my wife’s laptop, and unfortunately it doesn’t handle Unity the best), I’ll essentially have to start back with square one on creating the third extra level. Not a huge loss, but it does set me back on top of still waiting for my new computer parts to arrive. There have, unfortunately, been other losses as well. For starters, those two other projects I had been working on took a hit. My smaller, narrative focused project had a backup made about a week before the hard drive gave up the ghost, so I didn’t lose too much. I mean, that’s still a week’s worth of work gone, but it’s not devastating.

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No, the biggest loss as far as my game development works go is my next big project. You know, the one I’ve shared…basically nothing about. And that’s because it’s still in a very early phase and cannot really be discussed right now. Unfortunately, I neglected to make a backup of that, so I’m literally going to have to start that project over from scratch. That’s…a bummer. It was really coming along. Why I didn’t make a backup of that sooner is anyone’s guess. But the point is, it’s gone.

I’ve only discussed the game development side of things. There’s a handful of other real world things that have been lost, things that I need for other work. When you pile all this up, you begin to see why War Ender’s extra levels are going to (most likely) be delayed. Now, when will my brand spanking new computer arrive? Or rather, its parts?

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Well, hopefully the very next day, which would be October 10th as of this writing. I’ll get it built, get all my programs together, and then get started with getting everything back. Real world comes first, so I’m going to be spending time getting back stuff related to that. After that, then I can begin thinking about working on War Ender’s extra levels. But keep in mind that this will be on top of getting my small project back to where it was and getting my big project up to speed.

So…yeah, that’s where we’re at. As always I of course recommend following my Twitter for the most recent updates. I may not post on there much, but you better believe I’ll be showing off my computer when it’s ready. The Facebook page will also have some updates posted, though not as regularly as Twitter. Whichever one you choose (though you should really follow both * wink * * wink *), you’ll know pretty quickly when things start happening. As for an estimate on when those extra levels will arrive? It’s hard to say, but I wouldn’t expect them to release in October. It could still happen, but I wouldn’t necessarily count on it. I’ll of course keep you posted.

See you in November!

-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

Extra Levels Incoming!

Something new to do in War Ender.

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Happy fall! I, for one, am glad to be out of the hot weather. I’ve always preferred the cold, not to mention certain earthly creatures go away and I’m not sneezing every ten seconds. But enough about me! Let’s go over some changes implemented in War Ender during the month of September.

…oh, is that it? Well, not quite. My list of things to patch has been awfully small, something I’m thankful for. So instead I’ve put most of my efforts into creating new levels for War Ender. I said in the last dev blog that new levels would be released to everyone, and I intend to make good on that promise. I went through and picked two levels that were ultimately scrapped from the final game, and will be releasing them to the public. In addition, there’s another level that I somewhat forgot about.

Today, I’ll show off two of the scrapped bonus levels and explain the original idea behind them. I won’t show off the third extra level but I will certainly give a little background on the level. So with that, let’s start by taking a look at Extra Level 1!

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Originally, Extra Level 1 was to be the first bonus level you would unlock. If you somehow happen to have an old version of the War Ender demo on your hard drive, you could even play this level, though it’s been given quite a few new things since then. For instance, you’ll notice in the gif above that Obsessors and Pyro enemies are present, which is not something the original version had. And of course, things like the building background art is here too.

As the extra levels go, this one is pretty straightforward. It’s basically another War Ender level, which was exactly why it got omitted from the original game. The bonus levels needed something much more interesting to make them, well, bonuses. This wasn’t going to cut it, so I cut the level from the game. However, now that Extra Levels are now in the works, it seemed appropriate to bring this level back, give it some new stuff, and give it to you as the first extra level.

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Extra Level 2 is a scrapped level from Chapter 3. Those who played through War Ender knows that Chapter 3 is split into four levels, just like the other chapters. However,I believe this chapter has a slightly different structure than the others. Most chapters have a sort of theme to them. For instance, Chapter 2 largely takes place underground. In Chapter 3, you’re first outside on top of buildings, followed by being attacked by The Detractors of War and taken to their base. You fight through the initial forces to then go through a level where you must escape, and then you fight a boss.

3-3 was not originally going to be a scrolling level. It was originally planned to be a level with an emphasis on platforming. But then I liked the idea of an escape level more, so I thought I could make this into a bonus level. Then the bonus level revamp happened, and so the game had no place for this level…until now! There won’t be much fighting in this level, as the Detractors forces are spread rather thin. But rest assured that a challenge does await you in this extra level.

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There is a third extra level, but it’s still going through a lot of work and is not in a presentable state at this time. You’ll have to wait until the levels are released to see what this third level is about. I will say this…originally this level was not an actual level in War Ender. Not a regular level, bonus level…no, instead it was what I will call a “pitch level.” It dates back to when the game was called Action Square. I would use this level to demonstrate the basic mechanics, enemies, and structure of the level.

Of course, the game has evolved since then. For starters the name of the game isn’t even the same. While I will take a few liberties with what enemies are present and where they will be placed, I’ve left the geometry of the level intact. No added mechanics are present in the level structure. The only changes are the main character and the enemies. Everything else is as it was when the game was just a side project called Action Sqaure. There aren’t even any jumppads!

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It’s been nice sharing what’s in store for War Ender. There’s some other works going on as we speak, something I talked about in the last dev blog. In particular, my next major project has gone through some leaps and bounds in development, while my smaller, more narrative focused project has been chugging along. I’ve almost got the game’s gameplay 25% completed. It’s been an exciting month and a lot of progress has been made in a variety of ways. And this is even when you factor me being gone for a week on vacation! So imagine how October will be in terms of development progress? And maybe, just maybe…the extra levels will be released before the next dev blog goes live!

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