Chapter two of War Ender is looking pretty sweet.
First of all, before we begin, I hope this Thanksgiving has treated you well (assuming you celebrate it). I'm writing this the day before and am looking forward to it, especially since it'll be my first one as a married individual. Will be different for sure, but should be fun! Now, on to War Ender updates! If you've not heard, I did update the public demo with some bug fixes, balance changes, and a couple small additions such as a health bar for the boss and new sounds. So if you've not played the demo, then now's a good time to give it a try! You can find it here. In addition, there's also been some updates to the media page. There's new screenshots and even a new music track, "Truth of the Matter," to check out. You can view all that here.
To round out the little updates, there's also a new animation for the Obsessor enemy, which you can view in the gif below. It's nice having them do a sort of "ticking" which makes them seem a bit more threatening. Whereas before we had red smileys slowly floating after you, here they seem more like proper bombs that you need to take care of before they get too close. But don't worry, they're still just DELIGHTED to see you.
Now, onto the meat of the blog. Much of these last two weeks has been spent putting together the second chapter of the game. No spoilers of course, but this is the point where the plot begins to get a bit more...intriguing. But of course, if you don't care about story (but come on, why wouldn't you?) there's plenty else to love about the second chapter of the game. In the first four levels of the game, you have to make sure the player comes to grips with the different mechanics of the game before you start throwing crazy stuff at him. So you start off with a tutorial letting you know what your capabilities are in the game. Then you create the first level, which only has the enemies involved. In War Ender's case, that would be the robots, shooter enemies, and basic turrets. In the second level, you can throw a bit more at the player, so we have mines, grenade enemies, rocket turrets, and moving turrets. It might sound like a lot but mines are...well, pretty obvious, and the moving turrets are just the turrets from the previous level but with wheels. The rocket turret and grenade enemies are the two truly new aspects of the game, and you show the player some ways those are used. The third level introduces a couple more enemies, the pyro and the shielded flame enemy, and introduces the disappearing floor as well. And then to wrap it all up, you have the boss level, which is there to act as a sort of test of everything you know up to this point.
The trend here is basically to warm the player up to the various aspects of the game as far what enemies are capable of and what the player is capable of. You don't want to make the first chapter of a game too brutal for that reason. Even Super Meat Boy, as crazy difficult as that game is, still does not relentlessly punish players within the first world. Quite honestly, it just doesn't make sense to. Why destroy someone that hasn't even learned your game yet? Now, after the first world, things begin to get much more...interesting. And that's why I'm actually really excited to tell you about the work that's gone into the game's second chapter over the last couple weeks, particularly Level 2-2. Starting off, Level 2-1 is tonally different from the previous levels up to this point. It's got a quieter tone to it, which may sound a little odd for War Ender, but there are story reasons for it. In addition, it also is the first level to introduce the Obsessors. These enemies are basically floating bombs that will fly toward you and explode on contact. Nothing too crazy, but throw a bunch of them in a room and, well...things can get wild. Level 2-1 spends the rest of the its time showing you these new enemies as well as gives you a taste of what a level with no human enemies is like (again, story reasons for this, but NO SPOILERS!).
Level 2-2, on the other hand, is the game saying "right, time to get serious (but not too serious. We'll still have fun. c:)." Right away you're introduced to torches, seen above. Basically an object that constantly spews fire and cannot be destroyed. So, the only way through them is to dodge past them. Pretty simple and not big, but you'd be surprised how much the little things can change. Case in point, a little later on in the level you enter a room filled with enemies. Up near the roof you have rocket turrets firing down on you. On your level, you're being met with shooter enemies, robots, grenade enemies, and couple torches to watch out for. This is the first time that A) you have torches to be mindful of during combat, and B) the enemies are coming at you from a very different angle, particularly the rocket turrets. In levels past, enemies are typically all on the same level as you, and thus it was easy to just dodge objects and just fire away until everything's gone. Here, you can't do that as easily. The rocket turrets above you will force you to move around, dodging homing rockets as well as whatever the other enemies fire at you. But what's more, the torches are there too, so you have to be mindful of where you move to. Make a wrong move and you can throw yourself into the literal fire and take damage anyway. The game is now not only asking you to defeat the enemies in front of you, but also be smart while doing it.
Just further on, the pyro enemies introduced in Level 1-3 show up to make your platforming a little more interesting. You have to climb up an area, but there's disappearing floors and pyros on either end, making the process especially interesting. It's not too difficult to get to the right area and take out the pyros, but it's the fact that you have an enemy (the pyro) coming at you from a much different angle. This pattern continues throughout the level, showing off new ways that Obsessors work with other enemies and more. As of now, it's a brilliant example of what War Ender can be. As a developer, finding new ways for the game to kick MY butt is actually really exciting. I want to be just as surprised making the game as the player will be playing it.
It's been a neat experience making the second chapter of War Ender, and I'm not even done with it yet. There's still a third level and another boss to make before moving on. And despite all my gushing about how level 2-2 shows War Ender at its best so far, that's not even entirely true. There's plenty of new stuff to come in later levels. For instance, currently in the plan is that the very next level, 2-3, will have moving platforms along with everything else you've read about. There's new enemy types in the works too, and no doubt other new mechanics and enemies I haven't even THOUGHT of yet. I can't wait to report what changes are made, and look forward to the next level to gush over. And for all we know, it might come sooner than I think. On top of that, be on the lookout for the debut of a "video" section appearing on the website soon. No, I'm not dropping a trailer, but I believe this website could do with some kind of video content for you to enjoy. So with all that said...
See you around!