New enemies enter the battle.
Surprise! You'll have more enemies than just The Outsiders to contend with in War Ender. Seeing as the last couple of weeks have consisted of me creating these new enemies, I see no better time to talk about them than now. Introducing the Detractors of War, a new faction you meet midway through War Ender. Coming from seemingly nowhere, the Detractors ambush Red while he's on another mission to defeat more Outsiders. Needless to say, this wasn't the direction Red thought his latest task was going to take him, yet here he is.
These guys mean business too, as they are promising to crush both The Outsider Resistance Movement (starting with Red) and The Outsiders themselves, citing that both factions have unwittingly ruined The City as a result of their ongoing war. That's...quite an accusation, to say the least. Red doesn't take crap from anyone though and proceeds to do what he does best. You know, wreck the place.
Let's talk about creating a new faction for a story. Virtually every story has at least two factions that are usually shown to be at odds with each other. An example would be Captain America and friends VS Iron Man and friends. Some stories may bring in more factions as they're needed. So how does one go about creating a new faction for a story, in a video game no less?
The answer is there is no designated way. It depends on what you want different factions to do. Some games have the time, budget, and resources to have different factions behave completely differently in regards to combat, conversation, and more. Other factions, like the Detractors of War, are simply reskinned versions of enemies you've seen already. I know it may seem a little odd to be admitting something like that publicly, but the truth is the Detractor enemies, on a mechanical level, do not behave any differently from the Outsider enemies. The stationary turret does the same thing with the Detractors as it does with the Outsiders, and vice versa. Having admitted to that, what distinguishes them from the Outsiders?
As soon as the player is introduced to this new faction, I wanted to immediately give the player the sense that these guys are a serious threat to the Outsider Resistance Movement. You meet their leader early on and he threats the movement in such a way that he sounds very confident that he can pull it off. I also try to give off the sense that, unlike the Outsiders, these guys aren't afraid of Red. I feel like that's the key difference between the Detractors of War and the Outsiders. Throughout the game, I've tried to give off the idea that in most cases the Outsiders seem alarmed at your presence and, frankly, not as prepared as they should have been to see you. You're the Outsider's worst nightmare, as it were.
Not so with the Detractors. Their leader has a sort of calm about him. He's not afraid of Red, and neither are any of his underlings. My hope is that this interaction will immediately register with the player and set the tone for the next few levels. In case the dialogue doesn't work though, I've tried to communicate that same idea with the environment and music. The music made for The Detractors of War will actually be going up on this site soon, so I'll save that for later. As for environment, throughout the next few levels you'll see propaganda posters, one of them blatantly calling Red "the enemy," as well as objects that look like they'd belong to a very militarized group. They're ready for combat, as indicated by the boxes of ammo and gas masks lying around. And that's only the stuff you see on the outside. You're not even sure what's in the boxes, but it's safe to assume with everything else you're seeing that the box's contents are made for battle.
Even with all that said, it's not enough to just TELL you these guys are tough. At this point, War Ender begins ramping up its difficulty and asks you to take on more enemies and more dangerous scenarios than before. Having playtested the new levels myself, I can confirm that from here on the game means business. It even took me a while to figure out how best to get through the level while destroying all the checkpoints. As always, I continue my commitment to making the game hard, but fair, and after much testing I believe I've accomplished that here (of course, I plan to do even more testing as the game continues to develop), which not only will keep the game fun to play but will also send the message that the Detractors of War will beat you to a pulp...if you give them the opportunity, that is.
I haven't talked about story much throughout these dev blogs, so it's nice to take a break from discussing the mechanics of the game and geek out a bit over the story that's been written. I have intentionally kept pretty quiet about it since I want players to discover War Ender's story for themselves, but there was no way I was going to talk about these bad dudes without getting into some of the game's plot. Given how late into development the game is getting, don't expect me to talk story much more after this. After all, I can't go spoiling my own story now, can I?
Until next time!