War Ender is in Beta! Now What?
War Ender has all its levels, music, and story. In addition, it's got most of its art in place. So what happens now?
I've been looking forward to writing this dev blog. For the past month I've been having to think of relevant topics to talk about in these dev blogs since I couldn't exactly reveal what I was currently doing. I mean, I revealed I was working on the ending, but I couldn't show much. So I had to pad out my content a bit until I could finally talk about War Ender entering the beta stage. And now, here we are!
War Ender has actually been here a little while now. At the time of this writing, War Ender has been in beta for two weeks. That means on the same day the last dev blog went live, War Ender finally had its content in place. Talk about timing! So what happens with development from here? What's the roadmap I have for the rest of the game's development? Do I have a more specific release window in mind?
Let's take this one chunk at a time. Obviously, from here on the focus will be on bug fixes and tweaks to mechanics. Since starting the beta phase, I've already squashed a ton of bugs, and I'm sure there will be plenty more to come. This leads me to my next point...testers. I know my game inside and out, so I'm not sure that I can reliably playtest this game for bugs and the like. Thus, it will be important that I at least get a few people playtest War Ender to help spot out bugs and tweaks needed to be made to mechanics or levels. My wife has been helping me out a lot with that, but it will still take more pairs of eyes. I'll be actively seeking out people to test the game myself, but if you are interested than by all means visit the contact page and shoot me an e-mail with the subject "Beta Request." If I still don't have enough, chances are you'll be added as a beta tester.
Throughout this blog there's been suggestions that the game has "most of the art" and that's true in some sense. Nothing is being represented by blank squares. But you see, there's been a very recent development in War Ender's...development (ha ha). Assuming I don't scare him off, it looks like War Ender has a new artist on board. And friend, let me tell you this guy is way better than I am. As it turns out, my brother in law can do pixel art, something I didn't know about him. I knew he was into art, but I had only ever seen his work a couple times and they were both drawings. So when he asked if War Ender could use an artist, I was rather surprised but also very quickly said something along the lines of "yes, make this game look prettier than I could ever make it look!" Knowing this, expect the game's art to go through a change between now and release day. And in case you got attached to the current art style in any way, I can tell you that the early work he's shown me is looking fantastic and will be a worthy replacement. I'll show it off more in time.
Speaking of release day, let's talk about that a bit. As War Ender began getting closer to beta, I've been tossing around a summer release window. Since then, that hasn't changed. If anything, I'm able to confidently give an even more specific time. Right now, I am looking at mid to late June as a good time to release War Ender to the world, with the very latest release time being in early July. I'm trying to avoid releasing at the same time as some other major title, and thankfully Summer doesn't have many of those. Still, with the industry the way it is, there's going to be something that someone's thinking about releasing almost every day of the year. And then there's the additional problem of fighting for space on Steam, among other things, which will be...interesting. But that's talk for another time.
As for now, I'll continue spreading word of War Ender wherever I can. Earlier this week I launched War Endr's demo onto the Itch.Io platform while also updating the public demo. There's minor level changes, some UI adjustments for boss fights, and some bug fixes made with the bonus levels in particular in the newest version of the demo. So, if you haven't played War Ender at all yet, or you have but would like to see some of the new changes (I know you do), then head over to the demo page and select one of the two links to download the demo and play the game's first chapter in its most up to date state yet.
So with all this said, let's lay out a roadmap for the remainder of development. From now until release, it will be all about fixing bugs and making tweaks to levels, mechanics, enemy behaviors, and so on. Balancing the game to perfect balance will also be occurring at the same time. Ideally, I want the game's balance to be where it needs to be a week before launch, with specifically the player's abilities fine tuned two weeks before. While nothing should dramatically change in the game from what's been seen in the current demo, there will undoubtedly be the odd tweak needed to make sure the game is as fun and smooth to play as possible.
During that final week, I'll dedicate time to making sure every bug that can be squashed will be gone. The hope is there won't be anything too difficult, if indeed very many bugs at all. But, as anyone who's made a game before can tell you, such hopes are high. Bugs have a funny way of creeping into your game, and I hear they really like to show up near the end. Even now, my wife has managed to accomplish some things using bugs. Crazier yet, she can do it every time whereas I can never seem to replicate what she does. Maybe I'm married to a speedrunner in the making...but the point is, there will undoubtedly be bugs that reveal themselves for the rest of development but I will make sure the game is as bug free as possible on launch.
While all those things are happening the art will be going through the changes I was talking about. When that art will start appearing in the demo or even in this website's media page is unknown at this time. I personally don't like the idea of rushing the artist. After all, to quote the cleaner from Toy Story 2: "you can't rush art." Just know that the updated art will be shown when it's time to start showing it off. Like I said before, I really like the updated sprites we'll be seeing, and I'm hoping you will too.
A lot to digest here, I know. This is a pretty big step that effectively marks the beginning of the end. I'm excited and nervous, as you might expect, for the game's impending release. It's only a matter of time now before this is all over. Until then, I still plan to write dev blogs to keep you on board with what's happening, though I'll be the first to admit that it will be interesting finding things to write about. I'm planning on spending most of the dev blogs from here on talking exclusively bug fixes and tweaks, and if there's funny stories attached to them I might tell you about those. But that will all be present next time, so until then...