New Story Execution, Improving the Dodge Mechanic
Let's take a break from beta reports to talk about new stuff!
Over the last few weeks I've been hard at work making some major changes to War Ender, specifically in how its delivered its story. First, a little background. One beta tester and friend approached me and started asking about the story. As I began explaining it, he would begin to raise questions about certain elements. In other words, he found some serious plot holes. And I for one have never heard of "good plot holes."
So we talked about it a little bit. Eventually he suggested "okay, if the game's focus is on the mechanics and not so much the story...then don't tell the story." That may sound a bit strange, but hear me out. He wasn't proposing to get rid of the story entirely, but to communicate in a different way. One that's not so direct. If you've played the War Ender demo before the latest update, then you may recall that story delivery was done with walls of text before a level begins, explaining the context of the current mission you're in.
In trying so hard to give players a story, I actually see that I failed to explain enough of said story. After a little thought, I came up with a solution. The result is the very thing I'm writing about and can be seen in the War Ender demo currently. The text walls that begin each level have been mostly redone to now show the current objective. As for exposition, I leave that to the gameplay to explain to you. Characters will speak now and again, but not like a cutscene. It happens during gameplay, and if you don't care about the story then you can easily skip right past it. Heck, in several moments I allow the player to cut them off by blasting them!
Efforts will be made to make the main story clearly understood to the player, but not directly and in such a way that some details may be interpreted differently between players. However, there's still the problem of bonus level lore that players would gain. Initially, in addition to having a unique and interesting level to play through after destroying a certain number of checkpoints, the game would use its story moments to give additional background information on characters and factions. But after this story overhaul, that system no longer worked. So what does one do then to make playing through the bonus levels worth it?
Why yes, there's a lore book for all the lore lovers out there! Unlock pages by destroying checkpoints and completing bonus levels and get details on enemies, characters, and more! It's a completely optional part of the game and, like I said before, if you don't care about the story then it's very easy to ignore. Just enjoy tackling the various challenges within War Ender and not get bogged down by the details if that's what you wish. Player choice is a lovely thing, ain't it?
There's still another part of this blog though that also comes a beta tester. This comes from somebody different. He e-mailed me with a list of helpful feedback not too long ago. The bulk of the e-mail was made up of comments about the dodge mechanic and where it could be improved. So I thought "okay, let's experiment." Thus, I settled on incorporating bullet time into the dodge mechanic. In playtesting I have found that not only does it look cool, but it also gives you time to both reorient yourself so you know where you are as well as an extra moment to decide what your next action will be.
Once again this will mean that I'll need to go in and update the demo as soon as I'm able. There'll be a handful of things that will need to be done first before this can happen, so bear with me! I look forward to hearing thoughts about this new mechanic. It may seem a bit strange to be adding something like this so late in development, but I'm willing to do things to make the game better. And besides, once I got started playing around with the idea I couldn't let it go, so not putting it in the game would've made me feel like I left something important out.
We've reached June now and War Ender is now gearing up for its inevitable release. Though I do have an exact date in mind, I won't publicly declare a release date until later when I know it will work. In light of these new changes, there's a handful of things that need taking care of on top of the usual bugs and tweaks that need to be made. I will tell you however that we're so close I can almost taste it! Hopefully you enjoyed having a break from beta reports to dive into a few late new things making their way into the game.
Until next time!