Design of War Ender - Level 1-3
One last battleground before the first boss.
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Welcome back to another Design of War Ender blog, where we go through the various levels and talk about how each one was made. So far we’ve looked at the tutorial and Levels 1-1 and 1-2. At this point the player is now getting pretty familiar with the mechanics of the game and has been introduced to a number of enemies. This has all been done to prepare the player for everything beyond chapter 1, and Level 1-3 is no different. The player is taken back out to the roof tops to learn about disappearing floors and two new enemy types.
Tying back a bit into my previous design blog, I wish I had moved the introduction of some of these enemies around. Level 1-3 brings enemies that require the dodge mechanic be used but no level up to this point had really done anything with it. However, the silver lining is that the average player would get to 1-3 by the time the tutorial is still fresh in their minds, so players would often pick up on what to do very quickly. But I suppose I should start with the first thing the player sees…what are those gray tiles?
As if laser bullets, mines, grenades, and bottomless pits weren’t problematic enough, now Red has to deal with the floor disappearing beneath his feet! But it’s not all bad news. It at least takes a little time for the floor to disappear, giving the player plenty of time to react. First I make a long stretch of disappearing tiles with no enemies to show the player what these are. Then, after defeating a simple turret, the player is presented with disappearing floors in a slightly different way. They’ll need to hop up onto the higher floors then onto the yellow building to progress. This is where I try to demonstrate the timing required to navigate these floors safely. In case you make a mistake, there’s more disappearing floors underneath you to help you out. Just don’t stand on them too long.
Less hand holding happens from here, and now the player must jump across a chasm using nothing but the disappearing floors. In addition, when they reach the end they’ll have to fight off a few enemies. This is also a good time to show off how the player can use these disappearing floors to assist with combat, if for only a brief period of time. The floors maintain a fairly safe distance from the turrets, allowing players to shoot at them from across the building if they so choose. Finally, before reaching the checkpoint, the player must use both disappearing floors and the jump pads to clear the first section.
As you might have gathered, the theme of this level is the destructible floors. But one straight level of dealing with those may be a bit overkill, so some new enemies are tossed into the mix. Meet the pyro (not that one), an enemy that shoots walls of fire in your direction. The only way to spare the hit points is to dodge past his walls of fire, teaching the player that dodging will become vital as the game progresses. There’s a helpful health pickup in case you take a couple hits or destroyed the first checkpoint. Just be aware of the mines underneath. Yeah, nothing comes easy in this world.
One pit of enemies later (which are avoidable if you platform well enough), you meet another new enemy. The “Shielded Flame Enemy” is a personal favorite enemy of mine, asking you to dodge past him and shoot his back to get rid of him. The shield will block damage from Red’s weapon and the flamethrower he wields makes it unsafe to jump over him. By this point, the player should start to get a firm grasp of dodging and how it works. There’s one more area after this where you must run across disappearing floors while dodging flame walls to get to the next checkpoint, completing the dodging training.
The rest of the level is comprised of testing your knowledge of all the game’s mechanics so far. Every enemy is here, and the various environmental objects like fall through platforms and disappearing floors are present and accounted for. They all get used in different ways as the level goes on. For instance, two rocket turrets assist a pyro while standing over disappearing floors, requiring either quick movement or destroying the enemies. Near the end, another pit of enemies is present, once again asking you navigate upward using the disappearing floors. Falling will result in a brief fight, unless of course you wish to get rid of the enemies ahead of time.
While there are still some new things to show such as new enemy types, this is a good place to practice what you know as you approach the end of the first chapter. Wall of Lasers, the first boss, will also be accommodating this practice but the focus is primarily on the boss itself in that level. I should also mention that this level houses one of my favorite parts of the game. It’s incredibly small and only lasts a moment, but shortly after reaching the final checkpoint there’s an area where four jump pads are lined up in a row. The player only needs to jump once, hold the direction, and land on the first jump pad to practically be carried over to the final building to overcome.
Admittedly, the third level does not have quite as much going on as the previous two levels. While there are certainly some new things to look at, a lot of the level is previous mechanics being used in new ways. This of course could not have been possible without the first two levels coming before it. Even after the first chapter, many of the levels will at least have a lot of new things going for it, even if that new thing is just a unique level layout. Unique level layouts of course lead to new ways to use enemies and mechanics to entertain the player. War Ender’s third level instead works to get you comfortable with the game so that the rest of the journey can be enjoyed.
Things are going to start getting very interesting from here on, as next time we’ll look at the game’s first boss and the challenges that came with putting it together. From there, levels begin to get more unique geometry and settings along with some new enemies and hazards. But I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself. In the meantime, I may have some new updates for Impressions by the time the next dev blog goes live. That game is getting very close to being playable from beginning to end. Hopefully I’ll have more to tell before long.
Until next time!
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