Balancing Player Characters to Function as Bosses

udime123

Director of Fate
Veteran
Joined
Mar 29, 2018
Messages
87
Reaction score
11
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Hello!
So, in the game I'm working on, there are multiple instances where your party has to battle against one or more player characters. These battles are intended to be climactic and challenging, but I also feel it would be ideal if these boss encounters used the stats of their respective playable counterparts for their encounters.

Obviously, were I to do this, the entire stat system would need to revolve around this, so I'm curious if something like this is possible to balance, and if so, what would be the best way to go about it?

There are plenty of games where you face off against otherwise playable characters, but typically the character either has preset boss-type stats designed for the encounter, or they're rediculously easy due to the nature of their stats and HP. If there isn't an easy way to balance PC stats, I can certainly go the former route, but the last thing I want is a climactic battle to end in a couple turns simply because player characters never have more than 9,999 HP while bosses typically work in the tens of thousands.
 

TheoAllen

Self-proclaimed jack of all trades
Veteran
Joined
Mar 16, 2012
Messages
4,847
Reaction score
5,525
First Language
Indonesian
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
The question is, why would you do that? Are you not satisfied enough with "boss version" of each character? Or are you trying to make a proof of concept, or is it because you implement stat distribution system so that the version of the character that their stat had been distributed "converted" into a boss?

If it's the latter, then the trick would multiplying their stats to that it fits at boss battle. Like, multiplied it by 10x for example, but as for balancing, that needs a lot of testing.

But if it's the former, well you gotta answer why would you thought this is an ideal design. Most of time I believe the dev make the boss version of the character is because it's easier to balance and easier to ensure how the fight will be. Why make it harder to balance?
 

udime123

Director of Fate
Veteran
Joined
Mar 29, 2018
Messages
87
Reaction score
11
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
The question is, why would you do that? Are you not satisfied enough with "boss version" of each character? Or are you trying to make a proof of concept, or is it because you implement stat distribution system so that the version of the character that their stat had been distributed "converted" into a boss?

If it's the latter, then the trick would multiplying their stats to that it fits at boss battle. Like, multiplied it by 10x for example, but as for balancing, that needs a lot of testing.

But if it's the former, well you gotta answer why would you thought this is an ideal design. Most of time I believe the dev make the boss version of the character is because it's easier to balance and easier to ensure how the fight will be. Why make it harder to balance?
It's most certainly the former, I confess. It's not really an attempt of being gimmicky or unique as much as it is an effort to retain coherency. After all, it doesn't make much sense (from an in-game perspective) for a character to normally have 232 HP and then suddenly they have 3,000 HP for a single fight. Obviously it'd be significantly easier to set them up this way, but that isn't anything I can't do on my own. If there isn't any logical or effective way to balance characters like this then I suppose it is what it is, but if there is some manner for which this could be accomplished, I'd like to try and preserve the character's consistency.
 

Soryuju

Combat Balance Enthusiast
Veteran
Joined
Apr 19, 2018
Messages
170
Reaction score
183
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I guess a lot of it comes down to what works with your story, in that case. There are a number of ways you could stretch small stat values or justify an increase. Examples:

1) The boss character regularly summons allies throughout the battle which must be killed before you can target the character.

2) You fight the character alongside another major boss who does have boss-like stats, and who regularly revives the character. You have to kill the big guy before the character will stay down, and the character will support the boss in the meantime.

3) Invoke the idea of the character’s “determination” or whatever by having them revive a few times after their HP is reduced to 0. You could split a fight into multiple stages like this.

4) Make the character a puzzle boss where you have to take specific actions in the fight and complete sub-objectives before you can deal the finishing blow.

5) This is more of a story justification than anything, but have the character receive a magical artifact or straight power infusion from whoever they’re allied with now. A nice way to handwave why they’re suddenly superhuman and have stronger powers compared to when they were on your side.

6) Similar to the previous idea, say the character was hiding their true strength while on your side and is showing their full power now. Could be problematic if you want to bring them back into the party later.

The specifics are up to you, but I would generally suggest thinking of ways to slow down the fight with unique mechanics or think of a story justification which addresses the power spike, rather than trying to twist your stat system to accommodate “bosses” who have 1/10th of the standard boss HP in your game or less.
 

Andar

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 5, 2013
Messages
29,529
Reaction score
6,870
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMV
If you want the battles to be challenging against an actor-clone, then your options are very limited:
1) you can limit yourself to one-on-one battles where a single remaining player-actor rights against the boss-actor of similiar strength.
2) you can make your actors of different strength and only set the stronger as bosses, resulting in several weaker actors against one stronger one.
3) you can give the boss-actor a bonus or minions to make him as powerfull as the remaining Rest of the party.
 

kairi_key

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Sep 14, 2013
Messages
104
Reaction score
54
First Language
thai
Primarily Uses
How about making all bosses in-game the same? Making all enemies have the similar or lower stats to player, or just all the boss having the same stats as player. Balancing it out to make it that your party is fighting a boss with similar stats on equal footing by lowering damage output of your char. Unlike in most game where your party is hitting harder than enemies so the boss must have incredibly high "boss-stat". This is just theoretical thinking tho. I'm not sure if anyone's done this before.
 

Poryg

Dark Lord of the Castle of Javascreeps
Veteran
Joined
Mar 23, 2017
Messages
4,055
Reaction score
10,318
First Language
Czech
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Welp, there's a reason why many "deserter" characters have premade boss stats.
If you're to take a doppleganger of character's stats, then you're awfully limited. For example, in a 4 player party unless you give the one character some unfair advantage in terms of stats or skills, he won't be able to pose a challenge to the remaining three even if he's a self healing tank build. I usually separate my armies of four to two strikers and two healers, so that's a prime example. You take my healer, I'll kill him, because he won't have damage output. You take my heavy hitter, I still have two healers on my side. And if all four are absolutely generic, he has no chance anyway.
Btw. even if I don't have two chars with healing abilities, converting one of them to thrower of items greatly increases my battle advantage, because surprisingly little amount of rpg makers account for this possibility.

You'd have an option of 1v1 combat, but then again, how would you decide who fights? Healers are going to get squashed, so the only reasonable option is a tank vs tank or striker vs striker. However, player will still have the advantage almost no boss ever has. Healing items. If you take these, I can always tinker with equips or maybe, even if by accident, gain an unfair advantage thanks to them.

This is exactly why they set boss stats to chars. This way they don't need to worry about this, since boss already has an unfair advantage in terms of stats. Also, it is possible and absolutely viable to implement that sudden power surge into the story. It's just that not too many do that, so it ends up being absolutely insensible. But it is their fault, not coherence's fault.
 

TheoAllen

Self-proclaimed jack of all trades
Veteran
Joined
Mar 16, 2012
Messages
4,847
Reaction score
5,525
First Language
Indonesian
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
Unfortunately though, turn based battle tend to be very limited to this. Think again why boss need to be a HP sponge.

First, you as a player who control every party member action, you could easily command all the members to target a foe all together. Or even perform a combo depending on the game design (but still combo regardless). The boss combo tend to be scripted like once per x turn, or HP trigger. They are not really smart as you do, the boss is a puzzle need to solve. Hence HP sponge.

Second, a lonely boss, unless you don't make it so. A lonely boss where only one boss you ganged up with your party members, well that's unfair. Having one vs many, you obviously gonna need to buff this one boss so that it will be equal and threatening. You don't want the boss to get defeated by 1 vs 4 and all the 4 attacking together.

Of course, why not add some companions? That's back to my previous paragraph. Player could command all party members to gang up one target till it dies. And your strict policy for not having a ridiculously high stat will them faster to die. And meanwhile enemy AI will always pick target at random. Of course, why not make it a little bit clever by having the same behavior as a player? Good idea, or maybe it seems like a good idea. The outcome would be a frustration from a player, because they would be constantly get harassed by having the party member dies all over again and need to pop up a revival item.

Speaking of item ....

Third, player has an access to item. Or I'd say healing. This essentially make a 3-4 digit hp from your character as same as the boss who have 5-6 digit hp depends on how much healing source you have. If you're going to make the enemy has the same stat rules as your character, then you will also need to implement item use on the boss.

I believe human psychology prefer to see a progression rather than a roll back. Most of time, the boss battle means to be a progression to see that you keep dealing damage to the boss. Even if you don't know how much HP left because the dev decided to hide HP bar from the boss for some reason. At least the players know that the boss is not recovering HP.

The reason why player able to survive boss despite the huge gap between their HP stats, that's because players have an access to recovery, creating a more intense battle that requires you to sometimes heal the party, get back to your feet and attack. Granted, recovery mechanic and the source are still depends on how the dev design their game, but you should get my point.

With your new boss proposal, means that the boss will be dying in a few turns that you don't even have a chance to even have a chance to make an interesting combo. But with the new boss able to use item, well your player gotta think how many item left the boss would use, or thinking about how to overkill it without giving them a chance to recover. The latter sounds interesting though, but with the progression can be rolled back at anytime (boss recovering HP), I'm not sure if it will be healthy to your players psychology.

You gotta answer these first in order to make an equal footing of stats of the boss character.
 

kairi_key

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Sep 14, 2013
Messages
104
Reaction score
54
First Language
thai
Primarily Uses
@TheoAllen yep, that sounds about right. It also bugged me why anyone hasn't done this yet. This explains a lot, lol. Aside from heavy repurposing/balancing, preparing and changing player's psychology to feel accustom to how unconventional this model is can also be challenging.
 

udime123

Director of Fate
Veteran
Joined
Mar 29, 2018
Messages
87
Reaction score
11
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
At first, I pretty much decided that this was a lost cause, but @TheoAllen's last post honestly kinda changed things. The majority of bosses ARE HP sponges, so perhaps the deserter characters I had in mind could be a completely different kind of fight that changes things up.

Just so you guys know what I was planning more specifically, I guess I should explain the circumstances of the encounters I had planned that led me to ask this question:

So, there's a character that has four encounters (five if you count both phases of his final encounter). The first is a one-on-one fight where he uses a skill that seals both characters' magic (both characters are mage-types, so this was originally done to make things dramatic but I think I accidentally found a way to pad out the fight too), the second encounter has him with an ally who uses healing magic (again, I didn't have the healing thing in mind, but this could definitely be a fight that revolves around MP damage or prioritizing the healer), the fourth fight has him joined by a full party of three that rivals your own party, and the last encounter is another one-on-one where the player is expected to lose until he is joined by the other two party members, after which the enemy character in question activates his secret dormant power and now has normal boss-type stats.

This character is playable for a good chunk of the game, serving as a dramatic foil to what you would call the "main character", which is why I felt it was important to properly convey his actual stats. After reading all these posts, I think I actually might have come to a decent solution with him. I unwittingly set myself up for gimmicky encounters with this guy (a notable aspect is that he's always seen with a drink in his hand, yet I never considered using items would be a viable option despite him having one on his person at all times) so I'm excited to see if I can make this work.

Worst case scenario, I could make him a spongy boss, but I do think it would be interesting if I could make a low-HP boss that challenges the player in a new way.
 

bgillisp

Global Moderators
Global Mod
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
12,717
Reaction score
13,123
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
I think it can be done. I had a boss at one point in my game that had very low HP (800) but it had support which healed it every turn that you had to take out. Also it had astronomical defense (DEF and MDF) due to a one time item it used, so you could only do damage in the 40's and 50's per attack. So those two combined to work out to a challenging boss as you had to take out the source of the healing then chip at the health. Or inflict it with a status ailment which made all healing damage it.
 

LostFonDrive

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Feb 13, 2015
Messages
156
Reaction score
41
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
You have to consider the possibility (even if unlikely) that the player will have severely underleveled or overleveled that character, in which case a boss fight involving them is going to be extremely easy or borderline impossible. Especially if they also retain the gear they had under the player. I can't remember what game it was but I've played one where the boss still has the exact equipment they had when player-controlled, which could result in a near-impossible fight if you gave them excellent gear without knowing you'd have to fight them, but it was also very exploitable if you knew it was going to happen because you could strip their gear and not level them up much.
 

LaFlibuste

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jun 28, 2015
Messages
381
Reaction score
315
First Language
French
Primarily Uses
Or another option, which would be a ton more work, is doing a custom battle system built specifically to allow this. I'm thinking something where maybe the party has a collective HP pool of sorts but more characters give you more moves / more opportunities to act? Something along the lines of Valkyrie Profile (although I only played the first title in the series and it was a fair while ago so I could have forgotten some details). In a standard JRPG battle system, there's hardly any way that a single player character can be a challenge to the rest of the party without some kind of gimmick, or without said character being grossly overpowered...

EDIT: Yeah I just rewatch a battle from Valkyrie Profile and I definitely remembered wrong. Doesn't mean you couldn't work on something along the lines of what I stated.
 

Lonewulf123

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Oct 13, 2014
Messages
289
Reaction score
86
First Language
Enlish
Honestly, I think this will be difficult to balance.

Personally, I don’t mind if the player has boss stats in a boss encounter. There’s always a suspension of disbelief or gameplay and story segregation in these type of games. It’s why we don’t use Phoenix down on people who die in cutscenes.

I feel like most people will be willing to put aside this for fun and balanced gameplay.
 

ScientistWD

Innocuous
Veteran
Joined
May 28, 2016
Messages
72
Reaction score
58
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I have one of these in my game, too. One thing you might want to consider is how the battle is supposed to feel. Is the deserter someone you respect and admire? Then maybe the main character challenges them one-on-one for a difficult and unique fight. Does the deserter reveal a hidden power, or ally with foes? Or, maybe, the deserter is a weakling in the first place, and defeating them is easy.

Either way, I completely understand why you want their stats to be the same. It allows the player to recognize that the person that they're fighting is a person that they know, or that they know was their friend. Especially when they use skills that they used to use for you.

Although I guess you could fight them first and they could join you later. But in that case you can make them crazy exaggerated versions of themselves so that when they join you it's even more exciting to imagine the potential they have.

I hope that helps.
 

atoms

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
May 31, 2013
Messages
481
Reaction score
286
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I did this on one of my first games I made on RPG Maker VX, sadly never finished it. It worked fine for me because I had only one actor vs one actor, so the balance was right.

If you have let's say 4 actors, then you are not realistically going to be able to make a new party member into a single enemy fight and keep the stats and skills exactly the same easily. The only thought I had on how it could just about be possible is if that later party member can act more turns in battle when you fight them as an enemy, to make up for the 4 against 1 thing. So if there are four party members, then that enemy can act 4 times a turn, for example.

Also, this makes me think of Eternal Twilight by @Fernyfer775 . In that game he had a boss that becomes a party member afterwards. He took the approach of making them stronger as an enemy, and there was a story reason for why that party member was stronger and was less strong when they joined the party. Even though I only watched the game, it looked well pulled off to me and I know a lot of players enjoyed that and didn't say anything about the difference between fighting her as an enemy and having her as a party member.

He may decide to go into detail about this here, I don't know.
 
Last edited:

Nhale

Villager
Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2014
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Primarily Uses
I think to have this effect you want it's more a matter of how your battle system work. If your party damage is similar to the enemies damage, like how it happens in pokemon or some tactical rpg ,it can be really easy to balance a fight with a main character.
 

Countyoungblood

Sleeping Dragon
Veteran
Joined
Dec 9, 2017
Messages
622
Reaction score
403
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
I wouldnt give up on this idea.

Off the top of my head to solve the stat discrepancy....:

An item on the boss (evil maybe?) That multiplies his/her power using dark evil blah blah blah... party wins and boss breaks item.

Boss level = party average divided by party number +20.

Sooo...four level 10s versus 1 level 30 even with player stats is going to be a fight even without tankmagepriest boss.

If you want to add more flavor break the healer for the battle. (Soldier knocks out healer or takes wand/staff ect...

Lots of ways you can make this work.
 

Prescott

argggghhh
Veteran
Joined
Aug 28, 2014
Messages
472
Reaction score
364
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
This is a bit abstract but it is kind of similar to what I have in my game.
Why should it be balanced? If you're looking to retain coherency, a guy from your party who, for instance, defects, should only be as hard to kill as he is normally. One level 19 guy would never stand a chance against 3 of the same level, and while it may not be "fun" from a gameplay perspective, you can use it as a powerful story tool. Guy thinks he's tough $h%7 and then gets wiped out, realising in his last moments that he's a failure or something.

The only way to balance the fight while still retaining coherency, at least in my opinion, is to make it so that the character you are fighting somehow becomes more powerful before you fight them, like taking a magical item and being granted superpowers from it... but at that point, you would just use a boss, not the normal character. However... doing this too much could get boring and predictable.

Maybe a bit of both would be good for you to explore.
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Latest Threads

Latest Profile Posts

My plan after learning to make my voice girly "Wow! You sounds cute!" "But actually I'm a man!" "Nooooo!!!" hehehe...
I get haunted from bugs that emit a terrible stench after being killed.
At first, I was going to put player objectives on the screen labeling it as "Helpful voices"... But that's dumb, I have a madness system. It will simply whisper objectives.... I mean they're probably objectives. The voices wouldn't lie right? They're friendly, and ...helpful. So clearly you should do what they say. Just watch the dark corners of your screen for advice and it will all work out! :LZSexcite:
Take care of your immune system: Go to sleep. If you looked at the clock an hour ago or four and it was way late then maybe now is the time. Mmm sleep...

Forum statistics

Threads
95,667
Messages
930,911
Members
126,005
Latest member
Rbennin
Top