Designing boss battles

YoraeRasante

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jun 6, 2014
Messages
1,546
Reaction score
376
First Language
Portuguese
Primarily Uses
RMMV
This thread "designing boss battles" is about designing mechanics of boss battles. Giving away the answer to a puzzle means its no longer a puzzle. The thread isnt "spoon feeding easy wins" so, no. Kinda isnt the whole point of the topic. Either way usually people design the kind of games theyd like to play so we're just in different camps.

What is your idea?
This thread is for designing boss battles, not just mechanic ideas but discussing what works, what doesn't, and how to make workable ones.
So when you gave your idea you left it open for people saying if it works or not, why it does not if it doesn't, and give suggestions to fix it if someone thinks they can be.
In fact, if you read the initial posts most people were not even saying much on ideas of things that work, just pointing out things they saw that did not so we can avoid them when doing our own bosses.

And you don't need to give all the answers to the puzzle. But a good puzzle can't hide it in a way the player needs to count numbers and search everywhere for any piece of trivia either.
Even the "put the pieces together in the right place" puzzles have all pieces there for you to see, you just need to find out where each goes, and sometimes there is one or two pieces that are not of that puzzle but all the ones of it are there.
Putting numbers in the pieces so the player just needs to turn them to the back to check if they are right, like my father used to do when I was three so he could help me easier (and I only found out why years later, since I did not know numbers at the time and forgot he did it for years after I did) is spoonfeeding. Having all the pieces in the same box for me to see is just fair.


I already gave some ideas to make this idea of yours work. Namely:

either make mp visible so the player can see the cost of the healing, but that has to be for everything, not just this one boss - putting an mp bar just for this one boss would be spoonfeeding them the answer - and all the time, not just one skill - the player has to go "how did I not notice this", not "how the hell did they expect me to think of using that in this place where I did not have a reason to anywhere else?"

or give the player enough hints previously so they can imagine this is an actual possible path:
humanoid enemies clearly have similar hp and mp to the player, not an inflated number just for lasting a lot or small number to be just a small annoyance to waste resources
enemies can use items that actually are used as consumable items, made clear through things like the thief stealing them actually removing the ability of the enemy using it, meaning they follow the same rules as the player at least most of the time
and letting them see for themselves that this particular healing skill does cost mp (unlike many rpgs where the enemy skills don't really seem to cost anything to them) and is not really cheap either, in my example through a guest party member that had it.
 

ozubon

surströmming?
Veteran
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
178
Reaction score
165
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
This thread "designing boss battles" is about designing mechanics of boss battles. Giving away the answer to a puzzle means its no longer a puzzle. The thread isnt "spoon feeding easy wins" so, no. Kinda isnt the whole point of the topic. Either way usually people design the kind of games theyd like to play so we're just in different camps.

What is your idea?
Hidden variables doesn't a good puzzle make. Players would feel cheated if there's no information on the mp pool. That's as much a puzzle as taking away the health bar of the boss. Giving the player a basic sense of direction is not bad parenting of a toddler, it's you know, design. If you built a wireless headset, and place a really loud audio test button right next to the volume down button that's not the user being delicate when they ask to return the headset.
 

Countyoungblood

Sleeping Dragon
Veteran
Joined
Dec 9, 2017
Messages
622
Reaction score
403
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
Hidden variables doesn't a good puzzle make. Players would feel cheated if there's no information on the mp pool. That's as much a puzzle as taking away the health bar of the boss. Giving the player a basic sense of direction is not bad parenting of a toddler, it's you know, design. If you built a wireless headset, and place a really loud audio test button right next to the volume down button that's not the user being delicate when they ask to return the headset.
Well not displaying a health bar is not a puzzle. Not displaying an mp bar is not a puzzle. Giving a player direction is not the same as coddling. This is not the crowd or thread for me so Il just excuse myself enjoy your nonsense.
 

ozubon

surströmming?
Veteran
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
178
Reaction score
165
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
You implied giving information about the boss mp is giving away the answer to a puzzle, that's what I addressed. I agree giving a sense of direction is not the same as coddling but my point was showing a regenerating boss' mp is direction not coddling. Last time users of this forum "surprised you everyday" (in a what-wacky-stuff-will-they-say-next manner), now I, or we (?) are welcome to enjoy our "nonsense". Do you remember the rules? Do not flame? Don't be flamey it's a shamey?

If it isn't the crowd nor thread for you, maybe you shouldn't engage to begin with. You do you but I mean you gotta expect people to reply and give their opinion on the things you write, especially if it isn't your crowd. What others think differently than you isn't nonsense. What purpose does it serve to write that but to degrade people because they aren't you? It comes off as very arrogant.
 
Last edited:

YoraeRasante

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jun 6, 2014
Messages
1,546
Reaction score
376
First Language
Portuguese
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Well not displaying a health bar is not a puzzle. Not displaying an mp bar is not a puzzle. Giving a player direction is not the same as coddling. This is not the crowd or thread for me so Il just excuse myself enjoy your nonsense.
Sorry to do this, I know the quoted person is leaving but I think this needs to be answered to the benefit of future readers.

No, not displaying an hp bar is not a puzzle, and not displaying an mp bar is not either. You are not required to show either, and many games do not.

Unless, of course, the values are needed for something like, for example, this exact idea.

It requires the player having a way to find out that the target's hp is small and that the healing spell used recovers a lot of it but also takes a lot of the mp. Since the two options given were to either waste the mp until it cannot be used anymore or do enough damage to overpower this high heal quickly.
Meaning they need to have an idea that both: they are doing lots of damage to the enemy compared to their total hp, and that the enemy both has a limited amount of mp and the healing skill uses a considerable chunk of it.

If you do not have a way to show the current value, or at least ratio, of hp and mp, or already established those facts to the player before the battle even started somehow, they would have no feasible way to imagine this outside random chance or outside help.

And this knowledge is critical for them to even think of doing either of the suggested strategies.
 

BurningOrca

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Apr 14, 2019
Messages
174
Reaction score
130
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Sorry I guess the threads headline is missleading. I wanted to know what people don't like about boss battles and what they will never implement themselves. I wanted to know their biggest no goes when it comes to boss design.

But I enjoy it if people start discussing about different boss mechanics. I can learn from this. So I guess it is okay if we change the overall topic to discussing different mechanics.
 
Last edited:

YoraeRasante

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jun 6, 2014
Messages
1,546
Reaction score
376
First Language
Portuguese
Primarily Uses
RMMV
No big deal, I think. In fact, better this way.
While the title is a bit misleading to what you wanted when you started it, it is open enough we could evolve into what it is now while still fitting and still limiting enough we know the theme to keep to.
 

HumanNinjaToo

The Cheerful Pessimist
Veteran
Joined
Apr 18, 2013
Messages
709
Reaction score
262
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Are you concidering the numbers? Im taking the boss's original health and lowering it when including heals.
No, but I should have. I guess the only way I could see that working, going by your example, would be if the boss attacks/skills were absorbing HP from the player. If the boss is just using a traditional heal, then they are wasting their turn essentially, because they are not doing DMG to the player, so there is no threat. If the boss has multiple turns compared to the player, I guess that would work the best if there was still some variety in boss moves. If the boss heals once and attacks once for each turn, IDK, it just seems grindy. Then if the boss gets one move, and attacks while absorbing some HP, I see this as what would work the best.

Then you just have to make sure the player can actually burst the boss. If they can burst the boss the first turn, then what is the whole point of the boss fight to begin with? If they can't burst the boss at all, then you have a very grindy fight on your hands. So how do you get to that sweet spot in the middle that makes the boss fight challenging without becoming a chore?

IDK, for me, this particular scenario of boss fight just doesn't sound fun because it's either too easy or too difficult. I would be open to examples of how it works though.
 

BurningOrca

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Apr 14, 2019
Messages
174
Reaction score
130
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMV
My first boss seems to be very bad:
  • -First it is the obvious HP Sponge having 400 HP at Level 6, in comparison my first enemy has 25 HP at Level 1.
  • At the time it is faught you have two characters:
    • If both are at level 4 I myself can't beat it.
    • If both are at level 5 depending on the luck with the crits or states it may inflict I can barely beat it after using a lot of healing items.
    • If both are at level 6 I barely lose, but still need some healing items
    • If both are at level 7 I can spam not the normal attack, but the only other attacking skill I have at this moment, without considering to heal at least once.
    • If any character is higher then level 7 the boss itself changes to highest character level - 1 and gains stats appropriately. Yes I know punishment for grinding is not a good idea.
  • It has an MP bar that will probably never fully deplete, just because it may be important for future bosses. So I decided to give all bosses an MP bar.
For me this seems pretty unbalanced, but I am not sure!
 
Last edited:

Tai_MT

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
May 1, 2013
Messages
5,379
Reaction score
4,627
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
@BurningOrca

You may want to consider some basic balancing on the boss if a single level determines whether it's even possible to beat your boss or not.

Without getting into the weeds of numbers and damage formulas, I recommend settling on "how many hits it takes to kill the boss" as some basic balancing. Likewise, how many hits you want the boss to kill each member of your party.

There's nothing wrong with a boss that will wipe the floor with your party, but a single level either way determining whether you lose no matter what or whether you win with almost no help speaks to issues with stat distribution rather than allowing player skill to come into play.

My suggestion is to balance around amount of hits the characters can take before going down and how many hits the characters have to land in order to beat it.

My personal preference is something around 10 to 15 rounds of battle (a round is each character in your party gets to use one action) so that battles don't lag on and they aren't forgone conclusions. In this way, you can balance bosses to be "strong", (since they would need a good output of stalling attacks or outright DPS against a party of two or more to even retain challenge), but you can also plan that the player has to land so many hits before the boss will go down.
 

BurningOrca

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Apr 14, 2019
Messages
174
Reaction score
130
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I did that, I've planned that with the level 6 stats of the actors it will be taken down in 10 rounds, while it takes down 1 actor in about eight rounds, but has skills that target all actors, so that healing is required.
This made it so hard to beat it a level lower and impossible at two levels lower. Neverless I already reduced it's defense stat by 1. Now it is a little bit more fair at 1 level lower.
But the worst decision I've made was having kind of randomized stats at the actors, where between 40 and 50% of the Level 1 Stat is added per level to each stat. Now I have to live with that. Everything has already somehow been calculated around that. The 10 rounds for this boss where also calculated on lowest possible level 6 stats.
 

FoxIt

Villager
Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2019
Messages
8
Reaction score
6
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
In terms of healing bosses, one truly needs to know why they would make such a boss.
If it's just going to heal because you want the player to play a bit more aggressively, then just give it passive regen (RMVXA and MV support floating points so if you regen 0.8% HP, that's fine). Like that it's not standing there doing ****ing nothing just to heal.
Now, what would be an actual reason for it to heal?
As some people mentionned, having minions heal the boss is fine because you can stop it. You have a goal to stop that healing. That's a why. You can definitely debate wether it's good but it has a rime and a reason to be healing in this case as it's making you deal with a challenge.
Though, we don't necessarely need minions. We could use it to teach the mecanics of your game to someone.
Let's say your game has some kind of complex buff system that allows for large amounts of burst damage. Now, let's say, you're fighting this boss and it's healing for crap tons.
Now, one of your party members says something like this after a few turns (early enough in the fight):
"Hey! This isn't working right now! It's regeneration is just too much! We're going to get overwhelmed at some point or another..."
Then, a few more turns later:
"Hey... I've got an idea. You see, it may regenerate a lot of health, but it seems kinda flimsy. How about we put all of our damage into one attack and see how that works!"
The player buffs and unleashes a massive attacj (at least in theory), and boom! One. Hit. Kill.
Something like this, when executed correctly, could be very satisfying for a player to execute. It also teaches them the ins-and-outs of your buff system or even your ailment system or something.
Though, a couple of note on this:
You should design for more experienced players as well. So, don't have "Tutorial Actor" litterally give you the solution like:
"Yo, lol, I forgot I had these power potions in my backpack. We can use them to ons-shot the boss."
Or
"Btw, if you swing your axe this way, it'll stun the enemy."
Other actor: learns new skill
Thanks, that would've been useful earlier and makes it impossible for me to figure out the solution on my own before hand.
Adding a second, more effective and obscure solution as well could also be good for replays and challenge runs. Using the old "trial and error" might even be acceptable for said second solution to reward the player for experimenting (though doing that under normal circumstances is really bad btw).
 

ScorchedGround

Blizzards most disappointed Fan
Veteran
Joined
Apr 12, 2020
Messages
50
Reaction score
24
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMV
At this point basically every thing has been pointed out so I just want to express my anger with some
things that were already said.

State Immunities: That's probably the biggest offender for me. Making bosses immune to most of the negative states makes a lot of skills totally redundant. You have to resort to high damage attacks over and over again which undermines any kind of creativity. I mean seriously, when are you ever going to use POISON in a common battle? You kill the enemies so fast that the poison does almost nothing and you wasted a turn.

What I did in my game is that I created 2 versions of each negative state; one for actors and common enemies and the other specifically for bosses. The latter one is severely weaker of course (Because the boss taking 20% Damage every turn from poison is no good either)

Damage Sponges: I don't need to say more. I don't want the boss to slowly starve me of my resources while taking an hour long beating. Especially when the boss offers no innovative mechanics and just uses his generic "claw" attack each turn. I'd rather fight a boss that goes down after a thorough beating but in return gives my party a quick beating too.

Stale Battle Flow: As cliche as it is, I really like it when bosses have multiple phases that offer new circumstances after each transition. I don't want to fight the same boss with the same moveset for 10 minutes straight. Instead, give the boss HP or TIME threshholds where he mixes things up. Maybe even with a nice music and background change. This would force players to plan for each phase accordingly, when they lose the first time.

Thematic design: This one is also an obvious one. The moveset should match the enemies' identity and physique.
I don't want forest fairies blasting me with dark magic. I don't want slimes dropkicking me. I don't want skeletons to use holy healing magic on themselves. I don't want a boss to have minions at his side that make no sense whatsoever (like a dragon chilling out with some random a$$ birds).
 

staf00

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Feb 22, 2016
Messages
108
Reaction score
14
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
How do you guys feel about multi-unit boss encounters? For example, The Four Horsemen of Naxxramas in World of Warcraft. Or giving bosses dedicated healers (adds/minions perhaps)?

Here are some different types of boss encounters I've experienced:

Tank 'n Spank: Try avoiding these, they are basically the damage sponge types that most people have expressed to find boring and stale.

DPS Race: By itself, these high damage kind of bosses are rather bland as well, but serve as a level/gear check to ensure the player is at a sufficient power level by a certain point in the game. These bosses may feature a "soft enrage" like Fernyfer775 mentioned earlier, where the boss progressively gets stronger the longer the fight ensues. These types of bosses are best combined with various gimmicks or other mechanics to keep the encounter interesting.

Battle for Survival: I find these types of bosses to be the most interesting/fun since they usually incorporate one or more unique mechanics/gimmicks. They tend to be on the harder side too since they often force the player to react in certain ways to avoid/mitigate the encounter's mechanics, or else risk a party wipe/game over. Simply spamming attack and ignoring what the boss is doing will almost certainly get you killed.

I'm also going to echo many of the posters above in that I am not a fan of state immunities or damage sponges. I am ok w/ multiple phases as long as its kept to 2 (rare exceptions can be made for 3, maybe).

On another note, how could/should boss encounters be designed in a grid-based tactical RPG in order to keep things interesting?

Another idea I'm thinking of implementing is creating an endgame dungeon devoid of trash mobs. It would consist entirely of several unique mini-bosses followed by a final boss. You would also have the option of skipping the mini-bosses, but for every mini-boss not killed, the final boss gains a certain buff or mechanic related to the skipped mini-boss. At the same time, said final boss would drop an extra item for each mini-boss skipped. So, it's the player's choice if they want a challenge w/ greater rewards or a normal difficulty encounter w/ standard loot, or anywhere in between.
 
Last edited:

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

Latest Threads

Latest Posts

Latest Profile Posts

Learning Action Sequences!
ANY FEEDBACK APPRECIATED!

Online Platformer TEST DEMO 0.1 - 4 simple Maps. Just jumping test. (I still have 2 minor problems to fix).
So ms store had an idea to nuke the the entire app when the file integrity is slightly broken.
Im on another months long scripting high. I wonder if I can go SSJS3?

Version Fille in english is now complete!
Download the game on itch.io:
Talk about it here: https://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?threads/120802/

Enjoy and share!

Forum statistics

Threads
98,037
Messages
948,736
Members
129,293
Latest member
ZeroR
Top