Dev Discussion #25 - Boss Difficulty

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  • SzoloSzolo Member, Founder
    I prefer when every boss is a reasonable challenge to beat. It is ok, if there is an increasing difficulty curve towards the later bosses, but even the first boss should be a challenge to overcome, and not just a free-loot.
    I also don't like if a boss is a simple dps-check, if there is a task (switch to operate, mob to deal with, movement to execute, etc) to for every member of the raid, then the fight becomes a true team experience, not just X minutes of a given skill-rotation.
    You ride that fine line of like everyone is about to die and you shall keep on casting, keep going, it awesome. Thats the best part of healing.
  • I feel like more linear progression is good because I feel like gatekeepers should be like 1/2 to 3/4 of the way in just to make sure that if people can't beat it, at least they can get some loot from other bosses and maybe beat it the next time around, But I also think it should be done with a purpose. I don't think every new dungeon should be like that because then it loses its appeal and stops being interesting, and I feel like it should have a reason thematically to be more difficult in the beginning, for example if you fought Cerberus before going to hell and fighting some lesser demon bosses at the entrance.
  • Somewhat related:
    I like it when the minions of a boss that spawn leading up to a boss have mini-versions of the boss' abilities - kindof like a warmup to the final boss.

    ALSO: Please have an empty chamber RIGHT before fighting the big boss. The silence before the storm makes the storm that much more terrifying.
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  • I like to not know the boss is a gate keeper, only to find out there's something just as hard as it afterward. This is a good way to tell the player "hey, if you can beat this, then you can also do this too!" while still maintaining a level of difficulty and progression that satisfies the average player's learning to mechanics and patterns. The gatekeeper is a nice way of saying you have enough damage, healing, and survivability to use the composition you have then to also finish the remainder bosses. All you'd have to do from there is learn what to do from then on and keep at it.
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  • I think it can work either way and I'm curious to see how creative the dev team can get with dungeons. Sometimes a gatekeeper boss is good, ya need to get punched in the mouth occasionally to keep everybody on alert
  • I think this would be an awesome idea to impliment but maybe not for every dungeon. I think it would be a really good idea to have a Protector outside High teir elite dungeons.
    Not just a Gaurdian keeping people out but also something bound to keep whatever is inside, inside.
  • Imagine a boss, an Ancient King/Queen perhaps, that has such control over the essence that they are able to flip the paradigm during a phase change and make Healing do damage and Damage spells do Healing. Requiring your raid, mid fight, to have to swap roles and targets relatively quickly or you heal the boss and kill your own raid party. This phase change (and I think all phase change mechanics above the basic tier) should have an activation range so its not always a set HP threshold that becomes predictable (30-60%).
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  • edited December 2020
    I would like a good amount of end game trial bosses for sure. I want excellent replayability on the same bosses that make them feel new. Randomized add spawn locations throughout the arena during boss fights. Doesn't have to be for every boss. But each boss shouldn't feel like the same old song and dance every time.
    I want trial bosses that are basically just big DPS parsing dummies too! where if it's not dying fast enough the group wipes.
    I want teams that want to learn the ins and outs of trials to maybe be able to do 5% more here and/or 5% more there, per skirmish, leading up to the boss. But the basic understanding of the fight is easy enough to where pick-up groups can still win... at least for the DPS - most people play DPS anyway.
    I want both complex raids and simple raids.
  • Well i don't mind either, but for me its more logical to have the creature dwelling in the deepest parts of the dungeon to be the most challenging. I think a "Gatekeeper" who, lets say, lays down and blocks different paths, so depending on the groups performance/time taken to kill said gatekeeper, a different difficulty path is open!
  • From what i understood of Ashes, it seems to be somewhat of a moot point. As far as i'm concerned, and keeping what i understood of dungeons so far, there won't be as much of a forced route regarding boss progression. If the dungeon/instqnce is propwrly designed, i'm hoping there will be multuple route and that i won't find myself in the game's version of "its a small world' from disney land.

    And it all depends on your point of view as well. Is the challenge a dps check or is it a mechanical one? Wow has paved the way and players are more used to "mechanics" than they were.

    Although i don't have any specific ideas, i'm just hoping to see new things that we haven't seen before.
  • pyrealpyreal Member, Founder
    Linear.

    Boss difficulty generally speaking I would love to see boss fights be more dynamic in mechanics.
  • Personally, I prefer a variety of boss progressions throughout the the game, some linear and perhaps some with gate keepers.

    -GateKeepers: in the case of a Gatekeeper, have an under arching range of difficulty where the gatekeeper is similar to, let's says the 2nd strongest boss, the next boss falls off significantly in difficulty and then their is a linear progression to the final boss whom has different mechanics and can be just as hard if not harder than the gatekeeper.

    Additionally in the case of difficulty, I would like an occasional world boss event or even just a boss somewhere in the world that challenges a massive group of players sometime ima have to invest several hours to kill where a groups of up to 100. Either a single boss with lots of adds or a dual boss that combines punishing attacks and lots of dot damage a mixture of difficult and easy mechanics, to include share damages, timing bases attacks, final finishing move near death and maybe a final death self destruct that damages/kills players within range or whom do accomplish a set of task within a timely manner in order to receive protection of sorts. I want a boss so hard and time cumsuming it breaks records.

    While its drops might not be much better than the average maybe it'll have some abysmal change to give a top tier legendary/mythic item, maybe with a drop rate of 1/10,000 for a single item/weapon we don't need anything game breaking to flood a market. ALTERNATIVELY it can be a reward system where everyone is rewarded such as a treasure room and contribution is earned throughout the entirety of the raid and that contribution directly influences the chances of receiving item of certain rarities. Loot is plentiful in that everyone receives something but that can be in the form of 1-3 drops from the different drop tables
  • It's important to make boss fights challenging, with a scaling sense of accomplishment as the fights progress from boss-to-boss, but there's a fine line between a rewarding challenge and a long, boring, drawn-out boss fight. I think damage mitigation and game mechanics would do well to come into play during boss fights to make the fight involved enough to maintain a high level of player interest and require cumulative effort from all players in the group.

    I think today's stream chat highlighted how players felt that drawn-out fights are super boring. Today's stream did NOT serve well as a presentation of effort required from players during boss fights (the team fighting the 40-man boss consisted of 7 people, rather than the expected 40), but it did show many potential mechanics involved in boss fight difficulty.

    TL;DR: Considerable length for boss fights without becoming monotonous/boring, involve mechanics such as ground effects, movement effects, player boosts, damage multipliers, armor resistances & consumable buffs to make the fights more interesting. Fight length (level of monotony) vs. Mechanic/Player-involved behavior (level of interest).
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  • ariatrasariatras Member, Pioneer
    GM controlled bosses. At least as far as open world is concerned.

    This would stop the boss guide videos coming out before a boss is even released.
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  • I'd love to see bosses with different phases where the abilities change up or there is some narrative progression between phases. This really amps up the difficulty and engagement with these epic fights. Not appropriate for every boss, but the big ones could benefit from something like this.
  • I feel that linear progression is quite vital as it serves as a teaching mechanic for players that are either new to raiding, or at a minimum, new to that raid's bosses and mechanics. This also gives groups a chance to work through content via "progression". Not only does this give the group a sense of forward movement, I feel it is crucial for morale by being able to beat the beginning bosses. This is important because even if the group cannot beat ALL the bosses, they can at least get some loot from the first (or first few) boss(es) and feel as if they are getting better.
  • Why not both? I think dungeons at the beginning of a "tier" of gear shouldn't have a gatekeeper, but they are iconic in end-game dungeons!
  • RpgFanatic96RpgFanatic96 Member, Warrior of Old
    Maybe I'm just getting greedy, but I believe it would be great for it to have both in game. Perhaps one dungeon with a 'Gatekeeper Boss' and another with solely linear Bosses - to keep the players on their toes? Food for thought...
  • Just make it "random" sometimes this dungeon has a gate keeper sometimes it's linear different versions get different end loot and bosses possibly even different layout depending on which version you got
  • Or possibly make it based on time of day (in game) like every four hours it swaps
  • linear for sure

    - gatekeeper will make rest of dung feel like ez steamroll
    - how would you apply your dung difficulty scale system putting gatekeeper boss?
    - gatekeeper will not give fresh groups a chance to accommodate a teamplay
    - if gatekeeper will drop loot - it may became last boss group kills in dung
    - if gatekeeper wont drop loot - it may be considered as a time waste (imagine the frustration spending 20m on gatekeeper just to get your tank dc right after and fail to clean rest of a dung)
  • I've seen a lot of comments about various aspects of dungeon bosses and figured I'll add my thoughts but first I'll answer the original question.

    Dev Discussion #25 - Boss Difficulty
    Do you enjoy "gatekeeper" bosses - a boss that is very difficult right at the start of a dungeon, followed by a few easier bosses? Or do you prefer linear difficulty in boss difficulty?

    Personally I would say linear if that's the options. If the hardest boss is at the start, what is the incentive of going further into the dungeon? Typically gear is related to boss difficulty and in my experience players would just end up defeating the first boss for the gear then reset, rinse, repeat.

    To me if the final boss is weaker than the start it just feel anti-climactic.

    Now to address some comments that I can remember reading.

    The idea of having a hard boss at the start, a couple of easier ones and then one very difficult at the end. That works for me, I like it. You have a hard fight, have some easier ones to calm the nerves and recover in preparation for the final boss which to feel rewarding should generally be the toughest. Just my opinion but a fairly common one.

    If the entry boss is X difficulty, you usually expect the end to be Z difficulty. Although having the entry boss at Z or Y difficulty with some X/Y in the middle and an equally strong Z or Y (Keeping the final at the same level as the gatekeeper as a minimum) could still be appropriate and work.

    Should all dungeons be like this? No. Some of the comments I saw were complaining about "casual" players and that hard bosses at the start should lock content for these players. I don't agree with that.

    Yes I agree that some content is perfectly fine to reserve for the hardcore players, some end game dungeons or such to reward those players. But not all dungeons or end game content should lock away these "casual" players.

    Many players have busy lives. Be that work, children/families, social commitments, life in general. Yes a portion of players will likely only have school/work and can then spend many hours per day playing AoC, but another portion simply doesn't have the time to sink 4+ hours of gameplay a day into this.

    Just to note I've been on both sides. I have had times where I can sink almost every spare hour into a game and have many games at 1-2000+ hours, some above 4000 hours but as I've grown I've found I do have less time to play. I might even only get 2-3 hours every couple of days depending on what's happening in my life. If I had children I'd imagine I'd have even less time, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't want to play.

    A casual player can still get to end game content it just takes a while, but the difference is they likely won't be geared the best or know all the mechanics so having dungeons more linear allows them to still experience most content but the hardest will still be harder to grasp. A group of casual's might not be geared enough to do the hardest dungeon or even most final dungeon bosses, but a linear progression allows them to venture in when they get time and see how far they can get. Who knows, maybe one day they will manage to defeat that final boss? Gatekeeper stops that. No dungeon for them because they don't have time.

    One comment I saw earlier mentioned players being "that bad" that they should be kicked. Okay yes some people are just awful, but instead of kicking them, perhaps try explaining to them how things work and teach them so that next time they know what to do. Don't expect every single person to watch YT or read guides, some like to just experience the game. If you teach them and explain, then they can take that knowledge and practice and hone their skills to not be so bad.

    The other part is when you do explain, don't just shout at them calling them a noob or throw other toxicity at them. We have all been there, both a noob as the first time trying a boss and experiencing the frustration of having someone that doesn't have a clue. When advice is presented kindly and informatively people are much more likely to respond to it. Throw abuse and toxic language and I'll just turn off my chat so I don't see it and thus don't learn something I might have been missing before.

    Side note - Not an MMORP but Dota is a great example of this. There are many heroes to learn. I was pretty good with a few, started playing less and eventually stopped playing for a while. Went back after a long break for a few games, of course my skills were non existent again. That game is full of toxicity and abuse, those people get muted. When someone is calm and actually gives advice I was able to take it on board and guess what? I actually started playing better! Shocking? I know right! Who'd have thought presenting ideas and information kindly rather than yelling abuse or kicking would improve someone's skills?

    Sorry it's a long way round but it is these sorts of things and behaviours and the way the "elite/hardcore" gamers perceive/treat "casual" gamers that make it harder to group.

    Funnily enough another story was when a couple of friends and I started playing one of the seasonal events of a game recently. We hadn't played for a while and it was our first time playing the new event. The other party member (this game had set players per team and had to publicly queue with them) started abusing when we did things wrong. Yelling all sorts of things, calling us noobs and eventually made a remark about it being our first game. It actually was, he shut up after that but it was funny to us. You just never know it might be that persons first time in that situation. Give them advice, not abuse.

    Just because you play more often doesn't mean you are better than them. You might have more skill, more experience and more understanding but you are certainly not above them in any way as a person.

    Okay that was a long wall of text, sorry all. Next point (sorry again):

    Some comments I saw mentioned "meta" and changing things around. I completely agree. I hate "meta" it makes things dull and everything else that comes with it is just awful, the behaviours it brings out in players is usually the worst. BUT unfortunately there is nothing we can do about that really. Even by changing things up with the order of bosses etc, or even the amount of bosses. Give it 1 - 2 weeks and there will still be a guide for the best ways to kill said boss. Okay so we add 10 - 15 bosses of varying order? Then there will just be long guides showing how to deal with each boss regardless of order. People will still research each one, still gear up and learn mechanics and be prepared for every possible scenario.

    Unfortunately meta is just one of those things we have to suffer through.

    Having said that, it would be a lot of work but differing bosses at various locations would still be fun. I still stand by the first shouldn't be the hardest. Either make all bosses equally hard with a harder final, or linear so they get harder as you go through. The final boss should still be hardest overall. That's not to say each boss couldn't have certain effects or abilities that depend on it's positioning within the dungeon so the final boss isn't always the same. If that would be possible it'd be pretty cool.

    Roaming bosses also sounds fun, but terrifying!

    Sorry for the rant half way through there! Some good points from everyone but that's just my opinion on bosses. Take as you wish.
  • I prefer linear difficulty for the dungeon bosses.
    That's how you will experience the dungeon more because its more profitable to move to the end of the dungeon and fight the most dangerous Boss and get the best reward.
    The excitement of finishing the dungeon when you already got the best part in the beginning would drop significally.
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  • ariatrasariatras Member, Pioneer
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    Glorious Ashes community - it's time for another Dev Discussion! Dev Discussion topics are kind of like a "reverse Q&A" - rather than you asking us questions about Ashes of Creation, we want to ask YOU what your thoughts are.

    Our design team has compiled a list of burning questions we'd love to get your feedback on regarding gameplay, your past MMO experiences, and more. Join in on the Dev Discussion and share what makes gaming special to you!


    Dev Discussion #25 - Boss Difficulty
    Do you enjoy "gatekeeper" bosses - a boss that is very difficult right at the start of a dungeon, followed by a few easier bosses? Or do you prefer linear difficulty in boss difficulty?

    Keep an eye out for all-new Dev Discussion topics in 2021!

    Do I prefer linear boss difficulty?
    No, I prefer it to make sense in the setting. The "gatekeeper" depending on where you enter should be incredibly strong, their task is to keep people out after all. Then as you defeat it you might have access to an area with less strong mobs/bosses. Then, when you reach the end, if the boss is someone important to whatever you attack, it should be incredibly well fortified and difficult.

    But bosses should not follow a set formula
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  • RalmsRalms Member
    edited December 2020
    Me personally I enjoy a balance on a dungeon.
    Meaning having a few groups of easy mobs -> easy Boss -> groups of mobs -> medium Boss -> groups of mobs -> Hard Boss.

    This way you are not completely gated away of the dungeon straight away.
    Also gives you a sense of progression.
    When you start you might only be able to beat the easy Boss, but as your party gets practice on multiple runs you then set a goal to do the medium Boss and so on.
    On top of this, you can have loot drop on the Easy boss and medium boss that helps you progress over multiple runs.

    At the same time you don't have the experience of having a swarm of normal mobs for like 15 to 20mins to find a single very hard boss at the end.
  • Apart from bosses being hard i think bosses needs to have great and fun mechanics.
    One game with REALLY good boss mechanics are FFXIV.
    They aremt nessesarly hard but it makes the fights more interesting and varying than just the normal tank and spank.
    I would definatly look into the mechanics in that game for AoC.
    Theres a big differance between having hard annoying mechanics that makes no sense and having fun mechanics that spices up the fight.
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  • MahdiMahdi Member
    edited December 2020
    I prefer peaks of difficulty in some places, but not as a first boss.

    First entry into the raid the first few (depending on raid size), should not have any surprising difficulty for people entering a raid. But maybe 2 or 3 bosses in, the next boss could have substantial increased difficulty. Better raids might just need practice to push through it, but average may need a few weeks of gearing from the first few bosses to surpass and below average would need many weeks of gearing. A whole raid tier could have 1 or 2 of these gatekeepers that have higher difficulty, with the next boss after being of roughly the same difficulty.

    I think this encourages progression through gearing, and will give the hardcore raids something to bang their heads against. But everyone will eventually get to do those fights as well because it will become easier with an increased ilvl.

    So in graph form, instead of a linear increase in difficulty, more like steps of a stair.
  • The boss difficulty should rise in scale as the dungeon progresses, BUT this does not mean that the first set of bosses should be a walk in the park. Each boss should be unique in their own way, and should pose a great threat to the group(s) picking a fight with it.

    That said, I believe the final tier of bosses should indeed be a rise in difficulty, but this shouldn't diminish the earlier bosses to just being "tank n' spank" fights with cookie cutter mechanics. It really depends on what you're going for, but maybe some first-tier bosses should indeed be DPS/Skill checks to ween out the bad players and act as gatekeepers, but they shouldn't be on the same level of difficulty of final tier bosses.

    I also agree with the others who mentioned PvP should not be a factor when designing encounters. The threat of another group is just another mechanic that adds an additional layer of difficulty to the encounter, which is fine. The PvP threat should be taken care of by the players before they stand a chance against any boss, and boss power scaling should account for this due to the amount of players in the area.
  • ViolentOtakuViolentOtaku Member
    edited December 2020
    I would probably prefer the original Linear progression. I do agree with people that it should be hard - all of them, and it shouldn't feel like a piece of walk till the last boss.

    You probably already have that in mind, but I would appreciate some secret insanely mind-boggling hard bosses in some lower level dungeons, for example:
    Somewhere in 15 lwl dungeon put LWL 60 super secret boss which is available only at particular time of day at some random location and for example if you have a specific item(of course make it random, so it always stays secret and some article on google wouldn't make it just another boss)

    I hope that makes sense :)
  • bloodprophetbloodprophet Member, Braver of Worlds
    Kind of like the Dracolich in Karazhan. Had to have a special item to summon it. After doing some super secret quest chain on a Tuesday in the rain carrying a herring.
    Most people never listen. They are just waiting on you to quit making noise so they can.
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