Dev Discussion #25 - Boss Difficulty



  • I personally really like an idea of a big boss-like monster gatekeeping the entrance to a dungeon.
    He does not have to have mechanics or anything, he can just be a "tank and spank" type, but the feeling of going past the entrance, looking at this huge thing in terror and thinking: "One day... One day"
    But maybe that's just me :p
  • Marcet wrote: »

    Says some1 that has never experienced open world PvP during raid.

    I won't lose time debating with an internet dweller that tries to discredit other people personal opinion. But you don't begin to understand how in the wrong you are.

    Do you deny that you haven't raided in the open world where PvP might occur? Anyway this is an official topic, dont wanna go off the rails.

    You can't have the same hard mechanics of instanced protected content out in the open. That's all.

    Sure you can. why not? Sounds like what a legendary boss should be.
  • Variety is the spice of life. Making each dungeon the same format takes away from the "unknown" that creates that burning desire in human beings to explore. So, when you ask the question, "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?" The only honest answer I can give you is, "Yes and no."

    By that I mean that either format can be fun, interesting and exhilarating, however having only one or the other will take away from the mystery of exploring a dungeon because I will come in knowing what to expect. Once an MMO has been out long enough people tend to view bosses based on what they drop, provide, or allow you to gain as a player. However, what people often forget is what made them fall in love with the game before getting to that stage as a player, the point at which they first came in contact with that boss. The initial exploration of the boss is the most exciting part of bosses in any video game. Look no further than the success of the Dark Souls series to see how this works over and over again. The entire game is spent exploring area after area fighting bosses, small and large. The very first area ALWAYS has a "gatekeeper" boss that new players find very difficult to beat and even veterans of the game may need a few tries to defeat on their first character. The sense of achievement and excitement after defeating this first boss hooks players right from the beginning, just like an excellent introductory sentence to a novel or opening line to a play or movie.

    Now, I am sure after reading that you are likely thinking, "Well yeah, that works great in Dark Souls, but that is a completely different game. The Souls series is single player (for the most part) and bosses are pretty much the whole point of the game." To which I would argue that while true, the Dark Souls series is essentially a game of several large interconnected, detailed, and intricate dungeons. While an MMO can't easily take much from the details of these dungeons there is quite a bit to be learned for an MMO in how bosses are placed, used, and interact with players in these games. To give one excellent example I would point to a boss in Dark Souls 2 called The Pursuer. This boss is an optional boss that comes up 3 different times in the game if you set off events correctly (hence the name). Dark Souls 2 was my first foray into the series and on my first play through I came upon the first optional event for this boss. The fight was so memorable that the next two times I found him he simultaneously struck fear, excitement, and a NEED to beat him that I still remember years later. Looking back on it, the boss wasn't that difficult to beat knowing what I know now, but at the time it was the surprise of finding him/him finding me (the 3rd time he comes back for revenge) and not knowing his move-set that made him so scary and fun! I never knew when he would come back or if he would pop in again, maybe drop in another boss fight at some point or do something crazy out of nowhere with a new move-set.

    Anyway, my rambling aside, the point I am trying to drive home here is that the most satisfying experience is the one I don't yet expect. A boss is meant to test the players ability to adapt and overcome. Their placement in the dungeon is just as important as how "difficult" they are to beat and the difficulty of a later boss fight could have to do with a "gatekeeper boss" that forced the whole party to use up most of their consumables before they got deeper in or so many other factors. The only objectively "bad" choice is to have every dungeon experience be formatted the same way.

    TL;DR: Boss placement is important and should be used to accomplish something in the dungeon beyond providing a predictable final point for the player to overcome. "Gatekeeper" or no "Gatekeeper" variety and the unknown are what create the excitement of exploring a dungeon. Both are fun experiences, knowing what the experience will be before going into the dungeon is what gets tedious and boring.
  • akabearakabear Member, Pioneer
    One thing that kept a mystery to my experience with L2 was the fact there were some deep dungeons that had a varying density of clusters of mobs and sometimes bosses, sporadically placed which had different difficulty levels. This meant that those areas were effectively gated and only the very top players or well-structured groups would get to pass and experience those areas.

    After 6 years of playing there were still plenty of areas I still aspired to enter "one day".

    So when discussing bosses in terms of raids and a sequence in a raid, I would like to think that general areas do have varying levels of "gating" as well.

    And as stated earlier, perhaps entry to some places is gated, not by boss but by narrow time periods whereby the door is unlocked and only x number of players can enter, promoting conflict and reward to those that venture.

  • ArksonArkson Member
    From the pure perspective of boss difficulty and progression, as someone who's raided with a mostly average player/casual group a lot recently I think it's really nice to have a damage check boss relatively early in the raid. I've found that without that a lot of more casual players tend to get demoralized later in the raid with more mechanics heavy bosses because they might seem unkillable, but in raids with a dps check boss like that it's very easy to put it in their heads that we do have the damage to continue and it's purely a mechanics and team play issue that needs to be fixed in order to succeed.

    With most things being open world though, I think having the early bosses be hard would help throttle people getting into the dungeon and keep a lot of the fighting closer to the entrance rather than frequently getting to the end boss before getting wiped by another team and having it stolen.
  • I like placeholder bosses - i.e. kill bosses in a certain order to unlock a mega boss.

    I also like linear escalations - i.e. Arena Bosses where one or two bosses are taken down before more bosses appear. Linear fashion of progression with the end boss being the hardest.

    I like stand-alone bosses where there might be trash before the boss but there is only one boss present.

    I like congregated bosses, whereby you enter the area and work through varied bosses before an ultimate boss.

    I like duo bosses or multi-boss fights. Not necessarily a linear fight but definitely a good fight.

    I like world bosses, with or without adds, I do prefer world bosses with adds though.

    It depends on the lore as to the parameters of bosses, I wouldn't want to limit the boss parameters and I would hope for something unique in Ashes. The open world dynamics of Ashes means some of my suggestions won't be possible but I answered the question to the best of my ability.
  • When it comes to difficulty, I think a lot can be taken from the original Everquest. Things were actually difficult and you had to work for them, where as in WoW you kind of have to follow boss fight mechanics but meh if you don't it isn't always so bad... In EQ, you have to be on point and bosses required real co-ordination and wiping was just something that happened until you knew what you were doing. Having said all of that, it didn't apply to all fights, but a lot of them.

    On a side note, games in general are too easy these days (mostly) - Everquest was punishing, and I miss that in MMORPG's.
  • Well if you put the most difficult at the beginning with the best rewards most wont finish the whole instance and farm the beginning or some might join a group for the instance and then leave after the first one. My suggestion would to have a 2 part boss fightand have the boss have 4 phase battle 2 in the beginning and 2 at the end and the reward is a chest thier guarding for the first battle.
  • I'd prefer linear format instead of gate keeper format, as some of the loot and lore you might uncover as you progress before failure acts as incentive to clear the rest. My only true request is the bosses are DIFFICULT, very difficult. Make us work, hurt us for our mistakes and make us fail, time and time again if necessary. Victory is worth nothing if its just given to us.

    It would be interesting to introduce some dynamics dungeon encounters and boss difficulty. Maybe the order of encounters and different boss difficulties vary depending on what path is taken through the dungeon or whether certain optional mini bosses are killed. For example, there's a demonic wraith in the basement of the dungeon and the only way to get to said wraith is either progress to the end of the dungeon or through a path of obstacles and traps. Avoid the dangerous path of traps and the Wraith grows in strength for every other mob you kill in the dungeon as you progress to the end, but skip ahead and kill the wraith first and maybe that has different unexpected consequences and sets something terrible loose in the library.

    The same dungeon would feel totally different depending on whether players avoid certain mobs or kill them, take certain paths avoiding some rooms or cleaning them all. Each play through would feel different. Moreoever, a limited number of variables could generate a very large number of different scenarios.
  • WreckoWrecko Member
    edited January 8
    In my opinion, linear progression difficulties are a worn out concept that does not make running any sort of dungeon or raid enjoyable over time -- reserve such things for the early game, where people are expecting it to be this way and so that they can feel out their classes facing tougher enemies.

    Perhaps dungeons that contain variants of the main boss, fought in different phases which scale in their degree of difficulty, requiring you to either solve a puzzle/make a choice/choose a path/clear (including elites/rares/minibosses -- however you prefer) between each phase (Sort of like Monster Hunter hunts -- with each encounter/retreat being different and more intense to some degree of the primary target).

    Similarly, you should consider adding the ability to increase heat levels and rewards by choosing certain debuffs, stronger enemies, resistant enemies, faster enemies time limits, death limits/no deaths or other constraints -- so players can tune the dungeons to their likings by ELECTING to go in at a disadvantage in exchange for non-game breaking rewards -- it could be something like an achievement, title, cosmetic (mounts/skins) that isn't tradeable and purely prestige.

    I say, aim for something much more dynamic and replayable -- abandon the old notions of linear progressions in dungeons, those MMO's starve their playerbase due to lack of content much more quickly because of it.
  • I would like to see a typical Linear Progression in dungeons and raids. Whats most important IMO is that bosses have more mechanics to interact with (based info on whats been released to the public) such as AOE avoidance, damage bonus zones, "marking" raid members for increased damage, and other mechanics that require the party to adapt. DPS checks can only make a fight so interesting.
  • halbarzhalbarz Member
    edited January 10

    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!

    Linear is great but that shouldn't mean that the first few bosses are easy. If the encounters are too easy people will get bored very fast as well. It is important to find the right balance.

    Part of balancing your encounters is by creating fun, mechanic rich fights. If DPS is what makes a group fail then that is bad boss/dungeon design. With some many different skillsets, mechanics should be what impacts a fight + make a lot of things random! keep us alert!!

    Bosses should be difficult, very difficult. A guild or group of friends should be able to apply their own tactics to defeat a boss by applying TRIAL & ERROR. I prefer a game where I wipe with my guild 50 times on a boss than a game that lets me clear the whole dungeon/raid in 2 tries.

    Ashes of Creations shouldn't be hardcore to the point it alienates people but it should encourage people to put their thinking hats on, challenge your players again on every level. So many MMO's insult their players by making everything so easy .... way too easy.

    Dear Ashes Devs, Please let us wipe again for a few weeks, please challenge us and let us figure things out again! Let us create memories, that feeling after weeks of hard work, finally defeating that boss or raid/dungeon is just amazing.
  • MarzzoMarzzo Member, Leader of Men
    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?

    Let's assume we are talking about a 10 boss raid. My thoughts are from a hardcore raider perspecitve that will raid at the highest possible level.

    You really dont want the first 2-3 bosses to be hard. The reason for this is that it kills the game, atleast for most casual guilds. Why you ask? Well, the answear lies in the term progression.

    At the beginning of a new raid tier, people do not have gear from the raid. This means that the first bosses will be naturally hard because most casual players won't have enough gear for the bosses. And the only way to progress your gear effectivly with raid gear will obviously be from killing raid bosses. If you make the first boss a gatekeeper, you instantly block a lot of guilds of fun progression.

    If you make the first 2-3 bosses "easier", you give every single guild in the game a chance to atleast do some progress. Progress is VITAL for the game. You are going to murder half your community by gatekeeping casual players from progress (gear wise and boss wise.

    If you make the starting wing of the raid easier (first 1-3 bosses) you give all guilds a chance to get fun raid gear, have a good time togheter and see more of the game. If you let people beat a few bosses, they will be psycologicly more interested in keep playing the raid.

    If you make the first boss a stupid braindead gearcheck dont stand in the fire shitfest, you will turn a lot of casual guilds away (50% of the community).

    After the first wing (1-3 bosses) do whatever you want. But you should learn that every succesful raid in the history of MMO:s have one thing in common. The final wing is always the hardest and gives better loot. For example:

    Wing 1 Open for all guilds and pugs with good teamwork to have a shot at. Not designed around gearchecks.
    Boss 1: Requires avarage gear from relevant content. Requires team play. Should be a fun boss.
    Boss 2: Requires more mechanics from the raid than the first boss.
    Boss 3: People love tank and spank bosses to show off their DPS and healing, have one of those (look at sludgefist from wow for a reference)

    Middle wings, offer different and varied bosses with interesting and engaging mechanics. Most should be designed around a coordinated guild. Coordinating with your friends is what raiding is all about.

    Final wing (2-3 bosses)
    These should always be the hardest, especially the final boss. These bosses should require gear from earlier progression and coordination and performance from your team.

    I have no clue where you got the idea that gatekeeping is a good idea for the game. Maybe you wanna gatekeep players from playing your game too? Make us feel like we are improving as a guild when we beat down boss after boss, make us feel stronger.

  • I like both and would not mind raids/dungeons having a mix. One raid has the gatekeeper setup and another maybe a linear path. I disagree that the raid HAS to go in a linear path. Each boss being unique might make certain bosses harder then others depending on the mechanics.

    I also like if you can go multiple ways in the raid/dungeon. Maybe there are 6 total bosses. In order for me to get to the final boss in the raid I have to defeat the other 5. They can each have their own "wing" or path to reach them. I can do them in any order I prefer. This IMO is the somewhat in between type raid. The guild/raid group can decide which bosses they want to fight first and in what order. Allowing the group to still take on the easier bosses for them and get some loot but work on the tougher bosses after. With the hardest boss of all being locked behind all 5 previous bosses.

    Heroes Fade but Legends last forever

  • Honestly I feel y’all have the opportunity to be different and do something creative here. I feel everyone has grown accustomed to the nostalgic format of progressive difficulty and loot but how about do something interesting with this, something no other mmo has. Have random enemies that are severely difficult and a massive random loot generator to where honestly u never know what u could pull from a dungeon. I get so tired of mmos being the same and knowing there’s honestly nothing in there to keep me on my toes and worry about a wipe so throwing in some hardcore enemies here and there and making it more difficult would give hardcore players such as myself a more feeling of accomplishment than anything else. This is just my general opinion but y’all literally have all the opportunity in the world to make this the best mmo ever made so I hope y’all take this into consideration.
  • I think the highest difficulties should be with the last bosses in the dungeon. If the first boss would be easy in regards to mechanics but difficult in regards to output (dps, hps, mitigation) i would be fine with it as this ensures that the group can deliver what is necessary in the dungeon and if the group wipes at later bosses they know that this is because they failed at the mechanics and not because the do not have the necessary output. Make things more dynamic sounds like fun to me.
  • XorezXorez Member
    edited January 19
    The hardest boss should be at the end of the dungeon or should be optional. But i do not believe the difficulty needs to be linear. In fact i believe that it can't be linear as the bosses leading to the end of the dungeon should be difficult on different dimensions. For example:
    Boss 1: Doesn't move much but is very tough and hard hitting. This will basically just test the sustained damage and healing.
    Boss 2: Can't be taunted (if such a mechanic exists) and moves around alot . Also calls for help which spawns a random (in type, number and location) selection of adds which forces the group to react to the situation as this can not be predicted.
    Boss 3: Can be taunted (if such a mechanic exists) and casts lots of spells in predictable manner which requires a lot of movement.

    I know the examples are not great but i would hope that the difficulty of these boses are subject to taste as the requirements to beat the boss are different in nature.Therefore the difficulty as you progress through the dungeon is not linear but every boss is just different.

    I also like the idea of random spawned bosses or random elements to bosses. For example a boss could spawn with different equipment or switch weapons in combat, maybe some can be forced to switch weopons due to conditions like 2/3 of the group have a certain distance so switch to a ranged weapon. Or if certain conditions on the health level are met there is a chance that the boss is going for the kill this could add a dramatic effect as you might know that this if a wipe if this effect is triggered now and everyone is trying to get out of this condition as fast as possible to avoid this.

    Bosses should be created in a way that a good player can beat him without looking at a boss guide. A boss guide should not help much at all.

    Edit: In regards to dynamic Bosses, they could also have rare mechanics that are designed to work against current meta builds to discourage their use. This way the builds used might become more diverse as using the meta is still the best and the mechanic may not come up but the group would look very bad if everyone is following the meta and the mechanic is triggered.
  • BigPapaBigPapa Member
    edited January 19
    It honestly depends on what type of game AoC wants to be. I can enjoy both games with easy endgame and tough endgame. If AoC wants to be a game that is played for the long term and slowly build a playerbase, rather than a flash in the pan sort of game, it needs to have content that only the top percentage of players can even attempt, let alone best. This creates envy, which in turn makes the rest of the playerbase become more competitive and up their game, and increases engagement for everyone.
  • XorezXorez Member
    edited January 19
    BigPapa wrote: »
    ... it needs to have content that only the top percentage of players can even attempt, let alone best. This creates envy, which in turn makes the rest of the playerbase become more competitive and up their game, and increases engagement for everyone.

    Can you elaborate on how you should be able to achieve beeing part of that top percentage? I believe how this will be decided is an important factor. For example if this can only be achieved with lots of time (daily, weekly quests and similar grinds (time investment only) or luck (rng)) i would disagree with your statement. If it would be determinded by skill (which some players can achieve faster than others) i would like to agree.
    But the frustration of not beeing able to take part in this content could also have negative influence. For example players could loose interest as they feel unable to participate. Therefore the scope of this should be small.
  • BigPapaBigPapa Member
    edited January 20
    Xorez wrote: »
    Can you elaborate on how you should be able to achieve beeing part of that top percentage? I believe how this will be decided is an important factor. For example if this can only be achieved with lots of time (daily, weekly quests and similar grinds (time investment only) or luck (rng)) i would disagree with your statement. If it would be determinded by skill (which some players can achieve faster than others) i would like to agree.
    But the frustration of not beeing able to take part in this content could also have negative influence. For example players could loose interest as they feel unable to participate. Therefore the scope of this should be small.

    It should really be a combination of skill and time. By time, I don't mean dailies, but certain content shouldn't be available at all times. For example if you fell the most difficult boss in the game, you shouldn't be able to take on him again the same day, not even the next day. Depending on difficulty it should be taking a few days, to a week or two for a respawn. It really is a difficult balance, though, however I don't think most casual players are expecting to be able to do all content. As long as there is content for them to do, they won't be frustrated. The problem is when there is no content, and the only content left is impossibly hard.
  • LuthienstormLuthienstorm Member
    edited January 21
    I like both, but replay ability and the reason why the "boss" is there should be foreshadowed by earlier interactions in quests, npc interaction, and mob quips. Ashes of creation should break the mold of linear or Gatekeeping bosses unless it makes sense logically. Bandits are stereotypically out for themselves so linear progression in a camp makes sense. Most formal organizations have their most powerful defenses at the door some highly skilled personnel here and there. However, AoC could change set abilities based on rooms and give people an "easier" boss at prime time midnight but suddenly he becomes the 4-5th boss and much harder. While typically he's a gate keeper during normal times.
    If attacking ruins made up of numerous races maybe it's a sandbox "dungeon" and the party or raid can attack in an order of their choosing. Once one or two are taken out perhaps two races ally and suddenly players have to consider which is the smartest to attack first and in what order to prevent some combinations. The real question is has AoC developed tools to build these encounters and handle different so it's easy to populate such encounters.
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