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1038070 Posts in 41942 Topics- by 33558 Members - Latest Member: BurritoJo

September 01, 2014, 12:53:38 PM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeDesignWhat Makes Good Boss Design?
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Author Topic: What Makes Good Boss Design?  (Read 4789 times)
Maud'Dib Atreides
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« Reply #45 on: August 30, 2012, 05:55:53 PM »

So I think what this topic taught me is that good boss design is completely subjective and hard to nail down. Shrug

No, not really.  What everyone is saying is that what makes a boss unfun is when they're padded out in ways that waste the player's time.

Whether that's with weighty unskippable cutscenes, excessive health, fake difficulty, or forced waiting, they're all time-wasting mechanics that do not meaningfully challenge the player.  Individuals might more tolerant of some time-wastes than others, but there's definitely a common thread.

A good boss is a lean one.  Cut the padding.

While everyone has slightly different tastes when it comes to videogames, that doesn't mean you can't make a "bad" Video Game.  I think the same applies to bosses as well.  Whether you're making a gimmicky puzzle type boss or more of an all out brawl type of boss.

now matter how bad your bosses are gameplay-wise, if they have good back stories (I fell in a radioactive vat while searching for my wife and kids and turned into a giant 3 eared octopus boss, for instance) , the bosses will have cult-like fans :D

make them and players will come
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« Reply #46 on: September 01, 2012, 04:25:08 PM »

Sounds like you learned something really important then.
Yeah, most likely. I apologize if my post came off as complain-y, I didn't mean for it to read that way. Was just making an observation.

No, not really.  What everyone is saying is that what makes a boss unfun is when they're padded out in ways that waste the player's time.

Whether that's with weighty unskippable cutscenes, excessive health, fake difficulty, or forced waiting, they're all time-wasting mechanics that do not meaningfully challenge the player.  Individuals might more tolerant of some time-wastes than others, but there's definitely a common thread.

A good boss is a lean one.  Cut the padding.
This is an incredibly general statement, and I can't say that I agree. I hate to bring up SoTC again, but the bosses in that game are huge time wasters. If you fall you have to climb all the way back up. It adds quite a bit of tension. This may turn some people off, but there's no doubt in my mind that the bosses in that game are well designed.

And even then, I don't think that cutting the fat would instantly make the boss "good". If the mechanics are bad then it won't make the boss battle any more engaging, it would just be a band-aid for bad design.


From what I've read in this topic, there seems to be a lot that goes into designing a good boss battle. So much so, that it's hard to discuss individual aspects without personal tastes clashing. It's almost like game genres, now that I think about it. There are so many different flavors of bosses, one you may love another person may hate. This makes this discussion very difficult.

Maybe a better question would be "What makes a boss engaging?", or something to that extent?
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« Reply #47 on: September 01, 2012, 08:36:35 PM »

I liked this thread more:
http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=27670.0

But I guess this one is more about the mechanics themselves instead of the boss character.

Not necessarily.  I meant for this thread to be more about the entire boss experience, from both mechanics and presentation.

Anything that will make you think "wow, that was epic" instead of "wow, that was a huge waste of my time".
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« Reply #48 on: September 02, 2012, 08:09:58 PM »

Don't Make it a "Hurt this 3 times, like every other boss" boss, and don't make it glaringly similar to other bosses *Luigi's mansion*.

The bosses in pikmin were always very cool, because they felt tough and destructive, while not being utterly impossible, and a lot of them were just creatures you "ran into" rather than some crazy thing in a room.

The gameplay certainly has a big effect in making a boss feel unique, and i think uniqueness is extremely important.
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« Reply #49 on: September 02, 2012, 11:20:10 PM »

Oh man, Pikmin. There's that optional boss in the Distant Spring in the first game, which only appears if you're doing really well (I think you have to get to it before a certain day). I didn't find it until my 2nd or 3rd time through the game.

So imagine for a moment, you go to a location which you previously thought was empty, and there's a giant black egg there instead. When you get close to it, this thing pops out and starts screaming. It then ignores you and starts moving directly towards your base, something that no other enemy does. That alone is enough to make it a memorable boss, even though the method of fighting it isn't much different from any other - it leaves poison behind when it moves, but that's pretty much all it does until it reaches the base. It just scares the crap out of you and makes you have to think quickly, because you know that if it reaches your base then really bad things will happen. (And they do.)
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« Reply #50 on: September 05, 2012, 01:57:30 PM »

I love shooters with multi-componant bosses because it lets you decide which of the parts/weapons of the boss you want to take out first.

They let you choose your own play style to some degree. You can have the same fun of figuring out patterns and weak points as pattern bosses, or just wear down the boss by attacking more exposed sections first, or risk getting hurt in order to take out its most deadly weapons early in the battle, etc. Warning forever is a great example of this, along with some of the bosses in Star Fox 64.
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« Reply #51 on: September 06, 2012, 07:10:39 AM »

When they're original, hard, and make you grow to beat them.
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« Reply #52 on: December 30, 2012, 07:08:44 PM »

Just finished Resident Evil 5 and came here to make a topic about boss fights, cause that game has some awful ones... and found this. Perfect! Smiley

So, RE5... most boss fights in the game require you to shoot a monster in his glowing weak spot, and then finish it with some kind of QTE... so, I don't mind the glowing weak spot and even doing the QTE, problems here are: 

1) It's not intuitive that you need to get close to it and perform a QTE, the game tells you nothing and the bosses are usually huge monsters that you don't want to get close to (some even have 1 hit kill attacks).

2) How many times do I have to hit it? Am I doing any damage to it? This goes specially to the last boss... at one point I had no idea if I was doing the right thing to kill it, which was just shooting at it's weak spot a lot of times. Turned out to be just that. Make it clear to the player that he's attacks are doing damage. Letting him see his progress is also cool, it can motivate the player to try again cause the last time he was so close to beating it! Zelda does this by making the boss harder when it's close to death, and changing his color or making him faster to make it clear.

3) If you need guns to defeat the boss, make ammo available! Actually, one of the bosses in the game throws some smaller monsters at you that give ammo when the game detects that you're running low on it. But that's a lazy solution, why not making it a regular attack? Metroid games do this very well usually by letting you destroy the bosses projectiles and get ammo from it.

Also, like many said already: don't make your boss just a huge normal enemy. And never introduce a new mechanic on the last boss! The final boss should be a test to the skills that you had to master during the game, putting a twist in it is welcome, but don't ask the player to master something new.

Zelda always has some well designed bosses. Most of the times they require you to show that you mastered the item that you got in the dungeon and always feel like that big epic moment to close your adventure through that dungeon.
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« Reply #53 on: December 31, 2012, 11:46:19 AM »

I love Zelda bosses. They take what you learned sort-of, then twist it a little, and ask you to improve on it.

Zelda bosses create this thinking pattern in my mind: I have no idea how to beat this, maybe this will work, not even close, this isn't so hard, phew.

Playing Borderlands 2. That game has creative bosses. They're hard, original, and not too long. I wish there were more of them. I hate bosses that make me feel like I'm memorizing a pattern.
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« Reply #54 on: January 01, 2013, 01:02:35 AM »

Also, like many said already: don't make your boss just a huge normal enemy. And never introduce a new mechanic on the last boss! The final boss should be a test to the skills that you had to master during the game, putting a twist in it is welcome, but don't ask the player to master something new.

I really like the final boss from Yoshi's Island.  It takes the main mechanic of the game (egg throwing) and literally adds another dimension to it as you try to hit Baby Bowser in the background before he reaches you and destroys the foundation you're standing on.  It adds an interesting twist as now it's harder to judge if you're going to hit the target or not because you have to deal with gravity and scale.  Probably one of the best uses of mode 7 I've seen in an SNES game.
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« Reply #55 on: January 01, 2013, 05:21:52 AM »

the final boss in mother 3 just sucked balls.
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« Reply #56 on: January 11, 2013, 10:03:54 PM »

I'd like to see boss fights like normal fights in super smash Bros. You know what you can do and you know what the boss can do, and you have this duel with them until someone falls.  It's more like an actual fight than a gamey kinda sequenced boss.  It's basically interesting to have those reactionary battles.
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« Reply #57 on: January 11, 2013, 10:27:50 PM »

I was a huge fan of the mr freeze boss in Arkham City. He took three hits which is kinda generic but you could never attack him the same way twice, once you hit him once one way he would block you and learn to not get hit by it which made it super tense because you spend all of this time figuring out what to do and then you get it and you are super excited that you found the "trick" on to realize it wouldn't work again. Really keeps you on your toes.
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