LOCKEZ DESIGNS BOSS BATTLES FOR YOU

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If this thread is still active and I'm not to be blamed by necroposting...

What about a kind of "Displacing Boss"? It's a ghostly form that appears as 3 images of himself.

What I've thought (have in mind this is a 2-hero party, one heroine and her wolf companion, using ATB):
-Two ghosts are invulnerable to everything (they are made of nothingness and can't be harmed), and their attacks are just de-buffs.
-One form is the "real boss" (normal attack and drain HP attack).
-AFTER the Real Boss attacks, there's a random change of position (how I'll do that I still don't know, but it seems not so difficult to implement--any ideas on how to do it are welcome, but this is not the main point of this post); the Real Boss can even remain on the same position or change with the other two ghosts.
-When the Real Boss is about to die (1 HP or less) he absorbs the two other ghosts and becomes just one--there's no more random change of position as there's only one enemy now. This "new form" has a powerful version of the Drain HP ability, but loses HP every turn too (the form is "decaying"), as a kind of undispelled (is this a word?) poison.

What do you think about it?
Jeroen_Sol
Nothing reveals Humanity so well as the games it plays. A game of betrayal, where the most suspicious person is brutally murdered? How savage.
3945
I hope this thread can be revived. I always liked reading up on it to improve my boss battle design.

I have an element changing final boss for my swapsies game, but I was wondering if I could optimize it better.

The boss randomly changes its weakness on turn 2x. It swaps between the following weaknesses:
-Magical Barrier: 26% chance, 200% Physical, 50% Ice, 50% Fire
-Fire Barrier: 37% chance, 50% Physical, 200% Ice, 0% Fire
-Ice Barrier: 37% chance, 50% Physical, 0% Ice, 200% Fire

The player party consists of three characters, two physical-based and one magic-based. The magic-based character can use an Ice and a Fire spell.
The party's elemental weaknesses are:
1: 0% Ice, 50% Fire, 100% Thunder
2: 100% Ice, 100% Fire, 100% Thunder
3: 75% Ice, 75% Fire, 100% Thunder

Every turn, the boss can use:
A physical single-target attack that removes 40 TP from a character. priority 5
A magical aoe fire attack. priority 4
A magical aoe ice attack. priority 4
A magical aoe lightning attack. priority 4

On turn 5+6x, the boss uses a devastating magical non-elemental aoe attack that takes away about half the max hp of every character. A bit more for character 2, who has terrible magic defense.

The only way the party can heal is through items. The only hp healing item is a single target potion that at this level heals about 80% to 90% of a character's health. It is very likely that the player has a limited amount of these potions. (say 6 or 7)

Right now, the boss has the hp to use his devastating aoe magic attack 2 to 3 times, unless the player gets exceptionally unlucky or lucky on the turns 2x where they have to find out its weakness for that turn and the next.

It is the final boss of the game, and the game lets you save anywhere, and heal up before the fight, so I don't mind the player getting a game over once or twice. It's supposed to be hard, but fair. Is there anything in this setup that might feel unfair? What should I change so that it does indeed feel fair?
I think this is repeated every page on this thread (and the one at Game Design), but as long as LockeZ is still active on RMN, you can expect him to post in this thread sooner or later.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
@Fermmoylle:

The mirror image boss is a pretty common type of boss, both in RPGs and in action games. The typical problem is that there's often no way for the player to tell which one is real. As a result, it just becomes a matter of either attacking blindly and having a 66% miss rate, or using an area attack that hits all enemies.

In an action game you can make them look similar but not identical; the player doesn't have enough time to stop and carefully inspect the visual cues, so noticing which one is real before you get attacked becomes a legitimate challenge. However, this method doesn't work at all in a typical RPG with 2D graphics, because the enemies are completely stationary on the screen, which makes any changes extremely obvious. You still need to make it so figuring out which one is real is the main challenge of the fight, but the challenge can't be visual.

I'd like to help you come up with a way for the player to figure out which one is real, but that's hard without knowing what the player can do. What are the non-damaging skills they have at this point in the game?

In the final phase, making the boss both lose HP every turn and drain HP every turn isn't terribly interesting unless the player can influence these factors somehow. If the player has defensive buffs that reduce the drain amount, that's probably enough to make it work, but I wonder if it can be made a little more interesting. Once you give a list of the player's skills, I'll see if I can come up with something.



@Jeroen_Sol:

The main problem with this boss is that the two physical characters will spend most of the fight with nothing to do. When the boss has a fire or ice barrier, they deal 1/4 as much damage, which you'd think would be a cue to the player that they shouldn't physically attack the boss. But there are no other targets to attack, and they don't have any magic. The magic-using character has a similar problem when the boss has a physical barrier. Even defending isn't a good option, because they have so few healing items that doing trivial damage is probably still better than letting the boss get more turns.

The boss itself is fine; the problem will be the party members. I think it's important to give all three characters skills that do work on the boss during the phase phase. These don't have to be damage-dealing skills, but they do need to somehow progress the fight.

Here are some skills I would recommend you give your characters. I don't know for sure how these skills would affect the rest of your game, but I tried to come up with skills that probably wouldn't hugely impact most other fights, but would be extremely useful in this fight. Since it's for the swapsies event, I know your game is probably super short, so adding a couple more skills shouldn't be a huge deal.
- Give the first physical character a buff that increases a single party member's atk and matk by 66% for three rounds.
- Give the second physical character a single-round stun skill. Either give it a 100% success rate and make it cost 100 TP, or give it a low success rate and make it almost free. It should also do a very small amount of ice damage; not enough to really matter, just to let the player know if the boss is weak to ice.
- Give the second physical character a self-targeting skill that recovers 20 TP.
- Give the magic character a Spellsteal ability that steals buffs from an enemy. This should be capable of stealing the boss's elemental barrier. (If this is too hard to do, then don't do it.)
- Give the magic character a weak physical attack skill that recovers MP equal to the amount of damage dealt. If you want MP to be a difficult resource to replenish, then make this skill cost TP.
author=LockeZ
The mirror image boss is a pretty common type of boss, both in RPGs and in action games. The typical problem is that there's often no way for the player to tell which one is real. As a result, it just becomes a matter of either attacking blindly and having a 66% miss rate, or using an area attack that hits all enemies.

No area attacks here, but I have an idea. See next paragraph.

author=LockeZ
In an action game you can make them look similar but not identical; the player doesn't have enough time to stop and carefully inspect the visual cues, so noticing which one is real before you get attacked becomes a legitimate challenge. However, this method doesn't work at all in a typical RPG with 2D graphics, because the enemies are completely stationary on the screen, which makes any changes extremely obvious. You still need to make it so figuring out which one is real is the main challenge of the fight, but the challenge can't be visual.

I think of two alternatives.
The first (which I'm inclined to use) is having an ATB that doesn't wait for the players to input the command, so if the player relies on the visual cues alone (let's say: the Real Boss is the only one who cast shadows, cliché, I know), he may lose the "windows of opportunity" to attack the intended target.
The second would be the Real Boss having a different waiting/charging time than the fake ghosts. If the difference is enough, the player may notice something odd about one of the targets. This can or can't be used with the "shadow" visual cue I've mentioned above.

author=LockeZ
I'd like to help you come up with a way for the player to figure out which one is real, but that's hard without knowing what the player can do. What are the non-damaging skills they have at this point in the game?

Taunt and self-sacrifice (damage to the main heroine is deflected to him) on the support actor.
The main heroine has a limited healing ability and she is capable of generating a barrier of sorts (surrounds the party, must be taken down before damage actually hits the party, loses strength every turn).

author=LockeZ
In the final phase, making the boss both lose HP every turn and drain HP every turn isn't terribly interesting unless the player can influence these factors somehow. If the player has defensive buffs that reduce the drain amount, that's probably enough to make it work, but I wonder if it can be made a little more interesting. Once you give a list of the player's skills, I'll see if I can come up with something.

The best part of this kind of thread is the brainstorming it generates. Thanks in advance. :-)
Jeroen_Sol
Nothing reveals Humanity so well as the games it plays. A game of betrayal, where the most suspicious person is brutally murdered? How savage.
3945
Great suggestions, thanks!
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
OK. Fermmoylle, here's my idea for the ghost boss.

Displacing Boss
- In phase 1, the boss uses two skills, Drain and Displace.
- When Drain hits the player's barrier, it damages the barrier but doesn't heal the boss. (It's important not to show any healing numbers on the boss, not even a 0. This might mean you have to make the boss conditionally use either a draining or non-draining version of the skill, depending on whether the player has a barrier or not.)
- When the player's barrier is down, and Drain hurts the player's HP, it heals the real version of the boss. Healing numbers are shown on the real target, letting the player know which one to strike.
- Make a custom battle animation for Drain. The animation needs to flash the entire screen completely white at max flash strength on frame 1 when the skill is used. This will make it impossible to tell which enemy used the skill unless it's healed by it, since the screen flash will happen at the same time as the normal white flash that marks the enemy taking an action.
- Displace is used every few rounds. It deals physical damage to one hero and then randomly changes the boss's position.
- Ideally I would suggest giving Displace a 3 round cooldown, and equal priorty to Drain. However, if you don't have an ability cooldown script and aren't comfortable adding one, then just set it to be used on turns 4X + 4 at maximum priority.

Illusory Ghost
- The two invincible ghosts should be extremely slow. One of them should be about one seventh the boss's speed and the other should be about one tenth the boss's speed. (This will result in one ghost getting a turn after every fourth boss turn, on average.)
- The two invincible ghosts should both use only one skill, Phantom's Curse. This skill is a debuff that significantly reduces the player's magic defense, thereby making Drain do about twice as much damage. The debuff should last only 1 turn.
- When one of the invincible ghosts gets a turn, the player will be able to see which one acted. (This is normal RPG Maker behavior - enemies flash white when they act.) The player will be able to narrow the number of possible targets down from 3 to 2 when this happens.

Merged Boss
- After merging into a single target, the boss can act exactly how you said, using a drain attack with increased power as well as normal attacks, and gradually losing HP.


This will give the player two different ways to figure out which enemy target is real. They can either let their barrier drop or they can wait for one of the ghosts to use its curse. The fact that the curse increases the damage done by Drain means that the player cannot let their barrier stay down for too long. I think this should be interesting and complex enough that no visual differences between the real and fake parts of the boss will be needed.

I like the way you have the party members and the barriers working, by the way. It should create some interesting gameplay.
@LockeZ: Fantabulous. Let's see if I can implement everything right now. Thanks a lot for this.
author=LockeZ
- Make a custom battle animation for Drain. The animation needs to flash the entire screen completely white at max flash strength on frame 1 when the skill is used. This will make it impossible to tell which enemy used the skill unless it's healed by it, since the screen flash will happen at the same time as the normal white flash that marks the enemy taking an action.

Well, the custom animation doesn't work. It seems the enemy's white flash occurs before Frame 1, so it's still possible to track the enemy taking the action.
I've tried to find a way to disable that for this battle only, but to no avail. :(
Jeroen_Sol
Nothing reveals Humanity so well as the games it plays. A game of betrayal, where the most suspicious person is brutally murdered? How savage.
3945
I'm not sure how well this would work, but one possibility may be to make one enemy have all three of the sprites, and the other two have no sprites. Because of the displace skill that might screw up, however. What you can then do instead is put the three sprite on the battleback, maybe, and have all three enemies be spriteless. You would not be able to know what enemy used a skill at any point then, though, so for the player to differentiate between the monsters there'd need to be a difference in defense so the player can go by the damage numbers.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
What version of RPG Maker are you using. Fermmoylle?
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
Ugh, sorry, I don't own MV and have no scripting capability with it.

Here's a convoluted method to hide which enemy is doing the drain without using scripts:

- Make the undamagable ghosts have invisible battle sprites. Just use a completely blank .png image for them.
- Make the damagable boss have a sprite that looks like three copies of the boss standing in a triangle. Example.
- Make three copies of that sprite. BossA, BossB, and BossC.
- Edit the BossA sprite so that the image is centered on the upper copy of the boss. Example.
- Edit the BossB sprite so that the image is centered on the lower right copy of the boss. Example.
- Edit the BossC sprite so that the image is centered on the lower left copy of the boss. Example.
- Use these three sprites for the attackable version of the boss. Use the correct one depending on its location: BossA when the real version of the boss is in the upper location, BossB when the real version of the boss is in the lower right location, and BossC when the real version of the boss is in the lower left location.
- Line up the two fake ghost copies of the boss with the other parts of the image.
- If done correctly, the field of battle should look the same regardless of which position the boss is in.

This will make it so when the real version of the boss attacks, all three ghosts images flash... since they're all actually the real boss's sprite. The two fake ghosts won't have visible sprites, but their invisible sprites will be lined up so that the player's cursor is pointing at where they should be.

Hopefully that makes sense... let me know if you're confused.
Yes, it makes sense. It'll take some time but I think I'll be able to do it. Thanks for the ideas.
The boss and the two ghosts should all have unique battler IDs, though - otherwise, you'll have battlers named "Boss" "Boss A" and "Boss B", since RPG Maker assigns letters to distinguish battlers with the same ID.

Another thing - does the player have access to AoE attacks? In that case, you might want the fake ghosts to counter attack if struck to discourage just brute-forcing to find the real boss. (the counter skill shouldn't be too dangerous, but it could neuter the actor's offenses for instance).
No AoE. There's no need to nuke the enemies. ;-)
Another that I came up with would be to give the fake ghosts an immortal flag if you wanna make it more difficult - even though they're still unkillable, they still appear to take damage this way. It would make the battle much harder as you can't test who is real by attacking one of the targets. Otherwise, simply make all attacks against a duplicate miss via perfect evasion (feels more appropriate flavor-wise than having them take 0 damage).

Lastly, try starting the boss with a battle event where the two replicas are created before anyone can act, as a means to show that only one of them is real.
LockeZ-
I was reading some other discussion on boss battles and you mentioned this thread. I forgot it existed! What a great resource! I'm creatively stuck on a large portion of my game... not the least of which are boss battles. I'm hoping you can help.

The game is a pretty standard fantasy JRPG and there are elemental aspects to many of the enemies and spells. I kinda need help with two bosses. One is a standard goldfish poop boss that shows up a few times. The other is the main boss. More detail below:

Goldfish Poop Boss:
- Who or what the boss is, if you have decided that much. For example, "a robot that spews slime" or "a wizard who's in the process of summoning a demon."

A regular person, with no magic abilities. An aggressive, physical damage type of character. Any weapons are open to her - but no guns (not in the world). She's the main henchman of the boss. Storywise, she's incredibly violent and an "enforcer" type.

- Short summary of the player's party (like two sentences per party member probably) (if you have 150 party members or fully customizable characters, then tell me what are the main differences the player will look at to decide which characters/skills to take)

Party includes: Two physical attackers, one team buffer/healer, one offensive magic user (fire oriented), one enemy enfeebler, one defensive tank.

- Whether your game is ATB or turn-based; and if it's turn-based, whether you input commands for the whole party at once or not

Turn-based, and commands are in turn as a gauge fills up over the length of the battle.

- How comfortable you are using complex events or scripts to get weird results (like an enemy that self-destructs when hit with fire magic).

I'd like to stay away from scripts, as my battle system is already loaded down with battle symphony and some of yanfly's stuff. I think if I add another script, it'll bust. But I'd give myself a B- in eventing. I'm no expert... but this isn't my first game. And I'm good at following examples.

- Any key abilities the player has that you think are important in a boss fight or that make your game's battles unique

The two magic users in the game start off very weak (they're both children) and magic use is controlled with a quicktime event. I have a lot of physical damage skills for the two physical attackers and the tank. But the TP for these skills are pretty high.

- Any ideas you think you would like to use, even if they suck (I will make them not suck)

The enemy can have human minions. And they can heal, buff, enfeeble, etc. I have a number of thieves, hunters, evil knights, and other human baddies in her gang. I was also thinking that her evasion can be high, making physical attacks harder to land. But that may just piss people off?

- Whatever you think is relevant

She's fought three times, so if there's a way for her to build over three battles, that would be ideal.

***

Main Boss:
- Who or what the boss is, if you have decided that much. For example, "a robot that spews slime" or "a wizard who's in the process of summoning a demon."

A wizard/mage type, with lots of magic abilities. In fact, the magic abilities can be anything at this point. Weapon would be a mace/staff - no bladed weapons and no guns. Maybe a knife or something would be okay.

- Short summary of the player's party (like two sentences per party member probably) (if you have 150 party members or fully customizable characters, then tell me what are the main differences the player will look at to decide which characters/skills to take)

Slightly different party. Party includes: One physical attacker, one team buffer/healer, one offensive magic user (fire oriented), one enemy enfeebler, one defensive tank.

- Whether your game is ATB or turn-based; and if it's turn-based, whether you input commands for the whole party at once or not

Turn-based, and commands are in turn as a gauge fills up over the length of the battle.

- How comfortable you are using complex events or scripts to get weird results (like an enemy that self-destructs when hit with fire magic).

Same: I'd like to stay away from scripts, as my battle system is already loaded down with battle symphony and some of yanfly's stuff. I think if I add another script, it'll bust. But I'd give myself a B- in eventing. I'm no expert... but this isn't my first game. And I'm good at following examples.

- Any key abilities the player has that you think are important in a boss fight or that make your game's battles unique

The two magic users in the game start off very weak (they're both children) and magic use is controlled with a quicktime event. I have a lot of physical damage skills for the two physical attackers and the tank. But the TP for these skills are pretty high.

- Any ideas you think you would like to use, even if they suck (I will make them not suck)

This enemy can have minions, but the minions are a weird humanoid demony thing with multiple arms - not human. These guys can do anything - magic/physical/heal/poisoin anything.

- Whatever you think is relevant

There is one main battle and then a cutscene. After the cutscene, there's a second battle. The second battle unwinnable. Then a cutscene. Then a third winnable battle. He doesn't necessarily need to evolve between the first and second battle - but he should add skills and get stronger.

Thanks for the help!!
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
Hmm, can you give me some more info about various non-damaging skills that are in your game? Especially whatever you think are the most interesting or unusual ones used by the buffer, enfeebler and tank. I'd really like to know how these characters work. If you are assigning characters to different roles like that, then probably the interesting parts of any good boss fight in your game are going to revolve around the use of these characters, rather than the offensive ones.

I figure you probably have quite a few skills, and I don't need a full list, nor the full details of each skill. But knowing like three or four key skills per support character would be very helpful to give me ideas.

Also, does the player have the same party each time they fight the goldfish poop boss? What non-damaging skills are they likely to gain from one fight to the next?
Here are the skills as I have them now... Although they're not completely set and can change some (as long as they're consistent with the character) if it makes sense:

Tank Moves:
1) Cover *
2) Defense Up for Player (5 turns) **
3) Sleep Enemy **
4) Lower Agility Enemy ***
5) Stun Enemy ***

Attacker Moves:
1) Cover **
2) Attack Up for Player **

Buffer/Enfeebler (more mixed than I remembered, now that I look at the list)
1) Heal states on allies *
2) Raise Attack on team *
3) Raise TP for one ally *
4) Lower defense on all enemies **
5) Lower agility on enemy **
6) Lower attack on enemy ***

Healer/Enfeebler
1) Lower Def and agility on Enemy *
2) Large defense lower on Enemy **
3) Hide player **
4) Lower attack on all enemies **
5) Remove enemy from battle **
6) Raise player attack ***
7) Escape battle ***
8) Recover magic points **

The offensive magic user and other attacker don't any any moves that are purely non-damaging.

(Of course, now that I type these out, I'm underimpressed with my skills. So any suggestions on that would be welcome too!)

The skill progression is marked with * as what is learned when the battle. * is first, ** is second, *** is third.

In terms of party present, the other attacker is only around for battle 2 and 3. And the offensive magic user is very low level at battle 1.