Describe the best boss you've designed

A large dungeon spanning four 50x50 maps (plus several small 5x4 stairwells). The boss was the dungeon itself.

Heh, I've designed quite some dungeon I'm proud of. Definitely more proud of than any of the bosses I designed.

Designing more interesting boss battles is something I only really started doing like 12 years ago.

Not really a boss battle but a harder random encounter (which I called Fateful Encounter in the game):
The game has three times of slime: Green, Blue and Red. Green is weak to fire, blue is weak to lightning and red is weak to ice. Then there is a Fateful Encounter with a slime stack of a blue, green and red slime. It's weak to all elements, but strong to normal attacks (like all slimes). If you hit it with Fire, it splits into a green and a blue/red slime (weak to lightning and ice). If you hit it with lightning, it split into a blue and a green/red slime (weak to fire and ice). If you hit it with ice, it splits into a red and a green/blue slime (weak to fire and lightning). Then if you hit the double stacked slimes with a weakness again, they also split up into separate slimes.

In the larger project I'm working on, there are several boss battles I like. The most important battle in the game actually has all the systems that get introduced over the game combined into one battle. I won't tell more about it as it would be a spoiler, though.

How do you differentiate your characters?

I guess such a way of difficulty setting could work, but I imagine it being very possible to frustrate players too. Unless you really put a label on top of the characters saying "Hard" and "Easy".

Character balance isn't a must-have in all games. In SRPGs like Fire Emblem it actually adds a lot to strategy having 1-2 super strong characters in your group.

But in an RPG where you can just take 4 of 12 characters into combat, it seems counter-productive not to make them balanced.
(Balanced, but just easier and harder to master is a different thing.)

Should I submit my in progress project tot the RMN portal?

I think if you really want to document your game progress you really should submit a game rather than any of the non-game objects.

Also I guess the requirement is still that you need 3 screenshots, so you can't submit a game that has no visuals (yet) or not enough variety for 3 completely different screeshots.

I keep thinking of submitting a game as well, to be able to write a dev blog, but run into trouble that my game isn't graphical (or even made with an engine). But maybe I'll attempt my luck.

Microsoft screws Xbox players out of money

Luckily I was into indie games back then and indie games could get as cheap as 80 MSP.

I think I only had 80 MSP left when I stopped using Xbox360.

How do you differentiate your characters?

Or you just go full SaGa and just make everything simply depend on how the player plays each character. :p

Creating versatility works in many ways. Hell, even if those 4 DDs, 4 Tanks and 4 Mages are absolutely identical, there would still be versatility in party composition as a group of 4 mages will definitely play different than 4 DDs or a mix of all of them.

If you really want them to play really unique in combat each, then I'd go with the approach of giving each of them a very unique signature skill. Look at FFVI. It has more than 12 characters, but still manages to make them unique in combat, even though they all can learn the exactly same magic by giving each one a unique secondary command. Edgar can use tools, Sabin can enter Fighting Game-esque combos, Locke can Steal, etc.

A single unique skill can already make a big difference, it just needs to work around the character's other skills.

Though making each character too unique also has a risk: If you don't offer the ability to switch character mid-combat and certain boss battles are significantly easier with certain signature skills, the whole game turns into a "Guess which party members are needed for the next boss".

So what you really want are skills that work globally and still feel unique.

Just making one tank "able to tank physical damage" and the other tank "able to tank magical damage" would for example be a bad idea.

Rethinking Antagonists

Yes, I wasn't against exploring that though, I even gave some ideas (natural disasters, no villains).

For me it's still relevant that I'd rather want more villains like Kefka, because you just because you could do something else doesn't mean it's better. :p

Rethinking Antagonists

So recently I was thinking about those old, classic debates on 'who's the better villain' all across the gamingsphere, and how they generally boil down to Kefka/Sephiroth, more or less.

But thinking on it a little...aren't we putting ourselves into a hole by constantly narrowing what an antagonist is supposed to be and what their role is in narratives?
My first thought here was "That's not true, there's definitely a high variety of different villains even today, nobody is narrowing down what an antagonist is supposed to be."

The reason Kefka and Sephiroth are popular is not because people are narrowing down their view, but rather because they work best.

Rethinking Antagonists

It sounds like you disagree with exploring this field, especially when you said there aren't enough Kefka-like villains in games these days. That's fine, but is there any reason why you feel this way other than "I like this villain type?" Unless I missed something, there was not a single person in this topic that said Kefka-like villains need to go away forever.

I brought this up, because the whole thread started on the premise that we need to explore new fields of villains because Kefka-like villains are overused and I think that premise is already wrong.

On-topic: Not actually finishing most of the games you play actually supports "games need no villains".
That... needs some elaboration. How does a player's choice to drop the game have anything to do with the game's narrative design?


You see when a game is build around a villain, it introduces him, develops him and ends with a final showdown. Due to the presence of such a villain the game's quality is shifted a lot towards the end of the game, like e.g. the super cool final boss battle.
In such games, not finishing them makes you lose out on a lot of game quality and enjoyment.

However if the games weren't designed around villains and focused more on being enjoyable from the first moment on without working towards any particular ending, then it gets a lot less important to finish them and the "Play it as long as you enjoy it" playstyle benefits strongly from that.

It hasn't been explored in RPGs much, but for example Bullet Hell Shooters where the final showdown gets less and less important and how well you do during the whole game gets a major meaning.

The concept could probably also be carried to RPGs. Like giving the player a limited time frame and when it ends, the game ends. Then he gets a score based on how many good deeds he did (or how many people were saved, etc.) and can try again.

(Some games like Gradius and Parodius go even so far and make the final boss completely helpless.)

Letting players catch up after changing builds

Well, yeah, figuring out which combinations of choices are going to work well is basically what being good at an RPG is. Building your characters and planning our your long-term strategy is a huge chunk of the genre's primary gameplay;

That only applies to a certain sub-genre. There are plenty of RPGs where you don't have to decide for a build, so I certainly wouldn't call it primary gameplay.

It's also not gameplay I personally enjoy. I want to fight and explore and not browse menus. I have a hard time considering this as gameplay at all honestly. If anything it's a necessary evil.

It wouldn't make sense if every option were equally viable and there were no way to do better or worse at it.

Depends on target audience. Yeah, if you only want to target hardcore players that make a science out of studying all the possible options and spend more time planning their builds than with anything else, then you might not want to make all choices viable.

I'd claim that the majority of all gamers wouldn't want that. Not everyone is as extreme as me, but even of those that enjoy having the choice between different builds many still don't want to read guides before playing or would quit the game if the ended up with a bad build rather than restarting and think it's a fun challenge to figure out one with which the game can be cleared.

However, the nature of this type of gameplay is that you often can't tell how well you did until hours later, at which point reverting to an earlier save would be excrutiatingly painful even if you still had that save. And most modern games don't even let you do that - they autosave every time you make a choice, so you'd have to start the whole game over.

Exactly. That's a big problem RPGs that give you the choice. And only really very few players enjoy this.

But I think you should take another look at the "all choices are good" system. It's not really bad by default to give players a choice of which regardless of the decision the result is equally good. On the contrary, I think this is something every dev should strive for even if it's impossible to reach perfection.

This does not qualify as challenge but it is something players can enjoy.

This already starts when playing Pen&Paper. If you (as DM) give players choices and one is much better than the other, the group doesn't think long about it. They take the better choice. But if you give them two choices and both have good and bad points, it gets them to discuss what to do next, which in the end makes them having more fun playing.

Having choices of different quality results is often horrible. Take for example the Banner Saga. You would have an event like "You encounter a camp. What do you want to do? 1) Visit it or 2) Ignore it" and in the Banner Saga it usually is so that one choice is the best but you can't tell at all which one. Sometimes there might be an ambush so ignoring the camp would be the best choice. But sometimes you can find valueable resources. This doesn't depend on player skill at all, it's just a coin toss, unless you are so meta that you think about "What would have the developer put here?".

Counter example: Breath of Death VII. This one has a level up system where each level up you get to decide between two things. It clearly explains what each of the two choices do. Both choices give different benefits but all are equally useful. This allows to decide for your builds but the decision is so easy each level that you won't need to consult any guide.

I think this is usually a good role for grinding.

Only if grinding is fun (and possible, many WRPGs actually have limited amounts of resources you can get).

Also the true problem with making it cost something is that you strongly punish players that want to try around different builds to find one they like.

Some MMORPGs actually addressed this issue already. You have for example some MMORPG offering free unlimited resets, but only to a certain level. This allows you to try around a bit and find a build you like.
Other MMORPGs offer a reset item in the cash shop, but with the twist that when you use it, you can reset your build as often as you want within a certain time frame.

Maybe those are solutions your are looking for?

Letting players catch up after changing builds

What about all the game series I mentioned on the previous page? They definitely allow you to make bad choices without having anyone ingame telling you it's a bad choice.

I'd go so far and say there is hardly any game that gives you class build choices and does make 100% sure you can't mess up (assuming you don't intentionally try to make a bad build).

Hell... most of those games even have at least some wrong skill descriptions...

It's fine if its not your thing, but a game developer shouldn't avoid making that kind of game on account of it not being your thing; they have to find their audience.

Well, that's what discussions are for, no? Everybody states his opinion. I'm old enough to realize that my opinion isn't the absolute truth, still I want game developers to make games I like, so I'll have to fight for it.

Besides, I enjoy discussions like this.