Staredit Network > Forums > SC1 UMS Theory and Ideas > Topic: What makes a good boss?
What makes a good boss?
May 3 2017, 8:43 pm
By: Voyager7456  

May 3 2017, 8:43 pm Voyager7456 Post #1

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Lots of RPG maps feature boss battles of some kind. What, in your opinion, makes for an interesting boss battle? What are some examples of maps that you think have interesting boss fights?

I'm particularly interested in thoughts or examples of real time boss fights. (Less so in turn-based combat, unless you think they're particularly interesting)

Do you think the criteria for a good boss changes depending on whether a map has you control a single unit or multiple units? If so, what sort of maps do you think best illustrate this philosophy? I'm interested in SEN's thoughts. Show me the pinnacle of SC mapping boss battles!

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May 3 2017, 9:05 pm Pauper Post #2

You need obstacles.

You need explosions.

You need abilities.

A standard sit there and attack the boss battle won't cut it anymore.

Design an area or a location where you can create "bound" like obstacles that will kill the player if they stand in it (or relocate them, or maybe EUD and lower the players health like that).

Is the boss mechanical? Do the players have lockdown?

There needs to be a lot of movement, maybe a heal? Maybe a ranged add that spawns periodically (to force you to kill the add and not focus the boss, deals a lot of damage).

TL;DR - A boss fight that requires action from the user instead of just sitting there auto attacking.

EDIT: Shit.. I kind of want to make a "Boss Battle Arena" map where you and the other players try to defeat this insane bosses.

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May 3 2017, 10:56 pm jjf28 Post #3

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I think a good boss fight has these qualities:

- The bosses spells/mechanics are somewhat intuitive - players shouldn't have to exhaust every option or be in touch with the creator ("cheating") to find the tricks; or there's a hint built into the game so the player can at least puzzle it out and not resort to option-exhaustion or "cheating".

- It takes some micro skill e.g. clever use of terrain, moving one/shooting with another unit, creating a sliding wall with hallucinations, etc.

- The bosses spells/mechanics occasionally interrupt any micro routines - just cause they're great StarCraft players doesn't mean they should be able to comfortably glide through your boss.

- Heals/shields/invincibility can be used but should not be abusable - if the player fails to dodge/keep the boss off them they almost certainly die, it should not be an option to: use spell, hit, run around buying time for your spells to recharge, repeat.

- End shortly or have rest time between phases - don't make directed attention fatigue the deciding factor.

- Throw in some teamwork! - if it's a team game require players to actually work together, at least when there's more than x players in game.

Post has been edited 1 time(s), last time on May 3 2017, 11:02 pm by jjf28.

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May 5 2017, 6:59 am rockz Post #4

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In terms of pure SC mechanics, I always enjoyed the DBZ sagas frieza form 4 (Tassadar with one hit kill) and trying to kill him using either a ghost or hydralisk. It took forever, but that sort of micro was fun for me.

I think that a lurker boss would be way too difficult for the average player, but that would also work. IIRC kenoli made a test map to practice on (for melee).

I like the idea of the "unkillable" boss, where he pesters you and you have to do a separate task. Usually this involves going somewhere and throwing some switch while he either is invulnerable, or takes little damage until you complete the task. I don't believe this was ever done other until in SC2 campaign with the respawning hybrid.

Other than that, recreating OTHER bosses from other games seems to be the best idea. Diablo 2 act bosses comes to mind.

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May 5 2017, 10:55 am Oh_Man Post #5

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Here are some ideas I had for my RPG, some I implemented some I didn't.

A boss battle in a room full of Zerg Creep. As you fight more and more Zerg Larva spawn into the room, crawling around everywhere. If you touch them, you die. So as the fight drags on it your Dodge the Rapist skills are increasingly taxed, and there's an emphasis to finish the fight quickly.
A coccoon that the boss flies into. You have to kill the coocoon before X seconds or else its health is regenerated and you have to basically start the fight from scratch.
Eggs scattered around the arena. If you touch them they hatch and lil minions come out to attack you. The boss has an ability to push or pull you around, to further increase the chance you may pop these eggs.

I have a boss that had two stages. First it's invulnerable, and doing all sorts of bound-style shit to you. (Big explosions in patterns that kill you) While this is happening you are trying to whittle down this building. Once you kill it it triggers the second stage and makes it vulnerable. Basically the theme to take away is this: have an unkillable boss, and instead give the player some other objective instead that they have to accomplish WHILE the boss is trying to kill them.

Second stage it can do things like create copies of itself, swap around with itself so you don't know its true location unless looking at unit name, it can detonate its copies or 'eat' them for boosts. It can also temporarily revert your ally status, so you default attack your allies instead of the boss, and you will show up as an enemy to your allies, so players can actually kill each other by mistake.

A Reaver (moves slowly) chasing you constantly throughout the fight. If it gets close enough to you it just squishes you dead. While this happens you can have other things going on, like a slowing spell that makes it harder for you to get away.

The opposite of the above. Make a boss that is immune to all damage UNLESS you are right next to it, or even under it (air unit), but then throw in the occasional spell where it does a super attack on the ground underneath it, so players are having to constantly dart in to do damage but then dart back out again when the pain comes.

Have an observer moving in a circular pattern around the arena. Have a burrowed unit constantly being moved to this observer. Then have a bunch of Lurkers targeting this burrowed unit. This creates a circular attack of Lurker spines that you have to avoid by running around the arena, staying out of reach of the spine attack which will kill/hurt you.

I like this ability, which I first saw in RUSH, and that is to use the Transmission action on a burrowed unit, which creates a flashing circle. This is a good way to telegraph some sort of heavy incoming attack. Players see this circle and have to react to it. (You can make it so it indicates a big blast is about to hit that area, and you have to run away, or you can make it so that circle indicates the only safe place in the arena, and you have to stand on it quick before you get fucked up!)

The getting-sucked-in mechanic. An oldie but a goodie. Use Recall animation for some sort of whirlpool effect and then issue order move to preserve. The player has to spam click to avoid getting sucked in. It's simplistic, but I think it's cool.

Don't forget the arena itself is a key component of a boss fight. Whether it's spacious or confined, whether it's full of obstacles or barren. The choices you make here can flavour the whole fight. Ideally you want synergy with your arena and your boss. Got a boss that deals heavy damage up close? Make the arena cramped.

Interactibles in the arena. Things like Health Fountains, or oil barrels (terran vespene) that you shoot to do damage, or Dark Swarm sprite (a poisonous cloud and you take damage while traversing it), or Beacons that allow you to teleport around the arena when you step on them. There are many things you can do.

Shrinking arena. Copy and paste your terrain multiple times, then make each terrain chunk smaller and smaller, give them all locations. As the fight progresses, move them from one location to another. This combined with a boss that excels when it's in melee range means your situation is going to get more and more desperate as the fight continues. And, of course, you can do the opposite as well.

Tuxedo's Boss in RUSH was cool. It was an Ultralisk in a cave that could one shot you. And you had to sneak around and get to the other side by outsmarting it. That's something to remember, not all bosses have to be combat encounters where you have to kill it. Have an unkillable boss (or optional killable) that you have to bypass instead.

Two mechanics I think are cool: one, a air unit picks you up and carries you somewhere. Two, a unit "eats you". While inside you have to hack your way out, or maybe just make it so you take X damage and then automatically get vomited back up.

A good thing to do with bosses as well is just to remove part of the player's arsenal, either temporarily or permanently. Things like:
* Disabling Consumables, or making it so Consumables only work X% of the time. (You try and eat a health or mana potion and it doesn't work but you still lose the consumable).
* Mana, either drain it via some effect or have it completely disabled.
* Spells - you can introduce X% failure chance for the spells, or make it so the spells may do something different to what they usually do (like heal instead of hurt the boss, or hit your allies instead of your intended target).

You can also make the player's arsenal work against the player. We all know how health potions keep us alive in lengthy fights, but what if the boss gets stronger each time you use one? Now, suddenly, the player is no longer that keen on drinking health potions. You've turned their own tools against them. So instead of disabling their arsenal entirely, it's like you're presenting the player with drawbacks. You can heal but X is gonna happen. You can cast a spell but Y is gonna happen, etc.

Other things that can ramp up the challenges:
* Time restraints: Like with my above Larva example, having mechanics where the fight gets harder as it goes on, or perhaps after X seconds you are screwed, or the arena starts shrinking. Time restraints are an easy way to up the challenge of ANY situation for the player. Look at most of the SC2 campaign missions and you'll see lots of times there were time restraints in place as part of the core objective.
* Multi-stage fights. If you're generous you can give them checkpoints, but if you're feeling brutal give them no checkpoints. They have to survive multiple stages of fights, with completely different mechanics in each one. The pressure is on to learn on the go or die and have to start it all again! Stage can mean either the arena itself changes, or the boss itself can evolve ("This isn't even my final form!")
* Bullet sponges - this one I am not a fan of, because I personally believe they don't really increase the challenge a lot of the time, but merely increase the time it takes to complete the fight. But yeah, one of the easiest things you can do is just give them a lot of HP, and really damaging attack values, and so the battle is a test of endurance. Can you whittle it down in time before it whittles you down??
* Bonus Objectives or Alluring Treasure - something the player has to do on top of just killing the boss can distract the player from the main goal and perhaps get them killed. You could have some treasure or a really powerful item or what not plainly visible in a dangerous part of the arena. Or you can award the player treasure for killing the boss quickly or via a certain way.
* Randomised boss spells - create, say, 10 spells for your boss, but it can only use 5 of them per fight. This will impede/delay a player's ability to learn a boss fight because each fight will be slightly different.

Ok haha enjoy that wall of text. That's all I can think of for now. TLDR: There's lots of shit you can do to make a boss battle interesting.

May 19 2017, 1:15 am LoveLess Post #6

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Honestly, the most memorable boss style battles in starcraft have been ones that use more SC-related mechanics, rather than artificial ones created for your game via triggers. This is because you know more about what they are capable of this way. So letting SC do most of the work and you just help it along with triggers is honestly the way to go.


May 28 2017, 11:28 am Dungeon-Master Post #7

Quote from Oh_Man
Tuxedo's Boss in RUSH was cool. It was an Ultralisk in a cave that could one shot you. And you had to sneak around and get to the other side by outsmarting it. That's something to remember, not all bosses have to be combat encounters where you have to kill it. Have an unkillable boss (or optional killable) that you have to bypass instead.

The damn gargula. I always ended up stacking armor so I could survive one hit and maxed out the magnum to stagger and "kill" it whenever it came for me. The map was too big for the minimap ping to help me know where it was coming from.


May 28 2017, 2:07 pm Oh_Man Post #8

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Good times. :P Yeah, you know that should be something someone requests as a feature/fix in SC Remaster - make the map pings focus more precisely depending on map size.

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[03:36 pm]
Oh_Man -- a program called mapstats I think it's on here to DL
[02:39 pm]
GGmano -- so theres a limit on total triggers on around 80k?
[02:38 pm]
GGmano -- thanks for info anyway
[02:38 pm]
GGmano -- how did you found that out ohh man?
[02:15 pm]
Oh_Man -- mapstats says 80k triggers
[2022-7-02. : 9:37 pm]
GGmano -- maybe its not about the size i guess since its now above 6000 and was saved
[2022-7-02. : 9:05 pm]
GGmano -- just seems like 6000kb is an obstacle not sure
[2022-7-02. : 9:05 pm]
GGmano -- idk it could also be about the map size its like above 6k kb map wont be saved,, 6000kb of triggers no sounds im aware sounds can go beyond that size
[2022-7-02. : 8:51 pm]
GGmano -- heres link for the new release
[2022-7-02. : 8:51 pm]
GGmano -- i now released it after deleting triggers 3 times sadly
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