16 June 2019

Guide to New Raid Bosses

Quite a long title, huh? Well, I've been working mostly on my games homework from university and I'm kinda sick of it right now, haha. xD Anyways, lately I've been asked by a person how we find out so fast on how bosses work so I want to give the people who have no idea some tips.

Brute Force Way

Before I give you some tips let's go most easily: brute force. It basically means, doesn't think too much about keep trying and every time your group wipes try to figure out why and solve the issues at hand. Of course, if you keep this up at some point you survive long enough to kill the boss. Bam, you made it! This doesn't sound too efficient though.

The Basics

Most of the bosses in raids, regardless of the game - yes, you heard right in all games - basically, work with the same mechanics. I mean think about what a game designer can do in a game. Since nearly all MMORPGs work with similar systems like buffs, debuffs, stuns, stun breaks, healing, tanking, collecting, moving and more. Additionally, they inspire each other. Well, since the mechanics reappear throughout different games but mechanics also usually don't change in the game itself and raids are build using the tools already in the game what you have will mostly suit what is needed for a boss.

Just check out the abilities you have and what they do:
  • "Deals damage"
  • "Stuns the enemy"
  • "Breaks a stun"
  • "Heals allies"
  • "Taunts the enemy"
  • "Leaps"
  • "Teleports"
  • etc.
Boss fights are not designed to be impossible. They're basically a combination of challenge and puzzle. Solve the puzzle, overcome the challenge and they're dead. So, familiarize yourself with bosses, the more you see the easier it becomes for you to figure things out. Especially if you know your class or even other classes. The more you know about what the players can do the more easy it becomes for you to figure out what the developers intended. Know the limits within which you have to work!

Survive, Deal Damage, But Most Important Analyze

The hardest part next to solving the puzzle is the ability to analyze the fight while still doing your job. The less stressful a boss is the easier this is. Basically what you want to look out is the mechanics of the boss. Here you want to answer the following questions:

Buffs & Debuffs
  •  Does he have buffs? Does the group have debuffs?
  •  Do the boss or the group get these during the fight?
  • Where do they come from? What do they do*? 
* Note: It is often wise to post buffs and debuffs to chat or screenshot them in the old-fashioned way to discuss after the try.

  • What can the boss do? When does he do what?
  • Is it time-based? Is it health based? (at 75% or 66%.)*
  • Which attack hurts how much?
  • Does he have mechanics that instantly kill?
  • Are there scripted events? What happens?
  • Does he have an attack pattern?
* Note: Game developers love to use these numbers like every 5% every 10% every 20% every 25% or every 33%.

Map Awareness

  • Does the map mark something? Does it mark something throughout the fight?
  • What symbol is used? What could it mean?

  • What's in the boss arena? What is on the ground?
  • Is there a pattern matching the fight?
  • Are there AoE fields? Does the arena change?*
  • Are there minions or adds spawning? Are they bound to an important mechanic?
  • Are there visual effects? What do they do?
  • Are there sound effects? Where do they come from? What do they mean? Are they important?
* Note: Developers seem to love to destroy the platform or decrease the area the player works with.

Boss Itself
  • Is the boss attackable? Is there something that needs to be done first?
  • How does aggro work? Does he need CC? When does he need CC? 
  • What happens if you don't CC?
  • What works/doesn't work well on him?
  • How many people need to do what?
  • What achievements are there? What happens if you fail them*?
* Note: Sometimes failing an achievement triggers mechanics that deal with group damage or do otherwise bad things.

Answering these questions together in your group should give you a good idea about the encounter and boost your speed of killing it. I mean you can always leave this to other people but.. hey. Now you have a good idea of how to do it yourself for the next boss you come across or if you wanna faster with your group on a new boss without waiting for a guide.

While this sounds like the end of the post I've got one more thing for you.

Good Game Design & Boss Mechanics

In a game with good game design coming across a new mechanic in a boss fight that hasn't been explained yet often has an explanation of the mechanic beforehand. In the best case, you will have the mechanic or a similar mechanic be played before the boss with some miniboss or enemy that shares this. It could also be possible that the players are told this by an NPC or have to read it which is sloppy, but at least it's explained.

From a game design perspective, you don't want your players to go into a fight completely empty-handed. You always want to at least hint to the solution so that it is technically possible to figure out the fight first try. (Which is rarely the case).

Just look out on whether or not you've seen similar mechanics somewhere else.

There You Go: A Guide to New Raid Bosses

This all should be enough to get you started on having an easier time learning new raid bosses. I'm actually gonna create a quick google form for one simple question. Just wanna know if you'd be interested in me giving examples for this or actually explaining primarily WildStar and Guild Wars 2 raid bosses from a mechanics and/or player guide perspective.

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I'm a B.Sc. Games Engineer and I created this blog to share my ideas, theorycrafting, thoughts and whatever I'm working on or doing.