Random in Boss fights?

A good find about how good or bad it is for encounters in PvE to be heavily or lightly scripted, which is interesting given how much the degree of “random” affects fun.

Tobold wrote:

In my opinion there is too little randomization in MMORPGs. They are nearly totally deterministic. Before combat even starts you know what the monster will do, and what keys to press in which order to optimally defeat it. Thus combat involves no thinking, only execution.

As Craig Stern says, the solution is not making the result of button presses unpredictable, but to make the opponent unpredictable, or the starting situation. That is why card games work: The cards you draw are random, but what you can do with them is not. And in a MMORPG the monsters could be made more unpredictable as well. Why do people need to know in advance what the boss mob is going to do after X minutes to beat him?

posted by Tobold Stoutfoot at 8:54 AM on Nov 18, 2012

To be fair, its better to read the entire post and linked articles.

Would introducing more randomness be good?

I think it would be terrible – consider that if you really want to make the bosses challenging then you make them more intelligent…..say they don’t have a threat table anymore, they just crush anyone who tries casts a heal.

Same issue in pen and paper – for some reason (story) the big bad orc (high CR monster) wails on the fighter, not the cleric.

I can see the point about execution and predetermined strategies removing “creative” aspects, but really the 4th wall is so present in an MMO that it is just differing personal perspectives for how far the slider between real and scripted the entire game is. I also think that some random is ok, but too much will be very disruptive to the players, as their outcome for victory is too much outside their control.

The card game in Tobold’s example is not a good match to the game style events in an MMO, given how different the perspective is, but does help my point: who likes playing solitaire when the game cannot be won?

Trial of the Champion had the pvp based fight which was excellent, but it still came down to a set of abilities, and a priority based kill order. It was also hated by a few raiders.

Another random fight was Lord Ryolyth in Firelands – who was basically impossible if the randomness didn’t go your way. That is a shitty way to spend an evening.

Go have a read as the discussion on both Tobolds and Craig’s blog are good stuff. Happy Killing.

Great Boss Fights

OnyxiaI was asked the other day what boss fights I really enjoyed, and it was a hard job to come up with a top one or two picks. So many bosses have challenged my gameplay in WoW. I love the fact that the bosses get more complex and tougher as you progress through the levels.

Start in Deadmines (tank and spank), move to Scarlet Monestry where a strat will help (Herod spins = move out), and then into ZF, DM, UBRS, and finally MC and ZG.

Bosses I liked

So instead here are the fights I really enjoyed, or would have liked to try.

  • Gruul’s Lair as a Warlock in the High King Mulgar fight is fun. Being the the guy who “tanks” Olm the Summoner using his own felpuppies is awesome. Add to the mix that you should also be doing a curse of weakness on Mulgar, and possibly a curse of elements on Krosh. You’re kept pretty busy.
  • Karazhan as an affliction Warlock on Curator rocks my world, especially when he goes into “spank me, I’ve been bad” mode. A well timed maximised Curse of Doom is awesome. Huge crits! Just make sure your Soulshatter is available, or you’re in for a brief world of pain.
  • URBS – I’ve always wanted to try kiting Drakk as it looks like fun. Hunters and Mages usually got this job due to tehir ability to move out of melee but keep him aggro’ed. I’ve only dps’ed as a warlock and healed as a pally for UBRS; such a shame.
  • Shadow Labs – Grandmaster Vorpil is a good fight that I’m still learning the finer details of. Those voidwalkers need to be kited/avoided and he boss kited up and down, and then the teleport + aoe burst makes you keep awake throughout. All while moving!

Bosses I Dislike

If you’re a WoW boss that is dependent more on luck than skill or strategy, I don’t like you.

  • Shadow Labs – Blackheart the Inciter – is utter rubbish. “Time for Fun” it aint. I like the idea that he mind controls, but as a Tank its just a shit storm trying to get aggro back so many times, and if your DPS wait long enough for it to be safe, you’re not going to kill him fast enough. You’ll also find youreself comming out of mind control in stupid states, often with good abilities on cooldown. Grumble.
  • Karazhan – Prince, as placement of those Infernals is random and can make the fight nigh on impossible.

The jury is still out on

  • Karazhan – Shade of Aran. I can’t decide if I really like this fight, or if its plain irritating. Its certainly easier as melee dps as you can stay close and just whack away, and no threat table makes him a great fight for everyone involved except the healers.

As I healed for a huge proportion of the later 50-60 content, I didn’t often have to stress about the finer aspects f some strategies. Then I switched to a range DPS class, and almost just had to track the Skull for kill order. Now that tanking is the focus, all the fights are different – and its excellent.

All of them are now interesting, even just the “tank and spanks” as they often have little tweaks that you have to watch for.