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MisriHalek

About the bosses

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I recently played demon eclipse, endocrine of Obsidian, bossed and other (g)zdoom wads with bosses, and I noticed that many of those bosses was very hard to me. Is it my noobness or those bosses are really unbalanced? And what are the keys for designing good balanced boss battles?

Hard bosses I couldn't defeat:
Archon of hell in bossed map02
Azazel in endocrine
Hellsmith in demon eclipse map12
Sir Enri in DTS
Major Rayner in DTS

The boss I could defeat only by savespamming:
Demolisher in bossed map04 (due to helper chaingun arachnos appearing with time)

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I can say for a fact that the Azazel is pretty darn unbalanced: I tried adding a delay before it's homing missiles to make it a little more fair, but I'll readily admit that I haven't even beaten it yet. I'll try fine-tune any ZDoom boss battles I make a bit better in the future.

Also, thanks for playing it: I hope you enjoyed it. ;-)

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I don't think I had any problems beating Sir Enri in DTS. He's the first boss, right? I'll have to give it another whirl.

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At least in the case of Bossed, it's less about the difficulty of the bosses themselves and more about bad map design. Especially since I have beaten both the Archon of Hell (in its many, many versions) and the Demolisher on other maps.

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@Obsidian: Azazel's difficulty for me is because of its self healing ability. I have added a boss lifebar for endocrine, and found that it self-heals when it throws its landflames. To balance the fight (according to my point of view), either put more rocket supplies, or remove self healing ability. I prefer the second solution to preserve the boss battle duration.

@others: Yeah, boss level design is a common source of unbalance. I think I can defeat the Archon only if the arena was wider (like the pyrolord arena for example), and the ammo supply was slightly greater. Also the Demolisher will be beatable if there were no monsters spawning by time.
For Sir Enri and Major Raynor, I think that their very high health is the problem. Note: I didn't play DTS, only played the boss levels. So I played Sir Enri's level from pistol start.

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Well, if you played DTS the way it was meant to be played, those two wouldn't have been much of a problem, Mr. "I'll do what I want and screw the readme" :P

E: Sorry if I sound like an ass, I just hate it when people don't read instructions for a map and then complain when all they had to do was READ to figure it out.

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I'm planning on putting the Azazel in my mod, and I must say upon testing him, he is one fucker to kill, mostly due to his attacks. But since my mod has new toys to play with, should make up for him being unbalanced.

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Speaking of DTS-T, Enri was pretty pitiful, but the final boss was a bitch and a half. I didn't manage to beat him without cheating back in my LP, after all.

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I agree with Antroid; DTS-T's final boss' rockets and plasma bolts I might not have had much of a problem avoiding, but man was his SSG attack bullshit. To be honest, I would gladly have him attack his own minions to save my bullets for the boss himself.

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I found the main difficult with Azazel is that his projectiles home and are REALLY fast, so hiding behind a pillar while he's on the far side of the room doesn't work. Instead, you need to keep Azazel right behind a pillar, so that his projectiles immediately go into a pillar right as he fires them. If they have any chance to get into the open you're pretty much gonna eat them.

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Sorry, Sir Enri was really easy when you have enough ammo (like if you played continously from map01).

@Obsidian: This is my try to balance Azazel in your map.
Added a SSG, I found Azazel's selfhealing ability makes ordinary shotgun nearly useless. So a SSG should balance the battle. The alternative is to remove the selfhealing ability from DECORATE.

To play, you must delete map01 from the original package, and play this wad along with the resulting package.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/w1dkyc6pzczmij0/endo2.wad

Contains a lifebar inspired by that of DTS-T.

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You haven't seen anything until you've tried bosses in Claustrophobia: The Walls Close In on UV. Have fun dodging a million of projectiles for 10min like in super hard old side-scrolling shoot'em ups.

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@Touchdown - The projectiles can also lag the game, particularly in the case of the two forms against the final boss, Mediel. His second form's especially awful, but the Crimson Star attack's easily avoided by camping in the corners of the room, unless a rocket happens to head your way.

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I'm wondering about the preferred difficulty of a boss in this community now. Never gave it much thought but it seems interesting.

What's better:

a) a difficult boss that you have to learn, retry again and again until you come up with a strategy (or find an exploit) and win. Such a challenge could be really interesting, but you have to trust the author that the boss is actually beatable and not just bullshit. Although I suppose certain fun can be derived from figuring out ways to beat bullshit, too. Also, such a boss seems appropriate for what bosses used to be - major challenges at the ends of certain parts of games, sort of final, most challenging obstacles. It would feel more gamey but probably cooler. Lastly, I think this sort of boss works best in a separate level kinda like Doom's original bosses did, even if they never were this challenging.

or

b) a reasonable boss that wraps up a level (or bunch of levels) and isn't much harder to beat than any portion of the levels beforehand, meaning you have a fair chance of doing it on the first try. Obviously this sort of boss is just plain easier, but it integrates into the gameplay flow much more seamlessly and doesn't take you out of the game quite as much as a roadblock boss. Could be considered a miniboss if there's type a) bosses around too. Should work better in a real level, perhaps not even necessarily near the end.

Roadblock boss type or miniboss type, which one do you lean towards? Perhaps combining the two, or some other category?

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Antroid said:

Perhaps combining the two


This. Not that I've actually ever mapped out a boss level, but I think that before a boss fight, you feature a mini-boss as a main boss then after it's been a main boss fight, you can start encountering it as just another monster, albeit a rather strong one.
Doom executed this perfectly I think, with the Barons of Hell. E1M8 makes them seem to be the toughest thing you will face, and then as you enter E2, they start appearing as mini-bosses, until eventually, there's 4 of them hanged at the start of E2M8, and then you wonder what is powerful enough to do that to FOUR barons. And then you have the cyberdemon.
I've seen some hanged Cyberheads on Realm667, which I want to make some use of at some point.

Duke Nukem 3D did the reverse of this with the Mini-Battlelords, with their first appearance 3 levels after you kill their large counterpart in The Abyss (E1L5). I think that still worked, though it may well have been down to the fact that I actually met the mini-boss before the main one.

I've forgotten what else I wanted to add. Damn it.

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The "reusing [mini-]bosses as strong enemies" thing is indeed a widespread tradition and I usually quite enjoy it, it happened a lot in Serious Sam among many other games, but my favorite instance would probably be the most recent I can remember - Dark Souls. You have a first real boss, not too hard but still can turn out to be a roadblock, and you have a slightly farther into the game boss that is a total bitch (mainly because of his cramped arena), both of them demons. Then later you get into an area called "demon ruins" and straight away there's like twelve of the first boss standing around in a field flooded with lava, and then if you advance (you don't have to go engage them actually) you just start encountering both those bosses as absolutely regular enemies for the area one after another, sometimes in pairs. It was pretty funny when I played it. Of course the terrain is much more reasonable and you are way stroger by that point so it's not as ridiculous as it first seems at all.

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