A Lesson in Boss Design with Prof. Diablo

Over on our sister site Guild Wars: IncGamers there’s a new article by Shawn which looks at the Guild Wars 2 boss mechanics and compares them with how Blizzard have handled bosses in Diablo 3. If any of you are taking part in the GW2 Beta test or have an interest in the game this is worth a read.  Shawn feels that ArenaNet have not quite got things right yet and he explains why he’s using Diablo 3 as a comparison. Here’s a quick snip:

After finishing off a few acts in Hell difficulty during my last play session, something stuck out in my mind with regards to how boss fights are played out. Diablo 3?s implementation of boss mechanics (and how it conveys the abilities which might one-shot you) are done exceptionally well, while on the other hand.. GW2 has somewhat dropped the ball so far. Or if you’re on the receiving end of a champion’s attention, it would be more accurate to say they’ve dropped the health globe. ..Instantly.

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    22 thoughts on “A Lesson in Boss Design with Prof. Diablo

    1. What on earth is up with DiabloMarkets? Is it run by a teenager without anger management? The last news item (which looked like a troll post from the official forums..) there got deleted after several replies.

      Is that site affiliated with IncGamers in any way? Wow..

    2. Taking design lessons for D3 would be equivalent to taking swimming lessons from a drowned corpse.

      All I took from this useless post was someone saying “Oh my, I’ve made it to hell difficulty, I must know a lot about the game!” -_-

      • Making it to hell difficulty means you know something about the game. It’s not rocket science.

        • No it really doesn’t . It takes 1 day of play to get to hell difficulty. If he had act 4 inferno on farm maybe he’d have a leg to stand on, although 99.9% of players would still disagree EDIT

          Please keep it civil. Thanks. ~Elly

    3. Takes one day if you charge through it only doing the absolute minimum to get through it. Looks like he’s played it for more than the one day.

      Which parts of his comparison between the two systems did you disagree with?

      If you think GW has got it right then why not counter his reasons here?

    4. Diablo III has exceptionally well made fights? Please. Here, follow my guide to rate the originality level!

      Void zones? (ie: get out of there)
      A1: Yes
      A2: Yes, 2
      A3: Yes, 2
      A4: Yes

      Avoidable projectiles?
      A1: Yes
      A2: No
      A3: Yes, 2
      A4: Yes

      Avoidable “big telegraphed melee attacks”?
      A1: Yes
      A2: Yes
      A3: No
      A4: Yes

      Spawns: (Monsters, etc.)
      A1: No
      A2: Yes, twice
      A3: Yes
      A4: Yes

      A1: Yes
      A2: Yes
      A3: Yes
      A4: Yes

      Cheesy one-liners:
      A3: Don’t we see him for the entire act?
      A4: He/she cannot stop talking, yet nothing is memorable. I AM LEGION?

      Mid-fight cutscenes to interupt your Hack & Slash gameplay:
      A1: No
      A2: Yes
      A3: No
      A4: Yes, like a billion


    5. I’m not going to counter his points about GW2 not having good boss fights because I haven’t played it. I have however played about 200 hours of D3 and know for a fact that imitating that game in any way shape or form would be a hysterically bad idea.

      D3 defies all rules of fun and compelling gameplay, and has somehow tried to bridge a gap between MMO and ARPG that never was meant to be bridged. It’s like adding boss fights to pong, wtf why?

      Mark my words: Blizzard will never recover the loss of respect that resulted in this game. I thought SC2 was medicore, but I didn’t troll forums saying how bad it was. D3 is so incredibly bad that I find insulting it via every medium available to me to have become a hobby of mine.

      • 200 hours.
        Not fun.
        No compelling gameplay.
        Incredibly bad.

        Syntax error? Why not invest your hours in something you enjoy?

      • It is a funny comment. After 200 hours of game time and you hate the game?!?! Games I dislike, I won’t even give it 30 mins of game time. Games I enjoy, I may invest no more than 10 hours.

    6. Comments off the topic of telegraphing – check
      Comments slamming D3 – check

      These comments are spinning out of control exactly as expected. Carry on.

      NOW, to go on-topic, after checking out the youtube vids (mainly of the theif) I can see what the author is saying. GW2 is missing telegraphing animations which have been a mainstay in both real-time and turn-based games since the mid-90s. There are other cues that are missing.

      To be fair, it is still in beta.

      • The Butcher fight is very well executed, but there are several others that aren’t quite so polished.

        For example:
        On the Belial fight, you get a round graphical queue on the ground when he is about to slam his fist down, but the actual area of damage doesn’t match that queue AT ALL.
        Another example in that same fight, his arms block your ability to see poison bombs that may go off directly behind or close to them even though the game allows you to run into those areas.
        Another example is something that happens during both the Skeleton King and Diablo fights. You get a visual queue from the Skeleton King that he’s about to teleport to you. This gives you time to pop a damage reduction skill (as movement alone will not stop you from getting hit). This queue is completely gone in the Diablo fight. In all three phases, Diablo can instantly pop up next to you and 1shot you, turning the fight into not much more than a gear check.

        So although I get the general idea behind what he’s trying to say:
        (that GW2 needs visual queues to allow players to develop “skill” to defeat encounters rather than relying completely on luck or gear), I disagree that D3 has done an EXCEPTIONAL job.

    7. Exceptionally well? Seriously? D3 is fun at times, but that someone thinks anything in the game (especially the battles) was done ‘exceptionally well’ comes as a real shocker to me! 0_0 Guess it just goes to show the whole “one man’s trash, another’s treasure” saying…

      • Reread it again it about the game having mobs animations that tell you when they are doing something special (IE a mega attack), this is something that you can see in D3 but is non existence in GW2 ATM.

        • They are extremely unrepresented, but I just dodge out of the way when I see any attack animation directed at me. If the mob is surrounded by a bunch of other players, it will usually pick a different target at that point. I think the game is just unfinished because there just aren’t very many combat animations at all. To me, the controls and camera were horrible during the first BWE, but I was able to map a nice controller setup and have enjoyed it since then.

    8. I’m really not sure that boss fights have made any design advances since the original ‘metroid’.

    9. Wow, these responses are seriously off-topic. Anyone read the article?

      The point is that by watching the Butcher, you know when he is about to do something really dangerous. This is good game design. That is all.

      • You’re wrong! How dare you be objective and say something good about D3? Why can’t you be a blind ignorant hater like everyone else that keeps playing it but hates everything about it?

        Seriously D3 has A LOT of flaws but the point of the article is right. Too bad haters don’t know how to read

        • This “Butcher” you speak of…

          an exciting boss that Irvine came up with? Why does it seem familiar?

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