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zif

Creating an enemy that can suprise you

12 posts in this topic

In a real time game, i would like to create an enemy that the first time you fight him, you will be unprepared (huge difficulty spike) and will die because you didn't expect to fight him. I want to focus on feeling of getting "ganked". No previous enemy presented in this game is similar. However i want players that came fully prepared to the encounter to win, by either "reading a strategy guide" or "reloading save game" so that they are fully prepared.

 

Goal: I want to create a division of the player base in the following groups:

a) Casuals or Experts that fight it for the first time: Guaranteed Wipe, Gameover, bye

b) Experts that fully expect what to face: Narrow win

 

Requirements:

1) The enemy is melee.

2) No consumables exist in the game.

3) Jump action to evade him makes no sense.

4) Game has no block actions. I don't want to focus on "micromanagement" of perfecting x button click to win.

5) No Equipment Optimization Min-Max (For rpg games): I don't want to rely on "out of combat" elements to counter him, like equipment or pre-buffing before battle starts.

 

Things i tried and why they failed:

6) The enemy has infinite movement speed scaling: +50% speed permanent per second (Permanent stacking buff).

  Good news: Enemy autowins players who attempt to run away.

  Bug: Afk autoattackers win him. I don't want to allow this combat path. How can i disable it ?

  Bug: doesn't solve autoattack issue.

7) False Psychological Training: All enemies beforehand are hard hitting and demand kiting beforehand. But this enemy is kite immune. Therefore the enemy relies on "false psychological feedback" on the player to make him run away.

  It works for creating the "first timers" get gimped element.

  Bug: doesn't solve autoattack issue.

8) Invisible Ambush Skill: This is not a gameplay, just adding extra burst damage to the enemy wont make the player change actions, i want to focus on the player, what "actions" can he do to avoid getting steamrolled.

  Actually it works in creating the "feeling" of run and forcing noobs to try to run (mistake).

  Bug: what if player decides to attack even when he is low on hp.

  Bug: doesn't solve autoattack issue.

9) No Heals: The enemy transmits a disease that instant kills you if you attempt to use any healing ability.

  Bug: doesn't solve autoattack issue.

10) Crowd control immunity: enemy attack patterns cannot be disrupted.

  Bug: doesn't solve autoattack issue.

 

Goals (Continued):

c) Not a dps race fight: Autoattacks, choreographing the perfect dps rotation will get you killed (guaranteed).

d) Therefore, what i ask is to propose a set of "actions" for the player, or a set of "specific enemy weakness" that will allow the player to win.

Edited by zif
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In a real time game, i would like to create an enemy that the first time you fight him, you will be unprepared (huge difficulty spike) and will die because you didn't expect to fight him. I want to focus on feeling of getting "ganked". No previous enemy presented in this game is similar. However i want players that came fully prepared to the encounter to win, by either "reading a strategy guide" or "reloading save game" so that they are fully prepared.

Hi. Sounds great. 

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I suppose you have a very specific reason for wanting this, right?

 

Do you want the player to:

 

- die the first time he meets this enemy no matter what (even if the player is skilled and has ultra-high level and stats);

- has a chance to win (even a small one) if prepared enough (not only stats, but equipment also);

 

The way I see it, this fight is a bit unfair: the player always loses the first encounter, but you don't want this defeat to be "scripted", instead relying on in-game mechanics. And the defeat results in a game-over, not in a new chance (being saved by a mage in the right time, maybe with more information about this specific enemy). Without making him invincible the first encounter (his health does not reach zero), it will be hard to fit the requirements using combat only mechanics.

 

One option (as you guessed) is to make defeating him a long part of the game (not just this fight). Make his defeat has preconditions in the game and even a sidequest (to find the "two magic glowing stones that hint how to defeat the Legendary Monster of Monstrosity"™). If the history allows, NPCs can drop hints about this monster and, if the player follows them, he has a chance to find a way to wind this specific fight. Maybe this stones turn him mortal (albeit a very hard opponent), or allow the player to see his next moves (and act beforehand, as it still requires high skill).

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Goal: I want to create a division of the player base in the following groups:

a) Casuals or Experts that fight it for the first time: Guaranteed Wipe, Gameover, bye

b) Experts that fully expect what to face: Narrow win

 

 

Games should generally be fun and they must be winnable, so this better be an optional worst-case boss for the hundred percenters (Those who seek out the entire set of content, every optional item, every rare item).

 

Does your game track when a player gets "game over"? Otherwise a guaranteed game over the very first time is going to be impossible to track. It isn't a nice thing to do to players. Maybe you could have an undetectable death trap, laser or something, that triggers that first time. Design-wise that seems foolish since someone replaying the game knows to avoid the trap, but that's your call to make.  Or maybe the first time the enemy never has their health go down no matter what damage is done. Cheap trick, but it might do what you want.

 

After that, the general method is to increase all the stats.  Lots of damage dealt, lots of health points. That way only high-level and well-equipped players can defeat it.  Make sure testers (who generally are experts at the game) can still defeat the boss. 

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I'm going to just pretend this isn't a terrible idea that will cause a large percentage of players to give up on your game, as it's acting in bad faith, and is exercising bad design principles.

 

Have two glowing lines from the monster that lead to two other places on the map that the player has never encountered before.  They lead to some floating glowing orbs.  The monster will not take damage until those glowing orbs are destroyed.  The first time through, most players are probably going to die from this monster, because they won't think to look for the glowing threads trailing the creature.  Autoattackers will die miserably, those who run away won't follow the thread lines, as they are behind the monster.

 

The other option is some weakspot on the monster that just isn't telegraphed.  Like, it's got a weakspot on it's right heel.  The heel isn't highlighted, isn't glowing, and looks just like the left heel.  

 

Now, you could make these slightly less obnoxious by providing hints to the player in advance, a book or NPC that the player meets before the monster that illustrates it's weaknesses.  

Edited by ferrous
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Wow, you provided me 6 different enemy archetypes that fill the role :

1) Requires Multiple boss fights to defeat, like trillion the god of destruction.

2) Requires Side Quest or World Condition to be defeatable.

3) Specific npc provide hints about the monster weakness therefore not unbeatable.

4) Divinition: to allow to read the enemy's next move before he acts. Thus allow you to counter him.

5) Requires orbs to be destroyed to be attackable.

6) Weakspot on the monster that just isn't telegraphed.  Like, it's got a weakspot on it's right heel.

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Do you want to frustrate the player ? Because that is what such a mechanic would do. Why do you want to frustrate the player in this specific instance ?

People have already pointed out multiple ways you can do that, and also multiple reasons as to why it would generally be bad design and how to mitigate or negate it.

If you make the enemy hard enough that an expert player fully prepared would only win by a narrow margin, you really don't need any special mechanics to prevent a successful first try. All you need is to include at least some aspect of knowledge into the difficulty of the enemy, so that it's not just based on dexterity/reflexes. That can range from impossible-to-guess weaknesses to just a bunch of unforgiving combos that you need to see once to be able to dodge them. Keep in mind that the game is usually gonna feel harder for other people than it does for you. Set the difficulty you want and then tone it down a bit, it's usually a good way to go about balance.

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Forcing a player to repeat a boss many times to "learn it" and possibly beat it later on seems like bad design. I wouldnt wanna play that game. You want your content to feel fresh to the player.

No previous enemy presented in this game is similar

How will you do this? It seems very hard to design a game that way. Interesting, but I've never seen it before so you need a large team to code and design all those enemies. Or is the game pretty short? (if you have like 5 enemies this might work, but then the player will quickly go through your content)

Set the difficulty you want and then tone it down a bit, it's usually a good way to go about balance.

This. You know your game inside out, the player doesnt.

Many players like hard games (me as well), especially if its a survival theme or similar. But dont frustrate the player by making fights unwinnable. Maybe (instead of forcing fights to be repeated) add permadeath for hardcore players, so they go back, but know more about the game in general to better face the challanges the next and next run. That is more rewarding for the player.

Edited by suliman
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I'd give the player abilities that don't all work together, hence to be "prepared" would mean to have the right ability/mode selected. e.g. in yakuza you can choose different fighting styles. Add on top, that you only can switch styles when you're at full health, hence even a light encounter that surprises you would force you to fight in a sub-optimal mode. (you'd be dead, without admitting it). 

Instead of "healthy" you could also use "fitness" instead. Hence running through the map (unprepared for fights) would render you exhausted and you wouldn't be able to switch into a fight mode. To be always prepared, you'd need to always walk slowly.

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Goal: I want to create a division of the player base in the following groups:

a) Casuals or Experts that fight it for the first time: Guaranteed Wipe, Gameover, bye

b) Experts that fully expect what to face: Narrow win

 

If you haven't played Dark Souls, you should. If you have, I would highly suggest going back through and playing it so you can get a sense of what challenging, yet not impossible, content is really about. It's the poster-boy for that type of content.

"Guaranteed Wipe" should be a red flag for you - you're cheating the player if it's guaranteed, and players don't like to be cheated. They like challenging content, they like to be pushed to their limits - but outright impossible content is a no go. It doesn't teach the player anything other than the developer is a dick, and isn't rewarding for them in any way. 

Failure on hard content is rewarding, failure on impossible content is degrading. If a player isn't being rewarded in some capacity then there's no reason for them to play your game. 

Edited by Resomaut
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Posted (edited)

Flanking. Focus on flanking.

If the player runs, his back is turned, and he will take extra damage from the enemy. This could alternatively be *the enemy uses a different attack when the players back is turned*, such as a cinematic nearly/completely instakilling backstab. This alternative punishes the player for running, and helps lead them towards understanding that they are intended to face the enemy head-on, and find an alternative, non-kiting, non-fleeing, method of taking it on.
If the player runs towards (and behind) the enemy, he will be able to *AVOID* being hit, and also deal more damage to the enemy.
If the enemy turns slowly, this gives the player a bigger advantage to flanking, and it is easier to flank.
Placing a high-contrast element on the back of the enemy will make a very clear *this is my weak spot*.
The weak spot will not be apparant to first-encounter players because the back is likely hidden to the player unless the player runs to the other side of them (towards, but behind.)
This fixes your unintentional *autocombat* issue. As the player must be repeatedly actively moving in order to be able to avoid being hit, and hit the enemy in return.
Facing the enemy head-on reduces damage, as opposed to running away from them (and being stabbed in the back.) This encourages players to fight the enemy in a certain way, and punishes running.

Depending on what you would like, the enemy can either take reduced damage, or be completely immune to damage, when attacked head-on. If feedback is provided to the player that the enemy takes damage when attacked head-on, it will likely take longer for them to figure out that they need to attack the enemy from behind. On the contrary, if feedback is provided to the player that makes it clear that the enemy is *immune* to being injured by the player, this encourages the player to find other ways of attacking the enemy, and tells the player that there is a *trick* to it, or a *weak spot* that must be targetted.
 

Edited by nullie
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Posted (edited)

d) Therefore, what i ask is to propose a set of "actions" for the player, or a set of "specific enemy weakness" that will allow the player to win.


Just hardcode the exact set of actions (and timing windows for those actions) the player needs to take, and if they deviate from that, kill them instantly. It'll be just like Space Ace or Dragon's Lair.

I wouldn't play it, but it'll do exactly what you're proposing. Edited by Nypyren
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That is a fun question. I designed  a bunch of enemies in my carrer and rather than giving you a specific answer I will give you the philosophy I generally follow when creating enemies. 

The most important thing is that you don't want the player to feel like he is being tricked by the game. Some of your solutions fell directly into that trap. You want the player to look at your enemy like a challenge he will in the future be able to vanquish not an impossible obstacle.

I saw a lot of your solutions relying on stats boost or other gimmick wich do make your enemy stronger but not more challenging gameplay wise for the player. Your enemy his just... stronger. Stats should generally only be use for balancing (Great example of that is in video game with a new game+, enemies are stronger because of their stats but offer the same challenge gameplay-wise).

I had to create similar enemies in one game (mMetroidvaniastyle). When the player come face to face with the enemy the first thing you most explain to him, with gamepay, is what your enmey does. Once you shown that to player he now knows what to expect. Your enemy most challenge your player ability inside what you shown him.

lets say my player as a double jump ability. Well to challenge that ability i would creat an enemy wich only way to defeat him is by double jumping over him. But if the player tries during the wrong time my enemy will push him back. The player need to wait the right window of opportunity to be able to double jump over him ( Wich again most be communicated to him with gameplay, signs and feeback EX: afther one of his attack my enemy as a pause before he attack again. The pasue his then the windo of opportunity).

Let's say the first time the player encounter the enemies he does not have the right ability to defeat him. He will then have to come back once he has it and then be able to defeat it. (It can be an ability, a weapon, a power anything the player can use)

TLDR: Don't boost stat to challenge the player, challenge the play using gameplay

Hope this helps. If you have any other question on enemy of boss design don't hesitate to message me. 

Sorry for bad English :)  

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