Bosses are one of the most vital parts to any game. They are usually very fun, difficult, exiting, and sometimes frustrating. However, when making a boss battle, fun or even difficult can be challenging. So, you can use this convenient collection of fancy tips to guide you on the way to making a great boss!
Note: This article requires the person to have somewhat experienced Plotscripting skills.
What is a Boss?
A boss is an enemy which you "have" to defeat to progress in the game. More often than normal monsters, you can't beat them on your first try. Bosses are often very powerful (compared to average monsters) and it might even have minions that join in and fight against you. If a boss is killed, all of its minions usually also die at once.
Try to make a boss strategic. Not just an "attack after attack" enemy. Add elements to a boss battle you wouldn't normally put in; but before we get into the spiffy stuff, you should get to know the basics of making a boss.
Preparing For A Boss
Before you start making the actual boss, there are things you should do before getting to the main battle. First, have events that lead up to a boss: you don't just randomly walk up to a NPC and BAM! you're in an unexpected boss fight. Often players can suspect the boss is near, giving them a chance to prepare their party.
- Usually, there is a boss is at the end of every dungeon. So give that last room something spiffy, something that matches the theme of the dungeon.
- There are usually mini-boss battles scattered throughout the dungeon. Unlike major Bosses, they might appear randomly, not letting your party prepare.
Saving: Depending on the difficulty of the game, you may not want to include this.
- Before the final dungeon boss, give your player a chance to save, or a warning to save. Nothing is more annoying than finishing a dungeon but losing at the boss battle, and then realizing you forgot to save; the player has to do the dungeon all over again. If you want, set up a rest area next to the boss, so the heroes will be in good shape to fight. Then again, not including these features sure heighten the difficulty of a game, (or make it more frustrating).
Preperation: If you need to prepare your heroes, do so now. Sometimes you might want to change their appearance, or give them something extra to fight the boss with. You can do this with plotscripting.
- Also let the player have time to prepare. They can change their equipped items to suit the boss, or storm the dungeon fighting more battles to gain experience. (This isn't related to bosses, but it's best to try to make all equippable items just as good as each other, but do different things, it makes games more strategic)
Cutscenes: Now, you're almost at the final boss fight. There's one more thing it's good to do. Add a cutscene using plotscripting. See the (in-progress) chapter "Creating Cutscenes" for more tips, but here are some boss specific ones:
- When you walk into a final boss room, change the music to suit the boss. Make something important, and story relevant, to happen. Often in boss rooms you won't see the boss at first, but then they will appear in the cutscene. Have the hero and boss exchange some threats, maybe throw in some spiffy effects, and have the boss run at you. Then, start the battle!
How to make a Regular Boss
A boss battle is still a regular battle, so when creating the actual battle, you need make the enemies, the minions, and the formation. You will definitely want to find the appropriate music and background you will use before you start.
Creating the Boss
Start your boss like you would make any enemy. Bosses are usually quite powerful, so keep this in mind as you go.
- As usual, draw your boss's graphics. Make it look any way you want. It's good to give each boss (and dungeon) a theme. Typical themes are elemental (fire, water, earth, air, light, and the obviously popular dark), but be creative!
- Once you are done, go the enemy editor, and create your boss. Give it a name, and an appearance.
- Next, go to the stats menu. Sometimes it can be tricky to set the boss's stats. You don't want your boss to be too easy or too hard. Play your game, or get someone else to try it. When you get to the part where the boss is, check out the party's stats. Try and aim your bosses stats to be roughly higher than the heroes. For harder bosses, the player might have to train their party to beat the boss.
NOTE: Always keep how many heroes and minions are fighting and your party's stats in mind.
- Once you've set the stats, it's time to bring in the attacks. To make bosses more interesting, you could make really cool boss-only attacks; use extended animations, and status effectsto find out how to make fighting the boss epic.
Make the boss more likely to use powerful attacks when weak, or attacks that the boss will only do when weak, like in this picture.
- Next we must use the Bitset menu, you want to set "Boss" on, it's for other reasons I'll explain later. Also, you don't want the player running from the boss battle so make it "Unescapable."
- Sometimes you may want to add weaknesses or strengths as the key to a battle.
- Make your minions (if you want the boss to have them). These are usually weak. Turn on the "Die without boss" bitset. So, if you want your enemy to make a comeback later in the game, use the "Flee instead of Die" bitset.
- Last but not least, Rewards. Make sure you make the boss give a lot of experience; maybe even enough to grow a level or two. That makes beating a boss feel satisfying.
Make your Boss Formation
Next is the formation: this is where you create the area where your characters will fight the boss. Use the formation settings to set the right environment for your boss.
NOTE: This diagram does not have a backround or music. Make sure your battle is a lot spiffier!
- Make a background that suits the environment. Make a special one you don't see anywhere else. Maybe, for a really special boss, make an animated background if you can.
- Add music that suits the boss.
- Then, put your boss in. Be sure to put it in the right place. Sometimes a boss is so big you need to make part of it the background.
- Then add any other enemies you may also want to assist the boss in the battle. Make sure that the "Die Without Boss" bitset is on, so that if the boss dies, you don't have to keep fighting the minions. Also, make sure that if you have a lot of of minions you don't make the boss as powerful.
That's really all you need to do! Now play your game and test the boss, if it's too hard, lower the stats. If it's too easy, raise them. Test it until it feels just right, like you would with bathwater.
After Your Boss
Now the battle is over for the player, but not for the developer! There's still a lot you need to do.
- First, finish the cutscene. Have the boss flee or be obliterated, or just make it disappear after the battle. You might have a little victory dance among the heroes, or have people go, "Oh, thank you for destroying the evil monster!" Just be creative.
- Next you need to dish out the rewards. Make the player feel special for defeating the boss! Some good ideas are:
Give your player a very rare or useful item (may or may not be story related).
Teach the hero a new powerful spell.
Open up new areas for the player to explore.
- After that, clean up your little set, rid any unneeded NPCs, teleport your hero out of the dungeon, and give the player a chance to save. Set a tag on; it's good to have a tag for every boss because a lot of things change after one.
Spiffy Boss Ideas
This is where we add the creativity to your bosses. You can't make bosses just really powerful, you need to make 'em fun. Read the articles below to get ideas to make each boss battle very spiffy.
Many times in a boss battle, you may want something interesting to happen in the middle of it. You cannot make it happen in the middle of a battle, but you can make it happen on the field. Just create two different formations (or more) and once the player beats that boss, make the events happen on the map, then enter the next battle as the second part.
- For the first part of the battle, use the "Flee instead of Die" bitset on so that the boss moves backward instead of being obliterated.
Minions are other enemies that will fight with the boss. Usually they are much weaker than the boss. Just create the enemies (or edit ones that have already been made) and put them around the boss. I have mentioned before, be sure to add the "Die Without Boss" bitset on. That wasn't so hard! Was it?
Series of Battles
This is a way of challenging your players. Right after you finish one battle, another boss comes and you have to fight those two in a row.
- This will not let the player heal, or use an item. So make sure the two battles are attached in a plotscript.
- Also, put a mini-cutscene in between the battles so the player knows that something more is coming.
If you want your boss to change after you beat so much of it, make each form as different enemies.
- Go to the Spawning menu of the enemy, and make this enemy spawn the next form when it dies. You can make as many forms as you want. Make sure it only spawns one enemy after it dies.
Battles You Can't Beat
Want a boss that you must lose to, but can't beat it until you come back later in the game?
Just make a beatable and unbeatable version of your boss. NOTE: An unbeatable enemy is usually acheived by giving it way too much HP and/or defense.
- Read How do I make the story continue after you die in battle?
- In the plotscript, once you lose, make your heroes flee (in the script), and make it so you have to accomplish something in the game until the boss is beatable.
- When the event happens in the game that lets your boss become beatable, set a tag on.
- Then, in the same plotscirpt, if that tag is on, the script will lead you too the beatable version of your boss.
NOTE: An unbeatable boss provides no challenge to the player, and this idea is mainly used for story purposes.
Battles That You're Not Supposed To Beat
Alternately, you could make a boss designed for a party 20 levels higher. In this case, you're intended to lose. But, make it so that something happens if you do win.
A famous example of this is Chrono Trigger, where you're given multiple chances to fight the final boss, and are even forced to encounter it directly at one point. You're not supposed to win (this particular battle is the most difficult battle in the game, hands down), but if you do, you get a very special ending.
Make one boss be a bunch of multiple parts as different enemies. For example, in The Wandering Hamster, there is a ghost boss in the game. The boss has a big head with two hands floating next to it. Notice the hands separately attack the hero. This is because the head and the two hands are three different enemies. Although you only attack the head, when it dies, the hands die too. The head is a "Boss," and the hands have "Die without Boss" set. You can't attack the hands because they are "Untargetable."
- Just make the main part as one enemy, with the boss bitset on. This is the part your heroes attack. Also, the "Unescapeable" bitset should be on since it is a boss.
- Then make the other parts that attack the hero. Set the "Die without Boss" bitset on, and "Untargetable" as well.
- Put the parts close together in the formation, and then you're done!
- You can customize this idea a lot. Be creative!
Removing a Hero
Lets say you want to make a boss really challenging: remove a certain hero from your party just before the fight. Then the player must fight without that hero.
- Use the "swap out hero (who)" and "lock hero (who)" commands before the battle starts.
NOTE: Do not use the "delete hero (who)" command or their stats and equipped items will be lost.
- Make something in the cutscene have the hero be removed, so the player won't be confused when they are missing the hero.
- Be sure to unlock and swap in the heroes before the plotscript ends.
Keep in mind when making this boss's stats that you will have less people in your party, so the stats should be lower.
Adding a Hero
Perhaps you have a really hard boss too hard for your party. You might add another hero right before you fight the boss. Make him/her appear in the cutscene. Then remove the hero after the boss is over.
Or you could add a special hero, that doesn't do much and is pretty defenseless. Your heroes will have to keep this person alive to win the boss. You can do this, with plotscripting. After the boss battle, have the script check if the hero's HP equals zero. If so, use the "gameover" command.
Must Flee Battles
This is a battle that you must to flee from to win. Though if you just hold ESC and leave it's no challenge. So, try this.
- This battle will have many enemies.
- Make some normal enemies to put in. Make these ones "Unescapable."
- Make some unbeatable enemies. DO NOT give them the "Unescapable" bitset.
- Put multiple enemies of each kind into a formation.
NOTE: When the player fights these enemies, they must beat the normal enemies before they can escape.
- Be sure to warn the player that he/she must defeat the certain enemies and then try to escape to win or he/she might not think of it. (See Combat Dialogues)
- You don't get experience after running. If you are using this as an important boss battle, you may want to use plotscripting to give the player some experience after the battle.
These are just some examples of bosses, but there are many more ways to spiffy up a boss battle.
- If you have a really good idea, you can add it here to by clicking the "Edit" Link at the top of the page. Or if have an idea for a boss, but don't know how to put it together, click "Discussion", then "Edit", then add the suggestion there.