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My thoughts on designing the IW fight for the Boss Rush

Note: fair warning this is long, even by my standards, as this covers the basics of my thought process for the design of my Boss Rush fight.

I was asked by Kabam to participate in the current Content Creator Boss Rush. Although I'm not an official Content Creator, the design team was interested in a forum post I made regarding "interesting challenges" (https://forums.playcontestofchampions.com/en/discussion/143545/what-makes-challenges-interesting) and thought I might be able to design something interesting here. I took the invitation as a personal challenge: could I "put up or shut up" and follow my own rules to make something interesting. The Content Creators were limited in how they could design the fights (I'm assuming everyone operated under the same limitations). We were asked to pick a champion and two buffs from a supplied list to apply to that champion to create the boss fight. Presumably Kabam would add basic buffs like champion (attack/health) buffs to scale the fight appropriately.

After thinking about it for a while and looking over the buffs, my first question was how firm Kabam was on the two-buff limit? It seemed to me from looking at the available buffs that what I wanted to do in rough concept would require at least three buffs. I wanted the fight to be more skill based and less random based, and I wanted to both provide for the possibility that some champions would be better than others, without creating situations that made some champions simply unworkable. I also wanted to know how difficult the fight was supposed to be.

I presented an option to the devs that I thought addressed both questions. This fight isn't in the Boss Rush: Power Struggle, Power Shield, Destructive Feedback, Korg. The idea behind this combination is that Power Shield means normal attacks deal no damage only special attacks do. But Power Struggle means you can't gain power, except by giving power, so you have to attack with normal attacks. The moment you get enough power to use a special you have to use it very quickly: Power Struggle will cost you all your power if the target uses its special before you do. That's already tricky. But Destructive Feedback makes this much harder: the DF shield will absorb any damage you deal, and if the target makes contact with you then you'll get your own damage reflected back. So to beat this combination you have to attack into the target generating power, but when you give the target a bar of power you have to use your special quickly to deal Power Shield damage. Then you have to make sure the target doesn't hit you until the shield expires, whereupon the target takes your Power Shield boosted damage. Wrap all this around any champion and you have a very high skill fight. Wrap this around Korg, and you have a real nightmare.

Kabam said, and I quote: "this would be the meanest combo ever." Also: "no." But, having heard how I wanted the buffs to interact, they gave me the option to try to convince them to find a three buff combo that was reasonable for what they wanted to do. So knowing I might be able to break the two buff rule if I came up with something interesting enough, and knowing they were not trying to assassinate the players with the bosses, I went looking for a more moderate challenge option.

I really like the idea of Life Transfer. Life Transfer is a buff that both hurts the players (you degenerate) and helps them (you heal). The player's skill in attacking aggressively without pushing the target to SP3 determines whether LT is a blessing or a curse. I wanted that kind of element to the fight. But Life Transfer has been around for a while and most experienced players are sufficiently good at managing Life Transfer that it is almost all benefit and no deficit. It's so good it can erase challenges. I needed a fight where even experienced players couldn't necessarily just spam their way to victory.

I wasn't going to use an Evade champ or the Mesmerize node. I don't think those are wrong, but I did think if I was going to try to make a skill-based challenge, I should use randomness sparingly if at all. This would be the easy way out to make Life Transfer harder to leverage, and it just forced most players to bring True Strike, which then limited their options.

I thought about Hood. Hood has a less random, more skill-oriented way to avoid attacks with invisibility. It is possible to try to prevent him from activating it, which would add a measure of difficulty to leveraging Life Transfer. And then I thought about Invisible Woman. IW was relatively new when I was designing this encounter, and I had some knowledge about her because I pulled her from a crystal. I could study her description and test how she worked, above and beyond the content she was in. IW invisibility was a newer, slightly more intricate version of Hood invisibility, and that seemed to be a good ability to combine with the Life Transfer node. IW offers some challenges to pacing the fight the way the player wants to make best use of Life Transfer.

The obvious way to neuter IW's invisibility is with bleed. When she's bleeding invisibility falls away after a few seconds. So if you bring a bleed champ you can shift the equation back to where Life Transfer probably makes the fight a little too easy. So IW needed some defense against this. Giving her bleed immunity was the obvious option, but then that completely neuters bleed champs, and the tactic of using bleed to deactivate invisibility. I wanted something "softer" that didn't destroy the tactic, but made it harder to use "for free." Basically, instead of bleed making the fight much easier, I wanted bleed to trade one challenge for another. That led me to Cornered.

Cornered changed the equation again: if you used bleed on IW you'd significantly reduce the threat of IW's invisibility causing problems for Life Transfer, but then you'd be giving IW a ton of power, causing problems for Life Transfer. If you give IW too much power, have to slow down, and Life Transfer slides back towards hurting the player rather than helping. I felt the balance had tipped back in the other direction, with the combination being a little too punishing. To "nudge" the power control fight slightly back towards the player I decided to couple Cornered with Power Struggle. If you give the target a lot of power, at least you'd be getting a lot of power in return. This sounded like the fight would be slightly more "fair." And it also had the side effect that you couldn't use huge power gain champs like Hyperion or Vision to "bypass" the Life Transfer/power control interplay. Those champs work, but they don't have the same large advantage.

Taking a step back, I considered the final combination: IW + Cornered + Power Struggle + Life Transfer. Was there anything in here that demanded one or a small set of counters? It didn't seem so. Was there anything in here that couldn't be overcome with reasonable skill? It didn't seem so. Was there any node or combination in here that the players tended to hate with a vengeance, like Mesmerize? Not that I was aware of. There were nuances to the fight beyond the primary design points above, which was fine: that left the door open for players to find ways to tackle the fight beyond what I had considered and designed for, which makes for a more interesting fight in my opinion.

My design goal of the fight was to meet a set of criteria. They were, basically:

* Do make the fight as skill-oriented as possible
* Do not mandate a specific counter or effect (like heal block/reverse, or a tiny set of champs that work)
* Do not rely on random effects (no chaos, no evade, things like that)
* Do give advantages and disadvantages to as wide a set of champions as possible
* Do make the fight doable with any champ in theory
* Do try to avoid nodes players hate (mesmerize)
* Do encourage the players to use strategy (thinking about how the champ and nodes work) and tactics (how do I deal with invisibility, how do I deal with power management)

And one last one: try to give the players the feeling they beat the fight, rather than just survived the fight. This one is a bit abstract and difficult to really "design" for. If you're fighting a 500 hit Sentinel with safeguard, it can seem less like you beat the Sentinel, and more that you just outlasted it. If you fight a mesmerize node without true strike, it can seem less like you beat the fight and more like you just got lucky. I wanted players to feel like the reason they won was that they knew how the nodes worked, they knew how Invisible Woman worked, and they *beat* the fight with knowledge and skill. I wanted them to feel good about winning.

How would I take on this challenge? Well, champions that bleed are obvious, if not optimal options. Bleed causes IW's invisibility to expire, and without invisibility IW is less of a threat. But you have to deal with the Cornered power gain, which can be problematic. If you can control bleed and only use it at the right times, it can work for you. Power control is also a possibility, if you can power drain or power control with special one attacks. Power Struggle would make it hard to get to higher specials. But if you can keep draining a target that has Life Transfer, you're mostly home free. Hawkeye seems especially good here. But if you're sufficiently skilled, there's an option that allows almost any champ to work. IW's invisibility decays under two conditions: she's bleeding, or you miss her with an attack. It is dangerous to miss a normal attack because you can be countered. But you can get a "free miss" if you attack after she uses a special attack, trying to "punish" SP1. You'll miss, but you can back out after the miss without getting counter attacked. It is potentially slow and much harder to perform, but it is a skillful way to counter the fight. Give her power, bait SP1, go in as if you're punishing SP1 to trigger a miss, and then let invisibility expire. When not invisible, go to town. Just be careful about being too aggressive and stacking up too much exhaustion or pushing her to SP3.

It would have been all kinds of fun to design a fight completely from scratch, but game designers have to work under all sorts of limitations all the time. You have to do the best with what you have. I tried to find an interesting champion to fight, and a set of buffs that both hinder and help the player in a way that the more skill you have leveraging the situation the better off you'll be and the easier the fight will be. Also I used three buffs instead of two, which is kind of cheating good negotiating. I'm very interested to see how players deal with this fight, and what options they come up with. Also, do people like the fight, do they hate the fight, do they think it could have been improved.

Comments, questions, suggestions, critiques on the fight, are welcome.

Comments

  • CodeOmegaCodeOmega Posts: 125 ★★
    I loved this fight. I died the first 2 times, came back in on attempt number 3 and got her down fairly easily with cap IW. Finished the fight with full health. Also love the title lol.
  • RockypantherxRockypantherx Posts: 543 ★★★
    I really enjoyed the fight and appreciate how much thought you put into the design . I would like to point out that parry and 2 hits is a good way to get past the invisibility and makes the fight much easier. I just used Hyperion and that method. But again, well done on creating an interesting fight and hope to see more like it in the future
  • KerneasKerneas Posts: 474 ★★
    Haven't fought her yet, but I really like your creativity. She is my second most favorite champ in this challenge (can't resist loving Spite, Debuff immune Quake). I just feel like Life Transfer is too much of an advantage. It sure makes the fight more fun, but if I wanted to make this fight hard AND give players some advantage, I'd go for Bane. But having thought about it, I think this is great balance between the Rocket Raccoon from last time and the purely skill based content.

    However, I am really looking forward to fighting this champ design of yours (I only have to smash that Domino somehow). My Venom is looking forward as much as I do
  • I am Shocked! Shocked I tell you, that you wrote 3 novels and a compendium about the fight you designed. But seriously though, I enjoyed this fight did it with an R3 wasp all three times it took me to figure out the SS fight. Much more enjoyable than the other fights on the path so good job.
  • Kerneas said:

    I just feel like Life Transfer is too much of an advantage. It sure makes the fight more fun, but if I wanted to make this fight hard AND give players some advantage, I'd go for Bane.

    Bane was another one of those options that skill can pivot, and I had considered it as well. If Kabam had indicated they wanted a harder fight, I might have gone Bane. But I couldn't find a way to make a Bane fight as interesting as the Life Transfer options. I was playing around with ideas like Bane + Power Struggle + Tyranny or Bane + Aggression Regeneration + X, but I wasn't happy with any of those lines of thought at the time.
  • DshuDshu Posts: 1,064 ★★★
    It was an interesting fight and I'm glad you left it open to multiple champs and created a more skill based than champ based fight
  • DorianGrayDorianGray Posts: 22
    This was my favorite fight of the boss rush, I really appreciate the amount of thought you put into it. It is challenging but definitely doable as long as you understand the nodes and IW's mechanics.

    I've used 5* r4 unawakened stark spidey for all attempts so far. Almost died a couple times but managed to get my health back up enough for sym supreme fight with the life transfer.
  • Fred_JoeityFred_Joeity Posts: 876 ★★★
    Loved it. I almost died (lower than 10% each time) so many times, but was able to pull through each time, though there were some close calls when invisibility and force field were up at the same time. The cornered node worked pretty well in limiting your options, and the power struggle node made it a lot more of a challenge to manage your power, since you had to be paying attention.
  • The "almost died but managed to pull through" feeling was exactly the one I was hoping to generate for at least some players. I think the fights that are the most rewarding are the ones that look like you could have, and maybe even should have lost, but somehow you won. I think it can make you feel like you stole something back from the game. Not only did you steal victory from the jaws of defeat, you also snatched a bunch of health potions off the back of a truck while doing it.
  • xNigxNig Posts: 3,683 ★★★★★
    Nice design bro. 👍🏻

    The 2-3 node limitation kind of limits the amount of creativity that can go into a fight.

    Tbh I feel that a boss should have 5-6 nodes on to provide sufficient interaction that players have to keep in mind and look out for. Then again, it’s a perspective from an end game player, which this Boss Rush wasn’t designed for.

    Cheers. 😊
  • belli300belli300 Posts: 666 ★★★
    In short you’re kind of a jerk. Glad to hear kabam moderated the garbage you were trying to curse the community with.

    Overall your champ was my 1 and only death to the boss rush so Kudos to you.
  • xNigxNig Posts: 3,683 ★★★★★
    belli300 said:

    In short you’re kind of a jerk. Glad to hear kabam moderated the garbage you were trying to curse the community with.

    Overall your champ was my 1 and only death to the boss rush so Kudos to you.

    Awww.
  • belli300 said:

    In short you’re kind of a jerk. Glad to hear kabam moderated the garbage you were trying to curse the community with.

    Overall your champ was my 1 and only death to the boss rush so Kudos to you.

    If Kabam had allowed Nightmare Korg I honestly would have fallen out of my chair. Nightmare Korg makes the original Start 3 Symbiote Supreme look like King Groot.

    As to dying to IW, the majority opinion seems to be that the IW fight is about the middle of difficulty for the whole map. The only people who seem to be having more difficulty with IW than say Domino or SS seem to be unfamiliar with how IW works. Most of them seem to be getting past her after some research. The more skilled players seem to be using IW as a healing station after Quake and before heading into SS.

    Every player is different and every player is better at some fights than others. You appear to be one of the fortunate ones that has less trouble with Domino than Invisible Woman. It is a lot easier to get better fighting IW than Domino.
  • AzKicker316AzKicker316 Posts: 320
    I brought in my domino, who was down to under 10% health from quake. I found this fight very easy, especially with life transfer. I hit sp1 when I got the bar of power and she went down with little fight.
  • Mathking13Mathking13 Posts: 753 ★★★
    Great job on the fight design. I think you did a very good job and I greatly look forward to trying to overcome it when I get home from school in a few hours after making this post...
    don't think I'll be breezing through this one, but maybe Domino will be good if I don't use heavies or rely on specials...
  • myPUNCAKEmyPUNCAKE Posts: 340
    Good read and a better fight. Nicely done with the design!
  • @DNA3000 I had a ball with the IW fight. CAIW is my goto champ for her (he was my answer to her in her introduction). He performed flawlessly today in that fight. The timing aspect was a good time indeed. Making sure to bait out her S1, taking the quick swing for the 'miss,' and then go in for the smackdown while her Invisibility is down. I went in with 75% HP and came out with 100%. The fight went smoothly. I opted to not use special attacks and instead smashed away with tact and finesse.

    Chose 'The Invisible DNA' title (and am rocking it currently) as a nod to one of my fellow forum 'Guardians.' Reading your whole process on the creation of the fight was enlightening as always. Good times sir, very good times. Thanks for sharing that, and for your continued contributions. Always have enjoyed reading your posts.

    That Godforsaken Domino was the only thorn in my side until I stopped trying to outdamage the regen and instead out smart it. That's what happens when you wake up early, crash for a nap, and go into a Boss Rush half awake, lol. Had a very boorish/Hulkish attitude towards the fight at 1st, I'm just gonna smash her! Nope... not a good idea 😂😂😂.
  • Japam12345Japam12345 Posts: 591 ★★
    I dunno I thought it was just a typical IW fight?

    It would have been much more fun to take an average champ and made that fight HARD.
  • I dunno I thought it was just a typical IW fight?

    It would have been much more fun to take an average champ and made that fight HARD.

    In fact, I picked IW specifically because in one respect she is "average." Her attack animations and physical mechanics (outside of abilities and effects) are somewhere in the middle of difficulty. She doesn't have the easiest attacks to deal with, but also not the hardest. Her attacks have some contact, and some projectile. Her specials deal moderate damage relative to other champs. She's new, so she's novel, but those aspects are middle of the road.

    It is her abilities and effects that are interesting, and in my opinion when making a fight like this you don't want to start with boring abilities and effects. That just makes it harder for you to design something interesting. You basically have to start from scratch, and you only have a limited number of effects you can add. Invisible Woman has three nodes plus her entire kit of abilities. If you start with something with less distinctive abilities you'd just have three nodes and not much less. That would make for a less interesting fight.

    If we had an unlimited number of nodes, it might be interesting to take essentially a shell of a champ like Ms Marvel and just load her up with a ton of nodes. But then you aren't really fighting that champ anymore, you're fighting a bunch of nodes wearing a Ms Marvel wrapper. What you're really doing is designing a new champion.

    If Kabam is looking for volunteers to do that, I'll be first in line.
  • xNigxNig Posts: 3,683 ★★★★★
    DNA3000 said:

    I dunno I thought it was just a typical IW fight?

    It would have been much more fun to take an average champ and made that fight HARD.

    In fact, I picked IW specifically because in one respect she is "average." Her attack animations and physical mechanics (outside of abilities and effects) are somewhere in the middle of difficulty. She doesn't have the easiest attacks to deal with, but also not the hardest. Her attacks have some contact, and some projectile. Her specials deal moderate damage relative to other champs. She's new, so she's novel, but those aspects are middle of the road.

    It is her abilities and effects that are interesting, and in my opinion when making a fight like this you don't want to start with boring abilities and effects. That just makes it harder for you to design something interesting. You basically have to start from scratch, and you only have a limited number of effects you can add. Invisible Woman has three nodes plus her entire kit of abilities. If you start with something with less distinctive abilities you'd just have three nodes and not much less. That would make for a less interesting fight.

    If we had an unlimited number of nodes, it might be interesting to take essentially a shell of a champ like Ms Marvel and just load her up with a ton of nodes. But then you aren't really fighting that champ anymore, you're fighting a bunch of nodes wearing a Ms Marvel wrapper. What you're really doing is designing a new champion.

    If Kabam is looking for volunteers to do that, I'll be first in line.
    I’m actually looking forward to that Korg fight you suggested in your opening post. Would be really fun to try it out.

    On the design of a ridiculous boss rush for end game players, I wanna be in queue for it too! 😂
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