Tobold's Blog
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Does a game need an unbeatable monster?

Rawrsaur sent me a link to a video Square Enix released on how to beat Absolute Virtue, an uber monster in Final Fantasy XI, which hasn't been beaten yet in a legit way. He writes:
Absolute Virtue is essentially the pinnacle of FFXI raiding. Nobody's ever defeated it. They've datamined it, they've tried all sorts of things, but to this date, given the (roughly) 500,000 subscribers, they have yet to kill the thing. And it hasn't been for lack of time, either. According to the wiki history at, the thing's been around since january of 2006. It's been around for two entire years, and nobody's been able to take it down legitimately.

The developers have not nerfed the encounter. Most of the information has been data mined about the creature from the game files (it is effectively 9 levels above players, it has around 120,000 hp, etc. etc.). They know what it drops. They know what it can do. It is just tuned to the point that killing the thing is nearly impossible.

There were a number of glitches that allowed some players to defeat it.

So what do you think about something like this? Obviously, this monster isn't meant to be part of some sort of loot progression line. That's something FFXI never really did. The loot you can earn through raiding is a little better than the loot you can earn through grouping, but it isn't huge amounts more. There have been recorded attempts... as few as 18 people, and as many as 320 people all gathered together to try to kill it, and all failed.

Do you think something like this would fly in the present day? FFXI is niche; they had their day in the sun and they still do decently well (I love the teamwork inherent in that game), but they are hardly a spring chicken. Like Paul Barnett said, the market changes as time passes.

Personally, I think that it would be an excellent idea to put something like this as an optional side-quest, similar to the monster arenas in the various final fantasy games. You often have challenges that are tougher than anything else in the game, and usually by the time your characters are strong enough to defeat them, any sort of loot reward is mostly pointless. So instead, you give special bragging rights rewards, like a special title, a special visual effect, a special mount, or some other cool thing. Absolute Virtue does drop items, and those items can lead to some of the most powerful items in the FFXI game. However, that in and of itself doesn't necessarily mean quite as much -- the belt it drops (Ninurta's Sash) has +6% to haste (which is the big deal). There are several questable belt rewards that give +4% to haste, and 2% is really not a huge difference in performance, especially given how slow-paced the game is.

The real benefit of beating Absolute Virtue would just be the bragging rights to say 'Yes, we beat it'.
So what do you think? Is there any value in designing an encounter that can't be beat for years?
The Final Fantasy series has had these kinds of bosses since.. Final Fantasy V, I think. FFXI players probably tolerate Absolute Virtue, because many fans of the series expect something like Absolute Virtue to be there. Sure, having a boss that requires optimal gear, optimal strategies and optimal execution is a nice thing to have for the hardcore, but only for them. The Final Fantasy series gets a free pass for this, because the more casual players can complete the storyline without ever fighting one of these ultimate bosses.

I seriously doubt that the introduction of an ultimate boss would be welcomed to any of the current mass-market MMORPGs. If the fact that only a minority of players have completed all of the plotline-based PvE ancounters is viewed as a major design flaw, then taking the time to design a boss encounter several orders of magnitude harder than those would cause an uproar.
That's the point though. The raid boss wouldn't be part of the PvE plotline. It would be something completely optional, completely separate. There's nothing in the story about him, because he does not matter one bit whether you can or cannot defeat him. It's just the challenge of it existing for those who wish to beat their heads against it, for that brief fleeting bit of glory that says "Yes, we killed it". Absolute Virtue is FFXI's Mount Everest.

That's literally all you get. A small bonus, a tiny amount of benefit (maybe 2% better than the other players), but bragging rights nonetheless. Personally, I think it'd be rather interesting for something like this to exist, and I think it could fly in a next gen MMORPG... as long as it was transparent that the monster really *was* a completely optional boss, and not really necessary for anything.
Indeed. Introducing such a boss now would cause the uproar, since people even complain about Karazhan. Telling people that you're designing a boss that even top-of-the-line guilds couldn't defeat for years.. that's practically career/market suicide. But if a superboss was hidden in the code from the beginning it could be tolerated.
Nah, I think people would love it. Make sure that anyone can have a crack at the monster, no matter what level or kit they are/have, and make sure it doesn't block anything at all.

I know I'd really appreciate knowing there was something like that out there.

Bear in mind, people already go looking for "impossible" things to do - ever tried to get to Ironforge Airport?
Personally I really like the idea - at first this is how I viewed the world leaders in WoW. They just had those little skulls in their portraits to tell you that yes, they were badasses. In terms of putting this sort of mob into a game like WoW I think it'd need to go into a random outdoor spot so that in theory you could try to get 200 people together to try to kill the thing. You'd need to change the way mob's get "tagged" a little or perhaps make sure it has no loot, but that anyone who gets damage on it get the title or access to some other bragging rights thing.

Secondly this points to a few different types of mobs that we, well I, haven't yet seen in MMO's: mobs that scale by encounter - basically mobs that are skill based to go down. This kind of mob would have its stats change based on the stats of the group facing it and compensate to be just about even or slightly ahead. The edge would come in with skill - the mob wouldn't be unbeatable, but rather only go down to people and groups who can really play their classes well. That way you could fight the same mob at lvl 10, 36, and at cap and have a different challenge at each space because you have different skills. I realize the huge challenge this would be to program, but I'm an American consumer, so I'm conditioned to think I get to ask for what I want no matter how ridiculous it is.

The second kind of new mob encounter this points to is where it's not about the gear or the skill, but just the sheer number of people you get to take it down - trying to encourage world/faction participation. Here I'm imagining that the mob can be defeated, but only after 200 different people have all gotten at least one hit on it (so maybe each successful attack reduces its stats or whatever by x% and you must keep adding people until it's at the correct threshold and becomes do-able). I'm thinking back to the mechanics of classic pen & paper RPG's. An unruly mob of lvl 1 characters always had a chance of bringing down any monster because the mob had sheer numbers to make the difference, because they each had a random chance of connecting... the rolling 100 on the %die.

Anyway, I'm starting to ramble, but I love the idea of creating mob encounters with different mechanics - not based on stats like hp, armor and so forth as much as skill, or sheer numbers. I'm sure there are other different sorts of encounter ideas out there too.
Should WoW have an unbeatable boss? Hell, it NEEDS an unbeatable boss.

Once WotLK is released player will be able to kill the Lich King, one of the most power entities in WoW lore. Players have already killed an Old God and Archimonde, who was so powerful that the Night elves have to sacrifice their very mortality to destroy! What next in the third expansion? Killing Sargeras? More Old Gods? A Titan?

The players in WoW have become too powerful, there needs to be one thing, something, to true give players awe and to let them know they are still mere mortals. This needs to added as soon as possible, preferably in a major patch or expansion.

Soon players will be so powerful that Blizz is going to run out of lore to throw at us and the game will suffer. Thing about it, if Blizz continues on it's current model, and in a few years we are at lvl 100, MC could be solo-able, at least you could 5-man it. Standard instance bosses will be stronger than Archimonde. The game would loose it's favor and a large part of what makes WoW so appearing will be lost. This is unavoidable, but with a Unbeatable boss, it could give us a bit more time.

In addition to that reason it would make an excellent test to see what raid guild is the best, the percentage you get it down it your guild's score. Yes, only a few would actually fight such a creature, but by it's mere existence would effect all players. To the lvl 1 noob just starting to the Epic'ed out super raider, it would all be the same to them; a Legend.
FFXI is the 5th largest subscription-based MMORPG on the market with ~500,000 players...yet look at all the comments calling it 'niche' and not including it in 'current mass-market MMORPGS'. This is what WoW hath wrought. In any sane system FFXI would be considered a major player, but how do you look at them that way with a 10 million pound gorilla in the corner?
I can see an insanely hard boss in WoW, as long as it's a completely optional boss.

Problem is mostly that WoW has tried to link difficulty with lore standing of a mob which kind of goes against him being optional in the story line.

But to look at it the other way, I don't think much is lost by WoW not having such a boss.
Wasn't there such an almost unbeatable 'boss' in EQ, called the Sleeper? It was thought to be unbeatable but ever since it was killed for the first time it has been considered a pinnacle of raiding in the game... so I've heard.

I agree with most of the commenters: WoW definately needs such an unbeatable entity. Let's say that as the level cap is at 70 now, the 'unbeatable' could be a lore based boss of lv80 or even lv100, making it possible but not at any means easy... ok, lv100 wouldn't be possible at this point.

What I would like to see would be really the power of the most powerfull entities of the game. Word of mouth spreads fast, and as soon as one of these entities is awaken by an overanxious raid guild to roam around the landscape, destroying the outposts and so on, there will be a warm fuzz around the gaming world about The Price of falling the beast...

I would really love to see that come in WotLK.

I would love to have such a boss around.

I dont think it has to be unkillable though, it would just have to be insanely hard.

Impossible to be killed by 25, 40 or even 100 players.

But if, somehow, a whole server was able to gather together. If 500 players would attack this boss. I think there should be a way to kill it.

This would give an epic feeling as never before !

Or the server would crash... (c:

***Stupid idea of the day #382***

Maybe this boss should create incarnations of itself around the world when engaged; all of which had to be killed for the boss to die.

Imagine Sargeras being somewhere in Outland and popping when engaged in 10 different places in Azeroth, Outland and Northrend. Imagine 40 stuffed raiders needed for each incarnation. If a server could bring this level of organisation (440 stuffed raiders at the same time, several times to learn the encounter) they somehow deserve to see the boss fall.

You could even imagine to have different power for each incarnation, so that less stuffed raiders could somehow participate.

If they manage to design a boss that would be killed one or to times in WoW history (not server history) it would be great, and really epic.

I would love it :D!

It would give people something to talk about ^_^. I think that kind of thing could foster the community a little more if implemented.
I go with what Gehenne said above.

A boss like that in the open would be welcomed, who once disturbed could wreck complete Havoc to areas of the game landscape but yet was not tied to any raid progression in endgame as we know it.

A Epic Boss that had a very high level and could not be downed by any 25-100 raid but 200 players or more in organized effort yet being hard to down all the same. This way its a complete Server Wide effort with Alliance and Horde both maybe or enough players on either faction side to attempt or possible succeed. If in case anyone could succeed to down such a boss give all who participated a complete unique title and or mighty buff from the boss of some kind that's also unique to all that participated IF they could succeed in killing it.

That would give people something interesting to attempt to do on a server level and sure would be fun to attempt every so often. Would be fun to have such a boss around that could literally show up anywhere in the game landscape or any city.
EQ did have an "unkillable" boss called the sleeper. One of the problems with the sleeper was that it could only be awaken once per server. Unless they have added new servers recently (unlikely), it was only ever killed once, on the FFA PVP server. Took the top 3 guilds about 3-4 hours i belive to kill him. I remember listening to it in serverwide chat, was pretty cool.

I would like to see a boss like that in WoW. It adds a bit of something to the game.
I think I agree with Arrow, it is fine if there are beings around that humble the players and keep them from strutting all the time, just as long as its understood that you can still progress somehow.
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