Tobold's Blog
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Are some raid bosses just too hard?

Mank alerted me to an interesting story in The Escapist, where one of the top raid guilds in Final Fantasy XI gave up on a raid boss after 18 hours of nonstop fighting, as people started to get physically ill from playing for so long. Apparently there are very, very few raid guilds who have ever killed that boss without using some exploit. Which makes me wonder why such a boss is in the game at all. What purpose does content serve which can't be beat?
An (almost) unbeatable boss in an MMO serves as a "brick wall" preventing players from achieving closure and "beating" the game. Once that psychological point is reached, many will quit and stop paying. However, some very small percentage of "hardcore" players has to defeat such bosses, so that they are percieved to be a challenge rather than a red herring. Again, such bosses are not in the game for fun -- they are there as a closure-preventing mechanism.
It makes the super talented ones stand out, like a super hard to earn gold medal.
Have you played FFXI before? The devs of that game really, really, REALLY love adding secret stuff and never telling the general population exactly what does what. It has to be the most asinine and ridiculous way of controlling advancement an MMO has ever done, but they have at least been consistent with their stupid hidden crap.

The boss will go down much easier once they figure out the stupid things that need to be done that have no connection to any form of logic whatsoever that makes the fight doable.
Caleb, have [i]you[/i] ever played FFXI before? Absolute Virtue, the first of the two impossible bosses introduced in FFXI is roughly 3 year old content that has never been legitimately defeated. It took Square-Enix three years to release any information at all pertaining to how to defeat him, and no one as of yet has figured it out even with the hints. I suspect that Pandemonium Warden will serve as Absolute Virtue vers. 2.0 in that he'll remain unbeatable for years to come. I certainly hope not since it's depressing to read stories of linkshells going through 18 hour boss killing marathons only to wipe and go completely unrewarded, but this is Square-Enix we're talking about...
There's something very right about this boss. It requires some perspective shifting if you think about the psychological statements this boss makes to its world.
The FFXI dev team has always been sadistic and hated the players. They refuse to answer the most basic questions about how anything works, and when they do let some hint slip out, it's so vague nobody understands it.

The support system is built around annoying the players into quitting. The GMs tell you to call the support center for help, the support center tells you to send email, and if the email actually gets read, the reply is either "the game is working as intended" (no matter what the question is) or that you need to call or talk to a GM, starting the whole process over again. You might get really lucky and they'll tell you to speak to a supervisor, but there has never EVER been one available to anybody. Just one more cockblock time sink, it's just like playing ffxi.

Even after you spend 18-24 hours trying to kill this damn boss the chances of it dropping anything useful or wanted is .00001%. You're more likely to get a useless crystal or nothing at all, even if you do manage to beat it. The only reason people still care about old content is that the items from that content hardly ever drop. You could be doing the same raids (like dynamis) for YEARS and NEVER see anything you could use.

FFXI isn't for the hard core, it's for the brain damaged. You can't even attempt mobs like this unless you find 18 (or more) of the best players with the best gear. And getting that gear requires doing the same events over and over and over because the drop rate on items is low.

The dev team forces users to bend over, without any lube, because it makes them feel better about designing a horribly sadistic and mind numbingly grind of a game.

Oh! and don't forget that even if you want to grind out XP, you're forced to deal with 300 players that are "JP PARTY ONLY". leaving you with 2 other NA or EU players to xp with, and their jobs don't work with yours, making XP also next to impossible to get.

Quit now, it's never going to improve. The people at Square-Enix just don't care about the players or their opinions. There are better games out there, that aren't designed by sadists.
The brick wall hypothesis mentioned by mr.gamer seems spot on and the only reason to include such a boss.

That said, a truely legendary hard as nails nearly impossible to beat boss does link to an aspect of RL: some feats can only be achieved by the very very VERY select few. In modern mmos however everybody is considered equal (hence the rise of the hybrid: to each his dps, cc and survivability) and able to achieve anything in game. This forced and artificial equality feels wrong.
Right on Phantasm!
I am not a fan of the (so-called) free market and i think that ayn rand and her individualism/selfishness are full of crap.
But it amazes me that the most hardcore right wing free market appologists turn communists when it comes to gaming.
Me, i am neither one or the other: i believe that everyone should have the essencial to get his/her life going but beyond that everything should boil down to personal effort.
Transfer that to games.
18 hours? Dear lord! Surely the purpose is to keep some of the most tragic obsessives away from the rest of the online mmorpg population?

Every no-life "elite" guild ought to get a tip-off about such raid bosses, thus removing their generally unwelcome presence and obsessive bleating from an otherwise enjoyable social gaming experience.

Better still, let them succeed after p***ing away endless hours chasing shiny pixels - then just before they start waving their shinies about for the benefit of us mere mortals with lives, jobs and families, throw up a "game over" sign and delete their characters :;
An asinime game with such content is worthless. People think when they finally beat it that they are something special...well they are special alright, special idiots for thinking putting up with that and defeating it is worty of praise when it is really worthy of counseling! seriously, they need a life
I just dont see how this kind of encounter could be designed for the typical "American Gamer Culture". Not even the most hardcore of players that I know would even think about doing an 18 hour boss fight.

I wonder if this type of design might not be better accepted in the asian market more than anywhere else?
It's freakin' Final Ffantasy... that game, and many games from Japan (and other Asian countries) tend to have different design sensibilities than Westerners. They also play for different reasons, in different ways, and have different goals. What seems like a pointless boss because it can hardly ever be killed and simply is unused content isn't seen in that manner by both the designers and gamers.

Now, I'm generalizing here, and I don't know where the raiding guild you mentioned is based... and many westerners play Final Fantasy, but the point about it all being a different trope is valid.
"Are some raid bosses just too hard?"

Short answer clearly is no. Some few people have beaten it. Should those guys have to have their challenging content dumbed down simply because someone not so good is banging their head against the encounter?

I'm not bleeding edge myself, haven't been for some time but anyone trying bleeding edge stuff should expect extreme difficulty.
I would say they will adjust the risk:reward once the subscriptions start going away. Lineage 2 is similiar in many respects to FFxi and it recently released a new gracia expansion that has 4x exp rates, better drops and easier to obtain general gear.

Difficult raidbosses are a good thing, but a person has to be careful how you define difficult. 18 hours for ra single boss.. isnt just difficult its unhealthy and depricating. now if it took 18 minutes, but required intensly accurate organization/control then people wouldnt think twice.

You've got it wrong on a few points. No one has killed this boss yet. The boss your talking about is totally different (killed with exploits). Thanks to ninja 'fixes' that boss is not able to be killed currently either. 2 non-killable monsters. yay SE
So what exactly is the purpose of "preventing closure" if, as you say, most players will quit when they reach that point anyway. Why not give the majority closure if you're not going to keep them playing by denying it from them?
Personally, after, oh, four hours of the same damn fight I'd pack up and take my data with me. What seemed to have an effect and what didn't, so I'd do less of the former and more of the latter the next time out.

I think hacking at the same boss for 18 hours says a lot more about the mental problems of the raiders than the game design. How does that go? "Insanity: Doing the same thing again and expecting a different result"?
bad bosses reminds me of school.


No raid bosses are not to hard. Many old school game are that hard (MUD's, etc). It is however good most games are not that hard. Have developers don't need to end that many people's lives. That's one of the better parts of World of Warcraft. You can beat the game playing under 20 hours a week. Most MMO's you have to play a lot more than that.
You have to wonder about a guild culture where no one in the raid said 'Sorry, falling asleep here, gotta go' for 16 hours...

There are lots of companies that only dream of getting that kind of loyalty out of their employees. It has to be only a matter of time before they start using game-like strategies to encourage it.
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