Elder Scrolls Online Dev Interview goes behind the scenes of boss mechanics, adjusting for difficulty levels
Recently, The Elder Scrolls Online Lead Encounter Designer Mike Finnigan and Lead Content Designer Shane Slama have teamed up to offer a behind-the-scenes look at how the entire team designs boss encounters. The second part of the deep dive is now live and this one is about the boss fights themselves, the mechanics, as well as the design with lore and player roles in mind.
Boss abilities and mechanics come from finding out what that boss is, again between lore and history, and what type of monster it is. Basically, they base the design on several principles and then go from there. They also use the catalog of what has already been done in both The Elder Scrolls Online and Ancient Scrolls globally. They want to keep track of how some of these creatures have been presented in the past, while adding something unique. Finally, once they have a boss concept in mind, it comes down to how that creature will move around the environment so they can figure out what kind of mechanics it will have.
When it comes to challenges, it can be too tempting to just focus on the mechanics instead of using the story enough, or to get too involved in something exciting or cool without making it satisfying enough. Even overreliance on one particular mechanic at the expense of others is something they strive to avoid.
One question asks how they design dungeon bosses based on player character roles. This is a basic design situation for MMOs, but they’re right because roles and interdependence create connection and it builds teamwork. What you need for efficient victories in dungeons.
Another issue they address is how to design bosses when this content will have different difficulty levels. They’re trying to figure out what mechanics will be present across all difficulty levels first so that abilities are appropriate for that experience and hopefully preparing players to step up later when they see the same mechanics they already have been exposed. Consistency is important. and when it comes to designing hard modes, it can’t just be about numbers like getting the boss to have more HP or pure damage.
For the full blog, go to Elder Scrolls Online.