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Community Spotlight: World Bosses: How Many Players are Enough?

Posted by MikeB Saturday December 31 2011 at 2:29PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Should World Boss mobs be killable by 10/25?" by pbowman. In the thread, pbowman comments on the silliness of having 10 or 25 people down some of MMOs most dangerous characters:


  I was just wondering what people think about World Mobs, such as Lich King or Deathwing being killed by 10 or 25 people.  These mobs broke the world, their the biggest and baddest thing around.  Thrall and Varian and all the rest couldn't take em, yet 10/25 people can take em down.

I remember in DAOC, in some dragon runs or epic armor runs we had almost 100 people.  We didn't ask to see their gear level or achievements, we banded together and fought the epic mobs.  Sometimes we wiped, but it was fun.  Same with relic raids or defending our relic, a call went out and people of all levels came to defend or go on raid.  It was fun, at least to me it was.

Personally, I think that world mobs should take the cooperation of the server.  Put out a call to the server, let anyone and everyone come to fight the creature that is trying to take over the world. 

This goes for any MMO, not just WoW, I just used them as an example.

This is just my opinion.


What's the community have to say about this? Read on to find out!

Torik feels the problem is actually the fact these characters are now part of the "raid grind":

The problem with these fights is not the requirement on the number of players but the fact that the fights are part of a raid grind.  They are meant to be repeated every week by a dedicated group of raiders and that sucks most of the 'epicness' out of them. 

If these fights were more casual affairs that only awarded achievements and/or titles they could require 100+ players.  Once a month someone on a server would try to organize a raid for those and people would come to the fight because it would be a rare social event.   They would be willing to put a lot of time and effort into it because it would be something special to remember.

If you make these fights regular repeatable events then the scale does not matter and it becomes the equivalent of a daily quest.  It's fun to do the first few tiems and then you just want to get it out of the way.  It's like having a Christmas parade every week.  After the first few, people will lose interest and mostly care about the traffic jams it causes.

Maplestone asserts the 10/25 dynamic is appropriate due to potential performance issues:

The problem with massive world bosses is that once you have a hundred people on screen at once, you start loosing players  with lower-end machines or cause the server hamsters to have heart attacks.

I've always enjoyed wandering across random out-of-level encounters and sizing up if I want to tackle them or answer a zone-wide alarm or world event.  However, I generally don't enjoy world bosses because it's sheer chaos and brings me into contact with all the powergamers, exploiters and hard-core rare-seekers who I generally try to avoid.

But in principle, I've always felt that a game should always have bosses that have never been defeated that sit there as mountains to climb.

Axehilt isn't even convinced 10 players are necessary:

No particular reason bosses need to even require 10 players.

The epicness of a fight doesn't come from massing a bunch of players, it comes from the presentation of the fight itself.

You need 4-6 players to get the feeling of team gameplay.  Additional players beyond that doesn't contribute much to the sensation of being part of a team, but definitely does increase the amount of hassle and tedium, and dilutes my personal contribution to the point of being pretty meaningless.

While I enjoy large-scale balanced-team PVP (Planetside), I really wouldn't mind if I never raided again in PVE-focused games (and I only play MMORPGs for PVE.)

I tend to agree with Axehilt's point-of-view. I'm really excited for those big 100+ player fights with super giant dragons in Guild Wars 2, for example, but I don't feel this is necessary to accomplish a sense of epicness. If these games are made to make us feel like the "hero" I don't think 10-25 heroes are entirely necessary to make a fight feel epic.

I also agree with the notion that sometimes when you've got more than a couple of players going at something you lose your sense of individual contribution to the fight. Without a DPS meter of some sort it can be pretty hard to tell how much of an impact you're having. With less players involved, every single player is likely to be responsible for a significant percentage of your group's chance of success in the encounter.

What are your thoughts? Share 'em in the comments below!

Isometrix writes:

It doesn't really bother me but it depends on the game and the lore. I think WoW does a poor job at it. It's tearing through all the known villains like it's nothing. We have The Lich King able to tear down entire armies, Deathwing being so powerful he sunders half the planet and changes every zone permanently. All the books and lore show him as an aspect, one of the 5 creators / guardians who has gone mad but has become insanely powerful, virtually unbeatable. And then a band of 10-20 people walks in and kills him every week? Meh.

I agree that you don't need hundreds of people to make a fight epic, but I do think some fights should be reserved for those amounts. I don't mind that some random monsters gets killed. In the most recent example of SW:TOR, the world bosses take 10-20 people, but they're unknown factors in the universe of Star Wars, which makes it fine. Make it Darth Vader that suddenly goes down to 10 people and I'd get mad.

So I agree with the OP, but also with all the replies. You can have world bosses with 5-20 people and have it be epic. Just make sure those worldbosses aren't a huge part of the lore. If you let groups of 10 players kill the most powerful beings in your lore, you're failing in my opinion. I don't care if they're wearing their Epic Gauntlets of Uberdragon Slaying+20, they're still just 10 dudes against the most iconic and ancient being in your universe.

Sun Jan 01 2012 6:29AM Report
Gravarg writes:

I'd have to agree with pbowman on this one.  Almost all of my most memorable moments in battles is from those epic huge battles.  More from DAoC than any other game.  Having half of Midgard fighting the dragons or going on relic raids was easily the most fun I've ever had in a game, let alone just MMOs.  I have no clue how we were able to do it back then, but it seems games today aren't coded as well to support massive battles.  You get more than 40 players in a game today and people start dropping.  I could remember when New Frontiers first launched, there was a HUUUUUGE battle in the frontiers.  It raged on for over the first 3 months.  You could log out go to bed, log back in, and your party would still be on and get re-invited.  Once in the Hibernia lands we had to have over 500 players in an area.  Some people did start to drop out, but it was still fun as most memorable moment :)

Sun Jan 01 2012 11:44PM Report
Athcear writes:

It's not really the size of the battle that makes a difference.  It's the stakes.  Remember Illidan?  Remember how disappointing he was?  That was because we really had no reason to kill him.  Sure he was a prick and he was kind of oppressing Outland, but that makes attacking him entirely altruistic.  He didn't even kidnap our girlfriends or anything like that.  Then consider Archimonde.  Archimonde was badass because he was right there at the tree, trying to destroy everything.  There was a sense of immediacy.  By the time players got to the Lich King, his armies had been decimated.  He was just a sad little ice man on his sad little ice throne.  He wasn't stomping down the gates of Orgrimmar, howling for the blood of our friends and neighbors.  Epicness comes from excitement, which comes from high stakes.

Mon Jan 02 2012 10:39AM Report
JC-Smith writes:

I personally liked both the big raids and the small group stuff. I personally find challenging group encounters to be a ton of fun. But raid wise, I think the best raids I can remember where the old Planes of Power Raids for EQ. The Rallos Zek encounter for example you might have 100 people for your first kill of him and it was extremely challenging. When you overcame it though it was also very rewarding. You felt a real sense of accomplishment.

@Gravarg:  I did want to comment here on the difference between 40 players today and 10+ years ago. Back in those early games you were really just dealing with tetextured models and a few clothing variants with some tinting. Once they added real 3d models for each armor piece, a slew of facial configurations, and began having a hundred different looks, things get a bit more difficult.

Texture switches are a very slow operation, and if you have 7 visible pieces of armor, each with it's own model and texture, not only do you have a lot of texture swapping (and bandwidth) but you also have a situation where you can't effectively batch render those models. Batch rendering/instancing is much more efficient than drawing many separate models. Another issue they run into, as opposed to say a single player game is that there is no really easy way to predict the requirements you need. In most situations you won't have more than a few character models on your screen, but in a raid you may have hundreds.

It's a much tougher balancing act for developers today.

Mon Jan 02 2012 5:29PM Report writes:
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