26 January 2010

RO bosses

Appearances and atmospheres

The Mummies series follow the same principle seen with Doom II monsters. A Mummy can first be encountered on the second and third floors of Pyramid dungeon. Then, on the fourth floor of Pyramid dungeon, Ancient Mummies appear, along with Osiris, a MVP. The higher the pyramid floor, the more difficult the Mummies, until Osiris at the fourth floor of the Pyramid. In my opinion, putting in parallel a spatial feeling of "going up the floors" and increasing the monster difficulty makes the player excited about "what's next floor?" and "will I be strong enough to kill them?".

As I described before, the atmosphere really matters to introduce the boss. In a video from Doddler fighting one of the last boss, Nidhoggur Shadow, a particular importance is given to the NPC broadcast in the area. Naght Siegel, the MVP standing at the top of Endless Tower required to empty all the floors of the tower during 2 hours and a half.

The game evolves

RO Vanilla

Golden Thief Bug is one of the first bosses of RO. It has always been in the game since its first launch in August 2002, along with Baphomet or Eddga. But after 7 years for kRO and 6 years for iRO, the players have started to kill these MVP very fast: less than 15 seconds for Eddga, 40 seconds for Baphomet and Golden Thief Bug in 50s.

And even without being totally "overpowered", some players find ways to exploit/use the system to kill MVP, such as this wizard using the warp as a protection to kill GTB, or this wizard killing Turtle General in 5 minutes with Ice Wall. I am obviously not talking about high-rate-server no-cast Creators inflicting ridiculously big damage to any monster (but "Hakuna Matata" in Portuguese is really cool!).

Episode 10 and after

However, Gravity game designers have realized their 200,000-HP 3k-attack MVP were not a challenge for high-level players anymore, and they progressively increased the difficulty of the MVP they released such as Lord Knight Seyren (1.6M HP, 10k attack) in the Episode 10.2 of March 2006, Gloom Under Night (2.3M HP, 7k attack) in the Episode 11.1 of May 2007, or Satan Morocc (20M+15M HP, 32k attack) in the Episode 12 of December 2008. At the same time, Gravity game designers also increased previous MVP such as Orc Lord which was granted the Earthquake skill, inflicting ridiculous damage. As Doddler writes:

Basically, earthquake is an extremely powerful attack that strikes all players on screen. Its based on the monsters physical attack power, though it is calculated as a magical attack. The key feature of earthquake is that the damage it deals is split across all players on screen. The more people who are within range of the boss monster when it casts the skill, the less damage the player takes.

But groups in RO are limited to 12 players, and as Doddler wrote when commenting (look for the "Orc Lord on Valkyrie" post) a video he recorded while fighting Orc Lord,

Like many earthquake MVPs, Orc Lord basically doesn't do anything that can be seen as a challenge other than earthquake. Unfortunately, earthquake is really a bad thing to deal with when you have no cranials, immunes, and limited access to assumptio. As you can see, our strategy generally involved simply falling over when it did end up using earthquake. More than that, the plan was to burn it down in a way that it would never use earthquake while in power up. We were successful in that, though just barely. Another 2 seconds and we would have been toast.

However, RO game designers also tried to innovate and create group strategies to beat MVP. MVP are no longer solo-able but require highly-organized players to group together. This new MVP design provided a challenging non-PvP activity for guilds. As Doddler writes,

The MVP's that I think gravity has done a 'good' job in making fun requiring interesting strategies to beat are:

Beelzebub - For reasons mentioned above [even though it is hard to coordinate the group, his attacks can be countered and his hellflys should be tanked as well, see Doddler's post for a full description]

Fallen Bishop - Same as beelzebub really but scaled down to be easier. Pneuma blocks hells judgement, sanctuary blocks evil land, magnetic earth stops dark/holy grand cross. Tank holds the whole crowd with evil armor... Holy cross will hurt but its managable (crusaders have 50% resist to holy so they're the best tanks). You can counter critical wounds with sacrifice if you need to but its not required here. If you can kill the banshees with an AoE (like focus arrow strike), its even easier. Could probably be done in a killer/priest/bard/scholar/tank combo.

Ktullanux - Textbook boss control. Split mob/boss on different tanks, counter stormgust knockback by using the terrain, block physical hits with safety wall. Ever use magic rod to counter his waterball? Its pretty cool.

Gloom Under Night - Very powerful physically but his abnormally slow attack speed and reaction time highlight defensive skills.

Atroce - Throws around some hefty attack power at high speeds. Pulse strike keeps you watching where you're standing but can be blocked, and you have to watch out for his magnum break counter to being attacked by multiple melee attackers. His two hand quick is scary, but it can be dispelled.

Kiel-D-01 - High powered melee attack, a powerful fire attack and a deadly dark blessing make Kiel tough, but his mob can be reduced drastically, and constant safety wall will keep the tank safe from his relatively slow attacks. Don't forget green potions.

Memory of Thanatos - Weaker than most people give him credit for. His main strength is in his mob, which can be mostly removed without problem. Exile really means you need two people that can take his hits, but otherwise its a simple exercise in monster control. If you can dispel his two hand quicken, its easier to just tank him on a magnetic earth than to use safety walls, as the magic is more destructive than his melee.

This might seem a blunt copy/pasting of Doddler's post, but I could not formulate it better and with more details.


As Doddler explains in a RO's MVP System and it's Flaws post in April 2008, weaker MVP's can be killed in a very small group, some are even easy enough to take solo, with the high tier bosses taking a sizable party with many player roles and coordination, and the higher tier MVPs are harder to deal with, usually requiring anywhere from 5-10 people to properly fight. This system of weak, medium and strong MVP seems to provide an appropriate challenge to lower-, medium- and higher-skilled players. However, bosses are free for all, that is to say bosses are what would be referred to as world bosses in other MMORPG's, bosses that appear within the game world where any other players in the game world can attack, influence and interfere with bosses as you fight them. Except for Endless Tower and Orc Recollection, there is no instance.

As a result, some players often stay "camping" on a map, they wait for the monster's re-appearance to kill it first and get the drops. While Heimdallr, a community manager on iRO's forums, wrote he was sure that instancing will become more common in RO as time continues, MVPs are still wandering freely outside instances and are still being camped. A very common strategy consists of sending the same Monk character, capable of inflicting much of damage in one shot, in suicide missions. A player writes Champ solo Atroce really, /memo, fist, inn regen, buff, warp back rince and repeat. I actually mention this problem in my paper about RO private servers. As one of the main activities for high-level players is hunting MVP (along with WoE), camping Champions are spoilsports. A potential solution could be to let many MVPs use the Full Heal skill: this skill can only be used in an idle state (ie not in combat) and regenerates the all the HP of a monster. This happens naturally for all monsters in other MMOGs such as WoW.

Doddler also complained about MVPs. He listed 4 major points to fix:

  • A too big contrast between frequently dropped mudflated useless items, and valuable rare (less than 1% drop chance) drops
  • Players should play by the boss set of rules, not the opposite (RO game designers tried to address this with the post Episode 10 MVPs, see previous section)
  • Ankle Snare, a Hunter skill used to trap monsters, works on MVP
  • Earthquake, especially when MVP are in Power Up mode (attack and def multiplied by 3, cf Episode 10.3 monsters), deals ridiculously big damage to players

Even though I have played RO, I am not a RO expert as much as Doddler. However, I think that Earthquake requires really good gears and can be tanked by a party. Bosses in WoW sometimes require weeks to understand, see for instance Yogg-Saron's world first by Ensidia. Not all monsters can use Earthquake, and maybe those who can use Earthquake require the group to follow specific strategies yet undiscovered? Nevertheless, I perfectly understand how frustrating it can be to keep facing failure when trying to kill a boss because not everyone in the group has godly equipments such as Asprika (reduces 30% of elemental attacks, ie 30% of the damage received from Earthquake!). But these god equipments require items (only collectible in very coveted guild castles) to unlock painful long quests to accomplish, such as The Seals or Fallacious Okolnir.

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