Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 1 Creating "Boss" enemy NPCs
08-13-2011, 10:36 AM
Is there a way to create "boss" style NPCs, similar to the Enemy Flagship in Deep Space Encounters? Ones that are significantly tougher than the current NPCs available for use, with whom fights last a good deal longer than your typical NPC engagement.

The "Captain Squad 03" or "Battleship" type enemies, which it's recommended you only have one encounter per map because they are "very tough", are OK, but fights with them still don't last very long. Is there a way to 'combine' the power of several NPCs into a single one, by deleting the other 'actors' in the group? I've tried and not been able to delete individual actors in any groups, frome ensign to captain-level squads and squadrons, so I assume not, but then I could be missing something.

If you have a mission which foreshadows a battle building up this singular enemy as a nemesis, yet when the time comes to fight them the battle over in a minute, it's a letdown. 52 disruptor banks, 27 Photon torpedo bays, and primary and secondary shield generators... and the fight's over in one minute? Nah
It also wouldn't make sense either to have several "Battleship" enemies as the final encounter when a single, tough bad guy would be perfect for what you want. A clash of titans, from which you emerge victorious to round out the mission.

So, it would be awesome if you could have a Flagship NPC type that is particularly tough. You could perhaps limit them to one per map (much like you get the "!" if you have too many contacts on your map, you can no longer publish it until that has been resolved) to prevent abuse, and so that Foundry editors at least have the option of setting up epic battles, much like Cryptic did with the Reman featured episodes where you fight a battle-cloaking Scimitar.

If there is a way to create these unusually tough NPCs, and I'm just being a shortsighted fool, my apologies I sincerely hope I'm just missing something here.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
08-13-2011, 10:53 AM
You're not missing anything, you can only use the NPC's you see available, and unfortunately can not make them any tougher.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
08-13-2011, 11:02 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alecto View Post
You're not missing anything, you can only use the NPC's you see available, and unfortunately can not make them any tougher.
That's a shame. Hopefully they could introduce it along with some much-needed new assets for the Foundry whenever it comes back up.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
08-13-2011, 11:09 AM
I completely agree, limited customization of enemy mob / single encounters gear or abilities would significantly boost the freedom of choice authors have but would also possibly cause exploit issues so a feature like this would have to be carefully discussed and tested.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
08-13-2011, 11:15 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alecto View Post
I completely agree, limited customization of enemy mob / single encounters gear or abilities would significantly boost the freedom of choice authors have but would also possibly cause exploit issues so a feature like this would have to be carefully discussed and tested.
It would be very worthwhile. They could limit it so you can only have one of that NPC type per map, giving us an option to use them, but at the same time forcing us to choose where, for the greatest effect.

At the back of my mind I wonder if they're keeping them out so that foundry authors can't truly rival that 'epic battle' feel of Cryptic's official Feature Episodes Prove me wrong, Cryptic :p
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
08-13-2011, 04:14 PM
I would say you need to watch this. I'll tell you what I did and the kinds of responses I got from it.

I wanted to have a boss at the end of my series, and was dismayed to learn that for single players, you can't really put anything better than a battleship type. Just having yet another D'deridex at the end of the mission would be boring. So, I looked around the ship costumes and covered it up with a Scimitar class, then gave it a custom name so it wouldn't be obvious that it's simply a costume.

Once the mission in question was published, the reviews broke down like this:
about 40% - "The Scimitar at the end was a little too easy, kinda anti-climactic."
about 50% - "Scimitar at the end was a nice touch, etc."
remaining 10% - "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU PUT A SCIMITAR AT THE END I DIED LIKE 200 TIMES OMFG!" *1 star*

Keep in mind that putting the costume over it didn't actually make it any tougher. It was purely psychological in the case of that last 10%. Granted there are a couple of things that will change the battle (Difficulty level, running in a group or solo, etc.) so it's possible that it could actually get a bit more or less challenging, but the variance can't really be that much.

So yeah, if you really want to put a boss at the end of your mission, you should think it through a bit. Is it worth having a difficult ship at the end when even the idea of a boss-level ship is enough to turn off so many people? If you don't mind angry rants like that, I guess it's not a problem for you. But try putting in a costumed version of it first to see what kind of reaction you get. You might be surprised.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
08-13-2011, 05:14 PM
I had several scimitars in my missions, and I've had some reviews complaining they were too easy. I wish I could make them harder, but then I would get complaints that they were too hard.

I did kind of fake it a little in one mission where after the fight with the scimitar I had the engineer boff say "captain, that hit us harder than I thought, but internal sensors were down" and then you have to go down to engineering and help fix the ship. So plot-wise I made it harder.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
08-13-2011, 05:46 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Terral
I would say you need to watch this. I'll tell you what I did and the kinds of responses I got from it.

I wanted to have a boss at the end of my series, and was dismayed to learn that for single players, you can't really put anything better than a battleship type. Just having yet another D'deridex at the end of the mission would be boring. So, I looked around the ship costumes and covered it up with a Scimitar class, then gave it a custom name so it wouldn't be obvious that it's simply a costume.

Once the mission in question was published, the reviews broke down like this:
about 40% - "The Scimitar at the end was a little too easy, kinda anti-climactic."
about 50% - "Scimitar at the end was a nice touch, etc."
remaining 10% - "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU PUT A SCIMITAR AT THE END I DIED LIKE 200 TIMES OMFG!" *1 star*

Keep in mind that putting the costume over it didn't actually make it any tougher. It was purely psychological in the case of that last 10%. Granted there are a couple of things that will change the battle (Difficulty level, running in a group or solo, etc.) so it's possible that it could actually get a bit more or less challenging, but the variance can't really be that much.

So yeah, if you really want to put a boss at the end of your mission, you should think it through a bit. Is it worth having a difficult ship at the end when even the idea of a boss-level ship is enough to turn off so many people? If you don't mind angry rants like that, I guess it's not a problem for you. But try putting in a costumed version of it first to see what kind of reaction you get. You might be surprised.
I'm of the mindset that it's very much worth it, if not just for the fresh challenge and the knowledge that the mission really is building up to something that will be climatic and definite, rather than having the same types of battle throughout, where you're not really sure if you've finished the mission, leaving you with an "oh, that was the boss? OK..." sort of feeling. Sure, I can shout it out in yellow and green in popup dialog that the epic battle is over, that we've won and saved the day and all, but, at least for me, the fight experience and feeling like you've overcome the odds, is a large part of that climax. This must put me in the "The Scimitar at the end was a little too easy, kinda anti-climactic" crowd.

One can never please everyone, particularly with the Foundry, so I prefer to focus on recreating what I can come up with as closely as I can, and part of that is challenging boss figures/nemeses. If I do that I'm happy that I've achieved my objective, and others can, and invariably will, take it for what they will when it gets published.

I've tried costuming ships (I used a Scimitar too) and was disappointed with the prospect of facing a beastly Scimitar yet not having to worry about the fight, and never feeling truly in danger. Maybe that was psychological in that I knew I'd costumed it up, but regardless of that, the fight was still standard-fare and didn't last long. Don't get me wrong, costuming NPCs is a fantastic thing to have and certainly has many uses, but it can't 'do' bosses. The crux of it is that Bosses need special abilities (on top of extra health) to set them apart from standard mobs.

This isn't something the foundry has, so while we as authors can create great boss backstories and really set up an awesome situation, as editors we can't recreate them as satisfactorily in some cases. For example, imagine if the final battle against the Scimitar in the F.E 'Cutting the Cord', was your standard D'Deridex costumed up? It just wouldn't be the same.

For me, it's the knowing that you really have gone on a journey that evolves from battling Mogai Escorts and D'Deridexes and their heavy plasma torpedoes, to dispatching a Scimitar with a deadly thalaron weapon that can most certainly destroy you, rather than just portraying the importance of defeating the thalaron-weapon bearing Scimitar in dialogue. Which is where "Boss" NPC assets for the foundry would be amazing...

Quote:
"Romulan Scimitar Boss 01 - a boss-level NPC intended for climatic battles. This NPC has increased stats. You can only have one instance of this type of NPC per map. Has the special ability "Thalaron Cone"."
Quote:
"Borg Tactical Cube Boss 01 - a boss-level NPC intended for climatic battles. This NPC has increased stats. You can only have one instance of this type of NPC per map. Has the special ability "Borg Cutting Beam"."
Hey, I can dream :p

Costuming may be my only recourse for the foreseeable future and I will certainly use it, but here's hoping for some new Foundry assets
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
08-14-2011, 01:58 AM
I agree better bosses are needed to create epic stories. I think simply making them more powerful would be a mistake. It would be better to give authors more advanced functions that could make the boss harder to defeat. For example a boss could beam away when he/she looses a certain amount of hit points, or another squad beams in when the boss is weakened. Making it possible to script fights instead of just hammering away at them until they die isn't epic, and STO desperately needs to start making missions that are EPIC and make your character feel like a hero among ordinary soldiers.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
08-14-2011, 10:54 PM
I really would love to create single Boss Space or Ground NPCs and you able to choose their abilities.


Right now at best you can do is narrow down a Captain-level NPC from NPC spawns, customize it with the costume and hope for the best.
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