[Development] NEO Impossible Bosses

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Note: Also maintaining the devlog at tigsource

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NEO Impossible Bosses is a party-based boss rush MOBA whereby you pick a combination of heroes to take down the IMPOSSIBLE BOSSES! Inspired by the Warcraft 3 mod "Impossible Bosses" by Psyris, each boss is a unique challenge and has their own signature abilities.


Updates (newest-oldest):
NEO Impossible Bosses is RELEASED! Go Get it on Steam now, and leave a review if you liked it!
Launch Trailer is up!
Update #18: Changelog 0.08, Banks are up!
Update #17: Changelog 0.07, Hard mode
Update #16: Changelog 0.04 to 0.06, Normal difficulty is more or less done!
Article: Finding a system for Hitpoint Balancing with many gameplay variables involved
Update #15: Closed beta build 0.03 changelog
Update #14: An apology, Patch Notes for closed beta 0.02, some gifs
Update #13: Steam store page is up! Wishlist the game now! Also, Land destruction improv, reworked Extinguish ability, Demon boss work, + gifs!
Update #12: GREENLIT! Steamworks networking, leaderboards coupled with replays and a rant on how steamworks does it's callbacks, plus an updated hub area
Update#11: 2 new gifs featuring the dragon's roar and a new introduction for Count Winkus! And some comments on having to teach Multiple Unit Controls to new players.
Update#10: Indie Prize Finalist Nomination and a bunch of updates and comments on performance
Update#9: Greenlight update, Robo WIP walking animation
Update#8: Making the game's greenlight trailer on an i5/gtx650/8gbram with a $0 budget
Update#7: NEO Impossible Bosses is on GREENLIGHT!
Update#6: Mother Oak Soul Blast Ability! And why I've repositioned the inworld health/mana/cast bars
Update#5: Priestess and Ranger Gifs!
Update#4: The Twin Frost Elementals
Update#3: Playtest session #1
Update#2: Gravenous the Brute using his Barrage ability
Update#1: Oak Tree boss environment shot

First, some informative screenshots with captions!

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X heroes versus 1 boss on his home turf

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Count Winkus unleashes his ultimate, Lightning destruction! Our heroes have to activate their shields to not take damage.


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Part of the hub area, where you buy items and do other stuff..


Some development history..
Hi, I've been working on this game for about 2 years now, it's in what I consider pre-alpha, missing a good amount of content. I've always been inspired by Blizzard's rts games and it's community-made derivatives; Psyris's warcraft 3 map "Impossible Bosses" heavily inspired me to make an improved, more 'friendly' version of the original, since it had it's limitations in requiring a band of experienced players online to even complete the game.

The development of this game hasn't been exactly fast, but I'm more than satisfied with what I've learnt throughout this endeavor. I had some good game industry experience as a programmer going in, and it's been a blast doing things in a non-conventional manner.

Technical stuff
- Custom c/c++ engine
Because I had one already, and like to learn how stuff actually works, which I think is essential in coding my first rts-like game. Using existing engines and working around them to get what I want would deter me from learning what I would consider an essential piece of knowledge.
- Navmesh
One of my technical goals when starting on this project, the navmesh is based on similar tech to what the Starcraft 2 engine uses. It works even after sections of the navmesh is 'reclaimed' or 'destroyed'. If I have time, I'll explain in a devlog.

Art stuff
- I do not like your art.
Yup, much of the art was mashed together by programmer hands from premade stuff. Amazing visuals isn't the focus point of this game, but I'll take any tips on how to improve it.
In the meantime, why not feast your eyes on this delicious piece of early concept art by Jason Wang?

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Gameplay stuff
- Why not derive from some action, twitch based, David-vs-Goliath boss game like SOTC, TitanSouls?
Niche game, I guess? In any case, I find raid organization and raid bosses in MMOs to be far more interesting in concept to me. And, I try to avoid needing twitch reactions from the player, something that I find people appreciate as they grow older.
- Controls?
Similar to what you have in RTS/MOBA games. Smartcast is available. Pause and issue commands if you feel like it.

Links
Website | Twitter

---------

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this first post! I'll be updating the devlog as time goes on.

---------

Also great thanks for asset contributions from:
NFWar, PeeKay, Mr. Goblin
The Panda, KelThuzad, CRAZYRUSSIAN,
Stanakin, Apheraz Lucent, 4eNNightmare,
JollyD, Coinblin, D.ee, mortal,
kola, zbc, ~Nightmare, 67chrome,
WILL THE ALMIGHTY
 
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Thanks all! Will update the devlog in future; Tigsource is wayyy too crowded, i posted there and half an hour later its on the second page
 
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Another update! This time featuring Gravenous the Brute, a brutish melee boss. He'll catch up to you eventually.

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Gravenous the Brute using the Barrage ability

If you've played the original mod, you'll notice the similarities with this boss and the 'Graven' encounter. I consider that encounter one of the best to pay homage to; it features a melee boss who is always trying to catch up to you, slowing you down, stunning you, breaking the arena.
 
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So this week, Wednesday there was an indie game developer meetup in Singapore, and I went there to do some playtesting. It went great, there were no major bugs cropping up, and people were generally impressed at the amount of polish the game had. However, lots of people had trouble with micromanaging more than 1 unit, even though I had included precautions to help with this problem. The other major(?) problem was the bosses being too hard.

Now before I go further, let's look into the current control scheme for NEO Impossible Bosses.
- The player can pick up to 6 heroes.
- Each hero is hotkeyed to 1 - 6. (On hindsight, pretty sure the playtesters didnt know that)
- Each hero had 6 abilities, hotkeyed QWERDF, with D being the common invulnerability ability.
- You can pause and give commands to your units while paused.
- Smartcast is an option the player can enable.
- Mouse controls are your MOBA/RTS standard, leftclick to select and rightclick to interact/move/attack. Box select for multiple unit selection.

Here's some complaints I got, and my thoughts on them as follows:
- Too many abilities. I think I'll still stick to 6 abilities, it really helps to define and still diversify the hero class; 4 abilities is not enough. 6 abilities also introduces a higher learning curve, but there are target dummies in the hub area, and you have pausing.
- Don't like to pause. Some players prefer this playstyle. I'll let the lack of pausing be a bonus, but I think I will avoid lowering the difficulty of the bosses to accomodate no-pause runs.

Overall, it was a good, fun, though noisy event. It made me think that there's some merit in having less crowded/noisy playtesting, it gives the player time to think and concentrate.
 
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Here's an upcoming work in progress boss, the Twin Frost Elementals! It'll be a nice change-up from the single unit bosses you've faced so far.


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Freezard and Coldstone, The Twin Frost Elementals
 
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Been busy integrating 2 new models for our roster of heroes, the Ranger and the Priestess!


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The Priestess casting Holy Nova, an AOE that heals allies and damages enemies



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The Ranger using Rapid Fire, shooting arrows in rapid succession hitting enemies in a small spot
 
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This time, a gif featuring the Mother Oak's Soul Blast ability! And I forgot to mention, I've changed up the in-world health, mana and casting bars to be at the bottom of the unit. This helps to ensure that there won't be too much visual clutter when numbers and text start flying above the unit.


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Soul Blast!!!
 
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X-posted from reddit;

So I basically cut a game(3d) trailer on an i5/gtx650/8gbram at $0, hope the details of this post might help others on a budget.


There are 2 parts to this. First is recording a number of clips of gameplay footage, the next is using free video editing software. Check the above post for the trailer that I cut.

For the gameplay footage, here are my experiences:
- fraps failed on me, it cut my game's fps to 30
- Nvidia Shadowplay also failed; it couldn't capture other games even with earlier versions.
- I switched to OBS, but couldn't get the correct setting until a friend told me of this guide
- I had to let the video recordings be made at 30fps such that the game ran at 60, but otherwise it went well.

For video editing, I didnt want to spend $$ on such software, so I looked for free alternatives.
- Shotcut is an opensource, crossplatform video editor, is still kind of unstable for use (at least on Windows), but otherwise the videos it exports are pretty accurate. I faced a number of crashes and performance issues while using it. There are also some limitations on filters like not being able to do dynamic zooms.
- Thinking that I needed a more fully featured video editor, I picked up DaVinci Resolve. It lagged my computer because it required preallocating 4gb of ram on my lean computer (couldnt change it to less than 4gb for some reason). Then I found out the test video exports were desaturated and contained artifacts if exported at 30fps and not 24.
- I tried Blender, it ran the smoothest of those I've tried so far, and also had color desaturation issues in exports. I made further investigations and found that ffmpeg also had some sort of color desaturation issues.
- Since I was short on time, I went back to shotcut. Since it had autosaving as a feature I could somewhat tolerate it when it crashed. I then made my video from roughly 10 gameplay clips.

If you have any thoughts on your experiences cutting trailers on lower end hardware, I'd like to hear about it.
 
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this is not really an answer on your post but with the Greenlight is the game released?
No, Greenlight is what allows the game to get onto the Steam store, after which I will be able to release on the steam store when it's done.
 
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Been busy so far with the greenlight management. After roughly 8 days, it's sitting at about 600 unique visits, 150 yes votes (think I fell off the greenlight mainstays after 1.5 days). I wasn't expecting to get a blast of votes, since the art style wasn't quite eye catching and the game's somewhat of a niche compared to the more popular types of games. Hopefully someone can give me a gauge as to how I'm doing.

Meanwhile, here's a gif of the Robo boss's running animation that I've been working on. His back might be too upright for running, I'm considering having the usual full body slant forwards instead, and more shoulder slinging, but that breaks the stiffness of a big robot. It could still work if it's small enough though.

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Finally, I could still use the greenlight vote, please do spread the word! Thanks!
 
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I was watching Wtii play your game. Few things, just suggestions.
Make it multiplayer focused.
Allow people to level and gear up each hero through some kind of single player.
So it allows people to do different builds and load outs and such.
You get basic items through the single player mode and get the high end items through multiplayer.

Hope you understand what I'm on about.
Good job with every thing. Keep up the good work.
 
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I was watching Wtii play your game. Few things, just suggestions.
Make it multiplayer focused.
Allow people to level and gear up each hero through some kind of single player.
So it allows people to do different builds and load outs and such.
You get basic items through the single player mode and get the high end items through multiplayer.

Hope you understand what I'm on about.
Good job with every thing. Keep up the good work.

Thanks! I did think about leveling up, but decided against it on a per-hero basis, because it splits the player base up; I'm assuming that players upon realizing that levels do matter in the game, they start having entry gates like 'LEVEL 10+ hero only' requirements. As such I think I'll leave leveling-progression to loot and guild-wide buffs.
 
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It's been a while since I've updated the devlog; I've been busy working on new bosses and other stuff. But more recently, NEO Impossible Bosses had a Finalist Nomination for the Indie Prize Competition at Casual Connect Asia!

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Casual Connect Asia will be held in Singapore, I'll be there showing off the game:) Come say hi if you happen to be nearby!

On the game development front, here's some gifs as to what I've been up to:

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DRAGON BOSS IS IN THE HOUSE BABY!

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Main Menu

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The robot boss is now named Terrordronn, and he's showing off his ultimate!

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Introduction sequences for bosses


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Multiple unit controls; there is now no need to do a key input to loop through each unit you've selected

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A few failed visual enchancement experiments. This one is SSAO, with the resultant ambient value applied on the ambient term when lighting models.


Other tasks include: Selecting player colors, visual outlining experiements, enhancing the current boss encounters, bloom postprocessing, boss voiceovers.

Performance
I've now reached a peak whereby I need to do some improvements on the game's performance. I suspect that the way I'm handling particles is not performant enough, so I'll be attempting to multithread that stuff. Also, I'm using a hash map to keep track of my entities with handles as a key and using it to do a ton of handle to unit fetching; I'll have to change how the allocations work and embed recycable handle logic into my factories, and eventually change the hash map to a single dynamic array.
 
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2 new gifs this time. Based on feedback from Casual Connect Asia, I've been reworking the first tutorial boss to teach a few more mechanics, especially on Multiple Unit Control. To be more specific, I'll have to teach Attack-Move, Box selection, Tab to switch between subgroups, and Control Groups. It sounds like a lot, I'm hoping it doesn't exhaust new players.

To note, many RTS games have a separate scenario to teach RTS mechanics to players. I've decided to teach these mechanics via the first boss. This means a fairly lengthy amount of linear sequencing.




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Our dragon's roar causes heroes to run in fear!


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New introduction for our first boss Count Winkus
 
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Update #12: GREENLIT! Steamworks networking, leaderboards coupled with replays and a rant on how steamworks does it's callbacks, plus an updated hub area

It's waaaaaay late, but NEO Impossible Bosses has been greenlit along with the pre-SteamDirect greenlight wave about a couple of months ago! Now that Steam has given me access to an Appid to work with, I've been working on integrating the many modules that steamworks(the library that lets you work with Steam) provides.

First up, I have to convert a lot of my old network api functions to Steam's variants. I could not get their GameServer samples working with my appid, so I had to use the Lobby variant as a means to connect players over the Internet. I suspect that I have to contact Valve to enable gameservers, but I'm content with this approach for now. So I'll have to let it pass.

Other things to integrate are cloud saves, achievements and leaderboards. Cloud saves are easy enough to code since all I need is 2 simple functions saving/loading from the cloud at appropriate times. Achievements are also simple enough to code. Leaderboards are a little more annoying to code up due to the way they force users to implement their callbacks, which I'll explain later. Whilst implementing the Leaderboards, I had an idea. Why not integrate downloadable replays into the leaderboard?

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Shot of the leaderboard, complete with information on timings, party compositions, and a downloadable replay.
Not shown: Defeat results with lowest boss health percentages

I already had replays implemented earlier so I could deal with desyncs when I encountered them in multiplayer. Theoretically, it should help that players can download replays of successful attempts on bosses if they're stuck, so there's that sense of community help. I'm sure I'll be looking forward to seeing the Impossible difficulty leaderboards filled with many DEFEAT results.

Rant on the way steamworks does it's callbacks

To sum up, there are about 2 different ways that steamworks does it's callback functions.
1) Use the STEAM_CALLBACK define, which makes an object that you have to construct (forces me to use a constructor for my parent class containing these guys)
2) Have a "CCallResult<Classname, SteamObjectType> mSteamCallAchComplete;" object and pair it with a class function with parameters SteamObjectType and a boolean. Then set the callback when after you've checked the steamworks function is successful.

To say the least, these are fairly cubersome techniques and c++ done wrong. I'm forced to make a class functions have another area of construction for technique 1), and set callbacks with 'this' pointers for 2). Then these techniques hide how the callback function's parameters and return value should look like.

I'll leave this with a suggestion: why not use simple typedef for a c-style function pointer, which, in addition to whatever steam structures it needs, supply a simple void* for user data? Then set the callback with a simple SetOnAchCompleteCallback call with the userdata. It's many, many times simpler, the function parameters are explicitly defined, and there's no need to do that template type checking thing.


Hub area Update
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Revamped hub area. Missing from the static screenshot are swaying flowers, blue flames and the glowing pool

Now this area has been hard to make. I've reverted to a environment art placement style similar to one of the other boss's arenas, which is to put some bigger props(white flowers) surrounded by many smaller props(white/red flowers). Then there's additional vfx to work on as well.

I hope this update was sufficient to tide for the lack of updates. As NEO Impossible Bosses edges towards the proposed deadlines of early 2018, I hope to be able to cover more of what gameplay is within the game. Seeya around!
 
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Gif update! Land destruction improvements, Reworked Extinguish ability, Demon boss work

Steam store page is up! Wishlist it on Steam now!

Land destruction visual improvements


Here's a slight improvement to the land destruction debris of the Fujin's Destruction Palm ability.

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Before this, a hole would just appear

I had already used my Navmesh to define the triangular meshes, and then subdivide the triangles. I first defined the subdividing rules to be based on the length of an edge of the triangle. If the one of the edge's lengths is exceeded I subdivide it by adding a line from the edge's midpoint to the opposite vertex of the triangle. It's pretty trivial to handle the case for 2 or 3 edges of the triangle exceeding length, I'll leave it to you developers:)

Reworked Extinguish ability

Before I reworked this ability, the One-Eyed Mage boss would just fire off fast moving projectiles to heroes in a straight line. In this encounter, players have to keep track of a high number of things including enemy adds, circular areas, etc, hence why I decided that this ability had to be reworked to ease the amount of tracking.

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'Extinguish' projectiles reworked, following a new kind of pattern that doesn't stray far from the boss

The projectile pathing pattern is made using a mathematical formula called a Rhodonea curve, with random speeds. I'm still not totally satisfied with this, it still looks messy due to the random speeds. Maybe I'll remove the random speed and tweak it such that it has a dodgable aspect to it.

Ji'loch the Imprisoned boss work

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Demonsmash! Closing in is essential for a melee boss

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Demonic Seekers. Projectiles that track heroes

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Ultimate: Armageddon Blade


Future
I'm very, very close to a demo build release on itch.io/steam. After that I'll be putting up a closed beta. See you around!
 
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Update #14: An apology, Patch Notes for closed beta 0.02, some gifs

First of all an apology, I did mention of a demo on itch.io/steam, but I decided against having a demo at this stage after doing the research. Out of ethical commitments though, I will put it out closer to release.

In other news, I exhibited at Gamestart 2017! It was fruitful, and attendance turned out better than my previous exhibition, the numbers reached to about 180+, compared to 130 last time. I got some press coverage in as well!

Meanwhile, the closed beta is up and here are the patch notes for build 0.02:

Patch notes
Fixes
- Fixed multiplayer issues
- Fixed chatbox issues
- Fixed desync issue not recording queued commands
- Fixed shield vfx
- Fixed some movement & steering issues
- Fixed negative movespeed issues
- No longer updating scores for the initial tutorial boss encounter.

Changes
- Enemy hitpoint bars are now red
- Some boss abilities that push now bounce players up
- Right-click selection priority for runes
- Item balancing updates; items now have class restrictions
- One-eyed horror boss encounter tweaks, reworked ultimate, + 1 more ability
- Deadly Boss machine encounter tweaks + 2 more abilities
- Count Winkus encounter tweak + 2 more abilities
- Guardian: Sonic clap now taunts every 15 seconds
- Ranger: Item "Glowing Rose" ability upgrade switched to Venom Shot from Rune of Winds. Venom Shot now leaves behind AOE venom clouds with the upgrade.
- Tweaked mana costs of the abilities of many heroes.

Rationale behind the item class restriction change:
- A player could buy a bunch of high armor upgrades on a priest and essentially tank all the bosses. While amusing, it takes out much of the challenge of the game, hence the changes.

Future roadmap:
- Reworks on the Necromancer/Demon bosses.
- Further balancing tweaks

Do note that with each new build, the leaderboards will be reset and you will be able to upload scores for the bosses again. Also, hard mode will not be accessible for the moment as it's too much to test.

If you have a key, please give me some feedback; even your information on PC specs/performance will help me, and it's more likely you'll be able to keep your key past release.

Gifs

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Count Winkus's new ability, Lightning Surge! A replacement for his old teleport ability

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The ranger's Venom shot Ability is upgraded with Venom Clouds thanks to the item "Glowing Rose!"

Item Talk
Thanks to Steam leaderboards and being able to attach replays to them, I was able to see just how some players were able to abuse the game systems. I had a player who stacked a bunch of high armor/mid damage items on his priestess, and when he took on the boss it couldn't deal damage fast enough to out-dps the priestess.

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Below the paladin's head lists some unit stats, 18 armor is roughly 48% damage reduction. For reference, bosses dealt around 200 per hit. It's easy to outheal them at 800 health a pop

After a bunch of testing, I decided on a class restriction for items. It's worth noting that World of Warcraft initially chose to limit healer classes on wearing plate mail armor for a reason, and that reason is just the problem I experienced.

And lets finish with a preview of a few items! Credits to icon makers NFWAr and Peekay at hiveworkshop!

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Glowing Green Rose
Ranger only
+12.5 percent attack speed
+8 percent move speed
+3 mana regeneration
Venom Shot now leaves behind Venom Clouds, dealing poison damage and slowing enemies in it.

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Meteor Magnet
FireMage only
+50 ability damage
+400 health
+15 health regeneration
+2 mana regeneration
The cast time of the Meteor ability is reduced by 1 second (down from 4 to 3 seconds).
 
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Update #15: Closed Beta build 0.03 changelog

Been some time since I posted, but here's the changelog for NEO Impossible Bosses build 0.03 that I forgot to post.

Major Changes
- Boss Hitpoint Balancing rework! Bosses now scale better based on party composition and items.
- Replay mode: You now select units in replay mode instead of following units
- Replay mode: Now reports player hero usage

Hero Changes
- Guardian:
Sonic Clap damage changed to 220 from 250
Warrior Spirit damage buff changed to 20 from 25
- Paladin:
Righteous Fury damage buff changed to 22 from 15
- Ranger:
Venom shot impact damage changed to 160 from 120
Rapid fire cooldown changed to 10 seconds from 14
Rapid fire percentage damage change to 75% from 70%
- Priestess:
Holy nova damage changed to 250 from 200
Holy nova cooldown changed to 10 seconds from 12
- Fire mage:
Energy burn changed to 30 bonus spell damage from 40
Fireball impact damage changed to 180 from 200
Meteor impact damage change to 800 from 800
Meteor damage type is now fixed to fire type

Fixes
- Fixed replay desync issues regarding ability enabled updates
- Fixed some multiplayer issues regarding mis-aligned saves
- Fixed guildhall button not showing up in multiplayer

Future roadmap:
- Reworks on the Necromancer/Demon bosses.

Again, note that with each new build, the leaderboards will be reset and you will be able to upload scores for the bosses again.
 
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Article: Finding a system for Hitpoint Balancing with many gameplay variables involved

How do you do boss balancing in a game where you have a high number of variables?

I came across this problem while working on my game NEO Impossible Bosses, an RTS-MOBA that pits a party of heroes controllable by player(s) against bosses in a boss rush. Each boss needs to feel like an MMO raid boss, which means large health pools and having players do enough damage. In making a game like that, there are many concerns in which we have to account for in our balancing act of making the bosses feel fair enough.


For more context, here's some information on the number of variables that go in:

- Each hero class has up to 6 abilities that do damage.

- You can make a party of 6 heroes, with duplicate hero classes

- Each hero can have up to 6 items. Some of the items contribute to the hero's damage output.

- 3 difficulties for each boss.


And for course, there are things that you want players to feel with regards to each boss. If the boss is meant to be a tank capable of taking tons of damage from the player, he needs a hit point increase.


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Fun fact: Your healer can take on bosses solo if he/she wears high armor/damage gear suited for other classes

While it seems like there are countless concerns, I'm confident that we can boil it down to a few manageable variables. Here are my attempts at finding such a system.


Mistake #1

When I started, the way I balanced the boss's hitpoints was a straight linear hitpoint increase per party member based on hero class, and with a base amount of hitpoints. While this seemed initially okay, this method fizzled out when I had a player clear the bosses with a single priest with items..

This formula for calculating the boss's hitpoints is:

[Boss Hp = Base hp + (X hp per party member, based on hero class)]


Mistake #2

So for the rework I defined this problem for me to solve:

- Find a base hit point amount for a boss that accounts for each party member dps, assuming that heroes have unlimited resources.

Seems easy. For each specific hero, find a number for normal attack dps, and per-ability dps, and sum them up together!

Attack dps = Damage * attacks per second

Per-Ability dps = Ability Damage / Ability Cooldown

Potential class dps = Attack dps + ability #1 dps + ability #2 dps + ... + ability #n dps



This formula assumes that all that damage is done within a second. However, some heroes like the Fire Mage have channeling times in which they do not attack at all while channeling their ability, therefore negating the amount of damage dealt. It seems impossible, wrong even, to determine the potential dps of a hero this way.


A breakthrough

So I had to go back to the drawing board. I looked at the hub area, and realized that I had a target dummy unit that was put in for testing reasons. Maybe I could use that! And there was also another thing I was able to draw from my experiences playing and researching on MMORPGs. A while back, a player by the name of Kripparian (that hearthstone superstar) posted videos on certain techniques that he uses to compare between abilities. He also has other videos detailing DPS rotations, a common concept in MMO raiding.



What he did was to find the most optimal set of abilities that would get you the best Damage per Second(DPS) over a certain length of time, via video recording/comparisons. Using this concept, I now simply need to find an optimal rotation per length of time. This length of time is currently set to 15 seconds (which also happens to be the longest duration of hero self-buff abilities), and from this onwards I'll change it to Damage per 15 seconds(dp15s). Through this technique, I solve the problem of that huge mass of independent variables.


Using the Guardian's Warrior Spirit ability as a visual guide, I try to find out how much damage I can do with my Firemage in that amount of time.

Controllable variables

Now that I have a solid dp15s number, I can adjust it accordingly to my needs. Of course, first of all I need to be able to adjust for the fact that in the heat of boss battles, there just isn't enough time and opportunity to execute that optimal dp15s cycle. So I'll need to multiply it by a value less than 1. We'll call this variable 'Suboptimal'.

Boss hp = Sum of [(optimal dp15s * Suboptimal) of heroes]


If I require the boss to feel 'tanky' and be able to take a ton of damage, I can introduce a DP15S_Cycles variable and multiply the above formula.

Boss hp = (Sum of [(optimal dp15s * Suboptimal) of heroes]) * DP15S_Cycles


I now need to account for the itemization bonuses and buffs. The current items can grant you a passive damage boost, an attack speed boost, and an ability damage boost. We'll need to apply a bit of mathematical rigor to get us an accurate gain of dp15s from these bonuses. We'll also need a sequence of ability usage and normal attacks during the 15 second window for our calculations so we can calculate the item bonuses correctly. Then we'll introduce a variable ItemDPSFactor.

Boss hp = (Sum of [((optimal dp15s + item_dp15s * ItemDPSFactor) * Suboptimal) of heroes]) * DP15S_Cycles


This sums up to 3 variables, Suboptimal, DP15S_Cycles and ItemDPSFactor that I can control to tweak the boss's hit points. For each difficulty, I can tweak these values differently – for example I can have the 'Suboptimal' values be lower for the easier difficulties to compensate for less player experience with his hero, since he/she hasn't figured out how to get good dps out of his hero.


Unaccounted variables

There are still some variables still unaccounted for:
- Attack speed: There are suggestions that you can multiply the number of normal attacks by the percentage attack speed increase in the optimal dp15s sequence, but that is still likely to be inaccurate, due to the fact that normal attacks are done in between ability usage and in vastly different timing windows – I would have to enumerate all these timing windows and that's a ton of work.
- Survivability attributes (eg. Healing, Damage reduction): These are variables that keep other heroes alive so that they are able to do more DP15s cycles. If I use a heal on an icemage, he can deal (for example) another DP15s cycle, If I use it on a tank, the entire party gets to live 1 more dp15s cycle due to taunting mechanics. Furthermore the boss's hitpoints are meant to be static throughout the encounter and most estimates would likely be inaccurate. If I account for this variable, I'll have to increase the DP15s cycle value whenever there's a healer hero.

That being said, it's okay to have slight bits of inaccurancy if you know that it doesn't contribute too much.


So that's all I have for this mathematically charged problem. It's intriguing to me that time has become the basis of the system that is able to boil down the high number of variables into only a few. I might have to increase the window of time from 15 seconds so I can get a more accurate gauge, but the same concepts still apply – I'm able to have a system that can account for difficulty, encounter length, party size and items.

Gamasutra article link
 
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Update #16: Changelog 0.04 to 0.06, Normal difficulty is more or less done!

Merry Christmas/Happy New Year! I've been busy pushing out things for release, haven't had time to write, so let's catch up on the things we've missed.

Closed Beta build 0.04 changelog
Changes:
- Can no longer reattempt successful encounters in ironman mode
- Taunting targets now works better
- Hero selection UI now shows abilities
- Reworked Balazar the Necromancer encounter, added 3 new abilities, Necrotic Mist, Summon Obelisk and Mist Shifting.
- Reworked Ji'loch the Imprisoned encounter, added 2 new abilities, Summon Flame Pillar and Diabolic Sweep, and reworked how binding works.
- The Great Oak Mother encounter: Added ability 'Nightzone'

Fixes:
- Fixed command queueing via shift-rightclick while using Ranger's Rapidfire ability
- Fixed replay desyncs and various bugs related to selecting units while the major selected unit dies.
- Fixed replay desync issues.

Thoughts: The ironman mode change is a no-brainer; I can't let people farm the same bosses continously for gear. I also tuned some of the encounters. In particular, Balazar's encounter now feels more dynamic when he disappears and reappears behind you.

YTsVxHE.png

The Nightzone ability is an expanding black circle of death

Closed Beta build 0.05 changelog
Major Changes
- Boss damage rework. Bosses now deal more damage overall.
- Boss scripting sequences adjusted.
- Armor to damage reduction tweaked.
- Mana pools tweaked and increased for all heroes.

Priestess
Hallowed Heal now takes 2 seconds channeling time, with 1 second cooldown.
Hallowed Heal now heals 1000 from 700.
Healing Spirit now heals 750 from 500.
Holy Nova now heals 800 from 600.

Boss: Ji'loch the Imprisoned
- Demonic Eruption ability now reworked.
- Fear Bomb ability now summons multiple fear bombs.

Boss: Twin Frost Elementals
- Blizzard now spawns 2 blizzards that move around the arena.


Bugfixes:
- Paladin: Fixed Protection Link armor gain.
- Fixed units being unable to follow commands after being stunned while casting an ability.
- Fixed Victory Text
- Fixed buying item crash
- Fixed Count Winkus script crash
- Fixed status effect stack restoration (Frostbite)

Item Changes
- Mana associated items have mana restored/maximum mana amounts increased
- Steel Cover: Health changed to 400 from 1000
- Grand Helm: Health changed to 200 from 400.
- Holy Cross: Heal Bonus increased to 100 from 75.
- Fairy Charm: Item bonus now reduces 1 second channel time from Hallowed Heal. Heal Bonus increased to 120 from 80. Item is now unique.
- Totemic Mask: Health changed to 500 from 800. Armor decreased to 5 from 6.
- Vindicator's Seal: Damage changed to 20 from 25. Removed ability damage, removed health regeneration. Attack speed set to +0.75 percent.
- Order's Sigil: Health change to 300 from 700, Health Regen set to +25, Armor set to +3, Attack Speed set to +0.75 percent.

Thoughts: So I missed on one crucial analysis to the game mechanics, and that is the damage that bosses can dish out. Forcing units to run from time to time, it's what makes things feel hard; the alternative would be a tank and spank. Big thanks to the data provided to me by my beta testers. The other big change is the heroes' mana pools. To ensure that the boss encounters can last a little longer without players feeling that they're being hard-blocked due to the lack of mana used for damage and healing, I also had to tune those numbers.

Tuning boss damage, healing and mana
A bit of thought went into this. I pretty much treated boss damage as the variable that dictates tension(how fast a hero's hp is reduced to 0) and how long the fight can last. Healing needs to feel like a losing game so players need to resort to running tactics eventually. Mana, for dps classes, needs to dictate the number of dp15s cycles the hero can do.

xAjv0s0.png

Reworked pattern for demonic eruption - it's no longer just random

Closed Beta build 0.06 changelog
Gameplay Changes:
- Boss hitpoint balancing now accounts for attack speed.
- Gold reduction from pausing too much, up to -200 gold.
- Windblessed arrows health bonus set to 200 from 500.
- Camera limit tweaks
- DBM's Flame Charge ability now pushes enemy units.
- The Great Spirit Oak Mother's mass entangling roots ability now has a minor visual rework.
- Ji'loch the Imprisoned Demonic Eruption ability now follows a different pattern.
- New names for bosses!

Other Changes:
- Simplified Chinese is now available.
- Fixed crash when transitioning between replays
- Replays now record text and have a point-of-view system to look from the player's perspective.
- Some audio and visual updates.
- Fixed text input from IME keyboards.
- Many minor text changes.

Thoughts: Mainly a audiovisuals update plus simplified chinese translation. Given that Steam's audience is now 60% simplified chinese, it's something that you cannot ignore. Those 7 days spent translating 800+ phrases into simplified chinese seems to be paying off - I got a boost in wishlists once I released the store page in simplified chinese.


rrRYk3Y.png

That spike!

The future
So right now my current priorities are to focus on producing a good trailer, and do some more marketing. Hard difficulty is also on the list, but there's the guild bank that I haven't done yet that will have to wait for later. I'll leave you with a video on the Twin Frost Elementals encounter. Thanks Clan IBCE for helping with the beta test!


 
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Update #16: Closed Beta build 0.07 changelog
Here's the changelog for NEO Impossible Bosses build 0.07.

Changes:
- Hard mode is up and out! All 10 Bosses now have various tweaks to their encounters in hard mode! Examples:
Count Winkus Hard mode - Now has a Magic Clone twist to it.
Spirit Oak Mother Hard mode - Now applies a -50% movement debuff at the start of the encounter.


- Ironman mode now has their own leaderboards. In addition, they now keep track of the number of clears the players have made.
- Can no longer attack allies via attack hotkey.
- Fixed/changed some localization text.
- Windblessed Arrows damage bonus set to 25 from 35
- Windblessed Arrows attackspeed bonus set to 7.5 from 15 percent.
- Some minor story tuning

Leaderboards are reset again. We're getting closer to release, but rest assured that some development will still be going on even after that!

And lastly, let me leave you with a gif..

sn8u8Vh.gif

Flame Charge now pushes heroes away!
 
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Here's the changelog for NEO Impossible Bosses build 0.08.

Changes:
- The Bank Storage is now available in the hub! Store your items by dropping items onto the bank! Also, when you change your party, items on removed heroes go straight to your bank.
- Cruelty damage set to 30 from 40
- Cruelty ability damage set to 80 from 60.
- Cruelty attack speed bonus set to 12.5 percent from 25 percent
- Crown of Ice ability damage set to 70 from 60
- Totemic Mask damage set to 30 from 20.
- Demonic Earring ability damage set to 75 from 65
- Meteor Magnet ability damage set to 60 from 50
- Order Sigil damage set to 30 from 25.
- Updated some ingame text.

Ability damage has been buffed across the board since it didn't feel like they were doing enough damage. Also, some of the Damage buffs are done to account for the melee classes.
Release is very close now, the rough date being around February 2018. Stay tuned for a new post announcing the release!

BONUS:
7J98f4Z.gif

One of the shots that I'm going to use in my trailer:)
 
Level 4
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Jan 9, 2016
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Sweet, I loved to play some Impossible Bosses from time to time!
Glad that more people are making games out of the strong and fun custom maps.
When you release your trailer, we could promote that ;)

Wow, thanks for the offer! I'll contact you when the time comes :)
 
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