How Boss Design Has Evolved

A discussion on two major boss design philosophies

Josh Bycer
May 14 · 5 min read

Fixed patterns

This first type of boss design refers to the idea that a boss is built around either one single pattern or a repeating set of patterns. This approach generally means that the boss in question has a specific, required way to beat them (unless we’re talking about speed running, which may provide some techniques to skip patterns or phases).

Random patterns

Like fixed patterns, random patterns still fundamentally involve a boss leveraging attacks from a pre-defined “pool” of available moves. The difference, though, is in the sequence — in this case, the boss can effectively choose which attacks to pull from the pool during a fight, without resorting to a completely pre-defined pattern.

Balancing a boss

The unpredictable nature of a random pattern-based boss is that it can negatively impact balance. The difficulty of any random pattern boss comes down to the number of different types of attacks the player must take into account, as well as how frequently the enemy will use them.

Video courtesy of Game-Wisdom.

Pattern planning

The type of game you’re building — and the audience you’re designing for — determine the kind of bosses that will make the most sense for your game.

Original article courtesy of Game-Wisdom. Edited and re-published with permission.

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Josh Bycer

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Josh Bycer is the owner of Game-Wisdom and specializes in examining the art and science of games. He has over seven years of experience discussing game design.

Super Jump Magazine

Celebrating video games and their creators