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Want to Fight a Boss? Get in Line

Derek 'Roku' Cavin

So you've paid for a MMORPG, made a character, leveled up for numerous hours, improved all of your equipment, and just generally increased your level of awesome. Now what? Well, one option most high level players choose is to go boss hunting. Unfortunately, players can't simply say "I want to fight a boss" and then go fight one in some MMORPGs though.

Bosses in some MMORPGs are unlike those of offline RPGs in that they generally spawn at given increments, be it thirty minutes, an hour, or game day. They also generally have very valuable and rare items, some of which have a miniscule chance of actually being attained by those that defeat it and an even smaller chance the larger the party size is. Since generally only one or a few of these bosses exists at any given time, some problems presents themselves to players that want to fight these fearsome enemies.

The first of these problems is obvious: the player must wander aimlessly around the boss's lair wondering when the boss will show up. Sure they can level up and such while waiting, but the player's chances of winning are diminished should they be injured when the boss appears. They might not be able to reach the boss in time to battle it before somebody else does either. This leads us to our next problem.

Bosses can usually only be fought by one party/group/alliance at a time. If one group misses their chance and isn't the first to strike, even if they waited for a hour or whatever amount of time passes between spawns, that's just too bad for them. They can only watch, waiting for the other party to lose or win in hopes of swooping in to finish off the boss or begin the wait anew. This compounds with the first problem in order to create a bit of a waiting game for those unfortunate enough to miss the boss.

As I mentioned earlier, bosses often carry rare drops with very low drop chances. While it's understandable that the creators would attempt to prevent these rare items from becoming common, this creates a very large problem. Now not only do you have players that simply want to test their power against bosses, you have plenty of people camping the boss in order to attain rare items. Most of these people will attempt to fight the boss repeatedly until they get what they desire or get bored. That said, there are also some individuals who hunt bosses as a means of revenue, be it in-game currency or real money, and will continue to camp certain bosses until it is no longer profitable.

It should be obvious by now that these problems can quickly multiply together to create a bit of a traffic jam, especially with respect to bosses that have especially good drops. In some games, dozens, if not hundreds, of people wander the fields waiting for their chance to strike. Those that land the first stike are lucky and leave the numerous other players in their wake, destined to wait even longer.

Does it have to be this way? Should MMORPGs really force paying customers to spend even more of their precious time wandering around aimlessly in hopes of fighting a boss?

Of course not. There are several solutions to these problems, though some are easier to implement than others.

The first is simple and easy to implement: simply increase the number of bosses available to fight and/or make them spawn more frequently. More bosses means fewer people that have to wait. Players that want to fight bosses for the sake of fighting bosses and those that want rare items can move on more quickly. Those that hunt bosses for revenue still present a bit of a problem though.

Another solution would be to allow players to make appointments. This would drastically reduce wasted time and give everyone a fair chance at fighting bosses. This would be a little more difficult to implement, but it would solve virtually all of the problems. Gilsellers etc. might not like it though.

One final suggestion would be to create small zones that don't take up many system resources and allow individual parties to fight versions of the same boss at the same time. This would mean that a party could wander into a boss's lair and fight without even making an appointment. If rare item drops are an issue, players could simply be restricted to x fights against each boss per day. Sure this may be the most expensive solution, but it's the most convenient for the player.

Some of these ideas may have already been implemented in some MMORPGs, but there are still many that suffer from the above problems. Player convenience should come first, so those guilty of the above might want to think about some of these proposed solutions. After all, the players are the ones paying for this service and shouldn't have to wait in line for a mere chance at fighting a boss, should they?

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