An Evolution of Arena Mode
For the first 6 months, Battle Bosses was developed focusing on 1v1 play. We had tested a bit of multiplayer free-for-all game modes, and made sure to keep multiplayer in mind when designing cards without sacrificing our core 1v1 mode. Through development, we realized that our game had many similarities to MOBA games like League of Legends, DOTA, and Heroes of the Storm. So we began exploring the option of creating a team variant based on MOBA game play.
In the first version of Arena mode, we decided to go with three lanes, similar to many of these popular MOBA games. Each boss’s max health was lowered to 7 or 8 and they would respawn at the base when killed. Whenever a player died, they would lose all their crystals, and give a 3 crystal bonus to the Boss that dealt the finishing blow. We also started with each base having 20 life. There were 3 different types of neutral camps; 2 monster camps that would spawn neutral monster and pet monsters and 2 building camps, which were static locations that would give you or your team a passive bonus if your minions controlled the space.
The main lessons we learned in these first playtests were:
- We needed to figure out classic MOBA roles for each boss such as tank, DPS, healer, etc. to make constructing your team of bosses more interesting, particularly as we add bosses to the game.
- To help some bosses fit those roles without sacrificing 1v1 functionality we would need to provide Arena-specific Character Dashboards.
- Neutral monsters were a blast.
- There needed to be some type of Fog of War effect to keep long range effects and abilities from being too powerful.
- We needed to modify the incentives for players to kill enemy bosses. Bases took too long to destroy, causing the game to drag on a bit.
The most important thing we learned from our early playtests was that Arena mode was really fun and definitely worth refining. It provided a unique multiplayer experience to Battle Bosses, and it had the potential to become a main focus of the game.
The next big update we did to Arena mode, we modified the game to add 3 Fog of War zones. Each player would now have Arena Character Dashboards with Arena-specific abilities for their boss. When bosses died, after respawning, they now did 2 damage to their base instead of crystal rewards/penalties. The base’s health was lowered to 15 and it was moved closer to the center of the board.
The new changes were a huge success, having bosses deal damage to the enemy base upon respawn helped move the game along and provided a good disincentive for overextending. Fog of War also forced bosses with long range abilities to have to move around the map, making them easier to interact with for close-range bosses. When we changed the focus back to boss combat, we helped each boss’s style of play that was developed for 1v1 work better within Arena mode.
The things we learned after implementing the new rules:
- Rotating neutral monster camps was more fun than the static building camps.
- Rushing the enemy base was a bit too easy because of the combination of moving it closer to the center and having the respawns cause damage.
- Bosses being able to camp on top their bases lead to tedious slog-fests, further emphasizing the base-centric gameplay of this iteration of Arena.
- Cards that increased bosses maximum health were proving to be problematic. They were scaling poorly into Arena mode and they were difficult to keep track of in both Arena mode and 1v1 mode.
- Captain Boat’s treasures needed a fix for the much larger map. This lead us to modify his Arena Dashboard to allow teammates to open Chests placed on the map, giving him more of a supporting role on a team.
By Gen Con, we had removed buildings, adding a ton of different Pets and Neutral Monsters. Bosses could no longer enter bases, having to attack from adjacent tiles using minions. We also increased the base health back to 20, but changed respawn damage to now deal 3 to the base instead of 2, refocusing the game on boss combat by incentivizing players to focus on killing enemy bosses instead of rushing the enemy base head-on.
With the new Arena modifications, we brought Battle Bosses to Gen Con where we had players new to Battle Bosses try out Arena mode. To keep the demo games short at Gen Con, we temporarily changed each boss’s max health to 5 and the base’s max health to 7.
Getting people to spend an hour of their time at a convention with hundreds of other games being shown on a single game is a challenge in and of itself. The fact that our Arena demo table was occupied for most of the show and people were having a great time playing was amazing! But we still learned a bunch.
- Keeping neutral camps secret until a player revealed them made players afraid to go after them. Having monsters reveal as soon as they spawned allowed teams to adapt their strategy based on which monsters were on the battlefield.
- Bases and the surrounding respawn tiles needed to be made into their own Fog of War zones.
- The game is definitely better with 8 health bosses and 20 health bases.
After making the above 2 changes, we tested the changes leading up to filming our play through video for the Kickstarter. With these new changes, Arena is the most fun it has ever been. On almost the same day of filming, we received the amazing art for the board that will be included with the $120 arena variant of Battle Bosses!
Arena mode ended up being such a natural expansion of Battle Bosses and we were surprised how well it worked within the constraints of the game we had made. We developed Battle Bosses from the get-go to be modular, allowing players to create new game modes and play experiences, and we were lucky to have come up with such a good one before launch.
We are excited for you to try Battle Bosses Arena out, as well as see what other game modes everyone comes up with!