Along with the Cador update came a new Heretic boss: Gibson. Today, we are taking a closer look at the process behind creating him and his sidekick Stooge.
Those who read the Albion lore page will recognize the name Gibson. Not only is he a ruthless butcher, but also the fearsome leader of the Heretics. As such, he is naturally an opponent players need to face when venturing into the Heretic's dungeons. But how did this boss came to be? We are having look at the process that goes into creating a new boss encounter: from making a concept to final balance tweaking.
Phase 1: Concept
Before even thinking about creating a new boss, the following question needs to be answered first: what needs to be done? In this particular case, the Heretics were in for a big overhaul, after we had already reworked the Keeper and the Undead dungeons. This overhaul entails the creation of new dungeons and bosses. Since the Heretics are the first faction you encounter in the game, it is clear that we are focussing on lower tier PvE players. Thus the new content had to be made for solo players, as in our observations groups mainly start to be formed after tier IV.
Now that the "what" is decided, it is time to figure out the how by creating more specific concept ideas. In this case the Heretics would get not one, but two bosses for players to challenge: the Overseer and Gibson.
Phase 2: Creating Gibson
The creation of Gibson is strongly inspired by the lore around his character. Being the leader of his faction, it would make no sense to have him fight his battle alone. It is unthinkable this influential man would not make use of his subordinates. However, adding too many enemies would make the fight far too difficult for single players who cannot deal with multiple damage dealers – and are still learning the ropes of the game. Gibson needed someone who could help him indirectly.And thus Stooge was born! Being too much of a coward to fight, Stooge stays out of the battle but supports his aggressive leader with protective shields.
With this decided, it was time to construct their mechanics. Spells were set up in XML by creating new entries, selecting the spell properties and effects (e.g. does it deal single target or AoE damage?) and adding both visual and audio cues. Both Heretics were given a placeholder model, in order to test the concept of the encounter in a first gameplay test.
First testing showed that Gibson as a boss worked fine, however he was easily beaten. Players just went straight to Stooge, killed him and continued on to Gibson. No reason to run and absolutely no challenge involved. Time to make a change! The following two major mechanics were implemented:
New Arena Mechanic: Rock Avalanche
An avalanche of rocks falls down now and again, increasing in size over time. This forces players to move around and think about their positioning in the arena.
New Gibson Mechanic: Protective and Caring Leader
Want to attack Stooge? Not on Gibson's watch! Whenever Stooge is attacked, Gibson will bust in and knockback the attacker. If you do manage to kill Stooge, Gibson will become enraged: his attack speed increases and he ignores defensive moves.
These mechanics created a new level of decision-making for players. Do they want to go for Gibson, who will be continuously protected by Stooge and thus harder to kill? Or do they kill Stooge first, with the risk of Gibson barging in and throwing them into the falling debris. He will be faster to kill without any protection, but his rage cannot be underestimated.
With these changes added, Gibson and Stooge were ready to go into last phase.
Phase 3: Final Touches
Time to get rid of the placeholders: final models and animations for Gibson and Stooge were implemented, along with props in the arena. Gibson is a butcher, so his lair features dead animals and butcher tools. Placement of these props is thought over thoroughly, as placing a butcher block in the middle of the map for example would disturb the fight and overall balance.
Once that is done, there is only one thing left to do: fighting, tweaking, more fighting and more tweaking. The new dungeon is played until the balance is just right, keeping the original goal of phase 1 continuously in mind: Gibson is a boss for lower tier players and thus should not be too difficult, but as any boss should also still provide a decent challenge. A short but intense fight, preparing the players for what awaits them in their further exploration of the world of Albion Online.
After all this, Gibson and Stooge were released to the public in the Cador update. However they are not a closed chapter. The community's feedback is closely watched, along with data on how many players have killed Gibson or have been killed by him, in order to add any tweaks if needed. So far, the butcher and his subordinate were embraced with open arms!
Fun little detail: no matter how loyal you think Stooge might be to his master, he will still utter a relieved "finally" once you have defeated Gibson.
Want to know more about the Cador update? Continue keeping a watchful eyes on our website