Someone has asked me – ‘does Ultima Ratio Regum have bosses?’, and that is the topic of today’s blog entry.
The short answer is: no. Bosses traditionally appear the ends of levels, and URR doesn’t have ‘levels’, as such. There are no discrete points at which one zone ends and another begins that are explicitly programmed into the game – these are generated all on their own.
Closer to the mark are the non-central quest lines in Oblivion. You can choose whether or not you want to help the Mages Guild, Fighters Guild etc, and each of their plotlines generally results in a unique, ‘boss’ level character. One such example is Mannimacro, the Necromancer extraordinaire who lurks in a cave. As they are prone to do. He is utterly non-essential, but can still be found at the end of the Mages Guild plotline, gives unique rewards, and is a much bigger challenge than most comparable foes (unless he forgets to attack you, gets stuck up his own backside, or any one of other glitches).
URR, however, works differently. Creatures in a certain class have a variety of strengths. If you make your way through a fort of Orcs, for instance, you’ll encounter a variety of low-level Orcs, along with some warriors, a few involved in running the places, and the bloke in charge. These ranks can and will dynamically chance throughout the game as Orcs rise and fall, but you’ll generally (hopefully) get a reasonable distribution of creature strengths. Now and then, you’ll meet an Orc lucky enough to have an incredible set of armor, devoted followers, and high combat skills, but that will simply because he or she has risen to that height; not because they were deliberately spawned that way. These, therefore, are certainly not ‘bosses’. Similarly, the ends of a dungeon might just be a stone wall, if you’ve killed everything inside them already.
However, there are a class of unusual beings who are probably the closest URR comes to bosses. There are currently about twenty penned, all of whom have unique abilities, locations, rewards, and a variety of other properties. Slaying these unique creatures will bring you instant recognition and praise from anyone unfortunate to live near their lair, and some general approval from anybody who knows of their existence. However, I intend to make it possible that some villages or settlements may actually come to worship these creatures – killing a creature they revere as a god is not the best way to earn their approval.
What are these creatures like? None are probably quite as gross as, say, centipede-human Mendez from Resident Evil 4. They range across a variety of sizes, a variety of guises – humanoid and not – and can be found in all kinds of places.
Additionally, these encounters should function like ‘choke points’. Whereas much of the game will be utterly different on each generation, these unique creatures are things every player might encounter. I think they could serve as points for comparison between players with the exchanging of information, tactics, and similar. I’m also thinking of implementing specific features relating to these unique creatures that earn you high rewards, or allow for sharing between players, or even competitions. Nevertheless, not just are they rare and deadly, but they are hard to find – expect to climb to the top of the highest peak of delve into the deepest sub-volcanic cavern to find them all!
These creatures may not appear in the alpha. The map will be too empty, and there will be no NPCs to point you in the right direction or tell you stories of their horror. However, before too long, you should be able to find these things, hunt them down, and claim your rewards.
Well… maybe there’ll be one or two out there.
Coming Monday 14th: The final world map.
Coming Monday 21st: Ultima Ratio Regum, Skyrim, and thoughts on ‘Radiant’ questlines…