I would say that I hate nothing more than surprise bosses at the end of a game. There are some games that have gotten away with it (Persona 4 omg, and Kingdom Hearts, although I don’t forgive you for it still). But generally speaking, it’s a terrible practice and lazy game design.
I get it, though. You work extremely hard, finish defeating the last boss, and then… TWIST! there’s more one battle! And it’s 6 times harder than the last! And if you don’t beat it, you have to start all over!
I get it. And, when you finally beat that encounter, it certainly feel amazing, and like a great accomplishment. But an accomplishment born only from the fires of frustration, not an honorable one.
One common goal as a game designers is to challenge the player, and that can mean a lot of different things. Something challenging in Dark Souls, for example, is much different than something challenging in Candy Crush Saga. Both are valid versions of challenge, and are local and relative to their own game designs. Everything that’s required to complete each of those types of challenge has been taught to and provided to the player over the course of the game.
Surprise boss encounters often fly in the face of this; they will throw anything they can at the player, sacrificing tact, consistency, and respect for flashy superficial challenge, often resulting in controller-chucking rage.
So designers, when you sit down to make a “final” sequence to your game, remember to respect your players; give them a good challenge, but also thank them for finishing your game. Not many players make it that far, so reward the ones that do.
[ Today I Was Playing: Skulls of the Shogun ]
November 3, 2015