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Post news RSS Designing a Boss - The Leviathan

A look at our first boss, his design, and some of the challenges we had to tackle to bring him to life.

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Our First Boss - The Leviathan


The Leviathan is the first completed boss for our upcoming game, Scribble Ships. It features a large serpent-like enemy that attacks the player with the use of very quick dash attacks. The boss is triggered after the player reaches a set amount of time spent alive in a round and provides a significant point boost when the player defeats him.

The Mechanics

Like most bosses, the Leviathan is broken up into many different states or "phases".

Entrance Phase: The first phase of a boss is often the most important. It introduces the player to the core mechanics of the boss so that the player doesn't have to go into the fight completely blind. In our case, the boss spawns outside of the level and slowly approaches the player. This gives the player time to see and instinctively shoot at the threat. The player quickly learns that the metallic head of the monster is invincible to projectiles and is forced to wait until the bosses next move. Upon reaching a certain distance to the player, the boss will come to a stop and target (point at) the player until a short internal timer is complete. It then launches forward at a very fast speed, revealing it's unprotected tail parts.

The Attack Phase: Now that the player hopefully understands that he needs to attack the tail of the boss, the fight begins. After charging the player, the Leviathan will then orbit around the player for a small time, giving the player time to attack. He will then slow to a stop again, and charge yet again, repeating this cycle until every piece of the tail has been colored. It is not easy to strike a good balance between difficulty in this phase. If it is too difficult, the player may feel the boss is unfair. On the other hand, you don't want the player to be the one chasing after the boss. This phase is still being tweaked to find something that feels just right,

The Frenzy Phase: Once the tail has been completely colored, the boss's head will now become available for attack. We show this with a visual cue by fading the metallic-like head to white like the rest of the tail once was. This also causes the boss to go into a frenzy state where he will immediately charge a point somewhere within a set radius of the player and then slow down and repeat the charge. The battle gets a lot more frantic here as the boss become quicker and less predictable.

The Death Phase: It's good to do something big and flashy for the boss's defeat to reward all of the work the player just put in to defeating him. In this case, the boss gives one final charge while exploding with color before exploding into the page in the background and littering the page with score bubbles.

Some Challenges

Initially, the frenzied state of the boss was set to be far too random. Random to the point of it almost being silly. As you can see in the gif below provided by a friend testing the game, the player could sit on a point and just watch the boss dance around the screen.

This was fixed however, with a more "controlled" randomness that had the boss choose a point within a radius of the player and attack towards that. This meant that he wasn't always targeting the player, however he was almost always working towards the player.

Thank you!

Thanks for stopping by to take a look. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot us a message. If you have suggestions, we'd love to hear them. This was the first boss we've designed so I don't think that exactly makes us experts on the issue. If you like what you see, please consider checking out our Kickstarter to help get this game on Steam Greenlight!


Looks great, dude! :)

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joshstelting Author

Thanks for the kind words! :)

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