Hunters, you've worked together admirably during the As The Crow Flies live event. Your collective efforts have triggered phase two, bringing forth our fourth boss into the bayou. It's time to meet, and defeat, Scrapbeak and hear from some of our team members who brought this new boss to life.
Scrapbeak is ready and waiting for Hunters to make just one wrong move and then ruthlessly punish them for it. The veteran soldier was transformed into a dark abomination, cursed by the trauma of experiencing man's inhumanity to man. Having experienced the terror and horrors that humans can inflict, Scrapbeak does everything in his power to stack the odds in his favor, hoarding weapons and biding his time to brutally repel any intruders in his lair. Those who seek to face down Scrapbeak must think and act strategically, lest they become yet another of his victims…
Scrapbeak is our fearsome new opponent. But of course, every Hunter knows that our bosses can't be as all-powerful as the stories behind them. When it comes to game design, our bosses must be challenging, but with reasonable effort and skill, beatable by our players. After all, the real challenge must always be when multiple teams of Hunters get involved. So when it came to the design of Scrapbeak, instead of demanding complex attack patterns, the team focused on playing with the ways that players usually confront bosses and implementing mechanics that can break their habits.
While Scrapeak shares some of the established design DNA of Hunt bosses, he was designed to spawn new tactics and change up existing tactics by bending some of the game's established boss design rules…
Bending Rule 1 – The gear you need will be around the boss area
Bosses hold a very special place in Hunt Showdown. They are the shared objectives that dictate large parts of the flow of players through the levels and affect early, mid, and late-game strategies alike. Most decisions - good or bad - are made with the objective in mind. Players need to think about how they prepare for, approach, or fight bosses and how and when they defend, fight, or abandon the bounty. Scrapbeak will make some of these decisions easier. And some more complex.
The area around Scrapbeak's lair is deprived of anything that usually helps Hunters survive and win. Typically, you can access all the supplies to heal and supply in and around a boss lair. The game provides you with what you need when you get there. However, ammunition, medical supplies, traps, and more have been hoarded by Scrapbeak and are now carried on his back. The supplies, usually used by Hunters to kill bosses, are instead used by Scrapbeak against his attackers.
The only way to access those supplies is to engage Scrapbeak directly. When he enters his frenzy phase, he will begin to shed, dropping whatever he wields in his hand and up to three supply items. It's a new risk versus reward mechanic. You want the supplies? You need to fight for them.
However, supply runs to neighboring compounds or carrying equipment to the fight are now viable new tactics. These considerations will affect your approach to taking down Scrapbeak and battles against other players in the area.
"One the central ideas during the development of Scrapbeak was to reward players who come to the fight prepared," said Chris Bliss, Principal System Designer. "Hunt shines when players make assumptions that turn out to be true. The Sticky Bomb bought in the lobby 'just in case' might be the key to securing a desperate Banish and winning the match 45 minutes later. Scrapbeak is designed to make more of these kinds of moments possible."
Bending Rule 2 - All damage helps!
The established cast of Hunt bosses enjoy resistance and immunity to particular types of damage. The Butcher cannot be harmed by fire; the Spider is not harmed by poison, and so on. However, outside of these rules, most types of damage are valid, so you can get the job done.
Scrapbeak forces players to make new choices. Supplies are dropped at the start of each of the four possible frenzy phases. Skipping these phases by dealing a large amount of damage quickly effectively trades a potential yield of supplies for speed.
Items can also be destroyed if Scrapbeak is burning while he is shedding them. However, he burns over twice as long as other bosses, so depending on what players are trying to achieve, both using and avoiding fire is justifiable.
Another large element - both literally and in the design – is Scrapbeak's backpack. While it is unnecessary to aim for specific spots on other bosses, it is advisable to avoid firing at Scrapbeak's backpack. The damage of all targeted attacks here is halved, with piercing damage being the only exception.
"We chose to design Scrapbeak's backpack as penetrable armor to support the theme of giving players more equally valid choices to make in the heat of combat," said Wesley Kam, Technical Designer. "For example, does the player reposition themselves to get a better shot and avoid the backpack, or risk picking up a Pitchfork that Scrapbeak has dropped to deal full damage without drawbacks."
Bending Rule 3 – Boss lairs don't physically change
Usually, navigating boss lairs is relatively easy. There are no significant means by which bosses alter the layout of their surroundings more than temporarily.
However, Scrapbeak can throw Concertina Bombs to effectively block areas or drop them as a defensive measure when taking damage while he is in his frenzy phase.
Players will have to deal with these persistent obstructions, or they can use them to their advantage. A blocked exit is often also a blocked entrance. Attackers AND defenders need to be aware of their surroundings more than ever before.
This becomes most pronounced when Scrapbeak deploys his final ability, which is a scream that deafens those who dare to be in his vicinity when he is enraged.
Dominik Zingler, Audio Designer, said: "While the previous bosses had a more reactive audio design, where the bosses respond to the player's actions, I wanted Scrapbeak to sound more aggressive and invasive on the soundscape surrounding them, forcing the player to react to the boss. Using the previously established weapon ear-ringing mechanic for Scrapbeak was a great way to achieve this goal while also creating an interesting challenge for the players. From a design perspective, there are few things in Hunt you can rely on, and one of them is the sound of the world. A creature that takes away this element is unique and vastly intimidating."
Having a deep knowledge of Hunt's levels is one of the most practical skills a player can have, but when confronting Scrapbeak, the ability to improvise is critical.
Scrapbeak brings new gameplay choices to Hunt and, in addition to being our most visually detailed boss yet, is also the first to change its appearance throughout a fight drastically.
Alvaro Canizares, Senior Character Artist, said: "Because of his nature as a hoarder, Scrapbeak possesses items that he has gathered from the world of Hunt. Artem Shumnik and I were challenged with designing the different stages of the character, which all have to have a logic behind them, so his evolution is believable and makes sense."
The bird theme also heavily reinforced through animation.
"Scrapbeak combines themes which usually don't go together," said Winnie Soo, Senior Animator. "We had to balance his heavy weight and size with his agility, without losing his intimidating, menacing air when facing the player. To achieve this, we have him display birdlike mannerisms like the twitching of his head, or when he is shedding, somewhat like a bird having a bath."
We hope you've enjoyed this deep dive into the design of Scrapbeak, and we look forward to seeing how you adapt your playstyles to take on our feathered foe down during the As The Crow Flies live event.
See you in the bayou,
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