Communicating Through Design

You often complain about enemies not having movesets that really test the player and that don’t interact with the MC own moves, can you elaborate on this with examples of games with good enemy design?

Basically, in well designed games, the enemies are designed around the abilities of the player character, and interact with the specific quirks of how the player character operates. This means that they both have abilities that respond to the player’s capabilities, attempting to limit some common player behavior, but also abilities that highlight skillful use of their abilities.

AM2R is great at this. The common beta metroid minibosses are a great example. They weave around your head in such a way that you need to run under them and jump over them to avoid getting hit, but also to line up shots with its vulnerable underbelly by tilting your arm cannon diagonally or straight up. Every section of the game has new enemies that forbid you from cheesing them with the new powerup you just got, but require you to also use your powerups to defeat them in a skillful reactive way.

Megaman X Corrupted so far looks like it’s doing a lot in this department. Check out this boss for example.

The sonic booms it throws are higher and lower, and respond to how high you are on the screen, so it’s possible to jump over them and dash under them, or lure the shots higher to make them easier to dodge.

Nioh has enemies designed with faster attacks that hit their backside, so if you try to get around them, they’ll have a different type of threat for you. Some enemies have multihit attacks designed to be blocked rather than dodged. The wheel enemies will murder your guard if you try to block their rollout attack.

Azure Striker Gunvolt has a number of enemies that take advantage of the tagging system, like ones that will move out of your line of fire if you’re parallel to them, so you can only get a few shots in, requiring you to use those few shots to tag them, then flash field them. It has level and enemy designs where they expect you to fall fast or fall slowly to avoid damage or open up opportunities. Like some enemies hover in the air, making it helpful to flash field hover in order to hit them many times. One enemy has a shield in front, so you need to jump over it and not use flash field so you can get down and shoot its backside fast enough before it turns around. Many bosses have attacks that hit the floor so you need to hover over those. One boss has two halves that will revive the other half shortly after it’s killed, so you need to tag both of them and damage them equally to kill them at the same time.

Hammer bros are infamously the hardest mario bros enemy because their hammers move in an arc that is the opposite of Mario’s jump. Plus there’s the way that so many enemies in mario can be jumped off of, unlike other platformer enemies.

Jon Blow does a great job talking about this style of design, with examples, in his talk here:

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