The 18-Hour Bossfight

By Alec Meer on August 13th, 2008 at 1:18 pm.

I'd have redeye after 18 hours too

“People were passing out and getting physically ill. We decided to end it before we risked turning into a horrible new story about how video games ruin people’s lives.”

This, from aptly-name guild Beyond The Limitation, came after spending some 18 hours attempting to defeat one of Final Fantasy XI’s endgame monsters, the Pandemonium Warden (does that mean he wards against pandemonium, or ensures enough of it happens?).

That’s almost an entire day spent fighting one boss. And they still didn’t beat him. I feel physically ill just thinking about it. How did anyone ever think that’s good game design? I’ve never played the FF MMO, and now there’s absolutely no way I ever will. Kerrrrrrrrrrist.

Full story here, though I don’t understand most of the acronyms in it.

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47 Comments »

  1. Joe says:

    Pfft. I’d have just run up to him and said “Flatlander Woman”.

    Job done.

  2. ghotto says:

    Final Fantasy XI is nothing but a grind fest. Everyone who plays it loves this pointless shit. Because XP parties are fun…

  3. CLLMM says:

    I always thought most JRPGs had boss battles like this.

  4. Senethro says:

    I blame MMOs for stealing all the game time people formerly had for niche FPSs. (i.e. anything not CS/BF/CoD4 these days)

    Also, Laputan Machine.

  5. Schadenfreude says:

    “Laputan Machine” Beaten to the punch.

    But yeah, 18 hours. Not for me; I’d probably start throwing up at the ten minute mark.

  6. Gap Gen says:

    Hell, CoD4 online is like WoW now. Grinding to get weapon mods and unlocks…

  7. Eddie Aitken says:

    I played FFXI for over 3 years and still have a character. I wasn’t all that shocked when I heard about this. Larger fights like this usually take a few hours, plus it REALLY depends on the linkshell and how many people they have, and if they really know how to take the mob down correctly.

  8. Ian says:

    I think I’d rather die.

  9. Arnulf says:

    FFXI is one of the few MMOs where the developer is very tight about game mechanics. It’s quite the opposite of Blizzard/WoW. Additionally they’re also very reluctant to change even basic things. I’m not very into the endgame stuff, hell, even getting a character to the level limit takes some serious dedication. But missions (the story-line quests) need a concerted effort of a group, sometimes over several weeks. And only by completing some of the story lines you even gain access to the endgame areas.

    Many things in FFXI can be very frustrating, on the other hand, when you have a good group and progress through the upper levels it’s equally satisfying, even moreso than WoW.

    It’s like the MMO counterpart of some old school videogames, tough as nails, but the reward is sometimes worth it.

    By the way, AV refers to a challenging boss called Absolute Virtue. I think the highest FFXI veterans had not even an idea to beat that boss for over a year. The designers released a video that should give a hint how to beat it. Still players puzzled over that and couldn’t “get it”. I don’t know if they changed the encounter at last, or if they finally found the chink in the armour.

    Elitist Jerks probably would have just called it a cockblock.

  10. AbyssUK says:

    The Japanese are crazy, thank you the internet.

  11. mpk says:

    That’s just fucking insane. I’ve been in some long sieges in EVE and I know of plenty of guys who have pulled 24-hour shifts guarding gates and running system-wide camps in case of attack, but man. Insane.

  12. Alex says:

    I’ve never played any FF game, online or not – are those 18 hours spent actively, actually clicking mice, hitting keys, that kind of thing?

    If the answer is “yes”, I might pass out.

  13. jon says:

    Ahahahaha that’s so fucking lame. Rise of the idiots

  14. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    I remember fighting an Ultima beast of sorts in Final Fantasy VIII’s PC port. The characters were a bit under developed, and it took me two non-stop hours to kill it.

    That’s when I stopped playing the series altogether.

  15. Anonymous says:

    “We decided to end it before we risked turning into a horrible new story about how video games ruin people’s lives.”

    Ooops, too late.

  16. Geoff says:

    Diogo,

    I bailed out of FF 8 after the first (of three) discs. I remember it being the prettiest, yet least fun of them. That said, I finished 7, 9, 10, and 12. They really are good games, and while they usually contain such ridiculous super-hard bosses, they’re always optional. I skipped those completionist power-gamer bosses, and managed to really enjoy the games.

    Of course, in an MMO, there’s no base game to enjoy, the completionist power-gamer bit is the game itself.

  17. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    @Geoff:

    I dabbled in IX and X, but soon lost interest. I don’t know, the series seems to have gone a path I’m not too enthralled with. Even XII, which has been recomended to me on ocasion, seems iffy. But then again, I can’t play these games now as I currently own no gaming console. Me and consoles have this love-hate thing going on :)

  18. shon says:

    Such silliness would interfere with my 22 hour Alpha Centauri marathon.

  19. emil says:

    In EVE they shoot at spacestations for days. MMO just means most gameplay is replaced by grind.

  20. DSX says:

    There are some 4 to 5 hour boss battles in Lineage II but going more then 8 is insane.. let alone 24.

  21. Calabi says:

    Wow that is the craziest shit I’ve ever heard. For me any battle that lasts more than an hour is rediculous and excessive. Are they trying to kill their players for real?

  22. Noc says:

    Oh, man, that’s right. EVE is all about just grinding station after station. It’s not like, you know, there are ships that are specifically designed to allow you to do that quicker.

    Still, I think this sort of harkens back to an older philosophy of game design: of the difficulty curve that, instead of plateauing at a comfortable place for people to finish, keeps curving upwards indefinitely. It’s like the superhard optional bosses in other FF games; you don’t need to do them, but they’re there so that if you want to push the upper boundaries of the game’s mechanics (Maxed out characters, etc), you’ll have something to fight.

    I don’t see anything wrong with having creatures in an MMO that are difficult or impossible to kill. I don’t see a problem with the fact that rounding up a dozen or so max level characters doesn’t make you the biggest and baddest thing in the game. Whether it requires an uncanny amount of organization, stamina, or persistence to defeat these challenges, the fact that they’re there and that difficult means that beating them is an accomplishment.

    FFXI is a group-based PvE MMO. I played it for a bit years back and didn’t like it all that much, but I think it’s good at doing THAT. Where group PvE in other games is mostly a matter of slaughtering weaker enemies with greater efficiency, in FFXI it’s about working together to work your way through environments where everything is bigger and meaner than you are. I quit because I didn’t know anyone who played, and I got sick of sitting around waiting for a group that needed me. But . . . while PvE combat in MMOs is grindy almost by definition, my memories of the game suggest that the enemies presented enough of a challenge that killing them was actually pretty fun.

    I’ve no idea what I’d think of the game now. It’s been years, after all, and I was a lot younger then. But I don’t think it’s quite as easily written off as this.

  23. Kanakotka says:

    I’d rather die than play an asian MMO again.

  24. Arnulf says:

    There are people who are into this kind of gaming. I can sympathize with that. Although I will readily admit that I do not have the stamina to participate in it myself.

    As far as I know FFXI is the MMORPG for the Japanese market. It is playable via PS2, PS3 (to some degree), XB360, and PC. The control scheme is most suited for a dualshock-type controller, even on a PC. It’s my own preferred way of playing.

    There are several servers, population ranging between 2k up to 5k, but they’re not associated with a time zone. Meaning that every server has peak times for the EU, NA, and JP time zones.

    Before WoW it was the biggest commercial modern MMORPG on the market.

    I still see new players arriving in the starter cities almost every day.

  25. Mr. Brand says:

    How come this game doesn’t appear in the Darwin Awards? Somebody must have died by now! Maybe it’s just wishful thinking.

  26. Eddie Aitken says:

    The game’s very JP driven, a big reason why it didn’t pick up as it should have in the states I believe. In any event, it’s without a doubt the most in depth game I’ve played in my life and I really wasn’t all that surprised about this article. But like I said, some linkshells might take down an NM in 3 hours where others would take 8.

  27. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    If it takes you a day to shoot a station in EVE, you are doing it wrong.

    Setting up a reasonably-outfitted player-owned station, that evidently takes at least eight-ten hours under ideal circumstances. I gather our logistic guys watch a lot of TV while doing it.

  28. Geoff says:

    I’m with Noc on this one – it’s okay for a game to have ludicrously difficult optional content. If you don’t want to spend a week preparing to fight “Ruby Weapon”, then don’t. You can still finish the game and see the ending and all that good stuff.

    In an MMO like this, practically all the content is “optional content”.

  29. ape says:

    Going on a totally geek tangent here but the only FFs worthwhile are VI and Tactics. This on the other hand is insane.

  30. Alex says:

    Funnily enough I just rewatched Spoony’s review of FFVIII today.

    But when an entire clan passes on finishing a boss after investing that much time into it you have to assume that they weren’t even about to kill it. Some developers are utterly insane.

  31. h4plo says:

    @Noc:
    I agree with you almost entirely. Obscenely difficult and time-consuming encounters are the bread and butter of the gaming elite of any game (although perhaps moreso in an MMO environment), and providing content for them ensures having a dedicated, solid core of a player base. I think the problem in this situation is one of scale; if the game mechanics force an eighteen-hour encounter, without break, in order to achieve that end, then that end is flawed. The level of work and effort needed to complete something like that is akin to slave-labor – I’ve never, in all of the years of the variety of shitty jobs I’ve had, had to work anywhere near that amount of time without a break. Because of the nature of this encounter, it’s unlikely that they even got bathroom breaks.

    The trouble with putting in an encounter into a game isn’t that there are a few groups that will attempt it and beat it – it’s that there are groups of players that aren’t capable of this level of gameplay will attempt it, and possibly hurt themselves doing so. I feel ludicrous even suggesting this, but Squeenix should really break the fourth wall and insert a disclaimer somewhere that says, “Look, this is a stupidly long fucking fight and if you’re dumb enough to try we’re not responsible for you getting sick. By the way, you don’t even get any gear for this lololol”.

    I suppose that its still an accomplishment; it just bothers me that the top-level of accomplishment in this game has such an obscene time requirement involved with it. As Alec said, it’s just bad design. There HAS to be some other mechanic that can be enabled to make the fight incredibly difficult, something beyond the “coordinated line-dancing” of WoW. I can’t imagine really any situation in which a boss should ever take more than, say .. four to five hours. That’s a bit much for me personally, but at least nobody is going to get themselves killed in that playsession.

  32. xagarath says:

    It’s worth noting that Final fantasy’s never been the best series in tis own genre, simply the best known in the west.
    There are good japanese RPGs out there. Shin Megami tensei, for instance.

  33. Half Broken Glass says:

    I only heard about how lifesappingly hard grinding in FFXI is(Apparently you won’t go *anywhere* over level 13 without a party) and that was enough for me to never want to have anything to do with it.

    For me it all boils down to one question:

    Is that boss fight instanced or not?

    If it’s instanced, then it’s simply broken. Squaresoft(Squeenix?) again proved that they go beyond all humane limits on how far they’re willing to go to masticate FFXI players.

    If it’s not instanced? Sorry but this is sheer fucking awesome.

    This is what I’d expect from a high level end(?) boss in a MMORPG. He should be a one tough fucking bastard and the fight with him should be nothing but epic. The difference between a MMORPG and a single player many people still can’t grasp is that single player has a single player, while MMORPGs have thousand and more. One guild? ALL guilds on the server should band together, and even then it should take a dozen hours to bring it down. He should have attacks which instantly kill tens of players at once, and during the fight whole game world should be changing – sky should go black, volcanoes should be erupting, mobs should invade the cities, etc. That would be proper end game content. Not a more sparkling equips.

    If you read the article, the bastard changed it’s form twenty times during the fight. It’s not like they were just beating a colorless blob for eighteen hours, and obviously a lot of effort went into the boss’ creation. As much as it pains me to say it: Excellent job, Squaresoft(Squeenix?). I think you just managed to redefine the genre.

  34. ran93r says:

    Played for about 18 months and enjoyed it but 18 hours for one fight is a bit much. FF boss fights and their phases can be long winded even in the single player games but this just smacks of poor tuning and it wouldn’t be the first time that complaint has been raised at SE. Sure you don’t want boss fights to be cakewalks but I would be hard pressed to think of any reason why I would want to be on one fight for that long.

  35. Cooper says:

    What is clearly broken is not the length of time it takes to take on the boss, but that it requires constant engagement throughout that time.

    There would be nothing wrong with an epic battle lasting days if players could drop in and out. Or, even if they have to be there at the start, be lenient enough so that they can co-ordinate protection for absent players.

    At the end of the day though, more fool the players with such incessant dedication to such challenges. If I was to ever be presented with an 18+ hour battle in an MMO, I’d tell the devs to bugger right off.

  36. Vollgassen says:

    That’d be funny. It’d be like MMORPGs replacing Kool-Aid for mass cultist suicide.

  37. Acosta says:

    The thing is, knowing a bit of FFXI and its design evolution, this was probably not designed to create 20 hours fights, there must be certain patterns that make the fight “easier” but they will probably be extremely obscure and hard to put together.

    The story of the end gaming bosses in FFXI is just insane, I really think is one of the few game that prides himself of having really “hardcore” content. And they are optional, outside of the storyline content that is the main line of progress for players. I guess it works in a similar way of other FFs, with a main story arc and some optional, secret and very hard bosses spread at the world.

  38. Dan says:

    Any old Everquest players around? If I remember right (never did this myself), there were some bosses that took obscene amounts of time to down there as well.

    The one I’m thinking of wasn’t even orignally intended to be taken out by players. Of course, people being people, a group eventually took it down.

  39. Eric says:

    Oh man… I used to play FFXI. I ended up sitting at the computer for more than 24 hours just waiting for a monster to spawn so that I could get an item for a quest. It only dropped one and there were about 20 other people to fight with for it.

  40. Tony says:

    Remember: You can piss when you’re down. And there was a lot of being down, judging by XP loss.

    But anyway, this was a pop in a normal zone. You could have nine alliances on each mob that spawns, but judging by the clusterfuck of Astral Flow that wiped everyone (summoner’s two hour ability – avatars do their classic attacks from other FF games and… basically kill everything. If it’s not player-summoned, anyway…) I gather that there isn’t anyone foolish enough to clean up afterwards. Or, to be fair, enough suicidal linkshells that wouldn’t bicker about who gets the drops.

    Man, I sound like a dork.

  41. GeorgeR says:

    @Eric, yeah, that or the mobs that dropped good gear that only spawned once every few days, and in FFXI “good gear” meant it would essentially make you + a level or 5. And since a lot of things were built around you being X level with X gear you had to wait and get lucky.

    I loved the art design in that game, but god, it was so awful, there needed to be SOMETHING you could do solo because man, if you didn’t havea good linkshell partying sucked.

    Also, WoW did the outdoor encounters with giant raid bosses, along with crazy invasions. Their method of handling bosses is fairly solid, after a few failures you can generally figure out what you have to do. So one fight shouldn’t take you 5+ hrs unless you’re with a ton of idiots.

    Eh. To each their own I guess.

  42. Skalpadda says:

    Their method of handling bosses is fairly solid, after a few failures you can generally figure out what you have to do. So one fight shouldn’t take you 5+ hrs unless you’re with a ton of idiots.

    Unless you’re counting some of the end bosses where even the top guilds would take about a week of constant tries to get a working strategy. I don’t see a problem with that though, in this case it’s the insanity of an actual 18 hour session that’s a bit horrifying. I’d get bored with any fight that could stretch over half an hour when I played WoW.

  43. BonSequitur says:

    How did anyone ever think that’s good game design?

    How did anyone ever think Final Fantasy was good game design?

  44. Mr. President says:

    Now I personally wouldn’t touch any MMO with a ten-foot pole, but I can see how this could be cool if you are into this kind of thing.
    MMORPG People are known to spend multiple hours on ALL sorts of dumb things. At least in this case you have something to show for your poopsocking. Fighting an epic battle, with a unique monster.. I can respect that.

  45. luckystriker says:

    I’m fine with it as long as no one dies. I played WoW for 3 years and although i’ve never spent 18 hours killing 1 boss, I’ve spent many 18 hours days doing something equally pointless (or rewarding, depending on your outlook). Also for the purely selfish reason that gaming already has a bad enough image in the mainstream press without some 14 yr old kid keeling over trying to kill a spawn of satan.

  46. Werrick says:

    This is one of the half-dozen or so reasons why I hate the FF series…

  47. CoggsD says:

    This is the exact reason I love FF1 with its beautiful 8 bits of impressive graphics and georgeous streaming colors. Play few hours to beat start to end and feel just as accomplished

    8 BIT RULES!!!!!!
    And I hate to say this but I own a PS3 and decent PC and still would rather pop in a 8 bit cart in the NES and play it and have just as much fun if not more.