What Makes a Good Boss Battle?

While preparing for the upcoming presentation, I’ve been asking myself what makes a game good or, at the very least, what makes people enjoy them.  Since I mostly play RPGS, I mostly pulled from my knowledge of those games and thought about what I did and did not enjoy about some of my favorite games.  This brings me to Dragon Age: Inquisition, a game which, while mostly enjoyable, had one of the worst boss battles I have ever played.

The final boss of Dragon Age: Inquisition, Corypheus. Source

In order to figure out what makes a boss battle work well, I want to use what Inquisition did poorly.  By figuring out what Corypheus did poorly, we might be able to figure out what to do well.  NOTE: there will be spoilers ahead for the end of Inquisition.

Continue reading “What Makes a Good Boss Battle?”

If We Could Go Back In Time…

Text by A.A. BENJAMIN, Game Demo by JO KIM, Characters by SPARLING

Our fictional Once Upon A Time Machine video game proposal (<–see our powerpoint presentation here) had one obvious blunder. We had a cool game demo but treated our presentation as separate from the demo.

As we talk about hyper-meditation in this English New Media course, finding ways to merge the two would have been an opportune way to express what we’ve learned in the course. However, timing issues and mishaps aside, the highlight of this project was collaboration. Our bouncing ideas transformed into a proposal that mimicked gameplay and a fun intertextual commentary that made gaming attractive to a target audience.

Profile Picture
The Narrator

We built a video game model off of the arcade style and well-known Mario Kart race track design. The premise of the game is that you can choose one from ten playable characters designed from H.G. Well’s novel, The Time Machine. You then race against your friends in your choice of eight vehicles derived from methods of time travel across literature and film to date, all with their pros and cons. Along the courses which follow the novel’s plot, you use items and special weapons to work your way to first place, surviving the clingy Eloi and destructive Morlocks. Our game provided some intertextual game play for intellectuals in their 20s and 30s, as well as sci-fi and steampunk fans. We also took liberties with H.G. Well’s more obscurely described characters to create gender and race-inclusive characters.

The most enjoyable part about this project, to me, was the generation of ideas together and then watching them develop through art and imagery. One thing we would have needed to do if this were a real proposal would have been to fully design our own concepts and/or cite our sources (drawing them would have been super fun). Though we wouldn’t have to consider copyright issues with the aged H.G. Wells novel, we concluded that we could keep the vehicles as direct references under the Fair Use doctrine. Also, as indicated by our classmates, we could have described the functions of more of our characters, vehicles, and levels rather than focusing on one or two, so here some drafts that didn’t make the cut:


Man With A Beard
Man With A Beard–Spontaneous combustion whenever using matches


Time Machine Sled–Can hold endless items. The more you have slower you are. Items attract Eloi, sled itself attracts Morlocks. Enables use of mace
Tardis–Unaffected by villains. Overheats when lighting matches. Your matches don’t work on villains (because you’re in a box. Basically, just avoid matches). Disappears momentarily. Works best with Medical Man
Final Stage Kill Screen: In the old arcade games, the machines had limited space and therefore when players got far enough the graphics began to devolve. The Time Machine ends with the Time Traveller disappearing without a clue of where he went, so the last stage could be a “kill screen,” racing at length until the game graphics begin to deteriorate.

Unfortunately, we are mere undergrad students incapable of rendering the game in such the intricate way that we imagine, so if we were to get a chance to build it, it’d probably be less compelling. But it was fun to dream, anyway. Isn’t that where all great games begin? Progress!

–A.A. Benjamin

Faerie Queene: The Jousting Plain

The Jousting Plain: game design and remediation of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene



The Faerie Queene: Book 3, Canto 1, Sections 4-12

In the beginning of the Faerie Queene Book 3, Sir Guyon and Prince Arthur are journeying together and come across an open plain, upon which they encounter Britomart. “At last as through an open plaine they yode,/They spide a knight, that towards pricked faire,” (Book 3, Canto 1, Stanza 4). Sir Guyon immediately squares off against her, prompting a joust where Sir Guyon is defeated. His companions make excuses for his loss by blaming (in the poem) the horse and Sir Guyon’s equipment. Sir Guyon’s pride is satisfied, and the group is reconciled to Britomart, joining her to continue into the forest.

Overview / Location

To the North of the Classroom is the first area of the game: the Jousting Plain. A open, grassy area, the Jousting Plain is limited by hills and trees in order to keep the player moving forward in his/her quest. The area serves to introduce the player to basic fighting and interaction with other characters as they move along the path in order to continue the narrative. In this section, the player acts as the character Sir Guyon, entering along with several companions as they journey. The area is designed as a mostly open, bright area, set along a path where the player interacts with the Palmer, a knight, Prince Arthur, and Britomart.



  • The Palmer-plain man who introduces the player to the area.
  • A Knight-unspecified initial character to introduce combat
  • Prince Arthur-In knight’s garb; Sir Guyon’s companion, acts as a narrator in the scenes.
  • Britomart-A woman who has taken on the guise of a knight.


  • An initial joust (battle) to set up game mechanics
  • Joust with Britomart



Upon entering the Jousting Plain, the player finds the first NPC next to them, the Palmer. The Palmer, in the poem, is a companion of Sir Guyon. In medieval tradition, a palmer was a person who had completed a journey to Jerusalem as a religious quest. In this scenario, the Palmer serves to introduce the player to the jousting area and challenges him/her to take on an initial joust, telling the player,

“Greetings, Sir Guyon, I’m here to tell you that you have been challenged to a joust!”

“A joust you say?”

“A joust indeed! This may be a chance to hone your skills. You never know when you will need to joust unexpectedly.”

The player has an option to pick either, “Yes, bring him forth,” or “No, I need no practice.” If the player chooses the former, another NPC, a knight, appears and attacks the player, giving them a chance to determine the rules of fighting and using commands.

After defeating the NPC, the player continues forward in the Jousting Plain. Prince Arthur, the companion of Sir Guyon, is in armor and is designed to introduce the player to the next fight against Britomart, saying “Sir, I spotted a knight with a strange spear some time ago. I would move with caution.”


Once the player moves on, Britomart approaches and interacts (had the programming work, this would have resulted in a fight that the player cannot win.)

“Have at thee!”

“Let us fight!”

Sir Guyon’s response to his inability to defeat Britomart is, “I am dishonoured, I would rather die than be defeated.”

Prince Arthur tells the player, “Do not be ashamed, Sir. The knight’s spear is enchanted, and your equipment is at fault. Do not tempt fortune by fighting this knight.”

The player chooses to surrender with, “Very well, I am pacified.” The player interacts with Britomart and learns who she is, “I am Britomart of Britain, on a quest to find my lover. I will join you in your journey.” The player can then move on to the next section in the game.


Logan Wilke, Matt Eller, Jesse Huang

Game Design Britomart’s Bedroom: Faerie Queen, Book 3, Canto 1, Stanzas 60-66

Britomart’s Bedroom Scene Game Design Remediation:


Our character goes into the Castle Joyeous and then see’s the Redcrosse Knight and the 6 Malecasta Knights guarding Britomart’s bedroom. Our PC then hears a scream from inside of Britomart’s Bedroom. Our PC and the Knights run into Britomart’s Bedroom where they find Britomart welding sword with her smock on and Malecasta on the ground wounded. Our PC and the Redcross Knight run to Britomart and the Knights run to Malecasta.

After conversation with Britomart, the six Knights attack our PC, Britomart, and Redcrosse Knight. During the fight Malecasta is no where to be found. Our PC and Redcrosse Knight talk about where Malecasta went. PC asks Britomart and she tells the PC about her secret entrance to her room. Britomart, Malecasta, and PC go through the secret entrance and find Malecasta in Malecasta’s Bedroom where upon entrance she attacks the PC. The PC wins and completes the Mini Quest.


Britomart’s Bedroom Entrance:

PC: “What is this room that you are guarding?”

Redcrosse Knight: I am guarding Faire Britomart’s Bed Chamber making sure these “Knights” don’t try anything.

PC: Why would they?

Redcrosse Knight: They are Malecasta’s knights you can’t trust them.

Malecasta screams (Sound Effect)

PC: What was that?

Redcrosse Knight: I don’t know. Let’s go!


Inside Britomart’s Bedroom:

PC: What happened in here?

Britomart: I was sleeping soundly when I heard someone in my room! It was Malecasta and I quickly welded my sword and took care of her.

PC: Oh dear! Are you ok?

Britomart: Of course, I am! But it looks like you and Redcrosse might not be.


Fight with 6 Knights of Malecasta (Britomart and Redcrosse help)

*After success*

Redcrosse: Well we handled them but where did Malecasta go off to?

PC: I don’t know. Seems like she ran away but no one went through the door we came in.

Redcrosse: I don’t know ask Britomart

Britomart: She must have gained access to my secret passage door.

Go through Secret Door, Down the Hall to Malecasta’s Bed Chamber,

Malecasta Attacks, She is defeated. If not the player can respawn and try again.



Redcrosse Knight



Malecasta’s Six Knights


Main Quest- Enter Britomart’s Bedroom/Defeat Malecasta’s Knights:

  • Obtain access to Britomart’s Bedroom
  • Defeat Malecasta’s Knights inside of Britomart’s Bedroom

Objective- Defeat Malecasta’s Knights


  • Experience Points
  • Collect Loot
  • Access to Britomart’s Secret Passage

 Side Quest- Find Malecasta:

  • Obtain access to Secret Passage Door in Britomart’s Bedroom through conversation with Britomart
  • Go to Malecasta’s Bedroom

 Objective- Defeat Malecasta after finding her in her bedroom


  • Experience Points

Youtube Video of NWN2 Britomart Bedroom Game Module:


Amanda T., Nathanial E., and Emily G.

What Can You Learn From Video Games?: Answers For My Mom

I was first interested in this Digital Media course because I believed that it would help me further understand how digital media can be used to communicate ideas and stories to people of the 21st century. I thought when I signed up that we would be talking about social media techniques and how it has changed the way people communicate and how it can be harnessed to drive specific messages. Surprisingly, that was not what I got from the course. I got so much more. 

I was intentionally shocked when I found out the class was about video games. I have never truly been into video games and I didn’t think it was for me. How could video games teach me how to strategically use media to communicate a message? My mom was shocked when I told her about my decision to stay in the class; and then confused when I told her about all I was learning. Still she would ask: “What can you learn from video games? And now that the class is coming to a close I finally have answers for her.

I found while taking the course that it has everything to do with message, audience, and community. Video games and the video game industry at large incorporate all of social media in order to create a community around a specific game, game console, or even further a community that already exists like the die-hard fans of the Lord of the Rings. 

Also, speaking of Lord of the Rings the class has successfully incorporated all kinds of media in relation to gaming from poetry to film in a way to show that all of media is connected and that Digital Media is just a new of shoot of media as a general form. 

I will be using the things I learned in this class in the future when I work in creating/producing content for television and the Internet. I have learned about the remediation of text and how that remediating a text can generate an already established fan base. I learned a lot about how to build, cultivate, and create for a community of people who want specific types of things (there it be games, franchises, or otherwise). I will definitely take a lot from this course and I am happy that I decided to step out of my comfort zone and learn about things is a really unique and different way.


Who says game designers aren’t artists too?

The debate of whether video games should be considered art is still hotly contested. How can an interactive form of entertainment such as a video game be called art? It seems that it would be much like calling tic-tac-toe or solitaire a form of art as well. However, it is not the playing of the video game that should be up for consideration, but rather the game itself.

With many of today’s video games, it can be difficult to distinguish the setting from the area it is based on. For example, in playing any of the Assassin’s Creed series games, the cities and building are so incredibly life-like that the gamer almost has to think he’s there. The original builders of these cities are (and if they aren’t. should be) considered artists in every sense of the word, so why not the remediators that created these structures within video games? It is arguably every bit as challenging to create 15th century Italy in a video game as it was to build it the first time. Yet we call the the latter designers “artists” while the former remain only designers.

One’s argument could be that these designers did not originally create this setting but copied it from the real artists, and therfore are not artists themselves. This is nonsense. Throughout history, artists have redone the works of previous artists, often in different forms (such as paintings of wood-prints, and vice versa), and both works are still considered art. How is the case of video games any different? Furthermore, many video game designers create worlds entirely of their own imagination, and create them with such detail and care that they too could pass for real.

For all this, video game designers are too talented (usually) and have worked more than enough to deserve the title of “artists.” Their form of art is judged by many of the same characteristics that other forms of art are, in many cases combining the crtieria for several forms (i.e. novels, architecture, etc.) and still qualifying as masterpieces.