Tank-and-spank fights just won’t cut it anymore. The years when raid bosses were simplistic, inert damage sponges are behind us; nowadays, devising an exciting, distinctive concept will make the best foundation for a memorable boss encounter. “This is one of the most fun parts--because really, almost anything goes,” says Ion Hazzikostas, the lead encounter designer on World of Warcraft. “It comes down to a question of what's cool.” And you know what’s cool? Going toe-to-toe with a gigantic arachnid that has hardened lava for a husk.
When coming up with Ragnaros’ posse for the Firelands raid, Hazzikostas and his team channeled their inner adolescent pyromaniac. “We all threw out ideas--hey, what if there's this huge, fiery spider that weaves webs that are strands of pure fire? Or what if there's a phoenix that bursts out of an erupting volcano? These are things that resonant on a level of ‘That's really cool,’ and we think we can work with it. That's the starting point, the genesis, of the idea.” From there, it’s simply a matter of ironing out the complementary mechanics that will play off this cool, core idea.
Pictured: Beth’tilac, the Red Widow of the Firelands, who players can only take down by scaling up to her scorching web.