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FOLLOWUP Juggernaut Items

Riot Axes New PortraitHi folks,

Following up on the Juggernaut itemization changes made in patch 5.16, particularly the additions of Dead Man’s Plate, Titanic Hydra, and Sterak’s Gage, I wanted to quickly go over our thoughts on the current state of these items.

Original Goals (for the 08/20/2015 Release)

  • Offer Juggernauts items that meet their specific needs and provide a foundation for future juggernaut item diversity
  • Use stat bindings to ensure those items can be balanced for juggernauts, rather than being superior on other classes.
    • Stat bindings refers to the statistics that a champion kit encourages its players to itemize for, e.g. Marksmen with Attack Speed and Critical Strike

What’s Working (as of 1/25/2015)

  • All the updated Juggernauts use some of these items in their builds to solve the problems they were meant to address
  • No metagolem – stacking all these items together doesn’t dominate all other builds
  • Clear item satisfaction created by thematic linkage (e.g. Black Cleaver on Darius) and visual effects/audio (e.g. Dead Man’s Plate’s trail)
  • Non-Juggernauts aren’t using these items excessively or unfairly (stat binding works)

Problems to Address (as of 1/25/2015)

  • Non reworked juggernauts have pretty hodgepodge itemization
  • Dead Man’s Plate remains too strong and is crowding out other choices
  • Unclear if Dead Man’s Plate and Black Cleaver correct an intended juggernaut weakness (immobility) too effectively
  • Titanic Hydra has very few users (lack of health-bound, Basic Attack-oriented champions)

Known Tradeoffs

  • Juggernauts are well-supported with core items, but have few choices to make other than order/build path.

Next Steps

  • Look to improve bindings on other Juggernauts (e.g. Nasus and Udyr)
  • Further reduce Dead Man’s Plate’s power and assess other similar items
  • Assess who should use Titanic Hydra and changes needed to make it attractive to them
  • Discuss frameworks for use of flat MS versus % MS and in what ways items should or shouldn’t offset class weaknesses.

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Its not that Dead Mans Plate is awesome other options are underwhelming

Riot Axes New PortraitI’d like to look at Randuin’s Omen and Sunfire Cape as well. I do think Deadman’s is also overbearing, though.

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Riot Axes New PortraitBasically we’re seeing it in most games even on core Sunfire Cape users and core Frozen Heart users, even with Sunfire Cape having an identical stat-line – they just buy the Dead Man’s a bit later. It’s crowding out not just other armor options but other defensive options period, which points to it simply giving more for its price than items usually give.

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Cassiopeia Twin Fang expectations

Cassiopeia Single Banner

Repertoir New PortraitHi everyone,

As Cassiopeia is one of the mages we’re looking at for the mid season mages update and I’m the designer heading up her changes, I’m looking to get opinions/feedback from players on what some of their specific expectations for her are.

 

One thing I’m having a difficult time assessing is what players’ desires are as far as Twin Fang goes, and I do have some concern that opinion will be far from unanimous. I know a lot of players want Cass to be more “poison mage” than she currently is, and I think I have a good grasp on how that may be able to manifest, but I don’t really know what that means as far as what they want from Twin Fang. It may just be that you want Twin Fang to remain mostly as it is now, with kit changes elsewhere. It may be that you want there to be more times where casting Twin Fang isn’t the best thing to be doing.

Any opinions on the matter would be greatly appreciated. For what it’s worth, I’m probably not going to be able to invest time in hundreds of responses to this thread, but I will check in on it periodically to get your ideas.

Thanks,
Repertoir

Edit:
Thanks for all the input here. I’m not sure exactly what this means is going to come of Cass or Twin Fang, but I am going to try a some iterations based on what’s going on here. I don’t think this single thread can really provide a singular correct direction to take things, but it’s at least given me some perspective on how people feel about the ability. For what it’s worth, I’m probably going to test out some stuff where E has cool interactions on poisoned targets that aren’t simply a reset (and probably lower the cooldown baseline), and I’d also like to test out some different iterations that seek to put some more gameplay behind when it’s actually a good time to go in and E spam (unlike on Live, where the answer is basically always), and make those times really rewarding. Thanks again!

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Why cant Braum jump to wards with W

Braum Single Banner

Meddler Final PortraitWhat Braum should and shouldn’t be able to jump to was something we looked at a lot during his development. We had some clear strengths and weaknesses in mind for Braum though, and those were really helpful in assessing what tools he should have. Gameplay wise we wanted to ensure Braum had a clear niche he was really good in, and that there were some games where he’d be an ok, but not great pick.

 

If what you wanted was a strong defensive front line, who worked well with frequent auto attacking allies, Braum would be a great choice, especially if the enemy was running a really missile heavy comp. If you needed really strong peel/disengage though, you’d want someone like Janna instead. Or if strong engage and reliable lockdown was what you were after someone like Leona was the better choice.

Those guidelines lead us to conclude that being able to ward jump wasn’t appropriate for Braum. In particular it gave him much more powerful initiation than was appropriate (disengage/wall hopping was a lesser concern). By gameplay goals, and by personality, Braum was intended to be a defensive, helpful champion first and foremost, so we wanted to put power into those aspects of him, rather than having to balance him around a reliable way of jumping straight onto the enemy. Early versions of Braum’s W went so far as to only allow him to jump to allied champions, not minions, that ended up feeling excessively constraining though. We also talked a fair bit about how much power Braum should be able to offer in a dive buddy situation (following another allied champion in, and then helping lock people down), ultimately concluding that was a reasonable strength and still fit well with his intended teamplay based approach.

As far as ward jumping on Lee Sin, Kat and Jax goes that’s something we ultimately decided to balance those champions around (it’s a significant strength, not a free bonus). It wasn’t originally an intended mechanic, and there have been some good arguments for taking it away at times, intuitiveness and the way it circumvents the intended weaknesses of unit targeted dashes/blinks in particular. The plays it allows though are good fits for the intended strengths of those champions, all of whom are strong on the offense and intended to be slippery. It’s also a strongly embedded part of their playstyle, which added a bit of extra weight to keeping it.

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Was the concern that Braum is a Support and tends to buy Sightstone

Meddler Final PortraitYeah, there’s a good secondary argument there certainly. Even if Braum was a non support tank who didn’t buy Sightstone though we’d still feel not being able to jump to wards was definitely the right call.

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Will the upcoming immobile mage updates include visual changes

Meddler Final PortraitCurrent expectation is that there’ll be visual updates to support kit changes, but not otherwise. Same approach as with the marksmen update for example.

A lot of the artists on the Champion Update team are focused primarily, or entirely, on the full scale relaunches like Poppy, Taric etc. For those we target a full visual overhaul, whereas the class updates are gameplay driven work with art updates focused on what needs to be changed to make small to medium sized adjustments to kits.

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Whatre the odds that skins on the live server will receive future changes

KateyKhaos Final PortraitIt isn’t too common. It’s generally done if it’s a project Champion Update takes on. Examples of that would include the mass texture rebalances that were done last year, or something similar to Shen’s update, where both gameplay and visuals were updated.

That said, changing content a player has already purchased is tricky because they’ve bought something they enjoy, and changing it could change how they feel about it, which isn’t fair to them.

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Can we have more champion specific dialogue

WAAARGHbobo Final PortraitWe are actually working on this. Both in terms of tech and artistry. So for instance. My first VO was dunk master Darius. –lots of taunts. But not as effective as he could be. We advanced the tech on Rek’sai. I then used that tech on Tahm. Then based on what we learn from that, Beefpunchbeef stayed up a bunch of late nites so I could give Illaoi a whole new style of interactions. Jhin then pushed that forward. An important gate to remember is this tech and techniques are developed on new champs and champ relaunches. We are gaining this stuff– and slowly it will make its way through the roster. It will very very probably happen and on a champ in 2016…. then begin to spread to other champs and relaunches.

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Illaoi seems to not value life or basic human rights

Illaoi Single Banner

WAAARGHbobo Final PortraitKeep in mind she believes in reincarnation, and unlike our world has empirical evidence that it exists and that there is life after death.

As for taking other people’s stuff, youre assuming that she would keep it. She doesnt want you to value stuff.. The common prayer for nagakabouros involves taking some of your money (or stuff) and giving it to the sea. Symbolically the gesture is saying, I wont hold onto things i dont need. I will find a way to get more if need more.

Her god is storms, the sea, and life. It assumes change will and must happen. Also life in the serpent isles is hard, you have to be strong and adaptable to survive.

Mini game was preharrowing, that man was stagnating and thus st risk of becoming a ghost if he died. (Endlessly repeating the same mistakes he made in life)

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Dev Blog Updates and Splash Art

splash_blog_header

BY HUGENFAST

Hey folks, HUGEnFAST here, art lead and splash artist from the Champion Update team.

For a long while, we’ve been thinking about old splash art, specifically splash art belonging to the skins of previously updated champions. As you are likely aware, most champion updates have not been accompanied by comprehensive splash art reworks, creating a problem where certain splashes are outdated or inaccurate representations of what you actually see in-game.

Luckily, we have a solution to this problem: Do. All. The. Splashes.

tl;dr: We are including complete splash refreshes with all future champion updates, and we’re working our way back through previously updated champions to bring their splashes up to par.

Simple solution; huge problem

When we originally started updating champions, we didn’t really have the bandwidth to include a full splash refresh with each update. League has a lot of art needs; we couldn’t take a full team of illustrators and sequester them for months to work exclusively on old splashes. If refreshing splashes with every update had been identified as a must-have at the time, the lack of illustration resources would have bottlenecked a lot of content.

That said, new skin splash art has always felt like a missing piece of the champion update process – especially when major reworks can completely change almost everything about a champion’s appearance. Now that we have the right resources in place, we’re ready to start filling in the gaps, one champ at a time.

Poppy was the first champion to receive a complete splash art refresh alongside her visual and gameplay update. Shen, whose update was revealed last week, is getting the same treatment, bringing new or updated splashes to the Rift along with his flying magic ninja sword and oh-so-fashionable Crocs. This is the new normal; every champion update from here on out will include splash art to go along with the changes.

One note: Not all splashes need dramatic, obvious overhauls. Some of Shen’s splashes have simply been updated and improved to more accurately reflect visual tweaks, while some have been rebuilt from scratch. The goal isn’t reinvention for the sake of reinvention, but bringing the old splashes closer to in-game accuracy and League’s current artistic sensibilities.

About those old updates

In addition to shipping reworked and refreshed splash art with new champion updates, we’re going back through every previously reworked champion and making sure they receive the same attention where needed. It’s going to take a while to get it all done (there are a lot of updated champs and a lot of skins), but we’re hoping to ship a few of these side updates per year and already have a couple in the works.

We’ll keep you updated as we refine our timelines and work through League’s massive post-update-skin splash backlog.

In the meantime, we hope you’re enjoying Poppy’s and Shen’s new splash art, and we’re excited to finally be moving this process into full production.

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As always, a few recent artworks by League fans:

 

Soraka by 雞飛龜走:

dQlKkvQ

 

 

Blade of the Exile by 放逐之刃:

6DzYsgu

 

 

Insane Jinx by skold:

dCO4Eit

 


If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at nolchefo@gmail.com.

 

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Why is Thunderlords getting nerfed in Patch 62

[ Note ] You can find the changes to Thunderlord’s Decree HERE.

Reinboom Final Portrait“It’s still possible that Thunderlords is over-tuned after all this, but bringing the others more in line with the leader should help us gauge how big the discrepancy is”

This is enacting that part of the 6.1 patch notes.

Currently, though there has been a wave of experimentation shortly after patch 6.1, the trend isn’t towards significantly more diversity.

With Thunderlord’s we’re using it as a moving goal post, it’s the benchmark to hit. Move others towards it -> push Thunderlord’s back slightly -> move others towards it (and in that regard, there will not be a change to TLord’s in 6.3 but we will try to get more changes to other masteries in 6.3 or 6.4). There’s also a couple misses in the current setup we’d like to address. Deathfire has little to no sense of feedback to it and Warlord’s is realistically used by very little of the roster (notably because it has no value before your first significant item).

On this change in particular: I’m purposely avoiding hitting the damage at all because the burst effect is the reason you pick the mastery. Instead, these are in the line of tweaking the accessibility of the mastery. TLord’s right now has up to a 10 second window to get your full proc. This has made the mastery more of a “bonus damage rider” than it has a “intentioned burst effect” for pretty much every mastery. This can be a difficult thing to balance around.

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Why did you reduce the window to proc Thunderlords damage

Reinboom Final PortraitThe duration of Thunderlord’s stacks that are applied on enemies actually resets every time they’re applied.

At 5 seconds, this means I can reasonably accidentally get Thunderlord’s to proc by just back and forth light poking with a single attack or spell every 5 seconds. Discounting the last stack (because that obviously procs it), this means that Thunderlord’s had an uptime of up to 10 seconds.

So that nerf is aimed at hitting “incidental” power in favor of “committed” power. For most multi-hit burst characters (and characters that free-proc it, like MF), this is a nil change.

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You should be looking at nerfing Precision not Thunderlords

Reinboom Final PortraitI’d prefer not to look at any mastery instead of another mastery but instead evaluate all, otherwise you create blindspots.

I do agree that Precision is running pretty powerful, and it might be candidate to drop a bit more. However (and this is just looking at Plat+ data), 1/3rd of Thunderlord’s users actually go Intelligence instead after the last nerf we did to Precision. With Precision, we need to be extra careful since it’s not the only mastery of significant power in that slot.

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Warlords Bloodlust needs to be reworked completely

[ Note ] You can find the experimental Warlord’s Bloodlust rework HERE.

Reinboom Final PortraitWe’re currently experimenting with a Warlord’s rework (this showed up on the PBE during the 6.2 cycle).

The distinct lack of any power at the start of the game for most champions makes it difficult to make it an option for many while not silly for three specific champions. So that’s the primary focus of the rework.

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Would a visual update make the other Keystones as popular as Thunderlord

Reinboom Final PortraitYes, definitely. And I strongly believe the lack of any decent feedback is a major contributor to deathfire feeling weak.

This isn’t a slamdunk case of “well, we need to focus on satisfaction” for the other keystones though. We should and are looking at opportunities, but even looking at other tiers on this line Bone of Stone is actually used about 13% more than Grasp of the Undying. Especially noteworthy that Bond of Stone is distinctly lacking in strong feedback.

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Follow Up Banner

Reinboom Final PortraitFWIW, from what I’ve seen of “optimal” cases, Grasp is almost every melee top laner and Bond of Stone is almost every melee support except Alistar. And then Strength of Ages is every jungler not running Thunderlord’s.

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Can we have more tooltip information on the Assassin mastery like range

Reinboom Final PortraitI agree having more information available for not just Assassin mastery is ideal.

I’m resistant to having too much on the tooltip though. Long tooltips for a lot of players creates a “TL;DR, just give me what’s ‘best’ and let me get in game”. Short tooltips that are more scannable enables more players to make quick judgment calls instead of playing follow the leader.

However… for those willing to dive for information and optimize to it, that mindset is exactly wrong. To balance the two we’re actively trying to think of ways of having more “expandable” type of knowledge sources or ways of pushing that information to someplace that will help the information digging group without harming the scanning group. For example, the hover overs on item tips in the shop that was added with preseason is a clear example of this in action.

Mastery tips are a little more difficult, since they are already a hover over and thus we can’t use the same trick twice. So it might be a bit til we figure out where to put it.

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Its important that we know the numbers We shouldnt have to browse wikis

Phreak New PortraitI’d challenge how much that actually matters.

As a user, does it really affect you? If you’re hardcore enough, you’re already going to external websites for your build advice, rune/mastery pages, guides, etc. I find it ends up being a happy marriage between the official website giving you enough information to be able to play the game reasonably. And if you’re really looking for in-depth content, it’s totally fine to look elsewhere.

It does leave players feeling the distaste of it not being available to them first-party, but in terms of function over form, I feel the present-day system works.

Assassin tells you that you deal bonus damage with no champions nearby. So, not for a duo laner, and not useful in a teamfight. The specific number will really never change your gameplay. 1.5% damage is not enough to make you want to mis-position as Zed, or refuse to take your return flight on R after Death Mark.

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Dynamic Ranked New Champ Select Whats wrong and whats next

NaKyle New PortraitUPDATE 1/22 PST Evening:

Hey everyone,

Based on learnings from yesterday’s failed test in Vietnam, we’ve been improving our internal load test. This will allow us to better vet fixes before shipping them to live. We plan on internally testing the queue over the next two days, which unfortunately means you shouldn’t expect Dynamic Ranked or new champ select in Normal Draft this weekend. If tests perform well, we will look to roll out to one affected region (to be decided) on Monday. If that is stable and successful, we will roll out to all affected regions until service is fully restored.

ORIGINAL POST PST 1/21 EVENING:

Hey everyone,

We wanted to share an update on new champ select and Dynamic Ranked ahead of the weekend. We understand it’s been a frustrating week, and are committed to getting Dynamic Ranked and new champ select up and running again.

What’s Wrong:

New champ select and Dynamic Ranked runs on a brand new backend that performed well (after initial hiccups) during live tests in North America and Turkey. However, when we rolled it out live at the beginning of the 2016 Ranked Season, the high volume of games played knocked the new service down in some regions.

What’s Next:

We haven’t pinpointed a solution yet, but once we have a fix we’re confident in, we’ll be extremely deliberate in rolling new champ select and Dynamic Ranked back out to the game. The last thing we want is to return the feature to you, only for it to need to come down again. When we do have a fix, we’ll start in one region, and if successful, roll out to other affected regions.

FAQ:

Q: Do my ranked games count?
A: The placement games played in Dynamic Ranked and/or Solo/Duo queue do count and will transfer when Dynamic Ranked returns

Q: What about Party Rewards?
A: Party Rewards Weekends will be extended to compensate for Dynamic Ranked and new champ select’s downtime

We’ll continuously update this post as long as new champ select and Dynamic Queue remain down. Thank you for your patience.

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Follow Up Banner

NaKyle New PortraitAfter making improvements to how new champ select and Dyanmic Ranked handles high volumes of games, we attempted a fix last night in Vietnam (1/21 PST). The queue showed some improvement, but ended up failing again The team’s been digging into those test results since late last night, learning from them and applying them to our next test. That’s the absolute latest.

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Why is Vladimir a part of the immobile mage update

Vladimir Single Banner

Meddler Final PortraitOur main problem with Vlad is his Q. It’s a low CD, targeted, resourceless spell that restores health. It doesn’t have much interesting decision making for Vlad, if it’s ever strong early he just shuts a lot of people out of lane and the main ways to deal with it are to either sustain even more or to punish Vlad really hard when he trades.

Vlad’s also got a bit of a ‘stat check’ issue, where he’ll just reliably outclick a lot of opponents 1v1 without sufficient avenues for being outplayed. That’s not ideal, it’s a lesser issue though since it doesn’t kick in until later in the game when 1 v 1 counterplay is less important than team v team counterplay.

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Why Cass VelKoz Vlad Zyra Brand and Malzahar in particular

Brand Single Banner

Meddler Final PortraitStatikk and the other folks working on the mage update will be talking in detail about why these particular champs. At a high level our goal with these class updates is to increase distinction between characters. With the mage update especially we’re also looking at some champions that are distinct, but when functional aren’t healthy for the game or are in an ok spot already but have a fair bit of untapped potential for differentiation.

Ought to bring more distinct things to a team:

  • Vel’Koz – Really distinct to play as, cohesive, feels fair to play against. Doesn’t bring enough distinct to a team though, so lacks a clear strategic niche or specialized tool offered. Goal with him will be to offer clearer situations where he’s the right pick when you want AP poke.
  • Brand – Pretty similar to Vel’Koz overall, in that he lacks a clear enough niche, so primary gameplay argument for picking him is when he’s the most damaging AOE mage. Needs a somewhat more distinct toolkit basically.

Distinct, but have significant game health challenges:

  • Vlad – Does distinct things, but can be really unhealthy. Work on Vlad’s going to involve a lot of ‘how do we preserve the core of what he does while adding ways to play against him’.
  • Malz – More game health issues than anything else. Counterplay’s not great in particular, with Malz needing to just click on you and kill you given his squishiness, immobility, lack of reach, vulnerability to item system counters. Has a lot of distinctive stuff going on though.

Untapped potential/Confused identities:

  • Cass – Confused identity, unclear niche (sustained damage almost marksmen like pattern, versus poison spreading potential, versus stacking power, versus counter initiator etc). Work on Cass will need to start with constructing a clear picture of what her concept should be (suspect that’ll include stripping out the stacking gameplay, though that’s a guess).
  • Zyra – Does reasonably distinctive things, but has the potential for quite a bit more. Also ends up either a strong bully or struggling to function a bit too often.

Finally, as with the marksman update in preseason, we’ll also be making some small tweaks to a number of other mages at the same time as these bigger changes (things like the Q reset on Twitch for example).

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Why did you leave out long-range mages like Lux Xerath and Ziggs

Lux Single Banner

Meddler Final PortraitWe decided we’d be best off focusing on a couple of sub types of mage here, which are basically sustained damage mages and pick mages. Artillery mages (Xerath, Ziggs etc with really long range) and supportive mages (Ori, Karma etc) are groups we might tackle later, though it wouldn’t surprise me if there was more value in tackling a different group instead (assassins or some types of tank instead).

 

As far as Lux/Xerath/Ziggs go I do think there’s a bit more overlap there than’s preferable, particularly between Lux/Xerath on pick/burst a dude and Xerath/Ziggs on clear waves/poke champs repeatedly. Lux does bring a more supportive kit than the others though, Ziggs gets more area control/mobility but gives up reliability against champions, and Xerath’s got phenomenal backline access. As a result there’s an ok current state distinctiveness wise. Potentially means they might just need smaller adjustments, rather than larger scale work, to pry them apart a bit.

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What exactly are your supposed problems with VelKoz

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Meddler Final Portrait

Some discussion from last month that covers Vel’Koz’s state:

http://boards.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/c/gameplay-balance/5dJN5vf7-meddler-velkoz-thoughts

TLDR: Healthy, fun to play, distinct to play as, fair to play against, needs to have a more distinct reason to be brought to a team than he currently has .

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Meddler Final PortraitWe understand there are a number of people that don’t want changes to Vel’Koz and as discussed think there’s a lot about Vel’Koz that’s already really good. Not disputing or ignoring that sentiment. We believe though that every champion needs to bring a distinct purpose to the their team and that Vel’Koz doesn’t deliver well in that regard. That makes him a great candidate for some work – good generally, but with a specific problem area that brings him down overall.

In terms of scope the changes to most of these changes are unlikely to be large, do expect them to be bigger than ‘hardly noticeable’ though.

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VelKoz is fine Listen to the community and dont rework him

BelugaWhale Final PortraitWe hear all of you on Vel’koz, and our opinions on him are actually very similar to yours. We love his combos, his geometry, death laser, and true damage. There is very little likelihood that his abilities will be changed in how they are used (with possible exception of his W), or his play significantly altered.

However we also want players in a draft to see their comp, their opponent’s comp, and pick Vel’koz thinking “this would be a great game specifically for Vel’koz” rather than simply “this would be a great game for any long range mage with a lot of AoE”. For scope context, currently the plan for Vel’koz is much more along the lines of Caitlyn, who also kept essentially her entire kit, but had it unified around headshots.

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Statikk New PortraitIt seems your guys’ expectations on how much we’ll warp some of these champions just because they’re in “the 6″ is quite large and drastic. Guess it’s understandable given some of our track record. It’s important to consider that our changes have ranged from as small as Darius and Miss Fortune to as large as Mordekaiser and Graves.

Our current plans for Vel’Koz might literally be the smallest scope changes we’ve ever done in a class update. In fact, I could understand how some people may not even really perceive it as a significant update and more of a “patch note.”

Either way, your downvotes are loud and clear. You don’t really want Vel’Koz to change much. We don’t really plan on moving Vel’Koz’s core at all – just want to amplify what’s already there.

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Why not put up another immobile mage for a rework instead of VelKoz

Repertoir New PortraitThe answer to this is that small mechanical/gameplay tweaks may require much more substantial visual or audio effects to make work. As an example, imagine that we were to change Vel’Koz’s W and E so that they also had minor split-shot/geometry elements (this is just theoretical example; it isn’t the plan for him). Even if the gameplay effect of the change was small, we may still need some significant visual’s to have that not look super janky when it happens.

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Why pick Zyra over Azir as a counter engage mage in need of a rework

Zyra Single Banner

Repertoir New PortraitThey occupy different spaces, in that Zyra is a different kind of mage than Azir.

For what it’s worth, Azir, frankly, tends to have too many strengths (this was especially true earlier in his life).

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What will the scope of these reworks be Same as Fioras update

Meddler Final PortraitNone of these updates will be close to Fiora sized (think roughly same scale on average as the marksmen changes).

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Will AD Malzahar remain a viable option after Malzahars rework

Malzahar Single Banner

Repertoir New PortraitI’m looking to leave some enjoyable version of AD Malzahar intact after his update. It may be different, but I’m hoping that it retains the spirit of what’s going on with it.

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Repertoir New PortraitThe hope is that Voidlings can be a meaningful source of damage and gameplay for Malzahar regardless of build.

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Were Heimerdinger or Anivia considered for a slot in the mage update

Heimerdinger Single Banner

Statikk New PortraitHeimer didn’t make it far. We feel he is really Distinct and Cohesive as the turret dude, and mainly lacks in terms of game Health (mastery and counterplay surrounding turrets in particular). Similar to Fiddle though, he has huge strategic weaknesses and strengths that opponents and allies can play around. He is still a prime candidate to get some tweaks and tuning with the sweep though.

Anivia was actually very close to being selected. Ultimately though, Anivia is already pretty Distinct (all her spells outside of E are pretty unique), Cohesive (frost phoenix), and fairly Healthy. We think Anivia can shine even with something as little as a ramping effect based on how long enemies remain in her R (this is all hypothetical off the top of my head…) and few other additional number tweaks.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Will AP items also receive changes to go along with the mage updates

Meddler Final PortraitWe’ll likely include some item changes with the mage update. Expect those will be smaller scope than the marksmen ones though.

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Why didnt Shen receive a new voiceover with his update

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WAAARGHbobo Final PortraitI’m not on champ up. But in general, its a very, very small team working around deadlines. Rewriting, recording, processing and then having all 17+ languages localized and recorded takes several months. And because they are always trying get the best work done they can, they have to prioritize. So if a champ’s VO is “acceptable” they might instead use that time to work on another champ whose VO is “awful.” Eventually, they will make their way through the whole lineup several times… but they can’t high polish every aspect of a champ– all the time.

[ Link to Post ]

 

As usual, here’s a small collection of recent fan art:

 

Winter Wonder Orianna by Alona:

0XRekvJ

 

Syndra by 커피55:

dt2qE8R (1)

 

Sona by Phikaak:

tSCaZLE

 


If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at nolchefo@gmail.com.

 

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MidYear Mage Update

Statikk New PortraitHey all,

The next class update will be focused on “traditional” Mages and I’m here to give you guys and gals some of the initial details. Similar to the Juggernaut and Marksman releases, these updates aim to take look at an entire class of champions and accomplish 2 primary goals:

  1. Ensure the class as a whole is relevant and satisfying to play
  2. Differentiate each champion within the class

Why Mages?

Many Mages are intended to lack mobility but have not necessarily been given clear answers as to what they should do about it or why they work without it. For each sub-class of Mages (this is something we’ll dive into more in a different post) these answers will vary, but our intent is to make it clear that each of these champions is powerful in their own unique way.

On the flip side of the coin, many of them no longer meet our evolving gameplay standards of interactivity, depth, uniqueness, etc. This is also an opportunity to go back and adjust these champions (especially some of our older ones) making them more interesting to play as, with, and against.

Who are we working on?

Similar to the Marksman update, we’re aiming to release ~6 significant updates. The champions we are currently considering (but are still subject to change) are Malzahar, Vel’Koz, Brand, Vladimir, Cassiopeia, and Zyra.

For each of these champions we aim for them to be 3 things:

  1. Distinct – offer a unique reason to be picked
  2. Cohesive – deliver on their core thematic and gameplay fantasy
  3. Healthy – balance-able and fun to play as and against at all skill levels

Note that given the scope of these projects, we won’t necessarily solve every issue on every champion – and fortunately we won’t have to since all of the champions already succeed in their own way at some of the above.

On top of the 6, we are again looking to do a sweep across the entire class (as we did with the Marksman) to find potential tweaks that will make them more unique, interactive, and exciting to play. The smaller-scale changes done to Twitch and Lucian are good examples of this.

What can you expect? When?

We’ve learned a lot from our previous projects and better understand the line between something unique and something unfamiliar. Our priority is to find ways to evolve and enhance the current direction of a champion while still accomplishing the above-stated goals.

In some ways, the feeling of change is unavoidable; we are updating these champions so things WILL be different. We’re confident that we can retain the things you guys love while adding new dimensions.

This is all still a far ways off, so don’t expect anything soon. As you can infer from the title, we’re aiming to release these changes around mid-year and we’ve only just begun to delve deeply into these projects.

How can you help?

We’d love to have your guys’ feedback and opinion on the Mages before and during their development process rather than only at the tail end – especially for the “big 6” (Malzahar, Vel’Koz, Brand, Vladimir, Cassiopeia, Zyra).

We are most interested in the following about your favorite champion:

  1. What aspect is most core or sacred to their identity?
  2. What issue bothers you the most when playing them?

This doesn’t mean we’ll be magically giving everyone dashes or any other instant remedies to all their problems (weaknesses often exist for a good reason). Instead, this information will help us understand which direction to take each champion and where the opportunities lie.

We won’t be talking in the short-term about exact changelists since we’re still in such a state of flux, but we hope you guys are as excited as we are about the updates ahead!

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Dont ruin Malzahars jungle potential with his voidlings

Repertoir New PortraitI can’t guarantee voidlings will be exactly the same as they are now, but this perspective is something I’m trying to strongly consider when working on Malz.

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Why did you pick VelKoz for a rework and not Swain

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Statikk New PortraitSwain was definitely very high on our “want to do” list. What it really came down to is that we feel he really needs a full-on rework (gameplay, thematics, visuals) similar to Sion or Poppy in order to really deliver on an awesome version of Swain.

A large reason why we have chosen the current 6 is based off our confidence that we can deliver a solid update given the more limited scope they will get being as a part of a class update. We’re being a lot more careful about over-reaching since it’s definitely bitten us in the past.

[ Link to Post ]

 

Follow Up Banner

Statikk New PortraitReally substantial change for Swain’s likely to be quite a way off yeah (highly unlikely this year, can’t predict so usefully beyond that). We do think he’d benefit a lot from a full overhaul, he’s certainly not in Taric, Yorick etc tier though, they’ve got significantly bigger problems than he does.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Why are you changing VelKoz Isn’t he fine right now

Velkoz Single Banner

Statikk New PortraitVel’Koz is a great champion, but he honestly lacks Distinctness. He has some hints here and there of uniqueness (Q targeting, true damage from Deconstruct, etc.) but none of them are pushed to a point where it truly differentiates him.

Don’t worry, even within the 6, the amount of change each champion will see is pretty drastically different.

[ Link to Post ]

 

Follow Up Banner

Statikk New PortraitI think you guys will be pleasantly surprised, we’re pretty aligned on where there is potential for Distinctness in Vel’Koz’s kit. We just don’t agree that he’s there just yet.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Follow Up Banner

Meddler Final PortraitWe’re not going to be ready to talk details of what will/won’t change for quite a while. It’s likely that Vel’Koz’s changes will be at the small end of the spectrum though, he’s fundamentally solid apart from his lack of distinct enough outputs (what he does isn’t distinct enough, how his does it is very distinct though).

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

 

What about Fiddlesticks Why isnt he schedule dfor a rework

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Statikk New PortraitFiddle is also a champion we considered, but ultimately felt wasn’t the right fit.

To do a quick rundown on our perception:

  1. Distinct – Fiddle is extremely distinct on the roster. Playing as and against him offer unique experiences.
  2. Cohesive – Fiddle is decent in terms of cohesiveness. He has a somewhat niche thematic as a terrifying scarecrow, but it’s understandably cool. It could probably be pushed a bit further especially in terms of the satisfaction from all his base spell (Drain, Terrify, and Dark Wind).
  3. Healthy – This is debatable, but Fiddle is certainly not the largest health problem in the game. Tactically, his spells’ gameplay could probably be more robust in terms of interactivity (counterplay). Strategically though, there are many ways to deal with Fiddle whether through vision, knockbacks, stuns, etc.

Fiddle is certainly a bit dusty and old-feeling, but that means he may be more in need of a visual / polish pass more than anything. It’s not like he wouldn’t benefit with some more significant work, but he’s a champion that we feel can be a put in a decent spot even with just some minor number tweaks.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Dont ruin the botlane strengths of Champs like Zyra Brand and VelKoz

Statikk New PortraitReally good point. We don’t intend to destroy Support playstyles, but truthfully many of these champions’ fantasies and gameplay manifest best in a role where they can get gold and be the primary threat for their team.

We’re very aware that Zyra, Vel’Koz, and even Brand to some extent all have identities in the Bot Lane.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

I hope Zyra gets a new passive and more ways to interact with her plants

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Repertoir New PortraitWe haven’t yet started work on Zyra other than ideation, but one of the things we tended to be excited about was more plant interactions, like she brings the forest alive around her. Not sure where that means we’re going to take her, but I am excited to see what the team comes up with.

[ Link to Post ]

 

Follow Up Banner

Repertoir New PortraitThe more we work on these group champion projects, the more I think we tend to find that if someone already has something going for them (like Zyra an “counterengage mage”), it’s usually a good idea to start ideation with how we might be able to crank that current strength up to 11.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Keep the reworks simple We dont need more Skarnertype minigames

Skarner Update banner

Statikk New PortraitSimple is a great rule of thumb to lean on. We’re definitely keeping that in mind for these projects.

We agree with you on the “mini-games” thing. Mechanics start feeling like forced “mini-games” when they feel arbitrary, uninteresting, or simply don’t align with the expectations and desires of the champion. We understand this space a lot better after the past few projects.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Why did you put minigames like Skarners crystal spires in the first place

Meddler Final PortraitWe think mini games, when well done, can feel like a really fun, natural part of a champion’s playstyle in a way that expresses their personality/theme. Draven axe catching for example taps into his show off nature, Bard’s chime collecting fits well on a weird dude that wanders and saves things etc. If the minigame doesn’t feel compelling, or doesn’t fit with the champion it’s on however then yeah, that can feel pretty jarring. I’d agree Skarner’s an example of that – if he had a reason to really want to defend the crystals in the jungle it might be another matter (e.g. if they contained others of his kind, frozen, that could eventually come out late game and join his fight).

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Why isnt Ryze on your rework list

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Meddler Final PortraitWe’re going to try and tackle Ryze before the mid year, we think he’s enough of a problem we need to act sooner . Unclear whether that’ll mean some degree of rework or just significant balance changes.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

 

Do you guys plan on doing anything with Syndra

Syndra Single Banner

Repertoir New PortraitIf I recall correctly, Syndra made it pretty far through the selection process, but I believe we determined that she either needed a ton of work to really spice things up on her, or that we could give her a little love on the mechanics side closer to release and still get pretty good mileage. As these projects tend to fall in between these two amounts of work, we ultimately passed on her in favor of others.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Xeraths in a weird spot right now Have you considered him for your list

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Repertoir New PortraitI’m interested to know why you think Xerath is in a weird spot. Is it because of the state of the meta-game? Or is it that there’s something he’s failing to deliver that he seems to be intended to be doing?

As far as what we thought, Xerath seems to be up to par in Distinction, Cohesiveness, and Health. I’ve seen some people argue his gameplay is too similar to Lux to be considered distinct, but we actually see Xerath as more of an extreme range DPS mage, whereas Lux is more of an extreme range burst caster that relies heavily on catching squishies out and killing them with quick full combos.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Whatre your thoughts on Irelias  E from a balance design standpoint

Irelia Single Banner

Meddler Final PortraitI don’t think it’s a great ability, in particular because it can be really unclear what result will happen before she uses it, leading to press the button and hope plays that can feel unfair (in a way you can’t influence) to one player or the other. It’s also an ability that, due to the way it can punish fighting back and its nature as a targeted spell, can leave opponents without apparent options.

Having said that though there are a lot of other champions/abilities I think we’d be much better off looking at first that need the work more. An Irelia rework someday’s a definite possibility, think it’s unlikely we’ll do one this year though.

[ Link to Post ]

 


Is Singed scheduled for a rework

Single Single Banner

Meddler Final PortraitWe don’t have any plans to make significant changes to Singed (almost certainly balance adjustments at some point, but none currently planned). He’s got a distinct playstyle, a deep mastery curve, creates great high moments and certainly isn’t a jack of all trades. He is a bit weird thematically, but not in a ‘this guy’s failing to deliver on his core fantasy’ kind of way.

I’m not personally convinced the root from the Fling/Mega Adhesive combo’s sufficiently relevant to justify its existence on the kit, could imagine a world in which we took that out and replaced it with something a bit less niche. I don’t play Singed much myself though, so I might be just unaware of a bunch of value that interaction provides.

[ Link to Post ]

 


Do youve any changes planned for the Dragon buff

Meddler Final PortraitWe’ve been experimenting with some possibilities over the last couple of weeks, including changing the 4th buff to something a bit more felt than minion/monster damage. Currently waiting to get some insight into how dragon’s being valued in the start of the ranked season/first couple of weeks of professional play though to inform how big our changes should or shouldn’t be.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

The 2016 ranked season is now live

Ranked Season 2016 Single Banner

Socrates New PortraitThe 2016 ranked season is now live! Gather your allies and gear up for all new challenges as you climb the ladder in 2016. We’ve introduced a swath of changes over the course of preseason, as well as new dynamic groups — now you can queue for ranked play with any number of friends. With new champ select, you’ll queue up for your two best positions — you’re guaranteed to always end up with one of the two positions you select — and join a team of players who’ve done the same.

To learn more about the 2016 Season, visit the season homepage here or check out the patch notesover yonder. It’s a new season of GGs, and we’ll see you on the battlefield!

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Ready set play Earn Party Rewards all week long

Celebrate the launch of new champ select and the 2016 ranked season with Party Rewards. How’s it work? Simple. The larger your premade group, the larger the IP bounty you rake in. The bonus is even bigger for new champ select-enabled queues like Normal and Ranked draft. The All-Star bonus from Team Fire’s win at All-Stars is active in Taiwan, NA, and Korea!

Check out the details below!

Premade size New champ select queues Other queues
1 0% 0%
2 125% 50%
3 175% 75%
4 225% 100%
5 450% 150%

Party Rewards are live starting today (10:00AM PST on January 20) until 11:59PM PST on January 24. We’ll see you on the Rift!

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Dynamic Queue system disabled further details

Ymir New PortraitTL;DR Dynamic queue was disabled because of a load issue, Solo/Duo Ranked is temporarily re-enabled, and all matches played in this mode still count towards your future Dynamic ranking.

Earlier today, we saw an issue on EUW that required us to disable the dynamic queue system. This was due to an issue with player load on the servers. This has also affected the KR server in a similar way.

As a result of this, all ranked modes based on the dynamic queuing system were disabled and remained down while we continued to investigate. When deciding on a course of action we had two options:

a) Leave ranked disabled until the issue was resolved
b) Re-enable the previous Ranked Solo/Duo queue

We chose option b) because we wanted to ensure that those of you who enjoy ranked could still play your placement matches. As we did not have a clear ETA on a fix, we proceeded to re-enable Ranked Solo/Duo until the issue is resolved.

What does this mean for your placements and rating?

Any games played on the currently available solo/duo queue system will count towards your placements and ranking when the new system is back up. For example, if you already played 2 games before the issues began in Dynamic Draft and 6 more in Solo Queue, you’d have 8 games played – and these all count towards your placements.

Why are other regions not affected?

Before we introduced this feature, we used a simulated environment to load test the entire system. Live implementation was first conducted on TR and NA with no major glitches. However, some subsystems of the dynamic queues didn’t scale up correctly when running on a larger live environment.

What are the next steps?

Our engineers are actively working to fix and re-enable dynamic queues in EUW. As of now we have no ETA but our tech teams will provide an update when we have more information to share. Thank you for your patience.

UPDATE: To answer a question some of you may have regarding Party Rewards, a several day event that offers bonus IP for playing with friends. We’re holding this event back for EUW until issues are resolved. Once Dynamic Queues are back we’ll look to enable Party Rewards and make sure that players on EUW have the same amount of time to earn IP with friends.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

If you have large updates why not test them on the biggest server EUW

Ymir New PortraitWe don’t consider Live environments as testing platforms. That would be dangerous and unfair to our players. Most of our features go through similar process after the development phase: functional testing -> load testing -> initial deployment to previously selected environments -> few days of player behavior testing (collecting players usage data) -> full deployment everywhere else. The NA & TR deployments week ago just helped us properly understand player reactions, gather important behavioral data and eventually tweak and adjust the service globally. You know, hundreds of dynamic variables here and there…

There were some minor issues in NA, but in general the service was and still is stable. Load testing of large services is always tricky though as one has to simulate the load in development labs. You can’t just get millions of players to test your service live — it must be done artificially as a set of ongoing software trials. We always go much higher than the expected traffic, and usually get highly expected results, like the one with the months-long EUW load tests before the new data center deployment in AMS. No matter how precise you are, live environments can be unpredictable and sometimes even tiny unexpected factor is enough to get one subsystem’s thread on hold. Obviously there are larger systems out there in the internet, but they are usually distributed and can handle the load separately. Our environments work differently — there is a distribution in given service’ cluster, but in general EUW, NA, KR, etc, are single entities handling the entire traffic all by itself.

Sorry for longer post. We’ll obviously do our best to get back to you with fixed Dynamic Queues asap ;)

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Update on Dynamic Queues for all regions

Draggles New Portrait Update: Dynamic normal queue is now disabled in all regions worldwide while we work on a fix (as an fyi, NA began to see similar issues despite the earlier launch on that server). Still no ETA to give but will be sure to have someone update this thread when that changes.

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Follow Up Banner

Riot Eambo Final PortraitHi guys,

The PB team are the experts on this one, and their updates mean a lot more than mine. However, Lyte has been posted HERE with information – while unfortunately there’s not much to be said at the minute, the team are hard at work trying to fix this issue, get it tested, and get it out to you guys. We are as excited for this feature as you are – I honestly couldn’t wait to get home yesterday to play it, and I plan on leaving my placements until it’s back up and running due to the less stressful nature of things in the new champ select.

I know you guys want updates, and it sucks when we can only post “we’re working on it” – but that’s the truth and update we’ve got at the moment. As per Lyte, there’s no ETA at the moment, but I advise keeping an eye on the boards and Lyte’s twitter for updates as they’re available.

Thanks for sticking with us on this – we know it’s far from a smooth experience, but personally I truly believe the new champion select and dynamic queues are great features, and cannot wait to see them (back) on live to get some games with you guys on the rift!

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Champion Mastery Level 6 7

Socrates New PortraitHey all,

When we first announced that Hextech Crafting and loot was heading to PBE, we saw a few questions about how champion shards would work for players who already had all champions unlocked. We weren’t ready to answer those questions then, we are now at the point where we want to reach out to the community for feedback.

Here’s our current, leading design:

  • All players (whether you have all champions unlocked or not) can use champion shards that are duplicates of champions you already own to increase the Champion Mastery level cap of specific champions up to level 7.
    • This will increase the level cap, but won’t increase your actual Champion Mastery experience or unlock any associated rewards (unless you already have enough mastery points on a champ to be level 6 or 7, in which case you’ll immediately unlock those rewards)
    • Example: You own Jax. Using a Jax shard, you can raise the Champion Mastery level cap to 6 for Jax.
  • Alternatively, you can combine 3 champion mastery shards to unlock another level on any champion you choose.
    • Example: You spend three random champion shards to increase Champion Mastery level and a pop up appears allowing you to select any champion. You select Renekton, raising his Champion Mastery level cap to 6.

We also plan to offer chests in the store that can be purchased with IP that would contain specific types of champion shards. For example, we might offer a Demacian Chest for a limited period of time which would contain champion shards for champions associated with Demacia. We might also offer chests like these via other means, like rewards for accomplishments in ranked.

Our goal with this is to ensure champion shards drops always feel like a step towards something players care about and to make to the highest tiers of champion mastery feel exclusive and valuable. Ultimately we think this will make it more meaningful when you drop your mastery badge emote after a clutch (or not so clutch) play. It’s possible that there could be some other reward types associated with higher champion mastery levels, but this is still TBD. We’re excited to get Hextech Crafting and loot out to you all and curious to hear your feedback.

Thanks everyone for all the testing you’ve done so far!

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Does that mean we need shards to drop to reach Mastery levels 6 and 7

Socrates New PortraitIt’s the level 6 and 7 cap that unlock not the experience required for the levels themselves. So you’ll still have to earn your way up. Since the chests require strong performances (S grades) on champs, it puts more weight on unlocking these levels.

Somebody else pointed out since these rewards are more exclusive they should probably be cooler. That’s a good point also.

[ Link to Post ]

 

As always, here’s a short collection of recent fan-art:

 

Zed by Citemer:

C76v1p9 9B7oRhc

 

Swimsuit Lux by raichoo:

swimsuit_lux_by_raichiyo33-d9onwp6

 

A New Dawn by haonguyenly:

a_new_dawn_by_haonguyenly-d9ot6qn

 


If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at nolchefo@gmail.com.

 

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How far off are Shacos and Evelynns visual updates

Evelynn Single Banner

Meddler Final PortraitWe did do some exploration into a possible Shaco direction a year or two ago. That was a gameplay only update that didn’t hit the mark at the time however, so got put on hold (it was some opportunistic work to see what was possible in some free time, rather than a prioritized project). Evelynn we haven’t looked into a major gameplay update for since her rework years ago. I do think we’ll need to take a look at how stealth/stealth detection works again sometime in general though (possibly as part of an assassin class update at some point).

As far as VUs go I’d expect both to be pretty sizeable projects given the age of their current models/anims/VFX etc. Taric’s our current priority, and Yorick’s the likely full relaunch after that. After that it gets less certain. There’s some argument for Shaco or Eve certainly, some other champs we’d really like to tackle too though (Urgot and Warwick for example).

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

What happened to Galios update

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Meddler Final PortraitWe pulled those changes because they weren’t hitting the mark, in terms of solving issues on Galio or making him more satisfying to play. For one thing there’s not really any available power budget for an alternative passive. Galio’s not popular at present, but he’s pretty effective in the average game, so we don’t have space to add power to him without pulling it elsewhere.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Why doesnt Galios shield heal the ally its cast on

Meddler Final PortraitI’m not 100% certain as to the original intent, Galio was designed before my time at Riot. I’d be fairly sure the goal was to keep Galio further forward in fights by locking the healing to him, rather than having him potentially lower on health himself and therefore hanging back poking and buffing allies.

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Will Galio be a part of the immobile mage rework this year

Meddler Final PortraitWe’ll be looking at more standard mages for the mage update mid year, rather than hybrids like Galio (mage/tank).

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Would you consider Vladimir and Swain the Juggernauts of the Mage class

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Meddler Final PortraitVlad/Swain lack the range, and in some cases the mobility, of other mages certainly, and get extended damage patterns and health sustain in exchange. That’s fairly similar to the trade offs a lot of juggernauts make, so yes, if that’s what you mean I’d agree with you.

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Rework Cassiopeia entirely but keep the debilitation theme in her kit

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Repertoir New PortraitWhat does “debilitation” mean to you? I see suggestions like this come up from Cass players pretty often, but it’s usually not followed by much more than wanting DoTs to be emphasized on the kit, and Twin Fang to be de-emphasized. Do keep in mind I’m not saying this is incorrect. However, I do hope that if we were to do poisons or “debilitation” better, it would manifest in a way that wasn’t just stronger DoTs. Unique debuffs? Time delayed afflictions? More CC? Is it simply that you want your Q to be stronger in lane?

Please do keep it civil from this point forward. I’m interested in what’s going on here, minus a lot of the aggressive nature (though I understand it to a degree, to be fair).

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Were just asking for a few Cassiopeia tweaks before her next rework

Repertoir New PortraitIt’s not exactly what you’re asking for, but I put in some changes to Cass this last week that should make her no longer cancel her Movement or Attack orders when casting Twin Fang. It’s not something that could ever be data-mined, so it may not appear on PBE, but it should be there. Assuming it gets through QA bug-free, it should be there for 6.2. For those unfamiliar, this treatment was also given to Ryze a few patches after his release, and it seemed to make his play a bit smoother.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Can we have the QoL lifebar change where the entire DoT is shown

Repertoir New PortraitThat sounds like something that new tech would need to be created for, so it doesn’t seem like a quick easy thing at the moment, unless there’s an internal workaround that could do it that I’m spacing on.

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Can we see some of Cassiopeias past mana cost and sustain nerfs reverted

Repertoir New PortraitI’m not really one to field buff requests, sorry. If there was something about her gameplay that mechanically wasn’t functioning, I may be in line to help in the immediate, but despite her low win rate in solo queue, the fact that Cass saw pro play as recently as this week does suggest she’s not incredibly far off from a pure power level perspective.

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Follow Up Banner

Repertoir New PortraitBalance and health aren’t really the same thing. Champions can be balanced without being healthy, and they can be healthy without being balanced.

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Why dont you nerf the Champions who see pro play constantly

Repertoir New PortraitBecause we don’t take such a binary approach to the matter.

Regardless, it would be great if this conversation could move back toward directional changes for Cassiopeia, and away from game balance. I came into this thread with the objective of learning what kinds of directional changes players are interested in for Cass.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Shouldnt the majority who dont compete on a pro level be your target audienc

Repertoir New PortraitHonestly, it feels like a bit of both to me, where the allowable power level of a champion is something like the maximum of their power level in Solo Queue and their power level in competitive play. When the discrepancy between those is too great, we run into issues, issues that are a frequently a reason for doing Champion Updates. Ryze has some of this going on at the moment, where hisallowable power is regulated by the fact that he’s a competitive power pick despite being sub par for most players.

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Have you considered making a champion that actually BREAKS terrain

Meddler Final PortraitWe’ve talked about terrain destruction abilities a fair bit and do think there’s some pretty cool gameplay opportunities in them. Making such abilities look good enough’s the biggest challenge remaining at this point (still some technical and design issues to solve, but of a smaller scale). Given the way our maps are made there’d be a lot of work on the art side needed to support such abilities. I’m hopeful we’ll get there at some point, definitely won’t be in the short term though.

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Meddler Final PortraitIt’s not so much the programming side, as it is making the destroyed terrain look good (rubble of broken walls, destoyed trees, appropriate ragged edges for still standing terrain etc).

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How about terrain passing Have you considered making a flying Champion

Meddler Final PortraitSome form of ongoing flight on a champion at some point’s pretty likely, and mainly a question of finding the right gameplay fit, rather than technical limitations. Would be a really different ability though to terrain destruction of course (changing one characters options a lot versus changing both teams’ options a lot).

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When will the Team FIRE Diana skin be released

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Vonderhamz Final PortraitThere’s lots of work to do on her right now, since she just recently got picked from all stars, but I assure you she will be coming out – we’ve just got to make it super awesome first. I’ve always wanted to make sounds on a skin for her. Sorry on the lack of specific dates, but you’ll hear more as it’s getting developed!

Is there anything you think would be awesome for this aesthetic?

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With the addition of Dynamic Queue why is there still no voice chat in LoL

[ Note ] Today (Jan. 19th), Riot will issue a statement whether the new Champion Select will be used for Ranked queue this season. Stay tuned!

Lyte Final PortraitTo be clear, I think you’re making a few assumptions. It’s pretty universally agreed among industry experts that voice chat introduces some amount of toxicity into an ecosystem or game; however, that doesn’t mean we are opposed to it.

We definitely understand the importance of communication in a competitive team-based game, and every time we talk about voice chat, we mention that we’re open to it, we’d just want to change some of the basic designs of voice chat to mitigate some of the known issues.

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Whats the device on Jhins shoulder supposed to be

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Kindlejack Final PortraitThe Bravo Ray designed the appearance of Jhin (concept artist =/= gameplay designer) and was excited about the idea of a ‘mystery box’. You see this creepy thin guy who is asymmetrical because of a huge shape on his shoulder, you have no idea what it is… until the final act.

What it is is four huge magically infused artillery shells racked up on a hextech accelerator built right into his mechanical shoulder (he’s sacrificed much for his art). When attached to Whisper (and the extended barrel for accuracy) it forms the final piece in the biggest, most powerful gun Runeterra may have ever seen! Kinda reminds me of Shen in Kung Fu Panda 2.

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How does Ekkos time rewind work in terms of his backstory

Ekko Single banner

FauxSchizzle Final Portrait

A big key thing to understand about Ekko is that his Z-Drive doesn’t always work the way he wants it to, mostly owing to the fact that it’s homemade hex-tech that runs on the exotic properties of a shattered crystal.

In terms of Parallel Convergence, (story wise) is what happens when you wrinkle time too much — sometimes it tears and your parallel self lends a hand to seal the breach. I mean, he’s the boy who shattered time. That can have some unintended consequences.

With Phase Dive, Ekko basically blinks out of the timeline, returning at opportune moments.

As you can tell, he’s probably made (and broken) a few Z-Drives.

The Timewinder feeds off his Z-Drive. However, he initially designed it to have an entirely different function — probably a smoke or flash bomb — but… it didn’t quite work as intended. In fact, Ekko’s sort of unsure about how it works, but it works reliably enough (and with no lingering effects) for him to be cool with chucking it around all willy-nilly.

Thanks for making me think about this stuff. One of my 2016 goals is to write Ekko a long bio, and you’re inspiring me to put it before my other work that has deadlines (because I am a triple-A rated procrastinator — heck I’m supposed to be making my wife bolognese for dinner at the moment).

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Can we have more information about the Hexatech villain from Ekkos trailer

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WAAARGHboboIf i remmember correctly, he’s an enforcer for one of the piltover owned companies in Zaun. Never had a real name, was called hexa-thug or something in script.
I think a sion skin for him would be dope. Giant arm acts as (and maybe even transforms into) the axe. Prob couldnt be a champ though as he occupys a space already covered by urgot and sion.

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Lastly, and as usual, fan art!

Acknowledgement (Nidalle and Rengar) by Arcanedist:

93KtBgV

 

Azir by Skence:

28_azir_by_skence-d9odrok (1)

 

Chosen Syndra by mickking:

chosen_syndra_by_mickking-d9oayvl (1)

 

Jhin the Virtuoso by Aths-Art:

jihn_the_virtuoso_by_aths_art-d9obpt6

 


If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at nolchefo@gmail.com

 

Hextech Crafting QA Banner

The Hextech Crafting Q&A is now concluded. You can find all answers below; for a guide on how the system works, check HERE.

 

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Riot Mirross Final PortraitWe’re all done for today! Thanks for all the questions.*

Hey all!

We’re the Rioters behind Hextech crafting, loot, and the upgrade to Champion Mastery rewards and we’ll be jumping into this thread around 11:00AM PST (about an hour from now) to answer your questions about the design and testing of the new system.

First time you’re hearing about Hextech Crafting and Loot? Learn more about the 2016 Season changes at the updated website here and then ask your questions below!

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Why do the chests need keys to be unlocked

Kitae Final PortraitGreat question.

The TLDR is we wanted to reward different playstyles, and having different ways of earning chests and keys lets us to do that.

Chests are rewards for playing a diverse range of champions while demonstrating skill and teamwork. If you already play a diverse range of champions, or have friends you play well with, you’ll find it easier to earn chests than a solo player who has a narrow champion pool.

Keys are random rewards for winning matchmade games of League of Legends. You can play ARAM, Ranked, Normals etc. The intent here is you play League the way you want, so we’ll be tuning with the goal that you’ll earn keys at about the same rate regardless of which matchmade queue you are playing in or what champion you are playing. Drop rate is higher with friends, but you won’t need to play with friends to earn keys at a good rate.

What we’re going for with the above is players are rewarded for mastering a diverse range of champions, but players who prefer to play a smaller champion pool can still do most of the time.

I know there are some detailed questions about exactly how chests and key drops work, I’m going to leave that one for RiotSocrates to answer!

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Will Hextech Crafting be used in other ways in the future

Socrates New PortraitWe’ll likely be using this system for things like ranked rewards and other achievement rewards in the future. No details to share on this yet though.

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Have you considered adding any IP sinks to Hextech Crafting

Wingfield Final BannerWe didn’t include any IP sink in this iteration of the system, since we wanted it to be valuable to both new and old players and thought it was better to just give away the rewards for free rather than to (IP) charge for them.

With that being said, the problem of large IP balances is definitely on our radar and we’re looking at ways to help improve the situation this year.

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Is there a limit to the number of keys you can collect

Socrates New PortraitWe aren’t going into detail around key drops, but there are some safeties in place to ensure botting / grinding aren’t optimal strategies.

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If I already own all Champions then I cant use champion essence at al

Rayven New PortraitWe agree that getting stuff you can’t use is not a great experience. We are working on something for players in this situation, but don’t have any details to share at the moment.

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Is there a limit on how many chests keys you can buy with RP

Riot Mirross Final PortraitThere will be a daily limit on chests. We’ve considered IP purchase but it won’t be there initiatlly.

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Socrates New PortraitThere is a daily purchase limit on chests / keys, I believe it’s 10 or 20 per day.

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Will players receive chests for all the Level 5 Masteries they already have

Socrates New PortraitThe new rewards are purely based on S grades after the system goes live, so there won’t be additional rewards for having achieved level 5 on champs. That said, being level 5 on champ means you’ll probably achieve S grades more easily when the system goes live.

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How do we get essences and shards and what can we do with those

Wingfield Final BannerYou primarily get essences by disenchanting shards. You primarily get shards by opening chests. You get permanent loot by upgrading a shard (shard + essence) or by re-rolling 3 shards of the same type (e.g. 3 skin shards)

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When will we be able to get Mastery points from ARAM Dominion etc

Riot Mirross Final PortraitWe’re exploring adding Mastery to other queues – definitely for keys, maybe for grades and chests. It’s most likely to be in modes that you choose your champion though.

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Have you considered allowing us to gift via the crafting system

Riot Mirross Final PortraitIt’s something we’ve thought about but aren’t doing in the short term. It adds a lot of complexity and we wanted to get the first version of the system out as quickly as possible.

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Socrates New Portrait Gifting chest is a cool idea. Will look into this but not likely for launch.

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Does Mastery level change the drop rate on keys chests

Wingfield Final BannerNope, mastery level doesn’t change key/chest drop rate.

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Are you not worried that youll lose money because of Hextech Crafting

Wingfield Final BannerHey Ancienthardcore,

Great question! We don’t try to maximize dollars earned, but rather find a win-win balance of Player Value and Riot Value. We wanted to improve rewards and progression within League of Legends and thought the loot and mastery reward systems would be a great way to give players cool content for playing League and performing well with a diverse group of champs. We are also trying to bring players some of the lowest price points and biggest discounts for purchased content, so players can more easily build their collections.

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Is this system designed to make Riot more money

Riot Mirross Final PortraitIf you spend zero dollars and earn chests and keys then you will be able to get skins and other cosmetic items that you could never get before without spending money.

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Would you be willing to raiselower the cap on chestskeys gained

Wingfield Final BannerWe’re definitely going to be tuning and iterating over time based on player feedback.

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Can we get animated Champion icons for reaching a Level 5 Mastery

Riot Mirross Final PortraitThis is cool :)

Don’t think we can do animated summoner icons in the current client, but having a way to unlock something specific to those champions is something we’d love to add in future.

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Will it be possible to recycle some of our old skins for cosmetic essence

Socrates New PortraitThe loot inventory is separate from the store inventory, so you won’t be able to disenchant items you’ve purchased directly from the store or played with previously. You can use refund tokens if there are skins you no longer want and use the RP to get chests / keys.

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What type of skins can be permanently obtained

Wingfield Final BannerYou will be able to upgrade shards into permanent skins and re-roll shards into permanent skins. We have skins from 520 RP – 3250 RP. Legacy skins are included.

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Can we get Legendary or Legacy skins from the chests

Wingfield Final BannerHey RazzyBaroo!

Legacy, Legendary and Ultimate skins will be included (as shards which you can upgrade or re-roll into). Limited skins will not be included.

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If another teammate gets an S rank will I still get a chest

Riot Mirross Final PortraitYour scenario is correct, although it’s premade not just teammates. If someone in your premade gets an S (S-, S or S+) and you haven’t already earned a chest on the champion you’re playing, you get the chest.

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Will we be able to get Chromas from chests in the future

Riot Mirross Final PortraitWe’ve built Hextech Crafting as a really flexible system and we expect that we’ll be able to add new types of content in future. That said, we don’t have immediate plans to add Chromas.

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Riot LetumilesThe Hextech system was designed to be an extensible system that allows us to include all types of content, but we have not made any specific decisions on what will be included yet.

(P.S. I love Chromas too)

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How many things can be in a chest at a minimum

Wingfield Final BannerMinimum 1 item – typically a shard. Occasionally there can be an additional component in there like essence.

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How many times do we need to disenchant loot to create something

Wingfield Final BannerDepends on the value of the thing you’re trying to upgrade and what you’re disenchanting. Anywhere from one to many.

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How much essence will we get per chest

Riot Mirross Final PortraitCan you put examples on the quantity of essences we will get from the chests? What’s the minimum / maximum?

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How can we acquire keys

Riot Mirross Final PortraitThey drop randomly when you win games. It’s not mandatory to be in a premade but it does increase the drop rate a little.

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Riot Mirross Final PortraitChests drop if you get an S, or if someone in your premade gets an S, capped to once per champion per season.

Keys drop randomly when you win a game. We’ll be tuning the drop rates on PBE and future patches to look to balance it in the way you described.

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What would be the best worst possible results of opening a chest

Wingfield Final BannerWe’ve made sure that the value of the items you get from the chest is more than it costs, so there shouldn’t be any bad outcomes. Other than that, it all depends on your personal preference of what content you like. :) You can get Ultimates

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Can I disenchant skins I already own

Rayven New PortraitNo, you won’t be able to disenchant unlocked content, just loot.

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Why dont you livestream the answering of questions your dev blog etc

Socrates New PortraitGreat suggestion. We will likely be doing a podcast and using a few other publishing channels as we get closely to launch.

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When will Champion Mastery levels 6 7 be unlocked

Socrates New PortraitWe don’t have any plans to increase the mastery level cap atm. We are planning on continuing to build on and improve champion mastery as a system though.

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Are there plans for any sort of trading system

Riot Mirross Final PortraitWe’re not planning on a trading system. It adds a huge amount of complexity that would have really slowed down how we could ship the system. It’s not ruled out, but not currently planned.

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Do you guys feel like confident about this launch

Riot Mirross Final PortraitWe feel great about the launch in that we’re really excited about the system and can’t wait for players to use it and give us feedback. You’re right that this is the first time we’ve had skins be earnable in this sort of way. That’s why we’ll be going to PBE for a longer than usual amount of time, and will do a beta in one region before we roll out everywhere else.

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Did you look into other games with similar features

Riot Mirross Final PortraitAll of the team play a ton of games so between us we’re familiar with similar systems elsewhere. We definitely tried to look at those systems and see what works and what doesn’t, as well as considering what sort of crafting system League needs. For example, we didn’t want to do something that adds a ton of overhead between each game, because after a great game, you generally just want to roll into the next game.

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If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at nolchefo@gmail.com.

 

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Several screenshots of Jhin (the new upcoming ADC from the recent teasers) and his splash art were leaked on Reddit. Note that this unconfirmed and may not be official:

3OZz1Er

rxpGTwy

nT7UkYT

 

 

Turrets have unreliable targetting and deal way too little damage

Koalifier Final PortraitCaveat: I don’t design anything at all, I just like playing League of Legends.

Turret targeting is something that might be a point of improvement, but what would that look like? Clearly turrets should not prioritize champions, or pushing lanes becomes extremely difficult. I’m not a fan of the %hp idea, because it makes tanks less relevant, and they already struggle as a class with shifts in the meta.

What are some examples of how turret aggro should work better? Here’s my assumptions:

The tower shouldn’t switch targets if it’s already hitting a champ. The tower should prioritize champions only when there are no minions/pets, and only when they deal damage to friendly champions.

Tower aggro rules should be easy to understand and consistent. (e.g. doing damage to an enemy vs. hitting an enemy with non-damaging cc – either damage should trigger aggro, or any ability/damage should trigger aggro. Imo we should maintain the current functionality).Tower attack rate should be consistent (no tower autoattack reset on champ aggro).

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Shouldnt turrets be able to deal with the frontline in case of a dive

Koalifier Final PortraitI think I just fundamentally disagree that towers should be able to take on mega-tanks. If they supplement your team’s damage and do around 10-15% of a tank’s HP in 5-6 seconds, that seems reasonable. Any change to towers that makes them threatening to tanks during all stages of the game either:

A. Makes building tank stats completely ineffective against towers (%hp true damage, massive armor pen) and results in tanks being significantly less useful and feeling like crap; or
B. Makes towers massively fuck up squishy champions, punishing minor mistakes really heavily (increased overall damage).

I don’t think either A or B encourages interesting gameplay; it just helps teams with strong waveclear turtle under towers and drag out games, which isn’t super fun imo.

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Turret damage needs to ramp up against divers like Elise and Fizz

Koalifier Final PortraitHmmm, yeah, I think I echo that sentiment. If there’s anything that’s really coalescing for me in this thread, it’s that towers resetting while you are still in the middle of getting dived feels pretty bad. Like I’ve sad a bunch of times, I don’t work on this stuff, but I’ll chat with some folks about this thread and see what they think. I can’t promise that we’ll make a change along those lines as I don’t fully understand the design principles behind towers, but I’ll follow up on it :D

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What if turrets had an aggro bar and retargeted Fizz Elise after their E

Koalifier Final PortraitHm, the concept of an aggro bar does sounds pretty cool… like the tower is “activated” once it gets champ aggro and will now focus champs until it resets a-la patience timers on jungle camps.

I think the Dragon aggro thing made sense because of aggro juggling being borderline exploitative, and because Dragon actually moves. Turrets gaining range sounds really annoying.

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Why cant Nocturne be unstoppable like Malphite while ulting

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Meddler Final PortraitNocturne’s ult behaves the same way Malph’s does. They’re both unstoppable during the ult, they’re not CC immune though, so can be CC’d and, if the duration’s long enough, will still be CC’d after the ult ends. Ryze snare or Veigar stun for example won’t stop them from completing their ults, but can limit them after they end if applied mid dash.

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Will Tahm Kench be nerfed soon

Tahm Kench Single banner

Meddler Final PortraitWe’ve been talking about possible Tahm nerfs in 6.2 or 6.3, those aren’t certain yet though (want to make sure we’re nerfing the correct thing(s), want to investigate whether we should be buffing something like his ult’s useability at the same time).

Even if we do nerf him though I’d still expect him to be a pretty difficult match up for Vi. A lot of her power is in her ability to close distance reliably to get onto the target of her choice. That’s not very useful against Tahm direct, given you’re not going to be bursting down a tank, assuming similar XP/gold, and he’s absolutely fine with people putting themselves in his face.

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Can you increase the AP ratio on MFs E to compensate for the 61 nerf

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[ Note ] Miss Fortune’s E will be nerfed in Patch 6.1. You can find the notes HERE.

Meddler Final PortraitI’ll follow up with the designer working on the MF changes and get back to you, see what his thoughts are on the current state of AP builds on her (not familiar enough with them myself). Can’t make any promises, if AP MF’s in a decent spot on live at present though might be appropriate to increase a ratio somewhere to avoid an unintentional nerf.

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Meddler Final PortraitWe’re intentionally nerfing AD MF with nerfs to her passive and E. It’s possible AP MF may be getting unintentionally nerfed at the same time, I’m unsure whether or not that build’s been assessed internally relative to this change.

A base damage nerf and AP ratio buff would certainly change AP MF’s power curve, keeping that build generally power neutral overall should be doable though if we conclude that’s appropriate here.

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Smurfing is unfair and ruins the experience for lowerlevel players

grrrlee Final PortraitBlah I understand this feeling too. I didn’t start playing until pretty much everyone and their super-cool grandmothers all had smurfs that queued up at the same time as I would. It was really confusing and frustrating that so many of my fellow lvl 6 ‘noobs’ could be so much better than I. It can be a pretty sucky experience in the game sometimes.

It’d be neat to do a study on smurfs — I wonder if I could have a chat with a few people around the office to see what we could learn about ‘em. Noooo guarantees of course, but it’s definitely a topic I’d be interested in helping out with the research.

I appreciate being able to lurk these boards, particularly in ‘Player Behavior & Moderation,’ even if I definitely don’t get to read everything, and I don’t always comment on things I do get around to reading. Since I’m a gamer too, player pain is a very real thing to me, so these matters are of a particular interest to me and I’d love to be able to make an impact whenever possible.

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Will future Champion reworks be accompanied by new lore for them

Repertoir New PortraitI can’t speak to much on the past on this one, since I haven’t worked on my full reboots of champions, but moving forward, I think it’s pretty safe to say that on big projects like Taric, Poppy, etc., you can expect new or updated lore, and you can probably not expect new lore on smaller stuff.

For Taric specifically, I’m not the writer of the lore, but I am one of the people that’s trying to help give feedback to the writer. I don’t think there should be a bunch of characters’ lore being reduced in the near future, and we haven’t written the final lore yet for Taric, but I’d expect it to be closer to 3 paragraphs than 3 sentences.

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What are you planning to do with Nidalee

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Repertoir New PortraitI’m not sure what the immediate balance plans are for her at the moment, but if given the opportunity, I would like to be able to go back and re-evaluate her laning experience, which I think is pretty poor. Specifically, it feels like a constant struggle to manage the minion wave without getting chunked for half your health by your lane opponent.

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How am I supposed to play against Garen

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Repertoir New PortraitGaren’s opportunities for opponents are intended to be via kiting or playing around his E cooldown, though I can see a legitimate case being made that he is too strong. Given the nature of his E, he can be a pretty binary matchup for other melee champions to try to fight, especially squishier ones, and I think that the introduction of items like Dead Man’s Plate gives a sort of inevitability to him catching up to people.

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Do you have high ELO players thatre paid a salary to test changes

Repertoir New PortraitWe actually have a full-time team comprised of high Diamond to Challenger level players that spend most of the day playing upcoming content and giving us advice on how to hit our goals on it. These guys are really dedicated, too. Currently, they spend all day at work playing/testing 6.01 League of Legends internally, and then all night playing 5.24 League of Legends on the Live environment.

Riot Afic leads up that team. He could probably speak to it more if you could get a hold of him.

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Would you allow silly builds to exist again like AP Miss Fortune

Repertoir New PortraitI think about things like that sometimes, and try to do it where possible, but it’s always important to make sure to do it in a way that doesn’t compromise the balance of the champion. Using this example, AP Support Miss Fortune is actually somewhat a thing at the moment, so you can see how buffing fun off builds might inadvertently cause issues.

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Whats the scope of the immobile mage rework

Repertoir New PortraitNumber of champions is not yet determined, but as far as the level of change in a single kit goes, our mindset is generally that there is one highlighted change (usually in the form of a new skill) to the champion, with other small changes to the existing kit to support it.

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Have you considered adding antimobility tools to immobile mages

Repertoir New PortraitYes, but we are trying to do it in ways that aren’t simply “stop dash in progress.” Hopefully we make some good progress in this regard.

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Do you think AP Champions have enough item diversity at the moment

Repertoir New PortraitI think item diversity is pretty good for mages, strictly as far as options go before considering things like gold and slot efficiency, which I haven’t personally put a ton of thought into yet. As far as Deathcap goes, I can see a case being made that it limits design space and build diversity.

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Can we have a timeline on the upcoming Ryze changes

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Repertoir New PortraitNot really sure we have a specific timeline on Ryze. ricklessabandon was talking to me about some change opportunities here. I’ll have to follow up and see if there are any plans for Ryze in the short term.

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When will Cassiopeia be fixed Shes in a terrible spot right now

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Repertoir New PortraitI’m not on the team that works on it, so I can’t really speak to the balance state of the champion, or what the particular reasons are for why she is balanced the way she is at the moment.

As a member of the update team, and as someone that comes here and reads Cass threads that pop up every now and again, all I can really say is that I’m aware of the identity crisis stuff she’s got going on, and that if we ever looked at her again from a ‘small update’ perspective, that is where I personally would start. There are a lot of champions that could use stuff in this regard, however, so no promises.

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I think Anivias passive is too weak in most stages of the game

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Repertoir New PortraitThough I understand where you’re coming from, I actually think Anivia’s passive is actually in a pretty good spot. The fact that it can fail makes it really awesome when it works, and provides some really cool tension in a lot of cases. Another thing to consider is that the power budget that would have to go into her passive would be much higher if it was much more resilient, and that would have to come from somewhere, as she’s not a low performer as far as her balance state goes.

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Repertoir New PortraitWe would probably do Ice Bird different today if it was a new champion, but I actually think Anivia’s kit has stood up well against the tests of time. It’s arguably lost some of its luster as mobility increases, but Crystallize (W) is still very, very powerful, for example.

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Is the balance team shying away from making kits that scale with Armor

Repertoir New PortraitAnswering this question since it’s one I’ve seen less of, and I think the others have mostly been answered.

Generally speaking, we should avoid making either Armor or Magic Resist supremely more powerful on champions when compared to the other stat, unless it is a very specific intended strength/weakness. Taric falls into this category, where being an exceptionally good pick against physical damage teams is very much an intended strength. I intend on maintaining some of that in his upcoming update.

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Why does the balance team rarely if ever revert nerfs

Repertoir New PortraitAs far as why we tend to not to strict reverts, I don’t think there’s any one rule for/against it that I know of. That said, we try to make changes that are directionally sound for champions/items/masteries when we make them, so that even if other factors that contribute to their balance change, we’re happy with the decision in the long run. Sejuani and Cinderhulk is a pretty common case people talk about here, but at no point do I think either of them was really unacceptably weak, and I think there are similar things going on with Swain and DFT right now.

Also, I do think that it’s easy for players to feel like their champion has been overnerfed. I’ve historically felt this way about champions I played as well. If you imagine all the various power levels that champions could fall at as a spectrum, it seems reasonable to say there’s a segment of that spectrum that could be considered allowable power levels. As someone who has felt this way in the past about certain champions, I think it’s easy for players to be biased into thinking certain champions power should rest at the upper end of that allowable part, while at the same time being perfectly comfortable with other champions they are less attached to resting at the middle or lower end.

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Currently Caitlyn is under performing as a longrange marksman

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Ranger XIV Final PortraitHey Napalm,

I’m a HUGE Caitlyn player also. She was the first champion I ever really took seriously and wanted to ‘main’. I’m also one of the people that worked on the Champion Update team helping mold Caitlyn into what she is right now.

 

With that being said, I do feel that Caitlyn changed a bit of her early game power to her late game power. I max Q first then go to E. I do love the traps but I find more reliable damage with the other two. I also get Warlord’s in the mastery tree because I feel that I am banking for that late game fight more than just doing the early game trade. This changes who I want to support for me.

Another thing I’m finding hard is that Caitlyn has a hard time securing kills in a team fight. She tends to hope that an auto kills them and doesn’t really have the ability to take them.

I was hoping you’d be able to tell me what masteries, runes and ability order you are going. I’d like to talk about this more, see how you feel more compared to certain match-ups. I think she should lose early to MF and Lucian. They have early game steroids and ultimates that can be used effectively mid trade compared to Caitlyn where you are charging something.

Excited to hear back from you :)

Ranger XIV

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Caitlyns traps should be more powerful with fewer points in W

Ranger XIV Final PortraitDefinitely will be looking more into all this. There are eyes on this and we will not just abandon ship on Caitlyn. Caitlyn should be leaning more towards traps and that zoning aspect. I am not promising anything but no one likes when a champion feels worse than before.

Thank you for sharing your ideas and analyzing what issues Caitlyn has right now. A lot has changed, definitely hasn’t settled yet.

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Fan Creations Instrumental Song for Shyvana by Sid88

https://soundcloud.com/bgbassphoenix/the-blood-of-my-father

Sid88The Blood Of My Father (Inspired by and dedicated to Shyvana) by Sid

An instrumental track for the League of Legends Champion Shyvana. Artwork by Ae-Rie (http://ae-rie.deviantart.com)

This music is inspired by Shyvana lore. Mostly the bit before she joined Demacia as the Elite Guard. Here I wanted to make something which makes the listener be reminded of the origin of Shyv. Mostly about her being an outcast because of her mixed race and the death of her father who made her who she was. This isn’t a very angry song. But I’ve tried to make it as intense as possible with the limiter resources I have. I really hope you like it!

The artwork is by Ae-Rie and you can find the original art here.

Please do leave your thoughts below and please do tell me if I can improve on things here. I will try and incorporate it in the next one! :D Happy Listening! :)

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Lastly, here are a few recent fan-made artworks:

 

Katarina by Valkymie

imb4FPW (1)

 

Caitlyn by 艦長代理

BYQc7CS (1)

 

Arcade Sona by phamoz:

sona_v12_by_phamoz-d9nfh6q

 


If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at nolchefo@gmail.com.

 

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Riot Repertoir has concluded his Q&A on the projects he’s currently working on. You can find all his answers below:

 

 

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Repertoir New PortraitHi everyone,

Today I have been reading a thread by HIMM Sandwich that basically comes down to how it feels like Riot sometimes ignores player sentiment/feedback, and then goes silent when asked for answers. I won’t be the best source of insight on projects that I didn’t work on, but feel free to use this post as a place where you can ask specifically about any of the projects I’ve worked on in the last year or two, and I’ll do my best to give you honest, direct answers about why things were made the way they were, and how I/we feel about these projects currently. Keep in mind that if they’re outside of issues I worked on, it’s likely I won’t be able to meaningful answers, and also that I won’t guarantee you’ll like what I have to share on some topics.

Here’s some of the stuff I’m likely to have insight into:

  • Past Projects:
    • Nidalee Champion Update
    • Ryze Champion Update
    • Ashe Champion Update
    • Juggernauts Champion Updates – Garen/Skarner
    • Marksmen Champion Updates – Quinn/Kog’Maw
  • Current Projects:
    • Taric Champion Update
    • Mages Champion Updates – ???/???

Feel free to ask about other stuff as well, but I will say I’m unlikely to be able to help on lots of other things. I should have time to give some answers the next few evenings.

Cheers,
Repertoir

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Do you plan on balancing champions around windows of power

Repertoir New PortraitIt’s definitely an option, but it’s not the only way. We should probably be continuing to look for unexplored or less explored counterplay. Otherwise we end up with stuff like “Thanks Riot, another line skillshot.” I can see the same being true of any overused design, and I’d say I’ve probably leaned a bit too hard on “windows of power.”

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Why is Riot always so unwilling to revert changes completely

Repertoir New PortraitAs a ground floor game designer that doesn’t really make the big decisions like these, I really can’t do much more than make guesses on this subject, and I don’t really think that’s fair to you guys. Sorry if that sounds like dodging. I’d enlighten you with what I had if I had it.

From the perspective of someone works on champions and gameplay, I really do think that the number of cases where full reverts would be a step forward for the game are very few and far between (especially when considering the large amount of content regularly being added/modified in the game). I can’t think of many cases where I’d say a compromise isn’t the better solution, but that is a matter of perspective (and bias, I’m sure).

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How much does animation bandwidth constrain smallerscope reworks

Repertoir New PortraitArt resources are a constraint on pretty much every update. Right now, we know going into the large group updates that we have the art resources for approximately one skill per champion.

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Which of your reworks is your favourite Which one surprised you

Repertoir New PortraitI think there’s a few different ways to consider this.

  • Nidalee is incredibly near and dear to my heart. Her design is all over the place and is a mess of complex mechanics and inputs, but I think she offers a really fun and unique challenge to players that put the time into her, and I love to watch a good player enjoy her.
    *As far as which I’m most proud of from a craft perspective, I’d say Ashe. Her changes were simple and exciting to players, and I think they helped to bring her from what a lot of people considered a joke pick to a real contender at all levels.

As far as which I was most surprised by once released, I’d definitely say Kog’Maw. Every bit of feedback I had from internal testing and PBE feedback led me to believe he would be broken, which is so odd in hindsight given how much he’s struggled since the Marksman Update.

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Do you think Rengar blowing up squishies from stealth is good design

Repertoir New PortraitNot a lot of insight into this, unfortunately. I don’t think Rengar’s current state is one that we should have allowed for so long, and I hope we do something about it soon.

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Does the community have any impact on Champion updates

Repertoir New PortraitI would love to be able to share work with players earlier, as I feel like I make some of my most meaningful changes to champions after players have been exposed to it a bit. It’s something we’ve talked about doing, but we want to make sure to do it in a way that doesn’t set odd expectations or cause an uproar.

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If you could rework Irelia what would her new kit look like

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Repertoir New PortraitReal quick off the top of my head, I would ditch her passive, W, R, and parts of her E. I think she could be a really cool candidate for someone that uses her blades to attack two targets at once, or she could just generally deliver a lot better on blade telekinesis thing. I’d try to leave Q alone at all costs unless it was to make it feel better. I love Bladesurge.

I will say that I think she’s really held up against the test of time, as she seems to pop into and out of play reliably, but that may be a matter of statistics or something.

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Whatre your thoughts on blink escape abilities

Repertoir New PortraitThere’s a place and time for them, but I think they’re overused. These types of skills tend to give champions lots of options to deal with various scenarious, so it’s always tempting to consider them when making something.

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What does Xypherous think of Riven being such a polarizing champion

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Repertoir New PortraitI haven’t asked him about Riven specifically recently, but Xypherous is always funny when he talks about his champions, because they all seem to make him sad in some way or another, from Riven to Nautilus to Orianna. I’m not really sure if Riven makes him especially sad.

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Ryze still demands low ping to be played effectively Will you change that

Ryze W Single Banner

Repertoir New PortraitThere are some plans to make him less ping-reliant especially, though it would probably be modifications to his passive and other spells, and not along the lines of a full rework.

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Are you reluctant to change Ryze because hes an iconic League character

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Repertoir New PortraitBeing a 450 IP champ is a good case for him to be easier to play than I ended up making him. As for being a face of the game, that didn’t really come into play at all.

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Karthus already feels unique enough Does this mean he wont get changed much

Karthus Single Banner

Repertoir New PortraitI agree that he seems pretty distinct already. I doubt he’d get much more change than someone like Sivir or Lucian did in the Marksman Update.

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Do you agree that Zyra is balanced but doesnt fulfill her theme

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Repertoir New PortraitI think she’s in a decent place for the gameplay experience she offers. She feels good to play to a lot of players, and she’s pretty approachable, which is something we don’t do enough of nowadays. As to her fantasy, I agree it’s not really executed on as well as it could, and that kind of thing is definitely a consideration we make when choosing champions to do for these mass updates.

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Whats the general goal of the Mage update

Repertoir New PortraitGenerally, the goal of the Mage udpate is to make mages more distinct among other mages, and to give them tools that make them uniquely powerful in that space. We’d really like to be able to make a lot of these characters more valuable in a way that doesn’t just mean having more burst damage.

No specifics on which champions are/aren’t in the Mage Update, sorry.

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What are some immobile mages that you personally think need work

Malzahar Single Banner

Repertoir New PortraitMalzahar because I think he’s a lot cooler thematically than his gameplay lets him be.
Swain because I think he’s generally just a mess.
Zyra because I think there are tons of opportunities to do cool things with her.
Cassiopeia because I’d want a chance to get her some of her poison identity back.

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What if immobilizing CC immediately stopped all nonult mobility spells

Repertoir New PortraitAs to immobilizing effects stopping mobility spells. I think this is something we should do more often. One of the tricky things about doing it is making it feel intentional on the player’s part. For the longest time, I had this in for Rune Prison while doing Ryze’s update, but most of the time it happened, it was accidental at best.

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Is Rumble a part of the immobile mage update

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Repertoir New PortraitRumble’s not going to be part of the mage update mid year. He is struggling at the moment though, so we’ve got some love for him in the next patch. It’s stuff that’s not easily datamined however, so I’m not sure if it’s been widely noticed (smaller collision radius so he gets stuck on other units less, slight increase to Q range, Q ticking more rapidly for less damage giving it the same damage over time but making it a little easier to last hit with).

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Will the new Taric be a viable top laner or will he be a pure support

Repertoir New PortraitI think he’ll be playable there. I don’t know that he’ll be absolutely amazing, but it wouldn’t surprise me too much if he had some good matchups.

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What kind of changes can we expect with the reworked Taric

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Repertoir New PortraitLots of changes, especially visually. I’m really trying to hit a “battle healer” type of feel on him, so he’s probably a weird hybrid of a Tank, Support, and Juggernaut at the end of the day, though we never really committed to a particular class with him.

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Are his abilities going to be heavily altered or will he be mostly the same

Repertoir New PortraitMost of the abilities are heavily altered, though he will still stun enemies, heal/empower allies, and love Armor.

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Will he keep the calm borderline flamboyant feminine voice tone

Repertoir New PortraitWe’re aiming to make him fun and approachable, probably somewhat funny but not necessarily a joke himself.

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Can you give us a release date for Tarics rework

Repertoir New PortraitReally depends how long these timer intervals are. I’m going to go with “Soon,” since it’s all but guaranteed that he’s the next full size Champion Update we’re going to deliver.

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What can we expect from the Taric update

Repertoir New PortraitA lot of the same things he always has contributed.

And situationally the strongest spell in League of Legends.

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Repertoir New PortraitI can’t get into too many specifics on the Taric changes at the moment, but I do think that his ultimate is going to be a game changer that is especially well suited to be used with and against certain types of champions.

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Suggestion Taric uses diamonds which makes him immune to true damage

Repertoir New PortraitThis is a cool idea that I hadn’t really thought of. It would probably need to have a little more gameplay to it, like if he converted all true damage to physical damage or something like that, but I think the idea is generally really cool.

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How did you come up with the idea for Quinns new ultimate

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Repertoir New PortraitThe idea of a travel form-esque R for Quinn was one that was being tossed over a year ago internally. Jag started that, and when we decided to dedicate ourselves to a Marksmen project a few months ago, I still thought it was a cool idea and tried to make something of it. I agree with you that it has its oddities, and I think a lot of those come from trying to make too much change with too few resources to make it happen on my end. Her R is powerful, but the channel feels a little awkward and has some weird restrictions on it, and even to me it feels like it’s unique and fun, but that it’s also lower overall quality than I’d like it to be.

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Do you guys feel that Quinn is too strong

Repertoir New PortraitShe seems like she’s on the strong side, but hopefully not by an excessive amount. I wouldn’t be surprised if the balance team wanted to nerf her in a few patches if she manages to rise to the top again.

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What do the numbers say about Quinns balance state

Repertoir New PortraitThere are changes there I’d like to make if power ever permits it, but I don’t currently think it’s a good time.

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Should minions be able to cancel the channel on her ultimate

Repertoir New PortraitThere are changes there I’d like to make if power ever permits it, but I don’t currently think it’s a good time.

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What made you decide to lump Skarner in with the Juggernaut crowd

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Repertoir New PortraitWhen coming up with the concept of a Juggernaut, one of the things we were trying to do was actually separate out different groups of fighters, where Juggernaut ended up being one of those groups. That said, there will be a Skarner retrospective post coming to the Boards soon I believe, and one of the things we talk about there is that we probably improperly classified Skarner as a Juggernaut and not some other kind of fighter or tank.

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Why did you rework Skarner to function only as a solo jungler

Repertoir New PortraitIt wasn’t really a specific goal that we wanted to make him “only a jungler,” but the design we went with does have that outcome.

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Why do you think shipping the Skarner rework was a good idea

Repertoir New PortraitI think Skarner does offer a unique play experience unlike any other champion has to offer, though I think it has too many costs attached to it. Were we to do Juggernauts over again, we likely wouldn’t choose to work on Skarner. I think there are definite upsides to his update, but we likely could have gotten more bang for our buck elsewhere.

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Were the zones on Skarners passive necessary

Repertoir New PortraitWe set out to make a champion that was defined by pre-determined zones of power, and I think in a lot of ways that was accomplished. That said, I don’t think the execution was as good as players deserved. It feels too forced/constrained.

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If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at nolchefo@gmail.com.

 

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How long does it take to prepare and ship out Champion or Class updates

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Meddler Final PortraitLarger class updates like the Marksmen one take quite a bit of work, so we’re probably looking at a couple of those a year. Immobile mages is what we’ve decided to focus on for the next one, and we’ll have some early details on what that update will be focused on to share sometime this month. That’ll look at stuff like goals, which characters we’re planning to work on, rough timeframe etc, not specific kit changes.

 

We will also have some individual reworks done separately from those class based ones still. Those will generally either be champions that need a complete overhaul with new kits, visuals, VO etc (Taric and Yorick for example) or champions that have some fundamental gameplay problems we need to address (we believe Ryze for example needs more than just balance adjustments to be both healthy and fun at the same time). We’ll also occasionally do other small updates where a bit of extra bandwidth permits some opportunistic work, the Shen gameplay update for example which is getting pretty close.

As far as the number of subclasses go we’ve got about a dozen we’ve been using internally. Plan is to tidy the definitions of those up a bit and throw them into a devblog for anyone that’s interested.

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Will Brand be nerfed in some way next patch

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Meddler Final PortraitYeah, Brand’s definitely too strong at present. There’s a bug fix in 6.1 however that should take a noticeable amount of power away from him. At present his ult almost always prioritizes champions, rather than only priotizing champions if the target it’s bouncing from is already Ablaze. That makes it quite a bit easier for him to burst enemies down in most circumstances. The fix for that should go out in the patch next week, unless any delays crop up, after that we’ll then reassess and see if any further changes are needed.

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What if you reduced the width of his Q

Meddler Final PortraitBrand Q has a width of 60 (same as Mystic Shot as a point of reference). It’s elevated off the ground however, which means that at certain angles the hit location (on the ground) doesn’t match up well with the intuitive hit location (the missile itself). Almost all skillshots suffer from that problem to some degree, unless they’re at ground level. Due to Brand’s height however it’s more pronounced on him than most.

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What if Ohmwrecker had an active that also worked on allied turrets

Meddler Final PortraitYeah, Ohmwrecker’s still in a pretty sad spot. We did try out some stuff during the preseason development period to try and make it more interesting in its niche, with tower sieging still being its core. The most interesting approach, that alas didn’t end up working very well, was a version of it that replaced your auto attacks against towers with a ranged channel that dealt ramping damage over time. Gave melee champs a way to contribute siege damage without having to hard commit basically. Was fun to play around with, but hard to justify taking over other options, even on the characters it was theoretically designed for.

At some point we will take another look at Ohmwrecker, though I suspect if it doesn’t work out next time we’ll probably end up cutting it. Making it less situational, while keeping it tower focused still, could be a reasonable approach, and an allied tower interaction sounds worth a try as a result.

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Summoner Hylia has shared his concept work on Mafia LeBlanc, complete with varying color palletes and hairstyles:

resize (1) resize (3) resize (4)

resize (2)

 

If you’re interested how the League’s Champions are affected by the recent Deadeye teasers, Jay The Human has made four wonderful sketches on dealing with the tragedy:

Lpl0Znm HluJkKu aqmLjZT zwepHwS

 


If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at nolchefo@gmail.com.

 

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Challenger Nidalee’s splash art was previewed at the All-Star event recently. You can see the skin in-game HERE.

Challenger Nidalee Splash

 

 

Whats the state of Morgana

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Meddler Final PortraitShe’s got a distinctive playstyle, clear weaknesses, does things other champions don’t, has gameplay that matches her theme reasonably well and has decent counterplay. There’s room for a bit of visual improvement, though her texture and visual effects updates improved her a lot there. Expanded voice sometime would be nice certainly. Overall I feel she’s in a really good spot and would rather see work put into an enormous number of other champions than into Morg, returns there feel like they’d be pretty low for the time.

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Would Akali be one such Champion thats a higher priority than Morgana

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Meddler Final PortraitYup, though pick a champion at random and odds are high they’ll be more in need of work than Morg.

We’ll certainly want to make changes to Akali whenever we tackle assassins though. We did do some initial exploration into possible kit changes, which showed some promise, we’ve put that on hold until we have a go at the class overall though.

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What kind of kit changes do you have planned for Akali

Meddler Final PortraitDistinction from other assassins (Diana especially, Kat to some degree), better fallback/recovery options, better counterplay, more unique tools for her.

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Why did you nerf Tahm Kenchs W when the problem is his damage

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Meddler Final PortraitPeople tend to complain about the most distinctive things a champion does. Nerfing based off what people complain about can eventually end up homogenizing characters a lot, with everyone having a similar feeling kit and unique effects reduced from character defining to secondary sources of novelty. To combat that we instead map out what we think are appropriate strengths and weaknesses for each champion and try and nerf/buff to preserve (or accentuate) those. In this case nerfing the MS with an ally devoured was we felt the best way to do that for Tahm in 5.24.

That’s not to say player frustration isn’t a really useful thing to monitor and understand, it’s really valuable for helping to build or modify those intended strengths/weaknesses in the first place. Being really informed of player feedback, frustations, needs, wants etc’s something we believe’s really important. That’s not the same though as believing that whatever a lot of people are saying is necessarily the right thing to do though.

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When designing Champions do you predict what the player reaction will be

Meddler Final PortraitSome of the time, yes. We expected Tahm Kench’s ally devour to create quite a bit of frustration when it saved allies for example. We felt during his development (and still do now too) though that that was an acceptable cost given the positive moments and gameplay Devour creates.

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Do you think Sona is in a good place right now

Meddler Final PortraitOverall basically still the same as per my post in this thread:

http://boards.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/c/gameplay-balance/EkxbfyvO-so-lemme-get-this-straight

Preseason’s also increased her effectiveness a noticeable amount, so if we felt compelled to make balance adjustments to her I’d imagine they’d be nerfs not buffs. There are certainly some supports that are more dominant overall, we’ve either just nerfed, or are in the process of nerfing, those that are over the line though (some of whom will probably need further work too – looking at you Brand).

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Are there any plans to update Lissandra

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Meddler Final PortraitNo current plans on the gameplay side, alternative passive explorations didn’t work out so we opted for the heal on self cast ult instead.

Not sure on the Lore side, apologies, not my area of expertise. Would love to see advancement of that plot-line myself though, more revelations about the Watchers and the history there especially.

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Whatre your thoughts on VelKoz

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Meddler Final PortraitWe feel Vel’Koz is pretty balanced, generally feels fair to play against and has some solid points of mastery for the Vel’Koz player. Only real issue with him is that what he does isn’t sufficiently differentiated from other mages/poke champs, so we’d like to find him a unique strength or aspect at some point.

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What do you think of Poppy at the moment

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Meddler Final PortraitNothing too surprising so far, though it’s still really early days. We’re still seeing a lot of people playing the rework for the first time or two, so lot of initial mistakes being made and experimentation going on. No current plans for immediate changes, though we’ll reassess on Monday as well.

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What is the range of the new Assassin mastery

Meddler Final Portrait800 units, so it’s not a great choice in a duo lane, but should get some use in team fights if you’re diving at least a moderate distance in front of your team.

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Will the upcoming Diana skin be AllStar themed

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KateyKhaos Final PortraitIt won’t be an esports skin, just a cool fire-themed thematics for Diana. :]

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Is there a possibility well get a new Swain skin

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KateyKhaos Final PortraitTo the best of my knowledge, he’s eligible.

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INTRO Jeevun Jag Sidhu Game Designer Live Gameplay and Champions

Riot Jag Final PortraitWHO AM I?

Sup guys, I’m Jeevun Sidhu aka Riot Jag. I’ve been a competitive gamer my whole life, and before getting Diamond in League of Legends my video game mistress of choice was World of Warcraft, where I held onto a 9 consecutive season streak of getting Gladiator in Arena before I realized it may be time to do other things (will put away my horn now). I’ve also really enjoyed Starcraft, Super Smash Bros, the Batman: Arkham, XCom, and Metal Gear Solid series, and (might be dating myself a bit here) I have a soft spot for Goldeneye 007 and Mario Kart 64. I got into League through my WoW friends when the servers were down for maintenance. Someone in Vent said they just started playing LoL and it was really fun, and I replied that if I wanted to micro 1 unit for 45 minutes I’d just build a Ghost in SC2. I was a little ignorant at the time…

Aside from Video Games, I enjoy Sports Cars and Motorcycles. I’m currently running a Ducati Panigale 899 that I keep under armed guard, seeing as the last two bikes I got after moving to LA were both stolen in a matter of weeks. I’ve also always loved sports, particularly Football (Giants fan for life) and Basketball. I listen to a range of music, but am mostly into Hip-hop and House/Electro. My Spotify has been blasting a lot Run the Jewels and Disclosure lately, although my boy Kanye is never far off the playlist. Before I was a professional nerd for a living, I was something totally different – a software engineer at Microsoft.

WHAT AM I DOING AT RIOT?

Some of the fun stuff I’ve done at Riot include the Lucian mini-rework, Runeglaive and Zeke’s Harbinger, and most recently I lead the charge on Rift Herald. I’ve spent the last 2 years on Live Gameplay (aka the Rito balance team) nerfing your favorite champ, but I am moving to new Champion team to find new ways to add more anti-fun into the game. Until that happens, I’ve had front row seats to every balance and game health struggle that we’ve had in League for the past two years, so feel free to hit me up with anything in that area.

WHAT AM I GOING TO TALK ABOUT?

I’d like to talk about interesting struggles with the live state of the game, ranging from the intricacies of preserving game health, to how to interpret win rate metrics, to how we handle eSports concerns. I might also get into what it’s like for a novice champion designer to start taking on the task of building a brand new iconic experience in LoL. Finally, ADCs are my peoples, so if that’s your passion, or if you just need help with that Vayne build, I’m down with the clickers.

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Why was Lee Sin allowed to be the most dominant jungler for so long

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Riot Jag Final PortraitI really want to talk to you here but you have to give me something way better than “why do you love toxic stuff and hate good stuff”. Maybe give me some specifics on what you felt was off.

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It seems the balance team favors flashy plays over healthy gameplay

Riot Jag Final PortraitThis one I don’t get at all. I think if you searched through most of the pro games this year, you would find Leblanc and Zed to not be nearly as dominant as say Viktor or Azir in terms of pick rate. That aside, it seems like you’re creating a false dichotomy here between choosing between “flashy plays” and “healthy gameplay”. I don’t think we’d say someone like Zed has an inherently unhealthy pattern (I’d say he’s fairly healthy for an assassin), but there’s no reason why something can’t be fair and flashy.

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Cinderhulk was OP on release and was later nerfed so much that its useless now

Riot Jag Final PortraitAgain, it’s really an issue of balance here. You can’t argue with the level of power that Cinderhulk was giving to characters at the time. There are many reasons to like the teamfight-pacing presence that tanks give, but these champions had no tradeoffs at the time – they were becoming damage dealers with extreme durability and CC.


On that topic though, no one was happier about the success of Cinderhulk than me – that project was the combined efforts of Fearless and I (mostly him!), and I was overjoyed at the spike in competitive diversity that the Cinderhulk patch brought to the game. But the theory that we chased away diversity by nerfing Cinderhulk is false. The diversity spike partially arose due to the uncertainty of solving the game at a pro level since we upended the meta (tanks in Jungle instead of top lane, so now carries in top lane, so now different types of supports/ADCs that have to deal with top lane carries, etc.). The pro diversity levels were already falling quickly in the weeks after Cinderhulk came out due to them solving the meta rapidly, before we even managed to get the nerfs out to the servers that pros played on. So while Cinderhulk as a disrupting force was positive in driving diversity, it couldn’t ever hold that permanently – we have to keep making changes to the game to do that.

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Why are champs like Anivia nerfed and Lee Sin is either untouched or buffed

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Riot Jag Final PortraitLee Sin did get a small buff in 5.16. The previous five patches that he received a balance adjustment before that were nerfs. I am a little puzzled that the assessment is that he is getting unfairly privileged to be at a high power level that is inappropriate. However, I get that he has been at at stable level of power for a long time, and my answer to that is that I think he is a fairly healthy champion. He has a high level of execution required to succeed on the part of the Lee Sin player, he has some major weaknesses (particularly towards the late game), and he has always felt like a somewhat risky pick, even when strong.

I don’t speak for Riot’s future balancing strategy here, but for my 2 cents, Lee is a cool champion that still gives his opponent options when succeeds, which to me is something we can maintain as someone who appears in a lot of games.

In regards to Anivia, I’d ask you a question first – if very few people complained about her, but she was still incredibly powerful, almost unfairly so, should we leave her alone? Would we leave balance decisions up to capturing the tone of broad player perception?

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Riot Jag Final PortraitFor Anivia, the timelines are sorely mismatched here though. We’re not responding to Worlds (that was 2 months ago), we’re responding to preseason.

For Elise, I get that she’s still strong, but by no means has she flown under the radar – she’s been nerfed more than once in the past few months.

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Can you explain the thought process behind changing Anivia Swain and Elise

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Riot Jag Final PortraitI think our data put Anivia going up nearly 4% in win rate with preseason – most likely due to the efficiency of RoA and the addition of Deathfire Touch. That’s a pretty huge change.

With Elise, our changes this year have been intended to balance her as more of a mage threat, not as a tank. The 5.18 and 5.16 changes both hit base damages, not ratios.

Swain is just a tough guy to balance. He’s kind of a drain tank, and he’s largely about dot damage and healing, so nerfing the E seemed like the wrong thing to do there. The effectiveness of his CC seemed out of line with that type of champion, which is why we went with the W. I feel your pain there though, you could make compelling arguments to hit other areas.

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Any thoughts on how the new gold flow affects earlypower Champions

Riot Jag Final PortraitHmm, that’s interesting. I understand that their maximum window of being ahead may be smaller (because gold eventually catches up), but we have put a lot of changes in place in preseason to push forward rewards for early aggression (towers falling faster, Rift Herald, vision changes etc). I think most of our evaluations say that a lot of early-game champions got a big boost since preseason (Shyvana went up in win rate, didn’t she?).

I think there are specific champions like Pantheon that may have some itemization problems. The crew on the Systems team is hard at work on that one.

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Whats your opinion on KhaZixs evolution diversity

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Riot Jag Final PortraitAgree that he’s never really been diverse. There’s almost always one correct path and then a few wrong ones.

We have played with that idea for E before, but it largely resulted in the same thing (one optimal path, this time never with E). I think for Kha’zix’s evolution pathing to be in a state that isn’t solved before game start requires each evolution to power him up along 4 distinct axes/contexts, each of which are likely to change in relative importance within the game. That’s very very hard. Maybe not impossible though.

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What are your thoughts on the current Support ADC relationship

Riot Jag Final PortraitThis is a really interesting one. I think the solo Q Support/ADC relationship and the organized 5v5 Support/ADC relationship are so incredibly far apart they may as well be different games.

What’s really cool about a good duo is that they both have to constantly take “trust falls” in lane to be effective – you have to make a move KNOWING that if you eat a CC your partner will use a summoner at the right time to make sure the play works. The problem is that in solo q the communication is so sparse that this goes wrong fairly often, unless you’re just on the same page because your game knowledge is deep enough (this is one major reason why playing ADC is so painful at lower MMR ranges). There’s nothing worse than having a trust fall where your partner doesn’t catch you, and it can reshape your approach to laning in a very negative way. On the other hand, when two of you are on comms together and perfectly on point, it’s incredibly rewarding and one of the best experiences in League of Legends.

So, to bring it back to the designer’s perspective, where do we want to strengthen the experience? Do we want to create solutions that make a better play experience for the low communication solo queue game? That would lead us to creating mechanics and items that have low coordination requirements, low failure rates, and correspondingly low rewards for success. Do we want to reward the mastery of a competent duo playing properly? Well, then this is a mechanic that has a very limited reach, as the vast majority of players will not be able to enjoy it as consistently. When CertainlyT had to figure out how to balance Kalista’s W passive, or I had to figure out how to reward Zeke’s Harbinger properly, these are some of the things we had to struggle with.

Personally, I’d really love if we made another Conduit-style item like Zeke’s, but opened the space up a bit for different types of duos (maybe a double melee dive buddy item, for instance).

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What are some less commonly cited statistics you guys use to judge balance

Riot Jag Final PortraitA few metrics here that I really like are “win rate by game time” and “average experience level”. The game time graphs will occasionally give us a very sharp idea of where to address a part of the character that is really out of control. For example, pre-5.18 Veigar tended to win a fairly small portion of games that ended at 20 minutes, and a fairly large portion of games that ended at 45+ minutes. After the buffs to his W cast time, we saw a fairly small change at the 45+ minute win rate, but a huge one at 20+ minutes, which was a large indicator to us that we had changed Veigar’s power curve in a way that we were not comfortable maintaining.

That directed us to looking at base damages instead of hitting the cool thing about Veigar that players really loved (the infinite scaling fantasy), and gave us a pretty solid foundation for doing so. The “average experience level” one is one that’s really hard to convey to most players, but it basically indicates that if the vast majority of players on a champion have a huge amount of games under their belt, then we shouldn’t look at a champion’s win rate and be surprised if it’s high. For example (these numbers aren’t accurate, just using them to illustrate), if the average Riven player in your game has 70 games played on the champion, while the average Brand player has 15 games, it wouldn’t be a unfair statement to say that Riven could have a higher average win rate than Brand and still be equally powerful.

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Where do you draw the line between extreme changes and no changes at all

Riot Jag Final PortraitThat’s a tough one. I think for preseason in particular we’re aware that the game is very volatile and unsolved. Optimal item builds can shift (or be nerfed…), certain exploitative strategies may be removed, and most of all, preseason is a time to just have fun and play – so I think we’re reluctant to instantly smack a champion in the face unless they’re fairly far out of line. Which leads me into…

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Why did you nerf hidden OP champions like Malzahar

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Riot Jag Final PortraitA lot of the decisions to nerf the “hidden OP” champs came from being fairly confident that these guys were WAY far out of line. We have a fairly significant amount of data demonstrating that these guys had pretty obscenely high levels of power in this patch.

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Which patch drove the most players away from LoL even temporarily

Riot Jag Final PortraitI don’t know the answer to that question. I can tell you that I felt a lot of the same way as players did in 5.16, that the game felt pretty far off in terms of balance compared to what we’ve done historically. Everyone has taken a hard long at what went right and what went wrong there so we can improve on that in the future, which to me is something that’s cool about how Riot – we definitely have failures, but we do our best to make them mean something positive.

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Whats the state of Bard

Riot Jag Final PortraitOh man, Bard. Rarely do I see data tell me one thing that so heavily disagrees from my personal experience. I honestly feel like a Bard main is absolutely terrifying, but he can so easily cause catastrophic failures for his own team that his effectiveness can vary incredibly hard.

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How do you think the Mandrake Ward will affect Champs like Evelynn

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[ Note ] The Mandrake ward is an experimental ward on the PBE that gives no vision and only pings you when it detects Champion movement.

Riot Jag Final PortraitI think it would be a fairly good thing for Eve to be honest. I’m not so sure her current form of favored counterplay (Pink ward + ward her jungle camps) is sufficient that we can leave in her tuning in a satisfying place. That’s heavily speculative though.

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INTRO Chris Pwyff Tom Communications dude

Pwyff Final PortraitHi fronds,

Quick introduction here – I’m Pwyff. In previous lives I’ve played video games competitively, ghost-wrote college essays for tuition, wrote terrible movie scripts for free dinners, and did the whole video game journalism / editor-in-chief bit before arriving at Riot Games.

I come from a mixed competitive gaming background of: FPSes (CS 1.6, Natural Selection, TFC), MOBAs (DotA, HoN, Bloodline Champions), and MMORPGs (Ragnarok Online, FFXI, vanilla + TBC WoW), so my favorites tend to fall along those. In between games of League, DotA 2, and Duelyst, I was trying to speedrun Fallout 4 before dropping everything for the new Bloodborne DLC, but did not get very far. I think I rerolled twice, explored fifty million supermarkets, recruited Nick Valentine, decided to forcibly set my carry weight limit to 20,000 so I could hoard more things, realized I opened Pandora’s Box of cheat codes and shortcuts, set my melee stats to five billion, punched a few Deathclaws, and then couldn’t go back to a normal life.

Outside of those things, I read, write, walk, and talk a lot (often at the same time).

I currently own: 0 cats.

WHAT AM I DOING AT RIOT?

A tl;dr would be that I’m a communications lead, working on all things to do with… communicating. One of my first big projects was to improve the way we talk about change in League (particularly in design), and you may have noticed the experiments we’ve run over the years, especially with the patch notes.

These days, I’m focused more broadly on how we talk about what we do and why we do it. With the preseason just shipping and the 2016 season update on the horizon, I’m in the process of helping with our next Riot Pls update, getting this Dev Corner to a functional place, and thinking about what people actually want to hear about.

WHAT AM I GOING TO TALK ABOUT?

I’ll probably use my monthly slot as an open forum to talk about what new things you’d like to hear from other teams. If there’s a pressing topic you’d like to see discussed, feel free to chuck them in and I can understand what we should be thinking – or talking – about. Or if it’s just a miscommunication, I can talk about that as well.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HEAR FROM ME?

Honestly? Let me know. I can tell you stories about life at Riot, or how teams work together, or about the cat I don’t own.

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The Patch Rundowns feel like fluff pieces

Pwyff Final PortraitNah, you’re talking to the right guy. So I’ve got Scarizard directly trying to tackle this issue next year to get the Patch Rundown to a more authentic place.

The question I’d ask is this: what should the patch rundown be for?

Right now I think the larger issue is we have one piece of video content trying to serve multiple purposes, and ultimately failing at all. If I could flip back the curtain, our goals are:

  • Humanize the League design team
  • Discuss contentious changes, show our thought process
  • Engage in a meaningful discussion on changes

For others, however, the patch rundown is seen as a vehicle to communicate what’s changing. Should that be our goal? Are players happier if we just tell them “this is changing and here’s why” a la patch note format, or do they want to see discussion on the topic with people they trust?

This is basically the space we’re grappling with. In an ideal world, I’d love to have two streams of content – one high level TL;DR of the patch notes for quick, easy consumption, and another focused on deeper context.

So what are your thoughts?

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Have Riot considered making a realtime strategy engine for LoLtype games

Pwyff Final PortraitThis is an interesting question.

Up front: I don’t think there are any plans to scope out pets into something deep and expressive. I believe the current view of pet controls is “tolerable,” if not very exciting.

You mention that adding pets / pet controls would add a lot more depth to the game while also offering more avenues of kit ideation (and skill expression), I wonder about that.

You can add any sort of mechanic to a game to make it more ‘complex,’ but good game design is about the right combination of complex mechanics. If CS:GO suddenly added bunny-hopping into the game, it certainly becomes more complex from a movement-shooter based perspective, but it loses out on the type of game it wants to be.

I’m assuming that adding a second unit to control beyond basic movement (aka the current system) will raise the mechanical complexity of the game, but if this assumption is true, should that be where League’s design focus is on? Most designers would say there’s a lot of really cool space to explore with single-champion kits. Perhaps there could be a champion designed with the ‘illusion’ of pet play – maybe a multi-unit champion with pre-defined positioning based abilities (hello, Orianna) – but the better question is what a complex pet system offers over other new systems.

Now that I’ve laid out the conceptual space, I can offer my own opinion.

I think there’s room for some cool pet mechanics in a game like League, but probably not the likes of Chen or Meepo. There’s this concept of transferable skills where if you learn, say, auto-spacing (heh) with Caitlyn, that’s a transferable skill to Jinx. At the very least this allows you to build macro-mastery of League (positioning, map movement, etc) while also investing in the micro-optimizations of a champion.

Looking at other games with pet champions, most characters with engaging multi-unit complexity reward the player for:

  • Cross-map macro play (Meepo teleports and movement)
  • Multi-unit micro-play (SC2 micro)
  • A really annoying radiance bear (Druid)

I do wonder if the skill investment for any of these is so different for League that a champion who rewards players on these axis just makes them a novelty. The issue with novelty champions who reward players on very unique mastery paths is is you end up with massive disparities between the haves and the have nots, and balance becomes a nightmare. Riven is a great example of this. Do we now balance Riven with the expectation that all players have learned to animation cancel? Or do we just allow this one champion who, when fully mastered, has access to more tools and more power than anyone else? I’m not saying Riven is objectively overpowered, but the more unintentional power a champion can access through clever mechanical manipulation, the higher chance a designer just didn’t account for it.

This paints a real black and white picture though. Could the pet system be improved even for the current pet-based champions? Absolutely. Is it an absolute priority for engineering to restructure how unit control occurs within League? I’m not sure.

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Here’s some awesome fan art from this week:

 

Sinful Succulence Morgana by Delectableredz:

sinful_succulence_morgana_by_delectableredz-d9jng70

 

Firecracker & Slayer Jinx by Citemer:

v2PNeoN

 

Demon Vi by muju:

8wwVCWR

 

 


If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at nolchefo@gmail.com.

 

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Game designers Fearless, Ghostcrawler and all held Q&As on the official forums. Here are all the questions they answered:

 

 

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INTRO Jo Fearless Graylock Lead Designer Gameplay Systems

Fearless New PortraitWHO AM I?

Hey everyone, I’m Jo Graylock. Before I came to Riot I was an RPG designer for most of a decade, as well as Jiu Jitsu instructor and metal radio show host. The vast majority of my developer experience comes from my time at Obsidian Entertainment. Lots of awesome people making awesome games there, but I couldn’t pass up a chance to work on my favorite game.

I try to play a ton of everything, but favorites are LoL, Fallout 1 and 2, Xenoblade Chronicles, Tactics Ogre, Dino Run, FTL, and Risk of Rain, with healthy amounts of D&D and Warmachine at the table. When not gaming, I’m usually doing lots of tabletop painting, playing volleyball, or spending time with family.

I currently own: 2 cats.

WHAT AM I DOING AT RIOT? WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT NEXT YEAR?

I started as an individual contributor at Riot, working on the Sona update before moving into systems work, first on the Jungle Update for 2015 before following up with Cinderhulk. After that, I moved to lead the Lead Design spot for Gameplay Systems. I’ve been lead for the Juggernaut items and the 2016 Season work so far. I’m really looking forward to keeping this season exciting throughout the entire year.

WHAT AM I GOING TO TALK ABOUT?

I’m going to be here to talk about all the systems stuff in LoL. This means items, the map, the jungle, and all the other rules level stuff in the game. A lot of our changes can be pretty easy to miss, but also a little mysterious or obscure. I’m really excited to bring this stuff into the light, as well as the reasons behind why we change the game. I’m also really happy to talk about how we work as designers, both in what our day to day looks like, and some stories about how we think about problems and overcome them. Riot designers were super inspiring to me before I got here, and I’d love to give back a bit of my time to pay that forward.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HEAR FROM ME?

Let’s talk about stuff, for realzies. The openness and honesty of Riot was a big reason to work here, and I’d like to keep that tradition going. :)

EDIT: Going to meetings for a bit, will be back around dinner time.

EDIT2: Alright, heading out for some dinner. Thanks for talking everyone! Look forward to a lot more!

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Are you guys going to rework Guinsoos Rageblade

Guinsoos Rageblade Final IconWe are looking to slowly reduce power, but the base goal is one we want to keep. Just need to pull levers to get it into balance.

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Whatre your thoughts on the AP CDR gap with items like Essence Reaver

Essence Reaver IconCurrent thought is that max CDR shouldn’t be something that mages just get by accident, and should be something that actually has meaningful trade-offs. ADC builds are still very much in flux and we’re actively still looking into tweaks to make sure that going into Reaver is powerful, but has a few more trade-offs as well. 5.24 has a small change to delay the rate at which ADC’s get the full CDR, which should help with how free that stat is currently. Totally possible we’ll need to do more there still.

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Whatre the plans for underwhelming Juggernaut items like Steraks Gage

Steraks Gage Final IconWe have some more communication on this coming next year. TLDR is that these items are all answering the question we wanted them to answer, but some could still get some small changes to adjust how well they answer those questions.

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Are there plans to create a more defined subclass of AP Juggernauts

Fearless New PortraitWe’ve talked little bits about these guys, but the crowd is pretty small. Given that we have some pretty large blocks of champs that are in very difficult spots, my guess is that the work on this group might be a ways off. That or they might get some love from the projects targeted towards other groups. That tends to happen a lot when it comes to systems projects, just because everything is so interconnected.

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Whats happening to Cull

Cull IconCull is on watch, and probably needs a small buff. Staring items are extremely sensitive to small changes, so have to tread carefully.

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What kind of designers work at Riot, and what are their tasks

Fearless New PortraitAt Riot we don’t split up game designers much besides Designers and Tech Designers, with the main difference there just being the ability to check in code. In terms of things like systems design or mechanic design, these are competencies that each design has some ability to do, but will be stronger or weaker depending on who you talk to. At Obsidian, I moved between being a Cinematic Designer, a Combat Designer, a Systems Designer and even a Technical Designer for one project. Each company has their own ways of understanding their teams, and I think that’s smart for each company to set out who they want and how specialized they want them to be.

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Fearless New PortraitAnd for the last question, there is a place at almost every studio for designers that don’t have tech educations, definitely including Riot. I have a film background before I got into gaming, and I’ve worked with Designers with every sort of education, from Art, Philosophy, Architecture and Literature. I’ve also worked with plenty of incredibly talented designers who did not complete a degree. The most important thing for a game designer is that they are great at understanding and making fun games. Some people learn things that help them do this in school. Some people mod and some people figure this out along some very strange paths.

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What was your journey to becoming a Systems Designer like

Fearless New PortraitWhen I think about the work that I did, really everything has been some form of system, apart from Sona. For example, even though I was the Cinematic Designer for Alpha Protocol, most of my work there was building out the game experience of the story. AP wanted the cinematic sequences to still very much be an interactive part of the game that gave players the space to express themselves, experiment, and feel like they could “win” the story by getting to be the character they wanted to be. A lot of the decisions we built into how players picked their dialogue options and how those payed off and showed progress all went back into making sure the cinematics could be that gameplay experience.

Basically, being a systems designer was simply a matter of taking on a big project, and then consistently thinking about the entire impact and interactions of the project. It also really helps if you’re comfortable working on the nuts and bolts level stuff, knowing that when you do your job well, players might not even notice a lot of what you’ve done. Great systems design is often like great film editing, in that many of the best examples are amazing because of the subtle things that they do that most people won’t (and shouldn’t need to) notice.

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Whatre your thoughts on permanent modes like Dominion

Fearless New PortraitI’m really not an expert, or even particularly familiar with the other game modes. Before I started working at Riot, I was actually pretty into Dominion, and would play a few games every week, to test out champ match-ups and builds in the faster setting. Once I got to Riot and found myself on a team that is entirely focused around SR, I pretty much only play SR to make sure that I stay as current as possible and am testing and experimenting as much as possible in the space that lets me build awesome stuff for players.

Sorry I don’t have more deep thoughts to throw in here.

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Ghostcrawler New PortraitI’ll be completely honest: we have neglected them, especially Dominion and TT. We view the heart of League to be SR, and that’s where we spend most of our development effort. We aren’t happy with that answer however, and we have some ideas for how we can give Dominion and TT a little love. We’ll talk more about this soon. We are unlikely to add new permanent maps in the future. Often, they lack the depth of SR, which means they are popular at first and then slowly lose players over time. In some regions where we have fewer players, it can also cause long queue times by sub-dividing the bucket so much.

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What RPGs have you worked on

Fearless New PortraitI worked on Neverwinter Nights II, Alpha Protocol, Dungeons Siege III, and South Park: The Stick of Truth, along with some projects that never quite saw the light of day.

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Did you intentionally design the thin walls on SR that can be dashed over

Fearless New PortraitMap geometry is an element we generally keep fairly fixed, while letting champs determine how they want to interact with it, given that it’s going to very likely be stable. A lot of systems work is about making sure we have a solid rules base for champions to interact with and navigate, and the map is a very base layer set of “rules.”

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Whatre some of the funniest bugs youve encountered while balancing

Fearless New PortraitI didn’t understand where the decimal point for move speed values were supposed to go, so I had a Sona that pretty much just blinked where you clicked for as long as her E was up. Caught before it got into a playtest, but very fun for a few minutes.

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Are there any Mastery or Item ideas for Preseason that got scrapped

Fearless New PortraitThe marksman items had a lot of revisions, some of which had some extreme power, and of course some of these lined up with champ iterations that were very strong. Combine that with the fact that we have some high skill marksman specialists in the main playtest group I’m in, and we had a few playtests that felt like an alternate game mode where the goal was just to run as fast as you could away from the marksman. Not good for the game, but very entertaining to see the roles flipped so hard.

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Is there anything already live that you feel is unappreciated unnoticed

Fearless New PortraitI think our bounty changes, coupled with the game pacing changes to towers and minions are very exciting, personally. I care a lot about making sure the game is still fun, even when you’re losing, and these changes make it much more clear what you should be doing when a team is down, and cut down on some of the worst game states to experience as a losing team.

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INTRO Greg Riot Ghostcrawler Street Game Design Director

Ghostcrawler New PortraitWHO AM I?

My name is Greg Street, Riot Ghostcrawler. Before working at Riot, I was a lead designer on World of Warcraft for 6 years. Before that I was a lead designer on Age of Empires for 10 years. Before that, I was an oceanographer, which is where the crustacean avatar came from. I was an army brat who lived lots of places, but I identify most as a Texan.

My favorite game of all time is Dungeons and Dragons. I have played for 30 years, in all 5 editions. For video games, I’ll just list broad families of games that I love and that have influenced me: XCOM, Final Fantasy, World of Warcraft, Chrono Trigger, Diablo, Doom, Civilization, Legend of Zelda, Dark Souls, Baldur’s Gate, Planescape: Torment, Mass Effect, Metroid, Grand Theft Auto, and Okami. Outside of games, I enjoy travel, reading about history and science, and being outdoors. My last research project as a scientist involved collecting live, radioactive alligators. I have been attacked by animals as diverse as: Portuguese Man-o-war, Roseate Spoonbill, Southern Stingray, Rock Rattlesnake, Coatimundi. My favorite animal is the Mantis Shrimp.

I currently own: 4 dogs and 2 cats.

WHAT AM I DOING AT RIOT? WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT NEXT YEAR?

I joined Riot in 2013 and I am now the game design director for League. I describe my job as a combination of three things: I’m ultimately accountable for the design quality of League, I work with the other leads to determine long-term strategy and our big bets for the next year, and I manage the design department. I work a lot on projects such as our Season 2016 plan. I help answer things such as what kinds of champions should we be making, what do we want the pace of the game to be, and what new features does League need.

WHAT AM I GOING TO TALK ABOUT?

The best kinds of questions to hit me with are about our design philosophy or core design values. The kinds of questions I can best answer are “Would Riot ever consider this Big New Feature?” “Where do you see League in 5 years?” “How does Riot balance for such a wide range of skills?” “How much counterplay is acceptable?” “What were Riot’s goals with preseason?” “Is League too snowbally?” “Does Riot make too much change to the game?” “How many champions can League support?” I don’t directly balance champions or design new items. I’m fine if you blame me for bad balance, but if you want to know our thoughts on a particular change or the state of a champion, you’re better off asking the Rioters who are working directly on them.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HEAR FROM ME?

If you know anything about me, you hopefully know that I strive to be really transparent with players and that I have very thick skin. AMA.

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Is the complexity and tacked on passives on new Champions a good thing

Ghostcrawler New PortraitWe feel overall that the ramp up in complexity on champs (the extra passives and double passives and so on) isn’t a great trend to stay on. It’s a challenge when you’re in the trenches, because you want players to get excited about each new champ that’s released, so we keep trying to outdo ourselves. If we released [next champ] with Vlad’s Q, I think we’d all be disappointed. But that’s the short term view, and in the long term view, we don’t want to end up at a point where champs have 4 passives and 20 abilities and so on.

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How many champions can League support

Ghostcrawler New PortraitI think by around 300 we’d need some kind of seasonal roster or something. At the current rate we make champions, we won’t have to worry about that for some time. The game can handle a lot more than it has today IMO.

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What do you think of Vladimir

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Ghostcrawler New PortraitWe agree with just about everything you said. “What is the problem with Vlad’s Q?” used to be a question on our design test for potential new hires, but we removed it because it was too easy. Thematically, he’s fine. He needs better abilities. We’ll get there, potentially with the mage roster update this year.

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Wasnt Mordekaiser changed for the sake of evolving the game

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Ghostcrawler New PortraitWe strive for evolution, not change for the sake of change. That doesn’t mean we always nail it, and it’s an easy trap for developers to fall into, especially folks who haven’t been making games for very long (which is almost every Rioter). It’s a compass heading.

Morde was not change for the sake of change. Morde was not working as champion and we didn’t think it was possible to deliver on his current direction in a healthy way. He really needed a change the same way Poppy and Sion needed a change. Were there other changes we could have made that might have worked out better? That’s entirely possible. Was the community right and we should have listened to them? In 20/20 hindsight, that happens all the time. I’m trying to illustrate there is a difference between a bad change and change for the sake of change.

Change for the sake of change comes about when you see devs say things like this:

  • I’m bored. I think I’ll try something crazy.
  • I never envisioned this champ as X. I’m going to try Y because that fits my personal impression.
  • Z hasn’t gotten any changes for awhile. It’s his turn.
  • I don’t know what will work, so I’ll try this.

Change to add depth to the game come about when you see devs saying things like:

  • This pattern lacks counterplay so we need to add an opportunity for the enemy to do something.
  • We can’t increase this champion’s winrate without their pick rate skyrocketing and players seeing them every game. We are going to have to change some of their abilities.
  • This system is something solved that players don’t really think about anymore. We need to get interesting decisions back in.
  • Our values or goals are X, but this champion isn’t meeting those goals. We need to make changes to meet them.

In general, the changes we try to make are strategic, try to deliver on goals or values, try to open up options or decisions for players, and try to fix real problems.

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How do you feel about the video game industrys development

Ghostcrawler New PortraitBig games are very expensive to make. This makes studios (and more importantly, their publishers who put their money up front) reluctant to take big risks. There have also been some spectacular failures of big games that were super high concept that just didn’t resonate with players and lost millions.

If you look at indie development, you will see a lot more risk-taking and even spot some of the next new trends. You’ll also spot some coming out of other regions, especially China. (I realize asking you to download a Chinese mobile game is a non-trivial ask.)

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Do you agreedisagree with Zileas list of ten balance design antipatterns

Ghostcrawler New PortraitConflicted purpose. If you have an ability that is say both a shield and a heal, it can be an interesting decision about when to use the ability. You may need the shield now but you may need the heal even more a few seconds later. It is possible to screw this up, which was his point, but it’s possible to make it work out well as well.

He is my boss, by the way, so I’d love to tear down his arguments in a way that could publicly humiliate him, but I actually agree with his list for the most part.

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What would you say are the biggest pros and cons of the PBE currently

Ghostcrawler New PortraitPros: Great for “feels” feedback. Good at catching bugs. Good as a point of reference for players to discuss on boards and Reddit.
Cons: NA only. Players don’t know how to participate. Bad for balance data (sample size is so small that matchmaking suffers, and players aren’t generally in tryhard mode anyway).

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Do you think Hybrid champions will be supported in the future

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Ghostcrawler New PortraitWe are fine with hybrid champions or rule-breakers, but we need to establish that is our intent and not let it just sort of happen accidentally because the kit is overloaded. We didn’t really have a good framework for this before say 12 months ago when we started considering rosters.

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What do you think should be done to make Sona a viable Support pick

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Ghostcrawler New PortraitWe think her kit is fine. Not every champion needs to have a ton of mechanical complexity so long as they still have strategic complexity. For Sona, positioning (when to hug and when to not) are supposed to matter enormously.

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If you were to redesign League would you still use the AD and AP stats

Ghostcrawler New PortraitI haven’t socialized this with the team, so they might disagree, but back in the day, League made the conscious choice not to go with the Strength, Agility, Intelligence model that Wacraft 3 originally used. The idea was that items were a bit more agnostic and any champion could use them. Was that the right call? I’m not sure. While there are still a lot of champ agnostic items, we also are jumping through hoops now to make sure e.g. Marksmen items are attractive to Marskmen but not necessarily to mages.

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What are your thoughts on Preseason games being a lot more snowbally

Ghostcrawler New PortraitSo interestingly, our data suggests that games are no more snowbally than before the preseason changes or all of last year. We realize there is a common perception among players that it is more snowbally, so we are trying to unpack that and figure out why the discrepancy exists. Games are definitely shorter, but a shorter game that isn’t more of a shut out would actually be a pretty good place for the game to be.

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Will you be aiming for strategic diversity in Season 6

Ghostcrawler New PortraitWe also would like to see 10 different ADCs get played. Balance and strategic diversity play into that for sure. But it’s not the only factor. Players (of any game, not just League) really hate to be wrong, especially in front of strangers. That can lead to a situation where everyone wants to know “Who should I pick?” by which they mean “Which champ should I pick that is currently considered the best so that nobody will get mad or make fun of me?” In other words, the perception can sometimes drive the reality.

The perception that there is a best and second-best ADC can often cause players to choose those champs, even if their winrate would be better with a champ they’ve played a lot or really enjoy. Seeing what the pros pick can also have a huge trickle down effect on ranked queue champion choices. The difference between a “strong” and “weak” champion can often mean the difference between a 55% and 45% win rate. Think about that. That means you’d win approximately 10% more games if you picked the right champion. If you played 10 games, you might win 1 more because of your champion pick. Your individual experience with that champion can have a far bigger impact. Overall, League is a pretty well balanced game. That doesn’t mean we can’t do better, and we will strive to do so. But we’re not talking about champions who are twice as likely to win a game as another choice.

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Why are you reworking Taric before Warwick Is it the gems

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Ghostcrawler New PortraitYeah, it’s pretty much just the gems.

Seriously though, a lot can go into the determination of which champion update we work on next, including whether we have potentially good ideas for how to fix the champion (thematically, visually and mechanically). We do have someone working on Warwick, because he desperately needs it, but it’s too soon to tell how or when that may pan out.

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If Rioters hate ballofstats Champions why was Mundo given free stats

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Ghostcrawler New PortraitGenerally speaking, we do two kinds of changes — things that have a chance of a long-term fix and things that are band-aids just to tide things over until we can get to a long-term fix. That said, Mundo is somewhat simple, but I don’t know that he needs a major update.

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It seems that Yasuo is designed purely around free stats from his passive

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Ghostcrawler New PortraitYasuo’s winrate generally isn’t all that high because his skill cap is insanely high, one of the top 2-3 in the game. That is the challenge for why he is tricky to balance moreso than the double passive, IMO. We’d have to ask the champion designer who worked on him the origin of the double passive though.

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How When will you fix Champions who rely on free stats to be viable

Ghostcrawler New PortraitIt’s less about free stats and more about whether a champion is nothing but a bag of stats. If your win rate is high because your stats are higher and not because you make good decisions, that’s the kind of thing we want to fix. We have fewer of those champions this year than we did last year.

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How often do you play League and whats your favourite team role

Ghostcrawler New PortraitI tend to play in bursts like lots of players. I am playing fewer games now because I have been spending so much time on Fallout 4 and the Bloodborne DLC. Before I came to Riot, I’d say I played mostly Support (I played a priest in WoW) and ADC. I have tried to double down on improving my weaknesses rather than my strengths since I have been here. Jungle is by far my weakest role. I need to spend more time there.

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What are your thoughts on the diversity of item recipes or lack thereof

Ghostcrawler New PortraitWe want the early items to be a little safer because you aren’t locking yourself out of potential later items. You may not have enough information early in the game to know which items (or even in which order) you’ll want at the end. This means some amount of similarity among the builds themselves. There probably are some opportunities for those mid-tier items to branch out a little more.

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Was it a conscious decision to move League toward mobility and flashy plays

Ghostcrawler New PortraitI think there is a tendency to want to design a champion that gets a lot of YouTube videos made because of flashy plays. Similarly, in a game with 130 champions, you can’t just offer a kit of skill shot + shield + steroid. I’ve said before that I think the concern that too many of our champs lately have been on the more complicated end is very fair and something we want to combat. You can have champions that make strategically interesting decisions (or even big plays) without them having double passives and lot of gigantic tooltips.

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Do you see League lasting another 10 years If so how will it change

Ghostcrawler New PortraitEasily ten years. It’s not going anywhere. I think the biggest gains we have to make are outside of the core game loop. We can’t ever take our eye off that ball, but it’s pretty fun already and we don’t want to bury it under tons of complex systems. On the other hand, some of our systems outside of the game are pretty weak. For example we have focused a lot on fixing player behavior problems but not as much on helping you play with your friends.

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Does Riot consider the Juggernaut reworks a success

Ghostcrawler New PortraitIt was a good proof of concept for the roster project. We’re happy with Garen and Darius, less so with Skarner and Morde. Overall, hitting 4 champs is probably not enough to feel like a roster was really updated. However, compared to Marksmen, Juggernauts barely even had a function in the game, so in that sense, we feel like it was successful.

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Whats the reason for having 6 bans per game instead of 10

Ghostcrawler New PortraitWe don’t want to be in a perpetual arm’s race. We have some fear that if we did 10 today it would be 12 next year and so on. There is some evidence that giving each player one ban in solo queue might be a better experience. We have some changes with the new team builder (with still just 6 bans) and we will see how that plays out first and then evaluate.

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Has there been a region where Riot have found it impossible to support League

Ghostcrawler New PortraitThis is a great question but I don’t have a great answer. Maybe another Rioter who has been here longer will share a good story with me that I can then relate to you guys. Going into a new region is a fairly expensive commitment in that we have to localize a whole lot of text and VO and then either set up servers and matchmaking ourselves or find a regional partner who can do so. We have to be convinced that we can develop a sizable player base in a new region for it to be worth it. That is usually the biggest barrier to going into a new region. There are some interesting quirks though — we can’t play on Korean servers because Korea requires you to have the Korean equivalent of a social security number to play. (We were able to play when we visited Korean PC bangs though).

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I think League could use more miniobjectivesminigames like Skarners crystals

Ghostcrawler New PortraitI agree we could have more, and we’ll probably add more over time, but not toooo many more. Imagine a game with 10 “Skarners” and 10 “Skarner crystals” all over the map.

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Are Champion mains taken into consideration when that Champion is reworked

Ghostcrawler New PortraitWe don’t make the changes just for those mains for a few reasons. Maybe they main that champion for reasons we don’t want to encourage. Maybe there are a bunch of potential mains out there who aren’t playing the champ but might with a good rework. Ideally we don’t alienate mains, and we do always target our survey questions towards both mains and non-mains.

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Should there be more champions whose spells provide options to enemies

Ghostcrawler New PortraitIt’s a cool space but it increases the amount of information you need to play the game by a lot. Consider the Poppy rework — you have to know to step on her shield. Maybe you’ll stumble upon that at some point but maybe you won’t.

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Is fun to play as or fun to play against a priority when making Champions

Ghostcrawler New PortraitWe look at “play as” first. If nobody wants to play the champ, it doesn’t matter if they are fun to play against. We definitely look at how frustrating they are to play against once we really get into development.

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How do you feel about additional gamemodes maps

Ghostcrawler New PortraitI’d love to see a more casual yet still competitive mode around some of those less-played maps.

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Whats the best ways for individual players to impact Riots decisions

Ghostcrawler New PortraitIt depends on your target. If you’re looking to change our development culture or something, that’s pretty hard. If you want to give feedback on a champion change, there are a lot of ways to do that. Posting in the threads (often the PBE threads) where the developers are asking for feedback or discussing upcoming changes is a good way to focus your efforts. Just don’t assume that there is some kind of magical lever that you can pull to guarantee your suggestion will get incorporated. That’s just really hard to do when you have millions of players with their own suggestions. :(

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Do you think every Champion should occupy a unique team role

Ghostcrawler New PortraitIt’s fine if they are in the same space but have different play styles. It’s probably not possible for us to come up with 130+ different strategies.

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Why arent bad changes reverted more often eg Cassiopeias rework

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Ghostcrawler New PortraitI think I mentioned this earlier, or maybe it was Twitter or ask.fm.

I think it sucks when we do an update that is okay but not awesome. The reason is because it generally gets a champion into a healthier play space (so they are no longer at the top of the “on fire” list) but we haven’t made them awesome either (and because they are no longer at the top of the “on fire” list, they may not get touched for awhile).

We’d like to hit Cass again when we look at mages in 2016. I can’t promise because it’s impossible to predict how the projects will work out. I really wanted to update Volibear for the juggernaut update, but it just wasn’t coming together.

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INTRO Mark RiotScruffy Yetter Lead Game Designer Champions

Scruffy Final PortraitWHO AM I?

Hey everyone,

I’m Mark, but you can call me RiotScruffy here. I’m a totally obsessed video gamer (in the best possible way), and games like DOTA, WoW, LoL, and pretty much anything with the Star Wars brand have occupied the best years of my life.

I’ve been a few places around the game industry before Riot, most notably I worked at Treyarch on Black Ops 2 right before I joined. They taught me some great stuff about how to make everything feel OP, and how to really sell a fantasy.

I currently own: 1 cats.

WHAT AM I DOING AT RIOT?

There’s kinda two sections here for me, the past and the future:

The past (and present): I’m the Lead Designer of the Champion Update team, which has worked on many of your favorites (and unfavorites I’m sure) like Sion, Poppy, Gangplank, Fiora, Juggernauts, Marksmen updates and many more. I have a TON of history with this team, having helped build it up from the ground when I started at Riot almost 3 years ago until now.

The future: I’m going to be moving over to be Lead Designer of the Champion team. A new set of challenges and a really talented new group of people there is really exciting. Building up the next generation of new champions and hopefully surprising you all with some great new innovations is my goal.

WHAT AM I GOING TO TALK ABOUT?

Champ-Up has grown and changed so so much over these past years, and I can talk about so many things. “Why did we start doing group updates like Juggernaut/Marksmen?” “How do we decide how much to preserve or redo on a champ-up like Poppy?”

Or even less specific stuff that is more related to our champion/game design philosophy like: “How have we evolved our strategy for making interactive gameplay without overusing skillshots?” “How do we build up a new champion from concept to completion?” “How did we go about categorizing our champions into archetypes so that we could better understand them (see juggernauts)?”

I’d also like to bridge the gap – when I can – of how our general game design practice can carry over into good character mechanic design and vice versa. It might be cool to do some topics that explore how to apply our champ design principle to other systems or even games altogether.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HEAR FROM ME?

Anything about Champ design or Champion updates is definitely on the table for me. Get creative, I’m open to whatever cool topics you all would like to talk about.

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What would you say are the top 5 Champions that need to be changed

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  1. Scruffy Final PortraitYorick – Both super unhealthy for the game and incredibly unsatisfying/lame
  2. Taric – So much promise with so little delivery. He has a ton of upside in making him more interesting, cohesive and higher quality
  3. Urgot – incredibly unclear fantasy and unhealthy gameplay
  4. Talon/Akali/diana – the trio of assassins with the potential to be great, but lacking so much in gameplay depth and interaction that if they ever are strong its the most frustrating experience
  5. Xin Zhao/Aatrox/Pantheon/Irelia – The grouping of fighter types with overly one directional gameplay patterns. This results in a “stat check” where they press their buttons in the right order and the rest is up to numbers not skill. (fiora used to be in this camp)

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Will there ever be more nonlinear skillshots like Dianas Q

Scruffy Final PortraitI don’t see why not. It’s a cool way to create new feel and gameplay – see Vel’koz geometry Q

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Could you give us a few spoilers about Tarics rework

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Scruffy Final PortraitWe want to solidify his role as a tanky protector type support with armor affinity. The gameplay is pretty nearly 100% and we are working hard on the new visuals. There are some really great surprises in his new kit/visuals but I will not spoil those.

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Do you have any thoughts on Ao Shin

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Scruffy Final PortraitNo comment on Ao Shin sorry, this was just a way premature reveal and there are a lot things in the pipe on the new champion team right now.

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For Season 6 are you focusing on making new Champions or reworking older ones

Scruffy Final PortraitA lot of the work I’ve started on the Update team will be finishing in 2016, so I will still have a loose hand in it, but my main focus will be running and creating awesome improvements and innovations for our new champion team.

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Is there any fantasy or gameplay niche you feel is missing from League

Scruffy Final PortraitI think there are a bunch of new fantasies that I’d be excited to explore. I’m especially interested in pushing for really really innovative ideas that will completely break the mold of what we currently consider champs can be.

My pet project – The “branching future character:” A good warrior comes in contact with a corrupted weapon, his/her choices throughout the game will either keep them pure or cause the corruption to take over. By the end of the game you have transformed into one of multiple possible kits.

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What are your plans for Mordekaiser

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Scruffy Final PortraitThis is a good question. Statikk and Feralpony have been posting about morde and he is in their team’s hands. They will be the better people to have the long term discussion with.

My personal opinions:
-Solo morde needs love, he may not be the “main” role but he has a lot of room to become more playable
-W in solo has had some improvements, but is still a pretty lackluster ability without an ally, this could be a good area for us to look into again

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Why did you redesign Mordes W to only be usable with allies

Scruffy Final PortraitI think the original thinking was that morde was oriented towards a solo lane so clearly before, that it would take a lot to make him even remotely viable in the duo lane. In retrospect we clearly overestimated how much we would have needed to do there.

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How much influence does the original Champion designer have on a rework

Scruffy Final PortraitWhenever possible we get the original champ designer to consult heavily on the rework project, but it’s usually a good idea to get someone fresh to actually own the project. (attachment too strong can be a problem)

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Do you think theres a future for pointandclick spells

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Scruffy Final PortraitI think that point and click spells have a bright and consistent future in LoL, they provide a clear, satisfying, and reliable output. The key is making sure that the champ kit outside of the point and click offers enough places for interaction and counterplay. Take GP Q for example, which we kept point and click because the new E is so interactive.

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If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at nolchefo@gmail.com.