Ghostcrawler answers forum drama regarding players being ignored in the development process of League and delves into the community split on reworks and who the game should be balanced for. Morello continues the discussion regarding Soraka’s upcoming rework and, more specifically, her passive making her squishier. Finally, a few suggestions about more functions for the Smart Ping wheel and an explanation on Reddit by Socrates regarding the extreme LP losses Diamond players in EUW have been experiencing lately.
TL;DR in featured comments.
One of the things that really infuses the workplace here is value that players are the most important thing, period. I am convinced that Rioters really believe that in their souls and we’re pretty good about not hiring people who aren’t bought into that value. If it has felt lately that we’re putting ourselves up on a pedestal over you guys, then that’s just a communication failure on our part. I love that aspect of Riot. We aren’t the VIPs; you guys are. If you don’t feel that way, then we’re just going to have to work harder to convince you.
Now, I’m not going to comment on the story elements at all. That’s not my gig and I’m not armed with the proper context to have that conversation. Apologies in advance.
I can talk about the champion updates and related issues about gameplay such as the Fortify and defensive play topics mentioned by the OP.
First, we don’t know better than players. We have some experience making games and hopefully we’ve hired folks with some natural talent for game development, but at the end of the day players are going to decide if they play the game or not. To put it in a bland business sentiment, this product is for you. The biggest challenge here is that players rarely speak with one voice. It may seem to you that “everyone” wanted a champion changed in a certain way or even all the “X players” really liked a specific identity that we decided to change. It’s just rarely that cut and dried. (And man, this job would be so much easier if it were.)
Remember that only a small minority of players ever post on forums, or reach out to us on Reddit or Twitter, and also remember most of you are only viewing those conversations in one or two languages at most. What may seem like universal consensus is rarely anything close to that.
And that’s okay! We’re not trying to design a game based on community vote, and you probably wouldn’t be happy with the results anyway. We do very much value player feedback and we use it to make informed decisions. That’s the reason I cracked open this (long) thread this morning — to see what you guys thought.
To provide some context on champion updates specifically, here is the way I view player sentiment. Feel free to disagree.
Player response, again IMO, generally falls into one of these categories:
1) I am indifferent to this champion or her changes.
2) I play the champion because she is broken, so I’m not going to be happy once she is fixed.
3) I believe the champion needs to be updated, but I am excited about one particular direction, which is unlikely to be the one Riot chooses.
4) I believe the champion needs to be updated, and either Riot managed to pick the direction I liked, or I was happy just to see an update period.
Out of those four categories, you’re going to see a lot of communication from players in groups 2 and 3. Indifferent group 1 dudes are unlikely to post that they are still indifferent. Group 4 might post a little. As a result, it can feel like there is a lot of negative sentiment every time we make a change. We keep gathering data though, to make sure in the long term that the champ is getting more play and that players are enjoying playing her. To be fair, we sometimes miss the mark, or frequently a champion requires a few subsequent rounds of updates to really deliver on the promise of the update.
I’m not sure of a better way to operate other than considering player feedback in this way. I don’t think polls or votes would really be a strong way to design a game. I’m not sure how we could isolate the most hardcore or passionate players of a specific champion and redesign her with the aim of pleasing those dudes. We’re totally open to suggestions though. How would you determine the best way to update a champion? I’m not asking because we are without a process, but because some of you don’t seem happy with that process.
The point I was trying to make was that forum posts aren’t good quantitative (numeric) sources of data. They are excellent qualitative (value) sources of data.
Saying “everyone is saying X” doesn’t provide a ton of information, and is almost certainly not technically true. We get less information out of something like “100 posters agree with me that Nidalee sucks” and a lot more about reading something like “What I really liked about Nidalee was how she threw spears across the map. If I had wanted a champion that changed into an animal, I would have picked Shyvana.”
Again, there is a difference among “we know better than you” and “we make decisions informed by what you’re saying” and “we go implement whatever you want.” We shoot for the middle option if that wasn’t obvious.
Okay, that’s fair. I was describing the feedback once we’d already announced that we’re working on an update, but there are players who are reasonably happy with the state of a current champion and think he or she needs tweaks at most. Point taken.
A lot goes into determining the order of champion updates. Here are just a few elements:
– Maybe someone is already working on another champion, but it’s taking longer.
– Maybe we’re trying to coordinate a visual update with a gameplay update.
– Maybe we don’t have a good idea yet for how to update a particular champ.
– Maybe an update won’t help because the champ in question is being dominated by another in the same role with even worse counterplay, so nobody is going to play the former until the latter is always fixed.
“You guys need to engage with us more.”
We’d love to, but what specifically do you mean by that? I don’t have the breadth of knowledge or even the bandwidth to debate point-by-point every topic that comes up in GD. I don’t want to get into the situation where we have to convince the community to allow us to make a change. That would be remarkably inefficient and risks feeling like the crowd sourcing model that I said we wanted to avoid. However, if there are specific opportunities to talk to players that you think we are missing, we’d definitely consider those. I am thrilled that some of you mentioned you feel like we have gotten better about providing context for design changes. That’s awesome, but there’s still a lot more we can do.
“You’re just making an argument for why you don’t have to listen to us.”
This makes me sad, because it’s the exact opposite of the impression I was trying to make. Let me try another angle. How many times do you make a point on GD or anywhere and have someone else disagree? Many of those threads go on quite long because you might think a champ is oppressive while someone else thinks they are fine, or underpowered, or just needs a small tweak. In these frequent situations where there is a lack of consensus, how are we supposed to navigate the right path, when almost every design change (or even lack of change) is going to disappoint someone? (And if you think you’ve seen a thread where “everyone” agrees on a design change, I’d love to see it.)
Again, this is how feedback works. If you tell us your concerns, your goals, your ideas, then we will consider them as we make changes. We also seek feedback after a change to see if it’s hit the mark, and then frequently iterate over the course of a few patches before we feel like we’ve really accomplished the goal of the update. Do you really want a game where we implement every change that gets posted on GD? Wouldn’t that be terrifying? If not, how would you decide who to listen to or not?
We love feedback and we do appreciate it when you take the time to post something. For all the complaints you may still have about League, I suspect you’d have a whole lot more if the feedback cycle didn’t work to improve things over time.
“You’re calling us a vocal minority.”
The point I was trying to make is that quantifying this or any forum is challenging and prone to abuse. In the end, the numbers don’t really matter. It comes down to the strength of arguments. We aren’t trying to make the majority happy. We’re trying to make everyone happy, without watering down the game, as ridiculous a goal as that sounds.
Here is another example. A couple of months ago, USA players were taking us/me to task for not nerfing Lee Sin. While he had some defenders in that thread, it was, to be fair, pretty one-sided. I said we thought he was too good at too many things. The next day the Chinese forums exploded with a lot of players who love the way Lee plays that were outraged that we would consider him broken. Were there more of them than there were US players? Was the overall passion of the Chinese players greater or less than those of the US players? I have no idea. How to you even measure something like that? In the end, we tried to figure out how we could tone him down without wrecking those aspects that players really liked about him. Nearly every change to the game plays out similarly.
“You only talk in generalizations, not specifics.”
High level, long term design is what I do. That’s the only thing I feel comfortable discussing unless I’ve had a really recent discussion with someone on a specific topic. We have been trying to get more Rioters out here so you have a bigger chance of talking to someone who is working on your exact feature. But that’s also a two way street. I’ve been doing this a long time (sixteen years!), and it’s not really possible to scare me away from forums. But when we ask other Rioters why they don’t spend time doing it, the three most common answers are: I’m scared of saying the wrong thing, it takes a huge amount of time, and the environment feels hostile. To the extent you can make the environment more positive, you’ll see more participation. I’m not saying don’t criticize. I’m saying don’t be a stereotypical internet troll when you do. Yes, it’s part of our job and I will do what I can from my end to encourage more designers to be out here.
If there are other high level topics you would appreciate me tackling (not specifics like Cass reworks or the future of lore) I’d be happy do do so.
If I am remembering correctly, the concern was that fear was really random. Sometimes a feared target would run toward you and sometimes they would run away (a particularly sad reaction for Fiddlesticks). A little bit of unpredictability provides situations in which players have to make on-the-spot choices for how to react, which is a good test of mastery and reflexes. But when it feels like RNG has more effect on your performance than your decisions, that can be really frustrating. Crit is another example, but that’s a very long discussion.
We do some of this already, and may dive deeper into it. The main risks have to do with a sense of elitism. We already try to navigate a knife’s edge of perceptions about whether we design the game only for the pros or only for the average player. The thought that pros (or even top tiered players in general) might have a bat phone to reach the developers in a secret conversation in which other players can’t even participate rubs other players understandably the wrong way. The top-tiered players themselves get nervous of their comments being used against them, especially if it’s private correspondence that becomes leaked.
Finally, there are expert players who don’t have great insight into which changes would be good for the game overall, and there are Bronze players who can’t execute on plays but have a really good sense for specific changes that would improve the game for everyone. This is the whole “just because you eat a lot of good food, that doesn’t make you a chef,” argument.
Oh Linna, I’m glad to see that some thing never change. Our war shall never resolve!
On a serious note, I’m excited to crack open how to make a healer with gameplay in a PvP game. Vesh has worked very hard to try to make this a reality, and the previoust costs/downsides with things like blue healers or even other LoL champions don’t do well when you give a character bonkers haling to friends.
I’ve been against healing as a role a long time – I’ve learned my problems are with its execution and lack of decisions (for themselves or enemies) that’s problematic. So, we’ve take a stab at fixing that.
You should be scared as Soraka. You’re trying to heal people who should kill people and protect people for you. You can still buy GA and have 80% of the value in defense. You’re not going to have 4000 HP and 200 armor/100MR on Soraka. As a healer, being tanky WOULD be the natural build, so we have to prevent that case.
THIS can let us make a character who SUPPORTS by HEALING to an unprecendented degree in LoL. No one else can do this. You want support to change a game? You want new reasons to pick a character? I hear you – super clearly.
It’s not all buffs. It’s hard ass choices.
It’s definitely scary – on this we agree. I think there’s three conversation points:
1) I fundamentally believe if Soraka is allowed to get tanky, we’ll have to gut her. This release valve is there to prevent this and allow her to be good.
2) New Soraka is both more narrow and more unique. Picking Soraka is very different than picking another support. If we want champions to have a unique strategic identity and have a reason “to be played,” this is important.
3) The current passive can be tuned into obliteration if it’s actually a problem, but we need a release valve. I know Soraka wants AR/MR/HP – that’s why we have to discourage it or it will run afoul of 1), and Soraka will be gutted, and we might as well have not done anything and left her in the dumpster.
Tradeoffs are a huge component of good design, and sustainable champions. We’ve chosen these ones because we believe it will allow us to actually make a real healer character.
That’s basically how insane her HPS and saving gets. It’s unlike anything we have on heals…2s Cooldown, high AP ratio, and big gains. You NEED to kill Soraka or a fight is unwinnable in this model.
Yes – this is the first time we’ve done that. My expectation is not that people get super excited about this, but instead it makes it so she can function and not get kneecapped as soon as she’s good.
This design technique acts as a release valve for bullshit scenarios without requiring us to murder the core functions and unique abilities of the character. A Critical Guideline of Soraka is that she must be vulnerable to being killed while healing to allow her to be an insane health-refiller. This means we have to put preventative measures in there to ensure she stays what way – especially as items will be buffed/nerfed/added/removed long after Soraka’s out.
So Soraka can’t get tanky. That’s the whole point.
I actually like “Warded”, it’s very positional, very informative, and difficult to describe in current tools. It’s exactly the type of problem that the radial menu would be perfect to solve.
For that I think the issue there is more “Where do we put this?”. Which is solvable (Another radial menu perhaps?).
If a team looks at the problemspace in more depth, I think that’ll be the real difficulty, thinking out in the blue.
My worry there is that of familiarity.
Anecdotal case: When we were first developing the radial menu, the left and right were actually swapped.
We actually had it internally for nearly 9 months before we released it IIRC (the team prioritized the then new HUD and the item shop above the radial menu so it got set aside for awhile). That’s a LOT of time to get familiar to something in play behavior.
Even now, personally, I will accidentally ping as though it was what it used to be because the menu optimized around muscle memory. We flipped it for good reasons, but it’s still quite disruptive as an individual.
That’s a type of disruption I would rather avoid if possible for other players. Again, muscle memory is super significant here.
That said, a few of us have played with the idea of other types of ping as well. Establishing a different input behavior rather than replacing an existing one could open us up to do more. (And it means we don’t let you guys sink in to the muscle memory case in the replacement version).
While we were doing a little texture update, we had a really fast, low-scope idea to help fix her up and make her into something other than a “remove ability to lane champion” and focus on the other identity she does have; AP super-carry.
We don’t balance around alternate maps. That’s why I don’t like the idea of more maps, because they erode the game for low benefit. I do think the proper way to FIGHT stagnation and staleness is to add identities to “why do I pick this champion instead of X?” Cass’s low-scope changes are an attempt to address that, as opposed to “I take her to beat the shit out of people when they can’t fight me.”
The top 200 challenger spots were protected by a concept called ‘clamping’ before Master Tier was introduced. This ensured the top 200 dudes on the server had both the highest LP and MMR. This greatly slowed gains and losses, making small gains appear normal. Removing clamping means gains (both up and down) are more fluid now. Since in some cases clamping was actually protecting players from falling down too quickly, these players will see some larger losses and smaller gains until they’re back where the system expects them to be.
In other tiers (bronze – plat) league standing is a very accurate mapping of player skill, but there is a buffer to slow players LP losses temporarily if they start to go on a losing trend. Since clamping was removed, but challenger and master must contain the very best players, the loss shielding is thinner in diamond than other tiers. In other words, gains and losses can feel more swingy.
Some of the gains and losses here do look a bit extreme but should become more stable over time. We’ll be monitoring how LP changes stabilize over the next few days and evaluating if we need to make adjustments or not based on the results.
This should have been more explicitly called out in our messaging around this to prepare players for the shift. I will work with the messaging team to update the original post around this.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.