The Future of Champ Select
Rioters have stepped in to discuss Champion Select and its issues with the community! What are their plans on improving player experience during those crucial minutes? Read on to find out!
Champion Select – a less toxic environment
Lyte: We want to take some time today to talk about Champion Select.
1) What are the problems?
2) What are some potential solutions?
The player behavior team has been running research on Champ Select and we agree that Champ Select is currently not a great environment and does not set teams up for success. We’ve all experienced Champ Selects that have erupted in arguments and had that sinking feeling that the game is lost before it even started. In saying this, there are plenty of Champ Select lobbies that are awesome and being positive and cooperative in every lobby does help; however, being positive by itself will not solve the problems in Champ Select and we don’t expect it to.
Solving player behavior problems in League of Legends requires collaboration between us and players and we haven’t done our part in Champ Select yet. As you can imagine, the problems (and any potential solutions) are complicated.
Something we’re seeing in our research is the influence of context.
Consider a player that’s having a bad day at work and nothing seems to be going right. This player goes home, and loads up some League of Legends thinking, “I really just want to be a Mage today—maybe Annie.” They enter a lobby, and second pick calls “Annie.” The first pick says, “fk, I’m mid, I want Twisted Fate. I’m first pick.” The lobby crumbles in front of the player and he doesn’t even want to throw his suggestion into the mix—it’s a lost battle. The team enters the game, and the player plays poorly… and his teammates yell at him. “You suck at Support, why didn’t you choose a Tank.” The player snaps. He rages back.
But you know what?
This player’s behavior isn’t toxic. He’s just like any one of us–we all have our bad days.
Let’s break down this scenario into some of the problems that we’d like to solve in Champ Select:
1) Real-Life Context | This scenario really illustrates how context outside the game can influence behavior inside the game. Traditionally, game studios don’t design or solve for context. Or can they?
2) In-Game Context | This scenario illustrates the conflict between Pick Order and Call Order. When there are literally no guidelines, at best, half of the players believe in Pick Order and half believe in Call Order—we’ve created a situation where conflicts are expected rather than rare.
3) Time Pressure | From psychology, we know that time pressure sometimes twists context in hostile ways. Players in Champ Select are effectively trying to negotiate with each other over individual goals (i.e, what role I want to play this game) that overlap with team goals (i.e, given this set of teammates, what’s the best strategy for us to win?). Studies suggest that throwing time pressure in there is like adding fuel to the fire—the end result is more disagreements and lower quality of negotiations.
4) Cognitive Biases | Hopefully davin will talk more about this, but people show cognitive bias in many ways. For example, many of us enter Champ Select thinking we are the best at whatever role we want to play—this is statistically impossible; however, there’s no reason to trust any of the strangers in the lobby. This really isn’t the players’ fault, it’s simply being human.
These are some major problems with Champ Select that we’ve identified in our research. So what’s next? A lot of players have suggested the following:
1) Vote Kick | Players want the ability to vote kick toxic players from Champ Select.
2) WoW Dungeon Finder | Players want the ability to queue up for a particular role like “Healer” and “DPS” and placed into a Champ Select with a team
3) Prisoner’s Island | Players want matchmaking to pair toxic players with toxic players, and positive players with positive players.
What are some pros and cons to these ideas? Would they work for League?
The Vote Kick System
This is my favorite because generally if there is a problem in pregame lobby it boils down to one particular unfriendly summeoner.
Vote kick is an interesting idea that has been suggested by players for quite awhile; however, what are some of the goals we’d like to accomplish for Champ Select?
One, we want to encourage cooperation in Champ Select. Two, we want players to have an ability to opt-out if they are ‘stuck’ with players they perceive are toxic or extremely negative. Vote-kick systems tend to give players an opt-out mechanism; however, they do not encourage cooperation.
In fact, in some scenarios vote-kick systems encourage premade groups to bully the strangers in the lobby into specific roles or champions. Given a scenario with 5 strangers, if 4 strangers happen to agree on roles and the 5th doesn’t, the 4 strangers are highly likely to collaborate to kick the 5th. Given a vote-kick system, we are likely to see more disagreements than before, and greatly increase the time it takes to get into a game.
WoW Dungeon Finder – type System
Allowing people to queue up for roles specifically would be the best approach, as long as it gives you the opportunity to play each role equally. Like it won’t look to drop you in a support slot unless the queue is over two minutes or something. Let a person specify what they’re best at and match them with those appropriate roles. One way of doing this is to put a label over the person’s name saying the role they got queued for – this creates a problem though because you might have people who like builds that don’t fit the meta, so by doing this you would be in fact committing Riot to the established meta at this point.
So when you match people together, you’d need some way of pairing together players who have agreed on a particular strategy or want to play in a certain way. Otherwise you might end up with two people who queued as best-at-Mid, and unless they’re fine playing Double Mid, you’d get some pretty similar behaviors going on.
This system is plagued by long queue timers and will further enforce the current meta.
Let’s talk about these two points a little. From a queue time standpoint, a standard-meta queue actually wouldn’t be too lengthy. When you take into account the multiple ways of playing support (Tank/Support/Kill Lane) and the players who are fine to fill all roles, you actually have around 15 to 20% of players being down for Jungle and Support (depending region and definition of those roles). So queue time may actually be less of an issue than it’d seem based on the popular perception of those roles as less-favored.
There may be other reasons why players aren’t volunteering support in Ranked even though we know they are probably down for it. There’s the potential for “have to carry your team!” perceptions pushing people out of the role, or the feeling of not being able to strongly influence what’s happening, etc. As a support main, I’m not in agreement with those ideas, but I definitely recognize they’re out there
Regardless, the dungeon-finder approach relies upon the idea of forcing a single ranked-style meta. And even though a ton of players do play the bruiser-top, mage-mid, carry/support bottom, jungle layout, there’s successful strategies that rely on assassins mid, jungle-mages, carry/support top, etc. I think a decent amount of players wouldn’t be down with a queue that only allows for one team layout.
I don’t actually like the “WoW Dungeon Finder” solution. When I queue up for ranked, I normally don’t have a preference for what I play. If we need a top this particular game, I’ll play top with no problems. If the next game someone calls top, mid, and jungler, I’ll gladly play ADC and do just as fine as I did top lane. I don’t want to be forced into deciding what role I’m going to play before I even find a game.
davin: This is definitely something to be cognizant of with any solution that is role/lane/champ pre-call based. There’s a decently-sized chunk of players who are happy to do whatever the team needs. Reactive picking is also a core component of the game when it comes to Draft Pick.
The “Prisoner Island” System
The truth is, there are some people who like to play in a more toxic environment where verbal abuse is the norm. It might be useful for those people to play against eachother. However, it presents a few problems – do you have parallel ladders? What if you want to duo queue with a non-toxic player? And, despite that, there still is almost nobody who actively wants to team with trolls/AFKers/etc. Not even the ragers/flamers. So I’m not sure how this is terribly different than banning them.
Lyte: This is one of the first discussions I’ve had on Prisoner’s Island where a player talks about the complexities of the system and how it would work with things like Ranked–these are great points.
I agree with you, Prisoner’s Island has some unique concerns. Does it make sense to have a global Ranked ladder if you can game the ladder and who you play with by behaving a certain way? This is also why the idea of the matchmaker using “Ignore” or “Mute” information to never match you with certain players has red flags–these types of features provide subtle ways for players to abuse the matchmaker to create matches that are more favorable in a competitive environment liked Ranked queues.
It would be difficult to implement Prisoner’s Island for Ranked Queues. But, I also believe it would be a poor player experience for Normal Queues as well.
I don’t see the Prisoner Island thing working.
Destroying with destroyers is a very odd thing to me.
davin: We actually agree here. Players are rather in favor of this, probably because it’s a pretty intuitively appealing approach (“just put jerks with jerks and let them be jerks forever / change to get out!”). From research we’ve done we know that players think this is a good idea (close to 75% of players, actually!). Lyte can talk some about why from a behavior standpoint it might actually end up doing more harm than good.
The issue I have with the prisoner island is simply, how does a player whose stuck in a toxic queue ever reform? As I see it, the ragers will just cause people who could reform to rage as well, and continue the cycle until either those players quit, or they make a smurf account, and continue to expand upon the issue of toxicity at lower levels that lol already has.
Lyte: When discussing Prisoner’s Island, this is an extremely important point. Let’s consider a thought exercise:
1) Let’s put 1 toxic player with 9 positive players
- In this scenario, does the toxic player improve his behavior over time, or do we simply ruin the experiences of 9 positive players?
2) Let’s put 10 toxic players together
- In this scenario, do any of the toxic players ever improve their behavior?
A core philosophy on the player behavior team is to make features that help toxic players reform. In many ways, a Prisoner’s Island feature encourages the opposite of reform.
Prisoner’s Island also creates some pretty weird scenarios for players. When players browse through the Tribunal Ban Inquiries forum, there are numerous players who use excessive verbal abuse and racial slurs in their matches; however, they lack the self-awareness or necessary feedback to understand how negative their behavior is. If these same players are on Prisoner’s Island, how many of them would understand why they were there, or how to get out? If players don’t believe they deserve to be on Prisoner’s Island and every other player there is just a jerkwad, doesn’t this encourage them to make new accounts to start over, off Prisoner’s Island?
If this scenario happens, what was the point of creating Prisoner’s Island?
Why the hate in Champion Select?
Status Kwoh: I think that the fear and concern that players have around role and champ select stems from a very natural place of wanting to do their best and have the team do their best.
Let’s look at the typical situation. I drop into champ select with the firm knowledge of being awesome at my favorite role or champion but with zero knowledge of how good anyone else is at the other roles. If I have a known, high, level of confidence in my ability but zero knowledge of another player’s ability, how much confidence and trust do I have in them taking it over me?
That thought process is usually where this behavior stems from. This is why we need to find strong and healthy ways for the game to smooth these situations out.
How can we help people feel more confident and build trust with their teammates pre-game so that players don’t feel the pressure that can lead to negative outbursts? This is the sort of discussions Lyte and I have been having a lot here at the office.
Win Ratio to be seen by teammates
[sic]How about a visual representation of a good win ratio? For example if you scroll over a person’s name and they have a win % above 60% in a certain role, a message besides their name will appear like “Star Jungler” or something. I don’t know exactly how you’ll determine what role they were playing but lolking does it pretty well so I’m sure you guys can figure out a pretty good system. This would make it so people who call roles they are actually good at are more likely to get them.
I believe if you’re a positive player you should be grouped with other such. I’m not a fan of the “prisoner island” concept, because what happens when you’re constantly surrounded by negative people? Making a haven for positive people creates a kind of reward system, where if you’re a good guy you’re more likely to play with other good guys, and thus you have incentive to be even better.
My last idea is expanding the first. It would be awesome to be able to click on an icon next to a Summoner’s name and see what their most played champs are. Like top 5. I’m not asking for win %’s because that can create a negative reaction, however, being able to see what a person plays most can give you an idea of what they’re good at.
Regarding showing the top 5 champions stat to players in Champ Select, we’re very intentional and deliberate when deciding what stats to show players. If we showed players the top 5 champions, doesn’t it create a perception that if the players are not playing one of their most experienced champions that the team is at a disadvantage?
But what about unortodox builds?
davin: Definitely an issue–if you’re doing role signalling (or any other kind of signalling, like just saying “I’ll support!” in chat and then picking revive/smite Yi and going bot), it forms a sort of informal contract with your team. It’d require different ways for players to resolve violations of that contract (e.g., reporting, kicking, etc.). Similarly, the way you’re playing may not meet the expectations of what “support” is. If it’s getting the job done (I’ve seen great Nid supports), are you actually violating that contract?
The art of balancing Queue Dodge penalties
Lyte: We’ve tested many different queue penalties in the history of League of Legends. If you don’t have any penalties at all, queue dodge rates skyrocket. Players leave for many diverse reasons:
- perhaps the team composition wasn’t optimal
- perhaps the opposing team composition was too strong
- perhaps they didn’t get their role
- perhaps they didn’t get their champion
- perhaps someone was being toxic
- perhaps someone was AFK
- perhaps the Captain didn’t do the drafting the way the team wanted
- perhaps a perceived OP champion was chosen by the enemy team
- perhaps a perceived UP champion was chosen by a teammate
What happens is you have more lobbies that end in a queue dodge than actually enter a game. However, when we introduced stronger penalties, queue dodge rates dropped by 50%. Changing and tweaking queue dodge penalties is an extremely tricky science. On one hand, we want players to be able to have an opt-out mechanism to get out of games that are definitely not going to be fun; however, if we have no penalties at all, the actual time it takes a player to hit “Play” and enter the game after several lobbies increases dramatically past 10 minutes. Micro-managing Champ Select lobbies really isn’t that fun, and we don’t want to encourage it.
You’ve won a game with X player
I don’t know how much this would help, but by prioritizing people you’ve won a game with and telling the player that they won a game with that other person, I feel that it would help. It would overall give players more trust in their teammates. Just a thought though I think it would work. Any feedback would be nice.
davin: There’s a bunch of ways you could use information about your friends or past people you’ve played with to do some cool stuff. It’s something we’ve brainstormed on in the past.
Templates for playstyle
You’d need to pick one or more templates and one or more roles within each template that you’re willing to play, and then the matchmaking queue would have to pick a template for the team and assign roles to each player according to what they were willing to play. Also, these preferences should be savable and nameable like mastery pages so that once you’ve set one up, you can reuse it infinitely.
In addition to eliminating conflicts over positioning in champ select, this would also address the problem of people disagreeing about conformance to “the meta”.
How real life affects your gameplay
Why does RL-context matter?
Just because someone has had a bad day should be no excuse for them to start raging at somebody.
If I have a bad day at work and come home and beat my wife would I get away with it just because I had a bad day? Hell no.
If someone comes into the game and is an arse they should be justly reported & warned.
RL context isn’t an excuse for players to behave negatively or in a toxic way; however, RL context is an important variable that designers need to consider when designing a game because RL context can influence how players play the game.
The question is, “Is it possible to design a game feature that reduces the impact of RL context?”
What if everyone could ban champions?
On an unrelated side note but in the vein of improving player options, if you ever increase bans to 5 per team, would it be reasonable to give 1 ban to each player instead of having the “captain” have full control? That way they can ban the characters they dislike playing against or added communication allows the team to pick things as a whole, and people have a harder time arguing that the whole ban period was “wasted”.
This might just end up with “all the other bans but mine were stupid”, and more likely to screw over a teammate, I suppose, but it was a thought.
Lyte: Hm, this is a neat idea. I’d have to spend more time thinking it through, but this would diffuse responsibility instead of the entire team hinging heavily on how the Captain structures the draft. Because every team member has a voice in the draft, it might encourage players to feel more invested into their team composition.
Lots to consider with this idea.
Riot has acknowledged the need for change in Champion Select and the community proposals are many and varied. Considering how many factors must be taken into account: player anxiety, real life issues, toxic behaviour, queue-dodging, etc. The solution probably lies in the middle of all the ideas mentioned.
Vote Kicking is a strong mechanism against single negative summoners, but can easily be abused to bully people or force a queue dodge.
A WoW Dungeon-finder system will alleviate some of the issues players have with conflicting lane and role interests, but will further streamline the game into the current metagame.
“The Prisoner Island” System focuses on condemning toxic players to a queue of their own, though this will only exacerbate the problem with negative attitudes, as it will in no way improve community relationships.
It’s important that players aren’t being forced into making defined choices in champion select just for the sake of reducing toxicity during that time. Therefore, presenting Win/Loss Ratios, player templates or preferable roles will likely not see popularity within the development team. However, some sort of specialization should be considered, as League of Legends is, above all, a team game and if everyone knows their job then cooperation can be more easily achieved.
Champion Select is a complex system on its own. So how can we make positive communication more appealing? By emphasizing on the team’s goal! You’re all in this together, so no one should be above the other in terms of decision-making. Giving everyone the right to ban one champion, or presenting the player’s best role in a way that doesn’t force him/her into a particular lane or champion pick, will go a long way towards improving the game experience as a whole!
Hopefully we see the results of this thread grow into a satisfying system in the near future!
As always, I would like to urge you to take part in these discussions! Riot values your opinion, if written in a constructive manner.