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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

Mandrake Ward 3

[ 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.