State of the Season: Mid-season followup
It’s been about a month since the Mid-Season changes went out, and we’d like to share some thoughts on how things are looking. We’d also like to talk a little about what we’ve got planned for the next little while, gameplay-wise. In other words, we’ll be talking about champions, items, jungle objectives, and so on, but not features like the new client, matchmaking, skins, etc.
The Game Right Now:
- We’re happy with the elemental dragons so far, both the amount they’re fought over and the variety they create game to game.
- We’ve seen some clarity issues with the runes in the dragon pit and the scoreboard icons, recent changes seem to have mainly addressed those issues though.
- We have been getting a lot of feedback that the Cloud buff is weak. Looking at how each buff contributes to a team’s chance of winning the game, however, tells us the buffs are statistically pretty close to each other. We’re looking atappreciability of what each buff gives you at present as a result, rather than adding or removing raw power.
- The Cloud buff is also the most execution-dependent buff, empowering coordinated teams in particular, so we also want to see how it performs in pro play before considering any possible changes. Power adjustments might be appropriate at some point, right now we don’t think they’re the right tool to be looking at though.
- So far we’re seeing Rift Herald be impactful when it’s taken. It noticeably increases a team’s odds of winning, but not to the extent of one of the dragon buffs.
- Shifting to a single spawn, extremely long buff duration approach also seems to have created more interesting decisions around when to take it and who to give it to, which was one of our primary goals behind the changes.
- A lot of teams have been slow to pick up on the Rift Herald changes, and so aren’t yet taking it when they should though. That’s not unexpected, given it takes a while for playstyles to adjust.
- We don’t have any changes planned for Rift Herald at present, keeping a close eye on it though.
- We’re getting individual champion balance under control again post Mid-Season, which should put us in a position to get a better read on how the kit changes (from a non-power perspective) are playing out.
- Some of the kit changes look pretty successful so far (e.g. Malz passive creating a healthier playstyle or Zyra capturing more of a plant queen feel).
- Some are still under assessment (Brand, for example looks reasonable but we just haven’t seen enough play on him yet to judge success or not).
- Vel’Koz at least doesn’t seem to have hit the mark, with his ability to pull of a successful ultimate too restricted by the changes. We’re making some follow up changes to him as a result, allowing his ult to again contribute some stacks towards his passive.
- Are performing as hoped so far. We are still seeing a lot of shifts in terms of which AP champions are popular though, and which items get built. We’re waiting for longer term patterns to emerge as a result, so far things seem reasonable though.
- Protobelt looks weak, but we’d rather start low, and buff where needed, given the potential power a dash on an item involves.
- Long term, we’d like to add another AP+20% CDR item that fills a clearly different niche than Morello’s. Goal there would be to offer more build flexibility (old Athene’s, by contrast, was too heavily overlapped with Morello’s, with one of the two items always dominating the other for most champions).
- Early days for her yet, particularly given she’s got a noticeable learning curve.
- She seems to be doing the desired sort of things, although it also looks like she’s a bit underpowered on average. Her performance when played by people with a lot of experience on her is pretty reasonable, however. We’re going with two sets of small buffs as a result, checking between each to make sure we’re not overdoing it.
Has settled into a reasonable spot. Main issue at present is that his ult’s still too hard to make out in busy fights, despite some visual improvements in 6.10. We’ve got further adjustments in 6.11 as a result that will hopefully address the problem.
We’ll also be investigating some form of universal ‘this champion is invulnerable and won’t take damage at present’ visual language at some point to make it easier to tell at a glance who’s currently immune to damage (Taric ult, Trynd ult, Kindred ult etc).
Seem to be around the right length post mid-season changes. We are seeing some games stretch out, with a few more back and forth stalemates. Some of those are slower games, some are pretty action filled, so that’s a reasonable-but-could-be-better outcome from our perspective (stringing a lot of words together there).
We’re not seeing as many ‘Clean up 5 turrets and the nexus from a single teamfight before super late game,’ however, which is a clearer win.
Look noticeably more lethal early game and a bit tankier overall. They haven’t changed dramatically, which is as intended. We didn’t want to kill early diving completely or substantially increase laning duration or overall game time.
Jungle Camp Timers
We’re still assessing these. Our primary goal with the addition of the timers was to encourage more conflict around the red and blue buff camps, and we are seeing that occur. We’re still determining whether the timers shut down some types of jungler too much, however. That’s a concern that was raised before the timers’ release that we’re still seeing some ongoing discussion about.
The other concern we’ve seen raised a fair bit is that these timers dumb down the game. Our feeling is that they shift mastery from one action to another. Without the timers, players were being tested on their ability to determine blue/red respawn times by noticing when enemy champions had red or blue buff then using the remaining buff duration to determine the next camp spawn time. With buff timers, that’s no longer a point of mastery. There is more focus and need to deal with invades, or the threat of invades, which tests a different set of skills. If we’re comfortable with the above point (do timers overprioritize certain junglers?), we’re okay with this skill tradeoff.
Future Gameplay Plans:
We’ll be making balance changes in the upcoming patches as usual. We’ve also got some points of focus for the next little while too. We’re currently in an unusual place where we’re able to talk with a fair bit of confidence about some of our upcoming gameplay plans, so we’re trying that out as an experiment. It won’t be something we can do all the time, however, as work is generally too fluid in terms of exactly what’s in a patch or sometimes even which piece of work will be ready for release first.
It’s also important to note that these are planned, not guaranteed. It’s still possible things might change.
Changes to a few champions, items and systems on ARAM.
Champion Mastery on both Howling Abyss and Twisted Treeline.
Adjustments to around half a dozen items, most of them regularly used by marksmen, with the goal of restoring some balance between Ghostblade/Black Cleaver and other builds on some champs.
A focused patch on the support position, looking at things like support XP, tweaks to a few items that aren’t hitting the mark (e.g. Ruby Sightstone or Forbidden Idol), small buffs to some champs that often go support, etc.
This is not a large class update like the one we recently did for mages, but instead a collection of small changes we can get out quickly.
Improvements to how Champion Mastery Grades are calculated for supports.
6.14 – 6.15
Balance, with some focus on Worlds Qualifiers. Qualifiers are expected to be mainly played on 6.15, so we’ll have a number of pro play focused changes in 6.14, with 6.15 a smaller patch (gameplay-wise) with time put aside to address any unintended effects from 6.14.
Potentially some ARAM followup work too, depending on whether we see any major emergent issues after the 6.12 changes.
Balance, with a focus on Worlds. Similar pattern to the qualifiers, with changes more pro play focused than the rest of the year in 6.16+6.17. 6.18 is set aside in large part for followup on any issues introduced in the previous two patches.
Somewhere in that run of patches
The Ryze update (full visual, audio overhaul, plus some kit changes that have a focus on balanceability, game health and distinctiveness)
At least one new champion.
And of course plenty of other things that are outside the topic of this post.
And that’s about it for this State of the Game – we’ll see you next time. Let me know on the Dev Corner what else you’d like to see from these, and we’ll be around to answer questions there.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.