Edit: Lyte answered some more questions that have been added to the bottom of this post. For your convenience, I have included a line of blue asterisks so you can easily see where the new stuff begins.
Earlier today, Lyte and Davin participated in an "Ask Me Anything" about the new Team Builder queue on reddit!
Earlier today, Lyte and Davin participated in an "Ask Me Anything" about the new Team Builder queue on reddit!
As stated, the Rioters that participated in this AMA are
- Lyte, the Lead Social Systems Designer ( reddit account, twitter )
- Davin, the Senior User Researcher ( reddit account, twitter )
On to the Q&A! As usual, some of the questions may have been streamlined or summarized for clairity:
Q. When is it coming out on client?
A. "We're going to try an iterative approach with Team Builder--this means that we're going on PBE fairly early and going to work with players directly on the feature.
We recently held our first PBE test where we got some great feedback testing a limited version of Team Builder, and are working hard on incorporating some of the feedback before we do another PBE test. At this time, there's no timeline for when it's coming to Live. The feature is extremely complicated, and re-designs a lot of the standard player experiences in League of Legends Champion Select so we want to make sure we do it right." - Lyte
Q. When will it be on the PBE again?
A. "We're not sure yet. We're still incorporating feedback from the last test, and will be sure to post an announcement on the PBE Forums a day in advance of the next test." - Lyte
Q. Can you queue up for a single role but with multiple champions?
A. "Right now, you can only queue up as a single role and a single champion. One of the main goals of Team Builder is to ensure that queue times/Champion Select times remain reasonable. We understand that players are willing to wait a bit longer to get a better match or better teammates but we don't want players to wait too long either--it's a tricky balance.
Because we're trying so many new ideas in Team Builder, we're starting with basic functionality for many features in Team Builder--only selecting 1 role, only selecting 1 champion, etc. As we collect the data and determine things like the current wait times to get a match for each role/champion, we can figure out if there's additional value in giving players even more flexibility and allowing things like multi-champion select or multi-role select." - Lyte
Q. Once your team is built, do you instantly go into loading against the team against which you are paired, or is there time to select summoners, runes, and masteries?
A. "Players can adjust their Summoners, Runes and Masteries in the group lobby. Once a team composition is settled and a team is built, your team instantly goes into loading screen against another team." - Lyte
Q. Do you get to see the other team while doing the above?
A. "You do not get to see the other team while adjusting your Summoners/Runes/Masteries, and only see the opposing team on the loading screen." - Lyte
Q. Will there be a Draft Mode for Team Builder?
A. "Because we're taking development one step at a time for Team Builder, we haven't incorporated bans or drafting in Team Builder. We're going to work on the core experience first, then slowly expand and test additional features of the Champion Select experience." - Lyte
Q. Is this Summoner's Rift only, or will it be on the Twisted Treeline and Crystal Scar as well?
A. "Initially, Team Builder will be Summoner's Rift only." - Lyte
Q. How much do you expect this to affect queue times?
A. "Recently we did a PBE test of Team Builder, and the queue time data was very promising. Queue times are something we're going to keep an eye on throughout the development process. We know queue times will increase by a small amount, but the key is determining whether the increase in queue times was worth the better teammates and matches that players are getting." - Lyte
Q. Any chance of adding a ready check system for normal/ranked party mode? It would be nice for the party host to know if everyone was ready or if they were changing runes, masteries, or shopping.
A. "There is a ready-check type system in Team Builder already ;)" - Lyte
Q. But what about normal/ranked queue? Shouldn't they also have ready-check type system?
A. "It depends what we learn from Team Builder's 'Ready Check' and whether it's valuable enough to add to the other queues.
There's at least a dozen different ideas and experiments in Team Builder, and depending on the data we see, we may incorporate some or all of these into the other queues." - Lyte
Q. In the future, will there be a way to incorporate this kind of system into ranked matches?
A. "Team Builder is going to be an independent queue initially. We're trying a lot of experiments and taking a lot of risks in Team Builder, so we're taking development one step at a time.
Depending on what we learn from the experiments in Team Builder's independent queue, we may incorporate some or all of the lessons into other queues like Ranked.
We're well-aware and agree that Team Builder in its current form is not a good fit for Ranked, which is why if we do anything similar for Ranked, it'll probably look like a completely different feature. For example, part of the strategy and fun of Ranked is counterpicking and drafting and right now, Team Builder doesn't support those things." - Lyte
Q. Can you can you queue up with 2-3 friends for a normal game and use Team Builder?
A. "Yes, as a Captain you can invite your 2-3 friends into your group and then all select your role, position and champion. Then, the Captain can select a role and position for the open slots left on the team and ask the Team Builder system to find solo players to help fill your team.
The system will start suggesting players to your team and once your team is built, you're off into a game." - Lyte
Q. Is Team Builder going to restrict champion picks to certain roles?
A. "Nope. One of the key things about Team Builder is allowing more flexibility and creativity to exist in League of Legends; for example, it was really cool to see Zyra played as a Mage, but also develop as a top-tier Support. It's very difficult to predict all the ways players might use a champion, and we want to make sure that Team Builder allows players to play League however they want." - Lyte
Q. Is there any system to prevent team leader/captain from kicking too many people?
A. "Yes, Team Builder has a few anti-abuse systems in place so that if a Captain kicks too many players, they will put a cool-down on the Captain before they get another player suggested to them." - Lyte
Q. How do you implement "a lot of research on social dynamics and cooperation"? How do you obtain your data? How do you avoid the data being skewed in a particular direction? What steps do you guys take in order to minimize bias within the LoL community?
A. "We use a ton of different research techniques. Multi-modal is the name of the game for us. Data are gathered via representative random sample surveys (in client and out of client), exploratory lab studies, more formal lab experiments (with new and established players), and telemetry from the server.
To avoid skew and bias, we also do corrections and slicing based on psychographic and demographic information, and do international research to make sure we're not left with a big blind spot." - Davin
Q. Is there a number that you guys try to reach in order for a certain datum to be statistically significant? What is your poll-approach? Is it more skewed toward players that take the game more seriously? Is this system implemented for newer players to nullify some of the learning curves of LoL? How does this benefit the Challenger- and Diamond-level players of the game?
A. "The number depends on the type of statistical analysis we're trying to do (power analysis, basically), and the sampling approach is also done to try to ensure that sort of engagement skew doesn't happen.
The system isn't explicitly for new players, but we did care a lot about whether new players would do well with the system. One of the studies specifically focused on making sure Team Builder would be easy for brand-new players to use.
As for Diamond and Challenger and the like, it's its own queue, so it doesn't apply to ranked right now -- see some of Lyte's responses in this thread. It'd need some modifications to work for Ranked, for sure!" - Davin
Q. So you do actually have some consumer research-type work feeding into this? Beyond this, I'd really like to know a bit more about the consumer research side of things.
A. "There's a bunch of us researchers here, drawing from different disciplines. We use a lot of methods, but they're all oriented around the same basic goals (being data-informed instead of data-driven, understanding player experience, driving to make sure experiences are enjoyable and positive, etc.)
For big features like this that deal with very involved experiences, lots of research goes into them! Champions and the like also tend to be pretty involved from a study standpoint :)" - Davin
Q. Lyte stated that: "With Team Builder we’ll also be rolling out a smarter matchmaking system that can dynamically account for your experience with a given role, position or champion. First time playing Ahri? Learning how to be a solid Marksman? Venturing into the jungle for the first time? Team Builder’s matchmaking will take all of these factors into account." Does that mean that I will be playing with people who also don't play their role/champion very often? Just because I'm playing a champ for the first time doesn't mean I'm going to be bad with them, and wouldn't I want to be matched up with players that appropriately test my skills with the champion?
A. "The smarter matchmaking will pair you up with players that will appropriately challenge you.
As an example, if you were a Diamond Mage player and suddenly decided to start learning Marksman, the system wouldn't assume you were also a Diamond Marksman player. The system would try to find appropriate opponents to determine your actual skill level as a Marksman player currently, then slowly ramp up the difficulty of opponents until you're experienced as a Marksman." - Lyte
Q. Does the system assume all champs of a similar role type will be played with equivalent skill?
A. "The matchmaking system takes into account role and champion separately. So, it might recognize that you are a professional Marksman player, but more skilled and experienced with Ezreal than Quinn. This means the system will find appropriate opponents to help ramp up your experience when you are on Quinn." - Lyte
Q. Are you saying this will happen, or that it could possibly happen in a future iteration of this technology?
A. "This will happen, but just not on some of the PBE tests because on a low population server, we just want players to get into games and don't worry as much about fair matches." - Lyte
Q. Will it take into account your level of skill in the Team Builder queue only or in any queue?
A. "Initially, the system will focus on data from Team Builder queue because we don't have data about what role/position you played from the other queues--we only have champion played data from other places." - Lyte
Q. In which game modes will Team Builder be available?
A. "Initially, Team Builder will be an independent queue that only has the Summoner's Rift map. We're trying a lot of experiments with Team Builder, and it's effectively a complete re-design of the pre-game process we call Champion Select. Because we're testing so many new ideas in Team Builder and taking some pretty big risks, we're not assuming everything will work perfectly on the first run so we don't want to interfere with any other queue for now.
Depending on the lessons we learn, we may incorporate some or all of Team Builder into the other queues." - Lyte
Q. How will it work with unusual team setups, such as duo top or double jungle? Will it prevent them from happening altogether and set a default setup for all games?
A. "There's two flows--the solo player and the person setting up a team. The person setting up a team can set what role/lane combinations they're interested in having. So if you want to lead a team with duo top, you set that up, and then can find solo players who are queued for top in the role you've set. If they're down with your composition, then they'll ready up for it. If not, they'll get to go to another group." - Davin
Q. How long has this been in development? How much faith do you have in this working out well? Are you happy with results of testing you've gotten so far?
A. "I'm pretty optimistic about it. I think it makes for a very interesting collaborative setup and reduces the time pressure involved.
On the testing end, it's been pretty cool. There was a lot of research going into this--to prove out whether there was value in the idea and to iterate on the idea itself. Surveys and labs and all sorts of things that make me happy :)
On the data end, we at first assumed that there'd be roles that would have lower representation, but were pleasantly surprised that the distribution of favorite roles was pretty equitable.
There was also a pretty great set of testing where participants kept forgetting to pick their champions. There was one prototype where folks would set up their whole team, pick the lanes and the roles and all that... and then not figure out how to continue, because they hadn't picked a champion. Whoops. Usability!" - Davin
Q. How is Team Builder going to affect my friends and me as premades?
A. "It's made to make it super easy to play with your friends. If you're making a team, you have slots for friends and slots for solos. You just invite buddies until you're happy, and then define what solos you want to join you. Should make playing with friends more seamless, since you can find exactly the kind of role you're looking for to finish your composition--and know that the player you find is on board with your plan. There's also some matchmaking adjustments based on your experience in the role/champion you're going in with." - Davin
Q. Since I hate playing with premades, and I think a lot of people here share this hatred, will you ever add option that allows to play with no premades?
A. "There won't be an option to only play Team Builder without premades; however, we've been doing a lot of research on how we build teams and combine premades with solo players and have a few cool things in Team Builder that will make this a better experience for all players.
For example, in Team Builder, we won't be making teams with a duo, another duo, and a solo player because based on some new research from our labs and old research from social psychology, this isn't the best social composition that promotes cooperation and teamwork." - Lyte
Q. Why did you create Team Builder and what do you think it will provide for the LoL community?
A. "The underlying concept was to create something that allowed for more collaboration in the team creation process. The existing flow has a lot of pressures and issues--time constraints, limited information, trust--that make it difficult to collaborate. In Champion Select right now, you have very little time to decide who is doing what (and how!). You might not know most of the players unless you have some buddies with you. And because of that, it can be hard to trust that you're about to get into an experience that everyone will be cool with.
We wanted a system that would let folks play the way they want to and feel confident that their teammates wanted to play that way too." - Davin
Q. What are the strengths and weakness of Team Builder? How is it better/worse than the current queues?
A. "In a lot of our internal research, some of the main problems we identified about the current Champion Select were:
1) Time pressure - players are forced into a lobby with up to 4 strangers, and are asked to make a lot of stressful decisions about the team composition and strategy in about 90 seconds. This is not ideal!
2) Player intentions - players enter a game and simply have different expectations. Some players want to play to win every single game, while some players want to practice a new champion or try a crazy new strategy.
Team Builder directly tackles and solves the above issues by providing players with a way to communicate and collaborate without any time pressure, and it allows players to show their intentions and talk about their intentions prior to locking themselves into a game.
The weakest point of Team Builder is probably the small increase in queue times that we'll probably see; however, we know that players are willing and happy to wait a few minutes longer if they can get a guaranteed better match and better teammates." - Lyte
Q. How much 'wildcarding' is allowed? Can I queue as 'Zed, Assassin, anywhere,' or do I have to specify a lane?
A. "For now, Captains can select a few wildcards for the team; for example, I can ask Team Builder to find me a player who wants to play "Any Role" in the "Middle Lane."
However, players entering Team Builder as a solo player will always be asked to specify their role, position and champion for now." - Lyte
Q. Are you guys at all worried about captains that will only select the most overpowered or otherwise specific champions into their teams and what it might do the the queue in general?
A. "In our internal research, we were often surprised to see that players were very willing and happy to play with unorthodox champions. The most important thing to players was having great teammates.
We recently also did a limited test of Team Builder on PBE and saw some great games with champions like Heimerdinger in the Jungle, Karma as a Mage in the Middle (and Top!) and an unfortunate number of Teemos everywhere. :(
I think Team Builder will only support and increase the number of new strategies and unorthodox champions we see in games." - Lyte
A. "Something we studied early on was whether people would accept compositions that weren't 'Omega Top Tier Best Comp NA'. We simulated the feature in some studies and gauged response to compositions. Generally, people were pretty happy as long as the composition made sense (it didn't have to be standard meta, either).
Also, captains who reject too many players over and over will experience a cooldown on getting more solo players." - Davin
Q. It doesn't seem like Team Builder would be conducive to discovering champs that are strong in an unconventional role. How would we have figured out support Annie is legitimate with captains' being able to reject players with champions in roles they don't like?
A. "How did players see it in action in the past? Players still had to force Annie Support into games, and force other players to see it in action--that's not a great player experience.
With Team Builder, we've seen time and time again that players are willing to try new things--it's going to be easier to let players try and see an Annie Support with Team Builder." - Lyte
Q. "How did players see it in action in the past?" The competetive scene. Tabe from Royal Club used it and since then has been very popular. People usually needs to see it in the pro scene in order to be convinced it actually works.
A. "That's exactly my point. Team Builder doesn't stop the pro scene from trying crazy strategies, and doesn't stop players from seeing these developments.
Team Builder doesn't make it harder for players to try stuff like this out. When players see the pro scene changes, Team Builder makes it easier for you to jump in a group and try out Annie-Support immediately." - Lyte
Q. Can you select "fill" as your role of choice?
A. "If you're making the team, you can choose "any role" in a position of your choice (for example, any role / jungle), but if you're queuing up, you're still picking a position / role combination (for example, tank / jungle)." - Davin
Q. I should be able to pick multiple roles! If I'm good at 3 roles and want a shorter queue time, why can't I just have the system pick for me whichever position is needed most?
A. "It's certainly possible it'd be added in the future, if it ends up being something that's needed. We're starting with the most core functionality and seeing where we go from there!" - Davin
Q. How is it decided who creates the game? How will this interact with ranked?
A. "It is its own queue (so no ranked right now). You have three options for playing in the Team Builder queue:
1) You start a team as a captain, invite any players you want to invite, and then set up slots for solo players, specifying position and role. When you start searching for players, it'll find players meeting your specifications.
2) You join the queue as a solo player, choosing a champion, position, and role.
3) You get invited by a captain." - Davin
Q. Will it be possible to change the role of a champion in the Team Builder lobby?
A. "You choose when you're queuing what role you want to play a champion in. So if you want to play in a way that's not the most common one, you just choose it there! Like saying "Support Brand, Bottom Lane" or such." - Davin
Q. Have you considered how to deal with toxic players who recieve the role of captain, and kick people for no reason?
A. "The system has some safeguards to deal with that! If you abuse kicking, you get an increasing cooldown on the system matching players to your group.
As a clarification, you also directly choose whether to be a captain or a solo, so there's no luck of the draw in that--you're either queuing as a solo, getting directly invited, or creating a team composition." - Davin
Q. Do you think a system like Team Builder will enforce a 'lack of versatility' (i.e. players queueing up only for the role they like best/are best at)?
A. "We want to make it easier for folks to branch out into roles and champions they're less familiar with. In the Team Builder queue, there's adjustments on matchmaking based on your experience level with a role / champion." - Davin
Q. Why did you change your thoughts on this feature? Some time ago, it was stated, that something like this would not happen due to meta problems.
A. "We didn't want a hard-enforced exact-meta role system. This is a different approach to the same sort of problem set. So instead of every team always having the same composition and just having different champions within that composition, this system allows players to collaborate and play the way they want to play." - Davin
Q. Are these new matchmaking features going to be implemented in other queues too, or just team builder? Team Builder is going to be a separate queue, I know, but I haven't seen anything about role/champion experience affecting your matchmaking being applied to other queues.
A. "Because other queues currently do not support role or position selection, the only thing we can add is Champion experience adjustments.
We'll see how the smarter matchmaking works in Team Builder, then decide if it's worthwhile to add it to all queues." - Lyte
Q. How is Captain Chosen? Do you actually begin a game, selecting that you are Captain?
A. "In the last PBE test, it was very simple for players to become a Captain or Solo. Players simply chose 'Captain' then entered Team Builder and could setup a team composition, or they could choose 'Solo' and choose their own role, position and champion and then queue up for a team looking for their spec.
We may put additional requirements to becoming a Captain in the future, but we want to keep it simple and light for the initial testing." - Lyte
Q. "The system will start suggesting players to your team and once your team is built, you're off into a game." What do you mean by "suggesting players to your team"? Does that mean we get to pick from a pool of 5 that are in queue or what?
A. "This means that the system will offer you one player at a time, and the Captain gets to decide whether to Accept or Decline the player. Summoner Names are not revealed to the Captain at this time so the team can't do any scouting.
If the Captain abuses the system and declines too often, they will be hit by a few cool-downs before the system suggests another player." - Lyte
Q. Won't support queue be filled with 4 man premades? It's kind of awful currently to be the 5th in those kind of queues so I wonder if that is a problem or not?
A. "We agree, sometimes premade bullying is a problem; however, Team Builder actually improves this experience quite a bit.
Currently, a part of the reason why premades bully a solo is because they want the solo to fill a particular role or play a particular champion that is compatible with the rest of the premade comp--Team Builder solves all of this because the Captain of the premade can define who they want for their final slot, and they have to intentionally and manually accept a player who has a spec they agree with.
In a way, Team Builder solves a lot of the core reasons for why 4-man premades are sometimes poor experiences for the solo." - Lyte
Q. How often do you expect people to go for off-meta teams?
A. "We expect Team Builder to increase the number of games with teams that are using off-meta strategies or champions.
In fact, when we did the initial test on PBE with a limited version of Team Builder, a significant number of games had Heimerdingers ;) Quite a few games had double junglers, double mid players, and other creative strategies.
It sounds surprising but when you think about it, many of us want to try new strategies or play unorthodox champions--in Team Builder, it's always a nice surprise to find out that there are many other players that are just like you and want to try crazy new strategies with you." - Lyte
Q. You are really correlating that with Team Builder promoting off-meta strategies, and not the fact that the Heimerdinger rework was out on the PBE at the same time?
A. "There were quite a few unorthodox champions in play that didn't have reworks, for example, we saw quite a few Karma's playing as Mage Middle, and quite a few Marksmen at Top and Middle positions.
I was just making a joke that we saw a ton of Heimers at every position--the PBE popularity was obviously due to the rework, but it was nice to see Heimer being tried out at nearly every position in Team Builder and seeing teams have fun trying new stuff." - Lyte
Q. Lyte, as many I really loved your talk on shaping behavior in online video games and I believe the Team Builder is the next big step in this. Any chance we'll see more talks on this subject by you or any of your coworkers? Also, is there any material on the subject you'd recommend reading?
A. "We're working on some new talks in 2014, and will highlight a lot of the new lessons and experiments we've done since GDC 2013.
About recommended reading, I think you're going to see a lot more labs and academics talk about these topics in the upcoming year... ;)" - Lyte
Q. So if the leader decides that he/she wants the team to have a troll meta, will that team most likely face another team that has a troll meta?
A. "Teams are randomly matched together, so you aren't more likely to get a troll meta if you play a troll meta." - Lyte
Q. Sometimes, people like to do things that are against the meta like go all top champions or all ADC champions for the wombo combos. Will this new team builder allow that sort of activity?
A. "Team Builder will make trying out new strategies or compositions very easy to do. As a Captain in Team Builder, you get to define the strategy you want to play, then the system looks for players to fill the roles on your team." - Lyte
Q. If you get 'accepted' by a team while you're in queue, does the solo queuer get a chance to decline the team?
A. "Yes, an accepted player will join the lobby and be able to look at the current team composition and decide if they are interested. If they aren't, they simply hit a button that tells the system to find them another group." - Lyte
Q. What if a friend and I want to do double jungle? I feel like forcing roles forces the meta, and thus the game will evolve at a much slower pace, or halt completely.
A. "Team Builder doesn't force roles. As a Captain, if you want to try a double jungle strategy, you simply specify a double jungle strategy and Team Builder finds other players who are interested in doing that." - Lyte
Q. Is it obligatory? I mean, is it going to be the only way to queue?
A. "Nope, Team Builder will initially be a separate queue. The main reason we're keeping the queue independent is because we're trying a lot of new experiments and ideas in Team Builder. It's such a complicated re-design that we wanted to take things one step at a time without worrying about completely changing the experience of one of the other queues." - Lyte