Sion Relaunch & The Community BetaFollowing up on the discussion from the last two days ( post #1 here, post #2 here ), IronStylus returned to the forums to chat a bit more about the Sion rework and how the team communicates with players.
When asked directly which upcoming relaunch he's looking forward to the most, IronStylus commented on Sion being a big point of excitement for the team and why he doesn't talk about all of the planned relaunches:
"Sion is what the team is mostly excited about at the moment. He's certainly going to take a while, I think they have a general paper kit in mind, and we've been doing some concept passes since last year. We've recently had a second "breaking meeting" where we solidify the direction and see if we agree with the pillars of theme, art, and design that we've come up with. Now that we've gone through that procedure, we'll bring back a bunch more concepts for review.
I think we all agree on the theme. Giant undead Noxian of legend. The trope of Gregor Clegane from Game of Thrones has popped up a lot.
If Design's preliminary ideas of his kit hold we will then have good traction. Right now they create no boundaries that would impede concepting clearly and moving onto the 3D model after that. He's the slowest burning of all of the current priorities.
Oh, and the reason I don't talk about all of our planned relaunches is a) I don't want to set expectations because some of them are in early concept phase and they might very well be thrown out for one reason or another and b) we do want to preserve some sense of surprise when we can. Some relaunches will be discussed in depth because they're well known to be persistent issues in the game, visually, thematically and mechanically. The Sions, the Poppys, etc. But some aren't in need of such a protracted R&D phase that we can effectively keep them under wraps and bring people a nice fresh piece of content out of the blue. Not every one of the champions on our 4-5 top priorities are in that area of extensive discussion. They're at various stages of pre-production, production, and post-production. We're crunching through them nicely and they'll be done when they're done. Giving the play-by-play isn't always productive or engaging. It's just work as usual.
That said, there's plenty to talk about and whenever I see a comment that I feel comfortable addressing, I do so."
IronStylus continued, discussing the problems with offering regular updates on relaunches while they are in the various stages of development:
"It's a big thread, unfortunately I haven't gotten to everything.
It'd be extremely difficult to give certain types of regular updates. It's just not feasible to do a day-to-day, nor is it a great idea to show off concepts or progress at different stages because it could all be thrown out, resulting in "The Omen Effect" (We throw something out for good reason, and.. "RITO, Y?!") I can guarantee, with each concept let's say, there will be an equal amount of people that like it or hate it. That's not going to make the decision any easier. You'd be astounded how intense discussions can get even internally. Breaking that open would be a little overwhelming.
What might be possible, is things like team members explaining where a certain character is at in it's pre-production, production, or post-production phase, but only if things are abundantly clear that at any point we could shift directions or that a release could be delayed or killed. Sometimes even the completion of content doesn't guarantee it's release.
Some of that is possible, some of it isn't. Also, I'll always throw in the caveat that we're only talking about an NA focused approach here. We have a property that's worldwide in it's reach. I'm not a data guy, but I would venture to guess that we should take a global approach to gathering feedback. That's one of the big reasons I'm not for polls and early concept reveals. Right now, due to the structure of our community, we can only effectively have the casual discussion (like this one) in a North American-centric venue. I don't think that's fair to the other territories, honestly.
You're right about feedback inertia, that's sometimes just the way it goes. We're not going to be able to make extreme changes on something past a certain point. That's why we're extremely deliberative in the early concept phase. It's a very delicate back and forth and a rigorous process of gut checks and review. At the same time, early exposure where we're at the most malleable phase as, again, some people will love a concept, others will hate it. Double edged sword. You no doubt see the conundrum.
It's a very tricky situation, one which I rack my brain about constantly in terms of how to address it properly. So, here I am, doing the best I can to explain what I can! Hopefully that counts for something."
When asked about the possibility of doing a big "play by play" of the rework process for champions who change dramatically ( i.e Sion ), IronStylus commented:
"I personally wouldn't have a problem with it, but that's definitely not my decision. The logistics would probably be difficult. It would be the call of our producer's."
He continued on the topic of the community wanting to see preliminary stuff, commenting on the forums being a less an ideal way to communicate these sort of things:
"I don't think that's going to happen, not right now, especially not with art. This is simply not the venue for it. Logistically it's also problematic, and if it's NA only interaction that's a big disservice to the rest of the world. It seems unfair to me to plug it into an English only system when we're a company that needs to provide content for the entire world. Also, in the current forum system this wouldn't be scalable. If something like it were to happen, it would have to happen in the new community beta format. Page after page feedback in threads like this would be impossible to parse. At the very least, in the new format, the emotional sentiments can coalesce around a comment which can be upvoted and what comments don't contribute to the conversation can sink.
Skins, Relaunch, Champions, all very different animals, also. It's one thing to be making fan art of skins. Endless possibilities and there's no IP or other such implications. Good ideas are good ideas no matter where they're cultivated from. Champion and Relaunch however, high subjective. They're much bigger beasts when it comes to ground-up creation from the character perspective."
IronStylus also offered up an example of how the new community beta site can offer a better communication experience:
"Scenario in the new community format:He continued, urging summoners to give the community site a try.
Topic: "Hey IronStylus, how's that Sion relaunch going?"
Text in thread: "I know you've said it's in progress and far off, but I'm wondering if you can share anything. Thanks!"
Most upvoted comment: "I was curious as to what thematic ideas you feel are good for Sion, I for one felt that while Sion's concept is cool, it's lacking solid legs to stand on. What choices are you making, or trying to make, to shore him up as a character?"
If that comment gets to the top, I'll probably answer it as such: "While things are still work in progress, we feel we have solid direction. Some key phrases are "Undead juggernaut", "Signifying the old glory of Noxus", and "Powerfully unstoppable". Those all translate into mechanic, thematic, and artistic hooks. With those directions, which are where we're currently aiming, we feel confident we can start executing on concepts."
I can then go into further detail in subsequent posts.
Buried comment: "Shut up Riot, we know you're just lazy, admit it."
This kind of comment gets sunk to the bottom, it's not helpful, it adds to the noise, and it disenfranchises people who are in the thread for a legitimate discussion.
Above is a relatively ideal scenario. Everyone who agrees with the top comment votes it up. I, or someone else, can look at it and be like.. "Ok, this is legit, let's address it." We then don't have page after page where we're skimming through what's a) sometimes just repeating of what the common sentiment is, b) littered with noise that can be emotionally taxing to filter and c) clogged to the point of being overwhelming, we can much more accurately address the feeling and the essence of the question being asked, not have to wade through pages to get 70 different ways of stating agreement or, hitting feedback that isn't helpful, lacks context, or is otherwise difficult to deal with.
That's why AMA's function well. We can guague which questions have traction. I don't go into threads for circle jerks, I go into them to see what I can answer. If someone asks me something politely, and valid, I will answer. The new system will ensure those questions rise to the top while others which aren't the community's primary concern, fall to the bottom.
I'm extremely excited as things progress towards the new community. I can be much more active and I can actually address big chunks of feedback and answer questions in a more direct and centralized way."
"It's a trade off. What I know for certain is that the vBulletin framework isn't going to be able to accommodate what the future holds. In the new community I may very well create a single section on Relaunch where intimate discussions are held, potentially across some language/geographic boundaries, where we can seek feedback or show progress. Currently in the beta I can see what messages come across my desk and respond. Do you know how extremely useful that is?
Either way, I'm going to be working a bit with the guys on the community beta side of things. Hoping to provide them some feedback and ask about certain features, a lot about how to tailor direct dev/player interactions especially about character creation. All I know for certain is that the GD system currently is a bit unsustainable. Look how a thread about VU's has been side tracked into this back and forth when the new system hasn't even been tested to it's fullest extent. This is a pretty classic derailment. Now we're the focus, pitching back and forth which is the best system when one hasn't even been shaken out.
If you're a doubter of the potential, or want to try it out, create the exact thread I'm suggesting and let's get to work, me and you, figure out what works and what doesn't. I'd love to use Sion as a framework. He's a complicated and long-term relaunch who the community is certainly going to be interested in.
Put your money where your mouth is. Start the thread, give me a link, I'll put it on my twitter to get some traction and we'll get the discussion going. No hard feelings, no sort of animosity at all, I very much am excited to see how such a system will work, if at all. For now, put it in the "Miscellaneous" sub-community until we have something more appropriate. Let's try it out."
As such, a community thread has been created regarding the Sion Relaunch. Feel free to chime in! Remember that as of the 1/31 Update, EU users can now post on the community beta.
[ Continued ] Doran's Shield Nerf Discussion
While his proposed Doran's Shield changes have still not hit the PBE for testing, Xypherous is back on the PBE community to discuss them!
Xypherous started out by replying to someone suggesting the price of Doran's Shield come down in addition to the purposed nerfs:
"Reducing Doran's Shield maximum Health drastically and dropping the cost has the following characteristics:
This creates the opposite characteristic in bottom lane - This further emphasizes early all-in patterns or burst patterns. Since regeneration is being so favored - you would likely simply see more burst and hard engage characters being played bottom lane. Since these characters are already the ones favored in the lane - it's hard to imagine this having any kind of positive effect. It exacerbates the current problem.
- You render harassment strategies worse - as they now have to deal with an extra potion.
- You render burst strategies far better - as there is now less health to burst through.
Again, Sona buying Doran's Shield is not the issue. It's a symptom.
Sona currently would need to buy Doran's Shield because all-in and burst patterns are too well supported. She needs to buy Doran's Shield to survive Leona - because she cannot harass Leona down to the point where to have a fighting chance when engaged upon.
The issue isn't 'We see too many Doran's Shields, let's change it so we see less of them.' That's not what nerfs are.
The strength of Doran's Shield is both stifling item picks and champion picks by negating a large set of characters."
Xypherous also replied to someone commenting that starting items feel very out of tune, commenting:
"I agree with the sentiment that our starting items aren't well tuned. As I said, we're in the process of cleaning up this item set in order to better support them. I didn't start on the cleanup task with Doran's Shield, I was actually focused on trying to streamline the duo lane starting items more - it's just become a major obstacle in addressing these items.
Basically, while doing the cleanup on the starting items like you've said - we realized that we would inevitably have to address Doran's Shield in order to give these items any semblance of practicality.
I'd rather get the proposed changes out on PBE earlier for more exposure to get a better picture of the effects of the change."
When asked why the item even has three stats if there is too much grey area on what the item is for, Xypherous replied:
"We have to muck around in a lot of halfway states because victory or defeat in lane is a set of decisions and you have to kind of manage the maximum effect each decision can either benefit or hinder you.
It's always kind of messy - but we have to avoid the state where 'Oh, wrong starting item, I guess I lose the lane.'
I admit that it's not the most aesthetically pleasing or even clear answers - but it's a matter of outcomes - How far behind should you be if you picked an incorrect item? How far behind should you be if your enemy picked the correct item? Do your actions in lane matter at that point?
I agree it leads to looking wishy-washy - but at the end of the day, we don't want to make 'Starting Item Selection: The Game' since ideally your decisions in lane about how you fight or how well you know your character should matter and not be drowned out by mere an item choice.
We strive to strike a balance between how impactful your champion selection is versus how big your starting item selection is versus the player's familiarity with his champion and the synergy he has with his lane or lane partner. Items are one of those things that can easily negate all the other choices you have."