Red Post Collection: Morello on Nerfing Responsibly, Rengar & Skarner Discussion, Fate of "Mage Fortune" and more!

Posted on at 10:06 PM by Moobeat
Tonight's red post collection features Morello with smorgasbord of posts concerning recent balance trends, specific champions of interest ( such as Gragas, Lee Sin, and Pantheon ), and more! You'll also find posts relating to the Rengar rework,  more on Skarner's rework follow through, ricklessabandon discussing the fate of "Mage Fortune", and  Kitae chiming in on the "Plot is Highly Overrated" quote.
Continue reading for more information!

Please Nerf Responsibly

In a forum thread urging the balance team to "please nerf responsibly" and not go overboard with changes, Morello entered the fray to discussed the team's recent performance and chatted about several hot balance issues directly.
"We agree; we never want to go overboard on something unless there's something that demands immediate attention. We've not been consistent about this from an execution standpoint, and a lot of that is due to not centralizing how we make these decisions enough. 
This essentially means that since we've been working more "loosely", we've had some problems all getting on the same page (or how to, sometimes!) with each other on how to best address certain problems. This creates inconsistency, which makes it hard to tell where smoke leads to fire for players. This makes it hard to parse feedback on our end, since players don't have a good rubric to look at what changes will pan out and which ones might be too far.

With some better communication and consistency on our part, I think we can nerf more appropriately for a problem. Of course we will make changes for the reasons you mentioned, but I think we can do better on execution. I'd like the results of this to speak for themselves a bit in the next several months."

He continued, discussing Pantheon as a standout champion for immediate attention and "Olafing":
"I think Pantheon is a high-profile one that does. The real solution (time and art bandwidth not withstanding) would be to modify a skill like Q to have more gameplay. In the meantime, we will have to address power. Some of the PBE stuff is a first swipe at that, but we're still discussing the right changes. 
I think one of the biggest weaknesses we've had is appropriate follow-through. "Olafing" being the best example of this. Let's go on a journey... 
When we need to nerf something that has huge game-warping implications, this can be pretty straight-forward if the champion in question has otherwise good gameplay and is overtuned. We can basically do a lot of work to look at the number tuning, modify over time and generally get it right.

Where this is really hard is champions who are binary in their power: either strong enough you must pick them, or not (which leads to never using the champion). Most of the champions are characterized by poor tradeoffs in their kit, or "false" weaknesses - weaknesses that don't effect the champion much.

So, in these cases, we need to do something fast to make sure other people can be used, but we also have a lot to fix to make sure the character has tradeoffs and can be strong or weak depending on the context of the game, player skill comparisons, matchups, and other factors. 
My assessment of what makes players the most frustrated and makes us lose trust is right here. If we had good follow-through here consistently, players (who tend to be reasonable more often than not) then would probably go "this sucks now, but I get it - OK, this will get us to a better place."

This is something I'm...let's say passionate...about fixing this year. It's not due to lack of desire, but lack of ability to always prioritize the right things. Gragas' changes should be a much clearer window of the world we want to live in."
When asked to elaborate on his comments of "false" weaknesses, he replied:
"A false weakness would be Nasus' early game. He ramps up, so his Q looks like it'd be bad early game/good late, but the high sustain makes this not matter. Nasus plays what game he's going to play, and the opponent is window dressing to that.

A true weakness would be Kog'Maw's mobility. He plays like a sniper in FPS - untouchable in his zone, and defenseless in yours. This makes Kog have good contextual power overall, and makes him a healthy champion."

Morello also briefly commented on Ghostcralwer's contribution to the balance team, saying:
"Hilariously, GC even has less impact and interaction on game balance here as he's focused on helping on other areas (ie most of the ones I don't spend a lot of time with!) I chuckle when I see him get blamed for unpopular nerfs - getting blamed for that is my job!"

He continued on, sharing this thoughts on specific champions.

When asked about Nidalee, he commented:
"Quote:

@Morello
I have a question for you.
Do riot have a plan regarding nidalle? Her current state is toxic to the game i think it would be reasonable to shift her power from Q to cougar form or make missing a Q punishing by larger cd if it dont hit the champion or simply increase the mana cost of this skill.
Not prioritized, but we totally agree here. This is the exact breakdown we see in what's wrong with Nidalee"
As for Pantheon and his recent PBE changes, Morello commented:
"We're still messing with Pantheon. PBE is for the kind of feedback we get there!"

When asked about Gragas and the choice to give him a rework instead of number changes, Morello explained:
"When looking at Grags, we had to make a choice. Most of Gragas' unique functionality was that of a great tank. That's not really compatable with a good burst. 
In this case, this is due to: 
1) Grag's ult is a huge utility move. If it does high damage and utility, we'd have had to make it unreliable. Tanks, on the other hand, do need some stability in their engage or fight-starting pattern. 
2) Gragas is a fat guy with a barrel. It is a bit weird if he's not tough (and toughness/time to kill should be inversely related). 
3) It allowed us to put more utility functions on his kit, since most tanks need that. This coincides with the big team-related plays and functions Gragas already provides.

In essence, it's because they were mutually exclusive, and for the reasons above, we chose tank."
He continued, replying to an unsatisfied summoner who referred to the Gragas rework as "butchered":
"If you consider Kassadin and Grags butchering, you basically will hate 95% of changes to this game when we are doing them right."

As for the Lee Sin changes that have been floating about, Morello commented:
"We're looking to pair back on Lee to just do the W change first (IE you can actually catch him, it punishes mistakes well, and makes the team-oriented case more important in relation) and keep watch on the state of him sans Vi and Elise as domineering junglers."

When asked about Renekton and why he hasn't been looked over yet, Morello replied:
"Renekton is complicated. I won't do this one justice as much as Statikk will, but I'll give it my best. 
Basically, Renekton is very dominant. He's the standard we judge power by. That's clearly something that's not good. The issue is that Renekton is the least-bad result on who that can be, and we have a lot of fears that who comes in and replaces him would be as dominant and even more of a mess. Again, this is one that requires some insight from dudes on the ground here - we do think Rene is the lesser of multiple evils in the short-term (and long-term role definitions for fighters take time).

Reworks (Rengar) aren't intended to just buff characters. I think Kassadin's is a good model (and the best learning from what's wrong on Skarner), though. It should communicate why you should be excited about playing the champion, and the current one might not be there yet. Though we're not looking to just buff his existing pattern."

Morello also briefly commented on Diana, saying:
"I actually have a direction on this that might be stupid, and likely is. Let me figure out how dumb it is via testing and I'll have more information :P

The real question is: Is Diana an assassin or a bruiser? That distinction chooses which fixes to go with. Items allowing for both is a nice thing to do, if possible, but I can't put all my chips on that #."
He continued:
"I actually have a position that numbers and role shifting can get her there. Want to give it a shot."

When asked about his thoughts on "sustain" supports and their lack of itemization, he commented:
"Sustain supports are not the classification I look at, but the "traditional" support (more helping with direct spells) do need better itemization. Right now, actives weaken the identity of supports (by the end of the game, top games have as many bought skills as not) as you're best picking someone who can win lane and is a great vehicle for these powerful, necessary effects."
Continuing the itemization discussion, Morello replied to a summoner commenting that "light fighters" - those  who survive by using tricks and skills rather than brute force - lack proper itemization.
"I think this is true only of light fighters, who have a role on the team (Have you been talking to Xypherous? He's been calling these guys light fighters and classifying it similarly too). What do other guys do in a teamfight? Everything? I think that's the problem on the majority. And that will hold light fighters back even if they did have the right items, because all your darting around and moving about just bounces off or gets punished by characters who overwhelm."

Rengar Rework Discussion

Now that it's on the PBE for testing, Riot Scruffy jumped on the forums to chat a bit about the Rengar rework!

When asked why Rengar was chosen for a rework over other chamapions, he commented:
"There are a lot of champions that we want to make improvements to including Sion. We work on many projects at a time and some (like Sion) just take longer to finish. Rengar recently got a bunch of nerfs, and we wanted to follow up reasonably quickly with a rework so that he wouldn't have to stay in a nerfed state for a long time."


When asked why they chose not to go with the Ferocity decay in favor of losing it at once, Scruffy commented:
"In the end we removed the ferocity decay that we had tried out at first. The preparation element of choosing when and how to enter a gank/fight was actually a really cool and strategic element that we felt Rengar lost with the changes."

Regarding feedback that Rengar's Q feels a little lack luster, he commented:
"We put in some changes over the weekend that will make the base Q feel better (faster next attack after base q by 40%). It was definitely feeling a bit sluggish.

Q is actually better for leveling than people think: the lowered cooldown is a really big deal. At higher ranks Q becomes a ferocity machine which creates more opportunities for Rengar to make big moves with the ferocity abilities. I still rank Q first, but I wouldn't say W and E are bad choices but they are just more defensive."


Scruffy also commented on how Rengar's jungle is shaping up with this rework:
"From what we've seen, jungle Rengar's clear is nearly the same as it is on live. We will do a bunch of number crunching and testing to make sure that it isn't affected. He gains a lot more ferocity at early levels, which makes up for the attack speed loss on Q. Also empowered Q's attack speed and attack damage is pretty heavily buffed."

He also replied to a series of questions regarding why there is a bonus AD steroid on Q, if there was a chance to add a vision component to E, what happened to the ferocity refund a missed empowered E, and what happened to the trap iteration of Rengar's BTN:
"I'll answer what I can: 
-Q AD bonus is there so that it creates a really powerful buff for Rengar that doesn't just affect his basic attacks but his abilities too 
-Adding vision to E is a lot of power but we can take a look at it if its only for a brief moment (no guarantees here).

-E ferocity refund is still an ongoing discussion. I'm assuming that you liked it? 
-The R vision was bugged on PBE that should be fixed.

-The bonetooth active with the trap was pretty cool but almost everyone just wanted a ward or sweeper so we went back to those versions. The trap is a great ability though that could be used at some point on another champ"
Continuing on the topic of Bonetooth Necklace:
"It's true that the bonetooth itself isn't providing amazingly compelling gameplay but it's just another small thing that makes Rengar unique as a character. We think that there are a lot of other interesting things going on in Rengar's abilities, so it's ok in a case like this that we aren't adding a ton of additional complexity."

When asked if it was intentional that Rengar's empowered abilities don't scale with ability rank, Scruffy commented:
"We are actually specifically decoupling the empowered abilities from the base ability rank ups so that all 3 empowered abilities are a possible choice regardless of what skills you are leveling."

[Continued] Skarner Rework Follow Through

Following what Morello said earlier, Riot Scruffy returned to the "Skarner Rework Follow Through" thread to note:
"To speak to what we have learned from the work so far on Skarner, we targeted making changes that would positively affect the gameplay and interactions on the character but didn't go far enough on improving him in ways that make him an exciting and unique character. We tried to keep the scope of the changes smaller to preserve as much of Skarner's current gameplay as we could but we think that in the end he will need some more upgrades to be a character that we can all be excited about.

In the present and immediate future, we will keep balancing Skarner and make sure he's a viable pick. You should definitely expect to be able to play Skarner and be successful. In the long term Skarner could go for some changes that bring some more excitement and uniqueness to his kit."

Fate of "Mage Fortune"

ricklessabandon strutted into a thread discussing his tentative Miss Fortune changes to comment on the alternative "Mage Fortune" AP playstyle and what might become of it due to these changes:
"so, cutting straight to the point, it's relatively effortless to make ap scaling 'viable' and as such isn't something that i'm in need of suggestions for (though they are read/appreciated all the same). something i'm more interested in is why an ap scaling miss fortune is worth supporting at all. what is the joy in it? what are the differences in playstyle (between it and one of the ad builds) that are noticeable and deserving of preservation? i have my own answers to these questions, but i'm still interested in hearing from anyone that cares to share their own thoughts.

and to properly set expectations, this isn't a 'let's work together to save ap fortune!' thread—at the end of the day, nothing more might be done for her than what already exists on the pbe—this is an earnest attempt to understand what kinds of fun exist in 'off builds' and evaluate whether or not something is being lost."
He continued:
"Quote:

"Um... if it really takes 0 effort to make for fun builds viable, why doesn't every champ function this way?"
there are game health costs for doing so. costs that, if unmitigated, i'm personally not willing to pay purely for the sake of diversity. this affects marksmen pretty significantly as their teammates have expectations of them at the role level even before you get into champion specifics.

that said, we do have some champions that do this fairly elegantly, and i think it's both cool and good that they exist. i think the better examples have clear trade-offs while staying true to the champion's core identity with their traditional builds, and aren't just a matter of building one stat instead of another. i think ad malzahar is a good (though certainly not perfect) example of this as he opts into caring much more about voidling management, yet still provides similar levels of utility, wave clear, and single-target sustained dps that the other 9 players have come to expect from him."

[ Continued ] "Plot is Highly Overrated"

Continuing the discussion on the quote "Plot is highly overrated", Kitae chimed in to share her thoughts on narrative , in game lore experiences, and more!
"Lots of good discussion here. Lots of passion for story. 
I work with Tom and saw the presentation, he loves narrative. We love narrative. We want to bring you narrative and yes that includes interesting plot. 
The talk was about effective narrative design which is how you implement story in games.

Many game devs approach narrative design as "hey I wrote this cool story let's stick it in game". This really doesn't work. We have all played games where the story is distracting from gameplay and isn't very good. 
You have to be thoughtful about the in game experience and have the right story to tell in game. For most games Character development is a better match for gameplay than communicating plot. In LoL for example we establish character through art, animation, VoiceOver, emotes. We also do character interactions like taunts and attack lines for specific champions. This works with our gameplay. By focusing on character, we help players fall in love with champions. When players fall in love with champions, they get interested in stories involving those champions which drives passion for story. We then deliver that story outside of the game experience. 
We do selectively do integrate story with gameplay but we tend to do that as a bookend (before or after the game). Examples include login screen VO and Lissandra's VoiceOver at endgame in the howling abyss. We also do put in plot related Easter eggs when we see a good fit like some of the shopkeeper ambient VoiceOver in the howling abyss. Isnt't integrated into gameplay but it is available for those who look for it, 
So if you are a player who loves story, and wants to see more stories told outside of game, you should be happy Tom is advocating this position. It shows he values in game character development, and understands that for LoL the best way to tell stories is out of game. You are going to get better stories with that approach. 
With all of this said - we need to do a better job of actually delivering stories for you guys outside of game. That is something both Tom and I are pushing for. I am not asking you guys to stop demanding more story, in fact I welcome it, and we will make you guys happy by delivering more out of game story not by making promises. I know you guys want more visibility as well. Also working on that.

<3 to plot"

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