Red Post Collection: NA Servers and the Future, Continued Preseason Discussion, Life steal vs Spell Vamp, and more!

Posted on at 3:17 AM by Moobeat
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Tonight's red post collection features RiotPDB with an announcement on the future of Riot's NA servers, continued discussion on the upcoming experimental preseason changes, Xypherous discussing the differences between life steal & spell vamp, and more!
Continue reading for more information!

NA Servers and the Future

Following yesterday's post regarding the upcoming server stability update for NA, RiotPDB has jumped on the forums to offer an update for NA users concerned about ping across the region and network optimization.
"Hey, everyone. I'm on the NA projects team and we want to clarify plans around NA’s future as a server. Currently, service is not equal across the region, and that sucks. Even worse, it feels like we’ve talked about plans to improve things for a long, long time with no real visible action taken. We currently have multiple projects aimed at addressing ping issues in NA, so read on.

Yesterday, we were so excited to start talking about the new server infrastructure build, but we chose our words poorly. While technically we’re rebuilding the servers from the ground up somewhere new, the word “migration” naturally sounds like we’re moving to a central location, which we’re not ready for just yet.

We want to apologize for the confusion, and do more than say “we’re working on it,” because you’ve all heard that before. Allow us to put the infrastructure rebuild into context and map out the three-phase plan we’ve outlined for NA. We can’t promise to dish details about everything because we’re still finalizing some projects, but we can give you a better idea of what we’re doing behind the curtain.

Right now, there are three main issues with the NA server environment:
  1. Out-of-date infrastructure (poor stability)
  2. ISP traffic routing (network optimization)
  3. Server location (ping distribution)
Ideally, we’d tackle all three at the same time, but these are big changes and we want to make sure we’re getting each one right before moving on to the next step. Measure twice, cut once.
  1. The Infrastructure team is leading the charge on building a new server infrastructure from the ground up to make sure the game experience is stable and more secure. Instability causes cascading problems like fluctuating ping, downtime, and poor service, so we want to address this challenge first. Expect a more stable connection on these shiny, sturdy servers this November.
  2. The Internet Optimization team is actively working with ISPs across the US and Canada to build what’s known as an internet backbone for League players. This backbone will decrease variances and chokepoints in connections across the region, resulting in a better optimized connection to those shiny new servers. Expect these internet superhighways to roll out in early 2015.
  3. Finally, our team is dedicated to scoping out what will ultimately be the new location that the NA servers and optimized backbone connections will call home. We aren’t ready to share where this new home will be or when this project team will be ready for prime-time, but we want you to know that the ultimate goal is providing a comparable, stable ping no matter which coast you’re playing from. As these first two projects finalize, we’ll know more and will be ready to share additional details.
Stay tuned for more info from us in the future!
  • RiotPDB, NA Projects Team"

Taric art and theme discussion

IronStylus has opened up an early, exploratory thread for players to talk about their opinions on Taric "as a character, visually and thematically".
"Got my eyes on him as of late. This isn't at all a confirmation of any release or production work any time soon, we're just snooping around the concept potential now.

A lot of people have a lot of different opinions on Taric, and many of them differ. This discussion has been had before, I'm sure it will be had again, but I'd like have you guys spitball some ideas. This isn't a mechanics discussion as much as it's an art and theme discussion. Taric as a character, visually and thematically.

There's a lot of nuance that people have gleaned from our Gem Knight, despite him being quite the old and outdated asset. Pizza feet, a whole 16 VO lines and a whole lotta gems. The line that we always have to walk is how to we retain/enhance/reconstruct what makes that champion special while also doing the hard work of an overhaul, which objectively, the character needs.

I maintain that Taric is an interesting and complex case. Almost a blank canvas due to how low fidelity and limited his in-game assets are and even the supporting story and themes around him. However, many people see different things when they see Taric. Be they enthusiasts or newcomers. It can be difficult to parse what's objective reality and what's been created and filled in by the player. Currently, one of my assumptions is that so many people have different projections as to what Taric is because right now there's no solid foundation as he exists. You can pretty much project whatever you like to on him, and currently, that projection tends to be a bit of a joke.

Despite that, there's great opportunity with Taric. But the question is.. what sort of opportunity? What do you see as important aspects to consider, to build upon, or to remake when it comes to Taric?

What would you do? Feel free to throw reference imagery here, personality write-ups, or just drop your 2 cents.

Thanks, guys!

EDIT: You guys are awesome. I'm reading every single one of these comments, just so you know. Keep them coming and don't be hesitent to post even if it's far down. I'm still skimming and reading! Gunna start another thread to ask for some reference that players think would help define Taric's look. Thanks again!"

In this follow up thread, IronStylus requested design references!
"Hey guys, 
So that other Taric thread is an amazing gold mine (or should I say GEM MINE! AHH? GET IT? Anyways..) of ideas and suggestions. The sentiments and discussions are absolutely fascinating and extremely helpful. I'm always floored by how insightful and thoughtful, you, our players are, and how in depth you go. You have no idea how valuable that insight is. 
What I'd like to ask for here is reference. As artists we constantly look at reference imagery for a number of reasons. Sometimes it's to look at anatomy, to make sure we're creating a body correctly. Other times it's for light or color, so we can see how a scheme will serve an illustration. In this case however, I'm looking for design reference. 
What does that mean? Armor! Gems! Motifs! Flourishes! Portraits! Anything that could be pointed to and said "Hey, I think Taric could incorporate elements from this!", or, "This image really hits me in the feels, those are the sort of feels I want to feel when I look at Taric." 
So while the last thread (which is still going strong, please continue to post in there) there was a lot of visual suggestions, explanations in written format sorta dominated. That's totally fine. Here I'd love to see you throw some images at me! 
Be sure to hop on the boards and leave your feedback!

[Continued] Experimental 2015 Preseason Discussion

With the recent announcements of the experimental preseason 2015 changes, the discussion has been storming on!

Before we jump into the new stuff, be sure to catch up on the original announcements:

When asked for specifics on some of the mentioned changes, Xypherous commented:
"We'll have more details in the upcoming days. Right now we're trying to get the whole system onto PBE as much as we can."

As for more on the upcoming changes to jungler itemization, Riot Axes elaborated:
"The items will focus on your job as the jungler, augmenting the kinds of actions junglers need to take (invasion, ganking, etc). Can't promise no junglers will ever just disappear into their jungle to farm forever, but the items generally encourage you to take action, not avoid it. 
Now, a successful counterjungler on one team might mean relatively few ganks for lanes - but it will be because of another pvp match happening on the map (directly through combat or indirectly through camp stealing), not because the junglers aren't interested in participating in a pvp game until 30 minutes go by or anything like that. We are looking at ways to let control of the jungle translate into better ability for your laners to roam, but that kind of system would be pretty light and you would not see ganking at today's frequency."
Fearless also noted they are tentatively toying around with an item that allows players to smite other players:
"So, we don't want to throw out too many details, just because there are a ton of elements in actual flux, and setting the expectation that anything is for sure, or here to stay is a real risk when we release details. 
With the caveat that this could still get pulled, changed, etc., one of the new jungle items allows you to use your Smite on enemy champions. Still figuring out what effect is going to be (damage + slow, just a crazy slow, ???). Mainly just very excited about the patterns that emerge when Smite has more pulls on its usage so that Smite becomes a multidimensional choice."

When asked about some form of new mastery specifically aimed at tanky junglers for the new season, Axes noted:
"A mastery won't really solve the problem, since a fair number of fighter junglers actually do opt to go deep in the Defense tree. It helps balance tank junglers and fighter junglers versus carry junglers, but it doesn't help a Sejuani more than it helps, say, a Lee Sin, because if it's really that powerful, Lee Sin is perfectly happy to opt into it.

Ensuring that we can keep tank junglers working has been one of the bigger headaches for the new items (which are not specific to roles), but I'm confident that we have the tools in place to do it. It's something I will definitely be monitoring."

Itemization - Life steal/Spell Vamp & Hybrid  

In the PBE boards thread discussing the upcoming and experimental preseason changes that will be hitting the PBE soon, Xypherous kicked up a few discussions on itemization in general rather than things planned to change during preseason.

Xypherous also explained the difference between life steal and spellvamp as a mechanic and why it can be difficult to itemize:
Sure. Let's think about lifesteal and how it is applied:

You attack with your basic attack.

You don't have to worry about it being AoE. You know it's always affected by armor. It's single target. It's continuous and not in a burst. It's applied from very controlled ranges. Perhaps most importantly, it's free and doesn't cost Mana.

Now let's think about spell vamp and how it is applied:

There are hundreds of different spells in the game, with different damage profiles - costs and cooldowns. Some of these have secondary effects. Some of these doesn't.

If you find a Spell Vamp that is good and decent for most of the spells - the edge cases - the spells that are low cooldown, cost, sustained, etc. will always cause Spell Vamp x these spells to be overpowered.

The problem with Spell Vamp is that it really isn't a basic statistic that can really bridge all these cases.

Spell Vamp items actually need to be tuned around the type of pattern that the magic damage is wrapped around - Are you making a Spell Vamp item for a burst character? Then the Spell Vamp needs to be strong, limited and have a cooldown. Are you making a spell vamp item for a sustained character? Small % with no cooldowns.

Making a Spell Vamp item for Veigar might be tricky. Do you tune around his Q? his W? His burst combo? Which pattern do you want to support? Because a basic statistic that makes all of these equally feel good immediately means that Karthus becomes an unstoppable monster because of his massive sustained damage pattern.

This is one of those cases where something broad enough to be good on Veigar - actually would nerf Veigar's viability if it was released because one of the characters he would be most susceptible to benefits more.
Xypherous continued, digging deeper into spell vamp and the problems with sustain for mages:
"The answer to "why not" is always Akali. 
Less facetiously, burst damage + Spell vamp is a fairly non-intuitive pattern. Throwing an active on top of this makes it worse as most players can't use actives - nor would we want that much thought space on something that doesn't have huge gains. 
Essentially, burst to gain health rewards people who get bursted, rather than people who take initiative - so that's weird but forgiveable. Layering it behind an active adds the fact that most players won't be able to use this effect, so it'll most likely feel weak to the average player. Bad - but also forgiveable. Granting 40% Spell Vamp, knowing that most burst mages are AoE and some burst mages are ST is completely off - as Annie will get 1/3rd of the benfit as Leblanc for no good reason - even though their burst patterns are ideally the same. 
Ideally, you'd just want to get rid of the concept of spell vamp entirely. Simply make your burst sustain item 'You heal 50% of all magic damage you deal, up to 1000.' Avoid the term Spell Vamp and all the useless rules associated with it and just create sustain patterns for certain mage patterns that you feel like. 
However, when you scrub the dust and reveal that layer 'Sustain for Mages' - you realize that the goal itself is fairly suspect for a lot of mages. What should burst mages give up to gain sustain, as many of these characters are balanced to be fragile but able to unload a massive payout fairly quickly. If they give up too much, they're no longer burst mages and this item will be horrible on them. If they don't give up anything at all, you'll get chain killers - in effect, you'll convert some subset of the mage population into Akalis. 
That said, I agree that Spell Vamp is in a terrible spot and something should be done - even if that something is to destroy it entirely so that we don't make false promises to players about what kind power they can acquire in game because it'll be suboptimal for almost every character."

When asked what role lifesteal fills that spell vamp doesn't fill for the current game, Xypherous noted:
"A brief summary of why lifesteal on ADC fits our current design needs:
  1. We don't want random damage to take your ADC out of a fight for very long - thus, a source of mega-sustain on ADCs that also involves farming is good. When this isn't true, poke becomes excessively powerful at stopping an attempt at team fighting.
  2. It means that clutch saves often don't have to be as overbearing as most classes have some way to amplify the effect of a save. Fighters and Tanks have natural defenses. Other supports have peels of their own. ADCs, given time, can self-heal. This means that the power of a clutch save spell doesn't swing wildly between classes and thus you don't have to do something ridiculous to get a save.
  3. In Lanes, lifesteal helps gently nudge the triangle of bottom lane (sustain/harass/burst) in favor of harassment and burst strategies by offering low levels of sustain to every character involve.
I'm glossing over a lot of major details so there's plenty of stuff to pick on there. Lifesteal isn't perfect - but it's serving a lot of useful goals at the moment."

When asked if Hybrid items will be looked at in the preseason updateXypherous noted:
"Would like to - but not for this patch. 
This preseason patch can be thought of as trying to work on the teamwide aspects of our game, rather than at the individual level. We want things that help you play with or play against teams - not optimize your own individual champions micro. 
Do agree that hybrid items should be purged if not removed - However, I think we'll try to do that early in the season rather than this preseason as this patch is more team focused than individual focused."
He continued, giving an example of an item that benefits the teamwide aspects:
"Hourglass, DFG and Mikael's are all still examples of bolstering your own individual's champions micro abilities. 
Something more fitting to the team-wide aspect would be something like tripling the health regeneration of Warmog's when you are out of combat. That becomes a roaming / siege or anti-siege tool. It doesn't really have a direct influence in direct combat - but it allows your team to be able to take broader strategies."

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