Red Post Collection: Preseason 2015 Q&A

Posted on at 3:11 AM by Moobeat
Earlier today, several members of the game systems team hopped on the boards to discuss the extensive changes coming in Preseason 2015!
Continue reading for a summary of the Q&A!

Before we get too deep into the Preseason Q&A, you may want to brush on Preseason 2015 with these dev blogs to familiarize yourself with the board strokes of what is in the works:

Riot Ypherion started off the Q&A with an introduction:
"Hello! 
We've been sharing a lot of thoughts and goals around Preseason 2015 over the past week (you can find the Dev Blogs here). 
For the next few hours we'll be around to answer questions you have. We're going to leave some time for questions to be put into this thread and get voted up or down, so we'll start answering around 2pm PST. 
If you have any more questions, feel free to head over to the Patch Rundown discussionwhere we're looking for your input on discussion topics!
Looking forward to it! 
- Ypherion (and the Game Systems team)"

As usual, I've attempted to organize the Q&A answers based on topic. Use these links to jump between them:

General

When asked if the preseason changes will come out over several patches or be in one big clump, Morello replied:
"Huge swoop. 
A lot of things will change, especially for junglers and objectives. It's hard to summarize outside of the devblogs, as there's a lot."

When asked if the team will be putting up another set of "rough notes" detailing the current draft of preseason changes on the PBE, Riot Sotere replied:
"We're trying to make them a little less rough and then will make them available!"

When asked if the preseason team has an idea of which champions will come out of the changes ahead of the pack and potentially Flavor of the Month type picks, Riot Axes noted:
"We have our ideas - shout out to the live team on that, they've been working on that problem for a while now and I think they've got a pretty good grasp on it. 
That said, with this volume of change, there's always a huge element of uncertainty and I'm sure there'll be some fotm champs we didn't see coming or some champs who turn out to really need love.
As for Skarner specifically, I think the new jungle really helps him. We'll have to see whether it helps him enough to make him really a strong pick, though."

LtRandolph also added in:
"There have been discussions about the impact of these changes on relative champion power levels. We're obviously going to learn a ton from having a few million players hammering on things, but having some predictions helps us in two major ways:
  1. Allows us to improve how effectively we can predict things in the future by seeing which predictions were accurate or inaccurate.
  2. Helps us prepare for the sorts of changes that we might need to do on short notice."
Ypherion also added:
"The Live Gameplay team has been doing a lot of work on this. I'll dodge out of saying which champions we've identified but we're planning a number of champion balance changes to accompany the preseason patch and will have more on our watchlist.
(Skarner did pretty well in some playtests >.>)"

Finally, Morello rounded out the discussion with:
"Towards the end we tend to, unless we modeled out specific scenarios. For example, we expect junglers with more pronounced strengths and weaknesses to be better in preseason than before. 
After that, testing and implications of our changes will inform a new list - things that were unchanged via the systems (Hey, Lee Sin) or really flourished in a new world. The Live Gameplay team will be shipping some champion changes in 4.20 with preseason that are representative of that new world."
He continued:
"Reworks aren't part of preseason this year (though the team working on those is still doing them). We'll be doing some nerfs in 4.20 to really bonkers people that blow up preseason, and will look at what happens on live for 4.21."

When asked about how these new changes will shake up the late game and how teams end games, Riot Sotere commented:
"The strategy that has become more prevalent has been complete dragon control into team fight power with the Aspect of the Dragon buff. Historically, teams have not owned Dragon to the extent that it was clearly the contributing factor to game ending. 
Teams that took five dragons would win, but it would just be another advantage displayed through their gold and inventory. It definitely feels like something more to work towards, now. 
Outside of that, I'm excited to see how people engage in splitpushing and seeing if it feels healthier."

When asked about the tools they have access to do balance strategy / build / comps when they start to outshine the others, Axes noted:
"It really comes down to what actions you would take to counter the other team, and making sure there are appropriate responses to their strategy (and responses to responses, and...)

If you build a strong teamfight and my team's only real response is to also build a strong teamfight, then that's just a dominant strategy where both teams will have to just do that. If you build a crazy wave clear team and make pushing towers impossible, and pushing towers is the only real way to achieve victory, that's again a dominant strategy and teams just have to do that (we saw this earlier this year with Ziggs/Xerath/Zilean).

But consider what happens when there's an objective on the map that can be leveraged to break a stalemate - let's say Dragon's stacking buff has this effect (it might, it might not, but suppose it does). Your wave clear is still potentially a very valuable thing to have in buying time for your team to scale later into the game, but if the other team is getting close to maxing out their Dragon buff, your team is eventually going to have to come out of your base and take some risks, and you'll need to have a different kind of strength besides just wave clear to contest that Dragon.

So, in that case, if stall becomes too powerful, one of our responses could be to make Dragon respawn slightly faster or make Dragon buffs a bit more powerful, thus providing some options to the other team to deal with your extremely powerful stall tactic. And both of these strategies could coexist if, say, there's a good payoff to stalling for a while even if you can't stall forever, such as allowing late game champions like Kog'Maw or Jax on your team to get their items.

This is just one example of the kind of thing we're trying to build for preseason, of course."

As for if preseason is going to "drastically change the game", Morello commented:
"It will change the game, but not the fundamentals. There's still laning, last-hitting, teamfights, and objective control. The game's foundation is similar, but the bits are pretty different."

The Jungle


When asked if they are expecting more jungle pick diversity with the upcoming itemization and objective changes, LtRandolph replied:
"We certainly hope to see more diversity in the roster of junglers that are seen as competitively viable. That being said, it's a more dangerous place than it used to be, so there is certainly a risk of some of the more tenuous junglers having a harder time."

LtRandolph followed up on this answer by elaborating on a few goals the team hopes to accomplish with the jungle changes:
"I know this doesn't answer all of your questions, but it might help give a little insight into how we're thinking about the big picture: 
Shyvana fell out of favor not because she got worse at counterjungling, but because the focus of jungle strategy became centered on early game duels and ganks. She can still clear the jungle really fast and steal camps effectively, she just isn't competitive on the limited set of axes that Season 4 junglers are evaluated on. 
One of our goals with the jungle changes is to make it so that you don't evaluate a jungler solely based upon their clear speed and gank effectiveness, so there's room for different styles of play and junglers with different strengths."

Riot Axes also spoke to his thoughts on increasing jungler diversity, explaining :
"I expect more diversity in terms of which jungle strengths matter - so Nunu and maybe Shyvana/Mundo get to be better because counterjungling matters more, Xin Zhao and Udyr get to be better because dueling matters more, for example. The ideal here would be a rich metagame where you see that your opponent really wants to, say, invade you a lot, and you feel like you have options to deal with that which are specific to the game you're in, even if you're playing the same jungler as always. 
As for newly viable junglers, that'd have to be a case by case thing. We'd default to allowing it, but we'd keep an eye on the effect the jungler is actually having on the game. An example here would be Pantheon, who emerged as a strong jungler who was super oppressive, but once we got his kit in line with the new role, it actually worked out pretty well and is something we're ok with going forward."

As for how the jungle changes will pan out for tank junglers, Fearless noted:
"We've been very aware of the tank jungler struggle. Some of the rewards are directly aimed at being optimal for tanks and less powerful for other classes of junglers, and a goal of the jungle items was to build their anti-jungle stats in a way that were equal between tanks, fighters and mages. It's always possible we won't have the numbers perfect when we initially ship, but we do have fairly direct ways to buff tanks that hopefully won't make fighters crazy."
Axes also added in:
"The new Hunter's Machete is actually really close to Quill Coat, not to old Machete or Spirit Stone. It gives you 40 health per 5 while you're fighting monsters, 15 mana per 5 (that number could change, and there are more mana sources in the jungle than before), and damage that doesn't scale with any of your combat power, just with how long you're in combat with monsters. 
We are concerned about keeping tanks relevant, as long as they're relevant for the right reasons and aren't just overtuned chain-gankers. 
I will say that I don't think they're markedly worse off than before - even Nautilus can clear pretty reasonably! and Amumu/Nunu/Skarner/Maokai all seem quite good - but I could be wrong about that and if I am, we'll be following up on them."

As for how committed they are to the direction of the new jungle itemization and buff changes, Morello replied:
"Very committed. I think it's one of the most important directional changes we're doing. 
A lot of the reason you only see 3 champions in the jungle is there's one way to succeed - clear under X, gank all the time, and be good at dueling. This doesn't leave room for different styles of junglers - just pick whoever's strongest. 
Tougher camps make "safety" a jungler aspect they need to manage again. WW's really safe, but his pre-6 ganks are really poor. Compare this to a Rammus, whose ganks are nasty and his safety and dueling are weaker... 
This allows diversity on a more fundamental level."

Reinboom also explained that the new itemization options gives the team more balancing power over the different types of junglers:
"One of the bigger significant goals that all this provides for us is the idea of having more control over classes of junglers. 
Tanky dudes feeling weak? Amp up the Juggernaught build of jungle items. Ganking Control too strong? Pull back on the slow a champion smite. 
It might take a bit to achieve that in actuality, but you guys can play a TON more games than we can and we welcome the feedback on that for this reason. It'll be an ongoing shift."
When asked about the smite reward buffs for each camp and their varying offensive / defensive abilities, Fearless commented:
"The goal here was to provide junglers a chance to combo a few buffs and go off and do something very deliberately. Red + Razorbeaks works pretty well for a gank for example, letting the jungler know if they've been spotted on the way in, and then have the red buff for when they connect. 
On the other hand, if a tank Jungler is getting beat up and looking for some safety in their jungle, ghost puppy lets them know if they're safe to take a couple more camps, while the poison armor makes them a scarier target to duel if they're invaded, as well as helping their clear speed. 
We could have (and did have) more different types of buffs on each side of the jungle, but junglers generally just felt less positive about the buffs. Having the buffs work more like building blocks that built into a specific goal or purpose generally has been much more functional, and led to junglers feeling more able to take particular actions."

As for when these specific smite buffs "respawn", Morello explained:
"You get the buff when you smite it. It doesn't come back until the camp respawns. (HINT COUNTERJUNGLERS)"

Morello also commented  concern for the increasing complexity of the game systems (particularly the jungle) and how to communicate and properly teach players the preseason changes:
"We're actually worried about this quite a bit. I don't have a good answer, but we share your concern."

Itemization


When asked about the removal of Negatron Cloak, Reinboom explained:
"At the moment, NMM got a slight increase in cost (pushing out of starting item territory without certain masteries) and then replaces Negatron cloak in all other cases. Currently, nothing requires multiple NMM. 
More interesting starting choices for items is an eventual goal (at least right now), but we don't really like the place NMM would have there. This change was more to make sure that you could easily buy the defensive stat you need at later points in the game and feel screwed over from later choices based on which of the two branches you got."

As for if the "Zz'Rots Portal" - a previously announced item that summons minions - item has been scrapped after it's absence from any of the PBE testing, Riot Reinboom commented:
"It's not scrapped. The item is complex from an art perspective (it requires a couple unique models), so it's still being made."

Reinboom also commented on the changes to Athene's Unholy Grail's mana regen (which now has flat % mana restore per second instead of scaling based on missing mana ) , explaining how problematic of an item it is currently:
"The whole chalice is kind of a cyclic problem. 
With Chalice being so dominantly powerful on negating any control we have over mana regen rates, we have to nerf mana regen in order to compensate for the existence of chalice. 
Basically, certain champions are starved for mana BECAUSE chalice exists.
New chalice fulfills a slightly different role and has a different point of power that's more reflective of the whole item build rather than on the individual champion power. 
If this change results in some champions being too starved for mana without options out of it, we can now more safely just buff the mana regen on those champions."
he continued:
"If you consider the energy vs mana difference problematic, then this is in line with that.
Scenario A: Chalice is solo-y strong. Result: Mana users have low base mana regen and must buy chalice to stay relevant. 
Scenario B: Chalice is solo-y weak. Result: Mana user can have higher base mana regen and no longer need to buy chalice to stay relevant. 
Which scenario would you like and why? We're pushing for B."

When asked about applying the enchantment system used on boots and now jungle items to other types of items in the future, Riot Axes commented:
"As for using Enchantments more broadly, I'd say there are places where it's appropriate, places where it's pretty much mandatory (the jungle items are one of these), and places where it's inappropriate. 
I could see doing a set of Sightstone enchants if we decide to expand on the vision game centered on that item - it feels thematically appropriate. We could do them as separate items, but enchantments sounds right to me. 
I doubt I'd ever want to do e.g. an Infinity Edge enchantment adapting it to Caster ADCs; if we're adding a Caster ADC item, that should really just be its own item, no reason to try to carry the baggage of Infinity Edge over."

Dragon & Baron 


When asked about the appeal of the new 5 stack dragon buff vs Baron's buff, Sotere noted:
"We have seen teams opt into taking a 5th dragon instead of Baron. It grants a different type of power that you'd undoubtedly want if you plan on team fighting as opposed to sieging."
Ypherion also added in:
"1 - Aspect of the Dragon (tier 5 buff) is indeed stronger than Baron. This is on purpose because 5 Dragons is a full game investment, whereas Baron could have been a coin-flip Smite war."

As for if only the slayer gets the dragon buff or if the whole team gets it, Morello explained:
"Whole team will get the buffs. 
We think all League is about teamwork - whether in LCS or solo queue. Teams that work together in solo will be more successful than ones that don't."
LtRandolph also answered a question regarding the new Baron buff and if it is intended to promote split pushing:
"One of the frequent discussions I've heard and been a part of is how a team that is strong in one particular strategy can get a temporary source of a different strength to finish off the game. The baron buff in a broad sense is shifting to be more focused on sieging, whether that be split pushing or together. This is intentional, since taking Baron is typically a sign of strong teamfighting. 
That being said, the health and mana regen on previous Baron buffs were very strong for sieging; we just wanted to make the strength much more focused and obvious."
He continued:
"Quote
It seems with the buff applying to nearby minions requires the team to split between the lanes to actually make use of it.
I don't disagree with you in principle. I'm mostly saying that it's going to help whatever type of sieging you want to do. 1-3-1 is potentially the most "efficient" use of the buff as you point out, but if you don't have a 1-3-1 team, it's still going to help you barrel down mid lane and take an inhib."
Fearless also added in:
"Dragon and Baron are definitely going to be important this season, but they've been very powerful every season. A lot of the changes this season are to make these objectives give more clear, directed power that players can appreciate. 
Split pushing can be effective with the current Baron Buff, but does have more risk associated with it. Having each team figure out how to use Baron buff best is an interesting optimization for teams to make."

Turrets


As for a general question on turrets and if they will received significant stat changes, Morello noted:
"Turrets are getting some damage and statistic changes. Currently, the inner towers have a DOOM LAZER that hurts a lot and locks-on quicker, and all towers have different stats and scaling (generally slightly tankier)."

In response to a comment about towers feeling weak  or overly squishy with the current set of changes, Xypherous noted:
"Yeah - there's at least 5 or so new mechanics that allow you to deal increased damage to towers. (Red Buff true damage to towers, Krug reward, Baron Nashor's empowered Minions, Ruin/Sorcery Elixirs, Ohmwrecker, Tower Defense Scaling) 
I'm going to be pulling / reducing the power of many of these, as many of them tend to be multiplicative with each other and generally increasing the durability of the tower - Additionally, it's likely that that we'll have to rebalance the inhibitor tower fight so the damage against squishy targets will probably drop to compensate for the increased durability."

When asked how powerful the new laser beam turret attack is on inhib towers, FeralPony noted:
"Laser turrets generally speaking are faster at killing minions than slower high damage shots. This ultimately is because less attacks are wasted since shooing a minion with 1 health with a 200 damage shot is a lot of overkill damage. As a result of less wasted damage undefended towers should be slightly harder to take down since they clear waves faster but defended towers with laser beams should be more noticeably more difficult since the lasers also respond much faster to help defending players."
Ypherion also added in:
"Right now tower durability is still being tuned (they seem a bit too squishy) so hard to say for sure. My guess is that a fed AD split pusher could probably still take them if uncontested. However contesting the tower should be more palatable as a defending duelist."

Scuttle Crab

As for how far the new Scuttle Crab mob will run away and if it will leave the river to try to escape players, Axes commented:
"Crab runs as long as you're chasing it and haven't killed it, though it won't leave the river. If you corner it, it'll try to dart past you. And yes, crowd control affects it. Fiddlesticks fear works... but so do things like Nautilus hook/slows/roots, Maokai root, Skarner stuns, etc."
Ypherion added:
"The crab is pretty much bound to the river and is susceptible to CC"
As for if Scuttle Crab will make contesting Baron and Dragon more difficult, Sotere noted:
"Possibly! It is always a very big risk to do an objective when there is any level of vision owned by the enemy team in the area. We are looking at tuning the vision reward of the crab, especially as we continue to receive feedback that the vision stalls out fights around those objectives."

When asked why Scuttle Crab's speed / vision shrine isn't destructible, Fearless noted:
"The main reason we haven't made the crab vision destructible is that it makes it much less valuable for a losing team. When the crab reward can be destroyed, a losing team that sneaks it gets very little from the action. They can't fight the winning team for the moment, so the vision lasts only until the winning team finds the crab shrine. With the vision persisting through a fixed duration, the losing team still gets the same benefit as the winning team would have. 
The uptime of the crab shrine and the details of the speed boost are still in iteration. Very likely to see some changes here."

Miscellaneous


As for if we'll see changes to runes or masteries this preseason, FeralPony commented:
"We will not be making any largescale changes to Rune or Masteries this pre-season. These are both systems we'd like to approach at a later date though because we agree there is a lot of room for improvement there."
Reinboom also added in:
"At most, we would do minor tweaks to these at this time. We don't have any significant changes planned for this preseason for runes and masteries. It was outside of our focus area."
As for any significant changes for Marksmen in the preseason patch, Axes commented:
"This patch is aimed more at the strategic level of the game - we're not doing items for specific roles except where the items provide strategic options in how your team is able to approach the game. So, no plans for a Marksman item pass at this time."

When asked about adding additional camera options for purple side, Ypherion noted:
"We're aware of the discrepancy and are exploring various options (yay!), but I don't have anything specific to announce on this (sorry!)"
Morello also added:
"Not as part of our preseason package - it's a different group that thinks about this stuff, currently."

When asked about improvements to how leavers or afkers are handled in game, Ypherion noted:
"This is something I know we're looking into, but we're not the right folks to comment on it. Don't want to misinform."

Morello also answered a question regarding map skins and if we'll see them return:
"We think these are cool (but this is about preseason, not SRU :D) but we'd have to make new ones first :P"

As for any changes to the pick & ban phase, Morello replied:
"We're looking at Pick/Ban, but it's not part of this set of stuff 
(I also don't think increasing bans is good, but changing how we do picks and bans is)."

When asked about the Quinn range changes that are floating around the PBE and if they are representative  of any future plans, Sotere replied:
"No immediate plans for a thread, I'm afraid. Once her changes get further along in ideation I suspect you'll hear from us! 
We have a lot of Rioters heavily invested in Quinn, primarily because as players we're big fans. She will not be forgotten."
Morello also replied to a question about Poppy's eventual gameplay update, saying:
"Not before season. We need to "Sion" her, but the good news is she's high on our priority list."

"Grab Bags"

[ These are multi part questions that were sort of hard to break up and squeeze into other categories!]

Ypherion #1:
"Quote
What levers do you have to pull if you’re not seeing strategic diversity? Both in team composition and in the jungle? You’ve mentioned a few of them in the dev blogs, but which ones do you think are most impactful, or, which lever will you look to pull first, as opposed to your more ‘last resort’ type changes? 
If itemization is going to be crucial to countering emergent strategy at the team comp level, are you willing to be aggressive and create new items midseason if needed? 
What are the limits to the Scuttle Crab’s AI and run distance? 
I feel like these changes (the Scuttle Crab and more valuable dragon) make warding even MORE important than it already is. Any plans to give players more access to wards, either through a larger placement cap, or additional items like wriggles that are power/stat items with a bonus ward slot? 
Is the ‘first time smite is used on the camp’ buff a one-off thing, or will this refresh on camp spawn? While I’m (kind of) excited that counter jungling will be more meaningful, will this be overkill? How is a jungler supposed to overcome losing the camp gold AND a valuable buff (which the enemy jungler probably just used to get even FARTHER ahead of you)? 
Really excited about the jungle item changes and think they’re brilliant in terms of solving diversity problems. Any more info to share on these?
Any early ideas on how the aggregate of these changes will affect total average team gold gain? 
sorry for long questions and ty for ama

Levers for team comps: I think the power in towers or some items are probably the smoothest levers to pull that aren't directly on the champions themselves. More drastically we could add items. Even more drastically (and I'd be very sad) we could remove items.

Levers in the jungle: We can look at certain Smite rewards that favor given roles/champions as well as the jungle item enchants. I think here we have so many levers that we can pull carefully that there aren't so many drastic changes...I'd say that directly tuning the jungle camps' defense and offense would be more to the drastic side.

Adding items: We're totally willing to add items mid season. This could be for strategic items or to roles who need some help solidifying their niche.

The Scuttle Crab is limited to within the river (unless Blitz or Syndra get involved). Unsure what you mean by the limits of the AI.

RE: Vision. We're actually concerned that there may be too much vision in the game if anything. We're adding a bunch more through the crab and through the Murkwolf Smite reward. Having massive ward uptime ends up stifling gameplay and also leading to pretty rough snowball (since the winning team has more opportunities and resources to get wards up).

Smite rewards are available once per camp spawn.

No more info on the items for now :). They're available on PBE, but still very subject to tuning and change.

Average team gold may be slightly lower due to the Dragon changes, but overall we haven't seen massive differences.

Thanks for the questions!"

Sotere #1:
"Will casters with lower than average mana regen get adjusted? (i.e.: Lulu, Lissandra).

Can't speak to specific champions too much but basically the answer is yes. We recognize that we will have to tune some champions to our new systems.

Is Mana Font (Chalice passive) intended to be weak on non-mana stackers?

Not weak. But it is not intended to be the magic pill that it is on Live where it solves all mana problems.

Athene's Unholy Grail looks extremely weak compared to similar options, is it intended?

We want there to be a chance you would buy the other items. Right now, that happens infrequently. There is seldom a reason to not get Athene's, provided you want the stats. And all of those stats are pretty darn good! If we find that there is a new sheriff in town, we will be quick to adjust accordingly.

With the non-linear base stats scaling only breaking even around level 15, doesn't the new stat progression end up hurting lower level champions (i.e.: Supports) more so than other classes?


We've been keeping an eye on this. The impact hasn't been bad thus far, but definitely worth our continued attention, which it will receive.

Would it be possible to tone down the visual effect for low game play effects?

We have an ongoing discussion about this: you're not the only one who feels that they're pretty loud.

Any plans to change some text strings in the floating combat text (i.e.: Stunned!) to localization independent icons? Playing with a Kalista today "kill secured" popping account constantly looked really silly.
Also something we've been discussing, but more in terms of dragon call-outs. Not sure what the final call is there. If we use the 'floating combat text' more for in-game messaging we will have to implement a system to localize that text."

Morello #1:
"Quote:
So 3 different questions 
1) The new jungle changes so far are kicking the crap out of the majority of junglers. should we expect to see some better balance coming to the jungle? 
2)Why does the first dragon kill grant stats right away? They might not seem like much but for some champions they could tip the scales into a snowball out of control. Why not have the first dragon kill be the catalyst for the future dragon kills which would then grant stats. It just seems like to much free stuff to early right now. 
3) What exactly are the goals of the scuttle crab? right now it feels pretty awkward and favors the red side a little more than the blue side. Red side can cover a sizable and important vision area with the wolf sentinel the jungler can spawn and scuttle crab shrine effectively covering the red sides bottom lane from getting ganked from behind. Blue however remains completely exposed to its rear gank path with no neutral vision benefits. Has having the scuttle crab spawn on both sides of the map, alternating with each respawn been considered?

1) The pill to swallow is that jungling will be riskier, harder, and less dominant than Season 4. Jungler game impact in S4 was of-the-charts high (junglers run games, right now) and it will feel like a knee-capping. It's relative as there's new ways to succeed in the jungle and new classes of junglers to bring. 
2) We still do want one dragon to be meaningful itself, so we don't want to defer all the power there. 
3) It's to give something neutral to fight over, and what it provides opens up safety and map mobility for the winning team. We have some worries of vision creep, though.

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