- 8/4 PBE Update: Arcade Riven, Battle Boss Blitzcrank, Academy skin set, Juggernauts gameplay update, Defensive Item Changes, two new items, and more!
- Red Post Collection: Juggernaut reworks & Item changes discussion, Gangplank returns, and more!
- 8/5 PBE Update: Arcade Riven & Battle Boss Blitzcrank splash and more tentative balance changes!
Table of Contents
- Riot Pls Dev Blog
- Mystery wards are back!
- Dead Man's Plate heading to Summoner's Rift on the PBE
- Vel'koz Q Buffs on PBE
Riot Pls dev blog from Banksy & ScuttleChris aimed at communicating what Riot is currently working on - such as an updated client - and projects that they are not pursuing at the moment - such as replays (for now) or a sandbox mode.
"TL;DR: Riot Pls is a new experimental blog to talk about the priorities and values that influence what we’re doing, what we’re not doing, and why.
That’s a pretty good TL;DR for something this long and it definitely doesn’t encapsulate all the content within, but we still hope you’ll read it. Just do it!
But first, a foreword…
Through the years, we’ve been consistently surprised - sometimes overwhelmed - by the passion of the community around us, and this is one of those times. You’d think we’d have acclimatized by now.
So here’s where we’re at: rather than just running around putting out fires with our engineers, we’ve started working on things that set us up for cool, sustainable (hopefully fire-proof) projects in the future. But as we made this shift, we also became anxious that you wouldn’t understand how much behind-the-scenes work we had (and have) to do to get there, so we slowed our conversations. We convinced ourselves we needed to get things ‘right’ before we could have a conversation, or that you didn’t want to hear about progress that you couldn’t see or touch, only results.
Up front: this won’t be a dev blog about results. In fact, for anyone hoping to get a pile of new content promises, that’s not the plan. What we’re experimenting with here is a quarterly blog update - Riot Pls - on what we’re prioritizing, what we’re not prioritizing, and the why behind both. This first one might come off as a bit fluffy because we’re trying to recalibrate how we talk; we’ll be highlighting our current realities and priorities while also establishing our commitment to share updates more frequently - even if they might be disappointing - because you care and because we built League of Legends together.
So between this and some newly ramped efforts on ongoing updates like behind-the-scenes stories, dev blogs, patch notes, live streams, Q&As, and Rioters themselves on the boards and social media, our commitment is to keep you more informed. This should be the start of that.
Let’s kick things off with a landscape
For a game like League, we’re not delivering on features at a fast enough rate. We agree. No excuse intended - and we’ve said this before - but we’re deep, deep in the weeds with all of our developers (engineers, designers, artists, etc) cleaning up the ‘tech debt’ we’ve picked up over the past six years. When we first started working on League, our optimistic target was to support 20,000 players and, in the years before launch, we built a scrappy platform to do just that. It goes without saying that now we need a very, very different architecture to support 67+ million players, and the act of revamping that work without tipping everything over is what we’re talking about when we say we’re paying off our tech debt.
The way we see it, there are two ‘pipelines’ of stuff we can get done: our foundational stuff and… well, everything else. When it comes to our foundations, we’re tackling an extensive, focused plan to pay off our tech debt, with groups of teams working on our back end service stack, our global deployment tools, our build pipeline and our server network infrastructure. We have another group taking on automated testing systems and our internal developer tool kits. These things take time - imagine rebuilding the foundations of a house while everyone’s still living inside - but this is necessary work to renovate for the future. Still, we’re going to get better at highlighting what’s behind the curtain: the joys of removing spaghetti code interdependencies, the times when we’re buying so many servers it takes days just to break down the shipping boxes, or the challenge that comes when a single block of code goes into the wild (despite normal behavior internally and on the PBE), gets hit by millions of players, and behaves in a way that... well... let’s just say nature never intended.
Our other pipeline - the ‘everything else’ - is the stuff we know as players. Whether it’s the new Summoner’s Rift, seasonal changes every year (often to the jungle…), Champion Mastery, Friend Finder, URF mode, the Harrowing, Shurima and Ascension, new champs, more champion updates more often, more esports, new HUD improvements, upgrades to player reform and rewards, or the new Bilgewater: Burning Tides event, the above are the areas we can develop new things in, and we haven’t stopped trying to grow here.
We have passionate teams working hard on both sides of the fence; one just happens to be delivering high-visibility content while the other has to tackle much, much larger challenges - like building dedicated ISP networks for League players - under the hood. We need to be proactive about communicating both.
So what's this mean?
Ultimately the above ‘state of the game’ feeds into our current prioritization for League of Legends. How we choose our work can be fairly straightforward:
Pay off our tech debt
League is a constantly evolving experience that we’re committed to improving and supporting. That means building out systems that can be worked on by hundreds of developers at a time; creating tech and processes so that we can efficiently roll out updates to thousands of servers in 12 different regions; and creating a hardware and software architecture that can support millions of players at once. This isn’t an easy task, nor will it be accomplished quickly, so in the meantime...
Pick the right projects that we hope players love
Just because we have a lot of fundamentals to rebuild doesn’t mean we should shut down everything else. With things like the new HUD, new skins at a higher quality bar, new champions and champion updates, and an ever-growing esports scene to support, we’re going to keep delivering – and improving on delivering - where we can, unless it comes at the cost of our first priority (if animators could build better developer tools, we’d be first in line!).
Here's what we're not working on
We always have to make tough decisions when it comes to picking features that players (including us!) want and expect. Below are a couple of your big asks that we’ve put to the side – and why:
Replays (for now)
Well, this one was our bad. Not only did we promise replays at the launch of League of Legends because we thought it was needed to get esports off the ground (maybe not), but by showing them on the PBE we set the expectation that they’d be on the way Soon™. We backed off replays because the technical demands (server loads, backward compatibility, network stability) were so high that we knew it would be hard to do them ‘right.’ These days we also know that with our above priorities, replays just can’t be a consideration until we clean up a lot of those systems. In the meantime, we're huge fans of the alternatives that the passionate community of developers outside of Riot have created, and we're looking into ways to highlight (and support) those good folks.
We’ve heard a number of player requests for a Sandbox Mode, with two main reasons: the first is trying out new content – which is something we value too. We want players to know what they’re getting and to be happy with the things they’re unlocking (we may investigate other ways to do this). The second is that players want to practice very specific skills without the constraints of a regular game. For this point, our stance is that sandbox mode is not the way to go. We want to make sure we’re clear: playing games of League of Legends should be the unequivocal best way for a player to improve. While there are very real skills one can develop in a hyperbolic time chamber, we never want that to be an expectation added onto an already high barrier to entry. On an individual level, we know this isn’t always true – some just want a space to practice flashing over walls without having to wait at least 3.6 minutes in between – but when that benefit is weighed against the risk of Sandbox mode ‘grinding’ becoming an expectation, we just can’t accept the tradeoff. We never want to see a day when a player wants to improve at League and their first obligation is to hop into a Sandbox. We do want to support your ability to grow in mastery, and there may be other avenues to do so, but not this.
Here's what we are focused on
While we continue to improve the global network, eradicate spaghetti code, build better tools for League developers, and polish other parts of the League experience (and figure out ways to tell you stories about those things), we’ve got a few teams and projects we’ll tell you about now:
Updating the client
Almost a year ago, we launched an updated patcher and client landing page. With those, we wrote a short post. At the bottom of that post, it read:
“We have a vision for what the future could hold for the client and we’re looking forward to sharing our plans with you a bit further down the road!”
Then a bit further down the road came and went and… radio silence.
We didn’t forget about our promise and we have been working on a large update for the existing client - we expect to begin player testing during the Season 2016 launch. After this, once it's ready to launch, you can expect more reliability, more responsiveness, and less buggy experiences (that’s our big focus and we’re making absolutely sure we can deliver here before moving forward). Ultimately, we want you to fight the player, not the game, so the updated client is oriented around getting you and your friends into League with minimal friction. We’re also building it in a new tech framework and architecture so Riot teams around the world can develop, deliver, and support more client features more effectively.
Scratching that competitive itch
We’ve been working on some improvements to competitive system that we want to roll out for the 2016 season. Front and center to these changes, however, is getting all of ranked play onto the teambuilder mode. You’ll be able to pick 2 positions - including ‘fill’ - to ensure you’re playing in the position you can contribute the most in. ‘Feed’ will probably not be an option, (sorry!).Making League better with friends
We’re exploring a whole bunch of features to help you connect and play with new and existing friends online, even when your skill levels are pretty different. We also know that you can’t play with only your friends every game and, in those cases, we’ll continue working with you to build a better community.Getting on that content train
Like we mentioned above, where we can sprint we want to keep going:Seasonal seasons of seasons
We couldn’t think of a better title. Anyway, we want the season start to be an exciting time for game changes, but we’re also hoping to follow that up with some meaningful midseason changes as well. Instead of just focusing on a chaotic preseason, in a few months you’ll hear the plan for Season 2016, which is the collaborative work of a lot of teams working on League.
We just wrapped up Bilgewater: Burning Tides so it’s pretty easy to convey our intent here. Not all events will be this big, but from Bilgewater to Worlds to April Fools, we want to deliver content that keeps League fresh and gives you new ways to engage.
Lore means different things to different players, but we know many of you are looking for a story that has Runeterra actually changing over time. Again, we want to do this more frequently. Events like Bilgewater will help us tap into our potential, and we’re experimenting with other ways to bring you story, like comics, videos, novellas, and other things not comics or videos or novellas (did you like the Amumu music video?).
Higher quality updates
We’re still trying to push the envelope with each new champion we release and not only are we improving with each skin we put out but we’re exploring other ways for you to customize your League experience in Season 2016.What's next?
From now on, you shouldn’t be surprised by our work - you should know what areas we’re prioritizing and why we’re doing it. This also means we’ll be experimenting with different forms of communication and transparency. Communicating more about the bigger picture also means you’ll be hearing about stuff before it’s fully baked - so expect some details missing and some differences along the way. We’ll repeat again – this dev blog isn’t about ‘results’ or new content, it’s about resetting our conversations so we can talk, and develop, iteratively.
Thanks for reading this epically long post. We’re excited about all of the things and we hope you are too."
Following the dev blog, several Rioters jumped on reddit and the boards to discuss the contents:
First off, RiotBanky replied to the blow back regarding the Sandbox comments:
"We agree there is value for players learning and progressing at League and there should be systems that support that more explicitly. What that means and how it manifests for you is still hotly debated internally at Riot with our design and product teams. It's probably why our stance in the blog isn't 100% bulletproof.
That said, we're very firm here because of this: even if we had solutions today, we would continue with our current prioritization of cleaning up old systems before we start building entirely new ones."He continued:
"There's a lot of your argument that I agree with (especially this part)
Don't tell me that's difficult to do.
And to make it clear we are not completely opposed to building systems to practice and improve at League. We think there is real player value in a some version of a training mode, especially when one considers the sometimes complex champions we introduce to League. Just as much as you, we understand League is a competitive game by design and, for most, best enjoyed as player vs. player. But for those who want to double down on their skills, League should provide avenue for them as well.
The blog's intent was to peel back the curtain and give you transparency into the trade offs we are making in development. We knew that some things we are (and aren't) doing wouldn't win us any popularity contests but imo talking about this stuff is better than turning a deaf ear to players. Our explanation on Sandbox is weak, straight up. We made it sound like a binary decision which it's not. The strength of the message (or lack therein) reflects the internal Riot debate about how to best solve the problem for players. I think our product, engineering, and design teams are fully capable of solving this in a innovative way that players can use. The unpopular thing is that it is not on the currently an item in development but based on this feedback it may be that's what we need to adjust."He continued:
Truthfully the relationship you have with your users isn't one where apologies carry much weight
Agree. Nor was our original intent to bullshit anyone. We tried to expose some of the internal debate about why (more specifically why not) to implement this particular feature and as you see it wasn't the right way to go. We aren't currently working on this feature and that was our real intent just to let folks know what's up. Riot cares about improving League as a competitive experience (game balance changes, ddos & drop hack prevention, preventing or banning scripters etc) and we are constantly striving to do the right thing by players."Pwyff added in:
"I'm going to push back on the concept of it being player toxicity, sorry if it got represented like that. I'll walk through it again...
First, banksy has a comment here I want to hop off of ([link]) and work from.
I think the concept of sandbox mode has a billion different meanings (free-form practice, custom game modes, etc), so just clear that we're talking about a lot of things. The one that resonates the most is the concept of a free-form training mode for practicing abilities and techniques in isolation without the pressure of a game. That's what we're going to use as a shared definition!
When we say we have a lot of debate, we mean it. Even in discussions today, we have lead designers saying there are aspects of sandbox mode that we could or should explore. I've talked a lot about the risks in various threads, but I want to emphasize it's not so much player toxicity as it is broad expectations. If the skill floor for fundamentals requires extensive time spent in sandbox mode, that's kind of scary. But for many (including designers), this is an acceptable risk for the potential gains - like pros being able to practice or players who want to get better having that option. It's choice vs. no choice, as many of you have said. I wanted to accurately represent both sides and acknowledge them.
The stance sounds fluffyish because it was born of necessity to put the conversation to rest. As banksy puts it, there are a lot of good reasons to explore training-sandbox mode and we're having conversations even from these comments and replies. But in terms of prioritization, it's still below our current ones. We are talking and we hear you - to do sandbox mode right will probably require a lot of investment.
Probably a lesson for the future then. For a nuanced topic like sandbox mode, that seems more like a discussion than something on a dev blog. It's clear we sound super authoritative and hard-headed about this, so we'll adjust. I do think it's a conversation you can bring up as a "we still want this!" but we also want to be clear it's not happening soon. In other words, an idea can be good but it also can not be a priority. There is DEFINITELY a better way to reach that conclusion because this one's pretty, uh, painful."
Following all this heated discussion, Pwyff also reflected on the announcement via twitlonger:
"Haha, oh dear.
First, Banksy has a comment on sandbox mode that is basically a TL;DR of this. I just wanted to think out loud.
So if today ([link]) was a lesson in anything, it's how to not communicate a nuanced - and internally debated - stance in a public forum. I think discussion on reddit has hit that critical mass point where no new points can be introduced, so I'm just going to muse..
First, a mea culpa (that's latin for "whoops I fucked up"). When discussions get heated, I pick up an equally opposed perspective to see if a held opinion can be challenged. If I seemed like I was taking a hard-line stance on things, I was focused on getting that alternative perspective out rather than acknowledging arguments. Sometimes when you do that, it becomes "hey if you understand us, then do it!" and I didn't want to turn it into that but holy shit did I turn it into that.
I'm going to represent this view correctly: the concept of a training sandbox mode - something where players and teams can hop in to understand new champion abilities, in-game mechanics, or basic fundamental League skills like last hitting, flashing over walls, etc is necessary for a game that adds so much additional complexity (teamplay, map movement, strategy, etc) on top of fundamental mechanical skills. Learning one (mechanics) in isolation of the other is extremely beneficial so you can 'fall back' on it in the heat of the moment. Value-wise, if League is on its way (if not already there) to becoming a marriage of sport and video game, then a training mode - the ability to practice fundamentals - is a logical thing to ask for.
This is particularly true when you hit the highest level of engaged player (ie: pros) who expect the same level of investment from his/her peers. At a casual level you might get some heavy cultural pressure to sit in sandbox mode rather than engaging with the game, but that will always be the case whether it's bots vs. AI or limiting yourself to 5-person teambuilder games for fear of reprisal.
I wanted to make sure I properly represented that view because... I get it. And a lot of designers and Rioters do too. I think I was looking for acknowledgement on the other side (re: behavior expectations on what it takes to achieve mastery in a game) so I ended up chasing too hard.
Most players have said that "cultural expectations of sandbox mode grinding is just patently false" and have examples of other great games that have sandbox modes that don't run into problems. This is true. That said, in the early stages of League, I do think it was beneficial when the optimal path to mastery was (and still is) "just get into another game." This is how I got better at playing DotA - I just mashed thousands of games out with Puck and picked up a broad fundamental skillbase. It was a default expectation - either because there were no better alternatives (a la League) or there were sandbox modes available but playing games was the best.
Either way, that's not a great stance, especially when you talk about the pro scene. It's not bulletproof, it doesn't convince our largest detractors, and it only serves to divide people on an already contentious subject.
We also know this. I've had dozens of conversations past and present (oh boy particularly today) about sandbox mode and why we should or shouldn't do it. I'll reiterate: this is a heavily debated topic internally.
The problem we had with this message was that we wanted to do a few things with a single tool. We wanted to say "it's not a priority" because it's not (but might reconsider given your feedback). There are other things we've chosen to prioritize over sandbox mode because we think those will have a larger impact on a larger playerbase. From your feedback, maybe that's not the case and it's worth having another conversation. But right now, it's not on the list.
The other thing we wanted to do was make it firm. This was where I really screwed up. To me, replays have been an ongoing conversation for a while, and I've argued that it's because we haven't taken a firm stance on it. Re-prioritizing and shifting takes months at a time when you want to work at scale, so it was a conversation I wanted to put to rest (even if it meant getting punched) and then we could re-surface it if we realized it didn't philosophically align with our future goals.
Both of these things made this statement far more 'firm' than it really needed to be, and it was because we were going for an end result "no sandbox for now" rather than actually engaging on the topic. Talking about sandbox mode and its incredible potential for unlocking higher levels of pro play is important to acknowledge, but I think where we got quagmired was this:
An idea can be good and compelling for a group of players, but it can also not be a priority.
That requires you to talk about why you're doing all of these things and not this thing, but we didn't want to come out defensive and now we're... probably in a worse position. We chose our firmest stance and said "okay this is why we're not doing it" when really we should have just said "we aren't doing this because we have these other things that are very important to the longevity of League and its foundational structure. We still think it's a good idea." Totally our bad and something to learn from. Your feedback makes it a bigger thing that probably helps in conversations, so that's good.
I think we've come to equate acknowledging a concept as "good" as also a promise we'll do it. I wonder if we can get better at having open discussions about that.
Anyway, some last thoughts before I go eat. Sorry for the long post!"
When asked why the NA centralized server move isn't included in the list above, RiotBanksy noted:
"Just to clarify .. not everything we are actively working on is on this list. We tried to address things that were active on players minds globally. With that said, we are working on a wide array of infrastructure projects targeted at improving the play experience for players in all regions (granted the problems and solutions are not always the same across regions). For NA specifically, we are tackling the issue from a variety of angles which includes custom internet connectivity for our data centers, better network routing for players across NA trying to reach our data centers, and yes even moving game servers to potentially more ideal locations. Im pretty sure that team will have more updates about their progress this week but here some info in the meantime."
RiotZwill also added on the NA centralized server move, noting:
"This is 100% on point and is something we've been publicly planning and stating for quite awhile now.
We agree that the NA East coast experience isn't great. It's been one of our top priorities and something we're working to address on a daily basis.
We regularly update the community about our efforts with ISP peering agreements, improvements designed to improve your overall latency in NA and, yes, even centralized NA servers. If you'd like to, you can check out some of our previous posts around the topic below, and please be sure to check the NA Boards for another post around this topic within the next week.
RiotZwill also replied to concern about Riot's live event attendance - or lack of - in 2015.
wish they would touch on topics like IRL events and whether they'll omit conventions in 2016 like they did this year (PAX, Gamescon, etc.) I think it's a problem that they claim to be so player-oriented but are putting all of their energy into eSports events when the majority of their player base doesn't tune into eSports. I miss being able to meet developers and cosplayers and I understand they might be too big for PAX abut come on, you can't go railing on about how much you love the league community and in the same breath say you won't be doing live events anymore. Maybe they'll consider a League con for 2016?
I get what you're saying. Live events are a personal passion of mine, and are something that I know many Rioters look forward to. They're a great reminder of why we're doing what we're doing and how important it is to the community.
I think it's important to provide some clarity around this statement:
"...you can't go railing on about how much you love the league community and in the same breath say you won't be doing live events anymore."
This year has been a year of refocusing and re-evaluation when it comes to events in North America. Personally, I've been attending events around the country with the goal of better understanding what sort of events already exist and what our opportunities are to bring the IRL League experience to more players in new regions.
Right now, we're focused on taking our learnings from this year and applying them to a new live event strategy in North America that sustainable for the long term. I apologize that I don't have specific information to share with you right now, but please know that we're not completely throwing North American live events out the window.
CapnBranFlakes also noted that the client update mentioned in the post will move away from Adobe Air:
"We'll no longer be using Adobe AIR as part of the client update. Regarding replays, we're not working on them at the moment because technical demands convinced us that we couldn’t deliver this feature "right" -- we’re looking at alternative ways to approach this, including efforts to support our 3rd party dev communities. I’m no expert on this topic, so I’ll need to leave it at that.
"From now until August 11 at 23:59 PDT, we’re bringing wards back to our arsenal of Mystery Boxes! Feeling lucky? Pick up some new wards or send a Mystery ward to one of your friends! Hey, who knows? Maybe that’ll get them to start warding more. Maybe. Hopefully.
Mystery Wards 380 RP (40% Off)
All wards listed below are up for grabs:
- Armordillo Ward
- Astronaut Poro Ward (Legacy)
- Banner of the Horse Ward (Legacy)
- Banner of the Serpent Ward (Legacy)
- Bat-o-Lantern Ward (Legacy)
- Battlecast Poro Ward (Legacy)
- Battlecast Ward
- Bouquet Ward (Legacy)
- Candy Cane Ward (Legacy)
- Deadfall Ward (Legacy)
- Dragonslayer Poro Ward (Legacy)
- Dragonslayer Ward
- Firecracker Ward
- Gentleman Poro Ward (Legacy)
- Gingerbread Ward Skin (Legacy)
- Golden Goal Ward
- Gong Ward (Legacy)
- Haunting Ward (Legacy)
- Heartseeker Ward
- Lantern of the Serpent Ward (Legacy)
- Luminosity Ward
- Mecha Ward
- Mother Serpent Ward
- Poro Ward (Legacy)
- Sad Mummy Ward
- Slaughter Fleet Ward
- Snowman Ward Skin (Legacy)
- Starcall Ward
- Sun Disc Ward
- Tomb Angel Ward (Legacy)
- Underworld Poro Ward (Legacy)
- Urf Triumphant Ward
- Ward of Draven
- Widow Ward (Legacy)
And don’t forget, ward selection in champ select is here, so get out there and start getting (and giving) vision in style!"
Riot Axes with a post on the PBE boards about the item being enabled on SR as the last of the team's tentative new Juggernaut-focused items :
You've already seen some of our other juggernaut items here (link ), but we've got one more that rounds out juggernaut itemization by allowing them to make more decisions and specifically unlocks those decisions through mobility. Actually, you've already seen this item, too: in the Black Market Brawlers game mode. Dead Man's Plate heads back to the PBE with the next update as the last of our juggernaut-focused items for now.
When we first set out making items for Bilgewater: Burning Tides, we knew we wanted to leave a permanent mark on League of Legends (and not just Gangplank's update and new visuals). We also knew juggernauts would benefit from itemization in order to support their refined gameplay patterns. Enter Dreadnought Warplate. Serving as as a way to give champions who have historically lacked much control over their own destiny a way to take some of that control back, the Warplate worked as the final piece in the juggernaut itemization puzzle.
By adding the Gangplank-themed visuals and flavor to an item we designed for juggernauts to take advantage of, we were able to slay two sea serpents with one harpoon. So that's the tale of how Dead Man's Plate found it's way back to the PBE in preparation for its live debut in a future patch.
Try it out and let us know how the ol' juggers are faring with their new toys!
- Riot Axes"When asked if Dead Man's Plate will have the the same stats as it does for BMB, he noted:
"There may be some very light tuning (on the order of -5 armor or something) to keep it in line with the other patch 5.16 items, but other than that, yes, same item as the BMB version."
8/5 PBE update, Meddler commented:
"We think Vel'koz could use a small amount of extra power. We're reducing his Q reactivation time to 0.25s (most common ability cast time, so a very minor feel change from 0.3s) and increasing the range of the secondary missiles to 1100 (from 900) to match the original missile's range as a result. We're looking to put power into Q specifically since it's a pretty signature spell for Vel'koz, with a cast style that rewards experienced Vel'koz players noticeably more than people that are just good with skillshots in general."