- EU LCS Spring Week 4
- Champion and Skin Sale 2/5 - 2/8
- Red Post Collection: Jhin Q&A, Status of upcoming Solo Queue, Duskblade of Draktharr discussion, and more!
Table of Contents
- Meddler on Upcoming Sivir Changes in Testing
- Champion Gameplay Values 2016
- League Community Podcast: Episode 8 - Inside Hextech Crafting
- Lunar Revel Ending Soon - Darkness Fades, Light Returns
- Shortened new champ select timers now testing on PBE
- Updated Champion Ability Icons
- Brand R Bug Fix in 6.3
- /ALL Chat | Dance Your Ashe Off ft. Jessica Nigri
- Porofolia Continues!
Meddler on Upcoming Sivir Changes in TestingMeddler noted they are currently looking at a W change in the near future:
"Yeah, this season's been a bit rough on Sivir. We're going to be testing some changes to her shortly and are planning on helping out subsequent W bounces. Current thinking is towards allowing W bounces to crit, since that goes well with the AD itemization that's otherwise appealing to Sivir. On hit effects would certainly be cool, but adds a lot of power in some cases and would require Sivir be balanced around the most optimal cases.
As far as Sivir's strategic niche goes the ult's always been a big part of that. Strong wave clear and reasonable team fight AOE are also intended strengths though, so this change supports that well. She's meant to be weak as a duelest too, so W bounce buffs as you've identified are potentially a really good fit."
When asked if the bounces will share or have an independent crit chance, he noted:
"Independent crit chance most likely."He continued:
So, if I understand this correctly, this would make absolutely zero difference in DPS for 1vs1 right?
Correct, if it's a straight 1v1 with no other enemies around this wouldn't affect anything."
Champion Gameplay Values 2016Riot Scruffy with a dev blog on champion gameplay values for the last year and moving forward:
"Hey everyone! So when I moved from the champ update team to the champion team this january, one of the first things we did as a group was to break down our values and evaluate where our 2014-2015 champions had landed relative to them.
The champs we evaluated:
Vel'Koz, Braum, Gnar, Azir, Kalista, Rek'Sai, Bard, Ekko, Tahm Kench, Kindred, Illaoi, Jhin
When we talk about values we mean “components of what we think is a good champion.” You might remember our six design values for League of Legends ([link] ), which are still relevant here (you might see some), but as our design philosophies have evolved, so have our values. In the future we’ll probably pull out the “big” values to share on a larger platform, but in this exercise we wanted to just talk about our present-day influences.
By the end of our meeting, we had come to some clear conclusions as a group (the 7 champion designers + me) and I wanted to share them with you. Basically what we wanted in our design values, and where we succeeded or can do better. Also, some brief explanations are added to explain what the value means, or what we think the effects of its use has been.
Values that we felt were about right:
We haven’t been hitting 100% perfection in all of our values for Champion Design, and I wanted to share some of the ones we felt could be improved:
- Decision Based Mastery - The amount of decisions and their impact on the champion’s success have been successful in retrospect. Champions with rich decisions end up keeping interest for much longer than those without (E.g. Bard vs. Warwick). This is a high bar, and really shows how much we’ve grown since the early days. So proud :)
- Reason to be picked (strategic identity) - The unique adds that many of these champions are bringing to the game are going to help them stay unique and relevant for years to come.
- Thematic synergy - Different champs deliver slightly more or less of this than others, but overall we have been finding the core thematic of each character and delivering gameplay that supports it.
- Respect for old champs - In the days of yore, we’ve been bad neighbors to the old champs of LoL and cannibalized their mechanics (and often just made them stronger). These days we’re doing a good job of respecting the existing champs.
Values we want a lot more of:
Values we want a little more of:
- Counterplay - We care a lot about the long term health of the characters we release, so this was a big one. Making sure that intended weaknesses are present or that the character doesn’t have so many tools that they have no weakness are big opportunities to make this better.
- Accessibility - We started this conversation by trying to identify where the average difficulty for our new champs should be. We landed around Velkoz/Tahm Kench. With that target, only 1 of the other 9 champs was below the average. Deep/complex champions are cool but we want to make more of them in the average or accessible range.
Values we want a lot less of:
- Visual Clarity - Pushing the boundaries with new champs often comes at the cost of a lot of clutter. We’d like to be more responsible with screenspace/visuals.
- Meaningful Constraints - This is in the little details of things. We think that the fact that Vayne’s tumble doesn’t let her go over walls creates a lot more interest than if it did. When faced with these types of micro decisions in the future we think that less will be more. Having these constraints lets the strengths that a champ has really carry.
Values we want a little less of:
- Burden on other players to participate - Some of the more unique experiences that we are delivering have been putting too much mindshare cost on the other players in the game. The Draven player is happy to play his axe catching game, but everyone else didn’t sign up for that. Another example is Skarner spires or Rek'sai tunnels -> these require a lot of time investment on other players to destroy them or keep them in check.
And that’s what I wanted to talk about this month! The main discussion points I have for us all are:
- Mechanical Execution Mastery - 200 APM champs are fun for a certain type of hardcore player, but we would like them to be a small subset of our champ pool instead of the majority.
- Unique experience - Over emphasis on this has led to what players often call “minigames.” We hope to make these a more thematic/seamless part of the champ experience going forward.
- Mobility - We’ve seen the limits of this (league of mobility ala 2013) and even had phases of Echo’s development where he went too far. In the end though, we have had a reasonably balanced approach that gives us a healthy mix of mobile and nonmobile champs. Though there are still exceptions where champions that don’t really need it end up with a dash, keep calling us out on this.
- Do you agree/disagree with where we think we’re at?
- Are there any values missing and worth discussing?
- Are you excited for 2016 with this refreshed perspective and how we hope to apply it?
Following the post, Riot Scruffy hung around the boards and reddit to discuss and answer questions:
"Yes, expect some balance stuff to fiora soontm."On the topic of counterpaly, Scruffy commented:
I think somewhat related to "Counterplay", "Frustration" should be a factor. In particular, in my opinion, Ekko really has no weaknesses. Nearly all of his abilities are dashes/blinks/slows, and he has enough passive damage that 'tank-jungle Ekko' was and still is a thing. He's like Yasuo and Gnar, in a way; you have to rely on them to make a mistake, rather than actually outplaying him (except Yasuo is inherently fragile and gated by items, and Gnar has longer cds).
I also find Kindred to be especially frustrating, even though she's not quite as popular anymore. She's an ADC who is resistant to assassination, has access to a wall-hopping dash on short CD, and has infinitely scaling % health damage.
I guess my point is that i hope, in the future, you guys consider "how are opponents supposed to deal with this" rather than just "look at all this cool stuff they can do!"
On a separate note, i really do like Bard a lot, and hope to see more supports that have kits almost entirely based around utility. Also like Rek'sai, Vel'koz, Braum.It's a good call out that tank ekko was a problem. When he was building tanky it was covering his intended weakness for a "im really fast but if you catch me i'll die" type champion.
I agree with you here and one of our "We need a lot more of this" was counterplay (the playing against experience)."he continued:
What is your opinion of what I refer to as the "mental tax" when playing against certain champions/styles of play? You hit on it with Illaoi and the frustration associated with her vessel status, but more broadly, what about champions with low cost, highly spammable skills (this has to do with both frustration and meaningful constraints).
As an example, old Nidalee/current Zed versus the Thresh/Morg/Blitz. The former has basically resource-less poke on a low cd where a single (or a couple) hits of a skill that is difficult to dodge basically leads to a scenario where you are forced to play perfect or lose (whether that is a death or a fountain trip). The latter is a more fair variant, with a higher pay off (cc) but a correspondingly higher cost in terms of cd and resources. This has proven an issue for a number of recent champions/reworks (see: Illaoi, Gnar to some extent, Darius pre nerf Q), and I was curious if what development's current view was on being on the receiving side of the mental tax of avoiding/dodging/etc was.There's a concept when it comes to counterplay and meaningful tax that I really like: quality over quantity.
We could make a champ like morgana with a dark binding Q (totally fair, dodgeable etc) but if she cast it on a 2s cooldown it would very quickly become overwhelming for the opponent. This is why counterplay or "the moment where the enemy has to care" is often condensed into a moderately frequent but high impact moment. Good combat pacing doesn't require players to be on high alert all the time."
In response to a comment about how successful Bard seems, RiotScruffy noted:
you only have a problem with Azir and Bard, Azir need his passive back, or any possible buff to bring him back to the game, for Bard, I don't know, but he failed hard :(Bard is what I would call a "successful niche" champion. Players tend to either love him or hate him, but in a game with 129 other champs to pick from, it's ok when you have a Bard type who makes 10% of players really really happy."
As for where Lucian and Kalista fit into "strategic diversity", RiotScruffy commented:
I find that Kalista and Lucian don't fit the "strategic diversity" part to be honest.
Kalista can do basically everything except lategame DPS, but this is mostly not an issue since you don't even reach lategame most of the times nowadays, while Lucian after the mastery/ADC items rework is an abomination that has really no kind of drawback except having no utility: he has godlike early-midgame and now even really good lategame, godlike mobility, incredible AOE damage, huge burst etc...and you can clearly see this yourself since he's being spammed in every kind of elo and pro play, he's even getting banned sometimes.
On Kalista, he continued:I think that the other new champions listed were really well designed overall.Lucian released in a time before we had really started focusing on making each champ strategically unique. Kalista was in the early days of experimenting with the idea and I think she brings some unique things to the Marksmen class (extreme kiting, ally saving). That said, she has been a bit hard to balance because of some of her weaknesses going away when you are super high skill with her."
What do you think of Kalista's attack moving in terms of accomplishing its goal? I think it'd be a lot cooler if it more closely simulated attack moving (lower hop distance but more hops scaling with attackspeed).The original goal we had with Kalista was to make an approachable marksman that taught players how to attack move. We realized that we were trending towards something that was much more mechanically difficult and decided to keep it for the unique feel and what it brought to the character (kiting power and dodging)."
When asked what he meant by "burden on other players to participate", RiotScruffy explained:
Can you expand on what you mean by "burden on other players to participate"? Is draven's ax-catching game somehow detrimental to other players? Perhaps some more examples?Mechanics like Rek'sai tunnel or Skarner spires put a lot of burden on the other players in the game because they are constantly having to destroy or capture them. We think this was adding more frustration than fun and it's not a scalable design method."
"The core strength/weakness for Jhin was intended to be this:
Strength - Insane range and CC combos with allies (the W and R)
Weakness - lower sustained dps than most marksmen
The attack speed issue you have with the champ is an intended part of giving him a real weakness to complement his unique strengths. As far as actual reload timing and numbers go, those will change over time as we balance him and understand where he succeeds and fails in the real world (lol the real world of LoL)."
When asked about champions feeling overloaded or hard to understand, Scruffy commented:
I personally agree with most of it, however, I personally feel a lot of the champs evaluated (ekko being a prime example) are overloaded kit-wise and mechanics-wise.
It is difficult enough to understand a new champion, but when said champion's abilities has passives and interactions with other parts of their or someone else's kit it gets weird.
It also leads to the champion feeling too strong, prime example being Jhin's w, apart from being a slow and hitting instantly in the entire line (unlike something like Jinx's W), it also roots basically all the time (at least it feels like it), and it leads to a sensation of "oh, it does that too?" which isn't fun to face.
Ultimately most of the champs were cool concepts, but I feel the execution fell a bit short this time.Champs not being overloaded is something I didn't talk about, but it is valuable.
Overloading mechanics onto a kit has a bunch of negative effects:
Increased complexity (we want depth not complexity)
Filling in weaknesses that the champ should have to be healthy
Diluting the power budget -> not allowing the core of the character to really shine."
As for the difference between a "mini game" and a "unique experience" on a champion, he noted:
"Quote:Scruffy continued, sharing his thoughts on where Illaoi currently sits:
Where do you think the tipping point is between 'minigame' and unique experience? Did that come up in discussion a lot with Illaoi or Kindred?I think the 2 main ways to make a unique experience without it feeling like a minigame are these:
- Thematic match - when graves' shotgun shoots in a cone, it's not a minigame because it makes intuitive sense
- Synergy with your basic goals - Darius already wants to get 5 stacks and dunk you so the new mechanics weave well into that"
Whats your thoughts on the state of Illaoi? Pros dont seem to take a liking to her, and so far in soloq she hasn't quite found her place yet either. We see the highlight 5 man ultis every once and a while, but aside from those rare moments she seems underwhelming. (No hard CC, no escape for top lane ganks, and when an enemy champion getsmarked or whatever its called the tentacles are far to easy to dodge)She is weak statistically we think, but there are some frustrations for opponents when playing against her.
Its a very interesting design, but as it stands right now it feels like another champion that will be reworked in a few years before it sees competitive play
Ideally we do a 2 birds 1 stone patch with power up frustration down."He continued:
Have u guys thought about reducing the active time of Illaois Vessels? (her E) It's absolutely horrendous to play against. 1 entire minute of dodging both spawning tentacles, juggling farm in between and getting zoned/harrassed by Illaoi herself.. At least reduce it to 30-40 seconds. Or destroy two tentacles to get rid of Vessels. I do like the recent change to her E thoughThis debuff fits really well into the "Burden on other players to participate" category. We think that it adds a lot more frustration than necessary for not even being the most powerful effect."
As for this frustration playing against champions like Illaoi & Tahm Kench, he noted:
Do you think that there has been too much focus on the fun of the player instead of the fun of the opponent? For example champions like Tahm Kench or Illaoi can be really enjoyable and unique for the player to play, but playing against them can be very frustrating despite some counterplay mechanics being built in. For example, getting chain-cursed by Illaoi because you're trying to kill tentacles from an earlier curse is one of the most frustrating experiences, or having an enemy saved from a mistake they most certainly should have died for by a Tahm Kench pressing w. Are these types of annoying/seemingly "unfair" mechanics going to be avoided in the future?A few of the values mentioned in the post lead to a poor experience for the opponent.
Low Counterplay + Lots of burden playing against = Frustration
TK has had issues since release because of not having a clear weakness and also we didn't deliver on the counterplay of his Q (which tells the opponent that they can dodge). Hopefully the changes in recent and upcoming patches move him closer.
Illaoi is mostly about burden on the opponent. The vessel debuff isn't really super powerful but it requires a lot of time and energy to deal with. This is a valuable lesson for us and we're thinking about ways to make it less oppressive."
As the dilemma of counterplay across skill levels, Scruffy commented:
Great stuff, Scruff.
I know this is an unusual thing to say, but with Illaoi's release, I think you guys might be pushing 'Counterplay' too far. She appears to have this weird problem. She's percieved as OP by low elo (gold and below) players, even though that's statistically untrue. But at the same time, she's barely even picked above low Diamond, and her statistics there are dismal.
I think this stems from having a ton of ways to counter her. She has to have incredibly high impact when she plays successfully, which frustrates her opponents, but she's very limited in her ability to set up herself for success. She doesn't have much agency.
The other champions of last year were relatively successful in my opinion, I actually really like how you approached the challenge of making Kindred work in her niche, and Ekko has a brilliantly cohesive kit. I thought at first that he would be "Diana 2.0", but they have really distinct strengths and weaknesses.This is a very tricky problem that we've seen in both ways.
Counterplay increases as skill increases - Illaoi, garen etc
Counterplay decreases as skill increases - Leblanc, Zed, etc
We don't like either of these and want the playing against tactics to be effective in all elos ideally. Patch sized changes can often help with this if you target areas of the kit that are good at high or low skill."
When asked about Vel'Koz place on the mage update list, Scruffy commented:
In the context of this blog post and the upcoming Mage update, I'm curious what lead you guys to pinpoint Vel'Koz as one of the 'Big Six' that was in need of some changes. You identified him as one of the two champions that marked average accessibility (I assume this is marginally better than being easier to access, in general. I could be wrong), and it seems like he accomplishes a lot of the things you pointed out in this blog.
- Decision Based Mastery - as a skillshot champ (with Q being harder to hit/master than most skillshots) and as a champ with no free escape tools
- Thematic Synergy - I feel this when I play him, but I feel as if the team at Riot may feel differently. It's very satisfying to cast E, W, Q, R and have them all hit at basically the same time due to cast/travel times. It feels a Tripod from War of the Worlds.
- Respect for Old Champs - I don't think there's any poaching done by Vel'Koz.
- Counterplay - Again, as a skill-shot champion there's a lot to play around. Only his R is 'undodgeable', but even then there are ways to lessen the damage.
- Accessibility - As stated yourself, Vel'Koz is the benchmark for average accessbility. I assume that's good.
- Visual Clarity - There are some issues with being able to see Void Rift, and perhaps with Plasma Fission splitting in fog of war. Nothing major.
- Meaningful Constraints - Being a champion with no built-in escapes seems to satisfy this pretty well. I may not be getting exactly what the focus is in this category, though.
- Burden on other players to participate - Vel'Koz has no real 'minigames', in my opinion. If you count the passive, it's only for himself ('don't get hit' is a game the opponents should always be playing, anyway)
- Mechanical Execution Mastery - He requires precision, but not necessarily mechanical execution.
- Unique Experience - Again, there aren't too many 'minigames' with Vel'Koz.
- Mobility - It's certainly hard to have less mobility than a champion with no escapes that roots itself to deal damage.
All-in-all, I'd say that the area in which Vel'Koz falls short the most is Reason to be picked (strategic identity). You could say he's just another long-range, damage/utility mage, and there are a few of those. From what I can gather, the Mage Update is trying to diversify the identities of mages who are like this... but I'm not sure what Vel'Koz does to make him the target of this more than other mages.
Sorry for the long post. I'm trying to work my way into game design, so I'm wanting to figure out how to think like designers do. A response would be appreciated, but not expected. Great blog post by the way, I love reading this kind of thing!You're exactly right, his update is entirely focused on reason to be picked and we are leaving his kit mostly unchanged otherwise. He's a cool champ that just didn't end up having a strong presence in the game because he didn't have a focused strategic add to a team."
Scruffy also commented on ability that affect allied champions such as Bard R or TK Devour:
How do you feel about abilities that affect allied champions in such specific way as Bard's ultimate and Tahm Kench devour? Will we see these more in the future?I think Bard ult opened the door to this type of ability. When done right (more opt in for the ally) it works great. There are a lot of mechanics there that we haven't explored yet so I would hope to see more in the future."
League Community Podcast: Episode 8 - Inside Hextech CraftingThe eight episode of the League Community Podcast is up and focuses on the upcoming HEXTECH CRAFTING system!
"Welcome to the latest installment of the League Community Podcast, a series in which we take you behind-the-scenes with the people who help make League possible. Expect new guests and new stories every couple of weeks or so, and make sure to hit us with those sweet comments and ratings so we can keep striving toward a Challenger tier podcast.
This week, we got to know a couple members of the Hextech Crafting team and picked their brains on the upcoming feature, progression systems, and of course, phat lewts."
check out our PBE coverage!
Lunar Revel Ending Soon - Darkness Fades, Light Returns
Here's a friendly reminder that the Lunar Revel is ending soon and legacy content and bundles will be headed into the vault on February 8th!
"As the dark fades in the brilliance of a new year, Lunar Wraith Caitlyn and Lunar Wraith Morgana descend into the Legacy Vault on February 8, 23:59 PST. Harness the ever-lurking darkness before it is exiled behind every flickering flame.2016 Lunar Revel coverage] for previews and more on the new content available!
Shortened new champ select timers now testing on PBEBoourns has posted over on the PBE boards about tentative reductions to the new champion select timers!
Now that everyone’s played a few games in new champ select, we’re beginning to test shortened timers to move you into games a little more quickly while still leaving ample time for strategery.
Changes listed below, let us know how it feels!
35 seconds → 20 seconds
40 seconds → 30 seconds (x6)
40 seconds → 30 seconds (x10)
40 seconds → 30 seconds
Potential time cap:For more on the latest PBE changes, check out our current PBE cycle post!
720 seconds → 530 seconds"
Updated Champion Ability IconsWith the recent PBE updates to the ability icons for Gragas, Lux, and Shaco, Reav3 popped onto the boards to note there will be more coming up including a set for Cho'Gath sometime in the future!
"We have some Cho'Gath ones in the work, yet I don't have a eta on them right now.
We are also planning on updating the icons for some of the mages for the "mid-year" mage roster project. Where needed of course."
"Malz will for sure get updated icons.
The problem we run into when doing these roster updates on old champions is that if we change one ability we have 2 options,
1) Update the one ability icon but make it look low quality to match the old ones, or;
2) Update all there icons.
We would like the do option 2 if possible in all cases that need it."Speaking of, Gragas, Lux, and Shaco have upcoming icon updates in 6.3! Check 'em out here.
Brand R Bug Fix in 6.3ManWolfAxeBoss popped in to a recent reddit thread to comment on a Brand R bug in 6.2 that will be fixed in the upcoming 6.3 patch.
"Hey dudes,When asked why they didn't just disable Brand, he continued:
This happens when Brand ults a champion that is Ablaze and no other enemy champion is around to bounce to.
Ya... We found this bug over the weekend. I came in on Sunday to investigate, and hammered out a fix with the one and only CertainlyT. On Monday we discussed whether or not we wanted to do a redeploy (hotfix) because this bug is pretty bad. However, it was introduced in an attempt to fix another bug with Brand's R...
We've had a few different issues come from trying to fix his ult. The buff for bouncing off invulnerable stuff a while ago complicated things quite a bit. Because of the complexity of the fix and history of failed fixes in the past, we decided not to push it to live for fear of just introducing something else. Lame, but it's the safest choice.
None of this is excusable, but I thought I'd share some insight into what happened and why we aren't addressing it immediately. This made it through multiple layers of review and we screwed up, leaving you guys with a shitty experience.
All that being said, the full fix will be going out in 6.3. Hopefully less than a week away."
"We considered it, but disables tend to be more painful than playing with a bug. "I can't play my favorite champion" vs. "I can't play my favorite champion optimally."
It's a tough call to make and varies from bug to bug, but in this case we felt like it was better to leave him enabled. This was done because roughly 2/3 of Brand play is as support, where you rarely see the bug, and it doesn't present itself much post laning phase.
Again, those both suck, but we think it's better than having to disable the champion altogether."
/ALL Chat | Dance Your Ashe Off ft. Jessica NigriLast up we have a new episode of /ALL Chat with special guest Jessica Nigri!
"Cosplayer Jessica Nigri joins Sam, Jimmy, and James this week on ALL Chat! Jessica talks about her newest Kindred cosplay and her first con experiences. Against James’ protests, we have a champion dance competition and things get weird.
Josh thought that he had jury duty so he couldn’t make this episode but ended up NOT having jury duty. Instead, he posted on Snapchat and angrily paced around backstage all day."
Porofolia continues on the BR LoL page and that means more adorable art of poros dressed as champions!
Porofolia website over the next week for more art each day through February 9th!