Red Post Collection: Battlecast Illaoi: Preproduction, Quick Gameplay Thoughts: 12/13 & more

Posted on at 3:44 PM by Aznbeat
Today's red post collection includes an update on the Battlecast Illaoi skin, Meddler's quick gameplay thoughts for 12/13, and more!
Continue reading for more information!



Table of Contents


Battlecast Illaoi: Preproduction

Here's Nerp1186 with a small update on the Battlecast Illaoi skin:
"Hello everyone, 
I’m here to answer an important question: Where’s the Illaoi skin update? 
No worries! We haven’t forgotten about her. We’ve just started to focus on Battlecast Illaoi—production began this week. So now we’re aiming to give you all the first (real) update on December 26th, with an article every two weeks until the skin is ready for launch. It’s a bit tricky since each update needs about a week for design and localization, so technically we need at least two weeks of dev time before a post is ready. 
We’ve brainstormed a lot of ways to show you the development, but since we’re just starting we’d love to hear if there’s any part of the process you REALLY want to see (no guarantees, but we’ll definitely try). 
Until we can get a full update out, here’s a little sneak peek of some splash art explorations."

Quick Gameplay Thoughts: December 13


Here's Meddler with his quick gameplay thoughts for 12/13, covering randomness in general and in LoL, 8.1 Changes on the PBE, and Grasp of the Undying:
"Hi all, 
Usual Disclaimers 
These posts will often contain talk about future work we're doing, or planning to do, that isn't yet guaranteed to ship. The nature of the work could change or, depending on what we discover, projects mentioned may get put delayed or even stopped. If you'd like to see a Tweet whenever a new one of these posts goes up: https://twitter.com/RiotMeddler 
RNG - Input Randomness versus Output Randomness 
Been seeing RNG get talked about more recently, which makes sense given recent release of both Zoe and Kleptomancy. Figured it was a good time to talk through some of our thoughts a bit more. For anyone unfamiliar with the term RNG stands for random number generation/generator and is often used as a shorthand for 'randomness'. 
To start things off, we believe RNG, if done well, can have a place in competitive games. We think some forms of randomness are good fits for a game like LoL, and some aren't. Appropriate use of RNG allows players to show their adaptability, adding another type of skill test in addition to the others already present in the game (mechanical skill, coordination with team mates, etc). It can create unexpected situations that test quick thinking, allow unusual actions and can be really exciting. On the other hand if done badly it can remove meaning from player skill and decide games unfairly. 
We feel one of the common traits of competitively appropriate RNG is whether that randomness occurs as an input to decisions or an output. Inputs are things that you make decisions around, starting conditions that vary but that then play out based on player actions. Elemental Dragons are an example of that, where the type of dragon is randomly determined but it's then up to each team how they want to respond to it. Inputs benefit from being well telegraphed so players can make decisions around them and should be fair to both teams. They can be a way to incorporate the benefits of randomness while ensuring that how you respond to the situation is what determines the game outcome, not what situation was created in the first place. Examples in other games include things like randomized starting points in Starcraft or map generation in Civilization. 
With output randomness by contrast it's RNG itself, rather than decisions made after it, that often decide a situation's outcome. E.g. a 50/50 chance to destroy a target or take significant damage yourself. It's certainly possible to play around the risk of output randomness of course (e.g. trying to only opt in to risky situations when you can accept the risk of negative outcomes or adjusting your play in response to a random occurrence). Generally though with output randomness luck has a really significant impact. That can be ok if the randomness in question occurs so many times it's almost guaranteed to even out (a 50/50 chance repeated 100 times for example). With infrequent interactions though you tend to get a very luck influenced experience. 
We've avoided or removed major sources of output randomness in LoL generally and it's unlikely we'll add new ones to competitive LoL modes. Crit's a notable exception however. It does have some mitigating factors, adding risk/uncertainty to otherwise very predictable situations, and evening out in impact at a high crit %, at least against tanky champs. It's often a negative experience though, deciding more fights through luck than it should, particularly in lane when players have low crit chances. At some point we'll work on crit, change it to a system that keeps some of its benefits while reducing the 'that was bullshit, I did everything right and still lost' feeling. Not sure when that will be, it'd be a good change, but also a large project, and competes with work on things like other item overhauls, improvements to runes, smaller champion updates etc. 
Jumping back to randomness, some situations will present a mixture of both input and output randomness at once. A particularly good example of that comes from PUBG, with the loot crates dropped by plane at random locations that are then highly telegraphed for players to compete over. Poker's another good example, with both what you get in a hand and how you approach the game having enormous impact on how the game goes. In both cases it helps that high degrees of randomness are not just a tolerated part of the game, but major drawcards, so blending skill and luck makes a lot of sense. 
RNG in LoL 
Getting out of our general thoughts on RNG and talking about specific cases in LoL more then:
  • Elemental Dragons - Highly telegraphed and equally available to both teams. Bonuses are designed so that they may change the way you play/what you're team's strong at, but won't be useless for any team and, if a team's particularly strong with one of them (e.g. split push with Cloud or poke with Ocean) it should also be good against that team. Favorable dragon spawns early game can sometimes given a strong early team an advantage. We've repeatedly seen teams overcome even things like triple Infernal drakes however, so feel even the extreme outcomes are within the bounds of appropriateness.
  • Crit - Adds some unpredictability to combat that's valuable but overall has too much power in the hands of luck, rather than player response. Few more thoughts above.
  • Plants - There's some randomness in when/where plants spawn, though within a tight range of constraints (very limited range of possible spawn points and limited spawn windows). There's enough randomness that plants can create some unexpected play and test adaptability on the fly at a more tactical level than the strategic level dragons tend to impact. You'll know ahead of time that they could exist, what their effects will be, and it's how they're used that matters. Some players do dislike them, Blast Cone in particular. Overall however from what we've seen, including through survey data, they're well liked overall and we think they’re doing good things for the game too.
  • Kleptomancy - Somewhat randomized loot create a series of decisions to make around what to do with your new stuff and a bunch of exciting moments. Excessive impact of randomness is controlled by a large sample size (getting a lot of loot over the course of the game), controls on which items you can get at any point in time based off what you've recently got and how far into the game it is (no Elixir of Skill early on for example). Randomness on gold bags is also somewhat mitigated by players being able to choose to opt out of the randomized reward. Giving up another keystone also helps opponents respond to early spikes in power especially (lacking a combat keystone for direct trades).
  • Zoe - Occurrences of randomness are clearly telegraphed, with minions are marked and the abilities they drops guaranteed to spawn away from Zoe, ensuring it takes a bit more time for her to pick them up. Their impact is based off how Zoe uses whatever she picks up, not the moment something drops (exception: if Zoe instantly picks up and uses something with immediate combat impact). Yet to be seen whether we've got the appropriate items, drop rates, drop positions etc right though. That's a subject of some debate internally, especially around Gunblade and TP. Certainly creates some really interesting and creative moments, impact can sometimes feel heavily influenced by what just dropped in early laning and just before roaming.
  • Bard - Chime locations have a fair bit of randomness in them, there are still a lot of constraints on them though behind the scenes. They won't spawn too far away from Bard (especially early game) and won't spawn in terrible places like directly under enemy towers. They're around long enough it's more a 'when will I get this' than 'can I get this' question. Their timing's also tightly controlled, both in terms of when they appear and how many will be available each game. Overall they serve well to give flexibility and a bit of unpredictability to Bard's roaming, making it a more interesting experience, without luck deciding Bard's overall impactful much.
For some further thoughts on a related topic it's also well worth checking out the video Dev Diary we put out on Variance last year if you haven't already seen it:

Some 8.1 changes also on PBE 
We've got a number of changes going out in patch 7.24b next week. There are also a number of balance changes on the PBE at present though that won't be in that patch and are tentatively expected to be in patch 8.1 (early January). We're holding those changes because they need more time in testing and/or are need to be done in a way that's not possible through a micro patch (which 7.24b is, even if it'll have patch notes, normal messaging etc). Some of those changes: 
  • Buff to Brand's passive damage
  • Nerf to Heimer's RQ damage
  • Buffs to Olaf's base AD, W attack speed, E CD
  • Xerath mana cost up
  • Forbidden Idol changes
  • Predator buff
  • Grasp of the Undying 
Quick update on this. After testing changes to Grasp where some of its power was changed to provide ramping AP/AD to help it also serve various champs without sufficient keystone choice at present we've concluded that's not the right way to solve that problem. Disruption to existing Grasp users, and degree that approach changed the identity of Grasp, both being problems. Not surprising, and something we figured was a significant risk going into testing, but worth investigation, given if we had found a way to make it work it would have allowed us to improve things for those champs quicker than we otherwise could. 
We'll be leaving Grasp as is and looking to make a new Keystone instead. It's likely, though not guaranteed, that will also be in the Resolve tree. Release timing, assuming we find something that should be shipped, is uncertain. Unlikely to be in January however, given the holiday break coming up takes out some work time."

When asked about Olaf, Meddler replied
"Quote:
Is that really what Olaf needs?
Since time of writing we've been talking about backing off on that, the E CD especially from memory. More analysis of Olaf needed there, as above won't be shipping anything in the next patch regardless."

As for when we would see the micropatch 7.24b, Meddler responded:
"Quote:
Will patch 7.24b come on the live servers tomorrow?
This week from memory (whoops, need to correct a sentence above that says next week). I think we settled on tomorrow, will have to check when in at work though."

Meddler also commented more on the Resolve tree:
"Quote:
Out of interest: are the champions who are lacking that keystone (Camille, juggernauts) really champions who want to invest in the Resolve tree? I feel significantly worse without that attack speed, or the attack damage. High-ELO Camille mains seems to be choosing Comet right now because they prefer the AD they get from that tree. 
Thoughts on that new keystone's place and whether it really fits the champions you're aiming to help? What are those champions?
They're not necessarily champs who'll want to be in resolve all the time, current thinking though is that they will want to be there sometimes and should have a keystone that meets their needs better than Grasp does though. 
We'll be doing some analysis today on exactly what we want to provide, for who, and how, now that we've decided to go with something independent of Grasp. My inclination's that it'll be a keystone for tanky, or at least somewhat tanky, damage dealers (not tanks) with a sustained damage pattern on both auto attacks and abilities. That's just an estimate at this point though."

On Swain, Meddler commented:
"Quote:
Any sneakpeak about Birdperson? (Swain) Or day when we will see anything? <3
Can't say much, don't want to undercut the usual reveal/rollout process. Can say I've personally been enjoying the kit a lot in recent tests though. Recent testing with some randomly selected players we invited to the office (some Swain mains, some other mage players) seemed to go well too."

On Fiora, Meddler commented:
"Quote:
Why isn't Fiora getting anything?
Combination of Tiamat buff, Bramble nerf and generally improving performance as players are picking different runes on her."

On Rengar, Meddler replied:
"Quote:
Any updates on Rengar and/or Garen?
We'll be doing a bit of work on Rengar soon, most likely early January just after the break. 
Nothing planned for Garen."

On LeBlanc, Meddler commented:
"Quote:
Is Riot concerned about the current state of LeBlanc again? As in seeming a bit too strong on new runes?
LB hasn't come up in discussion as being too strong so far at least."

As for Kindred and Twisted Fate's RNG, Meddler replied:
"Quote:
What are your thoughts on Kindred's RNG and Twisted Fate's RNG?
Kindred's RNG is pretty minor in terms of impact on them at this point, especially given the recent changes. I think there's some benefit to it as a system creating different early play and that recent changes reduced the 'get screwed' potential a lot. Feels like a good example of RNG with mixed benefits/costs that got improved to be much more positive than negative as a result. 
TF's RNG on the passive averages out over time so I don't think it's significant. The card rotation on the W does add some variance to his combat, given the ability to lock it ahead of time and other ways skilled TF players play around it though I think it's very much a positive effect rather than a negative. 
Similar thoughts on other cases like Draven, Zac, Poppy."

When asked about elemental drakes and whether they still planned on adding one, Meddler replied:
"At some point yeah. Maybe next year?"

On the tentative resolve changes we saw on the PBE this cycle, Meddler commented:
"Quote:
Meddler, could you tell us if the Resolve's mixed stats (Health + AS/AD/AP) change that is on the PBE will come in the 7.24B patch? This change seems pretty simple and would help a lot of fighters, mainly the ones who used to pick the Veteran's Scars old mastery.
Won't be in 7.24b at least (can't be micropatched and needs more testing anyway). Moderate odds it's in 8.1, if not probably means we're going for a different approach instead."

As for when the ranked season would start, Meddler commented:
"Quote:
So is the new ranked season being turned on right away with 8.1? 
Do you feel the dust has settled on new runes sufficiently (or will have by then) for that to be ok? I'm wary of early ranked experiences being more about which team groks the new runes and appropriate choices there better more so than which teams are necessarily more skilled (granted, rune understanding is perhaps an expression of a kind of skill).
A bit after 8.1's release I think, but around the same time certainly. 
I think it's an appropriate time to turn ranked back on. Runes will have been out for a couple of months, giving people a lot of time to learn them and us time to balance the game around them. I think it's extremely appropriate that people with better understanding of how the system works get an advantage too - skill at LoL's not just ability to use your abilities, but knowledge/understanding as well."

Finally, Meddler noted again that more keystones were planned over the next year:
"Quote:
Can we expect this to set a precedent where new keystones may be added to other trees in the future as well? The current spread already covers a pretty wide base of uses and play styles, so I can't imagine what other directions you'd take but it'd be something I think a lot of people would eagerly look forward too!
Yeah, I expect we'll add a few new keystones over the course of next year."

Quick Hits

  • Riot SapMagic noted the finalization time in the Poro King champ select would be increased:
"Totally possible that this was just a miss on our end from previous times we've used the mode. I'll ask our guys to bump it up to match draft modes which I think is currently 35 seconds. Should give you some more time to figure out how you're gonna cheese the enemy team."

  • Reav3 noted the Miss Fortune splashes were still being worked on:
"The team has been working on the MF splashes a bit lately. Hopefully it won't be to long until we can get them out there."

  • Riot FayBao noted another change for Super Galaxy Gnar coming to the 8.2 PBE, due to possibility of the animations causing a seizure:

"We've taken a look at it again and have made another change! I noticed that flickering you were talking about and got rid of it. 
These changes will be reflected in 8.2 PBE :) 
Here's the GIF for those of you interested in the change, view with caution:"

Reminders

To round out this red post collection, here are a few reminders on current promotions or limited time events!
  • Snowdown is here through January 8th, including new Draven, Jinx, and Poppy skins, returning legacy skins, missions & rewards, summoner icons, emotes, Poro King and + Snow Battle ARURF, and more!
  • Just in time for Snowdown, the Riot Games Merch store has been updated with a variety of new items including a preorder for an XL BRAUM unlocked statue, new shirts and plush, a free holiday ornament with purchase, and more!

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