CertainlyT talks Nidalee's Jump, "Creative Builds", and Various Balance Topics

Posted on at 9:51 AM by Moobeat
How about we take in a nice, soothing set of red posts before tonight's exciting NA LCS action starts up?
Continue reading for a collection of red posts where CertainlyT weighs in on Nidalee's cat form jump and responds to various player balance concerns.

Nidalee's Jump
Here is what CertainlyT had to say about making Nidalee's Jump go towards the cursor location, similar to have Vayne's tumble works.
"I don't play Nidalee seriously, but this is an issue I've put some thought into, since I too have a hard time using Pounce to maximum effectiveness. There are definitely gains to be had from cursor targeting -- it would make wall hopping easier and would avoid the wonkiness that is trying to pounce while your facing is changing in the midst of minions. 
However, there are also a lot of costs. I'll detail them below, but I'd first like to note that we would almost never leave an ability in an intentionally frustrating to use spot just due to concerns about the champion's power. First, we increasingly balance around competitive play, where those difficulties are more readily compensated for. Second, "obnoxious to play, therefor powerful" is, in my opinion at least, about the worst thing one can do as a game designer. Quite the opposite, champion's are at their richest when their power is placed on the most fulfilling aspects of their kits (buff Varus Q please). I like to make the most difficult-to-use/subtle abilities the optimization points of a champion, rather than the core (take Thresh E, for example).

Why then might we make an ability hard to use? To promote unique, compelling gameplay patterns, making sure a champion's abilities flow well when used together. Nidalee's facing-oriented pounce does this in a few way, all of which would be compromised if pounce was jump to target: 
First, pounce is as much a strategic mobility tool as it is a tactical reposition. Nidalee players spam pounce while moving across the map. They tend to put their cursor near their eventual location, often at camera positions that are many screens away from their current location. If Pounce were dash-to-cursor, players would frequently have to keep their camera on their own position to move efficiently. 
Second, pounce is linked inextricably to javelin toss, and that synergy demands jump to facing because Javelin Toss is very narrow and so must be targeted precisely with the mouse. Ugh, that sounds really technical, so let's just use some concrete examples: 
*When moving away from enemies, javelin toss into Cougar+Pounce is the tactic that maximizes both Javelin's damage and Nidalee's kiting potential. That combo much much harder to execute when you have to move your cursor from one side of your model to the other. 
*Conversely, when in Cougar, pouncing laterally to dodge minions and then immediately tossing a Javelin toward your cursor is easier when you can right click a location to move to, reorient your mouse toward your Javelin target, then Pounce into cancel Cougar + Javelin Toss.

Lastly, altering Pounce would be a big deal for current Nidalee mains who like how unique the ability feels. The argument here is that uniqueness, when appreciated, is a good in and of itself. We have received a lot of pushback on earlier attempts to alter its targeting in the past. I think those voices need to count disproportionately, since the ultimate goal of any change to our game is to maximize the total fulfillment of our player base, not to maximize the number of players that find an individual champion fulfilling. Using made up numbers, if Nidalee were 100% more enjoyable than any other champion to a moderate number of players, that might be superior to her being 10% more enjoyable than any other champion to twice that many players."
Grab Bag of Player Balance Complaints
In a thread discussing the recent nerfs to AP Tryndamere, players voiced their concerns about Riot "not supporting creative builds". CertainlyT responds:
"Boy, it was really creative of people to click on a reddit thread and copy the build they saw within...

Seriously, we didn't hit Trynd when we made the Nashor's change for the exact reason you gave -- it's fun to do something non-traditional (we also didn't understand just how good the build was). However, the cat is out of the bag, everyone who actually discovered this build before it became really popular has been able to have their fun, and it's time to put serious thought into balancing it. Additionally, AP Tryndamere basically nullifies the core element of Tryndamere's kit -- rage management -- and isn't very fun to play against -- it turns him into a pseudo-unkillable hyper-sustainer against whom any non-lethal damage is healed over in less than the time between creep waves with a pure split push lategame."
As a follow up to that thread, here is a sort of catch all post from CertainlyT where he addresses a few other balance concerns from players  including AP Janna, Rengar, AD Tryndamere, buffing weak champions, Teemo/Darius. and quirky builds.
"What's with all the needlessly inflammatory and inaccurate posts today?

*AP Janna is a real build that wins games all the time. AP Janna was overpowered before. Live design feels she is balanced now. It's not Live design's fault a lot of people stopped playing her without objectively assessing her power. It's not their fault that player perception is incredibly fickle or that most players don't have an accurate perception of less common builds. It's not their fault that balanced supportive solo lane mages tend to see less play compared to balanced pure carry solo lane mages. She's still a blast to play, and effective to boot. You just have to appreciate the entire power of your kit and pick her in comps that can afford to sacrifice some damage from a solo laner (e.g., protect Kog'Maw or something similar). 
*Rengar is not in an ideal spot right now. We realize that. The fact that we don't just roll out a perfect solution to him isn't a sign that we aren't trying. It's more a reflection of how difficult resourceless kits can be to balance, especially one with the positional and ability usage depth of Rengar. 
*We DID buff AD Tryndamere last patch and the patch before that -- in 3.02 his collision radius was reduced substantially so that he could move through creeps/fights more fluidly without getting blocked. In 3.01 his base attack speed was increased and his fury decay slowed. 
*We routinely buff underperforming champions. Let's look at the last couple patches:
3.02 -- Akali, Janna, Nami, Nasus, Sivir were all buffed to some degree
3.01 -- Diana, Heimer, Kennen, Nasus, Sion, Tristana, Tryndamere, Veigar, Volibear, were all buffed to some degree 
*We have nerfed "unfun" builds that were also too powerful -- Darius has a nerf to his ultimate on the PBE at this very moment. We hit the absurd base damage on Teemo mushrooms a while ago. These kind of changes are both routine and essential to long term game health. That Teemo nerf was met with similar doom and gloom posts. Today? Teemo wins about half his games, and Liandry's Torment + Deathcap are some of his most commonly built items. 
*Players have no inherent right in this game to playstyles that do not meaningfully engage their opponent in a way that can be responded to. Having a manaless 7.2 sec CD >500 hp heal on a champion with a 5.4 second CD wall hop and an invulnerability ult may be fun to play as, but that unending split push threat was just about the most frustrating thing ever to play against."

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