Red Post Collection: Lyte on Removal of Ping Indicators, a few questions about champion creation, Ziggs changes, "Mentor Mode" and more!

Posted on at 3:33 AM by Moobeat
I know it's early but boy do I have a massive red post collection for you!
Continue reading for a whole smorgasbord of red posts, including Lyte on the removal of the ping indicator from the loading screen, Meddler answering a few summoner questions about the champion creation process and Ziggs, Lyte commenting on "mentor mode", and much more!

Lyte on Removal of Ping Indictaor
As you may have already seen, the loading screen ping indicator is being replaced by a display window for summoner icons.

Here is Lyte with some reasoning on why the ping indicator was removed, citing that it leads to some potentially toxic inclinations:
"You make some good points Werewolf, and when we were doing research on ping displays a few players did mention that seeing teammates' ping allowed them to potentially judge where another player's location was or better prepared them for how to play together with their teammates; however, this was not the typical experience for players. 
Our research specifically looked at players who had fluctuating pings--sometimes they had high ping, and sometimes they had low to medium ping. What we found was that when the same player had high ping, they generally were the target of more bullying and more reports. When the same player had medium and lower ping, they generally did not see the same kind of harassment. By looking at players who had fluctuating pings, we could control for any extraneous factors (personal, cultural, etc) and focus just on the impact that ping displays had. What we found was that on average, ping displays caused more harm than good. 
When making difficult decisions like these, we often ask the following: "What kind of decisions do we want players to make when presented with this information?" For ping displays, a very small number of players used the information for positive purposes while it was very easy to use the information for negative purposes (i.e = "f*ck, my teammate is using a toaster, he can't possibly play at this level!"). 
Hopefully that explains some of the rationale behind this particular change."
 He continued, responding to the questions on how their tests came up with these results
"Well, this is a very easy test. We intend on re-evaluating the players with fluctuating ping after the ping display change and see if the increased harassment and reporting persists. If it does, then we have evidence that the toxicity is probably from gameplay issues and not ping display.

If that's the case, we'll revert the change. Science is all about iteration--it's tough to get it right the very first time."
A few questions about champion creation
Replying to an especially curious summoner, Meddler shared some neat insights on Riot's champion creation process today. Here's the full transcript, including the quoted questions from the inquisitive summoner.
"Sure, happy to answer some questions. 
Originally Posted by CaptainMårvelous
@Riot- Can you tell me about champion creation?
PLEASE NOTE: I AM AWARE SOME OF THIS MAY BE UNDER NDA. Feel free to say "We cannot disclose this information" if telling me more about this process would be leaking company secrets or important information.

That note aside, I was hoping to learn more about how you guys create/design champions. Below is a small complation of questions I was hoping to have answered and/or elaborated upon.

1.) Is there a select group of people who suggest champions or can anyone in the company (Regardless of place) offer an idea? Like, can only artists/designers come up with champion ideas or can people even in the Q&A/Customer support department come up with champions? Is there some big brainstorming session where champion ideas are pitched about or is it sort of just submitting an idea when it comes to you?  
We have pitch meetings each week that anyone in the company can bring ideas to to discuss them with our champion concepting team. That team's made up of artists/designers/writers who then work on fleshing out ideas to see if they can find a combination of art, gameplay and theme that we think would make for a good champion. Sometimes the original presenter of the idea continues to be involved in that process, sometimes not. A lot of our initial ideas come from our artists since being able to convey what you're thinking of visually's really useful, plenty of characters have also come from people in other disciplines too though. 
Originally Posted by CaptainMårvelous
2.) How much of a suggestion do you guys usually work with? For example:
Mike suggests a champion. He has an idea for the character's lore and look but not the move set or voice quotes. If accepted, Ryan and David will make the move set while Steven writes up the quotes.
Mike suggests a champion. He has an idea for moveset, look, lore and quotes. All Ryan and David have to do is balance it. 
The core of a suggestion is what tends to endure throughout a champion's development e.g. "Egotistical Noxian who throws and catches axes". The details though get worked on, and frequently replaced entirely, throughout a champion's development as we work to try and figure out exactly who this character this, how they look, what play's best etc. Suggestions for abilities, dialogue, appearance etc are often part of the initial pitch, they're very much the starting point though, ideas and inspiration rather than the final form of the character. 
Originally Posted by CaptainMårvelous
When designing a champion, is there a focus on look, lore, gameplay or all of the above in equal amounts? Do you guys focus on making them look apart of the universe before working on other factors or do you make their moveset 100% crystallized before moving onto lore and looks? 
We aim for champions that are strong in all three categories, developing them in parallel with each other. What a champion looks like will inform their personality, that personality may inform gameplay, gameplay will have implications for appearance etc etc - it's a very circular process that can start anywhere. Figuring out what those things are like and producing the final assets for them are different though - you'll need to know what a spell does, how it plays and that it's fun before making the final spell effects for it for example. 
Originally Posted by CaptainMårvelous
4.) I know there are several teams, but does each time have a "flagship" character? For example:
Team A is working on Brad the champion. They devote 100% of their resources to creating Brad before moving on. Likewise, Team B is working on Ann the Champion and devote 100% of their effort into her.
Team A and B work on Brad and Ann together. They split the resources evenly in an effort of making both of them exist, although one will be finished before another. 
Depends on the role of the person in question, teams themselves tend to be pretty fluid. Gameplay designers for example will usually only be working on one champion seriously (and maybe an experimental prototype or two on the side). A writer by contrast might be working on a few different champions (final dialogue for a champion far along the process, backstory for one partway through, trying to find a good name for a new concept etc). 
Originally Posted by CaptainMårvelous
5.) How long does it usually take for a champion to move to the initial idea/vision to the final stages (PBE)? 
This one's pretty hard to answer. Some ideas may bounce around for years until we find a combination of art, theme and gameplay we like. Others may come together at a basic level over a month. Some champions, particularly those that involve multiple models (e.g. Quinn/Valor) will take a lot longer to create final assets for than others. Some champions will also need new tech (Thresh for example) which can add a bit more time to their development too. Hard to say more than 'a number of months' as a result. 
Originally Posted by CaptainMårvelous
6.) Do people who initially think up the champion become the parent? In this respect I mean similar to people sticking with their original creation. CertainlyT making Darius, for example, while Ironstylus has a focus on Leona.
If Johnny had the first idea for the champion, would he be the lead consultant on 's development, design and more or would he take a back seat to the designers, artists, developers, etc. 
Often the people who present the initial idea for a champion will be passionate about it and continue to be involved in its development. That doesn't translate to 'has control over how the champion's made' though - building a character's a team effort and whoever provides the initial idea's one of a number of people on that team.

Originally Posted by CaptainMårvelous
7.) How difficult is it to pin down the animations/vocal quotes of a champion? Do people who suggest them (Regardless of field) have a clear idea of what this champion will say, how this champion will move and what this champion will sound like? Have there been delays due to not being able to concepualize a champion?
There's a fair bit of work involved in dialogue and animations and each champion will have at least one writer and animator working on them to develop those. That'll be done in conjunction with the rest of the team, both to get additional suggestions and to ensure we're creating something cohesive. If we've got an appearance of 'Comical, light hearted, silly' for example dialogue that's 'Grim, serious and morbid' may not be a good fit. 
Delays due to trouble settling on an exact concept can happen, sometimes resulting in us scrapping a concept entirely or putting it aside to come back to later. Elise and Lee Sin are two examples of of the latter. Omen, a spine flinging/firing beast, an example of the former that we've talked about a bit. Until we've got a champion nailed down in terms of thematics/art/gameplay though it's usually not so much a delay as 'is this character ready yet'. Additionally more ideas than not never make it out of the initial brainstorming/concepting phase of course. 
Originally Posted by CaptainMårvelous
8.) Has Riot ever taken a peek at the champion concepts of the game's fans and brainstormed an idea or two? Do you guys even acknowledge fan ideas in relation to characters or do you simply browse it for the sake of spying fan creativity?(If you browse at all).
We've certainly been inspired by archetypes that players have been excited about (Female armored tank -> Leona, a darker, evil support -> Thresh, a suppordle -> Lulu etc). I'm not aware of anything more specific than that though."

Meddler on Ziggs
Meddler also took the time to discuss Ziggs a bit, including some ideas
"This is something I've also been thinking about recently. My original approach with Bouncing Bomb was to model the cast type around other AOE damage spells like Galio's Q, Karthus' Q etc which do cause you to walk into range in exchange for allowing you to reliably target a specific point from anywhere. As you say though that can be punishing in Ziggs' case when trying for longer ranged shots that hit on a bounce, especially if you naturally expect the skill to behave like our line skillshots (Ezreal's Q/W/R for example). Be really keen to hear other people's thoughts on this too, it's certainly something we could look into testing on the PBE if there's strong interest in it."
When asked if there were any other plans to look at Ziggs kit, Meddler replied:
"We'll see how the Satchel Charge changes in the upcoming patch affect things and then made some more changes if appropriate after that. In particular being able to prime the Satchel Charge to detonate as soon as it hits the ground is the sort of QoL change that can have a pretty noticeable affect on a champion's performance."

Potential for a "Mentor Mode"
Lyte hopped in to a summoner created discussion on a "Mentor Mode" - a mode allowing veteran players to in some way interact with and help teach players seeking help - earlier today, sharing his thoughts on it and poking around for some more ideas.
"We've seen ideas about Mentor Modes float around the forums for a few years. I'm curious what the community thinks of the following questions: 
1) How do we choose the Mentors? How do we ensure that Mentors are always positive in their sessions, and positively influence the experiences of other players? 
2) Do Mentors need rewards to participate, or are they just happy helping out new players?

3) What are some unique tools that Mentors would want at their disposal during a mentoring session?"
Responding to some suggestions for question number two saying that rewards should scale based on progress:
"I generally like the idea of basing the reward on the progress of the Student. For example, if the Student gains 2 divisions in Ranked play due to a Mentor, the Mentor should probably get a bigger reward than another Student who maybe gained 1 division in Ranked play due to their Mentor.

Feedback and progress-oriented loops like these do a great job of incentivizing the Mentor to always strive to do better as a Mentor."
He continued on about the idea, brainstorming this as a use for or an evolution of the Honor system
"I do like the idea of providing Honorable players with more features or ways to play the game. We've been thinking along these lines and wondering what we could do for Honorable players."
Elaborating further on Honor system in general and a summoner comment about tangible rewards ( in this case mentoring ) for those who possess honor ribbons, Lyte commented:
"We agree with this, and are thinking of better ways to polish the base Honor Initiative."

While this certainly isn't anything significant or some sort of reveal for such a system, it certainly remains an interesting possibility.

Odds and Ends
In response to questions on Rengar, Xelnath noted:
"We had a complete set of changes ready to go, I even recoded the ferocity system to prevent the infinite ability spam case, and made him more playable. Then we realized we were just rebalancing him, not taking the time we felt he deserved.

It was a very good step in the right direction though, but these things take time. The Kha'zix changes were planned about 5 months back, but we didn't release them until recently.
There's a time, place and priority for everything."

When asked if it was possible to have Karthus auto cast his Q at max range if you aim outside his cast range while he's dead and in his passive, Meddler replied:
"Seems like a reasonable change to me, I'll bounce the idea off a few people tomorrow."

Finally giving in a little to the pressure him fans on the German forums, ZenonTheStoic let out a itty bitty tiny bit of info about his upcoming champion:
[ Translated from German ] "The champion has three secret taunts that he only plays when he sees certain enemy champions. Which they are will emerge from the lore."
He also confirmed that it is NOT a support.
[ Translated from German. ] ""Okay, then let's start leaking in the german forumsUnfortunately it won't be a support. At first I wanted to make a Support and already had a pretty cool kit but, from our Pipeline, we only have room for two Supports each year and when I started Thresh was completely new. My colleague Jordan is working on a new support, but it will take a while until it's released.  
 I'm sure that next year I'll find lots of stuff that I no longer like about my first Champion. It seems everyone here feels like that. (Just talk with CertainlyT about his first Champion, Darius ;P) But right now I'm enthusiastic about my first Champion. Each morning I'm looking at the balance-playtests of our Live Designers and I'm happy each time my baby gets a kill.  
 My Livedesigner responsible for balance is Scarizard. His last release was Karma. Earlier he made the Garen-Rework. So he's our specialist for OP Champs that don't feel OP. I'm eager to see how that will work out with my champion."

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