Red Post Collection: More on Harrowing '13, Turret Indicators soon to PBE, Sivir VU Feedback, Xerath V4 / Heimer discussion, Morello on Map skins, and more!

Posted on at 7:25 PM by Moobeat
Today's red post collection is GINORMOUS and includes a wealth of information, including more Team Builder discussion, a TON of additional info on the upcoming '13 Harrowing content, Morello commenting on why we don't have Map Skins this year, Sivir VU feedback, an explanation on why we now call ADC marksmen, a heads up on the new Turret indicators coming to the PBE, and a daily dose of both Heimerdinger and Xerath rework discussion!
Continue reading for more news, straight from the official forums!

More Team Builder Discussion

Instead of feeding this massive beast of a red post collection anymore, I've continued to add all discussion on the upcoming Team Builder feature to the announcement thread - which is already pretty ripe with info as is.

Additional info on '13 Harrowing Content

Following the announcement earlier today, we've had confirmation on quite a number of things regarding the upcoming Harrowing content!

First off, Udyr confirmed via twitter that the Harrowing Ward skins WILL BE PERMANENT THIS TIME AROUND:
"Yes, Harrowing Ward Skins are permanent this time #LeagueOfLegends"

As for mystery gifts, Udyr had a few comments about them on reddit:

It's worth noting that last Harrowing's skins - Headless Hecarim, Haunted Maokai, Underworld Twisted Fate, Headmistress Fiora, Pirate Ryze and Zombie Brand - are returning, they are legacy skins - they ARE NOT a part of the upcoming Limited skin promotion and WILL NOT get you any sort of rewards. Udyr confirmed this several times on twitter and reddit.

Hippalus also commented on reddit, confirming the new skins are permanent and noting the the next Lunar Revel will get legacy skins:
"There will just be those two new skins released at the start of Harrowing this year, and both skins will be permanent additions to the store, not legacy skins. The current plan is to release new legacy skins for Lunar Revel this year instead of Harrowing for two reasons: 1) Harrowing has a lot of legacy content while Lunar Revel has none. 2) Vi and Zyra should have more accessible skins in the store as they only have 1 today."
He continued, mentioning that Haunted Zyra will be a 1350 tier skin but will be available for 975 as they've decided to stick with the 1350 tier launch discount of 975 RP:
"The Skins team has designated Haunted Zyra as a 1350 as she took a ton of effort and is near-legendary with completely new particles, new animations, etc. My preference is to have a range of prices for each champion but apparently Zyra is tough to make regular skins for, so she will likely be a long term exception. 
Overall, 1350s are becoming a bit more common than I expected several months ago, although we are still committed to the norm being 975 and to continuing to make 750s as long as players want them. We've also decided to institutionalize the 975 RP launch discount for 1350s so that early buyers can get the higher quality at the lower price."
If you'd like a better look at this year's pair of Harrowing skins -  click here for Haunted Zyra and click here for Officer Vi.

Morello on Map Skins

As the Harrowing season is just around the corner, Morello posted up a few notes on map skins and why we haven't had any. ( For newer players, Summoner's Rift used to temp. get a spooky Harrowing skin and snowy Snowdown Showdown skin each year )
"I've been mentioning that for a year. A recap on map skins! 
1) Map skins are awesome things that we're pretty damn sure players would love! 
2) Map skins are massively resource intensive because we've upped the quality of maps a lot (Hello, Howling Abyss!) Making maps of the launch quality of original SR is faster, sure. 
3) The environment team is busy working on other things that are more important currently, which is awesome, but sad because we can't have map skins yet.

4) We can't reuse the old map skins because Summoner's Rift 1.1 was released a year+ ago, and those skins can't work on the new map."
He also confirmed no Harrowing or Snowdown Showdown skins this year:
"For this year, no. I've been trying to let people know that, but forums move fast.

We want to do them, this year is out though. And we hear how much you guys think these are cool (though we think they're really cool too!)"

Sivir VU Feedback

Sivir's new base model, currently on the PBE. Click here for a look at her other updated skins. 

As she's had a bit of time to cook on the PBE, Ququroon has jumped on to the forums  to respond to some feedback on Sivir's VU and her updated skins.
"Alright, hi folks! As a disclaimer, we cannot make every change. At the end of the day, getting Sivir out delivers far more value than iterating for a longer period of time. In addition, we have a large backlog (as I'm sure you know), so that's also another challenge to balance. 
I feel that Sivir is in a great state right now, but there are a few polish points that could be explored, so that's what I'd like to talk about.

So just to start out with some of the more said ones I've seen... 
1. Bandit Sivir looking green: We'll deliver some antacids to her. Her texture isn't actually green, it's just a weird lighting issue. We're looking into it.

2. Warrior Princess Sivir looks blurry: I think it might be due to the texture being slightly complex, but I'd like more information. Where specifically does it look blurry? To me, it seems like it'd be on the weapon. 
3. Bandit Sivir lacks a 5 pointed weapon: This one is harder. Much harder. If you haven't seen, Sivir's weapon expands and contracts with animations, throws the blades, etc. It's a lot more than just a static object now, so changing it would take a rather long time.

4. PAX Sivir: We'll explore more blacks/whites. There are issues with using too much of these colors that I can get into more if people would like."

BrightEyz also noted that all Sivir skins ( including legacy or limited skins ) are now unlocked available for PBE testing:
"We have enabled all of Sivir's Skins such as PAX Sivir and Spectacular Sivir specifically for PBE testing purposes. This is so we can ensure the quality of Sivir's Skins for her relaunch."

Why do we call them Marksmen?

When asked why the choice to refer to ADC's as "marksman" was made, Morello commented:
"Just the official term we're using in things like Team Builder (see?!), and what we're going to call them. You can call them ADC if you want - we really don't care about what people call them outside of what's in official UI stuff."
He continued:
"I explained this in the original post, but I'll share it here again; 
For older players, this stuff pretty much doesn't matter - much like "Fighter" and "Bruiser" are interchangeable, ADC and Marksman are too.

For UX and visual design, you don't want multiple words (Ranged Carry, Ranged Attacker, etc). For players who don't know these conventions (IE no one in this conversation!), implying that only the ADC can "carry" is more a misnomer than the name. Carry is a verb first, so we thought we'd use it that way."

Turret Indicator's coming soon to the PBE

Iniquitee has some info on a new feature coming soon to the pbe - Turret range indicators!
"(EDIT: Due to a configuration error, indicators are currently disabled on the PBE. We are working to resolve that ASAP - in the meantime, enjoy the preview!)"
Hey PBE Community! 
As a part of our effort to go back and take a look at what it’s like to learn League of Legends for the first time, we’re taking a look at turrets. Turret behavior is one of the most confusing things for new MOBA players to pick up and the average player tucks a lot of executions under their belt before they learn when and why a turret attacks them. Even more experienced players can take months or even years to learn the exact range of a turret so they can perfect the complicated dance of turret diving and breaking aggro. 
Turret Indicators are a new addition in 3.13 that aim to teach players how turrets behave as a natural part of playing. When you’re near a turret, a ring appears on the ground to show you its exact range. The ring changes color to let you know when it is and is not safe to be near the turret, and when you’re in range and under attack the ring changes color and pattern to tell you the exact moment you draw aggro. Our goal was to be clear without being too noisy, and we’d love to hear how you think we did.

When this feature goes live, it will only be available in Co-Op vs AI and training modes like the tutorial and custom games against bots. This is a learning tool for players of all levels, but we think that once you’ve graduated to PvP, the training wheels come off and it’s time to get serious. If you don’t like the look of the indicators or want to measure your understanding of the range on the fly, we’ve added an option under the Game tab in the options menu for you to turn them off. We hope that you’ll play around with them and let us know what you think!"

Iniquitee also commented on if this would ever be available in normal PVP modes:
"We totally agree. Right now, we want to make sure this is an effective teaching tool. We are not completely against the idea of seeing this in PvP one day, but we also wonder if there aren't better, more subtle ways to do it. For now this is in bots modes only, which new players are now exposed to for a little longer due to some changes we made a couple of months ago to how game modes unlock. Based on reception, data and feedback, we'll take a look at how players interact with turrets in PvP."

Xerath V4 Context & Discussion

Xerath after casting his new "Ascension" ultimate
ZenonTheStoic has popped up to share the most recent version of Xerath's reworked kit! Check the massive post below for an overview of the latest changes and context behind them!
"Hey guys! I thought I'd pop my head in here real quick. I'm also working on Xerath and would like to give you some more insight as to where we are right now.
Xerath V4, who is coming to PBE soon[tm], looks roughly like this: 
Passive: Xerath gains 3%-20% spell penetration on his basic abilities. Every 10 seconds, his next autoattack restores 45-130 mana, or three times this amount when autoattacking a champion. 
GOALS AND THOUGHTS: The biggest problem with giving a character free spell penetration is that it makes the enemy feel like they have no/fewer options to play against this character. This comes down to counter play, really. If having your tank build MR and drawing out Xerath's fire is not a good option, your tank will feel pretty silly. We feel that at 20% spell pen this won't be the case. Additionally, we do not grant the spell pen on the ultimate because if Xerath does get ahead and uses his ultimate on the enemy ADC every teamfight, then building MR on the ADC should at least feel like a worthwhile investment. 
The mana restore is meant to gate excessive long range spell patterns in the lane. Or in less designery words: if Xerath wants to hang back and farm/harass with 1000 range Q/W in lane, he WILL run out of mana, by design. If he wants to get in minion range (or be cheeky and ward wraiths so he can use them to proc his passive safely) he'll have decent mana regen. If he wants to go all out and fight his enemy, he'll have plenty of mana to do so.

Q: Unchanged from what you guys have seen already. Charge up and release like Varus Q. I've been fiddling with the slow amount a little (it was 25%, is now 35%) just to make it less guaranteed to hit this ability on a fleeing enemy and to possibly give Xerath a window of vulnerability in lane. The range of this ability at full charge feels punishing to Xerath's enemy but is central to Xerath's identity as a long range caster. He gets up to 1400 range, which is 100 more than Corki's missiles. If you have your camera centred on Xerath, he will literally shoot off screen.

GOALS AND THOUGHTS: I consider this ability stable, in that I have great confidence that it produces fun for both Xerath and Xerath's enemies. If anything I see us tuning dodgeability on this: the delay between drawing the warning particle on the ground and actually doing the damage may change. Other than that, I am super happy with the ability. 
W: Large circular AoE damage spell which slows a tiny amount in its outer ring (10%) and a large amount (40%-60%) in its inner ring. The higher slow decays down to 10% over its duration. The inner ring also does 60% more damage than the outer ring. 
GOALS AND THOUGHTS: I also consider this ability stable, meaning I like the structure of it and the game play it creates. Damage numbers and damage amp in the middle may need tweaking. I also like the strong slow that decays down. The goal here is to make it very clear to both Xerath and his opponent that Xerath hit a bullseye; no better way to do that than with an "oh ****" slow. However, most of Xerath's power budget is in his range and his damage, as it should be, so I couldn't get away with a 60% slow over 2s; hence the decay. I also like that this ability immediately makes you think in terms of combos. Open up with E to guarantee the W center hit or fish for a W hit to guarantee the E? 
E: After casting for 0.5s, Xerath sends out a very fast blast of arcane energy, stunning the first unit hit. We recently took some damage off this, but most importantly we turned it from an 0.25s cast with an 800 speed missile into an 0.5s cast with a 2200 speed missile that draws its projected path on the ground à la Jinx W. The ground particle you will see is a placeholder I whipped up in inkscape. Obviously we won't ship something that looks like this, but while proving the ability pattern I like to overcommunicate gameplay to see if the ability is fun to dodge/land. 
GOALS AND THOUGHTS: This ability is somewhat in flux. I'm going to say I'm pretty happy with a Dark Binding like paradigm where the skillshot is hard to land but puts a significant CC on the first unit hit. It's a very simple ability, which is great on a kit that is otherwise very involved and complicated. I'm open to a lot of discussion on exactly how this is expressed. 
The most recent change attempted to accomplish two things: make Xerath more divable while normalize hittability at long range. Xerath's strength is great range, and his intended weakness is that when a melee does get to him, the melee should have an advantage. In the old version of this skill, that was not the case. An 0.25s cast time is not dodgeable and once Xerath put some ranks into this skill, the point blank stun duration (up to 1.8s!) made diving Xerath a very bad idea indeed. He'd put an E and a bullseye W on you while barely slowing down himself. Both the 0.5s cast time and the path indicator on the ground should make it more realistic for a melee to sidestep the missile and catch up with Xerath. At full range, however, the missile gets to its target faster than before.

We've only tested this in one game internally so far, but Xerath still felt sufficiently safe as long as he held on to E. There's a few other things I can try here as well, most obviously a missile that speeds up over its duration. We're currently wider and slower than Jinx W to make this less about sniping and more about area denial. I would very much encourage you all to give me feedback on this spell in particular. 
R: Xerath roots himself in place and shoots four arcane artillery rounds over a very long distance. Recently we changed this ability to no longer give vision of the full area affected, which was a LOT of excessive power. We hope this will encourage the kind of teamplay where Xerath's team spots for him or sets up fights with deep wards. We might experiment with bringing the radar pings back (if you remember: it used to show red radar pings on the minimap and in the fog of war where enemy champions are), but I first want to see if we can do without. 
GOALS AND THOUGHTS: While exact timing, damage, number of shots, duration, and visibility concerns are still in flux, I am overall happiest with this implementation so far. Let me talk about the fantasy and goals here. 
Xerath is meant to be the archetypical long range siege mage. Basically a Lux who doesn't instantly delete you from the map if she lands a Q, someone you can fight against. For the Xerath player, the power fantasy has to be this uncontained power. Who else gets to fish for artillery hits at such a range? For the enemy, however, it cannot be the feeling of playing against live Xerath, which is if he gets ahead he will stun and instakill you from the fog of war / behind a wall before you can react in any kind of way. To achieve this, we spaced out the damage and gave hints about Xerath's position and distance in the shots. 
Now before we talk about the feel of this ability, please keep in mind that the visuals you're seeing right now are very much work in progress. Our awesome VFX artist Brian is going to dedicate all of next week to making these shots feel sufficiently epic and impactful. The current version was created for an old iteration of the spell, where there was a constant stream of shots that needed to be toned down because they came down so rapidly.

We're currently trying to find the right damage numbers and delays for the ultimate. At 0.65 seconds fixed travel time (read: no matter the distance, a shot will always spend 0.65s en route) we find the ultimate not dodgeable in internal testing. Even a boots 2 Ashe has no way of avoiding the damage of a rank 2/3 (the AoE grows with rank) ultimate. I would like to hop onto the PBE one of these days and see some games there. Perhaps you guys are much better at dodging than we are? 
There are a whole bunch of reasons why Xerath only gets this one spell during his ultimate, rather than getting long range versions of all his spells. First and foremost it's simply intensity. It's already very stressful to play against this version--having to also worry about slows and stuns and massive rectangular AoE? Nerve-wrecking for both Xerath and his enemy. Secondly, I really don't want Xeraths to feel like they have to hold back on important spells from their base kit for when they want to ulti. If they see a target of opportunity they should have the ability to go for it, right away. Next, balancing of the entire basic kit would have to be very different if you could go into ult and use all of your basic spells at crazy ranges. The "oh well I guess Xerath just burst me to death from two screens away" problem would crop up again no doubt. 
I want every shot of the ultimate to feel impactful and I'm sure we'll get to the right numbers through a process of trial and error. I have two or three questions for you: 
1) As Xerath, did you feel like you made clever choices about leading your targets?
2) As an enemy of Xerath, did you feel you had the choice to dodge his shots?
3) As either, did it feel like Xerath landing all 4 shots was a significant chunk of damage? (please indicate if you were playing as or playing against).

Sorry for the long wall of text. Hit me with questions you have, but remember Xelnath's words: be civil to each other (and preferably to me as well)."

When asked about any updated particles ( as a common point of feedback is Xerath's new R LOOKS underwhelming ), ZenonTheStoic commented:
"Yeah, not sure yet, I can try and get Brian to post here and share his current thoughts. I think he's going to start ideation this week. Definitely much more explosive. From a gameplay perspective I really want to maintain directionality and distance through missile arc."

As for the slow numbers on W, he commented:
"I'm absolutely open to the possibility of bringing up the slow floor of the W (meaning both the flat amount it slows for in the outer ring and the lowest amount the center ring slow decays to). The reason I've been hesitant to do so so far is that I want as much of his power budget to be in damage as possible, and CC is EXPENSIVE"

He also elaborated on his thoughts about Xerath's E:
"So one reason I really like the E being simple is that it allows Xerath to pay more attention to the rest of his kit, but I hear you: fishing for that long range stun to set off a chain of unfortunate events for the enemy feels awesome. I question whether a super super long range siege mage should have that ability though? Secondly, as Meddler pointed out to me today, even Dark Binding (which is SLOWER than the E you're currently seeing on PBE and a LOT slower than the new E at range) is used to fish for good snares and set up fights.

There were a bunch of paradigms for the E, including a "passes through minions and only damages them, stops at champions and stuns them" paradigm, but we found this very very hard to teach to Xerath's enemies. I would like you to test the new E (which I'm currently 50/50 on, aka really not sure) and give me feedback on that. At full range your stun gets there much more quickly than before."

When asked it is possible to only have Xerath's passive proc when he is missing that much mana or more, ZenonTheStoic commented:
"Great feedback! I've changed this so Xerath will only hold on to his passive if he's missing less than the minion restore value, even if he's attacking a champion. Will be on PBE tomorrow."

As for the feedback trends so far, he commented:
"I think the feedback we've gotten so far on the move-while-charging paradigm has been overwhelmingly positive. Personally I also enjoy doing it a lot. We may need to find the right tuning for both the slow amount and the total charge duration, but I doubt we'll go to the extreme of fully rooting you for a very quick charge up."

If you wanna try it out, head on over to the PBE - these changes were added in today's update.

More Heimerdinger discussion

As we've come to enjoy in recent times, 20thCenturyFox has posted another set of responses in his Heimerdinger rework thread!

He started off this set by commenting on Heimer's balance:
"TL;DR on Heimer balance: I'm very interested in what data comes out of PBE, but final balance will have to come from the first patch or so he's live. The rework makes him healthy enough to keep him at a high power level, and we think he's there now, too--but he's also a very high skill cap champion. He needs time for players to learn strategies, etc.

I understand that a few of you feel very passionately about your vision for where his power is at, but I have to consider everyone's viewpoint, the data at my disposal, and the big accuracy gap between balance information from PBE and balance information from live. I think it's very important for Heimerdinger that he be viable--but making big power changes from individual anecdotes is not the way to do that. "
He continued:
"I share the huge desire to see Heimerdinger balanced as viable, but we can't simply discuss it until we find his balanced state. That isn't enough :[ 
Notice that the number of unique posters has dropped as the thread has gone on. Looking at the posts concerned with balance, we actually see a very small number of players having these concerns, interspersed with a larger number of less motivated players who perceive him to be average or higher strength.

This is exactly what I'd expect to see. People who think their champion is weak are waaaaay more motivated to talk about it, post analysis, etc.

At the end of the day, balance doesn't come from a forum. You guys are doing great work in bringing me your data, perceptions, and analysis. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask for your trust in balancing Heimerdinger--I will do everything in my power to see Heimerdinger viable mid, but I can't simply take your word and make it law.

I can't balance from reasoning alone. I need data ^^"

He then returned to discussing Heimer's passive:
"The challenge is thus: Hit these points below as well or better than the current passive. I should also point out that this is according to my own completely biased judgment, but that I'm very strongly motivated on this front. Difficulty of implementation is not a concern, I can throw my hours at this until it's solved. 
Bear in mind also that this is more of a 'bonus objective' as far as Heimer is concerned. Gameplay-wise the current passive does good work, it's more about making it feel cooler.

So with that out of the way, here's the goals!
  • Low mindshare cost: Heimerdinger already has a huge amount to pay attention to, the passive should 'just work' without him having to babysit it
  • Low power budget: Heimerdinger's identity is strongly tied to his turrets and active skills, weakening them for a passive is (probably) a poor trade
  • More awesome than current: Self-explanatory
  • Good for recovering from mistakes: I'd prefer passives with a gameplay goal of this type, but I'm open to other options here"

He also had a few comments about recent/upcoming changes:
"Oh and for support Dingers: I buffed their deactivated sight range, two of 'em can cover river and one can cover tribrush now."
"Turret tankiness buffed! Won't be in today, but should get in soon.

Armor now scales to 80 at level 18, MR now scales to 65 at level 18."

Morello Responding to Balance Complaints

In response to someone picking apart the balance team's recent job of keeping the game smooth, Morello unleased a torrent of responses on each point and offered his thoughts on the current health of :eague.
"My intent was not to imply there's nothing to improve or fix, it was mostly a jab at the hyperbolic THIS IS TERRIBLE feel that's based on limited data sets and popular opinion to try to position it as an attack from the OP you quote here. Let's talk brass tacks: 
League of X: Balance will fluctuate naturally, especially as we make fundamental changes to the game. The new item system (today) has better item variance than previous seasons, but we had to suffer some temporary issues to get there. This is much like when you launch a new game and it's all over the place, except that players are much better as the game's skill floor has gone up due to more mastery. I think there's something to be said for needing to react faster on that stuff, though. 
2) Only X of Y characters exist in Z lane: The real metrics on balance (IE: how we judge if we're being successful or not) comes down to a combination of possible picks (total variety) and lack of domineering picks. This is both related to tournament play and what's usable generally speaking. 
Variety has been similar (~65%) this season consistently, including Worlds, but we've done a little worse on domineering picks, with Zed, Corki and Shen being on the must-pick list (compared to only Ezreal in Season 2). We're going to institute methods of getting in front of this easier for this season and have learned some good techniques on how to watch these trends. 
Additionally, this is only in tournament play - which we do take seriously when doing balance of course - but what that means 99% of players can play most characters and be successful. Very few characters are actually in a bad spot. Even the variety between Diamond 1 and pro games is pretty different.

3) Counterplay needs more work continuously, and counter-examples tend to speak of more work to do. Silver Bolts is a terrible example though because the countering strategically != counterplay. If Vayne is overpowered because of her target selection freedom, that's a different topic. 
So should we never try to do anything on counter-play unless we can change every champion to ensure 100% of champions are as successful as we'd like here? That seems like it creates a worse problem that chipping away at it, to me. 
So if your goal is to get me to admit that League of Legends has problems we want to fix, then you got it! That's never a hard admission to make. The work is interesting because there are so many problems to solve, and it's not possible to be finished, ever ever. That's the reality of working on game health. 
Reasonable conversations about game health, balance, design and other subjects that effect play are great. They're the reason we get on these forums. But let's also be real for a second: a large number of people think they're an expert on balance, and frankly, very few people are (and if you actually are, I'm hiring!). That's why we want to use reasoned conversations, structured problem-solving, data, and objective analysis to discuss these problems in detail. 
As far as how balanced does the game "feel", I agree with something here. While any gaming forum is talking about how unbalanced every game is, there's a more balance disruption when we do season changes, and the "feeling" of how balanced the game is is risked when more must-picks appear in competitive play. And that makes sense. It's easy to read a story that says "play this champion, or don't show up as a serious contender," and that obviously feels really bad. We agree and are working to address this more aggressively.

Does this help clarify things, a little?"

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