[ Updated ] Red Post Collection: More Discussion on Item Name & Icon Changes, Preseason Ranked FAQ, and more!

Posted on at 7:07 PM by Moobeat
Update: Added two new posts, one concerning the upcoming name changes to Kage's Pick, Kage's Lucky Pick, & Shard of True Ice and the other on One of All being disabled on the PBE until Friday.

What? YOU WANT MORE RED POSTS!? Here's another collection featuring extended discussion on the item name and icon changes mentioned yesterday, an FAQ on how ranked is going to work now that we are in preseason, and davin sharing some insights on what kind of SCIENCE goes into champion reworks.
Continue reading for more information!

One for All disabled until Friday

Here's Brackhar with a note that the One for All mode that's currrently testing on the PBE will be disabled until Friday.
"Hey All,

We need to test some of our automated on/off scripting for One For All, so it's currently disabled. It will return to PBE this Friday. 

Name Changes to Kage's Item Line

In order to avoid a big mess like with the Philospher's Stone and Shurelya's line, Pwyff has posted a heads up on some upcoming changes to the Kage's Pick series of support items.

"Hey all,
We got into a bit of a kerfuffle last time some item name changes hit the PBE without any context, so let's jump in front with some discussion before the changes get laid out. 
First, there's been a lot (A LOT) of discussion surrounding the renaming of Shurelya's Reverie to "Icon of the Sun Disk" (http://forums.na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?p=42941112 ) (is now Shurima's Reverie last time I heard) so I won't get into it, but just to summarize in a concise way:
  • We really meant no disrespect to the designers that contribute to and helped shape League of Legends.
  • We really shouldn't make changes without context!
Ultimately change does happen, but working in a vacuum sucks and should be done with player empathy in mind. 
As to why these items are getting their names changed, the real catalyst that drives an item name / icon change is usually when its name / functionality collide with player expectations. As some of you may have noted in other discussions, we have some things like books combining into guns (what a delightful metaphor), but that's a legacy expectation (more on that in a second). As our design team focuses on designing for players new and old (and what makes sense vs. what's delightful inside baseball) there are times where the question gets asked, "If we're revamping it, can we make its progression make sense as well?" That gets taken one step further as we bake in some creative lore to let players connect with the item's in-game historical significance. 
So the problem was that we reworked an item in a significant (or less than significant) way and in playtests we ran into problems where players would say, "I expected this item to build into multiple things like it used to," or, "this item doesn't do this anymore? Since when?" 
That was when we realized if we wanted to message to players "RE LEARN WHAT THIS ITEM IS AND WHY YOU WANT IT," we needed to change its name to "reset" expectations (getting away from those legacy expectations). There are times where this can feel (and maybe is) heavy handed, but that's where context comes in so we can discuss and - in the case of Shurima's Reverie with Historian Shurelya - change course if needed. 
The item build line of Kage's Pick > Kage's Lucky Pick > Shard of True Ice has been renamed to: 
Spellthief’s Edge > Frostfang > Frost Queen’s Claim
  • Passive: Tribute
  • Active (on Frost Queen's Claim): Arctic Embrace
Might be some fans out there who were attached to the older names, but this is just a tribute! 
You gotta believe it! 
MOVING ON: As we've discussed before, the new names for the item build line of Philosopher's Pebble > Philosopher's Stone > Shurelya's Reverie is now:
Ancient Coin > Nomad’s Medallion > Talisman of Ascension
  • Passive: Favor
So there is context. ricklessabandon worked on the new Spellthief item build line name changes with some folks, so he may be able to stop in if y'all have feedback. CONTEXT.... OUT."

More on Item name and icon changes

Continuing on yesterday's discussion of the tentative item name changes ( particularly Shurelya's Reverie and Philospher stone ),  Morello spoke up to the situation of "tarnishing" Shurelia's in game legacy, saying:
"I talked with her myself on Steam last night - she understands why we're doing it now that she knows that it's not to intentionally remove her legacy from the game. 
So before she had context, yeah, she was disappointed! She might still be a little - I know I would be if Morellonomicon were changed - but she understands the reason why and we're going to find a way to preserve her legacy somehow. Maybe not in 3.14, but we'll find a way to do so.

However, it's not my place to speak for her - you can ask her how she feels on Twitter if you'd like. I understand you guys were confused as to why (and thanks to Xelnath and Radioblur for talking about it!) previously, but now that we've explained it and talked to her, you can engage the conversation with her if you'd like.

Shu and I have been cool for...well, ever. So we talked about it like reasonable adults, like people tend to do when there's a misunderstanding :P"
He continued, responding to more criticism
"Two things: 
1) I personally think people worrying about Shu's feelings have good intentions, but frankly, I've spent a great deal more time talking with her than anyone here has. I'm pretty much not interested in proving, discussing or validating the "but you guys hate Shurelia" as I actually know her. Good point it would have been better to talk to her first - agreed. We work fast and have a lot to do. 
2) We explained why; we wanted to use thematics to sell the exclusivity mechanic. It's a new mechanic that was causing some confusion on build path (external test and internal tests, only data we have) that we wanted to clean up. Faction-based items are a thematic way to try to show more that these are exclusive.

It effects only North America, really (where the lore hook goes global). The cost is low (this does not actually matter that much - though conversations about name quality can have validity), the benefit is moderate. We get some usability benefits, have more lore-related things in-game - that's good. We lose Shurelia's legacy - that's not good, so like I mentioned on Twitter and in here earlier, we'll find a way to restore that legacy"
He also noted:
"We mainly changed Shurelia's to match a faction-based gameflow to sell the exclusivity mechanic. I'd do the same with any reference item.

To be clear, I'm OK dropping all references to other things, but it's not needed unless it conflicts with some other, honestly more-important goal."

Xelnath also commented on the changes to references in other games, saying:
"There is a huge difference between a subtle reference, and an explicit reference. A subtle reference hints at its origins for those in the know. An explicit reference literally takes the entire name and copies it wholesale.

Subtext is good. References are fun. People who don't know the reference shouldn't be spending hours trying to figure out "Who's Youmuu? Is he important to the story?" "Praise the Sun" fits the context of Shurima or Targon and still hints at other franchises."
When questioned about Rylai, Guinsoo, and Athene - other characters who have an item of their own, Xelnath shared their origins:
"Rylai - reference to DotA 
Guinsoo - reference to a League dev 
Athene - reference to a player who recruited a lot 
These references existing is generally benign. While they are benign, we leave them there, because they hold history for people around back in the old days of League. When they become non-benign and need to be re-evaluated in a new context, we do that.

Yes, I understand it's not fun to see the things you're attached to go away. It sucks. Sometimes its necessary and appropriate though - and sometimes we have to make these calls in a short period of time that doesn't allow for lorification or ceremony."

After the ensuing discussion, Xelnath attempted to summarize summoner concern over this whole ordeal as:
"Let me see if I understand correctly:
  1. Because this reference went away you are concerned all references will go away
  2. You are concerned that the loss of references makes league less rich
  3. You are concerned that the game will become unfamiliar when they are gone
  4. You feel that the reasons for the reference removal are arbitrary
  5. You feel that we're only doing this because we did not understand the original reference
  6. You do not feel that the new references are as strong or interesting as the new references
  7. You feel that league's lore is undersold, under reinforced and unfamiliar
Is this correct?"
Responding to someone upset particularly about the Shurelya's name change, he commented:
"Ah, this is a useful insight. My original intent was not to remove this reference. In fact, we kept it as long as we reasonably could. Once we came to the conclusion to change the image and identity of the items, we regretfully had to remove the Shurelya's reference.

I totally understand that you enjoyed Shurelia from the game or Shurelya from our forums and wanted to see her stick around. In our case, we care a lot about the ex-developer Shurelya and want to preserve her memory."

Xelnath also reiterated his point of not changing the name pointlessly but in an effort to better connect it with the League of Legend's world:
"The core point of the decision had nothing to do with the origins of the name - it had to do with the name conflicting with the new story of the item.
We did not go in and say "hey, let's shove a random shurima reference in here, where can we get one?" 
We very much did say, "hey, what faction best suits finding wealth, growing wealth and moving many people around?"

The latter was very clearly Shurima - a nomadic people would be most likely to find ancient relics, their mechants most likely to travel in groups - and thus, it makes sense that the activated effect makes an entire group move quickly from one place to another!"

He also replied to someone upset that these items are being used as an avenue to share lore:
"In this case, we are using the lore as a tool. A tool to help sell an idea. It's a gentle touch, sure, but that's why we're using our factions. It's not a hard, fast rule. 
I have to repeat the answer you've heard before - because I don't have a new one I can share. However, I would politely like to disagree - look at the awesome experiences our teams have made creating new character intros - like the Jinx music video, the spoiler comics for Zac, Quinn, Aatrox and beyond.

I realize that these might not be appreciated equally as you did the JoJ - but we are actively exposing the lore we want for league of legends in different ways."

On the otherside of yesterday's discussionRadioblur also commented on the topic of making League of Legends items more unique, a conversation born out of the recent PBE change to Youmuu's Ghostblade's Icon which is a reference to another game series called "Touhou Project".
"The key here is not to be beholden to what other people have done in other franchises. It's not our goal to redo things exactly the way others have before. In this thread there has already been a lot of discussion of League's charm and the perceived loss of that. To me, that charm comes from the uniqueness of the world we've crafted, and the characters who live therein. Imagine that we have a game where Annie, Master Yi, Lux, Draven, Sejuani, Blitzcrank, etc.--all of whom are charming, fun, inventive characters--are being set in a world somebody has already done before. Those champions resonate with us for their personality and unique archetype, and simply by existing and having even the tiniest shred of depth, they each contribute to a complete picture of the kind of world these champions live in together. Putting them into the world of, say, Star Wars, would be a jarring and off-putting sensation. It would feel wrong, it would muddy the characters, and it would seriously degrade the experience. 
Why then are we suddenly losing this charm derived from the uniqueness of our characters and setting when we change something that is literally ripped from another universe and setting and make it into something which truly belongs in our own? Sure, fans of the other franchise might enjoy the reference, but I argue the reference doesn't actually add any charm to League. I would argue further that it detracts from the charm of League by making the place these champions come from less innovative or interesting. To expect unique champions to participate in somebody else's world so flagrantly to me seems counter-intuitive to the very essence of our game and of our champions. 
I think instead that the perceived loss of charm is as a result of fandom for other properties, of which people are understandably entwined and invested in. Touhou has a lot of charm on its own, which is why so many people enjoy it. However, that charm is different from League's, and does not necessarily belong within our game and universe. I think the perceived loss of charm people are experiencing with this change is a projection of their love for a separate franchise onto ours. We are changing something they like from somewhere else, and they are experiencing this as an attack on that other thing they love. This is not the case. Touhou is not going away and we wouldn't want it to. League is simply growing up, evolving, and becoming something solidly its own. It's a disservice to the direction our game is working toward to constantly tie it down to decisions made to make sense for completely different worlds. If the choice then is to do a disservice to fans of Touhou who love our game as well, or to do a disservice to the entirety of our game experience, I will have to opt toward the option that benefits League the most. That's not because it is my job, but because I love our game and I want to ensure that its roots set strong as it continues to branch out. 
I'd have to be a pretty big narcissist to assume I was right and to ignore everything you've got to say. None of you are wrong, you are all strongly speaking to your personal experience and opinions, all of which have a place and are in that sense right. Likewise I can only give you context on the reasons we are making the decisions and then look to see who agrees with them and who doesn't. More importantly, I can look to see why they don't, and we can even get really good data to look at to gauge how our decisions weigh against the opinions of you, our players. We listen, enough that this is actually the fourth iteration of Youmou's Ghostblade you're even seeing, based solely off the feedback we've gotten from players and in play-testing. In this thread alone I've gotten some good feedback about changes that can be made that I plan on looking into today. But please let's not assume we're not listening or that we do not care about other franchises or their fans. We do very much for both. :)"
When questioned on his above thoughts despite things like "Star Wars" [ Chosen ] Master Yi being allowed to exsist, he commented:
"I should mention that skins are not the same thing as set-in-stone lore. I expect plenty of alternate fantasies to be explored in skins--that's why they exist. But the core IP of our game should remain internally consistent. This is why Master Yi's base doesn't include a light saber. :P"

Radioblur also shared the latest iteration of Youmuu's Ghostblade's icon and noted, perhaps, dropping it's name reference entirely.
"So like I said a couple posts ago, I was going to incorporate a bunch of the feedback into the next iteration of the icon. In this case, we took a few of the floating suggestions going around and played with them. I extended the grip to be a full two-hand grip, and adjusted the blade to have a ha-machi. The hilt itself is still highly unusual, but there's a lot out there already in the way katanas that subverts the flat-disc shaped tsuba (Google "fantasy katanas" to see what I mean) so I feel alright about altering that shape. It matches other Ionian champs to have the tsuba with an interesting shape anyway (Master Yi!).
A few of you have had pretty highly rated comments about dropping the reference entirely, and I think that's something worth bringing up to the creative team and designers to see how that would work out. I think it's a good suggestion."
He continued, better explaining his qualm with Youmuu's old icon:
"This is what I was trying to get at. Being beholden to another franchise is the problem, as in literally being required to deliver on the same content they have already delivered on, which is what it being asked of Youmuu's. I'm personally alright with keeping the name or leaving it, but the outrage here is about us straying from an exact representation of her sword from another franchise. Trinity Force is a fun homage, but it isn't literally three triangles arranged to match Zelda exactly. Lux's kit is designed with a Touhou character in mind, but she has become something new in her own right partially because not everybody who worked on her was in on the joke. I think what's an important takeaway here is that references are okay and fun, but they shouldn't be used to tie you down and prevent you from making something that makes more sense for your world. Again, "beholden" is the key word here. :)"

Preseason Ranked FAQ

S3 has concluded and we are now transitioning into preseason!

Here's Magus with more info:
"With Season 3 competitive play officially a wrap, you might be wondering why your ranked stats haven’t been reset. We'll be rolling out a soft ranked reset at the start of the 2014 season andnot the beginning of the preseason. With so much change being introduced in the preseason, we wanted to provide a competitive environment for players to adjust. While ranked games won’t have a huge impact on ranked placement during the 2014 season, they’ll still affect your skill level and where you begin ranked placement from, so keep playing hard! The League system itself will go through some changes over the course of the preseason as well, expect to hear more on that front sooner rather than later. 
Read the FAQ for more on ranked play during the preseason!"
Here's the FAQ:
"If I get to a new tier during preseason, do I get the end of season rewards? 
Sorry! The deadline for the end of season rewards was 11/11/2013. The preseason is for competitive practice while getting a small head start on the 2014 season. Good luck next year!
Why play ranked at all in the preseason? 
Let's be clear: these games still matter. The reset at the beginning of next season isn't a hard reset. You'll be reset to a position relative to your current skill so that the first few weeks of ranked play isn't Diamond players crushing less-skilled players. Since your skill and standing will still be on the move during preseason, these games will have an impact on where you start for your placement matches next season. 
Why don't you just reset at the start of preseason? 
We're introducing quite a bit of change this preseason, both in terms of gameplay and the League system. Data on these changes could be skewed by a similarly timed reset. Plus it gives you a chance to adjust to the changes in a competitive climate without having a massive impact on your ranked placement next year.

How about a double reset at preseason and season start?

There actually isn't a clear advantage to shocking the system twice in such a short time frame. We think it's better to create a clear adjustment period for both players and the design team. That way, we kick off next season with players on equal footing in terms of opportunities to practice. 
What happens if I don't play ranked at all during the preseason? Will I decay and end up seeding lower at the start of the 2014 season? 
No! If you choose to avoid ranked during this time (remember, everyone else is adapting to the changes alongside you), we get that. To accommodate, inactivity decay for ranked will be turned off shortly after the start of the preseason. The only caveat is that we'll be keeping inactivity decay on for Challenger tier."

Research that goes into Reworks

Responding to a request for SCIENCE, davin shared some of the research that goes into various champion reworks:
"I can give you a few more details, if you're interested :) There's a bunch of researchers at Riot from different disciplines and backgrounds. My particular team works closely with other groups across Riot to help those groups test their assumptions and collaborate with players to get feedback. Our goal is to get representative samples and help inform our decisions so we're not just acting in a vacuum. 
With Reworks, we do early investigations on a champion to figure out what players of that champion, enthusiasts for that champion, and non-players for that champion think about him/her/it. For each champion, there's a bunch of questions we care about. What makes them tick? What's cool? What isn't? What's their personality? What's it like to play as them? Against them? What's most essential about them? We first gather information about how the champion is currently, then show off some potential directions and chat about them.

After that, depending on the champion being reworked, we might also do more focused playtests to ensure that playing the champion still feels like it should. After launch we also do a fair amount of evaluation to gauge perception on the changes. 
We use traditional user research techniques, but we have the added challenge of working with a character that's already established. We want to make sure folks will be generally happy and that we're not just changing things without good goals. That means studying enthusiasts as well as players who don't currently engage with the champion--and strongly considering the perspective of enthusiasts, since we're changing a champion they have a close bond with. Reworks are a bit extra tough, since if even 1% of enthusiasts are displeased, they're displeased with something important to them. You can see that with something like the Trundle rework, where some folks don't like the direction (but the majority do). The ones who don't like it aren't wrong for not liking it, but neither are all the folks who like it. It makes balancing what to do rather intense.

All this is still an evolving process, of course. Hope that helps clarify! Sorry the post is a bit long :)"
He continued, noting the results of the Trundle and Sejuani rework:
"Interestingly enough, Sejuani and Trundle were overall received very similarly--though on the forums there was a lot more frustration about Trundle (likely because of the giant lore update and the niche appeal of the champion's scrappy underdog + martyr nature).

As for changes, we're always trying to improve the process :) The research approach has definitely gotten more intense over time. Specifically in response to some of the Karma and Trundle perception and discussion, the collaboration between research and Relaunch has included more about how to communicate the changes once we're confident in them. I can't speak for the Relaunch team, but I know they care a lot about how we can convey context better. We're also doing research earlier and earlier in the ideation process, and getting ahead of the pipeline to better prepare for things."
He continued, talking about Karma's relaunch:
"Enthusiast we define by how much they play the champion both in terms of total games and % of their games. Basically if it looks like that champion is your total jam, you're an enthusiast. Oftentimes we're dealing with 80%+ games in a given month as that champ, along with a threshold for total # of games and lifetime games with that champ. 
The quote change wasn't informed by any sort of data, to my knowledge. Not everything we do is based solely on data (which is a good thing--we want to be data-informed rather than just doing what numbers say). We do want to make sure that big questions and key assumptions are informed, though.

And for full disclosure, the Karma rework is the one where we saw the most variance in perception. It was overall positive, but worth noting that it (as you note) it was a larger deviation from the previous version and had more folks with concerns."

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