Red Post Collection: Morello on Fighters and Ghostcrawler Joins Riot

Posted on at 7:39 AM by Moobeat
What better way kick off the morning than with fresh batch of red posts!? This morning's red post collection features Morello giving us a history lesson and his current thoughts on Fighter's, as well as Morello and Xelnath commenting on the news that Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street - former lead systems designer of World of Warcraft-has joined Riot Games as a Lead Game designer .
Continue reading for more information!

Recent News:

Morello with a history lesson and his current thoughts on Fighters

Stemming from a discussion about Irelia's balance problems, Morello popped up on the forums in the wee hours of the morning to drop off a history lesson on the balance of fighters and to share his current frustrations on how they fare today:
"Irelia's not a special case to me, but a representation of the problem that many fighters have overall - you bring power to the table, and your function is to outpower everything in terms of raw effectiveness.

Let me give you a little history lesson on fighters from the old days;

Originally, melee consisted of mostly true tanks and melee carries - Yi and Tryndamere to be exact. Quickly, the latter category really was phased out by ranged AD who could do their jobs, and better. Sure, melee did more damage, but with itemization, the damage wasn't meaningful enough to make up for the extra risk incurred by melee ranged attacks.

The team saw this and wanted to solve it. After a few attempts and one successful champion launch on this front, Garen, Xin was released. Xin was our first true love letter to melee (Garen was more designed to be a straight-forward champion).

And oh, what a love letter it was. Xin was tough as a nail, bursty as an assassin and had chainable CC. Our solution was to try to give them everything we could to make up for the melee nature. While Xin's tuning was absurd on launch, the formula worked in the "here's how melee can be viable in LoL." The problem is that approach left us little we could do to adjust playbalance outside of power and numbers.

All-the-while, we were continuing to launch champions at a break-neck pace. I started at the Miss Fortune patch, and I think while she was launching we had 6 other champions almost done at that time. I'd be surprised if Irelia wasn't kit-locked already by then (hard to remember as I'm old now).

So, we kept on keeping on - Irelia, Renekton, J4, half of 2012, etc etc. All the while, these melee were enjoyable, people were playing them, we saw some new trends with the S1 switch - lots was looking up.

The problem was that we didn't have nearly the sophistication with understanding what effect this would have on the game long-term. We'd all get different insights and peeks into it, but never anything to change course. It was really in the end of 2011 (after a very storied Volibear development) where we went "OK, what the **** is happening here."

Now, we get into last year and up to today. Fighters have these problem more than even (Hi, Riven!) and they all live in a world where any of them that don't are completely useless. In the short-term, we try to play whack-a-mole to keep it in check somewhat, but it's a bit of a futile battle - as long asone champion has this problem, no others can show up with interesting stuff, meaningful weaknesses, or a laning phase that doesn't have everything.

And our balance was going this way on fighters too - Nasus' eventual rise from trash to god, Jax's two redos, etc. Our long-term desires were directly being fought by the actual reality. So while we knew we wanted to fix it, we didn't want to, say, release Vi in a state where she wasn't playable. I think it's a pretty harsh kick in the dick to make something really exciting and then go "jk she's bad forever" because we made her in line with what we think fighters should be, rather than what they are.

So, "Better Nerf Irelia" is just a representation of why fighters break League of Legends, and in the abstract sense, we have a lot of old stuff that does it.

For what it's worth, I'm pretty much fed up with that state of the game as a designer. I want to go hard. I want to reconstruct this stuff. There's no way we can start making interesting characters in these lanes when you get a ton of tool variety, reliability, power, and stats for just playing your character competently. Meanwhile, something that takes nuance and hard work is just bad - because his competition for power is so high, there's no way he can be in that space."

He continued, sharing more things on "the hit list":
I think fighters are the worse in this, but ADC (via items and some kits) and assassins have similarly patterned problems. Mages have tool overload, and I think mobility creep is out of control too. All on the hit list.

I'm OK if someone quits with rage over "my champ got nerfed a lot", I'm not OK if someone quits because "eh, League is getting boring" - the road we'll be on if we don't do something about it."

In response to someone questioning how over tuned Trinity Force is an item, Morello commented:
"Can't argue with that. Again, though, for the world we're in today, it makes sense to have the "good" item for that, but not in where I'd like to go. What if Trinity was about getting three procs that you tried to use and maximize that required skill?"

Morello also commented that ADC's currently have similar problems dues to their itemization.
"It's all related - but ADC is a problem with items, because items is where all their power lives (or how it's really expressed)."

To elaborate on what he thinks needs to be done to fighters, he noted:
"Defining what fighters (and subclasses of fighters - dive, front-line, etc) is part of what needs to happen here."

When asked "where all this megical design resource" is coming from, Morello also mentioned that several gameplay and balance people have been hired this year.
"I'm hiring/have hired at least 4 people for Core Gameplay/Live Balance this year. So there's some :)"

In another thread, he also commented on the current state of the game :
"Some truth to this - I'm loose on the trigger when it comes to systemic, categoric nerfs or buffs. Support changes were something that I really wanted to see the team to (and while more work remains there, I'm glad we could at least get them out of the poorhouse). Fighters and certain ADC (this is really in itemization too) need sweeping changes numerically to allow tradeoffs so you can care about which champion you pick from what it does, not its raw power. And that's what is important at this point, to me."

Ghostcrawler Joins Riot

As you may have heard, Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street - former lead systems designer of World of Warcraft-has joined Riot Games as a Lead Game designer .

The forums are stirring with dicsussion on his arrival and a few Rioters have stepped up to talk about it.

Morello popped in, mentioning that he's not stepping down as a Lead Content Designer or going anywhere.
"I'm not going anywhere :P"
He continued, noting more on the role GC will be playing at Riot:
"Nah - League's a huge game and there's a lot to do. GC's actually some MUCH-needed help on the leadership side - it's just too much for any one person to handle and make the progress I'd like to see. We'll be dividing up some of the effort on leading it, but other than making sure more things have support, the teams are pretty unchanged from who's doing want (Statikk and friends are still doing Game Health, Meddler still heads champ development, we just have more expertise to draw on now).

A lot of the things we want to focus on with game health this year (and preseason is a kick-off to this effort) is primarily around fixing a lot of the old problems. After finishing up support (IE the gold item particulars + Annie problem), we want to focus on adding choice and depth by taking a HARD look at "ball of stats" stuff so we can actually introduce interesting stuff with trade-offs."
Responding to the comment of on people blaming game designers for all the issues due to a lack of knowledge about what they actually do, Morello noted:
"There's a lot of this - people think I suck at numeric balancing because I DO, but that's also why I don't actually do it. Funny how that works :) 
That being said, the leads ARE responsible for what goes out. So it's our fault still :) " 

Xelnath, a former Blizzard employee himself, also commented on Ghostcrawler's arrival, saying:
"I appreciate the positive thoughts. 
I worked with Greg both directly and indirectly for years. He's an awesome guy who took on the impossible task of doing what Morello has done for league for so long on a game where people are incredibly invested in their character and any nerf is an extremely personal offense.

It's a tough, tough job. Greg tanked it like a champion. 
I'm excited to see how helps bolster our ranks."

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