Red Post Collection: Zenon on future WW Rework, "Why do we do reworks?", 4.1 Turret Changes, Splash Updates, and more!

Posted on at 10:40 PM by Moobeat
Tonight's red post collection features ZenonTheStoic sharing some thoughts on the future Warwick rework, RiotScruffy with a thread discussing champion reworks and how Riot decides which champs need them the most, Solcrushed with more information on the 4.1 changes to turrets, Riot Silver discussing splash art updates, and a reminder on the next PBE testing period for Team Builder!
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ZenonTheStoic on Warwicks Future Rework

ZenonTheStoic has shared a bit of info on the direction he expects to take with Warwick's rework, his next project after the Xerath rework.
"Hey guys! 
I'm currently hard at work bringing you the updated Xerath. Once that's out the door, I'll focus my energies on the Warwick rework. We have tested some early experimental kits and gotten some very good early data points, particularly as to what feels "Warwicky" and what doesn't; what must we keep and what can we drop.

At the heart of the discussion of what Warwick should be lies a conversation about the role we refer to as "bruiser". Ryan "Morello" Scott, our Lead Content Designer, gave a great write-up on the problems of the role here: 

The TL;DR is: Bruisers were a reaction to ADCs being too strong, and as a result they got all of the tools for all of the situations. This is deeply unhealthy for the game, and as our playerbase accrues more and more mastery with a particular bruiser kit, we have to continue nerfing that kit as its unbalanced strengths are brought to light (see: Irelia) 
Personally I believe there are two main roles champions with no meaningful interaction at range (aka melees) can bring to the team: disruption and killing power. This means tanks/assassins (and the ill-defined melee ADC). I don't think there is room in between the two extremes for particularly healthy kits.

Warwick can go either way, but if we want life steal to be a meaningful mechanic on his new kit, I firmly believe he belongs in the former camp: tanks. Life steal on a fragile high damage kit is inherently broken. Go make a new account and play a triple Blood Thirster Master Yi (don't actually do this please; this is what we Germans refer to as a Gedankenexperiment, a thought experiment). You are either killed before your LS becomes meaningful--which is totally useless for your team--or you heal up faster than the enemy can burst you down, in which case you are now an unkillable god of slaughter. Great fun for you, reason to never ever play the game again for the enemy. 
A healthy wolf will dip in and out of the enemy team, smartly using the tools at his disposal to create maximum havoc while always healing up just enough health to not die. The enemy either zones him out of his heal (indicating that his life steal needs to be gated; probably range gated, potentially build-up gated) or makes one coordinated effort to burst him down when he goes for a risky play. Either way, he doesn't single-handedly kill anyone, or if he does, it takes him 30 seconds. And he uses paws. 
This is my guiding direction on the kit, and while we currently have a passive and four abilities, these are all very likely to change in the future, so there's not much of a point talking about them right now. Instead I would invite discussion about my direction: is this a Warwick you can see yourself playing? Specifically, here are two videos that guide me in remaking my most favourite jungler in League: 
Note how in both videos Warwick gives zero ****s and the colour caster is reduced to giggling. That's what I want to do. I want to make colour casters giggle. Especially if they're me."
He continued, clearly warning summoners that this rework is a ways off still:
"Also of note: this remake has NO release date. It could be three months, it could be six months, it could be a year. We'll release when we feel it's ready to be released."

Why do we do reworks?

Riot Scruffy, the designer currently working on the Skarner rework, has started up a thread to discuss champion reworks and shed some light on how Riot decides which champions are in need of a fix up.
"Hey all,

We are really excited about all of the reworks and visual updates that we have released recently and all of the ones that are coming this year. As great as they are, the question of "why change things?" often arises, and it is absolutely valid. At a high level we have certain goals when we choose to rework the gameplay, visuals, or lore of a champion:
  • Maximize the potential of a character - This could be anything from better art to entirely new skills that deliver the character's theme in a much more cool or interesting way.
  • Make the character more fun to play with and against - When a character has particularly problematic abilities that are very frustrating to play against or don't offer their opponents any way to play against, we will always try to create better gameplay for their opponent while maintaining the fun and power of the character.
  • Upgrade old characters to our current quality standards - There is a lot of years old art that we can just improve by updating it (Nasus, so doge).
  • Focus a character into a more unique role - If the opportunity is available, we would like for all characters to bring unique value and gameplay to their team.

Things like nerfs and buffs are not reasons for a champion rework, because those can be usually accomplished through number tuning on damage, cooldowns, mana. It's true that reworks will always have an effect on the power of a champion, but their primary purpose is to improve the gameplay and mechanics. After a rework we will always continue to balance champions and hopefully the game is improved in the long term with the gameplay improvements that a rework brings.

If you all have any questions about our rework philosophy in general, we're here (maybe I can rope Meddler or CertainlyT into this conversation as well) to answer questions and discuss.

He continued, elaborating on what makes a champion suitable for a rework:
"In the end it's a combination of all factors. Whichever champions are in the most need, we will try to do first. Sometimes that is an old champ, and sometimes it's a newer one that needs updates like Rengar. Unfortunately there is a pretty long list of things that we would like to do, so we have to tackle things one at a time."
He continued:
"Our goal is to make the kit fit the champion more, not less. One of the first things that we do when starting a rework is say "what is this champion about?" "what is their role?" "what are their strengths and weaknesses?" Then from that we try to improve the kit in a direction that further supports the identity of the champion."

When asked about the status of Rengar's rework, RiotScruffy commented:
"I've personally picked up the Rengar rework from Scarizard and I'll get a new thread going with the updated changes soon."
When asked for a time frame on the Rengar rework, he replied:
"Generally I can't answer things about dates (many are just not finalized yet). I will make sure to get out an updated Rengar changelist within a week, yell at me if I don't."

He also mentioned an updated Taric ult coming down the pipeline:
"We're working on some more Taric changes that I think you will like. A new ultimate to be more specific."
As for Shaco's future rework, RiotScruffy noted:
"I can confirm that deceive is not removed in Shaco's rework. It's actually going very well so far, and we might be able to share and discuss those changes pretty soon."

When asked about a rework for Soraka, he commented:
"We are still in the early stages of talking about Soraka, but she is a champion that we want to address very soon. Don't expect anything in the next few patches, but we are definitely starting to work on her."

Riot Scruffy also answered a set of questions regarding his thoughts on the Trundle rework, fixes for an entire class of champions, an example of who could be reworked to fill a more unique role, and what he thinks about Sion's future rework:
"Great questions. 
At the time of some of the early reworks like Trundle, we were still figuring out what and how to do a great rework while preserving the core of a champion. In the end I think that they turned out well, but there are definitely things that we know now that will help us have a smoother time with reworks like those in the future. We are always learning.

We would really like to do large scale reworks like fighters, but realistically we will probably have to do them in manageable chunks. Over the course of time though we can probably overhaul an larger role one step at a time.

Many champions could actually a great candidate for the fourth goal (more unique role). We could focus on pushing elements (like with Ziggs) or make a "tank buster" character. When looking at a champ like Warwick, we would like to emphasize his unique role as a "drain tank."

FeralPony is working on a really significant update to Sion and he wants to really deliver on Sion as the "monstrous undead warrior with a giant axe thing" that Sion could be. You should ask him for the details I wont spoil it."

He also commented on assassin's in general, saying:
"We want assassins as a role to exist. Specifically these are high mobility champions with low defenses that try to opportunely get on to high priority enemy targets and take them out quickly. The main things that we generally think can define a healthy assassin are that
1. The enemy has some gameplay or opportunity to avoid the incoming assassin damage.

2. There is a long enough combat window for the enemy to react and try to escape before they die."

FeralPony popped in the thread to share a "hot or cold" list to describe the current priority of reworks:
"I'll answer in terms of team priorities to rework not release date since everything is always subject to change. 
Zilean - Room Temperature - Not in the near future, but folks want to work on him
Sion - Boiling - This is still really early on but he's the Champion the team is most excited to work on.
Urgot - Room Temperature - Will happen but not short term
Poppy - Warm - Strong desire to do this from the team but is behind Sion in priority
Mantheon - Cold - Pretty low priority for a rework, his gameplay is in a decent spot and his theme is cool.
Kassadin - Hot (Though much smaller scope than a full rework - you guys have prob already seen these changes on PBE)
Udyr - True Ice Cold - Udyr is a boss, no plans for a rework"

On the topic of ability changes and reworks, RiotScruffy also replied to someone wondering about global Gangplank's ult:
""Gangplank's ult is not the type of global ult that Morello was referring to. Morello was talking about the global passive ults that are very powerful but hard to appreciate, thus making them hard to balance. Gangplank's ult is global but it has both gameplay (avoid the damage) and it is easy to appreciate.

FeralPony also joined the discussion, elaborating on the thought process behind global ults and what they mean for the champion's balance:
"Want to pop in and explain our stance on global ultimates a bit more since we haven't been very clear about it in the past. The historical problems we've had with those ultimates have always been global moves that transport the character physically to the location.

The reason for this is that once your character has the ability to move globally you are to apply 100% of your characters power anywhere on the map which means they inherently cannot be as powerful as normal champions. To be balanced they need to be so weak that they can't even compete with other champions toe to toe, which generally leads to a very unsatisfying play experience.

Having an ability with a global range however allows a character to transfer a percentage, even a fairly large percentage, of their power to impact other parts of the map or fights. This can create really exciting moments, encourages teamplay, and is overall is a very satisfying and healthy mechanic. This is why we haven't removed the global range or had any real issues with ultimates like Gangplank's Cannon Barrage or Ashe's ECA but have had a lot of balancing issues with Twisted Fates Gate and Pantheon's Targoneian ManDrop."

Regarding Turret Changes in 4.1

Solcrushed, one of the live balance designers, has stepped up to give an in-depth explanation on the recent patch 4.1 changes to turrets.
"In this patch we have added a 20 flat damage reduction buff to the top and mid lane outer turrets on Summoner’s Rift - a super-Doran’s Shield of sorts. This change is directly targeted at "Fast Push" strategies, where teams swap a 2v2 lane to a 2v1 lane to avoid equal lane matchups while quickly pushing down an enemy outer turret and securing an early gold+vision advantage (and in some cases ALSO hiding a weak lane). Fast Push has been a very common early game strategy in high competitive play across all of our regions. 
One problem we've always had with Fast Push is that it's arguably one of the more optimal strategies to employ in competitive play and when it picks up in popularity it can really inhibit other strategies. The laning phase of the game is important to us in terms of League being a spectator sport and enjoyable experience. That said, we're not absolutely enforce a laning phase for every competitive game, but we do like maintaining the value of a laning phase and want to introduce more strategic tradeoffs when a team opts to skip it. This is our third major change to turrets in the past year aimed at moderating Fast Push, and I’ll go through the two prior changes and briefly discuss their impact: 
The latter half of 2012 and beginning of 2013 was dominated lane swaps to 3-4 man dives on the defending solo laner. After letting this play out for some time, we increased the damage dealt by turrets in April (Patch 3.5) to allow the solo laner and his jungler to make turnaround plays under tower. This opened space for melee solo laners to function more effectively in the early 1v2 and expanded the focus of junglers from just their early levels to their entire game presence.

The middle of 2013 was still dominated by lane swapping - now with building a large minion wave and pushing the tower down through raw damage - while also relying on the threat of minion damage to prevent the solo laner from retaliating. In September (Patch 3.10), we added temporary bonus armor to all outer turrets. This re-opened the door for a host of supports, most prominently melee champions like Leona and Alistar, by delaying the power of Fast Push strategies beyond the point where basic attack range was the primary value that a duo laner can bring.

Currently, Fast Push is still exerting a strong limitation on the viability of champions, mostly due to the strategy not having any meaningful downside. Fast Push occurs too early in the game for Dragon to be a meaningful deterrent and for champions to have the tools necessary to combat them (475 gold and one ability). Since the team initiating the swap does not take meaningful risks, the opposing champion needs to function well in a 1v2 or 2v1 lane as a baseline judgement, and that limits the pool significantly.

This current change is aimed to introduce a real strategic tradeoff for the team initiating the lane swap, and it opens the door to a wider variety of champions. After the change, teams shouldn't feel hopeless if they pick a weak 1v2 lane champion, as the other team will take a penalty (slow push) if they wish to shut the champion down. We think that with these increased variables, teams will actually need to consider their strategy in initiating lane swaps. 
We specifically chose this solution because there are limited ways to introduce these kind of strategic tradeoffs. Since the team initiating the lane swap leaves behind a 1v2 at bot, any symmetrical changes would not actually open up the space we want it to. The current solution was picked as the one that would have the least impact on other elements of the game and non-pro level games. We're currently planning on making this change only last for a shorter set duration of time so that it won't have an affect on most games outside of highly competitive play (as it takes an incredible amount of coordination for this change to have an effect). 
Ultimately we have a core belief that League should be won on player capabilities and strategic execution rather than who picks a faster pushing team (and then picks a better counterpusher in a 1v2 lane). With this change we're hoping to see more equal lane matchups as a viable primary strategy in the 2014 season, with an increased emphasis on kills and dragons as a means of accruing a global gold lead. Still, we're not absolutely dictating it. We expect to see some 1v2 laning, but with actual strategic risks. Now, teams might 1v2 to shelter a weak early duo lane or to shut down a threatening solo laner. That said, in turn they'll pay a cost in the form of a potential early turret deficit, unless they can hold the opposing bottom lane push at bay.

P.S. Both Morello and Pwyff mentioned the 20 damage reduction lasts only for the first 8 minutes of the game, but they goofed for patch 4.1. We -want- it to be a set duration of time (and it will be in patch 4.2), but it's currently permanent. One thing I'd mention is that minions actually count for a lot of turret damage, and this change doesn't affect that. Also when you get to 10 minutes and beyond, 20 base damage reduction gets hard outscaled as champion damage goes up."
He followed up the post by answering a slew of questions from concerned summoners.

When asked why the change wasn't also on the bot turret, he commented:
"If it is also on the bot lane turret it is no different from what we have currently. As far as time to bring down the turret is concerned, the pre 4.1 armor buff and the 4.1 flat reduction function very similarly."
Replying to comments about "enforcing the meta", Solcrushed noted:
"We feel it opens up the meta, at least in a more interesting way. Now you have to weigh pros and cons when you are initiating a lane swap and your strategy will be different from your oppoenent's teams."
When asked how these changes will effect lane swaps, he commented:
"We do not think it will kill off lane swaps entirely. There should still be incentives to lane swap but teams will need to be much more calculated about when to do it"
Regarding comments that this change is rather hard for someone to understand or figure out with reading about, he commented:
"This is an inelegant change, we will be the first to acknowledge that. Your points about burden of knowledge etc. are also completely valid. Believe me, the moment we feel we have a better change that accomplishes the goals, we will adopt the change."
He also commented again on the damage reduction buff not wearing off after 8 minutes, saying:
"The reduction functions similarly with the temporary armor buff that used to exist (it is pre-mitigation) before 8 minutes and will quickly lose relevance as players gain AD"

Splash Art Discussion

Riot Silver popped into an old thread about Akali getting a new splash art to note that it's still on the radar and the splash team is working on ways to better prioritize reworking on splash:
Hey dudes! 
This is totally my bad for not jumping back on this thread when it became appropriate to do so.
The Akali splash is still being worked on. I previously had to put this splash on hold to support projects for other events and skins. Splash reworks are very much a high priority, and Akali is about to be picked back up. The team has been in the process of coming up with a plan on how we will go about prioritizing and reworking outdated splashes in the future to bring the most value players as fast as possible. We are also working to have fully dedicated artists only on reworks to make sure that they continue to happen frequently and consistently. 
Dudes, I realize this was probably not the answer you guys were looking for. I will be able to provide more context as things get solidified. I am creating a thread now that I will pop into as regularly as possible to address any questions you guys may have that the splash team is ready to answer. 

We will be working very hard now and in the near future to get this stuff sorted out so we can get to the new splash art that your and our favorite champions deserve. 
As mentioned above, Riot Silver has also whipped up a discussion thread for splashes:
I want to try an experiment. It's a little tough to find and answer questions and address feedback that is scattered through numerous threads throughout the forum. I want to create a space for easier dialogue with the splash/illustration team. This shouldn't stop you guys from creating threads of your own, but rather open a more reliable pathway to the team. If you guys see threads pertaining to splash and illustration questions that haven't been answered, feel free to direct them to this thread where myself or the team will try to get in here as often as possible to address anything the team feels we're ready to talk about.

Rock on dudes!"

Team Builder back on PBE Monday ( 1/20 ) and Tuesday ( 1/21 ) at 1:00 - 5:00 PST

 The team builder will be returning for public testing next Monday and Tuesday between 1 PM and 5 PM PST. Check this PBE community thread for more info!

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