Red Post Collection: Skarner Rework Follow Through, Bot Behavior Update, LoL Valentine's Day Cards, and much more!

Posted on at 1:41 AM by Moobeat
[ Note: See this post for more info on the emergency EUW server maintenance ]

This morning's red post collection features Riot Scruffy with a follow-up on Skarner's rework now that it's on live,  discussions on Xerath's Rework and Yasuo's kit,  Morello commenting that they are working on a "direct solution" for Teemo's shrooms, info on the Bot Behavior Update that's been pushed to the PBE, League of Legends Valentine's Day cards, and more!
Continue reading for more information!

Recent News:

Skarner Rework Follow Through

Now that Skarner is out on Live, Riot Scruffy has returned to the forums to talk about the rework and reassure summoners they will continue to monitor his power levels.
"Hey guys, 
We're really excited that the Skarner rework is now live, and we are playing him a ton on live, reading all of the forum feedback, and even watching a few Skarner streams. We are very passionate about him and we want him to be both a very healthy and fun champion for the game and a viable and balanced character.

These changes in 4.2 were targeted at improving his gameplay to accomplish a few goals: 
-Enable more ability for Skarner and his opponents to display their skill 
-Reduce the amount of feast/famine that Skarner can experience (when he's ahead he is unstoppable, when he's behind he has a hard time contributing at all) 
-Create more defined windows of power for Skarner to create more interaction between him and his opponent 
We think that the changes have accomplished these goals and we always try to release character in as balanced of a state as we can, but it is always a possibility that he is not balanced. The important thing here is that we are actively monitoring and planning on a follow up in the next patch for Skarner to make sure that he is balanced and viable.

Thanks again for all of your feedback, and we are always actively working to improve the game (and in this case Skarner). I'll come back to this thread to answer questions if you have any.

He continued:
"Something that seems worth clarifying is that with the rework we wanted to introduce some windows where Skarner's opponent has the opportunity to escape, but we also have increased the power and versatility of Skarner's CC when he does use it. Skarner has a stronger slow that he can apply at range without having to build up on a target, when used correctly this can be a very powerful tool (especially when setting up for an ult in a team fight).

Further increasing the CC/Power spike when Skarner makes his play is probably the area that we would buff him in if we saw that he was undertuned."

When asked about his low power early game, Scruffy commented:
"We only have a small amount of data, but it does suggest that he struggles in the early game. If he needs buffs, this may be a good place to look."
He continued:
"I see a lot of concern over his early game power and just power level overall. This is exactly what we are going to address in the follow up patch. We are totally committed to making sure Skarner is viable if he is not."

As for being able to cast Skarner's Q and E while moving, Scruffy noted:
"He is already able to cast Q while moving, but I have seen this suggestion for E from a few posters. I think that for a ranged slow like E, the cast time contributes to the risk/reward of the skill. A good Skarner that lands the E will catch up because of the payoff from the slow. This helps to differentiate skilled Skarners from the less skilled ones."

Xerath Rework - Why Changes and Why Now

When asked Xerath's rework was pushed to the front of the line when other champions "need it more", ZenonTheStoic commented:
"We will have a dev blog coming soon that discusses why we chose Xerath for this rework, among other things. What it often comes down to is "do we have a clear understanding of why this champion is problematic and do we have a good direction where we want to take them?" This was particularly easy on Xerath: we could explain very clearly why the old kit was problematic and we knew precisely which strengths we wanted to give to the new kit.

A lot more than that goes into prioritizing champion reworks, and RiotScruffy could speak to that in more detail, but from my perspective that's how it went down."

As for why Xerath was changed at all, Morello commented
"Because "niche" != gameplay that is only gated by solving the "champion puzzle" and lacks good gameplay or stengths/weaknesses when accessed. 
Xerath's old kit was powerful and myopic. It was just a bit less reliable, so it didn't bubble up as much as some of the others.

There's two axis of interesting feedback that really live on Xerath, to me: 
* I liked old Xerath/don't understand why he was problematic.

* I don't like/understand the new one, regardless of what the old one was. 
Sorting this out vs. the "they changed it so it sucks" is what I'd like to hear. How much is short-term pain for long-term benefit? What's the cost in making Xerath a character we can actually allow to be present and strong? What worth is there in changing something to bring a new set of strength/weakness package to the mix?

I tend to think these are really positive tradeoffs - and let's be clear, nearly everything in game design is a tradeoff - because in the mid and long-term, the benefits seem clear from a uniqueness, satisfaction and game health standpoint."
He continued, explaining why Xerath couldn't just be left as he was:
"The only cost of the original is that if Xerath were ever good, he'd be nerfed. I think this is really an annoying place for a champion to be if their health is bad - niche, popular or otherwise. 
Really, what we want to do, is take the opportunity to fix broken things and provide something sustainable (and fun/exciting/skillful) for the game for years. This means the cost you pay of achieving that is short-term, where the benefits are long-reaching.

Xelnath talked a lot about the problems with Xerath and why he couldn't be left alone, though agree there didn't need to be high urgency on it. We did think, though, that even without urgency, we could take time to fix something in the game that simply wasn't working (or if it did, would have stopped working quickly)."

CertainlyT & Yasuo Discussion

In a thread poking fun at some of CertainlyT's ( the designer behind Thresh, Yasuo, and others ) design choices, ZenonTheStoic offered his perspective on CertainlyT and on Yasuo's kit.
"As much fun as bad design on purpose is, let's lay off the CertainlyT bashing for a bit. Brad is, in my opinion and the opinion of a lot of other people on the design team, the most inventive and diligent designer we have on the champion design team. His ideas rejuvenate the game and shake it up for everyone (see: Thresh lantern, Last Breath's piggy-backing on ally knock-ups) I wished I was half the designer he is: he takes smart risks and engineers uniquely fun gameplay. 
Yep, Yasuo does have a LOT of tools that allow him to survive and do damage. Guess what: that's what a melee dps needs to function in a game dominated by range damage kiting and sudden 100-0 burst. While we're trying to continually improve the overall health of the game, we have to design champions for the environment that exists right now. And instead of giving Yasuo a whole bunch of free stats and untargetability (Fiora) or just EVEN MORE STATS + one of the most powerful and invisible reductions of enemy power in the game (Tryndamere + mocking shout), he set it up so Yasuo players need to be skillful to access their power budget. There's great gating in place for all of his otherwise "OP" sounding abilities. Does he get to dash around like mad? Sure, so long as he always finds a new minion to dash to. Does he get to block every missile in the game? Sure, so long as he reacts in time, places the wall correctly, and saves its massive cooldown for the right moment. 
I don't know if Yasuo's balance is in the right spot right now (not my job, to be clear: I make new stuff. Smarter dudes than me make sure that stuff is in line with the rest of the game), but I can tell you that all the required levers are there to make him balanceable and fun to both play as and against, and he's the first melee dps in our game where this is true. That was an astonishing achievement and, as always, CertainlyT's design has inspired everyone here in champion design. He doesn't just make great champions: he levels up the way we all think about champion design.

There, that's my rant. It's very easy to pick on someone you don't know when you have no idea how hard their job actually is, but next time pick on me instead. I've actually released some pretty damn bad design (lol you can dodge Lucian Qs... just kidding!)"

Likewise, Morello commented on designing champions like Thresh and Yasuo who offer unique experiences:
"In fact, I'd say driving the vision of characters that do offer unique experiences (and say what you want about Thresh and Yasuo - you can't deny that do the job there) is a harder job than making something safe and perfectly balance. I'd also say it's far more important as long as it has an eye for game health. 
2011 was marred by flat, safe experiences. That sucked (and you guys said as much). We agree. We want to push champions (and not just CertainlyT's) further to offer experiences you haven't been able to have, and strategic differential haven't focused a lot of. 
So, "Yasuo's OP this guy sucks" is really not interesting, actionable or valuable. He has good levers to pull and can be balanced - even if he's strong now. Additionally, he's an addition to the game you can understand why he'd be valuable if he wasn't just stronger than other people.

We should do balance follow-up - THAT is a valid critique. But this direction is where we'll be going with champions, reworks and balancing in the future."

Working on a Solution for Teemo shrooms and "big offenders"

As the preseason vision changes included the removal of oracle's elixir, Morello commented that the team is aware of and working on a solution for Teemo's shrooms
"We're working on a direct solution for the Teemo shrooms issue (though not mentioned here, one of the bigger problems) and the Rengar rework will take the new vision paradigm into account. Sorry this might take some time - we may have to do something immediate and inelegant and follow-up with a more complete solution."
He continued, explaining why it's taking a bit longer to fix up some of the champions that are commonly seen as being over powered:
"This is our bad on communication - we're working on issues like Kassadin, Gragas, Elise and Teemo (sorta the biggest offenders), but because we want to do something a bit more long-term sustainable as opposed to "Olafing", it's taking us longer to get to a good solution. We haven't done a lot to talk about that though, which would leave you in the dark :("
Just to be clear on the last two posts, he added:
"Yeah - let me clarify. 
The solution on these may take us some time (longer than a patch for sure).

Because of that, we may have to do something in sooner that's less good that would be temp."

Heimerdinger's Turrets & Melee Autoattacks

In a thread asking why Heimerdinger's turrets get destroyed by champion attacks, 20thCenturyFaux pointed out that if you look at the turret it has a buff noting it takes 40% extra damage from champion melee attacks:
"It's +40% from champ melee autoattacks and it's on the turret's buff ^^
I would have preferred to put all the info in the spell tooltip, too, but that thing is already really overloaded."
He continued, agreeing it's not the best place for that information:
"Yea, I agree it's not an ideal solution :/

Thankfully it's not something that comes up much--the life of a melee champ vs Heimer is much more about figuring out how to get next to a turret without getting torn apart. They don't tend to worry about how much damage they'll do to the turret when they finally reach it."

Bot Behavior Update on PBE

Bellissimoh comes baring good good news to everyone who enjoys Co-op vs AI - Riot is working to update the Bot AI!

Check out what he has to say ab out the changes currently being tested on the PBE:
"Hey all, 
I'm here to chat with you guys about bots and the changes we're making to bot behaviors. The goal of these changes is to make a new player's transition from Co-Op vs AI to normal PVP smoother by having bots make more human-like decisions in game. 
So, for the last few months, we've been yanking the circuit boards from the Beginner and Intermediate bots and reprogramming them to bring new life to the AI while laying down a solid foundation for future updates. The changes include (but aren't limited to):
  • How bots understand their strength compared to nearby allied and enemy champions
  • How bots react to overwhelming enemy strength
  • How bots position and farm in lane
Our goal isn't to make Diamond-level bots, but to make the AI play less like a bot and more like a person. We want bots to consider the same things you do when you make decisions in game. Part of what makes League of Legends so fun is the variety in player behavior. No matchup is the exact same. If we can reduce bot predictability in Co-Op vs AI, then mission accomplished. 
We made these changes to a core set of 15 bots at the moment so you'll only run into these core bots for a while on PBE. As we get feedback from you guys, we'll tweak the bots and crank out the remaining ones to add back into the pool. We've mobilized the bots and look forward to hearing what you guys think! 
By the way, don't worry that this is the beginning of the robo-pocalypse. We programmed them according to the Three Laws of Robotics. They'll never turn on us...right? Guys?"

When asked about the possibility of teaching bots to jungle, RoamingNumeral, a social systems designer, commented:
"Jungling bots would be pretty awesome, and while not quite impossible, it's very hard to do well. We could make bots roam around the jungle taking camps, but prioritizing (and even executing) ganks, being careful of counter jungling and most of the other behaviors that make jungling interesting would be pretty challenging to get right. In the mean time we think it's better to focus on laning behaviors since the path to improvement there is a bit clearer."
As for how this will change the bots difficulty, RoamingNumberal commented:
"This update isn't intended to make bots much harder, if at all. Ultimately, we're aiming for similar difficulty, but with the mistakes they do make being "more human" (though, there will almost certainly still be some level AI derp going on occasionally ^^)."

RoamingNumeral also shared that there is a also a thread up for PBE players to drop off  their feedback
"If you are trying the updated bots out on PBE and want to give feedback, there's a thread on the PBE forums here where we're collecting all of it in one place. 
PBE thread"

Stun Your Sweetheart with LoL Valentine's

Just in time for Valentine's Day, Riot has whipped up a hearty selection of League of Legends themed Valentine's Day Cards!
"This Valentine’s Day, stun your sweetheart with a card from Debonair Jayce, Heartseeker Vayne or the new Heartseeker Ashe, who’ll hit the Rift this Valentine’s Day. 
If you’re looking to spread the love, share these Valentine’s cards from the Heartseekers and Debonair Jayce."

Check out the site post for the rest of the card styles!

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