[Updated] Red Post Collection: Team Builder Experiment, Mystery Skins back 4/1 - 4/4, Ranked Rewards Survey, FeralPony on Reworks, and more!

Posted on at 1:06 PM by Moobeat
[ Update: A Team Builder "experiment" starting today - players will now have to invite at least one friend to their group to become a captain. Details added after the jump. ]

This afternoon's red post collection features a heads up on a new Team Builder experiment to reduce queue times, the announcement that Mystery Skins will be returning between April 1st and April 4th, info on a recent survey hinting a changes to ranked rewards, Feral Pony chatting about how reworks begin, a context thread for the recent EUW server problems, and more!
Continue reading for more information!

Recent News

[ Update ] An experiment to reduce queue times in Team Builder, starting today! ( 3/28/2014 )

In order to reduce the queue times in Team Builder, the team is trying out a little experiment!

Here's Lyte with more info:
"TLDR: Trying a new experiment to reduce Team Builder queue times. Starting today, players will have to invite at least 1 friend to their group to become a Captain. 
We hope everyone has been enjoying Team Builder so far; we’ve been closely monitoring the system and are currently seeing that there are too many Captains, and not enough Solo players available. Although about 95% of players are having queue times of 5-10 minutes or less (even doing unorthodox or creative comps!), this means that 5% of players are having unacceptable queue times. Players who are high MMR or low MMR tend to see these problems more frequently, and players who play during off-peak hours see this problem as well. 
In light of this data, we’re going to try an experiment in Team Builder. Starting today, players have to invite at least 1 friend to their group to become a Captain. This should greatly improve the Captain-to-Solo ratio, and reduce queue times overall in Team Builder.
While this experiment is running, we’ll be working on a feature to show Solo players what teams are currently looking for to fill their teams.

See you in Team Builder,"

Kick off April with a Mystery Skin!

Mystery Skins, the "self mystery gifting" option, is coming back between April 1st and April 4th!

Here's Udyr with more info:
"We’re kicking off April with Mystery Skins! 
When you purchase a Mystery Skin, you’ll receive a random skin that’s currently in the store and worth 520 RP or more. As with the first round of Mystery Skins, you can only unlock skins for champions you own. 
Mystery Skins will be available in the Skins tab of the store for 490 RP and are limited to five per day. Check out Mystery Skins from April 1 to April 4!"

Survey Regarding Changes to Ranked Rewards

[ Note: This is a just survey and not a confirmation / promise of change. ]

It looks like Riot has been sending out surveys to collect feedback on the way end of season ranked play rewards are handled. While you can find the full survey in this reddit thread, the survey mentions shifting rewards for team ladders ( premade 3v3 or 5v5 ) to a reward system based on # of wins instead of purely rating.

In the reddit thread, Riot Socrates elaborated::
"Hey, I can explain the thinking behind this a bit. We feel in the current system the victorious skin is not very well positioned. For most players the reward is either not attainable because their rank isn't high enough, or they are a fair bit higher skill in which case it's fairly trivial to attain. Very few players are right on the cusp of where it can be a meaningful ranked goal for them. Beyond that, when we looked at the ranked experience we found that in previous years the focus was squarely on individual skill. While we think that is an essential part of ranked and should be celebrated we feel some of the rewards should represent teamwork and cooperation. 
Changes to ranked rewards to align with this is something we've debated for a bit, but we also really want to get a handle on what players think about the idea – the best way to understand that is to run surveys like this. Looking forward to hearing the feedback!"

How do you begin Reworks?

FeralPony popped up on the forums to share a little insight into what kicked off three reworks that he's been a part of - Jax, Trundle, and, in the future, Sion.
"The honest and less helpful answer is that it depends. It depends on the champion and depends on the designer. I'll talk about only the reworks I was involved in and that actually went anywhere, which were Jax, Trundle, and Sion.

The primary motivator for the Jax changes was the removal of RNG dodge as a mechanic. Jax being the primary user of dodge had basically lost his E ability and a large chunk of his thematics if we simply stripped this mechanic out. The rework was geared around how do we keep this champion intact and still feeling like himself.

Shurelia had the great idea of "Is dodge the problem? Or is it just RNG dodge the problem?" since we agreed it was the latter 100% dodge chance seemed like a great solution and the rework commenced :)

Trundle was mostly an art driven rework. The creative and art teams really wanted to update him and this was a good opportunity for us on design to pop in and do some minor tweaks to go with the art rework. We were happy with Trundle's kit for the most part already so the changes were geared towards increasing satisfaction (the rationale for the impact slow on Q, bump on E, and stronger visual support for the ultimate/Q) and more clearly identifying his role as a tank buster (changing the Dmg on R to be % based like the armor/mr steal), this is why the Trundle rework as a whole was a pretty small changelist overall despite the large creative shift. 
Sion has enough problems designwise, artwise, and creatively that in most ways the rework is basically a new champion, and we're using a very similar approach and style to when we create completely new champions. We'll have more information on him as he moves along but we're approaching it from a full rework perspective and we don't feel there is a ton of the current character worth keeping so he will be very different once complete, unlike the previous 2 champions I mentioned who we worked very hard to retain as much as possible. In Sion's case if we can retain elements of the current character from art/design/creative it's certainly a plus, we just don't see much worth trying to keep on the current design. It's not quite starting from scratch - we still want big hulking zombie champion from Noxus, but it's certainly the same level of work as making an entirely new champion."
In response to someone asking about Shen and how he doesn't feel much like a ninja, FeralPony used him as an hypothetical example of how a rework might go over:
"So as you yourself mentioned I think your rework is a bit shall we say "slightly overtuned" (that's polite designer speak for pretty overpowered :D ) but I think you hit on a couple key points. Shen doesn't play much like a ninja and doesn't look like a tank. That perception does vary by region quite a bit but I certainly agree we can bring the visuals and thematics closer together and kitwise it wouldn't hurt to add a bit more excitement and play to his mechanics overall. 
In terms of priority, I wouldn't expect a "rework" anytime soon (almost certainly not this year) as I haven't heard anyone talk of slating him for one. Smaller scale kit changes are of course a possibility and far more likely. I think you're right there is room to make him feel a bit more ninja-esc and more exciting to play, though I do still really enjoy playing him on Live as is. 
Artistically I think you can hit pretty large gains with small silhouette changes, example bulking up his upper body a bit more could very easily help sell that he's a tank style figure, same with adding additional armor. I'm not an artist but those would be what I would consider first.
 <- I lied, I am an artist and you can see my attempt at a visual rework there. 
I will also say I was amused at your use of CertainlyT'd as a verb. A bit unfair perhaps, but certainlyt funny. I'll be sure to pass that along to him. :D"

Team Builder 

< Click here to visit the Team Builder Promo Site >
Now that Team Builder is now permanently available on live serversLyte is back on the forums answering even more questions and feedback on the new queue!

When asked if there will be a why to encourage people jungle ( one of the low pick roles at the moment ) , Lyte replied:
"We're definitely looking into this as one of our priorities."
he continued:
"Estimated Wait Times and more feedback about what is currently in demand is something we're actively working on. Right now, we're collecting a lot of data every day to determine what the baselines are for the various champion-position-role combinations."

Lyte also commented on Team Builder games not counting towards a players normal win count, saying:
"This will be fixed in a future patch."

As for the overall length of queue times, he commented:
"Right now, about 95% of players in Team Builder have queues of only a few minutes--even for the weirdest of combinations like Alistar-Top-Fighter. However, for about 5% of players we're seeing unacceptable queue times that can take 10+ minutes.

We're going to continue making optimizations to the matchmaking system in Team Builder to cut the queue times down for that 5%, but the problems these players are experiencing doesn't have to do with the number of players playing Team Builder so shutting down Blind Pick wouldn't solve the problems."
He continued:
"I did state it's an average. 
We could dig into the average queue times at different times of day, different days of the week, or any other baseline reference, but the point isn't to paste data at every resolution. 
Right now, the averages in the course of a 24 hour span are a few minutes for 95% of the population. It's true that there are longer queue times in off-peak hours and for high MMR (or low MMR players), but that's a given.

The point is, I don't think just adding more players to Team Builder is going to solve the queue problem for the 5% of players. For example, no matter what the population, the top X% of players are simply going to have longer queue times--that's not solvable by simply adding more players."

When asked about queuing as "unorthodox" champions in roles and how long players are having to wait, he replied:
"Some combinations are going to have long queue times and this will change over time as players get used to unorthodox compositions or combinations :( That's the nature of the beast."

As for the "resonable time" the team is aiming for when queuing for Team Builder, Lyte commented:
"Our goals vary depending on the server size and timezone. For a region like NA, we really want to focus on 5-10 minutes maximum for the vast majority of players.

We're definitely interested in making it easier to "Play Again" or re-queue Team Builder games--this is just part of a feature set that we didn't implement in time but are still working on."

[EUW] March 26th Outage

Here's Rincewind with details on the recent EUW problems, particularly the large outages seen on March 26th:
"A team was formed to address the recent issues in EUW. The team included platform engineers, live producer, network engineer and me.

The problem: 
All of a sudden the majority of the frontend systems that the players connect to, timed out and dropped players from the platform causing a Login queue. There are other side effects such as game starts slowing down significantly.

Why does this problem occur?

One or more of nodes in the memory caching cluster encounter a “out of memory” error for their java heap. This for some reason freezes up the whole cluster for a couple of minutes causing a cascading failure.

The “nitty-gritty” details:

The front end servers, backend services and databases communicate through an intermediary memory caching layer. This is a fairly standard design. What makes us unique is that we are probably the only shop that runs more than normal number nodes in that cluster design. The node that goes out of memory for some reason was shoring up a ton of data instead of sending it over the network.

We have an automated process that restarts the nodes that run out of memory. We have been doing it for a while without an issue, however in the past few days, the restart of a node fails to happen cleanly and it ends up joining the cluster in a bad state that causes it request a ton of data causing further issues.

The steps of nodes leaving and joining the cluster is a fairly normal operation, so why was it causing issues?

We reached out to the vendor of the memory caching software. It turns out we are running into a bug that might be fixed in the newer version. We have few leads on what is causing this bug and we are verifying them.

In the mean time we are doing the following.

1) Disabling the auto restart of nodes that run out of memory to prevent this.
2) Load testing the newer version of the software.
3) Separating End of Game Stats into a separate queue to enable players to get back into game faster.


1) “Add more servers Rito don't be stingy!”
Add more servers can/will probably exacerbate the problem. We added servers on March 6th in anticipation of the growth of EUW while Amsterdam is getting ready. There is a theory that the new systems might actually contribute to the problem and we might consider shutting them down as they were added to handle future growth for the month of March.

2) Why is this taking so long?
It does take a while to analyze heap dumps and stack traces and tie that to the appropriate root cause especially when the software is provided by a 3rd party and not something written in house.

3) If you are the shop running the largest number of nodes of this caching software is that good or bad?
Its neither good or bad. It just works, what it probably means is that we need to revisit some of the configuration values for the system. We have run loadtests before going live with some configurations. This problem in particular seems to have a hard fail somewhere in the boundary of 48-72 hours with an occasional blip in between.

4) If the node is not able to send data over the network then the network is bad!
We looked into this. The network engineers and the expert from the company that provides the memory caching layer confirmed that. Since the systems of the cluster are on the same network, they are no routing problems for the nodes in this cluster.”

5) But why does ONLY EUW suffer?
We have seen this problem show up in Vietnam, NA and in Latin America. However the frequency is higher in Vietnam and EUW."

When asked about progress on the Amsterdam data center, Riot Elgorian chimed in:
"Regarding Amsterdam, as we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, it's still going strong, we still have a lot of stuff to do, but it's an ongoing effort our teams have been working hard at."

[ German ] Small Sion Tidbits

ZenonTheStoic popped up on the German forums to chat briefly about the future Sion rework. Luckily, for those of us who don't speak German, zaddelz, a comment section regular,  has translated for us:

[ Post One ]  Hi! We are currently working on a Rework for Sion, FeralPony and Foev are the the ones responsible for this. There is no Release date yet, dont expect it too soon.“

[ Post Two ] Q: I demand that Sion is still gonna be able to farm HP after his rework“
A: I can confirm that this is still part of his [current test] Kit. We're 95% sure, that he is gonna retain this ability.“

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