Red Post Collection: Ascension Q&A Round up and Commemorating Past Championships

Posted on at 2:22 AM by Moobeat
Tonight's red post collection features a summary of the Ascension Q&A, information on the return of Championship Thresh and the SKT & TPA skins through October 31st, and more!
Continue reading for more information!

Ascension Q&A

With the Ascension sandstorm still raging on live, the team behind our latest featured gameplay mode jumped on the boards to talk more about the mode, what inspired it, and more!

Here's L4T3NCY with an introduction to kick off the Q&A:
"Hi everyone ^o^/ 
The sands of Shurima have brought with them our latest Featured Game Mode, "Ascension" and the Play team is here again to field any suggestions and questions you guys might have! We take care of all the Featured Game Modes, so feel free to ask us anything about Ascension (or previous Featured Game Modes). Tell us about your own personal strategies in Ascension. What team comps are the strongest? Who is the most OP Ascended? 
We'll be online from now for 2 hours, from 8AM ~ 10AM PST / 4PM ~ 6PM BST. Come tell us your stories!
-Riot Case
EDIT: OK guys, we need to get back to making the next FGM! Thanks to all the EU and NA peeps that stopped by to ask questions. I'm glad we could give you guys some insight into what went into making Ascension! 
See you in the sandstorm. >o</"
Now on to the Q&A!

When asked what the inspiration for Ascension and it's constant brawling , L4T3NCY explained:
"We wanted to do something cool for the Shurima event, and each Featured Game Mode is always a great opportunity to explore new types of gameplay within the League of Legends ecosystem. The feeling of a tense, non-stop brawling skirmish was something we enjoyed a lot during initial prototyping and didn't want to pigeon-hole players into having to 'destroy a nexus' or 'push lanes', just because "that's what's done in LoL". We wanted to move all of that out of the way and leave behind just the skirmishing 5v5 battle for players to enjoy. ^_^"
He continued, commenting that Ascension was paired with Shurima, not strictly with Azir:
"Ascension was timed to be partnered with the Shurima event, as was Azir. We saw an opportunity to do some cool crossover interaction between the two, but the timing was serendipitous. For any future events, we might make another game mode ala Ascension, but it would be again tied to the event and agnostic from any new champ that may or may not be in development."
As for future event tie-ins for featured gameplay modoes, Riot Case commented:
"Thanks! We had a blast working with our Events team to try to make it a rich experience. We are certainly hoping we can do more tie-ins in the future."

BuffMePlz also commented that Ascension took roughly two months to make:
"Ascension took about two months to make. There's always a bit of infrastructure work to make sure the modes work the way we want them to - in this case, we used a similar framework that allows both Battle Training and regular classic gameplay to exist simultaneously on SR, and allows us to selectively load the scripts and assets we need to make the mode work. 
We put the removed nexuses in the shed out back where we keep all the other nexuses we're not using at the moment."

BuffMePlz also jumped in to share a little bit of trivia on what some of the early, concept stages of Ascension where like:
"We went through several iterations of the mode before we ended up on what Ascension looks like now. In early versions we had no relics and you could only score by getting kills while Ascended. We also tried a mechanic in which the Ascended buff was passed around, so the Ascended's killer would automatically Ascend. These early versions resulted in some pretty claustrophobic and exhausting experiences - while temporally fun, they didn't have a natural progression that felt enjoyable, and games were usually just twenty-minute ten-man murderballs of death (which sounds cool but gets pretty old pretty fast).

As for game mode development time, it varies depending on the scope and complexity of the mode, but it typically takes us between one to two months to finish. Ascension took us a bit over two months from ideation to completion."

As for something the team wished they could have added, L4T3NCY mentioned the scrapped idea of Ascendant specific summoner spells!
"With every Featured Game Mode, there's always so many things we wanted to add but weren't able to. With game dev in general, at some point, you just have to call it, or else you'll be 'feature creeping' forever. :P 
One idea that didn't quite make it in time was 'Ascended specific Summoner Spells'. We were thinking of making some new spells that only the Ascended could use, like a Chain Lightning, Shield Repel, etc. These would replace your summoner spells and be on a low cooldown for maximum fireworks. The idea was to make the Ascended feel badass, but also provide a point of cohesion across all Ascended champs (you would identify with the Chain Lightning as being an 'Ascended spell'). Alas, not this time though. Something to consider maybe if we ever bring Ascension back. ^.^"

As for the hardest thing to implement in to Ascension, Riot Case noted adding all the "zombie" stuff such as killing the Ascendant while dead was a pain!
"I had the pleasure of dealing with all the Zombie-related issues (like killing Xerath as Zyra's Vengeful Plant), there were a lot of thorny edge cases and timing issues that proved challenging. As for "really cool stuff", we did play around with an idea for hidden content... i'm surprised it doesn't seem to have been found yet ;P"
BuffMePlz also commented on notable bugs during development, sharing:
"Nothing super crazy this time around, though we do have a screenshot up on a wall at work where blue team's base is entirely covered with Relics of Shurima.
There was also a bug where two champions from opposite teams capturing the same relic would cause the relic to auto-capture itself."

BuffMePlz also took a shot a multi part question regarding the goal of the Ascension buffs, teleporting into the battle, and more!
  1. Are there any other ideas of new games modes already?
  2. Could we get some hints what it possibly will be? :)
  3. Why did you decide to knockback all enemies which stand nearby the new Ascendant?
  4. Why exactly did you decide teleport to be the only way to get onto the battlefields? To avoid extremely fed champions to camp your base?
  5. Are you allowed to tell us when the Summoner's Rift VU is probably coming on the live servers?
Thank you in advance! :3
  1. 1Yes!
  2. Nope! =) In all seriousness, a lot of these ideas are unproven and unbaked - even Ascension went through several iterations before we landed on what we have now. Teasing a mode that we end up not delivering because it wasn't fun isn't great (and I know we've been guilty of this in the past, sorry). But rest assured that we have several ideas in the backlog
  3. The goal of the Ascension buff was to make someone burn bright and fast. Camping the Ascended felt really bad for a team that comes out of a clutch Ascended fight down a champion or two, and making the Ascended more tanky felt directionally off for what we wanted the Ascended to be - a powerful combat participant with a strong but temporal advantage. The knockback gives the Ascended player more strategic options upon appearing, but at the same time doesn't give a free pass to a player that steals it from a team 1v5 - it's quite doable to hang out back and murder the Ascended with great prejudice once he appears when he's in the midst of 5 players.
  4. Teleporting in felt like a cool way to get players into the action - we wanted to center the experience around skirmishing and objectives. Retreating and escaping is unbecoming of the Ascended and his followers! Teleporting in allowed us not only to close off this avenue of unhealthy combat-adverse gameplay, but also to get players into the action faster, as well as providing new strategic decisions for engaging in combat. Do I teleport close to the team fight that's happening to try to take down the enemy Ascended, or go to a point further away and try to take a relic while everybody's busy?
  5. I don't actually know, sorry. =(" 
Robolions also commented on why Xerath is the boss in Ascension, explaining:
"In the Shurima lore Xerath is the bad guy that betrays his emperor and tries to install himself as leader of Shurima. Not cool, let's get him!"

As for why the closed off the outer circle of the map, Riot Case noted:
"Very early on in our playtests we wanted to limit the playspace in order to increase the frequency and intensity of fights. We even tried much smaller (only the two inner rings on Crystal Scar), but we eventually settled on the current layout after many iterations as it seemed to offer the right mix of space and claustrophobia"

BuffMePlz also replied to a question regarding how the team decided on the number 200 for the winning condition:
"The 200 point threshold was chosen to hit that appropriate game length. Shorter games felt a bit unsatisfying, often coming to a resolution before your team's strategy really had a chance to get going, and getting full champion progression in that time made the experience feel pretty rushed. Longer games felt, well, long. 
And I agree that high mobility champions are super fun to play on Ascension!"

When asked if the team had a clear idea of who would be the strongest champions in Ascension, L4T3NCY noted:
"We playtest every new game mode extensively so, we tend to get a good idea of what wethink is fairly strong. Of course, players are much MUCH better than us, so once a mode goes live we're always surprised by certain sleeper picks we never would have expected to be strong. :P 
Ascension is particularly interesting when looking at ban popularity VS actual win rates. The perception of the current 'assassin meta' being the strongest and "absolutely a MUST PICK" is interesting. :) There is a cluster of assassins that are seeing an ungodly amount of bans, and yet almost ALL of them have a sub 50% win ratio. This probably signals strong champion enjoyment more than actual functional superiority in Ascension. ^_-"

As for how the "equal gold for everyone" aspect of Ascension has worked out, L4T3NCY noted:
"We can't speak to Dominion, but anecdotal data so far suggests it's been going really well. Players are able to contest Xerath or Relics at any point in the match, and we've seen a lot of REALLY close games. It means every fight comes down to team comp and player skill."
BuffMePlz continued:
"There were a couple of systems that we played with on Ascension that ended up looking pretty different from normal League of Legends, the zero-snowballing progression system being one of them. While it worked really well for Ascension (where the only way to have a statistically significant advantage is to have the Ascended buff), we would only leverage these systems if they would be appropriate in future modes - we wouldn't want to put in a new system for the sake of having something new. 
That said, you guys have adapted to these new systems pretty well! We're glad to see you guys having fun with a mode that's so different from classic League of Legends gameplay."

When asked why Azir is capable of placing a tower in the middle of the map when the Ascendant is down, Riot Case commented:
"Seeing as Azir is a major part of the Shurima event, we wanted to make sure he had something special for this mode specifically. Also it's awesome."
When asked about the frustration many players are experiencing trying to snag the Perfect Ascendant summoner icon before the featured gamemode rotates out, L4T3NCY commented:
"We often hear from players that they would like more ways to express their skill level visually; in particular, wishing there was more value tied intrinsically to things like summoner icons. For example, during the Doom Bots of Doom, many players actually expressed disappointment at the Doom Ziggs icon being too easy to get, devaluing it, and wishing it would have been locked behind beating the 5-bomb difficulty. 
The 'Perfect Ascension' icon stems from us wanting to try making a 'challenge mode' icon to reward exceptional play. It had to reflect an actual gameplay achievement. Being a 'challenge', it is of course not compulsory by any means, and if it were too easy, it would have no value right? The icon doesn't require any deviation from regular Ascension play strategy, and happens naturally in the course of playing to win. You just need to win VERY convincingly (IE: play the perfect game). 
The point you make about a possible disconnect between players expectations is true though, and we're taking this on board. Misaligned expecations of a game's win condition are probably creating the clash you describe. So we originally were going to make it an 'opt-in experience' and lock it to premade 5-mans, as not everyone might be equally bought in on trying to get it. This felt too limiting though, and we wanted to give everyone a chance to be rewarded for playing that 'perfect game'. We still expect serious players to gather a group of friends and try for it together though. 
The temporary nature of Featured Game Modes let's us experiment with new things like this that might not be possible if they were more permanent. We can also learn from these things and let them inform any similar future design features. We'd be remiss not to! ^_^"
Of course it wouldn't be a proper Featured Gameplay Mode Q&A without questions about our beloved "URF WHERE", which RoboLions replied:
"Urf mode will come back when the time is right. We like to bring game modes back with improvements or slight modifications to keep them fresh, so we are also looking for opportunities to do that."
L4T3NCY also added in:
"As we've mentioned before, popular Featured Game Modes are destined to return at some point. We certainly feel everyone's passion and zeal for particular game modes (ohai URF :D), and want to incorporate feedback from all of you guys to make sure we do each one justice before bringing it back again."
Returning to another common question, L4T3NCY commented on the teams thoughts about making any of the featured game modes permanent:
"I doubt we'd go so far as to make one of them permanent, but we're keen on the idea of rotating existing game modes on a quicker cadence. We're still considering ways to do it that balances the novelty of each mode, ongoing patch upkeep and incorporating feedback from you guys, among other things. And of course, maximising the amount of up-time so you guys can have fun playing them."

Commemorate Past Championships

As mentioned yesterday, Championship Thresh, the SKT T1, and the TPA skins are all returning in celebration of the 2014 World Championship

Here's Riot Paradox with more information:
"The World Championship group stages are underway! We’re celebrating the kickoff of the World Championship by bringing a few skins from championships past out of the vault. The SKT T1, TPA and Championship Thresh skins are in the store now for a limited time.
SKT T1’s skins are 750 RP each and the ward skin is 640 RP. Snag all six in the SKT Championship bundle to get 25% off at 3292 RP (6513 RP if you need the champions).
The TPA skins are also 750 RP each and you can grab all five in the TPA Bundle for 25% off at 2812 RP (5358 RP if you need the champions).
Joining the SKT T1 and TPA skins is Championship Thresh. Going for 975 RP, the chain warden was the symbol of Season 3 and commemorates the epic battles that marked last season.
All of these skins are already in the store and will be available until October 31 at 11:59 PM PDT when they return to the vault."
Still itching for a better look? You'll can find more screen shots and preview videos in our dedicated post!

For anyone curious about a new Championship skin for 2014, Riot Baconhawk tweeted out:
"#Worlds has started... 
Someone is getting a new Skin.
#LeagueOfLegends #Championship"

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