Red Post Collection: Mysterious Changes to Certain Champion Pages, Champion Difficulty ratings, Updates on Original R-A-F

Posted on at 5:17 AM by Moobeat
This morning's red post is short and sweet! It features a look at the mysterious changes to a few of the  champion pages on the LoL website, a brief discussion on the champion difficulty ratings, and a look at what Riot's doing to make things right with the handful of users who achieves the 10,000 player recruited goal under the old refer-a-friend system.
Continue reading for more information!

Mysterious Changes to Certain Champion Pages

In an interesting development, there seems to be a mysterious fog or smoke covering precisely seven of the official champion pages, including:

When opening any of the above pages, the background image of each page is quickly covered in a thick sort of smoke, cloud, mist, or fog (whatever you want to call it), followed by a brief pulses of teal light

Here's an embedded version of LeBlanc's loop, although each of the champions above have their own.

Now that you've seen what's floating around, what do you think it means? What could, if anything, this be a teaser for?  Remember that the Harrowing is right around the corner and the Shadow Isles is known to be quite the spooky place this time of year. Riot has also been known to fiddle with champion pages when teasing upcoming champions a la the Jinx graffiti teaser. Maybe it signalling a new Teemo skin - who knows!

Well ZenonTheStoic certainly doesn't judging by his post in one of the reddit speculation threads!
"That feeling when you work at Riot and have no clue what's going on. Your guess is as good as mine, guys."

Be sure to keep on the look out for more clues!

Champion Difficulty Ratings

In a reddit thread discussing why Varus is rated at a 2 out of 10 for difficulty and Ryze is rated at 7 out of 10 for difficulty, Phreak stopped in to drop off a few points:
"So, something I know about:
There's an easily-built statistical model that says "Here's how often a first-time player wins with X champion. Here's how often a 2x, 3x, 4x player wins on this champion. Here's how often a player playing his 30th game on that champion wins." This roughly implies how difficult a champion is to learn. (Made-up numbers) On average first-time Rumble wins 30% of their games. A 30+time Rumble player wins more than half. Rumble is hard to learn. He wins roughly twice as often once a player "learns" the champion. (/made-up numbers).
It's not 1 to 1 with the scaling, but most Marksmen are actually pretty easy: Once you learn one, you basically learn them all. You're roughly as good as a first-time Varus as you are as a 30-time Varus (compared to other champions).
Ryze has basically no comparison champion. You have to learn Ryze specifically.
Now, this also isn't perfectly analogous to a new player's experience: If it's their first game ever, of course they have no prior Marksman experience to inform their Varus play.Just tossing out some thoughts, though. Take them as you wish."
He continued:
"Remember assassin players are bad too. If everyone sits there afk auto-attacking and just hitting abilities on cooldown on the nearest target, ADCs are probably the best class in the game. Remember League is a VERY difficult game to play optimally."
Reinboom also chimed in, explaining:
"A lot of what makes a champion easy or not can be very incidental and not always very obvious to someone who has played the game an incredible number of times. If we were to focus on being super truthful with the difficulty bars, we would need to adjust it based on the player looking at it. Based on how long that player has played, what other champions they have played, what their past gaming experiences were like, and even then we would likely miss it by quite a margin.
A great case study of this is actually one you brought up in the original post: Varus. We actually did quite a bit of research on this angle that eventually built up to the new player champion pool and intro bots. The easiest champion for super super new players: Varus. 
The nugget of play we mined out of looking at this particular champ was that one of his most effective skills and play patterns, using his Q, was guaranteed. Next time you try to play Varus, I recommend trying to cancel his Q cast. Moving won't. You can't press another spell. Casting Q again unleashes it. Only waiting it out will cancel it. And it has a very heavy animation and feel that says "something should happen". Basically, Varus is easy because he forces you into playing less than completely nonoptimally and reinforces spellcasting in general."

Closing the Loop: The Original Refer-A-Friend

In light of the upcoming set of changes Refer-A-Friend system, the Riot Games website has published an article regarding the old and now retired 10,000 referrals reward that promised players who accomplish this legendary feat a chance to design their own champion.

Check out the article for a brief history on the reward, where the program fell short the first time around, and what Riot is doing to make it right for the for the seven players who managed to actually refer 10,000 players to League of Legends
"About five years ago, not long after the debut of League of Legends, we launched the refer-a-friend program to reward players who invite their friends to play the game. For bringing friends into the game, players could reap rewards from forum flair to free skins (50 referrals) to a commemorative plaque in Riot’s office (500 referrals) to a piece of named content (1,000 referrals) to a trip to Riot’s offices in Los Angeles to help us develop a champion (10,000 referrals).
Thanks in large part to passionate players telling their friends about the game, League of Legends grew faster and larger than anyone could’ve predicted. We’re extremely grateful to every player who encouraged even a single friend to play League of Legends -- we couldn’t have done it without you. 
As we sunset the original refer-a-friend program, we’re checking in to make sure we’ve fulfilled all of these promises. At the higher reward levels, we’ve still got some work to do. We're nearly finished with the plaques. The wall of plaques outside the Riot PC Bang looks great and is a frequent stop on tours.
We’re still naming content after players as promised. So far, we’ve named seven pieces of in-game content after players, and have 11 more to go. As we head into the 2015 season, we’ll be looking for opportunities to name some more content after players and we’ll continue to do so in future seasons as well.

Regarding the ultimate promise to develop a champion, the idea itself was pretty flawed -- we were a young company five years ago, and didn’t really think through how we were going to successfully deliver the “develop a champion” promise. We now know that champions take an average of about six months to develop, during which time close to a hundred people have a hand in the design and development of that champion, cumulatively contributing well over 10,000 hours of work to each champion that ships, so the idea that a single person could completely develop a champion in a two-day trip was frankly rather silly, but we still want to fix this in a meaningful way.

Some time ago, we did make an attempt to to fulfill the ten thousand referral promise, but we didn’t really hit the mark. We flew uber referrers to LA for a day including a tour, review of work-in-process content, a collaborative design sesh, and a trip to an amusement park.

We’re going to try again, and this time we think we’ve got a way to make it truly reflect the weight of champion development as was intended with this program reward. We'll be reaching out to everyone who legitimately earned the top reward, but we’re sharing the plan here as well.

So here’s the idea. There’s this thing Rioters do called Thunderdome. We’re going to invite every uber-referrer to a Thunderdome event next year in which they’ll get to spend at least three intense days designing and developing a champion, getting it to at least “paper prototype” status.

Working with a dedicated team of Rioters including a champ designer, narrative writer and concept artist, the participants will build concept art, a paper kit (champion abilities), champion bio and any extra story elements that help define the character.

After Thunderdome, we’ll commit to carrying these champion concepts forward into further design and development. We do need to set expectations by noting here that fewer than 2% of champion concepts ever make it into the game and can’t show any favoritism. The Thunderdome concepts will have the same chance as any internal design to make it into League as a realized champion. However far the concept makes it, we'll keep reward winners updated.

We’re also going to add a bunch of bonus extras to the trip including swag, noms with Rioters, a visit to the NA LCS, and gaming with Rioters in the PC Bang. We're still hammering out the specifics, but we’re going to make damned sure that the core champion design experience delivers on our promise.

We all know League is more fun with friends, and these players brought tens of thousands of friends into the game. We want to make sure that these players feel that Riot’s a company that keeps its promises. We didn’t want to just say sorry and move on. It might’ve taken five years, but we're gonna do it right."

In response to this news, TotalBiscuit, a popular youtuber who was very vocal about his disappointment with the original handling of the reward,  tweeted out that he appreciated Riot's willingness to own up to their mistakes and would like to donate his spot to Make-a-Wish or something similar.

Vladcole popped into a reddit thread to comment on TB's request, saying:
"Hey - just confirming that someone in TB's team (at Highbrow Studios) has already reached out to us about this possibility and we're responding in the affirmative -- we're gonna try our damnedest to make it happen (understanding of course that the health concerns do present some new challenges). We've hosted a number of Make-a-Wish kids at Riot and this would be an extra-special event for some lucky girl or guy."
He continued:
"There will be additional difficulty and challenge in fulfilling the idea in this way, but we'll commit to it so long as there aren't medical or legal reasons why we can't."
He also added:
"As you correctly note, there are some very real legal/regulatory issues around this topic. Thankfully, Make-a-Wish is a great organization with lots of experience fulfilling wishes in a sensitive and legally appropriate way."
vladcole also reiterated:
"As noted in the original post, we're going to surround these guys with a champion design "pod" consisting of design, art, and narrative talent so that they have the best chance of creating a somewhat refined concept. That said, it's important to set expectations here -- nobody's design is guaranteed to survive the crucible of development. We've got a high quality bar and have to keep it high for the long-term health of League of Legends."
When asked how intense these Thunderdome sessions get, vladcole noted:
"They can be really intense. The very first Thunderdome involved little to no sleep. We've since built in time and encouragement for teams to get adequate sleep. We'll of course take every appropriate precaution if we end up hosting a child with compromised health or stamina."

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