Red Post Collection: Celebrating the end of this year's Snowdown, NA Server Roadmap Update, and more!

Posted on at 4:20 AM by Moobeat
This morning's red post collection includes a post celebrating and marking the end of Snowdown, details on positive players receiving a free mystery gift to reward their good behavior in 2014, an lengthy update to the NA's server roadmap, and more!
Continue reading for more information!

Celebrating the end of this year's Snowdown

With the 2014 Snowdown coming to a close, Riot has one more announcement up their jovial sleeves - positive players are being rewarded with a free mystery gift!
"Say farewell to your friends, for Snowdown has passed.
The Legend of the Poro King conquered at last.
We won some, we lost some, we tossed many poros.

Some landed and some missed, that is just how it goes.
Who really won this Snowdown? Only the poros know.
Every single game, a unique Snowdown surprise.

The year may be over, but only Amumu cries--
Even if it's over, we learned one thing at the end:
Snowdown gathers strangers, but we all leave as friends.

Thank you! Together we’ve had another incredible year and we've enjoyed taking a few big steps in League’s evolution with you. While Snowdown may be over, there’s one more thing we wanted to do to commemorate 2014.

Over the next few days, we'll be rewarding positive League of Legends players with a classic Mystery Gift as thanks for being such an awesome part of our community. If you haven’t received a chat restriction, ranked restriction, 14-day ban or permanent ban in 2014, and you meet the requirements to receive a Mystery Gift (you’re Level 5 or higher and there are at least 10 skins you don’t own), you’re on our list!

Thank you again for a fantastic 2014. Share what you unlocked in your Mystery Gift below, and we’ll see you on the Rift in the new year!"

Over on reddit, Lyte answered a few questions and replied to comments regarding the new reward:
"Hope everyone had a good holiday and New Year. I'm seeing some questions about this new announcement, so hopefully can help out.

One, a few players are wondering why we are giving out an extrinsic (tangible!) reward for positive behavior when they might have heard we were against it in the past. This is a misunderstanding! We've always said that our player behavior philosophies include punishment, reform, and positive reinforcement. There's no silver bullet to improving player behavior in online games, and you always need a mix of punishments and rewards. You can read more about our design philosophies here:

However, to give more context about this extrinsic reward, the key is that it is a surprise and not deterministic. What I mean by this is that it isn't some kind of achievement system where you are sportsmanlike for your next 10 games, then directly unlock a mystery gift. If you design a system like this, players will simply behave for 10 games, unlock their mystery gift and go back to their normal ways.

This current design is something we're trying out in 2015 and will surprise players once in awhile for their positive behavior. Because players aren't sure what the next reward is (or when it is), players will strive to be sportsmanlike in a larger range of games to try to get all the surprises. For positive players in the game, this won't really affect them and they'll just get surprises every so often for being awesome. For neutral players, this effort might convince some of them to put in that extra effort in a few more games to get the next surprise. For toxic players, this effort might also encourage a few to change their ways though we expect the biggest impact to be with the neutral players. It's important to note that we did 2 tests of this design before (with Santa Baron icon and IP Boosts), but in future roll-outs it will be possible for players to earn the next surprise if they've been positive since the last surprise was awarded. So, if you were chat restricted and missed a surprise, you will still be eligible for the next surprise if you were positive in the time range between the 2 surprises and are not blacklisted for life.

Not every surprise will be a mystery gift. Every surprise will differ in magnitude, and be tailored to different players. For example, the last surprise was an IP Boost which was mainly beneficial for newer players still building out their champion pools. Other surprises may include collectibles like unique summoner icons (which we tried before with the Santa Baron icon).

Hopefully this answered a few of your questions, and seeing all these surprises will nudge some players to be a little more positive in their games!"
He also confirmed this promotion will be open to all regions:
"Servers will get their announcements at their local times usually."

NA Server Roadmap Update: Optimizing the Internet for League and You

Following up on the NA ping discussion from last week, Riot Ahab returned to the forums with more updates on the current East Coast ping problems and the NA Roadmap:
"UPDATE: Thanks for all your questions and joining in on the discussion, that's it from us for now. If you haven’t already, please fill out the survey. And keep an eye out on Boards for future updates from the NA Roadmap team! 
Hi everyone, 
Riot Ahab here again to share more updates on what we're doing to address East Coast ping problems. By now, you may be familiar with the NA Server Roadmap, which outlines our approach to addressing ping disparity across the US and Canada. You can check it out here
Today, I want to introduce Riot WizardOTL (formerly Riot WizardoftheLake), who has been busy leading the charge on Phase 2 of the Roadmap: building a dedicated network for League of Legends traffic. 
Why are we doing this? Currently, ISPs focus primarily on moving large volumes of data in seconds or minutes, which is good for buffered applications like YouTube or Netflix but not so good for real-time games, which need to move very small amounts of data in milliseconds. On top of that, your internet connection might bounce all over the country instead of running directly to where it needs to go, which can impact your network quality and ping whether the game server is across the country or right down the street. 
This is why we’re in the process of creating our own direct network for League traffic and working with ISPs across the US and Canada to connect players to this network. 
There’s a lot of fine-tuning to do as we bring additional parts of the network online, and we could use your help. Some connections can misfire and run a longer route than necessary to get to this network, so If you have experienced a sudden spike to your connection since November, please let us know by filling out this short survey
There’s a lot to cover, so we thought this would be best served as a Q&A. We’ll hang around this thread for the next 4 hours to answer questions and get into the nitty-gritty should anyone be curious."

The update spawned a ton of follow up discussion both on the boards and on reddit. While the responses do dive deep, I've placed a few of the more frequently asked ones immediately below such as when this phase will be done and bits on the last phase regarding centralizing the NA server.

When asked when this stageof the road map  - the dedicated network -  will be complete, Ahab replied:
"The full network is slated to be built by the end of March this year."
He continued:
"The hardware will be functional -- the agreements may take a little extra time (since contracts always do), and there will be extra work hammering out individual hiccups and making sure as many players as possible have their connections pathing correctly to this network."
Riot Edge Direct also added in:
"The network itself should be finished by the end of March, half is already deployed, peering with ISPs will be an on going process, but we hole to have a majority done by this summer."

As for why Riot moved the servers earlier in the year but did not move them to a more central location, Sonicdeathmonk explained:
"Network quality is the foundational thing in any online service (online being the key word). Once we have a handle on being able to firmly control the quality of the Internet between player ISPs and LoL data centers we can tackle the issue of what is the best location for the servers. With the big changes in the Internet business model going on since 2013 (net neutrality, rise in huge DDoS attacks, popularity of online video exploding which has created unprecedented Internet congestion, etc.) we have had to take a step back and really think about the foundation first. Network first is the right long term strategy for players throughout North America."

Riot Ahab also commented on what sort of improvements players should see once the backbone is complete:
"This network should bring a marginal improvement for everyone - coast to coast. West coasters are impacted by this as well - we've seen traffic in San Francisco get bounced across the country before finally getting to the server."
He continued:
"Exactly - the backbone should deliver as comparable an experience as possible east to west coast once servers travel to a centralized location."
Ahab later reiterated:
"The current course of action (Phase 2 of the NA Server Roadmap) will likely not provide the biggest impact (ping-wise) to East Coast players, you are correct. It will have other big impacts as you listed to packet loss and connection stability. 
Phase 3 (server centralization), however, is much more likely to deliver the results you're looking for by minimizing the physical distance between players all over NA to the game servers. The frustrating thing is we don't have a timeline to share on this phase just yet, but it is coming with agreement/contract working happening in the background. 
We now peer with Comcast, Charter, Shaw, Telus, and we are in negotiations with Time Warner Cable, Verizon, Cox Communications, CenturyLink, and many other ISPs. We're targeting those that carry most of our players, so odds are your ISP is already on the list of folks we are talking to!"
Riot Edge Direct also added in:
Will this fix the packet loss? that's all I want to know.
That is one of the main goals of this initiative! :) Network quality is the foundational thing in any online service (online being the key word) Many players should see improvements in network quality. These improvements could be less ping time, less network packet loss, and more stable connections (less disconnects)."

When asked for more frequent updates as things move along, Ahab noted:
"Agreed - we're talking on our end about ways to keep the community informed as we go along these steps. As pieces of the network come online, maybe we post an update to a thread and explain what happened (what went right, what didn't). There are of course some things we can't talk about for security concerns in the nitty-gritty, but still it could be worthwhile to outline the project into steps."
Regarding why a centralized server is taking so long, Ahab commented:
"Agreed - a central server move has been taking entirely too long, and that's on us. I'm pushing for hard deadlines to share ASAP, because then it becomes less about talk and more about doing."

As for the ideal result of all this, Sonicdeathmonk explained:
"Many players should see improvements in network quality as our new North American network rolls out. These improvements could be less ping time, less network packet loss, and more stable connections (less disconnects). Ping, packet loss, and stability may not all move in the same direction for all players depending on location within North America, their ISP (how their ISP connects to Riot's network).

Ping, packet loss, and stability are not always tied together and can be affected by many things. When it comes to network quality we prioritize stability, reduced packet loss, and ping time pretty much in this order. You can't play the game if you are not connected, you will see more lag with more packet loss, and ping can become a problem when it gets significantly high or is unstable (shooting up and down all the time in the middle of the game).

The game client only reports ping time to players but it also tracks stability and packet loss to Riot (and in client log files) on a near real time basis (though it can take us a day to crunch all the data from all the game clients before we see a troubling trend developing so we are not yet at real time detection of some network problems). Sometimes packet loss will show up in your ping time, usually you will see it jump up and down quickly which often indicates packet loss is happening or if severe packet loss will show up as lag in the game.

Faster ping time is often reported by players to "feel" better and is often something that is reported to be more meaningful the better you are at playing a game. How fast ping is before you feel the difference is likely dependent on the individual but it is generally thought the lower the better (diminishing returns apply, going from 160 ping to 90 ping is more impactful than going from 110 ping to 40). Lower ping time can also help mitigate packet loss since the game can recover missing packets faster. Because the Internet is a loose collection of various private and public networks, ping time is something that will constantly change for players. Some players could see slight increases in ping times while others can see significant reductions as our new network comes online. Our goal is benefit the most players and then troubleshoot ISPs that still have players with poor network quality."

When asked how it is dealing with NA ISP, Sonicdeathmonk noted:
"It can take us many months to work with large ISP companies to achieve even modest results. Gaming is currently not a priority for most. However we are investing a lot of time in educating the ISPs that have LoL players as customers. It is very company dependent and we expect it will be a long road to travel but ultimately great for gamers."

As for the more specific side of this phase, Riot Edge Direct explained:
"So building a network is exactly what we are doing. We have leased circuits from Level3, Zayo, and CenturyLink, we have bought Routers from Juniper and Alcatel-Lucent, and we built and are operating POPs (Point of Presence) Equinix and Zayo locations across the country. The backbone is up in New York, Chicago, Seattle and San Jose. And we are bringing on LAX, Dallas, Atlanta and DC in the next month or two. 
The Backbone is actually up, the hard part is the peering with the ISPs and route balancing. We now peer with Comcast, Charter, Shaw, Telus, and we are in negotiations with Time Warner Cable, Verizon, Cox Communications, CenturyLink, and many other ISPs. 
The holidays have slowed us down a bit, but we are working to have the whole infrastructure finished by March 31st of this year. 
The take away is that this is real, and we are moving as fast as we can."
SonicDeathMonk also added:
"Correct, we are going to have dedicated Internet links for just Riot running through the biggest metro areas of the LoL North America region. Key benefits are the elimination of congestion and optimize the distance packets travel (instead of random hops around the Internet). Some of these links are already online in some of the metro areas but players won't see most of the benefit until we also hook up dedicated links in the metro areas to the ISPs players use. We expect a few hiccups along the way, its a lot of network configuration changes being planned. (Doing the same thing in Europe pretty much at the same time, though we have to deal with lot of country issues versus just companies so some things move a bit slower in Europe)."

When asked if this is essentially riot setting up their own tier 1 or 2 network, Ahab noted:
"Exactly, we're focused on peering directly -- technically we may not meet the classification of a Tier 1 network, but you've got the idea."

As for what is being done for players from other regions, Sonicdeathmonk noted:
"Lots of work has been accomplished for EU players since June of 2014. Many players north of the Alps and east of Poland in particular have seen significant network quality and server improvements (we now peer with over 70 ISPs directly in Europe). Tons more work is in flight to improve things for players throughout the EU region with the current focus on eastern and southern Europe. More info to come in the EU forums."

Riot WizardOTL also replied to someone asking if any of this has anything to do with the recent "firewall issue":
"That is a different issue. We are working as fast as we can to fix that."

When asked if the recently offered NA to LAN transers could be reverted, Ahab noted:
"That's something we're considering, but would likely not occur until the Roadmap is complete."

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