Red Post Collection: "Hold on to your buffs", Testing Changes to Ranked Inactivity Notifications, and more

Posted on at 12:27 PM by Moobeat
This afternoon's red post collection includes a short "Hold on to your buffs" teaser from the LoL EU twitter, Mirross with a heads up on testing changes to ranked inactivity notifications, Lyte commenting on draft Team Builder, and more!
Continue reading for more information.

Table of Contents

"Hold on to your buffs"

A short video titled "Hold on to your buffs" has been published on the LoL EU twitter account.

A slightly larger version of the video is popping up on the regional LoL pages with different captions:
The table in the video resembles the red side shop keeper's table containing two potions, gold, and a Fiendish Codex.
Lots of speculation is floating around regarding what this short video may be referencing, including a nod to this line and "water shaking" from the film Jurrasic Park in the LoL EU title.

Testing changes to ranked inactivity notifications

Here's Riot Mirross with information from the PBE boards on changes to the ranked inactivity notifications:
"Hey everyone, 
We're testing some changes to inactivity (decay) in the upper tiers of ranked play. Previously, you'd get a one-time notification as you approached the decay threshold, but now we're dialing up the frequency of inactivity warnings to ensure the risk of decay stays front-of-mind. We just want to make sure players don't simply forget to maintain the ranking they worked so hard for. 
Players in danger of ranked decay will receive inactivity warnings every time they log in until becoming active again. Previously this notification occurred just once. 
MASTER & CHALLENGER SOLO: Decay starts after 10 days of inactivity, with warnings during the final 3 days
MASTER & CHALLENGER TEAM: Decay starts after 28 days of inactivity, with warnings during the final 9 days
PLAT & DIAMOND SOLO AND TEAM: Decay starts after 28 days of inactivity, with warnings during the final 9 days 
Let me know your thoughts!
-Riot Mirross"
Riot Socrates also added in:
"When we first launched inactivity notifications we thought, 'We probably shouldn't make these too spammy' 
Then we decayed and realized we should probably make these more spammy."

Riot Socrates also noted that they will be testing changes to ranked promotions in the near future:
"We are looking at promos as something we want to improve. We'll likely be testing some of the described behaviors on pbe in the coming weeks."

Team Builder Draft still in the works

In a reddit thread voicing concern about trolls in champion select, Lyte popped in with a reminder that the team is currently working on a draft version of Team Builder:
"We've been working on Team Builder Draft, which is position-based (so you don't have to pick a champion first), that should solve many Champion Select problems. 
We're also focused on improving skill diversity and encouraging players to still master multiple positions while maintaining the drafting/counterpicking aspects of competitive League. We'll talk more about Team Builder Draft's design in the future."

Rioter Interview

Over on the boards, one player  inquired if any Rioters would be able to answer a few questions about their job for him and both Meddler and Kindlejack offered their responses on what it is like to work at Riot and how they got into the industry.

Meddler stepped up first to comment:
"Sure, happy to help.
What are the typical hours you work?
A normal day for me tends to be something along the lines of get in between 10:00 and 10:30, stop working around 8:00 to 8:30. Those sort of hours are pretty common, though some people prefer an early start/early finish approach.

What are the tasks you preform each day? (doesn't need to be super specific)
My average day looks something like this:
  • Quick synch up meeting for the day with the rest of the team, where everyone runs through what they're working on, focusing mainly on where they could do with some help, what they'd like to test and quickly covered topics relevant to the team (e.g. upcoming events, changes to the tools we work with etc)
  • Playtest - full game of SR, with a focus on testing new champions and significant reworks, followed by people getting together to discuss feedback and next steps in small groups.
  • Lunch, often including spillover conversation from the playtest.
  • An afternoon that's a mixture of meetings (e.g. with the artists working on new champions, with the balance team to figure out our next steps for a just released champ, with engineers working on new tech etc) and solo project work (putting new spells together to test, fixing bugs, hooking up new visual effects etc).
  • Another playtest and feedback session.
  • More discussion with other developers or solo work, depending on what's of most value at the time. 
What skills are required to preform the job you do? 
Goal oriented analysis and problem solving, an understanding of what creates satisfying gameplay (mechanics especially), the ability to communicate well with people from a range of different disciplines (verbal and written), at least some thematic/creative understanding, some degree of scripting skill, at least a moderately broad game background.
How did you get in to the field?
I was previously working as a transportation engineer, focused particularly on computer simulations of what the transport system of a city 10-50 years in the future might look like. At the same time I was playing LoL, and spotted a forum post from Riot's head of design, Zileas, looking for design applicants. Figured I'd throw in an application, since one of the things specified was a preference for people from analytical/engineering fields and game development was a subject I'd always been interested in.
Advice for people getting into the field?
Analyze games, make games, figure out what you want to do, be realistic:
  • Don't just play a couple of games/genres you know you like. Play broadly, and figure out why different types of games appeal to different people, why the elements in a game function as they do (whether you agree or disagree with the choice), what you'd do differently etc.
  • Start developing skills before you try to get into the industry. You'll learn a lot from trying to makes games/components of games that's extremely valuable both in growing your own skills and showing you ability in an interview. Whether that's modding, indie development, creating content using the various game making software out there, pen and paper design or whatever doing stuff makes you better at it (and gives you projects to show others).
  • Figure out what sort of game development you're interested in and focus a fair bit of your learning on that. Do you want to create concept art for new characters? Build levels for an FPS? Write the story of an RPG? Create animations for a fighting game? Do sound design for an RTS? There are a wide range of different skillsets needed, depending on what sort of career you're after, so figuring out what appeals to you and what you've got the potential to be good at's really valuable.
  • Be realistic and don't expect immediate success. Game development's a popular industry, some parts of it especially, so there's often a lot of competition for entry level positions. There are ways of improving your odds though if you want to take them, such as being willing to move to locations with lots of employers, putting a lot of time into personal development via your own projects, starting in a field you're not as interested in to get a foot in the door etc."

Kindlejack, an artist on the splash team, also commented:

"I hope this doesn't come off as 'me too' but I'd also like to answer as someone with a different role.
What are the typical hours you work?
I'm usually in the office between 9:00am and 8:30pm but it fluctuates every day and I'm not working every minute of that time as you'll see.
What are the tasks you perform each day? (doesn't need to be super specific)
  • When I get to my desk I begin by catching up on emails then checking out the most recent artwork from all the teams on LoL, then I set my personal goals for the day and jam on ideas.
  • Synch up with the team, take a look at how all the skins in development are progressing and make sure no one is blocked (meaning they are waiting on something before they can continue working). This is a good natural point to have any discussions about how a particular project is progressing.
  • Hit the gym and then grab some lunch - when you work on sustained focused tasks it's really important to take care of your health so you don't get burnt out.
  • I often get invited to play a game after lunch and if I'm not too busy I try to get in at least one game. I'm still relatively new to the company and when I was freelancing I had time to play 4+ games a day. I realise it's crucial to still play regularly! I can't stand artists that aren't completely in love with the Games/Movies they work on.
  • Work on my concept/s and prepare for meetings. This time is where I get the bulk of my work done.
  • Twice a week we have concepts reviews and once a week we have a whole team review where we look at the most recent work and get feedback from the rest of the team. Our projects are all very collaborative and there are always a lot of strong opinions about the work we are doing; 'My' work is more like 'My execution on the team's vision which in turn is guided by player driven information'. Whenever there is a divide in the group we ask ourselves what players will enjoy most and try to achieve that. On other days I make a point of visiting the other teams, building avenues of communication and leaning as much as I can.
  • After dinner I usually settle in for a few more hours and get some solid work done. As an artist I find I do my best work when it's dark and quiet and I can get lost in what I'm doing. The office is a very social place during the day, people stop by to give feedback, share ideas, talk about craft, talk about LoL, talk about The Witcher 3, talk about Mad Max (yes it is an accurate depiction of life in Australia), so it's good to have some uninterrupted time to just 'art'.
What skills are required to perform the job you do?
Concept art is a highly creative/crazy process. The people on the Splash team are on a whole other level when it comes to illustrating rendered art, but I have to merge super fast iteration with strong aesthetic and game design sensibilities, exciting ideas, material rendering, pop culture knowledge, deep understanding of champions and of the people who play them. It's not enough to just draw a cool picture, I need to understand the limitations of the medium I am designing for and what is achievable as well as constantly pushing those limitations and getting my team excited about exploring new frontiers. 
Communication is equally important. I feel like one of the primary reasons I was hired was that when freelancing I proved that I could actively pursue and accept feedback, communicate effectively and punctually, predict and address concerns before they became problems, create and meet my own deadlines and accurately assess my own capability. It's not enough to be a great artist - our Art Director is constantly reminding us that we are 'Game Developers'; pretty pictures aren't enough. 
Self-motivation and an endless hunger to improve. Another one of the primary reasons I'm where I am today is that, earlier in my life, I made a decision to accept no excuses from myself. I'll never be the best artist, but I'll never rest on my achievements and keep improving and learning from whoever is kind enough to teach me (and when I can't find anyone to help me out I teach myself although it's a slower process). One characteristic that everyone at Riot shares is that they are self-motivated: if they see a problem they ask 'what can I do to resolve this?' make a plan and carry it out. We don't have 'bosses' that set expectations because we set our own and if we fail to achieve them we ask ourselves what we could have done better. I was talking with another Rioter recently about the way that, if you ask a Rioter 'can you do _?' they will never say no (even when they probably should) but will instead see it as a challenge. 
This doesn't get said much, but you need to be a really cool person! No matter how talented an individual may be, if they aren't enjoyable to work with then they will struggle. When you have a full time job with long hours then your colleagues are the people you spend the most time with, more than family and friends, so they need to be great to get along with. This doesn't mean there aren't differences or conflicts; it's more about how people resolve things and move forward. I know this can be hard to quantify, but a great skill for self-improvement is ensuring that when something happens you accept responsibility and ask yourself 'how could I have done things to change the outcome?' instead of blaming an external force and saying 'well there's nothing I could do'.
How did you get in to the field?
I did a University course in Multimedia & Digital Art that gave me a broad base. From there I got a job with an animation company and fluctuated between full-time and freelance work (or just straight up unemployed) while spending all my free time improving my skills and comparing them to industry professionals. If I was just finishing University today I would look for work on Indie/Mobile Games instead of animation/film but at the time it was the best opportunity I had. When I felt like I had a chance of getting the job I wanted I began travelling to the USA and getting my work in front of anyone I could - this eventually lead to meeting people from a heap of large companies and it turns out that the Game Artist community is small place. After falling in love with LoL and starting to do some fan art I won 3rd place in the first Lunar Revel art contest. They had their eye on me after that. Eventually after a couple more years of improvement I was offered some freelance work which I gave 100% and managed to impress them enough for an eventual interview.
Advice for people getting into the field?
Whether you want to work in art/design/QA/talent/etc. the advice is the same: educate yourself on the realities of the job (with questions like these), practice your craft every day, show how passionate you are for the work you do, seek advice/feedback/improvement, work on communication and ensure you are a person that people want to spend their days working with! 
I realise that Artist and 'Game Developer' aren't always viewed as synonymous, but if someone reads this and gets some benefit or insight then it was /worth

Thanks in advance if anyone can do this.
Thanks for taking an interest!"

Narrative Discussion

Following the Chronobreak comic for Ekko, Jaredan hoped on the boards to respond to a thread on the narrative team and what they are up to.

In response to a comment that the Narrative team "hates" players, Jaredan commented:
"No hate, ever. 
Hey, CT, it's been a while. 
I'll tell you my frustration when it comes to the folks on this board: I can't show you what we want to do (and are doing) to answer many of your concerns. Yet. 
Even when players get royally pissed off, I know it's because you care. Sometimes, we human being type bods say something we shouldn't when we get annoyed, frustrated or downright angry. That never comes from a place of apathy. 
Of course, there are times when I get a bit sore when some folks go way over the top. Not usually about myself (I'm ugly enough to be comfortable in my skin), but I'm pretty protective of the Narrative discipline, so when some of the finest people I've ever known are accused of being various things, it does get to me a bit, I won't lie. However, I know where those mistakes come from: a love of LoL from you, and a lack of visibility from us. 
There is only so much visibility we can provide while still maintaining our ability to do what we do and, which is completely their choice, some people just prefer to be a bit more private. 
We can still do better though, and I know we, and I, have been trying to do so.
In the spirit of visibility, I was having a chat with someone who frequents these boards via DMs a while back (before my recent absence from here), about a variety of things that he was most gracious in keeping private. One of those things was a fun creative exercise I wanted to do with everyone on the boards (but haven't been able to, I'll do so tomorrow. Oh bugger, I just saw the time. Ok, later today). 
Another topic that he called me on was the lack of understanding about leadership on Narrative, and I've seen some folks say there isn't any leadership, which is, of course, incorrect. The gentleman in question also said that there's a certain history (that I wasn't completely aware of, to be honest) on these and the previous boards of having a name to attach certain things to about how things are developing on Narrative and lore. 
As I've said before, Narrative doesn't do story alone, it helps make stories and characters for teams, so we don't ever decide things in a vacuum. 
However, the person in DMs, an absolutely passionate player, said I should clearly state that I'm the Narrative Lead on League of Legends, mainly because it would help with transparency for the long-attending members of the boards. So, I just did. 
With that out of the way (I didn't say it specifically before that conversation because I didn't really think it was important), and with clarity of where I'm coming from, let me state categorically that every single member of the Narrative discipline works tirelessly to create awesome things for the players. We succeed or fail together, but it is always because we want you to continue to love this game and this world in the way that we do. In the way that your appreciation, your passion, and yes, even your anger sometimes, drives us further onward to do better. That never comes from a place of hate. 
As for what narrative is working on at the moment, he noted:
"What we're currently working on for League of Legends: five or six champions currently in various stages of production (no ship date promises), some champions up for a revisit, all voice over, a few fun promos, a story embedded event, and a bunch of other stuff that makes me tingly in my happy place (my happy place is in Liverpool, England). Each of those things is through a team of marvelous Rioters from various disciplines, and each product has a large variety of specific things that have to be created for it (we do a lot more than just the bio for a champ, for example). 
As you said, I'm not going into specifics in case things don't go to plan or, most often, because I don't want to spoil some severely awesome things for you, the players, and for the Rioters who are helping to create them."
He continued:
"Strategy: keep creating enthralling Champions and accompanying stories along with various other products. At the same time we are investing in various ways to make cool things in different media (wasn't Chronobreak spiffy?), while we level up the Narrative discipline to help make sure that happens. That leveling up includes partnerships with various other disciplines as well as a new organisational structure and hiring more talented people to learn from and grow with. 
For story, as well as continuing to develop products with Champion, Champion Update, Events, and beyond, we are reassessing every single champion bio for clarity, quality of expression, and direction. This takes time, but we think we have a format that players will like. The first examples of it will be seen alongside some other products that I can't quite give a timeline on yet. 
We want to do it as we want to deliver on our promises to players, because it enriches the LoL experience, and we love to do it. 
Sorry I can't be more specific, but I hope it gives you an idea of where we are at."

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