Red Post Collection: Ryze changes in the works, PBE & Balance Feedback, Aatrox Passive Buffs in 5.11, and more!

Posted on at 4:34 AM by Moobeat
This morning's red post collection includes Meddler and Riot Repertoir commenting on upcoming Ryze changes, discussion on how the PBE is used for feedback, a look at the Aatrox passive buffs coming in 5.11, and a goodbye to the Hexakill: Twisted Treeline featured gamemode! 
Continue reading for more information!

Table of Contents

Ryze Changes in the Works

With the recent 5.10 buffs to Ryze's gameplay update and his surge of popularity, Meddler commented that they are currently working on follow up changes aimed at reducing his chain root.
"We're working on some Ryze changes at the moment, aimed particularly at reducing his ability to chain root. Odds are that'll involve adjustments to CDs and damage numbers on his passive and basic spells, though we're still talking through the exact details."
Riot Repertoir, the designer for Ryze's rework, also added:
"I have changes going through testing that generally reduce the uptime and chain cast nature of Rune Prison, particularly in the early and mid game. The changes in testing (which should be announced soon) address the issue via a combination of tweaks to Rune Prison's duration when maxed, as well as the cadence at which it can be cast during the passive in the earlier parts of the game specifically. I'm pretty okay with him getting off two Rune Prison casts in the early part of the game during his passive, but the current 4-5 is just overkill at this point in the game. Additionally, by isolating any chain cast cases to later phases in the game, opponents should have more reasonable options against Ryze, whether that be grouping (getting help from allies), investing in tenacity, or just continuing to play around the windows his passive provides."
He continued:
"Ryze isn't much of a winrate problem at the moment. He's just a crappy experience to play against, mainly due to an abusive skill order option. This was a slip up on my end in the 5.10 buffs, but I believe it can be addressed in a way that leaves the core high moments (rapid chain casting, NOT 100% uptime rooting) of the character intact while limiting some of the more abusive stuff. It's perfectly justifiable for players to be vocal about something that looks and feels unfair, regardless of whether or not they have numerical data to support their claims. You shouldn't need to know Ryze's win rate in order to tell me he feels dumb to play against."

On the PBE and Balance Feedback

In a reddit thread concerning using the PBE as a source for balance feedback,  ZenonTheStotic commented that it is more suited towards bug fixing and pattern-level gameplay than number tuning:
"The PBE helps us with bug fixing much more than with balance. I can't speak to our strategy because it's not my department, but I feel that was never the point of the PBE? We can certainly identify pattern-level stuff that's not okay (THINGS a champion does, rather than NUMBERS a champion has), but for the number tuning, internal playtesting is much better. Still, there's no way we'll ever get a fraction of the data we get from the champion being on live for just a week. 
This game design thing is hard, you guys! 
We did fix a LOT of Azir bugs while he was on PBE, by the way, it's just that there were a LOT more. As for Ryze's quadruple root, you'd have to speak to RiotRepertoire for details, but my understanding is we're sort of okay with him having access to it eventually, just not as soon in the game as he currently does. That's number-tuning (CDs, CD chunking etc) rather than pattern-level stuff."
Gypsylord also added in: 
"Yeah pretty much this. The PBE is terribad for getting actual game balance. As a designer I'm on there more to look for feel feedback. PBE changes I've made in the past in response to player feedback were things like decreasing the charge time on Vi's Q (because it felt sluggish and like she didn't get any distance out of it) and reducing Ekko's AS and W passive damage to reduce snowballing (because when ahead it felt like it was too easy for him to run a train through the entire game). Technically, both of those things affected the champions' balance, but they were more targeted at degrees of strength and weakness a champion should have or baseline spell functionality, not "the PBE has convinced me Vi will come out 2% too high so let's nerf this number." 
That said, I also took in all the comments on Ekko's balance and am going to use them along with other data to help inform what to hit on him going into the future should he be too strong."

In terms of using the PBE to test more radical changes or things that aren't necessarily ever going to be pushed to live, Xypherous commented:
This is what I wanted to see. Maybe even a second "radical" PBE. One thing I loved about infinite Crisis was the lack of Flash as a summoner spell. a "radical" PBE would be the place to test that. I dont think it would ever go live, tbh, but I'd love to see it at least tested.
"cough Mandrake Ward cough 
I don't use the PBE often - but when I do, I get a reddit thread describing how my item will completely destroy a fundamental skill in league of legends. :D 
Stay thirsty, my friends? 
AKA - It's up to the designer in question how radical the changes are when they hit public and what their workflow / timeline is like. I work in fairly long cycles - and so, even when I have a potentially high risk / low confidence type of radical change - it's not going to be in every PBE patch. 
Type of work between designers are different - some work on specific patterns, some work on specific items - it turns out - not a lot of designers attempt to annihilate the game with changes."
He continued, also reiterating that Mandrake Ward is certainly shelved at the moment:
"Yeah, Mandrake Ward is definitely shelved. It's my project and I pulled it because I don't think the benefit is quite there - although - I'm not sure people would agree with you on Wards that auto-ping being not wild - given some of the map awareness threads I had to delve in. XD 
I agree with you in that what is radical for you may not seem radical to us and vice versa. Floating Text changes sat on PBE for a while - and I was here going - 'I have fundamentally changed the display for all damage' - but in the end, not a whole lot of players really thought it was that radical. 
I think the key difference we have is that 'radical' for me implies risk - there is some potentially unverified harm to the player. Radical for you implies differences - it is very different from the current live game. However - you won't see a lot of changes on the PBE for the mere sake of being different - as it has to fit into an overall plan for making the game better."
Xypherous continued, using the concept of "removing flash" to illustrate the sort of information that is taken from the PBE.
You guys, as designers, (and feel free to correct me if I am wrong) Dislike ubiquitous items/champions/summoner spells to the point that they are picked every game, and your balance philosophy and game design has supported that in every other case that I can think of.
Flash is a fascinating case here. (It's actually quite similar to Crit, in its own way.) 
If something is on PBE, even on a radical PBE - you can probably assume that Riot wants to do something about it. However, for Flash's case - that's a spell whose ubiquity being a problem is challenged by a lot of designers. Not everyone agrees on whether its a problem, what to do about it or even has any greater vision for how the game would be better and continue to be better given an approach X. 
(That last category tends to be the types of problems I try to work on for any given Preseason.) 
The other facet of this is that it's also really easy to test internally - testing Flash internally and seeing what the work is like doesn't really need PBE. I can throw it at a team of plat or challenger players and they'll tell me all the information I need to work on - because there's a lot of surface level details that are really fast. 
Drawing this back - Flash is closer to a case where you have a highly visible topic X - and even internally, while you have some individuals with strong feelings about X - across the board, there isn't enough critical mass in either direction. 
It's one of those problems that, unless someone reworks the entire summoner spell system - you probably won't see bit changes being tested on live - as the blocker here is typically some kind of unified holistic vision on what the game should be - rather than assessing 'do we know if this is a problem?' 
It's one of those subsystems awaiting a full redesign not one that needs more information - if that makes sense."

Aatrox Passive buff in 5.11

In a boards thread inquiring about Aatrox and if Riot has any plans for buffs of a rework, Meddler commented he has buff to his passive coming in patch 5.11:
"Long term we'd still like to do some significant work to Aatrox, take advantage of his theme more and make him a champion with more distinct gameplay. That's not currently a scheduled project though, there are other champs we feel need the work more. 
We don't want to just leave him as is for an indeterminate period of time however. In the short term as a result we're going to be buffing his passive so its cooldown reduces by level. At present it has a flat 225s CD, we're going to reduce that to 225/200/175/150 at levels 1/6/11/16 in the next patch (5.11), in particular so that Aatrox generally has access to his passive in late game team fights."
He continued:
"That's our belief here. We don't think this will fix all his issues of course, but do think it will offer a decent amount of benefit."
These changes are currently on the PBE and will be going to live in patch 5.11.

Hexakill heads back to the workshop

After returning for 5.10, Hexakill: Twisted Treeline is headed back into the featured gamemode workshop.

"It’s a wrap! After watching you guys crush each other in Hexakill’s second run on Twisted Treeline, we’re pulling the mode back off live for more testing and tweaking. Thanks for playing - we’ll be back with more Featured Game Mode news soon!"

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