Red Post Collection: Quick Gameplay Thoughts: May 30, Ask Riot: Bilgewater And Balance, & More

Posted on at 3:22 PM by Aznbeat
[CURSE OF THE DROWNED is here! Pyke, the new Dark Waters skins, and more are now available.]

Today's red post collection includes Meddler's quick gameplay thoughts for May 30th, including thoughts on PBE balance and Yorick, as well as a new Ask Riot, red comments from around the web, and more!
Continue reading for more information!

Table of Contents

Quick Gameplay Thoughts: May 30

Here's Meddler's quick gameplay thoughts for May 30th, including thoughts on why the PBE isn't good for judging balance changes, Yorick, and more:
"Hi folks, 
Usual Disclaimers 
These posts will often contain talk about future work we're doing, or planning to do, that isn't yet guaranteed to ship. The nature of the work could change or, depending on what we discover, projects mentioned may get put delayed or even stopped. If you'd like to see a Tweet whenever a new one of these posts goes up: 
Why the PBE's not good for judging balance 
A question we see crop up pretty regularly is 'why don’t you balance off PBE testing more?'. We'd love to get a better read on balance changes while they're still on PBE so we can catch more things before they're live. PBE's not a good representation of normal LoL play though unfortunately. 
To dig into that a bit more though let's take a look at some data that compares impact of balance changes on the PBE versus those same changes later on the regular servers. The Live servers are the top set of data here, PBE the lower. Champs listed are those we made changes to in 8.9. The Live data's from just after the patch went out, the PBE data's from most of the PBE patch cycle. Win rate differences listed are relative to where champs were during the previous cycle for the respective servers (e.g. PBE Mundo in 8.9 is being compared to PBE Mundo in 8.8, not Live Mundo in 8.8). Apologies these aren’t the easiest to read graphs, they’re just slightly modified screenshots from one of our tools.
As you can see in some cases impact of a change is pretty similar in the data sets (e.g. Talon at +1.5% PBE and +2% Live). Most changes however are pretty different, sometimes extremely so (Shyvana, Mundo, Leona, Rammus etc show very different changes on PBE here versus Live). 
That difference between PBE and Live performance is due to a range of factors: 
  • PBE has a lot of people trying weird stuff, not trying to win, lots of afking etc
  • PBE has low quality matchmaking (very large skill discrepancies between players). That's due to both a low server population and lack of match history for most players to accurately gauge their skill.
  • Even if people are trying and are appropriately matched there just aren't enough games on most champs for a good sample size. With a couple of hundred games for a champion margin of error is really large, even more so if a lot of those games come from one or two players spamming that champ.
  • We also see a lot of people trying things for the first time (e.g. AP Shyvana in this example)
  • Etc 
That's not to say PBE isn't really helpful. What's it's good for though is generally not balance related though. Things like:  
  • Identifying and reproducing bugs
  • Generating perception feedback on changes, both from people who've tried it in game and those who've read about it elsewhere (sites like Boards, Reddit, Surrender@20 etc)
  • Assessing intuitiveness and usability that aren't dependent on the actions of other players much. Does this ability feel smooth to cast? Is this tooltip intuitive? 
We’ve got a change going into 8.12 where Yorick’s summons will update their stats as Yorick’s stats update. In particular that means things that give/remove AD post cast (Sterak’s, Conqueror, Mocking Shout etc) will be more relevant. 
Early Game Snowball 
We’ve seen an increase in early game snowball over recent patches, both statistically and in player feedback. We’ll be looking at that as one of our highest gameplay priorities for a while as a result. Some preliminary details about what we’re thinking later in the week. One of the challenges there will be managing both an increase in solo carry potential (another goal) with reducing early game snowball, given things that do one will often clash with the other."

When asked about Predator, Meddler commented:
Hey Meddler, can I ask for your thoughts on Predator now that it's starting to gain traction amongst Olaf and Skarner
They seem like appropriate users. Expect it's always going to be more niche than most keystones, given its got a more limited potential user pool (those who'll sacrifice a lot for initial target access). It's also not a primarily damage focused keystone and that, regardless of whether it's a good choice or not, also makes a fair number of players immediately ignore it."

On the popular funneling strategy, Meddler noted:
Whats your guys thoughts on this whole funneling strat that has been popping up lately in that a jungler gives all their camps to a laner with smite leading to the laner being far ahead of everyone in the game, or the reverse of a support laner giving all their farm to the jungler and following them around while they can freely invade because they are often 3+ levels up on the enemy jungler 
Also any thoughts for Rek'Sai? You think she in an OK spot atm?
Funneling wise, that's one's pretty interesting IMO:
  • It's a new strategy emerging, which, all else being equal, we think is pretty cool. Would like to support different playstyles more than we have in the past.
  • Having said that, it's not clear yet whether there's sufficient counterplay to it or not. Not seeing people use it optimally or play against it optimally yet (does demand adaptation)
  • We certainly seeing some player frustration with it. Need to determine that's temporary pain around the state of the meta changing and something new getting found or that it's a strategy that even long term will lead to a less fun, deep game.
  • Funneling of resources risks creating game states where one or more players gives up a lot of their agency and fun so someone else can be stronger. Some of that can be fine, possible this crosses the line though (not personally sure yet)
  • It's also putting additional focus on Yi's counterplay and whether, if he gets far enough ahead/has the right allied support, there's potentially just not enough there (repeatability of untargetability plus burst being the things most on my mind at least).
Rek'Sai - yeah, seems reasonable at present. As with all champs will see after 8.11 hits. Seeing pro play resume should also be informative there, given she's generally performed stronger in that context than others."

As for KarmaMeddler commented:
I remember you talked about Karma lore and gameplay update.
What's new about that?
Still looking to do some gameplay changes sometime this year. Not sure if there's anything on the narrative side planned or not, if so would be independent of that gameplay work."

On Lissandra, Meddler noted:
I'd like to see something about Lissandra at PBE today.
So would I, but it's not going to be the case unfortunately. I've got changes to W and E I think are in a good spot and could be PBE'd. Passive isn't coming together though. Given player frustration whenever we do anything with Lissandra that doesn't include a better passive going to hold other changes until it's ready, whenever that be."

On ShenMaple Nectar replied:
Hi! Do you have any changes for Shen planned? He is not really in a great spot for SoloQ right now.
I'm not Meddler, but we don't currently have any plans for Shen. We've been focusing a lot more effort into all the larger scale changes you've been seeing coming out recently, and de-emphasizing champ specific tuning in a lot of cases until midseason patches are done and out of the way. We're still doing some small champ stuff, but it's usually things we can validate quickly. I'd imagine that post midseason we'd be taking a pass on all champs that are sitting lower than ideal."

As for Evelynn, Maple Nectar commented:
Anything on Evelynn? She seems very weak after the scuttler meta rolled in and while the change to Runic Echo's will surely help, It feels like she could use a bit more love.
We'd be waiting until the change to Runic goes live with 8.11 and evaluate after that. If she's still weak, she'll swing through a patch cycle at some point I'm sure. We're paying a lot of attention to magic damage dealers in the jungle atm."

On ZyraMaple Nectar replied:
Did the Zyraplantchanges make it for 8.11? I havent seen anything related to that. 
Another question about the meleechamp interaction. Do you think its ok, if Champions like Irelia or Yasuo can use them as a free gapcloser/reset on their dashes and oneshotting the plants at the same time?
They didn't. In testing the implementation we had made it so you couldn't block skillshots with plants anymore - then the designer working on it was out for a bit sick. It's unfortunate since on paper the change seems pretty easy, but hasn't proven as simple when looking at implementation. 
Personal opinion is that champs should be able to target them for moveblocks, that's part of the counterplay - you place a plant, I can use it to get to you, but feel less strongly about them being able to oneshot them at the same time"

On NidaleeMaple Nectar noted:
Any news on lane nidalee getting help?
She's on our short list of potential projects - no timeline for it atm, since it's a really solid opportunity, but it's also harder to land in a good way."

Maple Nectar also talked a little more about balancing:
  1. How do you differentiate balancing the game through statistics vs. actually playing the game? (i.e understanding MOBA environment, current state of the game, and FEEL of the potential changes).
  2. What balance are you looking to strike with the whole solo carry potential vs team-oriented gameplay? Because in the end League of Legends is a team game right?
Not Meddler but,
  1. We do a lot of both. Contrary to popular belief, most of us play a lot of games on live, as well as two playtests per day to feel out changes that we're working on for the next patch. Data helps to identify problems/validate changes after they release, but we also care about how things feels to play.
  2. Hard to pin an exact line in the sand for what's the perfect balance between solo carry and team oriented gameplay. Right now we're in the camp that solo carry potential has been dampened more over the years than we should have, but there's no magic ratio I could give you atm for what's correct."

When asked about changes made in past seasons being reverted, Maple Nectar replied:
With the bounty changes made in 5.22 being reverted, is there a chance for other mechanics introduced in that patch to get reverted too?
Potentially. We've been taking a look at a lot of changes that have been made over the years that with time have proven to not to the greatest things for the game. That being said, a lot of them solved very real problems at the time, or have stop gapped some unhealthy experiences. We're testing changes slowly in this regard because we don't just want to launch ourselves back into a crappy spot for the sake of reverting something that looks like a good patch note."

On Yorick and Sterak's Gage, Riot Stashu replied:
Is there any talk about the future of yorick now that steraks is being gutted of its trinity combination?
He loses out on roughly 100-190 damage every 1.5 seconds with that change, and as he has no bonus AD scalings, the changes do not benefit him in any way.
Heya! Not Meddler, but I've been working on Sterak's with Lowbo. Yorick's the main champ on our radar for Sterak's compensation (if we decide to go through with the Base>Bonus change, it's still a bit contentious). Me and Yorick's designer (SolCrushed) have been talking about what changes we can make to open Yorick's ability to itemize offensively when it makes sense. Won't go into details because it's all very speculative still, but we've got some options we're excited about it if Sterak's goes through."

Ask Riot: Bilgewater and Balance

Here's this week's Ask Riot, covering food in Bilgewater, if Gangplank still loves Illaoi, and more:
"We’re deep into the Curse of the Drowned event, so this week we turn our eyes to Bilgewater. Then afterwards, let’s talk a bit about hybrid champion scaling and pro players’ impact on balance. 
What do people eat in Bilgewater?

The most common foods would be what you’d expect on an archipelago like the Blue Flame Isles—fruit, fish, that sort of thing. They’d import stuff from the mainland too, since there’s no real open space for farmland like in Demacia or Ionia.
But the main difference for Bilgewater is the sea monster trade. They carve those beasties up, and the meat is sold at the markets around the slaughter docks. Gives a whole new definition of “sea food,” really… 
Lead Narrative Editor  

Does GP still love Illaoi?
Yes. But he’s bitter about it. 
Narrative Writer 

What kinds of games do they play in Bilgewater?

TL;DR, risky and dangerous ones! 
There are plenty of seedy gambling dens in Bilgewater, where fortunes are made and lost on a daily basis. Cards, dice, and bones are commonly played, generally for high stakes (and with lots of cheating!) but more exotic games, maybe involving knives, blood, loaded pistols, and/or sea serpents, are easily located, if you know the right people and willing to pay. It’s understood that the indigenous people of the Blue Flame Isles have their own games, which can last for days on end and involve feats of skill, endurance and strength, but the complex rules and rituals around them are all-but impenetrable to outsiders (possibly intentionally… ). 
Worldbuilding Lead, Foundations 
Why do some champions have ad or ap ratios on their abilities when the majority of their kit is primarily geared towards supporting builds for the other damage type?

At a high level, this is working towards the goal of allowing champions to explore different build types and playstyles. In practice, I think there are two applications of this commonly seen in game.
  • Purposeful alternative builds: This is where we expect that only a small push—like a single ratio or effect—can support an entire alternate build. I personally really like this type of alt build because, by its nature, the champion’s kit is going to behave very differently from the core build. A good example here is Kennen, who has a single AD ratio on his W passive, but that’s all it really takes to make AD Kennen a viable alternative to AP.
  • Interesting possibilities: This is where we use an opportunity on an ability that we don’t want to scale with the main build path. Throwing in a little “off-build spice” can create future or just fun possibilities, even if it won’t typically create a serious off-build. Times where these builds have come up in the past is when a champion builds hybrid items (like old Triforce), or when a team comp is so stacked in one damage type that it becomes increasingly useful to have some mixed damage at almost any cost. An example here is Ashe’s R AP ratio: We don’t really want Ashe’s ult scaling into a big damage nuke with AP, but it creates some small breadcrumbs for hybrid builds, or maybe even something crazy, like a Nashor’s Tooth AP build. 
Lead Champion Designer 

Do you ask pro-players’ opinion before you nerf a champion?

Individual champion nerfs? Typically no. 
Where we do work with pro players is on broader systemic changes or major changes that will specifically impact pro play. The two best examples are Runes Reforged and the 10 ban system. We playtested Runes Reforged with pro players from the LCS and LCK almost half a year before the changes actually shipped. During these playtests we had a Keystone called “Reap” that would execute an enemy champion if you got them below a certain threshold of health (the pros played with the very over-tuned 20% version). Huhi (CLG) and Froggen (then on Echo Fox) both played Karthus in a mirror-match mid, and would R on cooldown and watch as everyone else became a pawn in their game of quadra/penta kills. There’s a reason this rune never saw the light of day… 
For the 10 ban system, we sent a paper-prototype of the proposed system to pro orgs around the world. We also had the NA LCS teams come to the Riot campus over the weekend after their matches to run “mock drafts” against each other and discuss the format. Huni (then on Immortals) was especially engaged and insightful to listen to as he mapped out mock drafts in the system based on different metas with different power-picks. 
We don’t typically ask for pro input on smaller patch-to-patch changes. However when making changes to address pro play in particular, we sometimes send out a changelist to pro organizations globally. We’re planning on working with the orgs more in the future, but one of the challenges is that pro players are constantly practicing and focussing on the current state of the game and it’s hard for them to take time and think about upcoming changes (some that might not even make it to Live). We’re looking to expand our feedback loop to coaches, analysts, and support staff of the pro orgs in the future, and working with the pros is always a valuable (and growing) opportunity for us. 

Thanks for reading this week’s Ask Riot. Have a question? 
Head over to Ask Riot and sign into your League account. Check out the Pro Tips, then ask away. 
We promise to read every question, but we can’t guarantee they’ll all get answers. Some questions may already be answered elsewhere, and some won’t be right for Ask Riot. This isn’t the best place to announce new features, for example, and we might skip conversations on issues we’ve talked about in depth before (though we can clarify individual points). 
We are listening, though, so keep asking. We’ll make sure your questions are heard by the Rioters working on the stuff you’re curious about."

Quick Hits

  • Riot Red Seer noted a bug with Miss Fortune and Hail of Blades, and noted they were working on a fix:
"We will be fixing this asap! The team came in early this morning (early on west coast time, anyway) to set up a swap off of Hail of Blades for MF. This should protect players from the bug until we can get the real fix in soon. 
Having all that detail in the original post (clear repro steps, etc) is super awesome and actually helps us a ton in getting the fix to you faster. We have an amazing QA team, but we do sometimes miss certain buggy interactions just because of the sheer number that exist in the game. Thanks for your patience while we fix this!"
"Hiya, everyone! Thanks for chiming in about these issues! We always try to design our visuals with colorblindness concerns in mind, but sometimes we don't quite hit the mark and that feels bad. If anyone feels particularly motivated to surface more of these issues, please feel free to edit this doc I made: LoL Colorblindness Issues
I'm not sure what will happen and at what speed after I bring these issues up, but I think that surfacing these things will at least be a good start. :]"


To round out this red post collection, here are a few reminders on current promotions or limited time events!

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