Red Post Collection: Quick Gameplay Thoughts: Oct 24, Karma Gameplay Change Preview & More

Posted on at 7:42 PM by Aznbeat
Today's red post collection includes Meddler's quick gameplay thoughts for October 24th, a preview of gameplay changes coming for Karma from Riot NeuroCat, a /Dev blog on removing cheaters from LoL, and more!
Continue reading for more information!

Table of Contents

Quick Gameplay Thoughts: October 24

Here's Meddler's quick gameplay thoughts for October 24th, including a look at top lane ViktorLissandra's new passive, 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 delayed or even stopped. If you'd like to see a Tweet whenever a new one of these posts goes up: 
Top Lane Viktor 
Wanted to share some thoughts about top lane Viktor, given we've seen it picking up some popularity and discussion, in particular off usage at Worlds. Our thinking right now: 
  • It's quite strong when picked into the right enemy team and opposing lane (melee that aren't extremely mobile). It's not looking like a good choice so far into other team comps however, so seems pretty risky as a blind pick.
  • It's a different enough playstyle and position for experienced Viktor players that we're expecting it to take a while for strong usage to be common in solo queue. Similarly top laners without much Viktor experience will take a bit to build up the experience needed to play it usefully. Some degree of wait and see as a result.
  • Preseason changes will likely impact top Viktor's effectiveness. Timewarp Tonic and Klepto changes will potentially shift its viability, given both of those are standard picks at present for it. Additionally wider preseason changes, particularly tower plating, will impact all champions to some degree.
  • Finally it's also cool to see a champ getting played in a different way as an evolving reaction to other champs being common/strong. 
Based off all of that we're not looking to make any changes to Viktor specifically at present. We'll see where things end up post 8.23, nothing's currently looking too concerning though. 
Lissandra Passive 
A little while back I mentioned that the Lissandra passive we've been testing (enemy champs killed become frozen statues that slow enemies, then explode) had been running into some issues with reliability. Been testing a range of different ways to address that since and have settled on one that's been really good in testing over the last couple of weeks. Wanted to share an update with you folks as a result:
A few other details to know: 
  • Frozen Thralls start off moving really slowly and get somewhat faster over time.
  • They'll prioritize running at enemy champions over enemy minions.
  • The exact numbers listed here haven't gone through rigorous balance tuning yet (that happens at the end), so could still change. 
Current State of Clash 
A few months back we talked about how we were going to relaunch Clash, with the TLDR being fixing some underlying issues with the platform LoL runs on, then PBE testing, then testing in different regions, then eventually a full launch: 
We're now at the stage where we've been running mini Clash events in some regions. Tests in Oceania, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Taiwan have so far gone well, with a few small issues identified we're working on, but nothing serious. Next up we'll be testing in other regions and increasing the scope of those tests a bit as well. Should have a few more details on exactly what we're doing different in an upcoming Ask Riot post too. We're still a while off a full launch, but have made significant progress and things are looking pretty good so far." 

When asked about Ezreal's VGU and whether we would see more of that scope, Meddler commented:
"I'd personally like to see how it performs over a longer period of time before making an plans for future work. We've also got Morgana's VGU, which is likely to involve around the same level of gameplay change, or potentially even less. That should also help us understand benefit from doing projects like this versus VGU's that involve larger gameplay changes too. 
Happy with how Ezreal's gone so far though certainly, just early days."

Meddler talked more about Lissandra's new passive:
"Hoping for this year. 
Old passive's getting removed. Some people do like playing around it and just wanted a more satisfying passive as well (myself included on both points). Enough other people actively disliked having to consider its timing versus their spell casting that I didn't feel it was the right call to keep it around however. Will be lowering some of her mana costs as a result."

Meddler continued:
"For base Lissandra Thralls will look like the killed champion with a layer of blue ice over the top of them. They'll therefore have the victims model and animations, but the victim's texture will be overridden. Likely we'll change from blue ice to other looks for Lissandra's different skins, haven't had those yet though, been making sure the base and gameplay are right first before committing time that might have to be redone otherwise. 
'Thrall' is an old English/Norse word for slave/captive basically, hence the pairing with subjugation."

Meddler went on:
"Yeah, similar to Maokai saplings, though they slow while moving, rather than on the explosion. Won't be in the next patch. 
Still trying various speed adjustments (start faster, end slower) with Liss E. I've been having some concerns it removes too much response time, especially over walls, recently though, so have been toning the difference down. It's now getting small enough I need to decide whether it's meaningful enough to matter, whether it could afford to go back up a bit etc."

On any extra changes coming with Lissandra's new passive, Meddler noted:
"AA's a bit smoother (mainly visual, small changes to actual timing too though)
Mana costs lowered a bit
E might start a bit faster, decelerate ending a bit slower (around the same time to final destination)
Potentially some damage, CD or other nerfs if needed to pay for the new passive (will depend on final balance testing which hasn't happened yet)"

Meddler provided more details on the numbers of Lissandra's new passive:
"It currently goes from 100 to 520 by level, with a 0.3 AP ratio. Was looking to keep their contributions fairly consistent, rather than very dependent on Liss's gold income, hence the low ratio and high base. Those numbers could well change meaningfully though, they're just what's felt about right in playtesting focused on mechanics rather than numbers. 
I probably won't do any more meaningful individual design like this after this project ships, at least not in the foreseeable, much as I'd love to do more. Only finishing this one off because it was already significantly done when I moved roles and I've always wanted to go back and address satisfaction with Lissandra's passive after not landing it well the first time."

Meddler continued:
"Movement speed while near frozen statues was one of the earlier tests I tried. Satisfaction and appreciability were still really poor, even though I'm pretty sure it was adding noticeable power in team fights in particular. Movement Speed tends to be one of the most noticed stats as well, so if that's not working odds of other stats giving a good ratio of power versus satisfaction are real poor. Moved away from that approach as a result and, after trying a couple of other things, tried the Frozen Thrall version based off some arguments from a designer on the Live Gameplay (balance) team."

Riot Rovient commented on the changes to Dark Harvest in the 10/24 PBE update:
"Correction: it's a late-game execute rune! 😊 
But to answer your question, we don't feel that bursting your opponent for 300-400 extra damage on the first basic attack is healthy for the game, especially when that attack comes from ranged champs. There's no counterplay and when 2 dark harvest champs meet late game it's usually the first to land a basic attack that wins. 
We tried several designs internally before settling on the execute model (DoTs, souls turning into adaptive, damage being lower but AoE etc). The execute version feels fairer, as players have that first 50% of their health bar to react to you, receive some form of shield or to flash away. It's now far more broad, too, with any ability damage or basic stacks about to proc the keystone. 
We also spent time cleaning up some of the less consistent aspects of live dark harvest, such as the fact you can use it on towers, you get as much power from your allies dying as your enemies, the tendency to drive players to PvE more than is necessary and the frustratingly low early buff window. It behaves much more like a regular keystone, but with some fun twists (cooldown reset on takedown, for that Katarina team fight cleanup!). 
The new rune can only be stacked through PvP combat, which is where league really shines."

Meddler commented on the return of the fighter items:
"Possible we do one or both of the fighter items from midseason, still assessing. Might make some tweaks to a couple of other items too, likely nothing too large though."

Karma Gameplay Change Preview

Here's Riot NeuroCat with a thread on Karma changes coming to the PBE in a later cycle - Karma Gameplay Change Preview:
"Hi all, 
Today, I have some changes to Karma I want to preview to you. As a note, these changes are work-in-progress - we’re still creating the visuals and tuning the numbers, so they won’t be hitting the PBE with pre-season update. When these changes land on PBE eventually, we’d love to have you test them out and give us your feedback at that point. 
First, let’s talk about some of Karma’s issues, and our goals with these changes:
  1. When compared to other champions, modern Karma doesn’t have many defining elements that set her apart, from both a thematic and gameplay perspective. Since she doesn’t really have anything uniquely hers, our first goal is to give Karma a unique mechanic that reinforces a core part of her identity.
  2. Karma is a difficult champion to keep in a healthily balanced state. When she is tuned appropriately for the average player, she can become dominant at the pro level. Our second goal is to file down some of the sharper edges on Karma’s existing mechanics to let us buff her elsewhere, making her relatively more powerful for the average Karma player.
  3. Karma players can feel like their Mantra choices don’t offer the flexibility promised by the champion, with certain Mantras becoming much more useful for different Karma builds or at different points in the game. Our third goal is to make Karma’s mantra choice feel more meaningful in most situations.
Let’s talk changes, starting with the biggest - we’re giving Karma a unique mechanic in line with her identity. Karma is a spiritual leader of the Ionian people, and like all great leaders, Karma has the ability to see the potential in those she works with and help bring out their fullest ability. Realizing this mechanically, we’ve added a new ally-cast mode for Karma’s W. When she targets an ally with W, she reduces the cooldowns on their basic abilities by a flat amount. The mantra, Harmony, increases the amount of CDR and grants the ally mana. 
We’re pairing this with a Karma-only visual effect - as a passive, Karma will see an indicator representing how far an ally’s spells are on cooldown. In conjunction with W, she’ll have a better idea which allies are good targets for her W at a glance. We hope this mechanic will inspire Karma players to craft unique lane combinations and team compositions. 
With these changes, we also want to level the current playing field between pro players and average Karma players in two main ways: 
  1. Much of Karma’s power is rooted in her Mantra usage - optimizing her passive’s Mantra CDR is something pros are quite good at, allowing them to gain significantly more power than the average Karma player. We’re changing her live passive to operate on a charge model similar to Spellthief’s Edge, triggering on any damage on champs or monsters. This will allow Karma players to not have to spend their entire time basic attacking to gain max passive value, freeing up time to reposition, ward, etc.
  2. We’re generally reducing the benefit of movespeed in the kit, most notably by changing her Mantra-E, Defiance, to reduce the movespeed given to allies near your primary target (the same as the reduction to shields). Movement speed, especially Defiance’s shared AoE movespeed, is much more powerful in highly coordinated play than standard ranked play, so stripping power out here will free up a lot of power and allow us to buff her elsewhere. 
The last set of changes are a set of tweaks aimed at each of her Mantra spells, to give more flexibility of use in a variety of situations.
  • For Soulflare (Mantra-Q), we’re loading more of the damage into the initial hit of the projectile, and less into the detonation damage - using Soulflare to poke should remain powerful even later into the game.
  • For Renewal (Mantra-W), we’re changing the scaling to scale both with Missing HP and directly with AP - even if you’re building AP instead of tanky, your healing should be substantial.
  • For Defiance (Mantra-E), the shared shield (and movespeed) percentage will be much higher than live, but will be split evenly across all nearby allies - now using Defiance will still be quite effective in a 2v2 or 3v3 scenario.
So with this gameplay update, here’s what Karma will look like overall: 
Passive - Gathering Fire
Kindled Spirit - When Karma deals damage to an enemy champ or large monster, Mantra’s cooldown is reduced by X seconds (to a cap of Y times over Z seconds). 
Souls Alight - Karma can see her allies’ total basic ability cooldowns.

Q - Inner Flame
Functionally, the same as live

W - Spirit Bond
Ally Cast: Karma reduces target ally’s basic ability cooldowns by up to X seconds.
Mantra - Harmony: The cooldown reduction amount is increased by Y seconds. Karma restores Z% of the ally’s max mana. 
Enemy Cast: Karma deals X damage to target enemy. If they don’t break the tether, they are dealt X damage and rooted for T seconds.
Mantra - Renewal: When this deals damage, Karma heals for Y% missing HP + Z% AP.

E - Inspire
Grants an ally movespeed and a shield.
Mantra - Defiance: Grants the target bonus shields. Other nearby allies split X% of the shield and movespeed between them.

R - Mantra
Functionally, the same as live

As for a specific numerical changelist, we’re still working out tunings for the changes, but along with these changes, you should expect a healthy amount of buffs to Karma’s base stats and ability numbers to bring her into a balanced state. 
Thanks for listening! I’ll post another update when we’re heading to PBE. 

/Dev: Removing Cheaters From LoL 

Here's mirageofpenguins with a /Dev blog on cheaters in LoL:
"Fighting the good fight against botters, scripters, and boosters. 
If you’re reading this, you’re probably not banned from League of Legends, and that usually means our paths haven’t crossed before. Like the cheaters we oppose, we’re regularly forced to work in the shadows, often remaining silent to occlude our detection methodology or avoid bringing unnecessary attention to the cheat providers themselves. The lack of direct sunlight improves our programming ability and also protects us from those that don’t always fight fair. 
Anyway, we’re your friendly Anti-Cheat team, and we figured the end of another LoL season would be a great time to: 1) Share some metrics on the cheats that annoy us the most, 2) Remind everyone that fair video games are our favorite type of video games, and 3) Make an attempt at the world record for Cheaters Suspended (Guinness, please return my calls). 
Anti-cheat teams generally focus on protecting a game from issues that might affect its competitive viability, taking an interest in any mechanism, application, or strategy that allows for an unfair advantage. We also decide when these techniques are intentional game design (selecting Malzahar) or disallowed (gettin’ boosted for that slick Gold border). 
There are several methods at our disposal for dealing with unsavory behavior, but we tend to categorize them into three categories: prevention, detection, and deterrence… or as we like to call them, the Resplendent Echelons of Justice™
  • Prevention: The idea here is to enforce designs or implement roadblocks that prevent a player from cheating at all, that way we don’t have to rely on anyone’s moral fortitude to avoid the siren song of the “easy” path. 
  • Detection: We catch what we can’t prevent. Methodology varies wildly, ranging from the ever-evolving fight for control of client memory to cutting-edge machine learning models trained on player performance.
  • Deterrence: Sometimes you gotta swing the hammer. While it might take a few banwaves for the message to really sink in, punitive measures can encourage restraint or even give catharsis to the innocents caught in a cheater’s wake. 
For other lectures concerning our technical strategy, you can hear our boy Michael VanKupers babble on about encryption and debugging in his recent tech blog post
Because some players cheat. People like to win—or more importantly, they like the prestige that comes with winning. Cheat vendors want to capitalize on the status associated with skill for their own financial gain (or occasionally, internet acclaim). It is our intention to ensure that this is not a profitable endeavor, and that you never have to go digging for malware to stay competitive. 
To keep it quotable, if we want League to be taken seriously as a sport (and we do), the competition all has to play by the same rules. If you can just buy the trophy, it’s barely worth the weight of the bronze it’s cast in. 
An entire gaggle of hackers, complete with trench coats, monitor palaces, and screens constantly rendering a barrage of openGL rectangles. We’re comprised of a few ex-cheat developers (to give us street cred), some data scientists (to make our graphs pretty), and an analyst or three (to keep everyone banned into the next century). 
With several different disciplines of ninja at our disposal, we’ve implemented some potent mixtures of protection and identification technology. 
Right behind you. 
WHAT’S NEW IN 2018? 
Recently, we flew out to Shenzhen for a bootcamp with the anti-cheat grandmasters at Tencent. China’s cheating landscape plays on the Inferno difficulty, and working together, we’re developing new ways to identify those that provide cheats in the first place. From boosting service takedowns to stealthier detection systems, we’re creating a global standard for what players should expect in competitive video games. 
Service announcement complete, let’s get this party started. 
Sometimes people find themselves banned for cheating (much to the disappointment of their parents), and it’s typically the result of one of three things: scripting, boosting, or botting. 
League is a server-authoritative game, and every client connects to an instance that manages the game state. What this really means is that the type of cheating you see isn’t normally going to be crazy exploits like godmodes or map hacks (we can patch those out), but rather attempts at performance automation. Perhaps the most influential type of cheating in the MOBA genre, “scripting” refers to having an external program execute inputs or counter abilities on your behalf (like aimbots, cooldown trackers, and combos), allowing for unfair, superhuman gameplay. 
“No one wants to give a Diamond border to a spacebar.”

The way this is usually implemented is a little involved. First, some hacker will come along and disassemble the game client using specialized software and raw talent. They’ll determine where all the important game functions are, writing custom code to reference them. Finally, they’ll inject this disease into the game, exposing an API that allows other developers to write automatic scripts or champion-specific logic. Optimistic cheaters run these scripts in their games, briefly impressing their friends with their ability to orbwalk. 
Let’s have a look at the prevalence of scripting in LoL over the last few years. 
What’s more important: The size of the hammer? Or the speed at which you swing it?
The green here represents scripters as a daily percentage of ranked games played. It trends downward with time, and is statistically referred to as “A Good Line.” Banwaves (rendered in a righteous gold) are displayed on the same time scale so that you may compare the two and become amused. My boss had some “concerns” with sharing “classified information,” so absolute suspension size has been intentionally withheld. 
Some other metrics worth noting:
  • We’ve banned over 7 million accounts for scripting worldwide in the last three years, with 5 million of those being handled by Tencent in China. Today, the average player is likely to encounter a futile scripter just once in every 400 ranked games.
  • Only 9% of scripting suspensions in 2018 resulted in player reform, and it otherwise takes an average of 5.1 banned accounts before a cheater finally launches the LoL uninstaller.
  • We had gotten the scripting rate as low as it was going to go with suspensions alone (cheaters gonna cheat), so our fight now moves into preventative measures, not just punitive ones.
“But mirageofpenguins, are the cheats actually helping? Asking for a friend.”

Glad you asked, let’s dig into that. 
Facing extinction, scripters migrate south for the winter.
It’s probably obvious, but I’ll say it anyway for those that cut math class: The average win rate of a random sample should be 50%, so these applications are still producing some kind of advantage. That said, there are interesting components contributing to their decline in performance. 
  • Scripts are most useful on mechanically intensive champions, like ADCs or Cassiopeia. In the interest of reducing the efficacy of perfectly-timed casting, we’ve added intentional “forgiveness” to some ability spam (like holding down Evelyn’s Q), allowing humans to compete with machines.
  • In an effort to evade behavioral detection, developers voluntarily added additional delay to their own automated actions, effectively forcing them to perform more like a human.
  • Constant, unrelenting takedowns of scripting providers have forced continual turnover of platforms and codebases. Imagine trying to get your car running smoothly, but someone (me) keeps stealing all your lugnuts.
It’s been a slow grind, but we feel pretty confident in saying that the machine uprising has been delayed by at least a few decades. You can safely resume using your microwave oven, provided that microwave oven does not interact with the LoL client. 
Sometimes the grind out of Silver can get a little exhausting, and it might cross the mind of those less-scrupulous to have someone else do it for them. Affectionately known as “Buying the Trophy” or “Shopping at Borders,” boosting is heavily driven by end-of-season rewards (68% of boosts are only to Gold V), though it’s also motivated by the desire to appear skillful. 
“It’s okay to tell your friends you’re Silver, a good friend will still accept you.”

Speaking from experience, it can be incredibly frustrating to see a Diamond II player in your Gold III ranked games, or even worse: to have a boosted animal in your Platinum V promos. The best games are those between players of comparative skill levels, and to that effect, we consider boosting to be any case where a player plays on an account of significantly different rating for the purpose of increasing its ranked standing. 
Boosting has been traditionally hard to prevent, so we’ve usually focused on detecting the most obvious offenders. I’ll have to be a little vague here to protect the Secret Sauce, but basically, training on the decidedly noticeable deviation in play patterns between a player and his or her booster, we’ve managed to throw together a little algorithm that we run once a season to remove the rewards of those less deserving. We don’t catch everyone, but we’re getting better at it. 
Notice that spike at the end where our Gold-hopefuls finally cave and buy the Elo at a discount.
The most apparent spikes are those associated with two well-researched phenomena: 
  • “Play my placements for me bro.”
  • “Yo, hook me up with that Victorious Graves.” 
Our goal in punishing this type of thing is to disincentivize those who’d hope to turn it into a business, and in that regard, we’ve got a long way to go. Putting the boostees in timeout is only part of the equation. Starting now, we plan to do a better job of identifying and shutting down the services that sell boosting, a tactic we lovingly borrowed from the Tencent playbook. 
Ah yes, the leveling bots. These toasters are a real thorn in the gaming universe. League is a free-to-play game, and as that label suggests, there is a low barrier to account creation. Yasuo mains need new smurfs to practice on, and those few million scripters we’ve banned “need” new accounts to annoy us with. It’s created an awkward market for fresh level 30s, and this is something we want to avoid—both to keep the new player experience healthy and to keep our punishments miserable. 
“Why do you have all of these smart refrigerators in your garage?”

So, we’re working on this. We’ve got a few PhD candidates, and those nerds are actively whipping up machine models that sort the electric dishwashers from the humans. Bots fighting bots—real edge-of-your-seat stuff. They’re trained on player reports too, so if you find yourself up against a cold press juicer, go ahead and smash that report button. 
ARAM falls into unfortunate scrutiny here, because it’s the easiest game mode to design a bot for and shortest game mode to receive experience from: run it down mid, cast everything, collect champion capsule.
Less bot reports, less player impact. QED.
What you see here is the effect of a campaign to queue bots against each other (codenamed Bot Olympics), which is just a stepping stone on the path to victory. Our ultimate goal is to ban these things back to the home appliance store they came from, but penultimately, we’ll settle for players never seeing them. They’ll get banned before they’re sold, and for now, we’re down to eat the server costs if it means these guys pound sand. 
The above list isn’t exhaustive—cheaters are always going to look for new ways to cheat. While that’s great news for my personal job security, it also means our work is never finished. We’re making a commitment to fight for your right to a competitive video game, and we’ll pretty much do anything it takes to encourage cheaters to get good. 
“You are not welcome in this community if you don’t wanna play fair.”

Simple stuff, really. 
We’ll be eyeballin’ the comments, so hit us with your questions, and let us know if you’d like to see more anti-cheat articles in the future. If you’ve recently been suspended, you can also use the comment section to complain, it sustains me."

Quick Hits

  • Looking for NA content creators? Check out the League Partnership Program Roster for a list of NA creators:
"Welcome to the new North American League Partners! Get more for making League content. 
Find out more about the League of Legends Partner Program at Grow your channels, earn free stuff, and give back to your viewers!"
"Reaching the peak takes more than skill. Only those with the ambition to RISE above all others will know its height.
"Voting has come to an end and the top 2 pros from each region will receive invites to All-Star 2018! Congrats to @Sneaky, @TLDoublelift, @FncCapsLoL, and @RekklesLoL! #allstar2018"


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

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