Red Post Collection: Quick Gameplay Thoughts: 5/1, Client Cleanup: Progress, Setbacks, & Discoveries, & More!

Posted on at 11:43 AM by Aznbeat
Today's red post collection includes Riot Scruffy's quick gameplay thoughts for May 1st, a dev blog on the Client Cleanup, details an upcoming extended server maintenance for Na and OCE, and more!
Continue reading for more information!

Table of Contents

Quick Gameplay Thoughts: 5/1

Here's Riot Scruffy's quick gameplay thoughts for May 1st - "Bot and Mid Position Power; Matchmaking Algorithm and Ranked Seeding":
These posts will often contain talk about future work we're doing, or planning to do, that isn't yet guaranteed to ship. The work or goals could change depending on what we discover, and projects mentioned may get delayed or even stopped. That said, I believe it’s important to share as much as we can even if plans may change. 
Position Power Philosophy 
Before getting into the details I wanted to outline our high level philosophy around position power. We look at positions in terms of game influence - which is their ability to impact the overall outcome of the game (win/loss) through good or bad performance. First off, we don’t believe that all positions should have the same level of game influence. Positions can vary in resources, map positioning, and skill ceiling which creates natural power positions in the game. We think rather than fully flatten the natural strategy and skill variety in LoL we would prefer to support the uneven role power but balance them into a tight spread so that all positions have the capacity to carry the game with good performance. 
For example, we think a position like support, which has less intense skill demands throughout the game and lower resources, will have slightly less influence on win/loss than the other positions but they can make up for it by boosting their team’s performance through vision and utility. Worth noting that we aim for support influence being slightly low not extremely low influence as it was in the early days of League. Also we increased top lane influence this season, because we thought it should be on par with the other farming positions. 
If you’re interested in our methods - the current metric we use to track position influence/power is how much an MMR difference (used as a proxy for good or bad performance) in that position affects the outcome of an otherwise even game. In a powerful position, a MMR difference can be highly impactful to the game outcome, whereas it has less of a difference in a weaker one. 
Bot and Mid 
Current state of the game, we see top dramatically improved from the last two seasons, and jungle remaining powerful. Our next focus is on Mid and Bot Carry positions, which aren’t far off but could use some slight adjustments. 
Bot carry power has decreased slightly this season, so we wanted to put a small amount of power back into the role. We are exploring a few options, and we may not put power directly back into XP. 
We think mid should be among the strongest positions in the game, but currently it is carrying a bit too much power. Slight nerfs should bring it in line, and we still intend for mid to be a highly influential role. We will likely have to change some mechanics (not just tune numbers) to effectively nerf mid without indirectly hitting top. 
Matchmaking Algorithm and Ranked Seeding 
We’re currently working on a few more improvements to matchmaking - an improved algorithm and ranked seeding. 
We're improving the matchmaking algorithm to close in on a player's skill much more quickly as they play games. This'll reduce the amount of time every new player goes through the initial calibration period where the system doesn't yet know how to accurately matchmake them. It also reduces the amount of time smurfs are in matches well below their actual skill level. 
Ranked Seeding will additionally improve the speed that we find a player's skill by using previous matchmaking data from normal queues to “seed” a player with a better rating when they first start ranked. Before this change, we always used a fresh rating (around high silver) for new ranked players, which led to problems with both smurfs and players that are truly new. 
We’re planning to iterate on and test these changes slowly to make sure that they don’t have any unknown negative effects, but our goal is to have these fully rolled out some time this summer. 
Thanks again everyone for playing. Stay safe out there. 
- Scruffy"

Client Cleanup: Progress, Setbacks, & Discoveries

Here's a dev blog from the client cleanup team on where they are - "The latest update in the Client Cleanup Campaign comes with news of progress and some setbacks.":
"A couple of months ago, we announced our plans to fix the League of Legends client, an effort we're calling the "Client Cleanup Campaign." 
The team at Riot is committed to keeping you updated on our progress, even when we're struggling. Put bluntly, we still have a ways to go before we're happy with the client's performance. 
In today's blog we'll talk about some positive progress we've made. We'll also share details on some of the setbacks we've encountered and how we plan to address them with the next steps we're taking. 
As we said in our first client blog, we wanted to first focus on lowering bootstrap time to about 15 seconds, even for 90th percentile players. Bootstrap time, remember, is a measure of how long it takes for the client to boot up. 
To achieve our goal, we said we'll be consolidating and reducing the number of plugins and ember apps in the client. If you're new to this terminology, just remember that plugins are tools that allow us to break the client's code up into useful chunks. Ember apps are tools that drive our user interface. 
So far, work in this area has been progressing pretty well. In the chart below, you can see the total number of plugins and ember apps in the client over time. Each patch, we've whittled the numbers lower. There are now about 10% fewer ember apps and 20% fewer plugins the client has to load during bootstrap, compared to when we started this process. 
That's good news! However, we've also encountered some setbacks, which we want to share with you. 
For the first couple of patches of the year, we were seeing meaningful improvements in bootstrap time as a result of our plugin work. 
However, starting during patch 10.3 we started seeing bootstrap times slowly move in the wrong direction, with patch 10.7 representing a low watermark for bootstrap times across the board. 
You can see these in the chart below. For help understanding this chart, keep in mind that you want to see the curves moving closer to the left side of the chart (faster bootstrap times). 
One possible explanation for the recent setback is the increased strain we've seen on League's servers in recent weeks. For somewhat obvious reasons, lots of you around the world have more time at home right now. You're playing tons of League, and that's posing a challenge for our server infrastructure, which results in inconsistent response times and slower bootstrap times for the client. 
As we scale up server capacity to address the influx, it may turn out that we'll start to see real positive improvements in client performance again. We'll also pursue other possible causes, like reducing the amount of Javascript code that gets loaded in during bootstrap. 
Regardless of the reason for the setback, there's cause for hope: As we said in our first dev blog, in the process of addressing bootstrap time and champ select lock-in time (which is next on our list), we're cleaning up and reworking certain fundamental aspects of the client's architecture. 
This means we're fixing bugs and digging into some of the fundamental architecture problems in the client that cause headaches for you. 
One such architectural problem we've discovered has to do with a client feature called Affinity
Affinity launched as a feature when we did the "client update" a few years ago. It's basically a tool that allows us to specify which plugins need to be loaded before bootstrap can complete. 
We discovered two problems with Affinity:
  1. Affinity was broken. At some point during 2018, Affinity was inadvertently broken. Since Affinity isn't working properly, the client is defaulting to loading every single plugin during bootstrap and postgame loads.
  2. Even if fixed, Affinity wouldn't solve our problems. We believe that even when Affinity was functioning as designed, it wasn't prioritizing plugin load-in efficiently. In plain speak, the client has always had an issue with loading too many plugins during bootstrap.
TL;DR: We need to fully replace Affinity with a better, more efficient solution. 
These discoveries are surprising for us, but they've validated one of the core beliefs we had when we started working on the client: By taking time to dig deep into the client's guts, we've been able to discover some root causes of the problems. 
Now that we know Affinity isn't doing what it's supposed to, we can implement a new solution that does prioritize plugins properly. In doing so, we'll speed up bootstrap times for players and unlock other impactful client work. 
None of this fundamentally alters our plans to fix the client, but it may slow us down a bit. Either way, we see this discovery as a good thing, as it gives us a clearer path forward. If this results in an overall less glitchy and more reliable experience for you, then our efforts will not have been wasted. 
Once we've gotten client bootstrap times down to our satisfaction, we'll begin phase two of the Client Cleanup campaign: reducing client response times in champ select. The champ select work is obviously the most appealing part of this campaign for many of you, and we can't wait to get to it either. 
We'll continue to keep you updated on our progress. Expect another blog like this within the next couple of months. As always, thanks for playing."

League of Legends and TFT Server Maintenance - May 2020

The NA and OCE servers will be down for extended maintenance, check out the full details below - "More details in preparation for longer-than-usual server maintenance.":
"On May 5, 2020 and May 19, 2020, League of Legends, TFT, and TFT on mobile will be down for an approximately 5 hour maintenance, starting from 2:30 AM - 7:30 AM PT. 
The initial server maintenance on April 20 was the first of a series of server downtimes to physically rearrange some space in their data centers. Both the North American and Oceania servers are hosted in one of the datacenters that are being reorganized, and so, they need to be taken down during the work period. Instead of doing this reshuffling all at once with one extremely long downtime, we decided to split them up into three separate instances to lessen the amount of time you won't have access per day. 
Our goal is to create the least amount of pain as possible when undertaking these longer-than-usual server downtimes. In general, we never want to impact any region during their peak. Unfortunately the maintenance is on two servers that don't share a peak so while the first took into consideration OCE peak playing hours, the next couple will be scheduled with NA peak hours in mind. 
You won't be able to login once we shutdown the server and any games in progress will be halted. However, since this is scheduled maintenance, you will be alerted ahead of time and Ranked in both games will be disabled 90 minutes prior to the start of the downtime. 
You can check for a real-time status update during the maintenance on both dates."


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