Hero selection and color coding
This weekend unveiled a new hero selection method with a number of tags to help players select heroes. I have though about this for a bit and something didn't sit right. The tags are mainly to help new players. They do not seem to help how a new player would select a hero.
For example, if I pick up a new fighting game (or in theory went to play it in the arcade) I don't attempt to sort though the characters by category. I browse them more like you could browse a candy store, looking at all the options and using what I know to make a selection. I don't think subtracting heroes from the menu will help a player browse satisfactorly.
Ideally, I would want as much information by browsing the heroes portraits and mousing over them. Additionally, the number of options to the left seems overwhelming and some of which are terms which will fly completely over a newbie's head.
1) Color coding of major categories
The champion portraits should be color coded into a small group of major categories, 3-6 total. Each major category can have its name in color to the left and the hero's portrait can be outlined in the appropriate color. This allows the player to view the full list and very rapidly know a little bit about each hero. They can zone in on a specific style of hero they want very quickly. Additionally, I think the categories should borrow from MMORPG terms. Those are somewhat well known to gamers in general, while a term like carry will mean nothing to someone who has never played DotA or LoL before.
Suggested major categories
Tank - Green
Physical DPS (Fighter, Attacker, or Striker could work too) - Red
Offensive Caster - Yellow or Orange
Support - Blue
As for hybrids they can either be half and half (for example 2 sides green, 2 sides yellow for nunu) or just display the most sensible category for simplicity purposes.
2) Mouse-over information
A player has decided "I want to be a tank and that bull looks cool." So they mouse-over the portrait and we want to concisely convey a little more info. I think this would be a great place to quickly convey what some of the heroes capabilities may be.
A good way to do this would be up to 6 short, text, descriptors with icons. Most of them will be based off what the skill could do.
Alistar would look like this (the * is where an icon would go.
Melee/Ranged (first on on the list with every hero)
Slow or Snare (not sure which name is most easily understood)
Speed or Haste (again not sure which name is most easily understood)
Knockback (skills that change enemy position like fling and headbutt, while pulverize is really more of a stun.)
Survival (refers to survival skills like battle rage, judi's shield, and ali's ult)
Single Target Nuke (needs a better name)
These skills/hero descriptors would then no longer be listed in the side menu, as they are very quickly discerned by mousing over a number of heroes.
3) Minor Categories
These would be simple tags similar to the major tags, but without the color coding. They should focus on play style and not skills. So stun wouldn't be in here, while "disabler", "Champion Killer", or "pusher" could be.
From the current list I think these could fit:
Farmer (though there has to be a better term for this)
I'm sure there are more generic style descriptions that can be used here.
4) Champion Bio screen
While the bars are fancy, I think the take up too much space. The first thing the player should see in this screen is a summary of the hero and their skills.
If the stat bars were reduced to colored text or a percentage you would have a lot more space and be able to have skill descriptions on the first page.
The player can then move to other pages if they want to read the bio.
The animation of the bars that display health, attack, spells, and relative difficulty takes too long and really slows down the process if a player would actually be trying to use them for choosing a champion. I looked at a few of them last weekend, just for the sake of seeing what that little in-portrait button did, and every time the bio would come up and the animation of the bars would hang for a couple seconds and then take a couple more seconds to display the results. If some newbie is scanning these looking for a champion to play during the pre-game process, there's no way they're going to get to look at many before the game starts without them being fully set up.
Granted, this would only effect very, very new players.
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