Champion Creation Tips v3
If you need help with something, let me know, and I'll do a full write up of that category ASAP.
Well, I guess I don't need quite the same introduction I did last time, do I? Regardless, just in case anyone's curious as to why you would care to read a guide from anyone at all, let alone myself, let me cover a few quick things.
First off, guides in general, though often covering overlapping information, provide the perspective of different individuals, so each can grant new insight. In this particular guide, however, I plan to cover, well, everything. Or, at least, as close as is humanly possible.
This is intended to be the definitive, final word design document for champion creation outside of Riot itself. Of course, with my luck, their competitors will actually come read this. This issue, is in fact, a large part of the reason as to why it's being presented on this forum, rather than being turned into a wikipedia style page.
How can I make a guide like this, you may ask? How can a lowly peon like yourself be trusted to know anything at all? Well, unlike most everyone else here, I've actually spent years on character design, have been professionally trained for such, and have actually created an entire world and the characters for a game currently in production (NDA prevents me from saying more, unfortunately.)
In short, I know my way around character design exceptionally well, and while I could simply hoard this knowledge to myself, I find I rather enjoy teaching, and would like to make this information public so that everyone can get use out of it. The ideas on this forum are pretty epic at times, but often just have issues where the designer pretty much doesn't know what's wrong or why. Rather than try to aimlessly, and ineffectually, review every single champion that gets put up here forever more, it's simply easier to "teach a man to fish", in the sense of writing the most ludicrously detailed guide the world has ever seen.
To be blunt, if I write an epic guide, then you can read it, learn from it, and then make even more epic champion designs than you already could, which improves the overall quality of the forum as a whole, which in turn, grants me more interesting reading material.
I love reading about your ideas, but I'd love it more if you could make them even better than they already are. This is my way of making everyone else simply more awesome than you guys already are, so that I can be even more entertained. Yes, it's greedy, but so are all actions we take in life. This one just happens to be beneficial to a large audience is all.
How to navigate this guide:
This guide is enormous. The previous version was 35,000 words and spanned 6 filled posts to the brim. It wasn't enough. There's simply more that needs to be covered in detail, things I couldn't squeeze into the last guide, stuff I didn't think of... and so, this is going to replace it in its entirety.
The problem is, the guide is now "too" large to simply read manually, page for page, for the most part. Instead, due to this, I've decided upon a new system.
The index, here, now serves an incredibly important role. Each chapter will be listed here, in order, along with a link to the full sized article. These links are provided in the manner of quotes with a button to press to go to the original post for the quote, so you should have no issues navigating such.
The beginner's guide is in Index B, which gives a fair bit of information about each topic, but generally not more than a screen's worth, at most. For the full length articles, Index B will also have links to the dedicated posts. Most of these are currently under production right now, as each one is about 4000 - 6000 words in length, so won't be ready immediately.
Additionally, the posts are coded, which provides information, as well. 2-01 stands for page2-post1. This ensures easy access to find exactly what you're looking for, as quickly as possible, even if you don't just click the links, or if a link is somehow broken.
Anyway, I digress. This guide is intended for you, to help you better understand the complexities and inner workings of character design, with a focus on Champions in general. Please make use of this resource to help further your own ambitions and designs, so that the overall quality of the forum, as a whole, increases. After all, it's just as fun to read about your new ideas, as it is to come up with my own!
1-02A - Index B - Basics of Champion Design
1-02A: Index B - Basics of Champion Design
This is the most basic starting point of making a champion, or even a character in general. The concepts listed here are of great value and should be taken very seriously, as without these, the design is going to go flop.
These are the top rules that must be considered for your champion to be fun, and are not under debate. You can't argue these points, and can't debate them. They are flat out fact. There is no avoiding these issues. Keep them in mind on every single champion you make, and they'll help you go far.
1-02B - Index B - Getting Started
1-02B: Index B - Getting started
While we now have some information on the most basic concepts of champion design, we need to go past that, now, and begin work on actually creating one. Knowing how to organize your thoughts is important, but having thoughts to organize in the first place, is also kind of useful.
1-02C - Index B - What Makes A Champion
1-02C: Index B - What Makes A Champion
Now that we have some ideas on the basic concept for our character, and how to get those ideas onto the paper in an orderly manner, which makes sense, we now need to get some content in there.
To do this, we're going to need an outline of what makes a champion... well... a champion.
Also, since it's not covered anywhere else in this guide, I'm going to provide a small bit here on statistics, because it certainly doesn't require a full post to cover.
First off, Statistics aren't that big a deal. Your stats are going to likely be fairly generic, as there's really not much variation. There are some differences between champions on an individual level, but for the most part, the difference on a larger scale, between roles, really isn't that big.
The easiest way to figure out your stats, is simply to go on LoLWiki, or some other site (though I do recommend LoLWiki as it lists even hidden stats), and simply check what stats there are. Glance through a few champions that are similar to your own for design and role, for example, checking out Shen, Rammus, Malphite and Cho'gath for a tank, perhaps, and then compare their stats.
There will be variations, but there are a few basic rules of thumb.
First off, determine attack range. Check other champions of the type for comparison.
Then, make sure to list your attack range. It's excessively important to learning how the entire champion plays, and most people don't bother to state whether they're ranged or melee, and it can seriously change how powerful a champion is, and how well they'll work, or how fun they'll be.
Second, compare to previous champions which are similar to your own.
Third, magic resistance rarely scales. It's generally 30+0/level, though the high point is that some champions get 30+1.25/level. There's only two, I believe, who get 30+0.75/level. In short, unless you're specifically adding resistance per level to counteract having below average defenses vs spells, don't bother providing such.
Fourth, list your stats both as the base stat, the increase per level, and the level 1 and level 18 totals. This is a tidy way of letting players know how useful they are, and bypasses the whole problem of "does 430+70 health mean they start at level 1 with 430, or 500 life?". It only takes a short moment to add this info, and it is helpful.
Fifth, don't go past minimum and maximum values, unless you really know exactly what you're doing. For example, don't make a champion with less than 300 movement speed, unless you are building the entire champion design with that stat being different in mind. Check the stats on the other champions, as stated several times now, and you'll be fine.
Sixth... there isn't a sixth. It's really that simple to come up with stats. While some people will state that "low, medium, or high" are perfectly good, and honestly they kind of are, it's generally better to specify exactly how low, or high. It's not that hard to just check LoLWiki and get a specific value, so go ahead and be a little more specific.
Anyway, that's it for stats! Onto the other stuff!
1-02D - Index B - Fine Tuning
1-02D: Index B - Fine Tuning
1-02E - Index B - Icing on the Cake
1-02E: Index B - Icing on the Cake
1-06 Design Philosophy - A study in fun
Class is in session. Sit at your desks, prepare to take notes, and don't forget to leave the instructor an apple. I also accept apples in the forms of pies, strudels, and $20 bills.
Now then, let's start off here!
Today, we'll be covering... lessee... according to this, we'll be covering Design Philosophy.
There's a few major parts to design philosophy, so we'll be covering the following.
First off, we'll discuss the genre of MOBA games, and why they present entertainment value in the first place.
Second, we'll then delve into the idea of the exertion of vital powers upon others. IE: why people like to win.
Third, we'll briefly touch on what happens when a player feels like they aren't included in the game, for one reason, or another, and why this is bad. Included, also, in this section, will be the idea of anti-fun.
Finally, we'll cover the concept of changing the design based on new information. This sounds pretty obvious, but it really doesn't happen nearly as often as it should, for a variety of reasons, which will also be covered.
Part 1: Moba moba, bo boba fett, banana-nana fo phobia, me mi mobius, mobas!
That's right, I just ruined your childhood. It's alright though, because we're going to be making a better one for generations to come!
The MOBA genre, originated, as far as can be told, back in the days of StarCraft, in the Aeon of Strife map. The idea hasn't really changed much, since then, other than getting a face lift, or a little bit of Botox now and then to fix up the wrinkles.
In the MOBA variation, thereof, there are two equal sides which are continually throwing equally strong forces against each other, locked in a perpetual stale-mate. At least, that's the theory. slight variations in terrain and travel times, however, leads to the Purple team, if left alone long enough, to win in LoL every game, hence the term "nerf purple caster minions".
These two sides clash endlessly, with no real end in sight, however, is the point. DotA uses this concept, as does every other one in the genre. Sometimes there are more than two teams, but the end result is always the same: a stalemate.
This is where champions and heroes come in. That's you, the player character.
The two teams get a number of players to help out in the fight to destroy the world tree, or the nexus, or the glazed MacGuffin. Whatever. These champions start off relatively weak, and over the course of the game, grow in strength, until they're able to butcher the generic, low level minions, with ease, and kill the enemy base.
Note that I state, specifically, to kill the enemy base.
Many people still haven't grasped this fact, but the whole point of a MOBA is building demolition. It doesn't matter, honestly, how many kills you get, if your nexus is dead.
To that end, everything is balanced around that assumption. Killing Baron Nashor, in LoL, for example, is a benefit in that it gives your team gold for items, health/mana regen for sustained assaults on a base, and generally just makes it easier to kill the enemy base.
Killing a player isn't really worth much, other than the fact that it does three main things:
1: It grants the killing player(s) additional resources (experience and gold) to better kill the enemy players and base with.
2: It significantly slows down the enemy team. In DotA, you lose gold when you die. In LoL, you just stay dead for a long time, is all.
3: It buys you time to further your end goal of destroying their base.
Note that number three, on this list, is in bold for a reason. If you're losing the game, but manage to ace their entire team, it means there's no one left to defend against you. I've had a number of games where one side was losing, then one person does something which is a bad idea, such as being overconfident, and having the carry try to attack the entire enemy team solo, gets CC'd into the ground, and dies. At this point, it's a 4v5 fight, without a carry on one side, and it turns into a 0v4 when the base fight occurs. The team with people still standing push hard, and kill the enemy base with no one to hold them back.
If you don't make use of the time granted to you by an ace, you're wasting it. Running back to base to heal is pointless when you know full well that there won't be anyone alive to shoot you for the next 60+ seconds, which means you have no reason to return to heal or shop. That's the time you bought to push and kill their base with, where they won't be defending it, and it doesn't matter how weak you are.
Everything comes down to killing the enemy base, before they kill yours. Killing a player only benefits your end goal of killing their base, and nothing more, really.
Many players don't realize that point, but as a champion designer, you have to be acutely aware of this concept. Even if you're building a champion with the express intent of killing other players, the point, in the end, is that you're killing those players to open up their base to attack. If you design a champion who can kill a player's champion, then either that champion you made has to be able to kill their base, on their own, such as Master Yi, or they'll have to kill the enemy team so thoroughly that the enemy won't be able to contend with your team in a fight, so that, even though your champion sucks at killing a base, the person on your team who doesn't suck at it, will still be alive, due to your tank, your support keeping them alive, or your assassin having killed the enemy carry so they couldn't kill yours in turn.
The fun in this kind of match up, comes from a few things.
First off, there's a lot of strategic decisions in play. In ranked games, you get to ban champions, and pick them in groupings of 1-2-2-2-2-1, where first pick gets one champion of choice, and second pick gets two to make up for only having one. The idea is that this is a strategic choice on which champions counter the ones the enemy team played. Vayne counters high health targets and squishies, anyone with sustained healing counters Vayne, ignite counters healers. On and on it goes. Anything that can lead to a long term strategy, such as itemization or countering an enemy, are considered to be strategic.
Adjustments to how many bans there are, in relation to how many champions there are, are a big deal, especially if certain champion types have few new choices. There have been dozens of new damage champions added to the game, but only a handful of tanks and supports, and these have been, for the most part, lackluster compared to the originals. Tweaking the number of bans directly affects the choices in this matter, as it's possible to completely ban all supports from a game, if both teams are insistent upon the concept. As such, strategic elements must be very carefully monitored, as a tiny adjustment can make a huge change in game play.
The tactical game play is another important part of why it's so much fun. Being able to plot ambushes, ganks, counter jungling, back doors, and so on, are all important tactical maneuvers that are part of the game. Note that when Riot removed the Fortify summoner spell, they were directly adjusting the value of back dooring, and this had to be taken into account when making that decision.
Tactics are generally short term, spur of the moment decisions, which grant one a particular advantage at that moment in time. Doing one gank is a tactical operation. Building your entire team composition around ganking, with the express intent of crushing the enemy team very early on, and pushing for an early win before their carries can feed up, is a strategy.
Anyway, these two things are very important to how fun the game is. Other factors, such as progressing in leveling, and team work, are other major components of why the game's fun. There's a thousand things, but some stand out more than others, as can be seen below.
Part 2: You fight, fight without ever winning, but never, ever, win, win without a fight. - Rush, Resist
So, what makes a game like LoL so fun, and so frustrating, at the same time?
The same thing that exists in any competitively natured game. Winning.
More than that, is winning on even terms. This sounds a little silly to many people out there, who simply want to "win", but honestly, this is mostly due to these individuals not having thought it through all that clearly, yet.
Consider the "game" Progress Quest. You press a few buttons at the start of the "game", to create a completely 100% arbitrary and meaningless character, and then it goes off and plays the game by itself, with no further interaction from the "player" at all. Literally, there is no game play to the so called "game". You watch the numbers go up, and have no interaction with them at all.
So where's the fun in that?
Admittedly, it's kind of amusing, but only on an idle scale, and not something to really "do". Even if you were to "win" at a game like this, there's no real challenge. No effort, no purpose, you'll never truly get a sense of satisfaction at having defeated a difficult task or problem.
In a non-competitive game, such as Co-op vs AI, there's a set difficulty. That difficulty doesn't really change, and once you can surpass it, you will pretty much always surpass it, other than in rare circumstances, such as getting a bunch of new players when you're playing around with a ridiculous joke build, like AP Caitlynn.
In a competitive game, since you're fighting other people, you always have to be at the top of your game, since the enemy team is an unknown quantity. They may be better than you, or they may be worse. They scale with your own capabilities, due to ELO rankings, and will generally give you a good run for your money.
See, a bot is only a bot. No matter how good you make a bot, it's limited to being as good as it was programmed, and can never surpass that point. A player can learn to be just as good as you are, so no matter how good you think you are, there's some one out there who can match you toe to toe, every time.
A close game, where you have to fight for every scrap of advantage to win, is what puts a player on the edge of their seat. This increases a lot of the capabilities of the body, triggering a large set of advantages which were designed primarily for survival purposes. Heightened reflexes, greater peripheral vision, and so on, all contribute to your capacity to make the correct decision quickly.
Getting into a game that really puts you on the edge, is where the real fun of the game lies, and this is achieved through having the teams be as close to equal in power as possible. When you're being trounced, there's no fun in a losing battle that it feels like you're not having an impact on the outcome at all. On the other hand, winning with nary lifting a finger is kind of bland as well. The smurf/twink players out there, who make new level 1 summoner accounts, and kill newbies, really aren't that fun to play as. I've helped out a low level friend, but to be honest, it's boring. When you can rip through the entire enemy team, without even paying attention, why bother?
As such, you want to ensure that your designs for your champions are as balanced as possible. People often go "don't judge numbers, just judge concepts!".
What generally makes a champion OP or UP, isn't really their numbers, so much as their capacity to do a number of roles entirely too well. If you gave Master Yi a root, along with the rest of his abilities, he'd be flat out overpowered. It doesn't matter if the root is "fair" at only 2 seconds duration, which is below average for a root, especially compared to Ryze and Morganna's 3 second roots. He'd simply be too powerful because of everything else he can do.
Your design has to be one that can be fair to play against. If they're too strong, they're boring to play as, after the first few initial wins go through. If they're too weak, they're just as boring to play against, because they're not a challenge to beat.
It's all an intricate balancing act, as the end goal, is to win a tough fight, that took everything you had. If they were barely worth the effort, it's just kinda "meh", and if you didn't stand a chance from the start, it's still "meh".
So, this segues nicely into our next section...
Part 3: Evelynn, I heard some of the other champions saying you were good for free gold and exp, but don't worry! I stood up for you, and told them you were good for nothing!
Just because you win or lose, doesn't mean it wasn't a fun game. If it was a close, tight match, that's where it really mattered most.
So what happens when you get stuck in a situation where it feels like you have no options?
We've all been there, at one point, or another, where we go back and think about what could have been done differently to have prevented the situation, and come to the realization that we literally did nothing wrong, and it was a fluke, blind luck, a glitch, or some other situation in which we flat out could do nothing to prevent it.
League of Legends has a philosophy of attempting to reduce these situations as much as possible. To any attack, there is generally a counterargument in kind. Physical damage gets armour, magical damage gets magic resist, stuns get tenacity and a veil, or cleanse/quicksilver sash. Even Vayne's silver bolts are countered through lifesteal or healing, which is why my tank Sona build slaughters Vayne 1v1 to many a Vayne player's chagrin.
The point of the matter, is that to every action, there must be the capacity for that action to be nullified, or at least lessened to a degree in which it matters.
Armour gets countered by armour penetration if it's overly stacked, the same scenario on the magical side of things. Carries are countered by stunlocking them down or using burst mages to one shot them. Mages are countered with bruisers who can shrug off the initial damage, who are killed by carries that are protected by a tank long enough to do their damage.
In the end, any action must be able to be countered somehow.
So... what if you have something that can't be countered?
Consider a powerful mana burn effect. Let's say it does 500 points of mana damage, and 1/2 of that mana is dealt as damage. Sure, it's only a 250 damage burst, but against a non-mage, it's brutal. Fiora suddenly becomes horrified that she's now close to 100% useless, and Annie finds that she can't just cast Tibbers 3 seconds later, like a silence would, but now has to leave the battle entirely, since she was sitting at half mana to begin with.
This kind of overwhelming attack strength with no real counter is not allowed in the game, because it's just not fun.
Stunlocks are a problematic area in here, because they're counter intuitive.
See, a stun is needed to interrupt players, and for some champions, like Tryndamere, it's literally the only real counter they have. Go ahead, stack 400 armour and see if Tryndy really cares. I've done it, and trust me, it barely annoys him, because he just kills the rest of your team instead, and if they all go heavy armour based, he just counters all of it with a single item, and your damage output is nil because of all that wasted itemization.
There needs to be things like stun locking in the game, but on the other hand... this also leads to the issue that a player who gets stunlocked really has no recourse, except to build against it, such as merc treads and a QSS, or a Banshee's Veil. Even then, it's sketchy sometimes.
How much stun lock is permitted into the game? It's obviously needed, but it's not particularly fun.
Killing someone who couldn't defend themselves, no matter what they did, is entertainment only for psychopaths, and doesn't really provide a challenge worthy of recognition. Getting killed without a hope of escape, no matter what you do, is also pretty boring, especially if it's on a low enough cool down that there's no way to prevent it.
Things like Veigar's ultimate are broken, in that they don't really show why the damage was increased, nor do they have an obvious counter. "Counter this ability by turning your AP carry into a tank instead, thus negating your entire job" is not a valid counter to employ.
While he makes for a good counter-pick in champion selection, in terms of the actual game itself, it just doesn't work like it should.
Several of the older designs suffer from mistakes, such as these, which have been slowly been phased out of the game, but some do still linger, while it's decided what to do about them.
Completely reworking Tryndamere to not have his ultimate would, indeed, fix the issue of needing to stun lock him, but would leave him far too vulnerable to that very same stun lock, which would also need to be fixed. And considering there are other champions, who rely on being stun locked, it would just lead to more problems than it would fix, and would take months of repairs to contain the collateral damage, while hemorrhaging players in the mean time who are upset, as they wait for a fix.
Eve already got this treatment, and that's only because they needed her removed from the game temporarily while fixing the stealth system. Unfortunately, after her nerf, but before the stealth remake was done, the person working on the stealth remake left Riot, leaving them with their hands tied for far longer than intended.
Anything which can't be adequately defended against is, simply put, not fun. A player must always be given the opportunity to at least TRY to escape. They may not always make it, but they have to feel like there was that chance. This will be covered in more depth in section 1-08: Choices.
This idea of abilities or effects which are "not fun", or, as Zileas put it, "Anti-fun", must be considered and weighed carefully.
The benefits of the fun added to the game, through an ability being introduced, must outweigh the amount of fun removed from the game in the process. In the case of a strong mana burn, or an instant-kill ability, neither is capable of doing this. A great deal of fun is lost, but only minimal is returned.
If we give someone an insta-gib attack, which instantly kills a player, regardless of all other factors, it doesn't really matter what the limitations on that ability are, anymore. That ability is now only going to provide a minor boost of fun to the attacking player, as it's like swatting flies. It gets boring fast, and is more of a nuisance, than entertainment, after the first few moments. For the enemy player, on the receiving end, it just flat out sucks.
As such, it can't be considered a fun ability.
Making abilities which are really strong, but have severe difficulties in hitting, or which just have disadvantages piled heavily on top of them, really aren't that interesting.
Consider a spell that does say... instant kill! But wait! It's alright, because it fires only in a straight line, and travels very, very, slowly, and is easy to miss!
But... that means that it's kind of boring, because it either is useless, because it never hits, or it's overpowered, if it does hit. There's too big a gap there.
For something like Nidalee's spear, the idea of something which is weak to start, but the harder it is to hit with, the more useful it becomes, ends up being a mixture of skill for both players involved, as they have to play against each other. The damage does sting, a great deal, but on the other hand, it's a risk vs reward. An enemy player has an easier time to dodge, if it'll do more damage. This leads to increased game play for both players, as they are actively working with each other, and the consequences of failing on either side, while notable, aren't without capacity to minimize the effects.
Nidalee has a low cooldown already, and can lower it further, still. Enemies can get some magic resistance, or get a banshee's veil, to eat the first one when it comes sailing out of the fog of war from the jungle. Either way, it's able to be negated, to a degree.
Make sure that any abilities you add to your champion have a way to be interacted with by an enemy. Make absolutely sure that you avoid adding in abilities that are severely penalizing, with no hope of escape. Compare how fun something is, to how much it sucks to be shot at by it. If you would hate to face off against your champion, then you probably need to make some adjustments on the design.
Part 4: I do not like green eggs and ham!
Sometimes you're wrong. It happens to all of us, even the "greats". Stephen Hawking was absolutely certain that the universe would go into reverse and get sucked back together again in a neat, orderly concept, such as a tea cup falling off a table, shattering, then playing backwards and going back to a tea cup again. It was too complex, however, and the coefficients of some of the constants of the universe meant that it wouldn't have the gravitational force to pull itself back together, but the idea was neat. Shame it didn't work out, however.
No one gets through life without screwing up. We're going to break something, eventually, no matter what we do. We're going to have some awe inspiring idea, that will turn heads, and then someone's going to poke a hole in it, and it's going to deflate like a blow up do...er... I wasn't saying anything.
Moving along, the point is that stuff will go wrong, or we'll get new information, or something will change, and we'll have to change ourselves, and our designs, to compensate.
What works one day, may not work the next. My own champion design, Nemhain, used to use a new resource system I'd dubbed "BloodThirst". At the time, there were no other systems in the game which could do what I needed it to do. Since that time, Shyvanna was released, and Tryndamere got an overhaul to rage, and the rage system, with some tweaks, is now able to be force fit to work the way I wanted it to from the start, but wasn't capable of, back then.
The game slowly changes over time, and so, too, must you and your champions change along with it.
When LoL was first released, there were a great deal more mana regeneration items in the game, and they were significantly stronger, at the time, for relatively low cost. Energy and rage didn't exist yet, since every single rage and energy user have been released after the game came out, except for Tryndamere, who used to use health instead.
As such, mana used to be very expensive to cast, and you could only use a few spells before running dry, and then you would use high mana regen items to gain it all back again. This was kind of a mixture between the current mana and energy systems, and honestly, it kind of failed at both concepts pretty badly.
These days, mana works a bit differently, since there are other options to it to go around, other than "mana" and "cool downs only".
This means champions like Katarina have had to be adjusted, but still need further tweaks to make up for a change in how the game plays. It also means that many of the older mages have been undergoing significant remakes over time.
Mana users can't regenerate mana like they once did, and champions that lose health tend to keep it lost to compensate.
This also means, however, that support champions are no longer as valuable as they once were. Heals are less valuable these days, due to the decision to make damage last a bit more permanently in a fight, and the concept of having a long duration "siege" team, designed to whittle down another team from long range over time, has been diminished greatly.
As such, you have to consider these things when going through your champion design. Some people still suggest new "healer" champions, but the problem is, healers are intentionally being removed, bit by bit, because they harm the current design decision to make damage permanent. As such, you'll notice that the last few "support" champions have been pretty much just magic damage dealers, who happen to have slight support abilities tacked on. Lulu, Orianna, and Karma, are all pretty much damage mages, which do sub-par damage, but have some above average crowd control effects to counteract such.
The old support champions of the days of yore, such as Soraka and Janna, have had it pretty rough, lately. They don't really do much for damage, their CC capacity just isn't enough to make up for the higher overall mobility in the game these days, and their sustain capacity has been continually beaten down.
This isn't to say that the champions are BAD, it's just that the game's current incarnation is not the same as it used to be, when they were originally developed. This does mean, however, that they are going to have to undergo an entire rework, from the ground up, to truly be worth playing any longer. Giving Soraka a bit more damage on Starcall, although nice, doesn't fix the fact that three of her abilities are less than half as effective as they once were, while other champions have been getting stronger, she's only been getting weaker.
Riot will tend to these things in time, but it does take time. Reworking an old champion requires the skills of a designer to pull them apart and build them from the ground up. The team which usually does balance tweaks after a champion's out, tend to be more dedicated towards adjustments and tweaks on designs already in place, with focus on balance, rather than on creating a new concept, so aren't generally set up for large scale revisions of that nature.
Unfortunately, a champion, once released, gets most of it's sales early on. There's less incentive to rework an old design, unless it's getting an appearance update, that may draw in additional revenue from skin sales.
We are fortunate, in that we don't have the "must do this project first, because it makes more money" sitting over our head. If we want to work on a design, and sit on it for a year, fussing over it, then we're able to. This means you can keep tweaking and adjusting your design to fit into the current game as you please.
Even so, there are decisions made which need to be understood before you can change your champion.
For that, I personally advise going into the game, and checking their videos, as the patch previews hold a wealth of information as to why they're making the changes they are. The game is ever changing, and while people tend to toss out the term "meta-game" to mean almost anything, there is a distinctive set of phases through which it evolves over time.
I can provide the current ideals of the game as it is right now, but that's pointless, as, in a few months, anything written here will no longer be valid. Instead, pay attention to the patch notes, and consider why they would do something. If you see a consistent trend, such as the current one of health regeneration, life steal, spell vamp, and healing spells all being continually nerfed, then it generally means there's an over arcing reason behind why such is occurring.
Watch for these trends, and then consider what this new concept suggests.
Right now, that means that support champions won't be doing much healing, so any new support design would be best off avoiding healing almost entirely, and instead focus on the CC aspect of their design. Kind of like... Lulu. Funny how that translates into exactly what the logical line of reasoning would suggest.
Anyway, the point is to watch the shifting trends of the game as it evolves over time, and think about what it lacks in it's new incarnation, that you can plug the hole with, and you'll find that there are some neat ways to go about doing so!
As always, have fun in making your champion, but if you want to make something that would be truly awesome to play, consider where the game is right now, rather than a year or two ago. Don't forget to go back and update old, favoured ideas that have fallen to the wayside, either! Some of them still have life in them, and a little touch up every few months can be just what they need to stay current, and fun!
Well, that being said, it looks like we're out of time, and character count. Class dismissed!
1-07 - Choices
Class is once again in session. Today's topic is... choices!
Let's start with a little light humour, shall we?
A texan and a rabbi are sitting next to each other on an airplane when the stewardess approaches them. She asks if they would like anything to drink during the flight. The texan asks for a whiskey, which the stewardess promptly retrieves and hands to him, and then turns to the rabbi, asking if he would like anything for himself. The rabbi states that he would sooner be ravaged by indecently clad women of a questionable origin than let alcohol touch his lips. The texan hands the stewardess back his drink and goes "Yehaw! I didn't know there was a choice!"
Anyway, we'll be covering choices today, and the following will need to be addressed.
First, we need to identify what a choice actually is, and why they're important. This sounds pretty easy, but it's actually a lot more complex than you might think.
Second, we'll be covering what ways we have to "create" a choice for a player to make.
Third, we shall then learn about what kinds of common choices there are in the game.
Finally, I'll go over how to avoid making "false choices", as they really do screw with the game.
Part 1: So, what is a choice?
So, before we go any farther, let me point out that there are choices all around us. Some of those choices are obvious, some not so apparent, some pleasing, others the kind that you'd really rather not make.
Each and every situation in life, you have a choice. You may not like the options presented to you, but you have a choice, always. Sometimes, just the mere action of refusing to make a choice, is still a choice, as you did, after all, still choose to not make one.
That brings us to how this affects game play. A game is, by definition, something which you interact with, in order to alter the final outcome, in a way that is enjoyable to the player. A TV show is not, in most cases, able to be classified as a game, as the viewer has no real control over the outcome.
So what ties choices and game play together? It's pretty simple, really. Any time a player interacts with something, they are making a choice. If Morganna tosses a skill shot at you, you have the choice to dodge it, to eat the hit instead of another player who's more likely to die will get caught, and you have the option, in some cases, to turn on a shield to absorb the blow, such as a Banshee's Veil, or Sivir or Nocturne's shields, and it's possible to also use abilities such as Gangplank's Remove Scurvy, Cleanse, or a Quicksilver Sash.
As long as you are able to alter the outcome in some way, shape, or form, then you have made a choice to interact with that ability or champion.
Note, however, that I specified that you have to be able to alter the outcome in some way, shape, or form. If you have an ability that stuns for 2 seconds, but if it's prevented by a shield, or is cleansed off, it stuns for 3 seconds, instead, then you have achieved "choice" in the way that a person reading a book has a "choice" to turn the page of the book, to continue the story. It doesn't really affect the outcome, or anything about it.
As such, true choices are the key to game play. They are what allows a player to actually play the game.
False choices, however, are not really choices at all. In the above example, you're given a choice as to whether to cleanse off the ability, or not. In reality, it's not really a true choice, as the outcome is the same, either way. These false choices are a bane to players, as it only frustrates them into thinking they had some way to alter the outcome, and they never, truly did. Sometimes a pseudo-effect can work, but generally, you want to avoid it, because these false choices don't really add anything to the game, nor the player's interaction with said game.
So, what kind of choices are there in the game? Lots, really. More than you probably might imagine possible.
Consider a lot of things, here. Let's say that the support has been shut down hard, no turrets have fallen, your team has not gotten a single dragon kill, but your carry is doing well on champion kills, so has a bit of extra gold to throw around. That carry can choose to expend a portion of their gold to help out the support in warding up the dragon so it's not lost, yet again, or they can choose to hoard their gold, and hope that the extra 75-150 is going to make the difference between getting their bloodthirster early or not.
Some don't consider it a real choice, and will simply state that it's the support's role to ward, but in all honesty, sometimes they need help, as we all do, in varying ways. A good player will be able to realize that the game has not gone well for their support so far, and can use that information to more accurately weigh in the pros and cons of that decision. A poor quality player may never notice anything outside of their lane, and may not even realize the choice was there in the first place, because they haven't been thinking about the wider ranges of options in the game, outside of their own little world.
How about itemization? That's another choice. Some players have the mistaken idea that they need a full build every game to look identical. If this were the case, it wouldn't truly be a choice in the first place. Would it truly be a good idea to build identically when facing a team that's heavy on bruisers, as it is to build for a game when you're fighting all AoE mages? It really does require an adjustment to how one plays the game, and there are several ways to go about doing such, since there are multiple ways to survive various forms of damage.
There are choices in how you want to itemize, such as for damage, or survival, but even then, there are also choices on how to go about itemizing for that specialization. Just because you go glass cannon, doesn't mean you go glass cannon exactly the same way as someone else who plays that same champion might.
Anything in the game which adjusts how you play, has presented a choice to the player. Anything which alters how one thinks, is also presenting a choice.
Let's consider that the enemy team is doing excessively well, and has been going around with 3-4 people doing endless ganks on your team. It now becomes a significant choice to even go past your tower, at all. That sense of fear and dread that you're going to get killed changes the weight of what may have otherwise once been a simple decision.
Note that I've mentioned the idea of weighing decisions several times now. Even things which are "obvious", are still decisions, and the only reason they're obvious, is the circumstances leading up to that decision are very heavily favouring a single option out of the choices presented. There still is, however, a choice to be made, and it's still possible to make the wrong choice, or at least, a less than ideal one.
There are many factors that go into making any particular decision, and our brains are designed to be able to process large amounts of information quickly, and then act upon it in short order. That whole "fight vs flight" response, is still a choice to be made. True, most of that choice is made via chemical imbalances pushing you to go one way or the other, but once you're aware of that fact, you can take control of it and consciously make the decision to overrule what your body has decided upon already.
Anyway, the point I'm getting at here, is that there are typically a large number of inputs that go into setting up the circumstances surrounding a decision to be made. Often, we may not see some of these circumstances. If you've not been keeping up map awareness, you may not realize that the enemy team has been doing team ganks, and might not take that into account when making the decision to leave your turret to push a lane, as an example.
In the end, we can't truly add real choices to the game, as such, as the vast majority of those choices already exist. The choice to build atmogs on Lux is always present, it just doesn't make any real sense to bother doing so. The choice to sit at the fountain from the first minute of the game and talk about popcorn kernels is also there, but once again, it's kind of a silly thing to do, so most people don't even consider it.
What you can do, as a champion designer, is you can bring choices that are otherwise braindead obvious to the foreground, by adjusting just how obvious they really are.
Why is atmogs a bad idea on Lux, after all? Well, she doesn't really benefit much from the attack damage, nor the crit, and she gains more damage and survival from AP, so why would she build damage or stack health? The choice is always present, but she's decided not to do so, simply because it doesn't provide any real tangible benefit. The player has made this decision pretty much subconsciously, because it's so blatantly obvious of an answer that it doesn't require kicking the brain into high gear to fully crunch down on the options and weigh in which is the better option.
Let's take Nidalee instead. She's actually got some pretty good offtank potential, and atmogs has become a semi respectable choice for her build, as it lets her live for pretty much as long as she feels like it, while still providing descent effectiveness damage-wise.
It's a tough decision, however, since she gains a lot of benefit from going heavier on the AP side of things. The player now needs to weigh in what the other team is using, in order to properly gauge whether this is really a good idea to go atmogs or not now.
No choice was ever truly "made" available, however, in either Lux, nor Nidalee's cases. The same choice has always been present for both, but one of them has additional circumstances which adjusts how obvious that choice is to work with.
We, as champion designers, work with choices on a regular basis. Giving your champion high scaling off AP encourages that champion to build AP. Giving them a few abilities that can also scale off AD, however, makes them debate whether they want an AP build, a hybrid, or a full on AD build. Perhaps they'll end up with a strange build like Blitzcrank, or Udyr.
You don't, as a designer, have the capacity to introduce a real choice. That choice is always dormant, laying there in wait. What you can do, however, is tweak the circumstances surrounding that choice, so that the player has to actively debate as to what they feel the correct answer to that choice actually is.
Part 2: You can choose from phantom fears, or kindness that will kill. I will choose a path that's clear: I will choose free will. - Rush, Freewill
Shame, then, that free will doesn't exist.What we believe to be free will, is that we get the option to make our decisions based on our own preferences. Thing is, those choices can be slanted and adjusted by subtle machinations and tweaks to the factors which go into a choice in the first place.
You lead people like you lead a sheep; you make the sheeple think that they choose the destination.
Alright, the choices are always there, but they're generally made on an instinctual level by the player, with no real interaction with the game itself. What we need to do, is to find a way to adjust the parameters that their brain is considering, so that it's not so obvious a decision that it may as well not be a choice in the first place.
There are a great number of ways to go about doing this, but the easiest way to do so, is to just identify a choice that's blatantly obvious to begin with, determine which things affect the end decision, namely, the pros and cons, and then tweak these until they're not so heavily slanted to one side or the other.
Let's start out with an example here. We'll have a character that's bland, and boring. No abilities, average stats across the board.
What do we do with him? No idea. The choices are infinite at this point, there's actually TOO MANY choices, to the point that there's so many, that it just becomes white noise, and it doesn't feel like there's any choice at all.
So, we need to find a way to make this bland champion get a few choices that are more obvious than others. We'll drop his base health a bit, nerf the armour a touch, but increase the AD growth and attack speed a bit.
We've now presented the player with something to work with. They've now determined that they're not going to play this as an AP champion, nor a tank, but rather, as an AD carry. This tiny adjustment has allowed us to "create" a pre-determined choice.
The choice to go AP is still there, technically, since an AP build can still be pretty descent against towers, even without any AP scaling abilities, it just is a pretty bad decision to do so, is all.
The point is, we now have a champion that is an AD carry, due to the tweaks we made, as we've now passively made that decision for the player. They see him as an AD carry, and their decisions from this point out, will be slanted towards that idea.
This narrows the problem from being "infinite possibilities" to "AD only possibilities", which at least gives us something to work with.
Our next thing we can work with, is to isolate the ways we can make an AD carry.
What do we want them to do? Attack really fast? Do lots of damage in one big hit? How are they going to apply that damage? Are they even going to want to be in melee in the first place?
Let's give them an attack range of 600. Alright, now it's pretty obvious they don't want to be in melee range, probably, and furthermore, it means they can now poke people and back off, who have shorter range than they do. This implies, to the player, that they're not going to want attack speed, so much, if they're going to be running in to take one poke, and back off.
As such, we want to make that a choice. Let's give them an ability that benefits them from being in range for several hits in a row. Every time they attack, they do an additional 3/6/9/12/15 bonus damage per hit, stacking up to 5 times, and wears off after 3 seconds without attacking.
For their passive, we'll set it up so that if they haven't attacked an enemy champion for at least 5 seconds, then their next attack will automatically critically hit.
By adding only two abilities, we now have a champion that may want to do hit and runs, but they have the option to instead stick around for awhile too. The player now has to debate whether they want to just run in and poke a player, then back out, or if they want to hang around, and put themselves at additional risk of retaliation.
Congratulations, we have just created a choice in a player's mind. That choice had always been present, the entire time, but we have isolated the infinite white noise of possibilities down to a concrete decision that can go one way, or the other. It's up to the player, now, to decide how they want to make use of this champion.
While you can't make a decision, quite clearly, you can bring a decision that was one sided before, to the foreground, by adjusting the factors that go into that decision, until the answer is no longer obvious, and requires taking active consideration.
This, is the nature of choice, and the greatest tool we have in instilling game play into our champion designs.
Part 3: So what decisions can I really make?
Lots, to be honest!
Sure, they're artificial constructs, and don't really exist, with the vast majority of them being made for you on a subconscious level, where you will never get to actively participate in the matter, but they are there.
In League of Legends, there are a lot of decisions, but we only have access to so many from a design perspective. We can't instill fear in a player, nor can we instill confidence. These are up to the enemy team, and their allies, as well as their own situation at that moment, to provide such.
We can, however, give them a few obvious choices, by presenting them with choices that don't have an obvious answer. When the answer's obvious, they don't really regard it as a choice in the first place. When it makes them think, that's when they really feel like they have an impact on what happens.
So, let's take a look at them, shall we?
Itemization's a big one! Consider a champion like Malzahar, where every ability he has, has a pretty high AP scaling ratio! (Except his passive, which actually scales off AD, amusingly enough. AD Malz is fun to play vs bot games, but I wouldn't suggest it in a real game XD )
The high AP scaling means that the player will generally want to build lots of AP items. Since he's got low life, but needs to stick around an enemy player for a few seconds to let his abilities take effect, however, they may also want to build some defenses to go with that AP, so he now has a choice in how to build his items.
For someone like Yorick, who scales off total AD, bonus AD, AP, and health, this means that it's hard to decide, fully, what to build him as.
A champion with high scaling of a particular stat, is likely to build for that stat, while one that has multiple stats, or low scaling, is more likely to just build tanky, as they don't gain much benefit from going glass cannon.
As such, itemization is a great way to give the player some choices, as they have all sorts of ways to affect their game with it, such as covering up holes in their design (such as a frozen mallet on a melee with no chasing potential), or amplifying things they already do well (AP on a high AP scaling burst caster).
Other options include the following!
- Attack range adjusts how players act in lane, and in team fights
- Spell range can alter when they use their abilities
- Scaling heavily influences how a player itemizes their champion
- Defensive abilities can make players more confident, sometimes to the point of being suicidal (Vlad in particular)
- Steroids can significantly alter how well a character likes to autoattack
- Mixing ratios and benefits can lead to players going for hybrid, or other strange builds
- CC can reduce the choices an enemy player can make, so be careful about overusing these!
- Multi-form abilities, such as ones that have different effects whether they hit an ally or an enemy, can greatly change how a player uses them and when
- Skill shots involve timing, positioning, and numerous other factors, which can lead to interesting game play choices. Take Nidalee's spear, as a perfect example!
- Forcing a player to use an ability as either an offensive, or defensive tool, and refusing to let them use it for both at the same time, can really make them debate when and how to use their abilities
There are hundreds more choices around, but these should get you at least started down the path!
Part 4: We come in to the world and take our chances. Fate is just the weight of circumstances. That's the way that lady luck dances. Roll the bones! - Rush, Roll The Bones (Rush ROCKS! <3 )
So, we have choices. Great. We've also covered that choices are permanent fixtures, that we can't really remove or avoid, and only the circumstances can be adjusted.
That leads us to something I'd mentioned earlier. False choices.
If every choice, is in fact a choice, even ones that are obvious, then what exactly is a so-called "false choice" in the first place?
Well... let's say you have an ability, where if you stand still, you die to the champion killing you. If you run away, the ability kills you instead. Yes, this is from the Bloodseeker from DotA.
This is a false choice, in that it presents several options to the player, but all of them are bad choices, yet it makes out some of the potential decisions to be made, to look superior to others, when they really aren't.
That thing I said awhile back about letting the sheeple think they make their own choices? Yeah, if you screw around with their heads by showing them that they really didn't have a say in the matter, but you made them think they did? They get a little pissy over that, and then they start to realize how little control they have over the rest of the game.
Pull stunts like that too often, and they decide that the best decision is just to stop playing entirely.
It's fine to jerk their chain, and make decisions for them behind their backs, but you can never, ever, play your hand and show them upfront that they were being led by the nose the whole time.
As with magic, game play is created through leading people around, but keeping the intricate complexities hidden out of their sight. A good magician never reveals their secrets flat out because of the fact that, once you've revealed your secret, all the magic is lost. It just... dies somehow.
If you explain to a player that they haven't really been controlling their destiny this whole time, and that their entire gaming history is a lie? They're going to get upset, and they're going to feel betrayed, or just depressed. Either way, none of this is good for business, and you don't want that kind of stuff going on.
Even my explaining this to you, is a very risky thing, on my part. You aren't supposed to know how little control you have over the game, nor your own lives, as a whole. It's what we call "blissfully ignorant" for a reason.
If you want to take the plunge into being the one pulling the strings, instead of the marionette dancing on the other end, though, you're going to have to come to grips with this reality of the world we live in, and of game design as a whole.
Writers toy with your emotions by placing a situation that elicits the response they want to invoke, such as happiness, sadness, fear, or anger, among other things. A champion designer does the same thing, but in a different way.
When you're making your champion, you have a list of ways you want your champion to be played. You have an item build in your head, and ideas behind what you think is the "right" way to play them.
If a player breaks those little rules you made, and plays them differently, you have to go in and either accept that as an answer, providing such as a valid form of play, or you're going to have to dismantle their capacity to play the champion in that manner.
Either way, you're toying with false choices, in that the player is always assumed that they are going to make a certain choice in favour of the decision that you, yourself, would have made in their place.
Technically, all choices are false, in something as readily controllable as game design, but the ones that really stand out are the problem cases. Those choices that you make, and you feel immediately after that sense of "GRRRR it didn't matter what I did, I was screwed either way from the start!".
Those are your big problems. Avoid them at all costs.
When you design a champion, you have to keep in mind that there are certain situations they're going to get themselves into, such as team fights, or being chased when they're at low health. You have to plan around these eventualities, and give them a shred of hope of escape, or at the very least, let them think they had some capacity to change the outcome there.
If you box them in, and limit them, they will notice, and they're not going to be pleased.
In writing, you learn that people have expectations, in their mind. They expect that the good guys will win in the end. That love will always triumph. That they can aspire to something greater than they are. If you provide them with these, they don't honestly much care, to a degree, how you go about providing such. They like to feel "right".
The key to writing a mystery novel, is not to dangle a mystery in front of someone's face, and withhold the information from them so they can't tell whodunit. It's to feed them tiny clues, a little bit at a time, to let them figure it out on their own, and then reveal it blatantly at the end, so they feel happy that they got it right.
The same thing exists in game design, and champion design as well.
A player wants to feel that, if they build themselves to specifically counter a particular enemy on the other team, that they will be able to defeat that enemy in a 1 on 1 fight. Things like Vayne's Silver Bolts, contradict that belief.
Yes, most of her damage is physical, but even if you build massive amounts of armour, the true damage still bleeds through with remarkable effect, despite your best efforts. You can't build health, you can't build armour, and you can't build magic resistance.
This is why Vayne leaves a bad taste in people's mouths after fighting her. She's not OP, and she's quite fun to play as, and against, except that her Silver Bolts taste like ashes, because, even if you win, it still feels inherently wrong.
Yes, yes, you're the great puppeteer, and have come to make a champion design that is the CC master of the world. They can lock down an entire enemy team for a week straight, as their stuns last longer than the cooldowns, and they have no mana costs to speak of.
You know what? Ditch that line of reasoning immediately, if you have it.
Game/Dungeon Masters, in particular, in tabletop RPGs come across this "puppet master" mindset with startling frequency, and it backfires every time.
Your goal, as a game developer, is not to create an impossible situation for a player, and then laugh at them because they're stuck in it. Of course they're stuck in it, you didn't give them a way out. Some game developers have sadly fallen for this trap, and made games where they want the player to lose. Badly.
This isn't in your job description. Your job is to make something that's fun to play as, not something that's ungodly powerful.
Any champion you design which has overwhelming power, that you think would be fun to play as... consider the flip side of the coin. Would it be fun to play against them? Do you even have a choice as to whether you can fight back?
If the answer is no, you've dun gone screwed up big time boy-o, and it's time to take a step back, and reevaluate the design in general, as well as your motives for designing such.
Any time you provide a player with a choice to make, you also have to give them a valid option in there as well. Sure, there's an infinite number of choices all around them, but if you're going to shove one in their face, by making it not obvious what the correct answer is, you then are obligated to make sure that there is a correct answer, and that the correct answer makes sense.
Trick questions aren't cute, and they aren't funny. They piss players off, and with good reason. You just stomped all over their little belief that the world is an organized, sensible place, where selecting the right answer involves getting a cookie, and the wrong answer gets a trip through electroshock.
Once you start screwing with their expectations, they're going to hate you for it. And if it persists long enough, they're simply going to get up, and walk away.
The harsh truth of the world, is that an awful lot of it probably doesn't have any higher meaning or purpose. Our brains go through great lengths to create order out of chaos, however, and we have individuals who spend their entire lives trying to structure answers towards the goal of placating the masses so that they don't panic via the realization that the light at the end of the tunnel, may in fact just be an oncoming train. Your job, in creating a character, is part of this, as you are distracting them from real life, by giving them a vent for frustrations, as well as a place to relax and enjoy themselves.
Work with your players, and provide them with the tools they require to make the correct decision in any choice you present to them. Don't play tricks, and don't jerk them around. This doesn't necessarily mean tell them outright what the answer is, either, but it does mean that you can't just lie flat out to their face.
In the final analysis, your job is to make their game fun. If your champion design isn't fun, and the problem is that the choices you've given them to allow them to interact with the game, are all false choices, then you have failed in that task, and need to go back and clean things up pronto.
1-08 - Improvement and Criticism
Class is in session for the day, boys and girls, as well as those of indiscriminate gender. Also, potted plants. Just in case one of them is reading this. It'd suck to get sued for being a plantist.
Anyway, today we're discussing a few things, and all of them relate to Improvement and Criticism.
First, we'll cover why criticism is needed in the first place.
Second, we'll go over how to accept it, when it's needed.
Third, we'll attend to how to understand whether it's good criticism or bad.
Fourth, how to put that criticism into your champion design to actually make them better.
Fifth, and last, we'll cover how to be a good critic yourself.
Part 1: "And while I'm composing it, I'm also reviewing it. It's my policy never to read my reviews." - Jeremy Hillary Boob Ph.D., The Yellow Submarine
Everyone's a critic. Thing is, we actually need critics, strangely enough. Many artists absolutely hate such things, others don't understand why they exist, and some just don't get the concept in general.
So why do we even need critics in the first place? Well, the answer's actually pretty simple. We, as a species, are designed in such a way that we typically assume that our own ideas are good ones. We're biased towards stuff we've come up with, since we tend to only see the reasons behind why we did them in the first place, and aren't particularly good at seeing the things we missed, otherwise we would not have missed them in the first place.
A critic, is someone who evaluates your work and verifies whether it's really all that good or not. Varying critics will look at things from varying angles. No one person can see all ends, so critics will rarely agree on specific points. Critics are still human, however, so they still make mistakes. They may misinterpret something, they may misunderstand, they may not know the reasons behind why something was done, or may fail to grasp an important point which is needed to be understood for the work being evaluated to make sense.
In something like a more standardized job with a clearly structured hierarchy, such as a game development company, you'll have supervisors, quality assurance, play testing, peer review, and many other forms of criticism which will ensure that the finalized design is as high quality as it can possibly be. The lack thereof, in things such as disorganized indie development games, higher end jobs where there are no real performance evaluations, or this forum, you're stuck with just critics, who often times aren't really all that well versed in what it is they're trying to review, and this makes it very difficult to truly improve oneself.
The point of a critic is always the same, however. Their job is to identify areas for improvement, and commentate on such, so that others are able to determine the value of the work being evaluated. Sometimes the audience of a critique is the audience that the work itself is intended for, other times the critique is the author of the work.
Either way, at no point is your goal in a critique to attack, harass, or attempt to upset the author, nor is it to sugar-coat problems, nor to boost the individual's ego.
Criticism exists for the sole purpose of having another person's point of view and perspective, who can identify issues which the original designer, or team, were not capable of identifying themselves. Whether this is to warn off audiences from viewing a bad movie, or to provide the designer with the information required to improve upon the design before a live audience sees their work, is pretty much arbitrary, as the only thing that really changes, is the way the end criticism is presented, but not the content thereof.
If you don't learn from the criticism provided, you aren't making use of a valuable tool that could have improved the quality of your own work.
If you get to the point that you absolutely refuse to even consider that you might be wrong, and just assume that any criticism is lacking a constructive angle, then the chances are you're narcissistic, and should probably be seeing a doctor about it, instead of reading this guide.
If, however, you accept that criticism can be a useful tool for improvement, then you're at least on the right path to making your designs better than they already are.
Keep in mind, that even harsh criticism, can still be valuable. Consider those individuals who complain on a forum. They gripe, moan, complain, etc, etc. Many others tell them to shut up and just be happy with what they have.
Guess which side I prefer in that?
The same side every decent game company is on. The side of the whiners.
Wait, what? Why!?
Well, think of it this way... "I liked it", is a nice little boost to the ego, but it doesn't do much to help improve the game as a whole. If someone complains, they have a gripe, and that means you may have a problem that needs to be fixed. If they complain, they also tend to be very specific in their complaints, and typically will point out exactly what it is that bothers them, which gives you plenty of information on how to identify if it really is an issue that needs addressed, as well as getting a feel for the community as a whole, as most people don't relate their opinions on anything, except when they're upset.
We complain when we're frustrated, but tend to stay silent when we're appeased. Rarely do we say thank you, as a people, when we're happy, and even if we do, it's typically in a very vague sense. If you felt the need to send a message to Riot about League of Legends, what would you say?
Most likely, you'd state that you love the game and are happy with it, and to keep up the good job, but there's one or two minor things that bother you, and you'd probably list them off.
As can be seen, the "nice" part of the review was pretty much useless from a developer's point of view, in terms of being able to improve upon their design. The "mean" part of the review was actually quite useful in isolating and containing problems before they got any larger, by at least identifying where they were, and giving a direction for the development team to focus their attentions upon.
As such, any time someone gets upset at people complaining, and does the fanboy dealie of getting mad and yelling at those who are complaining, it makes me facepalm. Seriously, our species is designed to try to improve our current standing. If something's good, it means it can be made better, into something great. By chipping away at the minor issues one at a time, you can transform it from just "good" into something "truly great". If you just accept it as "good enough", there's no improvement, and nothing ever gets better.
For those of you, who are reading this, and ascribe to the fanboy mentality of "It's fine so stop complaining!", seriously, just stop. You're actually harming the company you profess to love so much.
Criticism is a necessary part of the development cycle, and without it, we'll never get anywhere beyond that which we can see from our own, limited, perspective.
Part 2: "I turn on the tube and what do I see? A whole lotta people cryin' "Don't blame me"" - The Eagles
So, now that we've established that criticism is required to foster a healthy design from infancy, through to finalized product, what do we do about that pesky little ego inside your head demanding that you smack the critic in the face and suggesting you tell them to bugger off?
Well... that's a little more tricky. It's an emotional response, and to be perfectly blunt, emotional responses are difficult to reason with, because they aren't exactly reasonable. The only real way to deal with this, that I've personally found, is to drown it in facts and hope the whiny little ego chokes to death on a sea of proof to the contrary.
Yes, honourable judge, I murdered my ego. It had it coming, though.
As a writer, and an artist, I can't afford the luxury of just assuming my work is top notch. Of course it isn't. At least, not yet, anyway. Anything I make is going to be flawed, broken, and need significant adjustments and improvement.
Once I became consciously aware of the fact that I'm not perfect, at that moment, I opened up the door to attain that very goal. The whole dealie of "Accepting that I know nothing" being the best place to start learning is, in fact, quite true.
To become defensive is natural, as we don't like to be viewed as less than perfect.
You need to break down this fantasy world, where you can do no wrong, and accept that we are, as a species, flawed, and that every single thing that we attempt to do, will also be infected by those flaws, and turn out flawed as well.
That doesn't mean that our works can't become flawless, but it does mean that, in order to cause that, you have to start getting rid of the flaws that cropped up in the design, and to do that, you need to first identify where the flaws are.
We suck at seeing our own flaws. We concentrate on things that aren't even problematic, and often become paranoid about things that are all in our heads. The real problems we have, we usually don't even know about. The ones we chastise ourselves over, are typically meaningless junk that is imaginary in the first place.
This, is why we need outside help. Objective criticism allows us to see the truth behind what our designs and creations really are. Without this, we'll never be able to figure out where the problems are to begin working on fixing them.
Sure, on rare occasion, we'll stumble across a problem, or we'll get a break of divine inspiration, but for the most part, this just doesn't happen all that often, and even if it does, we won't necessarily have any idea of what the solution is, or even where to begin patching it up.
Just because you know something's broken, doesn't mean you know how to fix it.
If my sink starts spewing blood up to the ceiling, I'm not even going to be sure whether I should be calling a plumber, or an exorcist, let alone where to begin fixing it by myself.
Alright, creepy imagery, I know, but it does fit. XD
The point is, if you want to get better, you need to beat your ego into submission, and let the critics do their job.
The first thing to do, is admit that you're not perfect. No one is. I may claim I am, frequently, at that, but I know better than to believe practically anything that comes out of my own mouth.
Next off, you're going to have to sit down, and consider that the critics *MAY* have a point. Note that I'm stressing the term "may", using AOLspeak methods, of which, I'm admittedly a little ashamed over, but it's important to stress that word on a very specific level. They may not. They may be completely, flat out, WRONG. The next section will cover how to identify whether they are, or not, but for now, accepting that they might be right, is a big deal.
The stage after this, is to evaluate whether they are right or not. This may sound like it doesn't involve your ego, but it really does, as it'll try to lie to you, and tell you they're fools, out to ruin your glorious plans for conquest and subjugation of the entire human race under your control. Make sure to smack it in the face if it's telling you to become a dictator, but otherwise, shove it out of the way temporarily, and see about trying to note their points, one at a time, and attempt to objectively analyze them as if it were someone else's design, rather than your own, so that your pesky ego doesn't get in the way.
Finally, once you've determined that you may actually be wrong, rather that get indignant about it, instead just tell yourself that, you know what? If you fix that problem, then you won't be wrong anymore. So long as you're wrong, that tarnish shall remain, and as soon as you fix it, you really are that much closer to perfection. This makes the ego grudgingly accept that it'll work with you, even if you do have it at gunpoint the whole time.
Well, whatever works. As long as you're able to fix your problems, you're farther ahead than most people XD
Part 3: "It doesn't matter if they're right. If they're right for the wrong reasons, then they're still wrong, no matter how right they may be." - Katsuni (actually this is part of a friend's comic after he quoted me on it XD )
The next issue we have, is identifying good criticism, from bad criticism. This can be tricky to do, as we just covered that we suck at identifying our own flaws, so we can't really trust our own judgement about our own stuff.
The nice part here, however, is we're pretty good at picking up on the flaws of people other than our own selves. This means that the trick is to identify where the critic went wrong, rather than to try to consider your own material. If you spend all your time and effort trying to ascertain if they're right, you're going to find yourself staring at an impossible task before you.
It can't really be done.
So... break their argument, and prove them wrong. Identify each part of what they say, and see if you can find issue with their logic. As you chip away at their argument, notify them of such and inform them of what you're doing. The idea here, is to get continual feedback and discussion on the matter.
You really need to stress, here, that you're attempting to do this in an objective manner, in order to ensure that the highest quality of your work can be attained, and that you're not trying to just discredit them. Technically, you are trying to break their work, but it's not for the purpose of breaking them as a person, or to try to make their work wrong, so much as to see which parts you can't break, which will leave these as things that are probably true.
It's a strange method, but it does work remarkably well. Our brains are great at finding flaws in the work of others, but suck at finding the flaws in our own. Equally, we suck at telling when someone's actually right, and it's only when we go over what we said, that we run into the logical fallacies and other errors in judgement and reasoning.
We break things. We're really, remarkably, good at doing it, too.
So... play up to your strengths, and break their argument about your design, in every way you can do so.
Converse with them while doing so, toss ideas back and forth, ask for clarification, and debate the matter. When you finish this, and have found every tiny way you can damage their argument as possible, what is left, is the closest thing that you, I, or anyone else, will ever come to the absolute, unvarnished truth.
Once you have that, then you can tell what truly needs to be fixed.
If you can just wander through their argument, poking holes in it willy-nilly, and there's very little holding it up, then it's probably not going to be of much use to the design you have.
Keep in mind, however, that only the points that the person brings up matter. If you bring up their history, their personal ideals, or attempt anything in close approximation to an Ad Hominem attack, then you really aren't dealing with the flaws in their argument, but the flaws in them as a person.
If you're attacking the person, rather than the statement, you're doing it wrong. It doesn't matter if they're an idiot, or wrong 99% of the time, or if you hate them. Focus on the statements they make. Maybe they are wrong 99% of the time, but this could be that singular 1% of the time that they're right.
If it turns out that your only complaints are against them, and not about what they said, then, while you may still continue to dislike them as a person, the fact is, they're still right, so long as yeu can find nothing wrong with what they actually said.
Keep in mind that the purpose of this kind of debate isn't to break down an opponent, so much as to tear apart their argument until nothing is left of it but the truth. It's the whole "Sculpt an elephant by simply removing from the stone slab anything that doesn't look like an elephant" method, and it works remarkably well in a situation such as this.
Just make sure that ego of yours doesn't attack the person, instead of the statements. I stress that again, as it's a common failing, and you won't learn anything by doing so.
Part 4: I thought I was wrong, once, but I was mistaken.
Alright, let's say that we've gotten to the point where you accept that the critic is right, and you have a problem. So what do you do about it?
Some critics will actually provide suggestions on how to go about fixing the issue, so that you have at least a vague idea of one method of overcoming a problem. To be honest, there's typically many ways to avoid the current issue, and the offering given, may not be the best method, as it may trip up on other areas in the process.
In the final analysis, it is truly your design, and no one can take that away from you. You can't just let everyone walk in on your design and screw with it. If they say you need to do one particular solution to fix it, ignore them. Unless, of course, they're a supervisor or producer. The supervisor probably has a reason for why they're suggesting a particular method, and they probably know more than you do on the subject. The producer is probably wrong, but they hold the paychecks, so suck it up, and what ever you do, don't tell them they're an idiot, even if you're only being honest. Especially if you're being honest. They really hate that.
Anyway, since we don't have supervisors, nor producers here, in this forum, we're going to go with just ignoring them, for now.
You have a goal in mind for your design. A purpose, a feel, a play style which you, personally, enjoy. We tend to make things we would, ourselves, like to play. As such, another person's solution may simply not mesh with your desired goal, and may ruin your design, in your own eyes.
Don't let them get in your way. They can be right that something's broken, and they may be right that their solution may be able to bypass the issue neatly, but you know what? They may also be wrong that their solution is the correct one, for you, to fix it.
There's more than one way to skin a cat, and the cat doesn't have to like any of them. I say this, reluctantly, as I rather lurve kitties, but the saying still stands in the purpose it holds.
Let us say that, yes, the critic gave a way to fix the problem, but you really don't like the way that's suggested. No problem. There's a ton of other ways to go about fixing it.
See, for any problem, there are multiple ways to correct such. Some may work better than others. Some may create more problems indirectly in their application. Some may make more problems than they're really worth. Some you may not even notice, or realize exist, but it doesn't mean they're not there.
We always have a choice. Any time someone says "there's no choice", they're just trying to placate themselves before they do something they don't want to do. Of course there's a choice! It's just... the choice may not be a particularly pleasant one. There's a near infinite number of ways you can go about handling any situation, it may just be that of that near infinite number, all of them kind of suck, in one way, or another, and one of them may just suck a little less than the rest. You still have a choice, though.
In this situation, we have an advantage, in that there's no immediate reprisal or ramifications for making a choice. If we break something else in the process of fixing the current problem, no big deal! We can just move on to fixing that issue afterwards, and if it's one we're consciously aware of breaking, all the better! It means we don't need to go through that messy process of dealing with a critic again to fix it, and we probably already have a few ideas on how to go about repairing the collateral damage that occurred.
Anyway, the whole point of this entire section, is that you know more, than your critic does, at least, about what you want. Unless you're me. I have no clue what I want most of the time, but that doesn't seem to stop me from doing stupid things in the attempt of finding out XD
Regardless, you have the option to agree that there's a problem with your design, but you also have the option to disagree on the best method of fixing that problem. Take charge of your design, and own it as yours! You have an obligation to yourself to make something that you, yourself, would love to play.
The critics don't know your mind inside out. They may think they do, but there's a significant difference between actually knowing, and thinking you know.
Your champion is just that: your champion, so don't let anyone make it into something you don't like anymore. Perhaps their suggestion on a way to fix things is a good one, and you like the idea they presented. Maybe you think it flat out sucks, because it goes completely against the whole purpose you had in mind from the start of what you wanted that champion design to accomplish.
Either way, make sure that the only reason you change your champion, or any other design you work on in life, is because you want to change it that way.
With, of course, the previous exceptions of supervisors and producers. Durn them corporate hierarchies! *Shakefist@*
Part 5: No. No I'm afraid everything's wrong. Including this statement. Everything has to go.
So, since we need critics, and you've received the benefits from having such, it's probably a nice idea to return the favour in such a way that you help the community further, yourself.
After all, if you are a good critic, then others will learn to be good critics in kind, and will therefore be able to provide you with better criticism than you had before, right?
So, since that's settled, let's work on becoming a good critic!
A nice critic pads the ego with platitudes such as "I liked it", or "Good job!". While these are nice, and that encouragement can give the designer the strength they need to carry on, in and of themselves, they're pretty much worthless towards making a better design as a whole.
A good critic, is one who provides useful information that can be applied towards making the basic design better than it already is. Ideally, a good critic will do so in a kind way, that will encourage the designer to want to revise their champion design, but that's a secondary concern to the primary one of simply having useful information.
Criticism, by the very definition thereof, involves criticizing. Who would'a thunk? This means, however, that at some point, you're going to have to criticize a bad decision, or point out a flaw or error.
The trick, is to do so in a positive way.
Actually, let me take a few steps back here, and we'll go over the process from the start.
First off, you're going to find a design that could use some work. Hehe... yeah, see that's every design out there. Even the ones in the game, produced by Riot Games themselves, still need work. Art is never "finished", it simply runs out of time, budget, or patience.
Next, you're going to decide that you want to help out, either because you like the idea, and want to see it improved upon to be even more fun, or because you hate it, and want to see it turned into something that doesn't suck.
Note that I said "help out", not "attack". Your goal in a review is to lend your personal expertise and aid towards bettering the design beyond where it currently stands for quality. If the only reason you're commenting, is to make them feel better, to get reviews for yourself, or to harm their ego, then back out immediately.
That thing I said earlier, about being right for the wrong reasons, still applies here. If you go in with the wrong attitude, you can, and will, ruin the work you set out to do. To review with malicious intent on the mind, will corrupt the work and leave the review as far less useful than it really should have been. To review with benevolence, will allow the design to bloom into a beautiful flower. Or a duck. Or maybe a boot. I dunno.
Anyway, you want to begin your review with a good mindset. If you go into a review in a bad mood, you're just going to vent your frustrations of the moment upon the designer and discourage them from working further. Friends don't let friends be pissy and review. We shoot them first, then cannibalize the corpse as zombies.
So, let's say you're in a good mood, want to help, and are now reviewing a champion.
Now, how do we go about reviewing this thing? Ah, that's a bit more tricky, now, isn't it?
First off, do a once over of the design. Check for things that jump out at you immediately as problematic. This could be lore, stats, abilities that work ridiculously well together, typos, it doesn't' matter, to be honest. So long as you find some stuff that's broken, that's a good place to start. Not everyone's able to do in depth break downs that will provide a whole new set of revelations about design as a whole, though if you finish reading this entire guide, you'll probably have a lot more ammunition to work with on that side of things.
Anyway, you've got some problems. Alright, that's great and all, but now you also need some good stuff, too. What? Good stuff? Yep! Pick out some things that you actually LIKE about the design! Perhaps an ability you think is really cool, maybe their lore has something awesome in it, who knows? More over, who cares? It really doesn't matter, just find some stuff that's good. We'll cover this shortly, as to why.
Your next step is to begin detailing the issues of what is a problem with the design in question. Make sure you're through, and that you give explanations for why you believe that these are problems. Just saying "this is wrong", but not explaining why it's wrong, won't really give them much idea as to where the problem is, which makes it pretty hard to fix it.
This is your opportunity to be a bit of a braggart. By going into detail about why something's wrong, you get to show off that big brain of yours. Oooh yeah, baby, so hot. It's soooo biiiiig. *Cough*. I didn't say that.
Erm... yeah. So, the point here is that you want to take this opportunity to really go into significant detail as to why something's a problem in the first place. The more information they have, the better their chances of being able to correct the issue.
Now that you've explained what's wrong, you want to explain what's right.
People are odd, and tend to hang on the last thing that was said to them. If you end on a downer note, they go kinda meh, and aren't that interested in doing anything to fix things. If you end on the positive side of things, they tend to cheer up, and are willing to put additional effort into revising the problems that were just identified.
That means it's time to break out the arsenal of good stuff you found earlier. Give them examples of why certain things made you smile, or grabbed your interest.
By providing a list of what they did right, they'll have a basis to work from of what their problems should end up looking like eventually. Sure, a doctor can tell you when something looks infected, but the only way to do that, is to know how it looks when it's not infected, first.
To have a base line reference of what "good" looks like, is a very important part of the revision process, as you can't really fix "wrong", until you know what "right" is supposed to look like. If you try to fix "wrong" without this, you'll probably just change it from one form of wrong to another form of wrong, with no real correction in the process.
Additionally, pointing out the good parts in something, tends to make that individual trust you more, as they feel you see them as more than just "some big meanie head" who's out to "get them". Give them reason to like you, and they'll be more receptive to your suggestions, as well as more accepting of when you say there's a problem.
If you just come off as a jerk, it doesn't matter how right you are, they're going to ignore all of it on the grounds that they figure you just hate them and anything you say is going to be assumed to just be being said because of that.
This doesn't fix anything, and ruins the whole point of doing a review in the first place.
As such, the steps are as follows:
1: Find a design to work on.
2: Decide to help.
3: Pick out some problems that need to be addressed (it doesn't have to be ALL of them!)
4: Grab a few nice things that you like as well
5: Explain the problems, and go into detail as to why they're problems.
6: Provide potential solutions for these problems.
7: State a few things you liked about the design.
8: Suggest they do some more work on it, but be encouraging on this part.
Ta-da! You can now review like a pro. Kind of. You're going to need to actually know what you're talking about to act like a true professional, but really, that's what the rest of the guide is here for.
Now go out and review someone's stuff! It doesn't matter whose stuff it is, just find something on the front page that catches your interest, and give them a review. If you do this, then they may start giving reviews as well, and eventually, we'll have a nice base of people capable of helping each other out, and our own designs will get the help they deserve!
If no one does reviews in general, then we're all screwed equally. You can't just sit back and hope people look at your stuff, if you never look at theirs, because they're doing the same thing you are. Mindlessly bumping your stuff a dozen times a day won't fix that, if no one's doing anything but bumping their own stuff.
Anyway, class dismissed! Wewt wewt!
1-09 - Legibility and Presentation
Good day to all of you who have decided to attend!
Class is now in session. Or it could be that it's not in session. Maybe it's both. We could get into some debates on quantum theory, now that it's been verified that quantum effects can occur at a macroscopic scale that's large enough for the human eye to witness, but that's not why we're here today.
No, today, we are here to learn about formatting! Or, more specifically, legibility and presentation.
First on the list, we'll cover why it's even a big deal. There are technically reasons it's not important, but sometimes, it really is.
Second, we'll go over what kind of information you want to provide.
Third, we'll discuss the methods of presentation available.
Finally, I'll provide an example piece that I use for my own champions. I do occasionally update this over time, as more ideas come to me, so some of the older stuff I've provided may not yet have been caught up. Still, this will provide a great example for keeping track of things in an organized fashion.
Part 1: I R TEH GUUD AHT ENGRUSH RLY I PAYZD MAH THURD GRAYD EDJUMAHKAYSHUN!
Alright, first off, to dispel some myths.
Being good at spelling, or grammar, doesn't have anything to do with being intelligent, in the slightest. These are things which are merely pure memorization. Actual intelligence, on the contrary, involves being capable of processing new information, correlating against previous information, and making connections.
This means that if someone is told, individually, what the letters "k", "a" and "t" sound like, and then hear someone say "cat", and spell it "kat", they have shown the capacity to learn and use previous information in a new manner. If they spelled it properly, as "cat", without further knowledge, it would be in error.
Being tidy, with good spelling and grammar doesn't make you smart, nor does it necessitate that what you have written is any more worth reading than something with perfect punctuation.
See, the point of language, in general, is communication. So long as the information is passed from one individual, to another, with little to no problems in between, the purpose of language has been served.
Sure, I'm a writer, and happen to focus heavily upon making sure that I'm capable of providing that information in a very robust manner, in which even the tiniest details can be provided accurately, while still maintaining the capacity for the reader to come to their own conclusions. The thing is, if something's technically "wrong", it may still be more "correct" to do so anyway.
Consider the word "ugly". Technically, it should be spelled correctly. In practicality, were one to use the spelling of "ughly", I'd instead be forced to smile, slightly, because they managed to really give that guttural feel of exactly what the word entails, through tossing onomatopoeia into the mix. It's "wrong", but it really feels "right", and provides a better mechanism through which to communicate the purpose of what's trying to be said. Namely, that if you see something ugly, you really do want to instinctively say "ugh...".
The point here, is that you don't technically have to have everything perfect.
However, and this is a big however, to those who are grinning like idiots thinking that they can be sloppy, you can't just make a mess of things, just because you're lazy, or don't want to bother. If you're trying to communicate a point, then the point must be communicated, in full, to any other parties present.
In terms of champion design, this means that you want to be quite expressive about your information you give. If someone looks at your ability, and all it says is "it does 300 damage and stuns for 2 seconds", what does that tell us?
Well, it gives a vague idea of the damage and special effect properties to it, but it doesn't tell us if it's a skill shot, if it's capable of hitting minions, or what kind of range it has on it, to name a few.
What if it only hits champions? Well, it's better in lane, now, because it's harder to mis-click on a different target by accident, however, it does so at the expense of being useless in the jungle.
What if it's click on target to deal the effects, such as Sion's gaze? No dodging a skill shot, but now it's far easier to juke someone through the brush, and you can't land artillery style indirect fire hits on targets you can't see. That twitch who just stealthed an instant before, is now safe, and if you had a skill shot, you could've hit him.
How's the range? Is it on next melee hit? Does it make Nidalee's spear cry? Does your champion even have a melee attack?
This kind of information needs to be available to anyone looking over your design, if they're to understand what your champion is capable of doing.
By arranging the information into an easy to read format, you're doing several things.
- You're ensuring that, with consistent formatting, that you don't forget anything important.
- You make it possible for others to read through your champion, without stopping halfway through because it's physically painful for their eyes to try to concentrate on a huge block of text, without paragraphs.
- You also happen to make it much easier to tell, at a glance, what an ability does, and to find key information quickly, without feeling like you're wasting time on it.
If you want to post champions, then you're doing so for a reason. Either you want criticism, to better your designs, or you want people to see the stuff you made, to boost your ego, or, possibly, you just like putting fun ideas down to make other people happy as they read it.
Either way, you fail in all these tasks if the individual reading such gets fed up and ditches it because they can barely read what's being said.
If you can't communicate, effectively, what you mean, then you may as well not bother. If I can't tell what your champion does, then none of the above reasons for posting will be fulfilled.
As such, try to ensure that you explain, in detail, what your champion does. Extra sections which explain your reasoning behind why aren't necessary, but they can help a reader understand your own mindset better.
No matter what you do, though, err on the side of "too much" information, rather than "too little". In this task, the concept of TL: DR, simply does not exist, and anyone who says so, seriously, in a post on this forum, has missed the whole point.
Yes, I've said that before, but it still stands. Rawr!
Part 2: I know everything. Even that thing you did last weekend with a goat. Seriously, that's just creepy.
So, I'll assume, though I shouldn't, that you want to make sure your champions have useful information in them now. Great!
Now that we have that covered, what do you want to know? EVERYTHING.
No, really. Everything.
If you can think about it, it should probably be in there, somewhere.
There are a few things, however, which are more important than others, and some are often left out, so let's go over some key pieces of information and why we need them.
1: Attack range. This is a big one that almost everyone seems to forget, and it really irks me. A champion plays significantly differently, depending on how their capacity to hit minions are in the laning phase, and how close they have to be to attack someone in a 5v5 team fight. Always go out of your way to double check that you have your attack range listed. If you're not sure how far champions attack, then keep in mind that "long" range is generally about 600 for a normal auto attack, and Caitlynn's special, at 650, with Tristana eventually clocking in at a touch over 700. Melee is usually 125, but can vary between 100-200. Generally just saying "melee" is good enough, unless you are a specific exception.
2: Resource system. It's strange, but I've actually seen people forget to list this! I've seen them write down their abilities cost "50" to use, but no where, in the entire design, does it say if this is mana, energy, or something else. If your champion design doesn't use anything other than cool downs to manage their abilities, say so. As Sion would say, don't be a bone head.
3: Targeting method. Abilities that do effects are nice, but often, the method by which they attack can be as important as the effects themselves. Ezreal would play an awful lot differently if all his abilities were click to hit, and if his Q was "on next attack", instead.
4: Targets allowed. Another major one that's often overlooked. Make sure we know if an ability hits allies, champions, minions, towers, etc. This can be the difference between being an awesome jungler, or completely useless in it, and may make a big difference in other parts of the game, as well.
5: Range of abilities. Many people don't know what "good" ranges are. For that, I suggest just picking a champion that has something that you want that's roughly about the same range, and check them up on LoLWiki. This will give you a good estimate of what other champions are capable of doing, and gives the reader a much clearer idea of how useful the abilities are. Keep in mind, skill shots tend to be longer range than "click to hit" ones.
6: Travel speed of abilities. Another massively overlooked one, especially on skill shots, where it matters most. You can probably skip it, when describing a click-to-hit skill-less shot, but for a skill shot, it can be the difference between making a clean hit, or having someone simply walk out of range of Sona's ultimate, or Ahri's Seduction, both of which are notorious for their slow travel times.
7: Scaling. Strange, but true: many people forget to list the scaling. If it doesn't scale, state so specifically, preferably. This can severely affect their itemization capacity.
8: Name. I already covered naming elsewhere, but seriously, put a name on it. If you haven't bothered to pick a name for your champion yet, then the first thing people are generally going to think of is "Oh, another half done, boring champion with no thought put into it". I'm not joking, name your stuff.
9: Damage type. Way too often I find people not specifying whether an ability deals physical, magical, or true damage. Don't get carried away with true damage, but make sure an ability specifies what it does. Just because it scales off AD, doesn't mean that it necessarily deals physical damage! Be clear on this matter, as it can make a big difference on how one would build to counter them!
10: Unique, additional information. Many people seem to get it in their heads that they only need to list the stuff that other abilities have. If you need special information to understand how an ability works, such as Nemhain's odd zero cool down design, then you need to specify that information. Even something as simple as a "NOTE: Blahblahblah" at the end of an ability can make for a big deal =3
IT GOES TO 11: Anything else you can think of. Don't skimp out on the details, just because you're lazy! If you can think of something that's important, put it in there! People will enjoy your ability a lot more the more they know about it, or, at the very least, will know where the problem issues are, more accurately, so they can help you improve it further!
Part 3: Eye see wut u did thar!
Alright, so we know why we need to put stuff in, and what kind of stuff needs to be added, but we haven't really gone over how to put it into our posts in the first place.
First off, let me state that there's a lot of ways to do this. Personally, I find seperating things into sections, surrounded by a quotation, is an easy method of isolating key topics, such as individual abilities. Either just use square brackets around the word quote and unquote, or highlight the text you want to be quoted, and press the little speech bubble button at the top of the screen there.
Note that it's also possible to put a quotation inside of a quotation.
Additionally, adding Bold, Italic, or Underscore modifiers to your text, can help to make them stand out more for information that you feel is more important, or needs special consideration. These can be done by highlighting the text you want adjusted, and either pressing the B I U buttons at the top of the screen, or by using CTRL+B, CTRL+I, or CTRL+U, for Bold, Italics, Underscore.
I'd give a lesson on BBCode and HTML here, but honestly, you don't need it. That and it was giving me fits with trying to forcibly convert the code into actual information. A real mess that was.
You can technically also use bulleted lists, and advanced formatting, but really, they're not needed, and I, personally, find them a bit tacky. As long as the information is clearly separated and cleanly provided, the specifics of how you go about formatting don't much matter.
Rather than try to describe such out a thousand different ways, I'm just going to move to the next section, as it's easier to show, than to describe this.
Part 4: I'll need an example of your demonstration so I can demonstrate the example to the class.
Q: Ability Name
Note that I highlighted the titles by bolding them, so they stand out more. This makes it easy to tell when a new line is entered, without having to resort to additional paragraphs, and makes it easy to look for a specific piece of information.
The static statistics of an ability that rarely change are grouped together, such as range, cost, or targeting.
Keep in mind that some abilities don't fall under that category, and that the only thing that might change with an ability being leveled, may in fact be it's cool down or cost to cast. For these, you'd generally put that information below, under Ranks.
Next off, we have the ranks, each listed separately. It's a simple, clear way to tell how useful an ability is, and generally looks the same as it would in the actual game as a tool tip. This makes it easy to get a feel for how powerful it is at level one, and how it scales throughout the game.
Yes, it's a bit repetitive, but it does make it tidy, and easy to understand exactly how good an ability is at doing it's job at all ranks.
The example given is, admittedly, just an example, but it gives an idea of how to provide the information in a manageable method, including what it does, and what changes each level. It also provides the scaling, what it scales off of, and what type of damage it deals. Secondary effects are listed afterward, and either bolded or underscored (italics don't work so well here, I find), so that it's easier to tell which part is based off the primary effect, and which are secondary effects, at a glance.
Ideally, you should be able to just glance at an ability, and within a few seconds, figure out where the information you're looking for is.
Anyway, this is pretty much all there is to formatting! There's technically a ton of tiny other things, but for the most part, if you can follow this, you'll be doing fine.
Now, as of the time that I write this, it's a rather beautiful spring day, and almost right on the hour.
As such, class dismissed!
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