Designing Dominance: The Arsenal of League of Legends: Dominion

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ByronicHero

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09-29-2011
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The advent of League of Legends: Dominion presented a number of challenges for item balance that we hadnít encountered before. With champions beginning at level 3 with substantially more gold than before and gaining passive gold at a drastically increased rate, some items no longer presented players with the same strategic choices that they had in the past. Additionally, the changes to combats style and champion roles created additional challenges to the traditional item balance of Classic gameplay.

A Fresh Start

One of the first item types that emerged as problematic in League of Legends: Dominion were the Doranís items. These starting items are intended to offer players the strategic advantage of a stronger early game at the expense of having no upgrade path to a stronger, late game item. However, the shortened game length of Dominion combined with the increased starting gold made buying multiple copies of these items an extremely attractive option.

To prevent players from simply stacking these early game items, we removed the Doranís items set and created a new set of starting items, dubbed the Prospectorís set. Similar to the Doranís items, these items are extremely cheap relative to the stat boosts that they provided, but donít serve as the component of any more powerful late game item. Unlike the Doranís items, however, the health bonus provided by Prospectors items does not stack with other Prospectorís items, making them far less appealing to stack.

A Snowballís ChanceÖ

Another group of items that proved problematic in League of Legends: Dominion were snowball items such as Mejaiís Soulstealer, Sword of the Occult, and Leviathan. While purchasing these items in the Classic game mode represented a calculated risk, the frenetic pacing of Dominion could cause players to rack up a lot of kills extremely rapidly. This could result in situations where a player was able to stack up a snowball item at an alarming rate, becoming an unmanageable powerhouse capable of dictating the remainder of the game.

Moreover, one of the goals of League of Legends: Dominion was to shift emphasis off of punitive death penalties, and, at times, even to encourage players to make heroic last stands. The additional threat of feeding a snowballing adversary, however, promoted more cautious gameplay. Ultimately, these three snowball items simply didnít make sense in the context of the capture-and-hold gameplay of the Crystal Scar, and the decision was made to remove them in the new game mode.

My Kingdome for a Ward

Some of the most difficult items to balance for League of Legends: Dominion were the more powerful consumables such as Elixirs and Wards. In classic gameplay, elixirs could allow players sacrifice a small amount of gold for a relatively strong, short-term boost. However, the increased rate at which players earn passive gold made elixirs extremely easy to acquire. Additionally, the four minute duration of an elixir was a substantially larger percentage of the total game length of a match on the Crystal Scar. These two factors combined to make elixirs an extremely good deal for boosting your stats, essentially removing the decision-making element they were meant to create. Rather than representing a strategic decision, elixirs simply became an essential buy, so the decision was made to remove them from play in Dominion.

More controversial even than the decision to remove elixirs, however, was the decision to remove Sight and Vision Wards. While these items are an extremely important part of the strategy of classic gameplay, the increased passive gold in Dominion once again made this consumable extremely easy to acquire. Additionally, it was found that the team already controlling the map was able ward strategic location to instantly react to enemy attacks. This reduced the emphasis on a strategic defense and shifting it towards roaming between bottlenecks to stymie your opponentsí offensive. In the end they proved more problematic than they were helpful.

Keep Ďem Separated

The combat dynamics in League of Legends: Dominion are quite different than those found in the Classic game mode. One group of champions that seemed to struggle in particular were Ranged DPS champions. Because they are more fragile than their melee counterparts, Ranged DPS champions tend to shine in larger fights where they have the protection of their team. Because the combat on the Crystal Scar typically features smaller skirmishes, ranged DPS champions tended to be more vulnerable than they were in the Classic game mode.

To make these champions more viable in one-on-one situations, many of the higher end Classic items received new Dominion equivalents that were more affordable to purchase. Also, to alleviate some of the discrepancy early on, the new Prospectorís items were refocused more strongly on ranged DPS stats than their Doranís counterparts. Finally, items such as Lightbringer were introduced to allow ranged champions to maintain line of sight on their enemies despite the numerous twists and turns found between the command points on the Crystal Scar.

Out with the Old, in with the New!

Along with all these problematic items, there were some items that still fulfilled their role on the Crystal Scar, but had some gameplay caveats that didnít quite make sense in the context of the new game mode. Most of these items were simply replaced with counterparts that better fit the dynamics of combat on League of Legends: Dominion.

For example, the Classic item Bloodthirster relies upon a championís ability to farm minions to reach its full potential and loses all of its built up stacks upon death. Since we reduced the number of total minions on the Crystal Scar it was hard for a Bloodthirster to reach its full potential. So Bloodthirster was removed and replaced by Sanguine Blade, an item that served a similar purpose, but didnít suffer from the same limitations. Another such item was Bansheeís Veil, which could prevent a player from being able to interrupt the capture process by blocking an offensive spell. This additional, unintended utility made Bansheeís Veil an essential defensive item on the Crystal Scar, so it was replaced by the more offensively oriented Odynís Veil.

Likewise, Dominion added some new game elements that simply didnít exist in Classic gameplay, and therefore didnít have any items to support them. The prime example of this is Priscillaís Blessing, which provides champions with a movement speed boost, increased regeneration, and the ability to capture command points more swiftly. This item was engineered specifically for champions whose primary role on the Crystal Scar became to move quickly and poach unprotected command points from the enemy team Ė a role that simply did not exist in Classic Gameplay.

The Bottom Line

By changing the itemization, we were better able to shape the gameplay of League of Legends: Dominion to provide a new and engaging experience in the capture-and-hold. Moreover we were able to maintain champion balance despite the changes in combat style, and enable most champions to keep the same role on the Crystal Scar that they filled on Summonerís Rift. These changes to the Classic arsenal allowed us to make sweeping changes to adapt to the new gameplay on the Crystal Scar.

Want to hear more from the development staff about designing Dominion? Check out the previous installments of Designing Dominance!


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techk8

Senior Member

09-29-2011

Thanks for the insight! Appreciate it.


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LetsKetchemall

Senior Member

09-29-2011

good to know


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Enemy Player

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Senior Member

09-29-2011

Nice.

I love the pacing of dominion. It feels good to gain items and experience quickly!


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Kheryzen

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Member

09-29-2011

Dominion has really been a breath of fresh air for me... it's different, fast paced and exactly what I've been needing.

I'm very happy that Riot was able to implement such an enjoyable mode into LoL. One that requires us to come up with very different tactics and builds and requires us to approach the game in a completely different way.


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Kryptix

Senior Member

09-29-2011

Great job on all the new items.


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MatrixMario

Member

09-29-2011

i'd like to see more artwork


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WelcomeToTarget

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Senior Member

09-29-2011

I'm amazed at how well Dominion is doing with how critical this community is...

I remember TT release though. Same thing. Then. Well you know.


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Slimlenny

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Senior Member

09-29-2011

First page?!?!


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Captain Baylife

Senior Member

09-29-2011

First page?!?!


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