Are Champions As Awesome As They Could Be? @Morello @Feralpony @IronStylus @Xypherous

First Riot Post
Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

ItemsGuy

Senior Member

01-24-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morello View Post
Satisfying from an action->result standpoint. To keep things "clean" and free of superfluous mechanics, you want each aspect of a skill to exist for a reason. The question in mind was along the lines of "if this has a ground effect, how much do we have to nerf the nuke" and vice-versa. Basically, by adding another effect, does the skill have to be made so much weaker on both that the skill feels bad because it's doing two things poorly, instead of a single thing well.
I may be misinterpreting here, but is this on the "Brand is capable of too many things so none of them can be super-ultimately satisfying on a mechanics end" (similar to Irelia and Lee Sin--taking hits from every angle just because they have so much stuff jam-packed into their kit, so no one particular thing they do will ever feel as satisfying as if they instead focused on doing fewer things but doing them better) kind of thing? That sounds about right from your side--when balancing abilities, one thing I learned to keep in mind (since I used other abilities already existing in LoL for reference in terms of number-crunching, which is fun but simultaneously a pain in the butt and I don't know how you guys can do it to the degree you do) is that abilities have a certain "threshold" of what they can be; that "if the nuke is AoE, it has to work on the sliding scale of AoE vs. Damage," if it wasn't in line, it would either be overpowered or unsatisfying to use, which we both agree isn't a good thing!

For example, the sliding scale I use for Brand, for the most part, was the compound sliding scale of utility < > damage, AoE < > single-target, burst < > sustained, immediacy/"snappiness" < > build-up. In comparison to the original kit, I sacrificed his utility, single-target damage, burst damage, and the "snappiness" of his effectiveness (Pantheon leans more towards "snappiness," while Darius is chilling at the opposite end of the spectrum; both are completely valid, they're just "situational power" which is something I like designing around) in favor of more damage, higher AoE, and sustained damage that ramps up over time. While it seems valid from a design standpoint--as these are all pre-existing elements I used (Jax and Darius both favor build-up over snappiness--although Jax has a bit of snappiness as well with the dodge mechanic change--and are both still powerful and satisfying).

Of course, I leaned towards these factors because they seemed more characteristic of fire--and in combination with mechanics that were more "fire-like," they lent themselves to an experience that wasn't unlike that of playing with fire and watching things burn--the reason behind my changes being mostly that this (ideally) should be the reason one would play Brand, to sort of just be able to watch things burn and keep them as long as possible and cackle loudly into their mic because it's fun for them! (Again, a reason I could see this approach to design not going over too well at Riot might be along the lines of "but not everyone would enjoy this"--which I don't think is your standpoint, according to what you've said both in the Champion Retrospective and in this thread.

I think the the ball that's "in my court" is whether something can be both satisfying and fire-like on this end, while living up the the "mechanical bar" you mentioned last night--as if there's any "problems" I could anticipate you seeing in my redesigns (aside from "it's not really necessary"--which is a valid point in terms of "LoL will still be LoL and people will play it and love it even if it suffers from some readability and definition problems," but I guess what I'm more concerned with here is not whether or not they're "necessary," but whether they would create better experiences for players), it would be that they don't satisfy you on a technical standpoint. I mean, just as a designer and in designing for a competitive game, I wanted to keep that sort of decision-making density intact--such examples being Ryze, who no longer benefits from simply setting their abilities to smartcast and drumming their fingers on the keyboard, but deals with that juicy tension of charging that overload (similar to what you talked about in the Darius thread--the rapid-fire internal decision-making of "should I use my slow now?" and it always being a valid question to ask, because a moment too soon would mean not being able to access a greater effect from it, and using it too late could possibly mean not getting to use it at all in that fight), and deciding whether to open the floodgates with Grimoire and E or keep it slow and steady.

However, from a technical standpoint, I really have no idea where I stand on the matter (although I try to keep things fitting and fun--each champion has mechanics finely tuned specifically for them, which I think would create more diverse and individualized experiences, which even the thought of makes me giddy). And I think this very well may be not a difference in terms of what we want to happen with champions--you frequently mention how you think Vi, Draven, and the Phresh Prince are "on" (which is important to me--I used to have my doubts that you were just a designer designing for designers, but hearing from you that there is something special about the champions you mention, that you consider them "successes," is telling me "No, no, this dude does get it!")--but rather a difference stemming from different backgrounds. I'll touch on this more in the next post!

Quote:
In this case, it might have been OK, but designing mechanical satisfaction does lean towards a "less is more" design paradigm where possible.
Just what I want to hear! An argument that frequently frustrates me--one that I've been wrestling with since the day I started this project, four months ago--is the whole "I don't like these changes because that means this champion I like to play won't be able to do as much cool stuff!" The most frequent example of this would be Graves--since he's one of my most straight-forward touch-ups, I thought he'd be a crowd pleaser, but he turned out to be anything but. "Where's the smokescreen? It was so cool, you can't get rid of that!" I was met with a dilemma wherein taking the smokescreen out of the equation would allow for me to go for that "less is more" approach--taking away everything that's "not shotgun" in order for Graves to be "AS *#(%**# SHOTGUN AS POSSIBLE" (which I think stands in-line with Jeff Jew's quote from the retrospective), and allowing Graves to truly exceed at something special as opposed to just being "a carry with some AoE burst and some other stuff."

Which brings us to another point, and something else I tried to satisfy--knowing full well that people enjoyed this "smokescreen" mechanic, I took it and developed an entire champion around it (in terms of appearance and how it plays) to take an ability that would only have ever been "kind of smokescreen" to something that would help an entirely different champion be "the ultimate smokescreen experience"--since smoke/fog is an entity all its own and can more than bear the weight of an entire kit (although I won't link to it in this post--I know you don't like to look like you're "playing favorites" with player designs, and my own designs are, unfortunately, something I probably won't be able to talk to you about in this context).

Which I guess brings me up to a different issue! I'm not saying I'm disagreeing with you on any point--in fact, I think you'd agree with me on this more than not, even from a mechanical/experienced designer standpoint--but one of the things that this sort of "too many different elements in this one champion" issue creates is not only kits that end up feeling a bit "watered down" and "too similar to other champions in that role (the only difference between playing Graves and Corki, I've found, is that Graves has to get closer for his burst and deals a bit more of it--he still has that steroid that makes him less "Graves" and more "like other carries," similar with his smokescreen), but it also eliminates the full fleshing-out of these aspects. For example, as long as that smokescreen is on Graves, you can never really have that "ultimate Smokescreen champion," and as long as Alistar is the big pushover he is, you can never really have that "ultimate Bull playstyle."

I only bring this up because these are the kinds of issues I see from my point of view, and I think the sharing of issues we both perceive from our respective angles is what could help us find the "ultimate solution" of sorts! I know you have your priorities, and I try to satisfy everything at once, but even though I'm not an experienced designer (which is why I feel so weird making all these points to you--it kind of feels like I'm a little kid in a plastic firemen's helmet talking to an actual fireman who's just smiling and nodding his head and genuinely pleased that there are people that want to be firemen but also thinking "what the heck is this kid even saying, and why am I listening to him"), but I think that we could both gain something from a full understanding of everything that's standing behind each other and what has shaped and influenced us as game designers (even if it's a bit of an uneven split!)

I'm tickled enough to know that you've not only stickied this thread, but given it as much thought and attention as you have even through your jam-packed work schedule (I can only imagine the level of work "lead game designer" entails), and appreciate you really giving this thread your best and answering as many questions as you have.


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

Darkomantis

Senior Member

01-24-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morello View Post
Well I know it's a big issue for you specifically Fox, and it's not something I'm thrilled about either. The problem with this is that it's a very difficult-to-solve problem with low overall impact on League. When I compare that to things like a broken item system, it's tougher to prioritize.
Why can't you look towards the community for help? The recent threads on Viktor, Eve, and Sejuani have been more interesting in terms of how the community would tackle the problems the champion has and the interactions between the Rioter and players in deciding changes. By having more of the those feedback threads, it gives in my opinion more beneficial gameplay changes.

For example, if Statikk had made a thread about making changes to Shaco then I think it would have been more positive and lead to a better balance in power for Shaco. Slashing things on him just felt a bit painful as a person who enjoys Shaco from time to time.
Quote:
A couple of shots off the bow are things like Mercurial Scimitar or Bloody Hydra that really benefit melee more and have stats that are more carry-focused. If that actually has helped, no one has found a way to make it work.
I haven't really played enough to fully know if the items helped some of the champions who really needed it(Mercurial Scimitar on Yi). I do want to say that the more melee carry focused items such as Ghostblade and Atma's Impaler has gotten weaker by themselves. Will there be more melee carry items in the future or have we not fully realized certain combination of items with SotD and Zephyr?


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

IS14696195e1336cdef530a

Senior Member

01-24-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zerglinator View Post
Sejuani was released in 2012 though, Morello.
but as the first champ so she was created 2011


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

BestBilbo

Senior Member

01-24-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darkomantis View Post
Why can't you look towards the community for help? The recent threads on Viktor, Eve, and Sejuani have been more interesting in terms of how the community would tackle the problems the champion has and the interactions between the Rioter and players in deciding changes. By having more of the those feedback threads, it gives in my opinion more beneficial gameplay changes.
What I think the problem here is is what Morello has mentioned earlier, if they open a thread like this gathering feedback people will most likely create the illusion that everything they say is valid stuff and Riot are fools to be blamed if they don't listen.

Sure, if people have some good ideas that seriously would make the champion a better champion - the chance you are getting this from someone on these forums is so minor that I guess the reward is not attractive enough compared to the risk Riot would take when asking for feedback, as they would most likely be blamed if they don't listen - even when if it would be entirely justified of Riot to not take the suggestions into consideration.

Don't get me wrong and I don't intend to step on people's toes now but frankly it's true - through out this entire thread I've seen people speaking of designs or well, champions they find extremely good and unique, while there are tons of flaws in terms of readability and counterplay or heck even theming - long story short: people like a lot of stuff that could easily be better, people like champions that would not even be remotely the same if Riot would rework them.

You must understand, they rework the most problematic/worst champions out there, that doesn't mean they wouldn't like to rework a lot of others if they had the time for it. *pointing at the morello comment where he said he'd like to do changes on a lot of existing champions people are already fine with*


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

RaydioG

Junior Member

01-24-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morello View Post
The big issue here, I think, is we got so worried about balance we dialed back interesting hooks, gimmicks or patterns to be flat. Graves is a great example of a bold opportunity that we flattened too much. I think the players were really feeling the squeeze here.
Hi Morello - great thread and excellent read. I was wondering if you might expound on the idea of "flattening Graves" a little?

I think he still has a very unique play-style and is a fun/fulfilling champion as is, but now I'm wondering what may have been, or what he looked like in earlier iterations!

Love the game - this kind of discussion is so juicy and excellent to any hardcore fan!


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

ItemsGuy

Senior Member

01-24-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morello View Post
It's a good example because I think brand is good, but suffers from a philosophy of being too "safe" gameplay wise. In your example, you take the concept further, which is more our philosophy today.
This made me grin harder than it should've--it's really relieving to know that I'm actually "onto something" or "getting it," instead of just running my mouth and getting obsessed over non-issues.

Quote:
That might be the underlying conversation we're having. Not following through on our swing to deliver a more full experience is the critique I see as the tone of each point, and on that we'd agree. I also feel that's why you're pitching the exercise as "LoL 2" because the fresh start avoids the muddiness of current expectations.
Yeah, that's exactly it! I'm still really nervous about talking to you or anyone else in the dev team though--I can easily see how it would come off as "too idealistic" or "too much work for too little reward" (essentially taking time away from developing the LoL we know and love today to handle a few nitpicks and non-issues), although I try my best (and Peri certainly helps with this) to not only make my points rock-solid and clear as day, but to ground them in the realities of not just game design--but all the fields of science that work into it (a lot of what I say about "readability" this and "unified" that, and focusing more heavily on active/reactive even if it means that some of the more complicated and subtle nuances of really mechanically clever and genuine aspects of game design would have to be limited to working towards a central, concrete theme, is all based on the science of play and competition, wherein the more you enable seamless player interaction by making things 1:1, the more engaged players are and the more those "having a good time" synapses in the brain fire off--the brain loves this stuff!).

I've been bringing up backgrounds a lot with this--particularly your background, as a game designer for what, 10 years? As somebody that's worked for years on DotA, GW2 (which I really like from a design standpoint as an MMO--I love the design philosophies behind it for the same reasons those behind such MMOs as WoW leave an awful taste in my mouth), and now LoL, you have a much different background and range of experiences than me. I've never really been involved with game development (although I've been working tirelessly at designing for as long as I can remember, even before I knew what it was), I'm not that technically savvy, but my interests and abilities lie more in the field of the arts--be that music or visual. The reason the work I've dedicated myself to over the past few months was so enthralling to me was because it was all about painting these beautifully unified experiences with all of these designs--with sound composition, and every single stroke working towards the common goal of conveying the subject matter to the viewer in the most understandable and flavorful way possible.

I have a strong set of values--and my endless research into the field of video games and all the elements that work into it work only to develop and shape them! I knew I liked Rengar when I played him, but I wasn't quite sure why--at first I thought it was because jumping out of that bush was "just fun," but after reading and researching extensively into game design (particularly savoring Jesse Schell's "The Art of Game Design" and having really in-depth conversations with my game design professors here at SCAD), I understood--it was that really defined sense of unity! Everything just "clicked"--from the lore, to the visual and sound design, to the way the kit was constructed and how that shaped the way I thought and handled situations when I played him. I think someone in this thread said something similar!:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taria05 View Post
While using pre-established data is very important in designing new champions, (I do a few concept myself and would have no idea to start without being very familiar with all the different values of every champion ability) it's sometimes best to start of with a radical idea, break a few of your old rules, and start combining things together in a way you wouldn't expect.Thresh has a great many things that make him similar to other champions. He has a grab, he has a shield, and he has a few slows, but these aspects of himself are tweaked to be very different from how those other champions function as a whole. Thresh has a theme that clicks.
This, exactly! Playing Thresh doesn't feel like playing Blitz because he still has to land those "crook hooks,"--hitting someone with that grab isn't just rewarding because you landed a skill shot or because you are putting your enemy at a disadvantage, but also because it's a satisfying game-feel that only Thresh has to offer! That feeling of slowly dragging your enemies in, that sort of "muhahahaha" sort of relish and deliberation, that's something that is uniquely Thresh and it resonates with everything about him--his lore, his appearance, his character, how he plays, everything! That's the beauty of this sort of unified design (that you guys are getting a lot more consistent with--again, Vi and Draven): the experience feels unique and personalized, and playing that champion doesn't simply boil down to having access to their abilities. Like I was quoted on in the OP--as a game that is meant to be played, a lot of the fun can come from just stepping into the many experiences in front of you and romping around for a while (and a defined and regulated element of competition is what can make these experiences even richer and more rewarding, especially since LoL is first and foremost a team-based game).

Quote:
The odd thing is, I was a designer for awhile before working at Riot, and I've learned more about mechanics each year here than I had in my entire career previously. Not only would I like that to continue (and with the relaunch team/live team, let us retroactively apply that knowledge), I'd like to apply that to all our future endeavors.
And you know what? Even though it's more of a "watered down" version of this sort of phenomenon you've experienced (as I've never actually developed games I've designed, or developed the designs I've worked on for Leauge), I've learned and developed much more as a game designer in the past four months than I had done in the four years prior. After a lot of careful consideration and thinking on the matter, I'd have to attribute to the nature of LoL's design (in terms of the limits imposed by the internal structure of the game--champions can only have 5-9 abilities, and must fit into the framework of the very specific game that LoL is; there aren't really more than four or five others like this!)

On that note, I'd also like to know what you think about BLC's design. I haven't really had much time to experience it on a competitive level--I've mostly just gotten a feel for the kits in practice games, to glean what I could from them for my own sort of design theory repertoire--but from what I've seen, it's an example of where you can forego the whole theming deal because each Bloodline is still very defined and the games are bite-sized to the point where you can understand exactly how one works and how you'd play them just by watching them in a few games. Ranid Assassin, for example, is all about quick skirmishes and being hard to pin down--and everything in his kit works towards that in unison while allowing him to do his job. Thorn, on the other hand, is all about displacing enemies and crippling their movement, and their kit allows them to do just that. I haven't really gotten to mess around with BLC for the past few months (due to this work and the nature of college), but this is what I remember and I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts about it as a game designer in the field.

Quote:
To, me, the examples I use are "the bar," and as a company I think we understand the issues that prevent us from reaching that as consistently as I'd like. Fixing things like this isn't easy, but it's far from impossible - and our game reaps the benefits when we do.
Again, it looks like we agree on just about everything! The only thing left, now, would be some explanation and insight on your end (and perhaps some input regarding what I've tried to accomplish in theory)--if there's anything I want to make of the attention you've given to this thread and to me as a designer, it's getting that "something" that only you can give. A greater and more solid understanding of what you see from your eyes would only help me improve upon and further develop my approach to game design (whether it's explaining gaps in my design so I can fill them up, or pointing out problem areas or areas where I've really "gotten it" so I can know what exactly the next step is, so to speak), which can only mean improving the possibilities of the games I design in the future--whether that be for LoL, or for my various independent projects.

I want to make the best games I can make, and make video games as a medium that much better--if you can help guide me to the next step towards that destination, that's really all I can ask of you!


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

ItemsGuy

Senior Member

01-24-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by RaydioG View Post
Hi Morello - great thread and excellent read. I was wondering if you might expound on the idea of "flattening Graves" a little?

I think he still has a very unique play-style and is a fun/fulfilling champion as is, but now I'm wondering what may have been, or what he looked like in earlier iterations!

Love the game - this kind of discussion is so juicy and excellent to any hardcore fan!
I'd be interested in this too, actually--I know stuff is always lost in translation, but as a player, there's not really any way for me to know what that stuff is (and it can certainly help to enlighten my approach).

I'd also like to compare it a bit to my redesign of him--if not simply to see how they measure out, or the "flatness" in comparison between the two. If it turns out that Graves is another area where I "got it," that would certainly make my day.


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

DoozleDorf

Senior Member

01-24-2013

@ Morello - still hoping you can/will address the issue of saturation. Thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoozleDorf View Post
@ Morello-... snip ...


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

Moons

Senior Member

01-24-2013

Ideas you came up with are interesting, I got several favourite ones, but...
To be honest, you seem to care more about your perfect imagination of some heroes rather than how their mechanics.
For example, Ahri. Although you called her just "an another mage with extra mobility" you didnt change neitther her E or R, her transparent abilities. What you did change, was her Q - you turned it into Fiddles'sticks drain. It may be filling your idea, but seems to be completely irrelevant with her. Here is why:
Ahri is, like you said, just an another mage with extra mobility. Fiddlesticks is not even similar to her, because his whole kit is to keep an enemy close with his Q, while harrasing him with W and R. He is about building glass cannon and screw around teamfights, causing chaos and tons of damage. His W is for him to give him an advantage during single target trades, otherwise he wouldnt last long enough. He is like - go in and kill or die
And here is Ahri. She is really hard to catch because of her ulti, she never stands in one place for long. Her Q is a team shreeder if used right, however, his right use requires good positioning - which has never been so simple with any champion. So you would replace her Q with a drain, just because it fits better into her whole lure-use-forget lore. It would be totally useless on her, because as I said, she never stands still for long. Channeling is an opposite thing to mobility.


Comment below rating threshold, click here to show it.

BestBilbo

Senior Member

01-24-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoozleDorf View Post
@ Morello - still hoping you can/will address the issue of saturation. Thank you!
Going to post this tonight dude - want an answer aswell, I'll be continue'ing the discussion we had with morello, I'm going to include your 'oversaturation' post. :)