It can be tough to keep up with every edition of Ask Riot, so this week, we’re recapping some of the most common, most talked about, and most… interesting questions we’ve seen this year.
Q: Is riot games going to follow the newest trend and add battle royale to the game?
A: I think to make a game in 2018, you are supposed to have some kind of Battle Royale mode.
Seriously, though, we had a really hard time even getting Hexakill to work. I’m not sure if we could get 100 or more champions in the game without a ton of engineering effort. We’d want to be pretty confident that level of investment would lead to something really fun.
On the other hand, there are some really cool things that Battle Royale does that we’d love to be able to bring to League. For example, the expectation that you probably won’t win—you’ll probably lose—is a really nice element. In League, statistically if matchmaking is working really well, you’re going to lose about half of your games. We’d love if there was a game mode where you’re there to kind of do crazy things and see how far you can get, versus just crush the enemy team, but whatever form that takes probably can’t be a Battle Royale.
Design Director, League of Legends
Q: What method or criteria do you use to choose which champion gets the victorious skin each year?
A: We start looking at options for the Victorious Skin in the Spring. Making any skin takes time, but the Victorious Skin is also teased one month before it’s released. With this in mind, we need to plan ahead for the Victorious skin, especially in comparison to a normal skin.
To begin, we take a look at champions that had a big competitive impact so far that year—this is largely based on Ranked and Pro play. Once we have some ideas for potential champions, we narrow down that list by eliminating champions who:
- Already have a Victorious, Championship, or Conqueror skin. We wouldn’t do Conqueror and Victorious Karma in the same year, or Victorious Elise 2.0.
- Play the same role as a recent Victorious Skin. Since we had a top laner last season, we tried to avoid picking a top laner again this year.
- Have another skin coming out soon. We try to spread out skin content across our whole champion pool rather than drop a bunch of skins for one champ at the same time.
- Have a very small number of skins. Since the Victorious Skin can’t be attained by everyone, we don’t want that to feel like the only skin your favorite champ gets.
- Have a big balance change incoming. This is definitely the hardest criteria to figure out because balance can be fluid and we’re trying to predict the state of the game six months or so in advance.
Q: With the new ranked system for the new year, are you thinking of implementing a ranked system for aram too? it’d be nice to have something to say like, “look, this player is good at this mode.”
A: ARAM is a weird beast. If you imagine a game of SR or even TT, the hope is that your individual skill has a big impact on the outcome of the game. There are factors other than your skill at play however, including things like the somewhat random effect of who you’ll get as teammates and how well you gel as a team. In ARAM, these “other factors” have a huge impact on your success rate because which champion you and the other players get can massively affect the outcome. This is the part of ARAM that some ARAM enthusiasts find really fun—you never really know what’s going to happen.
Additionally, we spend far less effort balancing champions for ARAM than we do for SR. Part of this is just a question of focus. We view SR as the core League of Legends experience and spend most our bandwidth on balancing it. But it is also an acknowledgement that in ARAM, whether you succeed or fail is often a lot more out of your control, so even achieving a high degree of game balance can only improve the game so much.
For these two reasons, we worry that ranked ARAM just asks players to take ARAM more seriously, which could be a really frustrating experience. The urge to dodge might go through the roof for example.
All of that said, while we’re focused a lot on improving the ranked experience this year, one of the questions we’re exploring for the future is whether League needs to offer more of a sense of progression for players who don’t play a lot of ranked. While leveling is uncapped now, and we have features like champion mastery, overall there isn’t much that a player who plays mostly Normals (including ARAM) can choose to focus on. They don’t really have a journey the way a ranked player can shoot for ending the season with a higher rank. Maybe that’s okay—maybe Normal players don’t need and aren’t looking for an end game in the same way. But the requests we get for things like competitive ARAM (or “look, this player is good at this mode” from the original question) maybe suggests that some players are.
Design Director, League of Legends
Q: How often do you design skins as “let’s make a new super galaxy skin” versus “let’s make a new darius skin,” for example? Does it tend to be one much more than the other?
A: A while back, our strategy was much more, “Let’s make a new Darius skin, what should we make?” But once we started seeing how much players enjoyed getting skins in theme packs, and how we could use those themes to run bigger events in League, we definitely shifted in the opposite direction. It became more about, “Players would probably enjoy another VS event this year AND two Legendary skins to go with it, which champions would be awesome for this?”
In that model, there IS an extra step where we look at how many skins the potential champions have in their catalog, time since last skin, etc. Otherwise you’d have three Jhin skins in one year just because he fits in a bunch of cool thematics we have planned… oh wait…
Still, there are many times where we look at champs we want to make a skin for and do a little bit of both. I think the recent Galio, Illaoi, and Shen skins are all good examples of this. Even though Galio hadn’t had a new skin in quite some time, we felt we could give him a lighthearted April Fool’s skin (funny skins theme pack) because he has a fair amount of serious skins in his catalog. Illaoi on the other hand was a champion that hadn’t had a skin since launch. As much as we loved the community idea of “Used Car Salesperson Illaoi,” we were concerned that her first skin since launch being more on the trolly side would be disappointing to players who had waited so long for a skin. With her it became more about, “What theme really works for Illaoi, regardless of theme packs this year?” And then, as you know, a community vote.
And then sometimes, the stars align. Shen was way overdue for a skin and we found an exciting home for him in the Pulsefire universe as part of that theme pack for this year.
So… all of that to say both? It depends? Let’s go with 70% “let’s make a new <insert theme name here> skin for Darius,” and 30% “let’s make a new Darius skin.” But, don’t quote me on my math, despite my making this post completely quotable. : )
P.S. The skins coming out for Aurelion Sol and Urgot in the next few months are one of each.
Q: Would you ever create a game mode based on an old League patch? Like Season Two or old Summoner’s Rift, with the champs and items set up the way they were then?
A: We looked at doing this recently for a series of internal playtests, because we wanted to experience first-hand whether things like pacing or counterplay felt very different a few years ago. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to easily get the older builds running because so much of the game content and code has changed.
We can’t just pull in old data and expect the current game engine to play nice with it all. We could almost certainly make it work if we had a bunch of smart engineers working to make it happen, but then those engineers would not be working on other features that might be more valuable to you guys in the long run. Likewise, we could have designers create versions of existing champs that tried to mimic the old data (Season Two abilities, items, tuning, etc.) but that’s a mountain of work for something that might only be fun for a few games or so. In other words, the opportunity cost of that work is probably pretty expensive.
So philosophically, we aren’t opposed to playing an older version of LoL, and it might be fun for a short period of time (because we might very well discover that the reasons we made all of the Season Three, Four, and Five changes still exist), but there is a good chance it’s not worth the development effort that it would take.
Design Director, League of Legends
Q: Does Xayah lay eggs?