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Quick Gameplay Thoughts 9/10

The Gameplay Analysis Team: Who we are & what we do

DevAuthorRiot Afic
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Hey all! I’m here to talk to you about the Game Analysis Team (formerly called the playtest team)! We work with the gameplay devs and our role is to understand how players might utilize new content—think champions, items, runes, etc.— and how each change might impact League holistically. I often get asked the question, "Oh, so you just get paid to play games all day?". While playing the game is certainly a big part of the job, what we really do is analyze gameplay, and playtesting is just one of many tools we use (hence the new name). If you care about how we discover the impact of content before we ship it, this is the post for you!

What if, for example, Prowler’s Claw’s active was a blink instead of a dash? Well, early on in development it actually was, and our task was to predict how players might use it months after it shipped. Here’s what that process looked like:

Theorycrafting

  • First, we thought about which champs would be most oppressive with Prowler's Claw. Pyke immediately came to mind since he could combo the blink active with his E, guaranteeing a stun with little counterplay on a relatively short cooldown.

Playtest

  • Next, we tried this out in game to see how powerful it would be. We put our resident Challenger tier Pyke player to the test and saw what he could do. (The average rank of the team is somewhere around Diamond 2).

Analysis

  • After seeing Prowler's Claw in action, we watched game replays and identified moments that showcased its impact, which resulted in multiple scenarios like this:

Deliver Feedback

  • Finally, we presented our findings to the original designer and discussed the implications. We decided that this combo of abilities removed the counterplay to Pyke’s E too easily without enough drawbacks. (Flash for example at least has a longer cooldown). It also made tracking the movement of the Prowler’s Claw user more difficult, and we predicted that higher skilled players would be much more likely to succeed with this item than the rest of the playerbase. Pyke is just of example of a possible Prowler’s Claw abuser—you could imagine how the blink could be used in other combos like Lee Sin with his ult, or Poppy with her E, but this one was the most demonstrative of the type of gameplay that we want to shield players from. As a result, the designer of Prowler’s Claw changed the blink to a dash.

Rinse and Repeat

  • After identifying a play pattern that we did not want in the game, we had to try out this new iteration of Prowler's Claw, so we repeated the cycle to consider even more outcomes. Going through this process multiple times sheds light on the problem from different angles, which helps us deeply understand what impact it might have on League.

TL;DR—we identify risks and use cases of new champions, items, or runes. Sometimes this leads people to ask, "Why didn’t you catch this?" or "How did you let this ship?” We often want to empower designers to take appropriate risks to keep League moving forward. These risks don’t always work out, but once we stop taking risks, League will quickly become a stale game. For something smaller in scope like a champion nerf in a routine patch, we often just provide a gut check for unintended side effects. Or, we might share our thoughts on whether the changes are over or under magnitude. These smaller changes are intended as low risk nudges to a champion or item and usually don’t require too much analysis.

For grander ideas like Akshan’s revive mechanic, we go into deeper analysis. Our job isn’t to tell designers that they can or can’t do something; a designer will try and push the boundaries of what League is, while our job is to anticipate how those changes will fit into the ecosystem. In other words, we demonstrate the risks and how they might manifest by projecting what their idea might look like 6 months into the future once players have mastered it.

So, yeah, that sums up a large portion of what we do on the Game Analysis Team! If you're a high diamond player who loves to think and talk about League, you might be interested in joining us. Keep an eye out for job postings here!



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