Mort, Alex, Philip, and I reflect on the For Fun Patch and share the next one’s mechanic (Portals!?)
It's the last patch before the new set, all eyes are on PBE, but that doesn't mean that Live is deadge. The last patch (or two) of a set typically has things spicing up with the For Fun patch, but we’re doing things a bit differently for Monsters Attack!
Today we’re chatting with Alex, Mort, and Philip about the tradition of the For Fun patch, the limitations of them, and what we have in store during Monsters Attack! Let’s get into it, but first…
“I guess it really started with a meme change in our second set, Rise of the Elements,” Riot Mort, our Gameplay Director, opened up over pizza at the helm of his design control room (his office). “It was a simple change, for Lux, who at the time was a 7-cost with a variable origin. Her spell, Final Spark at 3-stars did 9999 damage, so to meme a bit, I just added one more nine.”
At 99,999 damage, we should have renamed Lux’s spell to Initial Spark, an idea for what might be done in the future.
But the real For Fun patch started in Galaxies. A long time ago, in a set far far away, Galaxies brought a new set of rules to each game, called, uh, Galaxies. Each patch rotated a new Galaxy in, but as the team was heads down on the fourth set, Fates, they didn’t have the time or resources to make an entirely new galaxy. “New galaxies required art support, engineering, playtesting, and more—and all those resources were dedicated to ensuring Fates launched on time. I mean, the engineering demand alone to make a new galaxy requires…” Mort went on in tech-speak, but my goldfish mind had found something else to fixate on.
Anyways, the team found a way to ship a new galaxy at the end of the day by combining the code from Trade Sector, Superdense, and Treasure Trove, the community’s three favorite galaxies, to make the Big Bang galaxy. Many players loved it, and best of all, it was pretty low-lift given the fact that those three galaxies already existed.
And much like the universe expanding from an initial explosion of high density and heat, the Big Bang galaxy gave life to something new: the For Fun patch.
So the tradition continued, and during the end of Fates, we used our Lucky Lantern mechanic, which had a chance to appear once (or not at all) across various stages, granting everyone loot. During the last patch of that set, every stage had a chance to drop it! Another low-lift, easy W (as the kids say).
If you were around for Reckoning you’ll remember the dramatic shift we made to swap from Shadow Items to Radiant Items with our mid-set, but you also might remember that we were able to ship our For Fun patch early, on the second-to-last patch of the set. “With the Reckoning Championship being played on 11.19, we could give players two patches with For Fun content without interfering with the tournament patch or impacting the competitive Live environment that our pros needed to practice.” And as Mort said, with these two patches we were able to not only give two Radiant Item Armories, but also add some rare drop options for our other mid-set mechanic, the Divine Blessing.
“But for Gizmos & Gadgets…” Mort moved his lunch to the side. “We got crazy.”
“We had almost no time for the For Fun patch this time around, so I pitched giving everyone a Tome of Traits and buffing all the underperforming verticals and calling it good, but then someone on the live team came up with giving players a Dragon egg instead, as a spoiler for our next set.”
With our final patch of Gizmos & Gadgets, players became Dragon Hatchers, receiving one egg from the fabled Treasure Dragon at the start of each game. Eggs varied in size and power, the more impactful ones hatching later in the game, but they all included a Tome of Traits at the very least. “This became one of our most successful For Fun patches because it allowed for us to dramatically shift the meta and experiment with bringing back Radiant Items in future sets.” A point that was anecdotally supported by me losing LP to the likes of ridiculous comps like Robinsongz’s Time Flies (Zilean reroll) and Candyland Bodyguard (Poppy reroll).
Come Dragonlands, we wanted to close out the set with two For Fun patches, but our Championship timeline prevented us from shipping Double Treasure Dragon until the very last patch of the set. “It was a bit of a disappointment, because by the time the last patch of the set goes live, many of our players are already playing the next set on PBE,” Mort said, prodding the remnants of his pizza. “Players loved the Treasure Dragon, and adding a second one instead of wolves was just more to love.”
And that brings us through the entire history of the For Fun patch, so now we’ll chat with Alex Cole about what’s coming in Monsters Attack!
“For Monsters Attack! we wanted to do something wild, and early,” Alex “Riot BlueVelvet” Cole said to me, sipping a smoothie while clad in 90’s kids references. Alex is the Gameplay Product Lead on TFT which means he does some stuff—more specifically, he leads the set development from the thematic conception to the end of its days.
For the Monsters Attack! For Fun patch, Alex worked with Mort to propose one that would last… three patches. “In the past we’ve been able to ship For Fun patches up to two patches ahead of time, but for Monsters Attack!, our set Championship will be played on 13.10, so we can’t disrupt the competitive play environment until after then—after then being the last patch of the set—unless—of course—we can ship it without disrupting the competitive play environment,” Alex exclaimed, giving off charming but still mad, mad scientist vibes.
“So taking a nod from Dragon Eggs and Fortune’s Favor, we’re shipping something extra fun, extra early, but just in Normals—which allows us to go earlier (and harder) without impacting competitive,” Alex explained, visibly chuffed by his and Mort’s master plan.
Normals (With Portals!?) is an alteration of our Normal queue that brings a new mechanic (and spoiler) for our next set starting with patch 13.9, a full three patches before the end of Monsters Attack! “Normals (With Portals!?) will begin as a slightly more amped up and chaotic sort mechanic that will increase in its amperage and impact each patch. This will all conclude with 13.11, which should feel closer to a Fortune’s Favor Lite, without actually being (or replacing) Fortune’s Favor.
But past adding joy through unlocking wild comps, Normals (With Portals!?) is a bit of a spoiler for something going on in our next set. Exactly what it spoils… well, we’ll let you figure out that one.
With the scope and timing of this For Fun patch, I was pressing X to doubt faster than a millennial referencing a 2011 video game. Both Alex and Mort know that at the end of the current set, all developer time and energy should be focused on the next set, but the whole team shares a desire to make sure our current Live players are happy and having fun, so we were about to put more effort than ever before into a longer, more impactful For Fun experience.
And to get into just what this experience is, I’d have to chat with a newcomer to the Live team, Philip.
So while Mort and Alex crafted the pitch, the implementation would be done by the live team. Enter Philip “SagePhilip” Lamkin, a Game Designer on our live pod who would be doing the portal-popping of popping portals into Normals. One more thing you should know about Philip: like a strangely high percentage of our designers, he used to fence—like with swords and Fiora and stuff, I don’t know, I just work here.
So I sat down with Philip to discuss the implementation of Portals over a video call, partly because I’m afraid of anyone who regularly wields a sword, but also because I was away from the office at the time. “Starting in patch 13.9, in Normal games only, portals have a chance to appear at stage 2-6, each offering different rewards depending on where the portal leads, but as we keep approaching the next set, things are getting more hectic across the Convergence and even more Portals will be opening up,” Philip explained, his next sentences magically turning into a chart that lies here:
Demacia, Piltover, Targon, No Portals
Demacia (30%), Piltover (30%), Targon (30%), No Portals (10%)
Freljord (30%), Void (30%), Shurima (30%), No Portals (10%)
Demacia, Piltover, Targon
Ionia, Shadow Isles, Noxus
Freljord, Void, Shurima
*Each option in the above box has an equal chance of occuring unless specified. E.g. Demcia, Piltover, Targon, and No Portals each have a 25% chance of occurring in patch 13.9 on Stage 2-6.
I know what you’re thinking—how can Philip’s words just transform into a chart like that—oh, you’re not thinking that? Instead you want to know what each portal does? Well, you’re in luck because Philip’s making word-lists again.
*As a reminder, the exact content may change before we go to live!
Each portal has fixed loot drops, and much like our other mechanics, all players get access to the same loot contents from each portal. So if a portal from Demacia opens up for you, it will also open up for all other players, but those two item components will differ.
“What excited me the most about implementing this was the thematic flair we could put into the Portals,” Philip explained. “We worked with our VFX artist, Isaac Wood, to craft animations for the portals that utilized some tech that we had already been working on for the next set.” Philip went on to explain that last sentence in more detail, but I thought it would be more fun for you to discover for yourself. Anyways, let’s check the portals out!
Now there is one more thing to talk about, and it’s something that I’ve been working on for a while. It will come to all modes (including Ranked) in patch 13.11, but you’ll just have to wait till then.