Quick Gameplay Thoughts: August 21

Balanced champ releases progress, Preseason followup plans.

DevAuthorRiot Scruffy
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These posts will often contain talk about future work we're doing, or planning to do, that isn't yet guaranteed to ship. The work or goals could change depending on what we discover, and projects mentioned may get delayed or even stopped. That said, I believe it’s important to share as much as we can even if plans may change.

Balanced Champion Releases Progress

We’ve been committed to more balanced Champion and VGU releases this year with faster follow up when it’s needed. With Lillia and Yone both released, it seems like a good time to check in on how we think we’ve done since we made the commitment.

  • Fiddlesticks - Good - Overall this was a great first try at the strategy. Fiddle released slightly underpowered and we gave him an appropriate buff that brought him into viability but not an OP state. We’ve done a few patches here and there after his released, but those were focused on feel improvements or adding interest to his effigy passive. There was a brief tank fiddle moment, but we reacted quickly and balanced it without damaging his primary AP playstyle.
  • Volibear - Mixed - Voli had a fairly smooth launch, and he released pretty close to balanced initially. In response to some slower winrate growth than we expected and a misestimation on our part of his value in professional play we ended up over buffing him in patch 10.11’s hotfix. At the time it looked like the right amount of power, but eventually this led to us having to repeatedly nerf him over the last few patches. Next time we will take it slower on big buffs while players are still mastering a new release.
  • Lillia - Great (so far) - Lillia was the combination success so far of very close to balanced on release and an effective wait and see approach. She’s a pretty nuanced and skillful champion, so even with some fairly low numbers on launch, we wanted to give the community the right amount of time to learn her. We still may need to apply some slight buffs or nerfs in the long run, but as far as launches go this is ideal.
  • Yone - Good (so far) - As you’ve likely seen, we recently nerfed Yone in patch 10.17. This is an expected part of the process and we’re happy so far with how close Yone has been to our targets so far. Time will tell if we need to do more, but we’re generally seeing healthy patterns from Yone with the counterplay we intended (fair counterplay can be challenging to design correctly for the assassin class).

Overall this has been a big improvement over the previous period with many champs needing extended nerfing (Aphelios, Sett, etc). I’m personally happy with the progress so far and we’re committed to improving here even more.

Preseason Follow Up Plans

This preseason’s item system overhaul is one of the largest projects we have ever undertaken. We’re expecting a lot of disruption, so we are preparing well in advance for a lot of follow up. We will have both the balance and systems designers monitoring the full range of systems in the game to see what needs tuning in the preseason and spring. Some of the important things we often look at to make sure that the game systems are in a healthy place are:

  • Game length - goal is no change here (happy with the roughly 30 min average and chances for 50-60 min epic games)
  • Snowball - our sweet spot for 15 minutes in is 40% even, 35% small lead, and 25% large lead
  • Laning phase duration - we evaluate this with first tower take, which is ideally around 13-14 minutes depending on the skill level of the game
  • Position Power - We look at the ability for each position (mid, top, etc) to carry the game and make sure that things haven’t become imbalanced
  • Class balance - When looking at champion balance, if we see a whole class of characters like tanks, assassins, enchanters as strong or weak it usually indicates that there is a systemic problem underneath it.
  • And many many more that we will be monitoring

Additionally, we’re developing a balancing framework for items like the one we use for champions to help us be responsive, accurate, and unbiased in our item balancing. This will be essential in us hitting our goals for item choice and build diversity which requires both good choice designs and very tight balance.

Thanks again everyone for playing. Stay safe out there.

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