Please read the thread before posting, otherwise feel free to ignore.
Oh lord, an IronStylus comment concerning our threads !
Actually I totally read through it. It's super interesting and.. man.. I'd love to throw a well written thesis of a post in there but I don't know if I can find the time. Alls I can say is that you're doing some really interesting stuff. I certainly did look at the suggested changes you prescribed for Diana and Leona. Some good stuff there.
I'm not a designer, but it's something I might be able to point the designers to at some point just for the heck of it. There's reasons also that I'd maybe argue against some of the things you recommend in terms of cohesion, but again, that'd be a really ridiculously long post. I like what you're doing, so in case I don't make it in there, know that I think the analysis is very impressive and the solutions are creative!
Hello GD !
I'm Bestbilbo (aka Perifear), I've been working with 'ItemsGuy' for a month now.
ItemsGuy is going for an MFA in Interactive Design/Game Development at the Savannah College of Art and Design, he has taken multiple courses regarding character design in video games aswell.
You might know us from a couple of threads concerning the current champion-design model - in these four weeks we've got over 23k + hits in views and ~150 upvotes.
The upvotes are pretty low in comparison with the amount of hits, probably because the threads are fairly large - therefore this thread.
We've critically observed stuff and gave our opinion - interestingly enough, there have been strong signs of Riot indirectly agree'ing with us, therefore a red could desperately help us out.
This thread will be a summary with less detailed explanation - a lot of stuff is hotlinked with sources and links to our original OP's.
We ask and encourage you to read all of the links we provide here if you feel this thread doesn't provide enough explanation - if you still have questions after reading the links (including our FAQ), feel to throw anything at us - there's always a reason why we do or don't do something.
I - IMPORTANCE OF THEMING
In our third thread we've discussed why consistant theming is very important to a character. Here are the bullet points:
Originally Posted by ItemsGuy|
Here a quick quote from Jesse Schell, game designer and author of 'The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses.'
'We can create games with powerful themes right now. But why should we do this? We aren't artists, we are designers.
Artistic expression is not our goal. Our goal is to create powerful experiences.
It is possible to create games without a theme, however if games have unifying, resonant themes, the experiences we create will be much, much stronger.'
Mr. Schell is talking entire games, though it's still very applicable when it comes to designing characters (after all, choosing a champ is like a small game - you are simply choosing the experience you wish to have within a League match)
The stronger and more unified a champion's theme, the more fulfilling playing that champion would be--even without the competitive context of LoL; making enjoying a champion less of "If I pick this champion I'm going to win and I like winning" and more like "I really enjoy playing this champion!"--taking the joy of "winning" out of the mix to expose the true value of a champion.
Examples of champions that barely reflect theme:
-Sion, the Undead Champion. He doesn't really feel like the ultimate undead warrior - he rather feels like a mage that does random stuff, he doesn't really have an unified Undead Warrior playstyle.
Click here for a thread concerning Sion's theme, even has some Riot replies, more or less agree'ing with the OP - we aren't the authors of that thread.
-Leblanc, the Deciever.
Ask yourself - is she more known for her Q + R combo or is she known for being the ultimate deciever, someone that tricks you and acts with the art of surprise ?
Exactly - her Q + R combo, hence the well-known QQ such as 'omg wtf noob champ Q + R burst damage no skill' and so forth.
In our opinion, pretty sad for a champion to be known for a straightforward spellcombo instead of being known as the ultimate deciever (better themed and interesting playstyle) that she could have been. *Sigh*- the Monkey King makes more decieving plays and he's a freakin' monkey, not 'the Deciever'.
II - VARIETY
A lot of champions in League work very similar, Riot keeps on designing champions very similar to eachother, a lot of them feel generic while all these champions could have better theming creating a more unified character with a more unique playstyle, creating more variety among champions, probably making champions feel less generic, less stale and more fun.
Please hear us out. Let me take you back to a quote of Morello:
Originally Posted by Ryan 'Morello' Scot - Lead Champion Designer
But what we really want to do - is create a good variety of champions, so that every player has a few to several champions that they are absolutely stoked about - instead of having like a whole slew of champions that people are not interested in and don't really buy into.
For example, Heimerdinger:
Originally Posted by ItemsGuy|
Heimerdinger is mostly known for his turrets; they're very iconic to him as a character. (a smart little inventor dude that makes gadgets). However - after his turrets 'it all goes wrong'.
You can assume Heimer made his grenades and rockets - but they're pretty much just 'generic mage spells' with rocket and grenade skins. The fact that they both outclass his turrets - his most iconic ability - doesn't help his gameplay experience.
Heimerdinger feels less like a "Revered Inventor," and more like an engineer that wants to be a mage.
Not only does it show that he gets outclassed by just about every other mage out there in terms of burst damage, AoE damage, crowd control - the one thing that's characteristically Heimerdinger is left in the dust because it doesn't fit on the standard mage kit.'
We're aware of the Heimerdinger rework - he's having buffs/changes to his current kit, while this is a direct buff to him and will maybe make him viable again - what does it do for our little inventor buddy as a champion?
It seems Riot wants him to be more powerful in the same way every other mage is, instead of using the rework as an opportunity to fix him from the ground-up and make him a champion all his own.
This can't really be done with his current kit as it is, as long as he has two "general mage" abilities, they will always leave his turrets in the dust because he's more of a mage than an inventor.
On top of that, having the fortification of his turrets as well as the ability to poke like a mage, is an imbalance in design, not just through numbers. (Hello broken OP release Heimerdinger working like a mage but having his turrets along with that).
Making him rely on his inventions and playing more defensively would give him defined strengths and weaknesses that are both clear as day and thematically tied to his appearance and character, so that he is both satisfying to play and satisfying to counterplay.
Heimerdinger could and in our opinion should be more of an inventor; something like a new resource system as passive where minions drop scrap, heimerdinger picks them up by walking over the scrap. Like this the Inventor actually gets to invent his own sh*t.
-Thresh (Thanks CertainlyT ! Well-Themed: Check. Themed-Playstyle: Check (all his abilities/kit revolves around being a jailer, jailer-playstyle), Read-Ability: Check. (Iconic grab that is very characteristic. Ult is very obvious and makes sense with his theme. W and E are extremely readable: you only need to see a Tresh do them once and you get it).
III - PLAYSTYLE & COUNTERPLAY:
How is a playstyle defined ?
Originally Posted by ItemsGuy|
The value of a playstyle can be measured by how much the player is encouraged to think like the character they’re playing through coherency within the kit as well as its thematic unity and how distinct that method of thought is - because the more distinct it is, the more room it creates for counterplay.
We're not just about creating a more dynamic game (creating more flavors of the same role), but about enriching the player's experience. In our opinion - playing a champion shouldn't simply be having access to 5 (or 9) abilities for 20-50 minutes, it should be stepping into a champion's shoes and romping around for a while.
Darius is a very good example of this - Darius has a very distinctive playstyle, he has very defined strength and weaknesses. CertainlyT, the designer of Darius:
'What changes you might make on Darius in the future?' - someone asked CertainlyT
It's unclear what should be done to Darius. He's balanced, has clear strengths and weaknesses, and is much less matchup dependent than the average forum post would have you believe. Even if we remedied some of the specific complaints about him now, any bruiser that does not lean heavily on raw statistical bonuses to be successful will often generate a lot of frustration from their opponents. Raw stats tend to play out almost unnoticeably over time whereas abilities manifest their power in dramatically noticeable moments. Take Jarvan's Demacian Standard -- it's primary power is in the armor/AS boost it gives, but a good number of players don't even notice it exists.
I would say that, in the case of changing Darius' bleed damage to physical, be careful what you wish for, you might not like it.
Click here for 'I think I finally understand Darius' - a thread having 300+ upvotes of how Darius works and is not OP.
A champion that excells at alot of things, not really having specific strengths and weaknesses (hello 'release Jayce' syndrome) tends to be more imbalanced; very frustrating to play or very frustrating to play against (the champion provides less options of counterplay).
EDIT: Click here for a thread called 'Morello, IF you had the change to redesign Darius, what would you do ?'
Yet again - the more distinctive a playstyle is, the more counterplay there is to it. Morello seems to have got it, he lays even more emphasis on the fact/playstyle of Darius: 'The longer he is close, the more he'll be able to wreck balls' - I've shown this to ItemsGuy and he liked it. It makes Darius more readable (more understandable), less frustrating and pushes his theme: This guy will hack and slash if you're near and will do a devastating blow if you stook around for too long - like an executioner having to chop more than once - then one last time to finally chop the head off.
IV - DEPTH
Besides all of this - champions working in a kinda generic way and having weird theming- a lot of champions (especially the older ones such as Annie and Fiddlesticks) have very little depth, they have a very limited skillcap. These champions do the same thing over and over and over again - they tend to be very repetitive.
Most importantly; these champions tends to get boring for a lot of people pretty fast.
For example Fiddlesticks. The depth of his kit is fairly low; R in teamfight -> (optional: Zyhonas) -> E, followed by Q and W. This is the same thing over and over again, there aren't alot of approaches when using his kit - only in terms of positioning (how or where do I ult in and so forth - from what angle ?) but positioning are general mechanics, every champion/player has to take this into account.
Do you have to use your abilities in a smart way ? Sure. Is it very repetitive ? Entirely, wich is our point.
Interestingly enough, Morello has indirectly agreed with us (he posted this quite some time ago):
I'd also like to do some changes on existing champions to bring this out, though everyone will get mad when I do :P
Why did I bold that last part ? I'll get to that soon enough.
V - READABILITY/LOGIC
You can help (new) players by making champions as readable as possible, if you can - you should do this.
Burden of Knowledge is the homework you give to players (the things they must know) before they can actually enjoy themselves/play the game. Obviously, you can't get rid of this problem entirely, but you can help A LOT.
Originally Posted by Perifear|
While League has very clear visuals (=clarity), alot of stuff doens't make sense.
Rammus: Looking at his splash art and visual appearance (in-game model), you immediately will memorize/get and know this guy will be rolling & bumping into people. It also makes sense for him to redirect damage (W), he crawls up in his shell !
Not only enhances this the player's experience as it's very characteristic and cool in terms of theming, it also helps the readability of Rammus.. until.. E: Taunt for the sake of a taunt, he basically walks up to someone - 'touches them ?' - and then you should assume this Armordillo CC's you for X seconds ? Not very readable.
Is it good for his 'tank' role? Sure, but it's not done in a way that's readable or even a little relevant to his character, theming, or kit - just the role Riot decided he should fill.
Ult: Rammus randomly walks while the earth is shaking/crumbling around him - like nothing is really happening. We don't know why, what or how Rammus is doing this.
That's Burden of Knowledge, players are forced to learn that Rammus does this just because he does it.
Funny enough, we've mentioned Mordekaiser as such an example before IronStylus did in the exact same way in this thread.
Now sometimes it's just abilities, not entire champions, good example:
Originally Posted by Perifear|
Trundle.. His entire kit is extremely readable, you get he bites you with his Q and does more damage, you see the ground turning filthy (W), you see the obvious pillar, blocking and slowing you (E), but what about his ultimate; spawns a filthy cloud around the target. What can people expect ? This ability is a perfect example that really requires reading the tooltip of Trundle's ultimate for a player to understand what's happening - now that's more-okay for the player playing Trundle, but this is anti-fun and Burden of Knowledge for the players playing against Trundle. Burden of knowledge is giving the player(s) homework before they understand what's happening - the work they are required to do before they can enjoy themselves.
-Shaco (Tricky Assasin Jester, all of what he does is very iconic, specific, appropriate and memorable).
-Nautilus (Hooray Xyph ! : ) - this guy totally does everything a dude from the deep sea is expected to do.
-Vayne (Very typical and appropriate, you could argue about Silverbolts but it's very readable; everytime people get that 3rd proc/autoattack they SEE it has a bonus effect on them, quickly translating to '3 of these rings will screw me over - let's try to not collect these rings on me !)
-Vi, all about punching people.
-Acknowledging the Problem-
Originally posted by ItemsGuy|
League of Legends faces a problem that is called oversaturation.
One of the greatest attractions of the game for old and new players is the constant development of shiny and exciting new champions. Considering LoL’s current 100+ champion roster, this can't go on forever.
Champion production will eventually have to stop. When this happens, this will probably reduce the playerbase by tons.
The lack of a promising, new champion around every turn will cause player attention to collectively turn back towards the champions they currently have in front of them, and without the constant distraction of the carrot on the stick, the playerbase will probably become restless.
The current “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” complacency will grow into a jarring awareness of the fact that very few champions are as good as they could be.
-Solution-The past few months ItemsGuy has been working on possible Redesigns for League of Legends. Though:
I'd also like to do some changes on existing champions to bring this out, though everyone will get mad when I do :P
Considering the nature of these solutions, they would have to take place outside of League of Legends - as they involve changes so great that they would more than likely create a great upset within the playerbase should they happen to the game that players are familiar with—like renovating a house while a family is still living in it.
Checkout the 'Quick Overview' below for a more clear explanation, it's the summary of this summary thread. Summary-ception !
By now you should get all of this:
-Champion production must stop at some time, if they continue it gets too much: Burden of Knowledge, game gets way too complicated, oversaturation. Keep on producing isn't a solution, yet we think people would get bored if they do stop due to the staleness and 'genericness' of champions.
No matter how you put it - League will die to either 'boredom' or 'oversaturation'. (IMO, this happend to DotA2; things look less readable, a lot of abilities are random, there is way too much that they shove on people's plate before you can enjoy DotA, too much Burden of Knowledge).
Theming is very important - and can enlarge the lifespan of League by tons:
-Living up to theme to the fullest creates a very defined, unique character (Enriching the player's experience, 'boredom' fixed by tons). Thus creating more variety among champions.
-Living up to the to the fullest helps readability of a character, as everything makes sense, therefore is more logical and more memorable. (Burden of Knowledge, oversaturation fixed by tons)
-Reworking older champions would probably make the current playerbase mad, therefore the changes we ask for would be better fitting for a sequel. Players that wouldn't like the game that we will call 'Leauge of Legends 2' for now - will always have the option to play League as it currently is. Everybody gets happy ?
ItemsGuy's 'SOLUTION + THOUGHT PROCESS
The past few months ItemsGuy has been working on Redesigns for a game we will call 'LoL 2' for now.
What ItemsGuy has tried to do with all of these Redesigns individually:
-Theming, more defined theming in terms of kit and playstyle. (Similar like Thresh has 'Jailer' abilities that converts to a 'Jailer'-playstyle).|
-More counterplay. Counterplay is a must yet this has worked in our favor; the more defined a theme is the more counterplay there is to it.
ItemsGuy has kind of a hatred for abilities that can totally screw you over without counterplay; if you are in range you'll eat the ability, such as Taric stun and Pantheon spears. (Riot shares this opinion with him, have red countless examples on these forums)
-Theming in terms of readability: Appropriate tweaking or even removing or replacing abilities to make a character as readable as possible (preventing burden of knowledge).
Tweaking of a spell for readability ? Example: Trundle ult - it's cool to do some damage and steal the defense of your enemy, but not only is there lack of counterplay currently (if you are in range Trundle can cast it), it's not readable at all, just a 'cloud of filth' - god knows what this ability should do.
With the Redesign Trundle (obviously, keeping his current Q, W and E) - Trundle has an channeled ultimate where he jumps onto the targeted enemy and starts nibbling on the enemy, dealing X amount of damage over time while stealing their defensive stats. (More readable, more counterplay, you can 'QSS' this guy off of you plus it's more readable; you get this ugly troll will hop on you and start nibbling, doing damage stealing your defenses) - really made me think of 'Gollum in LOTR III: Return of the King.'
Ability-replacement ? For example: ItemsGuy originally left Janna's passive as the current passive, I pointed out that adding Nami's passive to Janna redesign would not only make her cooler (actually getting to speed up allies yourself is cool) but also makes sense: Speeding up your allies by blowing the wind on their feet makes sense in terms of theming and Janna as a character - so removed from Nami's kit, moved onto Janna as it fits her better.
Also please note - none of the changes in these (theoretical) redesigns are intended for LoL as it currently stands and are purely examples of what champions could've been if their kits had stayed true to their theming 100%, creating playstyles that better reflect the nature of the champions they belong to. If anything, they would be more fit for a sequel game--a LoL 2 of sorts--allowing fans of the old champions to stick with kits they're familiar with, while giving Riot the opportunity to start anew and create stronger designs with the experience they've accumulated over the years.
We encourage you to leave feedback to possibly make Redesigns even better - it is VERY MUCH POSSIBLE some current Redesigns could be better or might not work.
Originally Posted by Perifear|
^ I've struggled with this myself - wether I currently like some champions better than the Redesigns is insignificant: Their theme's could be more specific, their kits more unified, their character/over-all feel could be more specific, it's for the best that these champions get changes if Riot ever considers making a sequel.
And then again - what of it ? I'm not sure if I would like champion X or Y Redesign better, yet I KNOW I would enjoy something like Leblanc, Malphite, Morgana and Zyra WAY more !
'there's always a reason why we do or don't do something.' - Keep that in mind, feel free to ask questions if you have.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Why ? - why do you opt for more unique/dedicated playstyles, are they nessecary ?
2. To create these more unique/dedicated playstyles you use the theme of a champion as a tool and try to capture the very essence of the theme, creating a very defined playstyle– why do you use ‘theming’ as a tool ?
3. When using theming as a tool you also like to mention/use realistic elements – why ?
4. Why is using lore as a tool to justify a design a bad sign ?
5. Wouldn’t more unique/defined playstyles be OP ?
6. ‘Champion X doesn’t need changes – maybe some abilities don’t make sense but they are still cool !’
7.1 ‘You are getting rid of alot of options/abilities for a champion’s kit with this design-philosophy – how is this good, how is this being creative ?’
7.2 How are you being creative ? You are restricting yourself from alot of stuff !
8.‘Do you think current champion-designs restricts the game from having other cool abilities ?’
EDIT: FAQ isn't hotlinked (sorry) ItemsGuy didn't upload the FAQ seperately yet. For now, to get to the FAQ please click this link/thread, scroll all the way down, don't mind the OP untill you get to a comment starting with the FAQ:
@RIOT + OUTRO
@Morello:Me and ItemsGuy had a very very hard time discussing if we should invite you over here or not - no offense, but we really think you are 'though nuts to crack.' We'd expect comments such as 'GTFO TO DOTA if you think League is bad' and so forth.
However, after we've had our chat/a confirmation (in terms of you holding on to Darius's playstyle 'the longer you stay close the more balls Darius will wreck) in the 'Morello how would you have designed Darius' thread - we changed our mind and I hope we've made the right choice.
I think that you would get our points and most likely agree (especially through all of the links we have provided where multiple people working at Riot indirectly echo the same thing we are trying to say) - so frankly, the ultimate question is: Where does Riot stand on a 'LoL 2' point of view ?
@Xypherous:We got this response on our larger, more detailed thread concerning theming, just gonna leave this here:
Very nice interesting thread!!! I would also invite Xypherous to this thread, as he is one of the most transparent, honest and analytic designers, pretty much always open to comment on different topics whenever he can or has something to say.
@FeralPony: FeralPony: In the past you've responded to my 'Complexity for the sake of complexity' thread a while ago back on EUW/. The thread was bad, the title misleading - complexity for the sake of complexity is bad game design, agreed. I tried to say the same thing in the OP, yet obviously due to the title the discussion was all about 'the complexity for the sake of complexity' argument.
You gave a very detailed post where I am still absolutely grateful for, that's the reason I've invited you aswell.
This thread/threads we made are more detailed, better written & constructed, clarify'ing our points way better than I could ever have imagined.
Hope to see you jump in again !
All of that said - thank you Riot for making such a great game in the first place, regardless of our reasoning of how we think it could be a lot better.
Me and ItemsGuy are both long-term players and love the game dearly, I feel nothing but gratitude for the amount of work Riot has done for us.
This is going to sound extremely cheesy but frankly, it is true - I've been through some stuff IRL and I think I would have had it a lot harder if I couldn't get my hands on League, I hereby thank everyone; from the designers to the engineers to the Riot support to all the people I have ever played with. THANK YOU.
Thanks to all the people supporting us in our previous threads, let's hope we can finally get this final thread rolling and get some answers !
Bestbilbo (aka Perifear) and ItemsGuy