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Let’s talk Azir, old-patch game modes, and skins becoming champs.
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?
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.
What’s going on with Azir? He hasn’t been viable in a long time — are there plans to adjust him or rework him?
Our favorite Emperor of the Sands is a bit of a trailblazir when it comes to the mid-lane, dipping his toes pretty deeply into both the marksman and battlemage playstyles. When you pick him, the things you do feel incredibly unique which is awesome, but when coupled with proficiency and high level skill it becomes very difficult to give him power in any way that isn’t absolutely oppressive when he’s played optimally. We took a few passes at him over the past year or so, and while we saw improvement, he was still far from where we wanted him to be, so we made the call to wait until we could allocate the appropriate amount of time to solve his long term power imbalances.
With some of our other projects wrapping up, we’ve started exploring several avenues for shifting power around on his abilities to make him more sustainable for League in the long run, while being very careful to not cause a massive divide between what we want and what current Azir players are excited by. Generally, we’re going to be looking to sharpen his identity and remove extraneous power from his kit in an effort of giving him more counterplay when played extremely well, something he certainly doesn’t have.
To quickly clarify, we see no need to give him a full VGU as players around the world are really happy with how he looks, and instead will only be looking to do an ability update focused around improving gameplay, and not visuals. Wav3Break is the gentleman owning the project, and you can expect a post on the boards from him in the next few months going into more detail around goals/direction.
Would you ever create a champion based on a skin? For example, Dark Star is cool, so a champion with Dark Star as its origin?
We would likely never make a champion directly based on a skin. That being said sometimes a champion can be inspired by a particular skin line or vice versa. The Cosmic Reaver skin line, for example, was very inspired by our new Mt. Targon art. Other than specific lore skins (Like Young Ryze) our skin lines exist in their own worlds. Mixing Runeterra with the different worlds of our skins would start to get really complicated really fast.
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