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Banished to Prisoner’s Island

Punishments, Teemo’s blind, and Mechs vs. Minions.

Welcome to Ask Riot! Have a question?

Up next on Ask Riot, we’re talking low-prio queue, Lee Sin vs. Teemo, and localizing Mechs vs. Minions.


Why doesn’t Riot queue negative players with negative players? What’s wrong with the “prisoners island” concept?


First, let’s define “prisoner’s island” designs for the folks who aren’t familiar. A prisoner’s island approach says that any players who cross the line into unsportsmanlike conduct should be separated from the broader playerbase and only matchmade together. At face value, it’s an emotionally satisfying fix that basically deports assholes to an island and theoretically makes everyone else’s games better as a result — but it runs counter to our value of reform.

Prisoner’s island design doesn’t work for League for two major reasons:

Reason One: We believe in a real shot at reform for unsportsmanlike players

We know that most negativity in game comes from a misstep, not a commitment to ruining games for people. That fact is the core reason why a shot at reform is central to many of our designs. So as long as reform is a core value for us (spoiler: it will always be a core value for us), we can’t stick 10 (even occasionally) unsportsmanlike players into what would be even more unsportsmanlike games and expect them to learn and turn things around.

Instead, we owe these players frank feedback about unsportsmanlike conduct, and a chance at gaining some self-awareness and growing as players and part of the community. This is actually something today’s Instant Feedback system isn’t great at. With info from your reports, we shoot penalized players a reform card explaining why other players think they should be penalized, but not an idea of how to change and grow. That gap is important for us to fill.

We get that this can read as a bit naive. That’s why we keep the banhammer handy for players who just aren’t interested in being relatively sportsmanlike and playing the dang game. Still, because the prisoner’s island system gives up on these players by default, we can’t subscribe to it as a solution for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Reason Two: Prisoner’s island is a truly awful experience for the “prisoners” in more ways than one

If we ship unsportsmanlike players to their own queue, they’d face a swath of issues that basically make League miserable by default. The queue would face higher rates of negativity in game, sure — but the diminished pool of players would also result in terrible queue times and lopsided matchmaking. It’d be emotionally satisfying to say they deserve it, but it’s squarely against our values of putting player experience first.

Beyond that, building and operating a service for a prisoner’s island would suck Rioters and resources from efforts we truly believe in, like improving Instant Feedback, intentional feeding detection, and reworking legacy systems like Honor.


Why does Teemo’s Blinding Dart work on Lee Sin?


For those with sight, Teemo’s darts are blinding, plunging his victims into an abyss of instant night. But little known fact, for those without sight, his darts actually have the opposite effect! As his dart sinks beneath the skin, a world of color, shape and distance swirls before Lee Sin’s eyes. Everything Lee Sin had only ever imagined – the myriad shades of autumn leaves, the nuance of a smile trying to be kept under wraps, the stars blinking their soft twinkle above – dance together in perfect harmony. And then… it’s gone. The nothingness of black envelopes his irises, and once again, the joy of sight is snuffed out.

For as we know, Teemo is the devil. And only a devil would restore sight, ever so briefly to a blind man, then take it away again.

Editor, R&D

Will you be releasing Mechs vs. Minions in languages other than English?


We would absolutely love to get MvM into other languages. Our goal from the get-go was to get as many people as possible to experience the game we made, and we’re still committed to making that happen.

Here’s an update with where we’re at, and some context on the challenges we’re facing:

At launch, we published MvM in two languages, Simplified Chinese and English. But in addition to that, while we were developing the game, we also worked to translate MvM into every Riot-supported language — I believe that’s 19 languages in total.  And to be clear, the amount of text found in this boardgame is enormous compared to the number of words that are translated for a League patch or a dev blog. And as we continue making revisions to the English rulebooks based on player feedback, the team continues to patch up our additional languages to allow us to manufacture new languages with relatively short notice.

But that does lead me to our biggest hurdle: Manufacturing a physical product takes a long time (for a product the size and scope of MvM it takes close six months). And, obviously, when you make a physical product, you have to be concerned about things like stock vs. demand — things that we don’t have to worry about with stuff like skins or icons. So we have to determine how many units we think a region can support or risk having a ton of stock that can’t be moved elsewhere; people in Italy don’t have much need for a Korean version — those can only really be sold in Korea.

But with all that said, we are planning to move MvM into German this summer and I’ve been working with our Merch team this week to bring the game to the following languages by (hopefully) this fall: French, Italian, Korean, Czech, and Spanish (Spain Spanish; not LATAM Spanish, which is different). These regions were picked based on a lot of factors, like active boardgame communities and the local strength of our IP. But it’s my sincere hope that – eventually – we’ll be able to get MvM to every region that would like it. Let us know if you have any thoughts or concerns on this approach or if there’s any further context you’d like.

Product Manager, Mechs vs Minions

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Three refunds; 10 bans