Ask a question about League or Riot, and we’ll try to answer it. Answers go live every other Thursday at 1:30 pm (PT)
Visual updates, competitive ARAM thoughts, and Ask Riot behind the scenes.
Do you plan to do a visual update on older champions? Not a rework, like Warwick and Galio, but just appearance upgrades for champs that look outdated (like Amumu, Anivia, and Volibear)?
While this may change in the future, the current answer is no. The Champion Update team does have the resources to do design, art, and narrative changes to champions. When it comes to our old champions, they generally can be improved in all three areas (as we can always improve over time). Since many of our older champions need changes to design, art, and narrative — as opposed to just a visual tune-up — it makes sense to do all three at once.
Focusing on all three also increases the quality and scale of our updates. Some design changes require art changes, some art changes require narrative changes, and so on. By doing a full update we can change what we need to in order to bring the champion up to modern standards. If we limit it to just art, it puts a lot of constraints on what we can accomplish and how much we can truly upgrade. A pure VU on Warwick, for example, would have still not looked or felt like a modern Zaun champion.
Another reason is that in the past when we did pure VUs, many players actually didn’t even notice them. For example, when we did the small gameplay update to Miss Fortune during the Marksmen Roster update, we actually got a lot of feedback from player surveys that they thought the VU we gave her for that update was awesome. Most players didn’t even realize we did the VU to Miss Fortune months before that. By packaging together art, narrative, and design, the update has a much bigger impact.
This does mean that upgrades are slower, and that some players may end up waiting a while for their main to get attention, which we understand can feel less than ideal. At the moment, however, we feel like focusing on these bigger updates is going to be more beneficial over the long-term.
Would you ever consider making ARAM more competitive? For example: Unlocking all champions in ARAM, or creating a ranked ARAM queue?
I want to preface this by saying we have no immediate large-scale plans to change ARAM, so don’t look for this to show up in one of the next patches. But I can speak a little bit about the kinds of design discussions we have about ARAM.
Overall, the game mode is popular and the queue is healthy (meaning enough players are participating that the wait for a game isn’t long), so we don’t want to do too much that might have the risk of making ARAM less popular.
That said, we don’t think the way champion assignment is working out has aged well. We aren’t fans of the ARAM accounts that some players make in order to have a more limited champion pool, since that kind of defeats the purpose. So we do discuss whether we should have the pool apply not just to owned and free champions, but to all champions (or maybe even a large subset of all champions that we cycle through over time).
Additionally, ARAM really isn’t filling the player need of having a way to play League with a shorter game length. ARAM can be short, but it can also be very long, and I’m not sure those long games really feel epic as much as just endless. ARAM can lack decisive moments that can push the game to a close. We’d love to see ARAMs that more reliably last 20-30 minutes, if we can do that without compromising the game overall.
We know there are some champions whose mechanics don’t really port over to Howling Abyss since they are designed with the Summoner’s Rift map in mind. We’re generally okay with this, because the ARAM mode in general will probably always favor some champions over others, but we do try to take steps for champions that are just ridiculously broken – Bard for instance.
It’s because of the random element that I’m not sure it makes sense to ever offer a ranked mode of ARAM. It just might be really frustrating to keep coming up with champions with whom you aren’t really familiar and lose important games, like promos. On the other hand, if we add more reroll mechanics and other systems to let you get a champion you want, then that kind of undermines the whole idea of being dealt a champion at random. It may be that the heart of ARAM just isn’t suited for ranked play without compromising what ARAM is.
What is the Ask Riot process like on your end?
I talked about this a bit in the comments two weeks ago, so this is good timing. I’ll walk you through the basic process (sorry for repeating some stuff from the other comment):
- You ask a question (duh). Your question gets dropped into a big pile of other questions asked by players from around the world (Ask Riot is global!).
- At the start of each week, we pull all of the questions and run them through a script that translates them into English.
- We run the questions through a tool that helps us spot trends in what players are asking about.
- We grab a bunch of the most-asked or most-talked about things, then compile them in a big doc. We also do a quick pass through the raw, translated questions themselves to see if there’s anything we can/want to answer, even if it isn’t “trending”
- We share the doc and questions out to people who can best answer them. A game design question would go to Ghostcrawler or Meddler, a funny lore question to Riot Tiger Lily, an LCU question to Cactopus.We work up the publish-ready Ask Riot post, in which we include a minimum of three answered questions. We also grab some light art assets for the client/Nexus.
- We send the post through our localization process, which ensures it gets translated and published in all regions.
- The post goes live!
So that’s the rundown on the process itself, but a lot of players seem to be curious about how we choose which questions to answer. There are a few things that go into deciding whether we can answer a question:
- Do we actually have an answer? A lot of the most hotly-contested topics in the League community are also hotly-contested within Riot. Most teams aren’t comfortable answering a question if the answer is “we’re still arguing about it.” Sometimes we’ll still answer these with something like, “we aren’t sure, we’re working on stuff but don’t have a specific update yet,” but overall those answers don’t feel great to give or receive.
- Is it a new feature? We don’t use Ask Riot to announce new features, so sometimes we just can’t answer a given question because it would reveal something we’re not ready to reveal. This was the case with Honor, for example—we see a lot of questions about it, but didn’t want to answer until we had officially announced the new system in the works.
- Is the question globally relevant? Though we do try to read every question, we can’t answer them all (we’ve received hundreds of thousands of questions since launching Ask Riot). We try to prioritize questions that are trending globally; often these questions aren’t reflective of the NA/Reddit topic of the moment.
Is Ask Riot the right place? Some topics need more nuance or depth than Ask Riot can provide (a couple of paragraphs isn’t much), so the questions end up getting folded into a /dev blog or a video update. This means they can sit unanswered while we find the right way to answer them, and alongside “do we have an answer” is the primary blocker on questions that might be controversial.
There’s a bit more that goes into the process (have we answered it before, has the answer changed, can someone answer it, does that person have time to write something, are we about to launch a new thing that will answer it automatically, etc.), but that’s the gist.
As always, we’d love your feedback on how we can make Ask Riot better!
We’ll do our best to read every question, but we can’t guarantee they’ll all get answers. Some questions may already be answered elsewhere, and some won’t be right for Ask Riot. This isn’t the best place to announce new features, for example, and we might skip conversations on issues we’ve talked about in depth before (though we can clarify individual points).
We are listening, though, so keep asking. We’ll make sure your questions are heard by the Rioters working on the stuff you’re curious about.