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Let’s talk high-Elo spectate, Autofill, and maps.
Why is autofill a thing? Why put players on roles they’re not comfortable with?
When we introduced position select for everyone, we saw queue times spike dramatically as few players wanted to play support. Currently, around 70% of autofills are into support, and 30% all other positions combined. We’re trying to tackle this on the gameplay side first and foremost by making support more fun/rewarding to play. We’ve been adding things like item quests, more interesting active items, a large variety of support champs to play, end-of-game CC and vision scores, and we’re going to continue trying to improve.
We’ve been experimenting with a number of alternative position select systems. We tried out position veto (which ultimately ended up sucking because basically everyone chose to veto support, lowering matchmaking quality overall). We also tried labels showing which positions would have the fastest queue times, which initially closed the gap, but players went back to their preferred styles after a couple of weeks. Autofill was introduced as a last resort way of ensuring people didn’t sit in queues for ridiculously long stretches.
Since 2016, we’ve given protection from autofill if you recently filled, played support, or if you’re in a promo series. We’ve been constantly working on the threshold for when autofill activates on each server, and we feel things are generally pretty stable right now.
The design challenge is trying to strike the balance of you being able to pick your position, not having infinite queue times, and getting fair matches. The only way for autofill to not trigger right now is if each queued position had an equal amount of demand literally all the time (20% of players per position).
We agree it can feel bad when getting autofilled; you could just become a support Brand one-trick like me, but I realise he’s not for everyone. There are a couple of ways to cheat the system on a per-queue basis, though – here’s a few things you might not know:
- The more recently you autofilled, the less likely you are to see it in the next few games
The system is not entirely random. Here’s basically how it works: everyone has a number in the background that goes up slightly every time they don’t fill, and hugely goes down every time they do. When there’s a shortage of a position, the system compares all possible position assignments for all players in the queue, taking into account your secondary choice and how recently you filled – then finds the most suitable candidate based on those factors.
- Playing support or filling dramatically lessens your chance of being autofilled, even after protection wears off
Playing a support or fill game voluntarily every now and then means you have control over when and where to take up the mantle – i.e. not living in fear of being filled. If you really want to grind out a bunch of mid games on Saturday, maybe play a couple support games on Friday to lower your fill chance. Doing this also lightens the load on every other player on the server, meaning autofill rates go marginally down for everyone when you pick one of these positions.
- Putting support as a secondary choice no longer heavily favours support
At launch, position preference was kinda unforgiving – putting support as your secondary choice was pretty much a guaranteed support. For instance, queuing mid/support got you a support pick around 73% of the time. We’ve done a lot of work to this system, so today it’s much “safer” to choose support as a secondary – mid/support now only gives you support 35% of the time on average, and much less for other primary positions. Speaking of…
- The likelihood of getting your primary position is much better now
With some recent-ish changes, you’ll now get your primary position in a vast majority of games. You may have noticed getting your primary a lot more over the last few months!
- Dodging a lobby does not reduce the chance of you being autofilled next game
This is a pretty big one, if you’re at a high chance of being autofilled after not getting it for a while, then dodging doesn’t prevent you from getting it in the next game.
We realise we haven’t yet addressed a couple of problems: /remakes eating autofill protection (we agree it would be better if it didn’t do this, but because this is a pretty unlikely scenario, it’s not something we’re currently prioritising) and not definitively knowing when you’re at risk of autofill can be an unwelcome surprise when you want that last bit of LP. The latter is a design space we’re looking at right now, but we’ve got nothing locked in just yet.
There have been a number of interesting lore stories of newly released champions along with some reworks of the old ones. Have you considered updating/modifying the old Valoran world map?
Absolutely! As perhaps one of the biggest cartography nerds in the studio, it hurts my soul every time I see the old Runeterra blob map still out there, every time I see a thread asking for a new map. I (and other Rioters) desperately want to bring you a new Runeterra map to replace the old one and help ground the places and people we talk about.
Unfortunately, it can take time. We do have something in the works, but depending on the timing of the other things we’d like to release it with, and rounds of feedback to ensure that we’re not setting ourselves up for trouble in the future, it’s not imminent. Think in terms of months – but not (unless disaster happens) in terms of years.
It will likely show the three currently known continents of Runeterra – Ionia, Valoran and the Southern/Shurima continent. There’s a lot more room on the planet than that – lots of room to expand – but getting the known continents out to you would make my heart sing. This is in addition to our plan to release more cultural artifact maps like the Medarda Heirloom that provide more insight into the biases and relative values of the different cartographers around Runeterra.
Will you ever bring the high-Elo spectate function to the new client?
We talked about this recently in a client status update. Reposting here to make sure anyone interested is up to date:
The ability to spectate high-elo games was removed from the legacy client early in 2016—way before the client update beta—because of a security vulnerability involving the spectator service. This isn’t something we think we can solve immediately, but we are considering tackling this in other ways (perhaps by offering downloadable replays of other players’ games).
So there’s no real updates to share on this as of yet, but it’s something we’re looking into.
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