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)
Ask Riot receives several thousand submissions per week — many of which have been answered in previous editions. This week, let’s take a look at some of the most-asked questions (and the answers that go with them).
Will you ever make a League of Legends movie? Or maybe long cinematic episodes?
We dream of films set in League’s universe and seeing our favorite champions come to life in movie theaters, but the track record on video game movies is a humbling lesson. For the most part, they aren’t great. And while the geek in us would love to rush into moviemaking, it’s definitely not something we should rush into.
That’s not to say that we aren’t exploring. Cinematic storytelling just requires different muscles than storytelling for games, so we’re working on building those muscles and learning as we go. We have a ton of talented folks actively experimenting with different storytelling formats, and it’s definitely a hope that someday we’ll see the fruits of that experimentation on the big screen (or the small screen, or wherever it makes the most sense). We’re also looking at ways to better share all of the stories we’ve already told and will continue to tell, like with the newly-launched Universe.
What’s most important to us is that any extension of League into other mediums feels authentic to the source and respectful of the passion we all share for the game and its universe. It’s a big challenge, but we think we can get there if we invest the time in learning how to do it right.
If you value competitive team play so much, why are you against voice chat? It would really make games more coordinated.
In the past, our stance on voice comms emphasized the increased potential for negative behavior. We’ve since reconsidered our philosophy around voice chat and while there are some challenges we want to overcome (keeping it an opt-in experience, for example), we want to do it.
We believe League as a team sport should reward coordination, and that voice chat is a valuable tool for getting teams (and strangers) aligned. We’ll probably begin deeper investigations once the League Client update is in a stable release so we don’t have to build the feature twice, but hopefully this is a clear update on our philosophy and where we stand. We’ll also give you further updates when the time comes.
When will you make more sexy girl champions?
I talked about this recently on Reddit, so here’s a quick copy-paste:
In 2013 we made a conscious effort to shift away from the “hourglass girls” we had been making for years. We just had so many women in our game that could easily be described by, “Syndra, but in a different cosplay.” We needed more variety. There are a lot of different ways to make compelling female characters that don’t revolve around raw sex appeal. IMO having a large variety of female and male characters is really good for us. Lets us hit a ton of different niches which is important with a roster as big as ours.
That said, it’s been a loooooong time (over 3 years) since we’ve made a new first order appealing female character (like of Lux, Ahri, or Jinx). I think it’s important we make another, not because “OMG SEX APPEAL,” but because “I feel attractive” is a compelling character fantasy that a lot of players (men and women) really attach to. The key is the character’s looks HAVE TO MAKE SENSE. Visuals should support the overall theme of a character, not be there in spite of it. The way Caitlyn looks makes no sense for a prim and proper sheriff. The way Ahri looks makes a ton of sense for a succubus.
It is also crucial to recognize that even within the “attractive character” space, there is huge potential variety in the ways that attractiveness can express itself (there’s a reason I used Lux, Ahri, and Jinx in the above example). As long as the character’s visuals serve and resonate with the its thematic we shouldn’t be afraid of going the “sexy” route. League’s got room for all kinds.
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.
Are you guys ever going to bring back the Butcher’s Bridge ARAM map?
This one is a bit more complex than it seems at first glance. It might look like just an asset swap for the art (take one thing out, drop another thing in), but there’s actually some underlying level scripts, foundation work, etc. that was forked from regular ARAM. This means that Butcher’s Bridge is a unique beast from the code’s point-of-view, even if it looks the same from a player point-of-view.
Bringing it to parity with today’s ARAM (allowing it to be switched on) would require a non-trivial amount of work, and while we’d love to do that, we have to weigh it against the other stuff we’re currently working on, like new game modes and Practice Tool. This isn’t to say Butcher’s Bridge will never return, just that we’re currently more focused on other development priorities.
Why are refunds capped at three per account? Would you ever raise the limit?
League of Legends content is intended to be permanent. However we want players to feel good about the content they purchase, so we developed the refund feature to give every player a solution for those rare situations where they purchase content and quickly regret it, and are sure that they will never want to use that content in the future. Many players have never used their refunds, while others have used one, two, or three of them over time.
We established a limit of three refunds and still believe that is the right number (this gives players leeway to refund purchases but also protects the overall system from abuse). We’ve explored granting more refunds at times, but discovered that the majority of players would prefer free content instead, so each year we have steadily increased the amount of content players receive just for playing the game. Refunds and free content both come at considerable cost to Riot, so we have to carefully focus on which to prioritize to deliver value to players and protect our ability to operate as a business.
That said, while we have no current plans to issue more refund tokens in 2017, it is something we will continue to explore in the future as more players hit the three refund cap.
Sometimes it feels like Riot has no idea how to balance League. Why don’t you just hire Challenger/Pro players to help judge the impact of changes?
Getting advice from players who are extremely good at playing League of Legends is really valuable when it comes to working on the game. We’ve got a number of Masters, Challenger or ex-Pro players at Riot who are constantly involved in the balance and testing process as a result. However, there are a lot of other skills that are also really important in addition to being good at LoL (in many cases more important), so our game designers are spread across a range of different divisions.
We’ll take a look at a team-by-team breakdown below for the teams that work on balance-impacting content. Before that, though, it’d be good to do a quick runthrough of some of the skills we look for. This isn’t a completely comprehensive list (I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch of things), but hopefully captures the core concepts:
Analytical ability and problem-solving
- Being able to assess a situation or element, break down what’s created it, propose different approaches that could be taken and their likely effects, etc.
Creativity and thematic ability
- Understanding what themes resonate with players and fit the LoL IP. Finding new ways to put a spin on broad archetypes. Recognizing the right matches for thematics and particular gameplay mechanics that are intuitive rather than forced
Useability/accessibility and feel
- Making player interactions with the game (using an ability, navigating the shop, natural
Communication and Leadership:
- Ability to get others bought on and excited about an approach
- Helping others grow, learn new skills
Written and verbal communication
- Concise, able to generate excitement, clear, right method for the circumstances and so on
- Ability to communicate well with other disciplines (this one is particularly important; e.g. forging strong relationships between art and game design).
- Managing others (performance, etc.) professionally
- Scripting abilities, statistical analysis, writing code, etc.
Organizational skills and reliability
- Being able to juggle multiple projects, deliver work on time, solve resourcing conflicts, etc.
So, looking at the individual teams then:
- The team responsible for quick changes to the game. Tends to be focused primarily on game health and balance
- Values understanding of the current and past states of the game very highly
- In ranked: Gold through to Diamond, average high Plat/low Diamond
- Systems focuses primarily on long-term work, working on the foundational rules that LoL runs by. Stuff like map layout, how runes/masteries work, how XP/gold are generated, etc.
- Systems works in more conceptual/abstract spaces on average than the other teams. Design principles and theoretical analysis are especially important here
- Bronze up to Gold
- A team whose primarily responsibility is to test upcoming changes throughout the day and offer feedback and analysis on them
- This is where ability to play at a really high level is particularly important in order to validate in-game how things will play out in really high level play.
- Mid-Diamond upwards, with some former Pro players (LCS). Some players who move in and out of Challenger occasionally
- Champion team makes new champions.
- Thematic understanding, feel/useability tend to be particularly important here, along with game health understanding (strengths/weaknesses of kits in particular).
- Pretty even spread from Silver up to Diamond
- Updates old champions, whether full VGUs, like Warwick recently, or class updates like the assassins
- Similar set of skills to Champion, though with a heavier focus on game health
- Silver up to Diamond, clustering in Plat
Hope that’s been informative and offers some useful context on the range of different skills we look for and how the different teams compare. People who are awesome at everything are certainly ideal, realistically though there’s always some degree of tradeoff of different skills for any given role we’re looking to fill.
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.