If you spent some time on the forums today you might have noticed a higher than average amount of unrest about Riot’s development cycle. Among the many lessons the internet has taught is the fact that the internet and its denizens do not forget a date, a time frame, or anything that sounds vaguely like a promise. It’s the reason developers are unwilling to lay down release dates that aren’t absolutely set in stone.
One of the more prominent threads today asked for a timeline on achievements, a feature that has had a tab in the PvP.net client for quite a while but hasn’t received a whole lot of airtime. Phreak stepped in today to quell any hopes that we might see achievements soon, pointing out that balance changes and features like the Tribunal are higher on the totem pole. The thread quickly filled with complaints that even those features high up on Riot’s to-do list haven’t been done, that is until Riot did something I never saw coming: Riot released the Tribunal.
Technically, the company is calling it a pre-release as it will only be accessible to summoners that have achieved level 30. I use the future tense because shortly after the official pre-release it seems interest in the feature rocked the Riot servers and brought the website crashing down. So now we sit, patiently waiting out a 4-hour maintenance window to see what this new feature, which was first announced in January, is all about.
It seems like a strange confluence of events that Tribunal would release on one of the most active forum complaining days I’ve seen in months. I’m not saying Riot made the release based on the griping, but rather that Riot’s timing is either perfect or perfectly awful.
If Tribunal works, if summoners really get behind the idea of doling out justice to the grouchy bastards that ruin so many games, the system could be a real boon for the community. I think it could definitely lift spirits enough to carry people into Season Two at the least, about which we’ll hopefully get some news over the next couple weeks. There’s also a solid chance that it will generally improve behavior in game, which I think everyone would welcome.
Tribunal could be a flop, though. I know a lot of people who have been waiting a long time for the League’s gameplay to evolve, something that hasn’t happened in quite some time, at least not for veterans of the game and genre. While Battle Training and Co-op vs. AI are certainly gameplay features, the first has no value to seasoned summoners and I would consider the second situational at best. If Tribunal doesn’t capture our collective attention, I can already hear the gnashing of teeth about the informal priority list Phreak served up today. As I mentioned earlier, the internet doesn’t forget, and they certainly won’t forget this one, even if Phreak was just giving an example.