Should Riot focus on unplayable champion remakes?

evelynn_splash_2

I was browsing around Riot’s forums this morning and stumbled upon an interesting comment that got a few upvotes. The thread was a discussion of Kayle’s current status and whether or not she should receive another remake. Here’s the comment that caught my eye:

“Evelynn too, while you’re at it. I dislike how I spent IP on the champ and RP on her skin only for you to literally make her unplayable to the point where I will be reported for playing her.”

This is not a new concept – far from it, I know. It is, however, an issue that has never really affected me. I’ve been writing about the game for almost as long as it has been a game. I’ve had every champion for probably a year, and I play enough that I have the IP to buy new champions every time they release. At least, I did until now. Now that my time is spread between a wider variety of games, I don’t have that luxury. Champions I buy will be the result of a long, slow IP grind, and you can bet I won’t be spending RP on them. At this point, too many champions have stagnated, in desperate need of a remake. When I had a seemingly endless fountain of IP this was no big deal – I always had another champion I could be playing.

But what about people who spend cash to unlock champions as they go. When those champions get nerfed beyond viability, it’s essentially a hit to their pocketbook. Again, this isn’t anything new. Players of all kinds of games have seen potential “investments” deteriorate as the result of nerfing. Any MMO player knows the pain of putting a couple hundred hours into the class, spec and gear that goes behind a character just to have it wiped out by developers. A game like LoL seems unique though, because while I may still be able to participate in large portions of an MMO with an underperforming character, most of the lower-tier champions in League can’t hope to compete with any reliable success. The options those players have to enjoy the game diminish far more quickly than those of an MMO player in most cases. Sure, there are always the free champions, but players don’t pay for access to free champions. The champions that have been purchased should have some viability.

So what do you think? Should Riot be spending more time and resources on remaking underplayed/unplayable champions or does the current method suit you just fine?

  

Ranked play needs a swap feature

Draft mode.

Plain and simple. DotA had this feature, whereby you could choose a hero that your teammate might want. It’s a great feature because often the guy with first pick rights on your team doesn’t want to play a highly desired character. Swap allows him to pick a more contested character, making much better use of the early draft position than would otherwise be possible.

There is one big drawback here – the champion unlock system. Because most players don’t have access to every champion, the draft system can be a bit ugly. When I was playing a lot with players from SoloMid I would often end up with a less than desirable comp or a toon that I wasn’t great with, if only because we wanted to have the strongest comp and I was the only player on my team with a given toon unlocked.

This all goes back to a post I made some time ago regarding champion balance as the primary matchmaking problem. Balance problems encourage players to use a limited subset of heroes, meaning they don’t get to know the rest of the available champions. Ranked play might even exacerbate this problem, simply because players will get the idea of a strongest comp, post it in the forums, and the mob will follow.

Still, swap would be better than no swap. Every team, even those in solo queue, should have a chance to make the most of their highest draft positions.

  

Is character balance the real matchmaking problem?

Shaco.

I had this thought the other day when I got into a game with a Shaco player. That’s not really a story in and of itself – Shaco is appearing in almost every game since Zileas labeled him OP. The story is more in the way this Shaco decided to play.

Like most Shaco players, ours ran off to golem first thing to set himself up for the rest of the game. He was packing Smite, so I figured he’d spend a little time in the jungle and then, as most Shaco (and most jungle) players tend to do, hit up the lane that was pushed furthest for some early game killing. That wasn’t the case. Despite my pleading (and explanations that our lanes were suffering/being pushed and really needed to be ganked), Shaco continued jungling and only offered a phrase that completely blew my mind: “The fucking point of jungle Shaco is not to gank.”

I…was…floored. I understand that the primary advantage of a jungler is the exp. bonus for a teammate, but the secondary – and only secondary by a tiny margin – advantage is the element of surprise and opportunity to gank in any lane, thereby increasing the experience given to the ganked lane as well. My first reaction was, wow, I should not be paired with a player who so fundamentally misunderstands the game. I realized, though, that this could just as easily be a result of Shaco’s imbalance as it is the player’s ignorance.

I don’t know what your hero spread looks like, but mine is pretty wide. I play a lot of different champions, despite the bursts of new champions around patch time. I don’t think that’s the case for a lot of players, though, and I definitely don’t think that’t the case for the Shaco player in question.

This guy clearly misunderstood Shaco on a level that only someone fairly new to Shaco would. If he had been playing, say, Ashe – one of the strongest characters in the game – he could easily storm his way to a bunch of wins. That doesn’t make him good at the game, though. That makes him good at playing Ashe. The problem is that when he tries to transition to a toon like Shaco, most of his skills are lost. There isn’t the same kiting, the stun, the range advantage, the necessity to stay and farm. The game is almost entirely different, but the average player might not have that understanding about that game.

When I first started playing LoL I really liked that you could slowly build up and unlock champions. I’m starting to realize, though, that the champion unlocks coupled with the rune system means that most players will choose just a small number of champions to master and then fill out their rune pages accordingly. I actually played with a guy the other day that didn’t know Nidalee’s cat form skills don’t cost mana.

I would blame this on the character selection system, but I don’t think it would really be a problem if the characters were more balanced. Players would be less likely to change to a perceived OP toon and more likely to choose toons that they truly enjoy rather than the flavor of the month champions. Granted, not every toon can be balanced with every other toon, but when toons like Ashe and Ezreal stand as high above the pack as they have, it keeps players from being as widely familiar with the game as they could be, if only because the potentially or probably successful champion list is shorter than it could be.

  

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