Riot has been sitting on Ranked Dominion since September

Dominion Quarry.

Among the many and constant questions Riot receives, one of the top among Dominion players is why there is no ranked mode for Dominion. As it turns out, Riot has all the backend implementation for ranked mode complete, they just aren’t ready to throw the switch. Why not? According to Brackhar back in September, Riot “want[ed] the map to have a chance to mature enough before we flip the switch.”

To be honest, this issue isn’t exactly close to my heart. I stopped playing Dominion quite a while back. It just wasn’t as gripping as I thought it would be. And ranked? Well, ranked doesn’t matter. It doesn’t really mean anything. Riot doesn’t compensate highly ranked players in any way for attaining their rank. The games are typically just as troll-saturated as any other ELO. It does give people something to shoot for, but since that’s directly related to winning or losing, and I think most people are trying to win, it has little effect on anything in the game other than player attitude, and that it affects negatively.

So really, I couldn’t care less if Riot waits to implement Ranked Dominion, although I have to admit, I’m confused why they would wait any longer. From my perspective, Dominion is already a dying gamemode. The Dominion forums have no-response posts (the best way to judge new post count that I could come up with) from yesterday morning on the front page. In general discussion I couldn’t find a no-response post older than 10 minutes. In the top 40 red posts on CL Gaming’s Redtracker, just 1 is about Dominion. My friend list never has more than 5 people playing Dominion, and when it reaches 5, most of them are playing with one another.

Waiting for Dominion to mature much further seems to me like waiting for a major league pitcher in his late thirties to mature: you’re running out of time before you just scrap the guy altogether. I’m not saying Riot should scrap Dominion – I know there are those among you that enjoy the game mode – rather that there is no reason to wait any longer on releasing ranked play for Dominion. If anything, it might get people who are sick of the ranked grind on Summoner’s Rift interested in the capture-and-hold playstyle.

My take on Riot’s LoL development timeline

Riot didn’t make much of a stink about the League of Legends birthday last year, but it seems this year there’s going to be something of a celebration. As part of the festivities, Riot put together a timeline that follows the development of the game since October of 2009.

I think this is a pretty cool tribute to the development of the game, but I hope Riot sees the timeline like I do: a reminder that they can do better. When I look down the list of developments I see several things that I never use, a couple things that were hyped up and underwhelmed, and one real thing that has the potential to extend the life of the platform for a player.

Twisted Treeline

Twisted Treeline started out strong but quickly dried up when players realized that only so many champs are actually viable on the map. With the rise of Tanky DPS I’ve been playing Treeline again, mostly because there’s more variety there, but Riot stopped worrying about balance for that map a long time ago. This one doesn’t add any life to League of Legends. It’s an occasional diversion from the big show.

Season One

Season One also looked pretty cool at the beginning. Ranked play brought us draft mode, a feature that I had really been missing prior to its release. But Season One went on so long I forgot it was even happening. In that time the game remained relatively unchanged, seeing just a few meta-shifts along the way.

Riot did start to develop a spectator mode for the game, which helped the visibility of the larger tournaments. This would be a nice injection of life for the platform, giving each player more ways to learn how to improve at the game. On the whole, though, Season One doesn’t add much to the platform for the average player.

Battle Training & Co-Op vs. AI

I have never used Battle Training and never will. I’d also say chances are good that once a player has seen the mode a couple times, they won’t be going back either.

As for Co-Op vs. AI, my experience with the mode was poor enough that I haven’t gone back. My allies constantly flamed me for any and every decision I made. I’d rather have the ragers from ranked than the trolls from this game mode. That said, I know some players enjoy it and it’s certainly kid friendly. This one seems okay for a very small subset of the player base. I would love to see more data on who is playing Co-Op vs. AI.

The Tribunal

I’m still surprised the Tribunal made it to the live feature list before things like achievements or spectator mode. I realize Riot must have been swamped in complaints about player behavior, but for me, the Tribunal just isn’t worth the time. I can’t even imagine the amount of management it takes on the back end. And frankly, my games haven’t improved dramatically since the Tribunal released. People are still rude. People still afk. There are just too many players for this kind of system to effect dramatic change that we can see on a player by player basis.

Dominion

This is the big, shiny pot of gold at the end of Riot’s timeline. When Dominion launched I played it like a fiend. I haven’t played a ton in the past couple weeks, but a few games here and there have still been fun. It’s obvious that Riot is committed to keeping this game mode balanced, which puts it ahead of Twisted Treeline as far as diversions are concerned. I don’t think Dominion is perfect, but it’s something new with totally new gameplay and I think a lot of players are enjoying it.

None of this is to say that I don’t like League of Legends. I love it. I’ve spent hundreds of hours on it, both in playing and in writing for this blog. The day is coming, though, when some shiny new toy will steal me away from LoL. When I look at this list, I don’t see much that will pull me back should my new toy grow stale. I hope Riot has a few tricks up its sleeve.

I miss the Season One reward grind

I was worried this would happen. As the end of Season One drew to a close, I had a goal in mind: I wanted to get gold rating. There wasn’t really a personal reason, either. There was a reward; a reward that I wouldn’t use very much, but still, it was something I could point to and say, “I got that because I did X.”

It was a grind, too. I had to play a lot of games to hit gold. The grind pretty much killed any desire I had to play Lee Sin beyond the finish. I got incredibly close to the 1520 mark and then dropped ELO several times. But still, it was a goal. It was something to shoot for. It was a lot of fun.

Fast forward six weeks or so and I’m having a little trouble enjoying the game like I used to. There aren’t any in-game goals for me to strive for. I could try to rank up my solo queue ELO, but to what end? More ranking up? Not exactly a compelling sales pitch.

I know League can’t always be my number one game, but I do think there’s a lot more to be done to keep veteran players interested in the game. The Jarvan skin was a great idea – why not produce more skins that could be tied to certain achievements. Win 250/500/1000 ranked games, get a cool skin. Play 10 ranked games, get a one-time, one-day IP boost. These kind of things don’t cost a lot of money to put into the game and encourage more players to try more things. My assumption, which I suppose could be totally wrong, is that the more time players spend enjoying games, the more likely they are to spend on content.

Even if that assumption can’t be backed by data, it certainly breeds goodwill with the playerbase. Why not reward players for spending time with the game?

What are your thoughts? Are you still going strong with LoL or are other games starting to steal your attention. Has Dominion been enough to keep you coming back?

Are you playing Summoner’s Rift?

Summoner's Rift.

This may seem like a foolish question to ask, but there’s a reason I ask. When Dominion first launched to beta I was playing the hell out of it. Part of my fascination was obviously the fact that we finally had something new in front of our faces to play with. The other part, which actually took a couple play sessions to recognize, was that I always had a full group of people to play with. It was never hard to find four other people who would get on voice chat and try a little capture and hold.

Just three days since the new mode launched, though, I’m already having trouble putting together a Dominion group and frankly, Dominion just isn’t that fun without a premade group. It can often be particularly unfun, even more so than Summoner’s Rift. So I’m bouncing back and forth a bit. I’m playing ranked games here and there with some friends in duo queue. I’m hitting Dominion when I have three or more friends ready to play.

What about you? Are you still playing Summoner’s Rift? Are you totally wrapped up in Dominion? Are you boycotting Dominion for some reason? Do you play Dominion with less than three people? Let me know in the comments.

No champ of the week this week

Dominion Quarry.

With the release of Dominion and a backlog of videos for both Trundle and Veigar, I won’t be playing a Champ of the Week this week as I typically do on Summoner’s Rift.

In the interest of transparency, allow me to explain the Veigar/Trundle delay. Two weeks ago my hard drive started acting screwy. It didn’t seem like a big deal, but when I started to cut together the Veigar video, several of my clips became corrupted and wouldn’t work. After trying to recapture those clips, I realized the partition of my hard drive that housed my Fraps recordings was corrupt and needed wiped.

I now have a new hard drive up and running, a fresh Fraps install, but sadly, no clips. I’ve been using LoLReplay, which means going through quite a few games and capturing important moments without the benefit of a replay feature, which is time consuming.

The good news is that I should have time to work on both Veigar and Trundle tomorrow. I’m also planning a new feature specifically focused on Dominion, though I’m not totally sure where that one will fit.

Keep an eye on the YouTube channel for the newest videos as I have them. If you haven’t seen it, check out my Dominion commentary video for some tips and basic information on the latest game mode in League of Legends.

Dominion draft may soon force captains into lobby

If you’ve queued up for a draft game in Dominion, you may have noticed that the game doesn’t dump team captains straight into the lobby. For instance, I queued up for a game this afternoon and went back into my match history to check some stats. The queue popped but I was still reading some stats so I clicked “Finish what I was doing.” When I was finally dropped into the lobby, I was the team captain, and with first ban I only had three seconds left to ban. In my confusion, I totally missed it.

In 5v5 and 3v3 draft modes you don’t see this happen because the client forces the captain to join the game immediately (and maybe everyone else – I’ll have to test it later). I made a post about the issue in the Dominion forums, to which Morello responded with the following:

Good catch – will raise visibility on this issue. Thanks!

If you see similar issues, I would highly recommend posting them to the Dominion forums. They’re much less cluttered than General Discussion and will probably see a flurry of Rioter activity today.

Dominion now permanently live

In a fairly quiet release, Riot has set Dominion live on its servers. That’s right, it’s live. On a Monday, no less. Unexpected? Absolutely. Even the unexpected I was expecting would have been Tuesday morning, so today was certainly a pleasant surprise.

If you’re looking for a way to spend your Monday, consider jumping into some games of Dominion. It’s a blast.

Dominion release may be this week

Dominion Crystal Scar.

I’m hesitant to write this post, mostly because I have a bad feeling I will be proven wrong, but I think we could actually see Dominion release this week. Dominion’s beta availability continued through this weekend, with limited hours available each day. From what I can tell, Dominion is a completed project. All that remains to be determined is whether Riot’s hardware can handle the surge in players and/or the different game modes.

There are also two quotes from Tamat on a recent rant about Dominion availability.

First:

Beta has been successful so far, we’ll have a launch date announcement for you next week.

Also:

Expect the unexpected. All I’m going to say.

It’s the second one that really has me hopeful but also concerned. I’m concerned because we’ve heard that so many times it holds absolutely no meaning anymore. I’m hopeful because if I take that sentiment to heart, Dominion will be out this week. This week is the only week that would be unexpected. The following week is October, and that’s far from unexpected.

Who’s your go-to Dominion pick?

sion_splash_2

Now that Dominion has been live for a few days, I’m sure people are settling into some comfortable champions and team compositions. I’ve actually been taking the opposite approach, picking a new champion in nearly every game. I’ve doubled up in a few places, but for the most part I’ve just been trying to see what works (note: Veigar is awful).

There is one champion I’ve been enjoying above the rest, even though I think I’ve lost every game in which I’ve played him: Sion. Sion has always been a little bit of a letdown for me on Summoner’s Rift. He’s great at pubstomping as an AP toon, but by late game he’s really hurting for damage. Attack damage Sion never seemed to cut it, mostly because of his movespeed, attack range, and the sprawling nature of most teamfights on Summoner’s Rift.

On Dominion, though, attack damage Sion has been a blast. Like I said, I’m pretty sure I’ve lost every game I’ve played with him, but they have been so much fun I don’t really care. Attack damage Sion is one of the few champions in the game that can legitimately overturn situations that are stacked against his team’s favor. With enough damage, his ultimate starts to heal for massive amounts, even with the debuff on the Crystal Scar. Thanks to the early and consistent gold gain from Dominion, Sion can reach that point fairly quickly.

Who has been your go-to pick on Dominion? Have you been jumping around or sticking with one champ?

Dominion is live again for an unspecified amount of time

Dominion was just enabled on live North American servers for the third day in a row, this time for an unspecified amount of time. I spent a lot of time with the new map yesterday during the extended beta window, so I’ll probably only play a few games today.

I’m really curious about Riot’s release strategy for the new map. At this point, Summoner’s Rift has sort of lost its luster. I’m sure I’ll want to play the old map here and there, but with something new in front of my face, it’s hard to justify spending 20-30 minutes farming up so I can have 10 minutes of teamfights. I’d much rather have 20 minutes of solid action to enjoy.

The problem, now, is that I’m currently on my third day of Dominion. On my live account. With all my champions. On the same servers I would otherwise be playing on. That’s not really a beta. And now that I’ve been exposed to Dominion for extended periods of time, I kinda want to stick with it. The times that it isn’t on Live just make me frustrated that it isn’t available. Basically, the “limited beta” feels more like a soft release. Even though the word “beta” has been used, the client and even the champions remain the same, so it just feels like a released game that I can only play some of the time.

That said, I know the reasons for the downtime are stability related, and I’d much rather see Dominion release to a stable platform than release and get 12 hours of server downtime for 12 hours of uptime. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the release is bittersweet – I’m really enjoying Dominion, but I’d love for it to be available all the time.

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