Riot to offer free RP to new players, not veterans

Leprechaun Veigar

This past holiday season Riot was kind enough to dish out 450 RP to any summoner who had not been the subject of punitive action over the course of November and December. It was a nice gesture, though the surprise gift didn’t do much to incentivize ongoing good behavior. Riot did mention that the gift was the beginning of a much larger project aimed at rewarding the kind and persistent.

That project starts…at an undisclosed time. Once a summoner reaches level 3, a staggering feat to be sure, he will be gifted 400 RP, just for sticking around. Yes, level 3. No, you don’t get it if you’ve been level 30 for the past two years. Apparently the 450 RP in December was for you…and everyone else over level 6. Honestly, these initiatives confuse the hell out of me and seem to stir up a real shit storm for the folks at Riot. Almost the entire first page of comments on that post fall in line with this sentiment, courtesy of GuardiansAngel:

“How about you start rewarding the guys playing thousands of games of league of legends before you reward the guys who play a few games and quit.”

Those posts have hundreds of upvotes while the actual announcement has less than 100. Now, it could be that the malcontent level 30 summoners are the majority of the players on the forums, but it could just as easily be that the people committed to the game don’t like to see new players get incentives just for being new.

I understand that this is meant to be a gesture, but here’s the thing: gestures are usually thoughtful ways to show appreciation, gratitude, or praise. Key word in there is thoughtful. Riot’s efforts in this regard have been historically careless, and feel much more like a marketing gag to get their hooks into new players than an actual gesture of appreciation. The 450 RP this December was the exception – that was a nice gesture. This, this is just a marketing gag.

I’m also curious, why level 3? Is Riot struggling with new player retention and, if so, is 400 RP at level 3 going to change that? I don’t believe that this is an actual strategy for keeping players around, but then why do it? Level 3 can be accomplished by winning two games – is this really something worth pumping RP into? Maybe the numbers simply worked out that when players are given a certain amount of RP, X percentage of players will double down and buy RP to bridge the gap for a more expensive purchase. If that’s the real reason this RP is going out, well, good for Riot I guess. I’m just so confused by the whole thing that I’d be happy with such a logical conclusion.


Morello’s meta challenge update


It has actually been interesting to see the kind of discussion that has happened in Morello’s thread and more interesting still to see the way he has responded. A lot of the thread has been the typical “none of this will work” kind of stuff, which was to be expected. There are a lot of people who are willing to spout off on the forums but don’t have a whole lot of experience with the game. Morello has been mostly level-headed, though he did get a little rowdy with one commenter.

Here’s the original comment:

The thing is, this testing has been done over and over. I honestly feel like you are so out of touch with this game at times it’s ridiculous.

Whether or not Xin beats AP champs mid isn’t the issue at hands. Certain champs don’t fit into the game, period. Xin is just a bad champion currently. This is from someone who has hundreds of Xin games played on their main. His problem is he doesn’t scale for anything and his synergy with items is inferior to better tanky DPS (ie. Jarvan and Irelia). Xin doesn’t have a way to back out of a fight. Once he initiates, he is in. You force him to go glass cannon but don’t give him the defenses to stay up for more than a few seconds.

That aside, there are lots of times I have seen champions like Talon and Pantheon picked to hard-counter certain AP champs. So noting this in the OP isn’t something new.

If you want to break the meta, you need to focus on buffing champions instead of nerfing them. Stop the power creep and bring older champions back in line with newer ones. At times it seems like you guys try to do this, but you don’t hit their problem areas. Let me give you and example:

Ashe has the weakest base and scaling AD of ALL the AD carries. So you buff her HP and Mana? I hate to make this sounds rude, but that’s the only way it can come out: Do you even play this game?

I think this could have been said a little more tactfully, and questioning whether Morello plays the game or not is a little silly. Still, I think this guy raises some decent points, even if his argument is a bit…confused. This whole “who can beat an AP mid” discussion doesn’t really matter on a champion-by-champion level. There are counters all over the place. Unfortunately, without the other lanes changing, beating an AP mid with Talon or Pantheon won’t make the meta suddenly change.

I’ll leave you to read Morello’s response on your own. It’s a spicy one. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he’s out of line. I think he addressed most of what the guy said fairly well. I just want to highlight one part of Morello’s response to this part of the discussion.

What did we do to change the meta in the US to the EU one? Why are Ezreal and some other AD’s the standard mid in the China metagame? Why does Korea excel at AOE comps? Is one of them superior to all the others? Are they representative of different styles? Do players from different areas practice different primary skills?

It could be any of these, but I’m pretty sure “the current way the local region plays is the best way to play” isn’t true, especially with as often as we do change things.

I think this is where Riot needs to be spending a lot of energy. There are most definitely reasons the meta has developed as it has. There are reasons it has remained the way it has for months now. I wish I knew more what he meant with the “as often as we do change things” bit. From my perspective, the game hasn’t changed very much over the past six months or so. Part of that is certainly meta-driven, but developmentally the game looks very similar to the game in July. Riot is pretty mild with their buffs and nerfs. The one major change has been to the mechanics of the jungle, but even that didn’t shake loose a stagnant meta. Certain champions rose and fell in popularity, but the way people play the game has remained the same.

I would love to see a focus on much bigger concepts regarding meta. Why is safety such a cornerstone of the current gameplay. Why did support/AD bot become such a big deal. Where does sustain fit in to all of this. It would be simple enough to add a new queue that has a more volatile system of buffing and nerfing, and I think that could be really exciting. I’ll be keeping an eye on more discussion about this. For now, results are hugely inconclusive, and I don’t think this forum thread will get many, if any, people to play the game differently than they’re used to playing it.


Morello turns to community to change the meta


For a while there, I was thinking Riot was happy with the current metagame. It looks like they might like to see a little more change than has happened over the past six months, so they’ve turned to the community for ideas. Morello started a thread called “Morello challenge: bust open the meta (AP mid edition),” hoping to stir up some new ideas for changing the current meta.

I like the idea as whole – I think it would be great to see the community come up with new ideas for changing the game – but I think he’s asking the wrong people. The current meta didn’t just evolve naturally. It came from tournaments. It came from the pros. It came from livestreams. Those are the people we need to have pumping out new ideas, but unfortunately new ideas don’t really fit with what they’re doing.

The current meta evolved for a few reasons, but I think the basic theme is consistency. Pro teams were looking for a way to maximize map control, farm, and objective contest power while minimizing the ability for the other team to influence those goals. Perhaps the one wild card in the current meta is the AP mid, but the AP mid is mostly there to provide burst and control in fights, both of which can be overcome in the late game with a farmed top lane and bottom lane carry. You could say the jungler is a wild card, but the evolution of jungling into yet another tanky DPS is just another move toward consistency. Pros want reliable performance, and they’ve found the best way to get it.

Feedback from the rest of the playerbase is going to be mostly anecdotal. For starters, there is very little consistency in skill between games. Every game I play has a wild swing in either the positive or the negative. I sometimes play with very good players, I sometimes play with very bad players. In either case, this is obviously going to have a serious impact on whether a selected champion can beat out an AP mid. I’ve taken loads of champions mid and been very successful – anyone from Talon to Kayle, Shaco to Sona – but that isn’t going to bring about a shift in the meta. In most cases these matchups come down to player skill, and it is that variable that inevitably thwarts most attempts to shake up the meta.

I’m not trying to say that you can’t play outside the meta and win. You totally can. But doing so on a regular basis requires a level of coordination that most players just don’t get in their average game. You certainly aren’t going to see it much in solo queue. This is why Morello’s thread puzzles me – he’s asking a group of people that really have no influence over the meta to come up with ways to usurp the meta. Do you think M5 is reading that discussion thread thinking “omg gaiz, we should totally put Taric mid?’ They aren’t. Even if they are thinking that, they sure as hell didn’t read it in that thread.

If Riot really wants to break up the current meta, they need to do a couple things. First, incentivize top players and streamers to try new things. If those guys aren’t doing things outside the current meta and doing it on a highly regular basis, no one else will do it either. The best way to incentivize this kind of play is to make it viable for winning games. That’s number two on the “break the meta” to-do list. Make more options viable. Return some of the experience to champion kills. Stop the diminishing gold returns on killing players. Encourage teamfighting. Release some strong pushers. Encourage players to use spells thoughtfully instead of spamming them for farm and big harass. Return creep damage so that players have to think before engaging in a lane fight because they might actually lose health.

Those things will break up the meta. They will probably require some significant balance tweaks if implemented, but they could actually have an effect on the way the game is played. Asking players to rethink a method that has been advertised to them by top players for a year? That’s not going to cut it.


LoL for Mac: a community effort

Sad Mac.

I’m sure many of you remember the lengthy rant I posted the day Riot cancelled the Mac client. As was clear from my post, I think Riot handled the situation very poorly, and they haven’t had an answer for the Mac users since. I had heard rumblings of a community-driven LoL for Mac project, but I just looked at the project and I am damn impressed.

A player by the name of “Boompje” hosts the LoL for Mac project, a community effort to bring League of Legends to Mac players. I’m not sure how it all works, nor can I honestly figure out how Riot hasn’t issued some sort of cease and desist (he is asking for donations, after all). What I do know is that I would buy Boompje and his team a beer if I could find them. I don’t play League on a Mac, but the fact that they are willing to devote personal time to supporting Mac players is absolutely fantastic.

I am, however, concerned for the future of the project. I don’t know the legal ramifications of the LoL for Mac project, but I would imagine there are some issues involved with distributing a version of the client for an unsupported operating system. Perhaps some of the legally and technically educated among you can offer some insight here. I would imagine, though, that Riot needs to protect its IP, and I would imagine this violates the terms of use agreement in some way.

All the same, show those guys some support. They’re doing the community a great service.


Sejuani reignites the sexy-female-champion debate

Female Champion body types.

I can’t remember exactly when it started with League of Legends, but some time ago the classic “Why is every girl a barbie-proportioned stripper?” question started to pop up. Despite arguments on the other side of the fence (“What about Poppy?”), I think the argument holds a lot of weight. The diversity of female champion design in League of Legends could be described as falling anywhere on the scale between “tragic” and “nonexistent.” I’m going to try to avoid getting into the argument much because, frankly, it’s overdiscussed by a group of people who aren’t serious about it and underdiscussed by the people who really care. What interests me is the range of responses Riot employees give as reasons for continued stream of bimbos.

A good place to start is at this thread, which is where I got the image above. The interesting thing here isn’t that the champions tend toward slutty archetypes, but more that the body type is exactly the same, regardless of tier. This was a much more interesting analysis to see than the typical “OMG LOOK HOW BIG HER BEWBS ARE.” I would love to see a witch/hag champion that has some crusty old woman flavor. I also love the silhouette of a large, ogre-ish woman in the top right.

The really weird parts of this discussion come courtesy of Riot employees, like Ricklessabandon, who says, “while i’m totally okay with seeing variety in form, i don’t really like the idea of having diversity just for the sake of having diversity. that is to say, i wouldn’t want an old chick just because there are too many 20-somethings in the roster–that’s not a good reason in my opinion. i’d want an old man/woman only if we had a good story concept and the best fit happens to be an older person. the main problem i’d want to avoid is aesthetics replacing part/all of a champion’s character, and i think that’s harder to do when you set out to create a character for the sake of adding diversity to a roster.”

What he neglects to address is that the roster is almost exclusively 20-somethings, and that for the most part there is no character design that backs this trend. Why wouldn’t a woman capable of wearing full plate mail be a little thicker in stature? Would trained warriors really be such waifs? Annie, one of the few characters that bucks the trend, is also one of the few characters for which there is actually a character-driven reason behind her aesthetics. That’s to say nothing of the fact that story doesn’t really have a place in League of Legends. I’m not saying character design/flavor isn’t important – it is – rather that Riot shouldn’t be waiting for a cool “story” to design some different champions.

I’m going to leave a link to another thread through CLGaming’s redtracker because it will allow you to see the original post and IronStylus’ red response. This also contains links to two Kotaku articles that are worth a read if you’re interested in this stuff. I’ll end my discussion here, though. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Image Credit: Lunakuneko on the official forums


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