Could we see Magma Chamber this week?


I don’t know how many of you are on Twitter, but the Riot staff has been teasing its followers this week with the promise of amazing content. If Dark Shurelia is to be believed, we may see Magma Chamber as early as this week.

The forums have been abuzz as well. RiotMontag said the amazing content we’ve been waiting for his coming “Not Soon. This Week.” I’m curious what that means, though. Are we going to see another Friday patch day like we did with Leona? For the Rioters’ sakes I hope that’s not the case – I would imagine the servers are going to need some attention over the weekend and no one likes working on the weekend.

This is the most buzz we’ve had surrounding League of Legends since Dreamhack, which I take as a truly positive sign. It seems like good timing, too. Valve just announced the first public showing of DotA 2 at a Gamescom tournament later this month. Oh, did I not mention that the purse for first prize in the tourney is a million bucks, USD? Yeah, you read that right. One million dollars cash to the first place team. Dreamhack was cool, but Valve is definitely sending a message to competitive players in just about every strategy game on the market. Can Riot’s news this week keep up?


What’s your top priority for the League?


This post started as a brief thought the other day and has since been echoed in forum posts by other players and an email chain between a couple of my friends. League of Legends is definitely in a bit of a lull after the end of the Season One Circuit. Dreamhack was a very cool event, and Riot did a nice job getting players excited to see the top teams compete. It was an event that made me hungry for more, but my excitement has waned a bit over the past month and I’m not alone.

There have been quite a few threads criticizing Riot lately, some of which have received very thorough response. Most every communication from Riot involves a breakdown of priorities and why it’s hard to put some features over others on the to-do list. Players experience the game very differently depending on level and skill, so how can Riot prioritize one group’s expectations over another?

I’m curious what your top priority would be when it comes to LoL. You can only pick one, so pick carefully. I’d like to suggest avoiding server stability because frankly, the servers are remarkably stable for a game that scaled as quickly as LoL. Also, server stability is such a tired subject I don’t think I can take much more. Give me something that you think will have a dramatic effect on the game.

For me, it’s new game modes. I loved the different game modes that were available in DotA. Hvaving different rulesets available that modify the experience of the game would add incredible replay value. Random Deathmatch would be fantastic, but I’d love to see other custom rulesets like the progressive draft we occasionally play on FG LoL Mondays. New game modes would also carry over to newer maps, should they release, giving players additional ways to enjoy the new maps.

What about you? What’s your top priority for the future of League of Legends?


Riot releases a second Season One Blooper Reel

This is a strange bit of news, mostly because Season One is over and done with. Riot released a second Season One Blooper Reel today as a thank you for reaching 260,000 subscribers on YouTube. I had honestly all but forgotten about the first Blooper Reel, though they both made me chuckle. The Nasus gag at the end of this one is definitely cute.

I’m hoping this means there’s a boatload of content around the corner that Riot isn’t quite ready to tease. I can’t really think of another reason to revisit a cute and fun video that ultimately serves very little purpose for a second time. July looks like it will be a big month for LoL news. We should be hearing about Season Two in the very near future, and the August issue of PC Gamer promises a look at 12 upcoming champions. That’s right, 12 – as in six months worth of champion releases all in one place. If I had to guess, I’d say we’re right on the verge of some major changes to the game. Bring it on, Riot.


Magma Chamber is still months away


Over the past month or two I’ve held out hope against hope that we would get some news of Magma Chamber on patch day. For a while there I thought it might even be released to custom games until the Shiny update was ready to go. That’s not going to be the case, not anytime soon, anyway. Unfortunately, it looks like the Shiny update and, by association Magma Chamber, is at least several months away.

A player made a forum post asking about Shiny and received the following response from Tamat:

We’ve actually made some crazy advancements with this since the last time we released screenshots. We’re probably going to be releasing some new assets to give you a glimpse of where it’s at in the next month or two.

If you remember, Riot said the Shiny update and Magma Chamber would be coming at the same time. Reading into Tamat’s post, it seems that time is pretty far off. “Glimpse,” doesn’t exactly imply a load of content, probably just some more screen shots and maybe a video of a developer build. “The next month or two” is also a shaky enough timeframe to make me think there’s still a serious amount of work to be done before it’s even ready to show off.

I hope everyone’s ready for several more months of champion releases before we see a feature update.


3 simple things Riot can do to repair customer relationships and restore good faith

Co-Op vs. AI

UPDATE: Since writing this post, Riot hotfixed to make Co-Op vs. AI live. While cool, it doesn’t have an effect on these suggestions.

The forums were again ablaze with outrage this morning, this time because Riot released the Co-Op vs. AI game mode to European servers before those in North America. Adding insult to injury, Phreak posted a video recap of an Olaf vs. Soraka fight from the Co-OP vs. AI preview Riot held a full month ago. As I’m sure you recall, we were also told the new bot matches would go live in the “coming days” after the patch that implemented the feature clientside. Well, it still isn’t here, and this is far from the first time Riot has mismanaged a feature launch or leaked an update far too early. Frankly, Riot desperately needs to improve its customer relations across the board, and it wouldn’t take much. I’ve come up with three simple, low-cost steps Riot can take to repair customer relationships and restore the good faith of its playerbase.

1. Stop Overpromising/Underdelivering

Riot knows this. The company knows it botched the Magma Chamber announcement in a big way. CEO Mark Merrill had this to say in a recent interview:

“We feel terrible about the whole experience there, where we learned a valuable lesson. We do a lot of iteration, we have a lot of cool design, where we’re innovating on lots of features and maps, modes, and all sorts of these things. And until we nail it and get it right, because our core experience is really fun, because there’s built-in expectations that users have on quality, we don’t want to screw anything up. And so we’re willing to take the time — and sometimes it’s a painful amount of time obviously — and it’s our fault for setting expectations the way we did.”

That’s actually a fantastic apology, but why are we still seeing this mistake being made? Where’s the Tribunal? Where is Co-Op vs. AI? The Magma Chamber mistake has been made several more times, and its breeding bad blood in the playerbase. This issue is compounded when the features that are leaked too early would add great value to the game. This week’s bans highlight just how much good Tribunal could do. I realize it’s being delayed so that it can be implemented properly, but the fact that I know of its existence and know that it is overdue makes the glacial pace of bans/suspensions all the more frustrating.

2. Implied Expectations Still Have to be Met

As Tuesday, February 15th rolled around I was getting geared up to play the newest champion in the league, Maokai. I fired up the client that morning and much to my surprise, servers were up. Awesome! Unfortunately, they had never gone down. The Maokai patch was delayed by a day.

Several players made forum threads about the delay and received responses like the following, from Phreak:

This week most likely. No promises on patch date.

Actually, guys, when you released the previous dozen-or-so patches on a Tuesday, Tuesday became patch day to your customers. Similarly, when you release a Champion Spotlight showcasing a champion’s skills accurately for several weeks, we assume those spotlights will be accurate on launch day. When Renekton launched, he was very different than he looked in the Spotlight. I realize both of these situations involved last minute changes, but those changes need to be foreseen and dealt with accordingly. Remember, you set the two week patch cycle, not the players. If it’s too tight to accurately represent and release a product, maybe you need to reconsider the patch cycle. Repetitive action on your part implies expectations from the consumer. When your action changes, you’ve failed to meet expectations you set, explicitly or otherwise, and that creates a bad customer experience.

3. Revive the Blog

The last official League of Legends blog post went live on June 10, 2010. It was actually a great post, giving players a closer look at upcoming changes to the recommended items for each character in game. Unfortunately, the blog wasn’t updated very often (despite several posts on June 8th that were conspicuously just a few minutes apart) and content that would otherwise be appropriate for a blog was sent to the forums. More unfortunate still is that the forums lack functionality to make them a decent place to get information. The red tracker is pretty weak when compared to community alternatives (CL Gaming’s is awesome), there is no search function, and posts go up so fast that important posts often get buried.

Oddly enough, Riot is pretty good at communicating with players on the forums. Red posters respond regularly to community concerns, but how much of the community actually sees those posts? Shurelia started a thread a few days ago just to make a weak Rammus joke. That thread has since become one of the most transparent looks at the design process behind League of Legends the company has ever had in the public forums. Shurelia has leaked changes for several champions next patch. Morello has posted to drop knowledge on some fool several times. It’s an awesome post, but the community needs easy access to that information, access that should come from Riot. Pendragon’s ban post would also make a perfect blog entry.

As it currently stands, we have the easiest access to the announcements that have disappointed us in the past. The good stuff, like designers thoughts on different champions or interesting posts about design in general, are buried under tens of thousands of forum posts without a way to search for them. Riot needs a centralized location to highlight the positive aspects of its relationship to the playerbase. Personally, I think a blog is perfect solution (and it just so happens I know a fairly prolific League of Legends blogger).

I know that the issues I mentioned in this post are complicated. I know that Riot has to make sure it can deliver a quality product before releasing features willy-nilly. I know it isn’t as easy as just flipping a switch. As you probably noticed, these three solutions all concern communication. That’s really where Riot is missing the mark. The game is still pretty great, the upcoming features still look awesome. By communicating more effectively with the playerbase, Riot can capitalize on the positive aspects of League of Legends and restore the good faith of its loyal fans.


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