Current Affairs: Normal Draft to remain active

Today’s maintenance was supposed to remove Normal Draft mode from the list of available queue types, along with re-enabling ranked game modes. I was pleasantly surprised when I logged in and found that Normal Draft was still enabled.

Later in the day, Tamat followed the surprise inclusion with this post:

We’ve heard your feedback, and as a part of our ongoing commitment to making League of Legends an even more fun and awesome experience for players of all preferences, we are officially introducing Draft Mode into Normal Games! Now you can play like the pros without any impact on your ranked rating!

I have to say, this is probably the best feature launch we’ve yet seen in League of Legends. Why? Because we didn’t expect it. It wasn’t overhyped (unless you count the rumors/occasional red posts saying it may have sort of might be almost is kinda getting worked on). Hell, we were even told we wouldn’t be keeping the feature.

And yet, here it is, and it’s pretty awesome. Good on you, Riot. Good on you.


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?


Slowing feature releases hurt League of Legends

Magma Chamber boss camp.

I think it’s safe to say that the League of Legends community is as restless as it has ever been. It has been more than half a year since the last major feature release, and promised feature updates remain unreleased months after their announcements. Several high profile players have made long forum posts with titles like, “@Riot why I’m losing interest in your game,” and, “Riot’s downward spiral.”

The thing is, I still have a lot of fun with League of Legends. My personal beef with Riot is that a game that once had as active a development cycle as I’ve seen has grown stagnant, relying on bi-weekly champion releases to keep the game fresh. I started playing the game in December of 2009. Just three months later there was a new map, not just in development, but in the matchmaking rotation. Somewhere along the way there was a client revision. Four months after the Twisted Treeline release came Season One, complete with ranked matches and a new client experience.

It has been more than six months since Season One launched. In that time, there has not been one major feature release to the game (sorry, tutorial modes don’t count). Magma Chamber was announced in September, as was an upcoming graphical overhaul. Both features remain unreleased. There is still no team/clan support. We still don’t have normal stats available, despite the fact that they’re being recorded. The achievements pane, which was introduced last July along with the Season One release, remains unused.

In short, it’s time. In fact, it’s past time. A major content update is long overdue for the game. Riot has had a lot of opportunity to expand the game and stay at the forefront of MOBA design. Without a serious release in the near future, I think we can reasonably expect the game to start bleeding players, either to other MOBA franchises or to different games altogether.


Is there another LoL client update in the works?

Cooperative mode

Riot recently announced that summoners will soon be able to play co-op games against computer controlled champions for IP. It sounds like a cool system, at least for getting back into the mix if you’ve been away for a while or want to test a new champion. More interesting to me, though, is the screenshot that’s in the current client for the service.

As you can see above, the picture shows what appears to be an updated client with some new features. For starters, there is a ‘Game Mode’ field. This could mean very good things for players who, like myself, enjoy a little variety. I would love to see all-random deathmatch implemented, and it would be interested to have an All Random All Mid option as well. The bad news is that the field is blank other than ‘Classic.’ Granted, Riot probably doesn’t want to leak anything, but that could also be an indication of just how far off these new game modes might be.

It’s hard to see much else. The new format is much more conducive to multiple maps in a list format, instead of the current grid button system the client uses to select game types. Any guesses as to how far away this client is? I’ll say six months.


Riot’s mum on new features for fear of stolen IP

Magma Chamber.

Back in September, Riot teased a new map known as Magma Chamber. Since that teaser, which was basically just a name leak with a little concept art, we’ve heard next to nothing about the map’s release. Players have been getting restless recently, wondering when we’d see the new map, or any new feature for that matter. Just look at the forums. There are seemingly countless threads detailing some manner of unrest with the game.

Even high-tier players feel the game growing stagnant. Elementz made a thread asking for information on Magma Chamber and other upcoming features. Here’s the response he got from Phreak:

Because we’re doing other things that are awesome aside from just Magma Chamber. And when you’re kinda the biggest deal in a genre, people want to steal your ideas, kinda like how HoN 2 has “casual mode” with deny removed. I wonder where they got that idea from?

We don’t want to give free ideas to our competitors if we have the chance. This doesn’t change our release plans for releasing awesome features for you guys, but it does mean you get left in the dark a bit longer than we’d like. We’re sorry for that, because we’d love to be “Here’s these awesome things we’re working on and here’s how they’re progressing.” But as tired as this refrain gets, trust me, it’s going to be freaking awesome and some of it’s coming really soon. I want so badly to tell you just how soon it is and what it is, but… oh man it’s really cool and you should be hearing about some if it shortly.

Gah I hate having to use vague terms with you guys. Please just trust me <3

Obviously, there’s not much to glean from that. Phreak is being intentionally vague and also intentionally personal – “Gah…<3" - presumably in the hope that it won't spark more controversy. I wouldn't count on it.


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