Quick Gameplay Thoughts: February 21

Hey all, ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- **Usual Disclaimers** These posts will often contain talk about future work we're doing, or planning to do, that isn't yet guaranteed to ship. The nature of the work could change or, depending on what we discover, projects mentioned may get put delayed or even stopped. If you'd like to see a Tweet whenever a new one of these posts goes up: https://twitter.com/RiotMeddler http://ddragon.leagueoflegends.com/cdn/6.24.1/img/champion/Ziggs.png ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- **New Keystone** As previously mentioned we’ve been working on a new keystone to flesh out the Rune system more. It should be on the PBE sometime this week, though will probably be in 8.6, not 8.5. It's intended to offer a combination of sustained damage and target agnosticism (so good at killing tankier enemies) and at present it looks like this: * Triggers the same way Grasp of the Undying does (first auto attack on an enemy champion after being in combat for 4s). * When triggered gives AD and cause some of your physical/magic damage to be dealt as true damage instead. * Is found in the Precision tree. * Fairly short CD. Things that still need to be answered: * How to ensure it's not too powerful, or only useable when balanced on ranged champions. We're testing a couple of different approaches here, with buff duration extends when really near (~300 units) an enemy champion and buff duration extends on melee auto attack. * Whether to gate when the true damage conversion turns on, or at what rate the conversion happens. We've been trying mechanics like 'Build X AD and Y HP' to activate the conversion, or a scaling ratio on the conversion based off your AD/HP. * Whether Precision is the correct tree. We'd previously been trying this in Resolve, on the grounds that it was intended to pair well with long fight times and required being close to the enemy (proximity extension version meant putting yourself in more dangerous spots). That meant there was a lot of synergy with what Resolve offers. That worked ok, and offered really clear distinction between it and other Keystones. Did end up feeling like it blurred the definition of Resolve quite a bit (what do I go there for?). Likely it stays in Precision as a result, unless its functionality changes meaningfully. * Whether a True Damage conversion is the way to go here. Dual % Pen would give the same gameplay in almost all circumstances (your damage is stronger against Armor/MR stacking enemies). Using True Damage does make it much clearer what's going on, to both user and target. It also comes with a much stronger emotional reaction, both positive and negative, even if the power's balanced at the same point as the pen would it ('True damage is really powerful, nice' versus 'True Damage is stupid, there's no way to place around this Keystone'). ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- **Midseason's Size** Midseason's like to be smaller this year than the last couple of Midseason's have been. The amount of change in the Preseason just been was higher than past Preseasons. As a result we're putting more time into Preseason follow up (balance, game pacing, bug fixing, fleshing out Runes gradually etc), rather than working on new projects as much. Still planning some changes to open up Bot lane champion choice more, fairly likely that's the only major set of gameplay changes though in it (which is probably 8.9). ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- **Mastery Curves** Mastery Curves are a thing we consider often when looking at designing new champions or working on existing ones. A Mastery Curve is a representation of how much more effective a player becomes on a champion as they play them more. They look like this: https://imgur.com/a/fIu3o Mastery Curves are different to how a champion's performance changes by MMR. Aurelion Sol for example does better on average at higher tiers, but even high tier players need a lot of games to climb his mastery curve and reach that performance level. In terms of goals, we think it's important champions have some steepness to their mastery curves. Putting time into a champion should feel rewarding whether you're a new player, or about to break into Challenger. You should be able to clearly notice how you're getting better at them, both during your first few games and when you're many games in,. If a champion has a really flat curve they can sometimes end up feeling pretty unsatisfying to play. Volibear's an example of a champion who suffers from that somewhat. That's not to say that there isn't skill to getting better at Volibear, but the skills Volibear tests aren't unique enough to Volibear himself. You're generally getting better at LoL with things like positioning, map awareness, general game knowledge etc, but no growing in your usage of Volibear’s specific abilities as much. Those general skills translate to other champions you play so on average your performance on a champion like Volibear won't be much higher than your performance on other champs, even if you've played a lot of him. Someone like Singed by contrast, who has a really unusual playstyle, has a really steep mastery curve. There's a lot of unique stuff to learn to play Singed well, those skills often don't translate to other champs though. Steeper isn't always better though on mastery curves. While a player should get significantly better as they play a champ we don't want them to start out completely unable to do anything in their initial games. They shouldn't start at 100% effectiveness, but 0% isn't right either. (Launch Azir being an example of a mastery curve that was too punishing in the first few games.)
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