Runes Corner: Guardian Soul

Welcome back for another week in the Runes Corner! I’m Riot Gregab, a Technical Game Designer on Runes Reforged. Thus far in this series we’ve talked about a lot of runes that help champions deal damage. This week I want to switch things up and take a look at a defensive keystone. Also, this is a rune where we’ve gone through a lot of iterations trying to find just the right version. And, in fact, we’re still trying to improve it to get it to a state where we’d be happy seeing it in the the game. We always mention that the design of the system is still very much a work in progress. Well here’s where you get a peek behind the scenes at what that work looks like. **Guardian Soul** We’ve known for awhile that we wanted a Resolve keystone that gave [wardens and enchanters](http://na.leagueoflegends.com/en/news/game-updates/gameplay/dev-blog-classes-subclasses) a way to defend their teams. And at some point we struck on an idea for a specific, simple mechanic: walk into an ally to give both of you a shield. http://i.imgur.com/GoZqwGz.gif We tried this out and found that the basic goal was solid. Warden and enchanter players liked the challenge of shielding their allies at just the right time. The rune created feel good moments of teamwork for both the shielder and the shielded. However there were a few problems with usability. People would trigger the shield accidentally by bumping into their allies. To avoid this they’d spend their time dodging their own allies as if they were deadly obstacles. Or they’d find themselves hopelessly chasing after an ally frantically trying to give them a shield when it was most needed. So how could we make this easier to use while still delivering on what was promising about it? Unlike champion spells or active items, runes aren’t associated with buttons. We couldn’t just have you press Q and click on an ally. How could we give you more control over when the shield triggered? To answer this we tried triggering the shield effect whenever you landed an immobilizing crowd control ability. The result was pretty close to the live mastery, Courage of the Colossus, but with the addition of a shield for a nearby ally. While this is something we know could work, we still saw some potential room for improvement. This version turned the shielding effect into a side benefit of landing a CC spell. If we could find an alternate control, it would give players an additional way to express their skill rather than increasing the output of something they already do. At this point we struck on a key breakthrough: what if you could right-click an ally to trigger this shield? We hoped this would reduce the number of accidental shields . There was only one catch: this was an interaction that didn’t exist in League. We didn’t have any code that let designers make this. Riot Reinboom swiftly rectified the situation by building the tech and we tried out the new version. The result was interesting: this version completely eliminated accidental triggers for some playtesters but not others. A lot of players click constantly while playing League. They click repeatedly for all the steps their champion takes to get to a destination. Others click more selectively, they click once and let their champion make their way to that destination. The Constant Clickers would still accidentally trigger this version by right-clicking their allies while moving around, particularly in the run-up to a team fight when teams tend to dance around the lane together. At this point we felt we were getting close to something good. But we really wanted to nail the usability. Instead of trying to avoid accidental triggers on allies we decided to try giving you a way to cancel them when they do happen. We tried adding a channel before it would trigger that you could cancel by moving. That helped the intentionality but made it less responsive. And this brings us to the best version we’ve found so far: http://i.imgur.com/7DHmmTA.gif You can right-click an ally any time you want to mark them briefly. The shield will only trigger (and the keystone only go on cooldown) if they take damage while marked. This approach doesn’t eliminate accidental triggers, but it does remove their penalty. This version dramatically improved the usability for click-happy wardens and enchanter players without hurting the experience of the more selective clickers, but it’s still not completely perfect. Sometimes it creates the drive to constantly keep the mark on allies just in case they might be damaged, which could become a chore and reduce the skill expression involved it. We can still make this keystone better and that’s exactly the kind of thing we’ll be spending time on before the launch of Runes Reforged. Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed this dive into some of the process behind creating Runes Reforged. We’ll stick around in the comments to answer your questions and talk with you about Guardian Soul.
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