Hi all, Fearless here.
Want to grow some of the understanding around Plants: What they are, and why we think they’re a fertile space to improve the jungle and the game as a whole. The TL;DR is that after a long stretch of enriching the decisions around how to win a whole game, we needed more elements that can change how you approach individual fights.
Many changes we’ve made to the map and objectives have focused on strategic depth (the various elements that change how you attempt to win the whole game). Elemental Dragons and Baron buffing minions, for example, were all about making sure that different strategies produce games that are meaningfully different to play, and reward player adaptation over memorization of “correct” moves.
All awesome, but this left us with a clearly stand out issue: we have too few sources on the map for tactical depth (elements that promote different approaches to specific situations). We wanted to find ways to increase adaptation in individual fights, and we quickly found that the jungle, which already had unique terrain layouts and the red buffs serving as valuable skirmish objectives, had ample opportunities to do better. The Rift Scuttler, for example, creates the gameplay we’re looking for at the edge of the jungle, with constrained randomization as a core part of her identity. In the first few experiments, plants proved that infrequent but impactful interactions could inject a lot of excitement while reintroducing tactical decision making that had been decreasing as players learn to predict the outcome of more and more fights. Put plainly, plants injected excitement into fights that have trended towards predictability and being solved. They also were a fruitful way to double down on the feeling that the jungle was a living, wild space.
Let’s flesh out some details. Plants are small, single use neutral objects that activate when attacked by a champion. They spawn in semi-random locations in the jungle (similar to Bard’s chimes), and respawn after a window of regrowth. Their spawn points are fairly restricted for early game, making sure they can’t have too much impact on early gank routes or invades. We also ensure that plants have extremely strict rules around fairness: teams should have balanced access to each plant that shows up in the game. Plants also telegraph themselves to ensure players have adequate windows to adapt, showing up as a seedling 30 seconds before they can be used.
One plant we decided was ripe with opportunity very early was the Blast Cone. Look, a plant!
Imagine it as a universal Ziggs satchel, throwing all units away from the center point when attacked. These can provide some dramatic jukes or be used to throw an enemy where they don’t want to be. They are also frequently used to allow champions without dashes to hop over key walls and, yes, they spawn behind dragon and Baron Nashor pits.
In development, it also became clear that Plants had a lot of overlap with Smite Rewards, but with much better visibility, mastery and impact across game time. However, We wanted to ensure that Junglers still kept the meaningful difference when it came to jungle routes and being able to optimize the jungle to different goals. The result was changes to the jungle camps themselves to better express the strengths of different types of junglers. That gives us a lever to support a wider range of junglers at the same time, which Smite Rewards struggled with throughout their lifetime. More details about the camps that are changing in the near future.
We moved the interesting tactical reactive power of Red Buff smite into Smite itself, as well as the new restorative Honeyfruit that spawn in the river. This one’s totally designer art, so don’t expect the explosion of oranges when these show up on Summoner’s Rift.
We also found ourselves missing the vision tools of Raptor Buff, and brought those into the Scryer’s Bloom.
Think of this plant like a magic dandelion filled with Hawkshots, revealing champions **and wards** in a large cone. So while Smite buffs won’t be on our buff bars in Season 2017, I’m confident the best moments they provided will still be in our games.
That said, we are trying some really new things with plants. We’re committed to making sure that they both land well, but also that they have the space to flower into a great addition to the game. We might make significant changes as the plants take root, to things like where they spawn, what they do, and how often you interact with them.
Hope this helps give everyone a better idea of where we’re going with plants, but feel free to leaf any comments below if you still have questions!