Patch Chat 6.7 - Playtesting 101

Hey all, Welcome back to Patch Chat! We’re Riot’s Playtest Team, a group of high ranking League players whose job it is to play the hell out of things (lane tests, competitive testing, etc) and give actionable, objective feedback to designers. Every two weeks (concurrent with the release of patch notes), we’re going to be hosting a discussion here on the state of balance on the current patch. **Take this opportunity to ask us any questions about the state of the game.** Today, we’ll be talking about the [Patch 6.7]( Kindred changes, detailing the iterative process we use in playtesting, how patch notes evolve as they pass through our team, and what skills we use as playtesters. Prospective playtesters, listen in, and if you think you’re up to snuff, [consider applying](! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- **Context** First, we get a changelist with the context for the change. In this case, Kindred has been dominating the early game, but only in the hands of experienced players. The proposed solution? Lower base damage on Dance of Arrows, a decreased heal on Wolf’s Frenzy, and Lamb’s Respite can only be self-cast now. How quickly we understand the context and how it suits - or doesn’t suit - the changes is probably the most critical part of our job. The question isn’t always about power. We don’t just want to nerf Kindred, we want to do so in a way that won’t punish inexperienced Kindred players that much. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- **Hypothesis** From here, we try to make predictions about the changelist. We like the change to Wolf’s Frenzy; with lower sustain early on, Kindred players won’t be as able to use their massive sustain advantage early to invade and gank while other junglers are left chugging their potions. Moreover, since the heal is contingent on movement, higher level players who are kiting camps more will actually feel this nerf more strongly. Same goes for the Lamb’s Respite change: inexperienced players will benefit from the more intuitive use of their ult. Our main concern is that the Dance of Arrows nerf hits new Kindred players too hard, killing their early clear speed and dueling potential. In other words, the Q changes are skill agnostic - they hit experienced and inexperienced Kindred players about the same. Unlike the other proposed changes, this doesn’t line up with the goals of the changelist. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- **Testing** When testing, we can’t just run a few random games and come away convinced. We’re limited to only a few tests per change on a given patch, and we can’t test everything. To compensate, we want to isolate as many variables as possible. Here, since we're concerned with Kindred’s early invade power, we set them up to succeed against immobile junglers like Cho’Gath and (spoilers) Taric, and set them up to fail against pressure fighters like Rek’Sai and Lee Sin. Four snowballed Kindreds later, we come away with one conclusion: Kindred is still capital-S Strong in the hands of experienced, high Elo players, despite these nerfs. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- **Feedback** However, we continue to have concerns about the Q nerfs. Our assessment is that Kindred probably would survive nerfs of this magnitude, but the hit to Dance of Arrows makes the champion quite hard if you’re new to the Eternal Hunters. Fast forward through a few days of discussion with designers and the Q changes get pulled: Patch 6.7 ships two Kindred changes, targeting their two zone abilities, but not Dance of Arrows. It’s not always that simple, of course. Sometimes we fail to convince designers. Sometimes a change ships that we are still concerned about. Sometimes we’re right, and sometimes we’re wrong, and overall the Core Gameplay Discipline grows and learns when to trust our instincts and when to stick to their design. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Have any questions about what it’s like to work as a Riot playtester? Maybe some questions about other, non-Kindred changes in 6.7? As usual, feel free to ask any questions about balance or what exactly our job is! We will be around for the next few hours and will try to answer as many questions as possible. Adam "_Afic_" Cohen Ben “_Cezium_” Burkhardt Shawn “_I Am The IRS_” Currie Miles “_Daydreamin_” Hoard Scott “_Sickoscott_” Hong Mattias “_Gentleman Gustaf_” Lehman Nicholas “_Nickwu_” Smith Blake “_Ex Shepherd_” Soberanis Trevor “_ThEntropist_” Thernes
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