Quick Gameplay Thoughts: Feb 28

Hi all, Some stuff on our minds below. As usual things mentioned here aren't necessarily final and this certainly isn't a comprehensive list, just things in a good place to be talked about today. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- **Marksmen** As per the post a couple of weeks ago (http://boards.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/c/developer-corner/XuAJPHo1-some-follow-up-marksmen-thoughts) we think Utility Marksmen, AD Caster Marksmen and lane bully marksmen are in reasonable spots generally (some exceptions). Crit marksmen definitely still need some work though. For crit marksmen the bulk of that work's going to be in mid-season when we'll likely make some changes to crit and/or armor pen functionality (see testing out different approaches, so hopeful on that stuff, but it's not guaranteed yet, might end up doing something else). We had some small tweaks that will affect crit marksmen, and marksmen in general in 7.4 (Warlord's Nerf, Fervor Buff, Last Whisper situational buff) too. Apologies for the disconnect between opening patch notes context (talk of big changes) and what was actually in the patch. That was the result of a misunderstanding between people on what we'd be tackling in 7.4 versus what we were targeting for mid-season. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- **Keystones** As you've probably seen we've got changes to DFT, Bond of Stone (soon to be renamed) and Warlord's Bloodlust on the PBE at present. We're trying to get significant functional changes to Keystones out of the way in one patch if possible, addressing issues with their patterns so that, ideally, we can just focus on numbers tuning for them for a while. That pairs with the reduction to damage contributions from masteries in 7.4 which was the other improvement we'd identified we wanted to target in the shorter term. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- **Patch Cycles** On a different note I figured it might also be interesting to some people to talk a bit about how our patch development cycles work, in particular why we stop making gameplay changes beyond a certain point and how that impacts how quickly we can respond to some things. It'll also probably be really boring to other people so suggest bailing out here if that doesn't sound like your thing. Each patch gets locked for bug testing, compatibility checking etc a week before it goes live. That means that with 7.5 for example, which we're currently working on, our last day to make gameplay changes is tomorrow, and even then anything new we add should be pretty minor (want to get the bigger changes that are harder to assess and check for bugs changes in early). That means we've got a week between 7.4 going out and 7.5 getting locked to make changes. The big exception to that is anything that needs tooltip adjustments. Since those have to be translated into other languages those need to be done earlier again (ideally by the Friday a few days after the previous patch, at latest the Monday after that). It takes a couple of days to get a read on the new game state after a patch too. As a result we start working on a patch before the previous one goes out, based off what we think will happen, and then adjust as needed if our predictions were wrong. For bigger unexpected tasks it can mean we need to take a patch longer as well. Or, to put that into a rough timeline, since that's a bit of a block of text: * 1 week before Patch 7.4 goes out we stop working on patch 7.4 and start working on 7.5. * Patch 7.4 goes out. * 2 days after patch 7.4 we get a read on how that patch has impacted balance. We've then a couple of days to make additional 7.5 changes if they affect tooltips and a couple of days more again if they don't. * 1 week after patch 7.4 goes out we lock down 7.5 completely and start on 7.6 gameplay changes. We will occasionally hotfix changes in too of course, those add significant extra risk of bugs though, particularly for some types of changes (stat adjustments tend to be pretty safe, things that change game logic like how spells function less so). As a result we try to use those really sparringly, since they get less testing time than changes developed normally and can lead to champions/items getting disabled etc.
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