Quick Gameplay Thoughts: August 2

Hi folks, ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- **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 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 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- **Rate of Balance Changes in TFT** We're at the point now where we're planning on slowing down on rate of balance changes in TFT. Until now we've been making pretty frequent and large changes trying to get everything broadly in line. From what we're seeing balance is getting close to a point where natural meta evolution's going to counter a lot of things though. Changing too quickly undercuts ability for that to emerge and can make it feel like whenever you're starting to master things that expertise gets reset too much with new patches all the time. 9.15b next week's likely to be pretty small as a result and current thinking is 9.16, while it will introduce new content with the Hextech Champs, shouldn't be as heavy on raw balance as 9.15. Plan is to still act swiftly on anything really degenerative or straight out bugged of course. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- **SR Balance** As mentioned previously we're now in the part of the year where we'll be making few balance changes for a while, keeping the game in a stable state. That means in particular fewer mechanics changes to existing champions and limited systemic changes to things like items, the jungle, runes etc. We'll still have regular balance changes each patch of course, though they'll tend to be more at the level of tuning than big swings at things. Looking at 9.15 things landed pretty much as expected. We don't have any significant followup planned yet for champs changed that patch as a result. For 9.16 we'll be keeping an eye on Yuumi, Irelia, Karma and Ezreal as all potentially too dominant, especially in a pro play context. Only specific change we're testing for 9.16 so far though is a nerf to jungle Sylas where his Q2 damage will also be reduced against monsters, not just minions. That's aimed at reducing the extra value he gets from being a strong flex pick, hope being that trimming that down will let us leave more power in him in other ways. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- **How we think about maintaining multiple versions of a feature** Given recent discussion around the Legacy Cursor I figured a bit of visibility into our thought process when it comes to offering multiple different versions of a feature might be of interest. Before diving into that though, for anyone who's missed it the option to use the Legacy Cursor's back in again. So, first off, general thoughts on benefits and costs of maintaining prior functionality when we update something. I'm assuming here that the output of the feature in question is the same (e.g. a cursor you use to control the game, a patcher that updates the game for you, a particular UI etc). Things like old and new versions of a champion by contrast are a very different case because what one player chooses impacts others. The benefit side of things is pretty straightforward - it lets us give different groups of players what they want. The cost side by contrast tends to be more complex, particularly depending on what the feature in question is. Meaningful costs we think about include: * The ongoing extra time that will be required to support multiple versions going forwards. Tends to mean things like having to make additional new pieces of art, fix the same bug in multiple places, additional QA testing each patch. For some features that time cost's trivial. For others (e.g. maintaining multiple versions of the in game HUD after its update a few years back) it adds a lot of extra time. * Some improvements that would be great for most users can end up being blocked by the need to support older functionality. Supporting really old operating systems for example can block improvements to things like memory usage for everyone else. * The total size and complexity of the game's code base has some impact on how quickly we can develop new features. Removing anything unnecessary gives us future efficiency as a result, which is particularly important for games like LoL with long lifespans and regular updates. Looking at the Legacy Cursor as an example: * We shipped an update to LoL's cursor in July 2018. Our belief was that the updated version would be a better experience for most players. That generally seemed to be true, testing did indicate that a subset of players indicated they found the cursor change really disruptive though. * In response to that we added a Legacy Cursor option to allow players to opt into the old functionality. Cost, both upfront and ongoing, of doing so was pretty low and audience asking for the old cursor seemed to be of a meaningful size. * As with any legacy feature we made a note to reassess at some point, see if it was still worth supporting or no longer necessary. * Somewhere along the way we got some wires crossed in our internal communication and the need to assess the Legacy Cursor was assumed to instead be a need to remove it a year later. Cursor gets removed, players get understandably sad. * We then take a look at who's using it, see that it's around 10% of the LoL playerbase, and add it back in. Cost of maintaining it's low and value seems pretty meaningful. http://ddragon.leagueoflegends.com/cdn/6.24.1/img/champion/Ziggs.png
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