For once, let's blame Ghostcrawler for something he's actually responsible for!

I know these boards tend to focus their discontent with an entire team's or department's decision on a single figurehead, and while occasionally they hit the right figurehead with it, but mostly only with criticism that affects actions that might have been remotely in the area of said figurehead's responsibility, but nothing they themselves did. So in this thread I'll try to pin-point directly what our Mr. Lead Gameplay Dude has messed up - and what is actually his screw up, and not just some random terrible thing that the team as a whole cooked up (like the current Scuttle change). But for now, let's start by square one, and to see what he is responsible for, we need to know what the job is. Mostly, seemingly "lead" positions in design are not the "boss designers", but it mostly is just normal design with a truckload of management work thrown onto it. Yes sure, in theory you get to have the last word, but your main job is not exactly designing, but rather to keep all the teams currently working on designing in sync, for one so they can work with each other, for the other so everyone is informed what is currently done and what the current overall direction is. And this direction is where the current issue lies with this game - because when compared to earlier seasons, there has been a certain shift. This shift has been at the most fundamental aspect when it comes to a game: how the experience is achieved. League of Legend is a game that follows a pattern of empowerment. For one in the simple sense that you, a mere human being, play a POWERFUL CHAMPION, for the other that the game is a contest of power, because to win you need to use that new power to defeat adversaries of the same level. You might call this "competitive empowerment". However, this is what League seems to have moved away from. Because, this "competitive empowerment" is not the only way you can try to achieve the empowerment of the player. There is another, much - MUCH more simpler way to make people feel strong: by simply letting them stomp everyone else. Some F2P games even made this as a business model: gain a small number of "whales" (aka players who spend a ton), and let them have fun with stomping (or in some rare cases, helping) the non-playing users. However, as this can lead to frustration with the non-paying players, these games need to draw in a constant flow of new players, because they are content for the power-fantasy of the paying users. And this is where the change in direction comes to mind: In current day you are not supposed to win as a team, but to have this one strong player you get really pumped up and he just steamrolls the rest. The favor assassins gain from the balance team is further proof of that - they get ahead a little and suddenly the entire game revolves around them. Surely fun for the assassin player, not so much for the rest of the players, that now exist not as a "worthy competitors", but just as "fodder" for the assassin player to shred through. On a more overall level this results in matches no longer being competitive, but just being a one sided stomp - all for this new approach on how to make the "Empowerment" of the player work. Instead of trying to achieve everyone reaching the same level of said empowerment in a single match, now the players have to take turns - one game they stomp, the other they get stomped. Overall, over the course of countless games, you achieve the same result of "total empowerment" (if you could measure it scientifically), but the way how to go about it has drastically changed. THE "FUN" IS NOW ALWAYS ON THE COST OF THE OTHER PLAYERS, AND NOT DERVIVED FROM THE COMPETITIVE ELEMENT. And THIS is something that does indeed fall into the responsibilities of a Lead Designer. Individual design workers or pods work on singular champions, or smallg roups of champions, try to tweak items, and make things work in very limited areas, but as the big dog it's the Lead Dude's job the have the great whole in sight. And yes, he kinda does, or else Riot would have fired him long ago for being truly incompetent on his job - but the vision he has for the game is just VASTLY DIFFERENT FROM WHAT THIS GAME ORIGINALLY WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AND WHAT MADE IT SUCCESSFULL IN THE FIRST PLACE. I can even think of what causes this: most game designers have not learned their craft in an era of direct multiplayer games. I mean, when you look at Ghostcrawler's history before WoW, he has mostly worked on RTS titles (he started with Age of Empires after all). Back in the time, no one was playing these games for a competitive multiplayer - people played the campaign, and the multiplayer was for you and your friends to mess around with during LAN parties (man good old times, when was the last time I had a good old fashioned LAN-party?). At the same time the interaction between players in an RTS is different from the interaction of a players in a MOBA. Oh and WoW is an MMORPG, a genre that started out as mostly single-player/co-op vs AI. as well. It's kinda the same like with CertainlyT - that guy is probably a downright awesome single-player designer, but in a multiplayer context his works are just atrocious do deal with. For the very same problem that I have said above: champions of that designer are fun for the person playing, at the expense of everyone playing against it. In a single-player game those principles of empowering the player was never an issue - after all the mobs and raid-bosses couldn't and wouldn't do much about it, mostly for the fact that that would require having actual sentience and not just being a pile of fancy pixels with some code under the hood. But, as one might suspect, human players are a bit more complex than that. This is what this post boils down to: the way Lead Design approaches the goal of Player Empowerment is completly wrong, mostly due to the wrong tools and methods being used. And this DOES have an effect on the overall appeal of the game. (After all Riot's denial to release any official numbers on the active players says more than any released number could possibly do). This is a sign that Ghostcrawler has either no clue on what this game originally was, or he knows, yet tries to force his vision of game design on it, which is however based in paradigms that are completly unfitting for a game like League. I don't know which one of the two is worse, but it needs to stop before irreperable damage is done. Just stop being lazy. I know maintaning a competitve empowerment design is harder than just rolling the dice and having on team be the stomp-fodder for the fun of the other, but you know what? DOING THAT IS YOUR JOB. So get it right instead of trying to get a mediocre result with the least effort possible.
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