Unusual Playstyles | /dev diary – League of Legends
Hi, folks. I’m Andrei. And I’m the lead gameplay designer for League of Legends. We want to talk to you about unusual playstyles and experimental gameplay and how we see those. It’s a subject we’ve been getting a lot of questions and discussion around recently so we figured it was a good time. For most champions there’s generally a common way to play them, building a bunch of attack damage and attack speed and crit items on a marksman, for example, and playing them in the bot lane. That’s pretty standard nowadays. On some champions though, you’ll see an unusual tanky build or a weird split push or jungle invade playstyle or a roaming support. Those style of things. And those can be unusual and still really effective. I think it’s important that there’s new things to discover and find because that keeps the game fresh. The meta of the game will gradually change over time or for those of you that are playing off meta, there’s something new and unusual to experiment with as well. It also means that you can find what’s best for you as a player. The particular champion that split pushes in the exact way that you’re really good at, or that you enjoy the most and trying to optimize that can be a lot of fun. So looking back at past seasons, we’ve seen a number of what were at the time experimental playstyles emerge. Some of which have actually become almost the dominant playstyle or have very much become the dominant playstyle since. Back in Season one, for example, there was a commonly accepted wisdom for awhile that you put a couple of fighters or tanks at bot lane. And then some of the EU teams started doing this weird thing where instead of putting their marksman in the mid lane they actually put them bot lane with another character who wouldn’t farm much at all. And over time, it was demonstrated.. Hey, this is really effective. And other teams started doing that as well. And so the game evolved to the situation where you’ve got an ADC and a support as pretty much the expected common thing at bot lane but that wasn’t always the case. For a more micro-example, at one point we started seeing Singed go from a unusual but standard laner to a champion who proxy farmed a lot more. He’d run behind the enemy’s tower and far away from his own minions and help and just kill minions by running around with poison trail occasionally even getting pretty far towards the enemy base and often dying a lot. And that was really weird and unusual, and still really effective. And nowadays Singed play incorporates an awful lot of that and a few people trailblazed that way for a lot of the rest of the player base and showed how it was a cool effective thing. So intent to win is what we think is most important. As a player, if you’re doing something unusual, you’re trying to help you team get to victory even if it may not be in a way that’s well-proven or that they necessarily completely understand. Because of that, it’s really important that we distinguish between a player who is trolling and a player who is trying to win in an unusual way. As a few different things we can look at in order to… actually quite a lot of things… in order to make that determination. That includes things like, is this player trying to maximize their team’s resources on Summoner’s Rift relative to the other team. If you’re giving up all of your minions, your gold and experience from the top lane, for example, and you’re not costing the enemy team even more, you’re probably making a pretty terrible choice. By contrast, if you’re giving up some of your team’s access to minions and XP at bot lane, but you’re completely shutting down the enemy jungler, that could be a really good effective strategy if you can pull it off. Other things to look at include how you use the resources that you’ve gathered. Are you just sitting on a large amounts of gold and never buying anything, or you’re stacking multiple pairs of mobility boots that do nothing. So we certainly encourage you to talk to your team if you’ve got a really unusual playstyle. Help them understand what you’re going for, how you’re trying to win. That sort of thing. It gives you a better chance to win if your team is aware of how you’re trying to change the game or what strategy you’re trying to play. And they can work with you on that. In general, we really like seeing unique and interesting playstyles emerge, and seeing the game evolve. But that doesn’t mean that every single unique playstyle is necessarily a good one. In the same way that we have guidelines for what good gameplay looks like. Counterplay. Clarity. Satisfaction. Team Cooperation. Those sort of things. For any playstyle, we want those from the unusual ones as well. So there have been times in the past where we’ve deliberately removed some… some uncommon playstyles because of the effect they have on the game. The clearest example of that in the past is probably AP Tryndamere. For any champion in the game, we want them to have noticeable strengths and weaknesses. They should be good at some things that as the player of that champion, you’re trying to take advantage of. And they should be weak at some things that as that player, you try and guard against and as the enemy, you try to exploit. Tryndamere is designed so that his heal forces him to give some of his auto attack power. And he’s actually got to build up that rage to get the heal in the first place as well. So there is some degree of interaction that goes into that. By contrast, with AP Tryndamere, you don’t need to build up rage. So there’s none of that attacking minions or champions to get it. And you’re not auto attacking all that much anyway. So you’re not really making that trade off. There’s no mana cost on the ability either. So it effectively boiled down to, push Q for a large heal repeatedly. Tank Ekko is actually another good example of a playstyle that we felt was problematic for the game. Ekko’s got some really powerful tools on his kit particularly the stun on his W and the rewind effect on his ult. But those are counter balanced by as a melee guy, he’s gotta get in there, he’s gonna take some risks. So it’s a real risk-reward trade off and some limited safety nets for him. Tank Ekko, by contrast, is much more reliable. He can go in. He can reliably be in there long enough to proc the W. He can gradually train you down. The R, instead of being… Oh crap. And, get out of there button, becomes a, heal me for a lot, and then I’ll go back to doing my really reliable thing. So the problem with tank Ekko effectively was not that he was really hard to kill. It was that he was not giving up enough in exchange for that. Tank Ekko didn’t have the burst of AP Ekko, But he still had more than enough damage especially over the longer fight times that he could live for to more than make up for it. And so we felt that the AP Ekko was the much more engaging and exciting playstyle for both the Ekko player and everybody else. And as a result we shifted some power so that the AP builds are much more rewarded and the reliable tank ones much less so. We’ve actually seen a couple of good examples recently of what historically would have been really unusual playstyles that have proven to both be pretty effective and pretty healthy for the game. The first of those is Miss Fortune as a support which most of us first saw in Worlds last year as a counterpick to Zyra. And that’s been really cool because She’s still doing Miss Fortune style things. She’s still got those weaknesses. She still brings quite a bit of power in her ult. But she’s doing it from the support position. So she’s less concerned about that auto attacking, playing a more of a vision role on her team, more reliant on base damage and scaling, those sorts of things. And it also means that she’s then laning with another ADC. And that then changes how, as the other ADC, you want to play. So you want somebody like Ashe, who brings a bunch of extra crowd control to support you more than just raw damage. And if you play both ADC and support, there’s then some interesting… Hey, a champion I already enjoy, I can now play in a different way. Cool. Bot lane Ziggs was the other example actually that we saw at the start of this year. That’s still getting some play. As a team, you’re getting a lot of extra tower pushing pressure, especially in the early game from both wave clear, his passive on towers and the W’s ability to execute low-health towers. But you’re also giving up that reliable auto attack damage. And you’re losing a source of physical damage on the team which put some constraints on what you can run in your other lanes. So bot lane Ziggs still has some clear strengths and weaknesses to him. Thanks for watching folks. I hope this has been interesting. And we realize this is a pretty complicated topic with a range of different opinions on it. So we’d love to hear more from you in the comments, on the forums, or wherever, to keep this discussion going.