League of Legends

Riot dev explains how they avoid adding ‘broken’ champions to League of Legends

Published: 27/Dec/2020 17:50

by Luke Edwards

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Controversy over how “OP” some League of Legends champions are is a tale as old as the game itself. One Riot Games dev has explained the challenges of balancing new champions, and how they try to avoid making champs who are completely broken.

League’s seen some ludicrously OP new champs over the years. There was midlane mage-assassin Zoe, who players quickly came to loathe with her low-risk, high-reward playstyle. On the flip side, champions like Bard were initially far too weak, and required buffs in following patches.

However, every now and then, a champion comes along who is (almost) perfectly balanced. Lee Sin and Orianna, for example, have kits with clear strengths and weaknesses and are very rarely tweaked when the patch notes come out.

The latest success story is Lillia. The mage jungler, who was released back in July, has not been mentioned in the patch notes at all since, apart from a couple of standard bug fixes. One Riot dev has explained the success behind Lillia, and the formula their devs use when balancing new champs.

Zoe in League of Legends
Riot Games
Zoe terrorized League players when she was first released.

Riot gameplay analyst Ray Williams, who was on the team that developed Lillia, explained how luck plays a big part in a champion being a success when released.

He told one Redditor: “We have only around a dozen games playtested on champions on their final couple iterations, and it really doesn’t compare to the millions we get quickly after release. Nailing a % winrate balance number with that small sample size is a lot of luck.”

However, it’s not quite as simple as building a champ and hoping it will be balanced. When designing Lillia, Williams explained how making her strengths and weaknesses as explicit as possible helped the balancing act.

Spirit Blossom Lillia in League of Legends
Riot Games
Lillia is in the perfect zone of feeling satisfying to play, but not oppressive to face.

He said: “[We made] sure her super fun and high-agency strengths (ramping movespeed, true damage, triple damage W, infinite range E/R) come with big drawbacks (squishiness, low base MS, slow moving abilities so that the player feels like a god but the opponents know the counterplay).”

Some of the balancing act relies on pure numbers, too. With junglers specifically, Williams explained how devs rely on “comparing stats/ability DPS/clear speeds to other champions” to ensure they don’t blow the competition out the water.

It’s rare for a champion to be immediately balanced on release, and Williams hopes balanced releases like Lillia will continue in the future. “We are hoping to make this the standard of precision,” he said.

It’s hard to see future new League champions being as immediately well-balanced as Lillia, but if following this formula means fewer cases like Zoe, then we’re all for it.

League of Legends

Everything we know about Riot’s LoL fighter “Project L” – roster, more

Published: 27/Dec/2020 14:45 Updated: 27/Dec/2020 15:27

by Michael Gwilliam

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On October 15 2019, Riot Games unveiled the first footage of their upcoming League of Legends-based fighting game codenamed “Project L”. The game is helped being designed by Evo co-founder Tom Cannon. 

What type of fighting game is Project L? 

Project L appears to be a 2.5D fighting game similar to the likes of Street Fighter V. 2.5D fighting games have full 3D graphics, but play as
if they’re 2D fighters.

2.5D fighters evolved from 2D fighters, maintaining the same style of gameplay, but with updated graphics.

Riot GamesFootage of Riot’s fighting game was first shown off on October 15 2019.

What will Project L’s gameplay be like?

The game features a standard 90-second match timer. Additionally, the game keeps track of combos indicating how many hits connect with an opponent.

Character-specific meters also indicate the possibility of EX-attacks and supers, though nothing has been shown off yet.

Additionally, while Riot didn’t confirm that the game uses GGPO netcode, the fact that it was made open source makes it likely. Tony Cannon, Tom’s brother, designed GGPO to help create a seemingly lagless online experience to it would make sense for Project L to take advantage of it.

What League of Legends Champions are in Project L?

On the character side, a few champions were spotted including: Ahri, Darius, Katarina and Jinx.

What’s neat is that there are multiple different types of abilities resulting in numerous different styles. While a champion like Darius uses his axe for combat, similar to a game like Soul Calibur, Ahri could be primarily projectile based.

Riot GamesProject L appears to be a 2.5D fighter like Street Fighter.

When is Project L coming out?

Cannon said that the team still has a long way to go, but they’re working very hard on the project. In fact, in a tweet posted after the game was shown, the developer said that isn’t close to release or even alpha.

This was the only info we had for over a year. But then, on December 21 2020, Riot Games filed for a new trademark for a logo featuring a large letter L with a lightning bolt through it. It’s fair to assume this is related in some way to Project L.

It also implies Riot could be on the verge of releasing some new teasers, or perhaps even announcing a release date. Either way, it’s a surefire sign that things are progressing, which we love to see.

This logo was filed for trademark by Riot on December 21 2020. Could this be the logo for Project L?

When was Project L announced?

It had previously been revealed the Riot had been working on a game back at Evo 2019, the world’s biggest fighting game tournament.

“I want to be able to let people in on maybe the worst kept secret in
the universe, which is I can confirm that we are working on a fighting
game for Riot,” Tom Cannon said in an
interview.

Riot GamesA champion resembling Jinx performs a combo on who appears to be Katarina.

On October 15 2019, Riot Games provided more information about the game during their livestream.

“What, I think, League of Legends players expect from this game is different, but in some ways harmonious with what I think fighting game players expect from this game,” Cannon said during a developer video.

“Everyone wants a great game, but what we’ve been seeing is that people are really excited to see Runeterra Champions in a new light.”

With so much talent and effort going into the title, it will be interesting to see how the game progresses and if it can shake up the fighting game landscape.