My League of Legends Suggestions

9otURYhI don’t usually do things like this(although I did do it once for American football), but I’ve been playing League of Legends for a couple of years now and I have a bunch of thoughts on the game. I myself am far from a good player, but I have watched a decent amount of pro games and commentary and I have friends who are much more serious than myself will will review these suggestions to make sure they aren’t just just silly “noob” ideas before I post!

Here are my “changes that they should make right now”. These are changes which I have a high level of certainty in and which Riot should do immediately.

  1. Stop adding new characters. There are already, as of this post, 127 characters available to play. In my view, this is probably 100 too many, but I could (I guess) live with the current number if that’s all there was ever going to be. The game is incredibly hard to learn right now and it gets harder every time you add a new character. Instead, please focus entirely on champion updates – re-vamping existing characters to make them better. Some of the old characters like Poppy or Warwick are in need of a complete overhaul anyway, so if you have a thirst for making new characters, delete the current “Warwick” character, and then design a new, far better one and name him “Warwick”.
    And it’s not just Poppy and Warwick – there’s at least a couple dozen other champions who could really use a rework. Characters that are either dysfunctional in some way, or just “far more boring than other similar alternatives” should be fixed up before adding any new characters, at the very least.
  2. Remove the ability to “steal” Jungle creeps/objectives. Blizzard already solved this problem for you with the way it’s done in Heroes of the Storm. In case it’s not obvious why you should remove this “stealing” concept from the game, the answer is that it’s random and it could be pretty game changing. If my team is getting Baron at a key moment, and whether or not we get it comes down to whether my Smite or the opposing jungler’s Smite goes off first, that’s leaving a huge, potentially game-changing event up to chance. The “smite battle” is roughly equivalent to one of those dexterity card games where players have to slam their hand down on a card first; fine for a children’s party game, but not fine for a competitive strategy game. Just copy what HotS did, where players have to kill the monster and then “capture a point”.
    Another note: players will sometimes waste their global Ultimate spells (Jinx, Ezreal) – even in pro games – to try and steal Dragon or Baron. So about 1% of the time, one team randomly hits the jackpot and now deforms the state of the game for reasons other than strategy.
  3. Remove random critical hits. I generally like how the abilities in this game are not-random; you don’t have a single ability in the game that’s like “10% chance to stun” or something like that. Things do what they do, so I feel like people at Riot get it that these things shouldn’t be random. Somehow, though, random criticals on auto-attacks have survived. If you want to keep criticals in the game for some reason, find a way to make them entirely non-random, or remove them. Personally, I don’t think the game needs critical hits at all, and as a bonus, for removing this, you’ll also get to remove a few items.
  4. Get rid of runes and masteries completely. This has been written about elsewhere, I’m sure, but the game does not need all this chaff. It adds nothing; it’s really just a bunch of noise and I am surprised that it hasn’t been removed already. The worst part is, players have to deal with it if they want to be on an even playing field. It makes the game more loosey-goosey and random (since you don’t really know what runes opponents have), way more complicated, and unfair. Imagine teaching your friend to play League, and then you have to tell him about this God-awful system? It’s embarrassing and needs to be removed immediately. You don’t need to replace it with anything, just delete it. Refund the IP or RP to everyone who spent money on “Rune Pages” or whatever.
    Ideally, I’d like both removed, but if you can only remove one of the two, at least remove runes. Masteries are more harmless; you don’t have to “buy” anything and it’s a far simpler system.

Those four things, Riot should absolutely do right away. #3 is the only one that’s likely to have some significant balance ramifications, but it’s worth making whatever other changes you need to make to support that change.

The next few things are things I recommend, but which I am slightly less certain of. I’m still highly certain of them, mind you – I think they’re great ideas. They are, however, more complex and may have other ramifications that I will admit I could be unaware of. Still, though, I hope that people will consider these!

  1. Get rid of the concept of selectable “summoner spells”. The issue of summoner spells is basically solved. With very few exceptions, top players get teleport, ADCs get heal, supports get exhaust and everyone gets Flash. It’s just something you “have to do”, not a choice at all really. If you think the game needs these summoner spells, have players select their “role” (as they do in Team Builder) and that gives them a summoner spell. Frankly, though, I think the game can do without summoner spells, maybe most of all, Flash. All Flash does is draw out the game, giving all players a “Do Over” move, as well as make the game much more about execution and prediction (stuff like flashing right before doing a big ability makes it basically random for other players).
  2. wardslotWard Slots! If you were to make a “heat map” of the places people put wards, you’d notice that they basically go in the same 10-20 places on the map, every single game. Good ward placement is also basically solved. So, let’s do this: we’ll create “ward slots”, these little structures with a hole in them, in all of the places that people usually put wards. One in the tri-bush, one in the lane pushes, one near red, one near blue, etc. Players can only place a ward in a ward-slot, and there can only be one ward in the slot. Placing a ward anywhere in the ward-slot’s range places it into the ward slot.
    Here’s the advantages: one, you don’t have new players putting wards in total nonsense spots. Two, you don’t have the situation where you and your team mate both place a ward in the same bush at the same moment (once a ward slot is occupied, no one else can place a ward there). You also won’t have the “one pixel off problem”, of mistakenly placing a ward just OUTSIDE a bush, or scanning one pixel off from an existing ward.
    I need to add one more rule to the ward slots to make them work: they have a cooldown. Once you place a ward in there, you have to wait maybe five seconds or so before anyone can “replace” the ward in there (to refresh the timer).
    I’m aware that players will use wards in other, more spontaneous ways – warding over a wall or into a bush during a fight, not to mention for a player to teleport to or for Lee Sin to jump to. But I think probably the game would be better off without the player ability to arbitrarily change his pattern of vision via items. If you wanna see over that wall, go walk over there – that’s better for the game. And as to the weird little things like teleport and Lee Sin, I don’t think it’s a big loss; certainly worth what we’re getting in exchange.
  3. New win condition: destroy 2 inhibitors. I’ve been looking up some stats on this. The win rate in the LCS after getting first inhibitor is ~92%. I’ve also read elsewhere that it has been 100% at times (a bit old, but still probably somewhat relevant). I haven’t been able to find stats on win percentage after getting the second inhibitor, but I feel pretty confident it’s well north of 95%. With that said, I would rather lose out on those 5% (or fewer) remaining upsets than waste that last 5 minutes (which can extend to 10 or even 15 more minutes in low ELO solo queue). So now you can win by *either* destroying two inhibitors or destroying the nexus.
  4. Get rid of “last hitting”. I put this one last because I feel there is the least chance of this idea ever getting used, but it’s stupid that a player is getting more gold because he sat in a custom game for 5 hours drilling away at practicing last-hitting minions. It has nothing to do with the larger game; it’s as if there was some little Wario Ware game that you had to play to decide how much gold you’d get in lane. Instead, make it that minions drop gold where they are and you have to walk over to pick it up. Then you still have the “area control” aspect in tact, but you no longer have the strange busy-work mini-game that arbitrarily deforms player advantage.
    In a way, this one is kind of related to the “stealing buffs” one. It seems like maybe Riot thinks “the important thing” is getting the last hit, when actually the important thing was being in that space choosing to do that thing and controlling the space long enough to get it done. Same with getting kills, frankly – it shouldn’t matter that you got the “last hit” on the kill.

 

This is not a complete list of the changes that I would recommend for the game. There are also these suggestions that I made awhile back regarding presentation. Overall, I do think League is one of – if not the overall-current-strongest-strategy-game we have, so I’m excited to see what changes Riot makes to the game in the future. Let me know what you think!

 

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  • Good article. I also played my share of LoL, mostly for studying its design and trying to learn why it is so popular. I wholeheartedly agree with all your points, especially the first and last one (new heroes and last hitting). I also find many of these things fixed in Heroes of the Storm, even though I didn’t find the time to test that one enough.

    I do think, though, that one item needs to be added to the list and that is: remove the surrender at 20 min limit and generally cut down on the length of the game (for non-pros). In random teams, you can really end up in a game that’s practically over 10 mins into the game. Maybe there’s a feeder, maybe the team just played well or is imbalanced. But the game still forces you to stay around another 10 mins of (probably) swearing.

    Overall, a standard game just takes too long. Suppose you don’t want to quit without having won a game and you are on a bad streak, then you need to commit some serious time to play maybe 4-5 games in a row. It’s too much of a time waster in these busy days.

    Another gripe is that Riot balances the game for pro play, but not all things that work in pro carry over to a standard game. This is mostly due to the fact that normal players lack the level of coordination pros have. As a result, games drag on and some characters with lots of late game potential get absurdly powerful. This can cause a lot of frustration for new players.

    I’m also convinced that MOBAs live in their own world and studying their game design needs to be done with a grain of salt. A vast majority of MOBA players only play their favorite MOBA and nothing else. They are not even looking elsewhere and it’s hard to get their attention for any other game. Therefore, they aren’t really in your target audience for whatever you are doing as a game designer.

  • Rob Seater

    Every one of these suggestions would strictly improve the game. In fact, several of them are key reasons why I stopped playing the game, despite having finished my boring grind to get levels and runes.

    It’ll be hard to convince them to stop adding champions, because it gives them a lot of hype and sales, even though it’s going to catch up with them financially in the long run. Also, while they keep adding redundant heroes that just add barriers to entry, there are probably another 5-10 champion designs they _could_ add that would actually change and improve the game (and appeal to different play styles). However, that’s not the kind of champion they actually add, and they should only add any new ones after removing 100+ of the current designs. Just turn the cut champions into skins.

  • Brett

    Most of the article I agreed with without any immediately, but as soon as I saw the remove last hitting point, I’ll admit my eyebrow almost left my forehead (I play DOTA semi-competitively). However, with the gold-dropping system you described, I agree that it serves more or less the same function, and would likely vastly improve LOL at least. In a DOTA context, last-hits/denies are often pointed to as an example of lane control (which they are), but lane control is often much more dependent on other factors anyway (stacking + pulling). It would be interesting playing with values for how the gold “fades” over time. (Can’t stay there forever, and has to be team-specific). Maybe it should just decrease in value over time until zero, so “fresh” gold is better. (This is also an indirect buff to melee heroes/champions, which is good anyway because range is an inherent advantage for laning.

    Man, this is starting to sound really good…

  • Thanks for reading, Rob. Agreed on your turn-cut-champs-into-skins idea!

  • Thanks, Brett! (Wow, it feels weird to have people say nice things about my articles, haha!)

  • Pencheff

    My 2 cents on this, and why I don’t agree with most of it:

    1. Only point I can agree on actually – definitely need to slow down champion release to maybe 2 per year and focus extensively on reworks.
    2. Steal needs to be in the game as it directly adds to the most exciting parts of the game, especially competitively – influence of individual skill on the game outcome and strategy. Objectives are not some thing to just burst down and be done with it – timing, control of the zone, vision control of the area to prevent steals and most importantly – a plan in case the enemy team contests it. Taking this away would be the same as making football matches not be won by goals, taking away the option of highly skilled player to score a last minute goal, but to add a complex point game, where goals get factored through other stats as ball possession, attacks, shots on goal etc. It will further take away diversity in jungling, where counter-jungling will become a non-existent element and objective fights will follow the usual, lame HOTS rotation – 2 heavy CC tanks zone the enemy team while the DPS guys take the objective, 1-2 deaths for a big objective, #worth, back to base. (Puke).
    3. Critical hits are not random – a balancing, pseudo-random algorithm has been in place since patch 1.0.0.109 (January 2011).
    4. Runes and masteries are heavily impacting diversity in champions – they are the thing that balance many specifics in champion design, mainly the different power swing and scaling of every champion. Some scale gradually, some are really bad early but become beasts mid/late, while others are really good early, ok mid, and bad late. It further balances the early game, where without them an early kill and item advantage would mean auto-losing your lane.

    Part 2

    1. Still against it, as it adds a lot of diversity, I can agree that 90% of the people using flash is lame. Because of this, I would be a fan of stealing Dota’s Blink Dagger concept, making it an initiation and situational escape spell, rather than the “get out of jail free card” it is now.
    2. Warding heavily changes throughout the game and is connected to team goals in the next couple of minutes. Again strategic depth. Checking bushes/objectives with a wards will become impossible, limiting people to the old crappy concept of firing a skillshot into the bush and listening for the “it hit” sound.
    3. Already mentioned – takes away win by individual skill or a brilliant strategy. Although 92% of the games are won by destroying 2 inhibs, the excitement of a game turned around by an amazing individual play is what people like and are more excited about in sports. Football is again a fine example sport for this.
    4. Allthough I really hate last hitting, since I’m bad at it, it would be a massive hit at strategic depth in terms of laning, where everything is about balancing PvP aggression and farming. Strategic decisions like pushing in a wave to force the enemy to farm under the tower, which is one of the biggest causes for missing CS. With your concept pushing a wave in would be doing your enemy a favor, as minions dying under the tower would be free gold, since it’s difficult to contest “gold piles”. You would be taking away last hitting and replacing it with forcing people to learn to freeze lanes, which if you do a small google search is a freaking science. Forcing someone back to base would be almost impossible, as he would just have to wait for your minions to die under his tower, collect gold and repeat, opposed to the currently “try to last hit while dodging his skillshots” concept. This would mean less possibilities of early advantage, less options to snowball and ultimately – make the games way longer (which I understood you are heavily against).

  • FiloGC

    I surprisingly disagree in most of the suggestions, let me get my opinion across and maybe we can engage in jolly discussion 😀

    1.Stop adding new characters: While I can see the point you make, I think new champions are important to keep engaging the old dogs who already know every champion. Yes, it can be a lot of learning for the new players, but in my experience, new players usually enjoy discovering the champions rather than despise not knowing what they do. This discovery process is in fact something that me and my friends tried to recall when we knew every champ by playing other dota-likes, and the thrill for the new champion drives the community in a way that, in my opinion, greatly compensates for the inevitable extra learning (again, I don’t think that extra is necessarily bad)

    2.Remove the ability to “steal” objectives: This I totally despise. Here’s my point: while it’s true that it can sometimes suddenly turn the match around with a random looking smite-steal, the truth is that a team can deny vision on an objective and zone out the enemy to the point where he can’t steal the objective at all. If they aren’t really capable of doing so it means that they don’t have much of an advantage towards the enemy and they’re taking this high-risk/high-reward bet that can be a burst of excitement in a competitive match. And that’s really very important when talking about an e-sport as league is built around to be.

    3.Remove random critical hits: Meh, that I could agree. Although I don’t really think critical hits are such big of a deal, I can see the game with less items and less randomness in that regard. Still, I don’t think it is very unbalancing and it gives a different way to build those bland autoattack based champs. But I will give you this one.

    4.Get rid of runes and masteries completely: I fully agree with you, a real complex and frustrating system with an incredibly low complexity/depth ratio. The thing is, refunding all the runes and runepages to the players seems like such an unbalanced idea, since it would grant players HUGE amounts of PI, and not doing it would feel like players have been cheated on. I don’t know if there is a way to remove runes but at least masteries should go right down the drain, more so when riot is not getting any money from it.

    1.Get rid of the concept of selectable summoner spells: I don’t really understand why. Summoner spells are so simple yet so important in a game that it feels too much of a dumbing down to get rid of them. I don’t really understand what would be the benefits. Also people could just cheat the system by selecting ADC role with a toplaner just to get heal. Also I don’t think there is no option in regards of which summoner spells to take, while there is a fairly standard meta involved, the personal preferences are still there, and sometimes people aren’t playing to win and the current system allows a 5 teleport + 5 heal troll teamcomp

    2.Ward Slots: I feel like this is again too much of a dumbing down and the benefits simply are not there (as far as I can see). If two players place a ward in the same bush, that’s bad communication and the team is failing at a core dynamic of the game, and they are getting punished for it in a very organic feeling way. Also, ward placement is a deep system and again, you can always place the ward in the middle of the bush and secure a totally fine ward. Again, I feel like this suggestion decreases the complexity a little but at the cost of overwhelmingly dropping the game depth.

    3.Win condition: destroy 2 inhibs: I see your point, league matches can be long. But while with this change you’re affecting only the 5% of the matches, you’re precisely affecting the most exciting ones. And when a team has 2 inhibs down either the match is not going to take too long anyway or it is a tense and exciting one.

    4.Get rid of last hitting: Meh, I don’t have a clue with this one. I feel like they should give last hitting less of a profitables trategy, but not outright getting rid of it. It helps pacing the early part of the game, punish the enemy if you make him go heal at base, and pushes the players to try and zone out the enemy laners. It has is downsides but overall I think it is just OK.

    Phew, that was a long one. Again, these are just my opinions and they are possibly wrong.

  • FiloGC

    By the way, while I feel like masteries and runes should go away, I also think that some other way of microadjusting a champion evolution throughout the game should be possible, wheter it be through the item system or a new, more intuitive mechanic

  • Conor

    Hey Keith, what’s your opinion on stacking victory in a game? You mentioned having a problem with inhibitors and super minions practically deciding a game’s outcome in advance of the game actually ending. I the same problem playing Risk with my friends. We could see who was going to win by about an hour into a 6 hour game because having more territories gave a player more reinforcements with which to capture more territories so only the early game was any fun. The same design philosophy of rewarding the players who are already ahead with the means to get even further ahead seems to be everywhere these days, from Call of Duty to Star Craft to Hearthstone and I always find it really frustrating.

  • Yeah, I’m against “snowballing”. I think games should be designed in such a way that they ramp up in tension as the game goes on – so as you’re closer to winning, you’re also closer to losing. I think Auro tends to do this with the way it uses health, but the way Puzzle Strike gems work is maybe an even better example.

    I think it keeps happening because of the popularity of utilizing “power fantasy”. We make our avatars “get stronger” so that the player can feel powerful, but this has a cost for the ruleset.

  • Conor

    Ok, so would you say that snowballing is generally an inelegant property of a rule-set? And what do you think about a kind of negative snowballing in games? Soccer has some negative snowballing rules. When a team scores in soccer their opponents get possession when play starts again which is an advantage for the opponents. I haven’t played Puzzle Strike but reading the rules it seems similar; the players who have loads of gems and are about to lose tend to have more “power” than the players who have few gems. I’ve played Auro but I think Street Fighter might be an easier comparison as it’s competitive and multiplayer. Like Auro, in Street Fighter every character can use every ability irrespective of their current health or how many rounds they have won or lost so you could say it’s kind of “snowball-neutral”.

    And yeah, I agree. I think it feels natural to reward players for doing well and that giving them more power in the rules is an easy way to do it.