Quick LoL Thoughts: Sep 25

How we assess tech, Preseason hits PBE, TFT: Fates.

Hi folks,

Usual Disclaimers

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How do we assess our own work part 2: Technology

Part 2 of a series here on how we assess our work on League of Legends. If you missed part 1 which covers Gameplay and want to read it you can find it here. Today we’ll be covering some of the technical side of things. Rather than running through team by team this time we’ll look at things by category.

First up, we’ve got the LoL servers themselves that run both the in game and out of game experiences for LoL. What we want to achieve here is a smooth and responsive experience. To assess how we’re delivering on that we look at measures like:

  • The portion of player ping that’s under our control (as opposed to due to geographical distance and ISP performance)
  • The reliability of a player’s connection to the server in terms of how often players get disconnected, variability in ping/packet loss etc.
  • How long patch downtime takes and how reliable our estimates for it are
  • Financial cost of running a LoL server
  • Player surveys

Second, we’ve got the out of game client (the bit you log into, go through champ select in, manage your friends list in etc). Our goal here (which we know is very much a work in progress) is to deliver an easy to navigate, responsive, reliable experience. There are a lot of similarities to how we assess the server category above as a result, though with focus on some particular player interactivity as well. Some key things we look at to judge our work:

  • How long it takes to perform various actions like time to lock in changes to Runes, time from clicking login to being able to queue up, time to load your profile etc.
  • Crash rates, both automatically logged and player reported
  • Player surveys into overall satisfaction with the client, particular pain points, desired improvements etc
  • Usage of different parts of the client e.g. how many players use the stats page, how much time players spend in the different sections of the client, awareness of new additions like the Worlds hub etc

The in-game client (where you actually play SR, ARAM, TFT etc) is fairly similar too, with again reliability and responsiveness what we’re targeting. To assess those we look at things like:

  • Loading screen time
  • Disconnect and crash rates
  • Player surveys on in-game reliability

Finally we also spend a moderate amount of time working on our own tools. I’ll skip the details here since it’s just an internal thing, we’re looking at stuff like developer efficiency, developer happiness, comparisons to other game dev toolsets etc though.

Preseason hits PBE next week!

While the preseason changes won’t go live until early November they will start hitting PBE next week so that we can a lot of extra testing in. We’re very excited to start getting broad feedback on how the item system overhaul, revised shop, tooltips changes etc feel to you folks!

As a reminder though a lot of this is still work in progress. We'll be on PBE for six weeks, rather than the four we normally do for preseasons. That means we’ll have lots of time to get everything done. It also means things are less finished than they’d normally be for PBE reveal too though. The direction is pretty solid, details like specific numbers on items, exactly how some icons look, how information is presented etc are still being worked on though. Some icons, visual effects and audio will also be using placeholders (art being reused while we wait for final versions to be finished). That means some things will be a bit rough, with balance issues to fix, shop functionality that still needs to get finished, some significant bugs we haven’t dealt with yet etc. Please do call out whatever feels missing or wrong, and if it's not on the long list of things we're already planning to fix up, we'll add it to our list and see what’s feasible :)

It’s also worth noting we’re deliberately taking some risks with some of the new item effects coming this preseason. We’re allowing some items to contribute in ways we didn’t previously allow the item system to do. We think that will work out well, it’s very possible we’re wrong though. If so we’ll balance, modify or if necessary even remove things as needed during the preseason follow up patches. 

TFT: Fates

While it’s still very early on in the set we’re really happy with how TFT: Fates has landed so far. Player response to the theme, signature units and trait/ability design seems really positive which is a good sign for our planned further development on Fates and future sets.

The Chosen mechanic also seems to very much be working as we’d hoped, adding a lot of game to game variety plus focal points for assessing teams or tracking combat. Assuming that continues to be the case we’ll be looking to have future set mechanics deliver those same sorts of impacts, though likely in different ways of course.

We’re also very happy with the state of balance so far, with what’s arguably the most varied meta on release we’ve seen for TFT so far. We’re planning on fairly light balance changes for now as a result, make sure we don’t swing too hard on anything to avoid overbuffing like we’ve done at times in the past.