The Future of League of Legends Brendan Harvey July 24, 2012 Video Games Recently, League of Legends passed a milestone by releasing their 100th character, Jayce: The Defender of Tomorrow. The League‘s benevolent creators, Riot Games, has somewhat treated this event with a sort of humble nonchalance. They have mentioned that while, yeah, 100 playable characters is a great goal to accomplish, it is always more important to look towards the future with eager enthusiasm. This mentality is obviously working for them, since it was just reported by Forbes that League has become the most played PC game in the world. The thought of what is to come has, of course, gotten the small underworked gears within my noggin a-turnin’. In a game that is constantly being improved on a monthly basis, what could they have missed? What areas do I, the humble low-elo player, think could be improved, expanded upon, tweaked or otherwise handled differently? What follows is a small list of the things that I feel could lead League of Legends to not only becoming a better game, but a better franchise. Improved Tutorials We’re going to start off small, and what better place to start than the beginning? Currently, upon creating your account on League of Legends you are offered up two tutorials to give you the basics of what will only prove to be a much more in-depth game. The two tutorials are great. In about a half-hour of gameplay they explain every major concept within the somewhat complex game. Buy items, last-hit minions, blow up turrets, B if you’re about to die, everything is touched upon. They’re even thoughtful enough to suggest that after completing these tutorials it may be best to try a bot game or two in order to really solidify one’s grasp of the game. Two years ago, this was sufficient. However, in the course of its lifespan, our video game has undergone a transformation. Perhaps by will or perhaps by powers beyond those of the creators, League has turned into a highly competitive and highly regulated environment. Each player in a 5v5 game is expected to fulfill a specific role within “the Meta”, each with its own cast of characters. Helpful. But we can do better. Now, of course the above statement could be argued. The Meta is an entity that will undoubtedly change when it needs to, but for now I feel it’s safe that everyone playing this game would benefit from understanding each of the predetermined roles. What better way than by running through some quick, unlockable tutorials? The current system forces a new player to basically learn via trial by fire, all the while being barraged with insults and negativity over not understanding how to play a game no one told him how to play. However, if a new player could perhaps unlock role-specific tutorials for jungling, AD Carrying or supporting I feel that it could only benefit the community. Other fun tutorials could include advanced gameplay mechanics such as proper mob control, objective timing and completion, ward management or how to properly initiate and survive team fights. I know a lot of this is currently taught through leveling your summoner to 30, but I do feel that the more information available to a player at the early stages of the game, the more the community will benefit. Slower Champion Releases and More Diverse Character Abilities Something that Riot has commented on before is the idea that after releasing their 100th character, they would throttle the release schedule for new characters. I, for one, fully support this idea. While new content is always appreciated, I feel like the last few characters has created a bit of a streak consisting of generic dudes with weapons. Now don’t get me wrong. Jayce is pretty awesome and Draven is the fucking bane of my existence. They have all been great characters, but all seem to have a certain lack of originality. After making 100 individuals up from scratch, of course, you can’t really blame them for hitting a dry spell. This is the reason I feel that I must suggest that perhaps pump your brakes a little bit. I think we would all rather quality over quantity, and from what I’ve read of Riot their logic is the same. This, of course, makes us question how exactly one goes about creating more diverse and interesting characters. I think we can all agree that, to some extent, eight out of ten champions that are released have abilities that are rehashes or combinations of old ones. Graves is the child of Vayne and Ashe. Fiora is some sort of horrible Tryn/Jax hybrid. Do they all have their own unique flavor? Yes, they do. But it would be much cooler if a champion was released with an entirely new skill set. I’m all for Riot taking the extra time to create a truly unique character and ensure that they are properly balanced. One thing Riot has been doing, which I love, is reworking the old and busted characters to help keep them fresh and viable in competitive play. Eve and Twitch are just about to get their new updates in the upcoming patch and I am positively salivating over the rumored Himerdinger rework I read about a while ago. Like I said, these things take time. Creating an entirely original character may be reaching into the realms of improbability at this point but perhaps in the future they’ll surprise us. Improved Custom Games Originally I was going to write up a small section about “additional game modes” that could prove to be prosperous within our community. However, after some reflection I came upon two realizations. The first is that we really don’t need additional game modes. We already have 3v3, 5v5 and Dominion (oh man, remember Dominion?), as well as the slow budding of the official ARAM map/mode. I think that is quite enough, truthfully. League has become one of the first true e-Sports in my opinion, outside of Starcraft. In order for this to hold true, the focus needs to stay on the main mode of play. The main mode of League requires its set of rules that come with the specific “field”. 5v5 Summoner’s Rift is what people want to play. It’s what they want to practice and win at. Having said that, we can all agree the age-old vanilla can get a bit boring. This was the reason ARAM and Dominion got dreamed up in the first place. So, without going through the fuss of creating an entirely new game mode, how could this be fixed? Customizable rules/stats would be my answer. I know it’s been suggested before, but let’s just think of the possibilities. What would happen if we had the ability to toggle basic stats for a match. Everyone starts with 9999 health. Everyone starts with 1 health. Everyone starts with maxed move speed only to have it greatly decreased with every item purchased (Burden Mode; I just came up with that). It could also include ability alteration. Imagine a game where passives were turned off, or a game where everyone can start with their R. Imagine trying to play a game where everyone has two randomly selected abilities permanently disabled! The games would be absolutely broken and ridiculous but damn it all if they wouldn’t be interesting. I feel like adding multiple customizable options to custom games would scratch an itch that I know many players are feeling with the current game. On top of that, while first proclaiming outright that I know nothing about programming or the work that goes into altering a game played by millions of people, I can only imagine building such an interface within the custom game preparation would be simple enough. Professionally Streamed or Televised Events Okay, so this may just be a gripe harbored by myself only, but any content that occurs during tournament live streams that is not gameplay is awkward as shit. Any transition material never seems fully prepared, the announcers (this depends on the announcers, of course) never seem confident in their small-talk/time killing, and the interviews are guaranteed trainwrecks. I think that the most decent and memorable evidence for these claims would be IPL 4′s League tournament. Here’s a short vid of the awards ceremony that I feel can shed some light on what I’m talking about. I mean, come on. You have the hostess giving stage commands while on stage. You have clunky awkward interviews. The entire production seemed remarkably unprofessional. While this may have been fine during past tournaments when there was only a handful of people watching in person and another couple thousand viewing from home, League has grown bigger than that. Everyone involved in these live events needs to step their game up. If I may be so bold as to suggest this, League of Legends is basically the e-Sports version of football. I’m not saying the games are similar but the production that tournaments like IPL are attempting to create strike remarkable similarities. Perhaps the NFL was just as clunky and awkward during those first few years of its national, but I’d wager it wasn’t. Despite its growing pains, IPL 4′s League tournament is currently gaining its popularity and now having their matches televised; coverage of the game may not be the same as the ones that huge poker tournaments have but the idea of bringing the experience of the game to the viewers is the same. As I mentioned before, this could entirely exist solely in my own head. Maybe it would be untrue to the fanbase of the game to have normal, non-awkward interviews with the socially inept basement dwellers that make up the game’s top players. Maybe the fans enjoy the jumbled segments between matches on their live streams. Perhaps, in a way, this is part of what keeps League tournaments loyal to the fans that have poured their time and love into this game. Branching Out to Other Media With the League‘s fan base growing at a rapid rate, there is no better time to take advantage of the ability to commercialize. Not only would this be a great tool in helping Riot become a more well-known household name, but it also could produce some really cool content that would be enjoyed by the fans. What I think would benefit Riot and the fans the most would be a separate media product that fleshes out the League of Legends universe. A League of Legends comic book or TV cartoon has the potential to be badass. Now, before you all go crazy in the comments, I know about LaLaLa Demacia. For those who don’t, LaLaLa is a Chinese CGI cartoon viewable on YouTube that revolves around the amusing misadventures of some of your favorite champions from League of Legends. It’s fairly well produced and even includes (occasionally hard to read) English subtitles. It’s worth watching but at the end of the day it is created by a third party, not Riot. Its English translation certainly leaves something to be desired. Imagine a similar show fully sanctioned and co-produced by Riot games. It could be the second coming of The Journal of Justice. League of Legends has such a massive cast of characters that are surrounded by an ever-expanding lore, it really needs some extra outlet in order to allow the stories that lie within the League to be told. Furthermore, a show could have seasons that runs parallel with the in-game content which could lead to server-wide events that help immerse the fans in the game. I would like to go on record saying that I think Riot has done nothing but make the correct decisions during its young life span and the numbers prove that. We can only dream of the amazing content they have planned for us in the upcoming years. Maybe some of my suggestions here will find the light of day in one way or another. Even if they don’t, I will still thoroughly enjoy this game and the content that is released. I don’t think there is anything they could do to change that fact. If you wear this bad-ass League of Legends – Dat Ashe T-Shirt, people will be lining up around the block to get a piece of you in the bedroom. Well… probably not. But those who truly matter will recognize you like League of Legends, in-jokes, and parodies of cliched sayings… all at the same time. RattleTheCages Does anyone else think this game is going to end up just like WoW? The more and more they cater to the casuals, the less fun it becomes. Shira While LoL may have the biggest playerbase of any online game currently, I still think it’s very green as an eSport, Starcraft 2, Counter Strike or the original DotA are more cultivated and experienced in that sense. It’s a first time for Riot, that’s why all the events seem so awkward. Most tournaments since Riot started getting interested in eSports have been with their own money, or their almost-owned organization ESL, while Starcraft or even Dota 2 seem to have a more organized scene with a lot of willing sponsors and tournament organizators. I love that your article was sincere about originality though. Even if Morello said that infamous “I care very little about originality, I only care if it sells”, I still think originality is a long term benefit. You may risk, and your new idea may be a flop, but if you don’t try and innovate you will become boring. DotA has always been trying to release characters that feel new, and even if sometimes they need balance or rework, the change is always welcome, whereas LoL has been sticking to their “gapcloser + defensive skill (shield) + on hit + AOE ult”. Also many of the latest champions with some “original” stuff (Darius ult, Shyvana ult, Fiora ult, Hecarim’s relation with movespeed, Lulu’s hex) are all ideas taken from DotA heroes. Even the recent reworks show lack of originality: Twitch barely changed, and Eve got to be even more like Rikimaru + another generic boring AOE ult for teamfights. The reworks teased by Shurelia last summer were a thousand times more interesting. Atleast the Heimerdinger rework sounds promising, and Zyra seems more original with the growing seeds thing, I only hope it isn’t followed by another 6 months without innovation. They should drop their dumb “anti-fun” and “burden of knowledge” policies, and the will to not introduce more mechanics in favor of variety. Sure, you need to learn more about the game, but isn’t that one of the main reasons people like it? When I started playing LoL, not knowing anything was the best, I had to learn champion by champion, item by item, mechanic by mechanic, and every match I learned something. This kept me entertained for over a year, always learning something new, until about a year ago I hit the “knowledge cap” of the game, not even the new champions, items or the infamous Dominion gamemode taught me anything new or brought any new elements to the game. That’s when LoL died for me and I moved to Dota 2, which even after almost a year of straight play still has things to teach me and keep me hooked. GaduBear Good article, I really agree with the branching out to new media. Mass Effect and Halo novels and comic books did exetremely well. I would love to have that for League of Legends, whether it goes more in-depth into a charecter’s back story, goes through some everyday life at the Institute of War, or adding new characters like Summoners. Fasd Graves is nothing like Ashe or Vayne. John Wayne GUNS AND PU44Y FTW!11 Much of this is to be had in regards to LOL characters. Moon Could use a custom hero LoL, those style games are fun. Choose your Model base than select your build from there to fit your style. Allows for quite diverse style of play too.