Friday, January 29, 2010

Been A Long Time Coming

Ah, my poor, poor blog, how I've neglected you! You may be covered in dust and wrinkled, but still you hold your head up proudly, awaiting the promised time when I would return and gently caress you with my words of approval.

So I return! And would a return to Better Gaming be without a post about, well, better gaming? This time I'll actually touch on the reason I remembered this blog in the first place: League of Legends.

For the uninitiated, League of Legends (LoL, from here on out) is a MOBA (Massive Online Battle Arena) game. It - for the most part - pits two teams of five players each against each other, in a bizarre version of a RTS game, where you are controlling only one champion. It's not an easy concept to explain, but if you're unaware of the game type and are curious, I highly recommend going to and giving it a whirl. If you're on the fence, I should add: it's free.

From here on I'll assume you're at least mildly familiar with the game, in which case it's time to get to the meat! I'm going to list out a few issues I've found with the game and some proposed solutions. Here we go!

The Snowball Effect
One of the big issues with the game is that a small advantage early on can very quickly turn into an enormous advantage. Often times the first 10 minutes of any game are by far the most important.

Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, as you want the early game to matter. If any team can come back at any time regardless of how they've played, the back and forth would remove a pretty big strategy element from the game. You definitely don't want to reward a player for losing, but an average game between two somewhat equally skilled teams should play out as such.

So how do we alleviate the problem? Well, let's look at the source - an early kill removes an opponent from their lane, and early on levels move fast. It's not unlikely for you to come back to an opponent 1-2 levels ahead of you, even if it's your first death, and the level difference only makes them more of a threat. Part of the problem here is that each level is a big deal - the difference from one rank of an ability to the next can be big enough to really push your damage over the edge.

Now, if we were able to start from scratch, maybe spreading out the curve from level 1 to max could work. If one level is 50-75% as effective as it is now, being outleveled isn't such a loss until the gap gets much larger, and it makes it easier to come back from a small deficit. Unfortunately this isn't the kind of change that's feasible to make once the game is solidified, so we'll have to look elsewhere.

So what else can we do? Slowing leveling down would work, but you never want to make a game slower. The only other dimension we can control for progression (besides player skill) is gold earned. A decent chunk of gold is given for killing an opponent. This, coupled with the fact that while they're respawning you get free reign to farm, can really get that snowball rolling.

So how do we keep the gap small without flat out rewarding the loser? I'm glad you asked, I happen to have a couple suggestions!
  • Increase the flat gold earned rate. Not a huge increase, but not a tiny one either. The idea here is that you don't want a game to be a steamroll unless one team is actually steamrolling. Here's a bit of math to show the logic, based on gold earned over the course of a game:
    500g (flat gain) + 1000g (minion/champion kills)
    1000g (flat gain) + 1000g (minion/champion kills)

    Now the numbers are clearly not to any kind of scale, and I know it seems silly and basic, but the idea is that instead of gaining an additional 200% gold from kills, you're gaining an additional 100%. You're not actually gaining any less from kills, so you'll still get your advantage, it just won't create as big of a gap. You will, of course, still have your levels - we're not eliminating an advantage for higher skilled play, we're just making it so that a couple mistakes won't cost you the game.
  • Allow "assist" gold on minions. When you attack a champion, if they die shortly after to someone else, you get gold for the assist. This is NOT the case with minions, and makes it harder to gain gold after being killed, as you have to be more careful about approaching the front line once your opponent has a level advantage. In this case, actually attacking minions without getting the last hit will hurt you, as it'll move the front line further away from the safety of your turret.

    Allowing assist gold on minions means that you can still be effective and earn some gold, without having to put your lower-leveled butt on the line. Now while the assist gold from a champion kill is 50%, I'd propose something much smaller for minions - 10% or so. Enough to keep you in the game, but not so much that you can come in, fire off an area attack and rack in the gold without effort.
I'm personally a much bigger fan of the first suggestion than the second, but if something must be done, I'd be okay with giving minion assist gold a shot.

This post has gotten far, far longer than I'd expected, so I'll have to save the rest for a sequel - which will hopefully be sooner than 6 months away.

Until next time kids!

No comments:

Post a Comment