Cyberdear Yanhu’s view: Starting with big data and detail experience
From the perspective of game design alone, Mr. BBKinG’s “subtraction theory” is theoretically correct. However, it seems an empty talk for the specific game—LOL, especially LOL at the current stage, because the theory is not necessarily applicable to it and involves no definite discussions on details. So here allow me to answer the question in a serious manner.
How to improve LOL?
First of all, we should figure out the stage and situation in which LOL currently stays before talking about how to improve it. Knowing what to do in what stage matters.
Simply speaking, LOL has already been an extremely successful and mature product that owns an operation history of 4 to 5 years and tens of thousands of players. It is exactly in its heyday and its general orientation has been proved correct. In this case, the focus of the current stage is to stabilize and provide existing players with good services followed by attracting new players. If it takes a rash subtraction operation or even serious cut and modification at this stage, it undoubtedly challenges the bottom line of existing players and seeks easy death.
Next, let’s move on to the improvement topic.
Let’s take a look at a set of data first.
The above list shows the recent top 20 champions with the highest pick rates (from official statistics) and their corresponding launching years.
We can see that 18 out of the 20 champions were launched in the period from 2009 to 2011, 1 (Fiora) in 2012, 1 (Lucian) in 2013 and 0 in 2014.
The total number of champions hit 90 from 2009 to 2011 plus newly added 33 from 2012 to 2014, currently totalling 123. In other words, the champions created in 2009-2011 that takes up 70% of the total takes up 90% of the champions shown in the above list. This figure wouldn’t change much even in the case of top 30 champions. This obviously is a problem.
In addition, dears who often pay their attention to champion pick rates may notice that a handful of champions always always get relatively higher pick rates (I surely know the No. 1 rule of the universe—Pareto principle and that there is no problem with the fact that a few champions are liked most by most players; the problem is that the current number of the liked champions is too small according to the pick rates in recent years and that the majority of champions have been cold-shouldered for too long. Comparatively, this case is slightly better and more balanced in DOTA 2).
So, the champions can be improved in the following aspects:
1. New champions
Why do the new champions created after 2011 receive relatively low pick rates and average acceptance by players? I believe that it deserves investigation by the developer team.
As far as my observation is concerned, the champions launched in recent years have shown a significant trend that they are increasingly harder to play well. They were created in a too complex and showy way and have ended up with lousy playing experience. The typical examples include but not limited to Azir and Rek’Sai. Complex operations and dazzling graphics look cool indeed, but how’s the final result ? They are rarely picked in veteran matches (uncommonly in professional matches), not to mention in normal matches and Co-op vs. AI matches.
So the question is, who are the new champions designed for? Hope that the developer team doesn’t forget their original intention and avoids making the mistake of designing the game for themselves.
2. Old champions
As a matter of fact, the developer team has been working hard for improving old champions. Most of them have been revamped. However, the revamp effort is still not enough and good enough. Yes, I’m referring to you—Sion. The latest version of Sion’s ultimate has received nothing but widely negative comments. Whoever uses it will cry for sure.
3. Champions’ roles
Seeing the discussions on champions’ too clearly defined roles and lanes, I’d like to share my own opinions.
Frankly, I don’t think that this is a serious problem. Why? Because this is, in my opinion, closely related to LOL’s features such as low threshold and playable easiness. Simply speaking, if most champions fit all three lanes (top, mid and bottom) and jungle, then how do the players choose their champions? They can do nothing but quarrel with each other drastically, right? So for this game, it’s not necessarily a bad decision to give most champions relatively clearly defined roles and lanes.
II. Map-based gameplay mode
Other similar games have been trying to make innovations in this regard. Such innovations that are commonly seen in home-made MOBA games include 7v7, 10v10, and duplicate challenge (By the way, unless it has attracted a huge number of players, an MOBA game is seeking death if 10v10 and duplicate challenge modes are launched from the very beginning); several maps of Heroes of the Storm also reflect some innovations.
Back to LOL, I personally think that the newest edition of Summoner’s Rift is an outstanding map which there is nearly nothing you can complain about. However, other maps such as Crystal Scar are defective and have been proved a failure by time and the choice of the player community. They even don’t count as “chicken ribs”. In view of the current size of the player community, basically the developer team doesn’t have to worry about the vicious cycle caused by new map-based gameplay modes possibly grabbing the players of the core mode, so they can be bold enough to innovate the map-based gameplay modes.
III. Visual representation
First, I’d like to appreciate the efforts the developer team has done in recent years in this regard, especially those invested in Summoner’s Rift. Of course, there are still many more defects that need to improve.
1. Sense of strike response
As this involves lots of things, here I just put it in a simple way.
Optimize casting and strike response effects. Compared to DOTA 2, most champions, especially ranged ones, have much worse special effects of normal attack and ability strike response. Then optimize actions. There are too many actions that need to optimize, particularly the normal attack action of minions, which is too feeble and seemingly sick.
In the case of normal lag, reduction of health points and textual popup often fail to synchronize with strike response effects. The former happens either earlier or later than the latter, which exerts serious impact on the sense of strike response.
2. Other aspects
Ability icons. Many of such icons are still those ugly ones that were used in the beta testing, right? Update them, please.
Models. In short, please revamp the old champions as soon as possible in accordance with the model quality of Barum and Azir.
IV. Interaction experience
1. Reconnection after disconnection
Many people have complained about it. There is a big room for improving reconnection after disconnection in terms of process and speed. Detailed description can be skipped as even average players know what convenient reconnection looks like.
2. Negative attitude, griefing, matchmaking, etc.
The developer has been coping with the negative attitude and griefing problems. The situation has become better indeed, but that’s not enough because the negative attitude problem is still commonly seen in normal matches.
Some cyberdear mentioned earlier that other similar products offer a vote kick feature allowing you to kick players who are noobs or negative in attitude. I must say that it is a very lousy design. To eradicate the negative attitude problem should start with technical means and penalty rules. If a player is often assigned to play with noob teammates, the matchmaking mechanism and player strength algorithm should be investigated to see if there is any problem with them. Optimize them if the answer is yes and forget the stupid vote kick idea.
The main problem is that the item-oriented fuzzy search feature is absent. It’s unbelievable that so far the game hasn’t supported the Pinyin- and character-based fuzzy search yet.
The definition problem is mainly reflected in such cases as melees in which a player can hardly distinguish his own model and mouse pointer, and some occasions on which minion models overlap with life bars to make selecting and giving minions last hits inconvenient.
5. Spamming accounts and spams in custom rooms
They are too rampant and sharply worsen gaming experience. To get rid of them is not that difficult in fact.
6. Client crash and bug report
LOL client may crash from time to time for unknown reasons when you switch between window and full screen using a shortcut key, or modify and apply game preferences, or the LOL client coexists with other game clients, particularly with DOTA 2 client (To make it clearer, this case has nothing to do with computer hardware as my computer comprises high-end hardware devices). In addition to crashes, let’s take a look at the bug report popup window after a crash occurs:
Can you believe that this is the bug report popup window of a game that has been operated in China for more than 3 years and owns millions of fans?
Pupils rise and yell, “Uncle, what the fuck is this? ” (Translator’s note: They are complaining about an English interface for Chinese players).
Such a silly mistake should not have happened.