This is unrelated to balance but, is there a dedicated Player Support office within the different HQ's all over the world? It's somewhere I'd love to work. Hell it's somewhere I'd love. Being the first line between player and staff has got to be one of the most important parts of total team play.

Yes, there is. Go to http://www.riotgames.com/careers and look for Player Support. You can filter by the various regional offices as well. Sometimes it's worth applying for jobs like this (and this goes for lots of companies) even if you don't see an opening. Riot hires smart people all the time, even if they aren't filling a specific open slot, and companies tend to keep good resumes around for when they do need to backfill or staff up.

And I totally agree it is one of the most important parts of the player-Riot relationship.

When a champion has 50% win rate but at high elo is really weak, is it a good reason to buff it? For example Katarina.

Probably not, because the outcome might be a 60-70% winrate at lower elo, which is where most League players are. If the buffs were really clever, such as things that only a really skilled player could take advantage of, then it might be okay. A lot of those lower-elo dominant champs are dominant because teams have a hard time CC'ing or otherwise shutting them down.

Wasn't it you who said "Players are really good at identifying problems but are bad at finding solutions?" I need to figure out who said it for a project.

I say it all the time, but I don't think I came up with it. I hear it associated with Rosewater a lot. Maybe try and research that?

I also don't think I would say "bad at." The point is that you sometimes have to see through a suggestion to the problem that players are trying to solve. Saying players are bad at finding solutions feels like it is setting up designers as some kind of master race looking down on players. It's more that players may not understand technical or other limitations or fully appreciate the way you want the brand represented or so on. Sometimes player ideas are perfectly acceptable.

I disagree with whoever said that supports aren't as popular as other roles. I love support and many people I know do too. I hope to see more play-making champions like thresh and blitz. Those are my favourite, although I know some people who main really passive ones like Janna and Banana. Hoge Roge

I mean, they aren't as popular. For matchmaking to work, it would be great if about 20% of players picked Support primary, but it's closer to 10-15%.

Maybe you disagree with why they aren't as popular.

So the changes to counter lane swaps. Is it healthy for the game for Riot to impose additional systems to shake up the player developed meta? It seems heavy handed and may affect champion diversity at the pro level, which is already poor. Also, lane swaps don't happen in non pro play. Bently Wong

It is a little heavy-handed. No argument there. On the other hand, all of our attempts so far to create alternative strategies to lane swaps haven't worked and we've been hearing from viewers (and some pros) that they are getting a little tired of it. It felt like time to step in.

Totally agree that this probably rarely manifests outside of pro, but you're also unlikely to really feel these changes much outside of pro.

We're aware of the concerns about champions diversity, but I think the jury is still out on that. It's also possible the probability of lane swaps also drives certain champion picks. And, while champion diversity is desirable, an exciting esports season is desirable too and we don't want one goal to just completely trump the other.

I noticed that you don't usually entertain questions pertaining to balance changes on the PBE. Stuff like "why change X?" or "What problem are you trying to solve?" Is it because these questions usually get answered anyway in the patch notes?

It is generally because I lack the context. That design space moves really fast, since the design team makes changes every two weeks. Some conversations I just happen to be in, so I know the context, but it would also be really easy for you guys to stump me by just asking something like "Did the team consider X instead?" I would have to say "I don't know. Let me try and find the time to ask them." Sometimes I find that time, but I usually still feel like I am just a messenger conveying messages back and forth.

Are there any plans to go further than mastery level 7? Just want to know whether or not to save my Lissandra shard, or if I can use it to get my last 5 champs without feeling bad in a few month. Felix Aldag

If we do it all, it won't be any time soon.

There is an inherent tension between asking players to focus so much on a single champion while the game is also asking you to be versatile with lots of champions. So we don't want to ever get to champ mastery level 12+, at least not with the current design.

Before you guys ruin my favorite champion with yet another rework, where can I go, as a player who mains the champion and actually knows how to play them, to give suggestions about rework ideas?

The PBE forum is the best place at the moment. We realize not everyone has access to that forum, but it's also weird to discuss changes that may or may not happen in the live forums. We're open to alternative ideas on this.

If you could end smurf accounts once and for all, would you do it?

Personally, yes. I recognize there a lot of reasons players make smurfs, from wanting to play with friends, to having long queue times at high elos, to real or perceived elo hell, to just being bored and wanting something else to do. But I think they do more harm than good overall.

Do you think the tutorial is even worth updating? People usually just want to learn the small basics and complete it ASAP so they can play the real game. Wouldn't it be it better to improve or create other systems to help learning instead of something few actually care about?

Totally agree. I think new players need to experience what it is that so many of us love about League pretty quickly. For me, I remember clearly a moment early on when an AI bot ran away from me, and my ult was on cooldown, and I caught it before it ran off. I then finished taking out my tower. I remember thinking "I get it now. I get why people play so many hours of this game."

If we can promise a moment like that for every new player, I really believe, they will be motivated to learn everything they need to know to play, even if we don't spoon feed it in some kind of well-meaning but ultimately tiresome tutorial experience.

You're an amazing dude, I will never forget what you've done for me. I was the disabled french guy we met at the MOP launch in Paris. Thanks so much for signing all my previous Collector Edition boxes and for the promised "blink" glyph for mages that came in patch x.2. You were the kindest dev. <3 François L.

Hey! It's so nice to hear from you again. That was a great launch event, and Paris is one of my favorite towns.

I will admit that one of the things I miss from working on a live game with constant releases is getting those big events from dropping a huge content milestone. So much of my motivation comes from seeing players having fun, and there is no better way to do that than seeing people in person celebrating a big milestone for a game we all love. :)

Is it fair to believe Riot puts too much stock in those player surveys? Seems as though you guys are hung up on the "More fun with friends" thing and let it change a big part of your philosophy, despite the game having thrived and done just fine previously.

I want to answer this in a few ways.

First, surveys are a useful tool for us, but like any tool, they have limitations. For example, they can't always answer why a player prefers X to Y, or how much more they prefer X to Y. We combine the data we get from surveys with data we get from what players actually do (such as games played, games lost, that sort of thing), player feedback from things like social media, and our own experiences and intuition as developers.

The second point I want to hit though as why not to leave good enough alone? We believe strongly in League as an evolving game. The continual curation, whether it's fixing a balance problem or updating outdated visuals, is core to the vision of League. When we think we can do something better for players, we try to do it.

Now why do we think this particular direction could make things better for players? "More fun with friends" is a philosophy borne out of a lot of evidence. We hear from players all the time that they wish League, as a team game, was more amenable to friends. We know most players learn League because a friend teaches them, so having friends is a great onboarding tool. We know that players who play with friends stick with League longer, and when players leave, they often do so when their friends leave. We also get the benefit of seeing the teamwork of pros up close and personal, and we even compete in internal Riot tournaments, where we get to experience how rewarding it is to have your team practicing together, getting better together, and celebrating a victory together.

I'm not saying DQ delivers on all of those promises (far from it), but our goal was to give players the opportunity to experience more of that.

Are champions more fun when they're overpowered?

Yes. At least for you, and at least for awhile. Eventually playing in god mode gets boring. :)

"Ghostcrawler made decisions that didn’t work for me - but when I came to see *why*, he was in here, answering. And on twitter, answering. I think he must have worked 16 hour days." From a post on the WoW forums a while back. How true would you say this is?

I tend to spend non-working hours talking to players and answering questions. I also write very quickly, which helps with it not taking too many hours, but also gets me in trouble sometimes. :)

I don't think it's possible to make design decisions that almost every player will like most of the time. It's an impossible goal. But I figure if I can talk to players about our intentions, then a few cool things can happen:

-- They can learn our intentions, so maybe if they were worried about a direction they won't be worried any longer (even if they don't like the individual change).
-- They can differentiate between whether it's the goals they don't like or whether they just think the tactics we're using to hit those goals aren't good ones.
-- Similarly, maybe they can mention small changes that provide big payoffs.
-- I can learn a lot about what players are thinking. All the data collection in the world sometimes isn't worth as much as one player saying "The reason I do X is because of Y."
-- If nothing else, maybe players will learn to understand that I care, so even when we get something wrong (which happens all the time), we can earn the trust that we will eventually get it right.

You aren't going to be able to make support attractive enough that it has pick parity with the rest of the roles without making the game subjectively worse for everyone but supports. Players don't like to be denied and would rather kill or be killed trying than just deny someone else a kill. Critkeeper

I agree it's probably not possible to hit parity, but if we can improve the proportion even a little, it will help with queue times and not having to use autofill as much.

What if you had a separate mmr & ladder per role? Your account ranking is the highest per-role ranking. I'd love to be able to play Jungle in ranked without getting my ass handed to me. Hyrum Graff

We talk about this idea a lot. It has merit if it can't somehow be exploited.

Do you sometimes pass your questions to "Ask Riot"?

Yes.

Why not make Jhin the new tutorial champion? Since his IP is expensive it will give new players a goal. It will show complex game mechanics and lastly you can create a sense of map awareness with him. yay or nay? Casey Tucker

I'm not sure he's a great poster boy for the game. He's a cool champion, but is he that aspirational for a new player? Do a lot of players really like the appeal of a cold-blooded murderer?

But weren't you guys going to make it so it looked harder for your primary before it went straight to your secondary? Don't tell me you guys are backing out on that.

Correct. The system now looks harder for your primary position before giving up and going secondary.

Am I now able to queue as support secondary without almost always getting it? I haven't kept up or played recently and I know you guys were working on it. Just curious if I can start playing again with my desired roles

Support is still the least desired position. Instead of about 20% of players wanting to play support, it's like 12% or something (don't quote me on those). So if you queue support, the game is likely to find a group waiting on a support player and stick you into that game.

We are looking at some things we can do to make support more attractive, but mathematically there will probably always be one position in less demand than the others.

But why do queueing premades need incentives if it is already fun to do so, and has a strategic benefit?

Because it takes longer. League's matchmaking is usually so good that you can generally be in a game within a few minutes of clicking the icon. Forming a premade involves agreeing with folks about when to play League, curating a friends list so you have a lot of potential folks available, chatting with people in game asking when they will finish and if they want to play another game when they do.

That's why I describe it as a nudge. These are players that enjoy premades, but usually don't spend the effort. The incentive might make them think twice about just queuing solo. But it has to stay as a nudge and not a hammer. If the rewards are too massive, then everyone feels like premades are mandatory, and that's not the intention.

I thought you were specially **not** saying that "you can solo or premade but it would be nice if you went premade"...... Cause then we are back to you telling us that we are playing the game wrong by going solo. There's no broad benefit to everyone when people all go premade

No, if you look at my answers on the topic, we consider three types of players:

1) I only ever want to solo
2) I usually solo but I enjoy premades when I spend the effort
3) I tend to only play premades

We're targeting the #2 with these incentives. Group #3 doesn't need the incentives, and group #1 either won't change their behavior or will change their behavior, but will resent it and may not enjoy the game, so the incentives don't serve the right purpose regardless.

Imagine we did something that was total overkill like giving a chest or 1000 RP whenever you form a premade. In that case, we think we would be hitting too many players in group 1, which isn't the intent. So it is important the rewards be modest. But if they are too modest, they won't actually change behavior of group 2.

Don't pretend like this is the same thing as carpooling. Allowing premades don't benefit everyone in the game like carpooling helps pollution, premade and solo. It just benefits premades and just hurts solos. Don't ask us to just happily accept making the game objectively worse for solo players.

You can break most analogies if you poke on them hard enough, but I still think there are a lot of examples of this type of behavior. An airline company offers a frequent flier program where you get bonuses if you use their airline. They are trying to change your behavior by getting you to tend to use their airline rather than just fly on whoever offers the cheaper or more convenient flight.

I was pretty disappointed with the ask Riot skins/bugs question. I thought we were going to get some cool factoids about code architecture. Instead we got "It might seem simple but it's actually complicated. We catch most bugs on PBE!" (1/2) Hyrum Graff

I'll pass along the feedback. Maybe there is an opportunity in the future to a real tech-heavy deep-dive.

A lot of the bugs we get are some form of the following: the normal champion does X. For purposes of the skin we want it to Y. (Maybe Y is that the skin throws several different projectiles instead of the default one that X does.) There is a script that tells the champion how to animate and what art to use. To use multiple projectiles, the script now needs a bunch of if-then statements, so it is now a lot more complicated than the basic script. Champions with a lot of skins, and especially newer more complicated skins, have a bigger chance to break in this way somehow.

There is one flaw in your carpool analogy. For carpools, everyone benefits from carpooling, even those who don't carpool. However, only premade players get anything out of the being in a premade. Solo players get nothing from premades and in some cases have a worse experience. Thoughts?

Analogies are rarely perfect if you poke at them hard enough. I still think the basic idea stands that sometimes people want to do something that is inconvenient for them, so a slight nudge in the form of an incentive, can make it easier for them to commit.

TBH we haven't been focused a lot on whether solo players feel disenfranchized because premades get rewards (the rewards I believe are CP, chests, key frags and sometimes IP). I have heard a lot more about it from players in the last few days and we're looking into it.

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About Greg Street:

Design Director, League of Legends @ Riot Games Before that: Lead Systems Designer, World of Warcraft.
Before that: Lead Designer, Age of Empires.
Before that I was an oceanographer.

Los Angeles, CA