Ask @RiotGhostcrawler:

I noticed on the Riot jobs page that there are four designer roles under game designer. What are the differences between each subtype?

Sawyer wells
We recently changed it to one opening, because we found a lot of people were applying for all of the positions anyway.
http://www.riotgames.com/careers/163873
Riot tends to be less about filling open slots and more about finding people who are compatible with our philosophy and the way we work. If you meet those criteria and are reasonably competent in your craft, there is a good chance we can find a home for you.
The individual team you work on (ranked vs champion vs client vs skins vs live etc. etc.) have much more of an effect on your day-to-day experience than your title as a designer. This holds true for pretty much every discipline at Riot.

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Will LoL ever reach Dota levels of balance where almost all of the champions are picked in competitive?

I don't know Dota nearly as well as I know League, so my answer may reveal a certain amount of ignorance, but I'll be interested in seeing the discussion that ensues.
My understanding of Dota is that counterpicking at champion select has a much stronger influence than it does in League. In League, there is a certain level of counterpicking, especially at the higher elo ranges, but overall we don't want you to lose at champ select. We want how you perform on the map to really determine who wins.
In Dota, again from my point of view, you can lose the game quite easily at champ select, if the other team makes a pick that strongly counters yours. This does mean that diversity can be larger because there are more niches in an ecological sense.
Why am I talking about ecology? In the natural world, you can only achieve species diversity when there are more niches for an organism to live, or else one just out competes the other. Environments like coral reefs or rain forests have an enormous diversity of species because they have an enormous number of ecological niches. Environments like the Arctic ocean have fewer niches and therefore lower species diversity. The same is true of champion diversity: more niches = more species.
A generalist champ with good stats in Dota isn't a safe pick the way it might be in League, because a strong counter can nullify those good stats. By contrast, a champ with limited utility still has a space if that utility is countering another champion. The downside of that is you may then need to play a 30 minute game only to discover that you made the wrong comp choice a long time ago.
Our philosophy for League is that player agency outside of champion select is important, and champ diversity is also important. Yes, we are making life more difficult for ourselves by valuing both things. I also don't mean to imply that one approach is more correct than the other. They are just different games and they too have different niches.

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Do you think there will ever be a time where people who are already level 30 can buy a smurf account that already level 30 so people who have already done the miserable process of 1 to 30 can just skip it?

Usually when players want to smurf it's for one of two reasons (according to what they tell us): They want to play with friends, or they are bored and want something else to do. We feel like there are better ways to solve both of those problems, and we kind of owe you to solve them. If we feel like we've tackled both of those problems and there is still a huge demand for smurf accounts, then we'd consider it. I'm a little nervous that if we sold accounts or otherwise made them easier to acquire, we would have less motivation to solve the inherent design problems.
We also agree that leveling 1-30 is a little miserable, even the first time around. We are exploring the right way to fix that.

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Its the middle of a snowy night, a slight breeze chills the air as you walk down a street. You see an axe laying on the road--- you hear a muffled scream in the not so far distance.... then you feel a tug on your jacket behind you- its a little girl- covered in blood, what do you do next?

Try and remember if her Flash - Tibbers is on cooldown.

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One of your former colleagues, Chris Metzen, just announced that he was retiring at 42. I know Chris as the legendary creator of Diablo, Starcraft and Warcraft, my childhood, but can you tell me what Chris was like in the office and how you feel about him

Chris was a rockstar. That guy you saw on stage at Blizzard? That's 100% legit Metzen. He'd call us brothers and sisters. He'd call us cats. I think once he called me baby. I can't get away with talking like that, but he didn't fake it. That's who he was. He bleeds for his story, his characters, Blizzard, and most importantly, the players.
I first met him at a party, a few years before I went to work at Blizzard. He yelled at the top of his voice in a Scottish (dwarvish?) accent the entire time.
Sometimes in meetings he would get a far off stare, and you'd know something was bubbling up inside his mind and something great was about to come out.
Once at Blizzcon, he hugged me for like a really long time in the middle of a busy men's room. We blocked the doorway and made a lot of people wait in line that much longer.
A possibly apocryphal story: when Kaplan was new to Blizzard, Metzen came into his office, crashed on the couch for like an hour nap, woke up, asked "Do you know why they won't let us drink at work any longer?" Got up and left. (P.S. Blizzard let us drink at work all the time, so I'm not sure what that was all about.)
And maybe my favorite story. At a Blizzcon party we were all at, there was inexplicably a bowl of powdered donuts with the snacks. Chris took a donut, rubbed it under his nose (so that there's this light dusting of white powder) and then left it there all night as he bearhugged and did the Top Gun high-five to everyone at the party.
He's one of the top 5 or so most authentic and yet almost supernatural forces I've ever met. I am lucky to know him.

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My team in school decided on a fantasy RPG for our final year project. What are some things that we should look out for, consider and take note of?

In my experience, it's really easy for developers to spend too much effort fleshing out the world, lore and NPCs, when what you should be focusing on (especially given a compressed schedule) is the fundamentals: How does combat work? How does the inventory work? What kinds of decisions are players making? Is it a 4 hour or 400 hour game? Are abilities limited by resources, cooldown or situation? What do you loot? Is there crafting? Are there dialogue trees? Do NPCs follow a schedule? Do dungeons respawn? Are there wandering monsters? How much of a role do random forces play compared to player decisions? Is replayability important? Etc. Etc.
That may seem like a grab bag of design concerns, but they definitely inform everything that is going to follow. For example, if gold exists in your game, players are going to expect something to spend gold on. Can they buy better gear? If so, why do they want to even run dungeons? Do they just repair their gear? Do they buy consumables, and if so, do you balance combat around the consumables?
In order to avoid being pecked to death by a million little decisions, I'd advise trying to establish an overall vision for the game and let that inform what comes later. "Ow, My Spleen is a fantasy RPG with an emphasis on tactical combat and character customization" drives you somewhere different than "Die Gnolls Die is a game where players make complex moral decisions and can resolve conflict through dialogue choices." Make sure the team agrees on the vision and then lay out what are the 3-4 more important features you need to deliver on that vision. Resist the urge to flesh out any sub-systems that don't support the key features. Scope creep and vision churn are probably the two largest forces that keep games from being made.
Again, given your compressed schedule, I would recommend starting with a player story (which is different from the game's narrative). "The player will get to create a character, engage in combat, and be rewarded by leveling up." Maybe what you build is character creation, 3 combat encounters, a level up feature, and some character customization options. You can build a game with just that. On the other hand, you can't build a game if you spend the whole time on character creation.
Good luck!

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How big of a deal is it when stuff gets leaked? Like the Cass reworked accidentally got pushed onto PBE for a weekend and then more recently upcoming skins got leaked on Reddit.

It sucks for sure. It's a huge morale hit not only to the teams who were working on the features, but also to the teams working on the announcements. A lot of work goes into a reveal and a lot of that work focuses on the messaging so that players get a correct impression. Once stuff is leaked, you're immediately in the mode of correcting misperceptions instead of setting a blank stage yourself.
I find it a pretty selfish for the leakers that they value the 15 minutes of attention they get (typically to an anonymous forum name!) from spilling what should be insider knowledge over the hundreds of hours of work put in by the people developing the content, and over the enjoyment of the players who will probably get more out of the official reveal than a blase forum post blandly listing out features like they're some kind of shopping list.

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"Designers need to be clear about their goals and why they think their ideas will accomplish those goals." Sorry but does that not strangle a designers creativity? If every idea that seems like it could create problems gets dropped then it seems like you do not even get to try out if it works.

I'd argue it actually enhances a designer's creativity.
Let me turn it around and talk about artists for a minute. If you go to an artist (and I have done this way too many times) and naively asked "Can you make me a sword?" or "Can you make me a monster?" they kind of look at you with a blank stare and then look at a monitor with a blank screen.
Completely open-ended is very intimidating!
If you go to the same artist and say "This sword has an undead theme. It belonged to a woman who used it to execute all six of her husbands and rose after her death as a banshee" or "This monster lives in a swamp in kind of a mud hole and I was thinking something part crayfish and part frog" then they are off and running.
You need a germ of an idea to get started.
Likewise, telling a designer "What solutions do you have to solve this champion from being a bully in the lane phase while still keeping her ult feeling really satisfying when you use it?" (TOTALLY THEORETICAL EXAMPLE) you'll probably get much more clever solutions than just saying "This champ's winrate is too high at low elo." For the latter, you might just get an uncreative base AD nerf.
Now you can totally over-constrain problems of course. Clear goal-setting can really help with that as well. Is the problem you are trying to solve one of player satisfaction, or one of thematic misalignment, or one of clarity, or one of skill curve? Those all can't be equally important. Pick the constraints / goals that are most important.

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"build damage to get damage" ~ morello 2010 you and lyte probably laugh at him while you sit their on top of your lyte/ghostcrawler utopia. You both make me fucking sick to my stomache both dont give a fuck and just are autistic kids who want attention and make ask.fm discussing cheese cake ROFL LLL

Is there a question here?
I do like cheesecake.

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It's kind of unethical that a person who hates a kind of champs (adcs cough cough) is the design director at Riot. Like Darius or Mordekaiser, are a permaban on solo queue, and a pick/ban on worlds but lets nerf vayne, because you know, I don't like adcs being mandatory on bot so screw them.

No, man, I like to buff frost mages. Ask any WoW player.

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I often still see people calling Marksmen (ADC's) whiny for wanting their role to be changed but riot are doing some Marksmen changes. What do you personally think is the main issues and problems with the role? if any at all?

1. Being auto-attack focused can easily lead to lack of differentiation among all the other champs that are also auto-attack focused.
2. The need for Marksmen to take towers makes it really hard to evaluate whether they are too weak or not. Assassins just disappear when they aren't viable. Marksmen will likely never disappear. They just limp along if weak.
3. The player vision for "carry" can carry (ahem) some unrealistic expectations. We get some amount of "I'm not getting pentas, so I must be weak."
4. The entire power curve of weak early, strong late can make counterplay hard to solve. It's not counterplay to say "You shoulda stopped me 20 minutes ago, bro."
5. Lack of interesting item choices.
6. Overreliance on the RNG of crit.
7. Can't effectively play different roles or lanes but has a monopoly on bot lane (except for Morde).
8. They can kill squishies in so few shots late game that we kind of hit a power wall where we can't add any more power.
9. Ranged squishy means duels can be very one-sided. If I kite, I take no damage. If melee close, I deal no damage.
10. Built heavily into a team-fight role. This is overall a good thing for design, but tough on solo queue where you can't rely on coordination from a team to keep the Marksman alive.
11. So reliant on gaining gold and XP early that you can feel like you're playing your own minigame before actually joining the game later. This one is debatable and could be argued that it's interesting overall.
12. Always lots of interest in AP builds, but we struggle to make them feel balanced.
13. Since we're thematically tied to "dude with gun or bow" it can make new champion design challenging. This is more of a whiny developer problem and I'd say we did pretty well with Kindred.

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Reddit's complains are legit.. I mean, a (very very) lot of people, even pros, ask for this sandbox mode. The issue isn't that it's not a priority, we get it. The issue is the answer you rioters gave us on why this decision. Each one is saying something different and tbh these answer were really bad

Yes the answers were bad if they didn't get our point across. I'll try again. Our biggest concern is that we don't want to risk changing a game that is a pretty fun multiplayer experience into a single-player experience of running drills with the occasional bright spot of a multiplayer challenge. That's just a concern; it's not a reason not to do something ever. But it is a reason to design it in a deliberate fashion, not just enable some debugging tools and call it done. That changes it from a fairly small project to a much bigger one, and one we aren't prioritizing today with soooo many other things on our plate that we sincerely hope offer you even more value.

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You've headed multiple projects in which you've overseen the addition of new abilities, classes or cool mechanic that will become features of existing games. What are some of the most important lessons you've learned along the way, both in terms of design and implementation?

Magdalena
Here are just a few:
Players will never sacrifice performance (especially damage) for utility.
Players won't choose X over Y for thematic reasons. They'll choose Y if it's more powerful and be salty that they can't play X.
Ranged units are powerful. Ranged units that are fast moving (the cav archer problem) are nigh unbeatable.
Players hate mechanics that feel too random. They will push to remove randomness.
The coolest ability in the world will be dead if the art and sound are uninspiring.
Something that is really, really hard to execute still isn't fair if other players feel like they can't compete with it.
Diminishing returns is a thing. It's better to get something to 90% quality and move on to a new ability than spend an additional month getting to 95%.
Affordance is a thing. Abilities should make sense and be comprehensible.
It is very easy to srumble on something really novel and then ruin it by sticking it on every character.
The most satisfying characters have unique inputs (in essence a mini game they have to play that other players don't interact with) and unique outputs (something they being that does affect the game for both allies and enemies).
The best abilities are mechanically interesting, thematically resonant, and satisfying to execute. It's easy to give up and settle at two out of three. (But see dimishining returns.)
Hacking something cool in that causes bugs and makes programmers mad is the wrong call, even if it's really, really cool.
Players don't like it if you take something away in order to give them something else. This tends to lead to bloat over time, which also isn't awesome, as you just layer more and more mechanics on top of each other.
Simple changes with profound results (say an AoE civilization that starts with extra villagers) tend to be the best because they are simple to understand and hard to master. However, it's also a newbie designer trap to sacrifice everything in the name of elegance. Some designs work very well despite their jankiness.
If all else fails, targeted stuns are always fun... for the stunner.

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