Saturday, July 18, 2015

Android - Injustice: Gods Among Us (2/5)

Lately, I've been focusing more on game design and development in my free time. With that, I'm also trying to play more games, while focusing on looking for good/bad/interesting design decisions.

So, I decided to try Injustice: Gods Among Us for Android.

Its free to play (sort of - more on that later). The core gameplay mechanics are fun, but they're so simple there's little you can do to play better after learning basic blocking. Most matches are determined by the quality (cost) of your character and their level (which is increased by using them more).

The core combat is fun enough but it's just not complex enough to be anything like a real fighting game. It quickly becomes more of an RPG grind where you're just attempting to level your characters. 

If you want to play as some of the best characters (gold tier), like Superman or Batman, it'll cost about $20 each or like 20 hours of in game grinding just to get them. That's not even counting leveling them up to a reasonable point and buying upgrades for them.

Really, it just feels like a money grubbing, pay-to-win game. I give it 2 instead of 1 just because it is somewhat fun to play, and that's what games are all about.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

What's wrong with Urgot? - Ultimate Suggestion

What's wrong with Urgot? Well, as of this writing, he is the least picked champion in the game right now with a pick rate of 0.4% and the lowest win rate in the game at 41.62% ( Riot Meddler has been working on Urgot and I agree with his analysis below (from LoL General Discussion: Undeath, Terror and Acid Hunters: Let's talk Urgot)

Biggest Gameplay Problems:
  • Insufficient counterplay on Q/E combo.
  • Lot of invisible power (to be shifted to visible power and/or given better feedback to improve visibility).
  • Unclear niche, resulting in some aspects of kit creating awkward moments of play.

Initial Direction to Explore:
  • Push Urgot into more of a ranged bruiser or tough, front line AD caster role (better thematic fit, more interesting than making him more of a standard AD ranged auto attacker).
  • Find a better way of offering homing Acid Hunters that give both more counterplay options for an enemy and more opportunity for skilled use by the Urgot player, in contrast to the current binary outcome (E+QQQ or nothing, with insufficient options for either player after the initial E shot).
  • Investigate fundamentally different options for passive and ult. Both do offer some good benefits, but also generate a lot of problems, power versus satisfaction (passive) and clash with core of kit (ult much of the time) in particular. Also potentially some missed opportunities r.e. abilities that offer more gameplay and capitalize better on Urgot’s theme.

I think Meddler is on the right track, and I think Urgot's most difficult problem is his ultimate. As he said the ult clashes with the core of the kit.  It doesn't make sense for a ranged poke champion to dive into the middle of the enemy team. His ultimate is very fun and iconic though, so changing it or removing it would be sad. People have said they like that Urgot is a Bruiser/Poker, so why don't we enhance that? My suggestion is to make it so when Urgot uses his ultimate, he goes into a 'Bruiser' mode where he becomes melee for 15-30 seconds. His E and Q abilities would change during this time, so he could have moves like Decapitate maybe, which would fit his High Executioner lore better. This would also make his ultimate fit better with his playstyle because he would have a good reason to dive into the middle of the enemy team.

This doesn't address Urgot's other issues such as invisible power from E armor shred and passive, and the lack of counterplay from his Q, but I feel his ultimate is his most difficult problem to solve and there aren't that many options for it that don't involve scrapping it.

Please provide feedback and let me know what you think. Thank you.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Champion Design Proposal - Kevin Bacon

This champion is based off the monster from the classic film Tremors, so I named him Kevin Bacon. Kevin Bacon is a sort of giant worm that can burrow under ground and pop up and eat people. Here are some ability ideas:

Big Bite: Kevin Bacon wraps his giant maw full of teeth around his target, dealing physical damage and returning health to Kevin Bacon. If Kevin Bacon uses Big Bite while burrowed he pops out of the ground and snares his target, but deals less damage than he would above ground, and does not return health (see bottom part of picture above).

Burrow: Kevin Bacon burrows under the ground for a few seconds, gaining increased move speed, and becoming untargetable. Using any of Kevin Bacon's spells or attacking an enemy causes him to pop out of the ground and become targetable again. Getting a kill or assist reduces the cooldown of Burrow by x seconds.

Barb Spin: Kevin Bacon spins around in a circle, releasing barbs from his skin that deal AOE damage and slow his enemies.

Devour: Kevin Bacon wraps his mouth around an enemy and swallows them whole, dealing massive damage over a few seconds. This is an execute ability that deals more damage based on % health missing from the target. Devour is a channeled ability and can be canceled if Kevin Bacon is killed or interrupted.

I have to admit, this kit is pretty cheesy. It sounds fun though right? You get to eat people whole! I think Kevin Bacon would be played as a jungler or top laner. In the jungle, he could clear camps with his Barb Spin, lifesteal with Big Bite, then gank when he has Burrow, and his Big Bite would be good CC to catch enemy laners. Top lane, Burrow would be great for getting out of tricky situations (like Vladimir's pool).

Kevin Bacon deals a lot of damage, all at melee range, and he has an ability to become untargetable, so he would need to be quite squishy to make up for all that, like an assassin. That's why I think having a reset skill on Burrow that reduces the cooldown on kills or assists is good because it would let him escape if he successfully got kills. Also, I made his ultimate, Devour, a channeled ability because otherwise there would be no counterplay - he could just burrow up to a low health enemy surrounded by their team, pop out, and kill them. This makes the ability difficult to use, but definitely rewarding, especially if you get a reset.

Thanks for reading! Any feedback is appreciated so let me know what you think.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Alistar Analysis

So you know when you're feeling really guilty because you picked Alistar and now you're feeding over and over and you feel pretty much useless? Well, its ok its not your fault Alistar is in a horrible spot right now. He has the second lowest win rate in the game at the time of this writing at 44.35% per Alistar is one of those champions Riot has a hard time balancing. His kit is designed in such a way that it will never be balanced by mere number changes. Alistar has fluctuated from OP to worthless with just small changes (just like Sivir, Olaf, and Mundo). When he is strong enough to be playable he is way too strong. This happens because Alistar just has too many spells that have no counter. Pulzerize and Headbutt both are not effected by Tenacity, and Alistar's ultimate makes him immune to CC and extremely tanky. His ultimate is similar to the old Olaf ultimate in that, enemies have no way to stop you. Against most champions, a player can CC them or kill them and they can't attack them anymore, but that's not the case against a spell like Alistar's ultimate. To 'fix' Alistar when he was too strong, they nerfed his ultimate's damage reduction a LOT, and increased his mana cost on his E (the heal) over 3 different patches until now he's at the point where he has serious mana issues. Alistar needs some love. They fixed Olaf's ultimate by making him more squishy in exchange for him being immune to CC. I think the opposite would work for Alistar, if they removed his immune to CC portion and just made his ult make him even more tanky he would be in a good spot. That is really what you want anyways. Then you can lower his cooldowns, reduce his mana costs, and improve his base stats. I think Riot fears doing that now, because as I said he would suddenly be OP again because his kit is just so strong in it's current state.
I think a lot of people misunderstand me when I make rework proposals. They always look like nerfs because I am removing things from a champion (see my posts on Sivir and Rammus). And well they are nerfs at first, but the reason champions are usually underplayed or weak is because they have some really imbalanced portion of their kit preventing them from fitting into the game. Once that is removed, you can buff numbers everywhere else and make the champion playable. Riot knows this and they did it with Sivir. They removed the attack speed bonus to teammates on her ult which was OP in certain situations, and reduced the damage on her Q which was insane. In return for that she got some base stats, an improved W, and much needed mana cost reductions. I still disagree with a lot of changes they made to Sivir (her ult giving movespeed to teammates is still too strong IMO, and I miss her Q damage), but I understand what they did and why, and now she's in a pretty good spot, being played competitively and in solo queue. Many people seem to think Riot is just sitting around watching players complain about their favorite champions needing buffs and laughing at them. Balance is complicated though, and if Alistar hasn't received a buff in an entire year (last patch from Jan 16, 2013), it's probably for a good reason.
If you read the forums and Rioter's logic on buffs and nerfs in patch notes, you will see there are trends appearing. Certain champion traits make champions very difficult to balance. Best examples: Tenacity/CC Reduction (Dr. Mundo, Irelia, Alistar, Olaf, Poppy) and Globals (Shen, Twisted Fate, Janna, Zilean). All the previous champions are either super weak or super strong and many have fluctuated between those points for years. Riot knows these problems exist, but removing these types of abilities entirely takes away some interesting parts of the game, so it is a challenging spot for them. I think they are on the right track though with the Olaf rework. Riot gave him a trade off for his OP ability to ignore CC by making him more easily killable by straight damage. My point is: even though many champions seem like they are in a horrible spot and are unplayable, they actually need nerfs to their kit and not buffs to be playable again. After you figure out how to nerf a champion's OP ability without destroying who they are, you can buff everything else.

3/10 Edit: Going back to this I think I overestimated the value of the tenacity on his ultimate. It's not even really tenacity as it only breaks CC on casting and does not make him immune to CC as I stated above. I think Alistar's real issue is the power from his Headbutt and Pulverize. They can't be reduced by tenacity, and Headbutt provides so much positioning power. Also Headbutt is very difficult to use for lower level players (i.e. not LCS pros) so that causes him to have a lower winrate in solo queue, but if they just straight buff him, he would be too strong competitively. I think he needs some kind of change to his Headbutt and Pulverize to make them easier to use without trying to do the W+Q combo, which is needlessly difficult.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Reworking Rammus

Rammus is a pretty controversial topic on the forums right now. In patch 3.15 he got his E 'Puncturing Taunt' nerfed -"Duration reduced at later ranks to 1.25/1.50/1.75/2.00/2.25 seconds (from 1.00/1.50/2.00/2.50/3.00 seconds)." He got some minor buffs to his mana costs in exchange but really this is still a nerf. Many players on the forums are complaining, saying this is undeserved and that Rammus isn't OP, champion X/Y/Z is. The truth is though, his solo queue win rate per has been well over 50% for all of 2013, usually hovering close to 55%. In fact even after the nerf, his win rate today is still 54.1%. Statistically, I'd say this makes him the most consistently OP solo queue champion of 2013. So yes, as sad as I am to say it, he did deserve the nerf. So if Rammus was, and is, so OP, why was his pick rate less than 5% for much of the year?

Even though Rammus has a higher win rate than champions like Kassadin and Riven, he doesn't appear OP because he doesn't snowball out of control like they do. Even if Rammus is making a huge impact on the game, his impact is more subtle because the laners appear to be doing all the damage, and Rammus can't do anything on his own. It also doesn't help pros rarely play him in tournaments or solo queue, mainly due to his niche utility and lack of powerful teamfight presence. Rammus was the first champion I bought, and I've always liked him since I started playing in 2009, but in today's League of Legends world his kit is imbalanced and not very rewarding to play, so I propose a rework. Rammus is already rarely picked, so if they keep nerfing his taunt until he reaches a balanced win rate near 50%, no one will play him. A rework would save him from this and improve his playability without making him OP. So, let's look at his pros and cons and see where he could use some tweaks to make him more fun to play and more competitive.

  • Mobility
  • Ganks
  • Peeling
  • Very tanky
  • Good against AD compositions
  • Easily counterjungled
  • Bad farmer
  • Weaker vs AP compositions
  • Weak teamfight initation for a tank
Rammus has some of the best ganks in the game with his speed and his very long taunt, but his farming is abysmal and he doesn't have super impactful teamfight presence like other popular junglers such as Vi or J4. I think these two factors are keeping him from competitive play. His kit also isn't that interesting to play which is keeping his solo queue pick rate low. This is because his spell order is obvious and has little to no strategy or counterplay. So I want to buff his initiation and farming, while nerfing his mobility to keep him balanced. Here are the changes I propose (if you don't know his current abilities you can reference them here):

Passive - Spiked Shell - Same 'Rammus receives bonus attack damage equal to 25% of his total armor.'
This passive makes Rammus unique and helps him in his role as an anti-AD champion. It's essential to give him a little more damage throughout the game as he builds tank items.

Q - Powerball - Change this to force Rammus to charge up while stationary in order to reach max speed and reduce the duration spent moving, so he can't go as far with it. Still allow him to use it without charging but at a much lower speed. Also remove the slow.
Right now powerball allows for both a strong engage and disengage, as Rammus can get out of almost any tricky situation. This change will allow Rammus to still have a strong team fight initiation by rolling in quickly by surprise, but it will reduce his ability to disengage because he won't have time to charge up before running away. This will also reduce his ganking power by making it easier to ward. Right now Rammus can roll from his jungle into lane so quickly people don't have time to react. If you reduce the distance he can roll, it will force Rammus players to setup ganks from the river which would be easier for opponents to ward. I think it would also just be more fun to play charging up and rolling in. The slow applied is providing him unnecessary extra power because during ganks, he typically taunts after his power ball anyways. And for teamfights, we'll give him back a slow later.

W - Defensive Ball Curl - I want to keep this the same, but increase damage dealt to monsters.
This will help his farming immensely. Right now if Rammus doesn't get ganks off, he gets super behind because he farms so slow. This would even him out a lot and make him more forgiving to play. In competitive play its essential to have junglers who can farm and gank so this would improve his viability in tournaments as well as his playability in solo queue. 

E - Puncturing Taunt - I think we should remove the armor reduction on this spell, and keep the duration the same.
Taunt is already one of the longest CC's in the game. Even after Riot's 3.15 nerf it is very powerful. All of the power on Rammus's kit is centered around his taunt, so he is lacking in other areas. The armor reduction on this spell gives a lot of unnecessary hidden power and has no counterplay. It's not a fun part of Rammus, so by removing it we can channel power in to other abilities to make his kit more interesting.

R - Tremors - I want to severely reduce or remove the damage from this and definitely remove the damage to turrets. I want to add a big slow to this with an effect like Randuin's Omen, but with a bigger AOE and slow amount.
The extra damage is not necessary for a tank, and it doesn't make sense for him to have a tower pushing ability that would fit better with a split pushing bruiser. Rammus could use more teamfight utility and this is the place to put it. This will give Rammus a very strong initiation, which is something he is currently lacking when compared to other popular junglers. After removing damage from his ultimate, hopefully more damage could be added to his other abilities to improve his dueling, which is currently horrendous. 

These changes will push Rammus more neatly into his role as a pure tank. Right now he is a tank, but his ultimate doesn't fit that criteria well, and his Q provides way too much mobility for a champion with very strong CC. We can improve some of his weaknesses like clear speed and teamfight utility, while still maintaining his core role as a tank with strong CC and mobility.