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League of Legends General Article: E3 2011 Update Report

By Richard Cox on June 14, 2011

While at E3 me and Melinda had the pleasure to sit down and chat with Ryan Scott, the Lead Champions Designer on League of Legends by Riot Games. While we chatted a lot about the game in general, Melinda will be doing an overall article about that. What I wanted to focus on was the new announcements which were made at the show. We talked a little bit about the next three champions due out and the new spectator mode.

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If League of Legends does anything right, it is how they are constantly rolling out new Champions for the players to keep things fresh. The game launched with about forty Champions. As of today they have almost 80 and have been rolling out a new one every two weeks. We got a sneak peak at the next three in the pipeline:

Yorick the Grave Digger: Yorick is a melee fighter who fills the missing role of the iconic minion based Champion. And we’re not talking pets here, Yorick’s minions are expendable. They come and go quickly. Yorick’s abilities are called rituals and each of them do their effect, whatever that may be, and as a side effect summon a minion. There are quite a few different types of them. One example we were given was the “Spectral Ritual” which summons a minion that moves really fast and has a very fast attack speed. While you have this minion in play, Yorick will also benefit from those traits and his movement and attack speeds will be increased as well.

Leona the Radiant Dawn: For the longest time fans had been complaining about the lack of a female melee tank in the game. So Riot spent some time researching exactly what they meant by that, and the result was specifically a strong, knightly/paladin type of kick-ass female Champion. Leona is a “Sun Paladin” which is represented visually with sunburst emblems on her armor/shield and fiery red hair. All of her powers originate from the sun/light. The example we were given is that she can call down a solar beam that takes a couple seconds to warm up, and then blasts down a huge AoE explosion that stuns anyone in the area.

Skarner: Skarner will have a title like the others do, it just isn’t finalized yet. With this third Champion, Riot felt that there needed to be a new monster Champion added to the game. While thinking about what type of creature it should be, they decided that the scorpion was the closest thing in nature to a ‘weaponized animal’. Which I can see, it’s armored, it has a huge stinger tail and it has venom/poison. So they took the concept of the scorpion and set about trying to figure out how to give it character, since no one would want to play a regular old scorpion. So they settled on making him be made out of crystal. And he has a crown, because he’s not just any crystalline scorpion, but the king of the newly discovered race of crystal scorpions. Skarner is a melee fighter type, and one of his really cool abilities is that he can impale other Champions on his tail and drag them away for a bit.

One of the constantly requested features from the League of Legends community has been a spectator mode. The community has hobbled together their own system for the time for the time being, sure, but it’s just not the same. Even with a lacking system though, they had over 69,000 spectators during the last tournament qualifier matches, which set a new esports streaming record. But Riot wants to give their community a proper streaming system, so they’ve been working very hard on putting a good one together. One of the coolest aspects of how they’re going about it was the fact that the Senior Game Designer is assisting with the design of the spectator mode to make sure it’s as fun of an experience as possible. While in spectator mode, you will see a completely different UI than you would while playing LoL. In the top center of the screen you have a scoreboard that took a great deal of inspiration from scoreboards used in professional sports. When you’re watching a football game, you can glance at the scoreboard and know instantly the standing of the game: what quarter it is, how much time is left, who’s winning, etc. The same holds true with LoL’s scoreboard. You’ll see the score, how many kills each side has, how much gold they’ve gathered, how many objectives they’ve made it through, etc.

You also get all of the individual statistics in a quick and easy to read display on the spectator UI. You can see all of the abilities information of whoever you have selected, to include cooldowns, etc. You can turn fog of war on or off. Not only will this be huge for the esports side of League of Legends, but it will also go a long way in helping people learn how to play the game. Since it is a free-to-play title, you can just download the game and watch a couple matches to see what it’s like. Or if you’re already a seasoned LoL player but are interested in seeing what a different Champion plays like. The spectator mode will be time-delayed slightly to prevent someone who is spectating a match from telling one side where the other is at on the map and other such things. Riot is concentrating on making sure the system is a very stable and fun experience. It won’t ship with all of the features they have planned for it. Eventually this will lead to a recording and replay functionality as well. The first official use of this system will be at the upcoming Season 1 Finals event in Sweden, which will have $100,000 in prizes.

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