For those who went to PAX 2012, it was definitely quite the surprise to learn that Riot hadn't rented out the traditional booth for League of Legends. Last year their area was relatively large, with a few giant screens and Riot employees shout-casting their newest map (at the time), Dominion. It was a lot of fun, the set up was nice but it was extremely crowded and you often had to fight people just to get up close to the booth.
This year they definitely went above and beyond what they had last year. Not only was their booth area bigger (it was roughly 1/3 of the top floor), but the North American Regionals were going on all weekend AT the convention. It was quite amazing and extremely fun to see live. Honestly, the setting reminded me A LOT of Blizzcon and walking into their area made you forget that were you even at PAX for a second.
There were TONS of Teemos (and other cosplayers) in the area and to the right of the main stage you could check out THIS year's newest map, The Proving Grounds (aka: ARAM). Mike Bitton and I actually ventured into this area a few times, the first time just to check out the area simply because we had heard so many people say how spectacular it was. The second time we headed in for an interview. We showed up about an hour early and sat through a general Q&A they were having on the main stage.
Every now and again the devs on stage would get overshadowed by the shouts of people who were victorious in their ARAM matches, but overall, when there wasn't a major game going on and the booth was relatively laid back.
During the Q&A, and even during the panel we sat in, the devs answered pretty much any questions thrown at them, including some trickier questions that were perhaps a bit harder to answer. One of my favorite questions and its answer was when they planned on releasing Magma Chamber.
For those not familiar with Magma Chamber, it was a map they had talked about a lot in the past and had even released a sketch of (see above) but it never fully came to fruition. One thing a lot of people sitting in on the panel learned was that Magma Chamber eventually evolved into what we now know as Dominion. Through testing and changing of design, they found Dominion to be a better solution, rather than adding another map that is almost a copy of Summoner's Rift.
They went on to explain how they felt that they had definitely learned their lesson about discussing details of the game that aren't ready for actual release and how, since then, they've realized they need to actually finish their designs before announcing their awesomeness to the public. Makes sense, and it is definitely a mistake we've seen a lot of games make.
But that wasn't the part that really caught me. It got my attention when they went on to explain how they likely wouldn't be adding another map similar to Summoner's Rift and I believe that their reasoning is definitely sound. They said, first of all, they don't want to split the communities between the two very similar maps. It would increase queue times and we all know how much people love higher queue times.
Secondly, they went on to explain how it is better to have a variety in maps, sort of like sports (that's the comparison they used). They started out with a football map, and instead of adding another football map, they added a basketball map, then a hockey map, etc. They also spoke of how adding those different maps would keep the game fresh and give players who like those "sports" a map to play while still enjoying the regular football map.
A question I was definitely curious about was the one asked about when they would be adding ranked Dominion. It's something that a lot of us expected months ago but have had yet to see it. They acknowledge how they've paid little attention to the map itself but said they've started to mitigate the issue by dedicating a team to Dominion specifically. They didn't announce a date to expect ranked play but said that it is in the future now that they have an entire team focused on it.
Lastly, something I think many of us can appreciate (at least I can), they talked about itemization and how they are going to be tweaking the items to make them play a more active role in a player’s build instead of just adding stats to champions. They mentioned things like Shurelya's Reverie, Deathfire Grasp, etc. Basically they wanted items to become less of "you get this stat, and this stat, and boom gtg". What they want is more "you get this item, build around it, it becomes a part of your champion and boom gtg." It reminded me of how DFG works with Veigar so perfectly.
I'm definitely for this. I’ve always enjoyed the more active items of the game, rather than just item/stat stacking and I really look forward to seeing how they do this, yet still maintain a relatively balanced game (yes I know it's not perfectly balanced, but what game with PvP is?).
Anyway, as time goes on I definitely look forward to the future of LoL. We've seen it grow so fast over the past 3 years and it's only a matter of time before we have a Riotcon to look forward to every year during convention season.
At least, that's my prediction ~.^
Hillary "Pokket" Nicole