Posting on the official forums, League of Legends Lead Game Designer Mark Yetter, aka RiotScruffy, has outlined how the champion design team feels about the last two years of new characters and their plans going forward. They're calling it Gameplay Values, but they basically mean how to make good champions that are fun, easy to pick up, hard to master and lead to interesting games for everyone involved.
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It's a long, complex post, but here's the basics of what they're aiming for in the new year:
- A similar amount of interesting decisions in-game per character. Bard is called out as a good example, with Warwick (who has been about since the earilest days of the game) is not where they want things to be. Other things they think they did well last year include giving each champion their own unique identity, including making sure they don't just improve on an old champion, rendering that previous iteration useless.
- They say they really need to improve in making sure new champions are easier to pick up and have more exploitable weaknesses. It isn't about dumbing champion designs down, but making sure that new additions to the game are interesting to players across the spectrum. As part of this, they're also looking to reduce the APM required to play new champions by a bit. As far as weaknesses go, that's a long-term thing - player skill and knowledge should determine how champions are beaten down the road, not just the numbers they're given, so they need ways to be countered.
- Riot will be moving away from mechanics that require input from team-mates or enemies as a group to exploit properly. They don't want champions that force significant changes to playstyle of your allies to be the norm, outside of playing into and around abilities as you would expect.
- They're aware of the complaints about how common minigames are for new champions - everyone playing their own seperate little thing that detracts from the wider game. As part of reducing complexity, they don't want quite as much of this in the coming year.
Those are the heavy hitters but there's lots more in the thread, which also provides a look at some of the difficulties behind designing a MOBA that aren't immediately obvious. Yetter also replied to a few posts, which you can see in the forums' rather neat Rioter Rundown feature.