League of Legends’ Team Builder is live in North America; lead developer responds to feedback

League of Legends Team Builder beta

League of Legends’ Team Builder is in live beta for North American players right now, until tomorrow at 9AM PDT. It allows players to queue for particular positions and roles, selecting specific champions rather than rushing in or bargaining when they hit the champion select screen.

Players have jumped in to fiddle around with it, and Riot has already started to address some of the feedback. 

Tester Neofederalist asked why players cannot switch roles or champions once the team is set up, if the goal is to create a better team composition. “We did a lot of design testing with early prototypes that allowed players to change champions in the Team Builder lobby,” Jeffery “Lyte” Lin, lead designer of social systems at Riot explained. “[F]or example, allowing players to freely change, allowing Captains to “approve” a change, or allowing all players to vote on a change. In many of these cases, these designs altered the decision-making patterns in a negative way.”

“For example, let’s say you want to play an unorthodox champion in a creative role such as LeBlanc Support,” Lyte continued. “This is currently quite popular in Team Builder, and we’re also seeing things like Soraka-Top, Talon-Jungle, Gangplank-Support and more. If you allow champion changes in Team Builder lobbies, what you find is that a lot of Captains will accept these unorthodox champions, and then ask them to change their champion. This is not an awesome experience for the players who want to play these champions in new roles, and overall not a great thing for League because it hurts champion diversity over time.“

Voting and approvals also increase queue times, Lyte explained. And if players come to an agreement in the lobby regarding roles and positions, they can execute it in-game without changing the options in the lobby.

Another concern was the “inflexibility of the queues”; that it’s designed more for players who want to practise with one champion. “The issue wasn’t how many players wanted to practice a certain champion, it was the subtle set of decisions and behaviors that manifest when you introduce the possibility of changing champions in a Team Builder lobby,” Lyte responded. “We agree that overall, it’s not easy to make some changes in Team Builder without starting a lobby from scratch; but, we’re going to continue streamlining the feature through patches and felt that the current version had enough features to justify a Live Beta.”

In the beta, there’s been a lot of captains and not enough regular players. But Lyte believes this is just an effect of the testing phase. Players are queueing as a captain to test the system, accepting a few players, declining others and then abandoning the lobby. They aren’t actually wanting to be a captain; they are exploring the new feature.

“We expect this to die down soon, and will see soon better Captain-to-Solo ratios,” Lyte said. “If we don’t, we have some built-in designs to balance the Captain-to-Solo ratios and have tested one on the PBE that requires players to invite at least 1 friend to be a Captain.”

If you’ve had a chance to fiddle around with it during this or another 48-hour beta, how have you found it? Did you have these concerns or any have any others?

Cheers, Reign of Gaming.