Warning, wall of text as I ponder on the high-level game objectives of Dominion.
Originally Posted by RiotNome
And what changes are those?
What's your plan to stop Dominion from hemorrhaging players? What fixes can we do that addresses the concerns of the top 0.001% of the Dominion community that will fix the perception issues of the 99.99%?? What would you suggest we do to convince everyone that's quit on Dominion to come back? How do we message to players that Shaco isn't the best champ on Dominion? How do we address the complaint that a lot of players have of the lack of progression? The lack of game phases? The lack of differentiation from game to game? You focus on Blackfire Torch, but among the sea of real problems that Dominion has, that really should be barely a consideration. It's imba. OK, we nerf it next patch. Hell, I already did.
These aren't buzzwords. This is the reality of Dominion. We're in do-or-die mode. If you really love Dominion, then subscribe yourself to the program and dig down deep. The rug's going to be pulled out from beneath your feet over and over again, and you'll have to get used to that.
These problems to me seem to stem from and be inherent in the map layout. Both teams have such easy access to defend/recap the two points on their side that four out of five capture points in the game serve such relatively little purpose that they only warrant a token bot laner with a rare gank. Back-door capping points has become a noob-trap so often that it can only be accomplished by a handful of champions and executed with impeccable timing. Timing which can range from hard to nigh impossible to discern depending on the enemies' mobility/range, vision of enemies, and how organized the teams are.
The lack of progression/game phases is also due to the map, which has a small size and static objectives; not just their physical location, which isn't necessarily a problem, but also how players prioritize them. SR by contrast has a much larger area with more varied phases, terrain and objectives: laning early with a side of dragon for cash, ganking/jungling mid game, baron, then eventually base pushing. CS really only has Windmill, so priorities, and thereby the active battlefield, only really deviate from it to quickly stabilize the team's 'home' points and rarely to provide a distraction to destabilize top.
Before discussing solutions, we first have to establish the essence and goals of Dominion. Dom, in my opinion, isn't about scores and points. Rather, it is about shorter, compressed games that cut out the boring fat of endless farming and dull gank-squad'ing (by which I refer to wandering SR in a group just waiting to catch someone out of position), leaving concentrated, near constant PvP gameplay with varied group sizes. The point objectives are really only necessary to ensure that players have something important enough to really commit to fights over.
So, with that established, how do we change things up? How to get people to shift focus more and fight over more of the map, while still really fighting? (As opposed to merely chasing after various objectives while avoiding real confrontation.) There's so many options to try and so little ways to properly judge their effectiveness (from a player's theory-crafting perspective). First off, it seems imperative to have at least one additional objective besides Windmill that is equidistant between teams. But what could pull people away from Windmill? Storm buff and its location in the center seems to be the most obvious, but the simple fact is that the buff isn't strong enough and is captured too quickly (partly thanks to the Fog) to be worth really contesting. Simply making it stronger until it becomes a real point of contention doesn't seem like it would be effective, either.
What if, and by this point I'm really just musing out loud, an 'Altar' similar to the ones in TT was placed in the center of the map. This Altar spawns ~5 minutes into the match, takes decently long to cap (tuned to prevent caps simply going to the recent fight winner automatically or an uncontested Shaco/Eve). Once it is capped it becomes locked for 1-2 minutes. Initially, its only worth 10 points to the team that caps it, but over the next 2 minutes that it sits there spawned, it slowly goes up, eventually becoming worth maybe 40 points. This creates an alternative objective that slowly grows in importance until becoming something really worthy of pulling players away from Windmill or bot lane for a bit, leaving these areas open for an attack. It also creates a dynamic for teams to decide if they wish to cap it later for greater potential rewards, or immediately to reset the Altar and deny their opponents.
Unfortunately, I can't say with any real certainty without extensive research and testing if this or any solutions would help to solve Dominion's issues. I agree that BFT being crazy OP pales in comparison to the real issues. But I don't believe item changes, any of them, will be able to solve much alone and it will require a fundamental change in the map.