Originally Posted by CertainlyT
Itemsguy -- You basically just describe the benefits of the current dominant set of lane assignments. I would say that what you have left unaccounted for is the possibility that the idea of lane assignments is itself sub-optimal. It's possible that in a year or two the dominant way to play the game will not involve placing specific people in specific lanes for the entire first half of the game, but rather moving them around in response to changing conditions or game time -- e.g., we already see some pro teams running two top until the game time at which dragon can feasibly be taken and then swapping them bot.
But would you really want to base design around something that shaky and ill-defined? I could see it easily making the game unnecessarily difficult to pick up for new players (or balance and design for, for that matter). The benefits of lane-assignments aren't just for players (or just for one experience level of players--the stability gives new players something lean on while learning the mechanics and rules of the game, placing less chaos to sift through between them and the "fun" of improving at the game, and allowing the higher-level players something to build around--and possibly try to situationally subvert it, like the S2 case of sending an assassin mid to counter popular mid mages, which is more high-risk high-reward).
One thing that also must be kept in mind is the rhythm of the game--LoL has a very good and healthy rhythm at the moment, having a steadier and slower early-game so players can get their bearings straight and get to know their opponents, and then steadily picking up as things get faster-paced. Designing around the possibility of all semblances of the structure that the role assignments I mentioned earlier provide, simply devolving into unmanageable and unpredictable disarray seems silly when you can design around a stable and well-defined metagame instead of trying to match paces with a constantly shifting one (which can potentially never end if not stopped).
Of course, I can see why you and the rest of the design team would be a bit iffy about building around metagame--Irelia was designed specifically around countering the everyone-is-a-ranged-carry metagame and why her kit is such a disaster in terms of readability/theming and balance. If I recall correctly, Vayne was also designed to counter the everyone-is-a-metagolem-bruiser meta (but doesn't suffer from thematic disjointedness and unreadability, thankfully). All the metagames prior to this one revolved around roles, damage types, or champions that simply outshone the others, which is why I'd understand a bit of wariness about enforcing metagames, as well. However, as a designer, one must also keep in mind designing the metagame just as they'd design a champion. The structure that a metagame brings isn't bad unless it pushes champions and roles out of viability, and a metagame that's all about having room for all roles and champions and ways of play (whether that be defensive/territorial, aggressive/gank-centric, or map control-based--distinctions that aren't really made currently because champions tend to be balanced around how closely their effectiveness in a particular role compares to that of 20 or so similar champions, as opposed to the defined strengths and weaknesses they bring to a team--which is why Darius has stuck out like a sore thumb since release; also, the Heimerdinger example I made earlier) doesn't seem like a bad model to settle down with. Does it need some tweaking? Of course, as all champions and roles should have a place on a team (which is why the existence of tier lists is always a sign that a competitive game still needs improvements). But honestly, letting it just run wild doesn't seem like the best idea in the context of LoL as it exists right now.
It's kind of like watching a child grow, you know? It needs both guidance and freedom, but guidance must come first--once the child knows the rules of the world (rules that you've instilled upon them, like not putting too much value on material goods and trying to leave every person you meet a little better off than you found them), you can allow them to find their place within the structure of those rules.
(Also, what's your take on the whole "armor" deal? I've been hearing from GD that durability is falling out of favor with the changes to armor pen changes, although I'm not sure whether this is an actual matter where you can actually have a team consisting primarily of bruisers and still be optimal, or if GD is just being GD.)
(Also also, in regards to your "AP and AD don't affect what space you take in the game, but the damage type you deal," if I am interpreting this correctly, you're referring to the whole AP/AD Tristana deal I was talking about before, or other similar "gimmick" builds. But do note that there are two primary differences, even in this one example--AD is all about becoming a powerhouse late-game, dealing consistently high damage, while AP is more about mid-game dominance, after which she would fall off in comparison to a Tristana with an AD build. She'd also be more fitting in a solo lane, allowing an AP build to reach optimal effectiveness sooner due to levels and ability ranks, while Tristana would prefer a bot lane with a support so she can farm safely for late-game effectiveness. The same could be said about Sion, in terms of relevance within areas of the game.)