Twisted Treeline was released to open beta on October 22nd, 2009, and the map was a lot different back in those days. Numerous changes regarding game balance, AI, pacing, and ease of gamplay have happened in the patches following release, and, while there is still work to be done, the Treeline has come a long way. To that end, weíre here to take you on a stroll down memory lane, to show you just what goes into getting a map competition ready.
The Goals for Twisted Treeline
When the Riot Design Team set about creating the Twisted Treeline, they did so with certain gameplay objectives. Aside from reducing the size to allow for a 3v3 dynamic, Design wanted the Treeline to be a departure from the more traditional MOBA style facilitated by Summonerís Rift. More specifically, they wanted to shorten the time investment necessary to complete a match, and to accelerate the laning phase to bring additional emphasis to ganking and early game team fights.
Moreover, the upper jungle was designed to allow for players to fight over powerful champion buffs, while control of the central jungle provided the player the already significant tactical advantage of ambush routes against his opponents in lane. All of this was designed to come in a package that reduced game length to around 15 Ė 20 minutes. With these goals in mind, letís see take a look at the changes that have taken place over the course of the Twisted Treeline beta.
Early October: Prerelease
Twisted Treeline has seen a lot of upheaval regarding the base layout since its initial construction, even prior to its release to open beta. In its original construction, both of Twisted Treelineís lanes followed the same layout as Summonerís Rift: three turrets per lane and two nexus turrets. Almost immediately, however, internal playtests revealed this to be a logistical problem. Not only did the lanes feel extremely cramped Ė with your enemyís tower sitting just over a screen away from your own Ė but game length was coming in at around half an hour: nearly the average length of a game of Summonerís Rift!
So the decision came down: bulldoze the two outer turrets and increase the distance between the now outer turrets and the base turrets. This not only helped to reduce game length, but also allowed for a larger no manís land in which players were vulnerable to ambush through the central jungle, increasing the importance of control of this area of the map.
Late October: Open Beta
Once Twisted Treeline hit open beta, tank champions almost immediately emerged as extremely dominant on the map. With fewer champions per team, damage heavy champions simply didnít bring enough firepower to the field to be able to quickly and effectively focus down a three tank team. To combat this, Design implemented changes to many of the sigil buffs provided by the neutral monsters in the upper jungle, most pointedly changing the buff provided by the Rabid Wolf, and the team buff provided by Ebonmaw, the Terror of Zaun. The Rabid Wolf now provided a bonus to attack speed and cooldown reduction, and Ebonmaw now provided a flat 1% increase in damage per champion level instead of bonus damage against turrets. These buffs allowed damage powerhouses to even the odds against tank heavy teams by controlling the upper half of the map.
Also, even with the removal of a turret from each lane, bases were still absorbing a bit too much damage. With Twisted Treeline being substantially smaller than Summonerís Rift, and with fewer champions in play, taking down an inhibitor before the enemy team could rally a defense was extremely difficult. To combat this, inhibitor health was reduced from 3600 hp to 3000, and respawn time received an across the board increase of two seconds.
Additionally, with two nexus turrets in place, the base was still able to readily dispense with incoming minion waves with a single inhibitor down. While this was a desirable mechanic on Summonerís Rift, where there are three inhibitors to lose, on Twisted Treeline the Designers really wanted players to feel the impact of losing one of these important base structures. To increase the pressure caused by the loss of a single inhibitor, Design removed a nexus turret and increased the health of super minions by an additional 200 hp. This forced players to deal with the afflicted lane personally, allowing for a three champion team to more easily take map control, and ultimately make the final push.
Mid November: Gold Statistics Rebalance
As time went on, it became clear that the action on Twisted Treeline wasnít building at that pace we wanted it to. Games were still coming in well beyond the average target length, and, with fewer minions and towers on the field, player income wasnít scaling properly with the accelerated game phases. As a result, players had to rely heavily on champion kills to supplement their income. In addition to favoring certain play styles, this also presented a problem for champion balance, as strong farming champions had trouble keeping up with those that typically rack up more frequent champion kills.
To bring these champions back into line, the gold per minion kill was increased by a small amount and ambient gold gain was reduced slightly. Additionally, the frequency of minion waves increased, but the number of minions in each was reduced by one. This helped reemphasize the importance of lane control, and helped rein in the long roaming phase that was developing.
December: Brush Remapping and Neutral Spawn Time
Even after all the changes that had been made, matches on Twisted Treeline all still seemed to have one thing in common: an early game fight at the Lizard Elder as soon as minions spawned. While this was an interesting phenomenon, a sound victory at Lizard could easily be the deciding factor in the game. In order to prevent the game from being so drastically influenced by a level 1 fight, as well as to enable players to feel that they had strategic options early game, design decided to delay the spawn time of the Lizard Elder. The Lizardís spawn was moved to 2:30, bringing it in line with the Dragon on Summonerís rift. Additionally, the spawn time of the Ebonmaw was delayed, placing him more in line with the timing of Summonerís Riftís Baron Nashor.
Moreover, the brush on Summonerís Rift had already been retouched, allowing for a more steady flow of action in the jungle areas. Twisted Treelineís jungle areas were even more overgrown with brush than Summonerís Rift, complicating attempts to gank in these areas. As a result, the designers revised the brush on this map as well, empowering players to more readily scour the jungle for their enemies.
The Current Picture
The Twisted Treeline originally envisioned needed a lot of work to bring it in line with the goals of the Design Team. In order to balance it to be on equal footing across the various champion types, to allow for multiple opening strategies, and to keep the game length under control, many different aspects of the map required extensive tweaking from the original design. Ultimately, the Twisted Treeline of today is a very different place than the one that debuted on October 21st, 2009.
And thereís more to come! The Design Team has authorized me to tease you all with the promise of at least one more, game changing feature that they intend to pull from their proverbial bag of tricks. Stay tuned!