Dev Blog: The Design Values of League of Legends

By Morello
It's long been our belief that to make a long-lasting game, we can't set our sights on a single target. Being able to constantly work on League of Legends means we'll never stop evolving and (hopefully) improving the landscape of the game. Hand in hand with that philosophy is also our desire to improve how we communicate – to have a real, meaningful dialogue with all of you guys so we can stay connected to the community while also holding ourselves accountable for the changes we make.

On that note, communication is what this dev blog is about – if League is going to continue to evolve, then why shouldn't the way we talk about the game? Specifically, how can we continue to have real, meaningful conversations?

This got us thinking that we should really sit down to establish a foundation for our talks: our values. At the center of every discussion, shared values – or knowing where we differ – are necessary for the conversation to have meaning. Also, and more importantly, we can have conversations about where we're successful and where we need more work. With these values out in the open, our hope is that if you don’t agree with a change, you at least understand where we’re coming from.

Ultimately, if our goal is to make a competitive, hardcore game that'll last for decades (and it is!), then these are the values that will get us there.
Ryan "Morello" Scott

Mastery

League of Legends is about the pursuit of mastery and challenge. A player can grow in skill, teamwork, decision making and adaptability, but being the best means learning all paths, not just picking one. We'll always find new ways to reward and support a player’s developing mastery of the game.

Whether a player aspires to be a motivating in-game leader, a mechanically gifted marksman, or a trendsetting strategist who shapes the landscape; they’re pursuing mastery. Skilled players can carry the game on a few core aspects, but masters understand and work on all of them. Whether a player's starting their 10th or 1000th game, there should always be new and exciting challenges to pursue.

Meaningful Choices

A meaningful choice requires tradeoffs. If it's a no-brainer, it's not interesting. If nobody understands the consequences of their decision, it's not engaging. If there's a better choice rather than a different choice, players become followers rather than pioneers. We support new strategies by ensuring that tradeoffs exist for the game as a whole.

Instead of offering a best path forward, we want to offer different paths forward that have real tradeoffs. Players should see changes that reflect this philosophy when we introduce strategic tradeoffs for emergent strategies, not because they're new and unique, but usually because they're dominating the scene.

Counterplay

Rich and exciting fights need to be two-sided, not one-sided. In order to dominate your opponent, you need to consistently outplay them, not just pull off that one perfect kill. League isn’t won at champion select and no phase of the game should be decided before a team steps up to fight. We strive to ensure a player's decisions, actions, and reactions matter.

While counterplay is a type of meaningful choice, it’s so important to League of Legends as a competitive multiplayer game that we consider it a pillar of our design values. A fight loses its excitement if the first punch wins – it's what you can do after that adds depth and complexity. We try to prevent hard counters and abilities with no room for reaction, as no game should be over without a real show of skill.

Teamplay

No victory is won alone. Players need to rely on teammates to augment their strengths and cover their weaknesses. Supports can't make plays without a team to follow up, and marksmen can't dish out the damage without protection.

Rather than designing champions who do everything, we create distinct roles to enhance teamplay. Marksmen deal tons of damage, but they'll likely deal tons more with a tank up front and a support by their side. Teamplay is also an avenue for self-expression. Whether a player wants an assassin that waits for the perfect engage or a tank that fights when he pleases, we want to present a wide selection of champions that can deliver on a variety of distinct roles.

Clarity

Players should fight their opponents, not the game. We strive to present information in a clear and precise way so that League can be about dominating opponents with skill and teamwork – not through bookkeeping hidden information.

Clarity means we want distinct, transparent mechanics in everything we design. When the outcome of a game hinges on a player’s ability to quickly assess the situation, information needs to be clear and accessible. This doesn't mean we tell players the best play to make, but we should make sure they have the right info to make calls as best they can.

Evolution

A constantly evolving game is a healthy game. We will continually update League of Legends with new champions and mechanics. As long as we work through the lens of our design values, we believe we can create a more satisfying and compelling experience.

Players and designers are both a part of the League of Legends experience and evolution doesn't come through inaction. Our commitment to evolution means we can keep League healthy and dynamic over a number of years. Mistakes will be made along the way, but with player feedback and consistent iteration, we can create a constantly improving, ever-evolving game.


With our values right here in the open, we can have open conversations about how we approach design in League of Legends. Better still, we can be held accountable when we make changes that aren’t in line. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments, but stay tuned for in-depth articles from senior League of Legends game designers on each core value. We’ll be updating this post as they go live!


3 months ago

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