Tuesday, April 30, 2013

League of Legends: ARAM Queue!

Today saw the release of a fairly big content patch for League of Legends. There's a new champion, two remade champions, and a bunch of lore around those champions. There's also a revamped 5v5 map, with only one lane. All 10 players are given a completely random champion and have nowhere else to go except that one lane. So it's one giant cluster of people spamming spells and such back and forth. There are also rules preventing you from healing back at base or from buying new items unless you die. So it's just a lot of back and forth death until someone wins.

Players had been organizing such games for a while, but the problem initially was you had to trust everyone to pick a random champion. And you had to trust they wouldn't go heal, or buy. Riot made a map that removed a lot of that required trust by forcing random picks and restricting purchases and whatnot. But then the problem became that there was no penalty for leaving the game before it started. You could see all 10 of the random champions, so if you didn't like your champion, or your team, or the enemy team you could just leave. And join another game in a matter of seconds. With no way for anyone to blacklist you for doing such a thing! So the same people could cycle through games causing them to not really start over and over again. It was rather frustrating. Especially if you were the sort of person who just took whatever random champion you got since you were apt to lose. (Any time you had a big advantage the game wouldn't start, but any time you were at a disadvantage the game might start since you weren't quitting.)

The big innovation in this patch is to build a queue for the map. So there's the same penalty for quitting during champion selection as there would be for a regular game. Quit and you can't join another game for 5 minutes. Do it again and you can't join another game for 30 minutes. On top of that they've hidden the champions that the other team randomly generated so there's no way you can tell if your team is 'good' or not. The icing on the cake is they give you a limited number of 'reroll' abilities which let you trade in your random champion for a new random champion. It felt like I'd probably be earning a new reroll every 4 or 5 games, which feels like a good spot. You can't reroll all the time, but if you really don't want to play Karma you don't have to.

ARAM isn't a great game variant by any stretch, but it is a fun, quick diversion. And I'm glad they've put a little more support into it to get rid of the annoying people aspects that used to exist. Boo people! Yay systems!

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