Riot Pls: Dev priorities and the League client

Posted by NEW001 & SCUTTLECHRIS on League of Legends

Riot Pls is our ongoing effort to share our vision for League of Legends and to keep players in the loop as to what’s going on back at Riot HQ. To see what we’ve discussed so far, check out Riot Pls #1 (the sandbox one) and Riot Pls #2 (the solo queue one).

ScuttleChris and New001 – leads on League of Legends – here again to talk a bit about what’s coming next for League and where Riot’s development teams are pointed. Let’s get straight into it:

The League client update alpha and its impact on development

The League client update is officially in live alpha. We’re looking forward to finally delivering on one of the longest-coming and most-requested features in League’s history, but we still have a long way to go. Our highest priority right now is getting the updated League client into a fully-functioning release, at which point we can switch all players over to it from the legacy client.

While it may seem like we’re just doing house renovations (and if we’re good, that’s what it’ll feel like), the League client update is a deceptively large and complex project. Beyond the visual and architectural replacements (which would make it just a Very Big Project), we’re also rethinking how we build and develop features as a company. Organizational structure can be a boring topic, but consider this: The legacy client was built in a small room by a small team in 2008, and its architecture was fine for a company of ~50. At the time, we had no idea how League would grow and over the years we’ve found we just can’t work as quickly or independently as we want. Things were (are) getting successively harder to add and maintain.

We’re evolving portions of our dev organization at the same time we deliver the League client update – all with the expectation that it will be ready, on day one, for everyone to jump onboard. Everything we’ve added to the client over the last seven years has to be rebuilt and ready in the updated client, both on the player side and on the backend Riot side. It’s two large undertakings: the tech work, which you’ll see in the form of a new client that’s more responsive and reliable, and the organizational work, where we can build future features (or games), faster.

This priority also comes with a few behind-the-scenes shifts: In order to get the updated League client out the door, we need to stop adding features to the current client. More specifically, if the feature you want to access is tied to the client (so… all of them), chances are high the team who owns that feature is transitioning from making new things to porting their old ones into the updated client. This means fewer new things until the full launch of the updated client (and some time afterward as teams spin back up). Every feature we add to the legacy client is something we need to remake for the updated client; focusing development on porting features instead of creating them will help get the update to you sooner.

Here’s a quick breakdown of priorities as they stand today:

  • Matchmaking team: One of the few core development teams (that is, a team focused on developing new League features) not focused on porting features. They’re committed to resolving issues with high-ELO matchmaking, match quality, queue times, and solo player recognition (check out our latest post here).
  • Content/Balance teams: Work as usual. Balance, champions, and skins will continue on. These teams have always focused on the live League experience, and we don’t gain much by putting concepts artists and champ designers on this project.
  • League support teams: Most teams who are more focused on supporting the game and community vs. developing new features (i.e. esports, network improvements, anti-cheating, player behavior) are still doing their thing.
  • All other core development teams: League client update.

We’re still committed to improving League by building new features, including a few long-awaited additions. However, most of these will be built or launched after we’ve made the full switch to the updated client. This isn’t what we consider a perfect scenario (compared to, “Hey, we made X new thing and it’s live right now, surprise!”), but we believe the long-term importance of the new client outweighs the short-term gain of shipping a feature we’d just have to rebuild in a few months.

The League client update alpha is also an experiment in transparency. By opening the alpha (and it is an alpha, to be clear) to thousands of testers, we’re hoping to share our thought processes, development progress, and the hurdles we face as we push closer to launch, all while collecting feedback we can use to improve the updated client as a whole. Pls pardon our dust. And please, sign up to test the client and give us your feedback. The updated client will launch stronger (and faster) with your help.


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