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GDC 2015: How eSports shapes League of Legends

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GDC 2015, or the Game Developers Conference, has been invaded by GeekReply! Yep, that’s right! Yours truly has managed to infiltrate this incredible week long gaming extravaganza featuring professionals from all over the world who gather to share, learn, and discuss all facets of video game development. This morning I had the pleasure of sitting in on a fascinating discussion where Riot Games Design Lead, Ryan “Morello” Scott, chatted about the impact that eSports has had on the League of Legends design team. For those of you who don’t know, eSports is not the name of a sports bar internet cafe, but is the official term used for competitive gaming. The popularity of eSports has exploded in recent years (much like putting Peeps in a microwave), thanks to multiplayer online battle arena or MOBA games like League of Legends.

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Contrary to what stereotypes may have you believe, eSports teams do not look like this.

Competitive League of Legends players dream of snagging the top prize at the League of Legends World Championship that last year drew over 27 million viewers worldwide and was cast in 19 different languages. Millions of League of Legends and eSports fans watched the top teams in the world battle it out for the $1 million dollar prize. As you can imagine, the League of Legends team at Riot Games feels the pressure that comes with such intensive worldwide attention, massive corporate sponsorship and more. Here’s some insight into how Riot Games balances eSports’ rigorous demands while still ensuring that they have an enjoyable game.

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Casual LoL players after queueing with serious LoL players.

One of the biggest challenges that Design Lead Ryan Scott mentioned was how to ensure that League of Legends could still be enjoyable for both the casual gamers and the most serious and competitive League players. How does Riot do that? They selectively insulate their game design processes from outside influences like competitive LoL players. Riot takes the ‘mentos and diet coke’ approach when involving high level players into the design processes meaning that they only mix the two when they want to have a blast. Why? This is because that highly competitive players have very focused goals (like winning, duh) whereas the Riot design team wants to create a fun and rich gaming experience that can be enjoyed by diverse group of players. So when does Riot reach out to their super advanced community? Testing is one instance where Riot turns on the Bat, er, LoL signal to summon top tier LoL players to help. Since Riot has been mostly reactionary in balancing and making adjustments to gameplay, they hope that with the help of diamond level LoL players they can be more proactive in future League designs.

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Riot does not take the Scrooge McDuck approach to game design.

Another way that Riot wants to ensure that LoL remains an engaging and fun game is by working to keep business and pleasure separate. This has been more of a priority as LoL’s popularity as an eSport draws large sums of money. Ryan Scott said that the Riot’s designers take a K.I.S.S. approach to their design but not in the gross Gene Simmons tongue kind of way, but in that they Keep It Simple, Stupid. They design the game with the core idea that if you make cool stuff that people want to buy, they’ll buy it. And if League of Legends’ eSports popularity is any indication, it would appear that the gaming community likes the way the Riot Design Team K.I.S.S.

Hey, I'm Sara! I'm a fan of all things geek so you'll usually find me immersed in everything from comic books to auto sports. I often wish that I was born in the future so that I could have experienced adventures worthy of Star Wars or Star Trek. To cope with the fact that we don't even have flying cars yet, I generally infuse everything I do with a healthy dose of humor. I mean, we may as well laugh while we're waiting, right? (Also, it's a great excuse to include as many Simpsons references as possible)

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There are strong indications that Persona 3 Reload The Answer DLC may be on the horizon

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Speculations about the inclusion of The Answer in the latest Persona 3 Reload have been circulating for some time now and seem to be gaining credibility. After being played for some time, new evidence suggests that more SEES action is on the horizon. Caution: Spoilers ahead for Persona 3 Reload!

Completing the game on merciless difficulty will result in Elizabeth from The Velvet Room giving you a cryptic clue, hinting that The Answer is approaching. According to PC Gamer, YouTuber Faz used a cheat engine to reach that stage and record the conversation. Elizabeth delivers players a mysterious message: “At the end of a great trial, the answer illuminates my path.”

The Answer occurs after the events of Persona 3, focusing on the cyborg warrior Aigis in the weeks following the game’s climax and offering around 30 hours of content. Persona 3 Reload feels unfinished until its latest update, which follows the trend of Atlus finding ways to release enhanced versions of their games, like Persona 4 Golden or Persona 5 Royal. Speculations were circulating about The Answer being in development, which aligns with the findings of dataminers. However, an official confirmation is still pending.

Is it possible that we will uncover the answer in Persona 3 Reload? Are you eagerly anticipating it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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Remedy reclaims ownership of Control IP from Publisher 505 Games

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Remedy Entertainment has recently revealed that they now have complete ownership of the Control IP, which was previously shared with 505 Games. Remedy allegedly spent 17 million euros for the opportunity; nevertheless, 505 Games will continue as the publisher until 2024 during the transition.

In a recent press release, CEO Tero Virtala mentioned that the company will thoroughly evaluate its options, acknowledging the widespread appeal of the Control franchise among various partners. Furthermore, Virtala shared a quick update on the other ongoing projects now that Alan Wake 2 has been released. “Condor and Control 2 have made significant progress recently, and we anticipate these projects to advance to the next stages of development by the first half of 2024.”

Condor is the codename for Remedy’s multiplayer game set in the Control universe. Control 2, the highly anticipated sequel to the first game, was announced in late 2022 following the developer’s new publishing agreement with 505 Games. The Finnish game studio managed to create a brand-new path for the future at some point in their journey, perhaps as a result of recent successes.

How do you feel about Remedy gaining control of the Control IP from 505 Games? Are you looking forward to what the future holds for the series? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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Neil Druckmann, the head of Naughty Dog, is not planning to create games indefinitely

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Neil Druckmann, the president of Naughty Dog, believes he may not continue creating video games indefinitely, especially not on the grand scale we’re accustomed to from the renowned creative. He is widely recognized for his contributions to Uncharted and The Last of Us. His positive experience adapting the latter for HBO, combined with a shift in priorities towards family, led him to consider making a significant change.

Druckmann’s reflections were captured in an interview with rapper Logic on his YouTube show, Logically Thinking (thanks to VGC), where he mused, “I guess that I don’t see myself doing this forever at this scale.”. Talking about the importance of spending quality time with one’s children, the subject resonated with the Naughty Dog boss, leading to a thoughtful conversation:

“You mentioned entering a new phase in life where your kids are the top priority, and I can relate because my kids are also my main focus… I understand the value of time and prioritize spending it wisely, especially when others want to share it with me. I’m currently at a stage in my life where I’m contemplating my ultimate goal. When is the right moment to decide to end it?

Druckmann is likely referring to stepping away from AAA game development and studio management to avoid the overwhelming anxiety that comes with those responsibilities, as he mentioned that it can be draining. Managing a large number of people and multiple studios worldwide can be quite overwhelming.

However, he would still need a place to channel all that creativity, and he might not be the only one to fall for Hollywood’s allure: “I can envision myself moving towards something that’s more laid-back and less stressful but still allows me to express my creativity. However, I’ve begun contemplating the number of similar games I have left in me, and it’s not a large quantity.

How many additional projects do you anticipate Neil Druckmann leading? Regardless of the quantity, his impact is expected to endure far into the future as we all eventually depart this world. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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