Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Game Design: Game of the Week 1 ~ League of Legends

This week I am going to talk about League of Legends, looking at how the Game has been designed in such a way to keep players coming back to play over and over. It’s a free to play, online game created by Riot Games that has been wildly successful. The genre of the game is known as MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), a genre that was popularized by the Warcraft III mod, DOTA (Defense Against The Ancients).


A full match in the "Dominion" game type. This shows the strategic depth that the game offers.

You take control of a single character, working as a team with up to 4 other players. You control your character much like a typical Real Time Strategy Game, click where you want on the map to go to that position and attack enemies. Your character has access to a wide array of abilities, with over 80 different characters to choose from. The goal of the game is to work with your team, gaining levels, experience and purchasing items along the way to defeat the enemy team by destroying their “Nexus” which is their base of operations. To reach that Nexus, you need to destroy the various towers along the way which can take a lot of coordination and effort. These are essentially the basics of the game.

What makes the game so fun is that it incorporates both the genre of RTS and RPG with team based play. You feel a sense of progression as you level up, gaining access to new abilities and gaining gold to purchase game changing items. The combat itself can range from rather calm, to frantic team fights with all players engaged at once. It combines both calm moments and moments of spectacle, where one wrong move or right move in the next few seconds in the key to victory. Everyone on your team is invaluable in the effort to win the game, making it truly team based and making you a valuable member of the team.


 Just a small portion of the number of characters available to play.

The thing is in this genre, every time you start a new match you need to level up again, since your stats are reset at the start of every match. However the game uses a very smart approach to keep players hooked and still feel an RPG like sense of progression. Everytime you play, whether you win or lose you gain IP (influence points) and EXP. EXP will increase your Account level, which gives you access to special spells that are not exclusive to any one character as well as allocating certain bonuses to help define how you play your character (Known as masteries). IP can be used to purchase runes which act as boosts to your stats right from the start of a match. It can also purchase characters for you for permanent use, as every other week different characters are available that anyone can use. But if you don’t own the character by the time of the next cycle, you can’t use them until you unlock them or they are available again.


The influence points that allow you to purchase characters and items.



 The runes that you can purchase with IP            

Masteries that allow you to customize your character


The game can be rather hard to get into at first, but Riot Games offers various tutorials to help ease you into the process of going into the MOBA genre. It is certainly not the easiest game to step into at first, many things have to be considered while playing but that allows it to have amazing depth. All sorts of neat strategies can be implemented and thought up as a team the longer you play, as you discover all the ins and outs about the game. With the amount of characters you have to play as, the sense of RPG level up progression, and the strategies you come up with as a team allows you to be fully engrossed in the game. Though it may not appeal to everyone, for those it does appeal to, it offers you an experience that allows you to invest your time and feel a sense of reward.

This “level up” progression in games seems to be the trend that is occurring in many games today. It is a very valuable Game Design technique that offers rewards for players who play longer and devote their time into the game. League of Legends uses this Game Design technique to its fullest, truly rewarding those who play long enough to unlock all the “Runes” and characters. And with the company consistently releasing new content, usually in the form of new characters, it always offers something new for dedicated players.

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