LoL Tank Design – Problem Statement

I stated, last week, that I wanted to develop a fully fledged champion suggestion for League of Legends. After I collected my thoughts about tanking, I thought it would be best to really analyze the product of a ‘tank champion’, and use that analysis to help me start to put pen to paper.

I’ve been reading The Art of Game Design – A Book of Lenses by Jessie Schell, in order to get up to scratch with the real theory of game design. My self studies have all been very experiential, and I need to really hone my skills so that I can look at anything and understand the game mechanics at work. So far I’m about a third of the way through, and it’s been very interesting. Thoroughly recommended so far!

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The book highlights various perspectives from which you should look at your game, Schell calls these ‘lenses’. There are 100 lenses in the book. Some are very simple and quick, others are very detailed and will encourage you to spend a lot of time using them to assess your work. I’m sure I will be using many for this project.

The first lense I will be using  is Lens #12: The Lens of the Problem Statement. Schell explains it as the following;

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Lens #12: The Lens of the Problem Statement

To use this lens, think of your game as the solution to a problem. Ask yourself these questions:

1)* What problem, or problems, am I trying to solve?

2) Have I been making assumptions about this game that really have nothing to do with its true purpose?

3) Is a game really the best solution? Why?

4) How will I be able to tell if the problem is solved?

Defining the constraints and goals for your game as a problem statement can help move you to a clear game design much more quickly.

Schell (2008)

*Numbers added for use in the article. Original is not numbered.

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Of course, I am not creating a full game, so this does have to be adapted somewhat. However, there is a problem in League of Legends and my champion is designed to solve it, so lets begin! What is my problem? Well, I need to design a new champion, so what are the problems there?

  • They’re all damage dealers – Every new hero since Swain (the first new hero I knew about) has been a damage dealer. Irelia, Trundle and Renekton deal physical damage. Swain, LeBlanc, Lux and Cassiopeia deal magical damage.
  • There are too many girly girls – They’re all youthful looking girls. It gets boring when every character is prancing around the battlefield. It’s also kind of archaic for every single female in the game to be sexy or an anime child. It’s the 21st century, come on!

I could go ridiculously simplistic and end my problem statement as; How can I design a badass non-damage dealer?, but that doesn’t help too much! Reading back my previous article, lets look at the problems identified with tanking;

  • You can’t kill – Through inability or because you shouldn’t kill.
  • You die a lot – Dying isn’t fun.
  • You are team dependent – You need your team to know what your role is and what their role is.
  • Item builds are dull – Defensive items are boring.
  • There are no female tanks – Every tank is a dude or a monster… a male monster most of the time. It gets boring when every tank is a beefcake.

This is a condensed list, combining and streamlining some of the problems with tanking in LoL. So, combining all these, I can come up with a Problem Statement;

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How can I design a female tank which has an exciting item build, can intuitively lead a team and can kill without the incurring the wrath of their team-mates?

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I am planning to solve these problems. I need to create a female character, who can tank using interesting pre-existing items (this is tough!), has skills which communicate what team-mates should be doing and can kill without stealing gold from her allies. Now, you may be saying “hey, what about the not-dying thing!” but, if you remember, I mentioned in my article last week that I often had positive kill:death ratios when working with an effective team. The “intuitively lead a team” part, should reduce the amount of deaths… if the design is good enough.

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A Female Tank...

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So, have I answered the questions Schell posed above?

1. What problem, or problems, am I trying to solve?

I am trying to create a new champion which is capable of protecting their team mates, surviving the brunt of an enemy team’s attack and giving enemies a reason to focus fire them. In addition to these problems, I am also attempting to create a champion which is aesthetically refreshing in the League of Legends.

2. Have I been making assumptions about this [champion] that really have nothing to do with its true purpose?

I suppose I’ve been assuming that all of the above require my champion to be a ‘tank’. However, I don’t think this is much of an assumption, as the problems define the role. If a champion can solve the above problems, they are a tank. It does not matter what I call it.

3. Is a [champion] really the best solution?

In fact, many of these problems could be solved with equipable items. If Riot designed some active defensive items, then perhaps the builds would be more exciting. If there was an item which shared gold rewards for kills, they perhaps tanks will be able to kill. As these are problems for all tanks, it could be said that this is much more important and that I should design items instead. I don’t work for Riot and I want to design a champion! I do what I want!

4. How will I be able to tell if the problem is solved?

This is a tricky one. I can’t. Well, unlike many of the examples in Schell’s book, I don’t have any programmers or prototypes that I can create and playtest. My main ability is that I can design the skills, numbers and aesthetics. Once this is done, I can submit it online to the League of Legends Community Forums and perhaps the positive or negative feedback will give me an impression on whether I solved the problems or not.

What is interesting is that this Problem Statement is something I’ve kinda done before. Remember ‘Removing the Rust‘? Essentially I was researching the problems then, and my decision to make an ‘anti-carry, anti-disabler, semi-ranged ganker’ was my problem statement. I believe that project went quite well, the feedback so far has been very positive. For the full rundown on how that went, stay tuned!

Here is my first step. With my problem statement, I can now begin solving these problems and fleshing out a concept for a new tank champion in League of Legends.

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Sam

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