In the end of 2008 Riot Games announced the development of League of Legends. The new game bases on the modification of WC3, Defense of the Ancients, and is supposed to refine the worldwide popular mod. Part of the developing firm Riot Games is Steve ‚Pendragon‘ Mescon, Director Community Relations. readmore.de interviewed him about their motivation and expactations.
readmore.de: Dota is a very popular mod for WC3 for years now. When did you strike on the idea of developping the mod to a game?
Steve Mescon: There were many motivating factors that contributed to us beginning this project. We firmly believe that DotA was pioneering a new gameplay genre which we’re calling MORBA, (Multiplayer Online RPG Battle Arena). We believe that these core ideas pioneered by Guinsoo and the creators of DotA can be taken to a whole new level, tremendously enhancing the player experience.
Additionally, we all played DotA and loved the game, but we felt the pain of many problems that exist due to DotA being a game mod. To cite some examples: the lack of matchmaking or stat tracking makes it difficult to find games full of equally skilled players, and nobody has information about who in the game is good. This creates a scenario where new players aren’t welcomed to the game in a positive way- being matched against pros with no chance of a fair match. There are also other unnecessary barriers to entry, such as a HUD that’s designed for an RTS game, the lack of support for multiple maps, and an item shop without an intuitive interface. I like to say that the only people who begin playing DotA are those who are brought in by a friend – because without someone to show them the ropes, it’s extremely difficult for a new player to begin playing.
Finally, everyone here is extremely passionate about online communities. We hope to establish an open and direct relationship with the players, and letting them help inform how the game evolves over time. We view games as a “service”, as opposed to a “product”, and because of that we believe that a strong relationship with our customer community is required for us to be successful. Many members of gaming communities often have great suggestions, and can provide helpful insight, both positive and negative, about the direction of a game, but are often ignored by game developers and publishers. At Riot, we believe that ignoring the community would be a missed opportunity, and we’re taking steps to ensure that our players feel respected, appreciated, and involved.
readmore.de: DotA is very popular. Why do you think the community welcomes a new game using a similar principle?
Steve Mescon: DotA is more than popular – it’s a global phenomenon – reaching millions of players in dozens of countries. We believe that DotA has created a new genre of gameplay and that there are many ways to enhance and improve the experience – similar to how other genres of games such as MMO’s and FPS’s continue to evolve. We’ve all felt the pain points of DotA at some point, and the Riot team has come together to help address this game, and provide an awesome service to our fans. If you ask almost any DotA player if they would like a “standalone DotA” the answer is yes. We think there’s tremendous potential for success here, both by reaching the audience that already exists, and bringing the genre to a mainstream gamer audience. There are too many gamers that haven’t even experienced the fun and competitive experience due to the high barriers to entry, or lack of mainstream promotion.
readmore.de: What about your connectino to the acitve DotA-community? Is it strong? Do you seize ideas and suggestions of the community?
Steve Mescon: As the original founder and current manager of DotA-Allstars.com, the largest DotA site with millions of posts, and over a million monthly visitors, I’d like to think that a connection to the active DotA community exists. Both the current active DotA community and the future active League of Legends community play a fundamental role in the development of League of Legends. We understand the value of a rich and vibrant community and plan to empower users to impact the development of League of Legends at what we believe is an unprecedented level through the introduction of tools such as the Suggestion Engine™ which we look forward to revealing more details about in the future.
readmore.de: Since beginning of 2009, the amount of DotA-tournaments increase significantly. Do you apply the special wantings of this target group?
Steve Mescon: League of Legends is an online multiplayer competitive game. We’re taking steps towards making the game successful in the eSport world, as we think this group will be instrumental to our long term growth and success. Competitive gamers are often one of the most passionate groups of gamers, and we firmly believe that having passionate fans will contribute greatly to our success. Additionally, there are many limitations that DotA has – being a Warcraft III mod that League of Legends will not, (in terms of promotional restrictions, legal restrictions, etc).
readmore.de: What are the advantages of LOL in comparison with DotA regarding the contest orientated area?
Steve Mescon: For starters, since DotA is a community organization – it isn’t able to provide the significant financial support required to grow DotA in the eSport world. We also have the ability to build custom technology to facilitate tournaments both online and offline, and the ability to balance the game in a much more scientific way.
readmore.de: DotA often is blamed to be too hard for beginner because its complexity – too many of heroes and items may confuse beginners. The structure of LoL is the same. How do you approach this problem?
Steve Mescon: We would absolutely agree that DotA is very difficult for beginners, and we’re taking many steps to address this issue. A small sampling of the things we’re doing include:
- Robust tutorials to address new user education
- Intelligent matchmaking to group users of similar skill levels
- Persistent identity to help users clearly identify differences in skill and time
- Intuitive interface, with considerable attention paid to usability
- Robust tooltips and suggestions for new players
readmore.de: Those days, World of Warcraft is increasingly offended to be dangerous since it is addicting. There are some politicians wanting to prohibit WoW. What do you think about such kind of offensives? How do you deal with it?
Steve Mescon: Our focus is on short sessions that allow users to better manage their play time. Our hope is that users will be able to sit down and play League of Legends for 30 minutes or an hour at a time, and still be able to feel like they’ve accomplished something.
readmore.de: LoL follows DotA closely. Do you expect copyright problems?
Steve Mescon: As I’m not a lawyer, I don’t want to get into too much detail – but we do not believe that this will be an issue because League of Legends is entirely unique and separate game with its own Intellectual Property – built from the ground up.
readmore.de: Thank you for the interview.