Riot Games Debunks Myths & Misconceptions About Its Game Analysis Team
Riot Games published a where it spoke about the Game Analysis Team (GAT) and addressed some of the myths and misconceptions about the GAT. In short, the Game Analysis Team, formerly called the playtest team, works with the gameplay developers at Riot and breaks down how players might utilize new content including champions, items, and runes among those, and how every change that Riot makes might affect and impact League of Legends holistically.
Riot GalaxySmash wrote, “Our job is basically to help designers understand how their new content fits in with the rest of League so that it ships as closely to our goals as possible. We're like the Yuumi on everyone's shoulders, zooming around and supporting them so they can achieve their design goals.”
The three myths that Riot addressed are:
GAT's job is to test the live game
GAT only does playtesting
You have to be Master tier or higher to join GAT
GAT works with the developers
It is a common misconception that the Game Analysis Team tests updates and features that are already live in the Public Beta Environment (PBE) or the actual servers. While Riot said that it is true that the GAT works to validate existing content, the team also works on in-game content before it goes live.
Riot explained, “For example, with Crown of the Shattered Queen, as soon as we understood the designer's main goal to create a ‘specifically defensive mage mythic’, we suggested additional ones like making it ‘purchasable by a wide variety of users’', and ensuring that it doesn’t ‘nullify the mage class’s core weakness of being squishy’.”
Simply put, the GAT recommends tweaks and suggestions from the point of view of League of Legends players to the developers. After the developers created an early design, as in the case of the Crown of the Shattered Queen, the GAT generates test cases to help evaluate and understand the risks and outputs of the item. “It's a very collaborative and iterative process, and we often go through many cycles before something ever ships!”
Work apart from playtesting
The GAT works extensively with numbers, data, and spreadsheets apart from playtesting. Riot stated that playtesting has many limitations like time crunch and conflicts when it comes to running two test cases.
“One of the most tried and true methods we use instead is to crunch some numbers. For example, when a designer works on a new champion, we run the math on their counterparts in live so we can tune them to be relatively similar in power,” explained Riot.
The GAT compares and contextualizes all the data, and then combines it with other forms of more qualitative feedback from playtesting and theorycrafting to come up with a holistic analysis.
Ranks of the members in GAT
RIot clarified that while many members of the GAT are highly ranked in League of Legends, it is not a hard requirement that one be Master tier or higher for the job. “The reason we have so many Masters or higher players on the team today is that the skills we need for the job are usually things you develop from playing League a lot, such as a deep understanding of past and present metas, the ability to play different roles really well, and how quickly you can synthesize lots of game information at once,” explained the blogpost.
It also stated that another reason why the team has highly skilled players is that the outlier mechanics or the optimizations that they test require those who can efficiently make use of them. The GAT is also a team that has people who have different playstyles and experiences, which makes it a cohesive and stronger unit.
Riot Games’ Game Analysis Team also stated that it supports designers early on and that it is not perfect. Every time a champion gets nerfed or there is a gameplay change in an update, the League of Legends community goes into a frenzy and speculates how the nerf only happened because of a Rioter losing with that champion. The community also jokes about how most of the Riot employees are low-tier players who do not understand the game.
This blogpost will likely help clear the air and address some of the misconceptions surrounding how the different teams work at Riot.