League of Legends lead gameplay designer Mark “Scruffy” Yetter discussed champion complexity in recent dev blog post, outlining the specific goals used when designing a new addition.
Riot wants to offer a “wide range of complexity profiles” so that all players can feel comfortable when hitting the Rift. Simpler champions like Annie, for example, might appeal to a different player base than assassins like Zed. So each champ is evaluated using three criteria.
“We want champions to have a rough bell curve on the complexity spectrum with a few very low and a few very high complexity but most falling somewhere in the middle. As a sub-point to this, we want to offer a range of complex options for each class and position (eg a high complexity ADC and a low complexity ADC),” said Riot.Theme and complexity are well-matched – an assassin with elaborate ninja tools attracts a player that is usually looking for a challenge while a fluffy teddy bear would attract players looking for a simpler kit.“For VGUs, they want to keep a similar complexity level to keep the current players of the champion feeling at home with the new kit,” they continued.
Mechanical complexity ranges from straightforward spells, like Warwick, to more difficult kits that require “precise execution,” like Azir. Knowledge complexity involves skills learned from a champion that can be passed on to other champs. A player can go from Lux to Sona easier than they can go from Lux to Aphelios.
The third evaluation determines how complex a champion is to play against or to have on your team. Versing an Ahri is fairly straightforward—you need to dodge her skill shots that flow in a straight line. But a Proxy Singed, according to Riot, is higher in complexity because it requires players to “think about the game completely differently on a strategic level.”
Scruffy even showcased ratings for champs released or reworked in 2020. Volibear’s rework lands in the low-complexity range for the mechanical and knowledge categories and medium for playing with or against it. This is reasonable considering he’s a champ a lot of players can pick up with ease and still be effective.
Yone, on the other hand, requires high mechanical prowess because of his complex ability kit. And that knowledge doesn’t really pass on when playing other champs, landing in the medium range for that. It’s great to see how Riot thinks behind the scenes before releasing a champion.