Buried inside League of Legends’ most recent developer update is a big, very interesting change for the venerable moba: Riot’s going to retool and reinvest development time in making bots much better at actually playing League of Legends in the way it’s, you know, played by actual League players.
In short: Co-op vs. AI will get a big overhaul with the goal of making it look more like a normal League of Legends match. The big goals are that bots will do stuff like jungle, gank, and take down dragons. There’ll be overall AI for a team of bots, not just the individuals, so they can work cohesively. The last big goal is that bots will be able to react to, and learn from, shifts in the metagame.
In a long blog post by technical product lead Darcy Ludington and bot team tech lead Emmett Coakley, the League team has outlined how they’re going to upgrade the bot systems to make them more useful for not just the existing bot-based game modes, but for future AI-powered game modes.
It seems like the biggest shadow goal of the Co-Op vs. AI overhaul is to give players a vastly expanded way to learn League and improve in it that is less stressful and high-stakes than PvP. Right now bots don’t do basic game things, and a co-op vs. AI match doesn’t look at all like a game of League as played by modern players. Expanding the pool of characters bots actually know how to play, making them play as a team, and scaling them to match players’ skills is a bit step towards that.
Nothing really highlights that more than this quote from Coakley and Ludington: “Our data shows that regardless of how many co-op vs. AI games a new player played prior to entering a PvP queue, these games would not improve the new player’s chances of winning.”
The final goal is that game designers will be able to tweak the bots. They want to “build our bot tech to be scalable, maintainable, and extendable so designers have fun levers to pull to delight players,” say Ludington and Coakley.
The goal is that a beta of the new bots will be on the public beta environment of league for two weeks in the latter half of this year—so some time from July to December. That test will only be the first round of testing, as the team hopes “to get a few rounds of feedback prior to launch.”
You can read the entire post on the League of Legends website.