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(Item Concept) Updating Mobility

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Mobility is one of the mechanics that has changed the most over the course of the game, and one that changed gameplay significantly over time as well. Overall, the game has sped up a lot, with movement options expanding, diversifying and often becoming more powerful, and while that's made the game a lot more fun as a whole, its cracks are starting to show: mobility as a system is fantastic, but some of its core functions are outdated by modern standards. Here are a few issues I want to address in this post:

  • Mobility and crowd control: In a game where gapclosers (i.e. dashes and blinks) are now the norm and no longer the exception, it feels weird that these systems interact so poorly with each other: out of all the movement-impeding options in the game, only displacement can stop dashes, whereas the rest can be moved through and partially eaten up during their travel time. There is also no interaction between dashes, now one of the most common elements in the game, and slows, the staple crowd control effect, despite CC and mobility being intimately related. Mobility and CC need to interact a lot more organically with each other.
  • Melee versus ranged: The battle of viability between melee and ranged champions is a complex one, and a fight that branches out into a lot of aspects of design (champion design, mainly, but also item and map design) but a lot of it can be tied down to mobility: whereas melee champions used to almost always be a lot more mobile than their ranged opponents, the lines are far more blurred now, with several ranged champions not only having amazing mobility, but some of the best in the game (Lucian Lucian and Kalista Kalista come to mind). While this in itself is fine, there are a lot of problems surrounding the interaction between ranged and melee champions, particularly during the laning phase, as well as a shift in the contributions both types bring: melee champions are innately disadvantaged against ranged opponents in lane, and the ability for ranged champions to always have comparable mobility to melee teammates means the latter need to have something extra just to keep up, which until recently has often translated into overloaded stats and effects. I feel melee champions need to consistently have a definite difference in mobility compared to their ranged counterparts, which would also potentially allow for more flexible balancing and design on both sides.
  • Boots: While both core to the game and fairly harmless in terms of balance, boots are outdated by modern design standards: they offer very little in terms of genuine gameplay or strategy (Boots of Mobility item.png Boots of Mobility are the only exception), yet the mobility they offer is essential to every player's build and to the game itself, in order to speed up mid to late-game travel. On top of this, the flat mobility they offer to everyone tends to homogenize differences in mobility, making it even more difficult for champions to express their high mobility with just their movement speed. I think mobility itemization needs to change a little in order to promote genuine strategic diversity, as well as better express champion-to-champion differences.

Boots

Movement

  • All champions now have a movement speed growth stat.
    • As a baseline, the amount could perhaps follow a formula along the lines of ~1.765 + (0.295 per 5 base movement speed over 325), though there could be many exceptions to this. This would grant 45 movement speed, e.g. that of Tier 2 boots, to any champion with 340 base movement speed, the average amount, with champions at 325 movement speed receiving 30 and champions at 355 movement speed receiving 60. Essentially, whichever movespeed difference you'd have from 340 would be doubled at level 18, and the progression would more or less mirror that of boots, with champions gaining on average 25 movespeed at level 12. As for exceptions, there could be champions who'd need to start slow in lane, but could speed up later in the game, or by contrast champions who might want wiggle room early on but who would need less growth later on. More specifically, there could be exception in the case of champions who'd have more unique movement paradigms or means of expressing their mobility, such as Miss Fortune Miss Fortune, who might want all of her movement progression to be centered around Strut.png Strut rather than her base movespeed.
  • Movement speed no longer has any caps. Right now, there are several under-the-hood modifiers to movement speed that reduce the strength of slows and movement speed bonuses past certain values, which are explained here. Not only is this hugely deceptive, since it means no slow or boost will modify movement by its indicated amount most of the time, is also creates a kind of inflation, where some effects have hugely overblown values just so that they can compete with the behind-the-scenes caps they're fighting against. Removing those caps would be a huge clarity improvement.
    • All movement speed slows and boosts adjusted accordingly. Seeing how a great deal many slows and hastes are inflated, removing the cap would also imply removing the inflation that occurred as a result.
  • Multiplicative movement speed bonuses instead provide either a flat movement speed bonus or a multiplicative movement speed bonus:
    • Mercurial Scimitar item.png Mercurial Scimitar now provides 50% bonus movement speed for 2 seconds, up from 50% increased movement speed for 1 second (see here for details regarding the duration buff).
    • Heal.png Heal's bonus movement speed is now additive.
    • Galio Galio's Righteous Gust.png Righteous Gust now provides an additive movement speed bonus (he needs a rework overall, and could probably do with a buff to his E).
    • Kennen Kennen's Lightning Rush.png Lightning Rush now provides 335 movement speed for the duration (this is functionally the exact same as his current passive, which provides 100% increased base movement speed, though perhaps he could receive changes to his kit that would involve an adjustment to this).
    • Master Yi Master Yi's Highlander.png Highlander now provides 100 / 150 / 200 flat movement speed instead of a multiplicative 25 / 35 / 45% movement speed (this would provide pretty much the same overall movement speed bonus).
    • Rammus Rammus' Powerball.png Powerball now provides flat movement speed that increases to up to 475 bonus flat movement speed, instead of a multiplicative 140% bonus movement speed (perhaps it would be worth tweaking this to scale it with level, so that ranking up Q would also rank up Rammus's mobility and ganking potential).
  • Champions no longer collide with lane minions and non-epic jungle monsters (collision against other champions, Dragon Dragon and Baron Nashor Baron Nashor remains unchanged, though dashes do not bring champions within the target's collision radius).

Dashes

  • The speed of dashes scales with the champion's movement speed unless specified otherwise.
    • The dashes' speed is updated in real time, and will be affected by on-the-fly movement speed increases and slows.
  • Dashes are now stopped by all movement-impairing hard crowd control, which includes stuns, suppression, roots and entangles.

This is already a lot for just one mini-section, so I recommend you look at the tabs at the end of this section for clarification.

If there's one constant element in all builds, it's boots. For any champion, they're an essential item for providing mobility in and out of combat, and are both the cheapest and most effective way of granting crucial extra speed. They're also extremely important for game design too, since without boots the game would be dramatically slower past the laning phase. Despite being such a core part of itemization, though, boots also provide some of the least interesting options in the game, offering bonuses that contribute very little to gameplay or strategic diversity. Whichever effects they have are mostly there to make the same item fit in every role, and even then those would easily be replaceable by non-boot items if the mobility they offered weren't so crucial. Overall, boots are more of a crutch than a genuinely interesting itemization choice.

Another issue I take with boots is how they tend to homogenize mobility instead of really preserving the differences between champions: Ashe Ashe starts out noticeably slower than Pantheon Pantheon, but that 30 movespeed difference smooths out a fair bit once both get 45 extra speed from standard Tier 2 boots. Because of this, I think the best solution to boots would be to remove them, and compensate champions individually by giving them a movement speed growth stat: just like every other stat, every champion's movement speed would increase by a varying amount per level, allowing everyone to move faster across the map. Furthermore, every champion could be made to scale differently with their movement speed, allowing champions to not only preserve the differences in their movement but also have different mobility at different stages of the game. For example, Darius Darius may not be a champion you'd want to give too much movement speed early on, due to his lane bullying potential, but come late game he needs to be a lot faster than most champions if he ever wants a chance to fight properly (he has design issues of his own, though, so this is purely based on his current kit), so that could be implemented with low base movement speed and a high growth stat.

A big immediate drawback to this is that it would no longer be possible to itemize as easily for an immediate burst of mobility. To remedy this, I think one solution would be to keep mobility enchantments which, unlike boots, are strategically interesting and truly diverse. Since getting one of these enchantments from the get-go would obviously seriously distort the game (imagine getting Homeguard item.png Homeguard at level 1), it would likely be better to level-gate these enchantments in the same way as elixirs. On top of this, movement-enhancing like Aether Wisp item.png Aether Wisp and Zeal item.png Zeal would likely become a lot more popular, and alternative movement sources could be enhanced via new items or buffs to existing ones.

Another big immediate problem is how this would affect other branches of itemization: the loss of Mercury's Treads item.png Mercury's Treads and, to a much lesser extent, Boots of Swiftness item.png Boots of Swiftness, would seriously affect how champions deal with crowd control, and the removal of Sorcerer's Shoes item.png Sorcerer's Shoes would completely change the damage output of pretty much every AP champion. The issues of crowd control and resistance penetration are big enough to warrant discussions of their own, and I think I have an idea on how to tackle crowd control here: long story short, I think crowd control shouldn't be something you should get to reduce via items, but should also be balanced around the fact that it can't be reduced as well, so in this framework Boots of Swiftness and Merc Treads would both become obsolete. A big compensating factor to this, though, is that the removal of boots would free up an item slot, and therefore allow for players to mostly make up for whichever boot option they'd be missing.

Once a rare effect reserved for only a few classes of champions, dashes have become one of the most common mechanics in the game. While the process started out fairly rocky, with mobility creep pushing many less mobile champions out of viability, balance and design has evolved to impose genuine tradeoffs on mobility in most cases. However, we're not yet in a situation where mobility is integrated into the game as well as it should be: while a lot of issues of mobility trumping non-mobility come down to champion design (a lot of older mobile champions just get to do more than their non-mobile champions, without having the proper tradeoffs), there are still a lot of aspects to dashes that grant an unnecessary advantage: the biggest is the ability for dashes to partially nullify most kinds of crowd control by letting champions move around while being affected by crowd control mid-dash. I think this is also partially why we are also seeing a lot more knockups and knockback on recent champions, since displacement is the only form of crowd control able to consistently interrupt dashes (besides stasis, which so far is only present on one champion's kit).

Another big advantage dashes have over normal movement is that they provide mobility that is good all the way to the late game, whereas normal movement has to scale up to reach that point. It's difficult to balance dashes otherwise because any dash balanced for the early game is going to fall off in the late game, due to how most dashes have a fixed speed. Because of this, a lot of dashes tend to create problems early on, especially during the laning phase: Leblanc Leblanc, for example, makes laning oppressive against her adversary due to how difficult it is to dodge a massively damaging and difficult-to-avoid combo, and a lot of early game junglers are so reliant on their dashes to gank that their power ends up being far more skewed than it ought to be (Lee Sin Lee Sin, being the most dash-reliant champion in the game, is a big example of this). It also makes for weirdness in itemization: mobility-enhancing items do nothing to modify or improve dashes, which are the most visible expression of mobility around.

I think the solution here is to make dashes play along the same rules as normal mobility: by having all dashes scale with mobility (and not just Malphite Malphite and Yasuo Yasuo's), dashes would not only be balanceable at all stages of the game, but would also interact a lot better with movement speed increases and slows, both of which are extremely common to the game. By having movement-stopping crowd control also stop dashes, CC would have a constant, immutable value, even against heavy crowd control, and dashes would no longer be nigh-unstoppable unless interrupted by displacement. The counterplay to crowd control should be to avoid whatever's inducing it, which mobility already does very well, and the counterplay to mobility should be interrupting or impeding it at the right time. In addition to this, champions with dashes would be able to make great use of movement speed increases, and could even integrate strategic mobility into their dashes (the Explorer enchantment could be used for great initiations, for example).

A subtler, but pretty big hurdle here would be how to animate dashes so that they look fine no matter how fast or slow they go. An example of how this can go wrong is a change to Alistar Alistar on the PBE that didn't make it: his dash was briefly changed to be free-targeted, and just that modification was enough to make the animation look incredibly weird and floaty. Most dashes are meant to look good at the one speed they're tuned towards, and would look horrible if the speed were scaled down even a little. However, I think it would be possible to visually update dashes, if only because attack speed shows that it's possible to fluidly animate champions even at extreme values.

Blinks and teleports would have to be excepted from the above changes, though, since I think they run along different rules: blinks like Arcane Shift.png Arcane Shift and Flash.png Flash are meant to take a champion instantly from one location to another, and teleports like Gate.png Gate and Stand United.png Stand United are meant to do the same thing across wider distances, and with a small amount of prep time. There's no real way to add interaction with crowd control and movement speed that they don't have already, and so there would be no real way to make the above rules apply in any case. I think the one counter-exception to this, though, would be Zed Zed's Living Shadow.png Living Shadow, which should have its travel time scale with his movement (the blinks would stay the same, though): as a champion capable of practically free, long-range, highly damaging poke, he should provide his laning opponent with a bit more time to react to his shurikens early on, while still being able to cut down targets at huge speeds later on.

As a side note, I also think it might be worth phasing out multiplicative movement speed boosts, since it's difficult to separate them from additive speed boosts despite their different functionalities. In the case of self-boosts like Master Yi Master Yi's Highlander.png Highlander or Rammus Rammus' Powerball.png Powerball, having those abilities provide flat movement speed would achieve largely the same effect (they would "multiply" their predetermined base movespeed, which would then be multiplied by all other movement speed boosts), and in the case of more general boosts it might be worth just turning them into additive movement speed bonuses (alternatively, flat movement speed scaling with level).

I think we've all had a minion block moment: as you were moving from one place to another in lane, all of a sudden the minion waves and the game's bizarre pathing algorithm united to prevent you from moving at all, landing you in an unexpectedly bad situation. While this is more of an extreme and rare example of how unit collision creates problems for the game, there are also a lot of other issues that stem from collision on minions and most jungler camps: champions without gapclosers are mostly disadvantaged because they can't easily cross over to one side of the wave or the other, and melee champions are also in a bad spot against ranged champions, since they have to wade through minions and back to trade with their opponent, who can just harass from a distance. Several champion mechanics also treat unit collision as a problem, with several jungler champions (Olaf Olaf and Zac Zac, for example) having mechanics implemented just to allow for normal jungle maneuverability.

To resolve this, I think it would be better to just remove unit collision on minions and most jungle monsters entirely: clearing the jungle is definitely meant to be mechanically challenging, but that challenge should also be clear and meaningful, something unit collision doesn't really achieve. A change like this would also help smooth out differences between melee and ranged champions (though not fix them entirely, as they largely relate to champion design), as trading would be a lot easier in lane.

I originally thought of removing unit collision on champions as well, but I think the opposite would be better: tanks rely heavily on their physical presence to draw attention to themselves in fights and protect the back line, and completely removing collision would seriously and unnecessarily harm them. The better change, I think, would be to take out unit collision removal as a mechanic, since most of those instances are already implemented for the main purpose of allowing maneuverability in lane. That way, although players would be able to move freely in most circumstances, they still wouldn't be able to just walk through the enemy team's tanks.

What are your thoughts? I imagine the above is a bit dense, but what is your opinion on the general direction of these changes? What do you think of the state of mobility in League, and how would you go about changing it if you wanted to improve it?

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