League of Legends has long been regarded a really difficult game to get into. It is thought to have very little in way of a tutorial, and you'd be right to think that. While there is a brief tutorial, it isn't very deep. It cover's the absolute basic's of League of Legends, the rules you have to follow, and that's all. The rest is up to the player to figure out. This can be a problem because you don't necessarily know what you're doing when you first start playing, a lot of new player's feel like they don't get taught what tool's they have available to them throughout a game, often relying on 3rd party content creators to teach them, or friends who already play to coach them. In this article, I wish to tackle this misconception, and introduce the League of Legend's method of teaching game mechanics to a player, and how other game's could learn from this.
The genius behind this game, is that they introduced character's specifically for learning about these new tool's, and encouraging the player to practice using them to garner an advantage. I will be talking about 5 characters specifically, Cho'Gath, Kindred, Veigar, Shen and Teemo. I have chosen these characters, because they all have unique abilities, that push player's to trying new things or perfect essential skills in order to utilise properly.
Cho'Gath is a Jungle Champion, who's ultimate ability deal's extremely high damage to a nearby target, more so if the target happens to be a Jungle Monster. He is encouraged to save this ability for the final blow, because if he does so, he get's a small health boost. Due to his Tank role, this is very important to him and something the player will want to do whenever possible, however it also subconsciously teaches players to better secure neutral objective's, because the only thing that matter's is who gets that killing blow. As the Jungler has access to the Smite ability, that responsibility lies to them, it is a crucial skill to learn, and one that Cho'Gath really help's people learn about.
Another Jungle champion, Kindred, is a champion who specialises in playing aggressively in their opponent's jungle, because of their Passive ability, Mark of the Kindred. This is a rather complicated ability, periodically it will mark your opposing junglers resources, if they manage to steal those resources their combat effectiveness goes up. This is very a powerful but very risky strategy, by extending deep into enemy territory, if you get caught in a bad position, you're going to be in a lot of trouble. However you still want to utilise this ability, it gives you a lot of bonus's that you don't want to pass up on, so you try to do it. If you fail, you learn from your potential mistakes, and take them into consideration with further tries. This design pushes new player's to try this more aggressive playstyle, and when they get used to the nuances of it, you are left with a tool that other champion's can also utilise, and knowledge of how to pull it off.
Different role now, Veigar is a midlane champion, who's known for his slow start but crushing lategame potential, due to his infinitely scaling damage based on how long the game last's, how many things he kills with his Q ability, Baleful Strike. Every time this ability lands a finishing blow on a champion, minion, monster, anything, his spells get marginally stronger. You won't notice the damage increase going from 4-6, however as the game goes later and he gets the oppotunity to abuse this free source of power 200-300 times, he eventually become's borderline unstoppable. Veigar player's are encouraged to do this, it is a very powerful upside, and it has the added bonus of guaranteeing what is known as the last hit on the unit you targeted. This help's people practice one of league of legends most vital skill's in game, and feel like it's what they're supposed to be doing. So come time to play other character's, you feel a little more comfortable with it, as you've been practicing it with him.
One of the other Tank champion's, Shen, is a fantastic champion to help you learn Map awareness, because it's literally all his ultimate ability is useful for. He sheild's a teammate, no matter how far away from him they are, and after a brief channel he teleports to them to assist them in their fight. This is a fantastic learning tool because it is such a powerful ability, it is where a significant amount of his power budget is kept, that to simply never use it would give you a bad performance. So you consistantly want to keep an eye on the rest of your team, what they're doing, when they're fighting and when you're needed to help them. This also serve's another purpose because majority of toplane champion's, where Shen is played, are required to take the Teleport spell so they can hold sidelane's and still have the out of combat mobility to effect the rest of the map. Shen's ultimate is a great teaching tool for this, as it encourages the player to focus on that aspect of the game to be successful with the champion.
Teemo is slightly different to everyone else on this list, in that his goal is to simply annoy everyone and anyone on the enemy team. It's become something of a joke that Teemo has a "Global Taunt" ability, when he show's up on the map everyone moves to his position and tries to kill him, because everyone will remember playing against that one really good Teemo player who didn't let them stay in lane for 20 seconds at a time, never died under pressure, then annoys the rest of his opponant's with his high damage seemingly out of nowhere. Teemo has the tool's to keep himself safe with his free vision on his ultimate's trap's, and the movement speed on his W "Move Quick", and he's forced to use those tool's because he get's so much focus from the enemy team. Teemo teaches the player about the importance of vision control, and not throwing away a lead overextending.
Introducing these strength's and weaknesses to push the player into learning new and important skillset's can be extremely important in games with large variety of playstyle's, games such as Moba's and Fighting games are probably the most famous example's of where this can be applied, but to a lesser extent all genre's could benefit from this in same way. It add's a helpful curve of skill for the player to follow, it gives them the tools to learn these obscure but important lesson's within the game, and facilitates growth within the player naturally, in a way that makes the player feel like they've advanced on their own and gotten better by themselves, as opposed to straight tutorials which can be useful for the basic's, but can also leave the player feeling burnt out or overwhelmed if they get everything handed to them on a silver platter. You would emphasise this in other games by focusing on these strength's and weaknesses in the playable character. An FPS character might have very straight forward movement and control, but might be very reliant on the player being a good shot such as Soldier: 76 in Overwatch. an Action RPG like Titan Soul's, emphasises the skill of learning boss attacks and keeping yourself alive, because you die in one hit, you need to understand how to keep yourself alive.
In conclusion, I like the way this style of skill development is presented, and I do wish more game's used it. It is a very satisfying way to introduce the mechanics of your game, a way that challenges the player to find them by themselves, but gives them a trail of breadcrumbs to follow and encourage exploration into these mechanics, but still add's a factor of experience into the game, where someone who hasn't had the time or opportunity to learn about these mechanics will prove to be a weaker player. Comparing myself who's played League of Legends for nearly 5 years now can competently incorporate all these things into my game without being told, whereas my friend who's only started recently could surely learn these things and is fully capable of following my instruction's in regards to them, however it isn't second nature to him yet, and it gives this edge to older player's who have more experience, something that is great for the game.