MetaLoL Talks About His LoL Tier Lists & Stats/Tracker App
League of Legends (LoL) has built itself up to be the gaming world’s premiere MoBA (multiplayer online battle arena) of choice. A few years ago, the MoBA scene was dominated by the likes of DoTA (Defense of the Ancients), a Warcraft spin-off. The fact that League of Legends was able to put itself up on the same pedestal as DoTA is a shining testament to the game’s incredible innovation and ultimate appeal.
MetaLoL is a fantastic web application hosting a suite of tools for LoL. From LoL Tier Lists to individual champion builds and stat pages, everything you need to know about a particular champion (and how it synergizes with other champions) is on this page. Get the low down on win and ban rates for each champion, as well as usage popularity. This is extremely useful because with every update Riot (LoL’s publisher and developer) releases for LoL, the current “meta” changes, and MetaLoLadjusts organically — you can imagine how this will greatly impact your ranked matches.
You can check out this fantastic web tool (and we recommend you do!) over at www.metalol.net
We had a chance to interview the MetaLoL site developer and admin, and he shared some interesting tidbits about his personal challenges, gaming habits, and most importantly, the development process for MetaLoL. Read on!
(1) Tell us about yourself?
I’m in my mid-twenties, and I’m a software engineer. I grew up in the middle of nowhere with no internet, so I played games at friends’ houses or at the library. Currently, I only play LoL, PUBG, and Super Smash Bros Melee. However, my favorite game ever is definitely World of Warcraft — specifically the “Burning Crusade” and “Wrath of the Lich King” expansions.
(2) Share with us how it feels to be the creator of something big for this game?
I’m always excited to meet someone that uses MetaLoL. It’s awesome when people show you some love for something that you’ve poured hours into.
(3) What inspired you to create a website specifically for this game? When did it cross your mind to create your website?
At the time (2013?), LoL was still super young and so many of these sites we take for granted did not exist yet. One of the ones I frequented, ReignOfGaming.net made tier lists. But notice if you Google search “reign of gaming tier lists”, many of the search results are just complaints about how old and outdated those tier lists would get Here’s an example.
I wondered: could I make a website that takes in data about the current LoLmeta and try to generate these tier lists? I wrote a python script that took in this kind of data and trained it against some of the current tier lists I could find here online for a high-level overview of techniques that let you do this. I kept using this trained model and it seemed to hold up — even as the meta shifted drastically (no more roaming Alistars or ADCs going mid).
From there, I posted the tier list on a crappy blogging platform, and I posted links to those blog pages on random LoL forums on the internet. It got thousands of visitors within the first few days, and from there I decided I would go and make a full-fledged website — which became MetaLoL. I was a freshman in college, and it took a ton of work because I had never done any web-programming before.
(4) Do you work independently or in a team? If in a team, how big is it?
I’m a solo developer.
(5) From the developer’s (and gamer’s) perspective, how do you think the website affects the overall experience of the game?
I’m a very binge-y player. Occasionally, I’ll get a stretch of free time and play tons of LoL for a week or two, and then something will get in the way and I won’t have time to play for another two months.
I think MetaLoL is perfect for any player — but especially the kind of player that I am. I can come back, scan my website for a couple minutes, jump right into the queue, and do pretty well / make pretty informed choices.
(6) Is there any margin of error when it comes to the website’s performance and provided information?
Well sure, the system that makes tier lists were originally trained off of tens of other people’s tier lists; it is inherently subjective because it values what those people valued.
Otherwise, the information presented could be off just due to bugs that I haven’t caught. But all the builds and hard numbers that I present on the site should be accurate.
(7) When it comes to designing the user experience/UX of the website, what motivated you or what influences did you have?
I’m not a designer at all. I just looked at a bunch of other gaming-related websites and tried to figure out what made them feel like gaming websites.
I took that and mixed it with the simplistic feel that many popular websites had at the time. In terms of organizing data on the page, I just tried to make the website intuitive. I don’t want to hide info in hard to reach menus that require being a professional website user.
(8) What programming language or tool did you use to create this website? Do you have any favorite PLs or tools in particular?
Now, it uses this:
- Django (python) and MongoDB for the backend
- Python for the data scripts, asset optimization, and cache generation
(9) What were your biggest challenges for this project? How did you overcome them?
The hardest part is getting users. It takes a lot of work to get your website known if you don’t have tons of money to blow on marketing. I had to manually promote my website everywhere I could on the internet in an organic way that was not harmful to those communities I was promoting in — no spamming, no bots, etc. I’d find people complaining about not being able to find tier lists, builds, or whatever and then post my site as a solution.
(10) Are you expecting the game’s expansions to change your website’s dynamics and performance? Is it something that you’ve already prepared to tackle?
Yeah, I have to make significant changes all the time when Riot pulls a fast one. The API is not perfect and the static assets that it provides (or doesn’t provide) aren’t always up to date.
When something big comes along like the mastery to runes rework or when a champion with weird mechanics comes along, the Riot API often takes weeks or months to catch up to the current state of the game for some of that stuff. Then, I have to go in and make these temporary band-aid fixes until they fix their API.
In terms of shifts in the meta, the site is pretty robust and has fared pretty well through those.
(11) Are there any exciting new developments for your website that you would care to share?
Unfortunately, I don’t have new developments in the works for the website. I may revisit it and add new stuff in the future, but I’m focused on a new side project for now.
(12) Do you plan to create more websites like these for other games in the future?
If I find a new game that I really enjoy and that I think will stick around for longer than a year, I’ll probably make another website.
(13) Could you share a few quick tips to new players of the game?
Have humility if you want to improve. Don’t be toxic; how you interact with other players is a skill in the game just like getting kills is and being toxic WILL hurt your ranking by making your teammates perform worse.
(14) Any advice you’d like to share to aspiring game app or web developers?
Don’t say “if I knew how to do ____, then I’d go and make ____”. Just start building the thing and if something gets in your way, search the internet, watch videos, and read until you can do it. Nobody will learn how to do this stuff for you, and you won’t go from not-knowing to knowing in an instant; it takes work to improve yourself.
Don’t forget to bookmark the infinitely awesome MetaLoL tool right now here: www.metalol.net
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