TFT: How Riot is improving the carousel in Teamfight Tactics

Riot Games
Riot Games /

Riot Games is currently prototyping new ways to improve the carousel in Teamfight Tactics, which is ‘consistently a pain point’ for TFT players.

Earlier this month, Riot Games peeled back the curtain on what’s next for Teamfight Tactics Galaxies. As you’ve probably heard by now, the TFT Galaxies set will be extended with a mid-set update introducing new champions and new traits (while removing a few as well).

There was also mention of improvements that will be made to TFT Mobile, including the addition of new features like better settings, chat, store, and in-game codex. Riot also said they are looking into improving TFT Mobile‘s performance to allow for a smoother experience. This included a fix to big FPS drops and improved input fidelity when placing items on champions or selling units.

Prior to this announcement, we had the chance to talk to TFT Lead Producer Dax Andrus about the state of the game. The conversation focused primarily on the mobile experience and one of the things I asked about was if Riot had any intention of addressing the carousel.

The carousel is one of the more polarizing mechanics in Teamfight Tactics. For those unfamiliar, the carousel is basically a shared draft in which players — in order of least health to most health — are able to select from a pool of randomized champions with randomly assigned items. The catch is that these champions are slowly rotating in a circle, so you have to quickly and precisely click to path them to grab them before anyone else. It’s frustrating on PC so you can imagine how much more difficult it can be on mobile.

Well, I’ve got some good news for you. While nothing was specifically mentioned in the most recent post, Andrus revealed that the team is prototyping ways to make the experience better.

"“From just making little changes to how players precisely path on specific champions during the carousel to get some forgiveness on mobile, all the way to complete revamps of the way that the carousel actually works so that it is really clear and there is good parity even with the less precise input paradigm that mobile has.”"

Andrus admitted that the carousel is “consistently a pain point for players.” Any changes made to the carousel would impact both the PC and mobile versions of the game but the platforms aren’t necessarily what makes this situation tricky. The element of the carousel itself is something Riot doesn’t want to lose completely.

"“The things that we like about the carousel that we want to try and keep — TFT is generally a pretty low mechanics game. It really just tests your thinking capabilities. There aren’t very many moments of mechanical tension where you’re doing something as a player and you’re like, ‘Oh, am I going to get it? Is it going to work out?’ The carousel is really the only place right now in TFT where that shows up.“While we don’t want that to be the focus of the game — by no means should TFT ever become a game where it’s testing your APM like crazy apart from a few specific instances. We want some of that feeling to be interjected in the game and we like that it’s super infrequent and pretty high impact. Even if we make changes, we want to try and retain those types of feelings.”"

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Changes to the carousel could take place in many forms. On the simplest level, Riot is exploring an overhaul of the way that the input paradigm works on mobile right now. This isn’t necessarily something players would see, but an improvement to the game’s code would make it so that when a player taps, there’s a more precise location that the little legend would path to. Riot has even explored something as basic as tapping on a champion and having the little legend automatically path to that character.

Some of the ideas are more out of the box. Andrus mentioned one “super crazy” idea that sounds like an absolutely wild reinvention.

"“One idea was we’re all in a big circle and things move around and it’s more like a Mario Party mini-game where you shoot a Blitzcrank hook into the carousel. “"

Can you even imagine? If you thought the carousel now is frustrating, imagine trying to Blizcrank pull the champion/item you want.

It sounds like right now the focus is simply on improving code to make the carousel a more bearable experience on mobile. But should a complete overhaul take place, how would you like to see the carousel change in the future?