Everything You Need to Know About Sivir’s Visual Update!
IronStylus discusses Sivir’s upcoming Visual Update with the community! What can we expect from the Battle Mistress in the future?
How will Sivir’s mercenary past impact her new look?
Looking at Sivir’s lore, it turns out she’s an extremely wealthy and successful mercenary, driven by avarice. Honestly, I never knew that. (Well, I did read through all the champ’s lores once in the first week I was introduced to LoL, but Sivir’s origins didn’t exactly leave an impression) “The Battle Mistress” seems suitable enough as a descriptor for how she carries herself, but does she actually stand for anything? I was honestly thinking that a system like the League needed more mercenaries, and I completely overlooked Sivir. What can be done to make her more impactful and interesting than “lololfapfap boobarangs”?
That’s a very justifiable way of seeing her, and a valid interpretation. However, it requires more reading and turning the ideas over in one’s head. I like that, personally, but I think it doesn’t fit in LoL. What does more is selling the champions overtly. Hence the popularity of champions like Draven and Rengar, whose personalities are very salient. Sivir could have all sorts of motivations and thoughts and such, but that doesn’t make for the most cohesive character.
IronStylus: Something I think that’s an opportunity with Sivir is to solidify a personality in her. Much like our more overt characters like you’ve stated, Sivir needs some personality landmarks. If she’s a mercenary, then maybe we mix some Xena with some Han Solo. Maybe we take a bit of Lara Croft in the sort of woman-of-status turned vigilante/adventurer. If she has a sort of “charge!” mentality. Maybe we figure out how to amplify that.
There’s a lot of fertile ground with Sivir in that she’s largely a bank slate. That’s really good actually, it means we have a lot of room to play and to slot her into a more fitting faction possibly, or maybe just giving her more significance in her current faction. Right now, to me at least, her story and character in general feels like a bit of a one-off. I very much dislike one-offs unless there are eventual plans to further deepen the story with subsequent characters.
Sivir I think has the potential to be a very integral character with a lot of attitude. I love that she’s a strong lady, I think we can show that even more with a good story. This doesn’t mean she has to lose any sexiness, from costume to concept or content of personality, we just amp up the sort of sexy that she is.
Personally I’m very excited about a Sivir VU. It’s a great playground and wonderful opportunity for some real character cohesion.
Any gameplay changes we should expect?
How different will Sivir’s character be after the remake?
IronStylus: She’s not really a contested territory. She’s very flat right now. I choose to think that that’s a good thing, it gives us a lot of room to play and make a very cohesive theme to wrap her character around.
Again, if a theme is decided upon that can override the base elements of a characters look, we construct the higher fidelity base as a skin. That gives us a lot of room to strengthen and possibly redefine a character if we feel there’s a compelling direction.
Where does Sivir’s design struggle currently?
IronStylus: Stylistically, she’s iconic but for all the wrong reasons. Large feet, extreme contrast, detail distribution problems. She needs some reason behind her design, and to inject a healthy amount of practicality that will dictate said design. So, factional context, personality. A cohesive fantasy we’re trying to fulfill. She needs those landmarks.
Her weapon, the most iconic element on her, desperately needs a reason to be there. Either it’s some special thing she’s crafted, or an artifact, or something otherwise special. It can’t just be a thing she carries around. Anything from Excalibur to Krull, or Leona’s sword and shield to Graves’ gun, those are all in essence small characters in and of themselves. I feel the same needs to happen with Sivir. She needs reasons to be the way she is, those reasons will define how we execute and how we problem solve.
Will she be muscular/bulky?
Sex Appeal gone too far?
“Is she going to be “sexy”? I like Quinn, and Leona, they fit their theme well, but Sivir just strikes me as someone who wants to show off their goodies during a battle.
Are you going to maintain this? And yes, I know your idea of sexy is armored women like Leona, but what I mean is, are you going to keep Sivir’s current image intact in some way?”
What changes can we expect to her skins ?
“Will her other skins (Mainly Bandit Sivir) also retain the “sexy” look, or are you going to make them into different ways of looking as Sivir? Because pretty much all her skins at the moment are Battle princess in little to no-clothing.”
Will there be a Traditional Sivir skin?
Visual Remakes – The Hardship and Reward
Ready to dive into a wall of wonderfully crafted text? IronStylus discusses all the main problems associated with remaking a champion and how they go about doing it… in rather extreme detail. If you don’t want to read through it all, fear not! I’ve included a TL:DR version below.
IronStylus: The VU and Relaunch initiative will always be contentious, it will always be passionately debated and it will always leave some feeling disenfranchised. That, unfortunately, is the nature of content creation in League of Legends. This goes into base champion development, skin development, features, maps, balance, everything. Managing expectations is key, and we can only do so much to front load the process, mitigating feedback, selectively incorporating the actionable feedback, all wrapped up in shipping something on time, to millions of people.
To be blunt, we cannot practically crowd source the work that Relaunch has to do. We can collect a certain amount of data (Davin has a much better perspective on that than I do), we can take a look at community feedback, and we can trust our guts as developers and players ourselves. This will never be perfect, and yes, sometimes hearts will be broken. This is unavoidable, but there’s necessity in upping quality, making cohesive themes, and adding to our universe where there’s opportunity.
We realize certain champions are iconic and lovable but honestly, some of those iconic associations relate to sub-par execution. A character has gone awry and ended up to be not what was intended, and it’s become so niche due to execution that it’s creating problems with the development of the roster and the world as a whole.
Back in the day we didn’t have as many resources as we do now. We were not able to take on the Herculean task of IP development. We have the opportunity now where we can make decisions in a non-one-off basis and instead on a much more holistic level, where we’re treating each character as a part of a diverse and deep universe. Right now that’s pretty easy with new content, but it leaves gaping holes in old content. Older content feels clunky, low fidelity, and not cohesive. That does need to be rectified if we hope to maintain and strengthen a universe that has depth, breadth, and contrast. We now can construct the framework we will abide by and execute going forward and retroactively. This is a big initiative, it can be a painful process, but its for the health of the organism as a whole.
Let’s take for example Zac. He’s a fantastic example of all the current guidelines in place. He has a cohesive backstory with grounding in a faction, a relationship with that faction, a relationship with his family in that faction, and a corresponding or reactionary personality in relation to that faction. Personality wise, he has a reason to be what he is. Mechanically, this strong foundational storytelling makes him feel exactly like th e product of his story, and the embodiment of his theme, gooey blob guy who’s misunderstood and despite is icky outward appearance, due to his upbringing, has a heart of gold. This is concise, this is complete.
All three pillars of art, creative design, and game design are equally strengthened by a cohesive theme and fantasy. Those pillars are not necessarily in place with a lot of old content. That content needs those pillars if its to live up to the fidelity and thematic consistency that were trying to make standard. That process will inexorably rip out the guts of some of that content depending on if we feel there is a much stronger theme or enhancement we can embrace. However, I’m under no illusion that this might be a little troubling to people who feel their favorite characters are under assault. Often though, large scale changes are made only when we feel a character is a little flat. It’s not without really good reason that we do such changes.
That said, no assurances from our side will completely convince everyone, that’s just not possible. Change is difficult, and we understand that. We also however, as developers who are extremely in touch with the product we work on, feel as though we’re trustworthy enough to carry out major overhauls of character which we see opportunity in reforging. We make the game, we do have a little bit of knowledge on its workings. Indeed, we’ll be accused of dismantling that which is charming or endearing, but that’s a particular perspective. One person’s version of strengthening a character is another’s version of diluting. We cannot please everyone, but we can indeed make the best effort to shore up the structural foundation of a character that needs love holistically, and possibly dramatically.
That might seem like a lofty directive, or significant taking of licence on our part, but we believe this is healthy. This very much can be viewed in terms of balance. We balance mechanically, now we’re balancing creatively and artistically. As the “meta” changes, which it is, we are accounting for that with upping the quality of the content’s visuals, and balancing out the lore and story where it needs to be adjusted. I realize that’s sort of a clinical way of approaching it, but this is essentially a formulaic explanation of a situation that’s very emotional and personal. We do have to do it however, for the health of our visual quality consistency and the cohesion of our IP.
Also, we have to look globally at this. Realize, that when any dev comes out here on the NA forums, we are addressing a miniscule fraction of the overall reaction to a particular piece of content. Not to diminish the voices that we hear, because every piece of positively framed feedback is sought and mulled over by us, but it represents a small fraction of the overall audience. We don’t want to be guided specifically by the mass sway of the population at large, especially when dealing with niche character types, we do absolutely need to take a global approach, find out what is appealing, and adjust if we feel it’s necessary. That adjustment however is not driven by numbers, or by particular cultural representation in our audience, it’s driven solely by our internal creative vision and desire to balance out the visual and creative quality. We are not ignoring any passionate argument or feedback, we are carefully weighing all of it. We read all of it, and we selectively utilize what we can when it’s actionable.
I realize that this stark analysis of the process can seem disenfranchising, that’s sort of a given in any situation that involves change. You are inherently disenfranchising a segment of the population that is accustomed to the status quo when you make the change, that’s just a fact. We have to mitigate the fallout from that unavoidable damage by creating contingencies such as traditional skins, or other aspect that we can retain in a character to properly give the respect to the existing player base that they deserve. We can try soften the blow to the players who are attached, but in the end, we are dealing with massive changes obviously. I completely understand and honor that feeling of disruption to something they are accustomed to. We are not trying to make unhappy players, we are trying to better the content to allow more people to enjoy that content, and broaden appeal, but not for the sake of broadening appeal.
Dealing with niche audiences is obviously also challenging. When we look at niches, we find that the players who very much enjoy the character are heavily entrenched. They are passionate, they have found charm in places where other players don’t, they take their love of a character to such a deep level that it’s very painful for them to witness such changes. That’s honestly why we go to the lengths we go to. We do a whole lot of analysis, internally, to consider those most passionate players above all.
It guides a lot of our decision making. We want to broaden appeal as I’ve stated, but we want to remain true in any way possible. That’s extremely difficult. So, that’s why we do traditional skins, that’s why we do messaging, that’s why guys like me, Grumpy Monkey and Morello get out here to try to explain process and reasoning. It’s not always going to soothe however, and we know that. We’ve prepared ourselves for the storm of feedback, with its share of negative feedback, and we willingly accept the responsibility. Some of us on Relaunch have specifically been chosen to work on the team for the specific reason that we can communicate on top of the ability to execute our craft. We’re highly cognizant of community sentiment, we integrate what feedback we can, and we’re able to explain our motivations. That’s why I say that I’m happy to tank. I’ll gladly shoulder burden and blame, and I’l explain my reasoning, but I’ll also hold my ground where I feel we’re achieving proper goals.
In terms of player communication back to the team, that’s a very excellent question ask which I don’t know the answer to. I’m not sure about what the right conduits back to the team from the public are. We do a heavy audit of the forums obviously, but maybe that’s not enough. We also do data analysis, we consult with Rioters who are close to particular champions, or who may have been there at their creation, and we meet a lot about goals and fulfilling those goals. Maybe we do need to find another way for players to communicate back, but I can’t really speak to that. It’s something I can raise, but again, I don’t think that there will be a panacea here. There will still be discontent wherever we have change. Our task is to mitigate the discontent and explain our reasoning.
I think a key component we need to rely on is messaging. Documenting and showing our development process. At least that shows that we’re not making these changes on a whim, or without consideration. That will address some of the base’s concerns, but again, will only go so far. My feeling though is that because of the passion surrounding relaunches we need to have a good messaging strategy and good explanations. That’s part of our job.
It’s going to sound dumb, but people will have to at the end of the day trust us. We’re not operating in a vacuum, divorced from player feedback, making decisions on numbers or other such assumptions. There needs to be a two way street of respect between players and developers. Just like we are trying to honor even the most niche slice of players, and make really sweeping judgements that are aligned with those slices, we need the trust of players to execute as craftsman. I know it’s going to be difficult, I know there will be inherent disenfranchisement, but we do know what we’re doing.
If we do screw up, which we will, we are as I say all the time, iterative. We can in fact try again. We, in the end, are doing this for our players, 100%. These initiatives need to feel valuable, that we’re adding as much love to our old content as we do to our content going forward. If this is deemed unsuccessful, then we have to admit it as such. So far, we’ve seen extremely positive reception to relaunches and VU’s. We see that players feel that we’re investing in content they know and love when we’re not obligated to do, we see interest in those champions rise, we see people theorycrafting with renewed vigor, and we see engagement. Depending on the severity of the VU/relaunch however, we know that there will be touchy aspects. Just like everything, we’re going to analyze how we’ve done in these extreme cases and gauge how effective we’ve been, and how the players have reacted. We’re going to act, we’re going to analyse and we’re going to iterate, as we’ve done before and will do again.
We feel this will indeed be valuable, but the players will be the judge.
The purpose of remaking a champion is to increase quality, while keeping the core character elements intact. To do this, the working team relies on:
- Community Feedback
- Their instinct as players / designers
Some champions may feel lackluster lore-wise (Sejuani, Trundle) and so their remake is aimed at making their background more cohesive and appropriate. Others (like Sivir) just feel outdated and pale in comparison to newer content. The designers are aware that not everyone will be pleased with the end result – hardcore fans of the original may dismiss a rework, saying it has ruined the champion’s character and appeal. This is where Traditional Skins come into play, even if the majority of players are happy with a remake, those few who felt more connected to the champion’s previous incarnation should not be punished.
Riot can only review so much feedback and must sort out what they feel is important to preserve what players appreciate in a champion, while improving on the weak links. Their latest such example is Zac, who had lore pieces to accompany his release and build a deep, enthralling story before even presenting his mechanics. Gameplay and looks must go hand-in-hand and when they do not, it pulls players from the otherwise immersive fantasy universe of the League.
The designer team is passionate about making change feel less scary and so they gather information on the forums regarding how best to redesign a given champion. This is an initiative aimed entirely at improving the game for players so if the community finds the reworked visuals displeasing, it’s the artists’ job to keep working until satisfaction is achieved.
VUs are tricky to implement, but so far the results have been overly positive.
And here are a few particularly intriguing ideas, courtesy of forumer Herald of Time:
Besides the obvious allusion to wealth, Sivir’s attire and weaponry in my mind seem to work well as having magical properties, especially if they are all hewn from the same stone, allowing an explanation for her boomerang-chakram and her spellshield (releasing the magic within the stones themselves). It could give her a more practical purpose for her bejeweled appearance, which may or may not play into her lore.
Her ult being a battle cry (although it could be changed) got me thinking that the one theme that she has going for her now is a seasoned warrior. It is the one vibe that is given off by the majority of her quotes, her lore, and her ult. This could be adjusted to fit whatever her final theme is, but it is a possible starting point.
This is more of a request, but since a lot of Sivir players really liked her old kit with the bounce toggle because of all the blades everywhere, I was wondering if it is possible to make her blades fly back to her after they hit something, especially if empowered by W. It would work with both of the aforementioned themes for differing reasons, and i definitely think it would be cool if the animators could pull this off. I expect it could be possible now since thresh’s chain animation is similar in scope, but if it cant it cant.
It seems Sivir is, indeed, a very complex character to remake. She’s strong, assertive, dangerous and sexy – where these key traits will take her only time will tell!
Are you making Pizza Delivery Sivir or not? This is the only question that demands an answer.