RiotRadioBlur shares the process of creating the new item icons and the story behind each one, Lyte goes into a deep discussion about dealing with toxic players without banning them, rewarding positivity, resolving issues with AFK-ers in Ranked and the report system as a whole, word from GrumpyMonkey on Champion redesigns, WCC ticket pre-order announced and the latest Sale and Rotation!
- Studying Player Behavior
- Positive Players
- Honor System
- Reports & Bans
- Dealing with Toxic Players
- Resolving issues in Ranked
Gamasutra (Shaping the Community): GDC: Riot Experimentally Investigates Online Toxicity
Designing New Icons
RiotRadioBlur shares the story of how the new item icons came to be, the design and time-frame aspect, as well as future projects.
I’m sure you’ve noticed some of the items have had their art updated and replaced. As the aesthetic of League becomes more cohesive and solidifies in quality, we’re working hard to update all of our old art. In particular, the Visual Design team is working hard to innovate and improve on our user interface and visual identity. We have already been raising the icon quality bar on our champions and summoner icons, and it’s about time items got some love. Because these icons are so important to our players, I thought I’d walk through some of the decision-making process involved in developing the new aesthetic.
The primary goal of the reworks was to improve clarity, and then to build thematic connections between the item visuals and the other aspects of their design. Familiarity was a big concern as we began working on these—how far can we push the designs until they become too hard to adapt to?—but a few icons had very little in their visuals that could be held onto. When we were looking into which icons to re-design first, we wanted to seek out the ones that presented some of the biggest challenges to redesign, the ones whose themes seemed seriously out of line with their visuals, or whose current art didn’t localize well. From there, we wanted to find ways to build them into the rest of our game’s world in a way that felt consistent and logical.
Let’s look at how each one was chosen and how we developed them:
Abyssal’s older art was a bone on a stick. It was pretty lacking in terms of design, and nobody really felt that the whole “abyss” theme was captured by it. The first explorations toyed with keeping the skull, but it just wasn’t exciting enough. Somebody on the team suggested pushing more in the direction of something extremely warped, exaggerated, and unusual, but retaining the feeling that this was the skull of some terrifying creature. The more we pushed, the more we realized a hybridization of the two would provide the most unsettling result. A vaguely human skull at the end of a staff made out of its own spinal column, wrapped in worn strips of leather. The bone went from bleached white to dark, decayed brown, which also brought out the silhouette and distanced the design even further from appearing too human. The final touch came from one of our splash artists, Alex Flores, who really pushed the S shape in the staff to where it is now. In the end, we had this:
Catalyst’s upgrade had a few very specific goals going in. The first was to change the rune to match the kind of shape language we would see in our game today. The shape we used was designed by one of our other Visual Designers, Zach Roberson, and it definitely feels like it belongs with the world we’re building. The second consideration we had was to make it purple to match the idea of blue and red crystals combining into one new item. The result was something with a really unique color palette and silhouette, brought up to the quality we want to see out of every new icon:
More than any other icon so far, Deathfire Grasp’s redesign pushed the limits of what we could do with changes. The original icon felt like such a missed opportunity, and had too much overlap with Abyssal Scepter’s visuals. We wanted to separate the two, and make each feel more unique. And then there was this great theme, right there in the name “Death Fire Grasp.” It sort of stuck out in our earliest discussions as the obvious thematic tie, but being obvious isn’t always the best way to design. So we tried a few iterations and different ideas, but in the end we kept coming back to a staff with some sort of hand or claw shape on the end of it holding a spirit flame. Once we decided where we were taking it, we felt like the next step was to bring it into the world. Where would you find a staff holding a captured soul? The Shadow Isles. Looking at champs like Hecarim and Thresh, we tried to give the staff some of the same flair, all the way down to the color pallette, blue-green effects and lighting, with warm iron for the metals. The new design was a huge departure from the original, and we had a lot of internal discussions about whether we were pushing too far. In the end we agreed the added clarity and visual theming made the icon more distinct and easier to associate with its thematic. And here we have all of that process in its final form:
Glacial shroud also really missed its thematic. We started looking at this around the time we were developing the Freljord event, and with all this lovely new art for our wintery domain, it made sense to make Glacial Shroud more “glacial.” The first step was to remove the lion. After abstracting the details of the face, we saw some shapes that reminded us of the knot shapes on Howling Abyss, so we adjusted them all to fit in. The blue ring matched the True Ice of Freljord, so we inlaid a ring of it onto the medallion. Next was taking the gold and toning it down to the kind of muted color palettes we see on Trundle, Sejuani, and the other Freljord champs. Finally we took those wispy shapes and hinted at a frost-magic fabric the pendant holds together as a brooch, giving us a very literal shroud to play with. The new icon went from being something a bit out of place, to something that could really fit in to our world:
For Haunting Guise we set out to actually make something a bit spooky. A clown face was a specific nightmare, but we wanted something that would feel appropriately haunting to anybody. The shape of the mask we ended up with had a lifeless, cold feel. The red and white hinted at something Ionian, and the green magic matched some of what we were seeing out of champs like Karma and Master Yi. We drew on lots of our Ionian champs for reference, but the biggest help on this icon came from the Visual Development department, where they really helped us nail down that Ionian style. The result:
Hextech isn’t extremely well-defined to our players right now, but there’s plenty in the various champions to suggest at what it could be. Again, Visual Development played a big role in helping us achieve a look the felt appropriately “hextech,” and helped steer the direction to something more specifically Piltovian, which felt like a natural fit for the item’s origins. The gun replicates a lot of the aesthetics seen in Jayce, Vi, and Graves, where magic and technology play off one another to form unique implements with an unusual design principal. The gun doesn’t function without the magic, and the magic is useless without the gun to harness it. It’s a symbiotic relationship:
Right out the gate, Thornmail felt like Noxus. Bearhug your enemies with spiked mail? Totally Noxus. Again Visual Development helped us find that perfect mix of utilitarian design and aggressive, militaristic aesthetics that makes it fit so well into our world. Darius, Draven, and other Noxian champs heavily influenced the design, right down to the spiked shoulders, dark grey metals, and the red background (shying away from the pinker hue we were seeing before). The process on Thornmail really seemed to flow as soon as we knew it was Noxian, and I think the result really shows for it:
Vampiric Scepter is another Noxian artifact, this time drawing from Vlad’s aesthetics to really drive home the vampire aspect inherent to the item. It took a few tries to get here—some of the early iterations involved a bat with scythe even—but the result is something a lot more mature than the older, goofier icon. We managed to preserve and abstract the face and scythe shapes, and give the metal a really unique gold treatment to match the rendering we see in Vlad’s splash. The final touch was making the magic feel like is was reaching out and sucking in energy from the space around it, drawing on the strength of others. The final icon is a lot more menacing than before:
And that’s them! The Visual Designers here at Riot worked really hard to bring out the best in these icons, and I think it shows. Lots of thought, time, and energy were poured into these to make them the best icons we can make, and all the other teams who dog-piled them really helped us go that extra mile. A huge shout out to everybody involved!
I’ll be in this thread to address any comments or questions, so if you have anything to say just let me know and I’ll do my best to respond. It’s great to have these out, and we hope you all enjoy!
Isn’t the new Abyssal Scepter icon just a skull on a spine?
Why is the new Vampiric Scepter lacking the skull face?
RiotRadioblur: I tried to keep the implied face in there with the fangs and eyes, but keeping the skull ended up making the whole item feel super clunky. Kind of a shame, because in theory it’s pretty cool, I just found it really difficult to execute on and still make look like the Vampiric stuff we see with Vlad. Thanks very much for the feedback though!
Will you be updating other item icons as well?
RiotRadioblur: I assure you, no icon will go untouched (unless it released more recently–Orb of Winter, Spectral Cowl, and Seeker’s Armguard are already in-style, as are all the newer champs since Annie’s rework). Look forward to them soon!
How much time does it take to design an icon?
RiotRadioblur: It varies from icon to icon. Ability icons usually take about two days to bring to final polish, since we paint them at a much higher resolution than seen in game. Item icons can take a bit longer, because a big part of the icon is doing actual redesigns and running the concept by people to make sure the shape language and colors are working. The average time for these item icons was about 4 days apiece, though they were staggered a bit. The overall work time on these was about a month in between other icon projects, and lots of testing and reviews were done before we decided to put them in.
Also, keep your eyes peeled for more coming up in the future!
Follow-up: Isn’t a whole month too much time for a single icon?
RiotRadioblur: As I said, “The overall work time on these was about a month in between other icon projects,” which means we had a lot of things going on simultaneously. Keep in mind we’re trying to hit all the new content too, guys.
Why is the new DFG icon so drastically different from the old one?
RiotRadioblur: This was one of the icons we were most worried about changing, but the old one had very little to work with. I tried a few variations keeping the pink and grey, and even had several iterations with the skull, but they were all mostly as confusing as the original was (which isn’t terribly clear, though I know it’s been around a while so it has become hugely familiar). In the end this one provided the clearest read, and we wanted to introduce the more dramatic changes slowly so that the overall transition would be less jarring. We have a few others planned to be reworked to about this level, but the number isn’t very high and we hope to slot them in gradually over time.
Are you in charge of the team making these icons?
Will you be updating champion icons as well?
RiotRadioblur: I can say that updating relaunched champion ability icons was a movement I started when I got here, which was just before Annie was relaunched. We’re looking at ways to get back and update all the old stuff, but there’s a lot of new content rolling out all the time that eats up a significant amount of bandwidth. I don’t want to promise anything, but I assure you it’s not off our radar.
Are these icons designed by Vigil Rioters? (makers of Darksiders)
RiotRadioblur: Actually all of these items were primarily spearheaded by me with some seriously huge assists from all the other departments. There are quite a few Vigil folks around the office, but none of them had much of a hand in this rework pass to my knowledge. That said, we might be seeing some down the road with some of them jumping in for support, just as long as the end result continues to feel distinctly “Riot.”
Will you change the oddity that is Moonflair spellBLADE being a ranged-only item?
World Championship tickets available on August 15th!
Anxious to see the finals live? Reserve your ticket a full month before they start!
Following our recent announcement about the Season 3 World Championship, which included unveiling the Staples Center as the venue for the finals, we now have more to share on how you can watch all of the action live.
The World Championship will consist of 14 teams from North America, Europe, Korea, Southeast Asia, China, and a qualifying International Wildcard, competing to forever etch their name onto the coveted Summoner’s Cup. The entire Championship tournament takes place over three weeks from September 15 to October 4. Individual tickets will be available for all Championship game days and every match is played in front of a live audience at a Los Angeles studio. The semifinals move to the Galen Center and then the final best of five match plays out at Staples.
Tickets go on sale on August 15 at 12PM PDT / 21:00 CEST. When tickets become available, use the purchase links in the schedule below to directly buy the days you want to attend.
|Date||Stage||# of Games||Location||Purchase Link|
|Sun, Sep 15||Group Stage||7 Games||Studio||Not yet available|
|Mon, Sep 16||Group Stage||6 Games||Studio||Not yet available|
|Tue, Sep 17||Group Stage||7 Games||Studio||Not yet available|
|Thu, Sep 19||Group Stage||7 Games||Studio||Not yet available|
|Fri, Sep 20||Group Stage||6 Games||Studio||Not yet available|
|Sat, Sep 21||Group Stage||7 Games||Studio||Not yet available|
|Mon, Sep 23||Quarterfinal||2 Matches (Bo3)||Studio||Not yet available|
|Tue, Sep 24||Quarterfinal||2 Matches (Bo3)||Studio||Not yet available|
|Fri, Sep 27||Semifinal||1 Match (Bo5)||Galen||Not yet available|
|Sat, Sep 28||Semifinal||1 Match (Bo5)||Galen||Not yet available|
|Fri, Oct 4||Final||1 Match (Bo5)||Staples||Not yet available|
Look for more details shortly, appearing here first on lolesports.com. And make sure to follow us on Twitter at @lolesports as another way to get info the instant it’s available.
Lyte on Shaping a Community
Studying Player Behavior
Does/did your team ever disagree on the direction of player behavior?
Even though the above did happen, we have a smart team that knows it’s about give and take. We generally have long discussions and meetings where we pour over the research and determine the best course of action for the team–surprisingly, we haven’t had many disagreements on what the team should do.
What’s your stance on smurfing?
It’s something we are actively doing research on and trying to address. We agree with some reasons to smurf–such as to make a new account to play with a brand new friend; however, we’d like to make it easier to do that instead of encourage players to smurf.
Is the Optimus experiment still on-going?
“Optimus” refers to Lyte’s continuing study on Online toxicity.
Lyte: The Optimus experiment was to identify the most effective tips to shape player behavior positively; however, there’s still room for ‘flavor’ in a video game, especially if the effects of the flavor are neutral in the behavioral space.
However, we’re working on sharing more research from Optimus in the future and do have some interesting insights about the ‘flavor’ tips.
Are long-time players less likely to encounter toxic behavior than newcomers?
Lyte: This is a really cool insight, and is partially true. Very, very veteran players should see fewer extremely toxic players, which is the demographic that the Tribunal targets; however, our research suggests that the majority of toxicity comes from the neutral and sportsmanlike population potentially having outbursts due to bad days or other RL incidents. Veteran players will probably still see the same amount of toxicity from these ‘types’ of incidences.
Are any other systems (apart from Honor) in the works for positive reinforcement?
Do positive players win more games?
Lyte: Because the stats average across the entire playerbase, usually factors like # of games played are normalized. So in the stat I mentioned, the positive players win more games (but play about the same number of games as the other two populations).
Follow-up: Does sportsmanship lead to a higher win-to-loss ratio?
Lyte: The first few times we ran these stats, they were just correlations. So you are right, we couldn’t decipher the causal direction of the relationship and it could just be that players become toxic when they are in losing situations.
However, in the more recent versions of the analyses, we’ve attempted to control for these factors. For example, how does a positive player respond in a losing situation? How many reports do they receive on average? We then compare these baselines to the toxic players and see if we can figure out the exact direction of the relationship between winning and sportsmanlike behavior. With some of our more recent work, we’re getting confident that being more sportsmanlike does win games. Teamwork OP right?
Isn’t focusing on positive reinforcement more beneficial than focusing on negative such?
However, negative reinforcement hasn’t been shown to always be ineffective or detrimental. We’ve seen success with negative reinforcement in many areas–we just prefer to shift to positive reinforcement instead.
Are different game modes affecting the rate at which Honor votes are sent?
Lyte: We’ve definitely noticed that Honor distributions vary greatly across different game modes and skill levels. We have a few ideas in mind that we want to research and try for Honor, after we’re done with Champion Select.
Do you feel like Honor is accurate enough to use as the basis for other incentives?
Is Honor accomplishing what it was originally set out to?
Lyte: Honor needs some work, and we’ve already done some research into the space and how we want to polish and upgrade the system. However, it’s currently being used a healthy amount on all servers and had a very positive effect on player behavior in League (while also allowing us more resolution to analyze player behavior because we only had the ‘negative’ spectrum with reports before). We’d like to improve the correlation between Crest holders and sportsmanlike personalities, and also implement a few features into Honor to encourage players to aspire and strive for Crests.
Suggestion: Give free runes to players who earn an Honor ribbon
Lyte: It’s an interesting idea, and I do want to hear more about what sportsmanlike players would find valuable to their game experiences or their accounts (beyond the obvious like “just give us free skins everyday!”)
Why is there so little information on the forums about the Honor system?
Lyte: We’ve been trying to put more FAQs on the forums such as the Tribunal FAQ and “Understanding Tribunal” thread, and we’re trying to do the same for Matchmaking and Honor. If only I invented a machine that gave me infinite time…
Reports & Bans
Are multiple reports over a single game more punishing than spread reports over several games?
Do certain champions cause more reports in a game?
A long, long time ago, pre-stealth rework Eve received the most reports in the game; however, the interesting twist was that Eve champions were not punished more often in the Tribunal than any other champion. It was interesting to us because players were acknowledging the context of Eve, and pardoning players a bit more frequently to off-set the increased number of reports that Eve got back then.
Who decides what type of punishment a player on the Tribunal receives?
Lyte: Punishments are usually based on frequency of toxic behavior; for example, someone who is toxic in a majority of their games and has visited the Tribunal multiple times is more likely to be up for a longer timeban.
However, because there is a review process with Riot Player Support, sometimes cases get escalated to higher punishments based on the severity of the toxic behavior as well.
Any chance of perma-banned accounts receiving a permanent chat instead?
Follow-up: What’s your reason for leaving players perma-banned?
Why aren’t IP bans being issued?
Lyte: IP Bans aren’t effective for a variety of reasons. For example, there was a story a few years back of an IP Ban that was handed out and it turns out it was at a college dorm–we received something like 200 tickets from players that were affected but didn’t deserve it.
Will perma-banned accounts be unbanned if your policy on the subject changes?
Dealing with Toxic Players
Isn’t it wrong to claim that pre/post-game chat logs affect only the most toxic players?
The Tribunal is a harsh punishment system, aimed to reform (and if that fails, remove) players from the game. To us, this is a last resort system. Because the system was designed as a last resort, we only want to utilize it against the worst of the worst players because it really sucks to tell players they can’t play a game they love. If at all possible, we’d like to reform these players, or shield their behaviors from other players while still allowing them to play the game.
A lot of players might not report pre- and post-game chat because they know it isn’t included in the Tribunal; so, it’s true that if we included pre- and post-game chat that reports would increase. However, reports increasing doesn’t necessarily mean that we would tune the Tribunal to punish more players. We’ve been recording pre- and post-game chat logs for awhile and have run numerous analyses on them. In many cases, players that are toxic in pre- and post-game chat are also toxic in-game and are always punished by the Tribunal–it just takes a bit longer than the average toxic player. We’ve also observed that the number of players who are solely toxic in pre- and post-game chat is so low, that the incremental value of adding the chat logs just isn’t worth it for now.
The key here is asking how many players are getting away with toxic behavior, by just being toxic in pre- and post-game chat? For now, the answer is too low for us to justify resources. To get back to your original question, we do consider “effort to solve” though. Effort to solve Champion Select is much greater, but the eventual value is much greater as well.
Is Restricted Chat Mode helping toxic players reform their behavior?
Will we be able to see which players are put on Restricted Chat Mode?
Lyte: We were very careful not to give indicators or badges that a player is in Restricted Chat Mode; this is because we don’t want to brand players as ‘toxic’ and set them up for failure before the match has even started.
Some players still choose to use their messages to inform their teammates that they are in Restricted Chat Mode; however, many players simply choose to hide their status and be sportsmanlike members of the team and we’re OK with that. If we labeled these players or otherwise branded them, they might be harassed even if they were going to be sportsmanlike in that particular game.
Will anything be done to stop AFK-ing in-game?
The player behavior team hasn’t done a pass on the LeaverBuster system in awhile, it’s something I’ll look into after Champion Select.
What is Riot’s current alternative to perma-banning toxic players?
We are currently handing out massive chat bans before permanent bans these days though, and are trying to research new ways to reduce the motivation for toxic players to simply make new accounts. One way would be to add more ‘account restrictions’ and just let these players stay on their main accounts.
Resolving issues in Ranked
Suggestion for Ranked: Reduce LP loss for the team with leaver/AFK || Increase LP loss for the Leaver/AFK
Lyte: These are interesting ideas that we’ve discussed in the past. The problem with reduced LP loss for the team is that it encourages the team to bully or harass someone to leave the game if they believe there’s no longer a chance to win. In many ways, a feature like this would encourage some number of neutral players to ‘go toxic’ in frustrating games and vent on a player, hoping that they would leave.
Increased LP loss for Leavers/AFKs is less of a problem; however, in Ranked Modes, we don’t see many intentional leavers or AFKs–most of the leavers in Ranked Modes are likely due to legitimate reasons such as emergencies or outages. Everyone in League of Legends has disconnected at least one game in their career–should we really be punishing these players even harsher?
It might be worthwhile to punish these players harsher if we reduce intentional leavers/AFKs by a certain percentage; but, it’s something we’d have to model and calculate out and see if the change is worth it.
Follow-up: Why are you hesitant to implement a reduced LP loss system?
In both cases, reducing LP losses for teammates doesn’t actually solve the problem. It creates more. Regardless of whether the Tribunal will handle the new abuse that the feature would introduce, the feature doesn’t actually reduce Leavers/AFKs (and you could argue it would increase the number of them if teams start harassing each other to get someone to leave) and the feature doesn’t actually reduce the impact on teammates because now teammates are not dealing with Leavers/AFKs–they are creating them through toxic behavior.
How does Matchmaking Rating work?
Lyte: The system is pretty sophisticated because it’s continuously evolving as we collect new data. Over time, we’ve added custom features to the algorithm based on unique situations in League of Legends such as how do we handle duo queues? Premade 5s? How do we handle situations where players are queued with a friend who has a large skill differential?
In many of these cases we are taking into account a lot more variables than simply Wins/Losses.
The magic behind Visual Updates
GrumpyMonkey details in on future visual updates of champions, the time it takes to rework one and how the team prioritize their projects.
Any news on Sivir’s VU?
What makes some visual reworks harder than others?
GrumpyMonkey: So a while back one of the Relaunch guys (can’t remember who, might have been Qqroon or Ironstylus) explained about high risk reworks vs low risk reworks. Master yi is an example of a low risk rework. We knew what he was going to be, is original look and concept was cool, the execution just needed a bit of polish to get to the current standard. It was mostly just visual work.
Reworks get more risky as more aspects like gameplay design and lore have to be involved. So we wanted to do a few low risk characters before we hit the really work intensive Relaunches (like Sion). Sivir was mostly visual work, but there are some story elements that the writing team have been working on to make her tie into the world a bit better, and make her a major player in the Leagueaverse. That being said, the reason she’s not the next one out is simply because we started another one before her.
Is Twitch the next champion to get a visual rework?
Follow-up: What is a champion model’s sculpt?
GrumpyMonkey: The sculpting phase is when I translate the 2d drawing into a 3d sculpture like I did for master yi and trundle.https://vimeo.com/68653110
It’s a phase where the design is getting locked down and streamlined for the actual game.
After sculpting it gets dropped down in resolution and we take the shadow info from the high res sculpture and use it as the starting point for the low res game model’s texture.
Will the next VU be teased early?
GrumpyMonkey: The team likes to announce these types of things very formally with lots of great support from all the different facets of Riot, from the web team, community,events, and marketing teams. If I were to leak images or teasers, that would be a waste of a lot of hard working peoples time.
What’s the timeline for releasing VUs?
GrumpyMonkey: Our goal is to have one rework done a month. Now having one done and having one released are two different things. Yi had been done for a few weeks, but SGU had priority, we didn’t want to steal any even a little bit of it’s thunder, also there were lots of platform techy stuff things that would have made the patch too big. So we held off until SGU was home free. So what I’m saying is, we try to be flexible.Just because a rework is done, doesn’t mean it’s time to release it. We try to time it with other stuff that can boost overall player engagement.
Champion Rotation – Week 27
The following champions will be free-to-play until August 13th!
- Anivia - 3150 IP / 790 RP
- Caitlyn - 4800 IP / 880 RP
- Cho’Gath - 1350 IP / 585 RP
- Garen - 450 IP / 260 RP
- Jax - 1350 IP / 585 RP
- Lissandra - 6300 IP / 975 RP
- Lulu - 6300 IP / 975 RP
- Mordekaiser - 3150 IP / 790 RP
- Taric - 1350 IP / 585 RP
- Urgot - 3150 IP / 790 RP
Champion/Skin Sale: August 6th – 9th
Enjoy the following champions and skins at a discount until August 9th!
- Graves - 487 RP
- Kog’Maw - 440 RP
- Morgana - 292 RP
Battlecast Urgot - 675 RP
Bloodfury Renekton - 487 RP
Lil’ Slugger Trundle - 260 RP
Twitter is up!
A lot of you like to express your opinion in-depth on the news posted here and while I do try to answer most of you, I think the comment section is rather lackluster for this sort of thing. So, as of today, you can find me on Twitter! I encourage anyone who wants to ask a question, tweet me and I’ll answer you in my own free time. Please remember that I’m not working for Riot, I’m a university student so base your expectations with that knowledge in mind. I do appreciate your interest in my articles and I hope this helps you get your answers quicker!
Missed any recent updates? Check here!