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Challenger Nidalee’s splash art was previewed at the All-Star event recently. You can see the skin in-game HERE.

Challenger Nidalee Splash

 

 

Whats the state of Morgana

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Meddler Final PortraitShe’s got a distinctive playstyle, clear weaknesses, does things other champions don’t, has gameplay that matches her theme reasonably well and has decent counterplay. There’s room for a bit of visual improvement, though her texture and visual effects updates improved her a lot there. Expanded voice sometime would be nice certainly. Overall I feel she’s in a really good spot and would rather see work put into an enormous number of other champions than into Morg, returns there feel like they’d be pretty low for the time.

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Would Akali be one such Champion thats a higher priority than Morgana

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Meddler Final PortraitYup, though pick a champion at random and odds are high they’ll be more in need of work than Morg.

We’ll certainly want to make changes to Akali whenever we tackle assassins though. We did do some initial exploration into possible kit changes, which showed some promise, we’ve put that on hold until we have a go at the class overall though.

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What kind of kit changes do you have planned for Akali

Meddler Final PortraitDistinction from other assassins (Diana especially, Kat to some degree), better fallback/recovery options, better counterplay, more unique tools for her.

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Why did you nerf Tahm Kenchs W when the problem is his damage

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Meddler Final PortraitPeople tend to complain about the most distinctive things a champion does. Nerfing based off what people complain about can eventually end up homogenizing characters a lot, with everyone having a similar feeling kit and unique effects reduced from character defining to secondary sources of novelty. To combat that we instead map out what we think are appropriate strengths and weaknesses for each champion and try and nerf/buff to preserve (or accentuate) those. In this case nerfing the MS with an ally devoured was we felt the best way to do that for Tahm in 5.24.

That’s not to say player frustration isn’t a really useful thing to monitor and understand, it’s really valuable for helping to build or modify those intended strengths/weaknesses in the first place. Being really informed of player feedback, frustations, needs, wants etc’s something we believe’s really important. That’s not the same though as believing that whatever a lot of people are saying is necessarily the right thing to do though.

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When designing Champions do you predict what the player reaction will be

Meddler Final PortraitSome of the time, yes. We expected Tahm Kench’s ally devour to create quite a bit of frustration when it saved allies for example. We felt during his development (and still do now too) though that that was an acceptable cost given the positive moments and gameplay Devour creates.

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Do you think Sona is in a good place right now

Meddler Final PortraitOverall basically still the same as per my post in this thread:

http://boards.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/c/gameplay-balance/EkxbfyvO-so-lemme-get-this-straight

Preseason’s also increased her effectiveness a noticeable amount, so if we felt compelled to make balance adjustments to her I’d imagine they’d be nerfs not buffs. There are certainly some supports that are more dominant overall, we’ve either just nerfed, or are in the process of nerfing, those that are over the line though (some of whom will probably need further work too – looking at you Brand).

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Are there any plans to update Lissandra

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Meddler Final PortraitNo current plans on the gameplay side, alternative passive explorations didn’t work out so we opted for the heal on self cast ult instead.

Not sure on the Lore side, apologies, not my area of expertise. Would love to see advancement of that plot-line myself though, more revelations about the Watchers and the history there especially.

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Whatre your thoughts on VelKoz

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Meddler Final PortraitWe feel Vel’Koz is pretty balanced, generally feels fair to play against and has some solid points of mastery for the Vel’Koz player. Only real issue with him is that what he does isn’t sufficiently differentiated from other mages/poke champs, so we’d like to find him a unique strength or aspect at some point.

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What do you think of Poppy at the moment

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Meddler Final PortraitNothing too surprising so far, though it’s still really early days. We’re still seeing a lot of people playing the rework for the first time or two, so lot of initial mistakes being made and experimentation going on. No current plans for immediate changes, though we’ll reassess on Monday as well.

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What is the range of the new Assassin mastery

Meddler Final Portrait800 units, so it’s not a great choice in a duo lane, but should get some use in team fights if you’re diving at least a moderate distance in front of your team.

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Will the upcoming Diana skin be AllStar themed

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KateyKhaos Final PortraitIt won’t be an esports skin, just a cool fire-themed thematics for Diana. :]

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Is there a possibility well get a new Swain skin

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KateyKhaos Final PortraitTo the best of my knowledge, he’s eligible.

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INTRO Jeevun Jag Sidhu Game Designer Live Gameplay and Champions

Riot Jag Final PortraitWHO AM I?

Sup guys, I’m Jeevun Sidhu aka Riot Jag. I’ve been a competitive gamer my whole life, and before getting Diamond in League of Legends my video game mistress of choice was World of Warcraft, where I held onto a 9 consecutive season streak of getting Gladiator in Arena before I realized it may be time to do other things (will put away my horn now). I’ve also really enjoyed Starcraft, Super Smash Bros, the Batman: Arkham, XCom, and Metal Gear Solid series, and (might be dating myself a bit here) I have a soft spot for Goldeneye 007 and Mario Kart 64. I got into League through my WoW friends when the servers were down for maintenance. Someone in Vent said they just started playing LoL and it was really fun, and I replied that if I wanted to micro 1 unit for 45 minutes I’d just build a Ghost in SC2. I was a little ignorant at the time…

Aside from Video Games, I enjoy Sports Cars and Motorcycles. I’m currently running a Ducati Panigale 899 that I keep under armed guard, seeing as the last two bikes I got after moving to LA were both stolen in a matter of weeks. I’ve also always loved sports, particularly Football (Giants fan for life) and Basketball. I listen to a range of music, but am mostly into Hip-hop and House/Electro. My Spotify has been blasting a lot Run the Jewels and Disclosure lately, although my boy Kanye is never far off the playlist. Before I was a professional nerd for a living, I was something totally different – a software engineer at Microsoft.

WHAT AM I DOING AT RIOT?

Some of the fun stuff I’ve done at Riot include the Lucian mini-rework, Runeglaive and Zeke’s Harbinger, and most recently I lead the charge on Rift Herald. I’ve spent the last 2 years on Live Gameplay (aka the Rito balance team) nerfing your favorite champ, but I am moving to new Champion team to find new ways to add more anti-fun into the game. Until that happens, I’ve had front row seats to every balance and game health struggle that we’ve had in League for the past two years, so feel free to hit me up with anything in that area.

WHAT AM I GOING TO TALK ABOUT?

I’d like to talk about interesting struggles with the live state of the game, ranging from the intricacies of preserving game health, to how to interpret win rate metrics, to how we handle eSports concerns. I might also get into what it’s like for a novice champion designer to start taking on the task of building a brand new iconic experience in LoL. Finally, ADCs are my peoples, so if that’s your passion, or if you just need help with that Vayne build, I’m down with the clickers.

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Why was Lee Sin allowed to be the most dominant jungler for so long

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Riot Jag Final PortraitI really want to talk to you here but you have to give me something way better than “why do you love toxic stuff and hate good stuff”. Maybe give me some specifics on what you felt was off.

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It seems the balance team favors flashy plays over healthy gameplay

Riot Jag Final PortraitThis one I don’t get at all. I think if you searched through most of the pro games this year, you would find Leblanc and Zed to not be nearly as dominant as say Viktor or Azir in terms of pick rate. That aside, it seems like you’re creating a false dichotomy here between choosing between “flashy plays” and “healthy gameplay”. I don’t think we’d say someone like Zed has an inherently unhealthy pattern (I’d say he’s fairly healthy for an assassin), but there’s no reason why something can’t be fair and flashy.

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Cinderhulk was OP on release and was later nerfed so much that its useless now

Riot Jag Final PortraitAgain, it’s really an issue of balance here. You can’t argue with the level of power that Cinderhulk was giving to characters at the time. There are many reasons to like the teamfight-pacing presence that tanks give, but these champions had no tradeoffs at the time – they were becoming damage dealers with extreme durability and CC.


On that topic though, no one was happier about the success of Cinderhulk than me – that project was the combined efforts of Fearless and I (mostly him!), and I was overjoyed at the spike in competitive diversity that the Cinderhulk patch brought to the game. But the theory that we chased away diversity by nerfing Cinderhulk is false. The diversity spike partially arose due to the uncertainty of solving the game at a pro level since we upended the meta (tanks in Jungle instead of top lane, so now carries in top lane, so now different types of supports/ADCs that have to deal with top lane carries, etc.). The pro diversity levels were already falling quickly in the weeks after Cinderhulk came out due to them solving the meta rapidly, before we even managed to get the nerfs out to the servers that pros played on. So while Cinderhulk as a disrupting force was positive in driving diversity, it couldn’t ever hold that permanently – we have to keep making changes to the game to do that.

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Why are champs like Anivia nerfed and Lee Sin is either untouched or buffed

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Riot Jag Final PortraitLee Sin did get a small buff in 5.16. The previous five patches that he received a balance adjustment before that were nerfs. I am a little puzzled that the assessment is that he is getting unfairly privileged to be at a high power level that is inappropriate. However, I get that he has been at at stable level of power for a long time, and my answer to that is that I think he is a fairly healthy champion. He has a high level of execution required to succeed on the part of the Lee Sin player, he has some major weaknesses (particularly towards the late game), and he has always felt like a somewhat risky pick, even when strong.

I don’t speak for Riot’s future balancing strategy here, but for my 2 cents, Lee is a cool champion that still gives his opponent options when succeeds, which to me is something we can maintain as someone who appears in a lot of games.

In regards to Anivia, I’d ask you a question first – if very few people complained about her, but she was still incredibly powerful, almost unfairly so, should we leave her alone? Would we leave balance decisions up to capturing the tone of broad player perception?

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Follow Up Banner

Riot Jag Final PortraitFor Anivia, the timelines are sorely mismatched here though. We’re not responding to Worlds (that was 2 months ago), we’re responding to preseason.

For Elise, I get that she’s still strong, but by no means has she flown under the radar – she’s been nerfed more than once in the past few months.

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Can you explain the thought process behind changing Anivia Swain and Elise

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Riot Jag Final PortraitI think our data put Anivia going up nearly 4% in win rate with preseason – most likely due to the efficiency of RoA and the addition of Deathfire Touch. That’s a pretty huge change.

With Elise, our changes this year have been intended to balance her as more of a mage threat, not as a tank. The 5.18 and 5.16 changes both hit base damages, not ratios.

Swain is just a tough guy to balance. He’s kind of a drain tank, and he’s largely about dot damage and healing, so nerfing the E seemed like the wrong thing to do there. The effectiveness of his CC seemed out of line with that type of champion, which is why we went with the W. I feel your pain there though, you could make compelling arguments to hit other areas.

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Any thoughts on how the new gold flow affects earlypower Champions

Riot Jag Final PortraitHmm, that’s interesting. I understand that their maximum window of being ahead may be smaller (because gold eventually catches up), but we have put a lot of changes in place in preseason to push forward rewards for early aggression (towers falling faster, Rift Herald, vision changes etc). I think most of our evaluations say that a lot of early-game champions got a big boost since preseason (Shyvana went up in win rate, didn’t she?).

I think there are specific champions like Pantheon that may have some itemization problems. The crew on the Systems team is hard at work on that one.

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Whats your opinion on KhaZixs evolution diversity

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Riot Jag Final PortraitAgree that he’s never really been diverse. There’s almost always one correct path and then a few wrong ones.

We have played with that idea for E before, but it largely resulted in the same thing (one optimal path, this time never with E). I think for Kha’zix’s evolution pathing to be in a state that isn’t solved before game start requires each evolution to power him up along 4 distinct axes/contexts, each of which are likely to change in relative importance within the game. That’s very very hard. Maybe not impossible though.

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What are your thoughts on the current Support ADC relationship

Riot Jag Final PortraitThis is a really interesting one. I think the solo Q Support/ADC relationship and the organized 5v5 Support/ADC relationship are so incredibly far apart they may as well be different games.

What’s really cool about a good duo is that they both have to constantly take “trust falls” in lane to be effective – you have to make a move KNOWING that if you eat a CC your partner will use a summoner at the right time to make sure the play works. The problem is that in solo q the communication is so sparse that this goes wrong fairly often, unless you’re just on the same page because your game knowledge is deep enough (this is one major reason why playing ADC is so painful at lower MMR ranges). There’s nothing worse than having a trust fall where your partner doesn’t catch you, and it can reshape your approach to laning in a very negative way. On the other hand, when two of you are on comms together and perfectly on point, it’s incredibly rewarding and one of the best experiences in League of Legends.

So, to bring it back to the designer’s perspective, where do we want to strengthen the experience? Do we want to create solutions that make a better play experience for the low communication solo queue game? That would lead us to creating mechanics and items that have low coordination requirements, low failure rates, and correspondingly low rewards for success. Do we want to reward the mastery of a competent duo playing properly? Well, then this is a mechanic that has a very limited reach, as the vast majority of players will not be able to enjoy it as consistently. When CertainlyT had to figure out how to balance Kalista’s W passive, or I had to figure out how to reward Zeke’s Harbinger properly, these are some of the things we had to struggle with.

Personally, I’d really love if we made another Conduit-style item like Zeke’s, but opened the space up a bit for different types of duos (maybe a double melee dive buddy item, for instance).

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What are some less commonly cited statistics you guys use to judge balance

Riot Jag Final PortraitA few metrics here that I really like are “win rate by game time” and “average experience level”. The game time graphs will occasionally give us a very sharp idea of where to address a part of the character that is really out of control. For example, pre-5.18 Veigar tended to win a fairly small portion of games that ended at 20 minutes, and a fairly large portion of games that ended at 45+ minutes. After the buffs to his W cast time, we saw a fairly small change at the 45+ minute win rate, but a huge one at 20+ minutes, which was a large indicator to us that we had changed Veigar’s power curve in a way that we were not comfortable maintaining.

That directed us to looking at base damages instead of hitting the cool thing about Veigar that players really loved (the infinite scaling fantasy), and gave us a pretty solid foundation for doing so. The “average experience level” one is one that’s really hard to convey to most players, but it basically indicates that if the vast majority of players on a champion have a huge amount of games under their belt, then we shouldn’t look at a champion’s win rate and be surprised if it’s high. For example (these numbers aren’t accurate, just using them to illustrate), if the average Riven player in your game has 70 games played on the champion, while the average Brand player has 15 games, it wouldn’t be a unfair statement to say that Riven could have a higher average win rate than Brand and still be equally powerful.

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Where do you draw the line between extreme changes and no changes at all

Riot Jag Final PortraitThat’s a tough one. I think for preseason in particular we’re aware that the game is very volatile and unsolved. Optimal item builds can shift (or be nerfed…), certain exploitative strategies may be removed, and most of all, preseason is a time to just have fun and play – so I think we’re reluctant to instantly smack a champion in the face unless they’re fairly far out of line. Which leads me into…

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Why did you nerf hidden OP champions like Malzahar

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Riot Jag Final PortraitA lot of the decisions to nerf the “hidden OP” champs came from being fairly confident that these guys were WAY far out of line. We have a fairly significant amount of data demonstrating that these guys had pretty obscenely high levels of power in this patch.

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Which patch drove the most players away from LoL even temporarily

Riot Jag Final PortraitI don’t know the answer to that question. I can tell you that I felt a lot of the same way as players did in 5.16, that the game felt pretty far off in terms of balance compared to what we’ve done historically. Everyone has taken a hard long at what went right and what went wrong there so we can improve on that in the future, which to me is something that’s cool about how Riot – we definitely have failures, but we do our best to make them mean something positive.

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Whats the state of Bard

Riot Jag Final PortraitOh man, Bard. Rarely do I see data tell me one thing that so heavily disagrees from my personal experience. I honestly feel like a Bard main is absolutely terrifying, but he can so easily cause catastrophic failures for his own team that his effectiveness can vary incredibly hard.

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How do you think the Mandrake Ward will affect Champs like Evelynn

Mandrake Ward 3

[ Note ] The Mandrake ward is an experimental ward on the PBE that gives no vision and only pings you when it detects Champion movement.

Riot Jag Final PortraitI think it would be a fairly good thing for Eve to be honest. I’m not so sure her current form of favored counterplay (Pink ward + ward her jungle camps) is sufficient that we can leave in her tuning in a satisfying place. That’s heavily speculative though.

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INTRO Chris Pwyff Tom Communications dude

Pwyff Final PortraitHi fronds,

Quick introduction here – I’m Pwyff. In previous lives I’ve played video games competitively, ghost-wrote college essays for tuition, wrote terrible movie scripts for free dinners, and did the whole video game journalism / editor-in-chief bit before arriving at Riot Games.

I come from a mixed competitive gaming background of: FPSes (CS 1.6, Natural Selection, TFC), MOBAs (DotA, HoN, Bloodline Champions), and MMORPGs (Ragnarok Online, FFXI, vanilla + TBC WoW), so my favorites tend to fall along those. In between games of League, DotA 2, and Duelyst, I was trying to speedrun Fallout 4 before dropping everything for the new Bloodborne DLC, but did not get very far. I think I rerolled twice, explored fifty million supermarkets, recruited Nick Valentine, decided to forcibly set my carry weight limit to 20,000 so I could hoard more things, realized I opened Pandora’s Box of cheat codes and shortcuts, set my melee stats to five billion, punched a few Deathclaws, and then couldn’t go back to a normal life.

Outside of those things, I read, write, walk, and talk a lot (often at the same time).

I currently own: 0 cats.

WHAT AM I DOING AT RIOT?

A tl;dr would be that I’m a communications lead, working on all things to do with… communicating. One of my first big projects was to improve the way we talk about change in League (particularly in design), and you may have noticed the experiments we’ve run over the years, especially with the patch notes.

These days, I’m focused more broadly on how we talk about what we do and why we do it. With the preseason just shipping and the 2016 season update on the horizon, I’m in the process of helping with our next Riot Pls update, getting this Dev Corner to a functional place, and thinking about what people actually want to hear about.

WHAT AM I GOING TO TALK ABOUT?

I’ll probably use my monthly slot as an open forum to talk about what new things you’d like to hear from other teams. If there’s a pressing topic you’d like to see discussed, feel free to chuck them in and I can understand what we should be thinking – or talking – about. Or if it’s just a miscommunication, I can talk about that as well.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HEAR FROM ME?

Honestly? Let me know. I can tell you stories about life at Riot, or how teams work together, or about the cat I don’t own.

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The Patch Rundowns feel like fluff pieces

Pwyff Final PortraitNah, you’re talking to the right guy. So I’ve got Scarizard directly trying to tackle this issue next year to get the Patch Rundown to a more authentic place.

The question I’d ask is this: what should the patch rundown be for?

Right now I think the larger issue is we have one piece of video content trying to serve multiple purposes, and ultimately failing at all. If I could flip back the curtain, our goals are:

  • Humanize the League design team
  • Discuss contentious changes, show our thought process
  • Engage in a meaningful discussion on changes

For others, however, the patch rundown is seen as a vehicle to communicate what’s changing. Should that be our goal? Are players happier if we just tell them “this is changing and here’s why” a la patch note format, or do they want to see discussion on the topic with people they trust?

This is basically the space we’re grappling with. In an ideal world, I’d love to have two streams of content – one high level TL;DR of the patch notes for quick, easy consumption, and another focused on deeper context.

So what are your thoughts?

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Have Riot considered making a realtime strategy engine for LoLtype games

Pwyff Final PortraitThis is an interesting question.

Up front: I don’t think there are any plans to scope out pets into something deep and expressive. I believe the current view of pet controls is “tolerable,” if not very exciting.

You mention that adding pets / pet controls would add a lot more depth to the game while also offering more avenues of kit ideation (and skill expression), I wonder about that.

You can add any sort of mechanic to a game to make it more ‘complex,’ but good game design is about the right combination of complex mechanics. If CS:GO suddenly added bunny-hopping into the game, it certainly becomes more complex from a movement-shooter based perspective, but it loses out on the type of game it wants to be.

I’m assuming that adding a second unit to control beyond basic movement (aka the current system) will raise the mechanical complexity of the game, but if this assumption is true, should that be where League’s design focus is on? Most designers would say there’s a lot of really cool space to explore with single-champion kits. Perhaps there could be a champion designed with the ‘illusion’ of pet play – maybe a multi-unit champion with pre-defined positioning based abilities (hello, Orianna) – but the better question is what a complex pet system offers over other new systems.

Now that I’ve laid out the conceptual space, I can offer my own opinion.

I think there’s room for some cool pet mechanics in a game like League, but probably not the likes of Chen or Meepo. There’s this concept of transferable skills where if you learn, say, auto-spacing (heh) with Caitlyn, that’s a transferable skill to Jinx. At the very least this allows you to build macro-mastery of League (positioning, map movement, etc) while also investing in the micro-optimizations of a champion.

Looking at other games with pet champions, most characters with engaging multi-unit complexity reward the player for:

  • Cross-map macro play (Meepo teleports and movement)
  • Multi-unit micro-play (SC2 micro)
  • A really annoying radiance bear (Druid)

I do wonder if the skill investment for any of these is so different for League that a champion who rewards players on these axis just makes them a novelty. The issue with novelty champions who reward players on very unique mastery paths is is you end up with massive disparities between the haves and the have nots, and balance becomes a nightmare. Riven is a great example of this. Do we now balance Riven with the expectation that all players have learned to animation cancel? Or do we just allow this one champion who, when fully mastered, has access to more tools and more power than anyone else? I’m not saying Riven is objectively overpowered, but the more unintentional power a champion can access through clever mechanical manipulation, the higher chance a designer just didn’t account for it.

This paints a real black and white picture though. Could the pet system be improved even for the current pet-based champions? Absolutely. Is it an absolute priority for engineering to restructure how unit control occurs within League? I’m not sure.

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Here’s some awesome fan art from this week:

 

Sinful Succulence Morgana by Delectableredz:

sinful_succulence_morgana_by_delectableredz-d9jng70

 

Firecracker & Slayer Jinx by Citemer:

v2PNeoN

 

Demon Vi by muju:

8wwVCWR

 

 


If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at nolchefo@gmail.com.

 

QA New Champ Select banner

[ Note ] You can find a preview of the new Champion Select on the PBE HERE.

 

 

Lyte Final PortraitHey all,

Lyte here. Last week we shared the new champ select for the first time. For the next couple of hours, the design team behind the feature will be here to answer all your champ select questions.

Here’s who’s hanging out with me:

Daniel “ryedan” Balmert, Kam “boourns” Fung, and Eric “Socrates” Kenna. Come ask us anything you want about the design, the visuals, or experience of the new champ select!

EDIT ::: Team’s going to grab some lunch! May drop by here and there to answer some remaining questions. Thanks for stopping by!

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Do you think the visual changes will distract from functionality testing

Lyte Final PortraitWe’re planning some deep dives and behind the scenes looks at the building of the new Champ Select, and our initial testing was actually with these ugly (sorry boourns!) prototypes that just had grey boxes and words. This is called UX lab testing in the games industry, and allows design teams to focus feedback and testing on the actual functional experience of the system and not be distracted by the polish of fancy visuals or animations. It’s only until pretty far in the project until you start adding in the stuff that makes the system look like magic.

The Champ Select quotes being played was actually a spontaneous idea by RiotBahamut. He was tinkering with the Champ Select and thought it would be cool, and the team instantly loved how it felt. We’re aware there could be some trolling or spammy experiences, but we think the overall value would be worthwhile. In fact, we’d love to add some more easter eggs to the system…

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Wont showing what Champ you want to play before bans encourage trolling

Ryedan Final PortraitBans are important. In the live version of Draft, the captain has the opportunity to use 3 bans to troll his teammates. Each ban used to “troll” allies means that some dangerous, high value champ is left on the table. The distribution of bans makes it so when you DO have someone trolling, their power is contained to a single ban.

Also, you don’t have to declare a champion intent if you don’t want. Something I pitched to Lyte was having the 6 roles (Tank, Mage, Assassin, Fighter, Support, Marksman) available in the champion grid as an option instead of declaring a specific champion, so you could be like “We have a Fiddlesticks jungle and we have a Leona bot, I think I should play a fighter top to round out the comp, but I’m not sure which one.”

What do you guys think?

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Follow Up Banner

Lyte Final PortraitActually, we saw something pretty weird in our playtests with Distributed Bans and Pick Intent. Because every single player now has a powerful “choice” in Champ Select (whether it’s a ban, or the top 2 picks), it actually reduced trolling of Pick Intent. So basically, players were far less likely to ban a Pick Intent (unless they thought it was a S-tier champion or something) because they knew that if they pissed off their teammates, their teammates could reverse-troll them with their powerful choice.

If you’re super worried about trolling in Pick Intent either way, you can always let the timer run out and not choose any champs at all and display a blank helmet icon.

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It seems the new Champ Select will make it easier to distribute team roles

Socrates New PortraitOne of our goals with the new champ select was to formalize a lot of communication to make it easier to get on the same page with your team quickly. Ultimately we believe this will let players focus on strategy instead of just trying to figure out positions.

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When will the new Champ Select go live in EUW

Lyte Final PortraitWe’d like to do some pre-season testing on NA and TR first, and if things are going well, we’ll rapidly roll it out globally.

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Why do you do all your testing on NA

Lyte Final PortraitWe see this question a lot, so going to jump in even though it’s late in the thread. When we choose to test new systems and features, it has everything to do with timezone. Although some teams work in multiple offices around the world, 100% of our team works in the LA office which means we prefer to choose a test server that has a timezone that does NOTcompletely wreck our sleep schedules.

You generally want to turn on a new feature or system during off-peak hours, say 6 AM, and then monitor it for about 24 hours at a time. By choosing NA, we can basically wake up and sleep at an OK time which is far less exhausting for the team.

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Could you do a breakdown of how long every step of Champ Select will take

Socrates New PortraitI felt the same way with the old experience, Drafting can feel like it takes a long time and we definitely didn’t want to make it take longer. In our testing so far we’ve seen champ selects move slightly faster. The biggest change that impacts this is requiring champion selections to be locked in instead of it being possible to idle on a champ selection and have it auto lock at the end.

This is what it looks like from old to new:

Old Champ Select:

  • Ban Phase: 60s per ban (360s total)
  • Pick Phase: 60s per pick (360s total) *Remember, 2 players pick at once sometimes
  • Resolution/Trades Phase: 60s
  • Total: 780s potential cap

New Champ Select:

  • Position Assignment: ~4s
  • Planning Phase: ~35s
  • Ban Phase: 40s per ban (240s total)
  • Pick Phase: 40s per pick (400s total)
  • Resolution/Trades Phase: 40s
  • Total: 720s potential cap

The above is subject to changes based on testing.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Will a lobby vote to kick players from Champ Select ever be implemented

Boourns New PortraitWe expect that the new champion select experience will greatly reduce these kinds of situations. We’re going to look at our metrics after release and see if there’s value in attacking the problem more.

That said, we don’t think vote kick is a great way to solve the problem. If we do work around negative champion select behavior it will be more around reporting that behavior after you dodge. Vote kick just has too many negative side effects (it may actually increase bullying of off-meta champion picks for example).

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Will we have the option of creating a custom pool of Champions

Ryedan Final PortraitIt’s always a cost vs benefit issue, but we’re willing to look at the benefit. Something we’ve kicked around is having your top X (5?) played champions stickied to the top of the champion grid (for easy access). We want to use something smart that doesn’t require management, otherwise it’s unlikely to get adopted (and therefore deliver any value) to many players. Item sets are great for power users, but we didn’t see as much use as we thought. It’s great for those couple of people that really use it, but we could have brought something much more useful to more players.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Will we be able to show what Champion we want to play only to teammates

Boourns New PortraitThis is something we’re looking at adding, although I don’t know if it will be in the initial release. Personally I’d love to be able to bring the champion grid back up during picks and bans so I can convey up-to-date information to my team.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 


So is it impossible now to wait the timer out without banning a Champion

Lyte Final PortraitNo, we’ve intentionally removed the ability to let the timer run out to lock in a Pick, or skip a Ban. When you’re in a team with strangers, skipping a ban is a confusing and frustrating experience for the rest of the team (and they often misunderstand it as the Captain being AFK). If you really want the challenge of skipping bans, grab 4 friends and join Dynamic Queue as a Premade of 5 and ban random champions.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

When will the new Champion Select go live

Lyte Final PortraitTo be honest, we’re not sure when we’re going to go live yet. We have some polish we’d like to do, maybe a new feature or two, and have one nasty bug we need to fix before the Ranked 2016 Season. The team would love to do another PBE test, and potentially a roll out to NA and TR before the Ranked 2016 Season begins to iron out any further kinks, but we’re working around the clock right now and it’s hard to predict when each of these pieces will finish.

 

 

Will people be able to see the Masteries of teammates in Champion Select

Lyte Final PortraitRight now, there are no plans to allow everyone to see your Champion Mastery in Champ Select. We may re-visit this in the future though, and would just have to balance out the negative behaviors that were created. For example, in a distant future when we have more than 5 levels of Champion Mastery, maybe we only show Champion Mastery only when you are Level 10 or higher–this is a significant investment, and something “cool” to show you’re a master with a champion.

However, Level 10 might be a lofty, challenging goal. If we decided to show, say Level 2 Champ Mastery or higher, it would create an immediate perception that if you WEREN’T showing Champ Mastery with a champ, that you shouldn’t play Ranked at all. We’re aware some players would love this type of “gate” on who you can play in Ranked, but it’s not something we’re going to consider today because there are more important issues to improve in Ranked Mode.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Will we be able to choose and buy champion ward skins in the new Champ Select

Lyte Final PortraitYes! This is a feature we’re still working on, but didn’t finish by the first PBE release.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

 


Why did you choose the last three people to ban instead of the first three

Lyte Final Portraitboourns remembers the crazy testing we had to do with Distributed Bans. At the beginning, we actually had Players 1, 2, 3, get the bans, then Players 4 and 5 get 1st and 2nd pick. However, this was super confusing to players in the testing because they already had yearsof prior experience of picks “starting” from the top of the team. So, we swapped it the current format where Players 3, 4, 5 get the bans, then we “reset” into Pick Phase and start from the top. This was much clearer for current players of the game, so we stuck with it.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Did you consider adding Summoner Icon Select to the new Champ Select

Lyte Final PortraitThis is a tricky situation. Your summoner icon isn’t really shown in champ select (unless you count the load screen). Let’s be honest – as your ally, I care more about what you’re playing than what your icon is in champ select.

Now, being able to choose icons, ward skins, skins, chromas, finishers etc. all together AFTER I’ve selected my champion is a feature set we’re considering.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Will the new Champ Select replace Team Builder or will it be a separate queue

Lyte Final PortraitWhen we started this project, we always felt like this was the “end-game” of Team Builder. We’re actually considering closing down the old Team Builder queue, and slowly replacing many of the queues with this new Champ Select experience. So, the Ranked 2016 Season will just have this new Champ Select experience as its queue, and in the future, Normal Draft will just be this new Champ Select experience.

[ Link to Post ]

 

Follow Up Banner

Lyte Final PortraitAll the testing so far has suggested that the new Champ Select is the best possible League experience, so we’re considering sunsetting the old Team Builder.

We’d also like to replace some of the other queue experiences (like Normal Draft and Ranked) with this new Champ Select experience.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

What steps are being taken against pre game negativity

Boourns New PortraitThe design of the new champion select experience is specifically aimed at reducing conflict in champion select, we think that setting the right environment up for cooperation and communication is the best safeguard against toxic champion select behavior. Your specific example is incredibly rare, even right now, and if it’s a pattern of behavior that player will already be punished by existing systems.

That said we have some designs in our backlog for reporting pre-game toxicity. We’re going to see how negative behavior in champion select looks after release and decide if it’s valuable to do something like pre-game reports (we’re hoping there will be so little it won’t be necessary).

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Why not let 5 people pick 5 bans instead of only giving 3 bans to 3 players

Ryedan Final PortraitOne other reason is because it would make it harder for fresh level 30s to transition into ranked. You need to own 10 (# players in game) + 6 (# of bans) champions. Newer players would be forced to unlock 20 total champions (instead of 16), which might deter more people from trying it.

That’s in addition to the other diversity reasons.

[ Link to Post ]

 

Follow Up Banner

Isnt it a good thing to restrict Ranked to level 30players only

Ryedan Final PortraitThere’s no such thing as “not ready for ranked” as far as skill. The spectrum of Bronze to Challenger covers everyone. The reason we have the level 30 cap is to make sure you’re not playing against people who have access to raw stat advantages over you.

I don’t know what the plans are regarding increasing the ban count, but it’s a heavy issue. If you could ban 5 chess pieces, we’d have all pawns. On the flip side, zero bans means that the absolute best options will be picked 100% of the time, leading to stagnation in picks (first pick always gets queen).

You need to maintain a comfortable amount of bans that permits something powerful left on the board, while still allowing the player-base to deny commonly accepted “OP” picks. You need fewer bans than “must picks” in order for bans to mean anything, otherwise it’s just a false choice.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

So its possible that 5 strangers can be matched against 5 premades

Boourns New PortraitWe prioritize matching the same size groups against each other. It may happen that a premade 5 gets matched against solos, but it should be very rare based on our simulations using live data. We’ll know more when we look at real matches post release. If it’s happening too often we’ll take measures to make sure we’re getting fair matches.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Is it possible to pass the ban to someone else or just skip a ban

Ryedan Final PortraitI like the idea in principal – both sides still get the same ban # and everyone is happy. However, I think this goes against one of our pillars when re-designing the champion select screen – Clarity on what’s happening now and who’s going next. If people can pass on bans, shuffle them down and move actions around, it gets hard for someone to understand what’s going on. For example, who gets your ban? how many seconds do you have to discard your ban? If a person thinks they aren’t banning then suddenly they are “granted” a ban, it might be weird.

If you don’t know who to ban or don’t care, ban Yorick. It will make Lyte mad because he likes to play him.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Youre forcing one trick ponies in Ranked to climb using at least two roles

Lyte Final PortraitThis is a pretty common misunderstanding in Ranked play today. On average, players are only proficient at about 2.2 positions today. In fact, as you go higher in skill, you become more specialized in particular positions. However, we have some ideas to actually encourage players to master multiple positions beyond 2, and potentially reward players for truly being a master of all positions in League.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

How does the new system distribute players who picked the same roles

Boourns New PortraitIf you’re in a premade party the system prevents this. You must have party size + 1 unique positions selected. So if you’re duo you can’t go bot/supp, supp/bot. Instead you must have one more unique position.

If you’re soloing the system will prefer to give you your primary choice when possible.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

What if your pick order was based on the team role you picked

Boourns New PortraitWe wouldn’t do pick order based on your position because it would betray to the other team where each champion was going. This was something we looked at earlier, but didn’t do because part of the strategic fun of draft is being able to fake out the other team with a flex pick like lulu. By having assigned positions we already think it will be likely that you will get the champion you want even if you’re last pick. BTW last pick also has power because it allows you to counter-pick your lane matchup.

[ Link to Post ]

 

 

Heres a suggestion can you let us communicate during Loading Screen

Boourns New PortraitRegarding loading screen chat: you’re not the only one who would love that feature! It’s difficult to do because, frankly, there’s not a lot loaded in the loading screen (including chat)! 😀 There are no shortage of people here who would love to see it happen, it just hasn’t so far.

[ Link to Post ]

 



If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at nolchefo@gmail.com.


Skins Concept Team QA Banner


The awesome guys and gals working on bringing you splash arts, skins and visual updates have hosted a Q&A session on the forums! I’ve taken their replies and have split them into sections for ease of reading. Enjoy!

 

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[ Dragowynd ] What is the general process from the idea to the finished skin?

 

Riotlink Button RiotPenguin: No problem!

So the general skins processes looks something like this:

Ideation/Concept: So we start with a wide spread of quick sketches that could work for a given thematic. Once we have a direction we are excited about, we refine it down until we have a clear, final 2D concept, complete with abilities, etc.

3D/Rigging: Now that we have a concept, it’s off to the 3D guys to build out the concept, texture it, and prepare it for the tech artists integrate into the game.

Animation/VFX/SFX: Now that the character is running around, the animators, VFX, and SFX artists start working their magic to really bring the skin to life

QA/PBE: Once the art side of things is complete, the skin is tested, vetted, and sent to PBE, before being green lit and shipped live!

Even though each step is done by a different discipline, the entire process is highly collaborative – so it’s always a back and forth, and no one person is solely responsible for any one element 🙂

Duration of each step changes based on the complexity of the skin, but it generally takes about two weeks for each step (concept, 3D, animation, VFX, SFX, QA, etc.)

 

 

[ Cero0o ] What’s the very beginning of the conceptualization process like? Do you find yourself working more from trope ideas, basic visuals of what a possible skin could look like, or perhaps maybe just trying to fill in the blanks as far as characteristics of certain champions go? 

 

Riotlink Button RiotPenguin: So in general we start with a loose concept and a broad spectrum of possible ideas, and then narrow the design down as the team hones in on elements they are excited about.

But in general, each artist has their own way of approaching concepts. I like to start with really quick speed sketches, I know Bravo Ray prefers really clean linework from the beginning, and Zeronis sacrifices to the dark heathen gods of old, to absorb the souls of other artists and keep him young. So…you know, to each his own.

 

 

[ CaptainMårvelous ] Has there ever been an amazing concept or idea that you put aside because of a champion VU or said champion having too many skins?

 


Riotlink Button RoadKillsRevenge
: We go as deep as possible, so yeah, for someone like Heimerdinger we would also sketch ideas for his turrets, and other abilities.

 

 

[ CaptainMårvelous ] How deep does your concept art go? Do you make a skin and be done with it or go further with example particles and the like?

 


Riotlink Button RoadKillsRevenge
: We go as deep as possible, so yeah, for someone like Heimerdinger we would also sketch ideas for his turrets, and other abilities.

 

 

[ CaptainMÃ¥rvelous ] Say I have a skin concept but I’m not artist. Do you guys only look at concepts if they’re drawn up or do you read everything in the realm of skin ideas?

 


Riotlink Button RoadKillsRevenge
: It definitely doesn’t need to be a great piece of artwork to sell an idea for a skin. We get ideas from every department in the company as well as fans which could be quick little sentence, to goofy photobashes, terrible ms paints, etc. Its all good.

 

 

[ Reventón ] Have you planned to do a new “collection” like the Pentakill and Dragonslayer one ?

 

Riotlink Button TheBravoRay: Yes we would love to explore more five man comps and team based thematics.

 

 

[ Cero0o ] How did Primetime Draven start out?

 

Riotlink Button RiotPenguin: So we explored a lot of different “Shoutcaster” themed skin ideas for different champions, and Draven was the one that really stood out from the bunch because. You know. DRAAAAVEN 😉

 

 

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[ Lord Graves III ] Why do characters who have many skins get more skins and champs who have few (if any past release skins) get passed over?

 

Riotlink Button RiotMindbullets: 

  • First and foremost, for every skin, we want an awesome idea. Champions like Urgot and Malzahar are examples of champions we continue to ideate on, but just haven’t come up with that knock-out idea yet.

  • We definitely look at champions without many skins or that haven’t gotten anything in a while. This is something that’s on our minds at all times–Rumble FINALLY got a skin this year, but we took our time to make sure it was the right one. And we’ve got Skarner on our radar, we just want to make sure we get them something they deserve.

  • Complexity of a champion can impact our ability to make something we feel is awesome too. Champions like Kha’Zix and Zac are awesome, but they’re a little more complex to make skins for so it takes us some extra time to sort out some of the issues. Zyra/Rumble were in this category as well. We’re really happy with the way Graveyard Zyra and Super Galaxy Rumble came out, but they encountered a bunch of road bumps along the way. They were totally worth overcoming, but we need to make sure we leave room to conquer those challenges effectively.

  • Popularity does factor in, but it’s not the only factor. There are a lot of variables that go into our champion selection, including time from the last skin the champ has received (as mentioned above!), number of skins the champ has so far, upcoming relevant holidays and events, and many more! We also have to balance this with what some of the other teams are working on too—occasionally, we’ll be ideating on a champ internally that’s getting a VU soon, so we’ll coordinate with the other team to maximize our efforts.

Popularity is just one thing that helps us understand what you guys as players are finding most relevant to League at the time. Sometimes, we’ll come up with an incredible idea that trumps this as well. Again bringing up Rumble here—he was way towards the bottom of most played champions. When we feel like we’ve got a killer idea we want to get it to players that play that champion, even if they aren’t popular at the time.

As a Malzahar main I know what it’s like to wait a while for a skin; it’s tough. We want to try to minimize this as much as possible, but unfortunately sometimes it doesn’t work out. Main thing I’d like to get across is that just because a skin hasn’t come out doesn’t mean we’ve given up! We’re usually working through the issues we encounter to try to get some awesome stuff out to people who play that champion as quickly as possible.

 

 

[ KaidenTL ] Are you guys currently working on the next ultimate skin?

 

Riotlink Button RiotMindbullets: We’ve got an idea and we’re definitely working on how to make it happen. It’s totally fun but a lot of work.

We want to blow everyone away with our next one, but unfortunately no hints or clues to leak just yet!

 

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[ Cero0o ] What goes into the translation from splash art into the actual in game model? It’s very interesting to see the relation between 2D and 3D, so how much do the two tend to work off each other, and in what direction?

 

Riotlink Button RiotPenguin: Actually the splash art is one of the later steps in the process. The splash art starts once the model and abilities are all in progress, so the splash artist can get a full understanding of how the skin will look and feel in game. Then they roll all that together, and try and really capture the mood of the skin in one snapshot of glory!

 

[ CaptainMÃ¥rvelous ] What’s the most challenging skin you guys have worked on?

 


Riotlink Button RoadKillsRevenge
: The ultimates like Pulsefire Ezreal and Spirit Guard Udyr stand out in memory partly because the extra features they have but also because theres a lot more eyes and feedback on a skin when you go for that higher level.

 

 

[ CaptainMårvelous ] Why the lack of finished skin lines?

 


Riotlink Button RoadKillsRevenge
: Tell us which skin lines you aremost interested in seeing more of! We don’t really set out to make each skin theme a full team but if we see a cool opportunity and we think it will have a lot of community excitement then hells yeah.

 

 

[ Felvyne ] Do you take community’s fanmade skins as a base sometimes or only when they are really popular?

 

Riotlink Button TheBravoRay: We are always reading the forums for great ideas. If one is really strong, we try to analyze the concept, figure out why it is working and where areas it is not.

This does not mean has to be the most popular, just that the thematic can work well for that champion.

 

 

[ The Soulful ] What are some of the hardest champs to give skins for?

 

Riotlink Button RiotZeronis: Champions with a lot of assets like Zyra. Even Zac because of the complexity of his animation.

 

Riotlink Button Riot Whist:  Champions with multiple forms is the easy answer here.

Champions like Shyvanna are essentially double the work to create one skin.

 


Riotlink Button RoadKillsRevenge
: To me the most challenging champs are ones that are small and slender and share similar body shapes to other champs. It can be tough to make them dramatically different enough to be exciting while still retaining the recognizability of the character. Someone like Fiora for instance can be tough because she doesn’t take up much visual space in game and if you make too dramatic a change to her costume she starts to be hard to recognize. Someone like Alistar on the other hand, you can do a lot too and hes so big in game it feels like it has a dramatic impact.

 

 

[ Ormlin ] How long does it take to design a skin from start to finish?

 

Riotlink Button RiotZeronis: It really depends on the amount of assets that the champion has and the tier of the skin. 2 weeks is sort of the average time it takes to complete a concept before production. Legendary and Ultimate generally takes longer than that.

 

Riotlink Button RiotZeronis: It really depends on the tier of the skin and complexity of the skin. Champions with tons of model assets like Zyra would take longer than that since she has plants, seeds, and a lot of particles to re-concept for the skin.

 

 

[ Fridgecake ] How often do you see a skin on the various sites out there and think “That’s an amazing idea for a Skin, but we’ve just not got the time”?

 

Riotlink Button RoadKillsRevenge: That happens a lot. I don’t think we will run out of ideas anytime soon.

 

[ Hellioning ] Are we going to get more silly skins soon?

 

Riotlink Button Paulewog: I haven’t been at riot too long but since I’ve been here it seems we sometimes have “seasons” In which we inspire each other to create more of a certain type of skin; however, while we are doing some pretty bad-ass skins lately we as a team definitely embrace that skin lines like pool-party, snowdown, and gentlemen hold a very special place in players (as well as our own) hearts. This season is certainly is not the last of those laughter inducing troll-fests!

 

 

[ Synval ] How far can a skin go from the base champion model? How do you decide what is necessary to be copied over to every skin?

 

Riotlink Button RiotMindbullets: One of the most important things is a champion silhouette. As long as the champion is still recognizable, we can break out of traditional design, but it is very much a gut check. The goal when making a skin is to find out what, at a glance, screams “this is ‘x’ champion” and try to play up those elements. The thing we really try hard to avoid is having the instant reaction of “Wait, who is this again?” because that is very detrimental to gameplay.

One of the tricks the team uses is to squint at the screen so that you can’t make out fine details and see if you can still recognize the champion. When we can add interest with things that thematically make sense like the winter Scarf on the new Varus skin then we’re all for it as long as it helps them pass the test!

 

 

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[ mcg1986 ] What are some things to keep in mind when sending in your portfolio for potential employment? 

 

Riotlink Button RiotPenguin: It’s important to remember that it’s not all about pretty details. You can be able to paint photorealistically, but if your characters/environments don’t tell a compelling story, no amount of detail will keep people interested. It’s the difference between a game you play once, and a game you keep coming back to years later. Obviously there’s a professional quality bar you need to be able to hit, but you also need to be able to demonstrate that you can think beyond badass dudes with spiky armor and huge swords. What’s that dudes story? Why does he look the way he does? What’s the interesting twist that you haven’t seen in a movie/game before?

 

 

[ mcg1986 ] Do you look for a wide range of skills or someone with more concentrated talents?

 

Riotlink Button RiotPenguin: Having a wide set of skills certainly doesn’t hurt, but ONLY if you have a very clear strong, central focus. A wide range of styles will for sure help give you an edge over someone who only does one thing…but if that other dude’s one thing is a lot stronger than any of your diverse styles, he still has a better chance of getting hired.

 

 

[ mcg1986 ] What were your paths that lead you in to your current positions with Riot?

 

Riotlink Button RiotPenguin: I got an under grad in Digital Media, and then grad school for Computer Science, which gave me the background I needed to start doing contract work – But what actually got me HIRED was demonstrating my ability to solve complex design problems quickly, and be a positive person to work with 🙂

 

 

[ mcg1986 ] Any pointers for professional freelancers looking to get their feet wet in studio work?

 

Riotlink Button RiotPenguin: Don’t be afraid to start small, and do something that isn’t exactly your ‘favorite’ thing. There is a LOT you can learn and experience by interning at a smaller, more flexible studio, that you may not get from starting somewhere larger more established. With smaller teams, each person has more responsibility, and you have more opportunities to interface with other types of developers. I personally spent my first year at riot working on things that had nothing to do with character design, and only joined Skins later, and I learned a TON from it.

And ultimately the most important thing to remember, and I cannot stress this enough, is It’s about WHAT you do, not WHERE you do it! – You will be dedicating tens of thousands of hours to this craft, so make sure you are doing it because you LOVE it, not because you think it sounds cool to work at a big name video game company. Jobs come and go, but as the saying goes…if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life 😀

 

 

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[ Siachi ] Are there any particular skins you feel very proud of designing?

 

Riotlink Button Paulewog: Another tough question,

I enjoyed the opportunity to work on Heart-seeker Ashe the most! the tone of the skin was definitely not subject matter I would normally be into drawing but that’s what made the challenge so fun! Seeing great cosplays of the skin was one of the most rewarding experiences here at Riot for me!

 

 

[ kry0gen ] Have you considered doing cursor skins?

 

Riotlink Button Riot Whist:  I can’t say I’ve ever heard anybody talk about cursor skinning but I’ll be sure to mention it if we ever move forward on ideas like UI skins!

 

 

[ BobtehN8b ] Have any of you guys ever made a skin out of pure humour/interest with no intention on releasing it? 

 


Riotlink Button RoadKillsRevenge
: Someday, Blind Funk, Someday….

 

 

[ zQ fRZZ ] Have you ever thought about a “Rodeo” skin for Thresh?

 

Riotlink Button RiotMindbullets: Pretty sure this idea came up in one of our sessions where just come up with what we think are cool skin ideas for a champion. It’s a pretty cool idea. Not sure if it’s one we’ll actually make (maybe we’ve found something we think Thresh players will think is even better 🙂 ) but we’ve thought of it!

 

 

And that’s all!

 

 

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at nolchefo@gmail.com.