Red Post Collection: gypsylord working on champion after Braum, Pantheon Ult & Mecha Kha'Zix bugs, and more.

Posted on at 12:15 AM by Moobeat
Tonight's red post collection features a lengthy discussion with gypsylord - the designer behind both Vi and Jinx - where he discusses champion development and that he's working on the next champion after Braum! You'll also find a heads up on current bugs for both Pantheon and Mecha Kha'zix, and more!
Continue reading for more info!

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Let's Chat with gypsylord

Gypsylord, the champion designer behind both Vi and Jinx, hosted a small thread on the forums to chat with summoners and answer questions - including mention he's working on the next champion after Braum!
"Hey GD, 
It's been waaaaaay too long since I've posted so thought I'd hop on the forums for the afternoon and chat with you guys. 
For those of you who don't know me, I'm RiotGypsy and I work on the Champion team. Was Jinx and Vi's mechanics designer. Anything on your mind?"
[ Note: I've organized these questions and answers by topic!  ] 

Personal


When asked how he came in possession of Teemo as his LoL forums icon, gypsylord explained:
"Hai :D I love Teemo. When I started at Riot he had just gotten his new splash and I was the first guy to ask for it as my avatar."

gypsylord also explained when in his life he joined Riot and, by request, his living accommodations.
"I started at Riot right out of college so I was very excited to make the move. That said I'm a little sad because my family lives in Alaska so it's not the easiest thing in the world to go see them :/

I think Culver City has cheaper rents...Honestly not too sure. I was lucky enough to be offered the third spot in Statikk and Jatt's apartment right when I was about to start looking for housing so I've never really had to research the market."

As for the part about his job as a designer that he next expected, he noted:
"I never expected to still be enjoying my job as much as I do after a year and a half. I seriously have never once looked at the clock and wished the day would be over faster so I could go home (something I did almost daily at my jobs and internships in college). Making champions is incredibly engaging to me and the other designers are a joy to be around. Sometimes we'll just stay at the office till 2 am talking about cool mechanics."

Next Champion


When asked for any hints on a new champion, gypsylord teased:
"I'm on the one after Braum :) I'm hoping you guys will like him. Still a ways off though."
He continued, replying to someone asking if this next champion will be a jungler:
"Well Vi was for top lane and on release she was stronger in the jungle. 
Then Jinx was for bot lane and on release she was so strong that she could pretty much play all 5 positions.

Who knows what could happen D:"

Champion Development


When  asked what he does as a designer, gypsylord replied:
"Mostly mechanics. I'm primarily responsible for a character's kit. That said, I work closely with writers and concept artists (Zeronis, TeaTime, Harrow, and Ransom to name a few) to help suss out who exactly it is we're creating in terms of theme and story."

As for his favorite champion to design, he noted:
"To answer your question, Jinx was a passion project of mine (over a year in the making) and I was very happy to get her out with the weapon swap working. I think her laning phase is a bit too strong on live right now but I'm generally happy with what she's doing in the mid and late game."

gypsylord also shared a bit about how he goes about creating a champions kit, using the development of Jinx as an example:
"Well ideally a champion's art, theme, and gameplay all intersect in a perfect triangle of cohesiveness. A lot of my work on Jinx was focused on making her a "Psycho Arsenal." I was asking questions like, "How do I make a player feel like they've got ALL THE GUNS?," and "Does she feel crazy enough?" 
This is where stuff like the weapon swap and passive came in. Jinx has a gun/weapon on every button. That was intentional because GUNS. Jinx is a high energy individual who blows up buildings just to see the cool explosions. This is one of the reasons her passive interacts with towers. I wanted players to feel like this destructive menace that brings cities down around her if not contained. 
Sometimes gameplay will also ask things of creative and art. A talking point during Jinx's development was, "What kind of crazy is she?" I wanted to create this ADC who's always running around playing catch-me-if-you-can just on the edge of your reach, and so I worked with Ransom and TeaTime to ensure that the character made sense for that type of gameplay. Jinx's isn't a bloodthirsty "stab you in the back and drink your blood" serial killer partially because that's not the type of gameplay an ADC like her has in the game. That's more suited to a melee assasin (Shaco) or a stealthy dude like Twitch. Instead we went with the more manic, happy, and high adrenaline version of Jinx where she's blowing stuff up because it's fun as hell and if people die in the explosions then "Meh, my box of care is totally empty." That type of theme is more suited to Jinx's target-taking ADC playstyle.

So yeah TLDR it's a team effort. I make the kit, but that doesn't mean I'm not trying to be creative. I constantly try to mesh the character's personality into the skills I script up."

As for the slower release schedule for new champions, he shared a few reasons:
"3 major reasons for this: 
1. We deliberately wanted to slow down champion releases. 2 champs a month was way too much to take in and was starting to crowd out the champ pool. Are we going a bit slower than we like currently? Possibly, but I'd doubt we'd want go back to shipping more than 12 a year at max. 
2. Resources are getting shifted to other things. Reworks for example. We've got artists, modelers, designers, and writers working on bringing our older champs up to snuff with the new roster (both mechanically and thematically). When we eventually rework Sion that's pretty much a new champion.

3. As quality of champions goes up time to produce does as well. You take a champion like Yasuo and compare the quality of his particles, animations, VO, story, and promo materials to something we released a few years ago (Brand for example)and the difference is just massive. Seriously, the guy freaking SHEATHS HIS SWORD. Super cool."

gypsylord also shared some of the in development code names for various champions:
"Oh this is a fun one. 
Braum - Angus (I called him this at least, can't remember the actual working title. He had a lot of names)
Vel'Koz - Professor EyeBeam
Yasuo - Wind Samurai
Jinx - Psycho Arsenal
Lucian - Gun Templar
Aatrox - Darkin Blade
Lissandra - Lissandra
Zac - Blob
Quinn - Falconer
Thresh - Chain Warden
Vi - Piltover Enforcer
Nami - Mermaid
Zed - ? Shadow Ninja ? (not sure on this one)
Elise - Spider Queen
Kha'Zhix - Teek
Rengar - Wrengar

That's all I've got"

When asked how much effort goes into considering a champions abuse cases during development, he noted:
"We think a lot about that stuff. The key thing to ask about abuse cases is whether or not this is a place of power the champion should have. Many champions do something abusive, you just need to make sure its the right something. Ezreal being king of poke and mobility? Abusive but cool and appropriate. It'a his niche. Ezreal being king of dueling with an AoE AS debuff? Abusive and probably not okay for the guy considering the other things he's good at."

As for compensation buffs for nerfs, gypsylord explained:
"The idea of giving compensation buffs every time you nerf is silly to me. Sometimes characters are just too strong. In Teemo's case his shroom danage was too oppressive in the late game so we hit the AP ratio. Is Teemo still viable? Yes. Does he still lay minefields all over the map? Yes. Do they one shot you? No. We toned down a BS part of his pattern and left behind a strong character that still feels unique and powerful."

Thoughts on Balance 


When asked about his thoughts about Zac and why Gragas's E is stopped by minions, gypsylord commented:
"Yeah Zac may be a tad weak right now. We're looking at tank junglers as a whole right now and trying to think about ways to help them out. No guarantees anything will come of it, but it is being thought about. Zac did just get a minor "buff-fix" in 4.7 in that his % max health damage was always calculating off of jungle monster's level 1 health and didn't scale up vs. them as the game progressed. Should have a better mid-late game clear now. 
Reason Gragas stops on minions is to gate his laning. He's got a lot of ranged harass with Q and if he manages to get to you with W up he chunks you. Being able to stand behind minions offers a big of counter-play.

Loving the job thanks for asking :D Feels good to make things that bring joy and excitement to millions of people around the world. You guys are why I go in on the weekends <3."

Following up on his earlier comments about Jinx being a little to strong, he replied to a summoner suggesting making her Q mana cost start out high and slowly go down with rank:
"We tried that during development. I'd rather just cut power from other places (base AD, E mana cost, and R point blank damage to name a few). I want to keep Jinx's rockets and minigun strong as swapping between them at the right times throughout the entire game is one of the core things that Jinx players should be focusing on and learning. I wouldn't want to discourage swapping by making rockets overly punishing in lane and in addition a scaling down mana cost doesn't help if she manages to get ahead."


When asked about his thoughts on Feral Flare, he explained:
"IMO the problem with flare is that the statement "if you do nothing but farm your Jungle you will be rewarded" being true is not good for our game. 
Here's the thing. It's not cool to be stomped into the ground by someone you are not able to see gaining power. When a Jax and Renekton lane against each other and the Jax wins lane and stomps the game the Renekton player and his team are going to be somewhat understanding of that. They think, "Oh Renekton got outplayed by Jax, that's why we lost. If Renekton had done better in lane things would have come out differently." They attribute Jax's success to actions he took in game that they feel should cause him to win (killing Renekton). 
When a Lee Sin and Yi jungle against each other and Lee Sin ganks all the lanes and gets all the kills but then still loses to the Yi who was completely off the map AFK farming for 30 minutes Lee's team doesn't feel like they got outplayed. They think, "Wow even with our Lee Sin doing so well we still lost to this Yi who did nothing. This is stupid. What could we have done to prevent that?" Even though the Yi was "winning" by afk farming it felt like he was losing for the entire game until he came out of the jungle and killed everyone. No one feels good about that. The enemy team thinks they got cheesed by something out of their control and Yi's team probably felt horrendous fighting a 4v5 for most of the game.

We may have nerfed flare too hard but I like the direction of the changes that focus it more as a continuous and gradual source of power and income with the added incentive to gank more (thanks to kills and assists giving stacks). Feral junglers need to come out of the jungle sometimes to show the enemy team how powerful they are."

Unused Champion Ideas


When asked if he had any ideas for a champion who has a permanent pet, he noted:
"I've wanted to make an engineer with a pet robot that follows her around for a while now. The idea would be the robot fights for her while she constructs things to help it out. Robot would keep her alive and she'd do the same for it. Possibly you could swap control between the 2 at will :X

If only LoL's pet system was more accessible. Also I suck at AI QQ"
On a similar note, he also shared an ability idea he's been trying to find a home for:
"Designers have a lot of cool ideas and (sadly) most will never make it live.

I've wanted to do a character with a flight passive where you gain MS while moving until you eventually "Take off." Then you soar around the map super fast and can divebomb people with your next attack. Would be super fun but have not yet found the supporting kit or character to put it on."

~:~

He ended the night's conversation with:
"Kk folks has been 3 hours and Starving Yordle needs food badly. 
Super sorry if I didn't get to one of you. I'm just one guy and there's a ton of posts :( . Will try to hop on the forums more often in the future provided champ #3 isn't causing me to freak out.

Have a great weekend and enjoy All Stars!"

Flame Chompers targeting.

In response to a question asking why Jinx's Flame Chompers aren't vector targeted, Gypsylord commented:
"I tried this at one point during Jinx's development by making Chompers vector targeted (like Rumble R). Ran into 2 problems: 
1. Allowing Jinx to place her mines in a line extending from her was quite powerful, especially as a defensive move. A big reason Kog's Void Ooze line slow is so good is because he can run along it after placing it and create a large area where melee champs trying to chase him down get CC'd (they have to run in a straight line). Chompers are already pretty powerful in their best case (up to 3 target hard CC on an ADC basic) and one of Jinx's intended weaknesses is that she tends to die when dived on. Adding more kiting power to chompers didn't seem like a good idea.

2. Vector targeting is super awkward and the majority of players struggle to use it effectively due to the number of button presses and mouse movements it requires. If you've ever seen a failed Rumble R you'll know what I'm talking about. I prefer to avoid it unless I feel it's hands down the best way to make a skill. (I'd put it on a tripwire you place in the jungle for example. Would be easier to execute since the skill would mostly be used out of combat.)"

Pantheon Ult Bug on Live

Dragonslayer Pantheon, an upcoming skin added in patch 4.7
A  few astute summoners have noticed that Pantheon's ultimate is acting a little strange since the 4.7 patch, carrying a much longer landing time.

Riot Draggles responded to the thread, nothing the bug/change as logged:
"Hmm, thanks for spotting this, I'll escalate this right now and report back when I have more info."
He continued:
"Not sure if it's intended or a bug, but either way it's now been logged; the tooltip doesn't match the game so something's going on!"

Pwyff also stepped in to comment on the bug and the hostile title of "Riot ninja nerfing to sell Dragonslayer Pantheon":
Thread got forwarded to me and I'll ask the team to look into it. 
As a side note, even if this was detected to be an unintentional ship, the process to deploy even a single change to millions of players is slightly more complicated than flipping a switch, so it might be a little while to hit this. In other words, bumping the thread nonstop after we've confirmed we'll be tracking it down may not be the best use of your time :) 
As an additional side note, can I just mention something? For some reason it feels like you're going out of our way to assume negative intentions, even when there's never been precedent. Given that we've never 'stealth nerfed' a champion (that's an insane gamble for player trust) to sell anything, but we've shipped a lot of accidental nerfs / buffs over the years, I find it hard to jump to the conclusion that this is the time we switched our mindset. 
If this was indeed an unintentional ship, the other thing I'd apply is Hanlon's Razor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon's_razor), but maybe a little nicer on calling us stupid. I'd say more like occasionally careless, but I'd also counter that with the fact that the ecosystem of League's code is incredibly complex. There are millions of different unrelated dependencies, so changing one thing can have unintended consequences on others. As a great example, when we shipped our global +4 armor to all champions to compensate for the armor rune nerfs, a few champions who were getting skins / model changes (Twitch) ended up shipping without the armor buffs because their code dependencies forced the old armor values. No malicious intent anywhere - just a lot of change. 
The skins team loves to make skins, and the gameplay team strives to ensure the live game is healthy at all levels. The only major times those teams jump together to coordinate a skin launch is when we're trying to ensure no major champion updates hit after a skin launch (and that's so it doesn't lead to massive player confusion). Outside of that, it's just not player focused to be trying to maintain a live game ecosystem while also trying to maintain some kind of skin launch cadence. So we don't do it. And you can see this in the times we blatantly nerf a champion as a skin is coming out (sometimes it gets tragically coincidental and I get headaches).

Just throwing my two cents out there. I realize I'm not going to convince everyone with these kind of things, but pleasant conversations are nice :) 
Also I'll pass along the Quinn stuff. There are a few comments I'm noticing with models getting locked in certain directions while casting spells but that might be a bigger problem to tackle. Also I realize AD Malzahar is a thing, but it's also a very weird niche thing that requires high-level knowledge of Malzahar to pull off. Promoting AD ratios might give it more visibility and honestly just cause confusion. For all of the above, there also comes a cost of prioritization. Every change we make is potentially a different change we can't make. Even if we hire more coders, the fact is we have one kitchen and if we cook a billion things at a time with a billion chefs, we're going to get our orders crossed up. 
I lost track of that analogy, but the TLDR here is that trying to maintain a healthy balance of good changes to the ecosystem of the game without running into bugs with too many changes (see above re: millions of code dependencies) is a delicate act. This is true of any game. Quinn may be an easy fix, but if there are some deeper issues that require an entire code refactor of several abilities, it does come to prioritizing what we can fix short term / long term without also not fixing other emergent problems.

Mecha Kha'Zix bugs

Speaking of bugs, Riot Baconhawk also swooped on to the forums to confirm a bug with Mecha Kha'Zix's isolation vfx:
"Hey guys, thanks for the report. We'll look into this.

Promise, we aren't nerfing the awesome Mecha isolation targeting reticle ;__;"
She continued:
"Just an update: Looks like we are changing stuff ~ the ground particle indicates *new isolation range. The sound *and the overhead particle look to be missing. I've brought this to the team and we are looking into it.

Thanks for the report!!"

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