Red Post Collection: Context on Braum 4.11 changes, Meddler on Zilean/Poppy/Viktor, IronStylus Grab Bag, and more!

Posted on at 4:08 AM by Moobeat
This morning's red post collection features Meddler with context on the upcoming 4.11 changes to Braum, as well as info on the rework status of Zilean, Poppy, and Viktor! You'll also find a grab bag of posts from IronStylus, including a concept art for Lunar Goddess Diana, his thoughts on interacting on the forums, an explanation on the recent changes to Pentakill Mordekaiser, and a small teaser on the Sion VU!
Continue reading for more information!



Braum changes in 4.11

Meddler has posted up context on a few Braum changes coming in patch 4.11 as well as an explanation on why Braum has bonus magic damage on his passive from a design perspective:
"The primary reason we added bonus magic damage to Braum's passive was because we wanted an additional damage source on his kit, one that scaled over the course of the game in particular. Champions that receive almost all of their kit's damage via a single spell (e.g. Zilean) generally end up with unhealthy and unsatisfying power curves. They tend to bully early and then falling off rapidly post level 9, even if they're supports and damage isn't their primary contribution. As a melee tank support we also wanted to ensure Braum's presence, post passive proc, had a bit of extra threat beyond just his auto attacks, hence the bonus magic damage from him per attack after the stun. 
As far as Braum's balance goes we agree he's too strong at the moment. We're looking at a couple of changes to his passve for the next patch, reducing the duration of the mark to make it a little easier to drop the stacks off as an opponent and reducing the starting damage as well to address his early power in lane (40+10 per level from memory, instead of 60+10 per level, though not certain on those figures off the top of the head)."
As for the effect of the mark duration nerf, he elaborated:
"Mark duration has a significant impact on Braum's odds of triggering a stun on a target. Certainly, if Braum and his ally/allies are all attacking a target consistently it doesn't mater much, in situations with allies needing to move in to get into attack range to follow up on a Braum Q, enemies with abilities that allow them to partially disengage, Braum/his allies getting CCd etc however the duration's an important part of the spell's power.

As a side note, throwing around insults like that makes it extremely tempting to just ignore whatever you've got to say. Was sad to see you go from a really valid question that should be part of a good discussion straight into direct attacks and insulting questions."

Post 4.10 ADC Commentary 

When asked how ADCs are shaping up after the patch 4.10 itemization changes and if there are any plans for followup nerf/buffs, Meddler noted:
"We're keeping a really close on eye on Caitlyn at the moment just in case, with the itemization changes and likely nerfs to Lucian, she ends up too dominant. Might not happen, definitely want to have a plan in place should it do so though. Beyond that bit early to single out individual ADCs to give power to until the dust settles a bit on recent changes. Would love to give Ezreal a more satisfying W at some point though, completely agree, just wouldn't want to do so in a way that required removal of power that's currently healthy and satisfying from elsewhere on the kit."

Meddler on Zilean, Poppy, & Viktor

Meddler also answered questions on reworks or planned changes for Zilean, Poppy, and Viktor!
When asked if Zilean is still up for a rework, Meddler commented yes but it won't be coming this year.
"Yeah, we'd like to rework Zilean's kit at some point and that would definitely include making better use of the time mage archetype, it's a really rich space. Won't be this year at the least though, there are other reworks (visual only like Karthus, gameplay only like Nidalee and full relaunches like Sion) we've already got in progress or planned."
He continued:
"We were considering Zilean for this year at one point, eventually opted to focus on other champs first. Poppy we are looking at right now, really early stages stuff though to see what potential's there, so neither guaranteed to go ahead with this approach nor on a fixed timetable yet."

When asked to elaborate on their plans for Poppy, Meddler commented:
"Defining what Poppy's gameplay niche should be is likely to be a solid amount of work. We don't want to make her into a standard fighter (or for that matter, aim to make any character into a 'standard' fighter). Taking away, or heavily modifying her passive and ult to fix their issues though means we'll need to find other interesting stuff to go there instead, so while she's not a task of Sion's magnitude she'll still probably be bigger than most reworks.

Thematically she's got some interesting stuff going on with the Yordle Knight/Diplomat angle. Bringing that out a bit more and/or tapping into some of her other themes (daughter of a master blacksmith for example) is also going to be worth putting some time into."
He continued:
"That would be an example of heavily modifying the ult yes. Big questions then are does that solve the problems while leaving the skill satisfying and, if so, is there an alternative that offers better gameplay and a stronger, more distinct niche for Poppy? All else being equal we'd want to stick with a variant on the existing skill of course, given full relaunches are the time where we've got the best opportunity to make substantial changes to a champion's kit however it's important to properly explore options (which is why some reworks take a while, depending on the problem space)."
As for potential changes to Viktor, Meddler was optimistic:
"Yeah, Viktor's a potential candidate for some gameplay tweaks (passive included), rather than a full on rework right now. See how much we can address some of his issues just via number adjustments/some non art impacting passive changes."
He continued:
"We don't have any specific changes nailed down yet. Number adjustments in this context could, if appropriate, include things like higher stats on the hexcore to make it more attractive as an end game item, faster return speed on the shield from his Q, increased spell range etc. Not to say we'll necessarily make those changes, but addressing some of those issues is within the scope of this sort of work."

IronStylus Grab bag

IronStylus, our beloved Sr. Concept Aritist, spent the night nesting on the forums and swooping into several threads to discuss art, VUs, and life on the forums.

When asked about how vocal he is on the forums, IronStylus shared his thoughts on other Rioters communicating on the forums and what sort of questions he tends to respond to:
"Quote:

Parrot, do you ever get tired of people thinking you're the single voice of all art decisions? Or have you become Morello, and discovered community zen?
Well, I'd love it if some more people came out to comment on their specialties. The Champion and Skins teams are getting big enough that it's difficult to comment on things that are happening on another team with confidence or authority. If I do try to comment, I might not have all the necessary context. That's why I've stopped answering questions specifically about skins, and less about champions also. 
Champion Update however is my explicit purview so I have confidence I can speak about it in a broad to specific sense as I'm there for the entire process, and our team is still relatively small.
I don't think l'll really be a Morello, as he's a lead from a higher standpoint over a more vast line of product aspects. I don't have as much broad context on things, he on the other hand has a lot. 
That said I'll do my best to speak for Art where and when I can. I know a lot of artists are a little intimidated by the forums. I don't ever want to force them out of their comfort zone, so I'm happy to represent if I'm able. I do however encourage people from the team to come out and talk.
Keeping on the same topic, he continued:
"Here's the thing. Commenting on threads, as a Rioter, explodes the thread. Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad. I use the resulting attention to seek feedback, gather ideas and input when it's something that's part of my job or I have intimate knowledge of. However, going into a thread, posting as a red, when it's not my area of expertise can be counter productive. Me going in and posting "This isn't my expertise." doesn't do anyone any favors aside from giving the thread some traction that it otherwise wouldn't have gotten. And for what? So me, some uninformed, non-associated dude can get your hopes up? No, I'd rather steer clear and let it come to the attention of someone who has something of value to actually say.
That said, I'm sure people on the Skins team are aware of the thread, I'm friends with a lot of them, they're privy to what's going on in the community and the conversation around the skin. If they haven't spoken in the thread then there's a reason for it, and I'm not going to be the one who goes up to them telling them what they should or shouldn't do in relation to answering questions. 
I have to be able to trust in other teams' execution and expertise. I'm not going to get on a high horse to brow beat them about how or what they communicate. I'm going to let them do what they do because I trust them. They're competent, smart and really good at what they do considering how much content they have to put out given the time they have at the quality they have to meet. 
In the future, see if you can ping Baconhawk or RiotPenguin. Baconhawk is Skins QA and is active in the community. RiotPenguin is an artist on the team. They'll have a much better idea of what's going on that I will. 
As far as I know, no one is ignoring anything. Just because a thread doesn't have a red comment in it doesn't mean it's not being paid attention to, or that the team didn't already perceive an issue before a critical thread came up."

When asked about the pre-rework Sejuani and if he could draw a picture of her, IronStylus scoffed:
"Did that years ago."
As for revisiting why the Sejuani rework saw her with much more clothing, he noted:
"Can confirm that it was an internal team decision. There were other factors, not just the outfit. We weren't satisfied with her animations and her kit was changing regardless. We wanted overall a harder look. Posture change, proportion changes, etc.

Also, if we were to go back and redo Ashe, I think we'd do a similar treatment. Not saying that'll ever happen though."

He continued, joking about pre-VU Sejuani's method for staying atop her mount:
"Quote:
I miss her shield ; _;
When the only thing that kept her attached to Kevin Tuggles was the strength of her thighs."
IronStylus also touched on the stylistic changes they made to "Kevin Tuggles"  ( her mount ) during the VU:
"One of the problems with the old Kevin Tuggles was that we couldn't reskin him to be anything but a sort of awkwardly moving low-rider pig. He sort of.. waddled. We had some cool ideas for skins but could never change the animal. However, when we redesigned him to be a little more on the bear/feral creature side, we could now turn him into a bear, wolf, slice of bacon, whatever."

When asked if he had any Diana related art laying around, IronStylus shared:
"Here, I forgot that I had this Lunar Goddess Diana concept art sitting around. "

As for Zilean getting a VU anytime soon, IronStylus noted:
"Zilean has been considered, but I don't know where he stands right now off-hand. I don't think he's among the next 8 or so VU's/VGU's that we have semi-planned out. "
He also fielded a question on if Viktor is inline for any sort of artistic updates, saying:
"I know he's on the board but I've heard nothing of him being prioritized for this or next year. Could change however. I'd like to tweak his design a bit quite honestly, at least a texture pass, but I don't know if we'd go that balls to the wall."

By request, he also commented on the recent updates to Pentakill Mordekaiser, explaining:
"Going out on a limb here... 
The old texture, from a purely game-development side of things, is busy. Really busy. When you run most of our old champions around in game they tend to "sparkle". From our side that is really a quality sink. Noisy texture = business = sparkling = bad quality. 
A "good" texture in our game won't sparkle or sparkle as much. When it does we attempt to mitigate it. You'll notice that even as recently as Vayne our characters have had noisy textures. It wasn't until maybe around Ziggs that our textures got a lot better, mainly because we got more artists at that time, allowing our quality bar to raise. 
Texture in our game, when functioning properly, takes on a property where small details diminish into large graphic shapes when zooming out. When zoomed in, detail will be apparent but have less contrast. Also, contrast and color saturation will be more pronounced towards the top of the character and reduce to lower contrast and deeper colors towards the foot of the model. This is called visual hierarchy. When the hierarchy is intact and the model is reading well from game, without noise, without excessive contrast and without confusion, we consider it balanced. 
I would consider the work done on Mord to be a proper balancing of the texture. While there indeed may be a decrease in detail, meaning, removing excessive pixels in any given area, there is overall mainly a reduction in contrast. This is to make the character less jarring, more easily readable and smoother. While I can understand the loss of some of that pixel contrast could be potentially seen as some sort of feature removal, I would submit that the quality, readability and overall ability to interpret the model as a graphic element is more apparent. 
Blur your eyes and see which one pops off the background better and in a more uniform shape. The new texture allows for the proper character to background separation which we view as something very paramount when making our models. 
Texture balancing is something you may see more of as it becomes more apparent that some of out current models appear very harsh, jarring and confusing on the new SR. Skarner was given this sort of balance pass, along with a specular map, to help his texture not compete with itself. 
All in all, there will be selective choices made when readability and texture quality is concerned. We are, first and foremost, a game where readability is key. It is the most important aspect of the physical assets we make. Distinct silhouette, easy recognizability of each character and and good visual communication is the information you need right up front when playing League. It's possible that this texture could use a couple places of pop further down the body, but I would consider it, on face value, of high quality and achieving what's necessary for it to read in-game properly. 
That said, I understand how the reduction of noise can be seen as the removal of detail. That will come down to personal taste. I personally think the new texture is a far superior execution than the original."

IronStylus also answered a set of questions regarding if the VU order ever changes based on user demand and if Sion will still have his arrows after the VU:
"Quote:
Q1: Concerning your project queue, will some champions be bumped up with enough people asking for urgency? 
And by being bumped, I mean being placed at the immediate next spot next to the ones currently in progress.... 
Q2: Will some VUs be affected by the style incorporated in the new SR map? 
Q3: Will Sion still have that arrow sticking out of him?

Q1: I don't think anything will be moved up depending on requests. We keep a pretty watchful eye on what's visible, what's perceived as low quality, where we can find opportunity and what generally the team feels needs an overhaul. We also have to plan quite far ahead in order to get things ready for production. That's why my stance is usually to front-load concept production to make sure we have a bucket to pull from when something becomes priority. 
That said, let's say the meta drastically changes or something, that might push up the urgency of a particular champion. What champions are most visible in current play or what champions are entry level/easy to pick up and therefore seen a lot can affect things. 
Q2: Yes. In fact when we work on a new VU we run them around in the new SR mostly. We do check how they look in the current map, but we're planning, long-term, to have them live in the new environment. Though I don't know when the new map will see general public debut, therefore we balance for both currently, but lean towards the new style. 
Q3: Unfortunately no. But he'll have something else sticking out of him that's a little more creepy."
If you are curious about wtf arrows they are talking about, look between Sion's head and shoulder. 

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