"What is started will be finished." - Several Rioters responsible for our Kalista's development and design have pierced the forums to answer your question on our upcoming champion!
Before we get started, you may want to check out these links to acquaint yourself with our upcoming champion!
Here's BelligerentSwan with an introduction to the Q&A:
We've gathered a bunch of Rioters from the Kalista team for some Q&A about the Spear of Vengeance herself. Whether you're interested in Kalista's gameplay, story or art, ask away and we'll be happy to answer!
Check out Kalista's reveal if you'd like to get up to speed."
- CertianlyT - Champion Designer
- Riot Jag
- Riot Afic - QA Analyst
- The Bravo Ray - Senior Concept Artist
- Ant in Oz - Senior Writer
- nickstravaganza - Associate Animator
- RiotTroyzilla - Senior VFX artist
As with other Q&As, I've attempted to sort the answers into similar categories!
Table of Contents:CertainlyT shared the origins of her binding and a since scrapped iteration of her bond bonuses:
"The origin of Kalista's mechanics comes from an exploration of how to make a "hunter with pet" champion. Since pet control is not something our UI does well, eventually someone suggested, somewhat in jest, that we have another player control the pet. Originally the soul bound was substantially transformed by the bonding. For example, an early iteration was "Ally has 25% damage reduction, 50% of which is taken by Kalista. Kalista gains 20% life steal against targets her ally is hitting. In this iteration, Kalista's W was a stacking Starcraft Marine stimpack (health cost in exchange for movement and attack speed) that applied to both her and her ally.""
As for funny stories or scrapped mechanics during her development, Nickstravaganza recalled:
"They once tested a thing where she could teleport to a spirit if it detected someone. Along with her support. I think that lasted one playtest."
When asked what the motivation for was for Kalista's design, CertainlyT commented:
"I wanted to do a cooperation-focused duo laner. After pondering thematics, as well as real life examples of partnership, I ended up concluding that these sort of relationships are often represented as "friendship" in our game but in life are more about shared duties (soldiers/workers/even farmers and oxen). When the creative pitch for Kalista was a vengeful specter, I thought that was really cool and match the thinking about shared duty I was also stuck on."
When asked if they are worried about Kalista's play rate in non-duo queues or between players not in a form of voice chat due to her reliance on another player, CertainlyT commented:
"I think it's a bit of a myth that you can't play Kalista without voice chat. After all, communication is very valuable in any duo lane pairing. If you announce that you are casting Ashe arrow, your teammate will follow up much more crisply. In fact, one of the goals of Kalista was to up the signaling on abilities in addition to increasing the benefits of coordination so that we would see people not on voice chat get closer to optimal play with her."
When asked about the decision to make Kalista's ally bond permanent instead of being able to re-bond to different champions throughout the course of a single game, CertainlyT replied:
"While re-bonding technically increases decisionmaking, I feel it reduces the meaningfulness of those decisions. At any phase of the game, it's pretty obvious who is the best ally to bond with. What makes the bonding choice meaningful is
a) picking the right person, given that it is unlikely that any one champion will be the best partner for both the W passive;
b) finding out how to make optimal use of the W passive or R on an array of champion archetypes (how do we get Nami into and out of the enemy team safely? It may be hard, but if we can do it, the payoff is huge); and
c) getting better at synergizing with the person you are playing with (not the champion) through repeated execution of your bonded abilities."CertainlyT continued:
Is it possible to change who you are bound to?What if i'm bound to a troll or Disconnected player?
Not at present. It's something we will be tracking, but I am hesitant to allow re-binding since it undermines a lot of the meaning present in the choice of who to bind to. The example I give is that you can't swap champions midgame -- you are stuck with them, in good times and in bad.
You raise the two most troubling points, DCs and team infighting. However, if you are bound to a disconnected player, you've probably lost the game already. If you worry someone is a troll, consider binding with someone else on the team and altering your playstyle to make that combo work."Riot Afic also added in:
"This is a bit of a trickier issue. Kalista can do a LOT (I don't think anyone will argue against that). With that said, she should only have so much power budgeted to her kit (she already might have way too much, but that is a different issue), so if she could also switch her linked target, that extra power would need to come from somewhere else.
For Kalista, at the start of the game choosing who she will link with will be a much more meaningful decision that could change how you go about engagements throughout the game.
It basically comes down to what power should she have, how much of it, and where should it be allocated."He continued:
What will happen if the linked champion goes afk?Just like most games, you will probably lose 4v5. While it always feels pretty bad to have an afk on your team, it will be slightly worse for a Kalista player if she linked with that person. The way I look at it, if someone enters a game with the intent to troll/feed/afk/whatever, the game will be a rough experience regardless of Kalista.
With all that said, Kalista can still function without her ult, although she will obviously be missing out more than other champions would."
When asked if her passive allowing her to jump short walls of intentional, Riot Afic commented:
"It is intentional. Gameplay related mechanics such as this are still subject to change, but she can currently hop over some of the narrow walls."Riot Jag also added in:
"I believe certain walls are intended to be small enough that she can jump over them. To the greater point, sure, her mobility is going have a lot of potential and some of the maneuvers she can make (AA-jump/Q-jump/flash, the double hop you're talking about) will cover a lot of distance. As with any other champion, Kalista is going to have interesting strengths (the passive hop) and weaknesses (lack of AoE/waveclear, limited range, etc.) that help balance out her overall power. You're definitely going to see great Kalistas make some awesome plays utilizing her passive."
When asked the design perspective on Kalista's passive and her extreme mobility, CertainlyT replied:
"Both Yasuo and Kalista are explorations of non-cooldown based mobility paradigms. Both rely on fixed distance dashes, which I feel create healthy variance in positioning (sometimes you end up further/closer than you'd like). Yasuo is limited by the number of targets and their position relative to him, which I hoped would create situations where he had functionally infinite mobility (within a minion wave), balanced against situations where he had very little (dueling without minions around). I'm not sure that was completely successful -- he's very frustrating for his opponents.
With Kalista, I wanted to try mobility where its cost is in the same vein as its benefit. Since mobility is about Space covered per unit of Time, I looked to Time and Space costs. Time-wise, this is why Kalista has an extremely long, non-cancellable basic attack. She has to stand still to "charge up" her dash and she has to commit to that charging up. Spatially, again I relied on fixed distance. It's extremely easy to get yourself into trouble as Kalista by dashing in a direction that seemed good, but was a little too risky. Conversely, it feels great as, say Udyr, when Kalista autoattacks you and dashes backward and you just turn around and start mauling her teammate from out of her attack range. It often takes her 2-3 seconds (25% of a team fight) just to walk back into range."Riot Afic added on to this, offering up a justification for the "incredible power of her passive":
"Overall she simply does less damage than other ADs. Yes, there is a LOT that this champion can do, but she also has a LOT of weaknesses. For example, if you lose vision of your target with the auto attack mid-air, it will NOT do damage. This makes vision control vs her even more important. Additionally, she CAN'T cancel auto attacks. For many AD players (myself included) you don't realize how valuable it can be to change your mind about firing off an attack.
There are many other weakness I could talk about, but overall her power is something we will be monitoring very closely. If she turns out to be too powerful, we have the appropriate levers in place to tune her relative strengths/weaknesses"
When asked why on the PBE you can buy another one of Kalista's The Black Spear items, Riot Afic commented:
"Currently that is a PBE only thing and will likely not make it live. The intent is to have her link with only 1 person throughout the game."Riot Troyzilla noted:
"These are all great questions. I can answer the one about her spears in enemies. Each spear must be shown, but is dependent on which direction the enemy happens to turn, so that make it practically impossible to make that clear considering the sheer number of spears that can accumulate."
"If Kalista dies after pressing R but before her oathsworn can dash, the oathsworn will still have the ability to dash. (Keep in mind all gameplay related issues are subject to change)"
As for what happens if Kalista's uses her R on a Sion who has activated his own R, CertainlyT noted:
"Hmm, this is one of the special cases that we haven't fully ironed out yet. I lean toward his ult restarting once he is released by Kalista, making her ult an interesting way to re-orient him directionally or launch him over a wall."
When asked if it was possible to Kalista to user her R on a Thresh who just used W before being sucked then then teleport some where on the map then release him and have a third ally use the lantern to facilitate some super long crazy move, CertainlyT noted:
"Thresh Lantern has a maximum pull distance, so sadly this would not work out on any large scale. If you teleported to the edge of your screen or something locally it would have a cool visual I support."
CertainlyT also replied to a summoner concerned that Kalista would be "too good" against slower bruisers:
"Yes, I am very concerned about this (My forum avatar was Darius!).
When playing an Udyr or Garen against Kalista, I find that I am successfully able to zone Kalista out of fights (run at her, turn around when she commits to dashing way, rinse and repeat) but struggle to kill her unless I have a partner diving her with me. So while I feel that melee have options to win the game against Kalista, I am concerned that these are not satisfying (we've trained you to murder the marksman)."Riot Afic also added in:
"It is absolutely something that we will keep an eye on. In my experience (50+ games) you can play mind games with it (as the bruiser). If you are running straight at Kalista, she can DEFINITELY kite you until you break your keyboard. If you do a 180 and turn around as she dashes, you can often get out of range of her auto attacks.
Similarly, if you are running away from her and turn to fight as she jumps towards you, you might find yourself in melee range and then be able to punish her. The combination of mind games, timing, and reaction speed can give bruisers more options than you might initially think"
When asked how the art team approached the visuals for Kalista and how many iterations they went through, The Bravo Ray replied:
"I can talk from an art perspective on her development over time.
Kalista went through a long period of iteration. The main challenge for us was how to make an undead spectral female not appear too normalized, but at the same time not so horrific or ghoulish that she might be hard for some players to approach.
The answer is do both versions, find what bits work best and what doesn't, and then combine the best parts of each to get an approachable visual thematic that's new and engaging.
Ultimately, We feel this let us hit a nice mixture of spectral warrior goodness with her."
Nickstravaganza also commented on the direction of her visuals, saying:
"As far as visual design goes, we were conscious of keeping her more ghastly and less overtly feminine. It really just fit this character best. There's the Ahris and Miss Fortunes out there, of course, but characters like Kalista, Lissandra, Diana, Leona, etc. need a different approach."The Bravo Ray also replied to a question on Kalista's visuals and if it was a conscious decision to make her a "non-sexualized" champion (something like the opposite of MF):
"I can shed some light on this. We really wanted to make sure Kalista strikes a substantially different chord when it comes to visual style, both among female ADCs & in general.
Early in development our goal was to create a shape language for a non-standardized female archetype (the fallen spectral warrior) that really told a story. For example, her spear visuals (specifically on her back) help hint at what has happened to her. Plus its an awesome way to implement a thematic ammo delivery system - she's got a hell of a lot of tortured soul spears to toss at her enemies."
When asked about her armor and if he is of Targon origins, The Bravo Ray replied:
"I cannot speak to the armors origins, but the design was intended to be in a very ancient-looking style, with basic protections to allow free movement as a skirmisher. Unlike other shadow isle champs, she retains a lot of her original armor from the time she fell. This was one of our goals with her, the undead fallen warrior that retains some of who she once was both mentally and visually.
The armor style is a third visual read ( she has so much read potential), so we needed to make the armor step back a bit as one big shape - tarnished, old, and damaged. Her spears and her body form are the mains read we wanted players to experience first when they see her, so the armor needs to support that."
"I'd say Kalista. We're doing a lot more with transitions these days, which can cause a lot of dependencies when gameplay changes (dash timing, distance, speed, etc)"
When asked about the popular fan theory that Kalista is Senna (Lucian's wife), Ant in Oz noted:
"It's a good theory... but naaah, she's not Senna. ;)"He also noted:
"Nope, she is not Senna."
As for if we will get a LONG FORM version of Kalista's lore, Ant in Oz confirmed:
"You will indeed :)"
As for the time line on then Kalista was betrayed, Ant in Oz explained:
"Her betrayal occurred right at the time when the Shadow Isles became the nasty, deathly place that we know and love. Kalista (and her death) was definitely intrinsic to the fall of those once-proud isles..."He continued, reiterating she was there when it changed:
"It sure was...She was there when everything went bad..."and if she knew the Ruined King:
"Oh, yes... She definitely knew him."
When asked why Kalista refers to her self as "we", Ant in Oz explained:
"She is a conglomeration of souls, all of whom have pledged themselves to vengeance. With each soul that pledges itself, Kalista likely gets more powerful... though at the cost of making her remember less of who she was in life, and become more of an avatar of vengeance itself."
"Yeah, she would have used a spear in life. She was a heroic leader - think of her as having been kind of female (and honorable) Achilles, and you wouldn't be too far off."
In response to a group of questions concerning details on who betrayed Kalista and if Hecarim had anything to do with it, Ant in Oz replied:
Lore related question: do we currently know who betrayed Kalista? All of the traitors she targeted in her teaser were obvious except for Hecarim, we don't know much about his backstory or his purpose other than to conquer lands/souls for the Shadow Isles. This is even more confusing with the lore changes. Did Hecarim have something to do with her betrayal? If not, who did Hecarim betray?All good questions, none of which have been answered as yet.... and some of which I think may be better answered through stories further down the track. :)"
As for her relationship with the other inhabitants of the Shadow Isles, Ant in Oz noted:
"Well spotted. Not all the spirits (or champs) on the Shadow Isles are necessarily aligned in purpose - and her focus would certainly put her at odds with some of the other spirits there. I wouldn't go so far as to say she would be against most of the island though - I wouldn't imagine most of the spirits there were betrayers. Her cold-burning rage would be laser-focused on a select few..."
As for how Kalista would react to "innocents" who come between her and her target, Ant in Oz replied:
"As to the question of innocents - we always saw her as very focused. She's not an indiscriminate killer, and would not destroy everything in her path to get to her target. She's got all the time in the world (she'd not exactly got to worry about ageing any more...), so she can be patient in order to get her target without involving unnecessary deaths."
Ant in Oz also answered a question regarding if Kalista would go after a "good guy" traitor:
"She'd be very black and white, I think - even if someone may have a very good reason for betraying someone, I think in her eyes just the fact that there is betrayal may damn them in her eyes."As for her morale alignment, Ant in Oz explained:
"Her 'alignment' depends on one's perspective - it's all in the eye of the beholder. To some, she would be seen as evil because she is an undying spirit, full stop. However, she was a hero in life, and very much an honorable one at that. She didn't ask to become what she is, and is now consumed with enacting vengeance. So, to some, she might be seen as an avenger, a spirit of justice. To those she is pursuing? They'd probably think she is evil - she certainly couldn't be bargained or argued with, and she'd see things very much in black and white. What if someone did do a horrible betrayal, but has atoned for it? She'd not be bothered with those kind of details..."Ant in Oz replied:
"I can answer the Lore question, Blind Xiahou. You've nailed it, pretty much. Kalista has many souls bound within her - all those who have pledged themselves to her and vengeance. The sentinels are those spirits... though even after their own vengeance has been enacted, they are still pledged to her. It's a big deal to pledge yourself to her!"
When asked how he thinks Kalista will affect LCS play, CertainlyT commented:
"I think Doublelift will declare her to be terrible and then end up playing her for most of the split.
Not sure how she'll impact the rest of LCS. I have concerns about her Sentinel at level 1 in competitive play though."
Grab BagsLast up, we have a set of multi-part or "grab bag" questions. The italicized text is the question and the responding Rioter is noted before each set.
#1 - Responses by CertainlyT
Okay, some interesting Thoughts;
- From what Ive seen, Her passive allows her to jump further when she has tier 1 boots and tier 2 boots, how would this be affected by enchantments, such as captain, alacrity, and most notably Furor (Which I almost exclusively use for kiting/stutter stepping on essentially every ranged champion), or even Boots of Swiftness. Perhaps it could be instead be changed based on actual movement speed as opposed to boot tier? Then again having move speed quints and a move speed build (statikk shiv, zephyr, Trinity force, ect) might make that a teensy bit broken, so perhaps a distance ceiling? But I still think it would be interesting to increase the range of it based on furor/Rage, as otherwise those would be effectively useless on her.
- If, for example, there was ever a one for all scenario, how would 5 or 3 kalistas in the same game work? With that W passive dealing from what Ive seen TWELVE percent of the maximum health on proc, if you had every single attack proc'ing that.. well.. Also I am curious as to exactly how the W passive works? It deals.. 12% of their maximum (or maybe current?) health in bonus magic or physical damage to the person when both linked attack the same person? well, what if you had, say a Thresh or Ashe support or even supported as Kalista, and both you and the linked person got a Bork and a Runaans and 4 Phantom Dancers? I am really curious as to how that works...
- Was it your intention to also make Kalista so incredibly strong as a support? Yes her slow is only twenty percent from what I've seen, but think about it... Kalista has a decent poke with her Q, which she can use to proc her slow from a long distance. She has built in super wards with her W, AND dealing percent health damage when attacking with the linked person, which no matter how that works is a significant damage increase. And her E, while it may not seem like much, might actually be able to be broken; So it gets a reset when you kill a unit with it, RIGHT? Lets say you get relic shield, auto a minion to half health or something, Q the target you want to slow, E, relic shield kills the minion, you get the reset, Auto attack or Q target again, another slow.... And depending on your skill level and planning you could potentially cc chain them until you run out of relic shield charges.. and when you combine this with a frozen mallet that would create a significant slow. Then again, this would have to be tested. And Finally, most obvious is the Ult... Do I even need to explain how this is good for supporting? You make your ADC invulnerable for 6 seconds AND they can reposition them selves, imagine a thresh lantern on steroids. It wouldn't even compare.
- Well... Obviously there will be some balance changes, I'm curious to know what aspects of what abilities you aren't sure about and are leaving them in for initial release, but will be monitoring to see if it needs a re-balance?
1) We used boot rank because it gave us greater control over her mobility by phase of the game. It would be fun to use MS quints to turn on the passive quickly, but she became virtually unhittable when her dash was combined with the persistent presence of minions as exists in the early game. By using boots, I felt like the player a) could not start the game at "max dash speed" without b) paying a large cost in terms of overall threat level (boots1 over Doran's Blade; Boots 2 over BF sword).
2) I think that sounds really fun. The W passive has an internal cooldown per enemy (like Bear Stance or Jarvan's Martial Cadence) so while this would given you a big pulse of up front damage, it likely would not be the optimal build.
3) No, my intent wasn't to make her an incredible support. That doesn't mean she isn't good there, just that I did not set out toward that end. Generally speaking, I am happy to let the community find the best place to play the champions I make (this isn't something all designers here agree on, it's a personal thing), and then manage for game health once the best use case is clear. I'm not especially worried because all of the things you listed as stengths as a support seem more powerful when given to an AD carry (example: why would you want your AD carry to be invulnerable and passified during a crucial fight?).
4) I have great confidence in her Q."
#2 Responses by CertainlyT:
"I'll answer a few here. Great questions though.
- What was the thought behind Kalista's passive? Was it inspired by orbwalking (moving right after each autoattack fires so you can remain on the move while attacking)? I feel like it's a great learning tool for people who want to learn to play more Marksmen.
The inspiration was actually just this -- thinking about how many players never progress toward orb walking (moving between attacks). I thought about an input paradigm that would be similar in some important regard, either cadence or button use. In the end, it ended up here, very similar in terms of button presses, but very different in terms of timing.
- Also about her passive, why is there the need to specify that her autoattacks will miss if she loses sight of her target? Is she simply not as accurate as other Marksmen who have homing projectiles?
I've always felt that projectiles ridiculously bending in mid air is a thematic mismatch. In Kalista's case, we faced an additional problem: the server canceling her basic attacks (due to loss of vision) is jarring, since you end up not moving afterward.
- In internal testing, has there been much success in cases where Kalista binds an ally other than her support?
Sure. Playtesters have primarily bound with a lane partner, but a few Rioters swear by jungler binding. I would be unhappy if she felt like there was only one player with whom she could bind each game, and that player was distant from her throughout much of the game.
- Is there any concern that Kalista's Rend (E) might be a bit strong in helping her jungler secure Dragon/Baron? I understand Kalista's supposed to be a very support-y Marksman, but this might not be part of that intent.
We are watching this closely. It's a risky mechanic to say the least. Specifically, we are concerned that it will discourage enemy contestation objectives, rather than changing how enemies contest them. Ideally we observe Kalista's opponents making more of an effort to do Dragon/Baron before her or choosing to team fight rather than go for the steal."
#1 Responses by Riot Afic:
"Just tested all of these as they are all great questions! (Keep in mind they are all subject to change)#2 Responses by Riot Afic:
Does Kalista's q still pass spear still pass placed spears onto a next target if it kills a spellshielded Morgana with spears on her?Do the spears still get stuck on a spellshielded morgana if it killed something on the way to her?Yep! The spears will all pass through. (Spears will also stack on a target that has spell shield)
Do the spears still get stuck on a spellshielded morgana if it killed something on the way to her?Also yes
If Kalista is stunned or rooted passive, will she stop on the spot, or travel the rest of her leap?She will stop on the spot. Things like rune prison reeeaaaalllllllyyyy mess her up.
Can kalista's oathsworn ally still release themselves from her if she is silenced?Oathsworn ally can still release if Kalista is silenced
What will happen if Kalista's oathsworn ally uses zhonyas during kalista's ult channel?Oathsworn ally cannot use zhonyas during Kalista's ult channel. Side note: Kalista can ult her oathsworn if they are already in Zhonyas, where the oathsworn can then dash afterwards (zhonyas will already be over, as there is a slight delay before you can dash).
What happens to Kalista's oathsworn ally if Kalista dies during mid ult?Oathsworn ally can still dash!
Are you invincible during the travel time of the throw from Kalista's ult?You are not still invincible. (I specifically remember one game where I blocked a Jinx ult by dashing in front of it, was pretty epic!) You CAN die mid travel, and if you do there will be no knockup from the dash (assuming you die before you hit your target)"
And if not, What happens if you die during mid travel?
"I'll speak to the ones that I can:
- Q:can we get a generalized time frame when she will be on live servers?
Some time after Azir (c'mon, you know if that info were available, you would already have it xD)
- Q2: will there be damage on her ult?
Not currently (subject to change). In terms of budget for this champion's power, having her ult also do damage would make her need to make sacrifices in her strength elsewhere
- Q5: i've heard off and on that her passive can jump walls is this true?
Currently yes! (also subject to change). Since her dash distance scales with boot rank, you can make it over most narrow walls with T2 boots."
#1 Responses by nickstraavaganza:
- So..How did she get those spears stuck in her back? Was that how she died? (if you're serious about not wanting people to ask just don't answer)
- How old is she and how long has she been enacting vengeance for the betrayed she's bound with?
- Has she retained her own consciousness since she died or is her consciousness a culmination of all the souls she's bound with? In other words, are they all really ONE?
- Would you say she's neutral evil? or chaotic evil?
- What kind of power level does she/they? have? With 10 representing champs like Azir, Lissandra, Vel'koz, Xerath, Nasus, Brand.
- Who was she before she was betrayed? IK she was a "legendary warrior" but where did she reside? was she part of the Rakkor? Or has she been a part of the Shadow Isles even before they became THE SHADOW ISLES?
- Yes, the spears are the spectral remnants of the way she was originally murdered.Oh man, one of the narrative folks would have to be more specific, but I know she's old enough for legends to spread about her across the world. Every place have a different, but similar story about summoning her
- Very little of who she once was remains, but it surfaces occasionally. She's more of an amalgamation at this point.
- Neither? She acts according to her drive to enact vengeance on betrayers. So maybe one of the lawful ones? She's acts according to her own law.
- 9? Maybe even 10. She's kind of the Avatar of Vengeance
- I know she was on the Isles when everything went down"
- Is Kalista a native of the Shadow Isles, or did she just wind up there like many of the isle's other denizens? If not, where is she originally from?
- Are her ghostly Sentinel scouts meant to represent some of those who had made pacts with Kalista and are now forever bound to her?
- What inspired her name?
- Did Kalista once believe in honor? If so, does she anymore?
- Does she feel sympathy for others who have been betrayed, or merely disdain for their transgressors?
- If one is betrayed, what must they do to summon Kalista for the oath?
- What exactly are Kalista's feelings about being undead?
Good questions. Will do my best to answer before I have to run off for a meeting.
- She was there when Everything Went Bad. As to whether she was a native of that land or not... that's not been stated as yet.
- That's the idea, yeah.
- We wanted a name that sounded somewhat archaic, was easy to pronounce, sounded feminine but also strong. We thought Kalista fit the bill.
- Most definitely. We see her as having been a strongly moral, honorable character in life. Those ideals would still be there, within her, at her core...
- I'm not sure how much actually sympathy she would feel now - she's probably lost much of her humanity, though it may come back to her now and then. As you suggest, she's more about the anger directed at the betrayers and deceivers now.
- Ahhh! This will be revealed soon.
- She probably doesn't love it. ;)