This morning's red post collection includes a look at the Foundations team and their work to reinvent Bilgewater, a large ask.fm round up with Ququroon and Lyte, Meddler on 5.17 Bard buffs, and more!
- [UPDATED] Red Post Collection: August 26th Patch Update, MF Changes still in works, Dragon icon now available, NA server move complete
Table of Contents
Building Bilgewater: A Pirate Renovation
First up we have an enormous post by Rumtumtummers that takes a look at work the Foundations team did on Bilgewater to reinvent the city out get 'er ready for the recent Burning Tides event and the future!
"Peek behind the curtain and explore Bilgewater with the foundational team that reinvented it."
"Existing lore and narrative cues established Bilgewater as a city filled with shivering timbers, echoingyarrs, and plundering pirates – certainly a locale that’s rife with opportunity for storytellers, but not unique in of itself. Though references and hat-tips are part of League’s charm, leaning too heavily on existing tropes can leave players with the impression that they’ve been to this place before. It’s easy to take a place like Bilgewater and turn it into a theme park rather than a living, breathing, part of a believable world.
Enter Foundations, a dedicated group of Rioters working to enhance the building blocks of League’s universe by exploring Runeterra’s people, customs, and the world itself. Foundations’ work isn’t focused on player-facing content; instead, its deep dives of Runeterra serve as the base from which creative teams at Riot can create content like Bilgewater: Burning Tides.
Into the Deep
Foundations begins by exploring every imaginable facet of a location and its culture. As its artists and writers discover new ideas and expand upon old ones, they document those concepts through internal style guides focusing on art, history, culture, language, and more. The work of Foundations is the result of thinking deeply about League’s core elements and looking for ways to add compelling layers to what we already know. Internally, Foundations creates the go-to resources for learning about and understanding Runeterra.
Foundations wanted Bilgewater to be a recognizable, unique location - not just a pirate cliche. Note the Freljordian dragonship in the background that's been converted into a structure, and the indigenous stone carvings in the rock.
Senior producer Thomas Vu explains; “There are many teams within Riot working within the IP, from new champions and events to relaunches and character bios, etc. Foundations make it so that teams are able to build upon a common and consistent framework without creatively constraining them.” These in-depth examinations of the world behind the game serve as the jumping-off point for League’s content creators.
Representing the combined efforts of the Foundations team, the concept art, style guides, and story cues provide Rioters with systematic overviews of the people, places, and things in Runeterra and empower teams to create content with deep narrative roots and consistent artistic themes. Everything is up for discussion, from granular explorations of iconography to detailed representations of key locales.
"We wanted Bilgewater to feel eclectic; a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds, reflecting that its inhabitants have come from all over the known world."
With Bilgewater, Foundations looked for points of differentiation from existing pirate tropes. How could we take Captain Hook and cross him with Bill the Butcher? Lead concept artist Mark Gibbons says, “We were fortunate that people like Twisted Fate and Graves were already associated with the faction. There is already a blend of cultures inherent to the canon stories that has a very American West feeling.” The groundwork was already in place for an overlap of cultures and styles that would dirty the family-friendly image of the place and replace shanty-singing pirates with scrimshaw-loving underworld tycoons.
Ant Reynolds, lead writer for Foundations, adds, “We didn’t want Pirate Town. We wanted Bilgewater to exist in its own unique space. If we see someone cosplaying as Gangplank, we want people to say, ‘That’s a cool Gangplank costume,’ not, ‘cool pirate.’”
Bilgewater Under the Surface
Foundations’ work with Bilgewater is about showcasing what Gibbons calls, “the concentrated version of what was only hinted at.” It’s the stuff below the surface that bubbles up in the form of champions, environments, and the stories that connect them. Reynolds explains, “Bilgewater should feel like a living place. We should know where it came from.” Gibbons elaborates, “We wanted Bilgewater to feel eclectic; a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds, reflecting that its inhabitants have come from all over the known world. Add in the original indigenous culture (which is highly respected in Bilgewater), and you start to have a place that feels rather unique.”
The Bilgewater: Burning Tides event is an example of how foundational exploration can inform the creative process at Riot; teams focusing on the story of Gangplank’s near-demise or working on the Butcher’s Bridge ARAM map pulled heavily from the details and themes laid out by the Foundations team.
Foundations isn’t here to erase everything players know about places like Bilgewater. Reynolds says, “Sometimes better ideas come along, or new directions actually work better, but we need to update in a respectful manner. We’re not trying to invalidate what came before, but to expand upon the things we think are really cool about a location.” Foundations takes a careful iterative approach to world building, looking for opportunities to make each region unique and interesting but still familiar to players.
Vu adds that Foundations is about giving depth to the world and champions players already love. “Players spend a lot of time playing their champions and want to know more about their champion's background and journey,” he says. “World-building allows us to create the environment and challenges for these champions to overcome along with creating a level of detail and depth that makes Runeterra a more tangible place for players to experience.”
Bilgewater has a thriving industry built around hunting sea monsters. Fleets leave port at sunset each night, seeking these mighty beasts. If successful, they return to the Slaughter-Docks to render the once-great creatures down to meat, bones and armored hide.
Foundational research and worldbuilding provide touchstones for environment designers, character artists, events teams, and other Rioters involved in the creation of League’s worlds. By exploring a location or faction’s symbols, language, goals, and interactions with other places and people, Foundations helps content creators to answer core design and philosophy questions during the early phases of building new things like champions, skins, events, and featured game modes.
With the Bilgewater: Burning Tides event now sailing toward the horizon, the Foundations team is excited to see how players react to the new Bilgewater. Says Gibbons, “I’d like to think that fans of Bilgewater, fans of those champions, are thinking, ‘Wow, like, I thought it was cool before – pirates, right? But it’s so much cooler, so much richer now.’”
Bard Buffs Coming in 5.17Meddler with a run down of some upcoming Bard buffs for patch 5.17, which are currently testing on the PBE:
We've got some changes to Bard planned for 5.17. Those currently look like this:
Caretaker's Shrine (W)
Cost :: 100 / 105 / 110 / 115 / 120 >>> 90
Magical Journey (E)
Cooldown :: 20 / 19 / 18 / 17 / 16 >>> 18 / 17 / 16 / 15 / 14"
Ququroon ask.fm Roundupask.fm responses from Ququroon, a member of a the Champion Update team! Continue on for discussion on champion updates, why voiceover work is so involved, champion "mini-games", and more!
[Link] What are the bases that you rely on to think that a champion needs an update? and what bases do you rely on to think the updated champion is where you need him to be?
Let's make a wide statement!: Every champion could use an update in one way or another, and this becomes more true as time passes. When Champion Update (then Relaunch) first spun up, we thought that Vayne was the bar that we'd stop at, and nowadays while Vayne isn't horribly offensive, she could use some love (in the art spectrum).
To your question, it drastically varies by champion. Lee Sin is fun, and has a good amount of complexity. While we could update his kit (I'm preeetty sure we're not looking at this any time soon), I think everyone would agree he'd be a much cooler character if he didn't look like he lacked a collarbone (go look at it). Contrasting, Aatrox is a modern character in appearances, but his kit probably isn't in the healthiest area.
Obviously, some champions need updates more than others. Yes: Taric, Poppy, Urgot, Eve, etc. These are generally the highest examples of work needed, and I won't really go into them. Just mentioning them so you don't think I'm ignoring them.
Past this, there's the ones that have high opportunities, but don't require a whole lot of work (or can at least pass with minimal work while we work on the above characters). Singed and Alistar are great examples of this. The visual polish goes a loooong way to improving them. Not the end of the line, but we are just getting work in while we have the additional bandwidth. Anyways. Art stuff is easy to know when they're not fully up to snuff. The other two fields, Creative and Design, are harder to quantify.
Starting with Creative, this can be a character that is literally just a dead end. Not just a character we aren't telling stories with, it could also be a character that's just a complete black spot in terms of execution and fantasy. My favorite person to pick on with this one is Shyvana: The Half(ass)-Dragon. While she has some merit as a character (Farm style jungle kit, her backstory with J4 (J4xShyvana > J4xQuinn)), her execution as a DRAGON is pretty weak, and that bleeds into Art/Design as well. Also, sometimes we just see really awesome opportunities align larger packages, such as Gangplank did with Burning Tides.
With Design, there are several factors at play. A high win-rate, but a perception that they're weak and useless (how do you buff that?). An -extremely- low play rate (niche characters are fine, not every character needs to be Jinx/Ahri). An utter lack of balance levers. Not bringing anything unique to the game (why would you pick X when you could pick Y?). A perception of just... not being fun. People much smarter than I at that generally play that field, but we generally try to hit the "most offensive" characters here.
So yeah. We kinda factor that all in with how much bandwidth we have in an area... and that's roughly how we schedule things.
Our hope is that every character has an audience who loves that character more than everyone else.
[Link] Why do you guys keep throwing these weird mini-games on champs lately? Fiora, Skarner, Garen, etc.
A recent development (like, last 6 months or so) has been trying to make sure that every champion, not just role, has a unique strategic output and identity. (or in English, everyone should bring something different to the game.)
Sure, everyone can attack, kill things, destroy towers, ward, buy items, etc. You know, play League of Legends. It's finding ways of changing HOW they do that is the idea. The mini-games are an output of that mindset, although they aren't that new. Draven's auto-attacks are a mini-game, Kennen's passive, Rageblade (that's still an item?) has stack upkeep as a mini-game.
Additionally, it gives you another method of mastery on a champion. Sure, you could know how to perfectly play Melee Carries. Do you know the perfect way to utilize Fiora's passive? Do you always go for the mark (protip: yes), or do you play it safe and hold back? I personally find that much more interesting than simply knowing the difference between Alpha Strike's Damage and Spinning Slash's.
A lot of the recent ones (Garen, Fiora, Skarner) have had much LOUDER outputs than before, hitting onto UI elements at times, but that's because we want to keep pushing the bar on what each character can and does bring. That's something that's true over all our our development. At a baseline, all abilities are just flavored versions of dealing or mitigating damage. It's the flavor that separates Singed's ultimate from Sion's ultimate though.
As this question was asked a while ago, have you had a change to play around with theses characters since? Do they still feel weird to you? Out of place? And, regardless if they are, do you find them fun? Enjoyable? Would they increase the odds of you playing that champion?
[Link] New voice acting is something you seem to decide against for many smaller updates. For those updates, is that something you might come back and add at some point in the future?
The problem with voice acting is that there is no 'low scope' way of doing it. Regardless of how many lines there are (with more being more work, obviously), it has to cross the bar of writing the script, doing auditions, finding the actor, implementing into game, then localizing across like 15 languages.
We definitely want to do these whenever possible, as well as go back and hit prior updates, but we won't always be doing these.
[Link] Why did Tryndamere, Zyra, Lulu and Varus (And maybe Draaaaaaaven too?) not get a Texture rebalance? I mean, Tryndamere could use more than that anyways (And look like he does in his splash/icons/huge statue), and while Zyra, Lulu and Varus don't look THAT bad, they could use some polishing.
The TRs were meant to hit the worst of offenders, giving a larger increase due to the delta between what was there and the work required. That was something we needed to do due to the sheer volume (I believe our final stat was like 300 champions/skins total).
We have a LOT of content in this game. The problem with that is our quality bar increases faster than we can ship and address things that are behind. As an example, League has 126 or so champions. Zyra was only 25 champions ago. So the TR Project was something that we found time to do during our normal work schedule to try to boost that bottom line up. That's why we didn't go for some of the more recent characters, even if they could be considered for it.
But, to your points...
Draven: Could use it, just to simplify some of the shapes and business on his texture. However, people might perceive this more as a sidegrade rather than something wholly positive.
Lulu: I think she's pretty good. Needs a new model (yordle unification pass where) moreso.
Varus: Not bad, but a little soft. His contrast is good, and he follows the visual hierarchy already.
Zyra: An interesting case, as we actually have someone doing her in her free time. HOWEVER. Zyra probably has the most amount of textures per skin, due to all her plants. Additionally, there was a fun problem of how plant like her skin should be versus human, etc. etc. In short though, too high of scope for a simple project.
[Link] Are you satisfied with the progress of the ChampUp team? You guys still have some work ahead of you to get all champions in line with the current gameplay design / balance philosophy. How long do you guys discuss changes in general until you settle for one?
Extremely! I think we've shipped something like... 50+ updates over 2.5 years? That's a pretty massive chunk, and it isn't even a complete picture. We don't always hit the mark perfectly, but we're getting better all the time.
We have a massive amount of work ahead of us still. I don't think we'll ever catch up, and I don't think that's a bad thing. Kha'zix was the bar of "HOLY SHIT NOTHING CAN LOOK BETTER THAN THIS", and that was two years ago. How does he look this year? How does he look in two more years? The thought is pretty cool to me, because hopefully we're constantly making people enjoy their champion more. (We're not perfect, but hopefully you feel we hit the mark more often than not.)
As for how long a particular character takes? Depends on a few things, namely scope, and how quickly we find a solution we're satisfied with. Sion took something crazy like 500 days (not straight or only on him, obviously). It's generally not about when we want to get it out as much as when its ready. Though, that's for the Pre-Production (Concept and Kit). Production is a bit more time boxed, because then it's more about execution than purely idea generation.
[Link] Recall animations for old VU will eventually happen?
Eventually, yes. Animation bandwidth is a little tight right now, so we're prioritizing the gameplay animations much higher than the additional ones.
Certain projects take significantly more bandwidth to do that others. As a general explanation, mages require significantly more VFX work, and melee fighters take significantly more animation work. Then there's stuff like cloth, dangles, etc.
I know it's not ideal, but hopefully the logic makes sense. :D
[Link] Someone I almost never see Rioters talk about in relation to a VU is Nunu. To me he seems like one of the most outdated models; is that not the view internally? Some of his abilities could use a pass too, imho.
Nunu is bad, and he should feel bad. http://i.imgur.com/oohwluV.png
We definitely know how bad of a state he's in internally. His kit is kinda a trash can, and so is his appearance. I personally feel he's down in the Urgot/Yorick/Galio area, but juuuust far enough out of it that he isn't notoriously bad. We keep a pretty heavy eye on the original forty, as they're pretty old (ground-breaking statement). We will be getting to him in time.
Do me a solid, yell at @SmashGizmo to stop playing top Nunu like a jerk.
[Link] When will Taric and Poppy get their updates? Later this year or only next year? Also, what are your opinions on those champions? What would you change, what would you keep?
Poppy is in active development. Taric will be quick on her heels.
I find Poppy to be really cool. I like her character as it exists on live, even if she's... uh... http://i.imgur.com/hyYA4ln.jpg
I love the way she just doesn't really give a fuck and just smashes onto the scene. Will definitely need a bit more of her assassin identity toned down (look, she can't be unkillable AND killing everything). I think she has a fun grumpy, kinda awkward (especially compared to Tristana) thing going on. She's insanely unique in that she's a physical Yordle- all others are trap/tool users, or mages. Because of this, expect to see some crazy shit.
For Taric... he's a bit of an oddball. The massive thing that needs to be solved on him is the massive dissonance between GEM KNIGHT and OUTRAGEOUS. How practical is he? How stylish is he? Can you find ways to solve for one without diminishing the other? Do you build in one direction or another? We think we have a pretty good idea of how to do this, but it definitely took a while to reach that point.
Taric is one of those characters (and certainly not the only one) where the community has moved him in a different direction than his original implementation. This isn't a bad thing (I'd love to see how the Syndra/Zed comic affects either of them down the road).
Not really a change/keep statement for either, but hopefully answers your question. :D
Lyte ask.fm RoundupLyte's ask.fm! Read on for more on player behavior, bans & ranked rewards, the future Tribunal and Team Builder updates, and more!
[Link] Hey Lyte, I had a read of the questions surrounding the "new" tribunal voting system, and I had a few of my own. Will there be any rewards associated with taking part in tribunal, like the old one? Also, will there be any data published from the tribunal? It would be interesting, to say the least :)
Our current plans are to have small rewards when players correctly identify other positive players in the Tribunal. If you remember, the Tribunal will now present cases that can be neutral, negative OR positive, so when a judge correctly identifies a positive player, they (and the positive player) will receive a small reward.
We'll most likely publish some papers on the new Tribunal voting system (and are wrapping up some papers on the old one); however, we're also open to just letting universities write papers on the systems like they have before.
[Link] What is the status of the Tribunal right now? I remember you (or maybe some other Rioter) saying it should launch this year, may be mistaken though...
If you are referring specifically to the Tribunal voting system, it's being worked on and we hope to do it this year. However, to us, the "Tribunal" encompasses all the new features you've been seeing recently including the Instant Feedback System, which delivers consequences within 5 to 15 minutes after the end of a game.
[Link] Hi RiotLyte! If I received a 7 or 14 day ban in previous seasons, will I still be able to get Season 5 rewards if I don't get banned at all this season? :)
If you were banned in previous seasons, but have not been banned in the 2015 Season, you will get Ranked Rewards. More serious behavioral offenses only make you ineligible for rewards in the current season, NOT for future seasons.
[Link] Are people with 2-3 20min low priority queues going to be excluded from s5 ranked rewards? Please answer, I am dying to know :( any info would be appreciated
2-3 20 minute Low Priority Queues should be fine, if we do anything we'll be targeting players who're basically chronic leavers and have had a lot more than 2-3 20 minute Low Priority Queues.
[Link] Is voice chat put into consideration with any adjustments or nah? I understand the reasons you mentioned before but voice chat has been always great experience for me in all games. Should I keep my hopes or drop the rope? :(
We aren't opposed to voice chat in League, and we do have ideas for the type of voice experience we'd want to create. If we were to do voice, we want to make it a seamless experience with much lower toxicity between strangers, and we want to add pretty serious consequences for things like racism and sexism in voice.
[Link] Hi , 2 questions please . First , do you remember those accidental 2 week bans a month ago that Rito did ? I was affected by them , will my account be flagged as ineligible ? Second , If I have been frequently CR'd but dont get punished for the rest of season will I get rewards ? Thanks
Players affected by the human error bans will be eligible for Ranked Rewards. If you do not have active Chat or Ranked Restrictions by the end of the season, you should be OK too. We're going to finalize details soon, but this is our current direction.
[Link] Hi Lyte.If a person was chat restricted twice in this season will he receive end season rewards?
Our current thoughts are that if a person reforms and has no active Chat/Ranked Restrictions by the end of the season, they will still get rewards. However, we're still finalizing the details and deciding whether we want to make these changes, or just stick to the 2014 policy for Ranked Rewards (which removed rewards for the most toxic restricted players... which was very hard for players to understand whether they'd be getting rewards or not).
[Link] When is Team Builder Ranked going to be released? "It is very painful to even attempt to play ranked right now".
We'll be releasing details of the new Champion Select experience and our launch plans in the near future. We're going to start by testing in Normal Draft queues, then Ranked queues.
[Link] Do you have chat logs from champ-select and post-game-screen?
Yes, we can review Champion Select and post-game chat logs if necessary for a case.
[Link] I've been wondering, when the tribunal goes live, will you keep your current automated system up and functioning, up and just observing, or will it be shut off?
The two systems will work together. There's a few different ways you can think about it:
(1) The automated system will flag cases to send to the Tribunal where players will vote and help determine the final consequence.
(2) Player votes in the Tribunal will create new data that will help teach the automated system what to look for in games.
[Link] OK, REAL TALK: I support your system, its one of the biggest Steps in the history of gaming. So here is, what im asking for: I want that players should be given realistic reform Options: Im sitting on 2k chat ban. But no other ban. Support told me its not banworthy. I dont want rewards, but help :(
We agree with you that reform needs to "feel" possible and reasonable to achieve, and we're working on an upgrade to the Chat Restriction System that should be more flexible, reasonable and realistic. The system will give smaller batches of Chat Restrictions, and if the player fails to reform, will start handing out game bans until a permanent ban. The system will use this structure instead of giving 1000s of chat restrictions which were just a temporary measure to basically "permanently" chat restrict a player until we got these upgrades out.
[Link] Hey Jeffrey, What do you think about that constant "It was misundestanding, we didn't explain it correctly" that comes from Riot after talking about any matter? Would love to hear your opinion on it.
I don't think the expectation is that someone like Ghostcrawler or me are perfect in communications. We're human and we're going to make mistakes, especially as we learn how to use something like Ask.fm. We tend to engage with players as much as we can, which means we're often doing it on our breaks, and generally only have 5-10 minutes to answer a question or two. I think there might be a bit of a memory bias here because overall, Ghostcrawler and I answer hundreds of questions and there's rarely a problem. But, once in awhile we'll fuck up, and it'll instantly blow up social media or Reddit and that's all people "remember" about our communications... and they'll forget the 100s of other questions we've already answered that players were OK with.
The real question is, do player think there's net positive value in Ghostcrawler or me or other Rioters answering questions as much as we possibly can, even if we'll make mistakes once in awhile? Or, is it better to just be silent and avoid answering any questions and therefore make 0 mistakes?
[Link] first of all i love every single thing you have been doing to improve the league community and remove the toxicity but is there a chance that folks who often report issues get like a reward of sorts? like a shiny badge or boarder for being "upstanding" in the community?
We're definitely thinking about some cool "status symbols" for players that make a lot of positive contributions to the League community. In fact, something small might be landing this fall and we're planning more in the future.
[Link] is the situation with the whole ranked season rewards and how you earn/lose them final or are you still working out the details?
Still working on the details. We could have just stuck to 2014's policy, but after looking at all the data, we believe it's better if we make some minor changes this year.
[Link] Hi RiotLyte, is it possible that there will be some exceptions to the people who got 7/14 days ban, and still receive rewards if they had no other punishments after their ban ended?
We're still working on the final details this week, but we do want to encourage reform wherever we can. The question really is, how much time has to pass for true reform to have occurred? If a player was banned for 14 days, and is positive for 1 day, is that considered reform? We're running a bunch of analytics to make sure we celebrate real reform.
Be sure to visit Lyte on his ask.fm or twitter if you have more questions!
Community Patch Recap - 5.16
Last up we have RiotJaws with a community patch around up for 5.16, including player-created videos highlighting the recent changes and reworks:
"With the introduction of the Juggernaut Items and several champion reworks, Patch 5.16 sparked a ton of discussion within the community. Want to get caught up on how this patch changed the game? Study up with these player-created videos.
Phylol - 5 biggest changes in Patch 5.16
Phylol gives his take on the largest changes in 5.16 and how he feels they'll affect the game.
Jeremy "Gaming Curios" - Indirect Changes on the Meta
Jeremy GC flips the script on the patch notes, focusing on what he feels are the indirect effects on the meta as a result of these changes.
Want more info about Patch 5.16?
Read the official patch notes here if you haven't already.
For an abbreviated take, check out these sweet patch summary infographics that KairuX put together:
You can also watch the 5.16 Patch Rundown for a more in-depth look at the changes.
5.16 Patch Rundown - Juggerwhaaaaat?
For those of you that still need to read the Patch Notes, Pwnin Boundaries has a Public Service Announcement on the importance of reading patch notes.
Pwnin Boundaries - This is Why We Read Patch Notes
How do you prep for a new patch? Let us know in the comments below!"
Chef Lu Bu - Kench’s Catfishhttp://na.leagueoflegends.com/en/news/community/community-spotlight/chef-lu-bu-kenchs-catfish
"Brian Smawley, known in the community as Chef Lu Bu, is back again with another salivatin’ cooking guide. His newest recipe, Kench’s Fried Catfish, looks delectable enough to satisfy even the River King’s insatiable appetite.
Be sure to check out Chef Lu Bu on Twitter, or watch more of his kitchen shenanigans on YouTube! Also, don't forget to catch up on our own Tahm Kench recipes -- Krugettes, Kalista Kebabs, and Amumoodles.
Do you have any League inspired recipes? Share yours below!"