Red Post Collection: Galio Champion Insights, Meddler Gameplay Thoughts 3/16, Ask Riot, DS Zyra Audio, and more!

Posted on at 12:04 PM by Moobeat
[UPDATE: New dev blog on Micropatches fixing Anivia and several more quick hits added to post!]

Today's red post collection includes a new champion insights article for the Galio update, Meddler's gameplay thoughts for 3/16, a new /Dev on Dragon Sorceress Zyra's sounds,  a new ask Riot, and more! 
Continue reading for more information!





Table of Contents


Quick Gameplay Thoughts: March 16 

Meddler is back on the Dev corner boards with another installment of his quick gameplay thoughts for March 16, including talk of a few upcoming changes for 7.7, thoughts on Karthus, and more!
"Hi folks, 
Not too much to mention today, we're pretty focused on mid-season work at present so less to talk about right now. As far as mid-season itself goes we should be in a position to talk a lot of details in a few weeks at a guess. 
MR/level 
One of the issues we've been looking at for our mid-season defensive item work is whether we should be adjusting MR/level to account for the removal of Aegis aura in the pre-season last year. That aura, even at only 10 or 15 MR, composed a meaningful proportion of some champions total MR in many games, which has left those champs significantly more vulnerable to magic damage. We're testing giving a small amount of MR per level (0.5 at present) to champs who don't currently have any as a result. 
Karthus 
Touching on Karthus since he's been asked about a fair bit recently and he's one of those champs we haven't talked about in a while. We don't have any current plans for Karthus, we are keeping a closer eye on him than usual right now though because of the Exhaust nerf that just went through (want to see how much that does/doesn't impact him). 
Some 7.7 Balance Changes 
We've just started our work on 7.7. We're still planning out what exactly we'll be focusing on, some likely candidates though include buffs to Lissandra (since we didn't find something we were happy with in 7.6) and Bard plus a nerf to Graves. Less certain are possible Lux and Kassadin buffs plus another look at Udyr and consideration of some other junglers. Aatrox followup's very possible, though what depends on how he performs over the next week or so of course. More details to follow."

Champ Insights: Galio, The Colossus 

With Galio's champion update smashing up the PBE and headed to live in the upcoming 7.6 patch, here's Cactopus with a champion insights article for Galio, the Colossus:
"Galio may be a gargoyle, but he’s never really acted like one.

Real gargoyles have a specific purpose in architecture, and it’s not to make old buildings look hella scary. Actually, they’re supposed to be used as rainspouts. Rainwater runs into a trough in the gargoyle’s back, and then it spits out the water away from the sides of the building to prevent erosion in the mortar. Basically, gargoyles are just a way for architects to make drainage pipes look cool. 
Our old buddy Galio is definitely not a drainage pipe—he’s a living statue that counters the cloaks off of magic-wielding enemies. And when we set out to rework the Sentinel’s Sorrow, we decided we didn’t want to change that. But we did want to make him into a more important player in Demacia’s story. We needed to make him bigger. 
Like, way bigger. 
FROM RAINSPOUT TO COLOSSUS 
Long ago, Demacian explorers discovered something that would change their civilization: petricite. The petricite ore is a sort of fossilized wood that possesses anti-magic properties. For the Demacians, who eschew magic and fear the threat of invading magical forces, petricite was a godsend. The people built their city amidst a petricite forest on a hilltop, using the precious substance to construct their walls. 
Any time magic is used, there's a consequence.

These walls worked splendidly when it came to defending Demacia from antagonistic mages, but whenever soldiers went into the field, they were without defense against magic. So, a wise Demacian tactician requested a “portable petricite wall” that could be taken into battle. A sculptor named Durand was hired for the job, and he built an enormous man made of petricite. The statue acted as both a practical protective totem and as a sort of rallying banner for the Demacian soldiers. 
Over the years, the petricite man absorbed countless magical attacks. Any time magic is used, there is a consequence, and in this case that consequence was enormous; one day, while the Demacians faced down an immense magical beast, the petricite man awoke. 
But that was a long time ago. Now, no living man remembers the last time the great colossus awoke, so some doubt the stories of Galio’s awakening. As they sip organic Demacian teas and twist their ironic mustaches, these young skeptics mock the old stories as nothing more than fairy tales from the lips of doddering fools. 
But all in Demacia see Galio as the great symbol of their civilization. He’s a mountain-sized statue representing eternal liberty, security, and war. 
THE PETRICITE MAN HITS THE RIFT 
When you’re a tank, it’s not enough to be big. You wanna feel big. Champion designer Sol “Solcrushed” Kim wanted Galio players to feel like god-sized monsters while rotating through the petricite man’s spells, “That’s why everything he does is so exaggerated, weighty, and bulky feeling,” Solcrushed says. “He’s deliberate with everything that he does, like a huge, lumbering statue.” 
If Demacians constructed their own Statue of Liberty, what would it look like?

Quickly, though, Solcrushed discovered that not all “heavy, deliberate” gameplay ends up feeling fun. In its earliest iterations, Galio’s E ability (Justice Punch) had a long charge-up period before its dash. That, Solcrushed says, felt sort of bad. “So I got this idea for a jump/windup movement before the dash,” he says. “Even though it’s still a delay, it feels a lot better because you’re still moving. You still get something at the moment of the button press.” 
Of course, Galio isn’t just a big, petrified man that likes to punch stuff—he’s the great defender of an entire people, and he needed to look the part. Concept artist Gem “Lonewingy” Lim poses the question this way: “If Demacians constructed their own Statue of Liberty, what would it look like?” 
LIBERTY AND JUSTICE PUNCHES FOR ALL 
The first thing we had to consider when deciding Galio’s look is his purpose in the new narrative: defending Demacians in battle. Even before coming to life, Galio performed this task admirably. “When Demacian knights rode to war,” says Lonewingy, “they were protected by the anti-magical properties emitting from the statue.” With this aura in place, few could throw the Knights from their mounts, the legendary ebony wyverns. Thus, the sculptor Durand specifically designed Galio to look like a chimeric combination of knights and wyverns, to signify the unity of Demacian warrior and beast. 
"We wanted Galio's ultimate to be something really spectacular, like something out of pro wrestling." –JohnODyin. 
The colossus’s great wings also symbolize his defensive purpose, forming a shield whenever he enters a defensive stance. He’s decked out in white and gold colors, the favored colors of Demacia. Inherent in all this design is a sort of over-the-top patriotic feel. Galio is bold and brash. He’s serious in his task of defending Demacia, but he’s also got a joyful side. “People see a giant majestic sculpture and they assume he’ll behave majestically,” says narrative writer John “JohnODyin” O’Bryan. “We thought it’d be more interesting if he defied expectations a bit.” 
Galio’s youthful vigor is, in part, due to the unique way he sees the world. Even though he’s very old, he only “awakens” for a few minutes at a time, giving him a very limited perspective on the world. “He’s basically just super stoked he gets to move,” JohnODyin says. “Working on Galio was refreshing because he doesn’t have any complicated feelings about fighting. He’s just happy to be alive and smashing shit.” 
Galio’s smashing all sorts of shit now on the PBE."

For more on Galio's champion update, check out these links:


Ask Riot: Why Do I Suck? 

New Ask Riot answering questions on being a game designer, the mastery system, and tips for getting better at the game:
"Welcome to Ask Riot! 
Let’s talk about working as a game designer, getting better at League, and future champion mastery ranks. 
Why do I suck at League?

Games like LoL test a wide range of different skills. If you feel you’re not doing as well as you should, it probably means you’re doing ok at some of them but being held back by your performance at the others. List of things I’d suggest thinking about below. Some skills are much more important to improve at than others of course and it’s possible to offset weakness in one area with strength in another.  
Knowledge:  
  • Your ability to make optimal decisions based off your understanding of how the game rules work (e.g. which items are the best choices if you want an early game build on a fighter top lane, or which champion best serves the needs of a team comp)  
Positioning:  
  • Your understanding of where to put yourself relative to your enemies, allies, objectives etc. and ability to do so quickly and constantly while doing other stuff (e.g. where to stand as a support to stress the enemy bot lane, or how to flank in a team fight as an assassin)  
Breadth of Roster:   
  • Whether you can play a wide enough range of champs to pick whatever your team needs (e.g. are you a nothing but tanks top lane player or can you go Rumble or Fiora when that would be advantageous)  
Mechanical Execution:  
  • How well you can get your champion to quickly do exactly what you want (e.g. executing that Riven animation cancelling just right, lining up the Blitz hook perfectly through the minion gap etc.)  
Map Awareness:  
  • Your ability to track both what’s happening in game direct and on the minimap effectively at the same time (e.g. recognizing when you really should be running back to your tower rather than trying for one more minion wave before backing – I fail particularly hard at this one)  
Team Coordination:  
  • Being able to communicate and coordinate quickly and effectively with your team (e.g. executing a 1-3-1 lane push that doesn’t just become ‘they 5v3’d us and we lost an inhib’).  
Resilience:  
  • Tilt resistance basically. How well you can recover from setbacks mentally to keep your future performance high (e.g. keeping a deliberate, controlled approach to trading in mid lane after getting first blooded by Shaco, rather than becoming super aggressive or super passive). 
Strategic Decision Making:  
  • Recognizing what strategies each team should be trying to execute during different points in the game and playing around that (e.g. knowing when to try and stall it out and wait for your late game scaling, rather than constantly 5v5ing mid for no good reason).  
Reading Your Opponents:  
  • Predicting what the enemy is going to do, or wants to do, and taking advantage of them when they do so (e.g. waiting in river brush to ambush that mid laner you know’s going to come over to do Raptors)  
Processing Information:  
  • Your ability to take in a lot of stuff happening at once and figure out what’s relevant to you (e.g. spotting the critical spells to dodge in a busy teamfight that looks like a fireworks factory exploding).  
Or, if you want a much shorter version that’s a great starting point for most of us:  
  • CS better
  • Place more Control Wards 
MEDDLER, Lead Gameplay Designer 
Are you making champion mastery ranks past 7?

When we look at progression systems in a lot of other games, they often just feel like a grind — we don’t want Champion Mastery to feel like that. We’re trying to find a spot between a performance feedback system and progression system, which is why grades play a larger role in the later ranks. We do see value in adding additional levels, but we are focusing on improvements to the overall grading system first. 
The next steps for the system are probably coming in a few areas: 
1. Better grade calculations and transparency 
Have you ever finished a game, looked at your grade and said, “I carried, I don’t understand why I got an A-. RITO PLS”? We want to reduce this feeling by creating more transparency into how the system is generating your grade (without making it gameable). We also want to make the way we’re calculating grades take into account the nuance of real player decisions more accurately. For example, trading some farm to focus on ganks might be the right choice to win a game, even if it means your individual stats take a hit. Ideally, your grade should reward you for doing the things that help your team to win the game, not just the things that boost your statline. 
2. Further progression, with exciting new challenges 
We feel the performance gating on Mastery 6 and 7 makes achieving those tiers feel meaningful. Unlocking those later levels through Hextech Crafting, though, isn’t as great and is definitely something we want to improve. We also want to give more levels so you can prove your mastery even further, but we want to make the grading system more comprehensive before we add more levels that rely on it. 
3. Providing feedback to help players learn 
Learning League is hard, especially without someone to help guide you to victory. We think there is an opportunity for champion mastery to give feedback that you can act on to improve your game. As our grading system improves, we’ll be able to give you more feedback on why you got your grade, and the kinds of things you could be doing to improve your skill further. 
IAMWALRUS, Designer, Competitive 
How can I be a game designer at Riot?

The pedantic answer is that you have to pass a job interview, so I’ll skip right to the kinds of things that will help you pass an interview. 
The interview steps are:  
  • Someone (probably a recruiter) has to notice your application
  • We send you a written design test 
  • You do a phone screen with 1-2 designers 
  • If that goes well, we’ll fly you to the LA office for a day-long interview with 6-10 Rioters (broken up over one-hour interviews) 
  • If you pass that interview, we’ll make you an offer. Sometimes you don’t quite pass the interview, but we ask you to keep in touch, and we often end up hiring these folks when the right position comes along.  
Getting past that first step can be challenging. We can get over 100 applications a week for game design spots at Riot, and like many companies, there really isn’t a feasible way to give every application several hours of scrutiny. Therefore, it really helps you to stand out. You do not want to stand out because you use a weird font or color on your cover letter and resume. You want to stand out because of the content of your cover letter and resume. 
If you don’t have professional game experience, then your resume will probably be on the slight side. And that’s fine. However, it is appropriate to take credit for any game-related accomplishments that you do have. If you are a raid leader or streamer or wrote a strategy guide or made a Starcraft mod or have been a Dungeon Master for 10 years, you should include that! 
If your resume is on the lighter side, then you’ll have to lean more on your cover letter. So let’s talk some about what you can put in that cover letter: 
First, you have to love games. I’ll assume that’s a given here. We get a lot of applications that argue we should hire them because they love games. That’s important of course, but not nearly enough. 
The three things you will do as a designer at Riot the most often are: analysis, problem-solving and creating things. So the advice I often give is to demonstrate that you have experience in those areas. It doesn’t have to be professional experience, and for many of our designers, that was not the case. We are one of those studios that will hire a promising candidate right out of college/university. We do it all the time. 
Problem-solving and analysis are hard to demonstrate in a cover letter, though you’ll have a better chance if you make it to the design test phase. You could mention if you have done a lot of theorycrafting for a game and even provide the link. This kind of thing may need more explanation in a cover letter than you’ll be able to get through or present in a resume. 
In terms of creating something, we’re much more interested in someone who has taken an idea through the entire start-to-finish process than someone who can just brainstorm a bunch of cool ideas. Idea generation is honestly the easy part of this job. It’s the iteration, prioritization, hard calls, feedback, compromises, and playtesting that really make up the day job of a game designer. Demonstrating that you can make — and finish — something is super valuable. 
So what can you make? If you have technical competency (or friends who do), then building a game on your own using a package such as Unity is outstanding. Bonus points if you put your game up for sale on a mobile app store or Steam. If that scale seems impossible for you to consider, then make a mod or a map for a game. Bonus points if other players play and enjoy your content. If that scale is still too large, then make a board game or a card game. My colleague Stone Librande always says that if you don’t enjoy making a card game then you probably won’t enjoy making Halo either. 
Worst case, you could submit a purely theoretical design, like coming up with a new class for XCOM or a new champion for League, but assuming you haven’t actually tested those concepts out, then you won’t have experienced the full gamut of creating something. Depending on the scope of what you’ve made, you can either describe it in the cover letter (and offer to send if we’re interested) or you could just include it with your application. I sent some D&D campaigns that I designed with my first application to Ensemble Studios. 
Finally, I talk to folks who desperately want to break into game design all the time, and I know it can be really frustrating or just feel impossible. I know that feeling is tough. I know it sucks. Believe me, I remember very well when I was on the other side and wanted to be a designer more than anything. The good news is that the gaming industry continues to grow, so there are more opportunities than ever to get your foot in the door. Your first job may not be at Riot (or Blizzard or Infinity Ward or Bungie), but maybe you can leverage a first game job at a smaller or indie studio to eventually get to your dream studio. 
Best of luck! Let me know when you land it. 
GHOSTCRAWLER, Design Director, League of Legends

Have a question? Head over to Ask Riot and sign into your League account. Check out the Dos and Don’ts, then ask away. 
We promise to read every question, but we can’t guarantee they’ll all get answers. Some questions may already be answered elsewhere, and some won’t be right for Ask Riot. This isn’t the best place to announce new features, for example, and we might skip conversations on issues we’ve talked about in depth before (though we can clarify individual points). 
We are listening, though, so keep asking. We’ll make sure your questions are heard by the Rioters working on the stuff you’re curious about."

Micropatches Save Anivia

Latest Dev blog on how Micropatches where effectively used to fix recent Anivia bugs:
"A few weeks ago, Festival Queen Anivia brought the spirit of Carnaval to the Rift. It was all costumes and celebrations—until bug reports about the icy bird started flying in. Riot’s QA teams quickly confirmed her ultimate wasn’t properly applying the debuff that doubled Frostbite’s damage. 
The bug was game-breaking enough to warrant a disable while we found a fix, and that fix would then have to be QA-tested overnight before implementing to live servers. That means it’d be Friday afternoon, at the earliest, that Anivia would be playable…but we don’t send out hotfixes on Fridays unless the game is severely broken: The risk of unintentionally causing a major problem during peak weekend hours is too high. 
Thus, the party was to be cut short as soon as it begun, with Anivia evicted from the Rift until Monday. But wait—Anivia didn’t actually get disabled for the entire weekend. 
What allowed us to save The Cryophoenix from that terrible fate? To answer this, we have to dive into the glamorous world of game servers, clients, redeploys, and micropatches. 
LET’S GET (A LITTLE) TECHNICAL 
Game data is held in two locations: the client and the server. Client data is downloaded onto everyone’s computer, and changing it requires that you download a patch. The client contains a lot of visual and audio information, such as the Rift’s appearance, champion models, and voice overs. 
The game server is the thing you connect to after champ select; it’s like a little universe that runs your individual 5v5 (or 3v3 or 1v9) game. When we make a change to the game servers, there’s no downtime or downloads. The servers contain numerical information like champion stats as well as scripts that control how abilities function (but not necessarily how they look). 
Ideation for Festival Queen Anivia's Splash Art
For a long time, the only way to make a change to the client or server was to send out all-new information in the form of patches (deploys) or hotfixes (redeploys). Redeploys most often target server data and are largely how we fixed important live issues (extreme balance problems, champion bugs, etc.) in the past. 
Redeploys are risky and require overnight QA-testing, even though most problems are small and require only minor pieces of data to be changed. However, we can’t redeploy just one piece of data—we have to redeploy all of the data. Engineering architect Brian “Riot Penrif” Bossé says, “Doing a large QA-heavy process to push a small change can be wasteful and has a lot more risk than sometimes warranted.” 
And even after overnight testing, we still don’t redeploy on Fridays unless there’s an extreme emergency (like ranked queues being busted or only being able to play Teemo). Some of League’s architecture was built a long time ago, before we realized the amount of content we’d place on those foundations, and some these foundations are just not as reliable as we’d like them to be. 
We knew there had to be a better way to fix minor issues causing major problems.

Once, after redeploying client data, everybody’s executable file for League was deleted—meaning nobody could open League of Legends. Release Lead Donna “Riot Feithen” Mason says, “Ideally, if we push a button, we expect it to do the same thing every time, but sometimes that’s not the case.” 
We’re still working on updating some of League’s dated foundations, but in the meantime, it occasionally makes redeploys unpredictable. We tend to proceed with caution, particularly before the weekend, because redeploys force us to resend all the information regardless of how small the change is. 
We knew there had to be a better way to fix minor issues causing major problems. 
MICROPATCHES, THE SNEAKY SUPERHEROES 
About a year ago, a new technology called micropatches changed everything. Unlike redeploys, micropatches can make targeted, specific changes to gameplay data. If you think about the game server as a bulletin board, then a micropatch is like a sticky-note posted above the bulletin board. Redeploys are like changing out the whole damn thing, sometimes just to fix one typo. With micropatches, the old game server is still there, but when a new game loads, it looks for sticky-notes and makes only those specific changes. 
"We can ship a micropatch globally in less than two minutes."

This makes micropatches way less risky and also way faster than redeploys. For one, micropatches build off of existing server data instead of redeploying all of it, so changes we make are much more contained. And two, micropatches are super easy to implement and revert. We can ship a micropatch globally in less than two minutes—and remove it just as fast. 
For awhile, micropatches could only be used to make changes to numerical data—basically, they were there to address balance issues that needed attention, fast. There was still no way to make targeted changes to the scripts that control how champion abilities function, meaning lengthy redeploys were still the only way to fix (most) bugs that would result in disable-dom. 
Just a few weeks prior to Anivia’s disabling bug, the champion-saving technology was finished: We could now use micropatches to make targeted changes to ability scripts. 
REBIRTHING ANIVIA 
The day of Anivia’s Festival Queen debut, we learned her ultimate was bugged across all skins. QA members started piling in, working to pinpoint the source of the problem. Associate game designer Matthew “PhRoXzOn” Leung-Harrison, who worked on the Anivia changes made in Patch 6.23, says, “As soon as I saw the bug, I knew exactly what was going wrong.” 
Every champion in League has a logic file containing scripts that control their abilities. This doesn’t necessarily hold information about how the abilities look or how much damage they do. Rather, it controls how the abilities should function—it’s kind of like a motherboard that connects all of the information and synthesizes it into what you see on screen. 
Because of a mix-up, we ended up sending a broken version of Anivia’s ult’s logic file to live servers. As a result, her ultimate looked like it worked—it turned on when you pressed “R” and had pretty particle effects—but it wasn’t functioning properly. Glacial Storm should apply a two second debuff for Frostbite’s doubled damage, but it was only applying a .5 second debuff. In the words of QA Lead Brian “Aotus” Brause, “You looked really pretty… while you did no damage.” 
After identifying the problem, we updated her logic script and spent some time QA testing. The change fixed the new bug, but a more thorough bug sweep revealed an old exploit that originated in Patch 6.23. Fortunately, the QA process for micropatches is pretty quick, since we’re only checking for the results of one specific change. We made a second modification, and this one worked: Both bugs were fixed and ready to send to players via micropatch. 
Forget being disabled for a weekend—within four hours, Anivia was back to (correctly) chilling and fiesta-ing on the Rift. 
MICROPATCHES FIX ALL THE THINGS? 
While micropatches have been used in the past to address balance problems, this was the first time we’d modified a logic script and saved a champion from the cruel fate of disable-dom with micropatches. This tech doesn’t work on everything—you won’t see us micropatching a new wing onto Anivia or adding extra-frosty VFX—but they’re a fast, low-risk way of addressing some live issues. 
Right now, we’re working on finding a better way to communicate micropatch changes with players. They’re currently added to the top of patch notes, but who the heck goes back to read patch notes long after the patch? We considered broadcasting major changes, like nerfs and buffs, in the in-client ticker, but that’s really only there to notify you if something is broken or unstable. We’re hoping the updated client will provide a better way to share micropatch changes. 
In the meantime, Riot Penrif jokes, “If something is unexpectedly working when you thought it was broken, let’s just assume micropatches saved the day.” 

/Dev: On Sound Design for the Dragon Sorceress

Dive into the latest /DEV on the sound design for the recently released Dragon Sorceress Zyra skin!
"Hi everyone! My name is Austin “Vonderhamz” DeVries, and I’m one of the sound designers on the Personalization (aka skins) team. My job is to create and implement sound and voice over that grounds a character in Runeterra and gives clear gameplay feedback to players so they can play at their highest potential. A lot of people are visually-driven, so sound design is a craft that is unheard of (hah) by some and seems like black magic to others. 
To explain how we go from concept to completion, I’m going to break down what it was like to create sound for one of League’s ferocious new skins: Dragon Sorceress Zyra. 
STARTING FROM SCRATCH 
When developing a skin, we always starts with a concept. In this, our team of developers tries to create a new feeling for the champion that takes their core thematics and amplifies a part of it to 11. As a team we think, “If I were playing this champion, what would make it more badass?” The concept artist then translates this idea into visuals, giving further direction to the artists who do the modeling, texturing, animation and VFX. All of these folks aim to make a faithful recreation of the 2D concept in a 3D space. 
All of this work is also highly, highly visual. 
All skins start with a concept.
The sound designer’s job at this stage is to translate this concept art into audio in order to enhance the work of all the other teams and individuals. This is no small task, and it comes with a lot of trust: we can make the animator and VFX artist’s work feel more crisp and impactful with the right choices, or we can make it feel weak and cheap with the incorrect ones. 
On Riot’s audio team, we never use audio straight out of a library. Each of our champions needs to have their own sonic signature to elevate their character and enhance gameplay. In order to create unique sounds, we use a technique called “building blocks.” To create building blocks, we record source material (which could be literally anything but normally is something that fits the personality of a champion or thematic), then use various sound-manipulating plug-ins to process the source audio. The results are short clips that we can use as layers when we design the sound of an ability. 
Unique sources often work best when searching for a champion’s sonic signature. Tahm Kench’s Tongue Lash was created by slapping a wet sheepskin against a bathtub and various balloons submerged in a sink. High Noon Jhin has a surprising amount of bacon grease crackling in his auto attacks as well as whistling recorded in an echo chamber for his ult. A good chunk of Ekko’s sound kit was created with differently-sized glass shards being swept over various types of floors. Zac is a condom full of dog food being smacked against a wall. You get the point. 
There are no rules with this, and the main goal is to get sound with character. 
BRINGING A CONCEPT TO LIFE 
When looking at the concept for Zyra’s dragons, I knew I wanted to accomplish three main things: Clean up her gameplay by making it more obvious what the two different types of plants do, make her a less noisy champion by designing clearer, shorter sounds, and make her dragons sound like they’re actually on the Rift (and not just directly in front of you). In order to accomplish this, I had to record some source. 
This was the very first thing recorded to create the sound of Zyra’s dragons:

These sounds are the raw recordings of myself and a tech artist on my team clicking and purring into a mic. Yes, they sound like garbage, and are pretty embarrassing, but that’s not the point! The idea was to capture something that had the characteristics of the concept. The clicks reminded me of the aggression of Zyra’s plants in game. There was a really neat tonal element on some that I wanted to highlight a bit more and turn into a scream. I liked the purrs—it felt like a flap oscillating deep in the throat of these long-necked critters. I wondered if I could pitch it down and make it feel like the throat was longer? 
These recordings have the elements I needed to start formulating what the anatomy of the dragons could sound like. These recordings had character.

After some audio wizardry, this is a selection of what we ended up with (about a hundred times more of these building blocks, or short clips, were made.)

Everything in these recordings, save for the occasional metal screech, is 100% human. We ended up creating lots of different types of dragon vocals—some fast, some slow, some tonal, some noisy, some clicky, some screamy. There’s variation, and that’s good. This gives us options when creating the sound for her kit. 
SETTING THE MOOD 
At this point, the team is probably wondering what I’ve been doing all day, why I have 15 tabs open with pictures of reptiles, and why my voice is raspy… all to be explained soon. In order to share the work I’ve been doing with the team, I create an audio concept “mood board” that contains a bunch of my favorite moments in my building blocks. This can be as simple as a bunch of audio clips playing one after another, but I find it to be much more engaging to create one that tells a story.
Xin Zhao finds himself outnumbered. I hope he brought Merc Treads.


I was inspired by the newest dragon-y splash arts that seem to tell the story of the hero Xin Zhao as he bravely ventures to slay the foul dragon sorceress Zyra in her lair. This story seemed like a natural fit for a mood board, and it provided an opportunity to amplify the feelings portrayed in the concept art. 



Details like the rain outside or the water dripping in the cave are there to set the mood and give the building block sounds a backdrop to live on. Where as a moodboard of audio clips one after another would be difficult to decipher to visually-focused artists, this method of creating a story does a really nice job of conveying the emotion and character of the sound I was trying to create. This, in turn, empowers the team to give me feedback based on how it made them feel, which ultimately gives me perspective on how effective my sounds are. I can then go back to adjust and create more building blocks if needed. 
DESIGNING A DRAGON 
Once our team has agreed upon the direction, I can move forward with creating the in-game assets. The goal is to make sounds that convey the character while (more importantly) highlighting the gameplay, so players clearly know when they cast and land abilities. For example, for the ranged plant-dragon’s attack, I needed to create three different sounds: First, the cast sound, or the dragon getting ready to spit. Next, the sound of the shot leaving the Dragon’s mouth, and finally, the sound of it hitting a target. Each part of the sound needed subtle variations so that every shot felt slightly different while still fitting gameplay.
Concept Art of Zyra’s Plants
I started by figuring out how long each part of the spell is. It turned out the cast- and shot-time are both about a quarter of a second, so each sound I created had that amount of time to flow into the next one. The duration of the shot hitting didn’t matter as much because the animation’s readability and texture was more important to gameplay. 
From there, I imported the building blocks that had the right length and characteristics for each part of the spell. To differentiate the spitty ranged dragons from the chompy melee dragons, I used the more tonal, flappy-sounding building blocks to emphasize the length of the throat, while I gave the melee dragons the clicky, growly building blocks to sound more aggressive. Once I had the right building blocks imported and edited, I added any other elements that supported the characteristics of each plant, such as vocals from big cats and my personal favorite source for creature vocals—camels. 
Once the editing was completed, I added audio effects to the individual and groups of layers to emphasize the parts of the sound I wanted and to clean up the parts I didn’t. The goal here was to enhance the character of the building blocks while grounding them in the world of League. After a healthy dose of audio effects, automation, and mastering, the sounds are ready to implement and test in-game!

Final version of Zyra’s Q-plant SFX in Pro Tools 
FINAL THOUGHTS 
One of the reasons we can create kickass skins that emphasize both gameplay and thematics is the close collaboration between artists and sound designers. The artist’s visual designs helps guide our work, and in turn, the sounds we create can inspire the artistic direction of a skin. 
Riot’s audio team is always working to create sounds that amplify the feeling of skins and champs, but it can be tricky because our first priority is gameplay. Even if something sounds really cool and fits the skin’s thematic, it doesn’t mean it’s a fit for League. For example, even if we liked lengthy, booming roars for Zyra’s dragons, it wouldn’t have fit into the audio cadence players have come to expect from the plant-lady, so we wouldn’t use it. Good sound comes from the cross section of emotion and gameplay, even if the source was a few hours screaming, clicking, and purring into a mic."
More on Dragon Sorceress Zyra available here!

On Summoner's Rift Shopkeeper VO

In a reddit thread inquiring why the Summoner's Rift shopkeepers added in the Summoner's Rift updated do not have voice overs while the older Howling Abyss shopkeepers do, RiotJxE commented:
"We took a stab at adding shopkeeper VO to SR and after playtesting it, we found that it was pretty annoying after a few games. Especially the blue side shopkeeper. The VO has to be something that is still fresh after thousands of games and that was the challenge with shopkeeper VO. You literally can't get away from them. 
It's still on our radar, but we may have to do some redesigns to the shopkeepers in order to have VO that won't be annoying a year from now. 
Hearing your requests for it causes us to have conversations about prioritizing again so thanks for speaking up!"

Galio Update AMA on Reddit

The team behind Galio's update has jumped on reddit to host a Galio Update AMA!
"The devs will answer your questions about the Galio rework from 2:00pm PST to 4:00pm PST"
Check our next red post collection for a summary!

Few interesting responses:




Quick Hits - Viktor Bug Fix in 7.6, What is Rengar?, & more

[Quick Hits is our own collection within a red post collection, often including easy to digest stories, specialized information, and/or repeat info you may have missed in other posts!]

1) Ququroon jumped on reddit to note that the bug causing Viktor's Chaos Storm (R) to disappear on death will be fixed in 7.6
"Hello, Viktor Mains! 
I wanted you to be the first to know the bug where Viktor's Chaos Storm was disappearing on death will be fixed in roughly a week, with patch 7.6. 
We really appreciate you continuing to raise visibility on this, and I apologize for the pain that the bug caused. There was some confusion internally if this was a bug or not, which caused this to take a bit longer than normal. We're sticking to this being the intentional functionality (at least for now). 
Thank you again, and I hope you all have a nice day."

2) When asked if we will ever know more about what exactly Rengar is or where his race originates from, Jaredan teased:
"Quote:
Hi I have a question about rengar and more specifically what he is? I remember some rioter saying Nami is part of a race of mermaids called the marai(?) Nut is rengar a part of some race of giant cat people? Is rengar an urban legend? Is he a human hunter transformed into a jungle cat by the magic of the kumungu or maybe a lion transformed? WHAT IS RENGAR?
I have to engage vague mode, sorry, but I promise your question is going to be answered."

3) When asked about the future SKT skins to celebrate them as our 2016 World champions, Kindlejack confirmed there would indeed be 6 skins instead of five.

4) The Breakdown with Jatt: Understanding late game decisions (LCK Spring Week 6)


5) Eager for a new champions? Riot Scruffy asked on twitter:
"Any guesses what our next new champ's gonna be? My money is that no one will get it."


6) When asked about adding an owned skins tab to LCU, RiotSanjuro commented:
[1] "I'm on it. Give me some time. <3"
[2] "I've already designed it.. and I'm personally pushing to get it live. So yes, I believe. If it never happens, it's more on me than anyone else. Once the new client is out, I hope it will be coming soon after."




Reminders

To round out this red post collection, here are reminders on current promotions or limited time events!

  • As mentioned in the 7.5 patch notes, ASCENSION returns in the RGMQ from 3/17/17- 3/21/17!


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