PROJECT: Hunters Interview - New Game Mode & skins

Posted on at 6:33 PM by Moobeat
"There is no returning to the analog." We've got the team behind PROJECT: Hunters to talk about the OVERCHARGE gamemode and upcoming skins for Jhin, Vayne, and Vi!
Continue reading for the full interview, including more on the event, rewards, development, and more!

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With a new PROJECT themed event for 2017 right around the corner, we had the opportunity to talk shop with several Rioters working on the upcoming releases! Branded PROJECT: Hunters, this upcoming event includes set of PROJECT skins for Jhin, Vayne, and Vi, and OVERCHARGEvarious summoner icons and rewards, and more!

The Rioters answering our questions are from a variety of disciplines:
  • Carlos “IamCarlos “ Giffoni - Product Manager 
  • Kevin “Beluga Whale”Huang - Associate Game Designer
  • David “Sharkcromancer“ Harrington - Senior Environment Artist
  • Brendon “RiotVitzkrieg “ Vitz- Art Lead

PROJECT: HUNTERS


1) The new event is called PROJECT: Hunters! Can you elaborate on the name and theme?
Carlos: "For the past few years, we explored what the PROJECT world looked like from the highest point of the city. This year, we wanted to discover what the city looked like on the ground floor. If everything was shiny and beautiful up top, what would things and people be like in the shadows of that world? 
These characters are hunting one another for various reasons, but Hunters is also meant to evoke the feeling of PROJECT this year: It’s dark and gritty; full of violence like an endless hunt."

2) We've had a few elaborate PROJECT releases so far! What sort of rewards will be included in the event? Will the rewards be tied missions and/or crafting?
Carlos: "Yes! There will be crafting rewards earned through missions, similar to what we had for Star Guardian. You can get summoner icons, loading screen borders, different orbs and skin shards, and a very clean PROJECT emote—all craftable from (free) mission rewards."

Upcoming Skins // JHIN , VAYNE, VI

PROJECT: Vi (1350 RP), PROJECT: Vayne (1820 RP - Legendary), and PROJECT: Jhin are suiting up to join the PROJECT skin line in patch 7.23
1) How long have these new skins been in production?How long after creating the last set (Ashe, Ekko, Katarina) of skins did you know you'd be doing another PROJECT.
Carlos: "It wasn’t until early this year when we started to discuss if we were going to do project again. Players love this skins, so we wanted to, but we weren’t sure what to bring to it to make it interesting and cool, then the idea of exploring the underworld came up, and these 3 champions sort of made perfect sense. They have been in our wish-list for project for a long time. 
I think both story wise as well as visually these are the best we’ve done so far, and I’m really looking forward to see what players think when they get to play with these skins."

2) PROJECT is quickly becoming one of the larger skin lines, any thoughts on the upcoming releases and the future? Is it difficult to keep differentiating each set as the line grows?
Carlos: "There is a chance we take a year off in the future, it is a skin line that players love, but if we don’t feel we have something to say with the skins I think is good to wait until we do. And give players a surprise when it comes back. We have a lot of ideas for new skin lines we are excited to try out next year, as well as ideas for bringing things back we haven’t done in a while. I think is the most exciting time to be making skins for league, and we hope players are enjoying the ride too."
3) Can you talk about the decision for Jhin, Vayne, and Vi to join the PROJECT skin line?
Carlos: "I think I have been hearing ‘PROJECT Jhin’ around the office probably since the day Jhin came out. Vayne is one that has been requested by players a lot so we figured those two were really interesting to pair against each other, where Jhin is the psycho archvillain and Vayne is the vigilante who, perhaps, sometimes goes further than needed. Throw a Law enforcer into the mix with Vi and you have the 3 compelling champions for this year."

Follow up: Why Vayne for Legendary? What inspired taking her theme up to legendary ?
Carlos: "Vayne has a good number of skins, but she is an old champion so it is challenging to make skins for her that actually look really good compared to newer champions. So we felt this was a great opportunity to rebuild her into the best Vayne that she could be. She is also one of those classic LoL champions that players love (or hate when they get owned by her in game) and resonate with, so it felt right to give players something awesome for her."

4) Any favorite Easter eggs or references included on the new skins?
Carlos: "There is something really cool on Vayne’s recall and home guards that gets referenced in Jhin’s splash. Also, there are a few moments for Jhin where we show what’s behind his mask that are quite creepy and really place his personality in this world in the right place. Also Vayne’s dance I think is my favorite new dance in the game. Vi has a really cool recall too that has a story telling aspect to it, and I always love when we take a champion that mostly has physical attacks and we can give them kick ass VFX."

The initial teaser noted release a date of November 22nd, 2017! For a closer look, check these PBE Previews for each of the new PROJECT skins:

New Game mode /  OVERCHARGE

Along with the new  champion skins comes OVERCHARGE, a brand new 3v3 gamemode played on a brand new PROJECT inspired map! 
1)  What were some of the goals and inspirations for the new mode & map?
Kevin: "For PROJECT, we challenged ourselves to create a mode in a shorter time span than usual. To do this, we knew we were looking for something akin to the Dark Star game mode - fast, short, and straightforward. 
Additionally, we wanted to explore the darker and grimier lower city area of PROJECT, where criminals and vigilantes had much more of a presence than in the strict corporate hierarchy of the upper, wealthier areas. League doesn’t really have the claustrophobic and maze-like terrain that some of its counterparts offer - I don’t really even feel like our Jungle captures the sense of, well, being a jungle. So this also seemed like an interesting thematic space to explore gameplay wise. We wanted to capture that sense - being chased or chasing opponents through shadowed, windy alleys, with uncertainty around every corner."
2) Can you talk about some of the new assets? What will we be seeing from the new mode?
Kevin: "The mode is a fairly straight forward PvP Team Deathmatch, with an objective and a unique map encouraged running, hiding, and hunting.

Throughout the map there are Charge Bots that are carrying around valuable “Augmentation Fragments” - high energy components used for upgrading in the PROJECT universe. Collect five of them as a team to briefly OVERCHARGE with power - during which your entire team is, among other things, unkillable. 
This is the part where your opponents run and hide and you chase them down. To assist you in this, there are pickups that spawn periodically that will heal you or reset your cooldowns, as well as interactible elements on the map that grant mobility in different forms, like blast cones. We put up a PBE post for feedback that gives the full breakdown of the mechanics and doing a livestream on the 17th with the dev team."
Follow Up - How long did it take to create this game mode and the associated assets?
Kevin: "We were challenging ourselves to make a mode faster than ever before, so we wanted to keep it on the simple end. All in all, the game mode took a few months to make."
2) 3v3 is traditionally a less popular game mode than 5v5 in our others queues, what made the decision to give 3v3 a unique spin for PROJECT?
Kevin: "Don’t think the queue format of 3v3 affects popularity over other factors. If anything, I would imagine 3v3 would be have a popularity advantage since it’s easier to find 2 other friends to play with rather than a full 5 man stack. 
For Twisted Treeline specifically, we feel like its lack of popularity is due more to the fact it’s directly competing with Summoner’s Rift as a core competitive experience. 
For game modes like PROJECT or Dark Star (Singularity), which offer something completely different, 3v3 is actually a more ideal format - something we’ve seen with how popular Singularity is."
3) This game mode joins [Star Guardian themed Invasion game mode] and [Dark Star Singularity ] as a mode that is themed heavily around a skin line! With that in mind...
A) Can you talk about the challenges around creating limited time maps and modes themed in alternative universes?
Kevin: "Design thrives on constraints, and using skin themes as springboards for gameplay design has been very helpful towards creating a vision for the game mode, especially when heavily time constrained. That said, gameplay always comes first for us; above anything, a mode has to be fun before we worry about skins or similar. For example, you’ll notice this mode is Marksmen limited, not PROJECT skin line limited (sorry Vi…)"
B) Can you discuss what goes into creating a new world of themed assets?
Brendon: "The first step for thematics like PROJECT and Star Guardians that have already had a release is to go devour everything that’s already on the web (and internal pre-production stuff). We re-watch cinematics, SkinSpotlights, check out fan art, and get ourselves immersed in what makes the theme awesome. Next we dive into the concepts and rough stories that the new skins are using and pull out the parts we think translate into the world that’ll surround them. You’ll notice that the shapes we use in SG are vastly different than those in the PROJECT world, helping us make each map feel unique and in tune with the event. From here David puts together a badass mood painting to get us all running in the same direction, and we move into production. "
[A scene from 2015's PROJECT: OVERDRIVE cinematic]

David
: "Typically we start working off of a general layout from the design team. Then we create some concept art to start the creative art process and decide which assets we will need to create in order to populate an immersive world. Once the concept art is complete, the 3d artists build the models and create the game textures to make the full environment in 3d space. In this particular case we also had some new material systems at our fingertips which we used to add they holographic signs and glowing details."

Follow Up - Will we see more skin line based game modes in future?
Carlos: "For sure. Part of where we’d like to go with events and major skin releases is creating holistic experiences for players. By building out the worlds of Dark Star, Star Guardians, and now PROJECT we’re able to tell better stories by including game modes. Making new modes is incredibly time and resource taxing so not every skin line will get a mode, but when we have the chance to do something unique and cool for all of you, we will."
4) Any favorite easter eggs or hidden references included in the new mode?
Kevin: "Definitely Teemo holograms. Unfortunately, he was hilariously awful to play against in the game mode, but we kept him there in spirit."
Brendon: "The little cute robots trying to maintain the sector are my favorite. Our animators put a lot of love into setting up little scenes around the map. The tragic pair of bots is probably the most memorable, but I don’t like how over lubricated my ocular implants get upon viewing it."

The mode and map are both now available for PBE testing. Tour the new map:

For more information and previews on these new skins and game mode, check out our [7.23 PBE cycle coverage] and the previously released teasers:
These skins are expected to launch. New PROJECT merch is also available in the Riot Games Merch shop, including new PROJECT : Yi figure, new  PROJECT: Team minis, and a mousepad!
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