[Updated] IronStylus talks Sunbathing Leona and cancelled Leona skins

Posted on at 7:07 PM by Moobeat
Updated: Added a few more posts. Enjoy.

Remember that Sunbathing Leona concept from PAX East? Well, IronStylus is over on the forums chatting about it, sharing what's currently going on with it, and talking about a few cancelled Leona skins we haven't heard anything about before. 
( Note: This is the preview Sunbathing / Beach Bash Leona concept from PAX East, not some sort of new finalized version. )
Continue reading for several posts discussing Sunbathing / Beach Bash Leona, some now cancelled skin ideas for Leona, and more!

IronStylus got the Leona skin ball rolling by with this post:
"So, here's a thing. Yes, Sunbathing/beach bash Leona will most likely be a reality barring some major issue or slotting problem. That does sometimes happen. I never want to set certainty that could be subject to change. 
It's past the concept phase, having been fully fleshed out, and will move onto modeling. I reconcepted her after PAX for better readability and some other more thought-out touches. She'll probably move onto 3D very soon, then through the animation and particle pipeline. Depending on priority, this could be a few months, we'll see. 
One of the reasons it's been a while since she's had a skin is because we actually brought a couple skins of hers up to the modeling phase, and plugged them into the game, but then realized they either weren't cutting the quality/theme bar, or the skin had to be bumped because of saturation of similar themes. These skins might some day come to release, but I'm not certain of that at all.

I don't want to really delve into what those skins were because at least one wasn't terribly strong in differentiation from her other skins. It might even only really equate to a model swap. I made a call to kill the skin and possibly focus on a legendary skin for her down the line that would be a much stronger theme than what I had produced. You actually have seen the beginning of that skin in one of the videos that was released about champion production. A picture had been circulated of an armored figure from the bust up that was very early on in iteration. That was a potential Leona skin, but again, in the end it wasnt very strong. 
This can happen. We actually had a mecha-cho'gath finished and animated but it was really lame. We scrapped it and decided to make him a Battlecast skin which was a MUCH stronger theme. While sometimes skins can be cool, and we feel they're neat ideas, until we get it plugged into the game we don't really know if the skin will work.

Concept art can't solve all the problems up front. Concept, meaning "idea", is just that. Until our 3D brows get that thing walking round, only then can we know that it works 100%. So while it can be unfortunate that we have to kill content that we know some players will want, we want to make sure we're delivering the right thing at the right time, and these particular unreleased skins weren't hitting the bar. My hope is that we can revisit them and make them work! Who knows!"

In relation to the shield still containing TeemoIronStylus had some bad news...
"I de-Teemo'd the board and put something more... feathery.. on it."

This insight into this skin's process,  and the mentioned cancelled skins, stirred up quite the conversation. In response to all the enjoyment, IronStylus shared his feelings on why we, as players, often aren't clued in more often.
"Yeah, I should really try to shed some light onto the process. 
There's ONE BIG danger in it though. We don't want to promise something then not deliver. It's very dangerous to give so much insight or transparency into the process where we're showing everything we're doing and 1) possibly ruin surprise and interest, 2) raise expectations we can't deliver on, and 3) show or talk too much about what we create and then do throw away, because some players will indeed "want what they can't have" simply because the thing does exist in some form, even though we deem it as subpar.

It's often hard to appraise value on a skin, and we simply don't want to half ass something. And if we do make something that we feel didn't hit the mark, it sucks to have to be like, "Guys, we know you might want this thing, but trust us, it wasn't the best execution on our part, sorry!" That's the toughest part. Basically keeping something form players which we know isn't as valuable as its perceived to be externally minus the development context.

It comes down to us saying "trust us, this thing sucks", but that's hard to validate to players at times."

He then dove into a discussion about one of the cancelled skins in particular:
"Here, this is something I think I can talk about since I feel the dust has settled around it a little. 
One of the cancelled Leona skins was Leona in the ancient armor of the Solar seen in the Diana teaser. We thought of an angle that was Leona discovering the relic armor which was akin to Diana's relic armor. We found an interesting lore loophole that allowed for this because its said in her bio that only the sword and shield were passed down generationally from one avatar to another. It was an interesting way to further the story, and I've very much wanted to explore the idea of canon lore skins. Traditionally they haven't been popular but I thought there was an opportunity there. 
Unfortunately, we got it in game and it very much looked like a cross between her base and the Iron Solari skin. We decided that wasn't enough of a strong theme to warrant a skin. It just wasn't really special enough.

It was discussed that maybe a way to accomplish this same idea was to eventually develop Legendary skin that felt very substantial. Leona x10 in a way. We could then anchor it to her story but still make it amazing just on the surface if a player didn't care about the story context. So, that's what we opted to do. Currently there's no skin in development for that, but its something I want to explore later as a way to help continue the story."

Finally, he commented on a few community skin ideas, such as DJ Sona and K-Pop Ahri:
"I'm very pro-DJ Sona, but I'll say that I'm not pro "Girls Generation" or K-Pop Ahri as I've seen it presented so far. Here's the reason.. If GG Ahri is indeed something globally appealing, then I'm all for it. When I first saw the posts about it I was like.. "Wait, she's an airline pilot?" I had to dig a little deeper and I'm not really cool with players having to do that just to get the base context of the skin. It's gotta stand on its own. 
However, if it's something we deem as really appealing, or say that it's realy locally appealing to the South East Asian region, and it would provide a ton of value, love, and simultaneously be something worthwhile enough for the rest of the regions to appreciate on face value, then I'm again all for that. 
It's the same reason I'm not for sport specific skins, North American-centric trope skins, "meme" skins, and other content that really only appeals to a niche. If our priority however achieves a) an awesome skin at face value, and then b) hits those little niche notes, again, all for it.

La Llorona Morgana, Gladiator Draven, and Special Forces Gangplank are really good examples of skins that are based on cool themes from their respective inspirational regional sources but they are, on a very surface level, just really kickass skins."

EDIT: More posts!

IronStylus continued to talk about transparency in the skin/creation process, saying:
"As I've said, that's the tricky thing about skins and content creation in general. Omen is a fantastic case. Tons of people wanted Omen to happen once we showed that he was once a possibility. However, since I was the artist working on him, I can tell you first hand what a disaster it was. It was not up to quality, it was extremely confusing, and it was a product which was not a worthwhile endeavor. Nonetheless, once people know about him, they asked for him regardless of the context, assumed, and theorycrafted. 
I'm comfortable talking about some scrapped content because I can give the context and assurance that we can produce better.
Again, with this particular skin, even though some people might want it, it's most likely going to not be as widely appealing as we'd like, and we have to consider the cost/benefit situation."

Returning to the topic of Leona skins, he mentions:
"She has plenty of opportunities for good skins that are more serious in nature. I mean, it's actually pretty difficult to do more fun or silly things with characters like her. I want to take the opportunity while this idea is fresh."

A summoner then tossed out the request that Riot work to do something like a pair of lore related, high quality skins for Diana and Leona and release them as a bundle. Ironstylus responded favorably but also explained the reality behind something like this.
"Honestly, I'd love to do this. I'd love to make a pillar of the story line and express it with a content bundle like this. Not sure when this would be realistic, but anything is possible if we feel it's a worthy enough endeavor.

Again, it all comes back to the need for such skins to be on the surface extremely compelling. The story aspect would be pivotal, but the real meat is in how appealing things are to the majority of the players who don't engage in the story side of things.

I'm pretty sure it can be done, it's a matter of when the best time to do it is and how we decide to allocate the resources necessary."

Lastly, he shared his thoughts on a Mount Targon themed event, the home of his two loves Diana and Leona.
"I think a Mount Targon event would be super fun. I can think of some neat ideas. We need the content, story, and reason to support it however. It has to accomodate those that find value in story, but also widely appeal to those who are more surface oriented and don't delve too deep into the IP. It has to be significant to both, I think it can be, but time will tell."

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