Red Post Collection: IronStylus and FeralPony on Sion Relaunch, WG2010 Skins back Feb 7th - Feb 23rd, Lots of Continued Discussions, and more!

Posted on at 3:20 AM by Moobeat
Just when you thought we couldn't get any more red posts, they keep rollin' in! This morning's collection features IronStylus and FeralPony chatting about the Sion relaunch on the community beta site, a note that the Winter Games 2010 limited skins will be returning from Feb 7 - Feb 23, RiotForSciene compiling the communities feedback on SR, and continued discussions on reworks, relaunch team, and Diana, & more!
Continue reading for more information!

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Sion Relaunch Community Beta Discussion: Creative Side

Keeping his promise, IronStylus returned to the PBE community to answer several questions about Sion's future relaunch:
"Love the thematic ideas here. Also yes, I feel we need to answer those questions of how and why he was reanimated. We were thinking of even designing a 'pre-death' Sion and then building the main concept from there."
He continued:
"Great ideas here. There's not much I can add in terms of mechanics, but I can say that these ideas can slot in very well to the overall thematics. Something specific which you've mentioned is being this slow, un-killable, unstoppable undead force, who, yes, would have died previously. I think this is a core characteristic.

Another thing that you've said about his axe not defining him, I think you're correct there. Sion himself is the focus here. He's a brute, maybe one that was consumed by such uncaring murderous momentum in his time in the Noxian military. Almost a precursor to Darius, maybe a similar position as Darius not commands. A idea we had is that Darius might even be the modern day incarnation of what Sion's "style" used to be. Sion might have been a great ax wielder (though a more primitive style) in the past, but is now this lumbering monster where his ax is just representative of his brute strength. It's used in more of a clobbering, smashing way than a precise slicing that Darius does.

This also adds into potential story lines. We can draw parallels back into Sion's previous life, perhaps in the heyday of the Noxian-Demacian war. Whatever might have transpired there could have caused his death and eventual arcane reanimation. But, that's just it, he's a behemoth which has been brought back, reinvigorated with undeath. Not really a Frankenstein which has been put together from other people's parts, Sion is still quinticentially Sion, just an undead extension of his brutal formar sense.

We're playing around with the idea that maybe he's sort of like.. if the US were to resurrect a great war hero. What would that person be like in present day? What would they retain? We surmise that in undeath they're motivations would sort of taper off where they're core craft still exists, or their fighting spirit is still there. Maybe Sion is Noxus' George Washington or General Patton, resurrected. Who knows!


That's a great sentiment, like Prince Vigo from Ghostbusters minus the maniacal mentality :P

Thanks for the feedback!"

When asked about the fate of Sion's current Arnold Schwarzenegger VO, he commented:
"I think mechanically that's what the design team is going to do, though I'm not 100% sure. Going to get some designers in here to hopefully answer that.

Yeah, the Arnie thing probably has to go due to the thematic overhaul we'll do. Right now I don't think the quirky really adds charm, unlike other characters, such as Twitch let's say. Being an unstoppable undead behemoth is pretty compelling I think. His VO should reflect that."

Sion Relaunch Community Beta Discussion: Designer Side

Joining IronStylus in the Sion community beta thread was none other than FeralPony, who is the dev working on Sion's kit!
"Jumping in real quick as I'm working on the mechanics design on Sion. It's a bit early to start talking specific mechanics here since we're still very early in the process but I do want to confirm that we're aligned on the thematic goals. Sion is an undead juggernaut.

Sion does have an axe and he needs to hit people with it. As to your concern of does the axe define him? Not at all. As far as I'm concerned mechanically the axe only exists because it's the tool in his hands he died with and he uses it to break people. It's about force and impact, not cutting and precision. Mechanically his weapon could just as easily be a hammer, a tree trunk, or a lead pipe. It just needs to hurt people and act as an extension of his force and brutality.

As for your concerns of him being a reskinned Darius I have no desire to tie Darius and Sion together mechanically despite being thematically tied (Sion is basically an older, deader, Champion of Noxus). They both have axes but that isn't enough for us to make them similar. Just as Garen and Yi both have swords but are totally unrelated.

I am going to very upfront on one point though despite being very early in development, I have no intent or desire to retain the current AP Sion playstyle. It doesn't make sense thematically, visually, or have much mechanically worth salvaging. Run at a bro - click to stun then explode before they can react is really harmful to the game as a whole and is an incredibly frustrating and binary experience. It simply is not worth preserving. We are trying out versions of the character where we keep the exploding shield because it is a really solid tank mechanic and has some cool gameplay around it. But the current Q is most definitely getting removed."

When asked if the team plans to do sort of a "Master Yi Treatment" by combining the best parts of AP with AD Sion to make a new kit, he commented:
"I think you're correct we can do something similar to Yi with Sion. I have no desire to keep the current Q at all, but the shield is a very cool ability I would like to retain if possible and have it make sense in the updated kit."

He continued, elaborating more on the direction of the kit updates:
"I think shifting him a bit more in the fighter/tank direction is very natural and makes a lot of sense to fit the overall unkilling/juggernaut theme. This would involve retaining CC and mostly likely increasing the amount of CC on his kit. The current kit actually has a ton of CC, we'll see how it plays out internally before I go into more details on it though."

When asked if Sion will retain his HP gain on kill, FeralPony commented that that happens to be the current passive he's testing internally:
"I think health gain on kill is a reasonable enough passive and is thematic with the juggernaut feeling. It's what I'm currently running with as his true passive (instead of the RNG flat DR), but as always it is subject to change. I do think it is important though that if that passive is retained he would not get free mitigation stats (armor/mr) anywhere else on the kit to go with it."
Although he warned:
"If we stick with the health on kill passive I would not be adding additional free defensive stats."

FeralPony also replied to someone asking about a "pick up and throw" style ult:

"Thematically it's super awesome and I tried this in the very first prototype. I even had a version of it where champions thrown into walls would bounce off back into Sion (Pro Wresting Style) but I really didn't like how it played out when I actually implemented it and played with it.

It basically felt like a more frustrating/crazy strong Skarner Ultimate with clunkier targeting. I had to slash so much power out of the rest of the kit because it was basically a guaranteed death sentence to the enemy in any team fight that the rest of the character felt pretty unsatisfying.

The scenario of throwing someone back into their team (the cool play) almost never occurred, instead it devolved into just flipping them into Sion's team every single time which is a much less cool version of the skill."

When asked if there will be a"Traditional Sion" skin, he replied:
"I can't commit the relaunch team to it but I would suspect there will be a classic skin. Keeping the VO or the feel of the classic VO if there is a classic skin would be very likely."

As for how they envision Sion building, FeralPony commented he doesn't see him with capped attack speed:
"It's a little mathy but yeah it's something I'll definitely consider. He is a champion that I think would look silly at 2.5 attacks per second. I'd rather see him with something like 600AD with a more reasonable AS in a DPS build :P"

FeralPony also commented on how much he was enjoying the community beta discussion thread, noting he'll be keeping an eye on it for future discussion:
"I will say I'm really happy with the level and depth of conversations occurring in this thread. It's very helpful as a developer. I'll keep following this thread (as well as others about Sion), let's keep working together to make this dude as awesome as possible :)" 

Winter Games 2010 Limited Skins return  Feb 7th - Feb 23rd

As a part of the returning limited skins promotion, the eight Winter Games 2010 skins are set to return to the shop sometime in Feburary.

This includes:
  • Vancouver Amumu
  • Team Spirit Anivia
  • Ice Toboggan Corki
  • Union Jack Fiddlesticks
  • The Mighty Jax
  • Festival Kassadin
  • Whistler Village Twitch
  • Curling Veigar

Lucky for us Udyr commented on twitter that they will be returning from Feb 7th through Feb 23rd.

See this post for more info and be on the look out for more information soon!

[ Continued ] Rework Discussion

Building off the the discussion from Sunday, Meddler returned to the forums to chat more about reworks, the discussion that goes into them, who takes the reins of a particular rework, and more!
"Great questions!
 First off, yes, we're trending towards earlier discussion of reworks, what's important about a champion and what direction we're thinking of going. That's generally really valuable, though exactly when in a rework's lifespan that discussion fits best varies a bit from champion to champion. Xelnath's Xerath rework discussion's a good, in depth example of that in action, it's something that's been great in some prior work too (e.g. the Xin Zhao discussions a while back that Solcrushed took part in, leading to his ult gaining its knockback amongst other changes).
 The rework team itself is a mixture of people who are dedicated to working on it full time and those with a split of rework and other responsibilities. Generally when people are working on both a rework and something else it's because they're really passionate about a particular champion's rework and/or have expertize that's can be really useful. Good example of that's Statikk, who's part of the live balance team and is also working on the Kassadin changes coming up, since he's both got a strong grasp on the current issues with Kassadin mid lane and has played a lot of Kassadin himself.

Finally to touch on the 18 scrapped kits for Xerath question that's not a case of 18 completely different kits, but instead 18 different previous versions of reworked Xerath. Nailing down the right approach for ability design usually involves testing a bunch of different approaches. Xerath's ult's a good example of this, where we tested a bunch of different variations on multiple long range shots. That involved changing things like number of missiles (3? 4? 12?), range of the spell (3000? 5000? Increasing over time?), whether the missiles split damage between multiple targets hit or not, whether the missiles had a fixed time to impact or hit nearer locations quicker than far ones etc. That's just changes to one ability where the basic idea remains the same. Increase that to testing changes on the full kit and, potentially, entirely different abilities for some slots, and suddenly you end up with 18 different kits over a champions development or rework.
In terms of process followed that also varies by champion, particularly since the rework team also collect feedback on a champion from other sources, at the start of a rework, during its course and after its release. As a general outline though discussion threads are read through, key points summarized and good ideas noted. That information's then combined with the internal ideas we've got for a rework (e.g. higher model quality, increased number of vocal lines, need for a more defined gameplay niche etc) to form a set of goals for the project. Initial focus is indeed on concepts rather than numbers - get the initial structure right and then balance around that (if all a champion's issues can be solved with simply number changes then they don't need a gameplay rework in the first place)."
When asked if there is multiple teams working on simultaneous reworks at once, he commented:
"Multiple reworks at different stages of progress at once.

For reworks involving both visual upgrades and gameplay changes for example there'll be something like:

A nearly done rework that's undergoing final art polish, balance testing for any gameplay changes 
A mainly done rework that's having its spell effects done, sound effects added 
A somewhat done rework that's got a model built, but no animation for it or textures on the model 
Multiple reworks in a really early stage, where we're trying to lock down gameplay changes before production starts on new art assets

For gameplay only reworks it's closer to a case of ship it once we've found the right solutions and put them through balance testing (so less of a clear pipeline, much more emergent)."

He continued, sharing the problems of fooling around with old champion kits that create a champion's identity:
"Working within the constraints of an existing, established champion identity does sometimes make a rework quite difficult, given the lack of freedom compared to a new champion's design. Other times however having a clearly established theme, personality, playstyle etc that's been proven in game that you can collect data on can make it easier since you're not starting from a blank slate to the same degree.

Player opinions are always sought as part of a rework. Understanding what the core of an established champion is to players is a really important part of preserving as much of the champion as possible while accomplishing our goals for the rework. That's not to say every opinion, or even the most popular opinions, will necessarily be acted upon. Understanding what those views are and why however is really valuable (and something we haven't always got right in the past and have been really focusing on improving)."

Meddler also commented on internal playtests, sharing a story about a Shaco rework prototype that Yasuo deleted from the game:
"Playtests are usually good fun, though they're work first and play second (really different mentality to a normal game).

Random playtest story from the other day: We were playtesting some possible changes to Shaco's ult last week as part of his rework that involved Shaco firing a missile that he and his clone then split out of once it reached its destination (similar functionality to the current ult, bit more control over placement basically). The enemy team had a Yasuo however, and so, mid teamfight, Shaco ults and then Yasuo windwalls, destroying the missile in mid flight. Since this was an experimental change we hadn't accounted for that interaction and so, when the missile was destroyed by the wall, Shaco went with it, never reappearing. Whole group of playtesters broke into applause/laughter once we realized what had happened. TLDR: Yasuo literally deleted Shaco from that game."

When asked how long the team playtests something before deciding to use it, scrap it, or mess with it more, he commented:
"If something's not showing any promise it'll probably be gone with a couple of tests unless we can see really clear, strong avenues for improvement. At the other extreme some ideas may take a lot longer, potentially dozens of tests, to either iron out their problems or conclude we're on the wrong path. Proceeding to the next phase in the pipeline (art production generally) is done once we've got a set of changes that meet our goals and have been stable for a while when tested in a variety of situations (against a wide range of enemy champions, by a range of playtesters of varying skill levels etc).

Reworks that take a year are generally those where the initial approach didn't work out. Other factors will sometimes delay things too though (tech being developed that's needed for the rework, availability of artists currently allocated to other reworks etc)."

As for how the rework schedule has been shaping up recently , he commented:
"We've been getting a bit more organized internally, and generally more communicative externally, as we've worked to increase the number of reworks we do. General principles are still the same, but we're focused on reworks a lot more than we have been in the past."

Meddler also addressed the issue of the community expecting change X after hearing about it on the forums:
"Yeah, there's always a bit of risk of misunderstanding if we talk about this sort of stuff in testing. Benefits of doing so often clearly outweigh that though. Reason we don't do so more is often much more an issue of insufficient time, not lack of desire e.g. talk about a rework in more depth or get more progress made on it? Can be a tough call sometimes, depending on whether direction setting or implementation are needed more."
Specific Champion Rework Discussion

When asked how the Rengar rework was coming along, he commented:
"Silence generally means work in progress, nothing ready to discuss yet. Rengar for example's in testing a lot at the moment. We haven't always been great at letting you guys know when a rework's been put on hold however, that's something for us to work on.

Noted r.e. appreciation of 'Nothing to say at present, still testing' updates."

As for whatever happened to the Yorick rework, Meddler noted:
"We'll definitely do some really substantial work on Yorick at some point - gravedigger/necromancer offers a lot more potential than just what's on his current kit. That'll be a fair way off though, he's potentially a Sion sized project and there are only so many of those we can have underway at once (not to say he'll necessarily be the next major rework post Sion either, there are other good candidates like Poppy that would be worthwhile too)."

Meddler also replied to someone asking for a specific time frame on the Sion rework, saying:
"Apologies, timing's something I'm going to have to be vague on. Would be extremely surprised though if he took as long as a year for what it's worth. He's a big project (roughly the same amount of work as a new champion), but also one of our priorities this year."

Xelnath also chimed in, sharing an example of a scrapped Xerath rework ability:

"My favorite of the crazy kits was when his ultimate had no cooldown, but drained his entire mana pool and extended the amount of time he shot.

The result was ridiculously frustrating to fight against, incredibly boring to play as if you needed to cancel it early, and generally a weak kit.

But this is a great example of how you can try some wild iterations that are insightful. In this particular case, I learned that staying in ult past 8-10 seconds was generally useless and at best ungodly frustrating."

ZenonTheStoic also tagged in to deliever a big wall o' context on Xerath in response to the question "Is Xerath keeping his strong teamfight presence, or will he just try to pick off squishies from safety?"
"His Q, which he typically maxes first, goes down to a 5s cooldown. New Xerath hangs around the edges of a teamfight, constantly trying to snipe a high value target. Between that and his W cooldown generally allowing him 2 or 3 casts per fight as well, we find he has very strong teamfight presence. 
Let's also talk about his ult, because I see a lot of mentions of that in this thread! 
The way I see it, you can do a lot of different things with mage kit ultimates. One of them is to have an ult that perfectly slots into the kit. Think of Brand: Brand wants to AOE dudes with W/E or just burst one guy out. Pyroclasm helps him do either of these things better. What this means is that Brand has one kit, but every so often that kit is a LOT stronger. He needs to decide when to use his ultimate (generally whenever he feels he can get a kill with it) and then commit to that fight. While his ult is down, he generally does the same kind of thing, only less powerfully. That is a perfectly fine way for a mage kit to work. 
Ahri works a little differently from this. Ahri is about poking and fishing for an E hit confirm. When she has her ultimate ready, however, she becomes an all in assassin who zips around the battlefield, getting a kill and using her remaining dashes to get to safety (hopefully). Whether or not her ultimate is up very much defines what she can or cannot do. 
Then there are guys like TF and Karthus, where the ultimate isn't so much part of a rotation as it allows them to exert their influence strategically. This might be to follow up aggression from their team mates, clean up after an exchange they were involved in, or to capitalize on an enemy finding themselves in a compromising situation; say someone being brought to low health by doing Baron/stepping on a Teemo shroom or someone walking over a ward, revealing that their far from their team. Xerath very much falls into this category. 
The coolest uses I've seen for Xerath ultimate are for instance firing in the path of an enemy ADC who is running from a gank in bot lane (forcing them to make the decision between eating Xerath ult damage or potentially letting the enemy bot lane / jungler catch up with them), stalling out a team from doing Baron (you do not want all three shots to hit multiple people on your team while they're doing Baron) or to put damage into a team fight when the enemy team has a diver intent on taking out Xerath every single time (Xerath just hangs 1500/2000 units back, waits for the two teams to commit, then shells the teamfight with his ultimate and joins to clean up with his basic kit).

No, Rite of the Arcane will not work as part of his normal in-fight rotation. That is very much by design. The fact that Arcane Barrage worked as part of Xerath's rotation on live was contributing heavily to Xerath's biggest game health problem, which is that he is super high burst champion who, if he ever got popular, would have to be balanced around his full kit burst. That way lie boring/safe damage numbers."
Meddler also commented on Xerath's rework, addressing the removal of his % magic pen:
"R.e. the removal of the % Magic Pen - we wanted to really reinforce Xerath's niche as a really long range poke/siege mage. That sort of range gives freedom of target selection. As a result giving him more raw damage, and therefore ability to be effective against a range of targets was a better fit than giving him % magic pen, and therefore focused effectiveness against a subset of enemies who he generally doesn't need that range to reach (the enemy front line)."

As for some thoughts on what Scarizard was saying about kit changes for Graves, ZenonTheStoic commented:
"Very early ideation. Not a rework as much as a minor touch up as well, from my understanding. What I've heard boils down to "do more damage the closer you get". No one has implemented any changes much less tested them yet."

[ Continued ] Relaunch Team and Communication Discussion

( Catch up on the rest of the discussion : 1 , 2 , 3 )

Responding to claims that he's contractually obligated" to promote the  new community website, IronStylus commented:

"I'm not contractually obligated, I'm looking for a better venue for us devs to interact with you.

The unfortunate reality is that this system simply is not scalable nor effective in the long run. That's just the reality. I know people are adverse to change, but this will be the way it's going to go most likely.

Twitter is a great way for devs to bring attention and jumpstart discussion. Is there a particular problem with me bringing people to that discussion? There's a lot of great ideas in there now and I can much more easily track what's happening. What's more important; players producing page after page of opinions which are extremely difficult to track and sometimes negatively charged which discourage devs from posting, or us seeing the rational sentiments and questions and actually being able to effectively answer questions which people feel are important via upvote consensus? Maybe it's a tradeoff, but if it helps me get more info to more people in an effective way, I'm 100% for the venue change.

Again, here we are, this discussion has been hijacked from VU's to forum venues. There's at least 3 different discussions happening. VU's in general, specific character VU's, forum discussions, etc. That is simply not viable. In the new venue this would most likely stay on track, doing the service to the people who are here to talk about the subject at hand."
He continued, noting the community beta is more adapt to received improvements and build on feedback:
"I'm going to ask the beta team if discussions inside threads can be broken out, and shown almost like traditional vBulletin threads inside nested comment systems. That way maybe we can have the best of both worlds. Or maybe we can have a system that can have people opt for a comment thread to be busted out into a new thread altogether. Point being, the new system is far more agile and has many more features."
He continued:
"threads on track and address what people who are here to discuss the actual topic title. It's a big disenfranchising of them honestly.

I'm going to see if some comments on the new beta can be "un-nested", allowing an easier view of more back-and-forth conversation. I think a lot of it comes back to the visual clutter people see in the beta format. It's sorta disorienting to have things keep stepping inward.

But again, the beta community is still in progress. This is the time to give that feedback."

As for what is the toughest part of visual upgrades and which has been the easiest so far, IronStylus commented:
"The toughest part is the pre-production/concept phase. Trying to noodle out what makes this character who they are. Obviously there was an intention, but that intention couldn't quite be executed when the champion was originally made. We need to balance the intention versus what the players now hold in their mind.

Example, we don't think Taric was intended to be a joke. We think he was intended to be our standard paladin with some flair. But the psychology players have around him is very different. How do we reconcile those things? It can be a challenge at times. Lots of back and forth, lots of philosophical questions.

Yeah, Eve is interesting. In that case everything is up for discussion, and yes, if something new gets discovered, going drastically away from the current version, we need to consider a traditional skin.

I guess the "easiest" so far was Master Yi. Straightforward, we knew how to keep the charm, and it was a straight up VU with a well thought out kit change."

As for some visual love for Morgana and Kayle, he commented that he an Riot Zeronis might be working on something but "NO PROMISES":
"He and I might have a secret plan to redesign Kayle and Morgana from the ground up together. "Might" is a strong word, though."

[ Continued ] Diana Discussion

Following up on this previous comments ( see this post for part 1 and this post for part 2 ), Vesh has returned to the forums to reiterate his comments on Diana's problems and what he wants to do to help:
"I still think you're misrepresenting what I've been saying a bit. At least once (and I think more) in this thread I have said I don't think she needs any dramatic changes. I think we all want a healthy and viable Diana who has fun interactive gameplay for both teams, and what I'm suggesting is that increasing the time/effort it takes to kill a target, but giving her more tools to accomplish that task, is a good way to accomplish this. Diana is a champion that should be focused on her autoattacks as well as her spells. She has that awesome moonblade and passive for a reason, and I feel that highlighting that and finding better ways to synergize her autoattacks with her spells is something that (hopefully) most Diana players would find cool."

Summoner's Rift's Atmosphere and Community feedback

RiotForSciene popped back up on the forums to share this thoughts on the ambiance of Summoner's Rift:
"We have to add ambient life to SR so that it feels alive. There is a careful balance that you need to have with that though. You do not want squirrels running around on the groundplane in active team fights (It is one of the readons why we made Poro's run away from everyone). But having them in the actual islands off of the nav-mesh would be great."
He also whipped up a list of what the community has identified as improvements that could be made or things make Summoner's Rift unique.
"So remember when I said I went through all the feedback and made notes of all the unique pieces of input.... where here is the first installment of it. Items with asterix probably need some explanation, and I will get into those with more detail. Bold items were things that I thought were really suprising ideas that I think need more examination. Everything else are just solid ideas.
1. Textures and rendering needs to be higher fidelity
2. Flora is not integrated with each other or with the terrain
3. Flora scale is not appropriate to the champion scale
4. Baron’s area does not feel as epic as it should
5. Architecture seems out of place with the environment as a whole
6. Objects in the map are repeated too frequently
7. The turrets do not look as good as HA
8. The Map needs to retain it’s “Fairy Tale” thematic
9. The map needs to be single themed ***
10. Laser range needs to be clearly defined
11. The nav-mesh on the map needs to stay the same
12. The map must be highly performant on a min spec machine
13. The map needs better integration with the lore
14. There are props that seem inappropriate for the environment
15. The jungle camps need to be higher quality

So concerning the idea that the map needs to be single themed. I both agree and disagree. SR always needs to preserve a cohesive feeling of being a fantasy forest. There should be no good side vs evil side. On the other hand the map would benefit from very distinct areas of the map that players can use for orientation. At the moment the map contains several self contained POI's. Since those POI's are disconnected from any larger visual cues, they do not serve as effective ways of providing a player with orientation. We can do much better. We need harmony in the overall theme of the map and variety within that theme to provide interest and clarity."

Puppetworks Animation Studio and Splash Art

IronStylus also commented on Puppetworks animation studio taking credit for some of the recent splash arts we've seen:
"We sometimes use studios such as this to supplement our in-house artists. This is a pretty common practice in the industry in general. We'd need an army of artists internally to do certain tasks, and that sometimes just isn't logistically feasible. 
So, Puppetworks and others help us to produce assets, in this case, splash art. 
It's exactly the opposite of splashes taking longer. The amount of splash art to catch up on is huge, studios such as these really help us out."

Interestingly enough, you can sample  several splash arts that PWAS has made for the game, including two unseen arts for Ezreal and Jarvan IV that were removed from their reel earlier today. No official word if they will be added to the game or not - could be WIP or scrapped.

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