Red Post Collection: Dev Blog on Skin Splash Art updates, Juggernaut itemization follow up, and more!

Posted on at 2:58 AM by Moobeat
[NOTE: Updated post with more discussion on Juggernaut items and the splash art update!]

This morning's red post collection includes a dev blog on the recent skin splash updates coming along with champion updates,  Axes with a follow up discussion on Juggernaut itemization, and more!
Continue reading for more information!

Table of Contents

Dev Blog: Updates and Splash Art 

First up in this collection is a dev blog on the recent champion updates including updated skin splash arts!
"Hey folks, HUGEnFAST here, art lead and splash artist from the Champion Update team. 
For a long while, we’ve been thinking about old splash art, specifically splash art belonging to the skins of previously updated champions. As you are likely aware, most champion updates have not been accompanied by comprehensive splash art reworks, creating a problem where certain splashes are outdated or inaccurate representations of what you actually see in-game. 
Luckily, we have a solution to this problem: Do. All. The. Splashes. 
tl;dr: We are including complete splash refreshes with all future champion updates, and we’re working our way back through previously updated champions to bring their splashes up to par 
Simple solution; huge problem 
When we originally started updating champions, we didn’t really have the bandwidth to include a full splash refresh with each update. League has a lot of art needs; we couldn’t take a full team of illustrators and sequester them for months to work exclusively on old splashes. If refreshing splashes with every update had been identified as a must-have at the time, the lack of illustration resources would have bottlenecked a lot of content. 
That said, new skin splash art has always felt like a missing piece of the champion update process – especially when major reworks can completely change almost everything about a champion’s appearance. Now that we have the right resources in place, we’re ready to start filling in the gaps, one champ at a time.
Poppy was the first champion to receive a complete splash art refresh alongside her visual and gameplay update. Shen, whose update was revealed last week, is getting the same treatment, bringing new or updated splashes to the Rift along with his flying magic ninja sword and oh-so-fashionable Crocs. This is the new normal; every champion update from here on out will include splash art to go along with the changes.
One note: Not all splashes need dramatic, obvious overhauls. Some of Shen’s splashes have simply been updated and improved to more accurately reflect visual tweaks, while some have been rebuilt from scratch. The goal isn’t reinvention for the sake of reinvention, but bringing the old splashes closer to in-game accuracy and League’s current artistic sensibilities. 
About those old updates 
In addition to shipping reworked and refreshed splash art with new champion updates, we’re going back through every previously reworked champion and making sure they receive the same attention where needed. It’s going to take a while to get it all done (there are a lot of updated champs and a lot of skins), but we’re hoping to ship a few of these side updates per year and already have a couple in the works.
We’ll keep you updated as we refine our timelines and work through League’s massive post-update-skin splash backlog.
In the meantime, we hope you’re enjoying Poppy’s and Shen’s new splash art, and we’re excited to finally be moving this process into full production."

When asked if this means updated Sion splash arts are on the way, Reav3 noted:
"Sion is diffidently high on our priority list. However, right now we are looking into Trundle, Nidalee and Tristana. 
These are being done by various people so they might not come out in that order. These reworks are lower priority then new champs, big future Champ Updates and new skins so they will finish up at different times. 
Plan is to have all of a champions old splash art come out at the same time. So all of Nidalee's will come out in the same patch for example."

[FOLLOWUP] Juggernaut Items

 Next up we have Axes with a follow up on Juggernaut itemization:
"Hi folks, 
Following up on the Juggernaut itemization changes made in patch 5.16, particularly the additions of Dead Man's Plate, Titanic Hydra, and Sterak's Gage, I wanted to quickly go over our thoughts on the current state of these items.  
Original Goals (for the 08/20/2015 Release)  
  • Offer Juggernauts items that meet their specific needs and provide a foundation for future juggernaut item diversity
  • Use stat bindings to ensure those items can be balanced for juggernauts, rather than being superior on other classes.
    • Stat bindings refers to the statistics that a champion kit encourages its players to itemize for, e.g. Marksmen with Attack Speed and Critical Strike 
What's Working (as of 1/25/2015) 
  • All the updated Juggernauts use some of these items in their builds to solve the problems they were meant to address
  • No metagolem - stacking all these items together doesn’t dominate all other builds
  • Clear item satisfaction created by thematic linkage (e.g. Black Cleaver on Darius) and visual effects/audio (e.g. Dead Man’s Plate’s trail)
  • Non-Juggernauts aren’t using these items excessively or unfairly (stat binding works) 
Problems to Address (as of 1/25/2015) 
  • Non reworked juggernauts have pretty hodgepodge itemization
  • Dead Man’s Plate remains too strong and is crowding out other choices
  • Unclear if Dead Man’s Plate and Black Cleaver correct an intended juggernaut weakness (immobility) too effectively
  • Titanic Hydra has very few users (lack of health-bound, Basic Attack-oriented champions)
Known Tradeoffs 
  • Juggernauts are well-supported with core items, but have few choices to make other than order/build path.
Next Steps
  • Look to improve bindings on other Juggernauts (e.g. Nasus and Udyr)
  • Further reduce Dead Man’s Plate’s power and assess other similar items
  • Assess who should use Titanic Hydra and changes needed to make it attractive to them
  • Discuss frameworks for use of flat MS versus % MS and in what ways items should or shouldn’t offset class weaknesses."
[NOTE: Pretty obvious typo in there! Should be 2016 for the "What's Working" and "Problems to.."]

When asked about other items feeling subpar rather than just Deadman's Plate being too strong, Axes commented:
It's not so much that Deadman's Plate is super awesome, but that other choices are just subpar in comparison. If you're looking for armor and health, your choices are Sunfire Cape, Randuin's Omen, and Deadman's Plate. Sunfire Cape's passive just feels bleh, very hard to appreciate, which leaves Randuin's and Deadman's. The problem here is that it seems like speeding up is always more universally useful than slowing someone else down, which is a problem beyond the scope of these two items.
I'd like to look at Randuin's Omen and Sunfire Cape as well. I do think Deadman's is also overbearing, though." 
As for why he feels it is overbearing, Axes explained:
"Basically we're seeing it in most games even on core Sunfire Cape users and core Frozen Heart users, even with Sunfire Cape having an identical stat-line - they just buy the Dead Man's a bit later. It's crowding out not just other armor options but other defensive options period, which points to it simply giving more for its price than items usually give."
He continued:
I mean, that is cherry-picking the causal link a bit don't you think? You could look at that same set of information, and say "Well, Deadman's Plate is filling it's core identity, but Sunfire Cape and Randuin's Omen obviously aren't if people are foregoing those items and getting Deadman's instead."
Yes and no. If we're just looking at these three items in a vacuum, then yes, we could fix the problem by buffing the other two until they're used. Those plays would likely come at the expense of everything that isn't one of those three items, however (not just other armor items like Frozen Heart but all other defense items to a significant extent - health stacking effectively neutralizes a lot of AP champs, after all). And the net result would be a pretty substantial increase in power for many users of those items, particularly users which are already building Dead Man's plus one of the others, which is simply not warranted right now. 
I do agree that the others warrant a look and likely need to increase in power, but the gap is larger than I can realistically close just with buffs."

Axes also replied to a very large series of questions:
Hi Axes. Thanks a lot for this thread. As a "Juggernaut main" (I played a lot of Garen, Mundo, I was one of the few advocates for Mordekaiser bot on the forums, and even if they are not all proper Jugg, I played a lot of other tanky dudes [and dudesses :p]), I have a few questions. 
About Udyr: is he really considered a Juggernaut internally? He has huge MS, a stun, and lifesteal (which discourage from building HPs, as mentioned in a later point).
I wouldn't say that Udyr in his current state is a Juggernaut - just that he shares enough properties that he's in the same general space, so he naturally tends to come up when we're talking about Juggernaut items.

And what about Mundo? Despite his ranged poke, I'd say he is a Juggernaut. If he is not, what is he? Because he's definitely not a Tank with just one slow, and not the most efficient of Divers either. And yet if he is a Juggernaut, he doesn't build their items, mostly full durability, and if he builds offense, it's more magic-damage-oriented (1 or 2 among Rylai/Lyandry/Abyssal/Witt's end).
Mundo feels like a Juggernaut to me, but that's my opinion, I wouldn't say that it represents some kind of internal consensus.
Which transitions well with my next question: there are very few magic-damage Juggernaut/Bruiser items. It's obviously a problem for Mordekaiser, but even beyond that, its a hole in the itemization system, and it could open a lot of diversity in type of champs and buildpaths available, especially for guys like Rumble, I think. Is there any plan to add new items in this direction, or rework some of the existing items to gear them more toward AP Bruisers? There is probably something cool to be done with Rylai/Lyandry/Abyssal/Witt's End/Sunfire, and yet I cannot think of a single champ who would actually wish to build that stuff.
The big question for me on "AP Bruiser" is that it's not clear that we're talking about any real class of champions. Names I hear include stuff like Mordekaiser (hybrid stats Juggernaut), Rumble (AP damage dealer who buys minimal tank stats), and Maokai/Singed (more or less straight up tanks). I could imagine doing an AP Bruiser item if it's clear that it's supporting a decent set of champions who share an itemization need, but most of the ideas in that space that I've heard pitched end up being an item for just one or two champions since these champs don't really share many properties other than "fighter-ish and scales off AP".
About Stat Binding working: aren't Tanks using Deadman's Plate too much? Or Sunfire? And by the way, can you confirm that Black Cleaver and Sunfire are actually considered as Jugg Items, and not Tanks Items (despite not being the 3 added items you mentioned)? And Randuin, with the utility actives and the crit reduction is more a Tank item, despite the HPs, right?
Black Cleaver, Sunfire Cape, and Randuin's Omen are all definitely in the space of Juggernaut items. Sunfire Cape and Randuin's Omen are also used by Tanks, while Black Cleaver crosses over with all manner of non-Juggernaut Fighters (and a few AD Assassins). This kind of crossover is perfectly fine. 
The reason we care about stat bindings is that if we can ensure that Juggernauts are actually the core users of a particular item, we're able to balance the item around them instead of some other champion that just plain abuses it better. The reason we're calling this a successful demonstration for stat bindings is that we believe that it demonstrates that we're able to bind these items when we need to. Sterak's Gage in particular was successful in that regard. 
Re: Dead Man's Plate: I think that's a problem with DMP being simply too powerful for its cost, not a problem with its stats profile.
About the "Known Tradeoff": does this label mean that it won't be improved in the (near) future? Not that I'm complaining, but it's kinda ambiguous what you mean there.
In this case, I mean that we think we'd have to take on another fairly major project - at around the preseason Marksman itemization scope (which was much larger than the Juggernaut items scope) - to improve it enough to call it done.
About Titanic Hydra: IMHO, the intended users should be: Volibear, Mundo, Udyr, Darius, and potentially reworked Nasus/Olaf with a better binding with health. All of them have a kit centered around basic attacks, with resets/AS buff/aa-enhancers. The problem for Nasus and Olaf is that their lifesteal encourages them to build resistances more than hps. (But you are probably aware of that already ^^'). And why allow to swap between Titanic and Ravenous freely? This seems a bit odd, and unfair compared to Smite/Boots/Zeal upgrades/Sheen upgrades/etc.
With a few changes that's more or less the list I had in mind (Trundle and Shyvana might be candidates, not sure it'd make so much sense on Udyr in his current form), but as you've probably noticed they all would need a few tweaks to really consider Titanic a core item. That's the exact concern with the item - its niche is so specific that it almost doesn't exist. 
Re: the swapping: It's a bit of a thematic nod (they're configurations of the same weapon), but not ultimately crucial to the items. I rather like it but it's definitely odd and I understand why there's concern about it. I don't know if it'll stay or not.
About Deadman's Plate: can't you buff the alternatives instead of nerfing it, just like you did with Thunderlord recently? If not, why is it a different case?
In Thunderlord's case, our thought was that the other Keystones had been left in a bad enough spot that nerfing Thunderlords would just leave Keystones feeling terrible across the board - none of the options was close enough to feel even ok about and we didn't have a ton of time to build confidence in buffs to them. 
With Randuin's/Sunfire, they're items that players have appreciated in the past, which gives us quite a bit of confidence that some tweaks will make them desirable again. We'll likely try to float up both of those items in the near future. As I've said elsewhere in this thread, however, I think Dead Man's Plate is too strong for an item in League of Legends given its cost, not just for an armor item, and I don't think we can possibly buff Sunfire and Randuins enough to compete with Dead Man's without just making champions that use both overpowered.
I'll appreciate any answer, even partial ;) Once again, thanks for this thread, and thanks to Riot for the Dev Corner in general.
Thanks for the questions!"


When asked about which champions they consider to be Juggernauts, Meddler elaborated:
"Our current thinking: 
  • Garen
  • Darius
  • Skarner
  • Mordekaiser
  • Nasus
  • Illaoi
  • Udyr
  • Yorick (reworked kit as well)
  • Skarner (some debate here as to whether he's a juggernaut with tank elements or a tank with juggernaut elements though) 
There are some champions we've previously looked at as possible juggernauts we now feel aren't a good fit for the category (Shyvana and Olaf for example, both of whom have much better ability to get to a really desirable target than the above champions on average)."

As for where Shyvana falls into this, Meddler noted:
"Yeah, we've concluded Shyvana's better treated as a diver at this point, as is Olaf, given both of them have much more capability to get onto the backline than juggernauts generally do."

He continued, explaining more on what makes a Juggernaut a Juggernaut:
"We'll be talking more about all the different sub classes we've been looking at soon (ish). For juggernauts though: 
Sub Class Strengths
  • Extreme tankiness (primarily via raw health). Constant, not windowed, defense.
  • Sustained damage (threat/influence primarily through damage)
Sub Class Weaknesses
  • Low mobility (kiteable in combat in particular)
  • Low range (overall very melee dependent compared to most classes)
  • Low initiation potential (lack of aggressive CC, difficulty getting onto desired targets.
Main argument against Shyvana being a juggernaut's the dash on her ult, she's got the ability to get onto a target from a significant range. Olaf's ult makes him very hard to kite by contrast, so he also doesn't fit the criteria. 
With these subclass definitions though it's very much a spectrum, not a set of hard rules where champions are either entirely one thing or entirely another. Udyr and Skarner are on the boundary of juggernaut, but still ultimately best described as juggernauts, while Shyvana and Olaf has elements of juggernaut but are better described as divers."

When asked about what "stat binding" means for Nasus in nerfs or buffs, Meddler noted:
"No immediate plans. When we do need to make changes to Nasus, whether balance (buff or nerf), other game health or just general improvements though we'll look at whether some of that should be done via stat binding."
As for Udyr, he noted:
"We're not looking to make immediate changes to Udyr. When we do work on him (next him his balance demands buffs or nerfs most likely) we'll be looking at stat binding as something to incorporate into that though."

When asked if they consider Poppy to be a Juggernaut, he clarified:
"Yeah, we see Poppy firmly in the tank category like Sion (awkward that he's got 'Juggernaut' in his title, it's a great fit thematically and was used before we'd decided to use that as the name of a subclass)."

When asked about AD vs AP for Juggernauts, Meddler commented:
"Assumption is that juggernauts will be AD scaling by default, with some champs either having flexible build options or just breaking that expectations. Regardless of what they're building though all of them should get a significant amount of their power from auto attacking. 
Not sure yet on AP itemization changes, those are still in a very early state. Having some flexibility to itemize defensively's not a bad thing there though."

Repertoir looking for feedback on Cassiopiea's Twin Fang

Following the mid-year mage discussion last week, Repertoir has slithered on to the boards to ask players about their thoughts and expectations for Cassiopeia's E:
"Hi everyone, 
As Cassiopeia is one of the mages we're looking at for the mid season mages update and I'm the designer heading up her changes, I'm looking to get opinions/feedback from players on what some of their specific expectations for her are. 
One thing I'm having a difficult time assessing is what players' desires are as far as Twin Fang goes, and I do have some concern that opinion will be far from unanimous. I know a lot of players want Cass to be more "poison mage" than she currently is, and I think I have a good grasp on how that may be able to manifest, but I don't really know what that means as far as what they want from Twin Fang. It may just be that you want Twin Fang to remain mostly as it is now, with kit changes elsewhere. It may be that you want there to be more times where casting Twin Fang isn't the best thing to be doing. 
Any opinions on the matter would be greatly appreciated. For what it's worth, I'm probably not going to be able to invest time in hundreds of responses to this thread, but I will check in on it periodically to get your ideas. 
Be sure to hop on to the boards and let him know what you think!

Meddler on Braum & Ward Jumps

When asked why Braum can't use his W to jump to wards like Jax or Lee Sin can with their respective abilities, Meddler explained:
"What Braum should and shouldn't be able to jump to was something we looked at a lot during his development. We had some clear strengths and weaknesses in mind for Braum though, and those were really helpful in assessing what tools he should have. Gameplay wise we wanted to ensure Braum had a clear niche he was really good in, and that there were some games where he'd be an ok, but not great pick. 
If what you wanted was a strong defensive front line, who worked well with frequent auto attacking allies, Braum would be a great choice, especially if the enemy was running a really missile heavy comp. If you needed really strong peel/disengage though, you'd want someone like Janna instead. Or if strong engage and reliable lockdown was what you were after someone like Leona was the better choice. 
Those guidelines lead us to conclude that being able to ward jump wasn't appropriate for Braum. In particular it gave him much more powerful initiation than was appropriate (disengage/wall hopping was a lesser concern). By gameplay goals, and by personality, Braum was intended to be a defensive, helpful champion first and foremost, so we wanted to put power into those aspects of him, rather than having to balance him around a reliable way of jumping straight onto the enemy. Early versions of Braum's W went so far as to only allow him to jump to allied champions, not minions, that ended up feeling excessively constraining though. We also talked a fair bit about how much power Braum should be able to offer in a dive buddy situation (following another allied champion in, and then helping lock people down), ultimately concluding that was a reasonable strength and still fit well with his intended teamplay based approach. 
As far as ward jumping on Lee Sin, Kat and Jax goes that's something we ultimately decided to balance those champions around (it's a significant strength, not a free bonus). It wasn't originally an intended mechanic, and there have been some good arguments for taking it away at times, intuitiveness and the way it circumvents the intended weaknesses of unit targeted dashes/blinks in particular. The plays it allows though are good fits for the intended strengths of those champions, all of whom are strong on the offense and intended to be slippery. It's also a strongly embedded part of their playstyle, which added a bit of extra weight to keeping it. " 

Jhin, Shen, and Zed

When asked about the relationship between our upcoming champion Jhin and Shen and Zed, WAAARGHbobo commented that we'll have more on all three when Jhin's lore is released:
"Jhin's lore will illustrate some of the past and present of all three of these characters. (Should be out soon)"
Check out Jhin's special voiceover interactions for Zed and Shen for more!

ricklessabandon on potential Akali and Xin Zhao 6.3 PBE Changes

In addition to his previously mentioned 6.3 changes for Alistar, ricklessabandon tweeted out that he has tentative Akali and Xin Zhao changes set to test for the upcoming 6.3 PBE cycle:
"experimenting with possible changes for akali and xin zhao in 6.3 (in addition to the things already mentioned)—likely in the first pbe wave"

Lunar Revel Content releasing soon!

While content is still in the process of being rolled out to every server, the promotional page for the upcoming 2016 Lunar Revel is up!

To get you in the swing of things, check out: Lunar Revel: the Wolf, the Serpent, the Monkey King

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