Red Post Collection: December Early Sales, Developing Dark Star Thresh, Ask Riot on LCU, and more!

Posted on at 3:05 AM by Moobeat
Today's red post collection includes the December early sales in the shop through December 26th, a new Ask Riot focused on the League Client Update, a dev blog on developing the legendary tier Dark Star Thresh skin, Reav3 with a brief comment on Galio's update, and more!
Continue reading for more information!

Table of Contents

December Early Sales: 12.23 - 12.26 

December's early sales for skins and chroma are now in the shop through December 26th!
"The December Early Sale is officially here! To kick things off, the following non-Legacy skins from the past 4-6 months are going on sale from December 23, 2016 00:00 PT through December 26, 2016 23:59 PT!"
Here's a  a set of previews for the December early sales:

Developing  Dark Star Thresh

We also have a brand new Nexus article showing off the development of the legendary Dark Star Thresh skin that debuted earlier this year, including a feature video on designing his music!
Teaser Art for Dark Star Thresh
"For years, players have been making #lcsbigplays and #bronzebigplays with Thresh, and the community’s love for the Overlord of Hook City has consistently placed him on the list of top-ten globally played champs. Thresh had everything a champ could want in his kit, but he lacked one thing: a Legendary skin. 
On a cold (for Southern California) February afternoon, product owner Paul “Pabro” Bellezza received a special request: “Could your team make a Legendary Thresh skin?” 
Pabro introduced the new project in his next team meeting. “Thresh is a pure evil, psychological sadist who mercilessly collects souls,” Pabro said. “Whatever skin we make should multiply these characteristics by 100.” He invited the team to spend one week developing concepts, but before they dispersed, Pabro dropped the real challenge: The crew would have about half the time normally allotted for Legendaries to complete the skin. 
The following week, about twenty people returned with a wide range of pitches. Beekeeper Thresh was briefly considered, but he somehow failed to evoke the fear and dread Pabro was looking for. Instead, a different idea hooked their attention: Dark Star Thresh, an ancient space lord who manipulates the laws of time and gravity while collecting his victims’ souls in a black hole. When they took a vote on their favorite pitches, Dark Star emerged with nearly unanimous support. 
Beekeeper Thresh and Dark Star Thresh
After choosing a direction, the next step was to explore who Dark Star Thresh really was. “Basically, we gathered in a room and started asking questions like, ‘What motivates Dark Star Thresh? What’s his source of power? What is he made of?’” says creative lead Matthew “Popstar Urf” Manarino. 
Countless discussions and whiteboards of ideas later, they unravelled the story of Dark Star Thresh. “Thresh’s black hole is a separate entity he’s feeding, and his goal is to end all of existence—not just to be a dick, but so he can die, too. For him, that moment when all of eternity is fed into the black hole is like rapture,” Pabro says. Locking down the story elements helped the team push through to the nitty-gritty of design and in-game integration. 
First Round of Concept Art, by Hellstern
Concept artist Elena “Hellstern” Bespalova started drafting concepts for Dark Star Thresh around this time. In her second round of drawings, a swirling galaxy emerged around Thresh’s head, but it was unclear if the celestial cowl would look as stellar in-game. Hellstern says, “It presented a real challenge because Thresh is kind of old, and his model is a bit clunky.” Hellstern joined up with 3D and visual effects artists, and together, they combined rudimentary models of Dark Star Thresh with swirling space matter. After a few practice trials, they determined it was possible to bring the design to life. 
Second Round of Concept Art
Four weeks into development, Dark Star Thresh’s visual direction was locked. 
Hellstern and character artist Ryan “Ribtibs” Ribot combined forces to start turning Dark Star Thresh’s 2D concept art into 3D terror. Character models are made of a bunch of polygons, and Ribtibs says, “It’s our job as modelers to put these polygons in the right places. It sounds technical, but it feels more like manipulating clay.” The duo created over twenty versions of Thresh’s model before finally landing on one that hit the right mix of recognizable Thresh and celestial horror. 
Early and Final Versions of Dark Star Thresh’s Model & Polygon Layover on Painted Final Model

Early in development Dark Star Tresh was painted with an array of reds. This color scheme was changed to distinguish him from his Blood Moon counterpart.
Thresh’s model was still a work in progress when technical artist Jue “Kaolala” Wang started prepping the sinister star for animation. Kaolala created digital bones and chained them together inside Dark Star Thresh’s body. Once Thresh’s bones were in place, Kaolala connected them to the model so they’d know which body part to influence. Now, when animators moved a bone in Thresh’s arm, the model’s arm moved with it. 
Dark Star Thresh's Bone Structure
Redoing every animation is the most time-intensive part of making a Legendary skin, and with only two months left for development, time was hot commodity. This led to some thought-provoking questions: If auto-attacking doesn’t feel as important as hitting a Madlife hook, should they put equal time into both? What are the moments that feel the most impactful? After much deliberation, the decision was made to polish Thresh’s existing animations instead of recreating them from scratch, with special focus on moments that could feel out-of-this-world.

Dark Star Thresh’s Legendary status merited an updated recall and new “emotes,” the technical term for a champ’s BM reservoir of taunts, jokes, laughter, and dance skills. These features are unrelated to mechanical gameplay, so animator Drew “sandwichtown” Morgan used them to further Thresh’s destructive, omnipotent persona. 
For example, when the Sinister Star returns to base, he throws his hook through a portal and pulls himself towards the unknown entity it connects with. But, instead of using an existing portal, he transforms his black hole into a private one, demonstrating his complete command of the universe.

Dark Star Thresh has a ton of visual effects (VFX); turn them all off and all that’s left is a body with a floating head. It can be pretty difficult to distinguish between the 3D model’s animation and VFX at first glance—one way to spot the difference is to compare Thresh’s lantern in the base model to his black hole in the Dark Star skin. 
Base Thresh's animated lantern and Dark Star Tresh's VFX black hole
Thresh’s original soul vessel is a 3D model animated to sway predictably. Dark Star Thresh’s black hole is a visual effect made of tiny, hand-painted particles that can be individually manipulated. Using VFX grants the artistic freedom to create dynamic, swirling colors in Thresh’s black hole as well as in his galaxy cowl, left hand, tentacle head, and ability particles. 
Nothing in League of Legends resembled a black hole, so VFX artist Adam “Riot AdamUnicorn” Kupratis looked towards other games for early inspiration. He began by mimicking black-hole type abilities to better understand how black holes function in video games, and this gave him a strong starting point for Thresh’s black hole. AdamUnicorn started painting and rigging during the early weeks of development, but Dark Star Thresh’s black hole wasn’t finalized until a week before the PBE release. 
AdamUnicorn says creating Dark Star Thresh’s VFX was extra challenging because, “We were working with huge ideas—concepts bigger than the Milky Way. Making that look cool on a much smaller scale was beyond complicated.”

Dark Star Thresh was looking like a cosmic horror, but he didn’t quite sound like one. Using the VFX for guidance, audio designer Boon “Boondingo” Sim searched Riot’s sound libraries and his collection of sound-generating software for material to create the sounds to pair with Thresh’s auto attacks and abilities. It was easy enough to find cool sci-fi sound effects (SFX), but the trick was to modify them so they were recognizable as belonging to the Chain Warden. 
“Gameplay is our primary concern, so everything still has to fall into the same pattern. Players have to know what’s happening, based on the sound,” Boondingo says. At review meetings, the team also listened for anything that sounded too similar to other skins or champs. Their feedback ensured the space vanquisher didn’t accidentally steal Vel’Koz’s sound effects (along with his soul). 
We were working with huge ideas - concepts bigger than the Milky Way. Making that looks cool on a much smaller scale was beyond complicated.

To finalize Dark Star Thresh’s voiceover script, the skins team collaborated with a few writers (PBE release was, at this point, six weeks away). Boondingo then spent the day at a nearby studio, recording the voice-over with Thresh’s original voice actor and a voice director. After this session, Boondingo listened to the recording and evaluated the delivery of the lines, choosing the strongest versions. 
For some reason, the voice actor sounded far too human. Drawing inspiration from sci-fi villains and horror films, Boondingo started layering distortion effects over the original recording, transforming it into the voice of an otherworldly horror: 
Original, humanoid recording:
Deepened voice to sound extra villainous:
Reverb (similar to an echo) and delay added to sound like he’s echoing in space:
Gradually deepen the fading reverb to make it feel like being sucked into a black hole:
Reverse the end of the reverb and put it at the start of each line, so it sounds like his voice is pulling players in:
Every villain needs a diabolical soundtrack, and composer Edouard “Ed the Conqueror” Brenneisen started working on Dark Star Thresh’s musical accompaniment early in development. Follow Ed the Conqueror’s progress in the the video below. Listen to the final composition.

It’s now four weeks from from Dark Star Thresh’s PBE debut. Thresh’s base model and animations are complicated, and Dark Star Thresh’s model and animations are even more complicated. Because of this, quality analyst Brittany “Riot Galetta” Gleiter started playtesting the celestial terror before his VFX, SFX, or voice-over were finalized. 
Galetta partnered with a quality assurance organization to run structured tests searching for any bugs that impacted gameplay. Some bugs emerged here and there, but everything was fixable with minor modifications. 
Aside from uncovering glitches, Galetta also tested the quality of Dark Star Thresh as a skin. She answered questions like, “What do you love about this skin, and what do you feel is missing? Would you feel happy purchasing this skin?” Galetta’s feedback helped guide the final hectic weeks of development until Dark Star Thresh was ready to bring devastation to the world of Runeterra. 
Dark Star Thresh debuted on live servers on June 16, 2016. 
The next day, the Dark Star Thresh team headed to a pool party to relax for an afternoon. Shipping a Legendary skin on a truncated timeline was exhausting, but they had managed to achieve the impossible. Dark Star Thresh now terrorized the Rift, and it was time to celebrate. 
The party didn’t last long. Shortly after heading out, Pabro received a call from the office: “Have you seen the Dark Star Thresh bug?”

A lot of players purchased Dark Star Thresh, and as the skin found its way into millions of games, it soon became obvious that something was fundamentally wrong. Whenever an enemy player first saw Dark Star Thresh after Thresh died and respawned, the player’s screen would freeze while the VFX loaded. This issue primarily struck players who didn’t have powerful video cards—Dark Star Thresh’s swirling terrors were pushing some machines into frame rate oblivion. 
Within 24 hours of release, Dark Star Thresh was disabled. 
The outing was cut short as the crew returned to the office. They’d never encountered such a severe bug that only occurred on the enemy team, and it was surprising that it slipped through quality testing. They worked through the weekend, optimizing Dark Star Thresh’s VFX to make him less demanding on video cards. Four non-stop days later, Thresh was back to seeking the total destruction of the universe. 
Even after finding the solution, a feeling of frustration and devastation remained. “Dark Star Thresh was such an aggressive undertaking, and for this to happen after everyone’s hard work just felt awful,” Galetta says. Still, they are proud of the accomplishment. By working on multiple aspects of development simultaneously, the team created a Legendary skin in almost half the time as previous endeavors. It was tough, draining, and more than a bit stressful—but they did it. 
“Overall, it was like trial-by-fire,” Pabro jokes, “but we really challenged the way we made skins and pushed ourselves as a team to think outside the box.” 
Artist Victor “3rdColossus” Maury wanted to capture the hopelessness of planetary destruction in Dark Star Thresh’s splash art. The changes made in early renditions reflect the skin’s tumultuous development. Thinking back on the process, 3rdColossus says, “It was sometimes painful, but we took a big risk. We’re proud of that, at the end of the day.”

Ask Riot: The Future of The Client Update

 A new ASK RIOT is up dedicated to answering questions on the future of the League Client update, which is currently in open beta - how long the beta will last,  feature parity, and more!
"Welcome to Ask Riot! 
In this very special edition of Ask Riot, we’re talking exclusively about the updated League of Legends client—and what happens next for the old one. 
How long will the client update beta last? What happens when it ends?

For a refresher on why we’re updating the client, see here. 
Right now the plan is to wrap things up a few months into 2017, but we don’t yet have a specific date for the end of the beta. We’ve decided that we won’t exit beta until we’re confident we’re offering a smooth and responsive client experience for all players. You know that sentence mattered a lot because we italicized it. 
There are four main things our developers are focusing on during the beta:  
  • Optimizing performance (our top priority)
  • Squashing bugs
  • Adding missing client features
  • Minor yet necessary quality of life improvements (think of things like the “low-spec mode” we just added)  
Once we’ve met these goals, we’ll flip the big switch to end the beta, and every player’s client will automatically upgrade itself the next time they launch League. That means that when beta ends, we’ll officially stop supporting the legacy client. In the meantime, the legacy client will still work as normal (although new features like Replays and Practice Tool will be exclusive to the updated client). 
In the patches prior to the end of the beta, every player’s legacy client will download pieces of the necessary files. That way it won’t come at you as a single massive download on the day we flip the switch. 
I like the legacy client the way it is. Why can’t Riot support both the legacy client and the updated client after the beta ends?

One of the biggest reasons we’re replacing the legacy client is so Rioters can get faster at shipping features players want. The legacy client’s old, outdated tech holds back our developers from making new features in a timely manner. The reasons are complicated, but the short and simple explanation is that the updated client runs on newer, more stable technology that lets Rioters make code changes without tripping over each other. 
Throughout the client update alpha and beta we’ve had to develop features for both the old, slow-as-hell (development-wise) legacy client and the updated client. That’s twice the work for every feature, which just isn’t sustainable in the long term. By fully replacing the legacy client, however, Rioters will finally be unlocked to work on the new features players have been demanding. 
By the way, this is also the main reason we can’t yet focus our attention on major new client features that players have suggested. (That sentence was bold. I bet even people who were skimming this article read it.) Putting time and resources into new features now would keep us in beta for longer, which means slower, less efficient overall development in the long run. 
Why are some features still missing from the updated client? When are item sets and public chat coming back?

Updating the client using new technology actually requires us to rebuild all of the legacy client’s feature from scratch. We’ve rebuilt the lobby, the store, champ select, the friends list, clubs, your profile pages, all of it. We had to go through and remake these features one by one. Even this month we’ve still been working our way down the list, finally re-launching friend spectate, gifting notifications, and rotating game modes. 
When we first began work on the client update, we had to decide what order to build things in. Some features naturally fell to the bottom of the list based on data we gather about which client features players actually use. The features at the bottom of this list were public chat and the item set creator tool. 
Those features likely won’t make it into the client during the beta, but that doesn’t mean we’re ruling out working on the features at some point in the future. Some players really like public chat and the item set creator, so it would make sense to rebuild them (or some improved replacement for them) in the future. All we’re saying now is that we can’t let those two minor features hold us in the beta. Remember, the longer we stay in beta, the longer we have to continue supporting both clients, which means tons of other work at Riot would get slowed down. 
So, here’s your update on item sets and public chat: We can’t yet officially commit to rebuilding them because we haven’t finished the client beta. It just wouldn’t be wise to promise those features without actually having developers assigned to the task of creating them. That said, item set users should know that you still have access to the feature: item sets you’ve already made still work when you use the updated client. You’re also free to edit them by launching the legacy client—although you have to then launch a custom game using the champion with your created item set in order to save the item set file. It’s sort of janky, but it works. 
We’ve heard players’ demands on this, so we’ll have more to say about our plans for public chat and the item set creator tool in the January edition of The Client Open Beta Update
We’ll hang out in the comments below to answer any other questions you have! 

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."

Reav3 on Galio and Lethality

Few short posts from Reav3 on Galio's future update and tentative lethality buffs in early 2017.

When asked about Galio's future large scope champion update, Reav3 mentioned:
"I don't want to go into any micro details like that on Galio, especially since his changes are so massive, our biggest VGU yet. I will say that we do want to preserve his identity as a anti magic tank that can be the played in the mid lane as this is a very unique identity. 
Being a tank in the mid lane will require the ability to fight back against mages to be successful. As to how the new Galio will accomplish this, you will just have to wait and see."
When asked about potential buffs for Talon, Reav3 once again mentioned they are looking into general lethality buffs in early 2017.
The fact that talon has no powerful items to build without lethality really blows. Lethality items feel absolutely terrible to rush after the nerfs.
With you that the items are likely the problem rather then Talon himself as all lethality item users are currently suffering. We will be looking into some buffs to lethality early next year."

Quick Hits: /ALL Chat & Beware of Scams

[Quick hits is our own mini news collection inside a red post collection, often including shorter or easy to digest stories and repeat information you may have missed in other posts!]

  • A peculiar new /ALL CHAT debuted Friday. It's hard to explain but it is about Aurelion Sol.

"Aurelion Sol: Cosmic Drift  
Once enslaved by the Targonians, Aurelion Sol has been freed to traverse Runeterra and get stuck in LA traffic. You won’t get this 1:36 back."


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

  • Snowdown 2016 is here! Through January 9th, tons of content and deals are available - new legacy skins for Braum, Graves, & Karma, Winter Summoner's Rift, over 100 returning legacy skins, a ton of new summoner icons, LotPK, new chests, and more! Click here for previews.  Daily Snowdown chest content lists can be found here.

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