Red Post Collection: /Dev: Building Star Guardian: Invasion, Runes Corner, Patch Chat with the Playtest Team, & More

Posted on at 7:07 PM by Aznbeat
Tonight's red post collection includes a new /Dev, chronicling the ideation and creation of the Star Guardian: Invasion mode, a new Runes Corner covering more runes in the Resolve tree, a new Patch Chat for patch 7.18, and more!
Continue reading for more info!

Table of Contents

/Dev: Building Star Guardian: Invasion

Here's Riot DefaultChar and Sharkcromancer with a new /Dev, covering the conception and design of the new game mode, Invasion:
"With Rotating Game Modes, we’re always trying to explore new spaces within the gameplay of League. Sometimes, that means taking a very narrow slice and magnifying it (like the push and pull gameplay in Dark Star: Singularity). Other times, we focus on putting what you know into a different context. 
Doom Bots, and more recently “The Teemoing,” were some of our first experiments with PvE. We wanted to keep exploring this space, but also try different angles. While Doom Bots was still loosely based on Summoner’s Rift, with Star Guardian, we wanted to explore what it could mean to translate League’s basic gameplay mechanics into a more traditional “defeat the hordes of enemies” setting. 
With this idea (defeating the hordes) as a core, we sat down and discussed everything we wanted to accomplish, any challenges we needed to overcome, and some of the nitty-gritty of actually building a mode; for example, experimenting with map layouts, building revive systems, crafting monsters, and every little detail that makes Invasion the mode it is. 
This was not a short list, so I want to focus here on two particular challenges that were most core to our final design: 
  • How can we best translate League’s champion kits to a PvE setting?
  • How can we craft the most variance and replayability from the mode’s content? 
The first thing we do when creating a mode is begin with a number of very quick prototypes to see which parts of them stick. This process is called “rapid iterative prototyping,” or “find the fun,” where the goal is to quickly search for moments of fun we can later refine and build upon. After going through a few variants, we ended up trying a prototype where you had to guide your champion across the map to an exit. Whenever you reached certain points, streams of voidlings would run at you, and sometimes there’d even be a Gromp or two. 
It was, of course, untuned—and non-damage champs in particular felt very underwhelming. The support kit of Janna or Lulu feels fine in the context of Summoner’s Rift, but there wasn’t anything for them to do here. DPS champs felt good, though, so there was enough in this prototype to give us confidence moving forward. 
We now had the seed of what would become Invasion. 
We knew we wanted to keep the feeling of rapidly tearing through enemies from our earlier prototype. We began testing with a gray square that streamed in Voidlings and VoidSpawn from the four corners (I’d include a picture, but it’s a gray square). We still had no solution for support champions, and additionally, we struggled to make non-AoE abilities feel useful. Ahri’s Charm, among many others, felt wildly underwhelming. 
Rather than crafting brand-new PvE mobs to entertain these problems, we used the existing enemy archetypes from League champions. This meant our focus was on crafting situations that would feel good to overcome with the MOBA kits each champ had, rather than try to shoehorn them into a more traditional PvE setting with dungeon mobs. This not only saved a lot of content dev time, but also gave us some advantages in learnability: When you see something brand-new, we need to teach you what it does, but when you see Vel’Koz, you have a rough idea of what he will probably do. 
We wanted to mix up a few rooms even more, so we created Cho’Gath, who is a very low threat by himself but sticks around for a long time. As a result, he plays as much more of a “Map Modifier,” meaning he changes the way you think longer-term without changing too much of your moment-to-moment.
PvE often gets its variance from just having lots and lots of content, but building content can be quite time consuming. So from the beginning, our goal was to get as many unique experiences as possible out of each monster without breaking players’ knowledge of how they worked. 
By this point, we knew we wanted a playthrough of the mode to be a series of different encounters. Our earliest attempts generally used every monster type and tried to generate variance via spawn pattern (for example, spawn all the enemies from the northeast corner or spawn all enemies from the west or east only). That…didn’t really work; we were getting some variance, but it was only slight, and overall the mode was feeling too flat with no real high or low points. 
Instead, we decided to focus encounters on specific enemies. As we went, we found the sweet spot was generally ~two: One that defined the room, and another to back them up and add flavor.

Beyond composition, we also experimented with various objective layers for the rooms to act as differentiators. We experimented with some wilder ideas; one of our earlier prototypes involved filling a room with one-hit-kill bombs. However, we ended up settling on the three types you can see in the mode: the basic “just survive” experience, as well as “escape the hallway” and “trapped in a bubble.” We found these three played well with the enemy types we already created and were easy to learn while still achieving the different feel we were aiming for. 
The “Big One” sits on her perch atop the Valoran City Planetarium.
Beyond that, we created unique rooms by having enemies employ their combat pattern in a different way. One of the clearest examples is what we like to call the “Bullet Hell Hallways”—by changing Vel’Koz to fire in a fixed pattern, rather than aiming, we were able to create multiple, clearly differentiated hallways, even though they both employed a high number of Vel’Koz…s. Vel’kozzes. Vel’Ki…? 
Using all of the above, we think we were able to create enough distinct experiences to make the mode feel unique across multiple playthroughs. That said, this is a hugely subjective topic, so we’d love to hear your thoughts or any ideas you might have for building it out more in the future! 
During the concept phase, we came up with a group of different ideas that would make for a cool setting for the Star Guardian PvE battle mode. Some of the initial ideas included a Star Guardian space palace, a rooftop city-style battleground, a set of ancient ruins, the inside of a school, and a planetary-themed park. From there, we gathered some references and did sketches and quick paintings to figure out which idea we wanted to go with. 
Invasion Map Concept Art and Mood Piece
At this point, we talked to some of the other teams working on Star Guardian to see what kinds of stories they were telling. We bounced around ideas about different possible scenes the battles could take place in, and settled on keeping the setting grounded on Star Guardian Lux’s home planet. The team decided to deep-dive on a park in the middle of the city. Once the general story was figured out, we started to craft the visuals to reflect that vibe. 
One of our designers used to live in Japan and had some interesting ideas about incorporating traditional Japanese architecture in with the modern Tokyo-style city architecture. The result was a pretty interesting juxtaposition between the historical-looking lanterns and modern-day cityscapes. I spent some time integrating those ideas into the mood piece. The whole team got super excited about this direction, and that image even served as the temporary loading screen for most of development. 
Concept art illustrating the map’s layout and how the pieces fit together.
I started work on a unified layout concept, which is where we ensure all of the art on the layout works together visually, is thematically cohesive, and illustrates visual harmony. We knew we wanted a mix of different zones the player could move through, but our short timeline meant they all had to be constructed from the same modular assets. (A modular asset is a type of art that can be repeated in a way that is interesting, like a building, bush, or tree.) The art style for the Star Guardian world was difficult to nail down at first, with its mix of real-life nods and stylized forms. In the end, we decided to keep the level of detail from League of Legends, while simplifying the major forms and silhouettes to the level of a classic anime style. 
Concept Art for the Lake Area
Collaborating closely with game design involves moving and iterating fast. They often start with very rough 2D maps for early testing, but those quickly lose value as we move further into the project because of the rapid rate of change. “Grey-boxing” is a great way to rapidly collaborate with game designers without slowing them down. We can get a feel for the gameplay space without spending too much time refining details on 3D models we might not use. 
Map Layout Ideas From the Game Designers
Jeremy “Redondo” Page spent a few days blocking out all of the geometry on the map, which let us begin playtesting on something more indicative of the final experience. For instance, we quickly realized the city would have to sit much lower than the playspace in order to show up nicely from League’s camera angle. 
Grey Box Models for the Map
With the world coming into focus, we began refining the flavor props and POIs (points of interest) we’d need to give the world a unique feeling and make the environment more immersive. This includes bits like the playground pieces, fountains, and ground details. It’s a collaborative effort where we often alternate between updating things in-game then painting over the screenshots to quickly solve problems we spot, such as bad composition, harsh lines, and textures that don’t make any sense. 
Paintover Illustrating the Art Direction for the Upper Periphery Area
Concept art for the various props to add life and detail to the world.
Once the props that make up the world started to come together, we noticed the ground felt really empty. We decided to set up the same tech we used on Summoner’s Rift, where we can fully customize the whole gameplay area. This allows us to essentially create a custom painting for everyone to play on! Our 3D artist Ayhan “Ayhankin” Aydogan went to town dressing up the whole map and bringing all the details of the park to life. He added piles of blown leaves, lush grass, patches of dirt, subtle lighting effects, and more to really make the place feel alive. 
The Map’s Ground Texture
The game mode isn’t just a map though—we needed some enemies! The designers found the monsters who had powers they wanted to borrow, and we were presented with the challenge of making them feel like one singular species of aliens. We unified their color palette and gave them a shared alien-green emissive glow to bring the looks of the creatures together. From there, we relied on some differences in hue, scale, silhouette, and movement to make sure the monsters didn’t become too hard to distinguish from one another. The result was a set of new “space aliens” that fit together visually without needing to make nine entirely new characters! 
Concept Art for Various “Space Aliens” That Make Up the Enemy Forces
Working on Star Guardian was a super fun experience and makes us super amped about what we might create in the future. We hope you guys enjoy it! "
Comparison Between Final Art and Early Grey Box Modeling

Runes Corner: Three More Resolve Runes 

Here's gregab with a new Runes Corner, showing three more runes in the resolve tree:
"Hello and welcome back for another Rune’s Corner! I’m Riot Gregab, a Tech Game Designer working on Runes Reforged. Today I want to show you a slot from the Resolve path that offers you three different strategic options around tankiness: Perseverance, Demolish, and Font of Life. 
WIP DISCLAIMER: All of these runes are still in active development. Names, numbers, icons, mechanics -- anything about them might change before release. 
The first option in this slot gives you personal defenses during key moments of conflict: 
After casting a Summoner Spell, gain 25% Tenacity and 25% Slow Resistance for 10 seconds. Increase your bonus Armor and Magic resist by 10% for each Summoner Spell on cooldown.

Taking Perseverance could give you the critical edge in a 1v1 duel or make sure you stay alive and functional in a team fight where you’re eating a lot of damage and crowd control effects. 
The next option, Demolish, on the other hand, gives you a way to turn your existing tankiness into power for taking objectives: 
Charge up a powerful attack against a tower over 4 seconds, while within 600 range of it. The charged attack deals 375 (+20% of your max health) bonus physical damage. 
Cooldown: 60 seconds
Demolish gives tanks a way to siege turrets that is based on their unique strengths: the ability to walk right up to a turret and occupy that critical (and very dangerous) area with their massive bodies. Here’s what it looks like in action: 
The final option in the slot lets tanky champions use their signature crowd control abilities and massive health bars to help their teams in fights. 
Font of Life  
Impairing the movement of an enemy champion marks them for 4 seconds. Ally champions who attack marked enemies heal for 5 + 1.0% of your max health. 
(Healing values are reduced to a third for your own attacks.)
Now, this may sound familiar. It’s an iteration on the live keystone mastery, Stoneborn Pact. The key differences here are that Font of Life offers an instant heal instead of spreading out its heal over time and that, unlike its predecessor, Font of Life users can also heal themselves with it. 
Ok! Hope you enjoyed reading about these new Resolve runes. We’ll be around in the comments to answer your questions and discuss them with you. 
You can check out the previous posts in this series here:

When asked for more details on picking a primary path, gregab commented:
What are your reasons for keeping Precision and Sorcery as Primary only paths. It feels really constricting to have a keystone from the other three and then be stuck with runes from only Inspiration, Resolve, and Domination.
You can primary any of the 5 paths. And once you've picked your primary you can secondary any of the 4 other paths."

On what can be used for the secondary path, gregab replied:
Are these able to be used in a Secondary path?
Yes. They are not keystones. So when Resolve is your secondary path this is one of the slots you can choose from."

As for concerns on whether some champs would be excluded from the base stats update, gregab eased a commenter's fears:
wait, so Darius isn't gonna have base stats updates like other champion with removal of runes because of perseverance? 
Because As a Darius adept I don't find this attractive compared to the boots free at 10 min, the CDR cap being added as bonus AD, the tenacity based on legend stack or the gathering the storm one.
Have no fear Darius will also have a base stats update like every other champion."

Patch Chat with the Playtest Team - 7.18

With a new patch comes a new Patch Chat! Here's Riot King Cobra with the thread:
Header by inkiness 
Hey, everyone! I'm Riot King Cobra and it's time for another round of Patch Chat! These threads serve as opportunity for us to talk about the patches that come out every two weeks. You can find the most recent patch by following this link: Patch 7.18 Notes
I'm on Riot's Playtest Team, a group of high elo players who play with the new champions, reworks, balance tweaks, items, and map updates before they are released. It's our job to the test the changes that our designers come up with and ensure that we're introducing positive changes to League in terms of both balance and fun. Ask us questions - we'll try to answer as many as we can! 
7.18 is the last patch to go out before Worlds 2017, and as such, mainly focuses on bringing in some dominant professional picks and lightly buffing some champions in hopes they can find some play. Please, ask us questions about the patch or our jobs in general! We'd love to talk to you guys as fellow LoL players. :) 
  • Don “Aesah” Ding
  • Dan “penguin” Hardison
  • Robert “ROBERTxLEE” Lee
  • Rob "King Cobra" Rosa
  • Trevor “ThEntropist” Thernes
  • Arnor "Hjarta" Halldorsson
  • Brian "Madness Heroo" Pressoir
  • Christy "Ender L" Frierson
  • Chris "Auberaun" Roberts
  • Nick "Endstep" Frijia
  • Nabi "Novalas" Barak
  • Sigmundur "GangIeri" Helgason"

Quick Hits

  • Sixteen new Star Guardian stickers are now available for use on the boards and in news posts! Head to the boards to check them out. For a full album, click here!
  • Riot King Cobra is the contact on the Azir changes this cycle, and is answering questions on the update over on the AzirMains subreddit. Ask your questions here!


Last up, a few reminders on upcoming and ending soon promotions and sales!
  • The Star Guardian content is now available! Check out our coverage of the release, and make sure to get in a game of Invasion, the newest game mode released. It will be available through 9/25 at 11:59 PT!

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