Red Post Collection: Quick Gameplay Thoughts: January 10th, Battlecast Illaoi: Modeling and Texturing, & More

Posted on at 12:14 PM by Aznbeat
Today's red post collection includes Meddler's quick gameplay thoughts for January 10th, the most recent update for the Battlecast Illaoi skin, an update on rotating game modes, and more!
Continue reading for more information!

Table of Contents

Quick Gameplay Thoughts: January 10 

Here's Meddler with his quick gameplay thoughts for January 10th, covering large patches vs small patches, targeted spells and minion aggro, Unsealed Spellbook bringing back old spells, and more:
"Hi folks, 
Usual Disclaimers 
These posts will often contain talk about future work we're doing, or planning to do, that isn't yet guaranteed to ship. The nature of the work could change or, depending on what we discover, projects mentioned may get put delayed or even stopped. If you'd like to see a Tweet whenever a new one of these posts goes up: 
Large patch/small patch 
As previously mentioned we're going to be trying a test this year where we alternate between patches with a larger number of gameplay changes and those with a smaller number. We're interested in whether keeping the game a bit more consistent for 4 week blocks like that results in more development of strategy and interesting play since there’ll be a more stable state to explore/optimize in. We're also hoping it will allow us to get more done solving bigger picture issues (e.g. item overhauls, adding missing runes, kit updates etc), since less time will be spent on short term balance adjustments. 
This is very much an experiment we're trying though. It's possible that, while it sounds promising on paper, the result is that it feels like some urgent stuff takes longer to get solved and we don't make much more progress on longer term work. If that's the case, or some other issue crops up, we'll go back to our regular patch approach. 
8.2 will be the first of the larger patches, with 8.3 smaller, 8.4 large again etc. Important to note that this large/small cycle only applies to some types of gameplay changes, at least for now. If we're changing a bunch of items for example that'll happen in a large (even number) patch. So will most balance changes. Stuff like skins, bug fixing, rotating game modes, new client features etc won't be taking the large/small distinction into account though and will keep going out in whichever patch they’re ready for. At least for now new champs and VGUs will also continue to be in small patches as well as large. We reassess them in particular at some point if this approach shows promise, see how much benefit there is/isn’t in doing them only in large patches too. We want to start off by basically testing just wider ranging balance changes on that cycle though. 
Targeted Spells and Minion Agro 
Speaking of wider ranging changes here's one that will be in a large patch if we go through with it. We're currently testing a change where single target click to hit spells that deal damage (e.g. Brand E or Annie Q) will draw minion agro in the same way auto attacks already do. Not guaranteed that change ships yet, it's still in testing, but if it does it would definitely be in a large patch (potentially 8.2 or 8.4). 
We're testing this approach because we believe it could make it a lot easier to balance a range of champions. Historically we've had to balance a lot of champs with click to hit spells around the assumption they'll often just be spamming that spell on the enemy until either the target dies/is driven back to base or the caster runs OOM. Pantheon's a particularly clear example of that. The result is a fairly limited play pattern, with limited options for their opponents too (suffer through it or trade back harder). We've had to do things like heavy mana gating, range nerfs, pushing champs out of lanes entirely, conversion of abilities to skillshots as a result to keep some champs in line. 
Ranged auto attacks by contrast, while still having some issues, are quite a bit more nuanced because they draw minion agro. There are times for example where landing an AA on an opponent's a really poor idea because of the minion damage you'll take, or the way you’ll make the lane push. That gives windows other people can play around and opens up ways to play the lane. That’s particularly important in ranged versus melee match ups that would otherwise favor the ranged champ noticeably more if it wasn't for that minion agro call. 
As said this is still a possible, not a certain change. It's also one that would hit a bunch of champs moderately hard power wise, with Panth, Kassadin and Cass being particularly on our minds. They’d almost certainly need some help afterwards as a result (Panth possibly excepted, given his current strength). Getting some more counterplay onto their baseline abilities would let us give them power in other interesting ways however. A number of champs with low counterplay laning patterns end up really restricted in what other strengths they’re allowed to have. Such a change would also potentially allow us to balance some champs in contexts we’ve had to push them out of in the past (e.g. could we get laning Elise back into play in a balanced way if Q spam wasn't so lacking in enemy response?) 
Unsealed SpellBook 
We're working on Unsealed Spellbook at the moment. Changes won't be in 8.2 at least, hoping for not too long after though (could be 8.3 if smaller in scope, probably 8.4 if larger). One thing we are trying that I figured would be of interest given it's been a frequent suggestion, is allowing people with Unsealed Spellbook to select some older Summoner Spells that aren't generally in the game anymore. Still trying to figure out which ones we should offer. Some seem pretty safe (e.g. Clarity). Others are really interesting, but might be problematic (e.g. Revive). Will update with where we're at after some more testing and discussion. 
Game Pacing Update 
We're still looking into game pacing/snowball this week. As of Monday (time of writing) we're getting some changes in for testing to make towers a bit tougher early game. Average game times after the pre-season patch times didn't change that much. Almost all of the time lost however was from laning phase and we feel that’s pushed laning phase down to too short a duration. We’re testing changes to restore a bit of time to it as a result, along with potentially some changes to a couple of snowbally elements (e.g. a potential nerf to Triumph on the gold and/or HP regen). 
One thing that makes snowball/pacing trickier subjects to work on is that player viewpoints on them are very disparate. We see some online communities of players for example currently argue that games need to be much longer and snowball is very excessive. Other groups however have different takes. We also do some randomized surveying of LoL players, with a recent (start of January) survey to players in North America, Brazil and Korea (1500 players after they'd finished an SR game). That suggested that on average those people at least wanted a slightly shorter game than they’re getting at present. They also felt that snowball is in an ok state and similar in magnitude to when we surveyed at the start of 2017 and 2018. Strong contrasts in opinion like that make for a trickier space to navigate. 
We're going to keep digging into snowball and pacing over the coming weeks though of course, see which hypothesis we can build enough confidence in to act on them. We're confident enough in the loss of laning phase time, based off a combination of player feedback, direct observation of games and collected data for example to test changes to address that. For changes beyond that we'll need to do some more work though. First we'll be processing survey data from other regions (China’s up next). We’ll then looking into how perception of game pacing/snowball does or doesn't change at different MMR bands (e.g. how do opinions in Silver compare to opinions in Diamond?). We also need to break down a bunch of the data we’ve gathered by other segments too (e.g. what’s the exact distribution within those averages of people with strong feelings either way, versus comparatively neutral about things?)."

When asked for more info on how minions work now, Meddler replied:
Wait dont minions already aggro to you when you attack an enemy Champion by any means?
Minions agro onto you if you hit a champion with a basic attack at present. Spell damage on enemy champs, with a couple of exceptions, won't draw minions off their current target and onto you. That means champs who get their laning harass from spells instead of AAs pay a lower price for the same reliability on targeted spells, hence our interest in this possible change."

Meddler continued:
Are damaging zones (stuff like Morgana's W, Cass' W, Rumble's Q) also being looked at in terms of minion aggro? If so, yay or nay?
We're not considering having non targeted spells draw minion agro (only exceptions being things that apply on hit affects like Ez Q)."

He went on:
This change will hurt a lot of ranged supports, which sucks because I think it's generally a good change for top and mid.
Yeah, there'll be some impact there. Some of it will likely get countered by use of brush to drop/avoid agro. Might need to help out a couple of champs though if it hits them hard there."

As for whether Clairvoyance would possibly come back with Unsealed Spellbook, Meddler replied:
"We've talked a bit about Clairvoyance, in particular since we figured there are some folks such as yourself out there who enjoyed it and would like to see it back. It's one of the more doubtful ones though because if it's strong enough to be a good choice it results in reliable vision for no risk, leading to difficulties with things like securing vision control around objectives sufficiently, limited early jungler ability to gank etc. With other sources of vision like trinkets that's much less of an issue since we can tune them to the correct spot as needed. CV however needs to have enough strength in it to compete against other Summoner Spells like TP though."

When asked about SyndraMeddler commented:
Hi Meddler! A question about Syndra: if the bugfixes won't end up being enough to help her, what do you guys plan to buff of her kit exactly?
Probably make her R global, make sure everyone gets a turn getting spheres to the face.
More seriously, not certain. We didn't talk about Syndra in detail in our patch planning session for 8.2 because belief was these bug fixes would have a decent impact, so it seemed better to use that discussion time on other champs. A likely direction would be trying to sharpen when you want to pick her a bit more. Make it so she's not so much a 'pick always if at least moderately strong' champ as much."

On TryndamereMeddler commented:
Will Tryndamere changes be on PBE this cycle ?
Unlikely. Still expecting to look at him in 8.3."

As for RengarMeddler replied:
Hello Meddler, 
Any new information about the upcoming Rengar changes? Will you do any other changes besides reverting his Q?
Nothing new to report yet. It's being worked on at present, both getting the art together and figuring out exactly which version of older Q is most appropriate (trending towards Attack Speed as empower bonus) and what corresponding changes might need to be made elsewhere."

Meddler noted a new keystone went into internal testing recently:
I was wondering if there's any more news on bruiser itemization and/or the new keystone, aimed at helping them out? The recent Resolve stat changes in 8.1 should definitely help to some degree, and it makes sense that you'd want to wait for this change to be out for a while and then reassess. Simply curious as to whether, over the break, if these things were scrapped or if they're still on the table.
New keystone went into internal testing yesterday. I haven't played it myself yet, like it on paper though. If that goes well should be able to at least share tooltips within a couple of weeks (would take longer than that to get into a patch given need to build art for it). It that doesn't go well timing's uncertain."

Meddler continued:
About that new keystone that went into testing as you said in one of the comments, could you tell us who it's directed towards? ( Bruisers , Tanks , Assasins , ADCs etc. )
Champs who deal sustained damage, want to be at least somewhat tanky and aren't served sufficiently by Grasp at present. Would expect Bruisers to be particularly drawn to it if it works out, definitely not a thing for bursty and squishy champs like assassins.
On the Sightstone/Support item changes, Meddler commented:
Btw, if those support item changes in pbe go through I think ap junglers with 100% still buy the ap support item for the free sightstone and extra damage, the quest was not the big part, in fact, I think this makes it even better
Not sure if it's on PBE yet, we'll likely be changing the Spellthief's proc so that killing jungle monsters extends the recharge timer significantly though."

On the AP Itemization pass mentioned a few months back, Meddler replied:
Does this mean the AP item pass will be in 8.4 then?
Possibly. We would want it to be in a large (even numbered, at least for now) patch, so that would be the next possible window."

When asked about Swain and whether we would see a teaser for him soon, Meddler replied:
"As usual, I'm going to leave exact release timings, reveals of teasers etc up to the folks who work on new champs/VGUs. They plan this stuff out and have worked on it for months each time, so really wouldn't want to undercut that. 
Can tell you he's not in 8.2 though now that 8.2 PBE is out. We're not going to add him to the PBE late in the cycle."

On LucianMeddler commented:
"Lucian buffs are likely, probably looking at his passive in terms of how it rewards XP a lot (makes it harder for him bot lane) and how it interacts with crit (e.g. second shot damage)."

When asked about VolibearMeddler replied:
"Disclaimer: Not making any promises this, is an example of the sort of changes we're currently testing, not a guarantee that this, something like this, or even any change at all, ships soon. 
What we're currently trying out is adding a brief knockback to his E against all targets (champs as well as minions). It's brief, so it's not moving people that far or CCing them for very long. It is however showing promise as a tool to interrupt dashes and channels which gives him both some power, particular in certain circumstances, and a bit more skill expression for those getting the timing right."

As for thoughts on MalzaharMeddler commented:
What are the proposed nerfs for Malzahar? I looked on PBE but still nothing, or you are holding them back to see how his E drawing creep aggro for 4 seconds plans out?
We're been talking about ult CD and reducing the amount of bonus damage Voidlings deal to minions (reduce his pushing power). That's not final though, or from memory even implemented yet, hence it's not on the PBE so far. Still planning to take power off him in 8.2 though."

And on Vayne, Meddler noted:
What are you guys going to change about vayne?
Likely lowering AD given during her ult.
Possibly other changes too, still testing."

Battlecast Illaoi: Modeling and Texturing

The latest update on the Battlecast Illaoi skin is here! Here's SilverUnicorn with more:
"In our last update on “Battlecast Illaoi” (final name still TBD), we were pretty close to locking in the final look for the skin. Now it’s time to start transferring that concept into the game. The first step in this process is to build a 3D model of the concept art, which we can then use to build-out her kit. 
Once the concept was nearly finalized, we took a look at it from a 3D perspective and made some adjustments for readability both in shapes and colors. 
We got rid of the white paint markings both on her arm guard and the robot head because they were starting to read as highlights and were causing some confusion. We consolidated the materials, brightened up the head, hair, and goggles, and cooled off the greens that were fabrics (the leather greens are warmer). 
Current Concept Art
For the moment, we removed the markings from her face because it looked too much like she had two sets of eyes. We’re considering adding them back in, but making them read correctly will be a finesse touch that’s usually saved until the end of development. We’ll continue exploring other possibilities as we move forward! 😀 
When we start the modeling process for the skin, we’re restricted to using the base rig, or the skeleton for the champion. We started off by taking the old Illaoi model and ripping out parts to build a base body for the new skin. We began this process before the concept was locked-in because it can take a long time. We couldn’t start working on everything for the skin though, so we started off by modeling the parts we were most likely to keep. 
A super rough model with proxy unwraps and proxy texture in game.
Creating a basic model allowed us to see how things like her hair and armor will read game. We also checked to make sure all the joints were aligned in the rig (especially her fingers). Then we cleaned up the geometry and started building out the shape of the model. 
Model progression from base Illaoi to the foundation for “Battlecast” Illaoi
Creating even a basic model like this one takes a lot of time and goes through many progressions, but since it’ll determine how she moves and looks in game, it’s extremely important to have a solid base to build the skin on. 
Wireframe, Smoothing Groups, the Ambient Occlusion Bake
Once the model was done, we set up her smoothing groups, which will take her from a blocky model to something more refined for in game. Afterwards, we did what’s called an “ambient occlusion bake,” which is how we start building-out textures. Textures are 2D images that wrap around the model and bring it to life with vibrant colors and details—for example, you see this in fabrics, such as cloth, leather, and gold. 
This is the work-in-progress texture map where we edit the materials and colors that’ll be placed on top of the character model.
Once the ambient occlusion bake was done and the concept art was finalized, it was time to start adding colors and details. The first step in this is to add some flat colors on a Hard Light layer, which is a base layer of color we can then add more details to. We like to use a Hard Light layer because it can really bring out the colors and make them richer. 
Next, we added some quick lighting on an overlay with a big soft brush and added another overlay layer with a darker color. 
Detailing the fire base layer, the Hard Light layer, and overlay layer with a gradient from top to bottom.
Then we started painting to match the concept! The first shot didn’t look quite like Illaoi, so we pivoted a little and tried to bring her skin tone and features closer to her base skin. 
Our first paintover was a little off, so we adjusted her skin tone to be closer to base Illaoi.
At this stage, we’re guessing how the painted skin will look in game because the models are idle (but in-game, champions are always moving). Once we got her in game and running around, we could really see what’s working and what isn’t. 
Even though the model is in the texturing phase, we are still going to make adjustments as needed. 
Below, her model is about 35-40% complete (time to do the tentacles next!). 
While we’ve been working on locking down the concept and modeling, we’ve also been thinking about what we’re going to do with Illaoi’s kit. 
We do this in a “blue sky” meeting, which is where we can pitch anything. Nothing is off the table. You want Illaoi’s totem to be Velkoz’s head? Blue sky is where you get to pitch it. 
Once we established that Illaoi’s E (Test of Spirit) is “Weird as f**k,” we were good to start. Here are some highlights from the blue sky meeting: 
  • Separate sound effects for hitting the clone created by her E
  • Partial process VO on certain words, especially when mad 
  • E – Pulls out a hologram- or scanline-type thing that smokes and sparks when hit or has a chromatic shift
  • E – Wires come out all snakey and form over each other and then grab
  • R – Jetpack for the dunk
  • R – Burst, electricity, smoke, or wires
  • R – Crack on ground that’s a target or a symbol of the Resistance
  • Rumbling pipes in the totem
  • During activation, totem opens up
  • When cursed, there’s a hacky screen overlay
  • Electricity going through the wires in the totem
  • Recalls:
    • Tweak totem to project the Resistance symbol
    • Sneaks into underground bunker
    • Slams Viktor’s bunker and beats him up
    • Turns totem upside down and uses it as a salsa bowl
    • Turns totem upside down and plays with the wiring
    • Throws totem down, stands on it and pulls out a Resistance flag
  • Dance: Puts totem on her head and dances the robot
  • Death: Illaoi takes out a bomb and explodes
  • Totem cries out in pain when hit
  • Totem laughs at jokes
  • Jetpack for homeguard 
These are just a few of the ideas we had and, unfortunately, most will not make the cut. Some won’t work in the game, others are maybe too absurd, and some are out of scope for the skin. 
By our next update, we should have a better idea of what her kit will look like and we’ll have started to build out her abilities."

Quick Update on Rotating Game Modes

Here's Riot Aeon with an update on rotating gamemodes and One for All:
"Hi Everyone, 
We’ve been hearing a lot of calls to bring back One for All, and we want to focus on getting the mode working as soon as possible for you. While we focus on this, we won’t be running a game mode over the next couple patches. 
Thanks for your patience!"

Quick Hits

  • Riot Riscx noted more details on the challenger recalls would be coming this month:
"It's a side project, so it takes a little longer to make plans and publishing announcements - we'll have more info on the status of the project for you this month"
  • Riot Wreks talked a little about Kindred and where he feels they lie at the moment:
"A lot of this is fair criticism. I'm proud of Kindred, I love that we had a chance to bring Lamb and Wolf to life, but I'll absolutely own that their gameplay isn't perfect. At the time there wasn't an example of a carry jungler with a healthy power curve. The jungle, both as a system and what champions are common in the position, has transformed a lot since then. I think Kindred was instrumental in some of that, but those changes also filled some of the time Kindred used to have to pursue marks. 
Kindred's design virtually guarantees they will always be balanced on a razor's edge, which I regret from a maintainability standpoint and because of the pain it causes players. For quite a while I think they represented a much healthier set of incentives that encouraged a carry jungler to take risks in order to stay relevant. One thing I massively underestimated was how effectively high level players exploit early game range asymmetry. The range gives a huge early spike to what was always meant to be a late-game focused carry. That's dangerous and tough to maintain. 
That's not an excuse, I made some decisions that with the benefit of hindsight I would do differently. I'm delighted with how their theme, fantasy, VO, and feel turned out, but their power curve across game time isn't something that has ever been stable. They are extremely feast or famine, which is enjoyable for some players but not others, and definitely not desirable in competitive play. I'd really like to see what they look like with more marks spawning in their own jungle, guaranteed stacks on epic monsters, and a more gradually ramping power curve with marks. Given the systemic changes that have happened to the game since their release the heavy counter-jungling emphasis may not be doing Kindred any favors anymore. 
Kindred will continue to evolve with the game and with the jungle. Regardless of whether or not they're present in competitive I have confidence that live gameplay is always keeping an eye out and making sure they are a reasonable choice for Kindred mains."
  • Phroxz0n commented on Jinx, and what they want to accomplish with her on the PBE:
"Over the last few months we've been experimenting with a few things but nothing that we were comfortable shipping with yet. 
One of the main problems that I see with jinx is that she's perfectly fine for the majority of the playerbase, especially the lower MMR you go as games are so scrappy and games tend to go far longer so she can get a lot of value out of her passive. 
Unfortunately, this doesn't translate so well to higher ELO (talking about pro or master/chall), where her strengths are in "win-more" characteristics - she needs time to turn on and the game is usually decided by the time she becomes relevant in the game for high MMR. She subsequently doesn't have much compositional value for competitive teams. 
Like some people have pointed out, some of her strengths have become obsolete and we want to find a way to give her a strategic niche again (historically tower pushing - see trist, bad lane into aoe teamfights - see twitch). "
  • KateyKhaos commented on a thread about the recent Lunar Revel skins on the PBE, and why Lux was chosen:
There's a lot to unpack here, but I'll do my best to address the points you've made in this thread. 
Why was Lux selected for a Lunar Revel skin this year? 
I pinged my product owner for a reply for this one, since he's more deeply involved in the selection discussions than I am myself, and I didn't want to misconstrue anything. 
"From early on we decided to do Warwick and Nasus for year of the dog, with the idea of exploring good dog and ‘bad’ dog. As we developed the idea further with them being divine door guardians we coupled it with having a powerful godly princess they would be protecting to balance out the skin offering. Lux was the champion that fit the best for this fantasy and since her last skin was over a year ago we felt ok with adding her to the group for this year, and she is also an extremely popular champion in countries that celebrate Lunar New Year, so we also feel these players will appreciate having her be part of this celebration. Other champions that could have also made sense, that were less fitting on the role anyways, were not available due to having other skins already planned or in other cases having either gameplay or full re-works coming up. " 
What's the deal with the Illaoi skin? 
We realized that Illaoi had waited quite some time for a skin, and felt that letting players vote for a thematic would be a great way to involve the community, as opposed to just popping a new skin on PBE. We submitted three concepts that were vastly different from each other to give everyone a variety to choose from. Granted, not everyone's favorite would be selected, and as such, not everyone would be super happy about the result, but imo, having a voice in voting is better than having us say, 'here's an Illaoi skin, kthxbai.' This project also enables us to really show what goes into creating a skin, which may shed some light on why we make choices, why things do and don't work, etc. 
Okay, but there are a bunch of champions who are in desperate need of skins. 
You're absolutely right. Some champions that you've named had pending reworks in 2017, such as Eve and Urgot, which made them ineligible for new skins. Swain's currently sitting on that waitlist right now. We tried to tackle some of the champion who needed love last year - Viktor, Cassiopeia, Yorick, to name a few. We have a ton planned for 2018, and I can assure you we've considered champions who haven't seen a new skin in a while. 
Xayah and Rakan skins, though? 
We felt that this was a no brainer for this year's Valentine's Day skins. They're love birds. They're an adorable couple in Runeterra, it seemed like a really good fit! This pairing of skins - Sweetheart - was one of the most suggested thematics from players for these two when they first released. 
Riot's a business. 
Yep, we are, but we truly do strive to be the most player focused games company in the world. I understand that we aren't perfect and that we do fall short at times - who doesn't? 
I'd highly encourage you (and everyone!) to continuously give us constructive feedback - both positive and negative - tell us why something does or doesn't suck, seriously. It's honestly the best way for us to know what we should keep doing and what we should do better. 
You aren't going to hurt our feelings, so please, be honest like you have been in this thread."
  • Riot Fearless replied to a thread on the Sightstone/Support item changes, and why the change didnt come earlier:
"First off, these changes weren't ready yet. Secondly, we're not going to be holding impactful changes to seasons for the foreseeable future. They won't be hitting in every patch, but we experimented last year with including more systematic changes, and we want to continue to open up more windows to fix problems in systems rather than holding good changes for a very long time."


To round out this red post collection, here are a few reminders on current promotions or limited time events!
  • Just in time for Snowdown, the Riot Games Merch store has been updated with a variety of new items including a preorder for an XL BRAUM unlocked statue, new shirts and plush, a free holiday ornament with purchase, and more!

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