Red Post Collection: Unleashing the Elements, Ask Riot: Usernames and Senna

Posted on at 2:10 PM by Aznbeat
Today's red post collection includes a dev blog on Unleashing the Elements and this week's Ask Riot on username changes and Senna!
Continue reading for more information!

Table of Contents

Unleashing the Elements

Here's a /Dev blog from Riot Cashmiir with details on the preseason Rise of the Elements update - "Using design, art, sound, and players to enhance Summoner’s Rift.":
Now this is the story all about how the Rift got flipped-turned upside down. And we’d like to take 20 minutes, just sit right there, and we’ll tell you about how the Rift became a designer’s nightmare. 
… just kidding. Well, kind of. 
Preseason is usually a time for big and necessary changes to fix things that aren’t really working. But heading into 2019, the Summoner’s Rift team thought the game was in a pretty good state. Combine that with League’s fast-approaching 10th birthday, and the gears started turning: Could the team kick off the second decade of League in a big way without making players learn tons of new stuff? 
A change this big takes a lot of people to ensure it’s done right. Game designers. Artists. Sound designers. Playtesters. And… you. 
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start at the beginning. 
First Blood Brush, Baby Dragons, and a Roaming Baron 
The backdrop for every League match has stayed pretty constant for the past 10 years. There are three lanes, a jungle, Baron pit, dragon pit, and two bases. You know Baron spawns at 20 minutes, some dragons appear, someone runs it down, better jungler wins. The only map variance from game to game was “Which type of dragon is gonna spawn next?”, but even that didn’t really change the way you played. It had been years since the Summoner’s Rift saw any monumental changes, and the SR team was excited to play in that space (and at that scale) once more. 
So in early 2019, the Summoner’s Rift team—aka the group of devs that work on balance, preseason, and all of the other juicy Summoner’s Rift changes—met once a week to brainstorm ways to change the Rift. At that point, nothing was off-limits and every idea was worth exploring, as long as it’d make each game feel unique without completely overhauling everything players knew about the game. 
“This stage of game design isn’t necessarily focused on finding what’s good,” explains senior development manager Olivier “Riot Kazdoo” Ged. “It’s to focus in on what’s bad and failing fast. We want to get that out of the way. Then we can go back to what’s good and ask ourselves why it’s good.” 
Here’s some of the stuff the team got out of the way. 
“We had an idea to improve upon first blood,” shares game designer Daniel “Riot Rovient” Leaver. “The way it worked was if you died, brush would spawn at that location. But it ended up kind of weird. For example, if you died under your own tower, you had this lovely brush you could safely farm under tower from. It didn’t feel great to play against that.” 
Another early iteration granted players the ability to destroy walls by destroying towers. And another covered the base in brush once inhibitors fell. While these hit some of the goals the team had, they left the map feeling overly chaotic and took control away from players—something the team wanted to avoid. 
The team was also interested in exploring new ways to fight against the existing monsters in League.
They tried creating smol baby dragons that gave players smol baby buffs (or big, game-changing ones). Another exploration allowed champions with Baron buff to “enlist” the services of defeated jungle camps to form an undead super army. And in another iteration, Baron would leave his pit, seeking fights if he was ignored for too long—essentially shouting, “1v1 ME BRO! IT’S ALL BARON PIT NOW!”
“The problem was that fighting against non-players in League is really only good if you’re crushing them,” says lead game designer Mark “Riot Scruffy” Yetter. “The game’s about fighting players, so enlisting creatures didn’t really work.”
Dragon pals were frustrating to fight against
No matter what the team explored, they kept coming back to dragons. Something about them just felt… right. Dragons already existed in League. Players knew what they did. And their current buffs weren’t super exciting. So could the team use dragons to hit their initial goals? And what could they use from the designs from the great purge to make that happen? 
By following this approach, the team was able to narrow in on an amalgamation of the terrain changes and the PvE elements to create the core of the Elemental Rift update. The map wouldn’t change constantly, players wouldn’t have to fight dumbed-down monsters, and there wasn’t a bunch of new stuff to learn. The game wouldn’t be reinvented—there’s no time to re-learn the basics in the climb to Challenjour. 
But before the team started creating a bunch of new maps, they needed to make sure they weren’t completely insane. Four versions of SR with unique gameplay-impacting designs? Players would love it, right? …Right? 
Bring in the Big Guns aka the Big Bronzies 
“As game designers we like to think everything we do is good,” admits Riot Kazdoo. “When we love an idea, we really love it. And when we start to follow an idea we want to make it permanent.” 
But the SR team’s small. Like, less than 10 game designers, a few engineers, a dev manager, and a few other odds and ends. That’s nothing compared to the millions of players who’ll let us know if things aren’t good. The team needed to know if the ideas they were pursuing were actually worth it before they invested the time into making it look and sound nice. 
Rough layouts of what sections of wall and brush to keep, add, or remove for Infernal
So they sent the changes over to the Playtest team, which is a group of ~10 high-Diamond to Challenger players who work with the designers to make sure changes actually meet their goals. Oftentimes the best way to see if something works is to just… play a bunch of games. Every day. Multiple times a day. And because the team wanted to change the ENTIRE Rift, this was especially important. They needed to know how high-ranked players would use these changes. 
Early Elder execute exploration 
The Playtest team was a thumbs up, but that’s still not everyone. That’s not even 5% of players. Actually, it’s almost nobody. That’s when the SR team called in the big guns: actual players. 
In April a bunch of players from different ranks and roles came to Riot to playtest the evolving Rift preseason changes. 
“Sometimes players think we don’t listen to them,” explains game designer Riot Rovient. “But we really do. Their feedback is really helpful. If we’re ever on the fence about a feature, we want to know what players think.” 
Even if we’re not on the fence, these feedback sessions with players matter. If everyone who tries a new gameplay change hates it, then there’s a pretty big chance that it dies right there. And because the preseason changes were so big, the team wanted to make sure they were headed down the right path. 
And the results from the playtests were… pretty positive! 
Some changes didn’t make it, like brush taking over the base after structures died (this was just annoying). And some changes needed minor tweaks, like the alcoves. But overall, players said they liked the core theme and direction of the Elemental Rift update. 
Early versions of Alcoves had brush covering the entrances, making them hard to see. The team created clearer brush openings to make the alcoves more obvious.
With the players’ blessing, it was time to bring these maps to life. 
Finding the Flowers in the Brush 
“Creating four new maps was quite an art challenge,” explains associate art director Danny H “Riot Danky” Kim. “We’d updated Summoner’s Rift a few years back, and it was a big undertaking. It took two years for a giant art team to make, and we didn’t have eight years with a 40-person art team.” 
The 11-person art team had, in fact, around four months. 
“Because of the timeline we had to work very smartly,” explains RiotDanky. “We had to look for small things we could do to make each map feel different.” 
“Early on, the art team discovered some clever modeling changes to make the maps feel unique and alive,” says Riot Scruffy. “One of the concept artists added flowers in the brush on the Ocean map, and it became a huge inspiration for everything moving forward. We kept asking, ‘What’s our flower in the brush for this element?’” 
Infernal was the easiest map to get right, with its destroyed walls and scorched brush (also it was red). Mountain was intuitive as well; it created new walls to play around. And Ocean had water flooding the jungle and the flowers in the brush. But Cloud… 
“Cloud was the biggest challenge because there were a lot of gameplay elements in it,” explains Riot Danky. “Clear gameplay communication was our top priority, and if you add too much art it can cover up what the gameplay experience is supposed to convey.” 
The team wanted the Cloud map to feel more… cloud-y. They created see-through crevasses across the map that replicated the speed zones within the jungle. But players avoided the zones because their size made it easier to be hit by skillshots—the opposite intended effect. 
They also tried giving the map a foggy overlay, but that caused the fog of war and the speed zones to become difficult to see.

“Gameplay-wise Cloud is really strong,” says Riot Rovient. “There are lots of cool opportunities for outplays and dodging skillshots. These can change a teamfight drastically. I just wish we’d been able to find the thing to make the map feel cohesive like the others. But there’s still time. We’re not done adding things.” 
The art team added the finishing touches, but the Rift was still so… quiet. So they looked to the audio team to fill the hungering void. 
Six Types of Rain and Squealing Pigs 
There’s nothing quite like listening to rain fall outside with thunder rolling in the distance. It sets a mood, and that’s precisely what lead sound designer Brandon “Riot Sound Bear” Reader sought to emulate. 

“Rain is really loud,” explains Riot Sound Bear. “There are all of these droplets coming down and it’s just… noise. I had multiple recordings of rain to play with, so I sifted through them to find the ones I liked. I collected six of them and after some editing, I landed on the final rain for the Ocean map.” 
The Mountain map booms with the sound of shifting rock, Cloud sings with whispering wind, and Infernal ignites with the crackle of flame. The maps were finally finished. Well… almost. 
While the Rift was getting a makeover (or four), the designers kept working out one of the missing details of the update: Elder Dragon. They wanted to ensure that the powerful late-game behemoth wouldn’t be outclassed by its lesser cousins, so they gave players who defeated it a game-ending execute. 
“During a really late playtest, Riot Sound Bear asked what we thought of Elder’s execute sound. And we didn’t really notice anything about it, so we didn’t have much to say,” admits Riot Rovient.

“Originally I had this standard laser sound that had some organic, but fiery filters. But it didn’t stand out enough,” explains Riot Sound Bear. “So I went back to the drawing board and I went… a little crazy.” 
The end product is Riot Sound Bear screaming into a microphone mixed with the sounds of squealing pigs. Yes, pigs.

“Many of the sounds you hear in movies—like dinosaurs, orcs, or other non-living creatures—are a mashup of different animals, often including pigs. Their grunts and squeals lend themselves very well to sound design,” Riot Sound Bear shares. “I chose pigs because I needed something to cut through all the frequencies going on in a fight. So I had to think about what I could use. It’s a pig… and me.” 
The completion of Elder wrapped the sound up in a pretty pig-shaped ribbon. So that means… 
The team looked at the Rift, they were finally there. To gank and to roam, with that Preseason flair."

Ask Riot: Usernames and Senna 

Here's this week's Ask Riot - "Why’d I have to change my username, even if I had it first? How will you balance Senna for 2 roles?":
Senna. Usernames. Existential dread (wait… what?). Let’s go. 
What’s going on with Riot Accounts? Why did I have to change the username I use to log into League? 

In short: We have to update the account system so we can launch new games. When this update takes effect, it’ll cause problems for players with login names that aren’t globally unique (aka, someone else in another region has it as well), so we’re asking players with duplicate usernames to change them. This only affects the username you use to sign into League. Your Summoner Name will not be affected. 
The long version: In preparation for launching new games, we need to rebuild our account system. The old system linked accounts to specific regions, meaning we couldn’t release another game unless it has the same exact regional divisions as League of Legends. This is problematic as we might offer different regional configurations for future games. 
In order to fix this, every player needs a unique username, and there’s currently a lot of duplication across servers. As long as there are two people with the same username, neither will be able to log in when we activate the unique username system. We tried to find a way to make the system work differently, but couldn’t find a solution that would be reliable, secure, and sustainable for a multi-game platform. 
We wish this transition were less painful and inconvenient. We know it sucks to have to change a piece of your identity as a player, even if it’s one that only you can see. We’re asking players to change how they log in now—before the unique username system activates—so everyone’s experience with future games is as smooth as possible. We know this process hasn’t met your expectations, and frankly, it hasn’t met ours either. We’re working hard to make sure our new systems are as future-proof as possible to avoid situations like this down the line
In the meantime, we hope that being able to save your username and password to auto-login will make things a little easier. We’re also exploring allowing you to log in with your email address instead of your username, which we’ve seen a lot of players ask for. And for anyone who’s unhappy with the username they changed to, we’re planning on letting you change your login credentials again early next year. 
Senior Director, Player Platform Team 
Why didn’t you make it so the oldest account (or first one to log in) gets to keep the login name? 

We considered this, but it comes with a host of other problems. 
Let’s say you and one other person have the same username, but you had it first. Once the unique username system launches, there’s no way for the login system to know which account that username is trying to access. Is it you, the one who had it first, or is it the other person trying to log in? 
The only way around this would be to change the other person’s account for them, but that has the risk of locking players out of their accounts forever. Imagine not knowing your username was changed, trying to log in with the username you’ve always used, then getting the “wrong password” message over and over because the login system now thinks you’re trying to log into the other person’s account. And if you don’t have access to the email associated with your account, you wouldn’t even be able to recover the new username (plus you wouldn’t have gotten a notification about the change in the first place). 
Senior Director, Player Platform Team 
How are you going to balance Senna so she’s good as a support but not too strong as an ADC? 

It’s always been a goal for Senna to be playable as both a support and an ADC. To help make this a reality we added a few position-specific tuning levers to her kit during development. The primary place we’d look to tune is her Passive’s mist collection game. Mist stacks influence the power of nearly everything on Senna’s kit, and making a specific role get more or less of them has shown to have meaningful impact on that role’s effectiveness. This is why souls are less likely to drop from minions Senna kills—ADC Senna gets more gold and more items, so she needs less stacks to be effective. If ADC is too strong in the future we can make it less likely to see souls drop from cannon minions, whereas if support is too weak, we could consider upping the number of souls that drop from minions she doesn’t kill. 
Other adjustments outside the passive to consider are how Senna scales with the item system. Support Senna has access to AP builds, and buffing those ratios could help her in a way that ADC Senna cares less about. ADC Senna on the other hand has an easier time saving up for big AD items like Infinity Edge, which makes adjusting her Crit Damage ratio a potent tuning lever if her carry role needs changes. 
At the end of the day, we want ADC and support Senna to be close in power level, but they don’t need to have the exact same winrate. The dream is that they both feel viable without one being so strong that it requires us to destroy the other. I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to tune around and preserve both playstyles for years to come, but, if that proves impossible, we’ll prioritize support Senna over ADC. 
Senna’s Designer 
Why’d you make two marksmen back to back? 

Generally we attempt to create a varied schedule for the year, with a bunch of different themes, classes, roles, kit complexity/difficulty, tone, regions, gender, etc. We balance this between new champs and VGUs, which is one of the reasons we haven’t released a new jungler in a bit, since quite a few recent VGUs were junglers. 
So why then did we release Senna and Aphelios back to back? To answer this, we have to go back a bit in time. We started early exploration on Aphelios before we began working on Senna. He was a complex champion that required a pretty long ideation period to get his kit right, and then also a longer-then-average production cycle to build due to the complexity of his kit. As we were working on Aphelios, we started thinking about which champions we could make for League’s 10 Year Anniversary, and we felt creating a champion that would be exciting to long-time League players would feel really good for that moment. 
After some brainstorming, we decided that bringing Senna out of the lantern would be impactful and feel nostalgic to all the players who’ve known about Senna since Lucian and Thresh were released. At that point it became more about doing what was right for Senna, and not what was right for the champion release schedule. We quickly came to the conclusion that it made sense for Senna to be a marksman since she was portrayed as one in all the previous lore. We also felt it would be important for her to interact and lane with Lucian, which is why we decided to build her as a support marksman despite the fact we had already released a support this year (Yuumi) and already had Aphelios planned for the end of the year. 
Bottom line is that while we like to keep to a varied champion release schedule, we are willing to sacrifice that if we feel there is a good opportunity that will be impactful and exciting. 
Lead Producer of Champions 
Have a question? Click on the button below, sign into your League account, and ask away. 
We’ll do our best 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."


To round out this red post collection, here are a few reminders on current promotions or limited time events!
  • The Night & Dawn event is running now through January 13th, including a new event pass and missions, Night & Dawn and Sugar Rush skins, chroma, icons, ward, and much more!

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