Red Post Collection: State of Skins and Events, Sunsetting Clubs & more

Posted on at 8:43 AM by Aznbeat
Today's red post collection includes a dev blog on skins and events, including early peeks at new skins for Aurelion Sol, Zac, Singed, and Lee Sin, the sunsetting of Clubs at the end of the season, new merch, and more!
Continue reading for a closer look!


Table of Contents


State of Skins and Events

Here's a new dev blog from Riot Bellissimoh on the states of skins and events - "An update on Ultimate skins, Legendary skin animations, thematics, events, and more."
"Hey everyone, Bellissimoh here, Product Lead for Personalization and Events. Wanted to take a few minutes to check in on the promises we made at the start of the year, walkthrough our current thinking about skins and events (including thematics, Ultimate skins, and Event Passes), and highlight some opportunities we’d like to tackle in the future. 
More Skins Each Year 
At the start of 2020 we made a commitment to increase the number of skins we make per year. In 2019 we shipped just under 100 skins, and our hope this year was to ship around 120. We’ve had some significant challenges in the past six months with COVID-19, and we’ve also undergone a massive transition to work from home. 
This all being said, we’re delighted to let folks know that we’re still on track to hit our target of 120 skins. In fact, it’s looking like we’re going to be able to exceed our goal and hit close to 140 skins by the end of 2020. 
Now outside of our commitment to just increasing the raw number of skins, we also called out along list of lower play rate champions that haven’t gotten new skins in years. We’ve hit most of our targets on that list, and are likely on track to hit the remaining three. 
And since things have been going so well with production, we’ve been able to add eight more champs who haven’t gotten skins in a while to that list. As long as everything goes as planned, we expect to deliver skins for the following champs before the end of 2020: 

Singed 
Though many in the Resistance find Singed unsettling, few can deny his efficacy in pushing back the machine threat. For Singed, the only thing that matters is driving back Viktor’s creations, whatever the means.
Aurelion Sol 
Aurelion Sol will be appearing in a brand new thematic that we’re currently calling Dragonmancers. Aurelion Sol awaits the ascent of a warrior worthy of receiving the power of the storm.

Zac 
Never content with his extant creations, Viktor’s latest innovation has forged an experimental alloy that shifts between liquid and solid states. Incredibly flexible yet nigh-indestructible, the new zoophagus assault constructs, or ZACs, spring onto the battlefield, harvesting and consuming any resistance that stands in their way.
You can also expect to see more skins for higher play rate champions in the coming months, including a Legendary Lee Sin skin.

A WARRIOR ASCETIC CONSUMED WITH AN ELECTRIC PASSION FOR JUSTICE, LEE SIN CLIMBED THE MOUNTAIN OF THE STORM DRAGON, HOPING TO RECEIVE HIS BLESSING. HAVING RETURNED FROM THE SUMMIT AS A LEGENDARY DRAGONMANCER, LEE SIN NOW DOLES OUT THUNDEROUS PUNISHMENT TO VILLAINS EVERYWHERE—EVER UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF HIS DRACONIC PATRON.  
Evaluating Skin Performance 
When the average number of Ezreal skins sold is about ten times higher than the average Ivern skin, we need to come up with new ways to measure performance. The truth is that when we set out to make a skin for a low play rate champion, our core objective isn’t to support the business, it’s to support a core audience of dedicated players who love that champion. So how do we know whether we’re meeting the mark? One of the main lenses we use is data comparing between how many champion mains purchased a skin versus how many occasional players picked it up. For the graph below, “high playrate accounts” refers to the mains, and “low playrate accounts” refers to the occasional player of the champion. Let’s take Pool Party Taliyah as a recent example: 
Here we can see that almost 30% of players who main Talilyah showed up and purchased the skin—it was one of the best performing skins in recent years when it comes to mains purchasing it. Conversely, Pool Party Jarvan performed poorly not only for champion mains but also for non-mains. Did we make the wrong thematic choice? Was the creative execution in-game not up to snuff? Do Jarvan players just not really dig the aesthetics of Pool Party? All of these are questions we need to dig into deeper to really understand. 
Let’s go back and see what this view shows us about a highly discussed skin from 2019, Dunkmaster Ivern. 
Looking at this view, an initial conclusion might be, “Ok, looks like a lot of champion mains showed up and purchased this skin,” but you might also ask, “What if Ivern players were just starved for content? What if they begrudgingly purchased this skin because they haven’t gotten one in years, but in actuality hate it?” 
This is where we turn to other tools like player surveys to help ensure we understand not just the behavior (purchasing and equipping), but the sentiment: How did people feel about this content? Our success bar for low playrate champion skins is a combination of purchase rate and sentiment measurements. In the case of Dunkmaster Ivern, we found that while there were players who were genuinely happy with this skin, many Ivern players wanted something darker. For a majority of Ivern players who’d been waiting for years for a new skin, Dunkmaster Ivern was a disappointment. 
Once all of this information is compiled, our skins teams perform a cross-discipline review of what they think could be done better next time or discuss what key elements could have contributed to success or failure. All of these hypotheses are then set to be tested on new skins we make in the future, all part of a never ending cycle of creation, iteration, feedback, and improvement. 
New and Revamped Thematics 
Thematic development is the creative process we use in order to imagine new worlds. We want to do more than just sell skins—we’re trying to create character fantasies that have real substance and are worthy of your passion. 
In 2019 we started construction on a few new thematics that we hoped to release in 2020. So far we’ve released three new thematics: Mecha Kingdoms, Spirit Blossom, and PsyOps. We don’t expect every new thematic to be a hit, but based on your reactions to Spirit Blossom, we think we’ve found something that players around the world want to see more of. 
We’ve also spent some time touching up some of our yearly thematics like Championship. There's been a lot of love for Championship skins over the years, and we want to make sure we're staying true to that identity while keeping the line feeling fresh and exciting. This year we're bringing in more elements from the look and feel of the Worlds 2020 Event, and we expect this thematic to continue to evolve alongside the event in years to come. 
Our team is hard at work on several new thematics for 2021 and some hot takes on some older ones. And there’s still one more new thematic we’re looking forward to releasing this year. 
Legendary Skins 
In 2019, we saw a lot of player feedback around the animations of Legendary skins, specifically players calling out that the adjustments we were making to things like walking or idle animations weren’t noticeable. Historically, we’ve adjusted each and every animation on a champion when we’ve made a Legendary skin, but in recent years this has become a bit more complex and challenging. 
The artistic quality of new champions in League has gone up dramatically over the years. As that art quality bar has gone up, the number of animations per champion has also increased. 
For example, Amumu, a champion with a much older base, has 16 animations across his entire kit, emotes, and back animation. Sett, a much newer champion, has 159 animations. Aphelios has 298. 
So in 2019 when we set out to build Legendary PROJECT Pyke, the team was faced with the challenge of adjusting all 127 animations in his kit. This resulted in a number of base skin animations being modified rather than completely redone, and we received a fair amount of feedback that you wanted to see clear animation changes. Our key takeaway was that it doesn’t matter if we go and adjust every animation if players don’t notice. So we decided to change our approach to how we invest our team’s time into Legendary skins.

For High Noon Senna, we recognized that this was another fairly new champion with a lot of animations that were already very high quality. In this case, the team had come up with a really sick idea to take her gun and allow it to transform into a horse for her to ride. While this was a great idea and really drove home the fantasy of High Noon, the team recognized that it would be a huge time investment and would take up a large chunk of our planned animation work for the project. We went for it anyway because our bet was that players would notice the Gun Horse way more than minor tweaks across all her animations, and based on player reactions, we think that was the right choice.

Now this doesn’t mean that we’ll always invest our time this way. For more recent Legendaries for Ahri and Thresh—two older champions with much smaller animation sets—we were able to meaningfully update all of their core animations and have extra time and budget to add transformations for each.

In short, we want to make sure that we invest our time on Legendary skins in ways that stand out to players and are noticeable by the mains of those champs. Expect us to continue to tailor our time per champion and optimize for creating an in-game fantasy that stands out, both in animation efforts and things like VFX, SFX, and modeling.

Ultimate Skins and Skin Tiers 
Speaking of in-game fantasies for our skins, let’s take a minute to talk about skin tiers, and specifically about Ultimate skins. 
Whenever we set out to build a skin, we often discuss which skin tier something should be. Major considerations or factors in that decision are things like: 
  • How far can we take this idea or the execution of it?
  • Does the base champion's VO match or feel out of place in the target thematic?
  • What creative ideas do we have for new animations or VFX?
  • What creative hooks or interesting ideas can we center the skin around?
  • How much time would it take us to truly realize the fantasy being pitched? 
Let’s take the example of Spirit Blossom Thresh. The initial pitch for Spirit Blossom Thresh was: “What if as he gathered souls on the battlefield, he eventually grew powerful enough to shift between demon and human form?” Examining the core concept here, if we tried to build this as an Epic tier skin, we’d likely fall short of the fantasy being presented due to time restraints. After a lot of discussion across the various disciplines, we made the call to make this skin a Legendary and invest a lot more time in production so we could deliver on the fantasy.

Now when it comes to Ultimate skins, these are often skin fantasies that we don’t think we can effectively accomplish within the timebox (aka development window) of an Epic or even Legendary tier skin. Sometimes the team comes up with ideas that require a lot more time and effort to achieve, and we think it’s worth it to spend that time. 
That being said, you’ve probably noticed that we haven’t done an Ultimate skin for a while now, and one of the main reasons for that is because Ultimate skins come with the player expectation that they must always include “new tech.” Over the last several years, we’ve actually reviewed a number of ideas for Ultimate skins that we thought were pretty exciting. And while many of these ideas fired up our team, because they leveraged existing tech, they didn’t meet the classification requirements. 
It prompted us to sit down and ask ourselves: What do we think is really important when it comes to Ultimate skins? Is it that there’s different technology and code powering it? Is it that we create a deep and compelling fantasy that feels unique for the champion? Or is it about the amount of time and effort we put in? 
We came to the conclusion that Ultimate skins should make players feel like we’ve done something truly special. New tech is one way to do that, but we also believe we can hit that bar by creating an immersive, deep fantasy that feels unique for the champion. Regardless, Ultimate skins will always require extra development time to craft, create, and ship. And most importantly, all of this effort should translate to an experience that you think is best-in-class for the champion. 
“WITH ALL THIS SAID, WE’RE HAPPY TO ANNOUNCE THAT WE’RE CURRENTLY WORKING ON AN ULTIMATE SKIN THAT WE HOPE TO SHIP LATER THIS YEAR.” 
While this skin will have new tech, this won’t necessarily be the case for all Ultimates going forward. If the fantasy requires new tech to bring to life, we’ll create new tech as part of the development time. If not, we’ll use that time and energy in other ways to create that best-in-class experience we hope to deliver with every Ultimate skin going forward. 
Events 
In 2019, we got a lot of feedback around events, specifically that it felt like their quality had dropped over time. Our goal for Events in 2020 was to make them feel more rewarding, novel, and memorable for everyone
One of the things we promised to do this year was to include a game mode alongside every major event. We’re still on track to hit this, with the latest game mode being One-For-All alongside PsyOps. We’ll be talking more deeply about our approach to game modes in a /dev blog later this year. 
We also created an out of game experience, Spirit Bonds, that allowed you to engage deeply with the narrative of your favorite champs. Whether it was getting to know Kindred and Wolf better, or “silently” hoping that Cassiopeia would crush your bones, we saw a huge positive response to this system. 
While we’re blown away by player responses to this event, we want to call out that Spirit Blossom was a massive, massive investment on behalf of teams all across League. While it’s clear that players would like more events of this caliber, the reality is that Spirit Blossom took almost a full year to produce, and coordinating such a massive event across not only League, but other game teams (like Legends of Runeterra) can’t be done for every event. We’re already planning and plotting on how we can deliver another cross-game event of this size, so stay tuned for more details as they become available. 
In summary, we believe we’re raising the bar for what League events can be. We want to continue to exceed expectations but know that the average event won’t be able to reach the same bar that we hit for Spirit Blossom. 
Event Pass 
Event Passes have become a bigger and bigger part of how players receive content over the past year, including many of League’s Prestige skins. We want Prestige skins to feel meaningfully difficult to earn, but not at the cost of making everything else in the shop impossible or trivial to get, especially if those are the rewards you care about. However, with the current token system, every choice shares a resource, which essentially means you grind for Prestige, then hope you can pick up a few things after. 
It’s been difficult to tune the overall event experience with our current structure, and we are looking to make significant adjustments to the way you earn content from events next year. Our goals for this redesign are to reduce the complexity of the system and create a more guided and rewarding experience without completely removing your ability to make choices. 
Conclusion 
That’s about it for our State of Skins check-in today. Come the start of next year, we'll be sharing our evaluation of the rest of our 2020 content, reflecting on the feedback we've heard from you, and sharing our goals and plans for the new year. 
Before we get there though, there’s still a ton in store for 2020. No matter how challenging this year might be, your excitement, passion, and feedback helps motivate our teams to continue to do better work tomorrow than we did today. Thank you."

Sunsetting Clubs

Here's the latest from Karadwe on Clubs - "Clubs will sunset in the near future on the League Client and League+ mobile app."
"Hey everyone, today we're announcing that we'll be shutting down Clubs in the near future. Given that, we want to outline the reasons behind why we're doing this and make sure as many players as possible are aware of our plans before it's actually shut off. 
Why Shut Down Clubs? 
Evolution of Community Tools 
Tools to develop, cultivate, and manage communities have come a long way over the years. From TeamSpeak to Ventrilo to Mumble to Discord, developers have spent decades helping players connect with each other in new, innovative ways. What began as support for text/voice chat has evolved into a suite of feature-rich, gaming-focused tools that help players communicate across games, livestream gameplay to each other, and coordinate their next sessions. 
For companies like Discord, helping communities and friends talk is their primary focus, and when you compare the feature set of a product like Discord with that of Clubs, our version of a tool to help foster team communication and social inclusion, the disparity in the experience becomes extremely clear. Clubs is a single feature vying for attention among a TON of awesome League features that we want to build or update. With those competing focuses, we're never going to create a community tool that beats out the industry leaders. We're okay with that, and encourage you to use the tools they provide! 
Technological Constraints 
Ok, this one is a little boring, but it’s a key factor in this decision: the technology that Clubs was built on was a mix of internally developed systems and third-party software that was really exciting at the time. Unfortunately, the external components of it are no longer fully supported by its original developer and as a result, it has begun to do what all technology does over time-- degrade. Our team has been patching holes and fixing issues, but at this point we’re simply prolonging the inevitable. If we want Clubs to continue to be part of the League of Legends experience for the next ten years, it needs to be rebuilt. 
Given that a rebuild would be necessary, we had to stop and ask ourselves - Is rebuilding Clubs the best place to focus our efforts? What would players get the most value from? Are social systems an area that we think we can provide a best-in-class experience? Based on the current level of innovation happening in community management tools, it's clear that this is not the place for us to focus our efforts in order to have the biggest impact on players. 
Focusing on what we are uniquely suited to do 
Building League of Legends (and now TFT!) is what we believe we do best. Where we see a gap in the experience that we can fill (as we originally thought we could with Clubs), we’ll jump at the chance to provide something useful to players. The flip side of that coin, though, is that when we’re providing players with a worse experience than alternatives can provide, we probably shouldn’t get in the way of progress. 
So, we believe that we should focus on spaces in which we can provide a truly great experience for all of you in the future. Spaces like combating game-ruining behavior, finally improving our client, reworking our item system or building new ways to play like TFT. Other people are on the case when it comes to building incredible community management systems. We need to focus on the ways in which we can uniquely serve your needs. 
Discord transition 
I’ve mentioned Discord a few times in this article and it’s for a specific reason. We believe that Discord is an excellent alternative to our current Club system. It’s more fully featured, so that you and your club members can stream games to each other, or use noise suppression tech in your voice chats. It is constantly being updated with new features and functionality and many of us use it every single day to not just play games with friends, but to hang out and talk before and after games. There are a lot of great tools out there today, but Discord is among the best in our humble opinion. 
We’re partnering with Discord to help ease the transition away from Clubs for players who want to keep their communities together. We’ll have more to share in the coming months before we officially shut off Clubs, but our goal is to make it super easy for you to create a Discord server, share it with your Club-mates and continue playing League together without a hitch. 
Updates to come 
As for a timeline, we’re planning to turn off Clubs during preseason at the end of 2020. Preseason serves as a natural transition point in the cycle of League of Legends and will hopefully give players enough time to coordinate with their Club members for a future without it. 
But we definitely want to hear your feedback and to understand what’s most important to you as part of this transition. We’ll be monitoring any thoughts to help us refine this transition plan over the coming months."

Miscellaneous


  • New Series 3 figures are up in the Riot Games Merch Store, including a God Staff Jax figure with a merch icon, a Ryze figure, and a pre-order for a Neeko figure!


Other Games

"The short version is, we’ve got some free in-game items for you on the way. Here’s the long version. 
We’re teaming up with Prime Gaming to provide in-game items like Gun Buddies, Sprays, and more to players for free. 
This loot will be available to anyone with an active Amazon Prime membership. 
We’re kicking things off next week on September 16 with the Netter Treter Gun Buddy, straight from the collection of our resident sneakerhead, Killjoy."
"This is Ask VALORANT. Send us your questions, we find some answers. This time we dive into performance history, breakdown your combat score, and a new way to buy weapon skin variants."

Reminders

  • The PsyOps 2020 Event is running now through September 30th! Check out new skins, chromas, missions, and more!

No comments

Post a Comment