eSports Interview with Riot, Norse King Not Canceled - "Just Needs More Work Overall", Champion Stun Animations, and More

eSports Interview with Riot

Norse King Not Canceled - "Just Needs More Work Overall", and More

Morello has responded with over 60 more replies since our last post on various champion reworks and updates. Check out our redtracker for all the post goodness as well. 

How can you churn out completely new champions every two weeks but take months to rework 1 or 2 old champions?
Sion, Karma, Sivir.....these should be done by now.
Because we don't have to meet current expectations, find the balance between what we need to keep/discard, and do all the skins - reworks actually take significantly more time than new champions.
Additionally, we made a "relaunches team" a few months back, so the results of the increased clip should become more apparent as that stuff gets released.

Can it be the Karma rework, please? 
I was so hoping for the rework to be launched around this time. On Friday it will be two years since she came out, and it will be 23(!) months since the last balance changes to her (there were minor bugfixes like a year ago or so). 
If it is not Karma, can you please, pretty please, give us an update about the rework? Guinsoo tweeted in December that the rework will not be ready in 2012, and that he hopes to have her ready in January. That's obviously not going to happen, so I think a status update would be in order.
It's so incredibly frustrating with that rework. Every other champion in need of a rework has at least been good at some point (think Heimer), or not been out for that long (Sejuani). Yet the Karma rework goes on for over a year now, while other champions apparently can get a lot more attention in a lot les time (Syndra, for example). No champion has been so consistently unpopular and has had so consistently low win rates, but you don't even give her some minor buffs, or up the base values while cutting AP ratios (in order to not make her OP in mid). Nothing. I really don't want to think that you just don't care, but it gets harder and harder not to do so...
Yes, it's been a long time and I understand the frustration, there's just not a lot of valuable conversation I can have about it because we basically had to restart the rework about 6 weeks ago. It's moving along very well now though - this is the danger of us telling stuff before it's ready, because the Karma subject is now a larger subject because we didn't manage expectations here. 

Things get weird in development sometimes, and cause things to change - it's more painful when we make that more visible though 

I'll shorten my post I guess.
Taric is popular. (True)
Taric is in line for a visual rework. True or False?

Eventually. Not in the top 5.

Can you explain why Karma is getting a visual rework? I absolutely LOVE her design and I think her model looks great, so this is really just baffling to me. It seems high-quality. Her art isn't perfect (too purple) but her chinese art for default is amazing, so why does she need a rework?
How much of a change can we expect? Please please don't make her ****ty or sexy or whatever... I love that she looks like a confident regal lady, I don't want "**** n no ribcage" with a stupid pose... pleeesaaassseasepelpalelaslpelpalealse :/
edit- and on her gameplay rework, why can't we have some slight buffs to tide us over and make her slightly more viable? And will she be marketed as a MID instead of this support ****? She's so not a support at the moment, except for a push/kill lane...

Mostly because Karma is one of the most unappealing champions, creatively, to our fans - a lot of our research dudes have looked at this, plus it makes sense. Gal in a monochrome dress is a weak theme that isn't really doing anything.

Since we needed to do a gameplay remake anyway, the art team is on board to update her visuals and thematics also.

aaaaand there go the downvotes. You're just scared because you don't know how to make something fabulous even more so, aren't you?
It is at the top of fabulousness.

why would they upgrade sivir anyways when they can upgrade a money maker like taric or master yi first

it probably is not even their choice what order they reluanch champions in

Remaking Karma is totally driven by financials, as the least popular champion in League globally :P

Thanks for the response. Actually, I did not know that you restarted the rework (and I am following the Karma stuff pretty closely). This certainly changes the context from "How on earth can it take so long, Riot trash, report!111" () to "this one has been in the works for a while and should be ripe to pop soon, but it's not taking unexpectedly long". While maybe not the most welcome news, at least it's helpful to know.

Any chance that at some point, maybe when the rework is actually done, you can reveal why you restarted from scratch? It's always fascinating to gain some insight into the champion (re)work process. In this case, the designer in charge (Guinsoo) did, to my knowledge, not change (as opposed to the delay in the Eve rework in connection with Shurelyia's leaving), so my guess would be that something major did not really work out as planned. I'm curious what that was, if my guess is correct.
I can tell you now 

We basically were cooking it up without a lot of direction, and as expected, it went off the rails a bit. That, and the combination of changing things to a relaunch team muddied the waters. Overall good changes we needed to make, but things get lost in the shuffle with so many moving parts.

If champs getting art reworks get new skins soon where is a new skin for soraka? she needs it bad.
She had one, but it didn't turn out well - we had to go back and remake it, and that will be out pretty soon! 

The real question with the annie visual upgrade is why does reverse annie not walk like tibbers? This was suggested back when it came out and a red said it was a great idea and they'd look into it. Seems like the rework would be the perfect opportunity to add it in.
You'd have to ask the animators - unsure. BamDragon might know this.

Is this to say that there aren't plans for a model re-make for Sivir? I think she needs it, with her clunky, giant feet for example. The model just feels really outdated now. In any case, I'm looking forward to new splash art for her Warrior Princess skin!
We need to redo Sivir, it's just not right-this-second now. We agree she needs it pretty badly.

Well yeah, you remake the unprofitable champion so that it becomes profitable.
Karma will always be in the bottom 20% of popularity, even with all this.

Wait I'm confused here or didn't read something properly, are you saying the changes tweeted previously that were in the works were scratched, or just slowed?
Different direction.

You guys would have had to restart it more than once for it to feasibly take more than a year.
Tell me more about game development 

HAHA that's funny cause I'm pretty sure there is a pretty pissed off Lux community that would have appreciated you scraping a certain **** skin for the idea of making a new one instead of releasing garbage.
You should read the huge megathread I posted in about this before firing the rage cannon :P Like 40+ red posts.

I'm rather shocked Taric is not in the Top 5. 

1. One of the most picked champions
2. Giant, triangle feet
3. Lacking or lacks animations for attacks and emotes
4. Unfinished skin, Emerald's breastplate is the wrong color scheme 
5. Could use the Ashe arrow color rework for his Fifth Age and Emerald skin
Seeing as Taric's popularity is about 100x that of Sivir's or Sion's, while his model is only a bit better I'm rather shocked he isn't near the top 5. Though as I discussed with another poster one day, I do ponder if you guys are happy with how Taric has turned out. The armor of the fifth age skin and his voice have made him a joke character to a large chunk of the community, while LOL seems to be moving towards a much more serious and "hardcore" theme (Diana, Darius) from the intial goofy style. (Nunu, Zilean) Taric's concept as a gem knight is pretty cool, and I do like how his personality isn't the blandness that is Darius or Garen. However, I do think breaking him a tad bit away from "huehue Taric is prettiest girl" and "Taric bot lane with Ez, what ******s! Taric immune to Ahri charm, hahahaahaha!" junk could be good for him. Though I don't think it's possible to get rid of the rather annoying remarks and memes about Taric without ruining his character. 
However, if him not being soon also means something like Recall Animations might spring up and become a thing. Like how Ashe got her rework before those became a thing, so she lacks it. While Katarina, TF, and company do now. So it might be a good thing. :P
Anyway, I'm guessing the 5 at the top of the list are Sion (was mentioned by red back in October), Karma (planned with her kit rework), Master Yi (teased about not long ago), Trundle (been brought up by Reds, though not sure how far along they are on him), and Sivir. (cause her small fanbase is very vocal on forums)

That's part of it - where we take Taric is a tough problem to solve creatively. Additionally, how that informs his visual is a bigger ball of wax.

Taric, Sion, Twitch and Sivir are probably the worst-looking, from a raw aesthetics standpoint, but other things inform this like release cadence/work to complete, if gameplay is involved, number of skins, etc.

What? Why would she be guaranteed to be bottom 20%?
Her gameplay is more niche overall, and even with upgrades her theme will never have the wide resonance of some of our other characters. 

And because we're not making Karma new today, and have some legacy to adhere to, we can't entirely reinvent her and have it be Karma, so I think she has a low appeal ceiling (Orianna is similar, even though she's a good champ).

since she is probably one of the least owned champions in the league yes reworking her would be a good fiscal decision seeing many people would then buy her in her remade state.
i'm not going to admonish a company for attempting to make money by making an improved product just pointing out that denying it is in some ways insulting.
i do have a question thou since you seem to be generous about answering skin related questions here.
do you have any idea how many skins are in production at a time. from concept to post production? or at least an average number?

To be honest, it does have -some- financial upswing, but magnitudes less than anything else we could do with the effort. My point is if we had some bad business dudes who told us what to do, our content additions would look much different. This is a big part of why I'm all about Riot.

I don't know how many skins right now as I'm just getting in the mix over there, but it's not a small amount.

Yea yea, I read like half your post before it all started sounding like "Lesson learned, were gonna try to improve blah blah" and "this isn't THE Lux skin, and we'll try to make a new one soon Tm"
Actions bro, I hear they're louder then words.

Then why start a conversation at all? I'm not going to to poop a good Lux skin out on command.

Thank you so much. As a Karma player, you have no idea how reassuring this is to hear.
Be warned that we have done significant changes - but we've tried to balance the approach between new and legacy.

So how much longer do you think karma will be? The changes are just taking too long after you announced a year ago and now you change everything. Couldn't you have caught your mistakes earlier? Or was there something new that came up like just being broken?
This is normal in development - ideas are worthless, testing and iteration is the work. This takes time and to allow people to be creative, you need to allow them freedom to fail so they can find what's right.

I keep being reinforced that I should never talk about anything that's not locked down, because I always have to clean up the mess on the boards if anything unexpected happens - and game development is a very unexpected job :P

Was Norse King Darius scrapped for Bioforge? 
No - Norse King just needs more work overall. I think this is a good example of where we should have prioritized better though.

Morello: Speaking to the idea of there being a One True Skin (sorry for this language, I can't work in The Skin in an appropriate way right here, although that's what I'm gonna use for the rest of this post) for a given champion, and using PFE as the poster child for this, do you feel it's realistic to expect you can find that same The Skin idea again for future champions?
I'm not really asking if you're gonna eventually kit every champion out with a skin that cranks their original concept to 11, just if you think it's realistic to repeatedly hit that sweet spot and have it be as well-received as PFE was. And if it isn't as well-received as PFE despite Riot thinking it's The Skin for that champion, what are you going to do?
My last question/request/suggestion/whatever is that you (not necessarily just you, Morello, but the popular reds who get all the @posts about stuff like this) try and communicate with the community in a more organized way. I love the heck out of the fact that you guys are so vocal and opinionated and real, but the red tracker leaves something to be desired in terms of going back and fishing up responses about champions and other discussions that are weeks/months old. I think a thread like the one Ezreal keeps would be a step towards this, but just trying to tie everything together in some way would be great (I can't believe I'm almost asking for a blog, here). If I had the time, I'd try to put together an index of this stuff myself.

Sorry for the long-winded and roundabout post. :X

I think it is since we're really doing our homework - but PFE, Blood Lord Vladimir, Demonblade Tryndamere are representative of methods we have that we can predictably meet expectations. If we don't, then that's a learning point (and if it fails, then doesn't meet the goals, and doesn't "count" imo). I think I even threw a couple examples out to show that this is something we do understand, but haven't always factored into our planning well enough.

Not 100% of people will like the decision, but the good news is that having that skin complete frees us up to explore more crazy ideas. I'm 10x more interested in a "funny" Ezreal or Vlad skin now that we have good core skins for them, and I think players will judge the skin on its own merits as opposed to feeling the pain of what they're missing.

Typically, reworks are accompanied by a new skin (and if not right away, shortly after). Many of the champions that need skins badly are getting visual reworks also, preventing us from making the new skin until that's completed.
Nidalee and Soraka are getting new skins in the immediate future, they were just delayed to improve them a bit.

Need to amend this - we chose to do this in a few specific cases, but this is not a "rule", especially as we can't keep that cadence with skins as we speed up reworks. Adding to original post.

What about those rare cases when it's virtually impossible to beat the "silly skin"? Definitely not Blitzcrank and Pink Taric come to mind.
I think Mundo lives here too - when a character is sillier, I think this is the right answer.

I think that Karma appeals to female players quite well as she is.. even if men don't want her, and that makes her unpopular, isn't that important? Every girl I know who plays this game owns Karma. And only one male player I know played her extensively, and he stopped over a year and a half ago when he realised she's not really viable. 
Women like the way Karma looks, not just her playstyle. Making her more 'badass' or 'sexy' or whatever will not make them happy from what I've seen. You say a monochromatic dress is a weak theme.. I always though she had one of the strongest thematic looks. Yin/yan, black and white... her kit lets her provide offence and defence at her whim- it fits. She visually expresses a deeper theme of her playstyle, and that's something no other champion does.
So maybe she's "2deep4ouraudience" or maybe good fashion isn't enough to bring the boys to the yard... but sometimes less is more and if you look at real fashion, you'll see that adding pizzazz doesn't always make things better. Who would you rather look at- Beyonce or Lady Gaga? Well, there's nothing wrong with either way... but why does every female champion have to be a busty darkpurple 3cool5school badass? Can't we have just one single champion who just looks nice and simply elegant and isn't designed for guys by guys?
tl;dr- Karma looks /fa/ntastic and I am very pessimistic about her visual 'upgrade.' I'm cautiously optimistic about her gameplay and hoping it doesn't change the way she plays or the skillcap but I'm betting she'll be flavour of the month and people will be all "hey man u jus buy her?" and I'll be all "ya man new op lol" and uninstall because I'm an entitled hipster I guess 

In this case, your sample size is a self-selected peer group. This will definitely shape how you view what works and doesn't in League, that's just being human! How we look at this, though, is through a much broader lens that shows trends and what they can teach us about what players do and do not like.

I tend to be the same type of player as you where I tend to like unpopular or unexpected characters in games (and why I started with Anivia!), but looking at what League players tend to like, Karma's theme and gameplay are very low on that list.

We don't need to maximize popularity, but we do need to use some scientific method to understanding player better than even our own experiences can tell us.

I agree with everything in this post. 
Incidentally, Riot, I think you should make a 'hipster karma' skin for anyone who's played her for more then 20 games before her rework comes out. Long scarf, glasses, the works.

Don't forget the knit hat!

So... assuming Sivir is the next visual update... that'll be 4 female champs in a row...?
That's an assumption I've pretty much denied. And that's an obtuse and, frankly, unimportant critique. It's like around half the characters might be female or something!

I've rewritten this several times in my head, so I hope this still doesn't sound too acerbic:
At the very least, then, is there still the core gameplay of 'I do my best work when I'm half dead'? Because that's why I enjoy playing Karma. I can get hit by towers and have it be a GOOD thing.

I think, thematically, it's cool, though unsure of the actual status here.

Not if a pro picks her in a tournament and owns face. :P
Depends - even Anivia, at her height, was really unpopular overall. Same with Orianna.

I hope the new Soraka skin is a complete overhaul of the leaked one... it was way too clunky and boring. Battle Priestess? Come on, talk about bland. To meet my HIGH expectations as a Soraka lover it needs to have different animations and spell effects for me to be happy. AND look bad ass.
It is - we agree!

Hey Morello what do you think about Shen's model. He is the most generic looking character in the game. I like the idea of a tank ninja but his model doesn't really relate to his kit at all. he doesn't look any more of a tank than zed does.
Agreed here, but I think this is less just art and more "making a Ninja a tank is visually dissident" to me. It's a common counter-example we talk about when trying to make a character cohesive, but I think Shen is what Shen is at this point.

Speaking of Anivia, do you guys plan to visually update her any? Her classic model bugs me in game a little, she doesn't look very bird like besides her shape. Obviously as you've stated before that there are other champions to prioritize, but I just figured I'd ask since I do like playing Anivia, and your forum avatar is the reason I decided to buy the Noxus hunter skin.
Not currently, though it is a bit out of date. It's just not on the top offenders list.

Morello: if you're reading this...
Give us the definitive answer! Will there be a special goth annie skin sale or not?
Many players are annoyed because spending so much on a bundle when the only thing you want (or you don't already own) is a skin is a bit silly!
The goth annie owners in the other hand, claim that we must pay no matter what, because it's apparently "exclusive".
What's your stance on this?

Neutral - I don't make any decisions (nor do I have any interest in) sales/pricing and such.

Do we have to wait another 6-8 months for karma or even a year?
No, not that long.

As a serious Buddhist, the Ionian champions have a strong appeal to me and Karma, Irelia, and Master Yi were definitely the most influential champions on me when I started playing. I don't think Karma's thematics are weak at all in their current iteration, in fact I think she has the best characterization of any Ionian. She is truly the 'Enlightened Master', and some of her mechanics like her passive and Heavenly Wave are honestly beautifully designed. I swear her passive had to be designed by a Buddhist, it's philosophically perfect that I sacrifice hp to empower my team. The way she gains mantra stacks gives her a meditative cadence that fits both a support and a monk, it's as if she's constantly praying and focusing to prepare her magic. I could go on but the main point is Karma's current mechanics and thematics reference mainstream Buddhism in a lot of subtle, brilliant ways. 

I understand that her thematics are weak from a popularity standpoint, but I'm afraid this remake will change a lot of this and make her more of a general 'asian' like the other Ionians.

TL;DR Karma's design is incredibly subtle/deep/brilliant buddhism fanservice and I think that this will end up not being the case after her remake.

This is a good point, and may be a risk. I haven't reviewed the current art, but I'll have IronStylus post about this maybe.

I think it's more to do with their overall skill cap and how smooth they work. Anivia and Ori both are very difficult champions to get the best result out of and have a share of clunkiness that, for Orianna at least, has since been lessened. I know for a fact that once Ori had her responsiveness increased that I played her a lot more often, and she's even my main Mage to play when I'm wanting someone a bit tougher in the lane.

Honestly, I think a great deal of champions could do with making them less clunky, either by just making it easier for them to last hit, or making it so that they just respond better overall. Anivia herself would benifit from being a bit more responsive, as would Cho'Gath, Taric, and a few of the champions named in this thread getting reworks.

I'm talking about "appeal", not played rate. We conduct studies on such things and creatively, Orianna's really niche, while Anivia's pretty niche. We need stuff like this in the game for variety and interest, but it needs to be balanced. A lot of our better champions on this are a good mix of something unexpected but not super niche.

Personally your better champions are less about being a healthy mix. And more about being loved by some hated by others but not disruptive or unfun.

quick example a lot of people love Sonna some people hate her. but she does not disrupt plays she stuns with her ult. She doesn't beat you down at many things she pokes and slowly attritions you to death. As opposed to Blitzcrank who some people hate but no one really loves him. They like his grab and his shield but those mechanics are disruptive and unfun. A rocket grab has to be dodged or death is imminent. A large amount of damage has to be laid down on his shield or he gets away with murder.

Losing to Sonna means you died to a carry or in a team fight. Losing to Blitz means he hit you with a rocket grab.

You're missing the point - this appeal study is unrelated to gameplay.

I can understand anivia is not on the list of visual rework but what about a new skin for her? She's definitely my favorite and she didn't get any new skin for about 2 years( last skin released at 2011-03-01). 

So I just want to know are you gonna give her a skin recently? Or are the rest of battlecast skins really exist (which include anivia, skarner and kog) ? I was dreaming about a new skin for her more then half a year, so plz plz tell me. 

Thank you.

We are going to give Anivia a skin soon - which I'm obviously quite excited about myself. It's a doozy 

Woah, woah, woah. Now, I know that this is just another self-selected peer group, but my friends all recognise that Karma is a well designed champion (especially thematically), even if hate her as a champion due to balance. I don't care much for balance, and looking from my more objective standpoint, I whole-heartedly believe that her theme and gameplay is very strong. In fact, I'd argue that the she has the most unique and well portrayed thematics of any champion, all the way from abilties, to visuals, to lore, to role in a game.
Are you sure you're properly factoring in game balance when considering "what players do and do not like"? If she was OP, I bet she'd be a lot more popular :P
And extending this further, even if Karma is not what the "majority" of people find appealing, does that mean you shouldn't have made her? Should Riot just keep using the same thematic archetypes over and over again? Niche archetypes give depth and choice, and are definitely worth exploring. I believe that it's more important to have 5-10 champions that you truly connect with than 100 that you just "kinda enjoy".
Edit: @Morello Just for clarity, were you suggesting that her thematics weren't appealing or that the execution of the thematics was poorly done?

For how we get this data, it's through "appeal" - a study set that our researchers do that measures thematic attraction via non-gameplay elements of a champion. Karma's low appeal is unsurprising to me, as is Urgot's and Trundle's. 

I think the thematic is really hard to pull off in the space that League of Legends has, and she's not the only character like this. The theme needs to be overt, but some of the details can contain interesting subtleties - this is different than something like an RPG, where a designer can use more storytelling tools to communicate the character.

I do think a lot of this lies in the execution (balance is a good theme, but nothing about her really portrays it heavily enough) and the idea not exploring how that works in League enough. And I'm pretty sure every single person who likes Karma in NA is talking about it in this thread  The execution error is why we're redoing her visuals, and I know IronStylus was more involved on the art side there.

Still reading through the thread and Orianna is unpopular? Really? I love her. D: I also love Cass. Maybe I just like unpopular champions. >_> Just the other day I was saying to a friend i'd wish Riot would let Xypherous off the leash to make another crazy champ like Orianna. XD (Xypherous has commented in the past that you guys let him do whatever he wanted when he made Orianna)
We let him do whatever he wants anyway :P We don't have a ton of management overhead here, Xypherous is working on the live team because that's what he wanted to do 

Talking about Orianna and appeal again. This is a purely visual thing correct? Have you considered giving her a skin that isn't creepy as sin? (XD) Kind of like how you used Battlecast Urgot to try and get him out of the ugly bin. Would love a non-creepy Orianna skin (let's be honest, her base is ok but all her skins creep me out lol). I would absolutely adore a new skin that depicted her as the daughter of Orianna's creator (probably make it legendary for new human voice). I don't know if this steps outside of what makes Orianna, Orianna but i'd sure as heck buy it! Or anything that isn't creepy lol.
Mostly visual queues, yes, but it also speaks to what those visuals say thematically.

I'd be interested to see how exactly this "appeal" data is collected, but that's besides the point. I'll be the first to admit that I'm part of a minority of players who actually like Karma.
The data Morello is referencing is likely from an international champion appeal study that was run by some of our colleagues at Riot. It was a pretty rigorous survey approach to getting a read on how players respond to champions overall. Of course, we also want to capture how a niche champion will do. I'm also one of the folks who likes Karma  Not every champion needs to appeal to every player, after all.

We also do more nitty-gritty stuff, like lab testing concepts, art, design, etc.

Can we be informed as to what was in this study? Was it basically just 'here is this champion. What parts about them do you like? What parts do you dislike? If you could change anything, what would you change'?

Or was it 'list all champions in order from favorite to least favorite.'

A bunch of different ways of getting at "how much and why do people like champion X" (where X is any given champion). General appeal ratings, attribute-match, free recall probes, qualitative data dealing with themes and memories, etc.

Champion Stun Animations

Actually, you guys are spot on! We're trying to slowly implement stun animations for characters! We think it makes things more clear for us players when people are stunned! 

But maybe we need an animation for when I'm DAZZLING!!!!


Thresh's Login Music

Aye. Skribbles, one of our Creative Writers, came up with the concept and the nursery rhyme. We then worked with a VO recording studio to find some kids to record the rhyme, and I then took that and added some music... I didn't do much this time, except for push some buttons. ;P




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