@Riot I don't really get skin policy, Norse King Darius

  • So Varus was released with one skin. I heard that the new policy is one skin on release to give Riot the chance to make better skins. IMO Blight Crystal Varus doesn't really help that case, but whatever.

    Darius, per the new policy was also only released with one skin, Lord Darius. It's okay I guess. But, contrary to that policy, he ALSO came with the undocumented skin Norse King Darius, as seen on lolskinviewer.com. This skin is FREAKING AWESOME. Pic attached. Maybe the particles or whatever are not finished yet, I don't know.

    But here's what I do know:
    • I have bought the two-skin release bundle every champion since Ziggs.
    • I bought Varus but not his bundle because I didn't find it appealing.
    • I bought Darius release day because I thought he was cool.
    • I didn't buy the bundle because I didn't feel Lord Darius was worth it.
    • If Norse King Darius had been available, I would have bought the two-skin bundle, even if there had been a bundle with just Norse King Darius, because if I'm going to buy one release skin, I may as well get both.

    If Varus had been released with a second skin, I probably would have bought the bundle out of habit honestly. So there's money you didn't get. I'm sure my one anecdote doesn't represent your entire customer base, but there you have it.

    tldr; NORSEKING dARIUS WHERE
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    Originally Posted by ZG Million View Post
    So Varus was released with one skin. I heard that the new policy is one skin on release to give Riot the chance to make better skins. IMO Blight Crystal Varus doesn't really help that case, but whatever.

    Darius, per the new policy was also only released with one skin, Lord Darius. It's okay I guess. But, contrary to that policy, he ALSO came with the undocumented skin Norse King Darius, as seen on lolskinviewer.com. This skin is FREAKING AWESOME. Pic attached. Maybe the particles or whatever are not finished yet, I don't know.

    But here's what I do know:
    • I have bought the two-skin release bundle every champion since Ziggs.
    • I bought Varus but not his bundle because I didn't find it appealing.
    • I bought Darius release day because I thought he was cool.
    • I didn't buy the bundle because I didn't feel Lord Darius was worth it.
    • If Norse King Darius had been available, I would have bought the two-skin bundle, even if there had been a bundle with just Norse King Darius, because if I'm going to buy one release skin, I may as well get both.

    If Varus had been released with a second skin, I probably would have bought the bundle out of habit honestly. So there's money you didn't get. I'm sure my one anecdote doesn't represent your entire customer base, but there you have it.

    tldr; NORSEKING dARIUS WHERE
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    Hi! Excellent points made and good questions asked by all, and I'm here to clarify, maybe even speak to the larger philosophy that we're embracing at the moment in terms of skins and releases.

    BEWARE! EXCESSIVE STORYTIME AHEAD! (Also, no TL;DR, sorry =)

    So, what all this boils down to, especially in the case of new skins, ala Varrus, Darius, etc, along with upcoming skins for the foreseeable future, is quality. In the past we've had many cases where we've encountered problems when we cram as much content into a bundle as possible. I personally enjoy bundles, I'm glad you do too! I'm also glad you find Norse King Darius a good prospect as I think his idea is sound. What it comes down to is, as I said, quality. Take a look at the Darius Norse King model:

    There are significant read issues in the model, i.e. no effective gradient from top to bottom which greatly helps our textures, very little color diferentiation, all of it mixing to a drabber brown, few if any accents, metals being unpolished or if intended to be rough, not very well rendered. Lack of painted-in light source and missing shadows on his skin near the overlapping clothing. Distribution of forms is awkward in many areas, making him clunky in game angle and very top heavy. Issues with his waist and unresolved design on his embellishments and decorations. Significant lack of polish to vary materials or trims. I could go on, but you get the idea.

    At the moment, this skin does not live up to our quality standards, plain and simple. The shift away, at least for now, from two skins in a bundle is entirely a result of our quality demands. Simply put, recently we feel when we cram two skins into the launch bundle that our quality can decrease. I can name a number of different instances where we've seen quality suffer in many aspects, or pain points emerge inside development when we try to create content for the sake of creating content.

    Case in point, Xerath. At the time, full bundle packs were in full swing and we were locked into that cadence. You may remember that Xerath's energy particles were not differentiated from his base in his accompanying skins. This resulted in a big decrease in quality, one which the community immediately latched onto and rightly called us out on. Our reaction? After evaluating our process and decisions, we decided it was the right thing to do to change the particles and reconcile the issue. So we did. Xerath was an example of a technical issue we thought we didn’t have the time to address. We also didn’t have sufficient resources in particles to front load the solution.

    Another example might be Viktor, where we faced a thematic issue. Viktor’s skins were very similar in look and feel, all representing what might be considered somewhere along the timeline of his life, staying thematically and artistically very much constrained. While there are differences throughout all the skins, we feel that conceptually these did not meet our quality bar as we explored player psychology in relation to Viktor after his release. We felt as though, while playing Viktor, the fantasy of playing him at different times in his life wasn’t exactly an exceptional experience. We did realize however.. LAZORRR.

    With Varrus, we see a similar issue as you state. This is a bit of proof in the pudding in that it might not be the most fitting alternative treatment for him. This isn’t to say it’s not quality, but I as well feel that the concept could be a little more compelling. I think the execution is great, but the idea could be stronger.

    Some bundled skins have served certain champions well however. Fiora’s skins, being thematically appropriate and good matches are in our eyes successes in terms of quality and delivered fantasy. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Leona. Her bundle pack was extremely unified in terms of theme and we view it as very successful in terms of quality and cohesion.

    So, we have examples of failures, thematically or technically, and we have successes, thematically or technically.

    Again, quality. That is our aim. We’ve found that quality equates to certain deliverables when it comes to skins. Some of those include particle changes where you get different effects with spells and other effects. Animations also factor in, if a change in the model’s geometry is changed for the purposes of a skin, it might constitute an altered animation or something custom. Sound is also a large factor in changing or embracing the fantasy we’re trying to establish. If a skin is a big thematic shift from it’s base, there might be need for audio changes. Think of how different such changes might need to be if we simply did a fire alternate, and an ice alternate to any champion. Those thematic changes alone constitue big changes in particles, model, sound, etc. We’ve found out we don’t want to just deliver a superficial skin that is composed of just geometry and texture changes, we want to deliver a different experience across all skins. We either want to flip the fantasy on it’s head, or embrace an aspect of a character and ramp it up in tangentially.

    This is where non-champion release skins come into play. As has been noted by the community and internally at Riot, our non-release skins quality has skyrocketed. Part of this is due to the fact that the skins team, which I’m currently doing most of my work on, has been rrecnelty holding itself to an extremely high standard of quality. You may have heard me speak to this in various venues. Whenever we see opportunity to crank up quality, we want to jump on it. Sometimes, in extreme cases, such as Pulsefire Ezreal, we see such a huge quality opportunity that we have to let it marinate for longer in order to realize the full potential of the fantasy.

    The worlds of “Champion Team” and “Skins Team” however can be drastically different when it comes to content creation, process and delivery. With Skins, we often have a longer timeline in which to work as we have existing assets to build upon. Depending on quality focus we may be able to shuffle around certain content. We’re able to lean on established player psychology and expected fantasy since we’re dealing with a character which has been around for a bit. These factors and others have put us in a position to constantly question if we can crank up the quality in a variety of ways, often in the aforementioned deliverable aspects. When we see an opportunity to make something differentiated from the base, we do it.

    With Champion launch skins, that timeline can be truncated. We’re developing a lot of content for simultaneous release. We’re making 3 models at the same time. Sometimes, let’s say with a character like Shyvanna, we’re delivering 6 (count ‘em 6!) models for an entire bundle pack. If we’re developing 6 different models for that particular situation, that leaves very little time for custom changes in particles, animations, sounds, etc. Automatically we’ve created a quality restriction for ourselves. Now, we can’t necesarilly create a frost Shyvanna, or a shadow Shyvanna, at least for launch, because the resources aren’t there. Those particular ideas however are extremely powerful, but not necesarilly atainable in the time given. With Champion launch skins, we’re taking a bit of a shot in the dark as to what player psychology and established fantasy might be. Sure, we know what we’re going for, what we want to deliver on in terms of fantasy, but it’s a less known quantity than dealing with an existing character.

    These are just some of the differences in both systems and why the whole process warrants evaluation and a new, intense focus on quality. Ideally, we’d be able to deliver on unique fantasies for all skins, making them each as powerful as a skin we’d release later for a given champion. What we’ve learned, through some of the examples I’ve listed, is that we feel we’ve fallen short on delivering those fantasies on some occasions.

    What’s best, at least right now, is for us to make a concentrated effort for each launch skin to have its proper time to be concepted and executed on. We’re now trying that out. We’re giving ourselves more time to come up with interesting ideas (which there are never a shortage of) and make sure that the skins have the proper amount of time for polish. We’re staffing appropriately so we have better control and more resources. In the end, this will provide what is of paramount importance: quality.

    We don’t want to rush when quality is involved. We don’t want to pile excessive work or pain on our teams. We don’t want to release something that isn’t finished or not sufficiently up to spec. We don’t want to make anyone feel as though we’re putting something out just to put it out.

    We do however want to give our ideas enough time to marinate. We do want to releave stress on our artists and other content makers. We want to have ample time to test to make sure there are no bugs. We want to deliver a product that is worth someone investing in. We want time and space to create so that you’re seeing the best of what we’re capable of.

    Norse King Darius is an example of that premature state where something might be shippable, but it’s not up to our standards. You find some great things about it, that’s awesome! We think it has potential! But we also know that it can benefit from a lot of work.

    PFE is also a great example of this on the Skins side of it. You may have seen something premature, which we saw an opportunity to throw into overdrive. We want to make sure we always have the opportunity to make something better. For now that means this particular cadence with this number of skins at launch. That may change, I’m not really up on thiat info, but I am able to speak for quality sake.

    We’re constantly learning, we’re an iterative organization. We want to adapt. If a system isn’t providing quality, we’re going to tinker with that system until the quality is achieved. We’re going to ask our community what you think. We’re going to give ourselves the necessary time, and scale up our resources appropriately so that we can improve quality and cadence. All of this will run its course and we’ll find out what the best solution is when it comes to releasing something that is up to our standards.

    Those standards will also change. Increased quality on one side of things can be a double edged sword. You see value as our quality increases, but we’re constantly having to up our own game to match the standard we keep upping! It’s not without its pitfalls! However, we deem it as absolutely vital that we create the right conditions to make sure that we’re delivering the best possible content.

    I very much appreciate your feedback and think there are a lot of valid sentiments in the community about this subject. I want to make sure we’re keeping this dialogue open and that you’re letting us know how we’re doing. We’re hoping that what we achieve as we move forward, no matter what the number of launch skins, that we produce something that’s worth the investment.

    Don’t worry, Norse King Darius will cleave his way into your hearts soon enough, we just want to make sure that he and all subsequent skins, launch or otherwise, are up to our ever increasing bar of excellence, and your demand for said excellence!
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    Originally Posted by CryoTyrfing View Post
    I just read the entire thing, Ironstylus y u so knowledgeable and smart?
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    I happen to be surrounded by an excessive amount of extremely intelligent people =)

    ..they have tasty brains.
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    Originally Posted by zarbiz View Post
    Now THAT'S a post. Thanks for riffing with us, Stylus!

    Ninja edit: Beneath the parrot! Huzzah!
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    You got it =)

    This entire process and approach is a work in progress. We're going to be measuring our results in terms of quality and how it's received by players. We'll be keeping an eye on where the discussion goes and what those results are. We want to make sure that you understand how we're going about things and how we focus on creating quality.
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    Originally Posted by Ailias View Post
    So in summary

    Skins take time, if we rush skins they look ****

    Sound about right? :P
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    Ah! So there was a TL;DR in there somewhere!
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    Originally Posted by Hewligan View Post
    So is a Varus skin in the works?
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    We're actually ideating on him tomorrow =)
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    Originally Posted by JustPure View Post
    So, IronStylus, How about a Moonlight Leona concept art :3?
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    What about it? I've got a skin idea for every celestial body!
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    Originally Posted by Dreeper View Post
    May I ask, which is in more of priority? Reworking old skins to match the new skins in terms of quality? or Developing higher end skins that will just continue to completely outclass older skins?

    Also another question, how come the 2011 Christmas skins all seemed great except for Mistletoe LeBlanc? Every other skin got new particles or animations while she only got a re-skin.
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    Visual reworks of existing champion bases and new skins are of equal priority. Certain new skins will indeed outclass older skins as we move on, that's just the nature of quality increase. What will happen to offset those quality issues isn't my department unfortunately.

    As for LeBlanc, I'm afraid I don't know. I wasn't a Skins team resource at the time.

    Edit: If you're asking about older skins, not champion base skins, then I'm afraid I don't really have an answer. Currently we have no older skins on our plate which we're refurbishing. We're occupied fully by champion reworks and new skins of all levels.
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    Originally Posted by ZG Million View Post
    Thank you for for your response. It means a lot that you found it compelling enough to reply so thoroughly. It clears up a lot.

    I actually got the "timeline" feel from Viktor's skins, and I had thought that was very cool. I really do like skins that give a different perspective on a champ's lore, like Pre-Void Kassadin or especially Exiled Morgana, which really makes you think, "Yeah, she really used to be an angel. Bummer how that worked out."

    One question that remains for me is: Why do you let unfinished skins out into the build? It seems like you would want to keep that stuff under wraps until you were really ready to release it, rather than having it slip through and get caught and questioned by snoops like me.
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    Sometimes things make it into the builds by mistake *cough-PFE-cough!*. This was just a case of that. Wasn't finished, wasn't supposed to go out.
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    Originally Posted by AxisXIViral View Post
    I still love the fact that people post "tl;dr" so proudly. You're basically saying "I'm too stupid and lazy to read your massive, well thought out and executed post, and I just thought I'd let the whole world know!"

    Too long too read? Cool story bro, your loss I guess.
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    It's all good. I cleaned up a bit.