...because normally it's difficult for me to get over a bad first impression.
I was critical of Quinn when I saw the journal entry with a sketch of her, citing how she suffered from a bad case of man-face and a chronic lack of long hair. But now that I've seen a model, I can see now that I was too quick to judge.
To be blunt, I based my first impression on a piece of art that just makes her look terrible. The close-up of her face isn't a very good angle.
Also, I don't particularly care for how her pants are really baggy up to her boots, and then sharply taper off into spindly little...things.
But all that aside, I have to confess that her journal entry simply didn't do her justice. Her in-game model looks pretty snazzy, and Valor looks awesome as well. I rather like the color scheme and the armor design (except for the boots). Perhaps I'll get some long hair in a future skin, with some luck.
I mentioned in a different thread that I had a feeling that Quinn would grow on me in coming weeks. Damn, was I right.
I just need to learn to be a bit less critical of concept arts when they are released. Granted, I'm a cynic at heart, and I'll always be a vocal critic of basically anything that is done (I do try to be constructive, though, I point out what I don't like and why, and try to keep it civil). But I was a bit harsh to begin with.
Well played, Mr. Parrot. Well played...
Thanks. Here's a giant wall of text. This has been piling up in my brain all evening so I apologize that you have to be the recipient of this giant mind-dump.
Someone broke all this down especially well on reddit:
A lot of it is about expectations, how we set them, how we manage them, and how we might flip them. This post actually helped me wrap my head around what others, such as yourself, were saying. I was able to understand the rationale but also to figure out why I had made the decisions I had made and realize that I felt I made appropriate ones. It helped me come to terms with the feedback, negative or positive, and my own rationale on her design.
At the end of that person's post they link to a number of different "rangers" from Magic the Gathering. What people expected, by the journal and other hints, was the first few examples. The compact wilderness acclimated looking ones. They expected that, rightly so. That's the common fantasy trope. What it turns out what we gave people was more like the Ranger of Eos, the dude in heavier armor. It dawned on me then that this is what we were consciously or subconsciously gunning for. The most toned down a Demacian military-proper officer would be is how Quinn looks. Much like the latter ranger example, he's actually in heavier plate armor. This sort of soldier/ranger hybrid is what we on the team gravitated towards. We didn't want what essentially broke down to Woad Ashe. We also didn't want to make her too slick.
Everything to this point has been very good feedback, all things considered. I always think critically when I receive feedback, that's how I integrate and iterate. Critique from players like yourself are extremely valuable, and they're something not a ton of game developers have access to in the industry. Loud and passionate voices come to the forefront, and as reactive humans, we take that vocal feedback very seriously.
I'm very glad you find her design more pleasing as you grow into it. One of the big things to remember is that we're actually not designing for the view you're looking at when you see standard concept art. The RTS angle doesn't really care about anything on the front of a character because that's going to foreshorten, dissapear and/or compress when in game. However, places where we get a ton of real estate are the back, head, shoulders, arms, upper legs, and weapon/source of power. Some visual design choices, though they seem awkward front-on, end up working pretty decently in our game because they're strategically placed where the eye focuses or action occurs, in that angle specifically. Quinn's knee pads are a bit impractical, but they jump out of the silhouette a bit because they're pointy. Same thing with her large pockets which are trimmed with gold, those come over the thigh a bit and create a rhythm in game that isn't really apparent from head-on. Gauntlet, big visual marker and story telling element. Helmet, mainly decoration to accent the head. Holster on her back to break internal detail but be a communicating functional aspect. It's all there for a reason.
Some may argue that she's a bit mish-mashed, and I can totally understand that, however while we didn't want to overload her with tackle, we needed to break her out from the standard fantasy Demacian motif. We stuck components in to break up symmetry because we didn't want for her to have too much filigreeing or grandiosity.
Some also argue that she's over-designed. I'd agree to an extent, however it's an intentional over designing in many respects. We tried slimming down, making her more streamlined, etc. Her model, up until a couple of weeks ago, looked very much like just a woman in a costume. It didn't say anything special in terms of story. We went in and changed that because we felt she needed to feel in some way more substantial, in visual storytelling and in form.
She is indeed highly motif-ed also. I've seen some feedback saying, "It's like Quinn is saying I'M A BIRD. LOOK. BIRDS. BIRDS BIRDS BIRDS." That's not entirely off the mark. Demacian's aren't exactly subtle, and Quinn in that vein needed to abide in a way that incorporated some of that Demacian flagrant dress. We did want to flip it a bit though, we wanted to say something along the lines of.. if Demacian's are over the top in how they dress, how would you tone down the blue and gold thing in a way that still feels Demacian? Damn if that's ever hard to figure out. We made up for the lack of gleaming gold and blue with the overt, smash-you-over-the-head theme of avian. Quinn is somewhere between Batman, an army ranger, and a SWAT team member. An elite soldier who's using the motif of her primary inspiration while incorporating it into what, in a fantasy world, acts as utilitarian.
All that said, I don't expect everyone to love her design. That's not our job here. Morello has stated that many times. Not everyone will love everything. The only thing I ask is that we're given a chance to try the weird thing in our heads! If it falls flat, we'll learn from that and iterate again. With the amount of depth in our roster we have endless possibilities in skins and in future champions. Somewhere along the line, everyone will find someone they like, or hopefully love.
I do expect some pain along the way, I'm happy to absorb it. Our decisions are going to defy and upset at times. When we give you "our version" of an archetype it's going to rub people the wrong way and it will probably come off as feeling executed poorly. I understand that that's what curve balls do to establish expectations.
In the lack of context, or messaging, people usually fall back on "it just looks.. bad". It's absolutely ok for someone to feel that and rationalize it, but as an artist I have to challenge that statement. People can explain why something might not be working, but if it essentially equates to, "it looks ugly" or "I don't like it" I tend to poke at that because I don't find that a rationale for arguing against a particular design, especially when dealing in a fantasy game. Trying to rationalize fantasy or sci-fi is a head spinning experience.
If someone wants to come to me on the grounds of character design, then by all means please do. Speak to me in terms of.. Does it abide by the tone of LoL? Does it incorporate the proper form language? Does it have communicating elements of story? does it have proper material seperations? Are the colors being used properly for a game read? Are there iconic elements? Is the source of power clear? Is the frequency of detail too much or too little for the purposes of in-game readibility? People offering critique who just say.. "I don't like it." or "Looks like a dude." That's a great way to get an artist irritated and to not further a conversation. It's like telling a designer "That mechanic just feels dumb". Not terribly helpful. Learning the languages each other speaks goes a long way with helping to understand context and why we do what we do. Usually.. USUALLY, we have a good reason =)
Anyway, that's a lot of words, and I'm pretty tired. I've also been sucking down a ton of feedback in the last day, sorry for dumping a bunch of conclusions and rambling here.
On the plus side, this has taught me a lot too. I have to be conscious of getting defensive, rude, or prickly. I have to understand expectations and warn people properly when I plan on smashing those expectations with a bird, and I have to be cautious of redundancy in my designs. That's all stuff I'm learning and integrating.
On the justification side of things, this tends to be how Volty, Runaan and myself roll. We do not like convention. You can see that reflected in what we did with Diana, and what we've done with Quinn and Valor. Visually, Quinn is not a traditional ranger, she is something completely different and frankly jarring to the unprepared. Kit wise, on the surface i've seen a comment or two saying it's convoluted. Lore wise there are questions as to why we would take someone from the working class of Demacia and make them "just another elite", stating that we've squandered an opportunity. Indeed, that's what it might look like on the surface, but as they say.. we have to go deeper!
There's reasons we do all of these things. We know in our heart they'll have novelty as well as longevity. They're going to be tough to swallow at first but they end up synergizing the longer they are allowed to coalesce. What seems at odds from one angle ends up making sense from another, and what we've found is that what ends up being sometimes abrasive and very unfamiliar at first, (see Diana's kit, theme and visuals) ends up being something endearing and really special. We hope the same will be said of Quinn. We had a lot of challenges to overcome, and of course we'd do some things differently, but honestly I think we've created something unique that will not end up being a throwaway, but will in the end deepen our world and our game.
Keep a lookout for an AMA that we're probably going to do about Quinn and Valor in the near future. I'll be touching on a lot of this I feel, as will Volty and Runaan. There's been a lot of controversy, but there's also been a lot of consensus. I'd rather have the former drive iteration and change than the latter leading us to a place of stagnation.
All in all, I'm glad things are sitting better with you. I take this all very, very seriously, so any feedback that I see I take pretty seriously and sometimes personally. There are risks to that, but I feel in the end it makes me a more responsible and agile developer.
Also, by popular demand, here's a little insight on how I design:
Quote:In regards to feedback on Quinn, my only visual objection is that her colors look really super dark and muted on the ingame model. I know there isn't really any good recent visual work to point to for Demacia, but personally even for Quinn I feel like the blue and green(?) and brown shades she has just lend her too dark a look. TBH, i loved the brighter Quinn sketch you posted before =p
I have potential kit/VO objections, but I believe that you're not the one doing the work on that. ^_^
Keep in mind a woodsey ranger/hunter type would probably disdain bright flashy colors due to it making them extremely easy to see in a woodland setting. Especially one that hunts dangerous neer-do-wells for a living. From a personality stand point she'd probably hate it and prefer more neutral or earth tones despite loving Demacia.
She'll get some pop but won't really go bright. She'll probably stay in the navy's and such.