Interview: League of Legends: Dominion and Riot Games

Justin Clouse | 5 Aug 2011 22:30
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TEM: So I have one question of more personal interest, not related to Dominion. I was curious about what is the process for creating new Champions? Someone mentioned that five months is the turn around to complete one, but how does the ball get rolling on that? Is it just like, some concept artist goes "hey, I had this really cool idea for something"? For instance, on Pantheon I'm guessing someone must have read Frank Miller's 300, and went, "hey we should totally do a Spartan"

Travis: Well, the thing with champion design is that there isn't really a set origin for champion design. What's most important to us for a champion is that we have a really unique, creative theme that permeates everything about the character, and that's really clear and unique to League of Legends, and sometimes even the genre as a whole. A character like Orianna is a completely unique one that plays differently and looks different and is super fun. So there's no real set origin; it can come from a sketch that an artist does, it can come from a concept a creative designer has. It can come from a mechanic's kit that one of our guys on the champion's team was R&Ding, like that's how Orianna started. There was literally no theme attached to Orianna, but one of our champion designers was just messing around and created this really really fun kit in mechanic, and we were like "We need to make a champion out of that." And so we crafted the other parts of it. I look really at it as a kind of a triangle of a champion, there's an awesome theme, there's a great look, and a really fun gameplay hook. And it can really start in any of those areas, and it's all about filling out those other areas with things that are just tens all around. Sometimes we have great kits that don't have great visuals, and we do not release those champions. Sometimes we have great visuals and we can't make it fun, and so we don't release those. It's really about filling out those three points and making it awesome. But the origin can come from anywhere.

In fact, we actually we have champion submission forms that anyone in the whole company can fill out, and they don't have to have great design ideas, they don't' have to have great articulated themes. They just have to have some kind of essence of what they think will make that champion awesome. And we let everyone in the whole company do that because we don't care where the best idea comes from. We just want it in the game.

TEM: If you had to give, a ballpark estimate, what do you think the percentage of champions don't make it out the door?

Travis: Based on all the way through the process, from if you took the very nebulous submission process to champions we make. I mean, we only have a finite number of champions that we make. So it's really small. I don't know if I can put a number on it, but it's easily less than 10%.

But that's really kind of what we want. We really want to find like the best kind of holistic champions, if we can't nail down the visuals and make it really look awesome, maybe we shouldn't do it, or maybe we should send it back and let it marinate for longer and rethink it. We do that a lot.

TEM: Has there been any specific champion recently where you decided it isn't quite right and had to sit on it until it finally came together?

Travis: I think one of the champions I'm most proud of recently from our team is Leona. Leona is often described as a Female Tank, but like a Female Tank can mean a lot of stuff, and is a vague concept and is actually potentially kind of boring from a thematic standpoint. And so I think taking Leona and this archetype that we knew players wanted and that we knew we wanted to do, was actually way harder than it sounds. So tying her into this theme with the sun and giving her a really unique look, and kind of tying her kit into that created this really cohesive theme around her. She's not just a female tank but she's a shield and sword user that's really tied into the sun and everything about her permeates that.

TEM: Alright. Thanks for talking to me. Any final thoughts?

Travis: I'm really really excited for players to be able to play it. I can't wait for GamesCom and PAX, I'm personally going to be dead from all the travel and talking, but we know players have been wanting new awesome stuff and that we really hope they responded as favorably as we think they will to Dominion and all the fun gameplay that we're going to be introducing really soon.

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