Ask Riot on Champ Riven, Jobs and Champ Roles

By Calisker, Ostrichbeernana

Welcome to Ask Riot, where we focus on your questions and give you answers.

This week, we talk about working in the wonderful world of game design, an update on Championship Riven and how we decide roles for new champions.

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Some questions may already be answered elsewhere or won’t be right for Ask Riot. This isn’t the best place to announce new products or features here and we might skip conversations on issues which we’ve already gone into more depth elsewhere (but we can clarify individual points!). Even if your question isn’t the one being answered, we’re listening, and we’ll be sharing your questions with the Rioters who are working directly on the things you’re curious about.

Hey, have you already settled on the best option for bringing back Championship Riven?

Hi there,

Worlds is a special time of year, and with the introduction of Championship Zed who rounds out a full Championship team comp, we wanted to look back to Season 2 where the championship line began. We felt this was a great opportunity to bring back the original Championship skin: Championship Riven for a new generation of players. And we damn well wanted to make sure she felt awesome for original owners. So we spent some time giving her texture some love and bringing it up to our current art standards.

We didn’t want to stop there though, and decided we were going to do something extra special for those who originally obtained her four years ago during the Season 2 World Championship.

If you are an original owner of Championship Riven, we are adding in some extra in-game recognition for you. Firstly, we will be making a custom vintage loading screen banner that is different than previous versions so people will know you’re an OG.

Secondly, we’re creating a “vintage” version of her in-game model that features an exclusive crown and a glowing particle on her sword when her ultimate, “Blade of the Exile” is activated.

Any new owner of the skin will be able to obtain Championship Riven with an updated texture but none of the aforementioned extra goodies. The goal here was to ensure that vintage Championship Riven commemorated the start of the Championship skin line and people who obtained her at that time will get to celebrate that forever.

Championship Riven has been highly coveted by a lot of you for a looooong time. I mean, there was even a petition about it. Over the years, we’ve heard a lot of feedback, excitement and discussion around this skin so we felt it was important to do something different than what we’ve tried in the past.

We hope you enjoy the update and changes. As always, let us know what you think. We welcome it.

-Pabro, Product Manager, Personalization Content

How does Riot decide which roles and play styles they intend new champions to fill? (e.g., tank support, duelist ADC, AP jungle, etc.)

With only a handful of new champions coming out each year and a ton of effort put into each one, we have to be extremely deliberate about what we choose to make. We want all of you – whether you’re a mage-only player or prefer playing support - to feel like you’re consistently getting something new to enjoy. This means we try to hit every role and lane as often as possible.

When we plot out the next year of champions - or even the year after that - we’re looking at what's currently in development as well as where champions we've recently released have landed in terms of role and gameplay niche. Only with all these factors in mind can we then look forward. Questions we’ll ask ourselves include:

  • Which roles or lanes haven't gotten a new champion in a while?
  • Are there any unexplored styles we want to try? (e.g., Kindred came from asking ourselves "What would a jungle marksman look like?)

Occasionally, we also take advantage of special opportunities, such as figuring out what a dragon champion would look like in League of Legends, that may point us towards a particular role (e.g., a dragon is probably a fighter or a mage).

A new champ’s originally intended role or play style can sometimes also drift during development, like when we realized Tahm Kench was going to be a support rather than a top laner. Sometimes we embrace that drift, while in other cases we push back towards the original plan in order to make sure players who particularly enjoy that style of play aren’t waiting too long for something new.

As you can see, there a bunch of factors we have to weigh and plan around, but our consistent long-term goal is to release champions that hit a healthy mix of roles, lanes, identities, playstyles, etc so that all players have something new to master on a regular basis.

– Iniquitee, Champion Team Lead

I’m interested in becoming a game designer (maybe for Riot!) Any tips on getting into the industry?

There are a lot of different paths into the games industry so I can't necessarily share a best way, but I’d be happy to share the way it went for me. Based on my personal journey to game design my top two tips are to 1) make sure you have immense passion for the work, and 2) be equally passionate about learning about players (and how they think) as you may be about design.

As high school was wrapping up for me, for the first time school staff started asking what I wanted to do for a career. That was a huge question to ask teenage me, and I realized I didn’t even know what was out there. Then I thought of games, which were already a huge part of my life, and I figured why not consider it. Interest piqued, I picked up some books on the games industry - and the message I got was devastating. Everything I read made pursuing game design as a profession sound like wanting to be a unicorn when you grow up. I didn't write it off completely, but it certainly helped me make the decision to study economics at a traditional university in order to keep my options open.

As I wrapped up university and found myself staring down the barrel of a 40-hour work week, I realized I just couldn't get excited about finance or banking. I decided I had to find a career I truly loved, and gave myself a summer to land any job I could find in the gaming industry. From there I could figure out whether or not the field was a long-term fit. I applied to something like 50 positions, and got a handful of interviews. I ended up landing a great opportunity doing QA on game content at a studio that completely integrated QA into the development process, which really excited me. I was able to work with several different disciplines and offer meaningful feedback in addition to reporting bugs. Most importantly, I was passively exposed to a wealth of knowledge, just through the conversations that happened as part of my daily work.

In my free time, I began using the design tools to experiment and make content of my own. I didn't expect to ship any of it, but it let me learn, experiment, and get help from more experienced coworkers. I actually ended up finding my background in economics (aka the study of how people make decisions) extremely useful. Design doesn’t start and end with “it would be cool if X!” - it’s about crafting interesting and challenging decisions for the player. Suddenly a background in a field that explores why people make decisions was paying off! Then, when a position in game design became available, I had a record of hard work in QA and a portfolio of independent design work that helped me secure the job.

It’s important to note that when I started off learning about game design, it wasn't purely with the intent to find the job I eventually did, but rather to discover what it might be about the work that would have me waking up excited every day. The more I learned from working on and discussing games, the more I found that I was particularly interested in deep, mastery-filled PvP games. I was a big League player and when I stumbled across Zileas’ design anti-patterns post on the forums it opened my eyes to a different style of design. Riot seemed to be trying to build frameworks that provide analytical, objective ways to evaluate some design values, with counter-play being a good example. Of course, that style comes with its own frustrations - the worst part of iterating towards an ideal is you’re never able to actually reach it! Still, as I learned more about what things I value in a game and in a workplace, I realized Riot’s approach to design reflected my own values and that it was the place I wanted to be.

Hopefully this provides some insight on the path and mindset that led me into game design!

– Riot Wrekz, Game Designer

3 years ago

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