Riot dev talks about clarity in League of Legends

Image via Riot Games - League of Legends
Image via Riot Games - League of Legends

Riot, in their recent dev blog, discussed the importance of gameplay clarity in League of Legends and the reason behind putting extra effort into it.

Riot's Marketing editor, Nikki "bananaband1t" Brown, mentioned how creating a handy and easily recognizable gameplay experience for League of Legends players is a high priority for the game’s developers.

Brown spoke about three main goals or "unbreakable vows" of Riot Games, considering the significance of clarity for players in League of Legends,

  1. Gameplay must be easy-to-recognize and should be clearly conveyed to the players: League’s visuals and audio should help players to quickly identify and react to champions, spells, and attacks. They should also be able to generally understand mechanics just by experiencing them in-game.
  2. The hierarchy should always be preserved: A proper hierarchy should be maintained within a champion’s kit, and between champions and other gameplay elements.
  3. Noise should be kept minimal: Every in-game audiovisual effect must have a cause.

Riot opens up on their way of designing a League of Legends champion

Image via Riot Games - League of Legends
Image via Riot Games - League of Legends

As explained by bananaband1t, Riot devs design the League champions with clarity in mind. And talking about clarity for champions, silhouettes and abilities. are two main considerations.

#1 - Silhouettes

One of the most important aspects of Riot's recent blog post was to elaborate on how the devs make a champion recognizable. Silhouettes are the single most important thing for champion recognition in the game.

Silhouettes are champions' shadows, that is, their appearances when shrouded in darkness. According to bananaband1t, the best way to tell whether a champion has a unique appearance is by simply breaking them down to their silhouettes.

Image via Riot Games - League of Legends
Image via Riot Games - League of Legends

For example, Diana should be identified by her iconic crescent moon-shaped sickle, or Senna with her monstrously large gun. They are relatively easy to pick out of a lineup when converted into a silhouette.

The marketing editor said:

A good silhouette is one with a defining primary characteristic that’s unique to that champion: Think Senna’s gun, Diana’s moon weapon, or Yuumi… being a cat. Even when we make skins, a champion’s primary characteristic should never change.

But in cases of champions like Lee Sin, who does not possess any kind of unique demonstrative features to his model, the recognition strategy differs. These champions are instead made to look recognizable with their animations, rather than simply two-dimensional silhouettes. Ivern and his “goofy” walk, as Riot described it, also provides a good example of this idea.

Image via Riot Games - League of Legends
Image via Riot Games - League of Legends

Also, a champion’s silhouette can be broken into three parts: primary, secondary, and tertiary. As described by Riot, a champion’s primary feature should never be removed or significantly altered in any skin. Changes should be made only in the secondary and tertiary sections. For example, the devs would never give Senna a pea-shooter or turn Yuumi into a human.

#2 - Abilities

As described by Riot, the second major consideration for champion clarity, as described, are their abilities. The intensity of the visual simulation of a champion's ability animation should match with the total impact that the champion's abilities deal during a teamfight.

Hecarim’s VFX Update (Image via Riot Games - League of Legends)
Hecarim’s VFX Update (Image via Riot Games - League of Legends)

For example, abilities such as Hecarim’s R - Onslaught of Shadows and E - Thresh’s Flay, are iconic abilities and staples of those champions’ respective kits. Thus, Riot plans to update them in detail, along with a few others, throughout 2021.

According to bananaband1t:

“This is an area that can quickly become frustrating, particularly when hitboxes don’t line up with their effects. Over the past few years, we’ve been working to update the VFX for some of League’s older champions who aren’t hitting the bar.”
Animation of Spell Shields (Image via Riot Games - League of Legends)
Animation of Spell Shields (Image via Riot Games - League of Legends)

Finally, Riot detailed how all of these features work their way into the skin development process. After all, the developers’ highest priorities are the League of Legends champions.

Riot said:

Every ability should be at least as clear as the base skin because skins should never be pay-to-win.

The devs always keep a check on these skins, such that their abilities remain clear and balanced whenever a player applies one of them.