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Riot breaks down process of designing a new League champ’s gameplay direction

“These early decisions will affect the eventual possibilities and overall potential that the champion can achieve.”

Image via Riot Games

League of Legends lead gameplay designer Mark “Scruffy” Yetter explained the framework that guides early development for new champs in today’s dev blog.

Making early decisions on a champion’s direction is pivotal and needs to be handled with care. So Riot created a simple framework and an eight-week process to discover a new champ’s gameplay design and overall potential.

“One of, if not the most difficult parts of gameplay design for a new champion is figuring out the high level direction in the early stages of development,” Scruffy said. “These early decisions will affect the eventual possibilities and overall potential that the champion can achieve.”

Riot devs ask themselves four key questions before moving forward with a champion’s gameplay design.

  • Does your direction open a door to new gameplay spaces?
  • Is your theme resonant with intended playerbase?
  • Does your gameplay hook deliver on the theme?
  • Does your gameplay direction have room to be satisfying and healthy?

Since there are over 150 League champs, new releases need to be unique and innovative. But their theme has to match player expectations. A deadly assassin, for example, can’t have a fluffy duckling theme, according to Scruffy. And new releases have to be balanced with counterplay, while also being satisfying enough that players keep coming back.

A gameplay designer then takes on the project through an eight-week cycle involving brainstorming, prototyping different directions, refining it, and solving problems along the way.

By trying out different ideas, Riot devs won’t get attached to any one direction when there might be a better option.


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