Dev Blog: Updating Summoner’s Rift

By Riot Aeon
Welcome to the first dev blog for our update to Summoner’s Rift! We’ll be doing dev blogs until this update goes live in order to give you guys insight into what we changed and why we changed it.

In general, with the update, we focused our efforts on five main points.
  1. Clarity and Readability
  2. Visual Fidelity
  3. Gameplay
  4. Thematic Cohesion
  5. Performance
I’ll try and provide a broad overview of these concepts and let future dev blogs tackle more focused topics. So let’s get into it!
Andrew "Riot Aeon" Brownell

Clarity and Readability

A lot can happen in a game of LoL. A huge amount of visual and gameplay-related information is communicated all at once across the game UI, units and champions and, of course, the environment. We’ve all been in massive team fights where - after a few seconds - you find yourself staring at a gray screen, not entirely sure what just happened.

When a fraction of a second can mean the difference between life and death, it’s critical the game delivers the most important information at any given moment, in ways that are as clear and easy to understand as possible.

One way to think about this information is in a “visual hierarchy”. There are several different layers that constitute League of Legends’ visual hierarchy:

  1. In-game UI
  2. Champion and unit abilities and attacks
  3. Champions and units
  4. Environment

In Summoner’s Rift today, the environment can compete visually with other game elements. In the middle of a fight, you want to be laser-focused on where Jinx is and whether or not Amumu landed his bandage toss. The environment should make that information easier for you to parse at a glance.

So with this update to Summoner’s Rift, we’re controlling color and level of detail, clamping value ranges and reducing character occlusion (so there are less cases where you cannot see your character) --- all of which makes for a cleaner gameplay space where critical information pops off the screen.

Additionally, there are some cases where creatures don’t clearly communicate their gameplay and relative threat. For example, Lizard Elder, one of our strongest creatures, looks about as challenging as wolves, one of the weakest camps. Wraiths (which look visually identical, other than size and color) have different types of attacks (the large wraith is ranged, and the small wraiths are melee), but you’d really never know by looking at them.

We‘ve made every effort to ensure each creature represents their gameplay and relative power-level clearly, while also preserving the core gameplay experience. 

Gromp, for example, is a tough creature with a fairly powerful ranged attack. When compared to the weaker SR creatures, we want Gromp to look tougher and more dangerous. This is especially important for players new to jungling or LoL in general. We want players to know what they are getting into when they attack Gromp, or any creature. It’s pretty frustrating to attack what you think is a weak, melee creature only to be killed by what is actually a beefy, ranged monster.


Visual Fidelity

The team working on Summoner’s Rift is filled with many talented artists, and I am not one of them, so one of our art experts will dive deeper into visual fidelity in a later dev blog. But I will say the overall approach we used to develop Summoner’s Rift focused on four major concepts:

  • Any artwork we create, first and foremost, should enhance gameplay, clarity, and readability.
  • We want to use a stylized approach that will lead to visually stunning environments, minions, and creatures for many years to come.
  • Summoner’s Rift is a special place. In our work on the map, we’ve taken to describing Summoner’s Rift as a magic-infused, untamed, mountain top, fantasy forest; a place where we want to spend thousands of hours. While we are making major changes to the environment artwork, we strive to retain the similar mood, tone, and overall feel of the original.
  • Our UI, environments, as well as the champions, minions and creatures that inhabit them, should share a consistent quality bar that makes them feel cohesive to one another and to League of Legends as a whole.

Gameplay

For this update we focused on keeping gameplay intact as much as possible. We put a ton of effort into ensuring that even though the entire map looks quite different, the layout is nearly identical. Similarly, though many of the creatures look different (or are replaced by completely different creatures), we tried to keep every jungle camp’s gameplay as close to the original one’s as possible. You might notice a few minor differences initially but, in our playtests, players got used to the new camps very quickly.

However, we are making a few intentional changes aimed at making the overall experience better.

First, we added additional gameplay mechanics to Dragon and Baron Nashor to make fighting these monsters feel truly epic, while providing additional opportunities for predictability, optimization and emergent gameplay. The new version of Dragon has two unique area of effect attacks (a line attack much like Viktor’s E and a larger AOE explosion), and Baron has a host of abilities that aim to deliver much more of a boss-battle experience.

Second, we are fixing a ton of navigation bugs and inconsistencies between sides. For example, the south and north bases, which do not have closely-mirrored gameplay spaces on current Summoner’s Rift, are now almost completely mirrored so that the play space between sides matches much more closely.

We are also making a slight change to the game camera angle. This change is aimed at making skill-shots more accurate as they approach the edges of the screen as well as slightly increasing the amount of camera space at the bottom of the screen. We’ll go into more detail about this in our next dev blog that focuses on gameplay.


Thematic Cohesion

While there are plenty of thematic elements that are working on Summoner’s Rift, we thought we could do a better job of making the creatures and environment feel like they are anchored in the world of Runeterra. The south wolf camp is a good example. Wolves now live outside a bone-strewn cave from which magic is seeping out - affecting the wolves themselves as well as the nearby plants.


Performance

It doesn’t matter how great Summoner’s Rift looks if you can’t play it though.

Throughout our development, our goal has been to make this map perform at least as well as current SR and preferably even better. We haven’t hit our target performance yet but we are committed to getting performance as good as current SR by the time we release it.

We still have a ton of improvements to make on the tech side to optimize the experience, especially for lower end machines, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on this from now until the map goes live to everyone.

We'll have more information coming so check back and let us know if you have any questions!


2 months ago