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In order to bring a ruthless hunter like Rengar to life, the designers had to fuse every aspect of champion design into a predatory experience that feels as ferocious as the champion himself. Getting players inside Rengarís head for the primal hunt was the biggest challenge in his creation. What began as a tricky proposition eventually became a compelling champion with an ultimate ability that sums up the brutal and methodical Rengar playstyle.
Marco ďOCRAM818Ē Bustos (Associate Sound Designer)
Alex ďSkribblesĒ Yee (Associate Creative Designer)
Trevor ďClassickĒ Romleski (Associate Live Designer)
Paul "RiotZeronis" Kwon (Concept Art)
Casey "RiotParticleMan" Robinson (Senior VFX Artist )
What were the biggest challenges when building Rengar from a design standpoint?
Skribbles: Going way back to the beginning, weíve been looking for what space to explore in the anthropomorphized animal department. Weíve done a decent amount of characters from different animal kingdoms and are starting to become cautious with the theme. We said that if one animal deserved to be a part of this menagerie that hasnít been done in our game yet, itís a lion.
We worked hard with the concept team to find a space for Rengar that was independent enough from someone like Warwick. He had to feel unique but still be served well by the lion-man motif. From there it was about smoothing out the idea of a trophy hunter and finding ways to differentiate him from other characters. We didnít really find a spot for Rengar until we saw RiotZeronisís amazing concepts.
Trevor: With Rengar and Warwick, we knew there was a differentiation. Warwick is more feral and picks up the trail of his bleeding prey and chases them down. Rengar is more of a methodical hunter.
RiotZeronis, how did you iterate on Rengarís concept art to turn him into the ferocious predator we see today?
RiotZeronis: Rengar went through a bunch of iterations that just didnít seem to fit in our game world for one reason or another, and as time went on we were less-than-excited. I was tasked with doing another pass at him and it was particularly challenging for me because I had never really done an animal character or champion before. Iíve never made a lion man before. After a ton of lion research and a huge lion collage next to my desk, I started to draw. I wanted to capture his lion-ness but give him some accentuated features. I just had to make him work.
I drew him as badass as I could with a fuller mane and exaggerated trophy hunter elements with his bone pauldrons and handmade armor he put together while out in the wild. His adornments are his stories. Also, heís got an eye patch, and that gives every character more depth. I gave him a variety of weapons and had to explore a ton of options. Some of his original weapons were too close to Dravenís axes so they were cut. I didnít even know that the animations would use the knee weapon that I drew on him.
Skribbles: The weapons had to be about overpowering and attacking, something that Rengar would fashion and use.
OCRAM818: You gave us a lot to work with, man. We just ran with everything.
Skribbles: RiotZeronisís art was crucial in turning Rengar from just a lion man into THE lion man.
OCRAM, you seem really excited about Rengar. What qualities did you focus on for his sound design?
OCRAM818: Rengar is awesome, man. Heís a hunter. Heís a lion-man. Heís vicious. With his sound design, I could go a bunch of different ways but I stuck with one or two key elements that really told you who Rengar was. Heís got to sound ferocious since heís the ultimate hunter, but at the same time methodical and stealthy, so you donít know that heís coming. Lions, tigers, and other hunting cats donít like their prey to know that theyíve got the scent.
How different was designing Rengarís sounds versus a champion like Zyra?
OCRAM818: Rengarís sounds were easier than plant sounds, definitely. Metal objects make creating sounds much easier. Heís got his sword, his claws, and his dope-ass knee pad. We love his knee pad.
Classick: Youíll give your enemies a swift knee to the abs once in a while, along with other attack animations for his claw and sword.
OCRAM818: We create building blocks for various types of sounds or styles, so Iíve got this great library of swords and metal hitting stuff from working on Hecarim, Draven, and Darius, along with a ton of fencing sounds for Fiora. Every sword in the game has to sound different, you know, since theyíre all different weapons. For Rengar, I threw a bunch of sword sounds together in my blender and reversed their playback for sword slices and hits, sort of the way I did flesh ripping sounds for Volibear. I took some of that as well to give Rengar a different sound for each one of his weapons. The claw sounds like itís taking off some flesh. The sword sounds different from the jagged knee.
How did Rengarís ferocity play into the sound design?
OCRAM818: The Savagery ability was vicious and I had to match the sound to the red coloring of the ability. I used low tones when itís active and on-hit it sounds juicy with some bone cracks. His Battle Roar was difficult, since we have a lot of characters that roar, such as Warwick, Udyr, and Volibear. We didnít want his AoE to be some simple roar. Everything has to sound unique. For Rengarís AoE roar I went with a spatial sound so you feel the roar around you versus a battle cry or a forward-directed scream. The roar feels as if itís projected out like a sonic boom.
For Bola Strike, I went back and thought about one of the hardest ability sounds Iíve ever worked on Ė Sejuaniís ultimate. That sound kicked the **** out of me. For some reason it was really hard to make and epic throwing sound for her. When Rengar came along and I saw that he had a thrown bola attack, I said, ďaw man, weíre going down this path again.Ē We went through so many iterations of Sejuaniís ultimate that I knew Rengarís would suffer the same fate. The approach changed and we wanted to sell the element of whatís happening. First, itís a gentle fwoo-fwoo-fwoo-fwoo-fwoo as you hear the bola let loose through the air. Then, for the impact, it had to feel like the bola was wrapping around you instead of a ďsmackĒ contact.
The ultimate has a ton of cool elements, especially when he enters stealth. I went with a ďfade-inĒ approach, with a whooshing sound as you become invisible and then an impactful sound when you finally enter stealth so it feels like thatís your moment of true hunter power. It wasnít an impact sound, though. I created these, like, lion explosions. Youíll feel like his ultimate tries to suck up the ambient noise and sound from around the world. You activate the ability get sucked into Rengarís head, separating you from the game and his mind, his vision.
I wanted to hook up a sound to the particle effects with the beating hearts from the ultimate. I went to RiotParticleMan and we hooked up the timing for the heartbeat to add in some extra ambient noise and make sure the thumping syncing up. The more champions around, the more heartbeats youíll hear. As your enemies get closer their heartbeats get louder.
Wait, back up. Did you say lion explosions?
OCRAM818: Hah, I did. I made these sound files that I called lion explosions. Over time, Iíve made so many explosions. I threw a bunch of explosions and lion roars into my sound mixer Ė I didnít even listen to it Ė I just exported it out, gave it a listen, and it sounded like a bunch of explosions going off but with lions in it. Was it awesome? Yes it was. So now Rengarís got some lion explosion sounds.
Why is Rengarís ultimate so important to his design?
Skribbles: Rengarís ultimate is amazing. Thematically, visually, every aspect of the thing comes together to bring you into Rengarís head.
Classick: The ultimate works to give Rengar the feeling of entering the ultimate hunting mode or stance and ties together every aspect of his design so well. Heís one with the hunt. Rengar is ready to choose his target and go after the biggest game. When he pops his ultimate and begins chasing someone down, and the heartbeat gets quicker and quicker, it really immerses players into the Rengar world and makes you feel like an apex predator.
RiotParticleMan, could you give us a rundown of the ultimate and the visual effects that you had to bring to life?
RiotParticleMan: Itís pretty cool. A lot had to come together with the ultimate to make it a successful ability, to invoke the right feeling. Youíve got design with the stealth tracking and mechanics; youíve got sound that wants to give it the right feel. Everything about Rengar comes together nicely.
Skribbles: For me, I love that Rengarís ultimate can be such a help for his team. Thereís a bunch of ways to use it that change up his initiations and retreats. Also, I had to stop myself from adding too many lion puns into his voiceover work.
How did Rengarís personality come out in his spell effects?
RiotParticleMan: A lot of our characters are lighter, happier. Rengar is large and angry, so I wanted his abilities to have a lot of weight behind them. The way to accomplish this with Rengar was to go deep and dark. Many of our spell effects are additive, meaning they brighten up your character. With Regnar, we went subtractive, reversing the look of his kit. Itís not dark magic, like Veigar or some of the void characters, but deep, visceral reds. Itís also not clean like Diana, who has a very clear aesthetic to her effects. Rengarís stuff is savage and wild. The bola is fun because it transforms from a bola into a five-point net and the effect looks really cool.
The ultimate is really the ****. Everything about this character culminates in this ability. We made these thematic decisions early on and it shows, since we were able to do stuff like sync up heartbeats to sounds.
Can you give us a walkthrough of the ultimate?
RiotParticleMan: Itís a full screen change. The screen goes red and you can see enemies in the fog of war. At first we were just going to show the characters with an icon over their heads or something equally as lame. Instead, we went with the Rengar skin that gets overlaid on top of enemy champions that shows you their veins, all red and bloody. Then the heartbeat comes in and scales with how close you are to your prey. It feels very hunter. I also figured out all of this in my shower, which is where I get my best thinking done.
You decided to create a ring around Rengar when he enters brush or stealth to show how far he can leap onto enemies. Why did you go with the ring?
RiotParticleMan: At first, there were icons and such over enemiesí heads to show you how far Rengar could leap. Multiply the number of icons over championís heads and minionsí heads and it was a mess. Instead, we brought up the ring that fades in when you enter brush or invisibility that would show you exactly how far you could jump. It was a fairly seamless solution to what could have been a very messy visual problem. Gameplay reigns supreme, so my visual assets have to dictate and make it very clear where you can go and who you can leap to. To avoid confusion with visual cues is a priority going forward.
Skribbles: That reminds me, I forgot how much actual research we had to do about lions. We had to figure out what were the major thematic elements of lions were in order to build off of.
What was your lion research like?
Skribbles: We learned many interesting facts about lions. Lions have small hearts relative to other animals, so theyíre pretty much capable of short bursts of speed to get on top of their prey. This actually worked fairly well thematically since Rengar feels like an assassin in many ways and can quickly go from stalk to pounce. Sneak in carefully with all of your energy, jump out with a wild flurry of attacks, and sneak back into the brush.
Classick: There were lots of YouTube videos and articles about lions on my computer.
Skribbles: Next time weíre requesting a field trip to the zoo.
Classick: Lions are fairly counterintuitive to what people actually think about them. They are huge predators and are incredibly strong but still prowl around and sneak up on their prey. Youíd think this massive creature wouldnít have to even start with the prowling. This was a problem when designing Rengar and his whole character Ė how do you make this imposing lion feel like a stealthy assassin while also making him feel like a bruiser who could go hand-to-hand in lane?
Skribbles: Itís also a myth that only female lions hunt. Female lions do a majority of the hunting but males can and do join in, especially when the pride is going after bigger prey.
We have really learned a lot about lions today, havenít we?
Skribbles: Wait! Thereís more! There are even lions that have names based on the people theyíve successfully stalked or hunted. Like, people in villages in Africa. Manslayer lions.
So you went out and found the most badass lions in the world and based Rengar off of them?
Skribbles: Pretty much.
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