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Champion Creation Tips v3

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Senior Member


Welcome to the beginning... of the end!

Oooh, all spooky-like!

Anyway, class is in session, we're on the first article of the last page, and tonight we're covering the different ways of doing things, and why it even matters in the first place.

First, we're going to go over the idea that there's more than one way to get an effect, and why it's important that there are distinctions in how you get there.

Second, we'll go over a few basic examples, such as damage types, and a split such as burst / sustained and DoT style damage.

Third, we'll discuss the merits of doing things in different ways than usual, and how it can help your designs become more fun!

Finally, we'll touch on some points of caution. Sometimes there's a good reason why certain things just don't get done a certain way, such as skillshot heals.

Anyway, it's time to take chances, make mistakes, and get mes... oh. Lawsuit, huh? Durn.

Eh, it's time to learn I guess, then.
1: We can do this two ways. We can do this your way, or the right way.

So, which is it going to be?

Actually, it'd probably be easier to explain the choices first, wouldn't it?

There's actually a lot of ways to do things in LoL, as with any game, or any other project which involves designing mechanics to work out problems.

If we start with a really basic problem, such as "I want to kill my enemy", that seems simple enough, but how do we do that?

Sure, damage is pretty much the only real way (durn you poison counters and millstone decks in MTG! *Shakefist@*) as far as LoL's concerned, but that doesn't mean that there's not a wide variety of ways to deal that damage.

First off, we have our elemental properties, which in LoL is pretty much limited to physical, magical and true damage. After that, we have further combinations, such as burst, sustain and DoT, as well as even more things such as targeting, like skillshots, direct damage, AoE, and so on.

In the end, there's a near infinite number of combinations available if you go looking hard enough, and this means that you're not about to run out of ways to make "this spell does damage" interesting. Even 100 champions into the game, and thousands more on the champion concepts forum, we still have a nearly endless array of ways to do things differently!

So, what kind of ways are there to do these things anyway, and why do they even matter?

A good example is scaling. Let's compare AD scaling versus AP scaling... there's a few AD mages in the game, Pantheon and Urgot being the two main ones that come to mind, with Caitlyn essentially fulfilling a similar role. There's probably more, and more will be added, likely, after I post this, so don't worry about this not covering all of them.

The thing is, most mages are AP. A burst mage tends to need good scaling, as well as good survivability from itemization to make up for poor escape mechanic options for the most part.

In the case of someone who's an AD caster, they have some rather limited options for itemization. Most of their items also include stats they can't use, such as critical hit % chance, or attack speed. Other problems also include the lack of survival stuff on their gear for the most part, such as lacking health or armour, a painful lack of mana, as well as poor choices for masteries and runes. Toss in that enemies typically have more armour than MR, since armour's far easier to get in LoL, and you're stuck with a bunch of messy problems.

Just saying "I want an AD caster!" isn't that simple. Sure, you can make an AD caster if you'd like to, but it's going to take a lot more effort than an AP caster would, since you have all the problems of an AP caster, plus a bunch of new problems to go with it.

Picking how to do something is often as important as picking what it is you want to do in the first place. Time and again I've ground it into your heads to think about what you want to do before you do it... well, now I'm telling you that just thinking about what you want to do isn't good enough. You also need to think about how you'd like to go about doing it in particular as that's usually the difference between an interesting champion concept and a boring one.

So, what kind of options do we have to work with?

Oh gawd... nearly infinite, really. There's no way I can cram every option available to you into here in one go. First off, I couldn't think of all of them, and second, a mere 50 posts worth of space just wouldn't be large enough!

What I can do, however, is give you a few dichotomies to work with, and explain how they're different to each other and why they're each useful. Armed with a few examples for reference, I think you should be able to do the rest of the work on your own.

That's the point of this guide anyway... I'm not here to tell you what to do; everything in here is optional and open to debate, as well as potentially wrong. Design isn't an exact science, and nothing I say will be true in 100% of all cases, though there may be some exceptions such as instant-kill from full life abilities.

Regardless, the point is, I'm trying to teach you to think for yourselves, so to that end, let's move on to the next part of the post, and get you some examples to work with so you can see why this is important in the first place.
Part 2: Different strokes for different folks. Did you know for years I thought that saying had something to do with seizures?

Let's talk about a simple way to break up single target damage abilities. Click on target and skillshots are the two most common ways to apply single target damage. There's a few other ways, such as if Evelynn's old Hate Spike were to only hit a single target, but we'll stick to these two for now.

Click on target has some pretty obvious advantages. It's harder to "miss" with a click on target spell, since as long as you click on them, it hits! Of course, minions do tend to love to get in the way, and Cho'gath's fat butt loves to stand right on top of people, so perhaps it's not always as great as it first sounds.

In general though, click on targets are often either instantaneous, or very, very fast traveling, as there's not much reason for them not to be, as you're not concerned with people trying to dodge their effects.

You get a bit of reliability, and it's a bit more guaranteed to set up combos, so not a bad deal. So why would anyone use skillshots over these?

Ah... well skillshots have a few advantages of their own to make up for that unreliability.

First off, you'll notice that almost all skillshots have a considerably longer range than click to hits. This is partially due to the fact that a shot fired when someone's at max range with a click to hit will still hit, while if they're running from a skillshot, they can avoid it entirely sometimes by just outrunning it's range. Part of it's also as an advantage to make up for more difficult targeting; a skill shot poke can often hit someone without one with a minimal of risk to themselves.

Other advantages include such great fun as being able to hit targets you can't see, such as enemies that are in bushes, or invisible targets. You also get typically shorter cooldowns to partially make up for the good chance that you're going to miss a spell more often so will simply need to cast more often to get the same overall effect.

Skillshots typically have lower mana costs to compensate for this additional spamming, and they also tend to hit a little harder to make up for the times they miss partially.

The question then becomes, why would anyone ever use anything but a skillshot?

The answer is simply that sometimes you don't actually want to use a skillshot, for a variety of reasons. On the last section of this article, I'll go over a few in detail to give you an idea of exactly why, but for now, simply accept that there are times when missing simply isn't a valid option with some abilities.

The point of the matter is, there are different ways to do things, a fact of which I can pull directly from the "short" version of this article:

Consider a few similar examples.

A spell with high damage, and long cooldown, one with small damage and small cooldown, and one which deals damage over time.

The first one is good burst, able to unload and kill someone instantly, before they get the chance to fight back, a la Annie, or LeBlanc. Generally, the sustained damage here is pretty fail, and anything which survives the first round of burst, is probably going to kill them.

The second is strong sustained damage, able to continually pour out damage over time, if an enemy sticks around to get hit. This discourages them from long term fights, and doesn't work so well against a burst fighter, like the one above, but can be more useful over the course of an extended fight. Cassiopeia and most AD carries tend to fall under this category. Typically, the damage here is considerably higher, over time, to make up for the fact that they may die before they get the chance to deal their damage.

The final one, is Malzahar, able to unload fast on a target, then leave, before they fight back. This has the advantage of the middle one, able to output higher than average damage over time, but also the advantage of the first, of being able to unload quickly. The downside, is that, unlike the first, which can instagib someone before they can shoot back, the DoT effect means that enemies are still attacking during that time, and can kill you in return. It also means they can be healed during that time, potentially negating the benefits entirely.

Regardless of the details, these three methods still do "damage", but they do so in a variety of ways. Mana's good for long term restriction, but leaves only cool downs to prevent short term spam. Energy's unlimited for long term sustained effects, but limits short term burst capacity.

Yes, this is cheating a bit to quote myself, but it was easier than just repeating myself needlessly ^.~

In each of the ways that was presented, there's an advantage and a disadvantage, usually several of each, for each method to be employed.

Burst is good for killing a squishy target, but if they live through it, such as a bruiser, you're pretty much dead.

Sustained damage is great for bringing down those bruisers with ease by tearing through them, but then you're stuck with the downside that if you run into a burst caster, your face could be torched before you get a change to sustain your damage for more than a second or two.

Damage over Time, is a wonderful choice for both, but it does leave open the fact that you probably won't be around to cast it more than once, and even if you live, you're probably going to be impotent damage-wise due to longer cooldowns.

The fact of the matter is, each has a place, and each has a purpose. By determining what you want to do with a champion, you can pick from choices such as these to tailor fit your champion to the purpose you have in mind for them.

If you want to make a burst caster, you're not going to load them out almost exclusively with low cooldown abilities. Sure, their DPS might be high, but they'll be nearly useless for their role as a burst caster. They need to make a target disappear before it can shoot back, and if you have sustained damage, then it's just not worth it, because they're going to do their job before you can do your own. As such, you simply don't bring a Cassiopeia to counter a Veigar.

When you plot out what you want your champion to do, try to be a bit more specific than you might otherwise be. Just saying you want them to do "damage" is great and all, but it's not very useful for determining what kind of abilities they should have.

If you specify you want to kill champions, it's still not good enough, as you're still not saying which kind of champions you want to kill. Master Yi's great... unless he gets caught by Annie and goes from 100% to 0% instantly, without even getting to move. Once that Tibbers stun hits, there's no alpha striking to escape past that point.

As such, pick a specific task you want your champion to perform, such as killing towers, killing burst casters, or specifically killing off those annoying tanky-DPS that have been showing up more and more frequently. Yes, they're a good idea from a design standpoint, but they kind of suck if you're not a tanky DPS yourself because there's not many counters to them.

Regardless, the point is to pick something that you want your champion to do. Once you know what you want them to specifically do, then you can worry about deciding about how they actually go about doing it.

Until you've stated what they specifically need to do, however, you simply don't have the information required to actually make a valid choice on how they'll do it yet.

Anyway, since we'll assume you now have something in particular you want to do... let's see how we can use this idea of doing things in different ways to spice it up a bit!
Part 3: Spicing it up by using old spices to breathe new life into it. No, I'm not getting paid by Old Spice™, I have no idea what you're talking about.

Alright, I'm really not, and they'd probably be upset at me for mentioning their name, but whatever. It's free advertising, so leave me alone legal department XD

Regardless, we want to make an ability better, more interesting, more novel... what do we do? Help us, Obi Wan Kenobi, you're our only hope!

Actually, that's kind of the point too. It's never your "only" hope, there's always more than one way to go about doing something. Sure, sometimes the consequences for doing it another way may be undesirable, but you always have a choice.

So here's the problem... choices, choices. You always have a choice, but we often ignore choices that are undesirable as if they didn't exist.

Let's start out with a demo ability.

We want our ability to do DAMAGE! WOO! GO DAMAGE!

Wait, how do we want it to do damage? I dunno. What's the purpose of the champion? Oh... they're supposed to kill towers... alright, I guess that's useful.

Well, how do we go about killing a tower then?

There's a few things to keep in mind. If you push with minions quickly, it'll be obvious and easy to counter, which is why Sivir became such a bad joke before her remake. Awesome split pusher, but all it took was one person to teleport over and she was pretty much useless.

Another thing to consider is that, if the tower is without enemy minions nearby, it gains extra armour and MR, making it harder to kill. Additionally, each time it attacks, it deals more and more damage.

If we're going to fight a tower while there's enemies nearby, then we'll want a ranged attack, since then you can poke it from safety, outside of enemy range, to a degree. Melee champions are great for butchering a tower that's alone, but we'll suggest that this champion focuses on tower killing even when the whole team is there, so we'll say she's ranged.

So, how do we want an ability to damage a tower that's beneficial to us?

We-ell... taking what we have covered already, there's a few key things we want to consider.

A skillshot is kind of silly since towers don't move, but we could have a slow moving skillshot that enemies could intercept to take damage from the tower instead dealing it to themselves. This adds some nice counterplay, and can mess with the positioning of their team.

Just dealing damage to a tower is kinda "meh" in and of itself, so perhaps it might be better if it didn't actually DAMAGE the tower, so much as it did something particularly harmful to the tower. Remember how towers gain damage each attack, and armour/MR when no enemies are near? How's about we make it so that when the ability hits, it reduces the armour/MR of a tower to that as if minions were nearby, making the ability far more effective for when backdooring or split pushing. This makes the ability of great strategic significance in the overall scheme of how your team will play the game as a whole.

Alright, now let's also use some inspiration from elsewhere; back in Warcraft 3, towering was really, really powerful. The only realistic way to kill towers, was either to shut down their ability to attack, or kill them from outside the tower's range.

Since insane range isn't that useful, nor fair, in a game like LoL, we can't use that, so let's see about harming it's attack.

We know it deals more damage per hit, so why not slow it's attack speed, similar to the Troll Batriders from The Frozen Throne expansion to Warcraft 3?

Lob a nice big explosive bundle of sticky glue or something equally nasty in a straight line. If it hits a tower, it's attack speed is reduced by 75% and it's armour/MR levels are reduced to half their current value until the caster leaves attack radius of the tower. If a player is hit, it deals damage and slows their movement and attack speeds for a few seconds.

Ta-da, we now have an ability that "does damage", and works great on towers in the situations which we'd want to use it against towers the most, despite that it doesn't actually do damage to the tower. Go figure!

The key here, is to isolate what it is you actually want to do. In the above example, we found out that, if enemy champions are huddled around a tower defending it, then by smacking the tower with some glue so that it's not a threat, it just turns into a normal fight, with the tower no longer a threat, and suddenly the other team only has a tiny advantage anymore, instead of a nice big tower to keep them safe at level 10.

"Damage" ended up being not damaging the tower itself, but being able to safely damage it, whether there are enemy champions defending it or not.

Now, this particular ability would be remarkably overpowered in LoL, as it'd be way too easy to push a lane with such at your side, and backdooring would be insanely powerful. As such, it'd probably need a complete overhaul, so let's not actually see any abilities that look like that one.

Still, the concept that you could do "damage" to a tower, without having your ability actually deal damage to the tower directly, works just fine! A little... too... fine... but yeah. You get the idea.

Overall, so long as you plot out what you want to do, and think about what the key problems you're trying to overcome are, you can make your abilities be more interesting by simply picking non-standard solutions to those problems.

If you want to kill a player in a duel, a la Fiora, then you'd probably want something more along the lines of Jax's parry, rather than Fiora's wannabe, for instance.

In the end, it all comes down to thinking carefully about what you're actually trying to do. Even "damage" isn't just "damage". It's trying to make the enemy die, and that can be done in far more interesting ways than just lowering their health. I think anyone who has ever gotten hit with a root or stun while they're running away from the entire enemy team can tell you just how deadly that one stun was, and more powerful than an equally strong damage spell in it's place would have been.

So are there times when you might not want to do things in a "new and exciting way"? Well... erm... after looking at that above example, I think we can safely say "yes". Yes, there are actually some things which are done a certain way for a reason.
Part 4: Too much of a good thing is roughly equivalent to eating two liters of icing without any cake to go with it. Don't ask me how I know this, just accept that there was a time when I felt very, very ill to my stomach after realizing I could just make icing without baking a cake to go with it. ...That kind of gave it away, didn't it?

Every once in awhile you have an awesome groundbreaking idea that no one has ever done before, and you're so excited about it!

And then... it slowly dawns on you, as you actually try to implement it, just exactly why no one else has ever done it before.

For example, a spell that weakens a tower to the point of being nearly pointless. Aaah, yeah, that... that wasn't so hot of an idea. Don't do that. It's a demo piece only!

Rather than call up images of the previous part of the article, let's take another one which people have been trying to ask for which they really shouldn't: a skillshot heal.

Wait, why would anyone ask for such a thing? This is what the people who actually play support play, since we're all acutely aware of how annoying it is to chase people down as it is with a heal with our slow movement speed and the carry's high mobility just lets them outrun us, only to walk into an ambush and die horribly, then demand to know why they weren't getting heals.

"Because you had the bright idea to run away from your healer rather than towards them."

But meh, that's a gripe for another time.

The point is, people have asked for a skillshot heal, simply because it's "different".

In a design perspective, you're not looking to do something different for the sake of doing something differently. You're looking to do something different because it's required to make your design actually work. If your design works fine with status quo style stuff, and is interesting on it's own without such? Go for it! You don't need to use "Zomg look shinies!" as a crutch. A good design will hold up on it's own without that.

Sometimes, however, you'll come up with an idea that just... won't work... without a change to how things are done. This was covered in a bit more detail in the creating new resources section, as such overlaps pretty heavily here, so I shall not repeat it again.

The problem with a skillshot heal is that it's not a good idea for a wide variety of reasons. Specifically, reasons which we'll discuss here.

First off, the purpose of a skillshot, in terms of fighting enemies, is to add gameplay to both teams. The casting player has to aim it, and the enemy player wants to avoid it. In the cast of an allied player getting a heal, however, they don't get any gameplay added by dodging the heal. In fact, the option to dodge the heal is what we call a "false choice", if you were to mosey down on this page to the Anti-patterns section.

The problem with this, is that if you give an ally the choice to dodge the heal... why would they ever NOT dodge the heal? There's plenty of reasons for the enemies to like this, as they now know where the player to be healed will be standing, as well as where to aim their own skillshots. That's kind of exactly what you don't want to be doing with a heal, namely putting your ally you're healing into a worse positioning placement then they were in originally.

On top of that, the majority of the advantages of a skillshot, which we covered earlier, are now irrelevant. What good is firing a skillshot blindly, if you can see your allies anyway, except for if Nocturne's in the game? An ability which is only useful against a single champion is kind of just bad design, and should really be avoided.

Toss in all sorts of other issues such as having to be overpowered to compensate, or how it'd be way more powerful to teams with voice chat such as Skype or Ventrillo, and nearly useless to a solo queue group, and you're looking at some serious balance and gameplay problems that can't be realistically fixed.

The fact of the matter is, every time you do something "different", you're risking a bunch of problems that others haven't already solved for you. It doesn't mean they can't be solved, but it does mean that you won't have those lovely precedents of previous people's work to show you the way to go. You're running blind, and have only yourself to guide you.

For some of us, who love puzzles? That's great! I love having challenges such as these, as they're some of the most fun I get in designing a champion concept!

For others... well, not everyone will have a thing for puzzles. Some people will just get frustrated without some sort of hint of a direction to turn towards.

As such, simply keep in mind that if you're doing something differently, you're playing in territory that you can't be helped with. Sometimes there's very good reason for why something hasn't been done a certain way before. Sometimes you can solve the problems, other times it's so messy that it's not worth the effort. Regardless, though, it's up to you to keep this in mind when working on your own designs.

Any time you're trying something that hasn't been done before, or at least to your knowledge, think very, very carefully about why not. If you want, even put a question up on the forum about it, or general discussion. Trust me, General Discussion LOVES to show off how much they know about a topic, and it's a great way to find out all sorts of information. I wouldn't be surprised if there are a few Riot personnel who post there under fake accounts to get ideas from time to time, without risking attention to themselves in the process.

Of course, then again, they also have supervisors and a full play testing team, so they have lots of other sources to ask as well, so maybe not.

Regardless, it's worth considering asking for a bit of help. It's difficult to see problems in our own designs, as I've said many a time before, and shall continue to say after this point as well. Get help on problems that are complex like this, especially when traversing the unknown. The more points of reference you have to work with, the better.

They might not be equally valuable, but there's always value in having you think more directly upon specific aspects of a problem. Even if the initial information wasn't of much use, the act of thinking over what they said could very well be the key you need to solving the puzzle, so ask for help! Second and third opinions are godsends in terms of design =3

Anyway, all I can really say past this point, is to be careful, and plan your steps carefully. You will make mistakes, when you venture into the unknown. Some of your ideas will dead-end without hope. Some of them will provide wondrous fruits, however, so keep trying!

Without leaving the shoreline, you'll never risk being forever lost at sea (to steal a quote from Despair.com ), but neither will you ever learn anything either.

Just don't be different for the sake of being different. Be different because you have reason to be, and you'll probably be fine ^.^

And with that, class is dismissed!

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Senior Member


Good morning! Class is in session, and we'll be looking into things to avoid today.

While the next section covers some rather broad generalized ideas of anti-patterns, there are some more specific instances that you should also take care to avoid. Since these were mostly listed previously, I'll just be breaking them down individually here.

As such, there's only one part to this, so get ready for the final stretch that's on it's way!
Part INFINITE: I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken. ~Probably very old, but my grandmother loves to say this.

- Not having a role, or not knowing what your champion is supposed to do

Now, I know I've been beating this into your head for the entire guide, but seriously, if you don't know what your champion design's supposed to do, then how can you really work on giving them the tools required to do so?

This doesn't just go for their role, in the terms of mechanical gameplay which is used to deal damage or tank or whatever, but it also happens to include their purpose personality-wise. What reason do they have to be added to the game that will draw players to their particular "style" and "feel", that other champions haven't already covered?

We have 101 champions in the game, as of this writing, with Zyra being the most recent release, so the question really does become... what do they bring to the table that no one else has yet?

Note that it's possible to mix and match purpose of personality, and purpose of mechanics to a degree, and that Tristana, though similar in overall role to Vayne at times, has significant differences in how she goes about those tasks. The personality's totally different, and the mechanics behind how they perform their given roles are considerably different as they do have somewhat different purposes in terms of a fight. "DPS" is "DPS", but Vayne's better at bringing down hard to kill targets, while Tristana's better for consistent, safe damage throughout a fight.

In any case, unless you know why your champion exists, you can't give them the tools to do either, so keep in mind you need to know these things!

- Being highly repetitive, with abilities being very similar to one another, in theme, purpose, or function, such as 5 water spells, with no real variation

This was one of the things that bothered me most about Zyra upon her release; she has nothing going for other than "IMMA PLANT LULZ!", in terms of her theme. Every single ability... plant plant plant. This one-dimensional construct is not really that appealing in a broader sense, and generally you want to ensure that you get a mixture of ideas being brought together in order to make a truly memorable character design.

If you want a character to stand out, to be noticed, and be interesting, you're going to simply have to give them more to work with than a single source of inspiration. A "water" champion where every single ability they have is a wave, or a splash of water, or some other such dealie, is not really that impressive in the slightest. Now, if you have something like the Tidehunter from DotA: Allstars, or Nautilus from LoL, you get the mixture of a few different sources, with one being a turtle shelled giant wielding an anchor, and the other being a... diving suit shelled giant wielding... an anchor. Well, at least compared to others in their respective games, they're unique.

Now, if the source material is a bit more varied in and of itself, such as Kitsune/Youkai lore, then you can get away with a champion design like Ahri, because she's got so much information to work with just off that alone.

The point is, however, that you want to ensure that your design has a few aspects to it. When you get down to just a single aspect which covers everything, it starts to feel repetitive and boring, which can quickly turn a player off when it feels like they're just playing "that generic plant champion". If they can't point out anything of interest to the champion, because everything's pretty much the same, "Vines, thorns and other plant stuff I guess", it just doesn't really work that great.

Word of mouth is a great way to get a design noticed, and if you can sum up your entire champion in one word, you've pretty much done it wrong. Sometimes people even ask you to do that: Sum up this individual in one word. If you can actually do it, and encompass everything about them, then it's a bland idea. Spice it up with a mixture of ideas, and it'll hold people's attention for much longer.

- Getting offended or upset, personally, when someone says something you did was a bad idea; sometimes it really is, and we can't objectively evaluate our own thoughts

Seriously, so often someone offers helpful advice, and the first answer they get back is "STFU".

Cut that **** out right now. Drop the attitude, or don't bother. If you want reviews, and you want to get better, then you're going to have to suck it up there, Nancy, and accept that sometimes you dun screwed up real good.

We all do, to be perfectly blunt. We make mistakes, we screw up, we do things that seemed like a great idea at the time, but after awhile, we look back and go "Oh... yeah..." and hang our heads in shame.

It's fine. Screwing up just means you have the potential to learn something new, because it states that there was something there you didn't understand originally, or you just missed something important. By making a mistake, you have the potential to become better.

If... you go "STFU" and refuse to even acknowledge that a mistake occurred, or try to pin the blame on someone else, then you're not going to get anywhere. Alright, so you blamed someone else, but did you actually fix the problem, or learn how to avoid it from happening again?

To be perfectly blunt, so long as you're pinning the blame elsewhere, you're not learning anything because you're not even considering the issue.

Now, that doesn't mean that it's always your fault, either. If you bring up points of contention with everything someone said, and argue the points they made, rather than arguing against the person saying it, then you may very well have legitimate cause for complaint. It may actually be that it turned out to be someone else's fault.

Even so, assume you're in the wrong first, and work from there. If someone else is at fault, there's not much you can do about it, other than state they were and explain why. If you're at fault, you can actively change your own mind, because it's awfully difficult to tell yourself to STFU, despite that I've known a few who are remarkably good at doing just that.

- Failing to compare your abilities, stats, or champion as a whole, against closely related champions already in the game (I highly recommend using LoLWiki for this; it's far more detailed and accurate than the official site, go figure)

Seriously, if you're making an ability or a champion that has even the slightest bit of relation to others in the game, which you are, because there's nothing that hasn't been at least partially done before, then you might want to look at previous attempts at doing such.

See what their strengths were, their downfalls, and what your design does differently. If you find that you've pretty much made a carbon copy of the previous design, you're simply going to have to go back to the drawing board at that point.

Even if, however, there's similarities but many differences as well, you're still going to need to compare the various designs. What makes yours special? What can you use from another design to enhance your own? Did they think of a problem that you overlooked and now need to address?

The fact of the matter is, you have to take everything into account, and if there's a perfectly good, valid resource sitting right there, you'd be foolish to not make use of it.

- Trying to change basic elements of the game without thinking about why they are that particular way. Seriously, break rules after you understand why they're there. If you're not sure, don't touch it.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's the standard phrase, isn't it?

Well, sometimes it might not be "broken", per se, but it doesn't mean it couldn't be improved upon. Horses weren't "broken", but cars are pretty much just universally "better" in 99% of situations.

Even after we had cars, though, aircraft still serve a useful purpose, and being able to go faster, longer, and safer, are all useful traits, even if the basic design works "good enough".

The point of the matter is, it's not bad to alter an idea, even a core foundation to the game. Having a champion that has no physical auto-attack can actually work... but only if done in the correct manner.

Before you start screwing with things like that, first you need to take into account just what it is you're screwing with. You need to understand the core concepts inside out before you try to alter them. Breaking these, even in a tiny way, will seriously screw up the game if you go about it the wrong way.

Rules aren't exactly there to be broken, so much as they're there to cover "in most situations, this is the best course of action". Keep in mind the phrasing of that... "in most situations...", which means that most of the time, you really don't want to screw with this, because most of the time it's a bad idea. That being said, there are always exceptions to every rule, and if you understand why a rule exists, you can then know when it fails to work properly, and can replace it.

Until you know what you're doing though, don't touch. It's another simple rule, though this one has startlingly few exceptions... if you're not sure why not to do something, don't do it until you do know why it's a bad idea.

- Getting carried away with synergy, or abilities that do "too much stuff". Once you start to understand how to build a champion through setting roles and required aspects, it's easy to fall into the trap of giving them way too much stuff. Be extra careful if you have more than 5 abilities total.

As has been covered before, it's easy to get carried away with synergy once you know how to do so. I went over this in detail back in the synergy section, as well as the leaving holes, flaws and gaps section. To be perfectly blunt, once you're good at knowing how to plan out a champion design, it's awfully easy to "do it all" by accident.

This is worse than even leaving holes by mistake, because at least then there's the remote possibility you'll do it right by accident. If you cover all your bases, without leaving a weak point, you're probably made something that's overpowered at a conceptual level, and no amount of tweaks and adjustments to the numbers will fix it.

Since this is covered heavily elsewhere, I'll leave it at that.

- Spamming out champion designs. This should be a labour of love, of dedication, and of quality. Nurture and fawn over your creations, revise and edit them, build them up to be truly grand and epic. Be willing to go back every month or three and check up on them, sometimes they haven't aged so well, and new stuff you've learned in that time needs to be updated into the design.

Alright, so you have a bunch of neat ideas. Good for you, skippy. The thing is, grab a piece of paper. No, seriously, go grab a piece of paper. Now scribble down in 15 seconds a picture of your character. That's right, you get 15 seconds to do it.

Now... do another picture of your character, but spend five minutes on it.

The difference is that, no matter how bad you may suck at drawing, you can simply put more thought, more detail, and more awesome into it if you have more time.

Too often we see people who will spam out a new design every day, or sometimes even more than one per day. Alright, maybe you have a basic concept there, but you don't really have a fully developed idea.

The more time and effort you put into something, the better it'll be.

It doesn't mean you should ditch the ideas, just scribble them down and lock them away in a folder of "to be worked on" concepts. I have a folder on my own computer which is sorted by the date of when an idea was made. Sometimes I'll just go back and work on an idea for a day or two, but it may not be finished. Other times, it may just need a bit more polish before it's ready to go.

Don't rush yourself. If you ever find yourself saying "I finished this design in 30 minutes", then you flat out didn't do **** all. The design sucks.

I don't care how awesome you think you are, but I can guarantee you that 30 minutes isn't even enough time to properly evaluate the ramifications of a single ability, let alone the whole concept in it's entirety.

If you dump quick, messy junk like this out, you're quite literally wasting everyone's time. Which would you rather have, anyway? The quality product that really shines, or the rush job that got shoved out the door ASAP without any workmanship put into it and breaks getting it out of the box?

Seriously, put some love into your designs, work with them, strive to have them reach perfection, or at least the closest you can attain. This shouldn't even be something I should have to tell you.

The more you work on something, the better it's potential can be. It doesn't mean it'll always be awesome, but it does mean that without the time and effort invested, it never will be.

- ESPECIALLY avoid anything that removes game play! Long duration, spammable stuns, or other abilities which remove the capacity for the opposing team to counter them are BAD. Double check to make sure that your abilities all have a realistic counter.

As has been stated a thousand times already in this guide, gameplay is built off having choices and options. If you have abilities or designs which restrict options to the point that there are no choices to be made, or so many watered down inconsequential choices that they may as well not be present, then you are failing to provide a game.

Once it becomes either "blatantly obvious because there's no other choice", or "so many choices that are equally worthless so why bother?", then you've just handed your player a TV show to watch play itself. If they wanted that, they'd be watching TV, not playing your game.

- Trying to "balance" a champion by giving it drawbacks. If the only reason your champion gives you a penalty, is because it's overpowered, then the penalty isn't going to fix that. You can design a champion centered around a penalty, such as abnormally low movement speed, but you truly need to take this into very careful consideration when making them.

To be perfectly blunt, this never works.


If something's overpowered, just piling on drawbacks to make it less powerful isn't fixing the problem that it's still overpowered.

Spells which shoot you in the face as well as your opponent aren't witty, they're generally just dumb. Now, if you have a champion who needs to be at low life, then draining them of their health may be a good idea. That's a design decision to give them the tools to get themselves to a certain state without help, however.

The main point is, however, that you can't balance something that's too strong by making it harm the player. It's still too strong. The way you need to balance it, is to simply make it so that it's not too strong anymore.

I know, such a strange concept, isn't it? If something's too powerful, you make it weaker. Zoh. Mah. Gaw. It's some newfangled contraptionathingie!

No, no it's common sense. If it's overpowered, make it so that it's not overpowered, rather than trying to compensate for the fact that it's overpowered. Either you'll fail to make an adequate dent, leaving it still OP, or you'll backfire so hard that it won't be worth using. In neither case is this a good idea.

- Luck. Just in general. In a game like this, winning a fight should be due, as much as possible, to the skill of the players involved, and not just a toss of the coin. If your champion relies heavily on luck, you're almost guaranteed going to need to do a massive overhaul.

Seriously, this is a pretty big one. If your champion isn't skill based, it's frustrating, as an enemy could simply outplay you and still lose, while you could play well and fail just as hard.

Every time you add unreliability to a champion, you have to overcompensate in return. If it's random, it has to be random with the potential to be far stronger than it should be to deal with the fact that it may not have happened.

The end result is that it it'll end up being too powerful when it works, to make up for the fact that it may not work at all, or work less than ideally. Every time you add unreliability, especially luck based unreliability, it ends up being impossible to balance the fun factor against the strength. The only time it'll be "fun", is when the strength outweighs the unreliability, and at that point, it's already too powerful.

As such, you're simply better off avoiding luck based concepts entirely. They can't be made both fun and normal for power at the same time. One is always out of whack, because there can't be a happy medium.

- Poor user interface. FFXI had this issue, where you fought the interface more than the actual enemies themselves. Don't make an invoker style champion which is a pain to control and use. If it takes more than 2 buttons or clicks to use a spell, you've done something terribly, terribly wrong.

"But I don't make the interface!"

What's that? You don't? But don't you determine how your abilities cast and target? Don't you determine how your new resource bar you added looks? Don't you determine how that spell that does something no one's ever done before is aimed? Don't you determine how many button presses it takes to cast your spells?

Yeah, you have a lot of control over your interface still, and if you do something "unique", you also have to ensure it's easy to access, be it ease of telling when it's ready to cast, or ease of actually casting it once it's ready.

Regardless of what you do, you need to control your champion's interface. Without control over the champion you're playing, how is the game any fun? If you have limited direct control over whether you live or die, due to heavy lag, is it ever fun? Not really, no. So, too, does this apply to abilities that require typing in passwords to cast their spells, essentially.

No matter how complex your champion may be, they still have to be clear and obvious as to how they're supposed to work, just as they have to be responsive to your player's input.

If neither of these is true, you're probably going to have to either do a massive overhaul, or scrap everything and start over, likely.

- Putting limitations on an ultimate for when it can be used. I don't mean a cooldown, but things like "can only be used at under 50% health" and such. An ultimate is designed to be a powerful tool, used at just the right moment. If you are forbidden from casting during that moment, you've completely missed the point of having an ultimate in the first place.

An ultimate is the ultimate form of "clutch play", usually. You use them at the perfect moment for the perfect effect which will hopefully alter the team fight that's going on.

If, however, you restrict a player from casting their ultimate, despite that it's not on cooldown... well... you have a problem then. Mana's a relatively minor issue since you can prepare for using your ultimate quite a bit in advance, and plan to always have enough mana to cast it, so no big deal.

For things like Fury, which isn't always available at the start of a fight, or abilities which enhance the effectiveness of your ultimate... well, let's just say that if your ultimate is disappointing because it wasn't used at that clutch moment because you decided to hold back because it'd be 30% weaker, or you did cast it and it just felt lackluster because a buff wasn't on an enemy champion... well, it's just disappointing, as stated.

Your ultimate should be a key, pivotal concept, if it has a long cooldown. Blowing a 2 minute cooldown should be a big deal, and if it wasn't at full power due to some random disadvantage for it, it's probably a poorly designed one.

If it's a short, rapid cooldown ultimate, it's not nearly as big of a deal, however. As such, since Darius's ultimate can refresh cooldown, and Diana's ultimate is very short in cooldown, it's not that big a deal.

Even so, be cautious; an ultimate is the one time you can have a big huge cooldown for those awesome clutch plays. You generally want to avoid making them short cooldown if you can help it.

- Scaling damage off defensive stats, or vice versa. This makes it hard to control the power level of the champion, and will invariably lead to them being nerfed into the ground, such as Evelynn, pre-remake Jax, and Vlad.

The fact of the matter is, by having offensive power which scales defensively as well, you get too much of a good thing. In Ryze and Ahri's cases, they get a great deal of killing power, for builds that are remarkably hard to kill in turn. This has led to them being far stronger than they otherwise really should be, and makes them a pain to balance properly.

This doesn't just go for the obvious ones, like Vladimir, who gets health by getting AP, but rather, it also includes designs where you feed them so much damage for free, that they have no reason to build damage and just go tanky, leading to the "nerf Irelia" meme.

Seriously, if you get to the point that a champion is just getting nerfed over and over and over, it's usually because they're able to do too much damage by being too tanky in the process. If you have abilities which actively give you one for the other, such as damage based on health, or health based on damage, then you're honestly just making your job of balancing them that much harder, because one or the other is always going to be forced to be subpar and unsatisfying.

This is pretty much the opposite of the issue that "random chance abilities" have, in that it's always underpowered because to be satisfying, it's overpowered.

Avoid this at all costs, as it's not worth it. If it's balanced, it's "meh", if it's fun, it's OP. Don't walk into this trap intentionally, and especially don't go thinking you can defeat it because you're somehow "better" at it than everyone else. The fact of the matter is, no design yet has managed to pull it off so that it's both fun and balanced, so long as they gain defenses from damage or vice versa, and the only solution which has ever fixed it is to remake the champion and remove the problem entirely, because it can't be solved.

Some champions still have this in their designs, such as Volibear, Sejuani and Vladimir. You may notice that they're all, universally, in disfavour right now. If they're balanced for play, they're boring. If they're fun, they're unbalanced for play and have to be nerfed. Don't let this happen to you.

- Purely passive abilities. Even Vayne and Cho'gath interact with how their "passive" abilities work, and can use them in an actual fight intentionally.

Your abilities are there for the sake of making your champion interesting. if you don't even get to interact with them though, why bother?

I've covered this both in the active abilities section, as well as the passive abilities section, so I'm not going over this in detail again.

Flat out, you're here to make a game. A game is meant to be played. If you have not interaction with an ability, then you're not playing a game, you're watching it play itself. Go watch TV if you want that kind of interactivity level.

- Following everything someone else said without question. Critics are just that, and nothing more. We review each other's stuff by presenting our own ideas and opinions on such. We can be wrong. We can misunderstand. We can simply not see what the original designer had in mind. More than anything else, take control of your design, and change it how you see fit. Suggestions are only that; if you agree, then go ahead, but if you don't, and find the explanation doesn't satisfy you... try asking them directly about it. Never just follow every single thing someone tells you without thinking.

If you learn nothing else from this entire guide, learn this.

Your design is your design. It's yours to control, and you are not to follow blindly what other people say.

You know what you want your design to do. You know what you enjoy to play. You know what you want. Everyone else, even me? We're just guessing at what you want based off what you've said, and we can be wrong.

It doesn't mean we're always wrong, and often it's well worth listening to another's advice, but keep in mind that they can be wrong and that you have to carefully evaluate everything which is said to you for merit. Don't blindly follow someone else's opinion simply because they gave it to you.

Make your own decisions, your own choices, and make your own champion design. Nothing else matters, in that way. If you listen to everyone else, word for word, then it's not even your design anymore. It's theirs.

Take their advisements under consideration, think about what they've said, but always hold true to your own goals and values above theirs.

In the end, if you make something that isn't even yours anymore, or which you don't care about any longer, it was a failed project, no matter how successful it may become in terms of money.

Never sacrifice your integrity. No amount of money or cheering fans in the world can buy it back.

With that, class is dismissed. Good luck in your future endeavours.

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Senior Member


Alright boys and girls, and anyone else who doesn't qualify under the former categories...

Today we have a special guest speaker: Tom "Zileas" Cadwell.

Or well, kind of.

Mostly, he just made a list awhile ago about "anti-patterns", which are essentially things which are bad ideas in game design, and shouldn't be done. He went over a bunch briefly, but since that time, there's been a lot of misinterpretation and such.

As such, I've decided to put a section in here which goes over the entire list, a piece at a time, and break it down further, with my own commentary to go with it. This will be to expand upon what he's said, or to clarify issues that I've seen people get hung up on.

There's no breakdown for what this will be done as today, and the post under this one is a continuation as there's an awful lot of material to go through today, so keep reading after this post is finished!

Now then, let's get started!
Part INFINITE: That's it, you're going on... "THE LIST".

You may notice, reading through this, that some of it is covered elsewhere in the guide. That doesn't mean you get to skim over it, though! What that means is that I feel it's important enough to stress repeatedly, so you should be taking notes on these parts especially!

Zileas]Power Without Gameplay
This is when we give a big benefit in a way that players don't find satisfying or don't notice. The classic example of this is team benefit Auras. In general, other players don't value the aura you give them very much, and you don't value it much either -- even though auras can win games. As a REALLY general example, I would say that players value a +50 armor aura only about twice as much as a +10 armor aura... Even though +50 is 5x better. Another example would be comparing a +10 damage aura to a skill that every 10 seconds gives flaming weapons that make +30 damage to all teammates next attack (with fire and explosions!). I am pretty sure that most players are WAY more excited about the fiery weapons buff, even though the strength is lower overall.

The problem with using a "

Auras aren't the only ones on the list here, as Trundle's quite good at demonstrating to us.

The problem here, is that if you have a benefit which is "powerful", but doesn't really feel "fun", then it really hurts the player's ability to enjoy themselves. You can't buff the ability to make it feel stronger, and you can't leave it as is.

So what are these dreaded "power without gameplay" concepts?

There's a lot of them out there, but some of the worst ones are those which affect multiple targets, since you have to divide the power of an ability between everyone affected.

AoE spell damage isn't that bad since there are counters to such, like positioning, where it's unlikely you'll hit more than 2 people in most situations with a good team, since they'll know to avoid such.

In contrast, an aura effect can cover an entire team, making it very potent, even without careful positioning, hence why it's so remarkably powerful in comparison to a simple AoE damage spell.

Another particularly bad case of "power without gameplay" would be abilities which have a ton of effects. If your ability, for example, were to reduce the target's magic resistance, armour, AD *AND* AP, then all of these have to be weakened in effectiveness to prevent them from becoming overpowered. This quickly means that, although the ability may be very potent as it harms both the capacity of the enemy to output damage or survive getting hit, if these effects are all only about 15-20% in strength, it just won't seem that impressive, especially if you can't make full use of any one of them.

Note that, as we've covered previously, that the entire champion's design has to be accounted for, that it's possible to make abilities which are ineffectual, even though their power may be considerably good.

For an example, let's say you have a full on AD champion, with 100% physical damage output. Now, we give that champion a magic resistance shred. Sure, the shred may be powerful, but it'll feel "meh" to the casting player. If we make it even worse by having it drain the MR from the enemy, and give it to the player, now you have to remove even the MR it steals. If you really want to be asinine about it, you could then even have it also affect multiple enemies, meaning you'd have to have the effect be remarkably pathetic; maybe 5% MR drain per target, to the point that it's not even noticeable on the offensive side of things, and if the enemies aren't stacking MR, it's not even of that much obvious benefit to the caster, either.

Trundle's ultimate is a pretty good example of theft-style abilities gone horribly wrong, and it's a large part of why there aren't very many "drain" type abilities in the game; it always means they affect twice as many champions as normal abilities would, so have to be about half as powerful as a regular ability to compensate.

The short point, however, is that it just doesn't "feel" strong, because the effects aren't overly visible.

Abilities which don't affect mana or health bars, or don't completely lock down a champion, are also notorious for such.

Take a look at Sona's capacity to reduce an enemy champion's damage by 20% for 4 seconds straight. That's a pretty hefty nerf to a burst mage who will be severely weakened due to such, since they absolutely need to burst a target into the ground on their first spell rotation, since they probably won't be able to do a second, either due to cooldowns, or just being so squishy they may not live long enough to try again.

Regardless, the problem is the ability is a tiny graphic, it's not really a noticeable chunk of damage since it's only 20%, and it's overall kind of just not that impressive, despite that it can very well be the difference between winning or losing a team fight by making their carry not much of a carry at all.

Whatever you do, try to keep your abilities big, flashy, and obvious as to their effect. If your effect doesn't stand out as being amazing when used appropriately, then you might want to step back and reevaluate if there's any way to make the ability at the very least more flashy with the graphics or sound effects.

Note that this implies you need to also give descriptions for how your spells affect a target graphically. Most of the champions on this forum don't have such (not even all of mine! ), and it can really harm the "feel" of how awesome a champion design really is.

For an example, I'll actually use a D&D game I played awhile back with a few people on the forum here: I had a little mage, moderately low level, and she was a fire/illusion specialist. Despite only just using a standard typical fireball, I used an illusion to make it look like Kossuth, the god of fire, had made a personal appearance and towered over the city, lobbing a massive blast at the temple which was getting torched.

The effect was that it gave a real "ZOMG WTFBBQ" moment that really stands out in one's mind for months after the fact, because it was just an epic cast that involved taking a few turns to set up contingent explosive effects and such using other spells chained together and timed so they'd all go off at roughly the same time.

Was it powerful? Fairly so, but not that special, other than the max damage roll that went with it (8d6 and actually nailing all 8 of them as 6's was just blind luck, but it would've been awesome anyway!), but the concept behind seeing the visual build up towards such, the god rising up and reaching into the sky to grab a meteor to lob at the offending target is where the fun came from.

Your own abilities shouldn't always look so "epic", as it can really slow down the game for people with poor video cards, and particle effects which blot out the action so that you can't tell what's going on through just an endless mass of explosions, just don't work so well. Even so, you want your spells to be visually distinctive and obvious that they've been cast.

The end point, is if your abilities don't "feel" powerful, it doesn't honestly matter how strong they "really" are.
Burden of Knowledge
This is a VERY common pattern amongst hardcore novice game designers. This pattern is when you do a complex mechanic that creates gameplay -- ONLY IF the victim understands what is going on. Rupture is a great example -- with Rupture in DOTA, you receive a DOT that triggers if you, the victim, choose to move. However, you have no way of knowing this is happening unless someone tells you or unless you read up on it online... So the initial response is extreme frustration. We believe that giving the victim counter gameplay is VERY fun -- but that we should not place a 'burden of knowledge' on them figuring out what that gameplay might be. That's why we like Dark Binding and Black Shield (both of which have bait and/or 'dodge' counter gameplay that is VERY obvious), but not Rupture, which is not obvious.

In a sense, ALL abilities have some burden of knowledge, but some have _a lot more_ -- the ones that force the opponent to know about a specific interaction to 'enjoy' the gameplay have it worst.

Good particle work and sound -- good 'salesmanship' -- will reduce burden of knowledge (but not eliminate it). We still would not do Rupture as is in LoL ever, but I would say that the HON version of Rupture, with it's really distinct sound effect when you move, greatly reduces the burden of knowledge on it.

In summary, all mechanics have some burden of knowledge, and as game designers, we seek to design skills in a way that gives us a lot of gameplay, for not too much burden of knowledge. If we get a lot more gameplay from something, we are willing to take on more burden of knowledge -- but for a given mechanic, we want to have as little burden of knowledge as possible.

While some people still contend that it's perfectly fine to have abilities that are "burden of knowledge" on the player, to be perfectly honest, it just doesn't work when you want to make a profit, nor should it.

Your #1 concern when making a game, is that it's fun. If it's not fun, why would anyone pay for it? This is stressed even more when working with free-to-play models, since players can't just "accidentally buy it" and regret it afterward as easily.

In the case of "burden of knowledge", you're basically saying that the game's only fun for players that have been playing for awhile. This tends to mean that many players who are new to the game will just be left with an endless feeling of frustration, and often give up, meaning no profit, meaning no paycheque, meaning your game disappears when it can't sustain itself long term.

There's a continual depletion of players from any game, no matter how good it is; real life gets in the way pretty often, as do other games, personal tastes, S/O's demanding "It's the game or me", all that kind of stuff. No matter how awesome your game is, people simply are going to stop playing it.

As such, you flat out absolutely need to resupply your lost players with a continual stream of new players, so no matter how much you may be elitist and think "screw the stupid noobs", the fact of the matter is that you NEED those newbie players.

To this end, your designs have to be clean cut and streamlined; ie - obvious.

The idea is this: so long as a player feels they had a degree of control over the outcome, then they won't mind so much. It's a lot easier to go "Well boo, I should've dodged that skillshot...", than it is to deal with "WTF JUST HAPPENED!?".

Take a look at Caitlyn's Ace in the Hole. It's a nice long, obvious straight line laser sight that tracks you as you move, giving you the thought that, you know, if I put someone else between me and her, maybe it won't hit me.

I recently (read: about two months ago XD ) watched a video review someone made about the Mega Man X series, and they went on a rather long tirade about games with painfully obvious tutorials. The gripe they had was stuff like "Press A to attack", or "Jump to avoid the enemy".

In their argument, they pretty much just went on about how Mega Man X didn't have this, instead you're just thrown into combat first thing, and things like enemies fly at you along the ground, and you quickly decide to mash buttons, and learn pretty quickly how to avoid these.

Now, this is admittedly a bit of a "trial by fire" still, in that you learn the hard way by getting hit that it's not a good idea to get hit in the first place. Ideally, you actually want your abilities to be clean and obvious enough that it should be instinctive to know to not stand in the fire, or to dodge out of the way of the giant boulder rolling towards your character.

Is there some burden of knowledge? Sure. One has to assume that the player knows that getting crushed by a boulder is probably painful, or that fire is hot, so there's no way to 100% remove burden of knowledge, but you can make the visual and audio cues obvious enough to the point that the player knows what they're "supposed" to do.

One of the worst feelings when playing a game that you can get, is being completely unsure about what you're supposed to be doing. Some novice designers honestly feel that a poor interface, confusing directions, and so on make a game "harder".

To be perfectly blunt, this is considered to be "fake difficulty", in that the game's not actually hard; the only thing that's hard about it is the controls suck so badly that you can't do what you're supposed to do because you either can't figure out what you're supposed to do in the first place to win, or if you do know, the controls are so unresponsive that they absolutely fail to work as intended.

Two glaring obvious examples of this stand out: Final Fantasy XI, and Starscape. In the former, you spent most of the game fighting the interface, more than the monsters. It was often touted as being "harder" than World of Warcraft, but to be blunt, the only thing "hard" about it was that the interface sucked. Starscape had the problem of highly unresponsive controls but boss battles which required fine tuned controls to avoid their attacks, which led to "fake" difficulty once again. If one could have moved their ship where they wanted, it wouldn't have been hard at all.

The point here, is that if you are "faking" difficulty by not telling your player what they're supposed to do, or artificially restricting them doing what they know they're supposed to do, then you're not doing your job properly.

The concept of "burden of proof" is lumped in there with "not telling the player what they're supposed to do". If you enjoy that kind of thing, go play E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, on the Atari.

Oh wait, you can', because they BURIED THE COPIES IN A LANDFILL. That's right, it was a game that was so publicly shamed for being bad, that they actually recalled the game and literally dug a big hole and dumped all the copies they could find into it.

The problem? There's absolutely no intuitive explanation about what you're supposed to do, and sometimes you'll just randomly flop over dead for no apparent reason, among other things.

The short of it is, if you have to leave the game to go figure out what you're supposed to be doing, by reading a guide or some other method, then you're not actually playing the game, and hence, there's no actual gameplay taking place.

Try to keep your abilities as intuitive as possible. Your end goal is to make the difficulty be based off the act of combating someone else who is just as good as they are, or better than them. If the difficulty revolves more so around burden of knowledge, interface or control issues, then you really haven't done your job properly.
Zileas]Unclear Optimization
This is a more subtle one. when players KNOW they've used a spell optimally, they feel really good. An example is disintegrate on Annie. When you kill a target and get the mana back, you know that you used it optimally, and this makes the game more fun. On the other hand, some mechanics are so convoluted, or have so many contrary effects, that it is not possible to 'off the cuff' analyze if you played optimally, so you tend not to be satisfied. A good example of this is Proudmoore's ult in DOTA where he drops a ship. The ship hits the target a bit in the future, dealing a bunch of damage and some stun to enemies. Allies on the other hand get damage resistance and bonus move speed, but damage mitigated comes up later. Very complicated! And almost impossible to know if you have used it optimally -- do you really want your squishies getting into the AOE? Maybe! Maybe not... It's really hard to know that you've used this skill optimally and feel that you made a 'clutch' play, because it's so hard to tell, and there are so many considerations you have to make. On the other hand, with Ashe's skill shot, if you hit the guy who was weak and running, you know you did it right... You also know you did it right if you slowed their entire team... Ditto on Ezreal's skill shot.

Annie may not have been such a good example, considering if she uses Disintegrate on a minion, and stuns it, but gets the mana back, she got mana, but wasted the stun.

Still, the concept is sound, in that you want your abilities to be very obvious that the player used it in the right way at the right time.

There are... exceptions to this rule, as there are to all rules. So long as the gameplay gained is greater than the potential frustration by picking to use an ability in the wrong manner, it can be worth it.

Consider something like Lulu's double-abilities, or Sona's Power Chord passive
Use Pattern Mis-matches Surrounding Gameplay
I won't go into too much detail on this, but the simple example is giving a melee DPS ability to a ranged DPS character -- the use pattern on that is to force move to melee, then use. This does not feel good, and should be avoided. I'm sure you are all thinking -- but WoW mages are ranged, and they have all these melee abilities! Well... Frost Nova is an escape, and the various AEs are fit around a _comprehensive_ different mage playstyle that no longer is truly 'ranged' and is mechanically supported across the board by Blizzard -- so the rules don't apply there ;p

Shame you didn't go into too much detail on it, because that means I have to now ^.~

In any case, the basic idea is that you generally want to make your champions internally consistent, as in all of their stuff makes sense in comparison to their other abilities.

The more layman's version of that, is that if you have a champion design which is intended to be used primarily at range (let's say... the WoW Hunter class), then giving them melee abilities for damage (Oh raptor strike...) is a bad idea (and why raptor strike was removed from the game), because it confuses the player as to what they're supposed to do.

Now, giving a champion something like say... a way to get into range that can only be used in melee, such as an ability that would root any enemies in melee range and leap your champion backwards, out of range, would be fine, as you're emphasizing that they're supposed to be ranged.

Also, by now, a few of you probably have your hands up and are swinging them wildly like you have to go to the washroom.

Yes, this quote of Zileas was made before Graves was even in production; it's actually quite an old quote. Yes, Graves is ranged, and yes, he has a melee ability.

The difference is, he's a bit of a strange hybrid, in that he's essentially a melee champion when it comes to his burst, but he's ranged for his sustained damage output. The reason he gets away with this, is that if he dashes into melee and unloads his buckshot in your face, you're supposed to be dead or running away at that point, instead of shooting him back. He also specifically has a dash to let him get into melee to do that hard burst in the first place.

It's a risk versus reward decision, where the player has to consider that, if the enemy doesn't back off or die, then they're stuck in melee, without any more burst, and without an escape mechanic anymore. This means you, as the player, have to assess whether the target is properly weakened enough to burst down immediately or not.

This is internally consistent with Graves' play style, in that his sustained damage is ranged, but his only reason to go into melee range is when he thinks he can get a kill before he's penalized for doing so.

Personally, I don't like Graves for other reasons, but his buckshot ability is well designed for how to put a melee ability on a ranged champion.

So long as you think through how exactly your abilities are meant to be used, it's not that bad a problem; as I said, internal consistency. You want your abilities within a champion's design to all lead towards a common goal or purpose, or at least a small number of such goals. If you gave someone like Ashe an ability like that of Nidalee's swipe, it'd be terrible on her, since she has no reason for ever letting an enemy get that close to her in the first place, due to the fact that her entire kit is based around keeping an enemy at long range as she plinks away at them with frost arrows. It may work as a farming ability, but really, if there's one thing Ashe doesn't lack for, it's farming, so really, it's just really a bad idea on her.

As with everything I've ever covered with you people, the end point is always the same: think things through. Make your designs with intent and purpose, where you add something for a carefully constructed reason, rather than just because "it seemed like a good idea at the time".

All rules can be broken, so long as you have a good reason to do so.

And no, "because I thought it'd be cool" is not classified as a "good reason to do so".


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Anti-patterns part 2, picking up from where we left off!

Zileas]Fun Fails to Exceed Anti-Fun
Anti-fun is the negative experience your opponents feel when you do something that prevents them from 'playing their game' or doing activities they consider fun. While everything useful you can do as a player is likely to cause SOME anti-fun in your opponents, it only becomes a design issue when the 'anti-fun' created on your use of a mechanic is greater than your fun in using the mechanic. Dark Binding is VERY favorable on this measurement, because opponents get clutch dodges just like you get clutch hits, so it might actually create fun on both sides, instead of fun on one and weak anti-fun on another. On the other hand, a strong mana burn is NOT desirable -- if you drain someone to 0 you feel kinda good, and they feel TERRIBLE -- so the anti-fun is exceeded by the fun. This is important because the goal of the game is for players to have fun, so designers should seek abilities that result in a net increase of fun in the game. Basic design theory, yes?[/QUOTE]
I love and hate this quote... I love how good it is, and hate how many people have butchered it by misunderstanding the concept behind it. "
Conflicted Purpose
This one is not a super strong anti-pattern, but sometimes it's there. A good example of this would be a 500 damage nuke that slows enemy attack speed by 50% for 10 seconds (as opposed to say, 20%), on a 20 second cooldown. At 50%, this is a strong combat initiation disable... but at 500 damage it's a great finisher on someone who is running... but you also want to use it early to get the disable -- even though you won't have it avail by the end of combat usually to finish. This makes players queasy about using the ability much like in the optimization case, but it's a slightly different problem. If the ability exists for too many different purposes on an explicit basis, it becomes confusing. this is different from something like blink which can be used for many purposes, but has a clear basic purpose -- in that place, players tend to just feel creative instead.

Technically, conflicted purpose isn't necessarily even a bad thing, as it can force a player to make a decision. Decisions are, after all, what makes the game go 'round.

The problem comes in when you get something which is so horribly conflicted that you're not even sure what you're supposed to do with it.

It's hard to really nail down something like this for an example, because it's very much so a sliding scale of severity, and there's no real one spot where it suddenly becomes "too strong of a dichotomy", as it's a personal preference on individual players.

For the most part though, I'll generally point towards the advice I give on abilities which have multiple uses... try to stick to their multiple uses being similar in overall effect, but differing in specific mechanics as to how they apply that effect.

In Lulu's Whimsey, as a prime example, she removes an enemy's ability to attack and cast spells, and slows their capacity to run away if cast on an enemy, or she gives an ally additional speed and firepower.

The trick here, is that both benefits can be used offensively and defensively, but at different times. If an ally already has a slowing effect (Ashe, we'll say, or someone with a Frozen Mallet), then using Whimsey on your ally is preferable, so long as the enemy can't lock them down. If the enemy has a strong CC and could escape in the time it gives them, such as Ahri, it may be better to Whimsey on the enemy instead.

If your ally is running away from a single target, Whimsey on the enemy can lock them down better than speeding your ally up, but if there's a number of enemies all in line up to kill them, it may be better simply to hasten your ally out of there when shutting down a single enemy wouldn't be useful enough.

It all comes down to keeping your choices to making sense.

The high damage nuke with a slow is just confusing in that the two abilities are never used for the same purpose, really. What would make it even more confusing, is if the 500 damage nuke only did 500 damage if it would kill an enemy, but otherwise would do 0 damage. This would mean that it'd be strictly used for finishing enemies off damage-wise, and would leave the ability completely at disparity with itself to the point that it's not really so much of a decision to be made in the implementation of how to use the ability, as it is that it should have just been two separate abilities from the start.
This one is bad. This is essentially when one ability you have diminishes the effectiveness of another in a frustrating manner. Some examples:
- Giving a character a 'break-on-damage' CC with a DOT (yes, warlocks have this, but they tuned it to make it not anti-combo much at all)
- With Warriors in WoW -- they need to get rage by taking damage so that they can use abilities and gain threat -- but parry and dodge, which are key to staying alive, make them lose out on critical early fight rage. So, by gearing as a better tank, you become a worse tank in another dimension -- anti combo!
- With old warrior talent trees in WoW, revenge would give you a stun -- but stunned enemies cannot hit you and cause rage gain... So this talent actually reduced your tanking capability a lot in some sense! Anti-combo![/QUOTE]
I used to play a top-of-server tank on WoW back in the day... I can vouch for the stupidity of this design XD

As can I vouch for how bad warlocks were in WoW as well at one point.

The point is, you want to avoid a champion design where they counter themselves. The WoW warrior meant you needed more gear to survive getting attacked, but getting attacked meant you got rage with which to force enemies to attack you in the first place. It got to a point that, if you got really good top end raiding gear, you'd be easily able to take hits from a raid boss, but against non-raid quality stuff, you'd be unable to hold threat at all.

This often led to the case of really well geared warrior tanks running around half-naked because their gear was too powerful and they couldn't play with their lesser geared friends.

The warlock dealie was that they did damage over time, so they needed a CC effect to let them live long enough to benefit from their slow-acting damage output, so they got a fear. The fear, however, broke on damage, causing the enemy to snap out of it instantly.

Cat form on druids was especially bad for that, having a combo finisher which would prevent enemies from doing anything until they took damage... except virtually every ability that gave combo points to use that finisher in the first place, were bleed effects which would almost instantly break that CC.

The same concept applies to your own champion
False Choice -- Deceptive Wrong Choice
This is when you present the player with one or more choices that appear to be valid, but one of the choices is just flat wrong. An example of this is an ability we had in early stages recently. It was a wall like Karthus' wall, but if you ran into it, it did damage to you, and then knocked you towards the caster. In almost every case, this is a false choice -- because you just shoudln't go there ever. If it was possible for the character to do a knockback to send you into the wall, it wouldn't be as bad. Anyhow, there's no reason to give players a choice that is just plain bad -- the Tomb of Horrors (original module) is defined by false choices -- like the room with three treasure chests, all of which have no treasure and lethal traps.

False Choice -- Ineffective Choice
Similar to above, except when you give what appears to be an interesting choice that is then completely unrewarding, or ineffective at the promised action. An older version of Swain's lazer bird had this failing... Because the slow was so large, you could never run away in time to de-leash and break the spell and reduce damage, and in cases you did, you'd just dodge 20% of the damage at a big cost of movement and DPS -- so running was just an ineffective choice.

I'm lumping these two together for the primary purpose that they both lead to the same ends through a similar means, so it's easier to just talk about them together.

The thing is, the game's all about choices. Without choices, there is no game. In fact, the really weird part, is you can't even make a choice exist! They already exist, before you even make an ability! Go back to the first page to "choices" and you'll see what I mean, here.

What's important, though, is that the players must feel like their choices affect the outcome of the game. If you "trick" the player into making the wrong choice, and there's no way they could have known otherwise, then you're just being a jerk by pretending they ever stood a chance in the first place.

The choice should be difficult because they have two equally valid choices, or because they're able to reason out why one choice is better than another.

The choice should NOT be difficult simply because all signs point to the wrong answer, or that neither choice is valid.

In the end, your job is to ensure that the player has the option to make a choice, and for that choice to have the potential to be effective or not, based on the situation.

If the player ever feels like their choices don't matter, then they'll simply stop playing, and that means no more money, which means no paycheque for you, and no job for you from now on once other people you try to apply for go "Oh yeah, that game... I HATED that game... and you're the one responsible? Mmmm no."
Zileas]Or We Could **** the Player!!1111oneoneone
This is where you straight up screw over the player, usually with dramatic flair, or maybe just try to make the player feel crappy in a way that isn't contributing to the fun of the game. These range in severity, but examples usually are spawned because the designer is a pretentious wanker who likes to show what a smart dude he is and how stupid the player is. I do not respect designers who engage in this pattern intentionally, and encourage any design lead out there to immediately fire any of your staff that does. I do understand that it can happen inadvertently, and that you might cause some of this stress on purpose in an RPG for character development.. And of course, I love you WoW team despite the 'playing vs' experience of Rogue and Warlock, as you DO have the best classes of any MMO, and they look even better in Cataclysm.... But, on Bayonetta, did the developers really think the stone award was a good idea? But I digress...

Very Severe: The original tomb of horrors D&

This is just bad form, because you control the strings and you hold the power. As such, "screwing the player over" isn't very hard. It's actually pretty simple to design a puzzle that can't be solved, or a game that can't be beaten.

Done tastefully, it's not even that bad a thing, but considering how easy it is to screw it up, and the massively bad ramifications for doing so, compared to the pitiful reward for getting it right, I'm just going to flat out say don't even bother trying. The risk vs reward flat out isn't worth it, no matter how skilled you think you are, and it's going to piss the player off either way.

The end point, is that you should not be making a game for the sake of a power trip or your own amusement at watching others suffer. The point of a game is to have fun, and if you're going out of your way to prevent a player from having fun for your own perverse pleasure, you shouldn't be having anything to do with game design in the first place.

There's really no further discussion to make on this point. I don't normally do "zero-tolerance policies" because they almost invariably backfire, but this is one of the few out there I won't budge on. You make a game for the sake of having fun. If you're not here to make a fun game, get out.
Skills are tools. Players count on them to do a job. When a skill is highly unreliable, we have to overpower it to make it 'satisfying enough'. Let me give you an example: Let's say Kayle's targeted invulnerability ult had a 95% chance of working, and a 5% chance of doing nothing when cast. We'd have to make it a LOT stronger to make it 'good enough' because you could not rely upon it... and it would be a lot less fun. Random abilities have this problem on reliability -- they tend to be a lot less satisfying, so you have to overpower them a lot more. Small amounts of randomness can add excitement and drama, but it has a lot of downsides. There are other examples of non-reliability, but randomness is the most obvious one. Abilities that require peculiar situations to do their jobs tend to run into the same problems, such as Tryndamere's shout that only slows when targets are facing away from him.

This is honestly to be dropped in with the previous comments in this "Anti-patterns" section about fighting your interface and fighting your controls. If you can't control your champion, and it's left up to chance or other mechanics outside of your control, then it's honestly not very fun for you to win when you didn't really do anything to cause a win, just as it's not very fun for your enemy to lose due to something that couldn't be prevented.

If a player is to have fun, they have to win or lose based on skill. If they're outplayed, so be it, they can just learn to get better next time. If they lose because of a blind 1% chance that the ability would kill them from full life, with nothing they did being wrong, and by all means they SHOULD have won that fight, then it's just frustrating.

This is completely and totally included within that "Fun must exceed anti-fun" section.

Unfortunately, once an ability may not do what you tell it to, you now have to make it stronger for when it does work, to make up for the fact that it might not work, or at least, might not do what you want it to.

Generally, you want to avoid anything which doesn't let you do what you want to do when you want to do it. There are, of course, exceptions.

Consider skill shots; they're unreliable in that they may not hit, but they also tend to have extended range and can be fired blindly at stealthed enemies or into bushes as well, so are a lot more powerful indirectly in other ways.

It's a trade off, but for the most part, you want to avoid anything luck based. Skill-shots are still, as the name implies, skill-based, so tend to bypass most of the normal problems with unreliability in that a skilled player can generally still land them, so long as the enemy isn't skilled enough to avoid them in kind.

Keep the game as much in the control of the players as possible, and if you have to give them an ability which may be limited in reliability, try to minimize that effect as much as possible, because the disproportionate strength that has to be given to compensate for such often leads to it becoming nearly impossible to balance, due to the fact that, once you get strong enough for it to be consistently "fun", it also is consistently "overpowered".

No matter what you do, never, ever make a champion based on pure luck.

The only time I've ever seen that actually work, was oddly enough in Wakfu, where the catgirl class had one of their spell trees heavily luck based, but they had two more which weren't so they could opt not to use such, and their universal spells were heavily leaning on controlling chance so that they could heavily weigh the odds in their favour, so that the risk vs reward over a given time was worth it.

In LoL, you don't have the number of skill slots needed to control luck based abilities on that scale, nor do you have the ability to just try again if you miss, as easily as you do in Wakfu.

In short, don't play with luck if you can at all help it. It frustrates players endlessly on both sides; enemies are pissed when they die to luck over superior skill on their part, just as the caster is annoyed when they out-play an opponent but their abilities fail to function properly.

And, oddly enough, we're done the anti-patterns section!

These aren't the only ones in game design by any means, but since Zileas was so nice as to provide a list on the matter, it seemed like a good idea to expand upon his reasoning as he didn't go into nearly as much depth as I feel these points deserve =3

Many thanks to my co-host, Tom "Zileas" Cadwell, for the help in these last two posts! Even if he probably isn't even aware that he helped in the first place XD

For everyone else, I hope you took notes.

Class is dismissed! Anyone who didn't take notes, DETENTION!

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Welcome class. This section was meant to be done yesterday, but due to some technical concerns involving a cat, a power bar, and several backup copies failing/corrupted, this is now the final section of my magnum opus.

Regardless, class is in session, and in this article, the last to be added chronologically, we shall be covering the concept of Breaking The Rules.

Ooh... The Rules... how scary.

Well... what do we need to do then?

First off, we need to define really what "the rules" are. Strange of a concept? Perhaps, but it's an important one to note.

Second, we'll then have to go over the concept of why one would ever even want to break the rules. No, the answer is not because "I wanted to", and if you say that again, I'm breaking out the ruler. Probably over your head.

Third, we'll also have to cover the idea of rules that don't fulfill their purpose and how to identify such. Without this step, we can't really determine when is a good time to actually break the rules in the first place.

Finally, we'll discuss how to safely break the rules without making a bigger mess than what you started with.

With that in mind, let's get started.
Part 1:
There are rules, and there are rules, commander. Psi Cop Kelsey, Babylon 5, "Mind War"

So what is a "rule", anyway? We hear about "the rules" all the time, but how come sometimes they apply, and other times they don't? Who even makes these "rules" in the first place?

To put it simply, a rule is not a solid, set in stone thing, but rather, a rough approximation describing concepts that are deemed to be fairly accurate in most situations.

There are, of course, rules of science and mathematics which are static and unchanging, without altering reality itself, but in short, the rules we're talking about are the every day rules you see. Laws enforced by the police or government, rules of your parents, rules of conduct in a social environment, it's all subjective.

A rule is not really made by an individual, to be honest. Sure, there may be individuals who have a great deal of clout, and can make a statement which may become a rule, eventually, but a "rule" that isn't enforced, is just a rule, not a law. I've made a number of rules and stated them here in this guide, even, but to be perfectly blunt, they're only personal rules that apply to myself. The only way they'll ever become real rules, is if others agree that the wisdom behind such is apt, and the logic sound, and therefore they're carried on by other people.

So what exactly is the rule then? I kind of evaded the question last time, so let's try this again.

A rule is a statement which says that defines a set of actions which are preferable in most situations. For example, if I said "putting your hand on a hot stove burner is a bad idea", we could probably agree that in 90%+ of situations, that yes, putting your hand on a hot stove burner is probably a bad idea, and therefore we could make a rule out of it.

However, the fact is that a rule is never a 100% accurate thing that is true at all times equally. Maybe you want to burn your fingerprints off for some reason. Maybe something very important is on the stove burner, such as a small child climbed onto it and you have to injure yourself to pry them free. There's only a few situations where this might be a bad idea, so for the most part we can state that the rule is generally a good one, but, as with all things, there's always an exception to the rule.

No matter what, there will be exceptions. These exceptions occur when the purpose behind why a rule exists is not supported by the rule itself.

All rules exist for a purpose, even if it may not be clear or obvious as to what that purpose may be. The end point, though, is that there's a reason the rule was made, and to that end, so long as the rule benefits the end of upholding that purpose, the rule is probably best to be maintained.

So why would you want to break a rule, anyway? Well, we did just cover that rules sometimes don't follow their own purpose, so let's take a little closer of a look at that, shall we?
Part 2:
I haven't broken the rules in a long time, doctor, so I guess... I'm about due. Takashima, Babylon 5, "The Gathering"

As stated, rules exist for a purpose. Sometimes the purpose is obvious, such as the whole dealie about not touching the hot stove burner with your bare hand. Clearly, this purpose here is to avoid pain and physical discomfort. If, however, the situation were to be changed... let's say someone suffered brain damage and wasn't capable of feeling pain, but rather any time they felt pain, they instead felt pleasure, would it still be a bad idea to touch the stove burner?

Well... yeah. Because the rule wasn't about avoiding pain from the start, it was about not physically damaging your body, and the pain was merely the way the rule was enforced.

Sometimes it can be a little confusing, as the rules don't always make things abundantly clear as to why they exist. In that line of reasoning, if a rule isn't clear as to it's purpose, you probably shouldn't try breaking it until you know what potential damage you may be causing by accident in so doing.

A simple rule to not push a red button on the ground could be a dumb thing that you can't imagine why no one's ever done it before or why the rule would exist. You press the button anyway... and the world explodes.

Alright, it's a silly example, but it just goes to show you that you couldn't have predicted the outcome of breaking the rule, and the consequences that occurred because of such were harsh enough that it would simply have been better not to have done so in the first place.

The point is, in most cases, you don't want to break the rules. The rules exist for a reason, and most of the time, they generally do their job of maintaining things so that things run smoothly. If you don't know why a rule exists, research it and pick it apart; try to figure out what it's purpose is, and then, and only then, attempt to change it, but only if it fails to do it's job.

The fact of the matter is, "usually" rules should be followed. "Usually". It's a bigger word than it's letters give it credit for, though, and it leaves an awful lot of room for exceptions.

A rule which serves a purpose, and maintains that purpose is one that probably doesn't need to be broken. A rule, however, which exists for a purpose and fails to benefit towards the goal of upholding that purpose, may need to be bent back into shape so that it works as intended. A rule which actively goes against the purpose it's supposed to fulfill, however, is generally one which will need to be outright broken.

Let's say there's a rule that exists to keep people safe from some sort of danger, but it's been around for hundreds of years, passed down in tradition for ages. Specifically, let's use the example of not eating pork by some religions. There's an awful lot of really nasty diseases one can get from most livestock, and pigs in general are fairly genetically compatible with humans, to the point that we can transplant many of the organs from a pig directly into a human host.

Now, that's fine and all, but at the time we didn't really cook our food all that well, didn't know about things like washing our hands before eating or cooking, and personal hygiene was more or less unheard of at the time. As such, yeah, the rule was fine as it kept us from harm's way. Since that time, however, things have changed.

Fast forwards a few hundred years and we have a much better understanding of medicine and diseases; no longer is the pig just a "dirty creature" which is "infested with demons" which cause disease. Instead, now we recognize that things like salmonella poisoning can occur from bacteria which commonly resides in pigs. Consuming pork without properly cooking it can get you very sick, but if you're aware of how the disease is transmitted, you can properly cook your food and wash, and you'll be fine.

As such, the rule to "not eat pork" can be bent to now read "don't eat pork that isn't properly cooked and prepared". With this adjustment, it fulfills the purpose it originally had just as well as it had previously, but now does so more efficiently by allowing the consumption of valid food choices nearby that may be more abundant than other options.

On that line of reasoning, what happens if your cattle suddenly get a rather bad disease and are no longer fit for consumption? Perhaps the only thing even resembling livestock left is pigs, and pork may be the only realistic choice you have to eat.

Without it, you die of starvation and malnutrition from lack of protein. Not good... so long as the rule still stands to not eat pork, you're pretty much stuck dying to uphold a rule that was put in place to... keep you from dying... well there's a brilliant move.

At this point, the rule then must be broken to ensure survival, and as such, you are now allowed to eat pork. Either that or your village or people die off, and poof, no more problem because the rule killed you off by blind adherence to it.

Now, this is a bit of an extreme case, but it does happen in the world that there are those who have died because of this exact rule, and more specifically, because people blindly follow it without questioning why the rule was put into place originally.

"Because god told me to" isn't a very good reason, I hate to break it to you. If god exists, and that's a debate even I'm not qualified to answer, then god would also have had a reason for making the rule at the time. If your culture wasn't capable of properly taking care of itself, and needed the rule to survive, then yeah, maybe god did make the rule, but once the rule no longer applied, I'm pretty sure it'd be expected that the same god would then assume you'd just stop following it once you figured things out for yourselves.

The rules of champion creation are no different. I'm not some awe inspiring deity by any means, nor is any other designer out there, no matter how famous they are. We do, however, make rules, now and then, to help us do our job better. We make a mistake and go "well... uh... yeah, let's never do that nonsense again". A rule is put in place to avoid the situation, and the problem is solved... until someone figures out a way to avoid the problem, or a new piece of technology, or concept occurs which allows such to be done safely.

At that time, the rule can now be re-evaluated, which is the one step that can't be done when dealing with rules made hundreds or thousands of years ago, since you can't just go back and ask them what they were thinking at the time. We, however, fortunately can just go over our rules and realize that there are problems with them, or that they aren't performing their role adequately anymore.

As such, we can amend the rule, bend it to suit our needs given a certain circumstance, or break it outright.

For now, all that I require of you, as a designer, is to consider why a rule exists, and determine if there's a valid reason to breaking it. If it furthers the end goal of what the rule's purpose is, then sure. If it causes minor issues but fixes a great many more in the process, well... it's tricky, but it can be done.

Regardless, you need to know why a rule exists before you break it. Don't let me catch any of you breaking them just because you felt like it.

Part 3: Rules of combat older than contact with other races... did not mention aliens. Rules change caught up in committee, not come through yet. ~Former Green Leader, Babylon 5, "The Geometry of Shadows"

You know that thing I said about rules that no longer fulfill their purpose, or which may have an exception to them? Well... every rule has exceptions, and most rules will eventually become obsolete, at some point or another.

The trick is to determine when these situations have occurred so you can tell whether it's a good idea to mess with them or not.

Let's make a rule for an example. Let's have a rule that no champion in the game shall ever have a greater base movement speed than 330.

Sounds pretty reasonable, as every single champion in the game right now lands squarely in between 300 and 330.

Now... is it possible to break this rule? Sure! A champion with 335 base movement would probably be pushing the limits, but it's a small enough variation that we could probably just call it bending the rules.

A champion with 400 base movement speed... eh... well yeah, you just broke it.

Why though? What's' the purpose of this rule?

The rule's purpose is to ensure that champions are within a respectable movement speed of each other throughout the game, regardless of itemization, and that seems like a fairly good reason to have the rule in place.

What if there's some technical problem, however, where you need a champion to be faster than that, for some reason, but it's just flat out easier to say when they aren't faster, than when they are faster?

With the assumption of a massive technical limitation on how speed works (this limitation doesn't exist, but we'll say it does for the purposes of example), that limits you to only being able to reduce movement speed rather than increase it, you'd have a minor problem, wouldn't you?

As such, it might be easier to just say you give your champion 400 movement speed and decreased it when under the conditions of combat, sort of a reverse of what Miss Fortune's passive does.

The end result is identical as having 330 + 70 as it would be to have 400 -70, and if the technical limitations are such that you couldn't do the former, then the latter would be a perfectly viable option. (I know MF is 300, not 330, but bare with me, it's an example after all =3 )

The trick, here, was identifying why the rule existed in the first place. As it was designed to ensure that you're not too fast in certain circumstances, such as combat, it didn't really matter to change it under those circumstances.

Everything comes down to picking out why the rule exists before deciding if it's a good idea to break it or not.

In each and every case, you first determine what the rule actually restricts, then you determine how this could be seen as beneficial. Once you've got this information, you can probably reason out why a rule is in place. If the rule seems beneficial at first, but has a set of circumstances you can see where it may not do what it's supposed to, it might actually be worth exploring the concept.

Sometimes you might even design a champion that intentionally revolves around breaking a particular rule in such a way that still maintains the same purpose as that which the rule was supposed to provide, but which is now able to be done so in a more unique and interesting way than had you just followed the rule blindly.

When I was making my Nemhain champion, the problem was that cooldowns were used to keep abilities from being overly strong, but it also meant tanks generally became pretty boring pretty quickly. By removing all cooldowns on my champion design, and shifting them to the enemy targets, rather than the caster, I was able to allow the player to use their abilities more frequently, but still restricting them from being spammed at a single target.

With another design, Moxie, I replaced health with mana entirely. This turned out to not have been the most wise of decisions, and eventually I ran into some problems that couldn't be realistically fixed, and as such, the design's more or less dead for the moment until I remake it.

Even in game, others have broken the rules as well, such as Karma not having an ultimate as such, or Nidalee having more than the standard 4 activated moves. In Nidalee's case, it worked. In Karma's case... not so much, since the idea behind what makes a support champion able to fulfill their role wasn't fully considered. It probably would've worked just fine on a bruiser, however. Oddly enough, Karma actually plays much closer to an AP bruiser, than she does a support, likely in large part due to this.

Regardless, you'll break the rules, and you'll screw up now and then by having missed something important. It happens. Even the greats screw up now and then, and it's only by trying new stuff that you have the opportunity to hit on something new and interesting that's worth it.

Despite that, it doesn't mean you should always screw up. If you consider carefully why a rule exists and try to work around that as a starting point, you can probably avoid screwing up in the first place, and really, that's for the better in most cases.
Part 4: Captain, you're trying to use the letter of the law to defeat the spirit of the law. Miss Winters, Babylon 5, "In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum"

So how do you minimize the damage that can be dealt, or avoid it altogether?

Honestly, you can't fully accomplish this on a consistent basis, so long as you're working outside of the rules. Even a seemingly small deviation can have a much larger impact than you might expect possible.

Still, there are a few things which you can do to limit the potential problems on average. None of these will always work, as they are, after all, a rule, and there will always be exceptions, even to these.

First off, you'll probably want to do what I've been insisting on throughout this entire guide: don't screw with a rule you don't understand. This doesn't mean you'll magically always be fine, as sometimes even playing by the rules is the wrong answer, but the rules are there for a reason, and statistically speaking, following them is more likely to make things work smoothly.

Second, if you're going to break something, try to be careful to understand as fully as possible what it is you're messing with when you decide to break a rule. It doesn't guarantee by any means that you'll always fully understand every little nuance, as sometimes the full reasoning behind a rule doesn't show until you've failed to follow it, but it will limit the potential problems in most cases.

Third, when you break a rule for the first time, do so in a controlled manner. Often, rules have multiple parts to them, and with all things, you generally want to isolate as many of the variables as possible. Don't go in and change every single thing you can think of, but rather, change one aspect of it and check to see what gets affected by doing so. This gives you a more detailed idea of what's connected to that aspect, and you don't get the problem of changing a bunch of stuff, having one thing break, and having no clue what it was that went wrong and having to then pull the whole thing apart a piece at a time to find the problem. Note that this works with all troubleshooting, even computer repair ^.~

Fourth, if you change something big, keep as strong documentation as possible to list exactly what you changed and why you did it, and what you expect to be altered. If something goes terribly wrong, that way you'll at least have a written record handy to try to help you isolate the problem's likely cause.

In the end, any time you're working outside the rules there's the potential for disaster. There's also the potential for some really awesome gameplay as well, however. The risk versus reward is pretty heavily slanted in the favour of following the rules, but with a little foresight and planning, you can probably tip the odds in your favour instead.

Regardless, breaking the rules is one of the best ways to make something more interesting, but generally there's a good reason why it's a rule in the first place. "No one's ever done this before" usually implies "there's a reason why no one's ever done this before". Sometimes that reason is as simple as no one ever thought of it before, but most of the time, it's because there's a major problem with doing it.

If you carefully consider what the problems are, however, and work around such, you can probably get it to work. Probably. Sometimes, no matter how much time and effort and brainpower you devote to a problem, however, it's simply something that can't be solved.

Unlike in educational cartoons or overly optimistic career counselors, you can't actually do anything you want to. You can do most of it, though, if you put your mind to it, and are careful to avoid the pitfalls associated with such. Just don't get discouraged if something fails horribly. Sometimes it just can't be fixed. Other times you may simply need to approach things from a new angle of attack. It can be hard to tell the difference between the two, however.

Regardless, keep trying, and never accept the rules as absolutes. Outside of mathematics, there's no such thing.

Class dismissed!

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Nearly done! Both for my writing of the articles, and for you on reading them. Fun fun fun!

Anyway, class is in session, and today we'll be covering Putting Yourself In Their Shoes.

Oooh, fancy title.

Not really, I suppose, but it's an important step in champion design.

The idea is that you need to consider the aspects of the game and try to visualize how useful your champion will be in a variety of situations. This is a bit difficult to do without play testing, but I'll give you a rough outline here to work with. As such, this particular article will be a bit different than most, in that it's mostly just going to be a list of things to check for and explanations of why.

Alright, maybe it's not that different, after all.

Anyway, first off we'll cover playing as your champion, and specifically things like the laning phase or 1v1 combat, ganks, and the like.

Second, we'll continue on playing as your champion, but this time we'll be focusing on the idea of a team fight and overall strategic objective capturing, such as jungling, baron, towers and so on, since this is a major part of the game.

Third, we'll discuss the enemy's point of view... sure your champion is awesome to play as, but are they actually fair or fun to fight against? If you bring only misery to the game, you're not worth having around. Once again, we'll be focusing on the laning phase, 1v1 combat, ganks, and so on again.

Finally... yep, you guessed it, strategic things like counter jungling, ability to prevent them from backdooring, how easy they are to shut down in a team fight and stuff along those lines. It's almost like it was obvious I was going there... I hope I'm not getting predictable ^.~

Anyway, let's get to work!
Part 1: I put my new shoes on and everything was alright. ~I have no idea who sings this, and I refuse to look it up. Thayen, on the forum here, sings it frequently and it drives me nuts.

Anyway, so we have a champion design all "done".

No, no we do not. You haven't even checked for leaks yet. Here's where we dump it into the water and see if it actually floats, before selling it as a boat.

So what are we looking for, anyway, when we talk about "leaks"?

Well, let's start with the basics mentioned in the preamble, shall we?

  • 1v1 combat
  • Ganking others
  • Laning

These are a few good things to consider, honestly, so let's go with these to start.

1v1 Combat: Honestly, LoL isn't really designed around 1v1 combat for the most part. Assassins are dedicated to picking off players who are weak or isolated, and some champions excel at taking out an enemy by themselves, such as Jax.

For the most part, however, the game simply doesn't revolve around 1v1 combat, and if you're one of those people who honestly believes that challenging someone to a 1v1 duel after a game that you lost shows how awesome you are... well... please smack yourself in the head for me. Seriously, right now. Smack yourself. Nice and hard. We need to knock the stupid out of you.

Honestly, that probably won't help anything, but if you're going to be dumb enough to believe stuff like that, at the very least you should provide entertainment to the rest of us while doing it.

The point is, however, that some champions do, indeed, thrive on 1v1 combat, and if your champion is an assassin who's supposed to run in, burn a squishy to the ground, and escape quickly afterward, then you probably should ensure they're capable of doing that.

For this kind of a situation, pick a squishy target that you'd likely kill, and go look up their stats. Give them some decent amount of runes and masteries, now think "if I used all of the abilities I'd likely have at this level on them at once, would it kill them?".

If we assume you're level 7, you'd probably have 4 points in one spell, 2 in another, and 1 into your ultimate. You might have 100 AP if you've had a good run of it so far. Is that enough damage to burn down someone with 900ish life?

If not, then you have a problem, as your assassin probably isn't going to be assassinating anyone.

Ganking Others: This is a tricky one, in that there may be two targets, and you also have to keep in mind that you may have an ally around to help out. Sometimes, you might even have two.

If you're a jungler, part of your value is to keep pressure on the lanes; keep them scared and afraid to push out or attempt to fight your allies, in case they have you come barreling out of the fog of war to chew on their faces.

Mostly, you need a way to get into range, and a way to lock them down so they can't escape. As such, Rammus is a great ganker, because he can appear from nowhere and keep his target locked in place for a few seconds while his allies butcher them so they can't just flash away.

Sejuani, however, has the problem that she's not exactly able to get easily into range, despite her charge, and flash works just fine to escape, even when permafrosted.

As such, she's simply not a very good ganker.

If you want to be a ganker, keep in mind that you have to be able to prevent them from running. Sure, it's nice to have them burn their flash, but if you're not scary enough, they might not even bother to do that.

Laning: Alright, which lane? Depends on who you're fighting, and it can make a big difference. Keep in mind, as well, that the lane setups elsewhere are different from ours. In Asia, they have 2 carries bottom usually (or at least they did a few months ago, it may be different now, the "meta" does change slowly over time), so you can't assume you'll have a support there to babysit you at all times.

Keep in mind that you have a few goals while laning... you want to survive ganks, you want to survive the enemy from trying to kill you, and you want to get as many creep kills as possible, while preventing them from doing the same. Note that, even if a support is supposedly supposed to have 0CS in the game as it's currently played, they still want to ensure that their ally is getting CS and their enemies aren't.

Regardless, you will want at least some way to get minion kills, unless you're an assassin, since everyone else should at least be capable of farming up a minion wave that's left unattended. Even the supports can do this, and, as stated, the only ones who can't are typically assassins who specialize in killing a single target for their experience and gold, rather than feeding off minions.

This usually means AoE abilities, but it can also mean really short cooldown single target abilities as well.

Regardless, you'll want to think about your role in lane, and what you're supposed to be doing while there.
Part 2: You can do anything, but lay off my Blue Suede Shoes. ~Blue Suede Shoes, Carl Perkins (sung by Elvis)

Well... yeah, you can do anything. Of course, it may not be a good idea, so let's see what we have to work with.

  • Jungling and counter-jungling
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Team Fights

Jungling: As a jungler, you need to do an awful lot of stuff. Not only do you need to clear the jungle quickly to keep up in levels with others, but you also need to survive doing so without being open to someone trying to kill you in return. Many a game has been lost because a team's jungler simply got forced out of it by the enemy jungler.

Additionally, you need to be able to gank, as listed above (I'm not sure if everyone knows the term, so to be on the safe side... ganking is essentially attacking an enemy target by surprise with extra people), as well as to be able to move around the map quickly.

If you can't clear fast, which means enough damage on single targets to kill off the blue and red buffs, and can't AoE fast enough to wipe out smaller groups, you're not going to be a very valuable jungler.

If you can't survive the jungle, and die too easily, an enemy jungler can simply run into your side of the map and kill you, thus defeating your purpose entirely.

If you can't put pressure on the enemy lanes by ganking, as covered in the above section, then you really aren't being useful to your team, either.

Even more than that, if you can't move around the map quickly, you can't keep multiple lanes scared of you. A Rammus or Master Yi can often pop up out of nowhere, despite you just saw them somewhere else. This can be all you need to become paranoid and not take otherwise easy kills you would have normally gone for.

Regardless, you need to evaluate the points of jungling, and consider whether your champion is actually fit to do so or not. If you don't want to be a jungler, no problem, but if you do, then these had better be covered.

Strategic Objectives: There's a lot of strategic objectives in the game, such as towers, inhibitors, baron and the dragon, to name a few. Buffs and other things which show up such as the dominion capture points, or keeping sight of bushes can also sway the tide of battle to your favour.

Regardless of your choices, if your champion is set up to be something like a backdoor tower killer, or a split pusher, then you need to make sure you have the tools to do so.

If you have a ranged AD carry, part of their job is to take pot shots at the enemy tower when your team is fighting near it, to try to wear it down if neither team's willing to really go in for a full on fight, so you better have some capacity to do so.

If you're looking to be a split pusher, then you'd better have a way to burn a tower down fast, clean waves quickly, and escape when they send someone to stop you.

In the end, if you want your champion to do things like kill a dragon as a jungler, you'd better make sure they have more than just smite working towards that end.

Team Fights: What good is a champion who brings nothing to the team? I dunno, I've been asking Darius this for awhile now, but I don't think he honestly has an answer.

Sivir, at least, had an answer, before her redesign; sure she didn't do much in a team fight usually, other than buff people, but she could win a game while her team kept the other team busy. It was fully possible to build a team composition around the assumption of 4v5 fights, and to simply drag the team fights on long enough for her to do her thing.

Regardless, there should really be something you're doing in a team fight. An ideal target to bring down, such as killing off squishy casters, or putting a tank in their place, can be useful. On the other hand, having CC, or other abilities which initiate fights, or aid allies, can be a great deal of benefit to your team as well.

No matter what your champion design does, they should have at least some value in a team fight. "Damage" is nice, but it's not enough, and you really need to be able to bring something useful to the table that others can't already do better than you can.
Part 3: Well I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more just to be the man who walks a thousand miles to fall down at your door. ~500 miles, Proclaimers

Just as you have to consider what your champion's going to do in combat, you also have to consider what they'll do when you aren't playing them. What happens when you're playing ranked, or draft, and someone else wants to play them? Having that stupidly overpowered champion that kills an entire team solo isn't that awesome when you're not the one playing it, now is it?

So, what do you do?

Well, you think about what happens if you're not the one playing them, is all.

Let's take a look at the list...

  • 1v1 combat
  • Ganking others
  • Laning

Waaait a second, something there looks familiar.

Oh... OH! Lulz, it's the same list from the first section!

I wonder how that happened.

Well, anyway, the same concepts still need to be addressed, so let's see to it.

1v1 Combat: If your champion is supposed to be good in 1v1... what happens when they have Jax, or some other champion whose primary function is to wreck face 1v1? Is your champion a little "too" good at their job? Is it even realistically plausible to kill your champion without needing a small army to do so?

If the answer is "no", you probably screwed something up, and need to think things over again from the start. Even if you're supposed to be great at 1v1, it doesn't mean it should be 100% one sided for you to win without breaking a sweat against other champions who specialize in that role as well.

Generally, you should be aiming for your champion to be about equal in power, but different in how they go about performing the same task.

So your champion is in lane, and BAM you fly out of nowhere to gank them and... and... they just killed three people by themselves. Huh. If they were a good player, sure, but they didn't even move, they just stood in place and spammed spells. Maybe you need to see about fixing that, don't you?

A champion should be able to escape from a gank, or at least have a semi-reasonable chance to throw up some kind of defense against it, but they shouldn't be able to wipe the floor with the enemy team single handedly on equal gold, nor should they be able to simply walk away at their own leisure, either.

If you're caught unawares, you really should be having problems. Yes, you can have an escape mechanic such as a leap that will let you get over a wall, but it shouldn't let you instantly teleport across the map to safety with no cooldown and castable while CC'd, either.

If your champion never fears a gank, they'll play too aggressively. Yes, passive play is bad, but so, too, is not having an equal standing when one side simply can ignore the other entirely.

As such, make sure it's even possible to kill your champion when they're caught unprepared for it.

Laning: Is it possible to even lane against your champion, to the point that they can fight back? Or is it so one sided of a match up that, no matter who you bring, they simply counter everyone single handedly?

Some champions are ideal at laning, and have a very strong laning phase for the sake of harming others to the point that they may cripple an enemy, but even so, you should have a weakness to counterbalance such.

If you have no weak point in your play, there's a problem. Strong laning often means weak endgame to offset the advantage. If you're just awesome all the time with no point at which you can be exploited by a smart enemy, you've just screwed up big time.

Play, and counter play. If there's no counter to your champion, then it's not really a game, now is it?
Part 4: These boots are made for walking, and walking's what they'll do, and one of these days these boots will walk all over you! ~Nancy Sinatra Jr.

There comes a point when you simply have to accept that your enemy has to have a chance to fight back, otherwise it's just not fun for anyone. If you steamroll them without effort, sure that's fun to a psychopathic killer or a little kid with a short attention span, but it's not very fun on a competitive level, and doesn't help the enemy team out much to know that they may as well not have played because someone buffed Karthus to do 10,000 true damage to all enemy targets on a 20 second cooldown.

The fact of the matter is, if it's not a close game, won by skill and counterplay, then it wasn't much of a game at all.

So, let's see about what we need to ensure this happens!

  • Jungling and counter-jungling
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Team Fights

Hey it's another copy-pasted list! Ah well, it still holds true, so let's work with it.

Jungling: Mostly this is about counter-jungling, more than anything, since this is the primary time when an enemy champion will run into your own champion.

Is it realistically plausible for any jungler in the game to fight yours one on one and win? Are there even any points in the jungling route where your champion may be at bit low on health and prime for being poked at? Will a "win" be decisive with a kill, or just chase them off so that they have to go heal?

These kinds of questions are important to determine just how powerful and useful your champion design is when being counter jungled.

Another major thing to keep in mind, is that a well coordinated team will know that you may need a certain buff to do your jungling, such as blue buff... if so, they may very well ensure that they initiate a level 1 team fight at your blue golem to kill you off, or at least steal the buff, thus crippling you in return.

As such, the capacity to escape a gank like this early on, and the capacity to jungle without a certain buff, is a really big deal!

For the enemy team, they need to know that they have a way to actually harm you somehow, be it directly, by attacking your champion full on, or that they can harm you indirectly by cleaning out the things you need, such as buffs.

Regardless, ensure that it's possible to counter play in some way. If you need nothing to be a major threat all game, then you've probably gone too far somewhere, or, more likely, everywhere.

Strategic Objectives: Is it even possible to keep your champion from wailing on a tower, despite being right there to defend it? Is it possible to keep them from taking your baron with smite? Do you have any real hope of getting dragon without them knowing and being able to get there in time to stop you? Is it even realistically plausible for you to stop them from backdooring, even with a dozen wards guarding your base?

The fact of the matter is, a champion has to be counterable, as I've said many times before. If you've got a design which excels at such absurd levels that an entire team trying to shut them down can't even harm them, you've probably screwed up big time.

Now, that being said, it doesn't mean your champion can't have an advantage, it just means that they can't be godlike powerful to the point that there's no way to even mildly annoy them.

Consider very carefully each situation, such as fighting them under their tower, or them trying to fight you under your own, and think about whether there's anything you can realistically do to harm them or the target.

Most of the information provided before this still applies, so double check all of it!

Team Fights: Your champion design is going to eventually get stuck in one of these, and they should (hopefully) have a task they're designated to perform during it.

The trick here, is to ensure that the enemy team has some potential capacity to counteract them from doing that task.

In my Nemhain design, she's a tank, but her weak point is that she can be focused down early on in the fight and killed. It's when you ignore her, that her tanky potential swells rapidly in power, making her a real threat. The point is, here, that she can be shut down in a team fight if the enemy team works around the knowledge of how to do so.

So, too, must your own champion; an assassin has to be able to be caught and killed before their assassination takes place, but they should have a good chance to pull it off if people are out of position or not paying attention. A tank should draw fire, but not be capable of forcing everyone to attack them without repercussions to such.

In the end, it all comes down to being able to stop your champion from doing their job. They should still have a chance to perform that job, but it should be possible that, if an entire team decides to lock them down, that they will be able to be prevented from doing their thing.

If Katarina could move while spamming death lotus, and couldn't be CC'd during it, that would be an example of "overpowered". There's no counterplay possible, short of leaving the radius. Toss in a silence on each target she hits, and it's even more ridiculous.

Think carefully about just how frustrating a champion would be to fight in a team fight, and if it comes up that, even with your entire team present, you couldn't slow them down, you're probably going to have to go back and make some heavy handed "tweaks".

Regardless, there's a thousand things like this which need to be covered, but for the most part, so long as you're able to consider things both from the perspective of your champion in a variety of situations, and the enemy team attempting to harm your champion, then you'll be a ton closer to perfecting your design!

For now, I'll let you go and think on this matter, as it takes a bit of effort to wrap your head around it for most people.

And, with that, class is dismissed!

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Good day, class is in session and today we're covering concept art, as well as 3D art. For some of you, this may not be as big of a deal as to others, but if you're interested in including art resources with your design, this should help you out a fair bit.

First off, we'll be going over initial concept art and design.

Second, we'll discuss the resources you'll need to convert from a conceptualized idea into something that can be used to produce a model.

Third, we'll cover things which often get in the way and should be avoided.

Finally, we'll go over information on ways to make your designs a bit more interesting from the start in appearance. This could be useful to anyone, not just those who are actually doing the artwork.
1: The holy grail is to spend less time making the picture than it takes people to look at it. -Banksy

Oddly enough I actually took quite a few art courses, one of which involved speed drawing; the concept was to get basic information down as quickly as possible and gradually expand upon it.

An example of this, was drawing the same picture repeatedly; a picture's provided, and to sketch as much of it as possible for detail within 15 seconds. Then 30, then 60, then 2 minutes, 5 minutes, and finally 10 minutes.

The idea is that you're not just noticing the details, but also learning how to get the overall shape down as quickly as possible. Within the first 30 seconds of a sketch, you should have the overall outline more or less done, as in limbs and such finished. After that, you draw back over them, over and over, building up layers of quality and detail.

In terms of usefulness for concept art, this has been a great help, as one of the keys to concept art is to get quick thumbnail sketches down as quickly as possible. There are books out there with hundreds and thousand of images made just detailing basic ideas.

Where one normally begins is with a vague idea, but not a full image. Instead, sketch quick, messy little drawings. Dozens of them, or even more. What you're trying to do is to get ideas out quickly, rapid fire style, to get as much onto paper as possible. Once it's such that you have a good basis of ideas, then you can go back and glance through them and see which ideas stand out as potentially ideal candidates.

Make a dozen eyes, a hundred ears, a thousand faces, find which speaks best to you.

Once you have such down, you can build up your design as if it were a sculpture, in a way. The idea of "to sculpt an elephant, one simply removes everything from the clay which does not look like an elephant" is not exactly wrong, per se... in fact, it's kind of accurate in the way that there are a near infinite number of options available to you, and you need to narrow down which works best.

See, concepts are a dime a dozen, as can be seen by the massive number of even more fleshed out designs on the champion concepts forum. The trick is to explore the near infinite number of concepts which could match your design, rather than just settling upon the first one that comes to mind.

Once you have the basic design down, you'll be capable of moving on to the next steps, so let's get into those.
Part 2: Nature Trail to Hell... IN 3D! ~Weird Al Yankovic

It's not enough to just start with a 3D model. Building up to that point is a very complex process. Sure, you can sculpt a face in mudbox or Zbrush, but it does not a character design make.

All the things I've covered so far in character creation still apply; you still need to get a personality that lives and breathes on it's own. It's not just "snag a picture off google images" and it magically is enough to make a character design from, though it can be a good basis for inspiration.

To create a fully fleshed out character design pack, there's a number of things that need to be included so that, were you to hand it off to a 3D artist, that they could actually build it.

  1. Thumbnail sketches. These are what we covered last section; page after page after page of thumbnails are used to give a feel for what kinds of reasoning you were considering for appearance. It also means that if your final choice just doesn't quite translate well to 3D, there's other options available.
  2. Primary 3/4 view sketch. This is the "key" drawing which says that "this is how the character looks". It supersedes all other drawings in the design back. This is done in a pose, with an expression, and basically is what you get for the "splash art" in LoL. It defines what your champion should look and feel like.
  3. Orthographic views. These are very important; without these, it's near impossible to translate information over properly to an actual model. These should include a front view, a back view, and a side view, preferably with arm detached. If the character design is asymmetrical, it might be best to have both sides done separately. In each orthographic view, you need to ensure that everything lines up perfectly. The height of the nose, the eyes, the chin, the top of the head, the waist, any visual marker which states a position must be perfectly aligned. Screwing up on this part will only cause headaches later.
  4. Expression sheet x5. For this, you require 5 images of facial expressions to give the animator and the modeler an idea of the range of facial motions capable, as well as how this particular character will tend to look in each emotion. Go for strong, obvious emotions here; you're attempting your best to show things like fear, anger, joy and so on. You want to elicit as much feeling as possible just from the face alone.
  5. Pose sheet x5. For this, you're looking for a variety of poses that your character is likely to take. Sure, seeing the big hulking monster of a brute doing ballet is amusing, but unless that's going to be a running gag that needs to be maintained, don't put it here. You're looking to give a visual description of the range of motion the character has. If they're capable of remarkable flexibility, this is the place to show it off.
  6. Height chart. Both by heads and by actual height is preferable. What I mean "by heads", is that you cut off the character's head, and measure how many distances from the bottom to the top of the skull lined up on top of each other the entire body is. This give you the overall proportional "feel" of how tall or short a champion is. A faerie may only stand 6 inches high, but in relation to the size of their head, compared to the rest of their body, they may be proportionally sized to what a seven foot tall human may appear as.
  7. Lore. This is a page long at most. I've always had problems with that part, but in short, you're looking to give the animator and modeler a feel of just what kind of character they're creating. If they can feel that the character is supposed to be an evil monster, despite appearing rather pleasant, such as a vampire perhaps, then they'll be able to work additional things into the design which can help accent that, without just relying on basic appearance. An overly large toothy smile from a vampire, after all, shows off their true nature quite nicely.

It's a lot of stuff to do, isn't it? Overall, with round the clock work, you can probably get a character design pack such as this done within a week or two in most cases, but since most of us, here, are doing this as a hobby, you can take your time to get it out over a much longer period.

Now that you have a list of what you need to have completed, of which no champion on this board has even remotely such finished, let's see about getting into some of the things you might want to watch out for while designing this material.
Part 3: Behold, the most powerful supervillainess in the known universe, with the power of plothole control! ~Sailor Evil, bad joke from a friend years ago.

Well, let's say you're working on your design, and you really want it to look awesome, but you also want it to be practical and plausible to create in the game.

Great! Ah... ah ah ah what's that? Oh... yeah, you don't know how to model things yourself so you make an awful lot of really messy things which we should probably take care of before you try to model that design because the modeler's going to murder you in your sleep for pulling most of the stuff on this list.

First off, note that on any design where there will be animations of the face, the head is almost always a separate model from the rest of the body due to how blend shapes work. The gist of it, is that you have dozens, sometimes literally hundreds of extra head models off to the side hidden, which are used to tell the modeling program (I'll speak about Maya since I'm most familiar with it, and LoL uses Maya for modelling purposes) the difference between say... a smile and a frown.

This means that for in-game models, no big deal, because they don't have that kind of exceptionally complex high detail appearance for lip synching and such, but it does mean, however, that if you ever want to see a high-poly model of your character to be used in animations, you're going to have to keep this in mind.

What's that mean in the practical sense? It means you need to cover their neck, more than anything, really. The head's a separate entity, and will get a lot of close up shots when speaking, so no matter how perfect you sew the neck together, I guarantee you it'll still leave a crease. As such, cover it with a collar like on Katarina, or armour, such as on Kassadin, or a spiked choker like on Nidalee. You thought those were just for show? They're there to hide things that the modellers physically can't hide otherwise. Arms are another big one which are normally separate from the main body, so you'll find that sleeves are also typically very flashy and oversized to cover such problems there as well.

Still, this is only one such issue, there are many others, so let's see what else can cause issues.

The next big problem is that of animating bendy areas. Skin weighting can take literally over one hundred hours to complete properly, if you want it done right. Things like the joints that need to move around a lot need extra edge loops and vertices with which to work, since they stretch as a joint moves.

This normally isn't a big problem on the design side of things so much, but it does cause issues when you put things in the path of what needs to move.

One particular problem that gave me nightmares working with it, was putting a simple "cute little fang" on a character... it seemed so adorable! Until I tried to animate her facial expressions, and it was constantly getting in the way of her lip's animations.

Things which get in the way of your mouth, your joints, or anything like that are pretty much always a bad idea, in terms of workload. Sure, you can put them on there, but it's going to take nearly as much time to fix that one problem as it does to create the entirety of the rest of the model! On a work hours required to finish, it's simply not worth the hassle.

Other really bad problems are things which cause clipping. Consider something nice and simple like Riven's little miniskirt thing she's wearing. It looks nice, but it's close to her form, and doesn't pose too many problems since it's easily weighted to move with her leg. No big deal!

In contrast, look at Sivir's long loincloth... that thing constantly gets in the way, clipping through her legs and just generally being an irritation to an animator, since any time they want to move her leg, they also have to manually tell the cloth where to move.

Sure, Maya has things like nCloth simulators, but those suck up an impressive amount of processing power, and to put it bluntly, you're not going to get that in a video game that's meant to be played at more than 1 frame for fifteen minutes. That's movie quality stuff, there.

No, you're looking for stuff that is easy to control, or preferably, that you don't have to control at all in the first place.

Form fitting clothing, or armour which covers the body entirely so that you don't even need to model the body in the first place, are vastly preferable over long flowing robes or hair which gets in the way.

Keep it as close to the body as possible, so that you don't have extra pieces flying about as your character moves, and it'll save yourself a midnight visit by the animator and a knife.

Anyway, there's a thousand little things like this, and to be honest, I can't cover all of them. What I can tell you, is that learning a little of everything helps. Knowing how to model, and actually trying to, will teach you what design ideas suck to model. Learning to rig will teach you what kinds of things are a pain to rig up properly so don't model those. Learning to animate will teach you full well what's a bad idea to add to a design from the initial conceptualization steps.

Take a look through some concept art for a game you like some day. You'll likely be impressed at just how much more awesome the original design may appear, and wonder why it just didn't look that way in the end. I'll almost guarantee you that there were problems in the basic design which caused the animation or model to be a pain to make and it got cut out simply because it sucked to work with.

Such is the way of things, though. What looks neat, isn't always worth the trouble.

So what can we make that looks neat but is worth the trouble?

Ah, now here's where we get into the fun stuff...
Part 4: I feel pretty... oh so pretty... *spits on the ground* ~ Troll female from World of Warcraft

So you want to make your champion look good without making them a pain to build, huh? Alright. I'll play your game you rogue...

First off, get your personality out.

What? You don't have one? Get yer butt back to the first few articles on character creation, because you're not doing anything until you have a character to make look pretty.

Alright, I'll assume you have a personality to work with now. Good job. If not, you're going to find most of this useless anyway.

First and foremost, you want to design a character which will have a personality that works well. The appearance needs to mesh with it to a strong degree, though whether you take the path of similarity or contrast, this is up to you.

The Similarity method is pretty obvious; big strong, rough and tumble personality gets a big strong, rough and tumble body to go with it. Darius and Garen work well as posterchildren for this concept.

The contrasting method is when you do something wherein you have a personality and form which completely contrast; a standard example would be a massively oversized brutish looking character, who instead has a refined personality and a keen intellect, with no real interest in physical violence.

Either can work, but keep in mind that a player has certain expectations, and if you disappoint those expectations, no matter how awesome the result may be, your audience may just reject it on principle.

I've covered this concept before, but it's important enough to repeat, so make sure you read the above few paragraphs again, because it's really that important.

Regardless, after that you're going to want to have something eye catching and interesting. Great, this part's a lot easier!

Remember that previous bit about how you can't have any parts which overlap joints, or long flowing robes? Yeah, that still applies... if you can put them places where they won't get in the way of stuff, it's not that big a problem, just keep them away from limbs if at all possible.

Still, that leaves us with a ton of great stuff to work with. Big, awesome looking bulky armour? Yep, Mordekaiser and Kayle are great choices, and you could do even more with it still as Nautilus has shown us.

Now, that's not the only way, and honestly, it's probably not even the best way. Armour is great, but it's impersonal. We don't even know what Mordekaiser looks like, and a ton of people didn't even realize Kayle was female for ages. Darth Vader was given armour and a helmet specifically for the purpose of de-humanizing him so that it was harder to relate to him, which is a large part of what ended up making him so bad-ass in the first place.

As our main goal is to actually get the player to connect with the champion though, on an emotional level, armour just doesn't work that great unless they have a really powerful personality to go with it which can cover the whole problem of not being personable.

Due to this, armour, though nice, is problematic if it covers their face, or obscures their body to the point that you're not really sure who's inside of it.

So... what about the opposite side of things? What if we have a lithe female character design with skin tight clothing?

We run into new problems there, where the biggest issue becomes that, while we'll accept almost anything as male, there's very few things we'll accept as female.

Alistar? Huge brutish male champion. Looks "male", simply because of his brutish nature. Anivia? Eh... she's... a bird? Doesn't really look like much of anything, really, and without hearing her voice or name, most people would just assume male, and even afterward, it doesn't really sell people as being convincingly "female enough".

Back in the day Blizzard tried to make the races on WoW have rather monstrous female models. In the end, it was a horrible bust; players rejected it and refused to play as them because they weren't pretty enough to be considered truly female.

While a guy can be anything he wants to be, and still be a guy, it's pretty limited what you can do with a female character, sadly, due to the fact that most people may claim "equality!" with their mouths, but when it comes to their pursestrings, they speak a rather different tune.

"We want non-stereotypical women!" is a great resounding cry, and honestly, I support the thought wholeheartedly, but on a realistic perspective, if you want to make money, then you're going to have to go with "T&A".

Sucks, I know... but the sad fact is, people who buy skins do so to look more awesome, and if you're playing a female champion, generally they want to look cute or sexy, and not much else.

That doesn't mean you're without options, however!

Consider stuff you can add onto your apparel, such as weapons which stand out, things like horns, bracelets, runes, tattoos, clothing and so on. Essentially you're looking to add on things which speak to your character's personality in a way that seems fitting.

For one of the characters I'm working on as of the writing of this, Kiana is supposed to be a mad scientist, and other than her enormous wears and three pronged tail, both of which stand out considerably, so too does she have your "must have" goggles and labcoat, along with, of course, a nice nondescript square box with an antenna and a single big red button on it marked "DO NOT PRESS".

Now, the button is kind of hard to see outside of splash art, but the rest gives a good, generic feel to the character design and makes it pretty obvious that she's a mad scientist. The specific details would normally be things to enhance the appearance, which aren't included in the basic outfit. For that, she has things like an enormous doctor who-esque scarf with glowing runes carved down it's length and that the end of the antenna on her remote control is actually a star shaped magic wand.

A spellbook clipped to her belt, and a few other little things like this help to give the impression that she's actually a techmaturgist, combining technology and magic together.

The idea is you want to get as much as possible as obvious just in the appearance of your character.

Another example is another champion I'm working on, one referenced in Nemhain's backstory, Caerwyn. Now, Caerwyn's a big girl, standing a good 9'7, but that's not really the big deal there, so much as it is a leaning into her role as a tank. Where Nemhain focuses on mobility, able to dart around a battlefield and just piss people off enough to want to hit her in the face, Caerwyn goes by the concept of just being an immovable object that you aren't getting past if she doesn't feel like you should get past her.

In her own design, she's supposed to be an awe-inspiring runesmith, with knowledge of ancient forging techniques that some today aren't even fully aware of how to work any longer. As such, all of her equipment is heavily laced with runic carvings, as well as designed to appear interlocking based off an interesting set of armour I found back while looking up information for a D&D game a few months ago.

The idea, is that her equipment can be locked in place as a solid structure, either a massive sword, impenetrable shield, or armour that can barely be dented by the strongest of blows, or she can unlock the equipment and the sword slips out into a bladed chain to use at medium range, the shield spreads out into a barrier that can be planted on the ground to block skill shots as if it were impassable terrain, and the armour can be swapped over to a less restrictive form allowing for greater mobility.

These concepts are such that, so long as her helm is always open to expose her face, she'll be very obvious as an individual, rather than just a suit of armour, and the specific designs will play up to her role very well.

So, too, must each design work with the character's personality. Pick out things about them, eccentricities which make them more unique and personable, and work it into their appearance directly.

If you really want some help, try grabbing the source book for an RPG tabletop system, such as D&D, Anima or GURPS, and go through the advantages and disadvantages sections. You're looking for quirks and personal things which stand out and make your character seem more unique than anyone else.

Armed with a few of these, see if there's any way to work them into their appearance. Gragas carries around a huge keg of beer, and Hellboy just wouldn't be himself without that one oversized gauntlet of a hand he has. Batman wouldn't be Batman without the pointy bat-cowl he wears, just as Singed wouldn't be Singed without that oversized potion factory on his back and his riot shield.

You want things which are large, obvious, and stand out, generally, since the isometric overhead view limits the capacity to see much detail on your character. Focus on things near their chest and head, and make abusive use of hair and tails if you can, because they stand out from the body. Anything by their feet, you may as well ignore more or less, since you're pretty much never going to see it in game.

From Ahri's tails, to Ziggs' bombs, the fact that they stand out is what draws your attention in, not the complexity of such. You don't need intricate tiny little details like a ring that has a pentagram carved into it. Who cares? It can't be seen.

Instead, you're looking for the big, blatantly obvious things like Riven's broken runeblade which captures the attention instantly.

Little details like, to use a few Final Fantasy examples, Squall's fur coat around his neck, or Cloud's mako eyes, really stand out in a portrait very well, but they don't work that well in game. If you're going to have some awesome little detail to them, then make sure that it's up near the face where it'll be visible clearly in splash art or portraits.

Otherwise, you're wasting your time designing something that can't be seen, so may as well not bother with.

If I can't see that your character's wearing three belts slung around their waist at different locations, does it really matter? Sure it may be neat, but it may as well be irrelevant.

Add it in, if it doesn't harm modeling, but don't drop it in if it's going to cause problems while trying to make it. You can afford a little bit of pain on the creation process if it really manages to stand out as "ZOMG AWESOMESAUCE" in game, but if it's something that's barely noticeable in a portrait shot, you're probably best off finding another way to make your character stand out.

Anyway, anything else I can think of to add in here would take a dozen posts to fully explain, so I'm afraid I'm going to cut it off here.

In short, however, even if you're just making a champion that's not going to have actual artwork, make sure to describe, in detail, any unique and interesting little bits that make them stand out. If your character has a tribal tattoo that covers half their face, and the other half is painted black and white in the visage of a skull, and one eye has targeting crosshairs for a pupil, kind of like my Neerah design (who won't be made into a LoL champion, so don't wait for seeing that one), then yeah, tell us about it! It helps get a feel for how neat they are, and will help a great deal in case anyone ever wants to make an image of them!

Regardless, that's about all I have to say for the moment. As such, pack your things and head out, since class is dismissed!

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Good evening, today... there were three classes written today, but this evening, there is no more, only a special thanks section.

There are hundreds, likely even thousands of people who worked hard in their own way for this guide to come about.

Despite that I can't realistically name all of them, I'm still going to try to get as many as possible ^.^

First off... a direct copy/paste from Merylindra's guides compilation post!

Champion Creation Guides:

Champion Creation Tips (v3) - Katsuni
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/....php?t=2099323 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=2099323)

Champion Creation Tips (v2) - Katsuni
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...d.php?t=698074 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=698074)

Wanna make a champion? View this! - JASLegend
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/....php?t=1363277 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=1363277)

Alenena's Guide to Numbers for Champion Creation - Alenena
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...d.php?t=988748 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=988748)

Yousosmart's Guide to Champion Concept Creation - Yousosmart
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...d.php?t=806997 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=806997)

5 Tips on making a good champion suggestion - Clarkness
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...d.php?t=979397 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=979397)

Public Service Announcement - Echoing
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/....php?t=1297164 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=1297164)

Zileas' List of Game Design Anti-Patterns - Zileas
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...d.php?t=293417 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=293417)

Guide for Creating Champs - Liforce
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/....php?t=1934350 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=1934350)

Champion Suggestion Guide - Celticz
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/...d.php?t=706530 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=706530)

Reviewing Guides
How to Review a Champion - Jaykoboy
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/....php?t=1513686 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=1513686)

Posting Guides:

A friendly resource to all Champion Concept Designers - BSMaster
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/....php?t=1975038 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=1975038) (champion template)

Improving the Concept Board - Duke Br0heimer
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/....php?t=1832942 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=1832942)

Skin Suggestion Guides:
none yet

Free Review Threads (no return review required)

Cryypter's Champion Reviews 2.0 - Cryypter
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/....php?t=1399217 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=1399217)

DarthDevor's Champion Reviews - DarthDevor
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/....php?t=1896103 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=1896103)

Lore Review and Writing

Let me write your Champion's lore! - Paradigm
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/....php?t=1853163 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=1853163)

Other Compilations:

Champion Concepts: The Best of The Best - DrTemptragon
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/....php?t=1035198 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=1035198)

List of weapons that need to be used by champions - OninomizuRaaxon
http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/....php?t=1688977 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=1688977)
I'm not the only one on the board who's made a guide, obviously, and everyone on this above list deserves thanks as well for helping out around here! There's no way I can do all this work by myself!

Many on the list have provided support while writing this, and all of them have attempted to help the community out in much the way I have. To each and every one, thanksies! =3

Additionally, there's a few others on the forum who I'd like to thank personally.

Thayen, for specifically pushing me to work harder and always being supportive in my work, and keeping me (partially) sane as I worked through it! ^.^

Villanova and ElementSteel for helping with their own support and a great deal of aid in relaxation in between. Both of them have pretty much left the champion concepts forum, as has Thayen, due to the community being a bit... frustrating... but even so, I keep in touch regardless. They've all been a great help =3

Blind and Bliztron for additional support and kind words!

Everyone who's posted on this thread with their thanks or encouragement. It's been a great help. It's hard to keep going when it feels like there's been no reason if no one's even bothering to read it. Even just stating you got a bit of use out of it has really helped me out. I'll confess I've actually gone searching, now and then, on the forum for my name, just to see if I get mentioned in other posts as well... that people actually link to the guide and recommend it... well, it's been a bit of pillar of support to let me know that it's worth doing, and to keep working at it.

What can I say? I have a frail little ego, and all the help I can get, well... helps XD

These are clearly not the only ones who have helped, oh no! No, there's a great many more than that!

For example, I'd like to especially thank the faculty at the Halifax campus Centre for Arts & Technology, and Brenadan McGrath in particular. I learned a fair portion of what's in the guide there, and each member of the instructors helped a great deal towards that end.

Others who I'd like to single out, would be Ryan Scott, AKA Morello, and Tom Cadwell, AKA Zileas, as well as David Turley, AKA Phreak. While only Zileas is directly quoted in this guide, the information on game and character design I've learned from their posts and directly chatting with Morello is immense, and it's helped me out a great deal towards having this information to provide in the first place.

Additionally, every individual who provided interviews for the book and package "Game Design: Secrets of the Sages 2nd Edition" also gets thanked, because it was a book I got for Christmas years and years ago... it was the key turning point that made me realize it might actually be possible to not just dream of game design, but actually enter into it on a realistic level. The stuff I've learned from that book alone was immense, and subsequent books I've read have been often just as insightful, but not quite as key in my education and life =3

To that point, I'd also like to thank anyone who's worked in any game and spoken in interviews, or with their fans directly. Even if I haven't heard your words yet, the fact that you've taken your time and effort out to help others follow in your footsteps is something which deserves a thank. All the interviews, all the chats, all the booklets from Valve to Blizzard, Sierra and Epic Megagames, ID and Games Workshop, to everyone else who has provided such... the stuff I've learned from each has been immense, and I probably wouldn't have the material to offer to anyone else were it not for each of you =3

Additionally, I'd like to thank Merylindra for some help on RPG information and for compiling the list of guides. I'd like to thank Stexe for more than just an interest in the community, but also actually for helping me work through some stuff and chatting from time to time =3 Echoing, though as far as I'm aware, does not visit here any longer, I thank for being brutally honest for the times I haven't had the heart to do so.

I'd like to also thank MXNecromancer and everyone else who worked on the old DotA: Titans project before it went bust, the designers of DotA: Allstars, and all of Riot for League of Legends. Without your hard work and dedication, the guide never would have occurred as I'd never have gotten interested in this line of games in the first place, likely!

Anyway, I could just pick up a phone book and list that off too, but someone beat me to it (durn you, arfenhaus!).

For anyone I've missed, you have not just thanks, but an apology for forgetting you! Sorry about that!

Regardless, in the end, without everyone's help, the guide would not exist, so thanks. ^.^

Oh and one last person that can't be forgotten...

A very special thanks goes out to RiotAmes. I've no clue who you are in terms of a real name, but I can tell you that your interest in the forum, even if limited by time, has given many people here a much greater interest in working harder on their designs. Thanks also for the fun chats we've had over email! It's nice to learn a bit more about the inner workings at Riot =3

Anyway, <3's to all mentioned!

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This is where I'm supposed to talk in a dry, monotonous third person drone about myself, isn't it?

Meh, screw that.

If you're reading this, this is just the "About the Author" section. Honestly, it's not that big a deal, but if you're really that curious as to the mind behind the guide, and what brought me to making it in the first place, well... I guess read on? Personally, I think it's boring, but whatever.

So who wrote this thing anyway?

Well, I'm generally known as Catreece, though several internet pseudonyms come to mind, the most notable being Katsuni. Before anyone asks, I've been using the name "Katsuni" since long before the pornstar, but that you think that highly of me, I guess I'm thankful... kinda?

But really, what's in a name, anyway?

Considering my given name at birth is one I refuse to go by, I'd personally say "nothing more than that which you place in it".

This isn't something I particularly define myself by, and don't really consider to be of particular importance for the most part, but yes, I, Catreece, am transgendered. Yay, big deal, whatever. Anyway, the point of this is that it means I wasn't always known by such, and legally, I can't claim such. Due to this, if anyone from Riot glances at this guide, and then looks at my resume and wonders why the disconnect, well, there you go.

Does it matter? Not a great deal, but in some ways, yes, yes it does.

From even a very early age, I learned the hard way that I wasn't going to be cared for or loved because of who I was. One of those things you always hear, "just be yourself", is about the biggest lie our culture has going for it. Regardless, this has helped me get to where I am today.

For those unfamiliar with the terminology or concept, I'll put it a bit more bluntly. I was born male, and am pretty much anything but; about as pure female as you get. Ah well, technicalities aside, what this has meant is that I'm well aware of gender differences in people, and have come to accept that it's been near impossible to find anyone who can get past that, which makes it near impossible to find any kind of love. On the plus side, it does mean that if someone does care for you, you're pretty much assured it's not just for your body, and my boyfriend is <3's

Regardless, the point I'm getting at is that I've spent my whole life pretty acutely aware that who I am is practically worthless. As such, I've dedicated myself towards devoting myself to being "worthy" in other ways, namely all that I do. In games, I strive to be the best that I can, and have made my way to the top guild of a server I was on in WoW, even leading a progression raid group for awhile until my computer's video card fried and I wasn't able to get a new one. I've worked hard at learning, and in general, everything I do, I strive to prove my worth, since I'm far too well aware that being smart, kind, friendly and a hard worker isn't going to do much for me.

This particular situation also means that I've long since been aware of the whole "girl gamer" issue, and have avoided it as much as possible. The last thing I need is to have people thinking I'm some guy trying to pretend to be a girl online to get free stuff.

In fact, I learned long ago, that the whole "admitting to being female" thing was a pain in pretty much all ways, shapes, and forms. You'd get guys going ZOMG BEWBZ (I'm flat chested, go away) and ignoring all else, you'd have girls (and guys taking advantage of this) who would flaunt such and demand free stuff in diablo, WoW and other games as they came out, and generally, there have been tons of issues, from harassment, to "lul ther r no gurlz on inturwebz".

There are those who flaunt such, from the "IMMA GIRL GAMER IM SPECIAL", who I just want to slap in the face, to those who just want "free stuff because lulbewbz", who also deserve a slap. With a rock. In the head. There are also those like myself, who have kept this generally well hidden, and have decided it's just not worth the trouble.

I've gone quite far out of my way to hide this information, for the most part, though it's kind of obvious once I get on skype or ventrillo and such, and often I've gotten "caught" long before such. Apparently there are so many small little things we say or ways we act that give us away.

Anyway, the point here, is that I've done my best to earn my position for myself by... well... earning it. I've had a lot of issues in my life over the years, and the one, biggest thing I've come to accept, is that it's near impossible to get anyone to care for you, for the sake of being who you are. That I have someone who does care for me as I am is something I'd not dreamed possible, and am more than grateful for <3

As such, I've dedicated an enormous amount of my time and energy towards being what I deem as "useful" on my own merit. I need to know that I've earned my own way, and not just had it given to me. It's not that big a deal these days, as it once was, but it's still there. The whole "equality" thing is a myth, and won't ever truly occur anyway. Girls get some ups, and some downs. Guys get some ups, and some downs. If anyone figures out you're trans, they figure you're doing it for some personal advantage, ignoring the massive pile of problems that comes with it. It's just how it goes, and I've accepted that.

Even so, I try to minimize the damage as much as possible, and make sure that, if I'm given something, that I earned it and deserve it. It hurts to think that people might honestly believe that the *ONLY* reason I'm around, is simply because I'm like "the guild master's girlfriend" or something like that. Hence... I tend to dedicate myself pretty hardcore towards doing anything I do to the best of my ability.

This includes, for example, an ex-bf who dragged me into a raiding guild of one of their friends. It just so happened to be the top guild on the server, and I was probably going to get in anyway, simply because they wanted my ex so badly. Turned out he didn't do much and I don't think he ever truly managed to get into it and do raiding. I ended up a raid leader within three weeks, and main tank for the 10man progression group, and offtank on the 25man guild runs.

That's just an example though. Pretty much everything goes the same way, as you people have probably noticed by now. I make sure to dig in hard into new topics, and ensure I understand them inside and out. I don't know everything, but I certainly try, if nothing else ^.^

Game design, however, is one of my true passions. The idea of being able to have an interactive environment is just amazing. I'm a writer at heart, but the concept of a story which evolves with the player, based on their choices, and can have them take active part in it, is something I can't help but romanticize about.

So how did I get into games in the first place then?

Well, I've been playing video games... I dunno, as far as I can remember. My dad had an Atari 800XL, complete with 5.25" floppy drive. My first "real" game system, was a Sega Genesis that I got when I was... 6 I think. My first "real" console game being the original Sonic the Hedgehog (this was before Sonic 2 was even released).

Even back then, I pretty much loved the idea, though the concept of "plot in games" was kind of... well, it was like "half a page in the manual as a brief excuse for why you're shooting space aliens". At the time, I was more interested in artwork than anything.

Years later, I'd started getting into RPG's, but my favorites were still Space Shooters, and the Metroid series. In my early teens, I started getting into actual writing, though admittedly, I kinda sucked at it at the time. Somewhere, hopefully long gone, there may still be a copy of my original story... 40,000 words... it could've classified as a book. And it was *BAD*. But, that's how hindsight is for any artist, so I guess I have to cut myself a little slack. The Mary Sue character I put into it though... well, I didn't know any better at the time. It still hurts to think about, however.

I dabbled in writing a bit more over the years, and got pretty good at it. I could've become a good artist as well, but unfortunately, I knew a few too many professional artists personally. The comic writers of Eon's Comic, RPG World, E3-diots, Exterminatus Now, and someone who went to work for Archie Comics on the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series, to name a few, just made any adequacy I felt I had go squish.

But, I realized that I could write better than any of them. As my instructors in college had explained, pretty much anyone can be taught to draw. It may come more naturally to some than others, but it's a trainable skill.

Writing is also a skill, but a far more picky and finicky one. It's near impossible to write something without language being part of your brain from the start. Note that I don't mean spelling (pft, I can't spell worth ****), but specifically, the capacity to grasp the meaning and feeling of language on a natural level. Forcing it just doesn't work like drawing does, sadly.

Anyway, I digress. I did a bunch of writing to make up for my (in my mind) sub-par drawing capacity (it honestly wasn't THAT bad, but certainly wasn't that great either). I virtually never did any fan-fiction, despite that being a bit odd for a pre-teen girl writer. The closest I ever came was a single story based in the StarCraft universe, but with all the characters being my own personal ones, and the same occurring in a BattleTech universe story as well. (No, you can't read them. They're old and make me blush at how bad they are in comparison to current stuff XD )

I got into stuff like AD&D 2nd Edition, BattleTech, MTG, Magi-Nation, all sorts of stuff like that. It was around this time I realized I needed to 'create' stuff, more than 'use' stuff. Most people like playing games... I could just sit, for hours and hours on end, making up schematics for battlemechs, or D&D characters, or trading card game decks. I didn't even care if they got used, so much as I just liked being able to create something new.

Fast forwards a few years, and I'm in college. A 3D game design college, where I learned a ton of stuff, such as further information on character design, how to model, rig, but also game balance as a whole, which I was already pretty good at. I even learned to be fairly respectable at drawing, and don't feel bad about that anymore, though I'm a bit out of practice right now, I know I could get back to where I was in skill easily enough with a month or two of practice ^.^

Unfortunately, such things are not meant to last. Like most college students, I dropped out. Not by choice, but moreso... about a month after I got to the college, things started falling apart. People I loved dying, marriages breaking up, the whole "starving art student" becoming a little bit too accurate for my tastes... you'd be surprised, when they say you can support a child for as little as $1 per day, trust me, you *CAN* live on $1 a day. It's not pretty... but it's possible.

Long story short, relatively speaking, I wound up suicidal, living alone and depressed as hell and starving. Kiiiinda sucked. I managed to cling onto hope for about a year and a half out of the two year course, but then a number of really nasty things all landed on my lap at once, which just flat out broke me, and I had to drop out because of it.

To those who say that depression should just be shrugged off... I'd never felt it before either. Never like that. Trust me, there's a good reason why people can kill themselves over it, and there's an equally good reason as to how it can just destroy someones' life.

After nearly a year of suffering through that, though, I managed to get a break finally. Yay! A job. A real job. A writing job. A $9,000 3-month contract to be the lead writer in an indie-developed MMORPG. Woo! I wouldn't be wallowing in debt, I'd be able to eat macaroni and cheese again (yeah, I was that broke ;_; ), and generally things were looking up.

Less than a month after starting, my internet died hardcore. Work online? Well ****. Ended up being forced to go back home, worst possible place to do work, ended up having to drop the contract early again due to being incapable of doing the work, and losing computer access due to family issues showing up. Joy.

No, I'm not kidding, the idea of "I'm working" is a foreign concept to my family, to the point I was working 12 hour work days on 2 hours sleep a night and the other 10 catering to their every need because they're incapable of doing anything on their own, so I got all my brother's chores, who refused to help, my mother's chores, and my dad never does anything but throw tantrums like a two year old, screaming and yelling while on a skype call with my boss trying to discuss details of work... yeah... that didn't last too long, sadly.

I did everything I could to work around the situation, but the sad fact of the matter is I couldn't work under those conditions, and so the job fell through.

Several more attempts to get work have fallen through, as... well... it's awfully hard to get through a phone interview with someone screaming in the background like a spoiled child. Sigh.

Well, with limited experience, and an unfinished college credit, I decided to apply to some bigger name companies anyway. As expected, no reply. Eventually even worked up the nerve to attempt to apply to two positions at Riot, and got turned down on both; one got pulled within a week of applying so they were probably already in the process of interviewing for the writing position, and the design position had about the same happen.

And that brings us to the present day. I guess I skipped through a lot, but whatever! Essentially, I'm putting all my effort into making this guide for the sake of having a legacy, of sorts. It's kinda 50-50 at this point if I'll make it through another year at this rate, considering problems just keep being endlessly dumped on me. At the very least, I hope to have something that will help people out before I go.

This is the final post being written, and at this point, I can at least die happy, if that's what happens. I've finished my magnum opus, and have something to leave behind for those that follow. Maybe I'll starve to death, maybe I'll be able to actually find work, I'm not sure.

With minimum wage pretty much out of the question at this point due to a variety of reasons, working from home being impossible due to a family that refuses to allow such and go directly out of their way to interfere at every chance possible, and nowhere near enough experience to get a job in a well known company, kiiinda stuck. Still, maybe there's hope yet.

All things considered, though, I'd just as soon get a real job again. Something to drag me out of this hell hole and into just doing WORK. I actually enjoy working, of all things, and would love to just get a job at Riot. Is it realistic? Probably not, but you know what? That section on the rules still applies. Rules can be broken. As a rule, you can't have your dreams, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't try.

Maybe the guide will draw attention. Who knows. Even if it doesn't, at least people will have a professional quality design document to work from. This is literally high enough quality that you could use it to train employees with (even if it rants a bit at times), so, please, get some use out of it.

After all, the only thing I've ever truly wanted was to be useful. I've poured, at this point, hundreds of hours into making this guide. Don't let it go to waste. Read it, learn from it, and justify my poor little existence XD

Anyway, I'm in a rough spot right now, but I have a boyfriend who loves me muchly, and friends around to help drag me through the rough times, so it's not all that bad. And of course, I have the readers on the forum, here. Keep making awesome champion concepts. Even if they never get into the game, at least it gives me something neat to read.

In the end, my work is done. The guide's finished, though it may need some revisions here and there as I learn more. The point is, I have something that I can leave behind and say I helped people out with, so that they could unlock their own creative potential. If nothing else, I got to teach, I got to learn, and I got to work hard, all in the name of being useful.

I've gone through some pretty rough times in my life, and considering some of the debts I have that are rapidly approaching, it's probably just going to get rougher still, but I guess I'm happy anyway.

I've done my job. I didn't get paid for it, and it was a hell of a lot of work, but it's done, and it's something I can be proud of. I have those who care for me, and if I get a chance to provide my knowledge to others by actually getting out of this area and to actually work on a real game... well... it'd be nice to have a purpose in life again as this chapter is now closed.

Until then, I guess I'll just have to see where things go from here.

I hope the guide's been useful to your own creations, and I hope I didn't bore you too much with a whiny little commentary about my sad excuse for a life in the process just now.

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, gripes or death threats, please leave them as replies to this post, and I'll get to them as soon as I'm able!

Note that I'm more than willing to offer information on specific problems or anything I may have missed in the guide, so do please ask! ^.^

And with that... I'm out. Goodnight everyone!

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This is the part of the guide dedicated to new stuff that has been added recently. It shall be added in reverse chronological order, with links which lead to the newly added, or edited, article in question for ease of viewing "new stuff".

31 July, 2012, 8:17PM AST:
The final post is up; "About the Author". Honestly, I doubt there's anything of interest in there, but if you're really that nosy, go right ahead I guess.

31 July, 2012, 7:18PM AST:
The conclusion is up, thanking those who helped out or made the guide possible. Thanks everyone!

31 July, 2012, 6:29PM AST:
The final "true" article is finished: Breaking The Rules. The only two sections left are unrelated to the guide itself and are merely nice little additions on the tail end of things. For now... it's over, and you now have all the tools at your disposal to make a champion as I can think of that I myself have. I've probably missed stuff, but still, this should be more than enough to get you on the right track! Good luck, and I hope to see even more awesome designs than ever before from you!

31 July, 2012, 4:39PM AST:
The second last section of the guide is finished; Put Yourself in Their Shoes. Only one to go... the one that died yesterday when I was almost finished... that's it, yeu're going DOWN!

31 July, 2012, 2:52PM AST:
The first post of the day is up, and page 4 is now complete. Check the last post on the list, and you'll find The Whole Package is up and running!

30 July, 2012, 11:48PM AST:
Grrr. I was almost finished with the section on Breaking the Rules... and then the cat hit the power switch on the power bar... lost everything. I even had two backup copies; one failed to save, and the other was corrupted -_- Anyway, after that nonsense, I didn't want to do that all over again, so you're getting Scaling instead.

30 July, 2012, 12:45PM AST:
"What to avoid" is now up! Only 4 more main articles to go, and 2 bonus ones after that. Hoping to get another two done today, so I'm back to work right now ^.~

29 July, 2012, 7:10PM AST:
Concept and 3D Artwork! Zomg! Some of you may have been waiting on this for awhile, and now it's up! We're practically in the home stretch now, so look forwards to the guide being "finished" in the next few days ^.^

28 July, 2012, 10:43PM AST:
The second section for today, Different ways of doing things and why it matters, is up! Go look! LOOK! *Grabs you by the collar and shakes you* LOOK o.o;;

28 July, 2012, 8:45PM AST:
Today we have Balancing Champions and Abilities. Sounds fun, doesn't it? Yay math! Anyway, go take a peak ^.~

27 July, 2012, 10:44PM AST:
The second section for today is up! This time, it's all about multi-form abilities. Go take a gander ^.^

27 July, 2012, 7:37PM AST:
Numbers and what they mean, THE MOVIE! Or, well, the post. Whichever. Also, really creepy... I finished exactly 1 minute earlier than the last time I put up a post! CREEEEEPY!

25 July, 2012, 7:38PM AST:
Today we have How to Simplify Abilities. I'm not sure how that took so long to write, but it did... regardless, it's up, even if it took three times longer than normal. Still not sure what happened there, rawr!

24 July, 2012, 10:32PM AST:
Zomgzomgzomg the first post on page 5! ZOMG! Actually, I jumped ahead a bit, but whatever. Two posts today, both in relation to Anti-patterns, because it really is so large a topic that it took up nearly 10,000 words on this topic alone! Go read! NAU! >=O

23 July, 2012, 5:51PM AST:
Since that little detour to cover some other stuff in a related guide, it's been a few days since we've had stuff here! Fortunately, the return is nigh, and you'll find the "complex is not always better" section up and running! =3

19 July, 2012, 3:11PM AST:
Today's topic is Synergy. It's a bit weird to wrap your head around, but once you get it, it's easy as cherry pie. Feel free to add innuendo as you please.

18 July, 2012, 2:28PM AST:
We're back to the big, messy posts again... this one I had to trim back from 32,000 characters, and that was with being cautious to try to cram it all in. The third page was simple stuff, easy to describe. From hereon in, we're getting into the highly theoretical, so pay close attention, because I can only teach you how to think; I can't actually force you to think on your own though. Anyway, for today, we have making fun abilities, so check it out!

17 July, 2012 2:42PM AST:
Now we're into the heavy hitter big stuff. Today, you get to work with flaws, gaps and holes. If you're reading this post, I suggest going back and brushing up on the first three pages before you get into this one, because we're stepping up our game to professional quality territory now.

16 July, 2012 4:54PM AST:
Today's first update (likely another later on!) is ultimates! With this, the third page is now completed, yay!

15 July, 2012 5:37PM AST:
Another one today to try to catch up to my schedule! Hopefully will even get another one done to get mostly back up to date =3 This one is activated abilities, so go check it out!

15 July, 2012 5:37PM AST:
Took a few days to get this one finished, odd since it was short, but I've had a bunch of stuff going on which really slowed things down. Fortunately, it's now finished! Passives is up!

11 July, 2012, 11:33AM AST:
Starting in on abilities, today we do an overview of what the different ones are, and a neat things like how to change up the standard ability order!

10 July, 2012, 11:39PM AST:
Burst mages are up. You've probably been waiting for this for awhile, so enjoy!

09 July, 2012, 9:16PM AST:
Assassins are up! NINJ LIKE A PRO, BABY!

08 July, 2012, 11:19PM AST:
It's so much easier to keep to my schedule with people helping me out this time! Today was a pain due to constant, endless stuff to do from cooking to cleaning to yardwork, but regardless, the DPS / Carry section is now online, Terracom!

07 July, 2012, 5:43APM AST:
Support champions are up! Not just what is, but where they're headed during the middle of a major shift in how the game plays right now that's been going on for awhile. Go take a gander, as I'd love to see more support champions on the forum here ^.^

06 July, 2012, 4:26PM AST:
Today's article is brought to you by the letters T A N, and the variable K. >.>;

05 July, 2012, 4:02PM AST:
Another day, another article. Today we have the first post of page 3 done, and it covers purpose and role! Also... what happened to the 3rd? I know the 4th I worked on making a version of the guide for Mobafire, but I have NO idea where the 3rd went O.o;

04 July, 2012: http://www.mobafire.com/league-of-legends/build/champion-creation-guide-226044 (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/redirect.php?do=verify&redirect_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mobafire.com%2Fleague-of-legends%2Fbuild%2Fchampion-creation-guide-226044) The Mobafire version is now available for use, and is a bit easier to read than the current format! ^.^
02 July, 2012, 6:44PM AST:
Told'ja so. Two updates today alone, and possibly a third or fourth yet to go. This time, the update is New Resource systems. Enjoy!

02 July, 2012, 3:34PM AST:
New section up, and there's going to be a lot more shortly. Today, you have Naming Conventions, so feel free to check them out!

14 June, 2012, 3:06PM AST:
Time for another new section! This time is on unique ideas, or more specifically, the lack thereof!

12 June, 2012, 10:34PM AST:
Lore time, boys and girls and others of indiscriminate gender!

08 June, 2012, 9:29PM AST:
Inspiration is up! How inspiring! Seriously, I should go back and edit out some of those puns, because they're more rotten than usual tonight XD

08 June, 2012, 6:28PM AST:

06 June, 2012, 10:00PM AST:
Weird, 10:00PM exactly. Well, whotever! Another section's up, that's three in one day! Woohoo go energy! Energy's pretty easy to work with, in comparison to mana, so it's a moderately small section, but go check it out!

06 June, 2012, 8:07PM AST:
Ooh second chapter in the same day, even! This time it's mana! Go take a look-see!

06 June, 2012, 5:33PM AST:
Section 6 is done, but I went out of order a bit, and started work in on the resource systems as I felt it was more important to get this done sooner, but the order of the listing makes sense still. So, feel free to take a look!

24th May, 2012, 2:22PM AST:
Section 5's done. Today, it's all about character design! Go take a look! =3

17th May, 2012, 6:55PM AST:
Section 4 is up! The first page is fully finished! This section was a bit shorter than the others, but honestly, it's pretty easy to cover. Technically, I could have blown the entire length of the whole guide to date on it, but it wouldn't have given much more help than there already was provided. =3

13th May, 2012, 2:47PM AST:
Sorries for the delay! The third article, (or, technically, the first), relating to Design Philosophy, is now up!

08th May, 2012, 4:55PM AST:
The second article, Choices, has been completed.

08th May, 2012, 1:07PM AST:
The full fledged criticism article is now up. Yay for the first part of the guide being truly finished! This will also give an idea of the length of the rest of the articles. This one actually ended upa t about 33,000 words, and I had to do some trimming to cram it in there ^.~

07th May, 2012, 8:37PM AST: All 50 posts are up, and the entirety of both indexes are formatted and linked properly to their appropriate posts. Full blown articles are mostly empty still, but shall begin filling out shortly, as I intend to get 1-3 done per night, hopefully.