Category: League of Legends

The Appearance Problem

EDIT: Riot, you know how to set my heart aflutter. Just today had Diana announced. I’m not going to pretend to be less angry about Zyra because the next female champion is well armed and armored (but Zyra != Diana, and I will be ecstatic for her), however…  if this is a new initiative to bring out a broader range of characters, then I can accept where Zyra went (somewhat, still not entirely cohesive). I’m eagerly watching. I have high expectations because, in the end, you guys don’t let down. I know Riot can put out phenomenal quality work.


Let me preface this with the dual warnings of vehemence and yes, once again, we’re talking about Zyra. Specifically, how flat and boring the character is because Riot opted for the ‘eye-candy’ approach instead of fleshing out the character in a meaningful way on top of her mechanics and back-story. And as a further warning, there will probably be harsh language in this post for the first time ever. Why? This is why. This is a fucking problem and you should care. But we’re not going to talk about that first. First it’s the obvious problem of Zyra’s graphical design in-game.

Now I know this first part is probably going to ruffle some feathers, but it needs to be said so pay attention. Zyra is a boring and uninteresting character. Whats even worse than that is Zyra is thematically in-game a worse plant character than a damned skin for another character. Who? Blackthorn Morgana. Yes, you read that right, and it is completely sad. A recent skin for a very old champion is a better plant mage than the plant mage Riot was trying to make.

Now, that is a pretty bold statement, so let’s break it down a little. We’re going to mostly compare the two characters in thematic sense, both with spell details and character details. No one bring up the spells themselves, it’s very obvious Zyra wins out here, however it’s the subtle addition effects where she loses to Morgana. First we’re going to the more obvious visual effects on each character. Keep in mind from here on out, I’m only referring to in-game models, not the lore, design, or mechanics of the characters just yet.

Blackthorn Morgana, Riot Inc.

Blackthorn Morgana is an obvious elemental of Nature, specifically Fall or early Winter. This is evident all through the character as the eye rests on her most prominent features, her “dress” of roots and thorns, and the wings on her back. Depending on what team you spawn on, the wings can play an even greater visual component, but for now we’ll just assume you’re looking at her from the front. Her dress of roots is constantly shifting as Morgana moves around, especially on a subtle level as the roots that comprise it slither and shift slowly drives home the feeling of a living creature. Her ‘clothing’ isn’t merely there as a covering, it becomes part of the character and brings a holistic and living aspect to what once was mere cloth and metal. This is further exemplified by her idle animation, as the tips of the roots will constantly push under the soil, as if they were searching for a place to take root and draw sustenance from.
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Really Riot? This crap again?

Okay, I know I promised Planetside 2 today, but Riot officially released Zyra. And holy crap, “disappointment” doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel about this. Zyra looked fantastic in the teaser Morello posted, but her main artwork looks utterly ridiculous and lazy. How bad is it? Well… we need to have a little talk, Riot. Just for a few minutes, and I promise it won’t hurt. Much. I bite sometimes. Sometimes. So sit down and flip a coin while I get started.

Zyra went from being a must-buy to an extreme disappointment in the span of about 12 seconds to me, but not just because she’s naked. Because I know Riot can do better than this. I know you can draw an attractive female character without having to rely on cheap booty-call images to get the point across. How do I know? Simple! Zyra’s own artwork!

Sex Appeal vs. Sexiness/Seduction:

Okay, so what’s the problem? First, the teaser photo Morello uploaded was far and away better than the whole thing. Here’s why- In the photo her entire body is unseen and Zyra’s face is obscured by her hair. This creates an alluring sense of mystery, of speculation that draws a viewer in. I wanted to know more about Zyra. I wanted to see what she looked like. Her “clothing” such as it was gave even more of a sense of appeal, in that it clearly wasn’t fabric or manmade. What kind of clothing style is it? Elegant? Detached? Sultry? The possibilities are endless and serve to increase the mystery about her.

See for yourself. This is as good as it’ll get.

Taking it a step further, her hand coupled with the flowering ‘clothing’ creates a distinct sense of ‘not-human’, a character that has a humanoid form without being ‘human in a funky dress’ because of the mysterious air about her that we just covered. THAT is sexy, that is seducing the viewer through teasing hints and subtle displays.

And all of it is ruined by Zyra’s “full” artwork. All of that mysteriousness is removed because, why should we care to speculate? We know exactly what she looks like now. You’ve removed the allure of the strange and unseen. Yes, her face is still obscured, but now it doesn’t matter. The mystic appearance to her “clothing” is stripped away, because she isn’t even wearing any now. So it’s a naked human female with some off views.

Wait, but didn’t I say she wasn’t human before, just given a humanoid form? Well yes! I did. But that illusion is shattered by showing her full (and almost completely naked) body. Shes lost almost all of the mysterious appeal, and that has removed the sense of other. I’ve seen the image throughout writing this and only just now discovered she has 2 sets of ‘ears.’ And that’s still not enough, the illusion of difference has been scattered. Zyra has turned into a naked human with odd bits of her, not something other that happens to look human.

Now, this is where the old, tired, and pointless phrase “but it’s not flesh! she’s not human!” comes into play. And I’m dismissing it now, because it doesn’t make any sense. You can say whatever you want, if the character doesn’t have the visuals to back it up, no one will care nor will they believe you. After seeing that Riot could tell me Zyra was made entirely of sentient cats that fused together like Voltron to form Zyra and it wouldn’t make any difference. The appearance of non-human has been removed and replaced by “human with weird bits.”

Look me in the eye and tell me she’s anything more than a naked woman.

So what am I getting at?

I’m not going to lie, at this point I feel like I’ve been insulted. Riot has the talent to make and display truly sensational characters across tons of dama… err… appeals. They have the capacity to do so much amazing work, it really does hurt to see a character fall back to the tired and borderline lazy approach of “let’s make a sexy champion. Draw her almost naked!”

Sexiness is not a problem. You can have sexy, sultry champions. Hell, look at Ahri, she’s a great example of allure and charm that’s presented perfectly. She doesn’t have to have two square inches of cloth covering her breasts and crotch like Janna to pull it off, she does that in appearance, speech, and subtle positions in artwork and animations. Drawing a character like that isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work to get everything to work, to display a truly seductive champion, and I think Riot nailed that with Ahri. I think Riot nailed with Zyra too, but went overboard and wound up dispelling most of the magic that was there.

So this is the point of it all, and pretty much a plea to Riot. Please, don’t fall back on cheap and easy “sex appeal” by just having a character (male or female!!) be mostly naked. Give them personality, have them be alive and grow. Plant the idea of a vibrant and living character in out minds and let them expand from that. If seduction and sexiness is supposed to be a part of Zyra, then make it work better than this. Have the character plant a seed of desire in the player.

I’m not going to say “Scrap it and start again!” or “make her wear X style/cothing!” to get my point across. But I am going to ask you keep this in mind in the future. Scantily clad women just for the sake of it are everywhere in the industry. Stand apart from that, rise up to the next level. If you want to make sexy, make it good and make it grow on us. Let those vines of desire dig deep into us as players, not shallow appeal by having more flesh than clothing. That’s all I’m asking. I know it sounds like a lot, but I know you can do it. You’re Riot, one of the best game design companies I’ve seen. Your product is one I’ve spent tons of time and effort in, and enjoy every single game. Go to the next level, make it better. Make it the best you can.

I really want to like Zyra. I really, really do. But I don’t think I can take another “sex appeal for the sake of it” character. Best of luck Riot, I’ll be waiting for the ability details and spotlight. Not to see if you’ve changed anything, but because Zyra intrigues me. She just does so far less than she had before.

Oh boy. Oooh boy. I’ve been  waiting on this. The newest addition to League of Legends, provided by the one and only Meddler of Riot Games. I was eagerly awaiting this champion, because Meddler also made Ziggs. Dying to know if that was a one-off or if he’d keep up the same quality of work. And did he ever nail. Meddler’s now sitting with Xypherous a favorite designer, and that’s about the biggest compliment I can give. Now, with that out-of-the-way, let’s take a look at how Varus actually functions, and break down his playstyle.

Varus, The Arrow of Retribution:

(Passive) Living Vengeance: Varus gains attack speed for a short time after killing a target. Minion kills grant Varus 20% attack speed for 3 seconds. Champion kills or assists double this, giving Varus 40% attack speed for 6 seconds.

Piercing Arrow:  (first cast) Varus draws his bow back, charging up a powerful shot. Range and damage are increased as you charge, up to a cap. If the spell is held for too long, Piercing Arrow is cancelled and refunds half its mana cost. (second cast) After charging, Varus fires a long-range attack, dealing damage based on how long the skill was charging, up to a cap. This ability does diminishing damage the more targets it passes through.

Blighted Quiver (Passive ability): Varus’ arrows apply blight to any target hit, along with a small amount of bonus magic damage. Blight stacks up to three times, and can be proc’d by any of Varus’ other abilities, dealing a percentage of the target’s maximum health as magic damage for each stack of blight.

Hail of Arrows: Varus fires a hail of arrows at target location, desecrating the ground under it. Enemies on desecrated ground suffer a move speed penalty and receive 50% less healing.

(Ultimate) Chain of Corruption: Varus fires off a tendril of corruption, binding the first champion hit. This corruption will spread to any nearby enemy champions, rooting them in place if the tendril makes it to them. This effect can continue to spread until all no targets are available, but can not spread to the same champion more than once.

Varus excels at poking and long-range harassment, even more than most other carries. His Piercing Arrow ability has the single largest range of any non-ultimate skill shot when fully charged, and hits like an absolute truck at full charge. Varus has an insane amount of tricks up his sleeve, allowing for truly impressive play. With proper vision, Varus can easily snipe red or blue buff, dragon, or even Baron Nashor with a well placed Q, easily granting himself and his team a large advantage. Hail of Arrows applies a decently sized area that slows enemies and reduces healing, making it an essential skill against enemies with sustain, such as Soraka or Dr. Mundo. His ultimate can easily change a team fight, spreading out and binding an entire team if they clump together.
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League of Legends: Lulu

This is something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile now, and it just never felt like the right time. I was considering just skipping along past the crazed yordle, but with the delay to Hecarim, this brings up the perfect chance to get information on Lulu out there before the patch. That and I never get to play Lulu, so anything more than a first impressions on one game would take some time. I’m usually stuck in the jungle, and while you can do jungle Lulu, I’d rather just wait until I get good enough with the support role to know what in runeterra I’m doing.

So Lulu is a support champion and the most recent addition to the line up in League of Legends. While being support, she has no sustain mechanics and no in-built heal outside of her ultimate, so careful play is going to be required of both your carry and yourself if you take her out to lane. While sustain lanes can be a problem to deal with, Lulu has some of the greatest harass and control a support can give, only really being rivaled by Janna. To know why, let’s take a look at her skills.

(Passive) Pix, Fairy Companion: Pix is a fairy companion to Lulu, and will launch a barrage of attacks at anything Lulu attacks. These attacks scale per level to Lulu, and are delivered in a three-shot burst. Bullets from Pix do have hit detection, and will deal damage to the first target they hit, which may not be the target Lulu is attacking.

Glitterlance: Pix and Lulu both fire a bolt of magical energy that damages and heavily slows all targets it hits. An enemy can only be effected by one Glitterlance per cast.

Whimsy: Single target spell that can be cast on allies or enemies. If cast on an ally, Whimsy will give a boost to ability power and movement speed for a short time. If cast on an enemy, Lulu will polymorph them, silencing and preventing the enemy from attacking, while applying a very weak slow. Enemies still have full control of their movement.

Help, Pix!: Pix jumps to the target Lulu has chosen. If that target is an ally, they will gain a shield and Pix will attack for every basic attack from that ally instead any attack from Lulu for 6 seconds. If cast on an enemy, Pix deals damage and then follows that enemy, granting vision for 6 seconds.

(Ultimate) Wild Growth: Lulu enlarges an ally, granting bonus health and briefly knocking up all nearby enemies to that target. In addition, as long as Wild Growth lasts on a target, they will have a passive aura that slows all nearby enemies.
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Playing What You Got

Thinking about what I said before, I don’t really think I went into enough detail about how you can use each of your champions moves to better your play and to get the most out of any engagement. While this is still true for junglers everywhere, it is still important for everyone to know at least some of the ways they can use their skills in non-standard ways to benefit themselves and the team. Obviously, damage skills have their own catagory, and I can’t sit here and list off all the plays some ninety-something champions can do. So instead of looking over, say, Brands E -> Q stun, we’ll go into simply using your other moves better.

First up are actually not directly tied to champion skills, but are the spells each summoner chooses before the battle begins. Some have obvious utility like Teleport being able to blink you across the map, which allows you to split push/farm/gank from fog of war/whatever, or Ignite which deals a bit of true damage as a damage over time effect and a heal reduction effect. The most obvious and well-known summoner spell for being used in a multitude of situations, and the star example to start with, is the summoner ‘Exhaust.’ Exhaust lowers evenmy attack speed, move speed, and ability damage for a short time, and you can see people using it frequently in offensive situations (exhausting a target for an easier kill) or defensive ones (exhausting someone trying to catch you). What is primarily an offensive skill can be used in other ways to save yourself or a teammate.
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From the Bushes

As promised last week, a piece I’ve been looking forward too writing and getting out. Namely, the art of ganking. This is the aspect of the game that will truly set apart bad junglers from the good ones. Everyone has played a game with a jungler who just sits there all day and farms without ever helping, but sometimes even worse is the jungler with a terrible gank. Starting with the basics, we’ll cover what a gank is and how you can do it effectively.

Obviously, a ‘gank’ is when you go to a lane with the purpose of harassing or ultimately killing an enemy. The are a large number of benefits that come from a good gank, or even what a good gank is. Personally, anything that involves a waste of resources is a success. If you run out of a bush and the enemy instantly blows their summoner flash, perfect. Even if you do nothing else in lane, they still lost a very powerful tool for about four minutes. This lets your own laner be more aggressive, as they now have an escape (or initiate) tool where their opponent doesn’t. Even better is when you can kill an enemy, giving your team a gold advantage (kill gold + assist gold) and giving your laner an experience advantage. Every second the enemy is dead or running back to lane is a possible last hit’s worth of gold and experiance vanishing down the drain.

Successive ganks can even be used to harass an enemy mentally over the course of a game. Merely by sitting near one lane and ganking it repeatedly, the enemy will begin to become paranoid, especially if they are getting killed, and can sometimes even begin to ‘zone’ themselves, too afraid to move up near the creep line. This can give your laner a constant advantage as the enemy simply falls behind, even if you’re off merely farming the jungle.
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League of Legends: Nautilus

So a new patch has come and gone and a new champion has been released. Nautilus was a billed as a tank, and I thought I’d play him a bit to see just how everything works on him. Almost sorry to say that 3 days and a dozen or so games, I have yet to build this guy once as he was intended. Almost sorry. Nautilus is just insanely fun to play with a variety of builds, each one having a specific style to it. So, bear with me when I say I play Nautilus in lane or jungle, and my build changes drastically. How drastically? Well, before opening that can of worms, let’s look at his skills…

Alright, I lied. First let's look at the Big Daddy.


(Passive) Staggering Blow: Nautilus’ basic attacks bind the target in place and deals bonus physical damage. Effect can not occur more than once every 12 seconds on an individual target.

Dredge Line: Nautilus throws his anchor in a line pulling himself and the first enemy hit together. Dredge Line can also be used on terrain, quickly pulling Nautilus along and reducing the cooldown by half.

Titan’s Wrath: Nautilus creates a shield around himself, scaling off of bonus health. While the shield holds, Nautilus’ basic attacks inflict a short damage-over-time effect on the target and near-by enemies.

Riptide: Nautilus sends out a pulsing shockwave, dealing damage and slowing anything caught in the pulse. Subsequent hits from pulse dead reduced damage and slow less.

(Ultimate) Depth Charge: Nautilus sends out a pulsing shot that seeks out a single target. As the charge travels, it will knock up any enemy it passes under, finally knocking up and stunning the target.
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League Basics

First and foremost, you may be thinking, “Kana! Why are you posting Wednesday morning?” and the answer to that is simply: TERA Online beta this week! Yes, the closed beta to my Monster Hunter-surrogate begins Friday. So, I’ve decided to push back both posts, though honestly depending on how much footage I record Friday may mean the post is pushed back to Saturday morning. Hoping to get some solid gameplay with at least 2 classes this test cycle. Thinking Berserker and Archer, but if there is a class you’d rather see, by all means let me know! I’d be glad to get some footage about more of what people want. Now then, that out-of-the-way…

Today I wanted to cover something a little different from game mechanics. Going to go over a few of the basic mechanics of League of Legends and how you, the play, can interact with them to improve your game. Going to covering a decently wide range of topics so we won’t dive into too much detail, but if there are questions I can always expand on them later.

Zone Control:

First, watch that. Yes, the video is old, but it’s still every bit as accurate now as it ever was. Zoning has the effect of controlling your opponent through what are essentially mind games. What you want to do is bully the enemy lane (most effective if it’s 1 enemy in the lane, but it can be done against 2) until they have to retreat, then moving into position to prevent them from farming. Even better, if you can hold them well while only last hitting minions, your minions will only push very slowly. For every minion of yours that dies in the middle of the field, as opposed to the enemy tower, is another bit of experience you can deny, gaining more of an advantage. Some champions have insane innate zone control; Ziggs can completely lock out an enemy mid just by using Hexplosive Minefield, though the large radius will probably wind up pushing the minion wave bit by bit.
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League of Legends: Ziggs

Well, it’s been forever since I’ve done one of these first impression articles, so I thought I’d get back to it, especially for some of the more recent champions, and maybe for some general stuff. Plenty of great things to talk about in the wide world of league, but for now, let’s start with the most recent champion released: Ziggs, the Hexplosives Expert.

Ziggs is a ranged mage with an ungodly amount of zone control, however he is lacking in any short of hard crowd control outside a single small knock back (For comparison, it’s a little bigger than Maokai’s). He is extremely squishy, and lacks a reliable escape as well, so once you close the distance he’ll go splat real quick. However, unlike most other mages, Ziggs is amazing at area-denial and psychological attacks, keeping enemies from moving in specific directions, or even from leaving specific areas at all. For starters, let’s look at Ziggs’ kit and how it all ties together.

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Arsen’s Terrible at LoL – October 11, 2011

Just the videos this week. There will be an article about something else later on.