/dev: The Midscope Process & Rell
Hello there League players one and all. I’m Terra “Riot Yasuna” Ray, a producer on the Summoner’s Rift Team (though many of you lovingly call us the Balance Team). As a producer on SRT, I help the team navigate our development processes and keep them on track and organized. In addition to that, I’m also the delivery lead for midscope updates and have been helping the Champs team with one of their midscopes as well. And that’s what I’m here to talk to you all about!
Last year, August shared that we were doing midscope updates for champions who weren’t living up to their fantasies. We’ve checked in since, but it’s been a while since we last discussed them in depth. Today I want to focus on the process to shed some light on how midscopes work in general (since that’s my job!) and talk a bit about that before I pass things over to Champions team designer Stephen “Riot Raptor” Auker who will share an update on Rell.
The Midscope Process
Before we outline the process, the main goal of a midscope is to give these updates to champions who have lost a bit of their shine over the years or have become problematic for the game. We use this as our North Star when deciding who to midscope and what should change about their kit.
Midscopes follow a pretty unique process in comparison to our other champion updates (like ASUs or VGUs). In general, we follow four phases:
⦁ Finding the Right Opportunity: We use a combination of both data and passion to help find midscope targets. Does a champ have an overall declining play rate? Are their mains dropping them? Is a champion currently unhealthy for the game? And ultimately, has someone on the team seen the issues and said, “This champ is not living up to the player fantasy we want them to have right now, so I’m going to do something about it.”
⦁ Exploration and Kit Lock: This is where we start experimenting! We start by spitballing ideas on paper. The best are put into the game and playtested (playtests happen at least twice per day) and then adjusted based on feedback.
⦁ Planning and Coordination: Once things are in the “Goldilocks Range” (basically once they start feeling justttt right), we start looking at everything that changed. At this point we loop in art and the ⦁ Gameplay Analysis Team who can point out the relative power levels of changes or just give us insightful, high-level gameplay analysis from the changes.
⦁ Iteration, Refinement, and Polish: This is where we start making everything ready to ship to players. It’s a pretty careful tightrope of balancing the time we need from everyone involved against their other work like new champions in development, or even other midscopes.
Ultimately, we want to have a yearly schedule so we’re continuously updating champions who need some love. It takes a lot of work to go from an idea to making it happen. And when we do it, we want to make sure it’s been done right. Hopefully, you found some of this interesting or informative. Without further ado, here’s Riot Raptor to talk about Rell!
Midscoping the Iron Maiden
Hello! I’m Riot Raptor, the game designer on Rell’s midscope and I’m here to talk about where everyone’s favorite metalmancer is at in her update process.
We think Rell has an exciting fantasy and playstyle around swapping between mounted and unmounted forms. And while she is a strong champion, she feels overly punished when she misses W. She also doesn’t quite match expectations for what a mounted lancer might do. This means that she didn’t fully capture the audience that might’ve been interested in her. So when evaluating what midscope opportunities were out there, Rell was near the top of the list.
We settled on a few goals to help her live up to her potential:
⦁ Lean into the Mounted/Dismounted fantasy: Let Rell feel fast—like she can charge enemies down while mounted—and let her feel like a formidable fighter while dismounted.
⦁ Increase Play Pattern Variance: Give Rell more options in lane and teamfights besides landing W, and make sure that while she’s dismounted, there are useful things she can do.
⦁ Sand off some QoL issues: We’ve heard your feedback on some of the more frustrating parts of Rell’s kit, so we wanted to help alleviate some of them. We want to smooth out things like poor ward clearing, not being able to use E while alone, and Q having reduced power on subsequent enemies.
The design team has taken a few stabs at a Rell midscope before, but nothing really stuck… except for her new E. That’s right, Rell’s getting a completely new E which was inspired by one of the earlier explorations from Rell’s original designer Stash “Riot Stashu” Chelluck.
In development Rell used to be a lot faster while mounted, and was lovingly called the “int horse” because of it (which was a very fun playstyle). The challenge we ran into during her midscope was how to let her feel fast without turning her into too much of a roamer during laning.
We also tried a bunch of ways to make her dismounted form feel more empowering. In one version, she had a three-hit passive (we are legally required to try this on all champs) that reset her W cooldown, turning her into an infinite pain train constantly dismounting and remounting. This was a lot of fun (for the Rell at least), but ultimately didn’t solve the core issue of making each form feel distinct.
In the end, we found that making Q have a much stronger impact in both forms (it has the original E stun now, which we wanted to preserve but move elsewhere), boosting her dismounted attack speed and range, and softening the self-slow went a long way toward making it a form that you wanted to be in during chaotic fights.
We’re still working on Rell’s finishing touches like VFX, SFX, animations, and fixing bugs. And we’re also exploring her viability in roles outside of support (though this isn’t necessarily one of our goals, and we want to keep her primarily in support). We probably won’t share another update on her progress before she goes live, as we’re eagerly looking forward to her charging onto the Rift at full speed.
With that, I’ll hand things back to Riot Yasuna for some final words!
We have a number of midscopes coming your way this year! While some of them have been in dev for quite some time, others have come on a lot quicker. So we wanted to use this time to give a quick update on their progress.
Let’s address the cat in the room… we heard players’ concerns and frustrations about the state of Yuumi, and after the decision to hand her some sizable nerfs, we also bumped her up to the top of our update priority list (Yuumi’s rework was not a midscope, but it still required some of the same resources to get done!). But the tradeoff was that champion midscopes like Neeko and Rell—who we announced quite a while ago—haven’t made their way to you yet.
While our favorite shapeshifter has been kit and art locked for some time, she needs a little extra time for some technical tender love and care. Neeko has had a problem for a long time of unfortunately having many more bugs than her fellow champs (due to the cool things she can do) . One of our secondary goals with her is to update her tech and sustainability, that way we can squash a lot of her existing bugs and address new bugs more easily as they appear in the future.
We can’t give you exact timelines on when you’ll see some of the other midscopes, but we’re working hard to get them to you as soon as we can. But up next you can look forward to midscopes for Neeko, Rell, and our favorite friend-shaped tree Ivern. We’ll be mostly focusing on Daisy when it comes to Ivern, but we’ll share more when we get closer! The team can’t wait to hear what you think of your favorite old faces with a fresh coat of new gameplay.
That’s all for now! We hope you enjoyed the update, and we look forward to talking with you all next time.