VFX Updates


Behind the Scenes of VFX Updates in League of Legends

VFX Updates are passion projects of devs at Riot

Sadakshi Kalyan Ramun
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VFX updates are passion projects chosen by Riot devs to make small-scale improvements to some of League of Legends’ oldest champions.
Riot Games gave an insight into how the VFX update process works and how the team includes community feedback actively.
Recently, Riot gave VFX updates to Shaco, Leona, and Orianna in order to spruce them up.

The League of Legends community has been really enthused about learning what each team at Riot Games does specifically to keep the company and the game running like well-oiled machines. Last week, Riot Games spoke about the Game Analysis Team (GAT) and addressed some of the myths and misconceptions about the team. Late on 25th April, Riot opened up about how the developers (devs) work on the visual effects (VFX) updates and what this project entails.

Recently, Riot gave VFX updates to Leona, Shaco, and Orianna, and a few months before that it gave Vel’Koz a shiny new appearance.

VFX Updates to Shaco, Leona, Orianna & Vel'Koz

The blog authored by Senior VFX Artist Kevin “Sirhaian” Leroy from the Skins team spoke about the process of VFX updates and how the community can actively play a role in it.

What are VFX updates in League of Legends?

According to Riot, VFX updates are small-scale improvements that are meant for sprucing up some of the oldest champions in the League of Legends roster. The VFX updates are usually done to upgrade overall gameplay consistency, readability, and graphics quality, all the while elevating the champions’ thematics and resonance, reiterated Leroy.

Riot also added that VFX updates are not like Visual and Gameplay Updates (VGU) and Art and Sustainability Updates (ASU) and are shipped faster. “Unlike VGUs, VFX updates only affect the visual effects of a given champion, not all of a champ’s visuals. Most of the time, VFX are the spells they cast or the effects that play around them when they emote.

Time and again the company has clarified how the VFX updates are simply passion projects of the developers and hence they are not in the same prioritization model as to how the next champion is decided for a VGU. This allows the team to identify which champion to tackle next.

Before and After VFX Update to Veigar

How does the team decide who gets the next VFX update?

Riot stated that it has a few goals that it uses as guidelines while choosing the next champion that needs the update the most.

The goals are as follows:

Primary: Fixing gameplay issues like inaccurate or missing hitbox indicators, VFX features that broke over the years, or wrong visual communication

Secondary: Improving gameplay readability, reducing overall visual noise, and adjusting spells' visual power levels

Tertiary: Enhancing thematic resonance like making a Void champion feel more Void-y and so on.

Our goals are ranked in order of importance, so gameplay readability will always prevail over thematic resonance, and the primary goal of VFX Updates will always be to prioritize the correction of inaccurate hitbox indicators,” clarified Riot Games.

Blitzcrank’s R, before and after the VFX Updates

As far as skins are concerned, Riot tries to add flair and zest to the skins it thinks are under-delivering in their respective skin-tiers. It also stated that it follows a general set of rules while updating existing skins. For example, skins that cost 750 RP or/and lower can only receive one small tweak whereas, 975 RP skins will receive a small recolor. Riot also said that 1350 RP skins will receive entirely new VFX if they don’t already have them and the skins that cost 1820+ RP will also receive entirely new VFX and can receive VFX for their emotes, too.

VFX Update: The process

Leroy stated that the process consists of just seven simple steps, which are as follows:

  1. Choosing a champion to update after evaluation

  2. The VFX artist works on the base skin of the champion and works through a constant feedback loop from the team at Riot.

  3. After the base skin is approved, the VFX artist starts working on the skins, making each of them match the updates made to the base.

  4. The testing phase comes after this and here potential oversights and bugs are caught

  5. After fixing the bugs, the VFX team sends the new update to the Public Beta Environment

  6. The VFX team closely monitors social media channels and each champion’s main subreddits to gather feedback

  7. Finally, the VFX update is shipped live to the servers.

Community Interaction

Riot Games said that the devs do not publish blogs along the journey of VFX updates since they are faster. “That said, we still love to get your feedback! We always try to read as much as we can, but sadly we cannot reply to everyone. But if your feedback is constructive, helpful, and provides an alternative that we hadn’t run into before, there’s a chance we’ll follow up to get more of your insight!” it added.

Additionally, it stated that the best place for the community to share its two cents on these updates is the r/LeaguePBE Subreddit.

While listening to community feedback, Riot looks at whether the feedback is actionable, objective, and if it is unanimous.

Something else to note here is that League is a global game, so while something is trending in your language or region, that might not be the global response. At the end of the day, we try to listen to the majority of people everywhere, not just the loudest!"
Riot Games

Riot Games stated that it thoroughly appreciates and values the feedback and constructive criticism from the community but added that directing insults and slurs at the VFX artist is not the right approach.

Angry players + Discouraged devs = Not Worth.

We love getting your constructive feedback because it shows us you’re really passionate about this endeavor. This keeps us going and helps us make League a better game!” said Leroy.

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Sadakshi has been a gamer throughout her life and has followed League of Legends since Season 3, immediately falling in love with the esports scene. Bringing in her print journalism experience, she focuses on content that is both informative and innovative. While her heart still remains with League, her love for competition has pushed her to explore other titles such as Valorant and Apex Legends.

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