Let’s talk Splashes.
As many have noticed, a lot of changes have been happening in this area over the last two patches, and even more changes further back. We haven’t done the best job of explaining what all these changes were, so let’s back up for a second and go in-depth on our rationale.
To start, let’s clarify a term we’ve thrown around a bunch these days - **Parity**, the state of being equal. We typically use this term to describe the matching of an in-game model to the splash, though it also matters when referring to the parity between regions. We generally want good parity between a Champion’s assets, with some wiggle room for expression within the medium. Note that this is something we care **significantly** more about these days.
With that out of the way, I’d like to describe all of the changes that you’re seeing, and why we’re doing them.
**(Normal) Splash Update**: The updating of a splash (derr). In the past, we didn’t have the required people to update all of the skin splashes as we should when doing a Champion Update - creating situations where the splash would be **dramatically** different than what it represented (hello, Junkyard Trundle). The team felt this was unacceptable, and recently found a way to prevent this from happening again.
**(Backlog) Splash Update**: This is us going back and fixing prior splashes that weren’t updated when a champion received an update of their own- a packaged update of skin splashes for previous Champion Updates (Nidalee, Trundle, Karma, Sion, etc.). We currently have Trundle, Nidalee, and Tristana at about ~80-90% finished (so look forward to that soon!).
**Global Splash Update/Unification**: A one-time change (over two patches) that unifies all regions of League of Legends to have the same splash assets. Until recently, there was a vast number of inconsistencies of splashes between regions, meaning that somebody playing in China (or watching LPL!) might see something drastically different than what another player in EUW might see.
We had two major goals of the Unification:
* Unify the representation of all characters to achieve global parity between splashes. A League of Legends champion shouldn’t be different solely due to where you are in the world. A consistent high quality splash should represent a character equally for all players.
* Fix internal development issues. In line with making our work more efficient, we often analyze areas of redundancy to get rid of problem areas. Each time we have a new splash created, it’s typically an unruly amount of work to determine if a region should obtain the new splash, keep their own, get it into their build, etc. This can lead to things such as Tencent getting their patches a week later, which isn’t fair for their players, and has rippling impacts onto the eSports scene.
Let’s be clear - **many of these assets are _not_ permanent, and don’t meet our quality bar. We had to make a decision on many splashes to take either one or the other- even when both weren’t great** (though there are a few subjective wins that we did decide on- Silverfang Akali HYPE). We made our decisions on a couple different factors, such as…
* Stylistic quality- how much does the splash match the modern League of Legends style? There are a couple different styles over the various splashes (sup, Warrior Princess Sivir), and we draw a heavy preference towards League’s “rendered to hell and back” splashes. When making choices between art styles that didn't match on either end (Toxic Mundo is a great example), we erred towards ones that have higher artistic quality.
* Posing- how engaging is the champion’s pose? We like our splashes to have characters in dynamic poses suiting their narrative, rather than the ‘prom poses’ of the past.
* Global Appropriateness- A big thing for us is that all players are able to, well, play League of Legends. Increasing the rating in a region could cause a large amount of players to be unable to play. Yes, this does mean removing references to smoking for certain regions (such as Russia, and Turkey). This also means avoiding overly bloody or overly sexual images as well. This is not something done solely for Tencent- all players in all regions are the target here.
* Representation of the character- how accurately does the splash portray the character’s visuals and personality, both in and out of game?
Once we locked a decision (which involves many different steps, such as talking with representatives in all regions, or getting the illustrators in a room to debate about the objective quality), we either checked in the unified splash, or performed a minor amount of cleanup if necessary.
We will be continuing to update these splashes to meet our quality bar; prioritized by lack of quality, style (lookin’ at you, Vindicator Vayne), or inaccurate they may be.
**Bonus Splash Updates!**: Special unique projects, usually spurred on by one need or another. In this upcoming case, we had a handful of splashes that were mostly done as passion projects, but weren’t quite finished. We’ll be shipping the first batch of these to PBE tomorrow, a couple of which had situations where we didn’t like any existing version from the Global Splash Unification (which would require an entirely new splash, rather than a paintover). These splashes, unlike the Unification, we are significantly happier with this quality bar, so these splashes are more or less final.
Some previous bonus updates:
* 4.13: Amidst other splash updates to bases, we saw an opportunity to take the very best of the best of our international splashes. Solved the problem we’re solving with the Unification a slight bit, but there was still a long way to go.
* End of Season 4 Base Splashes: This was a heavy push to update as many of our out-of-date base splashes for Worlds that year. We made a great deal of progress, but not everything got finished at the time (coughcoughIreliaWarwickAnivia).
Hopefully that clears some of this up. We haven’t been the clearest when it comes to splashes, but we’re hoping to turn that around. Thank you for helping us stay on track - and be sure to keep the feedback coming.
PS. For making it all the way to the end, have another preview, on the house.