De­sign en­gag­ing video game maps

Trent Ka­ni­uga breaks down the process of up­dat­ing, en­hanc­ing and re-en­vi­sion­ing Sum­moner’s Rift from a con­cept artist’s per­spec­tive

ImagineFX - - Contents -

Trent Ka­ni­uga gives a con­cept artist’s per­spec­tive.

Of the many video games I’ve had the plea­sure of work­ing on over the past decade, few as­sign­ments have been as in­tim­i­dat­ing as be­ing a part of the re­design for the new Sum­moner’s Rift map in League of Leg­ends. This is the most viewed game map of all time, with roughly 120 mil­lion ac­tive ac­counts world­wide.

A small per­cent­age of the en­tire use of the in­ter­net is used by League of Leg­ends play­ers. Their ex­pec­ta­tions for an up­dated ver­sion of Sum­moner’s Rift were high, and I soon dis­cov­ered that the map it­self had its own unique chal­lenges.

Be­cause it’s thought of more as an arena than a set­ting for an ad­ven­ture, the world had to feel as or­ganic as a nat­u­ral fan­tasy en­vi­ron­ment, but it also needed to be as con­strained as a sports arena, with clearly de­fined mark­ers and bar­ri­ers. This is a game that’s played in tour­na­ments, so ev­ery­thing had to be pre­cise in its mea­sure­ments.

To reach this goal, we had to throw out a lot of our work, and spent two years in a con­stant state of crit­i­cal re­fine­ment. We had to rely on ex­pe­ri­ence, team­work, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and pa­tience to meet player ex­pec­ta­tions, and give them en­vi­ron­ments that told a story they weren’t ex­pect­ing, while still press­ing those nos­tal­gia but­tons from the orig­i­nal.

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