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
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.