If you’re interested in the League of Legends [official site] champion roster like me, you’ll know that there are always a handful of heroes in need of sprucing up. Sometimes that’s just a mild tweak as part of the regular patch cycle. But for other champs a more serious rework is necessary to bring them back to relevance in the current game for whatever reason.
Yorick is one such hero. In fact, he’s sort of emblematic of that group of characters at this point so Riot made him the focus of one of their Ask Riot questions this week.
Yorick is a not-quite-dead gravekeeper who can summon ghouls to assist him in different ways. I’ve seen a lot of different verdicts on why he’s not a popular puppy – some that he’s boring to play, some that pros don’t play him so regular players assume he’s worse than he is, his mana issues, his late-game, that other champs simply fulfil his roles better, that he’s boring to play, that he doesn’t turn up on free rotation, his teamfight weaknesses, that he’s boring to play, that people now know he is on the list for a rework and that’s reinforcing the idea that he’s bad, that he’s bor…
The current state of Yorick is that he is deep in the throes of being reworked but it’s taking a whole chunk of time because it also involves reworking a bunch of extra things like those ghoul minions he can summon.
To be honest, the answer didn’t tell me a lot that I hadn’t worked out or guessed or cobbled together from previous Q&As but it gave a nice summary insight into the champion redesign process if you don’t already know it.
“To give you more context, the way Champion Update works now is that once a champion goes into full production there is a very small chance that it will be ‘iceboxed’ (or delayed for a long period of time). Early ideation on Yorick actually started in the second half of 2015. We have a team called a “Core Pod” that starts ideation on a champion very early. This is comprised of a designer, a narrative writer, concept artists, and the product manager. Together, we try to put together a new design, visual concept & narrative for the champion. We’ll share this development with stakeholders periodically to keep them updated and gather feedback on the work. Typically, there are several of these happening at once.
“This is the point in production where it is very possible for a champion to get iceboxed if we can’t come up with something solid. That’s why we don’t really talk about champions at this stage very often. Once we have the design, art & narrative approved, we are greenlit to go into full production, and at that point we add it to the Champion Update Schedule.”
Specifically regarding Yorick, Riot confirm that he’s getting a total overhaul of his kit but with the intention that he occupies the same role as before (a toplane Juggernaut who summons minions). Essentially they want to keep the idea of the character intact but find a way to make it work again. There’s a team working on that at the moment and, although the question of how long a rework takes tends to end up at “how long is a piece of string please don’t hold us to firm dates”, he’s intended to arrive “some time after Ryze, but some time before Preseason, if things go well”.
I’m hoping that one of his reworked abilities is called Infinite Jest. Maybe his passive, to go more fully into a kind of zombie jester role instead of being the gravekeeper. He could summon the ghosts of people who didn’t laugh at his capering.
I think that probably tells you why I am not on Riot’s champion redesign squad.