Welcome to Ask Riot!
This week, let’s do Ultimate skins, music composition, and getting hired at Riot.
Do you plan to rework Pulsefire Ezreal? It seems pretty out of date for an Ultimate skin, especially with the emergence of Elementalist Lux.
Hi there! This question comes up a lot. Like, literally, new hires at Riot ask me this question when they find out I work on Personalization.
We talk about skin reworks a lot on the team. We do them occasionally, but in general, we prefer to keep moving forward, creating new high quality skin experiences for players. The team is constantly challenging itself to create skins that are more resonant or more impactful, and as a result, we keep raising the quality bar for ourselves. That’s one of the best parts of the job, getting to challenge yourself to do even better next time. The main downside is that this leaves some of our earlier work feeling lower value, even though, at the time, it was the highest value product we’d made. Case in point being Pulsefire Ezreal.
I just took a look at what Moobeat wrote about PFE on Surrender@20 when we released the skin (true story, the current Featured Content in the sidebar is an image of Elementalist Lux with her 10 gloriously high quality forms). The article, written on June 13, 2012, starts out with “Pulsefire Ezreal has been officially announced and, boy howdy, did Riot out do themselves.” And yeah, at the time, we had. But now you put these two skins side by side and PFE just does not hold up.
So, while we’re not ready to commit to anything, I think the chances of a PFE rework are pretty high. To set proper expectations, we aren’t trying to get Pulsefire Ezreal to the same quality level as DJ Sona or Elementalist Lux. To do that, we’d have to start from scratch, and there are too many other champions and players of those champions we’d like to make this type of experience for instead of investing in a brand new PFE. That said, there’s a lot we can do to increase the quality of this skin, and those are the things we’ll be taking a look at. Stay tuned!
How can I work at Riot Games? What do you look for in candidates?
I’ll answer the second question first—what we’re looking for depends on the role, but the points on the Riot manifesto are very deliberately built into our candidate assessments. Beyond that, the job description itself is a great place to understand what exactly we’re looking for, although the specific demands of a job are going to change slightly, even as we hire for it. If you get to a phone interview, take advantage of the opportunity to get crystal-clear on what the team is looking for.
As for the first question—there aren’t a lot of hard-and-fast rules about where our candidates come from, or what kind of path will most easily lead to a job at Riot. It’s going to depend on the team. The best general advice I can give is to identify what specific kind of work you’d like to be doing, and then start gathering experience in that craft as soon as possible. The hard part is picking it—once you know what you want to do for Riot, it’s a fairly straightforward process to look up where you can gather that specific experience and then go for it. You can also creep on Rioters that are currently doing the job you’re interested in, and study their career paths, which might be more varied than you think.
I also give this advice because entry-level roles (and internships) are extremely competitive; we’re fortunate to get a lot of great applications at that level. Just a couple years of relevant experience elsewhere will skip you ahead of that entry-level crush.
I’d also like to give a shoutout to the great community in our LinkedIn careers group; they’re super helpful with questions and conversations around this.
The Lux login theme music is amazing. How long does it take to make something like this, and how many people work on it?
I wrote and produced the music for Elementalist Lux, but we had a lot of help in the recording sessions: 56 musicians and singers who graced us with their performances, a conductor, a recording engineer, a copyist (the person who creates parts for the musicians), and a contractor (the person who hires the musicians and all the personnel for the session on our behalf). Outside of that, I did the orchestrations, produced, mixed, and mastered the music. That’s a lot of hats to wear, but I like it in the sense that I’m able to shape the musical identity of a project from start to finish.
The turnaround time for something like this is 2-4 weeks, depending on the scope of the project (number of assets required to be supported by music, visibility of the project, logistics, creative back-and-forth, etc.). The thing that takes us the most time is finding new themes and musical universes. We strive to come up with something different and fitting for each new champ/skin. There are a lot of different details to keep in mind (lore, gameplay, emotional arc, the sound of League’s music at large, etc.).
That initial concepting phase is so deep and translates into so many musical ideas that we could end up writing a lot of music for the champion/skin in question. Once we have our theme and general music direction good to go, the actual writing/producing itself isn’t so time-consuming.
On behalf of the team, thank you for your kind words! We work very hard to make good music. It’s not always easy, but rest assured we try.
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