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/dev: League’s VFX Style Guide

Magic, fire, smoke, explosions, and the occasional sparkle—an in-depth look at League’s VFX.

We all love shiny, bright, and beautiful VFX, but we don’t love visual noise that ruins our experience playing League. VFX should communicate a spell’s gameplay space, power, and function, without creating a distraction or muddling action on the Rift. For example, Ziggs’ ultimate ability is visually loud because the impact of that ability wrecks. Janna’s basic attack is visually small; it doesn’t impact the game in profound ways. In League, visual impact should represent gameplay impact (imagine if Janna’s basic attack was as large and bright as Ziggs’ ultimate ability, or the reverse—if Ziggs’ ultimate was as small and unsubstantial as Janna’s basic attack).

The visual effects discipline at Riot breathes life into these fantastical elements of League, whether it’s magic, fire, smoke, explosions, or the occasional sparkle. But the challenge is in delighting players while simultaneously preserving gameplay integrity. And since League is an ever-evolving game, there wasn’t a single point of reference to measure successful VFX, resulting in a wide range of inconsistency across the many teams at Riot using VFX. We realized the need to better communicate what “good” looked like in our game.

So, The VFX team sat down and outlined four main goals of VFX in League of Legends. Our VFX should:

  1. Provide visual clarity for gameplay
  2. Minimize visual clutter
  3. Promote a champion’s theme
  4. Surprise and delight players

How we accomplish those goals is a combination of five areas: gameplay, value, color, shape, and timing. This created a framework for us to build around and document digestible chunks of knowledge. After months of revisions and a mixture of examples, explanations, and visuals, we created the final document you see here. We use this style guide to make sure every team at Riot is creating VFX with the same mindset and standards.

Since all this League VFX goodness is housed in one concise area, we wanted to share it with you! We hope this helps show why we make the decisions that we do and provides examples that help you hold us accountable for our work. Our hope is that we can learn and grow along with League—and its players.

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