Champion Sneak Peek - Diana, the Scorn of the Moon
And subsequently the thread for all things Diana related?
Originally Posted by Riot
Not all creatures of the night are the sort that lurk in the shadows. A select few leap headlong into the fray, leaving enemies begging for sunshine. Shunned by the people of the sun, Diana turned in isolation to the cold power of the moon’s glow. She hurls herself into the heat of the fight, wielding her crescent blade and unleashing lunar energy with merciless ferocity. If you’re awed by the darkness of the night, but never one to hide in the shadows, you’re sure to be drawn to this knight of the moon and her relentless pursuit of vengeance.
I love her name. I somewhat hope she's the female tank Leona was intended to be but didn't become?
The tide of battle is turning, summoners. With ceaseless aggression, powered and protected by the lunar light, Diana, Scorn of the Moon, controls and chases her enemies through the battlefield, leaving them no sunlight for solace.
Diana’s high area of effect damage and defensive abilities make her an ideal jungler. Pale Cascade creates three orbiting spheres that detonate and deal damage to any enemy that comes close, while protecting her with a shield that absorbs any incoming damage. If all three orbs are detonated, the shield effect is refreshed, allowing her to absorb even more punishment. This destructive shield, combined with a cleaving attack from her passive, Moonsilver Blade, helps her deal out significant damage to multiple targets as she quickly tears through jungle camps.
Drawing power from the moon, Diana’s kit revolves around her use of Moonlight to prep her enemies for an incoming attack. The breakneck pace of Diana’s gameplay and her relentless chasing potential are driven by the interplay between Crescent Strike and her ultimate ability, Lunar Rush. A unique curved skillshot, Crescent Strike unleashes lunar energy in an arc, damaging any enemies in its path and simultaneously afflicting them with Moonlight. Casting Lunar Rush to teleport to an enemy afflicted by Moonlight will reset the ability cooldown while consuming all active Moonlight debuffs. Judicious use of Moonlight combined with accurate casts of Crescent Strike gives Diana incredible mobility and sustained damage throughout a long fight. While using Lunar Rush only in combination with Moonlight will give Diana the highest damage output over time, you may make a judgment call and accept the longer cooldown to either directly rush a vulnerable target or double tap a Moonlight afflicted enemy for heavy burst damage.
Diana’s kit really comes together in a team fight. After initiating with Crescent Strike and Lunar Rush, she can follow up with Moonfall, drawing in and slowing all nearby enemies, holding them in range for Moonsilver Blade and Pale Cascade until Crescent Strike is ready again. The added durability of her shield helps her survive heavy damage, while the mobility of a Moonlight-enhanced ultimate helps her pursue and assassinate high-value targets. With the complex interplay of her abilities, Diana’s got the potential to control the jungle while executing quick ganks and threatening enemies in team fights.
Moonsilver Blade (Passive): Diana has increased Attack Speed. Every third strike cleaves nearby enemies for additional magic damage.
Crescent Strike: Diana swings her blade to unleash a bolt of lunar energy, afflicting enemies with Moonlight and dealing damage in an arc before exploding.
Pale Cascade: Diana creates three orbiting spheres that detonate on contact with enemies to deal damage in an area. She also gains a temporary shield that absorbs damage. This shield is refreshed if all three spheres detonate.
Moonfall: Diana draws in and slows all nearby enemies.
Lunar Rush (Ultimate): Diana teleports to an enemy and deals magic damage. Lunar Rush has no cooldown when used to teleport to a target afflicted with Moonlight.
Inspiration for a champion’s artistic design comes from many places: gameplay mechanics, champion personalities or a walk in the wilds, just to name a few. Sometimes new champions are even inspired by other champion stories, and so was the case with Diana, Scorn of the Moon. While her artistic motif naturally pays homage to the moon, the art was further influenced by her relationship with Leona and its transforming effect on her personality. The artists, animators, sound designers and creative designers envisioned Diana as a character long before they knew her as the champion we see today. A few of them came together to discuss Diana’s origins and evolution through art, story and sound.
Iain “Harrow” Hendry (Associate Creative Designer)
Kienan “Knockmaw” Lafferty (Associate 2D Artist)
Alex “CaptainLx” Lehmann (Senior Animator)
Mike “IronStylus” Maurino (Senior Concept Artist)
Oscar “shadowMacuahuitl” Monteon (Character Artist)
Adam “BelligerentSwan” Swanson (Associate Sound Designer)
Christina “NinjaChewyKun” Wun (VFX Artist)
Where did Diana begin?
IronStylus: We wanted to design a champion that was a foil for Leona, but we couldn’t really pin down what that character would look like. So, we tried a bunch of iterations and we couldn’t get away from creating a character that looked like Riven or a chick in armor. She was in development in that way for about a year. Then one day I was watching an anime and saw a character that seemed like the right archetype: an Eastern, svelte girl in super heavy armor that kicked a lot of ass. It’s a popular trope in the East and it’s something we don’t have in our game. She should be a very vicious character without showing much emotion. We had a very clear idea what she was from the beginning and that gave us the chance to focus more on fun and translation.
How did the lore and Diana’s relationship with Leona and the Solari affect the art?
IronStylus: I think we have been putting more and more into champions to add more flavor. With the teaser and the splash we showed two parts of her lore and her backstory. We essentially made a two page comic of her origin and the aftermath of her ascendance. We used everything in our arsenal to tell a story. She’s a character that’s connected to another character, but she also stands on her own. If there could be two characters that would have a movie, it would be Leona and Diana. They are so ideologically opposed. Leona and Diana are mortal enemies. We used Leona to create a lot of Diana since they are diametrically opposed characters. They are similar in some ways, but Diana stands on her own. Both are more modest characters. They are more covered up, but still alluring and sexy in a different way. Diana’s intentionally as covered up as possible, but still sexy and strong. She has a different silhouette than other champions and moves differently with motions somewhere between Tryndamere and Akali. She’s got an assassin feel, but the sword gives her more weight. She’s interesting from every game angle.
Harrow: It’s such a subtle conflict. They didn’t really always hate each other.
IronStylus: We couldn’t nail down what she was and Colt “Ezreal” Hallam said, “She’s a heretic”. She’s exiled from the Solari. That turned her symbology, emotions, lack of emotions into something. Wow. Yes. That nails it. It was an internal challenge and after that revelation, the floodgates were opened. We were passionate about this character and that spread to a lot of other people. She’s an awesome lore-based champion..
What was the biggest challenge in creating Diana?
IronStylus: She is cold and emotionless, but she has a cleanliness and preciseness with minimal facial expressions that is present in anime. She can’t look bored. How do you sell detached without being bored? How do you make tragic not too sad? The answer is that complex characters gain something back, even through tragedy.
CaptainLx: So, I had to make her kick ass, but not move her too much. I came off Draven, who is so expressive and big. And she is the exact opposite. Maybe she’s adjusting her armor – no that’s too extroverted. I had huge issues trying to find the right balance of her not doing too much, but still being very much alive.
BelligerentSwan: I had the same issue with sounds. Going from Draven and Jayce with over-the-top big sounds to a more emotional character, trying to sell that power without being over-the-top, was a challenge. Finding the right tones to play off the muted personality was definitely a challenge.
NinjaChewyKun: For me the frustration was trying to make you think of Leona, but not making them the same. The moon can be yellow, but so can the sun. It was hard to find a unique particle look for her.
Harrow: Working with the VO was difficult with her because she doesn’t really say anything half the time. She’s not extravagant, but has subdued emotion. We didn’t want her to sound dead inside. She’s tragic, but still powerful.
How did you end up conveying Diana’s preciseness and cold, reserved personality through the art?
CaptainLx: We wanted her to be tragic without being angry or totally eaten up inside. We introduced slow and chase animations. If you are chasing and being slowed, she reaches out as if she’s trying to grab an enemy and pull them back in. We looked at things like the laugh – it’s more of a scoff. That’s the character.
Knockmaw: She is different. She has all this power within her, but she doesn’t show it on the outside. In the splash art we had her down on the ground with action happening around her, but she is calm, cool and collected. At the same time, she also has to have her own pretty look.
shadowMacuahuitl: I transferred her precision into the structured facial expressions and model. I started off with the shape of her hair and that really defined the character’s personality for me. I was thinking about this a lot and had a dream about her hair. I got up one morning and I sketched what I had seen in my dream, the precise curves and how to stylize it. I brought the sketch into the office that’s how it came to be.
CaptainLx: I hope people look at the splash and project that face on her in the game.
How did Diana’s relationship with the moon affect the art?
IronStylus: We knew we wanted to do an anti-Leona, but we wanted her to be more than a chick that had moon theme stuff. To be a fundamental character she has to stand on her own. It was almost harder because she was based on another character. We were more concerned about the character than working within the iconography. We used the moon for spells, particles and weaponry. The moon’s an iconic, graphic disc. Every phase of the moon is graphic. The moon doesn’t really do anything on its own, so we assigned powers of the moon: a shattering plate, cutting, cold, barren. We used the motif to make her a counter to Leona. We adapted the moon to our purposes rather than making the moon an embodied object. We put moon crescents everywhere: hair, weapon, armor, death animation – everything down to swipes, particles and her death animation.
NinjaChewyKun: The moon helps to emphasize her personality: distant and cold. Of course, it makes sense that she worships the moon.
CaptainLx: The shape of the animations help facilitate the moon feeling throughout the kit. It’s an expression of her personality that she chose to worship the moon. When she is recalling she goes on her knees and prays to the moon goddess. We were more concerned about the personality of the character than with the moon iconography, but with the moon, we had more visuals to dip into.
What was your favorite part of Diana’s creative process?
NinjaChewyKun: Everybody was so excited and passionate about her. There was a very clear direction about what kind of person she is. The concepts were so inspiring. For me the best champions to work on are the ones who have the most direction. Everyone had an idea of what her particles should look like. It was a fun collaboration.
CaptainLx: I think collaboration is a great way to describe her process. We worked a lot together and early on and had a lot of fun discussions. I threw away the most animations I’ve ever thrown away because we were just playing around with a lot of ideas. What if she’s jumping? What if she’s twirling? Finding the right balance – she’s snappy, but also natural. People cared and asked advice from each other, so this character went really well.
IronStylus: No one was afraid of getting feedback or challenging something. Everyone wanted feedback. No one was too heavily invested. It was a trusting collaboration.
Knockmaw: Diana was so . . . internally funded, everyone had so much passion and couldn’t wait to get their hands on her. There’s something to be said about an idea that surfaces within and everyone feels it.
In our discussion about The Creation of Diana, we looked at the how the Scorn of the Moon was inspired by another story within the League. This impact isn’t limited to personality, art or sound. Diana’s complicated tale affected her gameplay as well. Her kit reflects her tragic story and her relationships with Leona, the Solari and the moon. We spoke with a few of the Designers involved in execution of Diana’s gameplay and they explained this aggressive champion’s origins.
David “Volty” Abecassis (Champion Designer)
Mike “IronStylus” Maurino (Senior Concept Artist)
“Davin” Pavlas (User Researcher)
Ryan “Morello” Scott (Lead Champion Designer)
How did Diana’s story and relationship with Leona affect gameplay design? Morello: Draven was born from a personality. Zyra was born from a gameplay hook. Diana was born from a story. She was a story before she was those other things. The inspiration comes from many places and all those things can inform gameplay, but it doesn’t always start there. Every conversation you have about Diana will be couched in Creative because that’s what started everything. Volty: After working on Leona, there always seemed to be an opportunity to revisit the female-with-heavy-plate concept and do a counterpart because the sun and the moon were such an obvious relationship. We had a hard time finding exactly what that meant. It had to be cool, interesting, unique and stand on its own as well. It’s not satisfactory to release a champion that is just a counterpoint to someone else. Diana had to have an identity that works even though there is a tie-in. IronStylus: Once we had an identity for her, that spawned mechanics discussions. Volty: The emotional fantasy is the idea of Diana having this arc where she innocently questions the orthodoxy, which is a part of growing up as a Solari, and how that transforms into cynicism and violence as she’s pushed further by people around her to accept things blindly. So, Diana’s story is very much about rebelling. This translates into her mechanics. Morello: There’s an uncovered truth, but the right course of action is unclear. Volty: Where the truth comes into play in the story is when Diana finds evidence she then returns to the Solari and says, “Please understand, I found this evidence that suggests your orthodoxy is incorrect.” And only when they reject her again in spite of the evidence, does she turn to aggression.
Where we started with gameplay was to make the anti-Leona, so we thought, “anti-tank, right?” We thought about things tanks like to do in the game and then thought about how Diana could basically ruin their day. And that ended up not working at all. It’s not fun to think about a role in the game and then try to punish it. Morello: The anti-tank thing also limited the breadth of things we could explore. She had to have so many things that were anti-tank that she couldn’t be the cool moon knight. And at the end of the day, being the cool moon knight was much more important. Volty: What ultimately guided the design for me was that if she wasn’t going to be anti-Leona, the thing I wanted to hype up on was the aggressive nature. Where Leona is defensive and protective, I wanted Diana to be vicious and aggressive and in your face. There is a sub-theme of self-destruction. Diana commits. She strongly commits. Her beliefs are so strong that when she attacks, she’s all in. That helped inform the design. How did the art influence the design and vice versa? Morello: Diana is the champion of the moon. What does the moon look like and how does that make you feel and then how does that latch into the gameplay? It’s a big chain. Game design, art and story are not these separate guys who go work in their own caves and write stuff down and go, “Look what I made!” You do that and you make bad ****. In this case a lot of what we’ve done on the gameplay side has been influenced by how the story has informed the visuals has informed the gameplay. And back and forth. This can’t be stated enough in design. How far we went with this was really important with Diana even more than with other characters. Davin: The visuals reinforce the rest of how the character is designed. Crescent Strike is suggested by the weapon. Pale Cascade and Moonfall have the symbolism built into them, so it feels like a holistic experience. The first time you realize Moonfall leaves the mark on the ground, that’s a touchstone moment for experiencing a character. Can you describe Diana’s aggressive, committal gameplay design? Morello: The design aspect you are talking about is her closing and chasing and stickiness ability. She doesn’t really have the ability to easily escape situations, but when the advantage arises, she goes in and she’s all in. Davin: She can escape a little bit, but then it limits her, right? Volty: Situation permitting, you might be able to use your ultimate to escape. But you’re either going to have Lunar Rush go on cooldown, which takes you out of the fight, or blow your Cresent Strike combo on a less ideal target. While it might save your life, it’s going to significantly limit your damage. Davin: The correct path is to balls-to-wall it.
[Laughter] Volty: With Diana, identify a situation where you should dive in and go balls-to-wall.
So Moonfall is just awesome because it’s gigantic. In retrospect, it’s a 360 spell. You generally don’t have enemies on all sides of you that you’re pulling in all at once. Generally you’re using it to pull in people in front of you that are running away or whatever. The definition of the spell as a 360 means that the particle, the visual gets to be big. And this pays off a lot more. The skill is more satisfying than the actual power because it has such a huge effect on the battlefield. IronStylus: She is about impactful moments, telling a story with her gameplay. She’s making dramatic statements of ideology. Morello: How you create big epic moments is through tension as a gameplay mechanic, which is something we talked about a lot with Diana. Earlier iterations had less tension with frequent skills you could use often with low consequence for use and we moved away from that to big punishments if you use your ultimate, Lunar Rush, incorrectly, long cooldown on Moonfall... using skills at the right time and putting a little bit of forethought into them makes the big moments bigger and makes it so that since they can’t happen all the time, you appreciate them more when they do. Volty: The design of the Q-R combo came out of envisioning the absolute best case where you chaining them one after another and that feels great, so we were very happy. We were consciously going after an interaction that creates an absurdly awesome best case. Morello: And then failing that takes the wind out of your sails for a little bit and you need to recover from that and make different decisions if that happens and come back with a different approach. That’s interesting gameplay decision-making right there. How would you classify Diana’s gameplay style? Volty: I consider her a fighter or assassin. What I mean by that is that other comparable assassins in the game, characters that can dive in quickly on a vulnerable target, generally have ways to avoid taking damage or get out of that sticky situation and Diana doesn’t have any of those things, but instead has durability. Her base durability is a little bit higher than you would expect for an assassin and Pale Cascade adds a lot of durability, specifically durability that comes with building Ability Power to begin with. We tested a lot of builds with Diana. Is it a full AP build or more tanky with more inherited ability from items? We believe the most potent build is the full AP build, which I’m happy about because that reinforces Pale Cascade. Davin: I am really happy about that ability because it’s much more of a risk/reward skill. If you’re ok at it, you’re going to absorb some damage and have a good time. If you’re great at it, you’re going to absorb a lot of damage while dealing damage. Volty: It rewards aggression, too. You get more shield for using up the orbs. They detonate; you refresh the shield. Davin: You can’t just roll your face and do it. If you plan well, it’s going to be better. Diana’s Q, the curved skillshot Crescent Strike, is pretty special. Can you tell us more about that? IronStylus: Crescent Strike is a really novel move. People have glommed onto it. It’s really innovative and very simple, but something novel and interesting and something we haven’t seen before. Morello: We’d wanted to do this kind of move for a while and we finally found the right place. Davin: As a skill, it’s superbly satisfying when you arc it correctly. And when someone’s watching you arc it correctly, it’s impressive, which will lead to some cool visuals in Spectator Mode. It’s fun to watch. IronStylus: It’s a cool sparkly fireworks show, and leaves you a little bit in awe. It’s fun to light up targets, even if it’s not doing anything to them except using them as a way to transport. How difficult is Diana’s gameplay? IronStylus: As the novice player I am, she’s still really approachable, but has the scalability from novice to pro to be very viable on a higher level of play. Volty: Her skills are still very potent on their own, so they feel impactful the first time you use them. But she really shines when you’ve mastered your combos, and can take advantage of the mobility provided by the combination of Cresent Strike and Lunar Rush. IronStylus: I think we sometimes present champions as having an intimidating learning curve. With her I can step into her shoes and have a really fun time at the really low level of my understanding, but engaging with her more competitively is really interesting, too. It’s easy to step into playing her, but you also want to increase your skills to play with her. When you play Diana, you really feel connected to what you’re doing. How did you create this immersion aside from story and art? Davin: One of the ways you create immersion in design is with feedback loops. Volty: There are two things that come to mind immediately. Lunar Rush plays its special effect when you connect the ultimate to Moonlight, or Moonlight to it. That’s a huge vertical flash and different sound effect. That’s a point that really has to stand out, that she did her combo. That happened, I feel good about it and my ultimate is off cooldown. That’s a huge moment for her. We wanted to sell that strongly with sounds and effects. Similarly, the shield refresh on Pale Cascade. We want to make it obvious that you hit those three orbs, bam new shield – that’s clear. Davin: Sound design sells it really well. Whenever you succeed with a skill with her, there’s this harsh sound, but a sound you want to hear. It’s a really nice reward bell. If you chain Crescent Strike across several minions, it plays progressive tones and that feels fantastic. Morello: One thing this represents is that Diana has multiple conditional components to her kit. This skill does a thing, but it really only does half of what it needs to do unless you meet some other condition or combo mechanic. How does it feel strong? How do you communicate that to Diana players and enemies, so they can counter her? These are art and sound decisions we were able to inform with gameplay decisions, so that everyone on the battlefield understands what’s going on.
One of the most important things game design needs to do other than be fun and mechanically interesting -- which are two things it does need to do -- is sell the fantasy that you’ve bought into. When you see this character and you look at this character and you hear this character, you watch her, what do you expect? What does your brain tell you instantly, psychologically? Our job in a lot of ways is to distill what that expectation is and either deliver on that fully or deliver on that and surprise you in a pleasant way as opposed to a unpleasant way where it does something you don’t want it to. I think Diana is a good representation of that.