Edit: The headline of this article originally stated that Ao Shin would “push the limits of what’s technically and creatively possible”. Riot have since been in touch to clarify that they strive to push those limits with every piece of new content – that’s not a quality specific to Ao Shin. Furthermore, although Tencent became a majority investor in the company two years ago, Riot remain “completely autonomous in all business and game development decisions”. Original story follows.
Even before publicly announcing their partnership with Hi-Rez, Chinese investors Tencent had the Smite developers rejigging their designs to meet Eastern tastes, building gods “authentic to that culture”. Display a broader cultural palette, was the idea, and the MOBA’s audience will broaden to match.
It turns out that line of thinking hasn’t escaped Tencent’s most successful Western venture: League of Legends. Riot yesterday unveiled Ao Shin: a Chinese storm dragon and intriguing technical headache for Riot’s dev team.
“As the League of Legends community expands and grows around the world, so too do our influences and inspirations for the game,” write Riot. “Meet Ao Shin, a powerful storm dragon and guardian of the natural world. Legend holds that when Ionian faces its greatest crisis, Ao Shin will descend from the sky.”
That name, then: the ‘Ao’ bit is related to the mythological dragon kings who rule water and weather; the ‘Shin’ translating as ‘prosperity’ or ‘rising storm’. In lane, those characteristics will see him bring the refreshing rain of good fortune to his allies, and the heavier, globbier rain that soaks your clothes through to his enemies (or “thunderous ruin”, as the devs put it).
Perhaps most intriguingly, though, Ao Shin will force Riot to change their approach to champion animation and movement.
“The community’s been asking for a dragon champion for some time, but we knew we couldn’t just do any dragon,” explain the dev team. “With each new champ, we try and push the limits of what’s technically and creatively possible. Ao Shin is no different. One of the challenges we’re looking forward to tackling is how to capture his unique anatomy and movement in a way that brings a new dimension to the champion pool.
“It’s too early to go into much detail, but we’re really excited about the ways this champion will move across the battlefield.”
Ao Shin won’t be Riot’s next champion release, and they stress that “many things are still subject to change”. But gosh: there’s nothing in LoL’s 100+ champion roster that looks quite like this, is there?