It’s been almost a year since Riot added Howling Abyss, the ARAM (All Random All Mid) mode map to League of Legends. To celebrate the impending anniversary, Riot details the origins of the fluffy love balls, the poros.
Artists RiotOtown, RiotEarp, and RiotCaptainLx explain how the wee creatures went from concept to in-game beasties.
“While wrapping up the Howling Abyss, the entire team was on the lookout for something to balance out the Abyss' cold, serious atmosphere,” said Riot. “Unlike our other maps, the Howling Abyss had a very structural, linear cadence--it was literally a bridge without any fantasy elements, which didn't feel very League. To counter this, the whole team brainstormed about cute and fun things we could add that would remain true to League and not take away from the map's epicness.”
Seeing as that Howling Abyss is a bit frosty, Riot wanted to design a creature that looked like it could withstand the harsh climate. The artists tried to draw inspiration from polar bears, reindeers and mountain goats, eventually settling on a cute ball of fluff. Though the name poro actually means reindeer in Finnish.
Despite inspiration coming from arctic animals, the poros are more like dogs than anything else. “After RiotOtown modeled and textured the very first poro, he and RiotCaptainLx decided to add a super huge tongue because the little guy reminded them of a puppy,” said the artists. “Then, during the animation phase, RiotCaptainLx took it a step further and had the poro lick its whole face in one shot! With the tongue mechanic in place, he also animated the poro to run around panting with its tongue hanging out.”
Impressively, eight hours of work was all that was needed to bring the poros from a brainwave to the Howling Abyss mascot. “We never expected poros to become so popular or we probably would've overthought them!“
None of this lets me know how they would taste, though.