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What they don’t tell you about owning a creative small business.

This past weekend marked the 12th year from my last full-time job.
Granted, that previous statement looks a bit misleading. Since then, I’ve worked enough to account for 3 fulltime jobs, but it specifically holds a special meaning because it was the beginning of my Self Employment.
It’s been a long road getting here, but despite the bumps and bruises that are typical of small business ownership, especially in the creative field, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Stick with me on this…maybe you can avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made in getting here.
If you’re looking for all the answers or some catchy definitive guide to solving everything…you won’t find it here.
This is just my story about starting and running a creative studio and some of the gotcha’s that nobody really talks about because shooting, designing, and producing is so much more fun.
Before I decided to hand in my two weeks, I was sitting at an outdoor bar in Scranton, PA with a friend of mine.
We were obsessed with “The Office” and wanted to check out that Penn Paper building at the beginning of the opening credits.
So, we were sitting at this little bar sipping coronas, and I was ranting about all the things I would do differently. All the things I would fix.
It’s so funny looking back to see how full of piss and vinegar I was. Ready to take over the world and make meaningful changes in the industry.
My buddy sat there. Quiet, the whole time; just listening. I stopped my rant (I tend to be very Sam Kinison-like in my rants) to take a swig of the beer when he chimes in,
“Why don’t we just start a company then”.
That hit me like a ton of bricks. I had never considered going off on my own with no safety net, no guarantee of pay, or even a remote form of guidance on how to run a business. But it sounded sexy.
If these guys can do it, then why can’t I? I’m smart. I have passion.
Boy, was I naive! I think I’m still just as smart…maybe even more passionate. But what I didn’t think of, or know of for that matter, was what was involved in starting (and sustaining) a new business.
Well, I’m pretty obsessive and I couldn’t shake off that idea. It stuck with me, and after we parted ways once we got home in CT, I spent all night researching the steps to begin.
For those of us who are young, dumb, and broke, it is a pretty steep learning curve to figure out what the State, IRS, and Federal Government want from us. Youtube didn’t exist at that point, so forget about that. I was relegated to combing through the websites to see which form I would need to fill out, all without the assistance of a lawyer to help guide me.
Luckily, I had experience in web design, so getting started on our website was a breeze. I was already doing graphic design and video editing on the side. That all helped.
It took me a few days to gather my courage, and I submitted my two week’s notice on Friday the 13th. Who the hell would plan it like that?
Me, that’s who. I threw caution to the wind and didn’t even glance back.
Fast-forward through time, I’m still in business. Took a ton of punches along the way, went through a partner, a business name, lived in multiple cities and months of lost sleep. I now have a great group of peers that I work with and I’m proud of the systems that I’ve built. But, like many small business owners, I am never satisfied.
There is always something to improve.
For those in the creative field, everyone knows the lie we tell ourselves.
Build it and they will come.
The truth is that is just a dream. As creative business owners, we need to start balancing our areas of focus— dedicate just as much time, if not more, to the business aspect as we do on the creative end. (I know, it’s heresy to say that).
Joel Pilger from Revthink is a great resource that helped open my eyes to this. I had told myself for my whole career that if my work got better, then people would be fighting to give me their hard earned projects.
Sorry Paulie, it takes more than that.
We need to build it, but also support it. Otherwise, the whole thing crumbles down.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately, given the current state of affairs, and I’ve been trying to break down some of the common pitfalls that I’ve encountered and affect all business owners, but especially new business owners.
Here are some things to consider:
Website and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) -
God, I hate this term so much. In my younger days, I was so cavalier in not putting in the time to optimize my site. Nowadays, good SEO is mandatory for any business, and even if you aren’t technically savvy, it is important to understand what it is before you pay someone to do it for you.
How can you pay someone to fix something but you don’t even know if it is broken in the first place?
I’m not a professional on SEO, though. I am a Creative Director, so I will leave those articles to the experts.
NeilPatel.com and Backlinko.com have some great resources to build up your understanding of what goes into it.
Seriously, check them out…they’ve helped me immensely.
If you’ve got some dough to invest, check out Semrush.com. It’s a great tool to measure website performance and run some tests for keywords and backlinks against your competitors. It has a bit of a learning curve, though.
Make sure that your website works too. If you aren’t technically inclined, there are plenty of services such as Wix.com, Squarespace, and Shopify, that can help you create your website, and customize it to fit your brand needs.
Generally speaking, having a website and having an SEO optimized website are two totally different things. Learn how it impacts you.
I repeat, good SEO is mandatory for every business that wants to grow their web presence. For many years, I made the mistake of relying on referral business to keep me growing. That segues me into the next point.
Sales
Sales, blech! 😭 We are reminded of the image of the scummy car salesman, or the shady vacuum dealer.
But that’s a bad stereotype. If you speak to any good salesperson, it is immediately clear that they benefit from your increasing knowledge of a subject.
A good salesperson informs and relates to the prospect. They serve as a guide to help you.
Granted, their job is to sell and they are usually paid on their merit, but the ultimate goal is to provide knowledge and work to figure out what is best for both parties. This results in sustainable, long-term relationships; not carnival-style, pack up and leave town transactions.
A strong sales system is necessary to manage cash flow and ensure that you are making the most money that you can while assisting clients in achieving their goals.
For years I’ve made the mistake of not knowing how to sell myself and my studio, and it’s resulted in lost opportunities.
Perfecting your elevator pitch and knowing exactly what makes you special is your biggest weapon in presenting the best “you”.
If you take pride in your work, there is something special you can offer someone. You just need to figure out what that is. Be bold and shout it from the rooftops.
People don’t buy products. People buy from people. People buy based on feelings. People want to work with others that share their same values.
Work hard. Be nice to people. Articulate what makes you great. Rinse and Repeat.
Inbound vs Outbound Marketing
What is the difference between the two? What do they mean?
Inbound marketing is focused on driving traffic to you, and converting leads into sales by educating the customer. Typically, you would capture customer data on your website in exchange for some sort of useful information or guide.
Outbound marketing, on the other hand, is what we typically think of when the term marketing is brought up. Advertising, Cold Emailing and Calling are some examples.
Once you get busy, marketing is the first thing to fall by the wayside. To this day, I still struggle with maintaining a balance between the two.
Again, I’m not a marketer by trade, so I won’t delve too deep into this, but these sites have some great resources:
Inbound
Hubspot.com
Impactbnd.com
Outbound
Close.com
Pipedrive.com
For our sales process, we use Pipedrive to keep us organized. It is a great CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool to make sure that potential leads moving through the sales pipeline aren’t being ignored.
Using a CRM saves so much time in the end…I can’t tell you how often we would forget when we last messaged prospects, and had to guess which form of communication we used. CRM’s can keep track of that stuff for you.
Pro Tip — Be a damn human and write down people’s birthdays for Pete’s sake.
Treat clients and prospects like they deserve to be treated, and show a genuine interest in them as a person. If you don’t know their birthday, then wish them a happy holiday when the time comes.
Do something to show them that they mean something to you. It’s five minutes out of your day and it might be the pick-me-up that they need.
However, don’t use this to be manipulative, because people will spot it a mile away. Nobody likes that guy/gal.
Processes
As Mike Michalowicz always says, a company lives and dies by its processes. New businesses need to establish processes for things such as Sales, Operations, and Production.
As a process junkie, I am always trying to punch holes in the way we work to see if we can optimize for efficiency and communication.
For example, let’s say a new job comes in and you don’t have an established production process.
How do you start? What do you do if a client makes a change? How do you create a schedule for determining when the work would be completed?
These are all easily answered by creating repeatable processes.
I know what some of you are thinking, “Well I’m a freelancer so I only need to keep track of my stuff”.
This is important especially to those who work by themselves, as there is no one else to keep track of accountability.
By the time the client starts doing it for you, you are already losing them.
During a grind to finish up a job, it is easy to let some things slide just to get it done, but think of your good friend Gordon Ramsay criticizing you, and stick to the plan.
Is the job going out of scope? Well, then you need to charge more.
Has the work timeline been extended? Is the client past due on their invoice?
Having established guidelines help remind you to keep things in order.
Organization is next to godliness.
Delegating Tasks
As a business owner, it is imperative that as soon as you can create your systems, you start delegating tasks to others.
Small business owners have to wear many hats regardless, but is it efficient for you to divide your time doing menial tasks, while simultaneously trying to grow the business?
Again, learn from my mistakes. I had tried to juggle everything for years, but not until I started delegating work, did the profitability of my business increase, as did the amount of completed internal projects, which helped drive growth.
You gotta spend money to make money
It seems counter-intuitive, but spending some money on getting help from others freed my time up to look at the work we were creating more objectively. This ultimately increased the quality of work, as well as increased profits with me at the helm managing the processes, instead of focusing on executing all the labor.
Here’s an example. Let’s say that you have years of prior experience working for a Creative Studio. You have a high level of expertise and you ventured into creating your own company.
Your level of experience dictates that you should make around a certain amount of money. Would it be prudent for you to be doing all of the video editing and motion design when you should be focused on producing or directing?
I didn’t think so. Delegate, delegate, delegate. Surround yourself with talented people and give them things to do.
If you can’t afford to because your business is brand new, then check out sites like Fiverr or Upwork, to help you out until you can hire someone that you want. There are also a ton of freelancers across the globe who would love to work with you.
If you can’t afford to and your business isn’t new, then there is a good chance that:
You are not charging enough
You don’t have efficient processes in place to hold you accountable on time or money
Accounting
Finding a good accountant and learning how to manage your money is so important.
Depending on the business you are in, your bookkeeping needs can be more or less than others, but getting set up in bookkeeping software and maintaining good fiscal responsibility can make or break your business.
We use Quickbooks Online, but I hear great things about the Quickbooks Desktop version as well as some people using Freshbooks.
As a self-employed individual, it makes life so much easier if you keep your personal and business finances separate. Different bank accounts, different credit cards, different expenses.
This will help you in the future if (God forbid) you get audited, apply for grants, seek investors, or just to have a clearer picture of how your company is performing for growth.
As much as I hate to admit it, Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet documents are your friends.
I am not a technical guy outside of the creative industry, so it has taken me some time to fully embrace the data, but it is certainly something that cannot be ignored.
Some of these points I’ve hit might seem to be glaringly obvious problems to solve, but in my experience, it’s easier to ignore the obvious problems while you are focused on specific details. Like every boxing coach worth their salt would say:
Fundamentals Win Fights.
These aren’t the sexiest topics to think about, much less act on, but they are the oft-forgotten/ignored building blocks that your creative business stands on.
There are many other things to consider when starting and sustaining a business, but these are the ones that sit at the top of my mind all the time.
I hope that this has been informative to those who are in a similar situation as I am and have been. If this article does it’s job, you should have more questions than answers. Luckily for all of us, Google exists. Use it…abuse it.
Doing great work will only get you so far if you don’t have all your ducks in a row.
To summarize, here are some of the key takeaways:
Understand your internet presence and how it affects outreach and authority.
Create repeatable processes for efficiency and profit.
Get down and dirty with the numbers. If you don’t understand them, speak with a professional who does. (Accountant, Mentor)
Don’t be a crappy person. People want to work with others that care.
I am always learning, as a business owner, as a Creative Professional, and as a human. I’d love to hear some feedback if you thought this was useful, and I’m always down to elaborate on some topics if you had more targeted questions.
If you hated it, feel free to drop me a line as well. I‘m open to criticism, and I want to share my knowledge with everyone else that stands to benefit from it.
If you’re lucky, you might just get some sass in return. ;)
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Call of the Mountain Discord event AMA: Riot responses

Hello friends! I read through all the responses from the Riot AMA on discord a few hours ago, collated and formatted them here for you all who didn't see them on discord. I cut out some of the preamble "Hey i love the game", "Thanks for the question" stuff but other than that I'm pretty sure everything is here, but I might have missed one or two so if I have, I apologise :(
4 wonderful Rioters took part: @DanCast, @Dovagedys, @Bearly Leah and @Careless Whisper. Thank you all for your time answering the questions!

Do you sometimes go around reddit or other media platforms to create new ideas for a card?

DanCast: We go around LoR player communities on reddit and elsewhere quite often, not for new card ideas specifically, but to understand what players are liking and not liking about the game. Better understanding people's impressions and desires factor into what we make in the future more broadly.

What was the process like play testing for the balance of this segment of the Targon release year, specifically the new region of Targon itself? Was Targon created holistically then segmented, or has development and balancing always been aware and aiming for the current style of a segmented release for the region? As the only other region expansion we’ve seen so far, Bilgewater seems like it could have been wildly different in terms of both thematic resonance and balance if it and the other original 6 regions new champions added in Rising Tides had been separated into segments. And if Targon was originally created holistically do you think the segmented release will make balancing harder going forward, as some card synergies or natural archetype counters have already been developed, but not yet released?

Dovagedys: It's a complicated question with a complicated answer. Ultimately, we know we want to be able to provide new cards to everyone at a satisfying cadence. Originally, we had planned to release new cards every 4 months, but over this past 6 months we quickly realized that is not fast enough. We wanted to move to a two month cadence, but most of the work for Targon and the region that comes after Targon had already been done. We definitely did extensive play testing and balance work on each segment. We believe that all three releases bring new things to the game and are fun to play.

Your favourite Colour?

Dovagedys: Purple
Leah: Purple or blue

I am a huge fan of designing custom cards in just about all the card games I play, and some card games are very transparent with their design philosophies. While I understand LoR is a much newer game than some of those games and thus might have less nailed down in the way of philosophy; we saw relatively recently some of the design process outlined in your "From Champ Select to Your Deck" Article. For those of us who either wish to design custom content, or for those who might one day wish to apply to work for LoR as a designer, would it be possible to get many more articles in the same vein as that one? I feel as though many of the designing/custom group would love to hear what goes into the game and what considerations/values you have for each Region.

Whisper: Great question, and I'm glad to hear the previous articles were helpful. More articles on design and our design process is definitely on the list of to do. Knowing what things y'all are interested in learning more about helps us a ton!

when can I expect the other league champs with tails to be added to this game? I know you likely can't answer this but I can dream. [This was asked by someone with the discord name @TailLover :D]

DanCast: What about a champion that sometimes has a tail?

LoR's coding and way of handling various effects such as card positioning and sequencing is really fascinating. However I'm curious just how much is easily able to be modified/used for card design. For ex; Hypothetically speaking is it possible to reference the opponent's username in a levelup animation? For example with a champion say Pyke and The List?

DanCast: The tech team tells me it's harder than you'd think. We had a cosmetic concept where we wanted to put your game name on the cosmetic but we decided it wasn't going to be viable.

Hello Rioters! Thanks for helping us. Following the balance patches this summer, and the release of COTM are yall considering rexamining the presence of Aggro/Combo in the game? So far it seems that these new tools empower midrange and value stradegy in a great degree, but dont seem to have any new threats to keep them in check. Thanks!

Dovagedys: The release of Targon is still very young. I think there are still a lot of evolutions and learnings to come as people explore and the meta evolves. We are constantly evaluating the meta and working hard to ensure a healthy and diverse play experience. We want players to be able to play all kinds of decks and be able to have fun and find success. If we notice certain decks over performing we will continue our efforts to tone down cards that are overbearing and pushing other options out of the meta, as well as, buffing cards that can encourage more decks that are under represented.

Any chance of getting long term profile stats like matches played, lifetime number of 7-win Expeditions trials, the ratio of achieving 7-wins per expedition attempts etc., so I can finally prove to my friends I’m the Expedition king of LOR? Any fun stats in general or fun personal stats you keep track of behind the scenes on individual profiles you could one day share? (Numbers of Poro’s summoned?)

DanCast: Yes, we believe a player profile that contains some type of match history plus a record of feel-good stats/achievements like this is a great feature and something that provides a social foundation for seeing what other players are up to - what they pursue and accomplish. It's something we will be working on.

What is your least favorite card and why is it so?

Leah: I have a hard time playing around Ledros. It's silly but I always forget about him and then die to him! D:

About Taric's ability: Why did you "nerf" his interaction with Playful Triclster day 1? The Rube Goldberg Judgement + Challenger + Rally + Big dude is intended or will it somehow be patched out? Is his interaction w Assembly Bot intended? (He gets +1 towards the lv up if you Assembly bot on field with non-targetted spells)

Dovagedys: We knew about the Taric + Playful Trickster combo and originally intended to have it go live with Call of the Mountain. However, after some discussion among game design, play test team, and game play leadership we decided that the opponent's experience was potentially too unfun. We want to ensure that both players are having fun in our game. Losing isn't very fun, but unavoidable in a 1v1 game. However, losing slowly and being stuck in a trapped game is very unfun and avoidable. We want games that have a clear winner to end very quickly and the Taric + Playful Trickster combo had high potential to lead to games where 1 player had no mana and no actions to take, but would be forced to click OK repeatedly while Taric slowly attacked them to death. That sounds like a terrible experience and we wanted to protect players from being forced into situations like it.

I've read that LoR was planned to be available on multiple platforms (mostly mobile) very early on in the development. Was there any particular difficulty in porting the code over to mobile clients, or did you simultaniously code all the different builds at the same time? Furthermore, was there a Mac client planned that was scrapped due to the "App store streaming" MacOS has planned, or was that never a consideration?

Leah: We built the code from the beginning to prepare for mobile - so that helped us a lot being aware of budgeting needs, especially on low end devices. Certain things, like trying to constrain ourselves to memory budgets per asset (such as texture), and running memory tests per build help us know if we're exceeding our mobile limits.
This is has been pretty beneficial over making it for PC then going to mobile, as we had less fixing to do for mobile launch.

How do you decide which champions to add to each expansion? Is it more based on popularity, or how much they could bring to the game?

Whisper: Huge caveat that this will usually vary from expansion to expansion. Generally the process is we look at which champions best represent the region and can show off exciting mechanics or themes. Then we look at a swath of things like champ popularity, cool lore moments we want to expand on between champions, overall tone of the set, etc.

Seeing as there are only so many regions from Map of Runeterra not implemented in game (with 2 new regions a year), what would you do when there are no regions to implement?

Dovagedys: Right now, our plan is to focus on 10 regions in runeterra. As of Call of the Mountain we have 8.

Do you have a clear vision on what you would do once you will run out of regions to add?

Dovagedys: Yes. We have a clear plan for content that comes after our last 2 regions are introduced to the game. Unfortunately, we can't discuss future content right now, but in some cases we work on content up to 2 years before it's released.

Some other card games have taken their main characters and placed them in different colors or classes? Is this something we could see once we have all the champions in game/we need champions in less populated regions? For example Yasuo and Ahri are currently heading to Bilgewater, would we hypothetically see a Yasuo in Ionia and A Yasuo in Bilge at the same time?

Dovagedys: We have some fun ideas for how we could potentially shift champions to regions players may not initially associate the champion. However, right now we are focused on getting as many champions from League into LOR as possible.

League of Legends is well known for it's incredibly diverse range of Alternate Universes and Skins. Just recently we had a Spirit Blossom event syncronized with the LoL event at the saem time. Judging from the new render of SBYasuo, alot of us were expecting some sort of premium version of Yasuo such as a skin for the card. Seeing as that obviously didn't happen, what is the team's stance on skins for cards? Perhaps with new VO/FX/Levelup Animations?

DanCast: We have loved bringing some of the alternate fantasies to LoR through our current cosmetic products. Card cosmetics will be in LoR's future, but we're taking our time to put our best foot forward on it, including some player studies.
We have to think a lot about would players rather SB Yasuo be a skin or SB Yasuo be a new card with it's own flavor and abilities?Are there some fantasies we should do as cosmetics and others we should do new cards - can we do it both ways and have it be clear to players? That's what we think about.
Let us know your thoughts on the boards!

Hi all! Bit of a technical curiosity: in open beta, there was a bug that allowed a player to cast Spinning Axe discarding a card that was "about" to be discarded by another effect such as shown here. What was the source of this bug? Was the game engine tied to UI somehow?

Leah: That's a fun one! Disclosure I didn't work on this bug, and I don't work on gameplay itself. But from speculation my guess would be that while the card was marked for delete, there was a time in cleanup while the animation was playing that it was still clickable, and was not marked as discarded until the animation ended. So not as much to do with UI as a timing issue.

The video containing the roadmap for future content (e.g. the addition of Labs, Gauntlet, the Event) was super awesome. Is there another one like that planned? When should we expect it?

DanCast: Yes there's one being planned now. Don't expect it too soon, but we want some way to talk about the end of the year with all of you. I hope the video works out

Are there any super crazy mechanics or cards you wanted to implement into the game but scratched in the end? I'm thinking of stuff like the chicken that deals 1 damage when you hover it in Hearthstone, things that are just simply bizarre :D

Dovagedys: There are a ton of designs that the team tries that don't make it to be released. Sometimes they aren't fun, sometimes we can't balance them, or sometimes they don't fit well with the rest of the release. In general, we try not to discuss these ideas publicly too often, because we may decide to use them in a future release and we don't want to spoil the surprise.

This question is completely unrelated to this game, so I’m not sure if you guys can even answer this. I’ll be finishing my 4th year of college studying cyber security this spring. I’m still trying to figure out what sort of work I’d even want to do, but I’m just curious if you guys know of any opportunities at Riot Games? Or if there’s someone I could contact regarding this? I checked the site and don’t see any opening for security jobs currently, but did see you have a bug bounty program.

Leah: We do have teams that work in security. So it's something available, even if the position isn't open now. I would definitely work on putting together something demonstrable of your skill, portfolio/Github/etc, so when the time comes you'd be ready!

How does the team view the Spirit Blossom event? Was it a success? What were the major learnings from it, and do more events in the future seem likely?

DanCast: We do view it as a success - and our post-event player surveys showed you all liked it too! The main we want to improve from the learnings is the Quest/Win of the Day system. We want to emphasize the win of the day less, and instead have more progress come from have a more distributed cadence of quests throughout the event (not all up front). As well has have the quests be less specific (I know how you feel about challenge 100 units) On the rewards: we saw players want less shards on the event road, and some new more interesting rewards instead, so we're going to work on that.

The art and lore of LoR have been amazing! How do you choose which statline/effect goes with each art/flavor?

Whisper: Great question! During development design works closely with narrative and art to create the art with the statline and effects of the card. So it's less of "choosing" and more creating them together as one complete coherent piece. This will often mean chatting about the theme of the character, what is important about their stat line or effect, and how to best represent those mechanics in the art.

I do love alot of the cosmetics currently available in the game (Guardians, Cardbacks and Boards) Can I hear some more about future upcoming cosmetics that aren't in those categories and more ways to sink my bank account?

DanCast: But you don't love emotes?? Why can't I Jinx OMG reaction in this slack?

There seems to be many cards that seem like they are supposed to be attachted to currently unreleased champions. Is there a reason for releaseing these cards and will you be doing any else like this in the future?

Dovagedys: Cards connections in LOR are a complex network of interactions. There are many cards that are designed for specific champions, but can end up working in past, present, and future decks. We try to release cards together that we think will be the most fun and create the most interesting interactions. And we think it's fun to allude to what could be potentially coming in the future. Yes we will continue to do so in the future.

How Happy were you with the meta before the expansion hit, were you satisfied with the variety of decks played?

Dovagedys: I am extremely proud of LOR's meta since the launch of our game. Before we launched we had a goal of having a metagame that had 10 decks. And we knew that was a lofty goal. However, since the launch of LOR we have repeatedly seen metagames that have 20, 25, 30, and up to 35 different decks that are competitively viable. I am completely blown away by the metagame diversity in LOR's meta game and excited to see it continue to evolve over time.

Just like almost everyone else I love the emotes! So much personality in them and conveys really fun emotions. Especially with how rapidly new emotes are being added are there plans to allow for more emotes to be 'equipped' for a match? And of course which 8 emotes are you running now?

DanCast: Wait...are you hacking to run 8 emotes?
Yes, I would love for everyone to have more emote access. We want this, but we want to build a lot of things, so it comes down to deciding our priorities on what delivers the most player value. There may be a time where we have to work on a related feature, so an opportunity to adjust this will come up. My ideal would be an intuitive UI that's fast to use on mobile where a player could access all their emotes.
My current fav 6: Not Sure If, Wink, Cheers, Sweating, Into My Trap, and (of course) Obliteration

What was the hardest card from targon to code? Is it some card we've already seen or is it one yet to come?

Dovagedys: Taric has definitely been the most complicated card to code in Call of the Mountain.

When you're not working on LoR things, what games do you like to play? Mostly card games or do you sink your time into games completely different than the ones you work on?

Leah: I play a lot of League of Legends / Overwatch as well. I also love party games to play with friends and platformers, metroidvanias and rhythm games galore. Some of my favorite games are the Ori series, Super Mario Sunshine, Dance Dance Revolution and Beat Saber!

Some players can feel really bad when opponents are able to draw from the top of their deck (although this isn't in my opinion, an issue, but it can be considered something that inherently feels worse than your opponent drawing from the bottom of your deck). Other things that can make a game feel bad are long animations, slow draw speed, etc. I'm sure there are a ton of other things you all do to make the game feel clean and smooth to play (UI), how you can customize your own boards, guardians, etc that make it feel more like "you", along with game mechanics that feel fair. I'm happy for any answer at all! Mostly I'm impressed at how much attention to detail has been given to making the game feel really good to play as often as possible, and wondering how you work out what's working in those areas, what isn't, and what you'd like to improve.

Dovagedys: We have a lot of great plans for LOR in the future. We have worked hard to build a great foundation for the game, but this is only the beginning. Ultimately, the ideas we choose to deliver to make LOR feel better will come from the community. We want to listen and learn from you all to help us choose the improvements that you all want. I think one of the most special parts about the LOR team is how dedicated everyone on the team is to listening to players and learning how to make the game better for everyone.
DanCast: The best way to encapsulate it is the LoR team is made up of Rioters who really care deeply about the player experience and are detailed oriented and very creative at their problem solving. I'm honored to work everyone on this team.

What's the basis for your card design in terms of power level? Do you ever just think of a card and say "this card is too strong/weak" and how do you tune it to the level at which it feels juuuust right?

Whisper: Generally when it comes to power level of a have a design we ask ourselves 2 questions. Is this card sensible given the rest of the cards? If not, are there numbers (cost, power, health, effect output) where this could be a sensible card.
As for how we decide what sensible is, it's a lot of playtesting, feedback, and evaluating other cards that do similar things.

the enemy Aurelion Sol transform the allie celestials cards into 0 mana cost,is it a bug?

Dovagedys: The interaction of Aurelion Sol level 2 reducing cost of opponent's cards was a bug. We released a fixed for that bug shortly after the release of Call of the Mountain.

Hi id like to say im a huge fan of LoR im wondering what guardian you all like the most personally for me its cosmo :3

Dovagedys: Personally, my favorite guardian is Von Yipp, but it's really hard to choose because there are so many awesome guardians. And I'm excited for upcoming guardians that will become my new favorites

How much of my soul do I have to give you guys to get a spoiler to show during next spoiler season?

DanCast: How could your soul be used to provide players value? I mean if you're going to try to bribe a Rioter, do it with something that we can give back to the players.
(Thanks for being cool with this trolling)

Hi Leah :> You mentioned you don't work on the gameplay parts of the game! As someone who has no idea of what software engineers do, would you mind describing which parts of the endproduct you've been working on?

Leah: I do metagame work, on DanCast's team! So Events, onboarding, rewards, quests, end of game are the types of things my team touches. We work to make sure the "out of game" experience feels good to interact with too. There's also plenty of other engineering teams too! Such as those who work to keep our build pipelines running smoothly. And they're all essential to getting LoR out to players

One of the best parts about Legends of Runeterra are the amazing animations we see with many cards, even if they aren't champions. The recent expansion especially is incredible and very beautiful with all the designs and animations. Anyways, what's your favorite pizza topping?

Leah:Pineapple and ham Pepperoni! I'm simple but it's delicious. Also I eat the crust of my pizza first.

Would you consider diversifying the rewards in gauntlets? Because the current icon rewards are granted for the first play/win and then the mode is usually ignored by most players until a new mode/format arrives.

DanCast: Yes, but we're working on rewards that we think will be a better fit and can be more extensible than icons. Be on the watch for one of those future Dev videos to learn more (again, not too soon)

Could you guys already be planning/working on champions cards that are not found in League of Legends?

Dovagedys: we often talk about making new champions that don't exist in League of Legends, but right now we are focused on introducing as many champions from League into LOR as we can. There are over 140 champions in League of Legends and LOR doesn't have 1/3 of them yet.

Do you plan to give support to older archetypes like sea monsters and scouts in current(cotm) and future expansions?

Whisper: We do! Part of future content design is not just expansion of older regions, but also how to add to the archetypes already present.

My question is whether or not there is a plan to add in a spectate mode?

Dovagedys: We are planning to release a spectate mode in the future. I don't think we have given an exact date yet.

When LoR was finally released, was there a sick underground techno party with Poro DJs? How did you celebrate - if at all?

DanCast: LoR released under shelter in place here in LA (and in our international locations), so we ordered some desserts on DoorDash and played online games together. The poro DJs were all booked for LoR's Korean ad team

How did you join Riot, and what made you want to join Riot?

Leah: I was playing League since 2012, and that initially piqued my interest in Riot. I volunteered at a GDC (Game Development Conference) while I was in college and met a bunch of Rioters there. They were all really nice and that really made me want to join :). I graduated in 2017, and started working at another game company in Massachusetts. In 2018 Riot hit me up and after a bunch of interviews I joined!

Do you have pets, and if so, what kind, and most importantly can I pet them?

Leah: I have 2 dogs, Jax and Leo. Not only can you pet them, but they demand pets. This post not sponsored by dogs

Kind of the reverse of a previously asked question - have you designed any cards or will you design any cards soon, knowing they will be champions in the future?

DanCast: We don't have a handshake with LoL for anything like that at the moment, but we aspire to create interesting characters for the world of Runeterra that other teams can pick up and use if they wish. We just hope players love what is put out, and maybe if there's someone the community loves, they could be seen in another game or video or comic or such

I have a question: Are the cards like the Startled Stomper Zoe's creation? (if not hers, is it a creation from her friends?)

Dovagedys: I'm not sure if Zoe creates them or transforms them, but she is definitely involved.

Are there any champions that you agreed to never release?

Dovagedys: No. We hope to release every champion some day.

Whats your favorite ranked reward icon? this includes color difference from the ranks.

DanCast: Diamond Season of Plunder
Alas, I ended Plat that season (just like every season)

A large number of champions are based on their "lore" forms rather than translations of their LoL gameplay; what goes into deciding what to focus on for champions? Thresh has an ability much closer to his ingame whereas Karma is entirely about her lore rather than how she acts in gameplay.

Whisper: There are a number of things we tend to look at when focusing on the champion. What is their role in the set, what mechanics do we want to show off through the champion, are there any narrative/story beats we want to hit with them. Usually we try to find what is the version of this champion do we want to design, and then go from there.

when you design a champion, do you always have a primary archetype / deck in mind or do you intend multiple different uses for it? how important is champion versatility as opposed to the cohesiveness of its archetype?

Dovagedys: It varies for each champion. We want all champions to feel special. Some of them are designed with a very specific deck in mind, like Nautilus. Others are designed with multiple decks in mind, like Shen. And yet others are more general, like Twisted Fate. However, we do want every champion to have at least one deck they are best in.

In roughly 3 weeks I'm gonna start my enrolment in a game development degree. As someone who lives in Portugal, is there any way to work for Riot (specifically in the LoR team since that's my favorite Riot game) without moving to the US, while being an active member of the team and not just work in localization?

Leah: LoR development largely happens between our LA and Hong Kong offices. There are other offices where other development happens though. The best way is to check the careers page and see what listings are available for the office you're interested in.

Milk first or cereal first?

Whisper: Cereal first. ARE THERE PEOPLE THAT DO MILK FIRST?

If you had a truck what would you put in it ?

Leah: A smaller truck, of course.

I would like to ask , what is your current view on the success of LoR so far? Has the number of players met your initial expectations or do you feel like there is still an unused potential to lure in new players? As a relatively new player myself who loves the game to death, I feel like so far it hasn't got the attention it deserves so I'd love to know what's the perspective of you as Rioters on the matter.

Dovagedys: We are extremely proud of how many players have been enjoying LOR! We believe this is only the beginning and we hope to see more and more players joining the community over time.

Will there ever be a way to listen to the music of the boards before we buy them?

DanCast: Someday, yes I hope so. We have a lot of things we want to build and limited resources so we have to choose our projects with a lot of consideration. Since a lot of fans and creators preview content on video sites, we focus our efforts on more gameplay experiences for players.

What are your plans when a year from now comes and there are too many cards to balance? Will we have a similar thing to Hearthstone where sets from awhile ago will be unplayable in ranked?

Dovagedys: We want players to always be able to play with their favorite cards. We hope that our model for live balance will help players enjoy the cards they love. And we want to avoid situations where players aren't able to include the cards they love in their decks.

What's the funniest moment of friendly competition/bet/dare/general tomfoolery you've seen your colleagues in Riot do for fun during break-time?

DanCast: @Dovagedys still owes his team a rendition of a Taylor Swift song
Dovagedys: yikes @DanCast
Leah: We play a lot of games together on breaks and such. I had a friend try to meme me in a game of LoR by vile-feasting my unit that he was going to kill anyways. Unfortunately that unit was Scarmother Vrynna and the extra damage won me the game he would've won. I still tease him about it.

@Dovagedys I'm sorry, but I have to know the story behind you owing your team a TaySwift song.

Dovagedys: Honestly, it's a troll perpetrated by some devious people on my team. Once upon a time I was a singer. I'm also a gigantic Taylor Swift fan and I frequently utilize her songs, lyrics, images, and quotes in team communications. I don't really know/remember how the joke of me "owing the team" began.

At one point someone from the team said that they would look into more options for making the data about viable decks that you all see open to the public. Any updates on that? It's cool to know that there are regularly 20-30 viable competitive decks, but it's hard to see past the data that fansites offer so we the players only have ever a limited amount of insight into what's actually working for people.

Dovagedys: We do still plan on sharing more information around the meta, but we don't have an exact date yet.

What was the biggest emergent gameplay from the community that the team didnt foresee?

DanCast: Hello There was too strong of an emote to include in the starting 6

Lore question: In League, the only Yordle that has a tail is Gnar, and that makes sense due to him being ancient. But in LoR, we have Fae Bladetwirler, a Yordle that doesn't just have one tail, but multiple tails. Are tails on yordles a somewhat common thing nowadays or is it some rare special thing. Also are there any other tailed Yordles I should be aware of in the game already?

Dovagedys: Keep in mind that League only showcases the champions in Runeterra. Gnar is the only yordle champion with a tail, but there are so many yordles that exist in the world of Runeterra that are not champions and many of them have tails.

Finally, could we possibly have some place in the deckbuilder where we could see the card art and flavor text for everything else we can't maindeck? I wanna look at many celestial cards for description or lore reasons and I am never able to.

Dovagedys: As of Call of the Mountain there is a new filter option in the deck builder that will allow you to see the Celestial cards.

Though LoR has a slowly but surely growing competitive scene (e.g. DoR and serverwide tournaments), are there any plans to eventually have our counterpart to League's Worlds with splits and invitationals and everything?

Dovagedys: We hope to have esports some day, but right now we have been very focused on making the game as fun as possible. We are focused on listening and learning to the community to be sure we are making the right improvements.
We do hope to have in client tournaments and then eventually esports some day, but right now we don't have a specific date for them.

I would like to know how you would like to lead new players to the game, and if you are thinking of creating an official deck creation system on the LOR website, and if there will be a community deck system like on mobalitcks.

DanCast: Thank you for the thoughtful question. It's a problem space we think about, and we know deck creation is a challenging aspect for many players. Deck Bundles were one idea to give players something new they could use early. We don't want to repeat the work of our partners at Mobalytics, but we are thinking about ways to make it easier to bring friends into LoR.

Since the new patch i've had issue's with SOL'S level up. So when I ahve 20+ power and round ends Sol sometimes just will not level up at all, this has happned in a few of my games were i have had a board 20+ power and he would not level up, any plans to look into this bug?

Leah: I can't speak to the specifics of this bug. But as a neat tidbit about bugs in general: For all bugs they will go through some triage process, including being verified by QA for a consistent repro, heading to production where they decide how impactful the bug is, and finally through engineering where we will of course attempt to fix it. There's a bunch of steps that go in the finding and fixing bugs that makes it a fun process.

Do you have plans to bring PVE game modes? Perhaps an event where there is a boss with a gigantic life, of which the community will have to strive to defeat and win prizes.

Dovagedys: Personally, I would love it if we were able to eventually add some PVE and/or story game modes to LOR. It's something we talk about and hope that we can do at some point, but right now we don't have any specific release date for a PVE mode.

If you had a poro in real life, what would you name it?

Dovagedys: Snack

How did you deal with the constructive criticism that most card game fans gave to you from the start of when the game was released? Ccg fans like hearthstone or MTG had made their opinions on your game, so I wonder what your opinions are on such criticism that you've been receiving the past few months

Whisper: Constructive criticism is crucial for us to grow and improve the game. We always knew that initial impressions especially from CCG fans were going to be heavily rooted in other games, and that's a totally reasonable starting point. The hope is that as they play and learn more about LoR they're able to see the strengths of what makes the game great.
DanCast: One of the areas where LoR's first impression isn't as great is in our rewards (say for Ranked or Gauntlets). In other CCGs, competitive game modes often reward cards. In games where high rarity cards are very hard to get, those rewards look very valuable.
So if you just compared rewards like icons or XP to card packs or rare cards, it looks like our rewards aren't motivating. Our philosophy on more accessible cards makes it more challenging to come up with rewards here, and it may take a new player time to see how quickly their collection can grow through the roads and vault to appreciate that difference. We're working on future things we can use as rewards to help with this.

A sandbox mode would be incredibly useful to help teach new players and give new scenarios for "puzzle" challenges and the like. Is there any technical limitation that makes this mode impossible to make? Or is this entirely impossible?

Leah: There is some technical implications to this unfortunately. As far as "puzzles" such as tutorials go, I know they can take some scripting that is special circumstance, which makes it a large time investment.
As far as a sandbox mode goes, there's a few things: exposing the right cheats on non-internal builds, the impact of having potentially infinitely long game times, or what to do about crashes as people try to do things that wouldn't happen in a normal game. We'd also have to contemplate how we load cards into the game at random (Do we need to check against your inventory, are we unloading cards no longer in use appropriately, is this impacting your game performance, etc). So not something I would say is impossible, but would take a decent time investment.

Which poro is your favorite?

Dovagedys: Nimble Poro. She's totally awesome. Also during development Steve Rubin (Live Balance Design Lead) wrote a short song about Nimble Poro and I will never forget it.

Love you Riot (?) <--- Question :uwuHeart:

Leah: Oh my, uhm, thank you

Do you think Quinn is acheiving her themeatic fantasy right now? Regardless of power level, do you think she feels 'cool' as a champion?

Dovagedys: I think so. I love Quinn and I'm really happy with her design in LOR. Her level up is one of my favorites.

how much do you take expeditions into account when designing a card (and especially assigning rarity)

Whisper: They are a soft consideration when it comes to initial design of a card. We usually do a larger pass with Expeditions once we know the general shape of the archetype. Rarity is part of that pass, given rarity helps influence appearance rate.

What's your favorite thing about the player base of LoR? Least favorite? spill the tea

DanCast:

Favorite: The dedication to creating a lively, welcoming, and meaningful community space for fans of the game and helping it grow.
Second favorite: The love for Spirit Blossom Corina and recognizing her from the promo art
Least Favorite: I don't know about some of your emote meta hot takes...

Whisper:

Fave: Y'alls meme game is off the charts and I love it
Least: Not enough love and support for the best bot, Slotbot

Dovagedys:

My favorite thing is the overwhelming positivity of the LOR community. I have been playing games on the internet for a very long time and I have never seen so much positivity in a game community before. It's astounding to me. I am very humbled by and proud of the community we are all building for LOR.
My least favorite aspect is the hyperbolic language the community sometimes uses when talking about the metagame, segregating decks that have 52% win rate as playble or S tier and decks that have 50% win rate as tier 2, 3, or even unplayable. I think that language and thought pattern leads to the erroneous idea that there are a small number of decks in the LOR metagame. When the reality is that there are 20-35 decks that all have win rates between 47% and 53%.(edited)

Knowing that in today's time there is a pandemic in the world, how did you deal working from home into developing the game as time passes by?

Leah: The pandemic is definitely a hard thing to deal with. I feel pretty lucky myself that Riot does it's best to take care of us during this time. Since I'm at a computer all day for my job, I try to take some time after work (or sometimes during, shh) to take a walk or rest if I need to.
Also making sure to stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, do some cool new hobbies, and talk with people when I'm feeling down! Gotta keep up that strong mental energy.

can we please get an article on how the spell mana system came to be? (and more design articles in general pls) (and less broad pls, the champions article only had like 2 sentences per champion)

Whisper: That is a great question! No immediate promises, but one thing I personally want to do more is write more design articles for y'all. Knowing what parts of design you want to hear about helps a ton.

Was there ever a specific champion that you loved to main and play as in League of Legends that you wished was in LoR?

Whisper: I keep trying to sneak in Twitch, but the other designers keep too many traps down
submitted by Imhotep0 to LegendsOfRuneterra