Dev Blog: The Making of Io
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Our new Champion, Io, has been out for 2 weeks now along with our Shore Patrol Battle Pass (Bruh!). I hope you have all been grinding through the levels and having fun!
We have seen many asking questions about this new Champion, her story, and design so I wanted to give you all an inside look at the development process. I came up with some questions and took to interviewing two of Io’s creators here at Evil Mojo: Adanas and Thunderbrush.
Who are these devs?
Well if you didn’t already know, Adanas is our game’s designer. He has been at Evil Mojo for a long time and Io was his creation. Thunderbrush, if you aren’t familiar, is our legendary Art Director and also responsible for many of the concepts for skins & champions that go into our game.
Let’s dive into this interview!
First let’s get into Adanas’ portion with the design of Io!
You can stay up to date with Adanas after this on twitter here:
To start off, Adanas, what was your original vision for Io when in development?
At the highest level, Io was envisioned with the visage of a “druid”. She would be a support character that would bring a pet into the battlefield to fight alongside her.
With her being a support with a bow, what were some of the processes you went through to figure out how she would function?
We felt that a charge or bow draw mechanic would not be ideal for a Support character that often needs to have a quick response time to enemy pressure. We landed on an instant fire delivery, and used Cassie’s original bow as an inspiration. It was a fan favorite weapon that we wanted to bring back into the Realm!
How did the final vision for Moonlight come about?
Io’s Moonlight was originally a seeking projectile heal, something akin to the Neith’s ultimate from SMITE. When players made rapid movements, you would see her ultimate arrow turn rapidly to seek to them, and we wanted to bring that same rapid turning visual to a healing mechanic. During testing, we found that the delay before receiving a heal did not work as well in fast paced action. The heal would be received too slowly, and ultimately result in the death of the player you were trying to keep alive. After experimenting, we found a lot of fun in attaching yourself to an ally and following their movements to stay attached, almost a healing minigame in itself.
(Click here to see a video of an early prototype when Adanas was figuring out her design!)
How did Io’s final ultimate come to life?
First pass of paper design Io spawned a moon that would slow down and eventually stun players that had it in their Field of View.
First prototype in client had her firing a moon (data mined as a chicken) that players would attach and orbit around while travelling forward. It caused a number of issues with maps and client/server desyncs so we landed on the current ult which instead absorbs all enemies to the center, but still carries them across the map.
What were some of the ideas you implemented to making Luna feel “alive”?
With “pet tamer” as a core identity to Io’s character, we wanted to make sure that Luna felt more alive than a traditional deployable. This meant giving her some unique attributes and distinctions from what is expected in a deployable. The most important aspect was Luna’s model, and making her feel another like a champion in the world. Size wise, she’s bigger than Io, but also has a bright blue color palette to make her stand out in the midst of the battlefield. Mechanically we allowed Io to heal Luna, gave her the ability to capture the point, and gave her a rush attack that focused on Io initiating it through weapon attacks. All of this,and even more polish from our animation team, allowed Luna to come alive.
Are there any struggles as a designer when creating a new character and how do you overcome those?
The largest struggle comes from bringing wild fantasy characters to life into a competitive ability shooter, in a way that facilitates both the fantasy feel but in grounded gameplay. Making sure abilities aren’t visually cluttering (unless it’s an ultimate), unique, and gives the player the fantasy they are looking for. It’s one of Paladin’s biggest strengths - giving players a vast number of playstyles through different Champions, but having them all work together in harmony in a competitive environment.
What is the typical time frame for developing a new character?
With our switch to an 8-week patch cycle, it is about a 8-12 week investment from the team to create an entire champion from start to finish. This involves all of our departments working on the champions at varying times i. It usually all comes together a few weeks before we are ready to ship to PTS, with continued polish up until their release. Io had the most time of any Champion we have ever created, and we believe it shows in the level of detail and polish we were able to give her!
How did you come up with the cards and talents for Io?
We wanted to offer a variety of ways to play Io, while still retaining her identity as a healer: Life Link offers Io a way to heal multiple players. Goddess’ Blessing facilitates a strong single-target heal, that improves as player better understand enemies moments of power. Then Sacrifice offers utility, giving Io a defensive mechanic against compositions that want to dive her, or allows her to take a more aggressive stance with a safety net.
Next we will get into our questions with Art Director, Thunderbrush.
If you are not already, you can follow his twitter here:
What were the main ideas going into creating the visual concept for Io?
We really wanted to capture this idea of the moon princess as someone who evoked great power with a more innocent and playful side as well. We looked to sources of inspiration at first and once suggested the sort of “spirit” and perception of the fox just felt right, elegant and playful all at once, it felt like the right visual inspiration to help sell who she is as a character. She wants to protect people and cares for the innocent on a very deep level, her pet in a way is an extension of that. We knew we wanted her to have a pet companion and wanted to find some strong ties to each other to reinforce her theme and character. So while Io is fox-like she isn’t the same being as Luna but they obviously relate to each other thematically in such a way that you as the player know wherever Io goes Luna is never far behind.
When creating her concept what went into deciding on her color scheme?
For Io this was relatively easy, her moon motif leaned us into the lighter blue/cyan relatively quickly as its invokes the celestial but serene nature to the character.
(Pictured here you can see an early concept of Io, to see more you can go to Thunderbrush's Artstation)
What were important details you wanted to convey when concepting Luna?
We wanted a companion that felt relatable, not necessarily “real” or so fantasy to the point it felt like an alien species either. We knew we wanted the fox early on but didn’t want to stray too far from what a fox feels like at their core. Luna’s level of clothing/armor was also kept light so that yes this is obviously a being of great power but it isn’t capable of speech in the way Io is either. This is her familiar so that where Io goes Luna is never far behind.
We hope you all have enjoyed diving into Io a little more with our devs. I also hope you learned some more fun facts about our Moon Goddess from this!
If you have any further questions about how she was created please leave a comment in the forum below! We would love to hear from you!