On December 16th, the Twin Sunz podcast interviewed Shawn Main. Shawn was the lead designer for all 3 sets of Call of the Mountain including Cosmic Creation, and revealed a lot of the thought process behind the design process and some earlier iterations of the Cosmic Creation cards. Below is our summary of what was discussed.
Releasing New Cards
- Liked the new mini-expansion approach since some cards would get overshadowed if a ton are released simultaneously instead.
- Is unsure about whether or not additional cards should also be introduced outside the set releases.
- "There's still more experiments that I think we want to run whether to do extra bonus content in the vein of the K/DA release."
- Shawn worked on the K/DA cards but wasn't the lead designer.
- The goal was to be reflective of the K/DA version of those characters and to provide "big, splashy, exciting epics".
- Personally loved bringing more of LoL multiverse to LoR, but does understand players who dislike the combination of K-Pop & classic Runeterra aesthetics.
- "Whether to dive into these [alternative] worlds is still a big open question on whether or how we might do that in the future."
- Is of two minds on Go Hard: excited that it had an impact, but concerned it "might be a little sharper than we wanted".
Viktor & The New P&Z Cards
- Viktor's original design pillars were Mechanics, Lasers, Damage, and "Cool".
- They wanted to incorporate his Death Ray ability and Prototype Hexcore upgrade mechanic from LoL.
- They were inspired by his role as an inventor, but wanted to ensure he was different from Heimerdinger.
- Early iterations were more like Zoe, based on playing unique cards that hadn't been played before.
- They also experimented with using Hex Core Upgrade as a landmark that granted Viktor keywords and his quest was to obtain keywords.
- Landed on the Augment mechanic and created cards synergies because they really like how it tied in with Invoke and Gems.
- Shion Lee tweaked the mana costs of the Augment followers.
- Comparing Iterative Improvement to Blood for Blood: doesn't think it's fair to compare new cards to old cards as it doesn't take into consideration the inherent range of power in the cards.
- "I hope some people are playing [Blood for Blood], but that's not top of the line. We can print better versions of that."
Zoe & The New Targon Cards
- Zoe went up and down in mana cost during the development process before settling on 1.
- Wanted her to be more focused on generating value -- either play her early or sneak her in later thanks to her low mana cost.
- James Hata is a very good Zoe main in LoL; he insisted that her personality mattered more than her LoL abilities.
- Thinks people underrated her -- she provides card advantage if she gets even 1 Nexus Strike.
- "This is kind of a check on your opponent that they have enough removal to deal with an elusive card that generates value over time."
- Comparing Paddle Star to Ravenous Flock: thinks comparing Ravenous Flock to Sleepy Trouble Bubble is more appropriate.
- Considers Targon's Peak to be balanced. Internally, they balanced it around the worst case of cheating out Aurelion Sol.
- The one card that changed significantly between CotM's release and Cosmic Creation was Moonlight Affliction: it originally cost 3 mana instead of 5.
- The designers underestimated how valuable silence would be.
Riven & The New Noxus Cards
- Originally, the blade fragment spells weren't limited by "can't be cast in combat" which made her a lot harder to play against.
- They were very inspired by Riven's gameplay in LoL.
- "[In LoL,] Riven plays like a fighting game character that wondered into a MOBA."
- She was originally more of an OTK character focused on stats, but "We wanted her to be more of a skill expression."
- They tried a version where playing a fragment put the next fragment in your deck, like Death Ray - Mk 1.
- They have been cautious about hand disruption cards like Hunt the Weak as it's a big "feel bad" moment.
Reviving Older Archetypes
- There was a time in CotM where all the new cards were tied tightly to new archetypes, and they expanded it to include "throwback" cards like The Scargrounds and Wiggly Burblefish that improved older archetypes.
- Legion Veteran originally grant +1|+1, which would create "meatgrinders" who would snowball out of control. Noah Seltzer wanted to introduce a new card that reproduced some of that power for the battlescars cards.
- The Scargrounds grants Tough as a compromise between granting permanent health bonuses and doing nothing to improve units' survivability.
- It's very likely we'll get either a new keyword or spell speed for the burst-speed spells that can't be played in response (e.g., Gem).
- "I think we've found this a fruitful enough design space. Players have embraced it. We want to use it more."
- Each region has unique challenges in balancing. Balancing Ionia is difficult due to how dependent it is on "tricky" cards like Deny and Will of Ionia.
- "Overall, I think we have the tools in place and its just a question of getting the balance right."
- Cards like Evershade Stalker don't create exact copies to prevent infinite combos.
- "If you make it cost 0 and it's an exact copy, chaos ensues."
- Is shifting from design work to working on new features which he can't reveal yet.
Those are the highlights; you can listen to the entire interview as Twin Sunz Episode 44 either through Apple iTunes, Spotify, or the video embedded below. A big thanks to Shawn for participating and to Twin Sunz hosts Shane and Josh for conducting a great interview!