Dovagedys, senior producer at Riot, and one of the key developers on Legends of Runeterra, is no longer working on LoR.
In a lengthy, heartfelt post on the LoR Subreddit, which you can find right here, he explains that he’s moved from Runeterra onto an unannounced R&D project, still in Riot Games.
He says: “My journey on LOR started on February 22, 2017 and my last day on the team was July 2, 2021.”
The list of content within LoR that he’s handled is immense. Every expansion from Rising Tides to now, each event expansion (KDA/Aphelios/Sentinels of Light), and each Balance Update. His influence on the game will be lasting well after his departure.
Being one of the main producers in charge of patches and balance changes, he was on the receiving end of a lot of the community’s feedback about the health of the metagame. He was always on hand to coordinate and explain the team’s balance choices.
In his departure announcement, Dovagedys hosted an AMA among other Reddit Users. A lot of the comments were wishing him well, but the post generated a lot of strong discussions. Below you can find the most interesting questions and answers from the session with Dovagedys.
Webber-414: Do you play LOR yourself? If so what’s your favorite archetype and are you going to keep playing in the future?
Dovagedys: Yes – I play all the time!
My favorite archetype of all time is Irelia and Azir. Followed closely by Lulu and Zed. That is mostly a product of those champions being some of my favorite from a lore perspective.
My favorite deck right now is Bandle Tree. I like alternate win conditions and I think there are so many cute and funny cards in the deck.
edit: Recently most of my time is spent playing Path of Champions! I love playing PVE and story modes.
Vicious_11235813: What’s your favorite 3 cards?
PsycrowArchon: Which champion do you wish you’d approached differently in retrospect?
Dovagedys: Lux is in a tough position in the lore, because she is a mage that lives in a region that hates mages. Because LOR is focused on region, we had a tough design problem of making a powerful champion mage, Lux, in a region that would not be focused on spells or magic. And in fact, one of the region’s core pillars was to be effective against spells and magic.
All of this is exacerbated by the fact that Lux is extremely popular and everyone has high expectations for her and her execution.
I think we did a pretty good job and I definitely wouldn’t call anything we did a mistake, but it’s a tough problem and I think if we had waited on Lux we may have come to different executions that may have lead to Lux feeling more supported and having a better fit holistically within her region and the game overall.
912125399: Have you watched Arcane? Who is the champ you were most excited with and their story in the show?
Dovagedys: I have watched it. Vi is my favorite!
Blackajack20: What was the path that eventually took you to being hired by Riot?
Dovagedys: I love this question! My path was pretty weird and I don’t recommend others to try and replicate it.
I see this question and questions like it frequently.
From my perspective, I think it’s most important to try and understand what you want to do and why you want to do it. Once you understand what you want and why you want it, then you’re able to set a long term goal that should then enable you to set a medium term goal and then some short term goals that all ladder up to the thing you want.
As an example, the concept “I want to work in games” is very broad and vague. It makes it hard to build a plan with such a broad goal. Whenever someone says that to me, I ask them what do they want to do in games? Do they want to do art? Do they want to be a game designer? Do they want to be an engineer? Knowing what you want to do is the best first step to finding a path on how to get what you want.
Additionally, knowing why you want it is also hugely helpful. Understanding your motivation can help you identify if the goals you think you want may be misaligned with your motivations. I see that very often and it sets people up to be disappointed, because their motivations aren’t aligned with the goals they have. Are you motivated by money? Are you motivated by achievement? Are you motivated by recognition from your peers? And So on.
Another important call out on this topic is the topic of expectations on timing. It’s a popular theme to believe that a person must be successful or find their path in their 20s. I think this is a very unhealthy mentality. Most people’s careers are going to last for 30 or 40 or 50 years of their life and being focused only on the beginning can lead to impossible expectations. Related to my statement above about setting Long Term -> Medium Term -> and short term goals, having good short term goals to achieve after school is a good path forward.
As an example, I started my career in games when I was 34. I had a few careers before I got into games. And in those previous careers I was developing skills that would eventually help me find my path in the gaming industry and help me find an opportunity at Riot. I didn’t develop those skills with the intention of getting into games, but I wish I had been intentional. I wish I had been learning skills that would help me make games.
You and others like you can be intentional. Set some goals. Highlight some skills that will help you achieve those goals. And get to work on learning and developing those skills.
Another tip I have is to not be too hard on yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to past you. Monitor your growth over time. Be proud of how much you grow year of year. Everyone’s journey is different. And we spend the majority of our time in the journey and not at the destination. Try and find journeys that you enjoy and make you feel satisfied.
Don’t be afraid to change goals or skills. It’s all part of the journey. It’s okay to spend years on learning skills or on a specific path and then learn that maybe that wasn’t the path you wanted. Or maybe as you get farther on your path you realize you want to move to another path. That is normal. That is okay. It is not failure. It is learning.
Finally, if you want to make games then you should start making games right now. You don’t have to be a Riot or EA or Ubisoft to make games. Look at the mobile app stores, look at Steam, look at Epic store and you will see thousands of games made by small teams of people. You can make a board game on a single piece of paper. Some of the most fun games I’ve played in the past 4 years were made by teams of 4 to 6 people. If you want to make games, then just do it. You can do it right now.
sauron3579: What was the most broken first draft of a card that you saw?
Dovagedys: I think it’s a tie between one of the first versions of Katarina or one of the first versions of Legion Drummer.
There was a time when Katarina had text that whenever she was in combat if you had a spell or ability on the stack she would deal 1 damage to all enemy units. It was very good with cards like Boomcrew Rookie. She would essentially kill all the enemy units every time she attacked.
There was a time when Legion Drummer was a 3 mana 3/3 that had an ability that every time you cast a spell all your units would get +1 / +0 and Overwhelm. In that state of the game it was very common to be able to kill from 20 to zero on turn 3 and turn 4 of the game with Legion Drummer.
UniterFlash: How involved were you with tarics development? Were there different iterations of him before release and do you think that he released in a good state?
Dovagedys: I was involved in his development. I think there were some different tweaks on Taric, but the general concept was the same from start to finish. We really liked it and it felt like it represented Taric in LOR very well.
I do think he released in a good state. I’m proud of Taric.
abetadist: What was your favorite story from behind the scenes in LoR?
And what’s the most embarrassing thing we can tease Rubinzoo about in his future streams? 🙂
Dovagedys: There are so many fun and favorite stories from my time working with the team. It is impossible to pick just one.
But also I don’t want to dodge your question so I’ll share something I think was very funny. Many years ago when I was working on my Yasuo cosplay I was taking the work very seriously and putting a lot of time and dedication into the cosplay. Getting the hair right was proving to be the hardest part of the whole cosplay. I tried so many wigs and methods to try and get the hair to look good. One of the efforts involved using cardboard inside the wig to try and shape the wig, but the cardboard wouldn’t reshape from it’s square/rectangle shape, so the wig ended up being a huge rectangle on my head. It was garbage and so I threw it away. However, the lead designer of Set 1, Riot Unconkable, thought it was so funny that he dug it out of the trash and kept the wig to remind me and the whole team of the disaster. He is a hilarious person. Also as part of that story I was trying to find a place I could buy a gourd for the cosplay. When I received one it was way too small; the size of a small wallet. I couldn’t use it for the cosplay and I was going to get rid of it, but an engineer on the team liked it so he kept it. I think he might still have the tiny gourd sitting on his desk at work.
As for RubinZoo, he’s a great human and I don’t really know anything he should be embarrassed about. Ask him to sing the Nimble Poro song on stream. We used to sing it all the time at the office while working on Foundations.
TheGamingOrange: What’s your favorite piece of lore that you were able to expand upon with card interactions?
Dovagedys: I love this question, but it’s so hard to answer.
Lore is one of my favorite parts of games and being able to expand the lore or League IP on LOR was an amazing experience and I feel lucky that I was a part of it.
One of my favorite card interactions is Draven saying “What the F is that?” when he sees an enemy Teemo.
fantasticsarcastic1: How did you feel about the community’s response to the KDA cards when they came out? Would alternate universe cards ever come back now that skins exist?
Dovagedys: This is a complicated question to answer. When you say community response do you mean all of the community or do you mean this subreddit community? Because the responses were very different.
Overall the response to the K/DA cards was extremely positive. The cards hit all of our design goals and expectations regarding the impact we’d hope they’d have on the game and their inclusion rates.
I know it became a meme on this subreddit, but we did a ton of research and survey work to learn how everyone felt about them and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
helpfulerection59: Was 11/17 [on The Watcher] meant to be a thing or were we chasing red herrings?
Dovagedys: 11/17 was never a reference to anything.
It was simply the numbers the game designer responsible for the design chose at the time of making the card.
I think that we liked they were prime numbers, but my memory could be flawed here.
TheNaug: Are you going to the MMO? Is it cool? Will it look like Arcane? Say hi to Greg!
Dovagedys: I’m not on the MMO. I’m working on an unannounced game.
ArkrijmtopKwark: What is your favourite game mechanic in LOR?
Dovagedys: Champion level up!
JanMath: Which poro is your favorite?
Dovagedys: Nimble Poro – not close.
She will always be my favorite. She even has a song that RubinZoo created for her and I find myself singing it all the time at work.
All of the poros are cute and I love all of them, but Nimble Poro is definitely my favorite.
We here at RuneterraCCG thank Riot Dovagedys for all his passionate work on LoR and wish him all the best with the as-yet unannounced Riot title.