As part of Riot Games most recent "Ask Riot" segment where they answer a few questions from the community, the developer got very candid about the nature of the champion known as Kai'Sa. When one player called the company out for going back on their promise not to "hyper-sexualise" champions unless it made sense for the character, Riot responded with admitting their mistake and discussing what's the next phase in development for her as a character.
"In retrospect," Riot said they regret the design choice that they had for her after seeing player reaction. They also talked about how her overall progression changed drastically from her original concept. Here's what they had to say in their most recent blog post:
Fan Question: A few months ago, you said you’d no longer add unnecessarily hyper-sexualized champions, only if it made sense for the character like Ahri or Evelynn, and therefore someone like Miss fortune or Caitlyn could use a redesign. What happened to this thinking when they designed to Kai’Sa and her unnecessarily deep neckline?
"We’ll be the first to admit that Kai’Sa’s neckline didn’t land well with players and that it made her look unnecessarily sexualized, even if it that wasn’t the intention.
From the beginning of her development, we wanted Kai’Sa to be a regular human who survived the Void by coexisting with a Void creature—not someone who escaped but was corrupted by the experience. We felt that this was what made her unique in the Void champion line-up, and plus, we’d recently made a corruption-themed champion with Kayn. For these reasons, it was really important for us to make sure Kai’Sa looked like a human wearing a Void-suit, rather than a monstrosity created by the Void."
"Early on, Kai’Sa didn’t have a deep neckline. When we got her in game, we realized her dark hair combined with the suit made her look more “Void creature or corrupted human” than “normal person wearing a Void-suit,” particularly because the human skin showing on her face was small onscreen and difficult to read from the in-game camera. Our artists tried a few things to try and address this, and the one that worked well was redesigning her neckline so you could see her human skin more clearly when her mask was off. With this change, more playtesters interpreted Kai’Sa as being a human wearing a suit rather than a human who was corrupted.
In retrospect, we recognize we should’ve prioritized searching for other ways to solve this problem, especially because the end result didn’t land well for many players. Even though we had good intentions, we could’ve done better, and in the future, we will be even more conscious of these decisions."
In addition to talking plunging necklines and admitted mistakes, another question was posed as to why they decided so many assassins need AoE abilities. When asked if that conflicts with the overall purpose of an assassin, they had this to say:
"For any class of character, we have defined goals for what they should be capable of. In this case, you’re right on: We intend for assassins to do “bursty single target damage.” But this doesn’t mean we have to constrain every action or spell to that box, as long as we don’t break our original goal (single target burst).
For example, Ekko and Talon have AoE abilities on their kits. We think this is okay because compared to other champions like Twitch, Cassiopeia, and Karthus, they don’t do sustained AoE damage in the same way. More specifically, we expect that the assassins would do 50% less total AoE damage in a ten second teamfight.
As a general note, we have trended towards more AoE abilities in the recent years of champion design because they allow for much more exciting options in spell shape, timing, decisions, and context. Ekko’s Q, for example, results in many different and interesting outcomes in number of hits, using dashes to dramatically change the return missile, and playing off of the minion wave to trigger the second stage early.0comments
It’s worth calling out that in a few cases, such as with Katarina, we actually break our own rule. This is intentionally done, and it’s a unique strength that the champ should have to give up other things to have. In this case, Katarina sacrifices single target assassination potential and on-demand aggressive mobility compared to Zed, who has much less AoE output."
You can read more about Kai'Sa and more about their short range attacks in the full post from Riot right here.