Champion Insights: Zoe, the Spark Monster.
It’s time for another article from Riot… today it’s time for some Rioter thoughts on the newest character in the League, Zoe!
Zoe is a super normal chick. He is adventurous, has an unmatched level of energy and loves his dog. Well, except that her “adventures” usually mean interstellar travel, her energy can turn an entire city to dust, and her doggie is a cheeky space dragon.
She may act (and sometimes feel) like an ordinary girl, but she’s far from normal. Zoe is Targon’s cosmic messenger tasked with bearing a warning to others when great changes are about to take place. This is a task that she bravely fulfills … of course, if she is not distracted by butterflies. Or sparkles. Or a certain blond-haired explorer.
THERE ARE HOLES IN THE STRUCTURE OF REALITY. IN DOUBTS ALSO.
Thousands of years ago, Zoe was an ordinary girl who lived at the foot of Mount Targon. Her mischievous, imaginative personality has gotten her into quite a bit of trouble with the Lunari tutors, but it was this playfulness that caught the attention of a powerful ancient aspect. One afternoon when Zoe was causing quite a stir, this aspect showed up and put her to the test. He offered Zoe six items, five of which would help her emerge victorious from the situation… and an inflatable ball. Zoe, of course, kicked the ball, singing energetically as it ricocheted off the walls.
Seeing Zoe’s unwavering carelessness, the aspect opened a portal to the top of Mount Targon for her. Once Zoe went through it, she was forever connected to the ancient being. She has spent millennia traveling between dimensions and realities (often tinkering with them) beyond the limits of human comprehension. Now back in Runeterra, she had barely aged a year.
“Emotionally, she’s still a young girl,” says story writer Odin “WAAAARGHbobo” Shafer. – But it’s like she grew up in Tibet, going through metaphysical and transcendent meditation, and suddenly found herself in a Warsaw milk bar excited: “It’s pork chops. Have you ever seen a schnitzel? IT’S HUGE!”. Zoe has traveled galaxies and jumped through black holes, but she’s been doing it for so long that she’s gotten bored of it. The seemingly boring daily activities in Runeterra are now something new and exciting for her. She may have once lived on Mount Targon, but that was literally centuries ago, and in a fairly isolated society. Now that she’s back, she has countless places to explore and plenty of new things to rediscover.
Space trickster sketches
One of the main inspirations for the character of Zoe were tricksters from various mythologies. Tricksters are cunning, mischievous creatures who can bend the rules of reality and who know what others don’t. Plus, they’re usually mean. All they do is try to entertain themselves, and they don’t care if they hurt anyone in the process… and it’s often their favorite moment.
Just like her mythical counterparts, Zoe loves to have fun. Sometimes he does it at the expense of others, but he never does harm intentionally. Seriously, Zoe wants to help people. Sometimes he even tries to help people. However, two things stand in the way of her: 1) Zoe has the bigger picture in mind, which is humanity as a whole, and sometimes helping all humanity must come at the expense of the individual; 2) The ways Zoe uses to help others can be a bit unorthodox and (unintentionally) cause damage. “Zoe is more of a chaotic good character, whereas typical tricksters are either chaotic evil or chaotic neutral,” says WAAAARGHbobo. “When Zoe deceives and teases someone, it’s usually to prepare them for what’s to come.
Since Zoe is an Aspect of Twilight, she is incredibly changeable. Just as dusk is the transition between day and night, so Zoe is between adulthood and childhood. Her very presence is a sign that huge changes are coming. Transitioning from one stage of life to the next can be difficult, which is why Zoe is always around to offer her help. Only of course… in its own way.
Zoe and her aspect merged thousands of years before the birth of heroes like Taric, Leona, and Pantheon. Zoe grew up on top of ancient Mount Targon, which meant that her appearance didn’t have to match that of any of the groups that reside there today. “I decided to move away from the modern Targon style and try to imagine what the clothes would look like in ancient times,” says concept artist Sunny “Kindlejack” Pandita. “Then I connected it to a young girl wearing clothes from her parents’ closet, huge bracelets and an oversized scarf.
Zoe also has a pair of trinkets with her that she has collected over the years. An ordinary child’s collection would include sparkling stones and dead insects, but not with Zoe. The items she collects are power-packed trinkets like Bard’s Bells and Moonstone – something more on her level.
Zoe’s color palette was based on existing Targon champions: Leona’s golden hair, Diana’s blue clothes, Taric’s silver tones, and Aurelion Sol’s sky colors.
The extra long, colorful and shiny hair of our cosmic trickster wasn’t always so long, colorful and shiny. The more the work progressed on her, the longer and more dramatic her hair became. “It’s one of its defining characteristics,” says WAAAARGHbobo, “so they got longer and longer.
Over time, this has raised some concerns. Not so much because of the sheer length, but more because we didn’t know if she could recreate her shimmery curls in the game. “Zoe’s hair was incredibly important to defining her body shape and feeling it evokes,” says Kindlejack, “so we tried to find a way to convey it in the game. We didn’t have a single technique or technology to bring Zoe’s hair to life, so we combined several different elements to get the desired effect. Among other things, we used the floating material technology we used in the Undying Journey skins, the dragon tail technology used by the space pooch, many hook bones to make the animation look more natural, and to top it all off a lot of special visual effects (read: sparkles!).
Zoe’s hair animation
NEXT TIME CAN YOU CHALLENGE ANYTHING?
The original goal in creating Zoe was to create a laid-back explosive mage with easy-to-learn mechanics. In the end, it satisfies at least some of these assumptions. “The original premise for the champion is more guidance,” says senior game designer Bradford “CertainlyT” Wenban. “And when it comes to mages, the style of play can change much faster and much more significantly than with any other role. That’s because champions like Irelia – a melee laner with short range abilities – have a list of requirements that need to be met, like healing and a way to deal with tanks. Mages, however, do not have any predetermined needs, so they start practically from scratch.
Zoe’s kit was mainly defined by her Q, which was originally a long-range, high-damage shotshot. — The main question for Zoe became, “What else should I give a girl who needs nothing else?” CertainlyT says. “It already has one big explosive. You could probably play a whole game with it with all the other keys broken. Because so much of Zoe’s power is contained in her Ball Star, the rest of her abilities have focused on allowing her to hit Q more easily, while still giving her opponents a fighting chance.
Her Dreamy Trouble Bubble, for example, has a delayed CC effect, making it much better as an offensive spell than a defensive one. Throwing her at Master Yi who’s rushing at her isn’t likely to stop him, but it might help her hit someone with her Star Ball from maximum distance. Like that annoying, boy-stealing light sorceress. Plus, the delayed sleep effect fits into Zoe’s role as a cosmic messenger. It’s like she’s saying, “Hey! Soon you’ll be crowd controlled… and then a meteorite will hit you!”
And that’s the essence of Zoe – even though she’s a powerful mage, she really just wants to have fun. Sometimes that means jumping through a portal to shower your opponents with sparks while tauntingly sticking your tongue out. Other times, catching a freshly dropped flash to catch up with her new buddy. And sometimes it’s also nice to hit someone with a shooting star right in the face.
Come on, but at least he’ll warn you about it, won’t he?