20th August 2020 – 8:10pm
In a video posted on the official YouTube channel of Valorant, Riot Morello explains the reasoning behind the design of new Agents. He divides the process into 5 steps, detailing the reasoning behind each step.
Thsee steps are as follows:
Even if all Valorant players are FPS players, their play-styles differ. The first step in creating an Agent is to establish a profile for a particular player who didn't find what they were looking for in Valorant yet. Reyna, for example, was created to satisfy ultra-aggressive players who like duels. Killjoy was born out of the desire to give an Agent to those who enjoy managing and reinforcing zones.
At this point in the design, Riot doesn't think about the character's looks or abilities. It's just a matter of finding the main idea and defining what kind of player is targeted.
Once the main idea has been defined, it's now necessary to create abilities that correspond to it. It's mostly about imagining different versions of the character and how they could fulfil the role determined earlier. The important thing is to always keep in mind who is the target player and what kind of abilities they would like to use.
It's mandatory to create abilities with a large margin of progress. This is important for players to feel that they control their character and perform impressive actions. It's equally important for their opponents, otherwise they would be frustrated to be beaten by an easy-to-play Agent.
Once the developers start to have an idea of what this Agent can do, it becomes necessary to determine how they can fit to Valorant. Valorant is a tactical shooter, so it's essential that every Agents bring their unique strategic opportunities.
If we take the case of Sentinels, the three available are quite different. Sage saves time, Cypher takes information, and Killjoy reinforces a given area.
However, it's essential that an Agent can be useful in several ways. For example, Reyna's concept was initially too one-dimensional, focused on combat and duels only. By adding Leer to the kit of Reyna, the Agent brings some utility to her team. Even though this is an Agent designed for soloing, they must be able to get by in other fields.
At this point, the developers already have a good idea of what they want to see. They now have to test the different abilities and make sure they are interesting but also fun to use.
According to Morello, it's absolutely not a problem if the players not targeted don't like the Agent or their abilities. The developers only focus on the opinion of the players targeted by the Agent. Do they like them and if so, what do they like about them?
In this specific case, we're not necessarily talking about the damage and utility values of the Agent. It's mainly a question of defining the different levers to balance the Agent if, by any chance, they become too weak or too powerful in the meta.
Of course, you can always adjust an abilities' potency, cooldown, number of uses, or price. But you also have to be careful that a nerf doesn't destroy the very identity of the Agent, defined in the first steps.
For example, if balancing Sage forcibly reduces her heal by 90%, she loses her identity as a healer. This is something that would frustrate her players and take away her interest in a team composition.
Once the philosophy and the abilities kit are defined, the designers hand over the reins to the artistic designers team and start creating a new Agent.
According to Morello, Riot Games doesn't refrain from anything in the creation of kits. He even promises " What we introduce is going to be a bit disruptive". Even if all Agents are thought through their strategic inputs, he cautions that some abilities will look strange in a tactical FPS. But in the end, that's what will make Valorant special and its identity.