-The decision to add the dash to his kit:
The dash, to me, is a more aggressive skill that just so happens to double as an escape. Using E on a soldier that’s near a champion knocks the champion up briefly and grants you a shield, great for initiating and closing gaps. So, I see it as an Emperor coming to the aid of his soldiers, soldiers scouting an area for him, as well as him using them as a means of escape.
-Were Azir’s legs always that way (bird-like)?
Nope. When he was human, he had regular old legs that bent the normal way. :-)
-How long has Azir been in the works?
For three years, I believe. I think it started with a kit. Someone might have to correct me on that, though. He became the bird emperor you know today about a year and a half ago.
EDIT: NOPE I was wrong. Runaan corrected me. She pitched him as a character over three years ago. It wasn’t a kit, first.
–What does Azir think of Yordles? Does Azir know Anivia at all or have any relation to her? Did Azir ALWAYS love birds?
Azir would welcome their furry enthusiasm, provided they directed it toward expanding Shurima’s greatness. Azir was once human, so he’s a great deal younger than Anivia. Nasus on the other hand… Birds soar to great heights, I can’t help but think Azir would admire that. Also, Anivia X Azir OTP. Take that Valor.
-When you created a sandmage, what brought you to the concept of controlling soldiers?
The fantasy of being an emperor. As an emperor, you have soldiers fighting wars for you, and you’d command them – so we went with controlling soldiers. :)
-Is it intended that all(or almost all) ascended have some sort of animal features appearing on them? Nasus and Renekton being a dog and crocodile, and Azir being a bird for some reason(he definitely does not seem bird-like when he was young)? Xerath I assume something different happened because of the nature of his ascension.
Yes! It’s intended. They were all human before Ascension. Because Xerath corrupted the ritual, he turned out, well… different.
-How much of Runeterra (regions, city states etc.) does Azir know/remember from old-Shuriman days? How much has changed for him?
For some people, Shurima is like an Atlantis to them – they believe it’s only a myth (although, obviously, they will be proven wrong). For others, like the people currently inhabiting the desert of Shurima, they knew it existed a long time ago and there are believed to be no “true” Shurimans remaining. Even Renekton and Nasus were stories for them. A LOT has changed for Azir. He has a lot of catching up to do.
Regarding Cass’s lore change:
Cass has very little interest in serving Azir or Shurima. She is certainly still Noxian and loyal to her family; she went into Shurima searching for wealth and power for her, her family and Noxus. As seen from the video today, she just didn’t get what she bargained for.
-What were some other abilities you considered using on him?
I had a super complicated Ritual of Ascension ultimate on him once. He spawned three obelisks of light in an equilateral triangle, lasers spawned to link them together, and all enemies inside the triangle who took damage from Azir were also zapped by the obelisks. Crossing the lasers damaged you, and Azir received a shield based on the additional zap damage. If the shield hit a certain number, Azir ascended, gaining a massive chunk of spell vamp, AP, a doubled shield, and crazy move speed.
This is probably the most disgustingly overloaded and overcomplicated skill I ever designed. On the plus side, I learned the formula for quickly detecting whether or not a point on a 2D plane is inside a triangle, so I got that going for me, which is nice.
-In the past, you noted Azir had a long development time and went through a lot of different kits. What are some of the now scrapped abilities that you guys tried out and decided to not go with or shelf for another potential champion?
One of the earliest kits that Colt “Ezreal” Hallam worked on had an ultimate we called “sand hands”. Two giant hands of sand would rise from the ground and after a delay move together, pushing everyone in between together and squishing them in. The TL;DR here is that vacuum skills are insanely powerful. The kit had other issues as well, but everyone remembers sand hands. THE HORROR.
-Will Yasuo’s Wind Wall block shots from Azir’s turrets?
Nope. It will however stop soldiers in their tracks.
–So Azir will be an early poke champion and a late game support champion?
Azir’s late game sustained damage is incredibly high. His allies might find it beneficial to protect him late game as if he were an AD carry.
-If I summoned a sand soldier near an enemy champ located out side of my AA range. would clicking on that enemy champ move Azir to the target to AA? or will he stand still while the sand soldier attack the enemy?
If the enemy is within the soldier’s range, Azir will stand still and the soldier will attack.
-How long does Azir have to proc his passive on a tower? For example, when a tower is destroyed top lane can Azir head up there 10 minutes later and raise a tower of his own?
When Azir’s passive isn’t on cooldown, dead towers will have a clicker as soon as they die that he can use to summon the Sun Disc. There isn’t a limited window of opportunity and he can summon a Sun Disc on the same dead turret multiple times (cooldown providing).
-How are effective teams using Azir’s ult? Are they splitting the team and taking out the front-line champs (subsequently giving them free access to take an objective), or jointly passing through the wall to attack the squishies?
I’ve seen Azir’s ult used in a number of ways effectively. I think the most common use case is to peel for either himself or other carries on his team, throwing back people who would dive into the backline. However, uses of the ultimate to wall of an area to split the team or halt their approach without even hitting an enemy with the initial cast are really cool to pull off in the jungle, and the aggressive “move behind the enemy team and wall off their escape” play is sometimes incredible (though it will often get you killed).
a. Do Azir’s Soldiers proc on-hit effects?
b. Do Azir’s Soldiers proc spell effects?
Is Azir’s Sun Disc base damages only, or scaling?
Azir’s Sun Disc’s damage scales a bit with game time, but also with Azir’s AP.
Is the range the same as real turrets?
Can you direct them similar to Heimerdinger’s turrets?
Do they focus like real turrets?
They should behave in the exact way a regular turret would.
Can Azir’s CDR-AS passive be “overcapped”?
Can Azir’s Q direct soldiers over walls?
Does Azir need to have vision of an area to direct Soldiers there?
-What was ur main inspiration for Azir design ?
Primarily we wanted to have the archetype “sand mage” in the game–we always thought this was a cool thing we should do in league. We tried a lot of different kits, but only when he became the Emperor of Shurima and the soldiers entered the picture did we feel we had a cool enough dude to release.
For myself, I was always driven by the question of “what does it feel like to be the emperor?” Consequently a lot of my gameplay design was focused on creation and manipulation of underlings. Even if you have a bad game, even if you struggle to win your lane, I want you to come out of the game saying, well whatever else happened, I felt like I was an emperor, ordering my troops around.
-Why was the decision made to give Azir the Sun Disk “turret” passive? Thematically, it makes a lot of sense, since he’s an emperor. But, why did you think that it would fit an “Auto-Attacking Minion-Mancing Mage”?
Well, it fits a ZONE CONTROL mage pretty well, wouldn’t you say? The ultimate expression of zone control (denying the enemy an area on the map / making an area on the map safe for your allies) is bringing a tower back.
-Can Azir support? Do the soldiers deal more damage if Azir has more AP?
Yes and yes.
-Can Hecarim use his ult to get past Azir’s ult?
-Does his passive turret work in any way on Dominion?
No tower passive on Dominion, sorry :(
-Is there a possibility of another sand mage in the future? Possibly a sand mage with a grab and throw ultimate you initially scrapped for Vi? An AD bruiser perhaps?
Generally when we do an archetype, we try to do the VERY BEST version of that archetype because we will NOT make another one of those. It would cheapen both Vi and the potential new champion if we put another punch lady in the game. Braum would be very sad if we made another beefy burly man with a giant shield, etc.
So no. I don’t think we’ll make another sand mage. This is it!
-Regarding the inspirations/references behind Azir:
Hi! Concept artist here! Good question! :)
When we want to make another Shuriman Champion, we decided to go through the idea that is something instantly relates (visually) to Renekton and Nasus. Just like what the other gentleman says (Blood91Raven) Nasus and Renekton are inspired from Egyptian iconic figures, Anubis and Sobek :)
Azir is inspired by the God of Radiance, Ra. It fits the puzzle perfectly for these Shuriman Trio, because it easily relates to both Nasus and Renekton, especially as the Emperor of Shurima.
We never meant to base these characters through real wild life :3
Hope this helps :D
-Did the idea of Galactic Azir (In a Visual Sense not because of other Galactic Skins) come from the Hybrids or Protoss in SC/SC2?
I wanted to expand the Galactic theme more. So decided to do combination of different Egyptian Aliens parody themes! :)
-Why didn’t you make a Necromancer or Dark Lord skin for his initial launch? :( Like having ghosts/corpses of his fallen enemies chained to him ready to create an empire of the dead?
We thought about it :) But the “Galactic Brotherhood” launch skin seems like the best opportunity (matching launch skins with Nasus and Renekton):D Although the Necromancer theme is definitly cool idea to be one of his future skins :D
-Some champions, look absolutely weird and silly when attacking too fast. Often times these are older melee champions like Wukong and Tryndamere’s jerky animations that are a relic of this game being based off a Warcraft 3 custom map. I can only imagine how much worse this would look on Azir…a summoner who should really be relying on minions to attack. So have you taken steps to make an Azir with 1.5 AS not look absolutely weird. Or somehow visually justify why the emperor must make spastic hand motions for his minions to poke the enemy?
As for the soldiers, their attacks were just recently redone (last week) to accommodate some of the max attack speed situations we were seeing. I made some changes that helped them not feel quite as spastic. As for Azir’s pointing motion, I’m not super happy with how it looks at high speeds, but I also don’t currently have a great solution to make it look better. In that case, I’m hoping that most of your focus will be on the soldiers, so that’s where I put the most effort. If I come up with a better solution down the road for Azir’s command animation, as always, I’ll try and get it in the game.
-Why was the decision made to simply recolor Galactic Azir’s sand soldiers instead of giving them unique models?
With complicated characters with many assets like Azir, we often have to pick what we want the focus of the skin to be. In the case of Galactic Azir, VFX were the area that we felt could have the biggest impact. So, a lot of the time was spent on Azir’s base model and the kit VFX. Most of the other models in the kit though were modified for that skin. The sun disk is completely different, and the ult soldiers have a new shield design that better fits the skin’s theme, and even the base soldiers have a new glowey stabby weapon.
-Do you still use Zbrush to make champs like Azir? If so, how many design hours go into the average champion?
I’m not a modeler but I know most of them use Z-brush or an equivalent. As for how much time overall goes into a champion: We usually spend 8 weeks as a baseline once it goes into production. That doesn’t count any pre-production like concepting or kit exploration (which is often months of work). In the case of Azir, he was reworked several times because we had a hard time settling on a really solid Kit. He also has a ton of elements to his kit: Azir/Soldiers/Ult Soldiers/ Sun Disk. So as you can imagine, his production schedule was much much longer than the average champion.
-The voice acting for Azir really fits his whole royalty aspect. How many people did you go through to find the right person? Or was it an easy decision from the start?
Nooo, we went through so many people. We knew what kind of voice we wanted, but it was difficult to find the right person to execute on it.
-Was he always supposed to be a bird? How was that decision made?
Hi! Concept Artist here!
Ok… where should I start…
Long long time ago (4ish Years ago, this is around the time I began working at Riot) there was this Sand Champion called Seth. He came in many forms that time! Sand Golem, Man with Sand cloak, Sand bender lady, Evil Sand Wraith and etc. None of these work because art team, at the time, didn’t have resources for scrolling sand textures, which was a big part of his character then. The “sand” was thematically hard to deal with that time through art and gameplay wise. Sand bending alone wasn’t that interesting in the end.
It got iced-box till the team decided to pick this concept up again (this was last 2 years) . We started fresh, and re-explore the idea of Sand Champion. The team wanted a champion that also ties all the Shurima champions. We went for an idea of an Emperor/Leader (Julius Caesar type) but something that the audience can easily relate to Nasus and Renekton (through visually even without lore context). I still did few iterations (not birdlike). We felt strongly going for the iconic Egyptian god of radiance, Ra. It completes the Shurima trio and fits the puzzle as well because of the emphasized thematic “Shurima Emperor.” Another obstacle we encountered is how we make sand magic thematically unique for him. We went back the core emphasis of this Champion which is the “Shurima Emperor”, instead of just sand… he creates his own army of soldiers with the power of his sand magic. :)
And there you go! Azir is complete! :3 The end~
**Thanks for reading guys! This was a long Q&A because I wanted to keep most of the important and interesting answers in this post. If you want to view more questions and discussions, head over here, here and here.