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Riot devs reveal concept art and year-long development to create Elderflame collection

A dev blog revealed just what went into creating the Elderflame aka "Dragon" skin collection.
Riot devs reveal concept art and year-long development to create Elderflame collection

Few skin releases have attracted as much attention, both positive and negative, as the most recent Elderflame skin collection has for Riot's recently released tactical shooter, which has come under fire for its exorbitant price, cost a minimum of $100 but with the potential, once fully upgraded to cost much more.

On the positive side, few can detract from the visuals, even if dragons and their lore isn't exactly your cup of tea the love and attention that has gone into the skins is undeniable with unique shooting and reload animations that really set apart the collection from what has come before.


Elderflame Dragon skin collection development process
(Picture: Riot Games)


Now Riot has given us an even greater insight into the development process for the collection, with the developers claiming the initial idea for the overall theme was something they thought up back in 2015 and while everyone is calling the skins the "Dragon skins", even the developers themselves, they learned during the process that the creature they were modelling was in-fact a drake.

The idea behind the skin collection was to create a "living, breathing creature" through reskins but the developers reveal the had issues from the outset as their ideas outstripped where the game fundamentally was in the development process with some of the base weapons yet to be created.


Dragon skin collection concept art Elderflame skin collection
(Picture: Riot Games)


There were also questions about whether the player base wanted a dragon theme skin at all, with the developers eventually gaining the confidence after testing out skin concepts with players around the world.

With questions over the demand for such a skin answered and the developers happy that creating such skin was possible having tested the waters with other Radiante upgrading skins, in the summer of 2019 they began creating the dragon skin.

Establishing four collar pillars in their design: Dark & Brooding, Living & Breathing, Loyal, and Lethal, they set out to make the skins.

"Dragon’s tone would be powerful and badass. Not cute. We’ll say it again: NOT CUTE. This may sound like a trivial detail, but holding true to the 'badass' vs. 'cute' tone helped shape several key decisions in Dragon’s development. Our dragon is more in the realm of Game of Thrones than within the whimsy of How to Train Your Dragon," explained Valorant's Art Lead, Sean Marino.

One of the real stand out elements of the skins is their unique sounds, which can be heard when firing, reloading and getting the kill. What is most surprising to learn at just how innocuous a fire-breathing dragon can be to create audibly with the developers revealing that the Elderflame skin collection's sounds are a mix of a walrus, Bengal tiger, an alligator recorded on a developer's mum's phone, and even a camel.


Riot Games elderflame camel noises
(Picture: Riot Games)


The developer blog also reveals the lengths the team went to create unique personalities for each of the weapons, the Operator. which the developers tried to give an "elderly wisdom" to, has smooth, and dramatic animations to befit its stature as the most powerful weapon in the game.


Elderflame Dragon operator skin
(Picture: Riot Games)


The Judge, a brute of a gun, Dragon skin or not, was given a suitably menacing look taking its cues from the Rhino, and devouring ammunition instead of simply reloading.


Valorant The Judge Elderflame dragon reload animation
An early reload animation for The Judge was considered "too playful". (Picture: Riot Games)


The developers also revealed that the initial Vandal animation was a dragon frantically clawing at the ammunition, an idea which was deemed more suitable for the Frenzy pistol.

The Elderflame skin collection is just the first of many Ultra Edition Skins that are expected to be released for the game, what will be next is anyone's guess but what is sure is that going off the Dragon's long development cycle, the wheels will already be in motion.