Riot Games speaks on future plans for League of Legends engine

Marta J. September 27, 2019

Riot Games has published a blog sharing the developer’s current thoughts and plans for the future of the engine that powers League of Legends.

League of Legends technical lead Brian “Penrif” Bossé shared through the blog post how the game’s developers are coming to decisions about the game’s engine design, the difference between light-engine and heavy-engine designs, and why they at Riot are choosing to opt for heavy-engine choices moving forward with League of Legends.

If League was built on a light-engine design, it would allow Riot’s developers to go through quicker and less complex game development routines. However, this alternative would require rewriting the existing code to a new, higher-level language like Python in a less complex manner. Considering the skills of Riot’s current developers and in the pursuit of arriving at the most agreeable solution for the company, going light-engine would be too expensive.

“If I could wave a magic wand and have everything happen instantly and perfectly, I'd wave it at engine-light,” Penrif said. “We could choose to work against that and retrain everyone to be successful in an engine-light world, but that's extremely costly in time and effort.“

Riot has therefore decided to steer League’s future towards heavy-engine development. With the heavy-engine approach, they can centralize the complexity of League’s script, in return building a richer and more logical system behind the game. This system would allow them to continue increasing the complexity of the game while at the same time making script implementations more comprehensible.

“We'll play to our strengths and head towards an engine-heavy world,” Penrif said. “The movement towards engine-heavy and explicitly away from engine-light will provide us with a more secure footing for the increasing complexity of League.”

Penrif also shared that this decision didn’t just simply come from a discussion at a roundtable, but rather is a logical step in the same direction that Riot’s gameplay group has been heading towards for the past couple of years.